from nausea to euphoria and beyond...
So, I've been in New Zealand for just under two months now. I'm loving it really. Wellington was good and I managed to make every one of the Pete Sanson workshops there which was so good. He's such an amazing teacher and a cute, cute man. On the last day, the Sunday, he stayed for some questions and was talking about when he was studying Ashtanga back in the day. Apparently back in the early '90's there were no Ashtanga teachers in New Zealand, people like him and John Scott were just starting out. So when he went home he wanted to maintain his practice and the lack of teachers didn't put him off... he taught his mum the adjustments and carried on...! "Yeah..." he said reflectively "Mum got pretty good at adjusting me in the fourth series..." I've been practicing regularly at the Yoga Academy in Auckland with Jude Hines, another Jois-certified teacher, theres so much talent here, its great. And my practice is changing quickly at the moment. Some days when I get on the mat so much has changed, almost overnight, that simple things are more challenging and vice versa. It sounds weird but when you go through a shift, your centre of gravity changes and you have to reverse some of your habits. Like shedding layers of skin, shedding the old incorrect habits/ ways of making the practice easier in order to discover it. Like a sculptor whittling away to find the angel in the stone. And its amazing.
I've found a place to live for a while. Its in Albany, lodging in a family house with a woman called Caroline, who is really nice, warm and interesting, her husband, 2 other lodgers and the cutest cat ever- she's one of these really plush pedigree things with a poncy Chinese name I cannot remember, but such a good natured little thing, I often wake up with her all curled up next to me. Its nice having a cat around. Albany is on the North Shore of Auckland and like all of Auckland, spacious and vast. The whole of New Zealand only has about four million inhabitants, but is area-wise about the same size as the UK, longer and thinner though. Yet Auckland is four times as big as London. Its slightly surreal. I often go out walking, near the woods and down to the beach, and I can go for hours, surrounded by houses without seeing another soul. Even on a Sunday afternoon. And I'm near the motorway and a load of warehouses so walking around this emptiness is weird, like walking through an enormous stage set painted by Edward Hopper. And when I get the bus at night theres never anyone else on it. Its a bit like the Twilight Zone. There is this obsession with space here. It would be the ideal holiday destination for tall people. Theres loads of leg space round cinema seats, on trains and buses and people have these massive gardens. You can really spread out- that happens with bodies too, New Zealand is the third fattest country in the world. There is a real love of pies here, a love of day time alcohol consumption and proper full fat dairy products. The ice cream here is the nicest I've ever had and seafood is beautiful. Though food on the whole is more expensive than in the Uk, really random things like sushi, smoked salmon, avacadoes, braeburn apples and manuka honey are much cheaper.
People here are really friendly too, I don't think I've met anyone in a bad mood yet- thats also slightly strange to me, though I'm not complaining.. Its like I was on this bus the other day and it wasn't going where I wanted to go and the woman on the seat behind heard the conversation and offered to drive me there!!! People so often go out of their way to be helpful, its lovely. On the other hand though, there is a dark side here. Despite the beautiful climate, lovely scenery and relatively laid back attitude theres a high suicide rate amongst the young. Whenever you flick through a magazine theres inevitably a psychics page with letters from people who want to contact their children or siblings who died by their own hand. Theres a strongly Conservative Catholic ethos in some areas. also, older generations often moved here when land was dirt cheap and were able to make nice lives for themselves and retire in affluence. Young people on the other hand, are currently experiencing recession, not as bad as in the UK, but its still there, land prices have increased vastly, utilities are expensive, theres high import tax on just about everything except Chinese stuff, and even if they work really hard with the best education, they can't really afford the lifestyle they grew up with. To buy a house you need 20% deposit upfront and they're usually sold by auction. Plus theres bad cases of 'leaky house syndrome' nearly everywhere due to everything having been done on the cheap, and people have bought properties they can barely afford only to find the price doubles as they need such major repairs. So theres a lot of people who feel cheated. I don't know if I would want to be here long term.
I went out to Rotarua two weeks ago. When I was in Wellington I was told about a healer by one of my friends- Jen, whose opinion I respect as she is smart, and quite sceptical. It might sound surprising for someone thats so into Yoga, tarot, Occultism etc, but when it comes to 'energy healing' I'm generally quite sceptical too (despite a Reiki flirtation years ago). Because having lived in Brighton where theres ads everywhere for 'energy healers' I just learned to ignore them. I still think that so many of these people are at best, well meaning and ineffective, and at worst, cynical Charlatans. And presuming to be able to heal someones energy field is quite bold isn't it? Anyway, I've been suffering from some quite bad insomnia for nearly three years. It almost felt like I had just lost the art of sleep. I would put off going to bed as theres nothing worse than lying there wide awake, and even went I went to bed at one, I would wake up at three, eat chocolate and maybe fall back to sleep around four or five and then get up at six to practice, get tired during the day, mean to have an early night but then wake right up again. It was so miserable. And all these people recommend lavender oil and chamomile tea. Well that might work if you can't sleep but when you have full-on insomnia, chamomile tea is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.... Sleeping pills work but you feel like Hell the next day and I really didn't want to go there so I have been struggling a bit... So I made an appointment to see this woman, who I'm going to call Cerys. Thats not her real name, she likes to keep a low profile so I shall respect that.
I went out to see her for two days. It was in the middle of nowhere and stunning, I had the comfiest double bed in the world and there were three super friendly cats for company. I had two sessions with her and the rest of the time I was left to my own devices, to go for walks down to the lake, to chill out with the cats, meditate, attempt Yoga practice (and fail because I was exhausted and the cats kept curling round my legs when I was in downward-facing dog), eat soup and watch Coronation Street. In my first session we discussed the insomnia, events of the past few years. She's a qualified nurse as well as a bit of a supreme counsellor so it was great. Then I lay on the treatment bench and she scanned my energy field and said "I'm very glad you came to see me, you can't carry on like this- no wonder you're miserable!" which I thought was a bit extreme- life hasn't been perfect, but i still find pleasure in life.. She was spot on though. It was like I had this energetically self imposed 'heart bypass' and had just stopped feeling anything. And apparently the 3am munchies are a classic symptom. The middle of the night when you're alone with yourself is your most vulnerable time and eating sugar quells the feelings. So true. I haven't really been feeling happy, but I haven't really felt sad either, its just been a strange time, feeling slightly disconnected, even when I'm in the most amazing places, with the most amazing people, doing the most amazing things.
I spent the next day alone in nature. I walked down to the lake and went for a swim. And all these birds in the sky circled around and it was the most perfect moment. Alone under this huge sky, swimming in the clean cold water, for a moment I felt a sense of one-ness with all things, all beings, all that has happened and all that is still to come. And all these memories came flooding back. Like a period of two years of my life I just never ever thought about because I was scared of it hurting, but it doesn't hurt now. Its like I was hanging onto the the ghost of pain and it had become habitual and all my energy was stuck around it. I was exhausted that day. I wrapped up in a blanket and slept soundly all night.
The next morning I had an early session with her, and miracle of miracles, this tight spot on the right hand side of my back had opened up, as if by magic. I couldn't stand being touched there before, it tickled but now, even two weeks late my backs unknotted. I had to get the bus back to Auckland later on that day and that was no fun. Suddenly I was overcome by the most horrific nausea and that hung around for two days quite badly. I was sleeping well still, but even today, two weeks later I had a surge of it. And I've been getting these waves of intense heat surging through me. I emailed Cerys about it and she said its quite common- that basically because my energy's coursing through me as it should its making my kidneys release all this yuck stuff that makes you feel really sick. And its so incredible, because I've done so many detoxes this past two years that haven't done anything and now my body's detoxing whether or not I like it... And believe me I didn't go to her looking for a 'detox'. The sugar cravings have disappeared. I don't feel so hungry and I've mainly just been eating healthy food I've cooked myself since then. I actually feel quite energetic and bouncy when I wake up now, and my skins better too. Its really nice, I'm so grateful to her. Though I think the reason I've felt really sick today is the sneaky glass of wine and frozen yoghurt I had last night- not ideal, but I thought it would be ok... Oh well... For the most part my diets Gillian McKeith-tastic!!! It amuses me the way Caroline I live with seems to think I'm some kind of health Nazi though, like I'm just one step off demanding to examine everyones jobbies...
I've been meeting some cool people here. I went to the Auckland Pagan Pub moot twice and went to a talk on Thelema last week. It was full of emo kids and the odd man in a hat speaking in a deep theatrical voice!!! I felt right at home and am off to a Gnostic Mass next weekend with Emily, a fellow Brit I met here who aso used to live in Sheffield. I also bumped into one of the trainers from LA Fitness in Brighton in Les Mills in Auckland!! Lesley who I hadn't seen for three years nearly!!! So strange... I met up with her and went to a Newton Faulkner gig on Wednesday night here which was ace, he's half musician, half surreal comic. And that was a great night too because I got too tired and had to go home to bed early... That may not sound exciting, but believe me, when you've had insomnia, suddenly being able to go and sleep naturally for 7 hours is the best thing in the world ever
I've also completed the first two weeks of my Personal training course with MAX fitness here. Its lots of fun and Rowena, who's the brains behind it, is like the NZ version of Susan Powter and a bit of a celebrity- she was a consultant on 'The Biggest Loser' in Australia last week. The other students are cool, lots of talented people, and theres a nice atmosphere. The first part of the course is all about business and marketing. Kerry, the guy teaching us last week said that if you become a Personal Trainer and have no sense of business its like going into a sword fight armed with a spoon... He's full of great 'Aussie Alpha male' expressions- "You've only got one arse, how are you supposed to ride three horses?" stood out for me, and he's so likeable that I don't even mind when he refers to Yoga as that 'lovey dovey shit'... Actually the lack of poilitical correctness here is quite refreshing. You especially see it in the advertisements here. Like the one for Fruity Whip ice cream. Its basically a guy who sits there saying "I used to play rugby but my girlfriend thought it was dangerous so I stopped. Besides I'm far too busy picking flowers for her, and running baths.... etc etc" and then the end punchline flashes up... "Fruity Whip. Whipped for the girls." I laughed my ass off the first time I saw it, you'd never get away with that in the UK!!! And then theres the one for hearing aids- "Men don't listen. Still, its nice to know they can", and my own personal favourite, the anti drink driving one, short and to the point- a poster that simply states "IF YOU DRINK AND DRIVE YOU'RE A BLOODY IDIOT". Yay!!!
So thats pretty much all my news from here, lifes all about studying, maintaining practice, eating and sleeping really. I'm going to get home early tonight and read some Greg Maehle. And get to the Auckland city Museum over the weekend, soak up some more culture, take some photos. It looks like I'll be here about another 11 weeks and time flies and I have plans to make. The qualification with MAX is international so the next step will be to see if working on a cruise ship is feasible...
Life is sweet.