Neither am I that which you think I am. I know you aren't what I think you are. You have proven this to me on so many occasions.
I now understand that 'you' and 'I' are both 'that' or 'not this', different philosophical jabber to express that we are all essentially one and not to mistake ourselves as our finite physical self. All our thoughts are projections......the masterpiece gelling, like pixels emanating from grey matter, unwinding to tapestry.
However, this is not the whole picture; we haven't considered the borders or beyond, the painter and the labyrinth of her/his infinite no-mind. These thoughts can only be based upon past or future which s/he continually refers to in order to project her/is ill-usive self. There can be no thought in the now, as by the end of each word, we are in the past.
Life brought me to a place of knowing that truth and The Way emanate from the presence within, which truly is my real self. I also understand (as Shakyamuni Buddha depicted) this is not the small self of ego, which has to been seen through, but that larger self which is connected to all things, by way of the nature of absolute reality.
Every time I have looked for my peace and joy within the smaller me - e.g, 'my body', 'my ability', 'my titles' etc, as all these interrelated factors are comprised of impermanence, I end up disappointed, suffering, injured, frustrated, angry etc.
When however that larger or true self is the anchor, i.e, that which we have looked for, have found and realise is that which is looking out, we have remembered or attained the Tao - that eternal indescribable luminescence which Taoists say cannot actually be described! It is the quintessence of philosophical parlance, nameless and formless.
If you split consciousness, like the atom and, brand each part e.g. quark, sub quark etc... even though they all appear different and have their unique spins, they still derive from that one stuffness, or no- thingness, which makes up this Matt you are perhaps still reading about ?
If your mind is becoming quieter, then you are receiving About Matt and if your mind is rattling and clacking 'what's he on about this Matt!?' then wait and, in the pause, after your thought, or the end of that breath, that is me, that is you, we are one, same self, same page.......
The less I try the more I achieve, for every day that my body lives, it dies a little more and, in that surrender I learn, that the yearning is to return or remember our true name.
The less attached I am to names and labels, the less I associate myself to be my sensitive, proud and arrogant ego - a shining mirror which reflects that deeper self with a hint of sarcasm and separateness, just to remind me/you that life, like jewish humour is bitter sweet - one fruit, two tastes, one maker.
I don't take my personality quite so seriously anymore and enjoy laughing at life. This is something I unlearn as I let go - that I am going, no matter how hard I try to hold on, back towards the void from whence I came. Other incarnations first, or will this one be the last, the end of me? What do you think comes next?
This all brings me to the stillness.
I hear all the noise or silence around and within me
and I see the madness in the world that abounds,
yet my cellular breath has taught me that she controls things and that to listen to her is to be in tune with my Self.
She fades away and the nothingness remains.
I often find myself catapulted back out by a surge of joy or laughter. In order to walk my path steadily, I have needed to wonder wayward many times.
Lose the self to find the self, forget the self to reveal the self. I have always believed 'the cure is in the pain' and have realised that it was asthma that revealed to me the subtleties of stillness and meditation and not all the books and teachers' add-vice along the way.
My late mother introduced me to yoga when I was five, in the hope that it would cure the asthma. She taught me pranayama breathing exercises and showed me how she meditated, focusing her energy inwards towards her spirit. I practiced postures sporadically as I found them painful and difficult. I enjoyed sitting to meditate and realised this to be a natural process which I discovered through years of sleepless nights and breathing problems. It was in sitting, when all the effort to breathe comfortably or not resist the discomfort fell away, that meditation kissed my soul.
Whenever I was sick, I was aware of the divine presence, which presented itself to me in the form of visions, dreams, outer body experiences or the love of my family and close friends. This love always dissolved my troubles. When I was about nine my neighbour sexually abused me every so often, until I was sixteen. This was naturally somewhat of a shock to my system, which although not unconditionally pure, was certainly fragile and innocent. These events had a lasting effect on my life, further shaping my outlook and need to enquire within from such a young age. Ashamed and fearful to tell my parents what was going on for a long time, I suffered and repressed my fears and feelings.
Now a grown man, the years passed have helped to teach me the meaning of compassion and non-duality - the cultivation of an in-discriminative mind - I rise into space - unlimited and ever Blissful.
When I was fifteen my father contracted terminal cancer. Our mother told us over a family dinner that my father was sick and the long and short of it was he had a few years to live.
My life adopted a new meaning and only that which encompassed and transcended the physical seemed real to me. Looking back, I see that I wanted my father to be proud of me and all of my actions today are in celebration and thanks to my parents for splitting their atoms together.
The news of my father's ails, plus the pressures of school, led my creative and inquiring self away from the classroom and out in to the wooded wilderness. Having taken drugs since very small to alleviate asthma, I had always been dependant and intrigued by their effects on mind and body. Never doing anything by halves, I became a connoisseur, first experimenting with cannabis and LSD at 15 years of age. After the acid trip through the membrane of physical and metaphysical reality to the Eternal Self, around the Universe and back in time for brekkie the next morning, I couldn't see the point in school any more. I had seen and been conscious at the substratum of existence and this awareness of multi dimensional reality which my school teachers pointed towards, beckoned from within.
Continued experimentation took its toll on schoolwork. My soul yearned to be anywhere but here in the daily grind and the pain of being so was more than I knew I could handle. It seemed that running away was easier. I had much to learn to understand that only by embracing both mundane and mystical, would I ever find peace.
I left Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School a year early, heading for college and more mind expanding practices. It took me more than 25 years to get over the loss of friends and the standard career path. With thanks to martial arts, yoga and God's grace, I now fully embrace my path - this path - there was never any other.
When I was nine 9 I started to experiment with martial arts. First playing with Judo, then a touch of Karate and Tae Kwon Do. In 1985 when I was seventeen and thanks to my brother Maurice's quest to better himself, discovered
Shaolin Kung Fu; 'The Monk's Art'. We had both been captivated by the TV series "Kung Fu" a decade earlier and when I saw my first teacher Sifu Jeffrey Guishard, demonstrating his art, I was bewildered by his grace and power.
My mind felt it had remembered something significant about why my soul had returned to earth. I trained under Sifu (Master) Guishard's instruction for three years, receiving his open hearted care and counsel. He was my root, my foundation, out of which I began to grow.
In 1988 my father passed away and the world stopped again for a while. Following his five year battle, he finally found peace in the light. To this day I bow to his strength and resilience which lift me when I am low, wipe my brow when overheating and the tears from my cheeks when I cry.
I began to train with Sifu Lai Khee Choong / Christopher Lai, My Sifu's Master and founder of the Shaolin System Nam Pai Chuan. Master Lai is a descendant of Master Quek Heng Choon, himself a student of the great Seh Koh San, a revered buddhist Shaolin monk from China who taught buddhist practices (spiritual/physical healing and 'Buddhist Boxing') to the general public.
I attended larger classes at Master Lai's centre and was exposed to a broader view of the System. I saw how I could involve myself within it and so expand through it. Sifu Lai demonstrated true understanding of the practical application of Chinese Martial Arts. His charisma and will power shone like sunlight blessing a tender plant. I loved him like a father for many years until a day arrived in 2000 when I knew it was time for me to move on. I sought the healing powers of internal cultivation which I knew meant spreading my roots wider and then deeper. I also realised how lucky I was to have received personal wisdom and expertise from Sifu Guishard and his 'kung-fu brothers and sisters ' (my Seniors), Sifus; Keith Edwards, Arthur and Donna Nichols, Eddie Baron and the Late Norman Morrison, Adrian and Karen Brown. Their Chi drives me on to this day. I love you all like family and thank you for your kindness, compassion and truth.
I took part in many events within the System, learning the need for equanimity in loss or gain, and found myself close to most of my peers and seniors, who always guided and supported me in anything that I did. Six months after my father died, I contracted a fairly rare and temporary auto immune disease known as Guillain Barre Syndrome. I was told there were varying rates of recovery for the disease and digested this as I lay completely paralysed for a month and out of main circulation for six. I continued my own research into healing, hypnotherapy and the
workings of the mind and became interested in the healing powers of Taiji /Tai Chi through Peter, a Blood Plasma Specialist at the Hospital for Nervous Diseases near Russell Square in London. I experienced much pain and discomfort and through this experience, which so shortly followed the loss of my father, I was gifted this opportunity to sit and be. Once again 'sickness' was my remedy and this opportunity reminded me that the cure is in the pain. For example, not the pain we cause to develop bigger muscles, but the pain that we feel inadequate if we don't, or if we aren't flexible enough...... I saw that my mind was not my thoughts and my body was transient. I realised that -
Time here in this Nama (name) and Rupa (form) is limited
We are here to Wake Up (remember our true self)
Our love is the mark by which we leave this world a better place, whether it be across many mountains and oceans or simply in the heart of one person, whose life attained more peace because of our smile or the light emanating from our eyes.
With grace, I recovered fully from Guillain Barre. I trained for the next few years with Master Lai, while making my living as a financial director within the travel, electrical and printing industries. Life kept ticking away until 1995 when my mother told me that she had also contracted cancer. Within two weeks of hearing this news, we spent our last evening together in hospital. That evening, before sunset, the room brightened, charged with light, as the sky's eye welcomed her through. My mother left her body in peace. One of the most beautiful moments of my life, this confirmed for me that death is another portal - from dense matter to light.
Following her death, I left me too; my mind and body were both detached and angry. Life seemed to be evading me and I was losing my grip on this world. My partner left me, mirroring my not being 'present' with her. I loved my brother and friends very much, but chose to be alone most of the time. One day, weeping and at the doorway between two worlds, I stopped, looked in to the mirror in shame and prayed. A light looked back at me through the tears and from from that moment to this, I looked to the bridges that had led me astray and turned back to burn them.
I established a work schedule that met with the needs of a broad section of the private and public sectors. I have been teaching professionally as a self employed Yoga Instructor since 1996. I have run courses and workshops in Shaolin Kung Fu, Taiji, Qi-Gong (Energy/Breath Work), Movement Therapy, and various forms of Hatha Yoga, including pranayama, the art of breath awareness.
I have always believed in God because he kept talking to me. I knew that he was the design on the cup and the colours in the carpet and not the vengeful ogre of my inherited religion. When I abandoned myself, he always stood silently reminding me of his patience and love.
Following fifteen years with the Shaolin School, I left on sabbatical to India, Thailand and Nepal. I met many interesting folk along the way and arrived at my Guru's home in Southern India in October 2000. I had heard of Sathya Sai Baba from a Hare Krishna devotee and friend, Oswald who lived at the Temple in Letchmore Heath. He told me of Baba's miracles and so I decided to go and see this phenomenon for my Self.
I went to his ashram in Puttaparthi. On my first afternoon's darshan, a 'small man in orange robes' appeared in front of me - Sri Sai Baba. I left his town after three mentally disturbing days. 'White girls in Sarees!' ringing in my ears. Many sadhus, scriptures, astrologers and a handshake with the Dalai Lama later, I made my way to Rishikesh, Varanasi and then into Nepal towards Mount Everest. Wherever I went, this man appeared in front of my inner-eye; Sathya Sai Baba. As a teenager I had worshipped David Bowie and had seen God again in the guise of my Kung Fu Masters. Now I found myself in Kathmandu one chilled morning, having always known that one day I would be there. To my surprise I drove in a taxi past a shop with a picture of Baba in the window. My heart melted, I began to cry and my mind rallied "Oh My God!"
Unlike anything I had ever known before, I realised that Baba is pure love.
I realised he had been the organiser of my trip as well as the essence of the colours in the clay lamp at which I used to stare in my parents' room all those years ago, as I lay on the floor in Savasana (corpse pose).
Sathya Sai Baba (Sathya = Truth or True, Sai = Mother, Baba = Father) gave me everything. I cannot describe my time with him as it transcends both words and mind. I enjoyed many mystical experiences and visions while staying in Baba's Ashrams over three separate trips totalling four months, all to bring me back down to earth and simply be here now.
My life before Sai Baba was interesting; there was much joy and unlimited suffering. Life after Baba meant the beginnings of the end for my former 'personalities' and the continued awakening of kundalini shakti (spiritual awareness of absolute reality). Previously in my life, I sought to escape through outer body experiences, whereas now, spirit descended into my heart and grounded me with the grace to accept my path until I meet this world's crossing and move on to the next. I still enjoy the odd OBE here and there, but my drives have changed and peace is my ally.
Baba is completely divine. I have received his darshan as Krisna, Shiva, Kali and Christ among other forms. He is my life and my essence and it is to him that I return today, tomorrow and all ways. Jai Sai Ram!
Before I left for this sabbatical, I met with Taoist Kris Deva North from the Healing Tao School in London and following a week's retreat under his tutelage, decided to seek his master in Thailand; Mantak Chia. I spent eight months working as an editor and writer for Master Chia at the beautiful Tao Garden near Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. This enabled me to further understand my own nature and align myself with being true to this, while enjoying much free time to practice internal cultivation and enjoy wonderful Thai food and weather!
I returned to the UK a changed man, drawing energy from the universe, rather than giving it away in worry and fear. I was ready to live the message of the sages and continue my path in 'being' one with them, whether in this life or another. I have since returned to India, spending more time in retreat, mostly solitary and always look forward to having the luxury to return again.
We are not this body
This mind or sea of emotions
Yet these are the shadows which we have cast around ourselves In that moment of stillness and silence When we are free of care
We are that
In 2003 when returning from Sai Baba's ashram in India, Dorna and I soon became 'one'. I thank her for loving me when I couldn't , for reminding me what true love and friendship are and for supporting me in whatever I have done over the years. She has helped to ground my work, so that others may enjoy it as much as us. You are my sweet love x:)
Day to Day
I am a British Wheel of Yoga and Life Centre registered teacher and have been teaching martial arts and yoga for over thirty years. I have mentored for the Life Centre in Notting Hill Gate, mentoring Yoga teachers in training and written regular articles for Yoga Magazine International. In 2010 I published 'How to Breathe' - a collection of works about pranayam / the yogic breath practices.
I currently work with the classical postures of Hatha Yoga, using krama (steps of a sequence) to weave a pattern or form to help students connect to themselves naturally and effortlessly. I love to share Hatha Yoga Asana Mala- a prayer like thread of postures which produce a dynamic (full of energy and not usually fast) flowing practice, based on the philosophy of the sages.
I place emphasis on FEEL - Flowing Effortless Energetics of Life (physical), or Free Eternal Ecstatic and Light (spiritual); derived from my background training in the Wu Shu of Shaolin Kung Fu.
Over the years I have uninterruptedly yinned and yanged between the practices of yoga (union) and kung-fu of course to learn they share the same roots and branches which co-exist between earth and heaven.
As well as asanas (postures) I teach kriyas (cleansing actions) and pranayamas (breath / energy expansion) and enjoy watching people relax, let go, contemplate, chant and meditate and sometimes sing and dance too! I have been inspired by the teachings of my parents and guru Sathya Sai Baba who all showed me how to love; my late mother, God rest her soul, who shared her yoga practice with me in the early 70's and by B.K.S. Iyengar (and his work of art 'Light on Yoga' from which I self practiced for ten years), Shandor Remete and Sasha Markovic (both Shadow Yoga), Jean Hall and John Scott (both Astanga Yoga).
My last teacher was Sasha Markovic, who mentored me in 2006 when I studied with the Life Centre, on their level 2 course for established teachers. Sasha revolutionised my practice, simply by demonstrating Nauli Kriya and for this I am most grateful.
Nauli aka. Abdominal Churning helped me to strengthen, slow down and increase my awareness. This led me to profound emotional, mental and physical healing, as well as shifted my awareness back inwards, through pranayama, dharana (concentration), yoga nidra (yogic sleep) and dhyana (meditation) practices.
Following years of meditation practices, most specifically working with Nei Gung or internal Kung Fu practices, on 9th September 2012 my body adopted it's first spontaneous Khecari Mudra. For my egoic-mind this was a great mile stone and for my body and soul the continuation of a roller-coaster ride of intense challenges of both the ecstatic highs and deep~dark lows that come part and parcel with Sadhana (spiritual endeavours). Khechari is for me a portal to inner bliss and awareness - Sat-Cit-Ananda, which when realised is understood to be omni/scient, /present and /potent, with or without the prop of Khechari. I have discovered new sources of vitality and confidence, as well as artistic and scientific (a weak area for me at school) skill, beyond which I had 'thought' possible. When we stop thinking and start inward-gazing, consciousness and matter (Siva and his lovely bride Shakti) gift us with this knowledge via the medium of the unlimitedly open heart.
All of the wonderful people I have mentioned above, remind me in their own way, that 'I am' is the way.
They remind me that 'self practice' cannot be practiced.
It is a view of and alignment with the soul; that which is real and unchanging. In my darkest hour of loss and isolation, this divinity within me was already in perfect union or Yoga. Such divinity does not 'practice' to 'do' anything, or arrive anywhere. It is, everywhere and all~ways. I incorporate 'methods' from Taoist and Buddhist practices as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Bhakti, Jnana and Karma Yoga. For me, these all culminate in Raja Yoga, the Royal Path. This relates to a dream I had when I was a kid, whereupon I awoke in feverish sweats repeatedly fretting, "I don't want to be king, I don't want to be king". For many years I tried to understand its meaning and setting aside all of the egoic desires again, I settled with the dream as a message that the purpose of life IS to be king.......
to climb to the heights of Divinity which lie within all sentient beings IS the means by which we Wake Up! as Shakyamuni Buddha put it. This is to remember this absolute oneness which is consciousness - who, what, where, when and why we are, despite the fact that we all live and drive around in little bubbles pretending to be unique separate selves ha ha!! I am naturally inspired by all religions and understand that the Saints, Mystics and Avatars were and are, all Yogis.
Truly though, these are all just names and forms. My inner sanctum - the heart of my heart makes no differentiation between them, for there is only one Yoga; the YOGA OF LOVE'. This is the sole/soul reason that I continue to dance this dance.......
I promote safe and simple practice with the effect of stilling the mind through a withdrawal of the senses and understanding of the ego. Some days I teach 'leg bent' and others 'leg straight'; although the essence is one, no two trees look or grow the same way. Some days I eat only veggies and often I eat too much chocolate. Flexibility in posture, technique, mind and word. Acceptance and forgiveness are how we endure this dimension constructively. The highs and lows cometh and goeth and the yogi observes them like fleeting clouds, knowing that s/he is the space or stillness in which all things occur.
Some teachers taught me 'this is the right way' and others said, 'this is the wrong way'. I always enjoyed watching them adopt their own methods or bend their rules when it suited them and this helped me to learn to be adaptable and use whatever works safely and effectively, tested over time via personal experience. The body-mind intelligence always tells the truth.
Teachers and students are for inspiring eachother, Siva and Shakti dance.
My guru taught me to 'love all and serve all', especially those that have helped me on my path; some I have met personally, some via a picture on a wall in a town without a name, or the recollection of watching the gait of a Sadhu running barefoot up to Gangotri in the freezing winter. Many have been the students that have come to my classes over the years. People keep teaching me that we are all unique, in a dream which is oh so real-not. So, I make little attempt to offer advice or change anyone anymore.
In 2009 I commenced a daily Nei Gong practice which blossomed out of a daily pranayama practice. The Nei Gong took me to new cliched heights, of which I had only ever read about or dreamed of before. I finally found the bliss/ecstasy I had been seeking all these years (through all of my addictive behaviour both on and off the yoga mat) and have since been learning that such bliss has always been here. Once again, to access it is not really something one practices but rather cultivates with constant awareness.
The Nei Gong practices (internal kung fu) also revealed to me my darkest shadow - raw unprocessed feelings and thoughts - Ooooooooerrrrr and Ouch!! Unless our awareness of the previously unaware or unconscious comes to light, the light that we see is only tainted with the shadows of falsity.
Through the many highs and attachment to this ecstasy and learning to ground or return to the 'low' of the mundane world afterwards, it became clearer to me that Shakyamuni's 'middle way' i.e. to balance yin and yang, is the easiest path to peace and harmony, right here, right now.
We realise that yoga emanates from within and that there is nothing to learn from 'out there' that is not already present 'in here'. We all remember yoga, as it reveals itself to us from the centre. All questions dissolve in the knowledge of the Self.
Yoga is the art of listening, letting go or undoing.
Life is a wonderful cosmic jigsaw, from which we take many pieces and place them in many different ways. Amongst them, my own face seems to change to mirror the people that I meet.I see that as I grow older, all these memories and beings, although 'apart from me', are still a part of me; nothing ever comes or really leaves. My parents although passed, are still here. Past and future scroll out from present moment awareness.
Illusion confusion? ?
WE are TIME...... Transcending my mind has shown me that in a certain light, I too am an illusion. One that breathes, eats, sleeps and enjoys a simple uncomplicated life.
I come from consciousness, 'am that' and shuttle back and forth each moment like the bleeping in and out of the atom.