This week seems to be about all things conscious awakening.
I started the week off launching a magazine about conscious fashion, I’ve reflected on what I perceive consciousness to be and I’ve delivered a short, dramatic and somewhat brutally honest little performance on how it came to find me.
I’m sat on the East coast of Koh Samui, a paradise island, sipping my almond milk cappuccino. I’m mindfully watching the sun rise over the dark stormy waves as they crash against the rocks below me. I’m breathing in the sea salt breeze. And I’m thinking how spirituality has led me to live a more conscious lifestyle and what is it about my daily rituals that have changed.
In short, everything’s changed.
It’s as though consciousness slips into my mind, right in between the trigger to make a decision and the act of making it. It freezes time, it presses pause, and it allows me to consider everything I do, through sensing how it makes me feel.
I don’t always pay attention to what my body is telling me, I don’t always listen to its wisdom and sometimes I deliberately ignore it to please others or appease situations. But whether it’s in the moment or when I’m reflecting on it, sooner or later consciousness finds a way to reach me and its lessons are learned.
A few months ago when I was living with a load of monks in Menorca, I met a nun called Lamo. (Whenever she entered the kitchen I’d think ‘Lamo in the main room’, and start singing Blinded by the Lights by The Streets).
Lamo sent me off on my exploration of nutrition with a lesson in macrobiotics.
After her mother passed away from cancer when she was in her early teens, Lamo was convinced it was something to do with nutrition and so dedicated the rest of her pre-nun life to the study of macrobiotics in the quest to cure this deadly illness.
Macrobiotics is a somewhat controversial approach to nutrition and seems to lack the scientific backing to make it more present in our lives, but according to its philosophy, our diets should be all about balance.
It has its roots in Zen Buddhism, links to the Yin and Yang of Chinese philosophy and in terms of science is about balancing our body’s pH levels to achieve equilibrium and help with digestion. It’s about avoiding refined foods, dead animals and eating plenty of whole grain cereals, vegetables and legumes.
I learned a few nifty kitchen tricks and some incredibly simple but tasty recipes for dips and dressings, but the biggest learning I received from Lamo was the fifty chew rule.
According to macrobiotics, you should chew every forkful of food fifty times. Blend that in with the Buddhist approach to taking time to say or think thoughts of gratitude for what you’re about to consume and a five-day silent retreat and voila…
…the tastes, the textures, the real pleasure for one of the greatest luxuries of life are tickling my taste buds for the very first time.
As I crept over the fence and into my thirties I found an appreciation for sleep that I’d never been acquainted with in this lifetime.
Ever since I was born, my poor parents had to cope with a baby who would ping her eyes open before dawn and be awake for as long as she possibly could.
It’s been thirty-four years since then and absolutely nothing has changed – I’m still that overgrown baby who gets a kick out of being the first to be awake.
What has changed in recent years is the time I want to go to sleep. I once saw sleep as this boring, pointless little pause button that would have me missing out on the excitement of life.
I had a fear of missing out on anything and everything, so I’d burn the candle at both ends, intermittently curing my exhaustion with spa weekends and a monthly sleep-binge.
A little bit wiser and physically no longer able to run around the planet on the back of four hours’ sleep, I now love it when my head kisses a lavender-drenched pillow and it’s time to switch off.
I now love sleep for all of its goodness; rejuvenating our bodies, repairing our cells and flushing toxins out of our brains. So unless I have a very good excuse for staying up late, I rise with the sun, I follow its light and energy as it journeys through the sky and I fall asleep with it.
And finally, while I only eat and sleep for certain parts of the day, I feel my way through all of it. I’m acutely aware of my thoughts, my emotions and the sensations in my body.
That moment of conscious awakening I talked about was a burning ball of energy in my stomach. I didn’t really realise back then how much of a big deal it was.
I knew it was intuition and I knew it was something I couldn’t argue with, and so that was when I appointed my stomach as Director of Decision-Making and Fate as the CEO of Life.
Every new day is a gift and inside every gift box there’s a lesson.
I eat, I sleep, I feel and I repeat.