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REVIEW: ‘LOVE YOGA BUM’ TURKEY

“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” Bertrand Russell 

When I booked myself in for a week at a Yoga Retreat in Turkey – I didn’t think too much about it. I wanted some hot weather and it sounded like a healthy way to spend a week. I assumed several things might come with a trip of this type…‘away from temptation…out of trouble… lose a bit of weight…meet like minded people’. I had practiced yoga for over a year a while back and for some reason stopped – so this seemed a great way to get back into it. So. Yoga Retreat… no brainer really?

I arrived exhausted yet, excited to Suleyman’s Gardens, Turkey, a beautiful family run farm on the coastline where I was assigned a simple wood cabin with a comfortable bed. All one needs really.

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Scouring the weekly timetable I saw yoga was to begin at 7.30am for an hour and a half. We would then reconvene at 6pm that evening for more yoga. There were huge spaces in the day to do with what we wanted. A feeling of fear washed over me as I realised the long blank hours and the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere. ‘Oh god.. what if it’s really boring..’ was my feeling of dread.

“Boredom is therefore a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.” Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

I took myself off to the beach and flicked to the chapter “Boredom and Excitement” of the book I’d taken ‘The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell’

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“Ok”. I thought… feeling less afraid.

As I sat in the yoga den clad in my Primani leggings at 7.30am the following morning the realisation that mayyybe I should have thought about my attire a little more washed over me. As the other women commented on each others fashionable yogi outfits I made a joke about my cheap leggings to a quiet audience. But I had to remember – I wasn’t there for that. I was there for a holiday from my mind. From societal pressures and to do some yoga. But where there are other people it can always be hard to remain centred and to keep with one’s game plan. There will always be comparison, self reflection, opinions, advice, or perhaps some drama of some sorts. To remain unfaltering in a world of conflicting ideas and opinions is perhaps the hardest thing to do.

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Boat trip..a bored fisherman looking for stimulation from.. Facebook? 

And I guess that’s what I learnt on this trip. That my fear of boredom was just that. Fear. The days indeed, magically filled up themselves up.. either with spontaneous walks or exploring on the seashore. I faced my fear of spiders. As I woke up and spotted a very big beast on the wall.  Mosquito netting between us. In my groggy state…. I realised – that maybe… just maybe there wasn’t really anything to be afraid of. So. I went back to sleep.

There is something extremely satisfying about stretching and working out as the sun rises over an amazing horizon, feeding on home grown food.. and swimming in the Mediterranean sea and listening to the wise life stories of others. I could definitely get used to it. But.. could I ever become a real.. yogi? Hmmm. We’ll see.

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I travelled to Turkey with Love Yoga Bum – led by Maudie Johnson… down to earth and approachable, her non rigid approach and desire to have fun shone through.

The #yoga classes were led by Sarah Kekus of website The Health Architect. Sarah delivered an eclectic mix of Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow and core strengthening work and easily led two hour morning sessions and deceivingly made them appear only an hour long (helped along with her awesome collection of empowering music). I found Sarah to be a strong minded yet sensitive teacher who easily adjusted her teaching to the needs of different skillsets.

A good week with some interesting women, excellent food, beautiful landscapes and some lessons learnt. And the life advice offered up by the retreats’ Conceptual Designer Ian Worrall was second to none.. Suleyman’s Gardens – a very beautiful place to escape to..

Looking forward to my next adventure.

Becki Bx

@ohdearyme

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REVIEW: VIPASSANA MEDITATION CENTRE

Considering I only lasted only two days at the retreat it didn’t seem fair that I should write a review.. let me introduce Cassandra Mansueto. She and her partner gave me a lift to Hereford from London – (which was a very enjoyable part of the journey). Here is Cassandra’s review of the Dhamma Dipa Vipassana Meditation Centre in Hereford.

The year of 25! Quarter-life crisis! I have strayed from the Garden of Eden; my body has embarked on the primrose path and my soul is at odds with this! I expect my new fixation is the answer: I will float out of this 10-day meditation course, as light as a feather, my tarnished heart very nicely polished. Sometimes, when I walk with my partner in nature, I scream an adaptation of an excerpt from Apocalypto: I AM ALMIGHTY POWERFUL!! THIS IS ­MY LIFE AND I AM NOT AFRAID! After these 10 days, my title in the world will be ‘she who is strong and controls her own mind’.

For the duration of our stay we are to live humble lives as nuns and monks (kind of). All sexy areas (knees and shoulders) to be covered in modest clothing. No communication allowed! Males and females separated! We are served vegetarian meals (well, breakfast and lunch….apologies to my tummy if it thought we were off to an indulgent retreat).

Each day, everyone is greeted by the 4am gong and a two hour meditation (which means only another 8 hours of meditation to go within the day). The technique itself is quite basic in theory, but applying it is something else altogether. During the first few days we are slowly introduced and eased in to the practice of Vipassana, which slowly cultivates our awareness to perform the technique correctly. We all hear the looped message of, ‘Awareness and Equanimity. Anicca, anicca, anicca. . .change, change, change –insert never-ending, possibly Sanskrit tunes from the past-’.

The Vipassana technique, in my opinion is a good one. The method behind the madness is really quite simple and powerful, but on a primal level I want to throw all of my primrose path toys out of the cot and scream, especially during the three daily one hour sessions where all movement is prohibited. Eventually the chanting becomes unbearable to listen to, as is Goenka’s monotone voice, and the incessant talking at the beginning of each meditation.

This must be part of the plan, testing our tempers and ability to be equanimous, after all, Vipassana is ultimately to be applied at all times, throughout our daily lives, forever and ever.

It’s incredible what silence can do to the mind. Many memories resurface of even the most insignificant mistakes, actions and words. I make mental lists of all the people that I need to apologise to, when I do eventually go back home. This is precisely what I shouldn’t be doing. Vipassana teaches the mind to be present and cease all craving and aversion. This is all too sobering for my liking, so I start to entertain myself. During one session, I envision a fire has erupted and in a panic all of us meditators are forced to get up and speed out of the hall, but it’s happened during our ‘Simon says be a statue’ meditation hour and I’ve lost all sensation in my leg, so instead I’m falling all over the place.

There is no shame at this course. On the first day, the ladies’ bathrooms were filled with sounds of plopping jobbies and pee-induced farts. No-one wears make-up. A sense of liberation pervades the air. I take it a step further, being an eco-bunny, washing and hanging my reusable fabric panty liners on the washing line. Have I taken it all too far I wonder? Or will they all gawk in wonder and amazement at how dedicated I am to being a super-being?

By the fifth day, I’ve seen most rules broken, a girl smiling at her boyfriend across the hall and another woman wrapping food in her scarf and hiding it in her room. One evening my roommate makes rustling noises and it sounds like she’s opening a forbidden Wispa-Gold. It then sounds as if she’s disguising the noise of her chewing, by rubbing her hands together as if she is very cold! I refuse to look in her direction for fear of making her feel uncomfortable. I want her to know that she can trust me with her secret, so I myself break a rule in her presence, by writing something down. The next morning I look at her bedside table and realise there was no chocolate, she was actually moulding ear plugs. Paranoia sets in and I start to wonder if I snore.

The highlight of each day is the teacher’s discourse in the evening, recordings of Goenka. He’s got such an amazing warmth and understanding of human nature. A teddy bear of note. . . a Buddah-Bear. What a sense of humour! We all laugh hysterically! Surprisingly, it’s only on day seven that I start suspecting an aura of brainwashing around my head, but after some rumination (again, while I should be meditating), I come to the conclusion that Goenka is telling us to do the same thing over and over again because we simply aren’t following the simple instructions the first 100 times.

 I chastise myself for having a weak mind!

Finally, day 10 arrives. It’s the lowest point that I’ve had, as so much has been brought to the surface. But there’s a surprise for all of us. We come out of meditation that morning and mixed areas have been combined for the males and females. We may talk! I am greeted by my Henry-Bear (boyfriend) and all is right in the world. We are standing under an umbrella in the rain recalling all that we’ve been dying to tell each other. He can’t believe that in one of the chants (quite a catchy one), I don’t hear ‘gay protection’. Believe you me, I hear it in every meditation session for the rest of the day. Upon leaving, we are instructed to meditate each day for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening and naturally, we all promise each other that we will – insert ominous raised eyebrows-. I don’t leave as spiritually light as I would have liked, but I definitely have dropped a jean’s size!

Four months later and I’m onto my next fad, Feminism (read ‘Eat my Heart Out’ and ‘How to Be a Woman’!!) but I’m still feeling the effects of this donation based course and know that I want to keep Vipassana part of my life. I just haven’t been disciplined enough to follow through with the prescribed meditation sessions, which I know would alter my whole reality. Goenka claims less sleep is needed, one is more efficient and you will ultimately live in line with karma. Changes are occurring in my life on a subtle level. Most nights I have a ritual of meditating after a hot shower. There is a lot more awareness in my thoughts and speech and best of all, I’m letting go of every bad memory as it occurs, forgiving myself immediately, so that I never have to be burdened by it again, until I can live in line with karma and have a clean slate. I also intend on going back and I encourage any person who wishes for a better life, to embark on this journey.

Cassandra Mansueto Xx

Would you like to write an article for ohDearyme? Get in touch at beckiburrows@gmail.com

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Barack Obama won! And I was in Times Square for it! Thanks all for your vote.. here is a video I filmed of my experience, including: zooming around New York in a limo, being Ushers’ special guest, completing Scroobius Pip’s dare at the Katz’s deli and being pulled over by the police.. it was great.. thanks everyone for your vote and getting me there.. the voting for the next round commences on Weds next week.. but in the meantime.. in the words of the Americans.. check it…

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Hey so we skipped over to Berlin for May Day to experience the great vibe of the workers day there – and to interview Bonaparte a great band – to see lots of interesting footage tune in here!!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgR1AOPM1dI]

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Well … it got so bad in England we had to go abroad to get our
interviews (nah – not really) .. but I went abroad anyways – over to a
place called Cologne.. in a country called.. Germany.. it was here
that myself and Julia went along to a place called Gebraude 9 to
interview some bands called MSTRKRFT – Shitdisco and Punks Jump
Up…heard of em?????

Now enough talk… go watch ..

[youtube=http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QOWIO6DlvRg]

Thank you thanks you…

becki x

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