On Saturday, April 25, 2015, I was sitting with my friends in cafe in Kathmandu, just 2 hours after we finished a 10-day silent meditation retreat – Vipassana, when the powerful earthquake shook Nepal killing more than 5,900 people, flattening sections of the city’s historic center, and trapping dozens of sightseers in a 200-foot watchtower that came crashing down into a pile of bricks.
The scenes outside on the streets when we managed to run out of the building where we sat were frightening. Pillons lying on the streets, collapsed buildings and fences, smashed cars, people panicking and running everywhere.I was really unsure if this was the end, the end of my adventures and perhaps my life too. Luckily we managed to escape the touristy area and take refuge at the King’s Royal Palace museum where the wall had collapse and we managed to enter its huge garden. From then on it was just a question of waiting to be saved by our governments and foreign offices. It was scary but we knew we will get help. Now I am sitting home with my parents in Bulgaria and life goes on for me…
Unfortunately this is not the case with the people from Nepal….When I was driven to be evacuated to the airport there were thousands of Napali people on the streets in Kathmandu trying to escape the city, waiting for buses or trying to find other shelter as well as food, water and warm clothes. It was raining. The whole picture was very sad.
Amma, the spiritual & humanitarian leader i stayed with for 3 months in India, has sent representatives from Embracing the World, Amma’s Global Charity, where I volunteered in India, to Katmandu to study the situation there. We just received the first report from Br. Nijamrita.
He says, “The destruction is massive and the situation is really bad. Gripped by fear of another quake, people have relinquished their homes and are living in the streets. Immediate requirements are warm clothes, food and water. Embracing the World, India has arranged to send 50 tons of wheat, 2000 sets of warm clothes and medicines to Katmandu. However, NGOs do not have a free hand to do relief activities without a local legal body to support. Hence we are in the process of establishing a tie-up with the UN relief team working there.
Please donate now! Let’s help Nepal. Let’s be human. Let’s be generous.
I don’t know about your life but mine is in complete abundance of choices every day…And you know what i am not sure if this is a good thing :/.
Since I graduated and got my first job, life opened its horizons to my eyes and there came the choices. The choice for a better paid job or one at a well known company. A choice to be in a relationship or explore the city life solo. The choice to have a cheap flat or one in the centre…to chill or go partying. To walk or take the tube, to see my family or travel far to a new country…OMG i am telling you the list is ENDLESS.
For the past six months I thought that my life will be guided by simplicity and listening to my body language and heart…
I thought so and desperately hoped so. When I decided to quit my job and travel, all I was longing for simplicity….simplicity…simplicity. Staying at a place for days. Starting at the horizon and doing and even better thinking NO-THING. Guess what..It did not happen. Freedom of day-to-day responsibilities gave me very rare glances of simplicity.
Most of the time I found myself burdened with even more choices. Where to go for dinner. Tibetan or Indian. Travel or stay at the place longer…Get up for chanting the divine mother 1000 names at 4am or enjoying watching your guru until late at night….Seriously my life didn’t turn any simpler.
So for the last week, I realised something which was in front of my eyes the whole time, you will think. Yes. You don’t need to change your outer world to get simple. You don’t. You really do NOT. Aha so what then. Well, I don’t know.
I realised today that choices will always be there. But the decision to stick with simplicity is a hard choice on its own. You need to flick a coin or pick the first thing that comes to your mind and stick with it. I wrote earlier this year about consistency and persistence. It is that. We need to make a choice to make no more choices, to simplify our lives (and minds first yeah).
Rolling with life is so easy for some easy- going blokes. I wished it was the same for me. But it’s not. My mind keeps me always busy evaluating all the choices. And before I know it I am running from one end of the town to the other, only to check out and evaluate my choices. I am not kidding. When I used to live in London. I cycled everywhere. Sometimes my chronometer will show 40km in A single day, si si si. And i wasn’t even preparing for a charity ride, no no no.I promise you, most times I couldn’t say no. I will go from one place and then another to see friends, events, yoga classes, you name it.
But this gotta stop now. I am so so so tired of these choices. Tomorrow I embark on my first Vipassana retreat. Working on my crazy monkey mind. Saying no to choices. Starting the journey of the end of suffering. I made this decision some years back. And the ride hasn’t been easy. Choosing simple is not simple. It takes so much dedication. I am ready to take it on. See you on the other side. Come along…
Here is something that I want to share with you today. Ever since I have qualified to be a yoga teacher, i have been trying to have a self-practice, meaning practising yoga on my own. Somehow things were not working out for me. I just didn’t enjoy it at all. I tried to practice in my small London bedroom or my rooftop but my mind would always come up with an idea to do something else the first 15 minutes in the practice. And I will just quit or have a very short practice so that I can finish and just do the next thing. Or i will stick with the practice for an hour but very rarely be present.
Today I practice for the 2nd time at the Varkala beach. With the sunrise and all the animals around me; dogs, birds, dragon flies….
After a good flow I sat quietly and chanted loka samasta sukhino bhavantu (meaning may all human beings be free and happy). And then slowly closed my eyes and drifted into meditation. Enjoying the silence in my head disturbed only by the roar of the waves.
And I finally got it. It finally hit me. It is not easy to keep up with a practice of any kind that involves lots of action, persistance and hard work. Even brushing our teeth or tiing up our shoes is not easy. And then after sticking up with it for a while it finally becomes a habit. A routine. An action that doesn’t require much effort and thought. And then, then it may be easy.
Only today my brain finally got this. No matter how many amazing yoga teacher trainings i do, I will not feel the YOGA in my body. This made me realise that I need to stick with it. I need to practise and practise and practise and then practise again. Until after every single muscle of my body feels the yoga and aches with the sweet pain of movement meditation, only until then I will know what it feels to practise yoga. And even better to live yoga. Then maybe I can teach people what this feels like.
This made me think about the bigger things in life. Same way as in yoga, we need to stick with them. Be patient with them. And really really want them. Really want the progress. Until a dream becomes a habit. Until the effort transforms into joy. Into ecstasy. Into melody. Into flowing river.
Before then it requires a lot of passion, desire and practice. And it is not easy. It is not easy to get out of your cosy bed at 6am instead of sleeping 2 more hours. It is not easy to say no to one more piece of cake. Or one more drink or whatever it is. And that my friends builds the best of us. This effort, this power to stay with the non-easy things. And do them again and again and again. During cold winter days and hot summers. During period pain and man flu. This makes us strong to take on the life adventure. To fully embrace it. With no holding back.
Only then we become the strong, healthy human being we always dream to be. Only then we have the power to say no to the things that make us suffer and show the way to the people around us.
We then shine so bright and beautiful that everyone else wants to do the same.
Only then the world can get contaminated with the good stuff. With the passion for life. With the bliss of being a healthy, free human being. A being with choice. Choice how to live our lives, whom to sleep with and whom to share our food with.
Until then all we need to do is to keep up with it. Cause we really really want AND NEED this.
PS If you are interested in this topic you might want to read the book Outliers. Chapter 2 describes the 10,000 hours rule. The books talks about an experiment when the researchers found no “natural talents” who rose to the top of their profession with less practice and no “grinders” who logged 10,000 hours but didn’t rise to the professional ranks. Their conclusion: “The thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much,much harder.”
India is a crazy crazy place. Everything happens tomorrow. Ok, ok. (shaking my head). Some of you may not understand my joke above but if you ever visit you will know. Oh I love these people. So cute and friendly.
November 1, (Happy Halloween)
I am sitting on the floor of Siva hall in my first ever ashram stay. This is the Sivananda Ashram in Neyyar Dam, Kerala.
A long list of blogs is saved on my phone. All ideas come to me during meditation. The most quiet and creative space. I know I know.
Today it is my 8th day in India. A week in ‘God’s own country’ and a week being completely free (free even from wifi at the moment).
I made my way from Varkala to Neyyar Dam ashram. The journey cost me all together £0.65. Sitting on the local bus on the way here I observed the local people. The school kids. The men and the women. The bus. The nature. The rivers. The trees. The houses. I had to pinch myself and all I could think was. Fuck I am in India.
On the local markets here there are a few types of bananas. The big yellow ones. The ones I bought first. (Not taste at all.)The small ones which I learned later were much sweeter than the first. And the red bananas. The beautiful red bananas. OMG. So yummy. The ones I bought last.
Going back to my bus journey here. I watched the local people. Observed their behavior. And seriously we really are not that different. The kids are smiling at me. The young guys are flirting with the young girls. The old women are complaining. The older men are chilling, reading newspapers.
We are no different except we have all these ettiquetts to cover ourselves and look sophisticated like the big yellow bananas. But in reality those different ones of us may taste so much better.
Later at night dinner was served at the ashram. We sat on the floor and as dinner was coming I sat there waiting for my spoon to arrive to eat my rise but guess what no spoon. You sit on the floor scoop up the rise and the curry with your hand (right one please!!!!) and hop you go in the mouth. Yes it feels grouse at first to eat and watch other people eat curry with their hands. It really took me by surprise. But when do i stop to always act like a yellow banana and embrace the sweetness of the red.
Same in life if we never try the unknown red bananas how would we know the difference. You may ask why do we need to know any different. And yes some of us may never have the urge to know. That’a why we are different from one other. And yet, seriously, if we are always scared to touch the water how would we learn to swim…
A word on practice and patience
I have been practising yoga pretty much non stop for the past 2 years. On September 20th I moved out of my London flat and until my flight to India October 24th I had hardly any yoga. On my fourth day in India I finally found yoga again. I am not sure what happened to my body. The combination of lifting all those heavy bags, together with eating all sorts of food back home (including meatballs, yes), the travels, and the lack of movement created almost like an imaginary web on my back and I can hardly move it. It feels like I am stating from zero again. Even worse. Really hard to straighten my knees and my back oh my god my back is in so much pain every time i try to do a shoulder stand or anything else. Today while hardly trying to touch the ground over my head with one foot and the pain was excruciating, i tried to push it at first and then something happened. I closed my eyes and i asked myself what happened to the teacher Tatyana. Me, the person who has been preaching never to force the body and always go with the breath, I was caught up in my struggle and in stead of letting go and smiling, I was doing the opposite, I was forcing. While meditating on all that happened during breakfast after my class I realised that what happened to me is what happens to all of us in life. We see something and we like it. We then go and buy it or win it over. And after getting used to having the thing or the person we forget about them. Forget about maintaining the relationship or the condition. And, and well this is what happens. The thing ceases to work. And what do we do. We force. We cry. We beat. We do everything but surrendering. We want it so badly again. This is the moment when patience plays vital role in our lives. We need to realise how important it is to let the others be too. But never forget to practise too. The same way we practice yoga everyday. We need to “practise” love. Practise patience. Practise compassion. Practise letting go. This my friends is the only way to keep something if you really love it. Never take for granted. Never force.
Always keep the practice ….
My journey for clear blue skies begins here….
Fort Cochi and on the way to Varkala.
OMG fly Qatar airways every time you can. I don’t want to start this blog advertising something but seriously, it is the most generous airline I know so far. Anyhow. Soo here I am.
I arrived in Cochin airport on Saturday early morning. As I expected I made friends with a lovely woman from Wales and her daughter who does volunteer work here in India picked us up from the airport. Fear number one how will I get to my hostel from the airport was overcome in an instance.
I also want to tell you that unlike the rumors I’ve heard about arriving into an Indian airport, there was no taxi drivers or anyone else trying to bother us on arrival. What a great relief. Phew.
So arrived at my hostel and even though it said that is mixed dormitory, it was actually just 3 girls. Another relief. The hostel was basic but clean, well air conditioned, the showers were working, another relief (no bucket bathing yet :)), and most importantly the friendly staff, helped me with all my questions.
Fort Cochin to my great surprise is 90% Christian place. This is due to the fact that the Portuguese, Dutch and then the Brits ruled the place for many years. There are various Catholic and even Orthodox churches. People here are extremely religious. On Sunday morning you can see from my photos the churches were overcrowded with devotees. In some of them visitors are not permitted during the service.
And yes, it is dirty, in fact it is probably mega dirty for our Western standards but in terms of India standards it is probably one of the cleanest places.
Safety-wise it feels extremely safe. No one really bother me (except of course the people trying to sell something an d the tuk-tuk guys
Me and my new friends went to see some of the cultural Kalaripayattu, Mohiniyattam and Kathakali (see photos) The Later of which was my favourite one.
Now most importantly food wise, OMG. My experiences with food here were amazing. Amongst some of the places I will recommend for eating if you ever come here are The Kashi Art Cafe, The Tea Pot Cafe and lastly the Dal Roti by the post office.
I tried my best to find a yoga class on the 2nd and last day on my stay here but when I went to the place which was recommended to me but there was no one. Later during the day I found out that there is an amazing yoga master who teaches at evenings and night by the beach road. Maybe you can find it. Apparently he sometimes plays his pipe during savasana. How amazing hey.
This morning I woke up early to take the 7:35am train to Varkala. The beach village.
One last thing hawking is everywhere in India. It is annoying at first but then you realise it is simply their way of saying ‘hey I am here’ be mindful of me.
This is it. A weekend has passed and I am really enjoying the first moments of my new free life. What will bring i don’t know, but I am most certainly ready to take it. I am ready to love the world. To welcome adventures. Meaningful life. Thank you universe.
I love this time of the year when the evenings are cool and all you can think of in the evenings is how to warm up and indulge into some yummy food. But why not enjoy something that is equally good for you.
I eat pumpkin as a main meal (roasted in the oven with sea salt and pumpkin seeds, sometimes I add beetroot or other veggies to it) or I eat pumpkin in a cake (recipe coming soon) or simply steamed and covered with honey and cinnamon. But here are some of the medicinal qualities of pumpkins.
Pumpkin has been traditionally used for its medicinal value in many countries, including China, Korea, India, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil. Its many uses include antibiotic, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory effects, lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, and as treatment for intestinal parasites.
The pumpkin is a member of the Cucubitaceae family, which also includes squash, gourds, and cucumbers. They are grown on six of the seven continents of the world. All parts of the pumpkin have nutritional and medicinal value.
The seeds of the pumpkin are best known as a healthy fall snack. Nutritionally, the seeds contain essential fatty acids, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and beta-carotene. They are also a good source of fiber. Preliminary studies from China and Russia have shown the protein in pumpkin seeds, called cucurbitin, to be effective at resolving tapeworm infestations. Eating pumpkin seeds as a snack can help prevent the most common type of kidney stone by reducing levels of substances that promote stone formation.
Pumpkin seed oil is extracted from the seeds of pumpkin. Some studies have found the oil to be useful for rheumatoid arthritis, likely because of its high essential fatty acid profile and its rich antioxidant content. Pumpkin oil has a high tryptophan content that may be useful in the treatment of insomnia.
Pumpkin seed oil can also be used in cooking, and appears to have positive effects on lowering LDL cholesterol. It is 60% unsaturated fat and rich in vegetable protein. Pumpkin seed oil has an unusual flavor, some describe as nutty. It can be used as a cooking oil, salad dressing, and as an ingredient in sauces or cakes. Because pumpkin oil is thick in consistency, manufacturers will sometimes combine it with sunflower seed oil to make it more liquid.
Pumpkin pulp is the part of the vegetable most traditionally used in the United States. The juice of the pulp also contains beta-carotene, which gives it the well-known orange coloring. Naturopaths use the pulp as a treatment for relief of thick sputum due to bronchial infections, to ease abdominal pains during pregnancy, and as a aid for migraine headaches.
There is even some use to the stem and top of the pumpkin – it can be boiled and administered as a tea to ease nausea and vomiting.
So all in all eat your pumpkins. They are not only extremely comforting and delicious but also super good for you.
The fear of change
Everything has a beginning and an end but why then we are so freaking afraid of change and endings….
I am sitting in Notting Hill, London, where I have spent the last 7 years of my life and feel sad and excited at the same time. Soon I am leaving, LEAVING to go on a new adventure.
All my life I have seen myself living by the beach, having sun all year round.. Sandy feet. Easy life. Love. Good friends. Well, life is so interesting…you go to the big city instead full of ambition for growth and earning loads of money so that you can satisfy all your dreams, buy loads of pretty things, travel to distant places, eat in fancy restaurants, drive expensive cars, hire fast boats, sail across seas, drink bubbles, eat strawberries while watching tennis on a hill. And yes, feel that feeling in the belly that tells you: YES, I MADE it mamma….
And that is true for the most of us here. But what happens when you actually get alone for a fraction of a minute??? When we are so quiet that we could finally get to hear our inner voice. Yes, that voice that never EVER lied to you. Just you always found a way to keep it quiet enough, so that you could ignore it. For some of us those moments may arise while running in the park, or training in the gym, or while reading a book on a holiday… And THEN, well and then at first we are so surprised and scared that we ignore it. But if you are one of those people who goes alone to the gym, or travels to work in the early morning all by yourself…. I hope you know exactly what I am talking about…. The dream for something much bigger. For freedom. For blue skies.
And then, then our flats in big cities get smaller and sometimes we can hardly breath. We go to buy a new dress, handbag or a car or whatever we hope will make us happy and content again. Maybe then we start going to our local gym or yoga studio or climbing, running, or drumming groups or maybe we take on meditation or gardening or anything that keeps you CONNECTED to the true source and to mother nature…..AND hell we know the change is there….But we know nothing yet.
For me this started a few years ago. I had a boyfriend who I loved so much. He left to go travelling. And of course I wanted to stay fit, healthy and young for when he comes back. I didn’t leave the gym for hours every day…. The gym turned into yoga classes…..and I am so so grateful for that loneliness I felt all those months. Finally, for the first time in my adult life I connected to my true self. Not the one my mum, friends or teachers told me I was. But the true ME.
So I wasn’t out in the noise every night anymore…. I wasn’t out buying pretty things any more no no no, that wasn’t appealing now…. And yes I wasn’t out drinking or taking drugs. The new feelings in my body were too precious to numb…. I spent days, weeks, and months within myself.
That’s when I decided that there was a different life possible….life where I didn’t look to quieten the voice….to numb the feelings, I didn’t want to pretend any more that everything was fine and I will be good again. Cause it wasn’t…and I knew it. And I ACCEPTED it.
January 2014, I went on my first yoga teacher training. A month of yoga, meditation, veggie food and lots of inspiration. Hidden in the Mexican dessert and just a stone’s throw away from the ocean and the mountains. We learned about the yogic life. By the ocean which sounded like a giant monster, we slept every night in our cute tents. Early nights. Amazing new friends. Holding hands. Crying. Laughing. Sharing life. And OHhhhh I will never forget what our teacher told us on our last evening. He said “Be prepared. For some of you, when you go back, life will never be the same. Welcome home.”
And yep that’s me. Of course.
The fruit of change which was growing in my belly for the past few years is now ripe to be enjoyed. There is no more worry about how I will survive, how I would make money . Save etc. I just know. There is this super huge sense of trust that develops in your whole being when you know that fuck it (excuse my French) I would rather die than not explore my dreams…..
And yes I did it. I told my super amazing employer that I love them to bits and they are my extended family . But it is time for me to go. The nomad girl has to pack up and go. Where to! Who knows… But I know I will be fine. I’ve got my smile. I’ve got my heart. And I know I will be fine.
Believe me I still wake up in the middle of the night and think “ F*ck, What the hell have I done with my life.” And this is normal. Fear keeps us alive. But just sit with it. Don’t act upon it. Let it be. And then you will see like everything else in life, it will simply go away. And a new feeling will take over your body. This is life on Planet Earth. Feelings come, feelings go. People come and people go. This is it. To have a new beginning you need to create space by letting something OLD go. And that’s the whole purpose of life. Not clinging to anything. What is the point of holding tight when we know sooner or later everything will end?
This is the first chapter of my blog. I am creating it with the only objective and that is to inspire you. Wake up friends. Wake up and just do it. Live the life you want. It starts at this very moment. The responsibility is all yours. And the only one in charge is you. Flip the perspective. Change things round. GOD knows how long we’ve got left on this planet why do you need to spend it looking on Instagram watching how other people live their lives while you are sitting still here, all struck by fear. SAY NO MORE FEAR. Just LOVE. It IS really really simple.
To finish this blog I want you to come to a very simple ONE minute meditation. And that is, close your eyes and take your hands over each other and over your heart. Take a deep breath in. Pause. Take a long breath out. And maybe, only maybe, you will slowly awaken your heart. And feel for a minute how much easier it could be to live using our HEARTS more. Choosing LOVE. Instead of fear.