Susie loves tennis and therefore by default so do I. We so enjoyed the recent Australian Open as two of the old guard – Federer and Nadal – were as surprised as anyone to have reached the final. Both these players had taken an extended break from the game and came back fresher, stronger, faster and their level of performance was more than spectacular. Following this principle, Susie and I felt much better about our plan to spend February in India . . . watch this space!
It is not that we are taking the month off, but we are certainly focusing on ourselves. For years Susie has been pointing me in the direction of a good yoga practice and finally, after my health challenges of the last five years, I am open.
As many of you know, a year ago I had a stroke. On returning to the UK I had a heart and arteries test – my heart was measured as that of a 133-year-old. This set me on a path of restoration of my health and together we researched how to achieve this. There was enough evidence to steer us away from conventional pharmaceutical ‘solutions’; after 8 months of a well-researched regime of supplements including Bio-live probiotics, the loss of 20 kilos in body weight and a developing yoga practice, I have the heart and arteries age of a 45-year-old.
Susie’s dream was travelling together in India and enhancing our yoga practice, so we signed up for a programme at the Isha Yoga Foundation in Tamil Nadu, Southern India. The preparatory requirement was one yoga sequence which we watched on a video. The first steps seemed relatively straightforward, until the moment came to hold your hands together in front of you and squat straight down. My eyes nearly popped out of my head and I was gripped by panic. I was about to have a very short career as an aspiring yogi and the only thing that convinced me to keep going was that Susie also struggled. Together we agreed to move forward and give ourselves to this experience.
It has been worth our commitment and willingness. The yoga practices certainly stretched us and the teachings have been inspirational. Whatever guided us here has opened a new door to every aspect of our lives and given us that missing piece – our willingness to invest in our physical well-being and acknowledging how essential this is to self-transformation. Until now, I have used my body more along the lines of a dump truck, rather than a finely tuned instrument vibrating in unison with the cosmos. Needless to say, I have a long way to go, but even with the aches and pains I am still willing to follow this direction which seems to have been put before me by a higher intelligence.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. How impressive is it that eating a few bananas can create a human body? What kind of intelligence is that on a banana level and on a human level, and the connection between both? Deep down we know we are not our bodies, but while we are having a human experience our bodies are inescapably essential to every aspect of our lives – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Within our bodies is a fantastic level of limitless intelligence which mirrors the intelligence of the cosmos. Our lack of awareness of this reality is what has us trashing our bodies, trashing our world and everything in it for the sake of miserly and limiting goals.
Leaving Isha, we travelled overnight by train to our friends in SCAD in Tirunelveli. The train journey was an experience, as we shared a sleeping compartment of 8 berths with an ever-changing cast of Indian fellow travellers. Susie slept quite well but my overhanging feet were constantly banged at numerous station stops and toilet visits.
It is great to be back with SCAD after an absence of 3 years, and seeing how our friends have progressed in their giving and their purpose of selflessly lifting large numbers of people out of poverty.
And all this in our first week. By relaxing it seems our lives have become so full. There must be a lesson in here somewhere!!