Archive for April, 2010

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!

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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 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 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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