10 ways women can learn to love themselves

By Minna Salami from www.msafropolitan.com


There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who truly loves herself. No matter what height, shape, hair-type or skin you have, the beauty of a self-loving personality is ultimately reflected in your behaviour. Learning to love yourself is the single most beautifying action, which reflects in how you act and react in any situation; how you speak, carry yourself and interact with other people are all determined by how genuinely you love yourself.

Learn how to meditate

In order to love yourself, you have to connect with the inner you. Set aside some time on a daily basis to simply ‘be’, and truly benefit from the gift of meditation. No woman is beautiful if she is stressed out.

Learn how to keep a journal

Keeping a journal is keeping a recorded dialogue with yourself. You can discuss your fears and woes, but also your successes and joys. The only way to love you is to know yourself. Keeping a journal is an important step in this process.

Learn how to listen to your intuition

Oestrogen is the hormone, which allows women to be especially in tune with our intuitions. As you get to know yourself better, your gut feelings will also become clearer. Listen to the signs that tell you how you feel about things; graciousness lies in the connection between intuition and action.

Learn how to accept your looks

Even supermodels have days when they are dissatisfied with their looks. It’s part of human nature, often as a sign that we are neglecting either our mental or physical health, to occasionally feel unattractive.  Accepting your looks, is a different matter however, and a trait, which will do more for you than any magic potion or surgery can.

Learn how to take care of your body

Your body is your temple; it is the capsule of your soul and mind. Communicate with it, by observing what makes you feel healthy, and strong. Remember that a body, which does not exercise, is a body not fulfilling its function.

Learn how to manage your finances

Whether you can afford a personal bookkeeper or not, staying on top of your personal in- and outgoings is crucial to your confidence. You are an independent woman, you came into this world alone, and to be frank, you will leave it alone. Don’t leave something as important as your finances, in the hands of another person.

Learn how to be kind

As much as we are independent, we are also co-dependent. We need other people in all elements of life, from daily service transactions to friends that we can share our lives with. Kindness is therefore a key to a happy life. As you do upon others, so will be done upon you.

Learn how to enjoy sex

Female sexuality is one of the most over-debated and misunderstood topics of our time. It’s no wonder that many of us begin to think of a sex as a chore, or a conundrum. The key to enjoying sex is in learning that you have every right to express yourself sexually. There is nothing to be ashamed of in asking for what you want in bed.

Learn about your sisters and mothers

Women are like branches of a tree; we have all come to be from the same roots. We are perhaps, even more co-dependant than men, because typically we connect with our emotions rather than our minds. Find out about those particular women that have paved the way for the lifestyle you lead. Starting from your mother, to your grandmothers, to the women that made a difference in your town. These are the mother’s of your mother’s of your mother’s.

Learn how to communicate with God

Whichever God you believe in, there are feminine attributes to your religion, which you particularly should seek out and learn how to use. Every individual woman should find her way to connect to the divine feminine too.


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Interview with a shamanic practitioner Zoe Bran: Shamanism, London and the illusion of spirit-matter split


This time in Spiritual London virtual realms we are honoured to have a conversation with a shamanic practitioner, a fellow Londoner and a beautiful wise woman, Zoë Brân. Hope you enjoy as much as we did learning more about shamanic wisdom and it’s simple yet profound applications in out modern, urban realities.

I must confess, interviewing Zoe really inspired me to, hey, just sit back & enjoy the London living as it is. Full on spirit adventure. So scroll down, grab yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a stream of wisdom and warmth.

SL.: As a shamanic practitioner, how do you weave your practice into your everyday life in London?

Zoë Brân: Almost everything that I do is connected to my shamanic practice; seeing clients, teaching students, writing, even walking my dog in a London park is a part of my spiritual life. I’ve been working now with Core Shamanism for 12 years and this way of being developed gradually over that time. It is all about connection: connection between all things living and not living, organic and inorganic, and the shamanic journey allows you to experience this directly and personally which makes it easier to live with a sense of everyday connection.

SL.:What solutions does your work, your own practice and shamanism in general offer for the modern spirit-matter split?

Zoë Brân: In shamanism there is no spirit-matter split. The separation between spirit and matter came to us primarily from the Judeo-Christian tradition in which the body was seen as intrinsically bad and spirit intrinsically good. Shamanism does not make a distinction between these things because everything has, indeed everything is, spirit; a leaf, a car, a dog, the wind, everything is spirit. As well as exploring this from a shamanic perspective, I consider it in terms of contemporary scientific thinking, which describes the connection of all things at a sub atomic level. However different humans may appear to be from each other, and from the things that surround us, at some very profound level we are the same in terms of our material being. I believe that shamanism is simply a spiritual expression of this fact, a way of seeing the world which allows us to overcome the illusion of separateness. Because shamanism is not about belief or faith but about experiences and action it is uniquely placed among spiritual practices in being able to help people overcome the spiritual-physical duality that many of us grew up with. In the shamanic journey, which involves altering our state of consciousness, we can simply and quickly step beyond our ordinary everyday selves and experience non separation.

SL.: What would you suggest to a fictional Londoner who wants to improve the quality of his/her life right now?

Zoë Brân: A fairly well known and much quoted thought is that we are all searching for the meaning of our lives, the purpose of our existence, even ourselves. Why am I here? What is my true path in life? How can I be happy? All these are questions that most of us will have asked at least once, and they’re the kind of questions that most of my clients hope to answer. However, it is not meaning or even purpose that we are really seeking, but simply the experience of being alive, which ought to be the simplest thing to do, but isn’t. There’s something about the spirit-matter split, which you asked about earlier, that affects our experience of living in a very negative way. Many people try to resolve the split by reading some of the countless self help books that are out there, but second hand knowledge is rarely the answer. In my personal experience, and that of most of my clients and students, it is face to face, loving familiarity with Spirit and with our own spirit nature that improves quality of life, sometimes magically. So, I’d suggest learning the techniques of shamanism as a simple but profound means to improving anyone’s life, regardless of where they live!

SL.: … you call shamanism a technology for the modern world. Why do you use the term ‘technology’?

Zoë Brân: That’s an interesting question. We often think of technology as referring only to mechanical or industrial items and uses, but it also means the ‘knowledge and skills available to any human society’. For many people, including myself, shamanism is a spiritual path; it is also a highly practical tool. Our cave- dwelling ancestors probably used shamanism to help them survive, to answer questions about day to day living. The ability to make the shamanic journey, the ‘soul-flight’, is thought to be hard wired in the human brain and, if you think about it, virtually anyone is able to sit in one place while visualising of themselves in the past or projecting themselves into the future. Shamanic journeying is simply a more sophisticated, focused and intentional version of this human ability and skill, which is why I sometimes refer to shamanism as a technology.

SL.: Shamanism, spirit guides and soul retrieval can sound very mystical and even scary, what can we expect from your workshops and teachings?

Zoë Brân: Shamanism is the world’s oldest spiritual practice, it is the heritage of virtually everyone alive today. It has nothing to do with religion of them, or even with good or evil. While I understand that some people may feel that shamanism his bizarre or even scary, I see this as a hangover from the religions that we’ve grown up with: notions of hell, heaven, angels or demons. All the world’s big religions developed out of shamanism, but a great deal of what shamanism was was lost in the transition. For example, the Lower World of shamanism is like the roots of a tree, it supports the tree, its grounds the tree, the tree draws nourishment from the roots, from the soil and water. In Christian and Islamic traditions the Lower World has become Hell. Many people imagine that the words ‘spirits’or ‘spirit’ refer to the dead. In some shamanic traditions this is the case. In the core shamanic tradition which I practiced, spirits’ refers to everything that is. My spirit helpers are parts of the universe presenting themselves to me in particular ways in order to teach me particular things. They are also the thing that they appear to be, a Deer, a Horned Man, a Vulture. They are also a part of myself, because if everything is one and there is no separation how can anything not be a part of me?

I call my courses ‘Adventures in Shamanism’ because for me that’s what this practice is, the most exciting adventure in my life so far. What people can expect from my workshops and teaching is an intensely pragmatic approach to healing life’s everyday difficulties. Typical questions while learning to journey might be, “I’m going on a journey to meet my spirit helpers and ask show me practical ways to have a better relationship with my mother?” Or “Show me how my life will be if I take the job offer in Manchester?” Shamanism can of course be applied to existential questions such as,”Show me what I need to know about death so that I can live life to the full”, or “Help me to experience my true potential”.

SL.: How do you experience the spiritual side of London? What is there already, what is changing and what is needed?

Zoë Brân: There is undoubtedly a growing movement towards spirituality across London, and across the United Kingdom. You can almost feel it. I work in places now, such as businesses in The City, where what I do would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. However this movement, this groundswell, is very definitely fragmented. Even the shamanic community, if it can be called that, is highly fragmented. Whether it’s desirable for things to come together, or not, I can’t answer. While I’m not particularly in favour of regulation, there is a need for people seeking help to be able to distinguish between trained, skilled and ethical practitioners and people offering services without training or skills. Greater clarity about what’s available, so that people can get a sense of what might benefit them, would be big step forward, Spiritual London, and other groups working in this area are a great help.

SL.: What are your three favourite places in London?

Zoë Brân: My favourite place is a small fenced-in area of Hampstead Heath overlooking Kenwood House. I discovered the place some years ago and found a beautiful ‘altar’ made from a tree stump covered with little offerings of feathers, leaves, pennies and with the branches above hung with beads and ribbons. This ‘altar’ has been destroyed several times and all the bushes around cut back. Each time it is destroyed, it reappears. Here is a photo of it taken a few years ago.

My next favourite place is Roundwood Park in Willesden; it’s where I go almost every day to walk my dog. I have a special tree here, which is also one of my Middle World spirit helpers and it’s nice to be able to see and touch it, particularly as I often get unexpected insights or advice while doing so. My third favourite place in Soho. In 2011 I will have lived in London for 30 years and for me Soho has always been the heart
of London, the place to socialise, to meet friends and watch the world pass by. London is one of the world’s most vibrant and exciting cities and Soho is at the very centre of that, with a unique spirit all its own!


Zoë Brân (pronounced Brahn) is a Core Shamanic practitioner, writer and educator. Born in South Wales her earliest professional post was working for the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as a writer. Zoë was the first woman in Britain to be involved in managing a national AIDS organisation and her groundbreaking PhD explored the relationship between society, culture and HIV disease. As a writer of travel literature her work focussed on troubled areas of the world such as Burma, Bosnia and Cuba. Zoë taught Writing and also Creative Thinking at several London universities and is a former Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and a Writer in Residence at the University of the Arts, London.

Zoë was introduced to Core Shamanism (aka Harner Method Core Shamanism) in 1998 and trained in shamanic practice with the Centre for Shamanic Studies, (formerly the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies) and with other notable British and North American teachers. This training, which is ongoing, included working with the concepts of spirit, healing, problem-solving and power. Zoë currently offers workshops, courses and seminars on Core Shamanism in London and the South East.

The next ‘Adventures in Shamanism’ course starts Monday October 11th at 6.45pm in Islington. For details of this and all Zoë’s upcoming courses, workshops and seminars, http://www.shaman.uk.com.

For further details of shamanism historically and around the world www.shaman.uk.net

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Living fully: Where to go and what to do in London (September)

Summer is ending and action is returning to London. There are a number of very exciting (and also free) events taking place this September and October and with this post I want to give a quick overview of what’s happening and where. Follow www.spirituallondon.co.uk for more events as we go further into Autumn season.

For those who need a good stretch and re-fresh of the whole system:

Deep tissue holistic bodywork by Maori Healers, 30th of August – 5th of September

Personally, I wouldn’t miss an occasion to have my body re-booted by Maoris. It is not for everyone and it is extremely intense, but it does change you. And your life. Feel adventurous? Give it a try.
Contact: moonleela@gmail.com Session: £80.

For the intellectually inclined:

Mind, the Buddha and the Brain
School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS)
Tuesday 14 September, 7pm

“Exciting developments are taking place at the intersection between Western sciences and Buddhism. The quest for understanding the human mind and its functions is at the centre of the meeting of psychology, cognitive neuroscience and Buddhist thought. Based on different perspectives and paradigms these three disciplines contribute answers to some of the most intriguing questions: What is the relation between brain and mind? What happens when we meditate and why does it matter? Can the brain be happy? This talk will introduce scientific and Buddhist views on the topic. Guided by the question how this knowledge can benefit our lives, it will cover the commonalities and differences of these different views.”
Details: Teacher: Dr. Peter Malinowski. Free of charge. Pre-booking is not necessary

Buddhism and Philosophy
School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS)
Wednesday 15 September, 7pm

“Sometimes Buddhism is described as a religion, sometimes as a philosophy, and sometimes a science of mind. While it is difficult to limit it to any of these individually, it is true that Buddhism contains elements of all three. In particular, Buddhism contains very precise philosophical views about the nature of reality, the universe and beings’ place in it. These views increase in their sophistication depending on the capacities of individual practitioners and, while employing conceptual thought, always aim at the ultimate freedom from all limiting concepts. In this lecture, Karol will discuss the commonalities and differences between classical western and Buddhist philosophical views.”
Details: Teacher: Karol Sleczek. Free of charge. Pre-booking is not necessary

For the culturally inclined and thirsty of different aspects on Tantra:

Revival of Tantric Buddhist Practice in Today’s Tibet
School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS)
Thursday 16 September, 7pm

“Following the changes in Beijing’s policies of 1978, Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China are experiencing a great ethnic and religious revival. This talk will look into instances of the revitalization of Tantric practice in Eastern Tibet. These demonstrations of the survival of Buddhist culture are statements of its unbroken link with the past vis-à-vis the destruction of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese colonization and the dramatic modernization process that this foreign presence entailed. Special attention will be drawn to the agency of the leaders of the revival, who not only restore indigenous access to local sources of authority, but most of all, embody the highest Tantric ideals, which empower them to render their tradition as valid for identity construction today.”
Details: Teacher: Maria Przyjemska. Free of charge. Pre-booking is not necessary

For those that want to combine modernity and buddhism:

Lama Ole Nydahl in London
Tuesday 21 September, 8pm
Senate House, University of London

Limitless Freedom and Joy – an introduction to Diamond Way Buddhism

“In this introductory lecture, contemporary Buddhist master Lama Ole Nydahl will outline the basis, way and goal of Diamond Way Buddhism. In particular he will explain how the ancient wisdom of Buddhism, while retaining its essence, has adapted to meet the needs of people in modern Western societies. Lama Ole embodies the limitless freedom, joy and compassion that come from recognising the nature of mind, and in this talk he will teach practical methods leading to this experience. The lecture and Q&A session will be followed by a guided meditation and the chance to take Buddhist Refuge and receive a blessing.”

Details: Price: £15 (£12 concs) per lecture. Pre-booking is not necessary

For those unsatisfied with the Western denial of death and afterlife:

Wednesday 22 September, 8pm
Senate House, University of London

Death and Rebirth
“What happens after death is one of the biggest question we have as humans. While some religions speculate and rely on faith, Buddhism is uniquely explicit. In particular, Tibetan Buddhism contains very precise descriptions of the process of dying, death and the intermediate state between death and rebirth known in Tibetan as the “Bardo”. These teachings are based on the experiences described by the Buddha and generations of realised practitioners who were able to integrate them and directly confirm their validity. The Buddha’s teachings on death and rebirth are practical keys to understanding the true nature of death and a way to live, die and be reborn better. They support anyone who wants to come to terms with impermanence and dissolve all fears.
Lama Ole Nydahl is a master of the profound meditation practice of Phowa, or “transference of consciousness at the moment of death”, a method to consciously use the process of death to liberate one’s consciousness into a state of highest bliss, which he has taught to thousands of people worldwide. He is an authority on the Tibetan teachings on death, the intermediate state and rebirth. Born in Denmark in 1941, as a child he had dreams and memories of his former life as a soldier in Eastern Tibet, where he protected the civilian population during clashes with Chinese troops. In this lecture, Lama Ole will outline how modern scientific research and the Tibetan Buddhist teachings on death closely converge. He will explain the mind’s experiences during the process of death and the intermediary state, and how we can work with our immediate situation to be able to better relate to impermanence, die fearlessly and create positive circumstances for future lives.”

Details: Price: £15 (£12 concs) per lecture. Pre-booking is not necessary

For those hungry of fresh Indian mystery:

Swami Atmachaithanya visiting London 23rd of September

Swami from Kerala, South India, is virtually unknown in UK so here is a little bit of information: “Swami Atmachaithanya was born on 10th April 1964 in the small village of Uppaychal, a poor rural community in southwest India. Throughout his early childhood Swami showed remarkable kindness towards others and a great reverence for the Divine. He kept the image of Lord Shiva constantly in his mind and attained Self-realisation at the age of seven. As he got older many people came to seek his advice and to benefit from his miraculous healing powers. Then, as now, Swami asks for no payment for the help that he gives.”

For those in need of deep transformation:

Short Vipassana retreat in London
Saturday/Sunday 25th/26h of September

Ever wanted to try Vipassana out but didn’t feel ready to take a leap into a full 10 day adventure? This is your chance to get a mild Vipassana taster. “Vipassana, sometimes translated as Insight or Higher Vision, is one of the key meditative styles in Buddhism.  It is designed through developing sustained attentiveness to help meditators become wiser and thus to become more capable of helping themselves and others.  In its more highly developed forms it is designed to give meditators the understanding that brings freedom and full enlightenment.
Details: Facilitator: Ven Antonio Satta. Location: Jamyang Buddhist Centre, Kennington. Suggested donation: £60.

Satsang Intensive with Mooji, 25th/26th of September

It is the last chance to spend time with Mooji in London this year. After spending many years travelling and holding satsangs everywhere around the world Mooji is ‘taking easy’ this year, so if you live in London, use this opportunity to suck-in the wisdom of non-duality. Groups of people travel great distances from around the world to spend couple of days in this man’s presence.

And for everyone:

Festival of Life, 25th of September

It is the most vibrant, action filled community – or, heck, the whole London – festival celebrating health, life, vitality, awareness, sustainability and.. love! Highly recommended for delicious food, community atmosphere, very interesting workshops and an excellent dance party.

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Spirit-centered conscious UK festivals to keep in your diary (summer 2010)


It’s festival time.
Here is a list of most important conscious-vibe festivals happening this summer – we don’t want to miss out!


Small World Festival 27th-30th of May, Kent. Small World Festival is just round the corner. Famous for their solar powered stage that makes its rounds through main green/conscious festival over summer, it is a perfect family-oriented budget festival. Plenty of dance, music, enterntainment and healing in a more intimate small gathering.


The Great British Kundalini Yoga Festival 1st-6th of June, Osho Leela Centre, Dorset. For Kundalini Yoga lovers and for all those who think that other festivals are too light-hearted:). Every year this intimate festival brings together an exciting programme of Kundalini Yoga and other activities related to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. Although in all spirit-centered festivals days start yearly, here the day starts veeery early with Aquarian Sadhana, two and a half hours of pray, practise of Kundalini Yoga and chanting. There are three workshop slots throughout the day with an ample selection of activities for you to choose from. In the afternoon there is an all camp meditation. This is all fitted round three very tasty vegetarian meals prepared by the wonderful people at the Leela Centre. To cap off the day you can browse the bazaar and take part in the evening event, all with a warming cup of Yogi Tea. Previous workshops included Kundalini Yoga, Shakti Dance, Naad Yoga, Intuitive Massage, Karam Kriya, Bead making and mantra, Breathwalk and many others.

Sunrise Celebration 3rd – 6th of June, Bruton, Somerset. The jewel in the crown of this summer’s green/conscious festivals Sunrise Celebration is big, colorful and creative. Lessons in wild food foraging, organic food, ethical marketplace, pillow fights, circus, crafts, dress-up parties, conscious cabaret, permaculture, green innovations, huge kids and teens area… and lots of dancing.

Midsummer Yoga Festival
18th-20th of June, Osho Leela Centre, Dorset. Child friendly, yoga centered cosy festival celebrating the diversity in yoga through workshops, practice, healing and connections.

Tree of Life Festival 18th-20th of June, Bedfordshire. A workshop centered festival with a lot of great body/mind/spirit speakers, uplifting conscious music, biodanza and 5 rhythms dance. Workshops include raw food, tantra, shamanism, wellness, relationships, personal power and finding your true self.


Buddhafield 14th-18th of July, Taunton, Somerset. I cannot praise the festival enough. Conscious dance parties, endless performances, perfect sauna vibe, never ending drum jams, lovely people, meditation spaces all intermingled with Buddhist rituals, ceremonies, movies, games, and interesting workshops… you name it! All powered with wind and solar energy.

Glastonbury Zodiac Pilgrimage 20th-25th of July, Glastonbury. A very special gathering more than a festival to walk through the 12 signs of the Glastonbury Zodiac star temple. If you are up for 4 days of intense retrospection, connection to land and starts in a likeminded group of people, this is an event to consider. Camping, stars, hiking, nature, campfire, songs and… pure simplicity!

The Secret Garden Party 22nd-25th of July, East Anglia. First of all, check their website – it is very interactive and fun! A good reflection of the idea behind this gathering – creative & very arty, independent, unpredictable and dynamic. Explore your creative potential, share ideas and immerse yourself in a UK version of Burning Man’s critical mass! Theme of this year is REALITY.


One World Festival 9th-15th of August, Worcestershire. Interested in macrobiotics? This festival is definitely the most attractive macrobiotics-centered summer event. Even if you do not care about macrobiotics much, I  promise you will enjoy the most delicious food you could imagine, very intimate friendly vibe shared by all, awesome tai chi, yoga and meditation with top teachers, and will have lots of fun chatting, laughing, drumming, dancing and chilling by the bonfire. The focus of the festival is good quality and very diverse workshops and treatments, macrobiotic course (of course!) and conscious, wild fun (there are as many as 16 workshops happening at any given time!!). The price for a week is very attractive as well considering that you get 3 delicious, healthy, rejuvenating home-made macrobiotic meals a day!

Space of Love Gathering 14th-17th of August, Surrey/Sussex border. Authentic, beautiful, small, cosy gathering sharing many people’s yearning to create a ‘Space of Love’ and carry the vision of Anastasia and the Ringing Cedars series forward in the UK. Focused on pure and natural connection to nature which each of use carries in our hearts it educates and inspires to live simply, naturally and lovingly. Raw, living foods, exciting music (Avalon Roots and Khantara: if you don’t get a chance to see them in the bigger festivals that’s your chance!) and a wonderful line-up of workshops:
– Birthing into the Light body
– Extending the human lifespan and Foundational Nutrition
– Sound healing
– Ecstatic Trance Dance
– Dreamcatcher Radiant Sound
And many many more! The price is very exciting as well! Wild Summer Bargain!

Green Pheonix 19th-22nd August, Gateshead. The Green Pheonix in association with the Big Green Gathering is for people who care about health, the environment, sustainability, our children’s future and life in general. It is a celebration of our natural world and our place within it. As such it is a place for enjoyment, learning and fun. Unhealthy activities are not encouraged. The only things taken in excess should be love, peace, joy, and friendship. The festival is very important in the development of sustainable grassroots movement. Controversially, the Big Green Gathering organizers had troubles with authorities last year which resulted in the festival being canceled. Many say that it was canceled due to it’s authority-challenging message. Don’t miss a chance to participate in this grassroot power celebration!

Sunrise Off-Grid Transition Gathering 20th-23rd August, Somerset. A practical and down two earth sustainable community celebration from the organizers of the Sunrise Celebration. It is all about practical ways of applying new ways of living to every day life. Green and sustainable skills, discussions, questions, collaborations…along with plenty of dance, music and sunshine. Perfect combination to learn and share the know how for success in a post-consumer society!


Wildheart 10th-12th of September (also around 1st of May), East Sussex. It is a beautiful & inspiring gathering held twice a year in one of the most forested part of England. The workshops range from yoga to martial arts, meditation to divine singing, bushcraft to storytelling, enchanting music and during the weekend there is the opportunity to learn wilderness survival skills, such as fire making, shelter building, wild food walks and tracking. Most importantly, there is so much love and connection between people – enough to fill the whole world!

Festival of Life, 25th of September, London. It is a highlight in a one-day London festival calendar celebrating raw food, sustainability and conscious living. A fun, informative and empowering event packed with top speakers, great food stalls, friendly vibes and lots of music. Not to be missed!


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Visiting Still Point: a simple place of presence in the city


It is nice and sunny, the air is filled with the aroma of blossoming trees and the fresh breeze is bringing the sense of boundless joy somewhere from the distant Atlantic currents. I jump on my bike and from my calm residential street in South London make my way to the very centre of the city.

Today I am on a mission to meet the founder of Still Point meditation and alternative therapies centre to figure out all the whys, hows and whats about having the place of stillness in the middle of the city. The founder, Ralf, meets me with welcoming warmth and instant conversations about life and travels which immediately blows away my idea of a structured interview.

Ralf tells me that the vision of the centre is to hold a grounded space of presence. It is not a place where you would find complex techniques to connect to fearies, angels and flowering recourses. But you will find a space to get back to your centre and be in simplicity of your being. “London and the place itself picked me” – Ralf tells me, “and the work that is now being done in the centre is a result of long years of learning and teaching in different places and parts of the world”.

“How difficult is it to open up a therapy centre in the middle of the city?” – I wonder. At one point everything came together and with a lot of hard work and fiery perseverance an old office space was converted into a centre where both local city ‘pros’ and Londoners travelling from further away come over to stop the ‘busy-ness’ and drop into the inherent wisdom their bodies.

The defining point of the centre is definitely its meditation sessions and Thai Yoga Massage. There are also visiting therapists holding yoga classes and offering therapies such as NLP, EFT, life coaching, massage, reiki and hypnotherapy.

I am curious to hear more about Thai Yoga Massage  – the form of body work that Ralf has been practicing and teaching for over 12 years. Thai Yoga Massage is a form of bodywork that is done on a futon on the floor with the client dressed in light clothes. It works on freeing the flow of vital energy in our body. It improves posture, breathing, flexibility, digestion and circulation. “The results experienced by clients are remarkable and deeply rewarding” – says Ralf with humbleness and gratitude. The muscles get stretched, inner organs toned, and emotional nervous tension drops away. Often a deep sense of quiet can be experienced during and after treatment.

Ralf organises regular Thai Yoga Massage training courses, so if you are interested in learning more, Still Point is a good place to start.

Furthering conversations from the Still Point I ask my favourite question on how to integrate the stillness in such a busy place like (the city of) London.  Trying best to stay present and uncover what’s on the way are the down-to-earth tips I get. After travelling the world, immersing himself in a disciplined traditional yoga practice and meeting various teachers Ralf just confirms the simple truth that “we are all human”. Accepting this and allowing life to happen is the best gift of integration we can give to ourselves regardless whether we are in the bustling city or anywhere else in the world. I can very much relate to the underlying theme of our common human condition. Afterall, we are all sharing same breath, presence and life!

Finally, with a spirit of a true Londoner I ask Ralf to reveal his three favourite places in London. Let’s face it, we are always in search of those hidden, personal spaces and London offers infinite opportunities!

“The foot bridge in St James’s park with the views of the pond and London eye; Hampstead Heath, and (!!) Thursdays Five Rhythms class in St Peter’s church in Vauxhall.  Ralf reassures me that it is the best Five Rhythms class in London with mind blowing atmosphere of a gothic church. Sure enough I promise to go and have a look at it myself. Watch this space for a report!

Inspired by a lively conversation, new things learned and discovered I leave the centre of stillness and get back to the peak of rush hour in Liverpool Street. I wonder to myself just how important these little spaces are in balancing the ever increasing pace of urban living!

For more details visit www.stillpointlondon.com


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The Gift of your Creative Potential…..The Power of Thought, Action and Emotion.

The change of season, and the glimpses of new growth, can bring a new awareness of our self potentially living our lives in a new way. This can assist us as a powerful catalyst to instigate change.

This brings us to a wonderful place of really questioning what it is that we would like to be experiencing in our life and most importantly how do we work towards getting to this place. Change does not have to be a hard, lengthy or even a painful process. However, sometimes we do hold this belief that change is something of a huge and gigantic trauma and so we can feel wary or even fearful of moving towards something new. To start with, let us examine this belief. Let us just view change as a simple and fluid process of embracing something new.

We may feel that we would like to welcome in a new experience into our life, or that we are searching for something to be different. If you feel that being in your current job is terrible, why not just for today start by thinking how you could view this position as one step closer to what you would like to be doing. If you desire to be in a relationship, instead of enhancing your loneliness, why not begin by seeing yourself in the process of finding love instead. If we are able to think about this situation (or our selves) in a more harmonious way, then we are also able to elicit feelings and emotions that also represent harmony and peace towards it.

Just bring yourself to think of one situation in your life that you do not find yourself totally at ease with. It does not have to be a major situation, just something that feels a little stuck, and maybe an issue that could use a fresh perspective to help you to embrace it. This could be anything from your journey into work, a relationship or family situation, to your decisions about your career.

Just for a short moment, just think of this situation and what emotions it brings up. Now let us change our thoughts towards it. Using the statement below as a template. Create one sentence that would help you to assist in thinking about this situation in a new way. What a great start.

‘I enjoy the feeling of new possibilities in my life. I enjoy being open to changing my thoughts and feelings towards…….. . I now see the situation of……… only with love and peace’.

How did it feel to say that? Good, a little odd (as you’ve only thought the opposite for so long), like it wasn’t true, or maybe like it could be a new way forward. There is no good or bad, we are all just learning and growing, so always be grateful for what the mind tells you, its another step towards being at peace.

Begin by bringing yourself to this new thought statement, every time your mind wanders to your old negative and disempowering thought patterns. This is just like planting a seed, so just let this new seed settle in your consciousness, as a gentle reminder that you are willing to embrace this situation with a fresh perspective.

Now let us address the emotional side of this situation. How do you feel towards this situation? Anger, fear, pain, upset, confusion, concern, joy, frustration?

Let us now take a moment to think of this situation but this time, allow yourself to align with feelings of peace towards it. So, let us just calm first, with a few deep and relaxing breaths, so that we are able to rest. You can close your eyes, and just feel that your deep, slow breathing is allowing you to breathe out any tension or stress. Now just visualise this situation and imagine yourself in it, at peace, see yourself going through the situation calm and relaxed, seeing it resolved and without stress.

To give you an example of the power of your emotions, lets do a little exercise. Allow your mind to focus on something (could be anything) that brings you pleasure. Seek out the pleasurable points of focus wherever you are now. This may be a flower, an item of clothing you like, another person, food. Whatever it is, seek out something that you like. Now focus on it fully and notice the positive feelings that arise.

Again, it is the simple process or how your positive emotions can arise, as your point of focus is on something pleasurable, rather than painful. Imagine now, how you would feel if you only directed your awareness to situations and thoughts that made you feel good.

By learning that if we allow our thoughts to focus on our willingness to change rather than the lack this situation brings, then our emotions and feelings can also change too.

This is the very first step to acknowledging the influence of our own creative potential in change.

Let us now just think of 1 small action or behaviour that you could undertake which would support your new perspective of change. It could be that you write your CV, research into a holiday that you always promise yourself, join a dating agency, take up a hobby or reconnect with a person you have lost touch. A small action, will affect your process of change by sending out signals that you are truly working towards this new place. No longer will frustration and worry effect you as you realise your internal turmoil was initiated by you not acting on your inner desires, rather than actually facing them. A small shift in your thoughts, beliefs and actions can have a dramatic shift on your life.

With love

Spiritual Psychologist – Nicola Phoenix

Next Time- The Gift of Connectedness…How change can involve Embracing rather than Separation.

Psychologist, Yoga Practitioner, Speaker, Writer


Neal’s Yard Remedies Therapy Rooms, London tel: 020 7379 7662


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Raw chocolate indulgence: best online resources for your Raw chocolate experience


As you probably know, cocoa bean has been valued and used by the native Indian civilizations of South America. Europeans brought the bean in the form of a bitter and stimulating drink to Europe where it was mixed with sugar to counter the bitterness and eventually was transformed into our-day chocolate by the ingenious Swiss chocolatiers.

But stop…. Did we get it all wrong in the first place? Modern chocolate today is primarily sugar, milk, soya emulsifiers, palm oil, roasted (!) cocoa powder and very small amounts (if any) of cocoa butter.

The reviving culture of raw chocolate is bringing back the superpower and health attached to the ‘raw’: unprocessed, not roasted cocoa and cocoa butter rich in nutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, and natural stimulants which increase your serotonin levels hence fighting depression and improving a general sense of well being.

Counter indications? I dare to say none, although remember, everything is good in moderation. I have met many happy raw chocolate lovers that replaced unhealthy breakfast and snacking with raw chocolate.

Sounds good!

I had a good look around the Internet and local health food shops to pick the places where you can easily get your raw chocolate:

The Raw Chocolate Shop is a bit of a raw chocolate hub as it offers the variety from different artisan raw chocolate makers. You will find all favourite chocolates in one place and it is very easy to order.

Rawr Chocolate offers good value chocolate bars both plain and with nuts or superfoods. Also, they sell exquisitely packed gifts and seasonal goods like raw chocolate Easter eggs, Valentines hearts, etc. It is my personal choice today and as I write this blog I am clicking on my cart, ordering 3 bars of delicious chocolate. Over £5 and the shipping is free – it is gotta be done!

Inspiral Lounge is a hub of raw food culture in London with a wealth of expertise in raw chocolates. For that premium taste and superfood-packed artisan chocolate look no further (they have an online shop as well!). They also sell raw (chocolate) cakes, which as they truly say, should be banned – they are so good!

Finally, if you, like me, are willing to go that extra mile and make your own raw chocolate to suit your taste buds perfectly and save a bit of money you may want to check a fun raw Londoner’s blog www.rawrob.com where you will find a collection of good recipes to start with. The magic of raw chocolate making is its simplicity. Once you know the basics, only sky is a limit and there is plenty of room for creative experimentation. Most recipes don’t take longer than 15 minutes to complete.

There is a plenitude of companies and health food stores selling raw chocolate-making kits these days. But I warn you: they are often quite pricy and come in small quantities!

I personally suggest a reasonably priced online shop at www.funkyraw.com which sources sustainable raw cocoa powder, nibs, butter and a wide range of superfoods in larger quanitities. They are based in London, have been my first choice and the service has been excellent!

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