It is profound to me how all the parts of each person's life fit together so perfectly that it is as if, perfectly crafted for them. Each step in the road, predetermined by the previous one, and in turn predetermining the next. You never quite know though where you are going to end up... or pause up, because back then at the beginning you just couldn't even imagine. Because you don't know "it" even exists.
In 1990, I had dropped out of college and was working at a fashion house in London. I had an ACE (adverse childhood experience) score of 8, and was bulimic, and anorexic.
I was given the opportunity to go and live in China for a year, and I took it.
China amongst other things opened a door of Confussism to me and I became interested in Eastern philosophy. When I read the "Tao de Ching" written by Lao Tzu, I felt I understood it through feeling, not through thought. I felt that I would not be able to articulate its meaning through words, yet I understood its meaning through how I felt. I think that is when I started to be interested in intuition, the 'gut" feeling and metaphysics.
After China, I went back-packing across South East Asia with a school friend and then I came home and went to university. I dropped out by the end of the first year and spent the summer back packing in India.
3 months later I returned, and this time, went to Art college. Again I dropped out, and again I went to India.
That time though, I didn't go home. I ended up living in India for quite a long time, becoming qualified as an International School Art teacher and having a child.
I met people who taught me so much about things I didn't know. What they taught me made me think and want to understand more. I learned about and started to practice different forms of philosophy and alternate ways of understanding including Energy work, Colour Therapy and Hypnosis.
I also worked some weekends with mentally ill destitute women teaching them Art based activities at a shelter called the "Banyan" in Chennai. It is a truly inspiring place.
Life was pretty perfect. I loved my job, the place where I lived and the company I was keeping.
During this period of living in India, I gradually stopped self-harming.
Teaching abroad and travelling, were rich in experience and escapades. I learned most of what I know about people, Ideas, beliefs, culture, history, geography, food and myself through having taken that Initial decision to have a "year out" in China. I went on to teach and live in the Netherlands, France and Saudi Arabia.
During the later successive time period, the currents of life became choppy and I was involved in a number of negative circumstances. A Tsunami in India, a hotel fire in Bali, emotional and physical violence, being burgled and vandalised, and the loss of my Mother and Grandmother, each successive situation within a few months of each other. I developed PTSD, depression and anxiety. Prescription medication kept the pieces somewhat together and the emotions dulled. I couldn't self-heal at this stage, though I was sporadically trying to do so.
I returned to the U.K, in 2017. I found it to be a very different place from the one I had left when I was 19 and I felt dislocated from society. Accessing work without having worked previously in the U.K. was challenging, and much akin to a "frog in a pot" who doesn't realise that it is being boiled alive until it is too late to escape the said pot, I didn't fully grasp what was going on internally within myself until it was too late.
And then, I had no choice but to.
I became quite physically sick with tummy issues and lost a lot of weight. My depression, anxiety and PTSD circled around each other in escalating patterns. For a number of months, I regulated from a state of internal terror to exhaustion and I couldn't seem to find a way forward. Accessing therapy through the NHS was next to impossible with wait times of up to one year in some places of the country.
I was physically and mentally exhausted. I began to read and listen to everything I could in relation to my symptoms and came across a book called, "When The Body Says No" by Gabor Mate. In it, he writes about the relationship between stress, trauma and physical illness. Finding this book and reading parts of it at this time was one of the distinct propellers in helping me move out of the state I was in. I felt vindicated upon reading parts of it.
The other book which impacted my recovery, and that I recommend is called "The Artist Way", by Julia Cameron. I talk about this in more detail in the section "Writing Rituals".
Algorithms on YouTube seemed to lead me back to esoteric practice and though left unattended for the most part in the previous few years, they had been growing silently in the background of my psyche. I anchored into the rituals and practices, (some of which are in the menu bar at the top of the page), and each book or podcast or ritual I practised seemed to inform the next successive step to take into recovery, and if sometimes indirectly, into the practice and creation of "The Art of Being".
They gently guided me into noticing the world around me again, taught me how to be in the moment once again, find my own "flow" once again, and, let go of the overwhelming fear.
I hope that my story of adventure, recovery, and maintenance through these practices and recommendations in the program can help you too.
I am currently seeking specific treatment through the NHS and clinical trials, and consider myself in recovery.
I practice the"Art of Being" daily.
On a final note:
Had this chapter of my story not happened, I would not understand the transformational power and symbiotic relationship between Creativity, and Mindfulness and how they can be applied to support "life" and our journey in the way that I have. I believe that the journey of life has guided me too exactly to the point where I am meant to be. When I started the journey, I had no idea I would pause here for a while. I had no idea that my time in India and what I learned there would impact my life so meaningfully years later. But looking back I can only observe that it is as though I was taught those tools just so that I could use them to guide me years later when I needed them.
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