Archive for Nights out

New Beginnings: Spring Equinox in London

Saturday night and it is pouring down. I am aware I RSVP’ed as attending to Essense Spring Equinox Celebration 2010 but I am slowly trying to convince myself that maybe I shouldn’t push it this time. But then there is a phone call and two rainbow souls tell me to be in Brixton in 25 minutes. “You cycle, right?” – they ask me. “But it is pouring down, people!” – I exclaim to the phone. I have got a gut feeling that the night is set to be good and I’ve got no other option. Only my trustworthy bike will carry me to Brixton in 25 minutes. So I agree. Oh, don’t mind the fancy dress and tribal make-up – I am pretty much in my pyjamas but with no time to waste I quickly throw a waterproof jacket on me and off I go to Brixton.

Rain is refreshing, purifying, simplifying, regenerating. Rain in my face, in my eyes, dripping down my hair. Call it crazy, but it all feels good and appropriate for the spring reawakening. “Let the elements do their job and rejoice” – I think to myself. Eh… Spring!

Here is the essential Essense in a nutshell:

1. It is one of the warmest “community feel” get togethers in London. You do realise that the world and London are not that big and alien! Filled with love and the feeling of connectedness you do feel at home!

2. It is actually a one-night festival where you can cosy-up in a chillout area with a cuppa chai and a piece of raw chocolate, participate in a drum jam, get wild and crazy dancing all night with the finest dance fusions… get a superfood smoothie… and a massage or any sort of other healing in a healing area. All under one roof in one night. Indeed.

3. While you are doing all of the above you are surrounded by a bunch (ok, maybe couple of hundreds) of people who genuinely smile and talk to you. Also hug you. For real.

4. It is very likely that you know half of these people through friends of friends and the other half you have seen around in other gatherings and events (maybe even on a train:)), so you feel like you know your bunch and you feel connected. If you don’t know the people it is not the problem – everyone is so open and loving, willing to share, network and collaborate that by the end of the evening you may jam in the chillout area with a guitarist you met half an hour ago or share a smoothie with a fellow yoga teacher.

5. There is such a diversity of people! You can feel the openness of minds and flexibility of beliefs for the good! In all our diversity and individuality we can still connect in presence and it is beautifully celebrated throughout the night.

6. And then there is a Love Beam. The opening ceremony, called the Love Beam, is not to be missed. 12:00 at night, hundreds of people in the room, knowing each other or not, believing in the same things or not, stand there hand by hand as one, vibrating in the sound of their voices, visioning, connecting, feeling, loving, smiling. Here and now. Trust me, after that you are full of energy to dance and full of love to connect. P R E S E N C E prevails.

Let’s get to the point: organisers are doing an amazing job! And on behalf of Spiritual London I say a very big “thank you” for a beautiful Spring celebration.

To find out more about Essense join their Facebook group
The celebrations are organised on a word of mouth basis so if you don’t want to miss the next Equinox celebration and you are not using Facebook, email the organisers on us@essense.me or essense@googlegroups.com

WWW.SPIRITUALLONDON.CO.UK

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Last night experience – Jamyang Buddhist centre

WWW.SPIRITUALLONDON.CO.UK

It is cold and rainy and I feel an urgent need to empty my brain and calm my mind. I throw myself on my bike and off we head to a Buddhist centre in Kennington.
Yes, a Buddhist centre again for no apparent reason! I have a feeling that Buddhist culture in London is blooming and is really good for providing very simple methods of living a more meaningful and grounded life without rolling you into a ball of beliefs and dogma. It definitely fits western minds – at least that’s the impression I get after entering a spacious shrine room fool of people! I am surprised – I really didn’t expect more than 6 people to attend a course on a heart sutra!

But let’s start with the centre itself. It is spacious, beautiful and atmospheric. A renovated old courthouse, it is an old Police Court, which is the oldest surviving, intact, Victorian Police Court in London. You can definitely sense the atmosphere and the shrine room is shining in its glory. Everything from wall hangings, a massive Buddha statue, flowers, floors, ceiling and ritual tools is perfected to the tiniest detail. The essence of Buddhist simplicity – I think to myself.

The centre has a library with over 2000 books on Buddhism, meditation and general spirituality and – as you can imagine – it is probably one of the most serene places to study such materials. It is also a place where you can find those rare materials in Tibetan language and detailed information on Tibetan Buddhism that is hard to find elsewhere. I strongly suggest you pay a visit and immerse yourself in written wisdom (an extra urge for students studying religions and Tibetan language or culture!).

Apparently Dalai Lama visited and concecrated the centre in 1999 and indeed – the love for Tenzin Gyatso is felt strongly. Who can blame them?

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. ~ Dalai Lama

What else… There is a bookshop, a café! and a library. The centre organises regular Tara rituals, meditations, and numerous workshops on everything from Tibetan art and symbolism (this is a must at least for me!) to traditional Buddhist sutra readings and non-residential intensive (sometimes 2 week long!) retreats which seem to be a good option in case you feel battered by daily life in London… or nursing a wounded heart!

But lets get back to the reason for my visit. This time I was invited to attend a sutra reading course which lasts for 9 weeks, every Tuesday evening. I made an effort to attend the first introductory evening – a sneaky preview so to say.
We are late and are greeted by a rather peculiar resident of the centre – a black cat. Right away I start creating stories about the black cat being a Buddhist and imagination starts carrying me until we enter a packed room of people reciting sutras in English (thank God!) and are tucked to the very end of the room with a sutras booklet in our hands.

Page 6… we quickly join others in reading some verses and soon enough we join the wave of low voices. After a short meditation warm and radiating Geshe Tashi Tsering starts talking about the heart sutra, context, meaning, wisdom, compassion, Buddhism, Tibetan tradition…. you name it. Then he starts reciting this short sutra in Tibetan and I lose myself in an acoustic rhythm of this special language!

Here is an excerpt from the famous sutra

Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness. Likewise, feeling, discrimination, compositional factors and consciousness are empty.”

“Shariputra, like this all phenomena are merely empty, having no characteristics. They are not produced and do not cease. They have no defilement and no separation from defilement. They have no decrease and no increase.”

“Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no discrimination, no compositional factors, no consciousness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no tactile object, no phenomenon. There is no eye element and so forth up to no mind element and also up to no element of mental consciousness. There is no ignorance and no exhaustion of ignorance, and so forth up to no ageing and death and no exhaustion of ageing and death. Likewise, there is no suffering, origin, cessation or path; no exalted wisdom, no attainment and also no non-attainment.”

“Therefore Shariputra, because there is no attainment, bodhisattvas rely on and abide in the perfection of wisdom; their minds have no obstructions and no fear. Passing utterly beyond perversity, they attain the final state beyond sorrow. Also, all the Buddhas who perfectly reside in the three times, relying upon the perfection of wisdom, become manifest and complete Buddhas in the state of unsurpassed, perfect and complete enlightenment.”

“Therefore, the mantra of the perfection of wisdom, the mantra of great knowledge, the unsurpassed mantra, the equal-to-the-unequalled mantra, the mantra that thoroughly pacifies all suffering, since it is not false, should be known as the truth. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is proclaimed:

tayata gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi soha
(Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, awakened, so be it!)

Amen! We listen to the words of wisdom as Geshe Tashi Tsering reminds us that the actions of wisdom and compassion starts with the closest people around us. Indeed! I bow inside myself to the wise teachings of Buddhism, my mind is calmer and I embrace all the people in the room with a loving smile.

So be it!

WWW.SPIRITUALLONDON.CO.UK

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Love circle – soul food on a cold winter evening in Camden

Tuesday evening yoga class with an uplifting title and a seductive headline:
~~Waves of Love rising silently from the Deep devaOcean//Relentlessly forming with an Effortless Grace into//Rolling Circles of Truth~~
Surely I am up for it!

I don’t know what to expect, actually I do not expect anything. I don’t want to look great or advanced or needy or disappointed. I don’t want to have a great time or time to remember. I am just going to this evening with an excitement of a child. And presence.
Reading Eckhart Tolle on the tube: “Being one with life is being one with Now. You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer and you are the dance.” Present. I feel present. And my goal is to be fully alive as I am.

7pm, Upper Room community hall in Camden uplifted from mundane to sacred by the radiance and creativity of the organisers, Amir and Katie. Candles, subtle fairy lights, a gong, Tibetan bowls, all sort of percussive instruments and a piano – it feels warm, cosy and safe.


We comfortably sit in a circle, the atmosphere is great and I feel at home. I know that’s the right environment and I don’t need to be anyone or act in any way. Time for being. The class starts with a well guided relaxation, deep breath, Tibetan bowls and my body is vibrating with core sounds surrendering to the gravity of the body and the limitless nature of the soul.

We flowingly proceed to name and intention sounding. Wow – what an honour. To sing the name of each person with your soul voice and have your name sang by a bunch of angels. It was empowering: I loved and I was being loved, honesty, intentionally and selflessly.
Love, joy, presence, satisfaction, consolidation, freedom, faith, nothingness and more… these were intensions of the beautiful beings that shared the love with me. All and every single one of you – I really wish it becomes your reality now!

Warm ups – a phrase never encouraging enough. I have been doing intense yoga warm-ups for 4 years and never has it been so fun. Surrender and let your inner child take over. Why not? We played congas that weren’t there, we danced free style, we danced our bodies into circles and we sang and laughed as it felt right letting go of everything that needed letting go. Simplicity of being – joy of a child.

Kundalini yoga kriyas were physically and mentally challenging but liberating, extremely energising and well worth a try. “There are two characters in your mind: a master and a victim – you choose which one you want to be” – Amir reminded us out loud just when I needed it. It is surprising what an enormous shift in experience can our inherent right to choose our own perspective manifest. We make our own reality and it is all about our attitudes.

Chanting, relaxation and a sound bath. Another wow. Food for the soul, every cell vibrating with the mysterious power of a gong, Tibetan bowls, percussions, piano and an angelic voice. I peacefully flow and let my body relax from all the rush and buzz of the day.

And a final wow: what other class is so creatively packed with soul-nourishing food?

This moment is all I have got and maybe in 20 years from now I am not going to remember that I went to this class and how good it was (again, perspective!) Perhaps it will be just a distant dream, but I will remember that I spent time being deeply present. That’s one thing that doesn’t need effort to be remembered and doesn’t fade into an illusion of a distant dream. Mission completed!

Love Circle – every Tuesday, 7.00pm at Upper Room, Camden. More details here

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Winter Solstice night or what to do on 21st of December

Since the start of winter in London I have been bombarded by Facebook and email invitations to Essense Winter Solstice Celebration (yes, es-sense). Very excited with the idea that it was invitation/networking-based party with the potential to gather a large number of likeminded Londoners and spiritual types under one roof, me and Dani got 2 late bird tickets and set ourselves to ignore weather conditions outside. Freezing!

Dress code: white and tribal/ethnic – exactly the thing you would expect from the night like that. Just one tiny detail – it is -6C outside and all my pretty party stuff is meant for warm summer nights. So I jumped into low profile warm clothes and exaggerated on tribal make-up. Always a solution!

Did I mention me and Dani were brave enough to cycle 3.5 miles to Brixton and back home battling icy roads and even icier winds? “This is not girly at all!” – I shouted to him on the way, but in my head I was comforting myself with an idea that a) I actively dislike public transport and long waits for night buses b) I can remain loyal to my principles of cycling in London. Hurray! We reached the destination alive.

The problem for a wake-up-early-go-to-bed-early type of person like me is that the solstice celebration is meant to be an all-nighter. Hmm. We were in location at 10 pm hoping that the party would be rolling already. How naïve. By 10pm couple of dozen of organisers and helpers were still buzzing around decorating the place while a few other ‘early birds’ were hanging around in a traditional-English-pub-setting-turned-into-a-hippy-haven with yogi teas, chai and love potions (??). Despite that, there was an overwhelming spirit of a community in the place – I immediately felt at home. People were lovely, friendly, warm-hearted and connected. In these moments I can’t help myself thinking “wow, what a wonderful, organic and ever changing community there is in London!”

Four halls, chillout area, healing area, endless inspirational quotes on the walls…. All home-made and DIY’ed with love.  Bliss, serenity, love, vision, crystals, beautiful artwork, decorations, lights, visuals all mixed up together to create a space for the best day ever to happen. Or at least that’s what the posters from the walls spoke to me. And it wasn’t far from that at all. Chillout area – which I instantly favoured – reminded me of cosy evenings at Buddhafield festival with freshly made chai, raw chocolate infused with good vibrations (like always loads of it), cosy atmosphere, grassroots performers, healers, angels, vegans, seekers, mediums, observers and other spiritual types.  But more importantly, lots of hugs, smiles and catching up with long-not-seen buddies (you would be surprised how many friends of friends which are your friends as well you meet! – neat networks, small world).

And hey, the opening ceremony was absolutely magic! Suddenly half empty hall with dancers here and there was filled and packed with people from all directions. The spiral was quickly and smoothly formed. Love flowing freely in the room, hand by hand we breathed and chanted Ommmm as one, present, bright and powerful. And then – let the party begin! The line-up for the whole night (until 7am!) was impeccable with live performances, DJ’s and both combined.

 People make a party and people were great. Bright, conscious, diverse, embracing and present. Well done to the organisers, the helpers and everyone who were there to be, love and celebrate.

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