114. Regret and other useless emotions.



Posing. Not meditating. As usual.


It seems to me that regret is the sugar of emotions. You know it’s bad for you, but you just keep going back for more.

I always feel jealous of people who emphatically say they have none. Whether that means they’ve learned, recalibrated and moved on or they’re just really good at discarding what doesn’t help them travel light, who knows. Or maybe they’re just assholes, that could be it too.

I’ve reached the age now where there is more behind me than ahead. So there’s plenty of material to pick over. And yes, I know looking back gives you nothing much more than a crick in the neck but I am a thinker and thinking ahead can prove even more exhausting at times.

Staying in the present is the true task for me – a daily endeavor.

I’ve just come back from a sixty-minute meditation class. This is a lot less impressive than it sounds. Beautiful Italian Angela runs two early classes a week from Desa Seni’s yoga platform. She breaks the class into bite sized pieces, kind of a confectionary counter of meditation tips and tricks. There goes that sugar analogy again.

Every minute of it challenges me, I’m not going to lie. But my mind is always clearer after the event than before.

On resurfacing into my actual life on Sunday, I vow – once again – to fit meditation of some description into my daily routine. I have an app installed already, but the routine I have practiced to date is to discard its daily notifications.

A Buddhist teacher gave me a powerful visualisation a few years ago.  Celebrate the tiny change. Visualise it as a drop. Now put a cup under it, to catch the drop. Pretty soon you will have half a cup of change.

How sweet is that.

105. Just doing a whole lot of flakey zoning out

staring kitty

I dated a guy for four minutes a while ago and he used to describe yoga as ‘zoning out’. ‘How did you enjoy your zoning out?’ he would say.

Did he think I was off down grading a cell phone plan?

While it’s true the mind is somewhat set free during yoga, should I for a moment ‘zone out’ I would find myself toppling fast towards an inelegant collision with the man or woman to my left. Or my right. The toppling would be random.

While yoga is mainstreaming faster than electric cars, there is still much swirl around What Actually Goes On in those classes.

Another conversation – as recently as last week – revealed a thoroughly modern man’s active decision to ‘stay away from that flakey stuff’.


adj.,to be unreliable, and/or absent-minded, flightyfickle. Generally unresponsible.

Bob said he’d bring beer and instead he invited his friends who brought no beer.And he used to be into punk and now he likes disco. Dude is totally flakey.

Truth is, I can be absentminded. I can turn up for a flight 24 hours late. I can turn up to a restaurant 24 hours early. I have no idea what’s in my diary on any given day till I look at it in the morning. If you ask me what my car registration number is, I have to go look at the car. Again.

But, when I want to, I can also have a focus so laser pointed, it could scare small animals.

Ramping up the yoga, as I have over the last year, is firming muscles in my mind and my butt in equal parts.

So the laser focus is occurring more often, and the ‘Brinsdon moments’ (as my sons like to call my randomness) are becoming more infrequent.

This can only be a good thing.

95.Train of thought


Today I write onboard the JTV, the fast train from Paris to Nice. I claimed seat 45 carriage 1 at 10am, for a six hour journey through the languid French countryside. Nothing chill about the speed of this thing though; we are slicing through the countryside like our pantaloons are on fire.

I love love love train travel. Something about the rhythm of the beast, the silkiness of the changing view, the lack of turbulence. Something about permission to be still.

There’s something old school and charming about riding trains. Between the food car, the conductors, and the world flying by outside your window, there’s a nostalgic appeal that comforts.

With no take off, landing or seat-belt signs, you’re not stuck in your seat for endless amounts of time. You can move about the train at will. Since someone else is doing the driving, you’re free to eat, drink, nap and wander whenever you like. You also never have to endure another cheesy Air New Zealand safety video.

The era we live in is loud, and filled with static. There are so many things calling us – unseasonal storms, unreasonable deadlines, dependents and independents, apocalyptic nightmares filled with yam coloured fascists, the white noise of social media – in a frenzy today of course after America reveals its moral compass is broken.

Dedicating solid time to a book or, hang on a minute, even my own thoughts is becoming more of an ambition that a daily reality.

Today though I have a date with my brain and a notebook, and the view outside my window. Apart from the Nice train station, I wonder where I might end up?

90. Mental Housekeeping.

111113bucks-carl-sketch-articleLargeI’m not a big fan of slow anything. I want to make better friends with it. Even on a break like this I’m scheduling each day so I feel a sense of achievement in embracing my state of exhaustion.

Big achievements happening.

Like I went to bed at 830 last night and was asleep by 835.

High five.

Have now spent 180 minutes  in a room doing absolutely nothing before a golden Buddha. Another 90 this morning.

Woop woop.

Shed a few tears in front of a Francis Bacon yesterday. Quietly. I was sitting in a room with six paintings, a created collection called ‘In the flesh’ with Picasso, Bacon, Freud and Soutine.  I have visited a few times now. Human vulnerability, no matter how much we try to hide it, turn the corner it’s waiting.

Big up.

One yoga class, also 90 minutes, made me realize how spoilt I am by my one on one classes with Suzie. Bloody princess. That’s me not her.

Met a long lost cousin for lunch. Who’d have thought I’d initiate something like that. Or maybe he did. Well I was there wasn’t I?

Mental housekeeping.

To be continued, probably forever.


89. Demon slayer.

Look. I might be imagining it.

But when I walked back from the first 90 minute meditation of the retreat, I was  PRETTY FUCKING CALM.

Like, a lot calmer than I was when I nervously walked towards the place that’s for sure.

I celebrated by dropping into a sake bar round the corner from the apartment. For a sake.

There were three dry sakes so they gave me a taste of all three.

This one I said.

I didn’t know this was its name, but if I had accidental plans to toast my first attempt at true stillness – STILLNESS – this would be it.photo

88. Is meaning the new money?

As this has become my travel blog, I am checking in from Sydney.

There is a writer’s festival on. There is VIVID, the festival of art, music and ideas, and there is a refuge retreat at Mahasiddha Kadampa Meditation Centre. This is the same group I flirt with in Auckland.

Add to this collision of events a sprinkling of intellectual exhaustion, and there you have it: a perfectly plausible reason to clear out for a week.

I do love Sydney. Because of my history with it (which is another story), I attach it to healing. It’s where I run away to regroup, to restore and revalue. It’s where I go to lose myself, to be myself and occasionally to be someone else.

Tomorrow I start a meditation retreat a convenient 20-minute walk from this gorgeous apartment. This is comedy fodder I’m telling you now. 90 Minutes is the first session. I’m hoping there’s a lot of talking that will go on (the monks not me) because 90 minutes wrestling my own thoughts to the ground is not something I presently imagine to be possible.

No matter.

It is the process of searching for meaning, not its attainment, that is most important for me. A little bit of this, a little bit of that; its spiritual cross fit for this girl.

Looking at my social media feed these days, there seems to be a few of us limbering up at the starting line of enlightenment. Is meaning the new money? Is it becoming fashionable to repost someone else’s musings and show off one’s spiritual wealth? images-1

Maybe I’ll know the answer to this, and all my other questions, after a week of Oooom.