The planning of my own outing


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Showing my face or hiding in the woods?

I intend to write this book under my own name. But, I don’t want the readers of this blog to not know, or have to guess who I am.

So it seems that my nom de plume has almost outlived its usefulness.

I needed it very much when I began writing this blog, for everything I had to say was so raw. And the courage to write what I wanted to write required a shield, which I gave myself with this cloak of anonymity.

I’ve been writing this blog for over four years now, and actually, these days my identity is a bit of an open secret. Mostly because I’ve made so many wonderful friends via blogging: reading other blogs, and having others read mine.

Already, I’ve met several of my blog friends in real life, and there are more such real-life meetings to come!

Some of these friendships have lasted, while others have not. There are other people who still read this blog that I’d like to to be better friends with, but to be honest, it’s those friendships that haven’t worked that cause me to hesitate.

But really, only because I don’t wish to be outed before I’m ready, and even though the pool of people who know me already is probably more than I’d like, I’ll still try to contain things a little longer.

In recent times, I’ve held on to my semi-anonymous state because it didn’t feel right to change it, and also because I didn’t want people from my 9-5 job to know such intimate details about me.

But that was then. When I was fearful of my own vulnerability.

Before I realised that in fact, my vulnerability is my power base.

That having lived through what I have, I am stronger when I reveal the truth of my experiences.

For there is no weakness in dealing with adversity. Only strength.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t feel that way when you’re going through it. Which is very annoying. But to make it through to the other side? Requires such strength, courage and willpower.

Then, it takes time for your own power to be revealed to yourself.

You don’t have to be a super-hero, only really, really determined.

Because I’m just like everyone else. Not imbued with extra abilities. What I’ve done in my journey of recovery? Is available to anyone who wants it.

So. I’m preparing for my own self-outing. I’m not clear on the timing yet, but it’ll be soon-ish. Because I want to be able to link my journey with the book I’m writing.

In order for people to know that actually, you can rise up from the worst experiences of your life.

And when you do? You’ll be:





More real, more awake and more human than ever before.

~ Svasti

Waterfalls sound like the Universe


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Beautiful waterfalls...

The resonant sound we make when we chant “Aum/Om” is exactly the same frequency, vibration and sound as the white noise generated by a waterfall.

How do I know this?

Because I may or may not have spent an inordinate amount of time singing to the water, the rocks, the earth, the air and the sun. At the top of those falls.

It really, really, IS the same sound.

~ Svasti

Other posts inspired by my retreat

Life lessons from managing a fireplace


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Keeping the hearth fire burning isn't as easy as it looks...

While I was away this last week, I was responsible for my own heating in a way city dwellers like me rarely need to worry about: the lighting and maintenance of a hearth fire.

No electric or gas or central heating is to be found up here; since this place is not on the grid. Electricity is generated by solar and wind power and stored in batteries, so needs to be managed carefully. If you want to keep warm, you’ve gotta move your body or light a fire. A wood fire.

Yes, yes I know… blah blah environment, burning wood, pollution etc. But that’s how it’s done in the country.

Certainly, this far from the first fire I’ve ever had to light. But it sure is the first time I’ve had to do it every day, all day and night. To keep away the brrrr factor.

Starting a fire has an aspect of beginners luck – it’s real easy as long as you follow the basics.

But keeping a fire going, and knowing when to throw on the next biggest piece, and how to bank them overnight? Not so easy after the beginner’s luck wears off. Especially when you’re new to the role of Fire Sentinel.

So here are some lessons I learnt this week from lighting and maintaining the heat:

  • Always follow the basics: start with wispy kindling, then smaller pieces, then mid-size ones, and then finally you can throw that darn log on the fire.
  • Fire starters are handy: a little ultra-flammable stuff that can give you a kick-start.
  • The brightest fires are the ones that have enough air to breathe. If you try to add too much fuel, too early, you’ll smother it.
  • There’s an axe outside near the woodpile. Use it. It’ll help build core strength and you’ll get a little warmer just by cutting up wood, too.
  • Sometimes you’ll run out of the right sized pieces of wood. Don’t try to cheat and just go up a size: you’ll end up with a fire that goes out on you and you’ll have to start again. Which is a pain in the ass.
  • Never turn your back on the fire for too long. You can’t rely on just the way the fire sounds or feels. It’s really important to do visual spot checks, for all kinds of reasons.
  • Don’t get stuck in the Small Pieces of Wood Game. It’s possible to get into a loop of:
    Kindling > Sticks > Small pieces of wood
    Then not get the timing right for throwing on a larger piece, and so your fire goes out again. And again.
  • When you’re trying to build your fire, the timing is never 100% clear. Sometimes you’ve just gotta wing it. Throw on a log, not another same-size piece. See what happens.
  • You don’t wanna burn too bright or fast, coz that can make you uncomfortable. Mix your fuel types – some of the logs that burn longer vs the ones that burn hotter.

And… perhaps this is somewhat of a twee analogy but…

Fires are a bit like people: our passions, goals and ambitions.

Timing is important, and air and space and the right sized piece of fuel at the right time.

But most of all – vigilance; stamina; repetitive actions; appropriate levels of manual labour; and ongoing observation of where your fire is at.

These are how we keep our own internal fires burning.

Yeah I know. Too much time alone in the bush with only birds and ‘roos for company, eh?

~ Svasti

Writing a book is a topsy-turvy thing


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Pondering the beginning from the beginning - a bit confusing!

What I’ve found is… sometimes you have to start at the end. Or in the middle. Or by writing the credits for the book you haven’t even written yet.

Maybe it’s different for others, but I’ve realised that I must simply write. The ordering, the structure and placement of things… that can come later. Trying to write a book from beginning to end is… futile.

To get it all out of one’s head is the first priority. And some words simply want to be said first. So let them have their way with you, in the give and take of the flow of creativity.

And don’t panic when you think you haven’t yet written anything useful!

Write a paragraph here and there. Spend as much time not writing as you do engaged in the production of sentences. Be okay with the percolation phase, and with the fear of beginning.

For where does one begin, anyway?

I’ve learned that what you do is, begin with what you feel. And let your feelings guide everything that pops up after. In the same way they shoot movies and television shows out of sequence, write what needs to be written right now.

Structure appears when it’s ready to take form. Don’t let the beginning of your work depend on something that’s yet to evolve!

And – sometimes, the perfect place for writing is not the perfect place. Correct posture be damned! Writing on a sofa or a bed is sometimes what is needed, instead of at a lovely antique table.

Above all, just keep writing… burning incense, taking walks, and making another pot of tea…

~ Svasti

Other posts inspired by my retreat

An ode to Snake Gully


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Snake Gully montage...

The place I went to for my writing retreat? I used to come up here maybe once or twice a year. More often whenever I could.

It was easier when I lived in Sydney because once I moved to Melbourne, I had a cat. As all pet owners know, you can’t just pick up and take off any time you like. So there was that.

Silvery blue sky magic

Then I got PTSD and although this magical home of my friends was the perfect place for me to recover, I simply shut myself up in my own home. Anything else was too scary.

I still saw them when they came to Melbourne but I didn’t make it back up this way much. And then I gave up car ownership, which made it even harder to take a spontaneous road trip…

Nature things - quartz, moss and animal trails

Anyway, back when I was a frequent traveller to this part of the world, we’d take many trips down Snake Gully. Which is on my friend’s property – just start following the creek to the south-east and keep on going.

Snake Gully is the sort of place where, if you’re sensitive to and aware of nature-type energies then you’d better bloody well ask for permission to walk the land. If you’re not, then you’d better just be respectful and watch where you’re walking.

Because the land, river and surrounds that comprise Snake Gully, are truly alive. It’s a place of magic, power and wildness.

sunshiney magic

So for the first walk of my writing retreat, I returned to the Gully.

My method of speaking with nature has changed: these days I can’t help but turn such things into songs. Wordless songs or chants, it doesn’t matter. As long as it comes from the heart and I can feel the boundaries of the world shifting in response, then it’s all good.

Traversing the Gully and its numerous waterfalls, I noticed the message I was being given and it took me back to a lament I used to have when in the midst of living with trauma:

There’s no going back!! I used to angrily repeat to myself over and over.

There’s no going back to how things were. I’m not the person I was before I was assaulted, damn it. I can’t even remember who I used to be…

You see, there’s this absolute anguish around not being able to return to a place or time or experience we used to have. It’s part of what makes grief so terrible. We think of not being able to go back as a very, very bad thing.

water and wood

BUT. Snake Gully told me this as I criss-crossed the creek and scampered over rocks:

You can’t climb down me and then go back up in exactly the same way. There’s no set path. There’s actually no right or wrong way to go. As long as you can see where it’s safe to walk, then it’s fine.

My paths don’t look the same from below as they do above. Some paths are visible; others are not. You might need to take the steep path up and away from the creek for a while because from where you stand, there’s no obvious way through.

There might be some hints of what move to make next, but there’s no guarantee. You have to try it out for yourself and see if the ground is solid/unslippery enough for you to pass. And when you return, good luck finding your original path! Take the route that makes sense and don’t worry about the rest.

Our western world is all about making experiences repeatable.

Same, same. NO different.

We build our cities on grids so it’s harder to get lost. We signpost everything. We create franchises and malls that look alike the world over. We grow up thinking we can do the same things we’ve always done and the way we’ve always done them. And most of us do just that.

waterfall magic

Part of the distress of trauma and PTSD is that it destroys what was. ALL the pathways you knew are gone. All the experiences of life as safe and happy. There’s nowhere to turn, no safe haven (or so it seems for the longest time).

This is part of what breaks us: we think we need this sameness to function and without it, we’re lost.

The process of healing has taught me that you really can’t ever go back and damn it, I don’t WANT to anymore.

A path or not a path?

Whoever I was before, that version of me is nowhere near as powerful, self-assured, confident and courageous as the person I am now.

So, we learn to function without our previous pathways and patterns. We find new ones and we see that yes, we can get by.

A balance of fire and water

Actually, we don’t just get by. We thrive. And see that change is a good thing, even on an everyday basis.

Change doesn’t matter in the end because when the previous layer or path is peeled away, there’s always something else just waiting for us.

~ Svasti

Writing retreat report: I’m back!


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In and around the cabin

Here I am! Back from my very own Cabin in the Woods (see what I did there? A little Wheedon call out)! Or as we call it here in Australia: the bush.

Cabin view...

We probably do have what can be referred to as woods somewhere, but mostly what we have are bushlands.

I had an absolutely MARVELOUS time! Honestly. A long-overdue reunion with very good friends; an eight-sided cabin that had everything I needed, including a kitchen, table to eat/write at, bed, couch to lounge/read/write on, bedroom, bathroom, compost loo and a wrap-around balcony. Plus endless views of bushlands and all their wild and furry residents.

And, an ancient girl dog named Jack.

And… wow, to quote The Castle – you can feel the serenity – waking, walking and living in such an incredibly unspoiled piece of nature brought my body and mind into balance so quickly and completely.

Of course, the first couple of days of my writing retreat I did very little writing. Much of it was about decompressing, catching up on sleep (always needed by AI types), and the aforementioned re-balancing. This wasn’t just a writing retreat – it was also a break for me to relax and rejuvenate my health a little, far-far-awayyyy.

So there was much napping, although never at sunrise. A cabin without curtains with a view to the east means waking up early. Which just felt natural and gentle. Probably because I was often in bed by 9:30pm.

There was much yoga-ing, meditation and chanting (or what I like to call heart singing). Lots of cups of tea and reading books. A few little sessions of note taking. Sleeping. Eating. Talking to my friends over evening meals.

A serene place for yoga-ing!

To begin with, there was also lots of fear. And resistance to too much structure. Which reminded me of the deal I struck with myself when I first started blogging: just write. Don’t worry about how good it is or not, just write what needs to be written.

Some writers are perhaps more structured and disciplined. I don’t really know. But for me, the only way to write it is to inhabit it. And the contemplation of what I had to do – go back into some of my not so pleasant experiences – was scaring me even more than trying to write a bloody book plan.

Ha. My book plan is approximately two pages of hand written notes, some of which are drawings for diagrams I want to have designed.

Anyway… the first two days weren’t very productive but eventually I turned that around.

Some mornings I woke up and thinking it was much later than it was. Because even a lie in, some (non-related) reading and the making of food, it’d still be only 9:30am.

I also took some lovely walks, reacquainting myself with the land. My first was down to Snake Gully.

Snake Gully creek view

It’s funny how moving your body like that (cross the creek a few times, climb a few hills and over some rocks, then later up a waterfall) can help a person to wake up in the head. Being completely surrounded by nature with no man-made world sounds… there’s lessons to be learnt if you’ll only look and listen.

Which I did. Snake Gully had some things to tell me that I needed for my book. Yep, that’s another post coming soon, too.

I spent a lot of time moving from spot to spot for my writing work. Couch, table, bed. Repeat. It kind of all depended on the day and the subject matter.

There was always more yoga and chanting. One day the weather was so glorious, that there was yoga on the deck.

Eventually I hit my stride with my writing, finally realising that it didn’t matter the order in which order I wrote my book. The first chapter didn’t have to come out first! So I wrote whatever came to mind, for sorting out later.

On Thursday, I got a LOT done. My friends had both gone down the hill for another trip to Albury, so it was just me and Jack the dog, all alone atop the hill. Which is sometimes what you need as a writer: everyone else’s energy out of your immediate vicinity.

Friday morning – end of the trip growing nearer – I was unimpressed to wake up and realise I’d been having a dream about work. Gah!! I guess my sub-conscious was gearing up for the return home, ahead of schedule. Boo.

We had a lot of rain on the Friday; perfect stay-inside writer’s weather. First thing in the morning when I went outside there were some Ruby Roos (my childish name for kangaroos!) just down the hill…

Some Ruby Roos!

And having felt like I’d done a HEAP the previous day, I slacked off and watched a movie on my laptop, while listening to the wind and the rain and drinking tea.

Making a sweet potato, bacon and veggie stir fry…

Sweet potato & bacon stir fry

Cutting more wood…

Wood chopping!

And a little writing. But mostly I was waiting for the end of the day because I was going down the hill WOO HOO! My friend and I were going to one of the local pubs for some dinner and a bit of fun on the “town”.

Bridge Hotel, Jingellic

Finally, it was going home day. Still almost a full day here on the hill. I did everything slowly: yoga, walking, wood chopping, cooking, eating, writing, and writing.

The book is a goodly way along the track, but far from finished yet. There’s more to finesse and probably a truckload of editing, and that’s before I let anyone else see it. Then there’ll be feedback from people I trust, more editing, designing and eventually a finished product.

So much excitement. And there’s more writing retreat-related posts to come. Quite a few, actually!

~ Svasti

Other posts inspired by my retreat

I’m off on a writing retreat!


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See this?

This gorgeous, rustic building is up a hill (accessible via 4WD only), in the middle of nowhere-ville. Okay, so it’s actually a few hours east of Albury.

Wild animals (wombats, snakes, lizards, koalas, kangaroos etc) live there. So do faeries and nature sprites (for realz, I’ve encountered them before!).

For ages and ages, I’ve been trying to get at least one book out of my head. Y’see, there’s a couple of ’em living up there at the moment… but it’s not always easy to do that kind of work when you’re distracted by your crazy busy everyday life.

A while back, The Divine Ms N sent out an email to her Yoga Mafia (read: newsletter subscribers!) with a super-generous offer from one of her contacts – a limited number of exceptionally affordable life coaching sessions.

Soon as I saw the offer I jumped right on it. JUMPED, I tell you. Because as I’ve alluded to already, there’s a few Really Big (Positive) Things going on for me. It’s all quite exciting and overwhelming, and I knew this offer of life coaching sessions had my name all over it.

Which is how I came to meet Charlotte Almond, who is an extremely lovely and canny lady. I can highly recommend her services, and will write more about her soon enough.

Together we worked through some of my Really Big Things, but also, laid down some powerful and practical steps I could take towards my Excellently Awesome Future Life Plans.

One of those steps is writing my ebook! It’ll be practical advice for those who are trying to recover from PTSD/trauma. Because trauma’s a bitch, recovery is freakin’ tough AND there really isn’t enough out there by folks who’ve been through it all.

And I can write this now, since I’m no longer in trauma myself!

However, to really be able to write down the bones of it all, I need to get outta town. Awayyyyy from my hectic job. Awayyyy from my home, which is comfortably hermit-like and filled with books I like to read etc etc. Awayyyyy even, from the internet and Facebook and Twitter (*ahem* says the digital media addict).

Anyhow, I was hunting for a place to get awayyyyy to. And I’d sort of forgotten that my friends (whom I haven’t seen in years) have this retreat space on their beautiful virgin bushland property. Up a hill in the middle of nowhere.

It was only when I posted a Facebook status asking for recommendations of cheap get-away places that my friends said, Ummmm, what about our place?


Maybe because it’d been so many years between visits (I don’t have a car now and their place really is in the middle of nowhere), I simply didn’t think it was polite to ask. Also, I suppose there’s a part of me that’s become so used to being self-sufficient that I’m not accustomed to people being this generous with me. Even when they are, a lot. I don’t expect it, I guess.

However in a subsequent phone call, I was told very plainly that I don’t even need to call ahead. Just turn up. There’s always a place for me.

Wow, right? I have some awesome friends.

So I’ll be away for the next week. Living in an octagon-shaped room with a view of nothing but trees and enveloped in the sounds of nature. Doing yoga, eating whole foods, drinking copious amounts of tea and writing like a woman on a mission. Which I am.

Have to confess that I’m a touch nervous about it all, because writing this book will require some digging and re-visiting. But I’m strong and well now, and it’s all for a good cause. There might, however, be vomit. And tears.

When I return, there’ll be a mountain of editing to do. Then finding a designer to make it look pretty, and putting it all together. But how exciting to crow-bar all those words from my over-crowded brain, huh?

Also: a lil Spring clean!

So in case you’re looking at this post in an RSS reader or via email, I’ve just neatened up the blog. In the southern hemisphere, we’re on the verge of Spring, so a spring clean is appropriate: I’ve applied a fresh new template, tidied up my left hand column and so on. I’m loving the new look!

Enjoy your week, and I’ll check in on the flip side.

Wishing you all lots of creative inspiration!

~Svasti xxx

Other posts inspired by my retreat

A few Thursday thoughts


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Not exactly an organised and well put-together post, but this is what’s on my mind today…

  • Lately I’ve found myself repeating similar words to a number of female friends in relation to the opposite sex:
    Sometimes, it seems that men are both attracted to and repelled by powerful women. Often, the attraction and repulsion reside in the same man, at the same time.
    Powerful women tend to increase their personal power over time. This can be even more disorienting and repulsive to the exact same man who once found you attractive for the very qualities they now cringe against.
  • What you need is sometimes within your grasp and you don’t even know it.
    We make a lot of assumptions in our day to day life: who will help us; what resources we/our friends have; who we can rely on.
    But we don’t know, we really don’t. Which is why you need to ask. And not just via a Facebook blast. Really think about who might be able to help you with whatever it is that you need – directly or indirectly (your friend might know someone who can help you) – and ask them. Via phone, email, text, in person.
    Just ask. You never know who will in a position to help you unless you do.
  • We really never know what it is that other people are thinking or feeling.
    Any assumptions or stories we play out in our minds about what so-and-so’s behaviour means? Is just our own melodrama.
    If you have honest friends, you’re lucky.
    If you have honest friends who are good at checking in with themselves and expressing what’s really going on, you’re super-lucky.
    But still, we all conceal things. Out of fear.
  • Getting real with ourselves is a life-long, ongoing thing.
    It’s easy to veer off-course, any time. It’s easy to pretend and gloss over what’s really going on. Keeping it real is a real thing. We need friends and loved ones around us to assist in the process of reflection. But meditation is key in getting to the bottom of all of our schizz.
  • Avoidy-ness. We all do it.
    It’s worse for us highly sensitive folks. For people who’ve been through the wringer.
    But avoiding stuff doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it causes stress and takes us out of our power.
    These days I’ve got a rule: short term avoidy-ness is allowed. Maybe a week or two. But whatever has to be done still gets added to a “To Do” list and the due date gets listed for after the avoidy grace period.
  • Change is coming. Always.
    Yoga is meant to help us cope with change, stress, unusual situations etc… so don’t let your practice just be about how bendy your body is. A flexible mind is much more important!
    Right now, I can see the waves of change lapping furiously at my feet. While off-shore, the much more powerful tsunami-like waves are heading my way.
    I could be terrified of this. In fact, I have been terrified. But I did the work to adjust to the Way Things Are Going To Be, and took some Surfing the Change lessons.
    So come on, change! Hit me up! I’m ready to ride. 😀

~ Svasti

Sound existed before we gave it meaning


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Last Saturday I did a couple of very exciting things. They were intertwined but several aspects of my adventures each made me say:


Out loud.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a massive kirtan fan. If you don’t know what that is, the commercial incarnation of kirtan is Krishna Das (the pics in the clip are unrelated!).

So, devotional singing. Repetition. Call and response. Beautiful, simple music to support the chanting as the pace increases and comes back down.

What I find so wonderful about kirtan is that it’s very much meditation in action, a heart opening and a sense of clearing out all the crap that usually crowds our minds. Kirtan was responsible for helping me understand that we can generate our own happiness and self-love, without relying on other people for those feelings. That sense of connectedness.

So yeah, I’m a die-hard kirtanist. 😉

Every now and then in Melbourne, there’s a kirtan workshop advertised where you can begin to learn about playing the harmonium and what it takes to lead a kirtan. I’ve been meaning to do one for ages but the timing just wasn’t ever quite right.

Until a few weeks ago when I saw an advertisement for beginner workshop. The only thing was that it was an hour and a half out of town, in Castlemaine. A place I’d never even been before.

But I COULD go. I didn’t have any other conflicting plans and I really, really wanted it. So I booked myself in, booked a car for the day and yay… road trip!

Saturday morning I was brimming with excitement. Organising snacks for the car and making sure I’d be warm enough etc (somewhere nearby Castlemaine it snowed on the weekend!).

And off I went. Driving by the Google maps on my phone and arriving in a sweet little town northwest of Melbourne just in time for the workshop. Yay!

There were about eight of us, most were local to Castlemaine.

We learned about the harmonium and its history (originally European, actually but adopted by Indian musicians) and how to play some basic chords. WHEEEE! I’ve never learned an instrument before and it is SO. MUCH. FUN.

Playing the harmonium goes hand in hand with singing kirtan and in fact, I found it easier to remember what notes to play while singing. More feeling, less thinking!

Then there was a break to get some dinner, where I got to talk to some of the other workshop attendees. People who’ve moved to Castlemaine from the city for an alternative to high stress living. People who are very much like me! Apparently it is one of those out of town centres for spiritually-minded people. Food for thought, I can tell you.

One of the most interesting things our workshop leader said was this:

Sound existed before we gave it meaning.

He was referring to the Sanksrit alphabet, which is said to be discovered as a result of deep meditation looking for the sounds of the universe.

They say that Sanskrit letters are all parts of the vibration of the universe, which were then put together to form words. So our workshop leader says that it doesn’t matter if you know what the words mean, or if you believe in the gods and goddesses being sung about or not.

Because words are just sounds that we’ve given meaning to. And the words used in kirtan are made of the very essence of the world that we live in. Which is why kirtan is so healing and joyous and can create such clarity in the mind.

Anahata refers to the heart chakra, but is also the word for the “unstruck sound” – or the primal sound of the universe. So the sounds of the universe and the heart chakra are related. Interesting, no?

So five hours of kirtan leading and harmonium playing, plus a little yogic and music theory… made for an excellent afternoon.

Then there was a kirtan performance in the evening, but unfortunately I couldn’t stay til the end as I didn’t want to be driving home too late at night.

I’ve been singing kirtan songs in my head ever since, as the workshop has only encouraged my love of it all. And now I really want to buy a harmonium so I can keep practicing. 😀

Hope you had a fabulous weekend, too.


Continual personal evolution required


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An analogy for you: in the same way a person whose been in a car accident might end up with a limp or some other kind of disability for the rest of their life, there are some side-effects of PTSD that remain no matter how much work I’ve done.

Or perhaps it’s that the work is still there to be done, and one day I WILL be 100% symptom-free. Or maybe I won’t. I’m not particularly attached, either way.

I seem to have three lingering PTSD-related “things” that happen from time to time. My disability*, if you will.

1. Really crappy/patchy memory: remembering names (i.e. of yoga students) is almost futile, it can take months. Remembering that I went out for dinner with friends and had a super-fun time – just days later – isn’t easy. I write everything down. EVERYTHING. Or it doesn’t happen. I have to work exceptionally hard to remember the yoga sequences I’m teaching – which requires a lot of intention and presence.

Sure, there are memory exercises a person can do. I eat and imbibe all the foods/vitamins etc that I’m supposed to. Don’t worry, I’m on it.

But I also get really confused sometimes, in a little fog of weirdness that only time can resolve.

2. Occasional sensory overwhelm: it happened again last Friday night, but the time before that was over a year ago. It seems that even in situations unrelated to my own traumatic experience, if I don’t feel comfortable in a given environment things start to get a little whacky in Svasti-land.

Last Friday, I went with my workmates to some dive of a bar for some farewell drinks. It was below street level, deep and dark… walking in there just felt wrong in the pit of my stomach. I kept asking to leave, but I couldn’t make myself explain to my friends WHY I needed to go. So they stayed, and I spouted a bunch of semi-related reasons why I didn’t want to be there. Eventually I realised they weren’t leaving and I still wasn’t happy, so I left. And woke up the next morning feeling bloody awful: the full fight-or-flight adrenal aftermath, thank you very much.

It happens so rarely that even if the people I’m with know my history, they won’t always pick up what’s going on for me.

In fact, one of my co-workers’ impression of me that night is that I was being a complete bitch. He’s all – how can you be a yoga teacher, and behave like that?

Which is when I tried to explain that no one is perfect, not even yoga teachers. But he was asking me that question from his own intense self-loathing, so he didn’t really hear me.

Anyway… here’s hoping with this one, there’s a way to reduce this reaction even more. Although the main issue is that the trigger’s so random and hard to set off that… well how do you treat such triggers, eh?

3. Under duress, I’m not always a nice person: I’m not entirely convinced this is just a PTSD-thing. I come from a family of harsh and mean people. LOTS of in-fighting on both sides. Then there’s that whole thing where I grew up as the target of an exceptionally abusive older brother. I learned to fight back. Had to.

I’m 100% certain that having experienced PTSD made this personality flaw worse. Because trauma causes the traumatised to be harsh towards themselves, and then towards others by extension.

So, when I’m really stressed out, I can be a Grade A Bitch. Harsh. Mean. Unkind words.

It’s not what I practice or teach as a yogi, but for now that’s how it is. I’m not living my practice 100% off the mat, all the time. And I don’t like it at all. Not one little bit. In fact, I feel very shitty approximately thirty seconds after I’ve unleashed a torrent of evilness. I judge myself harshly for such infractions.

But unlike both sides of my family – who all have a talent for selective ignorance around their own issues – I’m not content to remain like this.

The solution to this one is obvious, I think: more yoga. Deeper immersion in studies and practice. Plus, a change of career, out of a toxic working environment that is always rush-rush-rush and so much pressure, to something more suitable for someone like me with my autoimmune condition and my PTSD disabilities…

Luckily, these are all things I’m working towards anyway. Transitioning out of the 9-5 office world. Reinventing my career to be self-employed (not that I think working for yourself is stress-free!). Going to India.

All of these things are on the cards, and actually not too far away, either.

My intention is the same as it’s been for years: continual personal evolution. This is all we can do, really. The only true change we can invoke in the world. And I’m on it. Might take a while though…



*As a side note, if you’ve ever read the Sookie Stackhouse novels, you’ll know Sookie refers to her telepathy as her “disability”. I use the term very much in the same way – these things are both a blessing and a curse. The curse part is especially because it aint always convenient to be all special needs. But it does make life interesting…