Baroque n Roll

Firstly, let me begin this post with saying that the “no complaints” experiment was awesome and I committed to it all weekend- not for just 24 hours. I have experienced some serious magic and serendipity occurring in my life since that experiment too, so I am truly mindful now of any complaints that might tumble from my voice box and just sort of biting my tongue if I feel something like a complaint pouring out or even sayng “wow that was me complaining” – in a way to own it and dissolve it. I have realised how complaining is essentially dumping energy onto the listener and I have also realised how often we modern day humans tend to bond through complaining. I don’t want to bond with people tat way- to do that to people or to have people dump their negativity on me. It feels as though in not complaining there has been so much space for positivity opening up in my life and recently it has all been looking and soundeding fantastical…and very baroque.

The highlights of life and learnings recently…

An invitation to the most AMAZING inspiring place I have been to in Italy: Castello Ruspoli where I attended the annual competition of young classical musicians from all around the world.

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DSC_0110DSC_0102 I dove deep into a 5 hour Baroque immersion as the 6 international finalists delighted our intimate group of writers, musicologists and judges with their mind-blowing talent and professionalism. I particularily enjoyed hearing each of them perform a new and never before performed piece, assembled from archive manuscripts as a composition by musicologist and a previous Ruspoli music prize winner Ana Lombardia Gonzlez. Each gave their own flavour to their own interpretation in premiering the “Tocata Number 3” as well as performing 2 solos and 4 pieces accompanied by my new favourite instrument- the harpsichord.

( the finalists waiting nervously to hear who is the winner below)

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After much contemplation and deliberation between the judges, a new Baroque star was announced- 24 year old Amandine Solano a classic beauty in high stilettos and a biker jacket who was accompanied by her mother on the harpsichord. In between performances I took every opportunity to wander through the intriguing centuries old labyrinths of sacred geometries outside of the fortress-like Castello.

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I honestly felt as though I were in one long lucid dream with an endless score of Baroque performances or instruments being tuned or pieces being rehearsed endlessly echoing through the vast corridors. I also recalled the days of preparing for exams as a teenager and the reccommendation of our in house “learning expert” who taught us to listen to baroque music as we studied for our exams because apparently Baroque helps people to focus and is particularily useful for people with short attention spans or ADD.  It was a great treat to be in a fairytale castle, surrounded by musicians and musicologists – an experience I will cherish greatly. Also of course, the lunches and dinners- the Italian food was “da morire” to die for. And on the final day, classical music appreciators from all over Europe arrived to experience the prize winners performance, which was also recored to be released soon as a cd.

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It also thematically and experientially complemented the subject of sound healing that  I have been focused on with my own research and documenting of the Sound Healers and Shamans I met in Indonesia. I immediately bonded with a film crew from Brazil Owl Filmes who were there making a documentary about the castle’s musical history and the career-changing annual Ruspoli music prize.

All I can say is that after this intense baroque experience my whole body was buzzing and my heart felt as if it had burst wide open. Castello Ruspoli is a very magical place!

I also learnt that they are creating “Fugga Experience”- beginning with a cycling tour, where guests will stay at the Castello, cycle through the stunning landscapes by day and enjoy delicious food and wine by night. They also very kindly suggested I should consider to host a wellbeing retreat there, which is something I would definitely love to do with them and for you! That is something now in the pipelines for 2015. I think it will be a week of yoga, meditation, creative writing, dance, delicious food and some silence- to walk the labyrinths in silence and see what inspiration arises. Many years ago, Handel lived in the castle as an artist in residence and he composed some of his most well-known works whilst there.

I also discussed getting some recordings of the classical baroque instruments to have a play with some electronic-baroque remixes…so I have some interesting sonic experiments ahead of me too.

Before heading up to Vignanello I had been listening to music along these lines by Benjamin Skepper and Gabriel Prokofiev– so perhaps I had actually put the law of attraction into action by manifesting my Baroque immersion experience at Vignanello!

Upon returning to the hustle and bustle of city life, I was invited to attend the opening of an exciting classical-contemporary fusion exhibition by British Art Star Mat Collishaw in the  Galleria Borghese Rome.

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The main work presented was a very large scale sculpture that also functioned as a zoetrope which would sporadically spring into action with a whir and as it began to spin with lights flickering all the miniature marble sculptures became animated- they literally sprang to life. It was mesmerizing and a true masterpiece. He also presented large elaborate black framed looking-glasses throughout the museum, where after a few moments of gazing at myself surrounded by great masterpieces, a classical renaissance style painting would emerge on the mirror’s surface and slowly begin to move- to come alive. He was literally breathing life into the classical masterpieces and explained that it was all created in response to what he felt and imagined when looking at the classical pieces in the museum. To see his works sandwiched between famous masterpieces by Titian, Caravaggio and Bernini amongst others seemed to make an official public statement that his works are recognised as great contemporary masterpieces in their own right and in my opinion they are works that will stand the test of time and live on in the future as classical works of our time.

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Here’s a great little film about the new exhibition: Mat Collishaw : Vogue

I am truly blown away by witnessing all this classicism-futurism fusion in art and music and in my life at the moment too as I skip through the streets in vintage dresses and a recycled red leather biker jacket.

It seems that most Italians prefer new designer brand name clothing, which means there are a lot of great designer vintage wardrobe treasures to find in Italy. I have always found great pleasure in having an eagle eye and being able to spot jems amongst masses of vintage rails. It’s also perhaps a conscious style- to source second hand and vintage shops and recycle for individual chicness. Rome has some great vintage shops full of old Gucci, Missoni, Valentino, Moschino as well as many small “artigenale” shops where the designers can be seen inside working away on their sewing machines and are also very happy to customize their creations to your colour preference and tailor to your size.

I am loving everything about life here and now.

I am bursting with gratitude and wonder.

Definitely no complaints. Baroque n rollin’!

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Crystal Healing and Shamanic Wisdom

Well it’s now a bit late in the day for me to be writing a blog, I just didn’t get around to it this morning as I had an early breakfast rendezvous with Danny Paradise and Bibi, so instead I am here and now rattling this out quickly and waiting for a delicious delivery from Kafe to eat dinner with my neighbours from Norway and filmmaker Sue.

Cool- I am making friends out here and yesterday I met some really wonderful people too.

The day began with a coffee, meeting renowned healer, author, musician and artist Jelila. I came in late because a woman who offered to drive me on the back of her bike was held up at a Sun Moon ceremony. She arrived to pick me up dressed so elegantly from the ceremony in her temple outfit, with no helmet though. When I asked her why she didn’t wear a helmet, she explained she would be protected because she had just come from a ceremony in temple dress so she wouldn’t need a helmet today. Eka invited me to a ceremony with her and as soon as my knee is better I will go. With a dodgy knee I can’t kneel down to pray- she said it would be ok for me to just “look see” but I like to participate in spiritual rituals and not just “look see”.

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That’s a pic of Eka, looking chique after a temple Full Moon ceremony.

Here’s a photo of Jelila with her new book:

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I met Jelila a few years ago out here in Ubud and remember saying at that time how I would like to study crystal healing with her; so it’s funny that I am back here now and that she presented me with a new book she has written called “The Power of Crystals (For Healing and Well-being)” Perfect timing, to reunite and be handed her new book on crystal healing. She also informed me that she will be giving a free workshop once a week on Thursdays at 3pm at Soma Cafe Ubud. In these workshops she will be giving teachings from her new book on crystal healing as well as on her last book “The Gift”, which I have read and can recommend. It’s about the law of attraction and it breaks people down into simple personality types. It’s easy to read and enlightening.

Jelila also had a very pretty necklace for me- a beautiful crystal “Abundance necklace”. I absolutely love her jewellery as it is both healing and pretty. Checkout her website to order your own original healing jewellery and checkout her song “The LAw of Attraction” just allow yourself 20 uninterrupted minutes to lie down and listen to it, it’s kind of like a lullabye a song with a vibrational healing: Jelila: The Law of Attraction

I am really looking forward to studying crystals and healing with Jelila out here and hope to be able to pass on the knowledge and make healing jewellery from locally sourced crystals and stones wherever I may end up after Bali.

I told her about the documentary I am making out here about Sound Healers and asked her to be in it too. It’s proving quite interesting so far as I figure out which are the ideal characters  and personalities to film from Dr. Punnu Wasu to Shervin Boloorian to Jelila, they all have extra talents in healing that extend beyond music and sound- so this project will also be an education for me in many alternative forms of healing. I’m feeling like this may be something for the BBC, CBC or Channel 4 too…

After a catchup and much inspiration in conversation with Jelila I headed to Clear Cafe– one of my favourite restaurants in the world. It’s like a temple, wherin you have to remove your shoes before entering and the interior design, the people and the food are all beautiful and yummy. I was a bit perplexed to be the first to arrive and to be seated at a table that was made from a large slab of natural teak wood that had a large crack in it, meaning someone was not going to be able to put their plate down on the table- anyway after some shuffling about, Bibi  decided she wanted to go shopping and left Danny and I alone for lunch to discuss everything from Shamanism to music to filmmaking.

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Danny is amazing and I am so honoured for the quality time he has given me out here. I asked him how one becomes a Shaman and he told me it begins with learning about and understanding medicinal plants and grows on to incorporate a deep understanding of and connection with the spirit world, acting as  a mediator between earth people and spirits through ritual and ceremony.

I also learnt that Danny was the first real “Travelling Yogi“. As in, he was the first westerner to go around the world teaching people yoga and then being invited to beautiful places to teach workshops, host retreats and tour with rockstars as a shaman and yogi and general wellbeing guru. One thing I love about Danny is how he is anti-guru, seing as he could easily be a guru himself I think it’s pretty interesting that he mostly preaches to find your own inner guru and not follow or hand your power over to any one person or organisation. We discussed how this Guru path could lean towards narcissistic egoism at one inner guru end or dependency and powerlessness at the other end of outer guru worship. He pointed out that all teachers in life exist to teach you how to be your own master. We discussed the importance of virtues such as personal responsibility, accountability and authority all of which he sees as solutions to feeling lost or seeking answers. I told him about my Life coaching thesis entitled “If I took full responsibility for my thoughts, words and actions I would be…” and how challenging it was for me to start writing that thesis as I knew it was the beginning of the end of a lifetimes way of being for me and a dawning of an evolution or a new way of being- out with the old and in with the new.

We talked about music-making and Danny said he has always made socially aware music with a message. He has two albums on itunes, featuring many amazing, well-known and talented guest musicians

Album: Travelers, Magicians and Shamans

Album: River of the Soul

He’s basically just one very cool innovative dude and I told him I’d like to make a fictional movie based on his life story, starring Johnny Depp (if Paradise can get Depp into yogi great shape, or perhaps Paradise can be Depp’s yoga body double?).

He invited me to join a jungle retreat in Thailand in 2014 at a lodge which he was a consultant on the creation and design of. Apparently the whole lodge is floating on a lake- the houses, the yoga deck. It looks and sounds amazing and there are a few spots left too, if you are looking for an amazing yoga retreat experience at the end of January 2014 checkout http://www.dannyparadise.com

I could have stayed on in conversation for years with Danny Paradise but we had at this point munched our way through the veggie love burgers and yam fries (delicious) and Bibi had come back to join us for dessert. She told me about her tie dyed yoga and beachwear Bishaka Tiedyes and showed me some gorgeous pics shot by Danny of her in the clothes.

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After lunch, they invited me to join them for the Birthday party of Manju Pattahbi Jois at a house in Pejang north of Ubud. It turned out to be Ashtanga Yoga Bali the incredible home and yoga studio of Radha and Prem, the Ashtanga teaching couple I had met at the conference and rather stupidly questioned about how strict and austere I found Ashtanga to be. Once again we discussed the possibility of me coming to train in Ashtanga yoga with them for a few weeks, and agreed that as soon as my knee felt better- more flexible and strong, I would start training with them in Ashtanga/Power yoga.

At this point my kneecap was very swollen, like a fluid-filled duck egg. I found a healer to do a massage with some sacred oils on my leg and lo and behold, she got the fluid to move as I spent the evening with my leg up and wrapped in ice and by this morning it was looking more normal again, albeit a purply normal.

Today I hopped on the back of another bike to head up for breakfast with Danny and Bibi. Danny gave me some cds of tunes he has recorded with all sorts of great artists over the years and we shot a video in the gardens of him reciting some of his songs as spoken word poetry, I thought this would be a chance to really hear the lyrics of the songs as spoken word. Bibi stepped in with art direction and chose a pagoda floating on a fish pond for or filming location. The video will be up on youtube soon and I will post it in a future blog. Danny reminded me how lucky I was to get through a bike acident with only swelling, small cuts and bruises- he said it was a warning and that I definitely should not ride my own motorbike out here and I definitely must not take my good health and fit body for granted.

After breakfast and filming I got on the back of another random motorbike and headed to the yoga barn for the weekly ecstatic dance gathering. It’s sort of the new age equivalent of going to church. It’s basically two hours every Sunday of sweating your prayers on the dancefloor. It’s also a chance to make eye contact with most of the local expat community of Ubud. No words are excanged, just dance energy and eye contact. I felt reeaally awkward and very uncool because I couldn’t move properly. I could move my arms and upper body but I couldnt jump and dance around like everyone else, so I just felt kind of self conscious. Becoming aware that it was my ego or my pride that made me feel self conscious about appearing to be very repressed or fearful/not letting go with wild freaky dancing like everyone else was doing. I just decided to rise above my temporary self consciousness and move in a way that felt good for my body and that felt like gratitude for being here, being healthy and being alive; not caring about how I looked to others. It was very surreal to be wildly dancing on the inside and mildly dancing on the outside.

I took my time to slowly walk home through the Monkey Forest afterwards, remembering the Vipassana walking meditation and consciously hinking “lift, push lower” awkward, wobbly, it could be a lot worse and soon very soon it’ll be better. But til then, everything is still great- i am making new friends, I am stepping into my power, I am in paradise and I am taking everything one day at a time.

I have been a bit perturbed about taking on this role of a Conscious Hipster- like if it’s going to be a really Conscious blog, I need to highlight more current events like the typhoon after effects in the Philippines (I have met many people out here who are on their way to do some relief work in the Philippines, HK119 is making artworks as fundraisers for the Phillipines and my friend Max Power from London is heading over there now to start a local radio station). Just read that the British government have sent over £30 Million in aid funds. They need money out there really more then lots of people going over to muck in, I have been told as I contemplated going over there to be of assistance. I was told to send money and nothing else. You too can donate in many ways such as here Philippines Red Cross

And under the full moon, I’d like to put the concept of the Moon Cup out here in the blogosphere- the conscious woman’s choice of dealing with menstruation. A box of tampons out here for example costs $30 whereas the mooncup costs just $20 is reusable, lasts for years and is so much better for the environment.

Maybe I could highlight too that all we need is love. If we could all be a little more compassionate and kind to eachother and express our love, joy, gratitue and appreciation more often so much positive momentum would be in motion.

I like this little film called “The Revolution is love”

Hmmm it’s past my bedtime now. I have been waking up at 6am almost everyday here. I thought it was the jetlag at first, then the sunshine pouring in through my floor-to-ceiling windows, then the cats and kittens miaowing for food. Now it’s just habit. I have officially become a morning person and I’m loving it, also it means that I get tired at night, whereas in London and other big cities I would be awake into the wee hours of the morning often. Here I go to bed early and wake up early and feel great for it. Looking forward to some fresh coconut water tomorrow, I have two coconuts here on the floor ready and waiting or breakfast.

So, from crystal healing with Jelila to Shamanic wisdom, humour and insight from Danny Paradise…rounding off the evening with my Norweigian neighbours, filmmaker Sue and a delicious organic home delivery dinner under the full moon.

Here’s a great blog with a monthly post about full moons Mystic Mama: Taurus Full Moon November 17th 2013

Feeling grateful, icing leg, writing blog, kitten curled up on my heart

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Goodnight

Forced to Pause

Yesterday, I was on the back of a motorbike and the roads were muddy, slippery and wet from a heavy rainfall. As we snaked our way through a side path in the Monkey Forrest, the wheels just spun out and suddenly in what felt like complete slow motion, we tumbled down and sideways to the ground and were just kind of very still for a moment. The driver hopped up and said “I’m bleeding, we need to go to a clinic right now.” I was in shock and not sure if I could move or what had just happened. I slowly got up shaking a bit too and examined the minor cuts and sore spots and got back on the bikewhich required a few attempts to kick start, as we both slightly green in the face wobbled our way on to the closest clinic.

The closest clinic happened to be a very interesting place called Bumi Sehat

Bumi Sehat is a natural birthing clinic and the founder of the clinic has been the recipient of the CNN Heroes Award.

What the bike driver told me is that in Indonesia, many poor women go to a hospital to give birth and if they cannot afford the hospital bill then the hospital will hold on to/keep the baby until the bill is paid- in many cases this can take years. Speedy C-sections are also popular in Indonesian hospitals ad Bumi Sehat offers women the option to have a natural birth in a tranquil setting with love, care and attention. Westerners or tourists using the clinic have to pay and make a donation but Indonesians are invited to Bumi Sehat for free.

There were no agonising noises of women giving birth when we hobbled in cut and bleeding. There was a room with a door open and all I could see were bodies that looked like they had smoking incense sticks all over them…it looked kind of freaky like a cremation but I was assured it was a holistic therapy. Bumi Sehat embraces alternative medicine, homeopathy and ayurveda as well as all the best of what traditional western medicine has to offer.

I told my cutup bike companion about an old friend of mine Melissa Rodrigues who is a doula very much championing the concept of natural births and co-founder of a doula collective called Wood and Water Doulas

We were led into a room to see the nurse who promptly disenfected and then injected the bike drivers knee with some kind of strong pain killer before getting out a thin needle and thread and stiching up the flap of skin that had been sliced off in the fall. I am a qualified first aid nurse but stitches and surgeries always make me squirm. So, I took on the role of chief distractor and led biker woman through some breathing exercise whilst she was injected and stitched up. She screamed a bit as though she were giving birth and then joked how it would be funny if i made a baby screamng crying sound as it would be totally fine and appropriate given that we were in a birthing clinic. It was all expertly done and I mentioned how arnica would be a really good thing for us both to have since we were going to be covered in bruises from the fall. I was really impressed when the nurse produced arnica homeopathic pills and cream. Other then some minor cuts and bruises I looked fine but my knee was starting to swell up since I fell right onto my knee cap- I was told to R.I.C.E it and no that doesnt mean a bag of rice it means: Rest Ice Compress Elevate.

So I came back to my beautiful little home away from home with the slightly shaken post-surgery bike driver and we ate take away vegetarian burritos from Taco Casa. Then I elevated my leg on some pillows and drifted off for a few hours with two or maybe three little kittens curled up on me. They are adorable these little kittens. When I first arrived, one of them was the little runt, smaller then the rest and a bit sickly. She curled up in a ball on my heart, I think she need to hear a heartbeat or something. She is so much better now so it felt like yesterday she was helping me to feel better.

Anyway other then slipping on a bike and resting with my leg in the air feeling a bit down about being “forced to pause” especially as I was just getting pumped up to go surfing and start doing power yoga… In the end, I didn’t do much yesterday.

I have been invited to teach some free community yoga classes on Fridays at The Yoga Barn, which is really exciting as it is probably the most beautiful yoga studio I have ever been too. I have been warned to expect a minimum if 50 people in my class likely many more- there is space for several hundred people… I am really excited to do my thing as a yogi in paradise, to uplift, to inspire, to heal and to empower in the massive world famous Yoga Barn! I just have to heal this knee up fast so I can walk properly again…

Here’s a photo of my Avatar/inner jungle warrior Goddess shot in the Monkey Forrest by Ida Kristine Hogbakk. Someone commented on my hairstyle being a combover– ha I really had to laugh out loud at that comment because 1: it was very funny and 2 it was true (although that comment would be what I know from Neil Strauss as a “Neg”- when a guy puts a girl down to make them feel stupid or insecure”). I am not going to let piss-taking facebook comments rain on my parade. I am intent on laughing more, especially at myself and I am here stepping into my Goddess power (even with a jungle combover) and rocking an earring by Leela Creations with an impromptu jungle warrior combover look…

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Perhaps for 2014 and beyond myself, we will see a revival of the all hair on one side 1980’s look or even the sticky hot sweaty jungle combover.

Now I am on my way to a meeting with Author and healer Jelila, who I met a few years ago. I am going to study and learn more about crystal healing with her out here. I really love listening to her song “the Law of Attraction” as a meditation it’s 20 minutes long so I sometimes just lie down on the floor and close my eyes and listen to this song and remember a feeling of confidence and trust in life, knowing that I have the power to manifest my authentic dreams. Jelila- The Law of Attraction

Here’s a video I made with her a few years ago:

Then after my meeting with Jelila, I am going to have lunch with Yoga master and Shaman Danny Paradise and his girlfriend Bibi. I know that is going to be the most interesting and inspiring lunch I have had in a long time…

I just have to psych myself up to get back on a bike now, because i definitely cannot walk there today…and I really hate being “forced to pause” but maybe that’s exactly what I need to do right now- feel gratitude, as it could have really turned out to be a lot worse, a motorbike crash… and probably what I need to do right now is pause and return to the breath…