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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Saturday, 28 September 2013

LIKE A GOOD WINE: BETTER WITH AGE


I feel like that cat that's got the cream - very pleased with myself!  As some of you know, I had some interesting heart-related health challenges at the beginning of the year.   Although the worst was over by March, I generally felt lethargic and unmotivated.  I wasn't exercising as much as usual and started putting on weight.

Three months ago my weight reached a thirty year high.  It was time to take some action and get purposeful.  I set a purpose of restoring myself to optimum health. I set target of losing 10kg (22lbs) and getting fit again to a certain level.

Some of the things I then did: I signed up for an eight week spinning course with the excellent Cadence Cycling Performance Centre.  (I have done one such course a year for the past 3 or 4 years.).  I took on the Paleo Reboot diet for a month.  With the help and guidance of the amazing healer, Dr Kaz (aka Dr Kazalette Kiepiel aka my wonderful wife) I got my nutrition, supplements and hormones right.  A little while ago we also spent a week of healing, detoxing and nurturing at the wonderful St Francis Health Centre in the Eastern Cape.  Apart from those and some other health steps taken, I also looked at and reduced my stress levels, focusing on workload, meditation and so on.

Yesterday I took the final Cadence test at the end of my course.  The results: an all time personal record for power pushed during the test AND I have lost 11kg in three months.  I am now the lightest I have been since 1986 and feel revitalized, energized, fit and as well as I have felt for years.

I am thrilled with the outcomes and will be riding a 3 day bike race in 2 weeks time on my rejuvenated frame.  More importantly, I wanted to share with you what can be achieved with purposeful-ness and pre-determined goals. 

The important piece here is to hold onto the purpose.  Why do you want this?  What is the bigger picture or benefit?  Once you have that piece, any realistic goal becomes possible.  The challenge, however, is not to get driven or frenetic about the goals and outcomes.  If the purpose and plan are right, the goals will follow. 

Saturday, 21 September 2013

EXPLORING POSSIBILITIES IN THE "I DON'T KNOW" SPACE

Our fear is built around the future.  We fear what lies ahead, what might happen, what we tell ourselves will go wrong.  Although we can never be sure of how things will pan out in the future, often our default position is to expect the worst and live in fear of what we think will be the outcome.  Although our thoughts and expectations of the future are all based on expectation and speculation, and therefore may or may not happen, our minds somehow make them true.

The real truth, however, is that 99% of the future is a "don't know".  We often make educated guesses about what might happen in the future, based on past experience, but the reality is that if the future is yet to happen, any number of outcomes remain possible.

Next time you are in an anxious or fearful space about what might or might not happen, remember that the fear is generated because your mind has it that the feared scenario WILL or WILL NOT actually happen.  If you can open your mind to a space where you can simply say: "I don't know what will or will not happen", suddenly a world of possibility opens up.  In "I don't know", anything can happen, some good and some bad.  However, in that space lies the opportunity for exploring, creating and changing possible future incomes.  

When my heart went into fibrillation earlier this year, my mind kept reminding me that my father died of a heart attack whilst riding his bicycle.  It was hard to ignore my mind saying: "So guess what's going to happen to you..."   I have since recovered, but every now and then when I am out riding and pushing my personal envelope, my mind boots up with the same refrain.  When that happens, all I have to do is remind myself that I'm not my father, I have no idea of how or when my journey will end and, as long as I am on it, I intend to explore the path I walk fully and intimately.

Try not insisting that you know what Life has planned for you.  You don't know, so rather just enjoy the ride in the space of not knowing.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

WHERE IS TWO AND A HALF MINUTES SHORTER THAN 40 SECONDS?

I have been doing a spinning course over the past few weeks with the excellent Cadence Cycling Performance Centre.  The other day we were doing a series of 40 second anaerobic pieces, with two and a half minute low tempo recovery pieces in between.  After four or five sets, the low tempo recovery pieces seemed to be passing a whole lot quicker than the 40 seconds of each anaerobic piece, with me gasping for air, my heart rate soaring and my legs burning, absolutely longing for the end of each anaerobic piece.

I realized that my mental resistance to the anaerobic pieces, feeling a measure of dread for each one before it started, was causing a time warp between my ears of which even Stephen Hawking would have been proud.


I remembered my purpose for doing the course and resolved to let go of the fear of the pain, but rather to embrace it as supportive of my current stance on my health and fitness.  For the last few sets, having let go of the fear I found I was able to slow down my breathing and engage fully with each pedal stroke.  Instead of hating the pain in my legs, I found that if I actively focussed on it, the pain dissipated.  For the last three anaerobic pieces, my recorded wattage (a measure of power) increased, despite my tiredness.  


Lessons learnt: Firstly, letting go of fear allows you to focus on what is real and gives you more power.  Secondly, bringing your mind to bear on physical discomfort, moment by moment, has you connect with yourself in a way that allows the pain to be part of your precious self, rather than an enemy to be feared.  Whether your pain is physical or emotional, totally embracing and immersing yourself in it somehow helps to still the pain.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

THREE GOATS


We were driving towards Grahamstown along a district road last Sunday afternoon.  As we passed a rural village I commented that it had a feel of my neighbourhood when I was young, where nothing happened on a Sunday afternoon.  No sooner had I said that than three snow-white goats, running in single file, streaked out of the open veld on our left - seemingly from nowhere - in front of our car.  They appeared so suddenly that I had no chance to brake and I struck the middle one.

In shock I stopped and turned back so that we could check if it had died on impact or was still alive and in need of help.  The goat lay prone in the road.  There was no sign of the other two - they had simply vanished.  Kazalette felt for a pulse on the goat and said she was still alive.  She picked the goat up, carried it to the side of the road and held her.  I stroked her head, looked in her beautiful pale brown eyes and said I was sorry.   We trickled some water over her mouth and then her pupils dilated and she died in Kazalette's arms.

During this time some of the children from the village had gathered to observe, in silence. One adult inappropriately started begging for food and cool drink from us, as if nothing unusual had just happened.  The scene was surreal.

I have been feeling troubled about the incident ever since it happened.  There were at least four different 'clues', as Lyall Watson might have described them, that this was going to happen, but which I had no chance of understanding beforehand.  I also can't imagine what happened to the other two goats.  They were running in such close formation that I should have hit at least two, if not all of them, and yet they simply vanished into thin air.

I keep wondering if there was any symbolism in the incident.

The first thought I have is that there is never nothing happening.  It is only in our unconscious states where nothing is happening.  The goats woke me out of my unconscious state at the time and shocked me back to the here and now.

My second thought came during a walk through a labyrinth.  Like Dickens' ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, I wondered whether perhaps these were the goats of past, present and future.  What if the goat which died represented the present, the reality of now, of life and of death?  And what if the others simply disappeared because the past and future aren't relevant when we are fully engaged in the now?

And then again, maybe I simply knocked down a goat.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR VEHICLE



This week I have been with Kazalette at the beautiful St Francis Health Centre in the Eastern Cape.  For 6 days we detox, lose some weight, re-balance and get back in touch with our purposes for our health and our lives.

There is a man here who looks to be 70kg overweight and says that he dines out for work purposes 10 times per week.  He loves his job.

Once a year he comes here for what he flippantly calls a 'service and oil change'.  He loses about 6 or 7kg in the week and then carries on with his life, with nothing changing about his lifestyle.

This is a tough enough week for those of us who live a healthy lifestyle and are about right weight-wise, so I can't begin to imagine how tough it is for this guy.  All I know is that I get enough wake up calls in this week to have me seriously re-evaluate all aspects of my life, from health to relationships to career and spirituality.  How much tougher must it be for someone so overweight and unhealthy, and how big do the wake up calls have to get to jolt him back into consciousness?

To use his analogy of a 'service and oil change', when I do that for my car I generally don't go out and drive it at 100mph over potholed roads between services.  The incessant on-going damage can't be fixed by a simple service.  We are required to take responsibility for our vehicles when we are out and about.  It doesn't work to expect the mechanic to restore an abused vehicle back to pristine condition.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

LIVE IN CONTENTMENT: YES, BUT HOW?

The other day I was listening on the radio to a woman from the Brahma Kumaris who suggested that the answer to an easier life was to live in contentment.  She said that contentment helps smooth Life's challenges and enables us to live our purpose more easily.  Cool, I thought, I don't disagree, but it would also have been helpful for her to have shared how exactly you do that.  

Contentment is probably something to which we all aspire, and yet we are not content when we are working too hard, not being paid enough, trying to make ends meet, the kids are playing up, our significant other is on a separate mission, there's crime all around, the Syrians are using weapons of mass destruction on each other, our politicians are corrupt, and, and...

The first question is: what is contentment?  It is a state of being happy and satisfied, according to the dictionary.  I would suggest adding the words: "...with things exactly as they are."

This seems to be the nub of the issue.  It doesn't help to be content only in fair weather, because when the storm clouds gather contentment gets blown away in the gusts.  It seems to me that the essence of contentment is to be content, come what may.

And what this takes is a deep and full acceptance of whatever Life delivers, just as it is.  The moment we demand that Life should be different from the way that it is, we cannot be content, as we are then subject to what my friend and teacher, Gavin Harrison, refers to as 'the tyranny of the shoulds'.

So the question is: what will it take for you to let go every demand that Life should be different and rather accept each exquisite moment, just the way that it is?