Boundaries and blogging

I began this blog in 2015 after I returned to the UK following a 6 month trip of SE Asia and India and my 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training. During this time, I had quit my job as a Solicitor, and moved, in absentia, from London, back to my hometown, Southport. So much of what I had believed in my life, about myself, about my values, had been shaken up during my yoga course. I was 32, single, healing from depression, anxiety and stress, feeling like a failure at life, and no longer an employed and respectable lawyer (something I’d been focused on from the age of 13, obsessed with Kavanagh QC). Instead, I was living with my parents & putting myself out there as a self employed spiritual yoga teacher, oms and everything. Culture shock & acclimatisation doesn’t even cover it! This blog was, and remains, my way of processing and sharing my spiritual path. It is intended to be read by those of you interested to learn about my path, my practices, my discoveries, my mistakes and my blessings. 

My spiritual path has had many twists and turns, all of which have been surprising to me, as much as to everyone else. My mum sweetly and sadly told me the other day that she had come to the realisation that I had accidentally emigrated when I left the UK for further spiritual studies in October 2017. I, too, was a little shell shocked to find myself back travelling in November 2018, and to find myself sitting now (happily) with no long term plan at all. 

My surprising spiritual path has been the greatest gift and the hardest experience of my life, so far. In order for me to find myself, my true purpose for being here, and to connect to divine love, I have had to go into all the deep dark scary shadow places of my past, and my programming. Yoga teaches us that our bodies store trauma and upset from our past, our environments, our relationships, our childhoods and from our parents experiences and their parents. I know this to be true. Yoga teaches us that by practising yoga, this stuff churns up to the surface, and you have the choice – to swallow it back down and hide it, or to face it, bring it to the light, and release yourself from it. I chose to face it, feel it and write about it. It is the path of the Divine Feminine to dive deep within and expose your shadow to the light, by loving it all. I know this to be true.

It has been an immensely challenging few years for me surrendering to a spiritual path and trust in the Divine. To accept, understand, and then feel grateful and humbled for all the experiences I have had, but that have also removed me from being ‘Lizzie the Lawyer’, or however else I was seen and loved by family, friends and colleagues. 

And in order to process all of that, I have written starkly and honestly since 2015. I do not apologise for that and I will continue to do so because it helps me and it is helping so many other people navigate their own spiritual path. People don’t always comment publicly in response to what I write, but my last post about Tantric Truths has already helped people, whilst I know it has also upset and shocked others. 

With the greatest love and respect to you, if you do not resonate with my blogs, if you do not like what I have to say, then please stop following me and my posts. Please respect your own boundaries, as I am not writing with the intention of upsetting people and I am not writing for those of you who do not want to hear what I have to say about my spiritual path. I am writing to share my experiences because the spiritual path can be lonely, scary and confusing for those of us seeking to find our way within the consumerist constructs of the Western World, and I write to share and shine a light for those people, and in particular now, for women to connect to themselves and become empowered through spirituality, not further repressed. 

If you have felt confused or concerned by what I post then again, you do not have to read my blogs. I am a 35 year old independent woman discovering spirituality that is a World away from the UK. Yes, I am the relative of people some of you know. I am an old friend, or an old colleague or an old yoga teacher, and you care and are connected to me. I am sincerely grateful for that, but I am also more than that, and I have experienced way more than that now. My family are not part of this path and where I have blurred the boundaries about that in my blogs then I am sorry for that mistake. I am learning too, and I ask that you contact me, and not my family, in relation to my spiritual path and these posts. I am very happy to hear from you. The whole point of my blogs is to share sh!t openly and honestly to create connection. And that doesn’t mean I expect everyone to agree with me or accept my perspective. But I ask that you respect my truth, which may well be very different to yours. 

My life is a rich, wonderful, complicated and sometimes painfully liberating shredding experience. I am not here to pretend it has been easy, so that people feel more comfortable with it. But I am finally at a point, where I can see a little more light of my path forward and it will continue to involve women, sensuality, sexuality and yoga. It is part of my spiritual service to share through these posts and I remain eternally grateful to my family for their support and love. And to you, dear reader, thank you for following me, whether you continue to do so or not. 

With love to you, 
Liz X

Tantric Truths

Part 1 – Tantra and tantric massage

My time in Arambol has taught me a lot about Tantra. And I haven’t been partaking in the arranged free love orgies, nor in an open relationship. I haven’t let a man, a Master, heal me with his penis, but nor have I closed down to opportunities to be intimate on a sensual level with men and women.

Tantra is one of the oldest forms of yoga – it is the path in which you use the body for spiritual connection. I would have said you use the body to achieve spiritual enlightenment but there’s a bit of friction for me now about this- like you’ve just not used enough coconut oil ; )

I am one woman trying to make sense of my spiritual path. And after two years of grounding with Hatha Yoga (a spin off from Tantra), I began to open my heart up to love by singing and surrending to Kirtan at the tail end of 2017. This path of love through Bhakti yoga (devotional love) soon opened up my blockages and my yoni to spiritual and sexual exploration. Some of which I have talked about or around, most of which I haven’t. 

Because of what I have witnessed in Arambol, and around on my spiritual sexual path, because of the healing connections I have had with women, because I have repeatedly met women bypassing their own needs to be in a ‘Tantra’ relationship with their man, because I have met one too many men who attempt to justify their perversions with their (self-appointed) titles of Master, Reiki Healer, of Shaman, of Tantra healer – and because I have met one too many women who have been abused by these men, it is time for me to share my experiences, my understanding of Tantra, and the need to embrace and embody our humanness in order to help women navigate this path more safely themselves. And I hope that by women reaffirming or even just finding their own boundaries we can then save men along this path who are misled, deluded and damaged in their own egoic power to heal, to save, to be of purpose. When actually they are damaging women and themselves.

I have had a disconnection to my body my entire life. It started at a young age with body dysmorphia – and progressed to fighting against it with diets and gruelling exercise regimes. Sexually, I was not ready to have sex when I did. I was not educated on how to listen to my body, to explore my own pleasure, to share myself but how to also protect my boundaries when I felt I should. Instead, I gave away my understanding of pleasure, my control of my body and its urges in an attempt to keep a man satisfied. And this disconnection meant that I never truly felt pleasure, and I never truly understood my capacity to orgasm, and it also meant that I didn’t fully trust men.
A relative of mine was raped. I remember feeling lucky to reach the age of 16 and to have not been sexually assaulted. But then I was assaulted regularly in nightclubs by men squeezing my arse, grabbing me, from time to time. I am not a victim of rape but I am connected to one and that trauma and anxiety has lived inside my body. One powerful part of yoga is ancestral healing, because in yoga science, it is understood that we each carry the emotional and energetic wounds of our ancestors in our DNA, and that each time we practice yoga, we heal not only ourselves but the generations that came before us. I wasn’t sure that this was more than a nice idea, until in June 2018, I felt the pain and repressed anger of the rape of women, the rape of children, and of men, the rape of the Earth, until I felt it boiling in my body. It was through an embodied feminine practice of tapping into my boundaries (or lack of them) through the Goddess Kāli that I felt this trauma for the first time. It was the first time I honoured that I was also a victim because this violent act had raped my innocence, my ability to be playful and trust men. It took from me my ability to connect to my own body, whether I could even orgasm and receive pleasure, because such was the strength of the fear within me as a result. 

A reiki healer has since told me that I am here to help heal and release ancestral trauma and I do believe that because of my distance from the rape, the disgusting violating act, I am able to forgive and release myself from this cycle. It is something I screamed, vomited and sobbed over in sheer frustration and distress on many occasions, and it is a deep part of my path which I honour. And I hope that by sharing this it continues to create connection for me and other women. In my last Teacher Training, I shared this experience with my sisters and as a result I opened up the space for over half of the 17 women to express their own personal sexual abuse, assault, repression and shame. So whilst I do not claim to be a victim of rape, I am a sister of rape and sexual assault, and I talk about this because perhaps it is easier for me to do so as a result.

In part, because I had connected to the deep pain and repression of my feelings, anxiety, hurt and fear around sex, men and receiving pleasure, I began to explore the path of Tantra. The other reason was because in May 2018, before all of this, I had my first Kundalini awakeni. Kundalini is the sexual spiritual energy that lies dormant (in most of us mere humans), at the base of the spine. If we work with this energy, we can awaken it to rise up through our energy body (the chakras) to open us up to connection with source energy, love, the divine. But for that to happen, we have to clear and open the energy channels within us (through asana, pranayama, reiki, meditation and other shanti shizzle..) and we have to surrender. My Kundalini experience was the first time it dawned on me that sexual energy is spiritual energy – something repressed on many spiritual paths including yoga, but embraced in the feminine spiritual path. Whilst chanting to the Goddess Lalitā (the goddess of union, sexual energy and chemistry) my pelvis began to rock like I was straddling a man, and there were intense spasms of energy rising up from the base of my spine, coursing through me into my arms and hands which felt almost frozen with energy. I gasped and moaned with the thrills of this energy, as I would if I was receiving sexual pleasure. I continued to shake like a shitting dog with convulsions of energy bursting up and through me and this yearning, this feeling of desire, of pleasure/pain, of being teased, and tickled kept increasing until it was so intense that I stopped it. Because I had and never have again felt that amount of energy or pleasure in my body before – not through meditation or sexual activity. And I didn’t know what would happen on the other side of surrendering to it. 

Anyway, that happened and I realised that my inability to orgasm, or understand my body and its variety of orgasms, was directly related to my spiritual path. And I was devoted to furthering and understanding my divine connection – it was why I was so lost with life in the UK and it was why I began a deeper spiritual search in October 2017. I knew it was time to confront both of these issues. It only took 35 years, and 17 years of those of being sexually active, for me to finally decide I was worth more. That I was worth the experience of more pleasure and more love. 

So yes, Tantra. As part of the Tantra path, there is talk and well, opportunity to explore sex and ‘free love’. And this sexual focus, this kinkiness, continues to draw men and women to this path. But Tantra is not about sex. It is about kundalini and sensual and spiritual connection. It isn’t about orgasms and orgies. It’s about connection between a man and a woman to divine love, and one way is to do that through penetrative consensual sex. But it can also be reached through eye gazing, through hand holding, through any sensual experience like swimming in crystal clear waters, or watching and feeling like the birds as they soar through the skies. But you know, that stuff isn’t as exciting, that stuff doesn’t involve men and women getting it on, and getting naked. And even in the spiritual world, sex sells. 

In order for me to begin to heal my connection to myself I began to explore more masterbation – the ultimate act of self love. I began to use coconut oil to massage my body, my breasts, my belly, my thighs, all before I began to touch my yoni. I fell in love with the softness of my skin, the suppleness and roundness of my belly, my breasts and even my inner thighs (no thigh gap will ever be found between these luscious legs). I read up about which areas of the clitoris are more sensitive and how other women achieve orgasm. I talked about it with some friends of mine and concluded that most other women were also feeling like there was more to tap into, more to access orgasmically, sensually, more embodied bliss. 

And then the opportunity presented itself for me to have a yoni massage, with a woman. And I knew it was time for me to heal myself & my vulnerablilty about my vulva. It was an absolutely terrifying walk to meet the masseuse. I was stressed about whether to shave my bikini line, about whether this meant I was a lesbian, about whether she’d actually help me orgasm and I cried as I walked there thinking about rape and how it was time, time for me to re-set the pattern that men cannot be trusted, that sex is a power struggle and a vicious act of violence. It was time for me to be seen as a woman, to be vulnerable and to trust another woman to hold me in a space of love.

My yoni massage was one of the most emotional and beautiful experiences of my life. I am going to share the details here because I am enraged and disgusted by the stories I have heard from women who have received yoni massages from men. And I want you all to know that there is a safe and loving way to explore these practices if you too need to help yourself heal from sexual trauma or repression, or simply wish to explore tantric massage which is given in love, for love, to heal, with in fact nothing sexual about it.

In yoga language – a yoni is a vagina (to be clear) and a penis is a lingam. Tantric massage is not about orgasm. It is not about sex. It is about awakening the whole body up to sensual touch and bliss through massage. It involves massaging the yoni or the lingam in order to deepen its sensitivity and awaken overall feelings of pleasure, which are, in fact, lost by an orgasm. The point of this practice is to contain the sexual energy ordinarily leading to orgasm in order to channel it to open you up spiritually to connect with the Divine. To that feeling of bliss, not the feeling of explosive release. 

That said, because of my repressed emotions and disconnection from my body in many ways, including my ability to orgasm, the healing of my yoni massage did involve bringing me to a very enjoyable but short climax – I still know there is more to experience.. But it took 40 mins of massaging my body, of relaxing my whole body and tickling it to awaken my sensitivity, to give me goosebumps all over my thighs. It took a pair of rubber gloves and a whole heap of coconut oil, massaged into my lower back and kidneys to release blocked sexual energy, before my masseuse even touched my yoni. My masseuse was dressed the entire time. She had clean sheets and candles, and she respected my boundaries throughout. She didn’t hold me, or caress me like a lover, she didn’t tell me how to feel. She didn’t order me to let her heal me, or tell me I needed to ‘let go’. She just regularly reminded me to breathe deeply into my belly and she asked permission before she touched my yoni and then again before she entered inside me with her rubber gloved fingers. We cried together when I ultimately had an orgasm, as I laid there naked in front of her so totally raw and exposed, but safe, trusting and held. 

I would not have had the same healing experience with a man. I wouldn’t because of my own trust issues with men, but also because I do not believe this is an area that men should be offering healing work. Not only because they do not know how it feels to have a woman’s body, and to operate in this patriarchal World in one, because we women, do not yet have full understanding and ownership of our bodies, our reactions, and our boundaries, and also because there are too many men using this healing tool for their own sexual aims and ego agendas. One of my sisters had a yoni massage with a man who was naked at the time. Why? He had an erection. If a male gynaecologist had and revealed his erection, he’d be fired and sued. He didn’t use gloves. Afterwards, with one woman he then told her he wanted to check the energy of her throat chakra so she needed to give him a blow job. Thankfully she said no, but many women haven’t and many women will also find themselves in these situations. 

I am angry and disgusted that the pure act of love and healing that I experienced has been sullied, and used as a sexual act of violence by many men in India, against many women I have met, and that it is widespread all over the World in every spiritual community. I, and many women are drawn to yoni massage in order to heal from sexual assault and it is already an exercise in facing your own sexual shame and shadow to admit you want to know more about it, never mind to then decide you want explore one. How vulgar am I?! But these predators are instead caught up in their own power and ego ‘to heal’, and they are interfering in a sacred spiritual practice. So women, it is up to us now, to protect ourselves and each other. To share our stories, and to release ourselves from the shame of sexual exploration. It is up to us to decide not to go to men for these healing practices because in our current world it is not safe, and it is not sacred and it is also not necessary for men to be offering these practices. Women heal other women. 

Whilst I have personally not been violated on my sexual and spiritual journey, I have still felt shame and embarrassment about talking about any of this. About how I will be judged by my friends and family in the West, by how people will suggest I am a man hater, or sullying all men just because of a rotten few. But I do not help my sisters if I do not speak out and share my experiences, and enable women to begin to make more empowered decisions about whether or not to explore Tantra.

Part 2 – Tantra and free love. 

And here’s the other thing I have been guided to share. There is a lot of nonsense that being on a spiritual tantric path means that you must be open to being in an open relationship. I have met women here in Arambol who have met men they feel a deep soul connection to but who are told by these men that they need to get past their attachments, and embrace an open relationship in order to be with them, in order to be in a truly spiritual and tantric relationship.

I call bullshit. I am sick and tired of the narrative that we women have to catch a man, play dating games, follow their rules, allow them to retreat to the man cave, welcome them back and nourish them and their egos. I am sick and tired of women (including myself last year) falling for men and completely giving up ALL of their power, because they don’t want to lose this ‘soul mate’ relationship. And I am royally fed up with Tantra being rolled out as a justification for open relationships, shagging around or whatever you want to call it. That these people are somehow believing they are on higher spiritual ground in pursuit of enlightenment through Tantra, that this is what makes them conscious in a relationship even if it’s making their partner miserable. That the women (because I haven’t yet met a man bemoaning that his Mrs won’t commit to a monogamous relationship in the name of Tantra but I believe it’s possible) are somehow meant to transcend their needs, their emotions, and accept an open relationship all in the name of divine transcendence. BULL SHIT.

Being conscious means you are firstly aware of your own feelings and needs as a human. Failing to accept you are human, that you have emotions, feelings and needs and therefore attachments is spiritual bypassing. Failing to accept, or judging your partner (open or otherwise) to be less spiritual because he/she has emotions, needs and therefore attachments is gas lighting. Even Amma (an enlightened HUMAN) poops like the rest of us and honours that human need). 

Being in a conscious relationship means you are aware and own your shadow sides, and then have the courage to offer that to your partner. Next, you get the opportunity to hold space and acknowledge their shadow too and they relate consciously in doing the same for you. This may mean, that your partner, like me, is not, and will not, be ready to be in an open relationship. That compromise in a conscious relationship doesn’t mean it’s Tantra your way or the highway. 

Very few of us are here without something to heal. There is darkness in all of us and being conscious is acknowledging and embracing these parts of you too – however unpleasant, and however much easier it is to avoid it, to feel restricted by respecting your partners feelings instead of forging forwards on a so called tantric path. Each of us are born into this human body to explore our own individual healing journey for our soul’s evolution. Along this path, some people may achieve enlightenment, but like an orgasm in Tantra, it’s never the goal, just a surprise along the path. 

Some people, like me, have experienced rejection in relationship- parents getting divorced, partners cheating, not committing, etc and for those of us, I do not believe being in an open relationship is healthy or healing, unless you have first healed all the wounds that have come from that human experience. Sisters, and brothers, if you share my similar and unfortunately common family relationship history, please honour and embrace your truth and your vulnerablilty. It doesn’t mean you can’t partake in Tantra and it doesn’t mean you aren’t spiritual. It means you are human and to be human means to honour yourself and your boundaries. And if your partner is conscious and wants an open relationship but also wants a relationship with you, that may well mean he/she has to compromise, in order to respect your feelings and needs. And for Goddess’s sake women, (or men) please do not compromise yourself by accepting an open relationship if it doesn’t serve you, if it doesn’t feel good in your gut and your heart. You are the only person who can understand, protect and assert your boundaries. And there is enough love out there for all of us, regardless of how deep, how wild, how much of a soul mate you believe this man or woman is. Honour yourself first. That is your duty in this lifetime and if your partner is unwilling to compromise because he’s following a conscious tantric path then I just ask you to pause, and ascertain what means more, their ‘tantric path’ or your integrity.

Tantra is the spiritual path of love and connection through our human experience but we can only explore this safely and more freely once we honour and understand our own human needs and boundaries. Tantra is not one size for all. Some people may learn a lot from open relationships and free sex. Good for them. But just because something is available at the buffet table doesn’t mean it is necessarily going to be satisfying for you. Discernment is a spiritual tool often forgotten in our quest to achieve spiritual growth. But you can only decide with integrity whether to eat the prawn vol au vent if you know whether or not you have a fish allergy… 

Know thy self. Fully. Completely. Unconditionally and without apology. Then perhaps get naked with others. 

At your spiritual service, as a Sister, to men and women alike. 
Liz x

P.S As I read this draft blog out to a sister in a cafe earlier today, a woman overheard and came over. She has just received a yoni massage from a Western man here in Arambol that left her feeling more traumatised than before and she went because she has previously suffered sexual assault. It is with deep sadness, and the greatest love and respect to everyone, man or woman, offering tantric healing services, that I repeat, women must heal women first. Please share this with your sisters. 

Magical madness

I’ve been reading ‘Big Magic’ by my latest spiritual woman crush, Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, she talks about genius and inspiration and how, once upon a time, long before the X-Factor, it was believed that the spirit of ‘genius’ would float around, wait for a willing victim & then infect the human carrier to secure its creative release into the World. That, in fact, the human involved was not the creative genius that we, in our current World, revere people to be. How does the ego feel about that then!?

She talks about surrendering to creative madness, to the ebb and flow, that inspiration will come when it wants to, and we, mere humans, need to be disciplined in our practice, and be ready to seize the spark of inspiration when it flashes past us. Pin it down, beg it to stay and work it through us.

She also talks about madness. About how many an artiste descends into a dark world of punishment, restriction and madness for the sake of their art and creative identity. She talks about how in her experience, this isn’t actually necessary or helpful to the creative process.

She talks about the importance of a positive attitude and not attaching results to your creative outlet. I took a long hard look at my attitude and this blog after reading that chapter. And again, after arriving back in India… Anyway, for those interested in becoming more creative in your life I suggest you read Big Magic. She explains it all much better than me!

I’m editing and writing this blog ten days in to life in Arambol. I am home in India again. And the energy I feel at being back in India is extraordinary. I know there is Big Magic here for me – some places are more energetically supportive. Compare Slough (sorry Slough) to the Cotswolds.

Reading ‘Big Magic’ made me realise I’ve never felt more mad! I resonate with being a channel for ‘spirit’ or ‘inspired genius’. My intuition is on point as I channel guidance in tarot readings (an enjoyable and very surprising development on my spiritual path. I mean, I did always hope I was a witch…) I frequently experience energetic experiences stood heart to heart with sisters, my hands tingle regularly with reiki, I cry with heart bursting emotion at the good, (not just the bad in my life), & my heart bursts when I sing and my smile hurts my face after sharing and teaching others to sing too. But the clearest sign of my madness is that I am back in India with less that £900 and no real clue on how to begin earning ‘serious’ money again. So yeah, I feel crazy! This is not what I ever envisaged I would do, or how my life would look at 35.

And there have been moments when I have been smacked by how fucking scared I am. On the flight over I began writing this blog because I felt the cold grip of fear seep over my heart. I was scared of running out of money, scared of having to ask family/friends for financial help (which I know I am fortunate to be able to do however much the thought makes me want to choke on my wounded pride). I was scared that I will have to go back to the UK when the money runs out, tail between my legs, and when I let the fear run to its deepest ebb, I was scared that there’s a risk that all these last few years were a flight of fancy, that I should be sensible and be, well, a lawyer again. And that mostly, I was scared of giving up on this life I have created, of balance for my mind, body and soul. Because Law wasn’t that. I was scared that I may have to put myself back in a socially suffocatingly acceptable box of ‘normal’, ‘sensible’ and ‘secure’.

I sat looking at a map of India on the flight and as well as being scared, I realised I was tired. This year has been intense. I’ve spent over 10 months of it in India, undertaking immersive spiritual trainings, and left pieces of my shattered heart and past beliefs all over this gloriously complicated contradictory Mother Land. And I could feel that my ‘worry’ to be sensible and earn money contradicts my need to rest, & integrate all I’ve learned in the most recent training in Thailand (Women’s Circle Teacher Training), never mind all that I’ve learned, experienced and lost in the last 14 months since I left the UK.

By writing this, and running my fear loop to its root, I see that the ‘scarcity programme’ still operates in my monkey mind – oh hello again, old friend (hissed through gritted teeth). It’s always the same wolf in sheep’s clothing, that old boring limiting belief still waits for me to walk into its trap and gleefully recite: “I am not good enough for the life and love I want!” Writing this has helped me breathe into the fear and find the source of its anguish – a fear that there is a lack, not abundance, of all I need and desire. That I’m scared the good won’t last because, well, that’s a downtrodden pattern that operated successfully and painfully for 32 years of my life. I guess it comes back to that old tale of my biological Father leaving when I was 3, and the ensuing saga of disappointment, and rejection, the struggle to find love in (all the wrong) relationships and the painful path of acceptance as a lawyer (I was bullied by male bosses during many phases of my career). Victim pattern secured. Repeated. Reaffirmed. But now it is seen. And it is boring and outdated.

Being honest with how I feel helps me to see that right now, & perhaps even for the next month, I don’t have to do anything unless I let my worry motivate me. And past experience shows me that worry certainly never helped a situation work itself out. I have also learned not to let my fears lead me to panic, not to kill myself in the process of chasing money, to keep the balance I have worked so hard to create with mornings to myself with yoga, meditation, singing, sunshine, good food, connection to Mother Earth (jungles, oceans, beaches, mountains) and living in a likeminded inspiring community which I find in abundance here in India.

Taking this time away from the ‘normal’ World of doing, producing, achieving, has revealed to me that I’m also a frustrated carrier of genius – I have ideas! Inspiration has always been around me in this Spiritual World but now my ideas feel a little more tangible, and I feel ready to serve in a bigger way. This is new. And this feels very different to last year and even last month!

I want to set up an online community – I want to offer videos, podcasts, meditations, Kīrtan, singing lessons, spiritual life coaching and women’s circles and annual retreats (see lots of ideas!). I want to serve again, and lead because that is what makes me feel alive with passion and connection. I want to advise (the lawyer lives on) but to guide you on your path into a deeper, wilder, softer connection with who you truly are. And I don’t want to keep offering away all my experiences for free. I deserve to live a life of abundance in fair value for all I share and do. I want to build up myself and my business so I can access more of you, and help myself more in sustaining this lifestyle that feeds me soulfully, so I can continue to share all of that in bigger, more impactful ways than just these blogs. But, I need money to do this, to pay for Zoom, to pay for more storage space on my clapped out iPhone to record videos, to earn more from tarot ideally I need to pay for adverts on FB and IG, and I can feel it’s almost time to rebrand and update my terrible but coral pink website! I need money to allow me the time to build, record and create content to share – a Liz library of spiritual lessons (again, not something I imagined I’d ever create!). And I need money to allow me the time to continue to invest in myself, because I can feel how rich, worthwhile and beautiful it’s been, and I don’t want to ever lose myself in ‘doing’ too much ever again.

I honour myself and the last three years in which I have experienced a spiritual life, for real, for better & for worse, and I know in my heart that my experiences are worth sharing, that they can help others find their way and moreover, that my experiences are worth being paid a fair price for. But at the moment, I am having to choose money for food and accommodation and not for business reinvestment. So the Universe appears to be making me wait, to be sure, or perhaps, to offer me something else that my pea brain hasn’t envisaged (like everything else that happened to me this last year!).

This time last year, I was very scared, very alone and very lost. I was scrabbling around for a clue desperately and about to hit one of many, many walls in Amma’s ashram (metaphorical walls here, although my spacial awareness is patchy at best). Amma is a spiritual being, the hugging mother, the embodiment of the Divine Mother, and it was the first time I truly prayed to Kāli, the fierce mother Goddess, to help me in my confusion.
This year, I am still scared at times, but I am no longer confused. I am frustrated and, if anything, I am now more scared to stop following this devotional spiritual path that brings me so much peace and joy.

Never have I felt more connected to who I am. It’s taken 35 years for me to shed the past uniforms of the ‘Liz’ I was for other people, for other purposes, than the spiritual traveller and spokeswoman I now realise I am. And I want to go deeper, explore more of who I am, and more of my healing capabilities that I sense are waiting to be revealed.

Never have I felt more connected to magic. To God. To community. To the power within me, to heal, to help others. To use the gift of my voice to connect to people through these humble written words of mine, through song as I merge into the supportive hum of my beloved harmonium, or through tarot readings- as I let my words of intuition tumble forth to help people take a look at their lives and perhaps see a new way forward. I love being of service in ALL of these ways equally.

Never have I felt more mad but more alive. More hopeful of a life of colour, adventure, love, spiritual family and friends because that is what I have been living. Never have I felt more sure that I am on the right path because some of you respond to my posts and tell me that my experiences are helping you traverse your own, near or far. That what I have been doing has value outside of my own spiritual discovery.

So whilst I have never felt more financially irresponsible, whilst I have never felt more financially blocked from moving forward to make the money I believe I need to make – I continue to surrender. To trust that I have got this far, on that flight, with more money than I need right now, to thrive, to connect and continue to see what India shows is within me. I have earning capacity. I am earning a little money from Tarot readings and I can get a job as a yoga teacher. I can swallow my pride and ask for help should I need to. I have to trust once more and be proactive and disciplined as my flip flops hit the sandy shores of Arambol. Because maybe this financial squeeze is the push I need into a new discovery.

In my last training, I promised myself not to give up despite my fear in this magical madness. And that’s the greatest realisation of all. That my faith IS greater than my fear even when my bank balance gives me a fright. That I can sit and squirm in this apparent madness and have faith in my abilities, but more importantly, have faith in the Universe because I know everything is unfolding as it should, and we ALL, regardless of the life we are leading, falsely perceive we are in control. I am not in control. I am free but I am also being tested. I am hopeful. I am trusting. And I am surrending yet again.
My teacher Sufiana explained that when you call on the Divine Mother to save your soul, she will come to your aid without hesitation. But she will come and take you down to the depths of all your fears and attachments and make you tear it all down. She will destroy every lie, misbelief and fiction of control, security and comfort that you have outside of her, and of yourself. And it is true. All of this year, I have been walking alone, facing test after test. Even the test of handling beauty, love and a kundalini awakening (it feels like an energetic spiritual orgasm). Kāli was called, and she has taken my comfortable life of income, savings, & material comforts and thrown it all to the dogs. My (mis)identity as a lawyer, and then as a yoga teacher & studio owner, was ripped from my hands. She showed me the exhilaration of a loving relationship but then sank it deep into the depths of the dark oceans of what will never be more. She has taken away everything from me I thought I desperately needed or wanted. And there’s the other thing with the Divine Mother, she also has a sick sense of humour. You see, I detested Arambol when I stayed here in November 2015. It was full of harassing Indian men, spiritual bypassers, drugs and drums. Way too many fucking drums. And guess what I’m now being called to face? Yep, overpriced Arambol in high season…. FFS.

You might question why I persist in the face of all of this, well, magical madness?

Well, the Divine Mother has destroyed all of this with the fire of her unconditional love. She’s built me up, stripped me down, repeatedly, in order to show me MORE, more of my truth – the depth of my resiliency and the gift of her love – that it is all that I truly need and can rely upon. She has shook me free of my own shackles, limits and dependencies, of unhealthy relationships, in order to wake me up to the truth of who I am. And as a result of her tough love, I can play more freely in the human experience of love, exuberance, and adventure because at the heart of it all, in my heart, is my love and devotion to Her above all. She’s the Mother waiting to hold everyone of us when we are sick, or when our heart is broken, when we’ve scuffed our knees or had a bad dream (of Arambol….) And that, as I write all of that, is worth more than the comfort of a salaried job, or a boyfriend not ready to commit to me wholeheartedly. And because I feel that, trust in that, I leap madly into this next chapter of India, of Shakti (the energy of the Divine Feminine) and further on into my spiritual path.

And, as I felt in my bones, upon standing and smiling back on Indian soil at Amritsar airport, big magic IS here. Through divine guidance and a particular Goddess (in physical human form), I have an apartment for £100 a month and the opportunity to teach here. Another Angel is willing to coach me through my business dreams without receiving payment now, but later when I’m making money. Such is her trust and belief in me. My first day in Arambol led me to beers, falafel and another soul sister, and inevitably drums…. And for Christmas, a friend and family members surprised me with money which will keep me fed on samosas for a good couple of weeks! How can I not believe I am supported? How can I not believe in magic? How can I not believe in Her love and support even if my ego and mind would like a little more tangible proof?!
I want to add that I’m not seeking sympathy for my ‘free’ life. Everything has its trade off and I choose this path. Maybe some of you wish you could, maybe some of you wish I wouldn’t! But I share, as I do, because there is no easy path, there is no trouble free way to exist, & to remind myself and you to give up the chase of a destination – a time when you will be happy, fixed or settled. No one really talks about the darkness, the shadows, the fears and anxieties that we all suffer from, from time to time, and my path of merging the spiritual into the practical has been difficult. So I write this to share my vulnerabilities, to be an honest, flawed human, and always with the hope of making you smile, in parts. My aim is to be authentic as I explore my life path, and not pretend it’s all shanti, smiles and shoulderstands. But I am grateful for all I have, and I know I am blessed.

Finally, for my last post of 2018, my hope is that by opening up to you about how I continue to navigate fear and worry, that I still step forwards, it will help open you up to the big magic of life when you believe in yourself more, and less in your own fears. That’s my wish for us all for 2019.

Namaste and Happy New Year.

Liz X

Spiritual sponsorship – If you enjoy following my adventures and ramblings here or on FB and IG, and feel called to do so, donations are welcome to my PayPal account – LGYogaSouthport@gmail.com

January Offer – You can also support me, AND receive accurate, insightful, helpful intuitive guidance (these are the words of my clients, not me!) along your own path by booking a Tarot reading. In January, it’s £20 for 30 mins or £45 for 60 mins (usual price £25/£50). All readings are done online and sent to you by email with photos of the cards and audio files for you to keep. International payments can be made via PayPal to LGYogaSouthport@gmail.com (please select pay a person or further fees will be payable).

Special Announcement: Becoming Bhakti Yoga Workshop – Saturday 13 October 2018 2pm-6pm

Liz of Renewed You Yoga is back in Southport offering this one-off special yoga workshop – Becoming Bhakti – on Saturday 13 October 2018 – 2pm-6pm!

Liz has spent the last 12 months living, breathing, traveling and yoga-ing around India, discovering a deeper connection through yoga and meditation to herself, and to the light and love that rests within us and connects us all. The practice of Bhakti (the yoga of devotion) slowly led and fed Liz with love and discovery of sound & soulful practices such as nāda yoga, mantra and Kīrtan.

During this 4 hour workshop, Liz will guide you inwards to your heart, to a place of love and compassion, as you explore a variety of tried and tested (and more importantly, enjoyable and fun) practices which have guided her on this last year.
ITINERARY

1:45 WELCOME and registration
2pm – 3:30pm
Becoming Bhakti begins with a heart opening Hatha yoga class including Akhanda Kundalini kriyas (sequences) to connect to your heart chakra. This session will end with a guided mantra meditation alongside the soothing sounds of the harmonium. 

BREAK 
3:45pm-4:45pm
Experience the supportive sonic sound environment of Nāda yoga – the yoga of sound. Guided by Liz, accompanied with her harmonium, to find and connect to your voice, and the meditative power of sound vibration using breathing and vocal toning techniques. (No singing ability or experience is needed.) 

This empowering super sound session will end with Kīrtan (traditional Indian community folk music & devotional song).

BREAK – for tea and cake of course!
5pm 
Liz will lead an informal discussion about ‘What Becoming Bhakti’ means to her, sharing techniques and tools, and explaining how Bhakti yoga can help you find more peace, love, contentment in your daily life. This is also an opportunity to ask Liz more about her travels, her personal experience of yoga and India, and how she is continuing to surrender with devotion to Bhakti yoga and grow into her spiritual name, Kīrtan Devi, (given by her guru Yogrishi Vishvketu in Dec 17). 

5:40pm-6pm 
To end our session together, Liz will guide us through the practice of japa mantra meditation, again, immersing us in another simple, yet effective practice of Bhakti yoga to send you home, soothed, refreshed and feeling all the love.

6pm CLOSE
TICKET/BOOKING OPTIONS

There are two options for attending this workshop & you are very much encouraged to attend the whole afternoon workshop from 2pm-6pm.
OPTION 1 – THE WHOLE EVENT
The workshop begins with a traditional Hatha/Kundalini yoga class which involves yoga asana (the postures) and physical movement. This class is suitable for all levels including beginners so please feel welcome to join in even if this your first yoga class! (Please notify Liz before booking if you have any health conditions which you believe may impact you accessing this part of the programme). 

OPTION 2 – SEATED SOUND SESSIONS 3:30pm-6pm
However, if you would prefer not to attend the first session involving physical movement, then please do not be disheartened – you can still explore Bhakti yoga with Liz! The sound based yoga sessions from 3:30pm onwards are all seated activities only and accessible for all. And you won’t miss out on the tea and cake!
TICKET PRICES

£30 per person for the OPTION 1 -the WHOLE EVENT (including Hatha yoga, kundalini yoga and mantra meditation – physical movement required) from 2pm-6pm. 

£22 per person for OPTION 2 – SEATED SOUND SESSIONS for those wishing to explore the yoga of sound section of the workshop only) from 3:30-6pm.

HOW TO BOOK

Please message Liz directly to book onto this workshop either through Facebook or by email: LGYogaSouthport@gmail.com. 
Full payment in advance is required and Liz will send you her bank details upon hearing from you. Your place will only be confirmed upon receipt of payment in full.
Should you book on this event, and be unable to attend, 50% of the ticket price will be returned to you if less than 24 hours notice of cancellation is provided. Otherwise, full refunds will be made available. 

WHERE IS THIS EVENT?

Liz is delighted to be returning to her home at The Dairy Holistic Hub, 91A King Street, Southport, PR8 1LQ. Please note there is no parking available on site but plenty on the surrounding roads. 

Liz looks forward to sharing this event with you, and the profound healing and joy of these unique yoga practices. 

Namaste.

Faith Energetically Alters Reality – FEAR

Here are some of my fears:
*Before I left for India in October 2017, I was scared of singing anywhere outside the privacy of my car as I hurtled down the coast road. However, a few weeks later and into my 300 hours yoga teacher training I was provided with the spiritual name Kirtan Devi and encouraged to keep singing! As a good girl I followed instructions and you may well have seen me on the beach crooning with the cows… Well this week, I sent an amateur recording of me singing with my harmonium to a yoga colleague who is planning to include it in a yoga podcast! Grateful and bemused!
*I was fearful of cockroaches but I keep travelling with girls who are more scared than me so I have to ‘woman up’ and deal with their scuttling ways… (and scream for help whilst doing it). I also used to be scared of rats. But I just relatively calmly escorted one out of my room whilst writing this blog…
*I was scared that I would go home after this year in India without knowing what my life purpose is. And I was scared about what people would think and how I would ‘defend’ my choices to my concerned family and friends back in the UK. Well, guess what, I fly home in 3 weeks and I remain pretty clueless! 
*I was fearful that I would never connect to myself and experience orgasms. But this last month, I have experienced a fulfilling sexual and loving relationship, and I continue to explore the full capacity for spirtual and sexual orgasm that we, men and women, are truly capable of. 
*I was fearful people would laugh at me if they knew about my sexual fears and limitations. So I wrote a blog about it and explored tantric healing, and again wrote about it on the Internet.
*I was scared to go to Varanasi alone because it is India at its craziest but I am in the process of heading there solo at the weekend.
*I am scared in headstand that I’ll fall and hurt myself…because I have before! I once crash landed on the edge of a coffee table – don’t recommend it. But today for the first time in about 5 months I got back up in headstand, against the wall. And I understood that this asana shows me how I still need to develop full trust in my body and how fear can still limit me. And to be mindful of my movements, slow down and ensure that there are no coffee tables around….
*I was fearful that I was going to return home to the UK with no money. And after spending a small fortune on 10 weeks of unforgettable and priceless yoga teacher training this year, being rinsed at a private hospital in Delhi (without valid travel insurance), not working for 47 weeks of the last year, but proceeding to eat enthusiastically around India and Nepal, I am returning to the UK with approximately £2,000 to my name. AND armed with a plan to spend all of it on more travel and on a Women’s Circle Yoga Teacher Training course in Thailand in December…. 

*I was scared of hurting my mother, my family and friends who miss me, because I wanted to continue travelling instead of trying to ‘make life work again’ in the UK. But after admitting how I felt, even my mama supports me in following my heart and my dreams, on the proviso that there’s a long lingering overdue cuddle coming in October. 
So you could read the above and think ‘well, this girl has gone totally crazy!’. And that’s one perspective. The other is understanding that I have already taken a leap of faith. And because of living a life in faith, and believing in love, I have committed to trusting the Universe over this last year. And I cannot and do not want to stop now because I feel so much happier and more contented with my life, and in myself (more importantly) than I ever have before. I have surrendered into the unknown and I have begun to trust that fizz of excitement in my heart that has led me into every extraordinary encounter of this last year.

 
Faith means trusting that the Universe wants me to continue to heal, and to continue to find my way, blindly it appears at times! It is testing me to develop trust, patience and faith. To develop my skills in listening to my heart, to my intuition, and to my fears, so that along the way I will be able to offer you more as I continue to seek how best to serve God. 
Fear holds many of us back – it can paralyse us, cause our breath to quicken and our courage to falter. But Faith has Energetically Altered my Reality. It has begun to release me from my misunderstanding of fear and it has led me, inch by inch, closer to realising my dreams. It has brought me love, laughter, pain, release, magic and song. It has brought me new friendships, new beliefs, and the insight to know when I am holding myself back. Fear is the mirror of Faith, it is the opposite of trusting your heart, and that’s why I am so grateful for all of my fears, even the ones that still plague me, because they illuminate what my heart truly wants. 
My fear that I cannot afford to travel for much longer shows me that I want desperately to have the continued freedom to explore this amazing World and eat copious amounts of Pad Thai.
My fear that I am running out of time to meet someone and have lots of sex and babies shows me that I want a family, and that I need to be open, honest, and available. Fear of it not happening showed me that I am actually  ready for it to happen now. I am ready to gamble with my heart all over again, for the biggest prize of all – my own family of love. 
So I invite you to consider what your fears are and to ask yourself what are they actually trying to show you- what is the message from your heart that the slight panicky feeling of anxiety is disguising? Because you can go beyond your fears too, and you can also learn to decipher the language of fear, and translate it into Faith. Fear, like everything, also changes. Your fears now are not the same fears you had when you were 5 years old, unless you still believe the bogey-man lives under your bed! For me, it’s appears to be a rat….
We have the choice whether or not to become beholden to our fears. And instead, I offer you the idea to welcome them, make friends with them and listen to what they are trying to show you. Because having Faith in yourself, if not in God, changes the energy of fear and the impact on your life choices. Ultimately, I have found that faith in something greater than myself has set me free of the trappings of fear, and it does indeed alter your reality. 
And this is why I decided it’s time, again, for another leap of faith. This time to Thailand. This time with less expectation. And this time with less fear of what will happen, because I have faith that it is all for my own good. Because I have come so far in learning how to dance with Faith and Fear and surrendering to it all. 

With love.
Xx

Becoming Bhakti

There have been two places I knew I had to visit this year – one was McLeod Ganj, returning to that special, scenic, soothing reading and tea drinking spot of October 2015. The other was Leh – the unknown land of lakes and Himalayan mountains.

What has become clear upon learning in and leaving both of these beautiful places is that I was surely guided there by my intuition. I was guided there by the Universe. Because magic happened. Healing happened in both places.

Quite quickly into my year trip in India I realised my soppy sappy defensive heart yearns for connection to God through Bhakti yoga – the practice of love. In order to connect, you have to be open hearted, vulnerable and surrender in devotion, and it’s fair to say my heart has been carefully wrapped under dense anxiety ridden protective layers for most of my life and it’s been an active healing process with 3 years of camel pose (a heart opening asana which I no longer boil with rage through), chanting and changing how I treat and feel about myself with self love and self care, using mantra and song to connect to the sensual, expressive energy of the Goddess Lalita, and by learning how to trust love in all its glorious forms.

I’m a rather impatient overachiever – and it’s fair to say I’ve expected to blast through this spiritual process with the same ruthless charm (I hope) as I attacked half marathons, & job interviews in the Legal world. And I was frustrated every time I would hear that healing, that ‘The Path’, all unfolds in its own time and when you are ready – at the right time.

But those wiser souls were correct!

My heart was blasted open in my 7.5 weeks in Leh. And I’ve been taught how to hold my nerve through the magical movement of life (and the nauseating night bus back to Manali) and truly surrender to a new found understanding of love.

I have been healed and held by the beauty of the mountains, the icy cold streams and motionless clear blue lakes. I’ve been safe at home within myself, and the home of my sweet guesthouse, being force-fed extra meals and chai by the family there. My heart has been warmed by the beauty of new friends, fresh ladakhi bread for breakfast, beside bonfires, beneath stars and through countless rounds of shithead (the ONLY card game for people who enjoy smugness) and, finally, by the tremendous connection with one particular charming Italian man.

There’s a quote (I think by the spiritual legend Ram Dass) that if you think you are enlightened, then go live with your parents. (Did that.. and it confirmed my suspicion that I’m not anywhere near….) I say, if you think you’ve healed your insecurities around love, then go let someone into your heart.

For the first time in a very long time I met someone who mirrored the dreams in my heart. Who spoke about wanting a big family, travel, the adventures, the dogs and the daughters. Who could even imagine me as a mother lying beside my baby girls, caressing me with tiny little hands of love. A man who as a result of his grounding, affection and sensitive presence made me stop hiding under bluster and confront the aching truth of my own heart.

My dreams of love, of a husband and children are something which I’ve tried very hard for years to be ok with not existing, and I’ve been finding contentment in life without them (you know, just in case I run out of eggs, use up my funny lines and my relatively pert boobs surrender to gravity, and towards my knees) but which in the face of this most recent heart obliterating process is simply not the truest reflection of my heart’s desires.

My heart has been continually shattered since I surrendered to wherever the path of yoga needs to take me. So, what do you do when your heart is raw and thudding achingly with another deepening crack despite a long held fear of love? Well, if you are like me, you cry, you breathe and decide to keep it that way. I have surrendered into the messy pain of the unknown & the sick pain of heartache and goodbye. I have surrendered all of the emotion and snot to the Universe with gratitude that this man even existed, and that he came into my life and heart not once, but twice. That he ignited my truth – the one I’ve tried to be better and braver than.

That after a long year of self healing, self exploration and self love I give thanks that the Universe answered my prayers and sent me a man, a connection, when I was ready to embrace it. That I spent 3 glorious weeks with someone who inspires me to want even more from this life. To believe I am capable of more – of loving more, and perhaps of coming back to Leh to climb the mountain peaks that I’ve not felt quite ready for.

After years of dating, of ‘singledom’, it’s been scarier for me to finally meet a man who is emotionally open, to have my dreams reflected back in deep brown kind eyes, whilst accepting that the experience of being seen and held in the arms of an adventurous man always had a ticking temporary timeframe.

So it remains a true test in faith to see what happens in the unknown after saying goodbye to all the love I found in Leh. Perhaps moving on is necessary to create space for something else I need to learn in my last month in India? Perhaps I’m to use this experience to strengthen my resolve and faith in the loving guidance of God before I return home to the sometimes spiritually unsupportive value system in the West? Perhaps it’s to continue to develop my faith, manifest more, to wait again, and then finally be ready to welcome into my life truly what my heart beats for. At the right time.

If you trust love and understand its lessons then every type of love changes you – it changes the beat of your heart and I can no longer deny what I want thanks to the light, love and laughter this man shone into my life. Or, of how fearful I have been that it may never come true.

Love, like the mountains he climbs, involves risk and ridges. Perhaps it includes the death of your previous held beliefs, nerve wracking assents, scary knee knocking slides back down to Earth (ungraciously on your arse if you’re me) to dust yourself off and start again. Even the odd axe may be required to shatter your illusions, & those precious icy defences you thought kept you safe.

Love isn’t linear. It doesn’t lead to anything other than a deeper knowing of yourself if you are willing to face yourself – wholly and with acceptance of all that lurks within. Love is about experience and immersing yourself fully even if you know it’s temporary and no promises can be made. Because in reality they never can. Life constantly changes and you constantly have to learn to let go and begin again.

Sometimes you are held back from your plans to trek with a slightly dodgy tummy because you are meant to meet an incredible man in your guesthouse a couple of nights later, and then at other times your separate plans mean you have to say another red-faced snotty goodbye (me, not him). Love is knowing either experience is for your own good, your progression and learning about love. About how to embrace love when you have it. To give thanks. And to let it go. And to realise under the thudding pain of your beating heart that it’s all love at the end of the day. That the Universe wants me to heal, keep healing, keep loving and that’s why after months of self work, She, the Divine Mother, sent me a love, sent me a fellow dreamer, sent me a sign to keep manifesting, keep doing my practice, to keep doing the spiritual work but most importantly how to finally bear the honest truth in my heart. So that I can steer myself in love, to a future of love, because of Her Divine Love.

And that is Bhakti – a complete surrender every and all the time back to the loving guidance and wonder of the love of God. To accept the gifts in this life as they arise, to let them go when the time comes and to believe you are loved unconditionally. And finally, through all of the lessons of this last year, I know I am.

With blessings and love to you. And in particular to those beautiful souls I shared ‘home’ with in Rai Wa guesthouse, Leh. X

Lessons in Leh

Plenty has been going on in the last month and since I last posted my blog about sexual healing. In fact, as I sit here and contemplate what to write about today, I am astounded by all that I have done in one month!

Exactly one month ago I was taking part in the women’s awakening circle, which awoke a lot of shit buried deep in my psyche and in my soul. Thank you Kāli! It also stirred up a deeper connection into the feminine energy led world of Tantra which uses healing techniques such as full body massage to evoke pleasure and release. And I am talking FULL body people! I have confronted and understood the deeper effect of some painful sexual demons and begun to let them go.

Practically speaking, I have also survived a night bus to Manali (during which they gave out sick bags which made me MORE apprehensive, not less. It went unused chums). Within the next 48 hours, I survived (and actually mostly enjoyed) another 18 hour bus ride from Manali to Leh which began at 4AM on notoriously challenging mountainside roads. The only point I wasn’t really fond of was the second highest pass we went over during which time it felt like my nasal passages had collapsed making breathing rather difficult, and I had severe stomach cramps leading me to believe that shitting myself (once again on this trip) was possible.. The cramps could have been down to the altitude and/or the copious amounts of snickers and crisps I had eaten to pass the time.. Who can say? As a result of pondering on that experience I am, presently, of the view that I may have to stay in Leh permanently as the bus back down leaves at 7PM and drives along those same notoriously challenging roads in pitch black darkness and my ability to sleep soundly in moving transport has been compromised for many a year now, without that added stimulant… ).

Since arriving in Leh, I have spent significant hours in cars with my travel companions – a Kiwi, a Brit/Aussie and a Delhi native, being driven around the stunning Himalayan mountains and desert Ladakhi landscape to the Nubra Valley to see camels, the Disket monastery and a HUGE GLORIOUS BUDDHA facing Pakistan in a gesture of peace. We got seriously giddy at the highest road pass in the World – the Mighty Khardungla at 18380FT and even got shouted at by Indian tourists for not queuing for photos at the landmark which we ignored, and then photo bombed – highly ironic and amusing…in the altitude. Fleeing before insanity set in, we spent further hours whirling around winding mountain top roads and deep down through green, lavender filled valleys, with rushing streams of water, towards Pangong Lake – the most pristine and freezing cold lake I’ve ever dipped a toe and squealed in. We ate so many dark delight chocolate biscuits with the local Kawa tea that I have PTSD from even seeing the packet in the shops. We then travelled to and trekked part of the Sham Valley – walking past galloping Ibex, taking the wrong route at EVERY possible crossroad and unnecessarily climbing more hills, laughing, playing countless rounds of shit head and eating my body weight in vegetable pakoras, daal and rice and Parle G biscuits! A rather different pace to my hermit life thus far in India!

But now, in this moment, I am alone again in the sweet guesthouse in Leh. Yesterday, the three cool kids I have been on the aforementioned whistlestop tour of Ladakh with all finally departed for their next independent stage of adventure. I recalled old advice for backpackers that when people move on, you should too as it can feel more lonely for a solo traveller to be left behind. However, I am now more wisened from all this travel lark. And I have also done a lot of work on facing, witnessing and embracing my emotions through yoga and meditation and I do not feel the need to run away from emotions such as sweet sorrow but nor do I need to let sadness, worry and loneliness overwhelm me like perhaps it could in the past. Post holiday blues are horrendous (and this is the inevitable roller coaster of regular change when backpacking because mini adventures with awesome people end All. The. Time!) Actually though, the worst blues I have ever suffered was after a 5 day hen do in Marbella which broke me in every way to the extent that I cried at my desk in front of my then boss when I got back because I was so exhausted and probably still a little drunk! Ah, I’m such a loss to the Legal world….Anyway, those are stories of old. I am focussing on the present moment!

In my last post, I talked about my resistance to receiving pleasure, in particular sexual pleasure which relates to the sacral energy chakra, based at your reproductive organs. It is the power house of creative flow and energy within us all. It relates to receiving sexual pleasure but also to give and receive pleasure in general. The sacral chakra and sexual freedom and enjoyment is also closely linked to the root chakra, the earth, base chakra located at the base of our spine. If we are not firmly grounded in our right to be here, then we cannot then fully accept our right to receive pleasure, and allow life energy to flow fully into our bodies and into our lives.

This morning, I realised, again, how often I can block myself from receiving pleasure, and not just between the bed sheets. I went down to the kitchen in my guesthouse to get hot water for my porridge and herbal tea from Tering (spelt all wrong I suspect) the woman who runs the house with her family, including two children, big shaggy soft dog and her mother in law, Dolma (again probs spelt all wrong). Dolma has the cheesiest toothliest grin of a little old lady I have ever seen. She speaks no English but shouts ‘Jullay (the local greeting) with such joy I feel special every time. I feel we bonded particularly when I had to mime to her that someone had shat all over the shared bathroom…

So anyway, water and breakfast. I went down and she was frying momos for her husband. I tried not to get in the way of her in the small kitchen and boiled the kettle but she still managed to attend to the hob, and scold me for the way I poured water into my flask! (She’s only 6 years older than me!) She offered me mint tea as I waited for the kettle to boil – I said no. I didn’t want to be a bother, she was busy. As I poured my water (seemingly incorrectly) she served up her husband’s momos and then she offered me some. And I went to say no, again, but I realised that my attempts at being polite were restricting me from participating in this lovely moment and as you probably know, my belly rules it all, so I wasn’t going to say no to free veg momos! I sat in the little family living area as Dolma grinned at me and polished and dusted around me (that woman doesn’t stop moving) and I waited as my momos were fried off. Tering then brought me mint tea too – overruling my earlier awkward polite refusal.

Whilst munching on my momos, I took in my surroundings, sitting low on the day beds along the edges of the room, their tiny decorative china bowls and cups on display, alongside huge steel cooking pots – seriously so many that I can’t imagine how and when they are all used. I sat looking out of the little wooden windows through to the budding apricot trees, as the odd lone magpie flew past (yes, sorrow) and for 15 minutes I ate breakfast, drank tea, and watched this little family do its daily work, with the young son coming in and out (school holidays) and I drank in all of this experience. The momos were stodgy and delicious and not quite the healthiest start of the day!

After I had finished Tering drew me into conversation with her as she fried chapatis and I felt welcome, I felt at home, and I felt grateful for saying yes to this small, insignificant opportunity that again showed me how sometimes, I can hold myself back out of politeness, out of denial of pleasure, and that saying yes, that allowing people to take care of me, treat me, give to me, is still something I need to soften into.

There are many ways to deepen your insights into your self – to understand how and why you operate how you do in this turbulent and challenging world. And that is all a spiritual path is – it is about coming home to yourself, healing your particular traumas, blockages, accepting and learning to love your dark sides as much as your ‘strengths’, or socially approved behaviours and emotions. And it can happen deep in meditation or over a plate of momos for breakfast. All you have to do is become aware of your reactions, your feelings and the underlying needs.

With the absence of my dear departed companions, I have felt sad (yes, magpie), grateful and apprehensive about what comes next for me. These feelings have arisen based on my need for connection, inclusion and security. But in that moment of the momos my needs were met, and I know and I am reminded that the Universe always supports us, always guides us and that the ups and downs of emotions during travel reflect the ups and downs of emotions during life. Like the Himalayan mountains, once you have climbed, clambered, and sometimes wheezed your way up to the top and taken in a beautiful vista, you always have to come back down, sometimes skidding on your arse, before you climb your next ascent. Such is the mountains, such is life. Such are my lessons in Leh.

With love, Liz x