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Taming the Walrus: An Integrative Approach

20 Jul

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I haven’t written any blog entry for such a long time…. But I was very busy! Together with my partner, we worked on the Taming the Walrus Approach: an integrative approach to living with MS, including Yoga, Mindfulness and Diet.
We are finalising our website – which will take over the name tamingthewalrus.com – and this blog will be linked to it.
It is so exciting! I feel that everything is coming together.I will of course share the link as soon as it is life!
I’m looking forward to your feedback. But i a m also looking forward to our first Taming the Walrus retreat, which will take place in Ericeira, Portugal, from 11th to 18th of October. We are delighted to organise it in Omassim guesthouse, which is owned by good friends of ours. It is a “small” guest house, which is perfect since we want to keep the number of participants low. Here is the schedule:

08:00-09:30 – General Yoga Class
09:45 – 10:45 Breakfast
11:00 – 12:30 Adaptive yoga (to address specific MS issues) or talks, video and discussions.
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 17:30 Free time – beach, massage, reading chatting etc.
18:00 – 18:45 Gentle Restorative Yoga (on the beach if you want to!)
18:45 – 19:30 Mindfulness
20:00 – Dinner

From 595 euro a week (Early Bird) including:
– Accommodation in mini dormitory
– 3 Delicious vegetarian meals per day
– Daily yoga classes – suitable for all levels
– Introduction to Mindfulness Sessions
– Retreat Manual

And hopefully there will be plenty more to come!
Have a lovely day!
ps: for more info you can write to us to tamingthewalrus@gmail.com

Rays of the sun

17 Nov

ekhartyoga

“Take up one idea.
Make that one idea your life; 
dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. 
Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves,
every part of your body be full of that idea, 
and just leave every other idea alone.”
Swami Vivekananda

Have you ever met someone and knew, intuitively, that this encounter would make a difference? That’s how I felt when I first met Esther and Bas from Ekhart Yoga. Their generosity and kindness are mighty. And this quote from B.K.S Iyengar comes to my mind: “Healthy plants and trees yield abundant flowers and fruits. Similarly, from a healthy person, smiles and happiness shine forth like the rays of the sun.”

Esther and Bas offered me the opportunity to shoot yoga therapy videos for people with MS and post them on their website, which is fantastic! I always believed that online videos are brilliant for people with MS who have no access to special yoga classes or are too tired to attend one. In the comfort of their home, they can watch and practice at their own rhythm. I hope that the sequences I designed will be helpful. I am so happy and thankful for Esther and Bas’ support and encouragement!

But seeing Esther’s with her students was also a beautiful reminder of what teaching yoga is about. A friend recently told me about what she calls “mirror teachers”: yoga teachers who stand in front of their students to demonstrate how great they can perform the various postures. For them, the class is like a mirror. They expect students to imitate them. Then there are the others, the ones who wish to guide their students on the yogic path. The ones who truly follow the yamas and niyamas. Esther is definitely one of these dedicated teachers. She cares for every single one of her students and it shows. It shows in her smily face and shiny eyes when she talks about her students. She lives Yoga and she is a great source of inspiration!

Going home with thee

31 Jan
220px-The_Banshee

The Banshee (the Messenger from the Otherworld) by Henry Meynell Rheam.

I am going home with thee, to thy home, to thy home,
I am going home with thee, to thy home, to thy home of autumn of spring and of summer
I am going home with thee, thy child of my love to thy eternal bed to thy perpetual sleep.
(Celtic prayer)

englishIn an earlier entry (Fear), I talked about Fear, the graceful multi-faced dancer who covers her face to hide her true nature: the Fear of Death.

I can feel her move in my stomach. Each of her elaborate gestures feels like a kick. She swirls, turns, jumps, rests but never leaves.

She is so deeply ingrained in me that I sometimes wonder if I was born with it.

But, no, I don’t think so.

I believe that Death is such a taboo in our society that we sow the seed of Fear ourselves. We don’t talk about death although, like it or not, one day it will be your turn. We prefer to entertain ourselves watching people die, be murdered, killed, executed on big plasma screens, thinking “it’s only a movie!” Even if the soul might not be afraid, the ego is.

Sometimes I wish I could have a little taste of Death, touch her, feel her, drink her… just enough to know…  a little sample to give me an idea.

Maybe Death is as wonderful and warm as a hot bubble bath or as tasteless as an English beer (no offense my friends but beer shouldn’t be stale and warm!)!

What will happen when she is finally at my door? Will I let her in or will she break in? Will I be ready? Will I hear the Bean Si, the fairy woman, cry for me? How much of my brain will the MS have destroyed by then?

Surprisingly enough, we are bombarded with books on how to live our lives but not on how to die. Apart from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, I haven’t seen many… And what about Death Coaches? (I don’t mean buses, but guides!) Unless you are religious and confide in the parish priest, whom do you turn to for guidance and support?
When the time comes, will you tell me about beauty and goodness?

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French Dans un texte précédent (Peur), j’ai parlé de Peur, la danseuse pleine de grâce aux visages multiples qui se couvre la face pour cacher sa vraie nature : Peur de la mort.

Je la sens bouger dans mon estomac. Chacun de ses gestes élaborés ressemble à un coup de pied. Elle tourne, virevolte, sautille, se repose mais jamais ne part.

Elle est ancrée si profondément que je me demande parfois si je suis née avec elle.

Mais non, je ne le crois pas.

Je pense que la Mort est un tel tabou dans notre société que nous semons nous même les germes de la Peur. Nous ne parlons pas de la Mort bien que, que ça nous plaise ou pas, notre tour viendra. Nous préférons nous divertir en regardant des gens mourir, se faire tuer, assassiner, exécuter sur nos écrans plasma en nous disant que « c’est seulement du cinéma ! » Même si l’esprit n’a pas peur, l’ego lui, est terrifié.

J’aimerais parfois goûter la Mort, la toucher, la sentir, la boire… juste assez pour savoir… un échantillon pour m’en faire une idée.

La Mort est peut-être aussi chaude et douce qu’un bain bouillonnant ou aussi insipide qu’une bière anglais (sans vouloir offenser mes amis british mais la bière devrait être fraiche et mousseuse !) Que va-t-il se passer quand elle sera enfin à ma porte ? La laisserai-je entrer ou forcera-t-elle la porte ? Serai-je prête ? Entendrai-je la Banshee, la Dame Sans Merci, pleurer pour moi ? Quels dégâts la sclérose aura-t-elle déjà faits ?

Ce qui me surprend, c’est que nous sommes bombardés de livres nous enseignant comment vivre notre vie, mais aucun nous explique comment mourir. À part le Livre tibétain de la vie et de la mort, je n’en ai pas vu beaucoup…

Et qu’en est-il des Coach de la mort? À moins d’être religieux et de pouvoir se confier à un prêtre, vers qui se tourner? Qui apporte un soutien?

Quand l’heure sera venue, qui sera là pour me parler de beauté et de bonté?

Rape

23 Sep

First year at university, I’m 18. I have my own studio in the City of Kings, Wars, and Champagne. Life is sweet.
This morning, I attended a lecture on the Elizabethan Times.  Our lecturer is so passionate about it. I always enjoy sitting in the theatre and watch her tell us about the Throckmorton plot and all sorts of intrigues about ugly Elizabeth I.
Then I decided to go and walk around the old centre. The facades, the statues, the streets keep reminding us that Kings were crowned in the cathedral. Rheims is stuck in the past.
But it’s time to go back home and get ready for the next lecture. The next bus to Joliot-Curie is in ten minutes.
I’m daydreaming, wondering what would have happened had Francis Throckmorton’s plan to restore the Catholic Church in England succeed. Wandering about how life used to mean so little in the past….
But I feel someone watching me. I look to my right. A short stocky red-haired man is gazing at me. A shiver runs along my spine. I look away.
When the number 13 to Croix Rouge arrives, he gets on the bus after me. “Come on, it’s just a coincidence”, I try to convince myself. “Maybe he’s attending the same lectures. The campus is so huge.
”Have you ever felt a gaze weigh on you? Like a thick heavy wrap. Blinding you.
The next stop is where I live.
I get off.
I don’t need to turn around. I know he’s there.
Quickly I get in the building. The doors of the lift are open. I run in. Press 4. Too late. He’s in too.
Everything goes fast. He says something. I can’t hear. He grabs me. I fight back. The doors open. I jump out. Hands on my breast. Hands between my legs. He throws me against the wall. And I scream. I scream so loud my voice breaks.
So loud the whole ten-storey building must hear me.
So loud he gets a fright and leave.
So loud but nobody comes. Nobody stops eating their lunch to see what is going on.
This wasn’t rape. There was “close contact but no penetration” but my hands are still shaking when I recall this day. I was so stupid … and so lucky!
My stomach is hurting when I think of the 75000 women raped in France alone in 2011.. How many more didn’t report the crime? How many more attempts to break a woman? In South Africa, 175 women are raped every day… How many would help them?

 

In love – Amoureuse

20 Jun

In love
It might not be reasonable to speak of love after only five days. But I don’t like the expression “to have a crush”… So let’s not be afraid of words. I am in love. Yes I am in love with Seville!
Trapped indoors the whole day, staring at my computer, I only have one desire: to throw myself into her narrow streets. Their white and ochre houses attract me, as a beautiful smile with fleshy lips would. I want to bite them and be devoured.
It’s so easy to get lost. Alleys meet, get tangled, split up. Squares, like tiny twisted stars, here and there try to tidy up this messy situation. I like to slip into their morning. To surprise them in their sleep. Or to squeeze through, carried bu Andalusian buzz.  Then comes the night that undresses me. What a pleasure to leave all windows wide open, to fall asleep and let Seville’s heat brush against my bare skin until sunrise. What freedom, after all the cold Irish nights.
Maybe I’ll soon get bored of Seville’s smile. It doesn’t matter. I enjoy falling in love. I’ll leave you now. It’s time for me to surrender to the charm…

 Amoureuse
Oui je sais, après cinq jours, on ne peut parler d’amour mais  le mot « béguin » ne sonne pas bien… Alors tant pis, n’ayons pas peur des mots. Je suis amoureuse. Et oui, je suis amoureuse de Séville !
Enfermée toute la journée,  les yeux rivés sur l’écran de mon ordinateur, je n’ai qu’une envie : aller me jeter dans ses ruelles. Bordées de maisons blanches et ocre, elles m’attirent comme m’attire un sourire aux lèvres charnues. J’ai envie de les mordre et me laisser dévorer.
C’est si facile de se perdre. Les venelles se croisent, s’enchevêtrent, se séparent. Les places, minuscules étoiles aux branches tordues, tentent ça et là de mettre un peu d’ordre dans tout ce chaos. J’aime m’y glisser tôt le matin. Les surprendre dans leur sommeil. Ou m’y faufiler le soir, portée par l’animation des Andalous. Et puis vient la nuit qui me dévêt. Quel plaisir de laisser les fenêtres ouvertes, de m’endormir ainsi et de laisser la chaleur de Séville m’effleurer jusqu’au petit matin. Quelle liberté, après les nuits froides irlandaises.
Je vais peut-être vite me lasser du sourire de Séville. Peu importe, c’est agréable de tomber amoureuse. Je vous laisse, il est temps de me laisser séduire…

Le regard des autres – People gaze

17 May

 

Vous vous rappelez:
 le soufre, le bûcher, le gril…
Ah! quelle plaisanterie.
Pas besoin de gril :
l’enfer, c’est les Autres
J-P Sartre

– « On va prendre un café quelque part ? » demanda Alexandre.
– «  Excellente idée, lui répondit-elle en l’embrassant. Je prendrais volontiers aussi un croissant. » Cécilia, qui de septembre à juillet ne pensait qu’à sa ligne, se permettait toujours de petits écarts en vacances.
Le jour venait à peine de se lever et pourtant les touristes inondaient la promenade. Ils se baladaient insouciants, bras et jambes nus assoiffés de soleil. Ils se croisaient, s’échangeaient en souriant des notes parfumées de tiaré et d’ambre solaire et oubliaient les regards froids qu’ils se jetaient le reste de l’année dans les transports publics.
– « Ça te va ici ? » proposa Cécilia.
– « C’est parfait ! Installe-toi, je vais passer la commande.  Un café et un croissant pour toi ?»
– « Oui merci. » Cécilia s’installa confortablement face à la mer et chaussa ses lunettes noires. Entre la terrasse et la plage, il y avait un petit chemin de sable que longeaient les vacanciers, tapis de plage sous le bras.
– « Ah, elle a oublié les cuisses ! » remarqua Cécilia au passage d’une femme aux cuisses rougies par le soleil.
Et tout en déjeunant, ils continuèrent de regarder les gens passer, notant parfois une erreur vestimentaire par ci, par là, une silhouette mise en valeur…
Cécilia avait toujours aimé observer les autres. Au lycée déjà, elle avait passé de nombreux mercredi après-midi au café à regarder les autres, avec ses amies. Mais à 31 ans, elle ne se gaussait plus des timides ni des complexés ! Son regard s’était adouci. Elle était tout simplement curieuse.
Alexandre se prêtait volontiers au jeu pour lui faire plaisir. Et parce que cela lui faisait du bien de regarder les autres, de prendre conscience de leur existence, une fois par an. Combien de personnes croisait-il tous les jours de la semaine sur le trajet du travail et au bureau ? Des centaines de visages dont le reflet s’effaçait aussitôt de sa mémoire.  Cécilia interrompit alors ses pensées.
-« Tu as vu celle-là ? Comme c’est triste. Il est à peine 10 heures du matin. Je me demande combien d’alcool elle a déjà bu… Elle n’a pourtant pas l’air d’une marginale. »
Une femme avançait péniblement le long de l’allée, titubant légèrement.
-« Il n’y a pas que des marginaux qui boivent ! »
-« C’est vrai, acquiesça-t-elle. Mais à cette heure-ci, c’est quand même rare… Elle a l’air plutôt jeune non ? »
C’est alors que la jeune femme titubante sentit leur regard. Plus ils la regardaient, plus ses pieds se faisaient lourds. « Mon dieu, faites qu’ils arrêtent » pria-t-elle secrètement. « Je sais très bien ce qu’ils pensent. C’est ce que tout le monde croit. Que je suis une alcolo. Et s’ils pouvaient voir mes mains, rien ne les ferait changer d’avis. » songea-t-elle en regardant ses doigts tremblants.
– « Tu as vu, ajouta Cécilia, ses mains tremblent. J’espère que ça ne m’arrivera jamais.»
– « Pourquoi voudrais-tu que ça t’arrive ? » demanda aussitôt Alexandre.
Le jeune femme, arrivée à leur hauteur, les regarda comme si elle voulait leur parler mais continua son chemin, se disant que cela ne servirait à rien de leur dire. Ils ne la croiraient pas. Si peu de personnes savaient vraiment ce qu’est la SEP et elle ne se sentait pas la force de leur expliquer.

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You remember:
the sulfur, the stake, the grill ..
Oh What a joke.
No need to grill:
hell is other people
J-P Sartre

– “Shall we go for a coffee somewhere?” Alexander asked.
– “Good idea, she replied giving him a quick kiss. I’d love a croissant too.”
From September to July, Cecilia was obsessed with her figure but she allowed herself some treats on holidays.
The sun had barely risen but the promenade was already full of tourists. They were strolling around, arms and legs naked, thirsty for sun.  They passed by other tourists, exchanging smiles and fragrant notes of tiara and sunscreen. They seemed to forget all the dirty looks they cast at one another the rest of the year in public transports.
-“What about this place?” Cecilia suggested.
– “It’s perfect! Sit down and I’ll go and order. You want a coffee and a croissant, don’t you?”
-“Yes please.” Cecilia made herself comfortable, facing the sea, and put her sunglasses on. There was a little path between the terrace and the beach. Holidaymakers, beach-mat under the arm, headed for the sand.
-“Ah she forgot the thighs!” noted Cecilia as a woman walked by, her thighs sunburnt.
They kept people gazing as they had their breakfast. They noticed dressing faux-pas here, nice looking bodies there…
Cecilia had always enjoyed watching people. When she was in secondary school, she had spent many Wednesday afternoons with her friends at a café, watching other people. But now that she was 31, she no longer mocked the timid or shy ones. Her gaze had softened. She was just curious.
Alexander played the game to please her. And also because it was good to see the others, to become aware of their existence, once a year. How many persons did he pass every day of the week on his way to work and in the office? There were hundreds of faces, whose reflection elapsed his memory straight away. Cecilia interrupted his train of thought.
-“Did you see this one? It’s sad isn’t it? It’s not even 10 am. I wonder how much alcohol she already drank… She doesn’t look like a dropout though.”
A woman was staggering along the path.
-“It’s not just dropouts who drink alcohol!”
-“True, she admitted. But at this time of the day, it is rare… She looks quite young too…”
That’s when the young woman started to feel their gaze. The longer their gaze, the heavier her feet felt. “Dear God, have them stop looking please” she silently prayed. “I know what they are thinking. Everybody thinks that I’m a boozer. And if they could see my fingers, nothing would ever change their minds” she thought, looking at her shaking hands.
-“Did you see that, Cecilia added, her hands are shaking. I hope this will never happen to me.”
-”Why would it ever happen to you?” Alexander asked straight away.
The young woman was now in front of them.  She looked at them as if she intended to say something but kept walking unsteadily along her path. She thought there was no point trying to tell them. They would not believe her. So few people knew what MS was and she felt too tired right now to explain.

John Lennon at my funeral

16 May

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter
Sandra Martzpapier

I guess that’s it. I’m dead! Bereft of life, departed, extinct, lifeless… Je suis morte! The show is over.
When did this happen? I can’t remember anything at all.
But since this is my funeral and I can see it from here, I  can confirm that I have ceased to exist there.
Wow that’s some piece of news, isn’t it? I mean for myself… not for the rest of the world. Although I’m delighted to see so many people attending my funeral.
Mairead, that’s so sweet of you. Do you remember when you asked us to write our own orbituary? I couldn’t do it. Thanks for coming anyway. And there is AnneMarie…  and Pili… chatting away. That’s nice.
So I died in Ireland. That’s weird. Maybe Spain wasn’t the right country for me after all. Funny, I really thought it would be.
But hold on, here is my mum. How come she’s here? And my dad! Come on, you never came to visit me when I was alive. Why do you come now? How? Did you get beamed up?
– “Well Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do…
– I beg your pardon? Who said that?
– “ Hi. It’s me John!”
Now that’s bizarre. Is John Lennon really talking to me? We’re both dead alright but I wouldn’t have thought he would notice me here! Maybe I got really famous in my lifetime. Who knows…
– “Hi John. I didn’t expect to meet you here!”
– “Ah you know I am the walrus. Goo goo g’joob! …. Boy you’ve been a naughty girl. You let your knickers down…”
Poor John. He didn’t age well in death… Or marijuana is freely available in Heaven.
I’m still intrigued though. How come I don’t remember anything at all? Maybe my MS got so bad and I suffered complete memory loss. Or, better option: I died aged 100 completely senile. I always loved the poem “When I am an old woman”. Am I wearing purple?
Oops no I didn’t make it that long, unless I had major plastic surgery. By the look of me, I must have died in my forties.
Now that’s a disappointment. And I was going around telling everybody how yoga is great for you and will keep you fit till you’re 90!
You don’t get a refund if you’re not satisfied with your life do you?
I’m seriously frustrated now. I wonder if I made it to Spain though. I was having such a good time planning to move … What happened?
Maybe it was a road accident. Or poison.
Let’s investigate.  I always enjoyed detective novel. I’ll play the detective investigating her own death.
First, I look peaceful. Why did they put so much make-up on my face though? I hate it…
No damage to the head. Hey, is my brain still in? I had said I would give it to the Brain Bank for research. Come on! Get it out of my skull! I want to help science.
Ok something is not right. Too many things don’t fit. I didn’t want to be buried anyway.
Who decided? Mum is that you? Dad?
Oh no, look at that! I’ve got hairy legs!!!! What about the Dignity in Dying?
And what is this bell? Could anybody just switch it off please? I’m trying to investigate my own death… I hate this sound. It reminds me of my ….
-“Please don’t wake me…” , John starts to sing.  “No, don’t shake me. Leave me where I am. I’m only sleeping. Everybody seems to think I’m lazy. I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy…”
… my alarm!

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