Sunday, 15 January 2012


I'm rather keen on alternative things. By this I don't mean 'hipster alternative', like all that East London business, I simply mean things which are in some way a bit different or perhaps rather unusual. Going blackberry picking in the rain by a prison on my 21st birthday, for example. Taking photographs of barbed wire. Collecting rubbish.
I am also referring to my interest in alternative therapies & practices. I'm a little bit of an odd paradox - being very chilled out & easy going, I also have quite a tendency to stress like a mentalist. I worry about the most ridiculous things & sometimes find it a bit tricky to remind myself how ridiculous I am being. For example, the simple matter of going to bed. I want to get ready for bed - brush my teeth, take out contact lenses, remove my blue mascara, tweeze my eyebrows - but I can't get around to doing it because I'm sewing or something instead so then I start worrying that if I don't stop sewing & carry out my abulitions soon I'll go to bed too late & then be tired the next day. The later it gets, the more I worry about it getting later & being more tired. Honestly, BELLA JUST GO TO BED. So yeah, a little of my irrational worry patterns for you. I'm very keen to stop being such a worrier so have been to mindfulness classes, practice yoga & dabble meditation now & then. My New Years resolution is to stress less, chill my beans & live in the moment.

My recent alternative discovery has been Chi Kung. Chi Kung is the practice of aligning breath, movement & awareness for exercise, healing & meditation. With roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts & philosophy, Chi Kung is traditionally viewed as a practice to balance chi - a persons 'intrinsic life energy'. The practice involves rhythmic breathing, coordinated with slow stylized repetition of fluid movement & a calm mindful state. From a philosophical perspective Chi Kung is believed to help develop human potential, allow access to higher realms of awareness & awaken one's 'true nature'. I've been going Chi Kung classes in London for a while now & got jolly excited when my teacher told me about a weekend course he was organising called 'Fully Alive: Energy flow for Health & Happiness'. Seriously, how ideal does that sound?

So I signed up immediately, knowing no one else going or much about it, only that it was at a retreat in East Sussex by the sea. The retreat was a family run house with animals hanging around & barns to sleep in. It was really wonderful. All rustic with fires & home cooked food. We were an extremely eclectic bunch, I must say. About 15 of us - ranging from Paul, a tall & rather large plasterer with a handle-bar mousache who complained that he wouldn't have come if he'd know the food who be vegetarian ('I don't want to become a vegetabilist! I need meat!') to Rene, a completely lovely yoga teacher from Norway. Then of course there was me - the girl in green trousers who went around taking photos of barred wire, bits of string & leaves.

The program was quite intense, learning & practising the art of Chi Kung from 9-6pm each day, but I found it really wonderful & has been helping my sort out my going to bed situation. Since the retreat I do the 15 minute practice each morning. My chi is flowing like a mentalist right now. Ideal.

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