| January | 

You cannot plan a route unless you know where you are starting from.
You can draw the map. But you cannot follow it
Until you know where you are situated in reference to it.
You cannot know what you need
Unless you understand what you already have.
The future is uncertain.
Now is all we have.
Where are we now? In this moment?

We must keep the goal in sight, but not lose sight of the path at our feet
Or else we become susceptible to falling into holes
That could have otherwise been avoided.
We must know the ground beneath us.
Communicate with the wind that sustains us
The water that nourishes us.

When all titles are stripped from me
When all defining aspect fade into the darkness
What is left?
The real Me.
Am I a stranger to myself?
Do I feel uncomfortable under my own gaze?
Why do I go to such lengths to avoid looking myself in the eye?

‘Crane, Waves, and Rising Sun’,  Isoda Koryûsai (Japanese, 1735–1790)

We rise to a new year. A fresh start in the eyes of many. A chance for change, development, an opportunity to leave behind what no longer serves and to call in a new abundance. And whilst the dawning of a fresh year is a good time to call in this energy, we must be patient and remember that we are still residing in Winter. Our season of introspection is at it’s pinacle and we would do well to maintain peace and clarity in our daily practices. Finding resolution and leaning in to the call to search deep inside ourselves for answers, hidden wounds, and sincere expressions of love. Towards ourselves and towards others.

During the season of shorter days and longer nights, we are presented with the opportunity to go on a journey of self-exploration with the aim of reaching new heights of self-mastery and knowledge. Before we take our steps forward, ready to manifest our dreams and work towards fulfilling our goals, we must first become fully situated within ourselves. For you cannot begin a successful journey until you have become familiar with your vehicle. It is amazing how few of us are well acquainted with ourselves. With our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual bodies. With the immortal parts of the Self as well as the temporary garments. 

Ma Yaun, Studies of Water (1190-1224)

Elementally we are still residing in the period of Water. Being drawn to our emotional and spiritual depths. Engaging with the unknown. Sitting in a space that is often uncomfortable. Developing our realtionship with the uncertainty of life. This is the ideal time to engage very closely with our meditation practices, whatever forms these might take. To work through conscious or unconsious layers of disassociation and denial, to come to a place of authenticity, from which we can heal old wounds and prepare to move forwards, with a newly developed sense of reliance on our own organism.

“Entering the realm of the felt sense is for many people like entering a strange new land, a land they’ve often visited without ever bothering to notice the scenery.”
~ Waking the Tiger, Peter A. Levine

Now is our time to become familiar with our internal landscape. To notice the scenery.

Sometimes we lose sight of the light. But we learn to adjust to the darkness. To dwell there in harmony. Content with the knowledge that the sun will rise again, and we will be sitting, facing the east, ready to greet it as it rises. 


With deep introspection and meditations upon the watery depths of the unknown, tea ceremony seemed a natural choice for me this month. And every month! Honouring tea is a lesson in slow living. In setting conscious intention and finding joy in the simple. An expression of sincerity and an authetic search for clarity. Tea ceremony is a journey of profound subtlty. Finding wisdom in the water. Nourishment in the leaves. Reflection in the silence. Poetry in the fragrence. This ceremony has become integral to my daily sadhana, and if it is not already part of yours, I humbly recommend an exploration of the practice during this month. 

I usually like to sit with tea in silence (*see below for more on this). However, sometimes I find it soothing or easier to connect with the tea if I play very soft music. I set a time each day (for me this is first thing in the morning) to come into a space of stillness. Light a candle, lay out my teaware and cushion. Movements happen slowly and with great awareness. Almost like a dance, the ceremony commences with such grace and intimacy. Each movement is deliberate yet soft. Full of clarity, full of ease. The boiling of the water. The steeping of the leaves. The preparation of the bowls. All of these rituals glide smoothly together before we even reach the stage of raising the bowl to our lips. Of inhaling the natural perfume contained in the leaves. Of feeling the steam settle on the cheeks. Experiencing the warmth in the hands and upon the face. In the mouth. As we follow the tea on it’s path through the body.

This practice is beautiful to perform in isolation, or to share in ceremony with others. The integrity of the meditation must be kept at all costs. But the shared experience brings a new vibration to the ritual, which can also be exciting to explore. 

There is no time limit to our ceremony. Enjoy 2, 3, 4 bowls... as many as keeps you fulfilled and inspired. The dance is endless. The cycle of preparing and sitting with the tea has no start point and no end. The invitation is the be with the tea for as long as you are called.

After the ceremony you may find inspiration to journal. To capture fleeting moments in words. To integrate any realisation that the expereince may have brought. Or perhaps you simply wish to dwell in the stillness. 


Silence has become such a rarity in contemporary life. Even when we are not being inundated with outside sounds beyond our control, particularly prevalent in urban environments, we choose to block out the chatter of our minds by playing music, listening to podcasts, having the tv on in the background, even listening to music whilst practicing yoga (which traditionally should be done in silence) etc. This isn’t always a bad thing. I love listening to podcasts as sources of inspiration, and listening to music to unwind or loosen up. But it becomes especially important for us to create designated times for silence during our day.

Silent moments can be brought into practices that you already have everyday. Perhaps during your meditation practice, or tea ceremony. Or perhaps you want to play with practicing yoga in silence, and notice how this effects your ability to intimately sensitise to the workings of the body and mind throughout the sadhana. Or silence could be incorporated on a more basic level. Perhaps get into the habit of having a relaxing bath with no extra noise. Or going for a walk in silence and heightening your awareness of your surroundings. Perhaps eat an entire meal in silence without the distraction of a phone or a book. Simple take time to be in the stillness and find comfort in it.

You may find that when you are in silence the mind has more reign to chatter. Practice becoming aware of the activities of the mind without becoming too involved in the thoughts as they come and go. Be a witness but not a participant. And when you find yourself becoming bogged down in thoughts - no matter what their nature, positive or negative - take some grounding breaths and try to make space within the mind. Seeking stillness. Do not become frustrated when the thoughts come back. Just continue the practice of noticing, releasing, and connecting back in.


Vulnerability makes us the flower.  
Graceful in it’s gradual decline.

G r o u n d i n g  is a daily practice for me. Throughout each day as I find myself more and more consumed by the energy of air, vāta dosha (rushed, dry, overloaded with images and sounds), I have to consciously take time to bring myself back down. To tap back in to the support of the earth beneath me. To remember I am held and supported in all. Breath becomes short as we become consumed by exterior stimulation. We forget ourselves. Lost in the fast-pace of daily life. Sometimes we go an entire day without stopping to allow the deepest of breathes to find expansion all the way from diaphram to chest. And when we finally do, we realise the tension we have been holding on to. We feel new space open up, that has been kept shut up until now.

Practice... Take off your shoes. Spread your toes. Allow them to crack and stretch. Close your eyes and stand with both feet on the ground. Rock a little from side to side. Backwards and forwards. Making the movements smaller and smaller until you find that delicate space of perfect balance. The place where the three points of the feet meet the earth and set down their roots. Breathe deeply here. Calling the prāna up from the ground beneath you on the inhale. And pouring it back into the earth on the exhale. Feeling fully connected, we are held and encouraged by the dust that feeds us. That nourishes our minds and bodies. And fills our hearts. From the earth we rise and to the earth we return. This is certain. And this should fill us with sweet solace. With peace and clarity.

Practice... Consider where you sit to meditate. And what you wear. For whilst meditation is a constant practice and should be taken with you into the underground, the board room, or the yoga shala, it is important to consider our meditation environs. Recently I have become very conscious of how I prepare my environment for meditation. Wearing comforting clothes of natural fibres. Taking my seat as close to the earth as possible - seperated only by a natural mat or cushion. Cleansing the air or smudging if I feel called to. Burning insence, or embracing the fresh air. All has it’s place and no one practice will be the same as another.
Taking your seat, become aware of your surroundings. Not becoming attached but as a witness. Before closing down your eyes, just scanning the room. Feeling, with your hands, the seat beneath you. The material of your clothes. Then closing down the eyes, allow the breath to sink you a little deeper into your seat, as you come to a place of gentle awareness of the sounds and smells around you. After a few minutes come back to the practice of drawing the inhale up the spine from the earth, and releasing the exhale back down into your roots. Feel the weight of your body on the ground.

R e - s e n s i t i s i n g  is the practice by which we come to experience the fullness of sensation and knowledge about ourselves and the environment around us. When we improve our awareness, we become a fully engaged witness in the movements of our mind and body. Consciousness is heightened to encompass a full range of emotions and experiences from the mundane to the celestial. Working on developing greater awareness of our physical body and its components - becoming more attune to those times our body is feeling misaligned or out of balance - making it easier to pick up early warning signs of illness of disease. Development of an attuned awareness and sensitivity is the most direct route to Truth. From heightened internal awareness comes the magnification of what is Real and the dissolution of illusion. Learning to be still as you watch internal changes and fluctuations from a position of coolness and clarity is the greatest tool to your spiritual practice.  Awareness and sensitivity are not the same as knowledge. Gathering knowledge on our path is important, however it can only take us so far. Without intuative sensitivity and mastery of the emotional body we can never fully rid ourselves of the trappings of material illusion. 

As we are sitting in the season of the Water element (according to Chinese Medicine), we ought to consider the psycho-emotional level of water. Our emotions, the thoughts and feelings that run through us, are composed of a finer vibration than the physical body, and therefore their energies are swifter and have a tendancy to change rapidly. On the other hand, we may also experience our emotional patterns, beliefs and attitudes becoming stuck and entrenched. Becoming aware of the movements of the emotions within the mind, and its corresponding effects on the body, allows us to make adjustments to restore balance or harmony. Going within the reclaim our essential Truth is a wild and heroic journey that belongs to each of us. We must commit to it. Own it.

‘Early Morning Fisherman’, Kaelyn Michaels

Practice... find a comfortable and quiet seat for meditation, making any small movements or adjustments necessary to come to a place of stillness and ease. After several rounds of deep breaths, softly close down the eyes and allow the hands to rest gentle on the thighs. You may find for this particular practice, it is helpful to rest the palms facing downwards on the thighs, in the energy of internalisation.
After settling in, take time to listen to the sounds around you - those close by and those further away - situating yourself and the breath within space, beyond the limitations of the four walls surrounding you. Using the external senses to establish anything else of note. Smell. Temperature. Texture. Without becoming attached or distracted by any of these sensory experiences, simply become witness to the happenings taking place around you. Allow this practice to engage you for several minutes.
Drawing the attention back inside the body, begin to witness the nature of the breath. Feel the air enter and leave the nostrils. The chest rise and fall. The belly expand and contract.
See if you can become sensitive to the movement of the blood through the limbs. The sound of the interal body that throbs gently in the ears. Eventually bring your attention to a point directly above the head.
Picture here a lotus petal gently tipping. And as it tips, warm water very softly runs onto your scalp. Visualise this warm water as it runs over the face, all over the head, down the neck, and down each limb of the body until it reaches the ground. Move very slowly, feeling into each area of the body. Inviting the water to sooth and relax any areas of tension. Become aware of places where you are holding on, and send a deep exhale here to encourage release.
Once you have completed this visualisation and scan of the body, you should feel lighter and more at ease. Take a few breaths in stillness. Feeling into this place. And when you are ready, you can begin a scan of the torso beginning from the base of the spine. With each inhale imagine the grounding energy of the earth climbing a short distance up the spine, and with each exhale, allowing the weight of the body to sink back down. With each inhale you will reach a little higher up the spine. Being very sensitive to any feelings: vibrations, emotions, areas of tension or stagnation that may arise. Eventually you will reach the top of the spine, and allow a long sigh to melt yourself back down to the ground. 
Place the hands over the solar plexus, resting the left hand on top of the right at the base of the ribs, just above the navel. The manipura chakra, at the solar plexus, is the core of our identity and is characterised by the expression of will and personal power. When we are stressed or put under pressure by people or situations (even unconsciously) the manipura chakra will carry this tension. By resting the hands at this point we can protect ourselves from negative outside influences. As you invite the breath directly to this point, visualise the colour yellow. A warm and purfiying glow. Allow the inhales to expand this colour, letting it radiate throughout the core. And on the exhales, consciously release any tension that is being held in this area. I recommend continuing this practice for several minutes, until you feel significant lightening in this space and a reclaimation of your personal power. 


From the beginning of human existance, mankind has harnessed the powers of fire to change their lives dramatically. Fire was a source of heat to keep warm, to keep us safe from preditory animals, and in order to cook food to sustain us. All of these things were especially important and beneficial during the long, cold, and dangerous nights of the winter months. For many traditions across the world, fire also is a focal point for family and community. This tradition continues today - our love of being fireside perhaps bringing us to remembrance of a deep ancestral memory of safety and belonging.

Fire gazing is a meditation practice in itself. A source of deep relaxation and contemplation, taking us out of our busy minds and focusing the attention softly on the light, putting us more in touch with the unconscious mind.

Practice... Whilst fire ceremony is a beautiful way to release and reconnect as a group, the practice of fire gazing I am offering for the month of January is best practiced in isolation. Even if you do not have access to a fire (indoor or outdoor), this practice can be done using a candle. Fire gazing if best done either in the evening or at night, when it is dark outside, and when you are able to turn off all other light sources in your space. Try to remove all distractions from the room in which you are practicing (e.g. phone, laptop, or anything that gives off a light or glow). In silence, seated comfortably on the floor (or however comfortable), simple watch the flames as they leap, dance, or softly ripple. Watch the glow of the ember. The pulsation of the heat as it rises. There is no need to focus the thoughts on anything in particular, simply let them wander and flow where they may. Allow thoughts to come and thoughts to go again. Keeping light and fluid. Maintaining a softness of gaze, soft thoughts, soft mind. Give yourself permission to drop deeper and deeper into this space, until you sink beneath conscious thought. Do not become attached to the outcome of the meditation. Thoughts and images may come, or they may not. Whatever happens is fine.  After practicing fire gazing for a period, most people will experience a deep relaxation and improved quality of sleep. 


Ida and Pingala,
The snake-like channels,
Twisting and turning
Over-lapping at each Chakra.
Sun and Moon unite in breath.

The movement of prāna facilitates the purification and balancing of our internal environment. Through this practice breath is regulated through opposing forces, synchronised to bring the body and mind to a state of dynamic equilibrium. “Nadi” means ‘energy channel’, and “śodhana” means to ‘cleanse’ or ‘purify’. 

Nadi śodhana is a balancing breath aimed at addressing internal (physical or mental) imbalance and discord, and restoring harmony. Through regulation of the breath we vitalise pranic energies, release blockages, and come to a place of equilibrium between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, so that lifes situations can be handled better. As a theraputic tool, it can be applied for almost all physical and mental dis-ease - however one should take guidance when treating severe symptomology. When practiced regularly and with proper commitment, nadi śodhana prānāyāma can become a spiritual practice within itself, and can be utilised to awaken dormant shakti and achieve advanced levels of meditation. 

How to practice?
For instructions on how to practice nadi śodhana prānāyāma, please click HERE.

Between each inhale and exhale there is a pause. A stillness. A space of limbo and uncertainty. In which we must develop a feeling of comfort and ease. Our exploration of the unknown extends into the space between each and every breath we take through life. It is our constant companion. The sooner we learn to take refuge in these moments, rather than retreating from them, the sooner we can find clarity where there formerly was none. By training the breath, we train the mind. We become well versed in the fluctuations and no longer get lost in the spaces inbetween. 


Wayside weed and profound healer.
In you lies the medicine of the blood.
Of purification. Deep nourishment.
Tonic of innumerable majestic properties,
Your humility finds you taking root in the most inhospitible regions.
May I never take you for granted. 

Nettles host an abundance of nutritional qualities as well as having an impressive list of health benefits. For this reason it has been used for centuries and comes with a large body of folklore and sacred connections. One example is Milarepa, the Tibetan siddha who, after famously being a murderer as a young man, turned to Buddhism. He became an accomplished yogi and is said to have survived on only nettles for decades of deep meditation.

Image by Aran Goyoaga

Stinging nettle is a: diuretic, astringent, pectoral, anodyne, tonic, rubefacient, styptic, anthelmintic, nutritive, hermetic, anti-rheumatic, anti-allergenic, decongestant, expectorant, anti-spasmodic, and anti-histamine, anti-lithic/lithotrophic, herpetic, galactagogue, and an anti-histamine.

Nettle stimulates the lymphatic and adrenal systems, boosting immunity and aiding in healthy kidney functioning. It is known for pacification of many symptoms relating to the female reproductive system and is therefore often used for the relief of menopausal sypmtoms or menstrual cramps and bloating. It is an antinflammatory, helping to alleviate gastrointestinal dis-ease, IBS and constipation, as well as many skin disorders.

I could go on and on listing the benefits of nettle, but the bottom-line is that this humble way-side weed punches way above it’s weight. I highly recommend becoming familiar with it if you are not already. Nettle can be bought as a tincture or suppliment, but my favourite way to consume it is in the form of tea. Every evening I take a large handful of loose leaf nettle and steep it in approximately half a litre of hot water. I leave the elixir over night and drink it through out the next day, topped up with hot water.  


You can never go wrong with Hesse. It’s a fact. And although this book isn’t one of his most well known, I personally find it immensly powerful and moving. If you aren’t familiar with the works of Hesse I highly recommend introducing him to your bookshelves. A philosopher, spiritual seeker and grealty attuned man. His mastery of language and the psychological subtlty of story telling allow his books to become powerful poetic meditations covering very deep and thought provoking topics. Narcissus and Goldmund is the tale of a search for the meaning of life and the individual relationship to God. Goldmund is a young student at a Catholic Monestary school in medieval Germany. Before leaving the Abbey in search of answers to life outside of the religious institution, he befriends his gifted young teacher, Narcissus, a monk in the monestary. While their approaches are wildly different, they share a desire to commune with God and recieve knowledge about the purpose of life.


Image taken from the series “Holy men of Varanasi”, Joey L.

“Not knowing is true knowledge.
Presuming to know is a disease.
First realise that you are sick;
Then you can move towards health.
The Master is her own physician.
She has healed herself of all knowing.
Thus She is truly whole.”
~ Tao Te Ching

“You become. It takes a long time. Thats why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
~ Extract from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

“Sometimes you have to go be alone
to come back and be better.”
~ Lalah Delia

“The lively world of our emotions, fears and responses is like a great forest with its fauna. We experience those feelings as if they were wild animals bolting through the foliage of our thick being, timdily peering out in alarm or slyly slinking and cunningly stalking, linking us to our unknown selves...”
~ Paul Shepard

“The great way is not difficult for he who has no preferences; but make the slightest distinction and Heaven and Hell are set infinitely apart.”
~ Hsin Hsin Ming

“Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.”
~ The Kybalion