Sahaja, Sickness and Something For Kate.

And I don’t want to be a container, or a bastard with a 10 page disclaimer.

– Paul Dempsey. Monsters. Something For Kate.

I was cooking up a big Sunday breakky one morning with an ex- when I first heard of Sahaja yoga meditation.

He was cutting his toe nails off the side of the bed and I was frying mushrooms and eggs in the kitchen.

As the fry up grew louder, I asked him to turn the radio up.

By the time breakfast was ready he’d placed two cushions on the floor and we ate crossed legged and we listened intently.

It was nice.

The breakfast and the radio.

We giggled as he finished first and put down his plate and closed his eyes as we did a bit of this:

When the hour program ended I jumped on line to see who the broadcaster was and what Sahaja was all about.

I learned that Sahaja Yoga is a method of meditation which has resulted in a breakthrough in the evolution of human awareness. Or so they claim.

Sahaja Yoga was established by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi in 1970 and has since spread all around the world.

Self-Realization, they boast on their website, is the key to self-knowledge, and occurs when a dormant energy at the base of the spine is awakened and travels through the subtle energy centres within the body. When it pierces the fontanelle bone area it results in a cool breeze flowing out of the top of the head and on the hands. One feels very relaxed, and experiences a very peaceful meditative state known as thoughtless awareness.


In this state one is able to bypass the constant bombardment of thoughts in the brain.

Also true, if you’re any good at meditation.

In addition to this, one begins to feel sensations on the finger tips and feet which correspond to energy centres in the body. These sensations could consist of heat in the case of a problem in an energy centre, or coolness when there are no problems in that centre.

In this way you, they believe you become your own master and are able to keep yourself in a balanced state.

What is Sahaja Yoga Meditation?

Sahaja Yoga Meditation is best understood as a state of ‘mental silence’ in which one is fully alert and aware but free of the unnecessary thoughts or worries that lead to many of life’s day to day stresses. This state of silence occurs spontaneously when one learns how to focus on the experience of the present moment, leading to a state of peace and calm. Through a simple process, known as Self-Realisation (kundalini awakening) this meditative state can be quickly established, maintained and, most importantly, enjoyed. Again, if you’re any good at meditation.

If this interests you the radio program can be live streamed here:

If this doesn’t, I encourage you to keep reading.

So I joined their mailing list following the breakfast in question and made a mental inventory to go and check them out in Paddington some time on a Wednesday night.

Then, as you know, I did this:

Which brings me to Friday.

I received an email early last week from the Sahaja cats in Paddington notifying me of a one day workshop that coming Sunday in Burwood. $10.00. Six hours. Why not?

I invited a handful of people who I thought might be interested, all bar two were busy or otherwise unavailable for an entire day.

This morning, being Sunday, myself and two girlfriends drove to Burwood. Got very lost along the way. Almost took the exit to Windsor. Made a phone call. Calmed the anxious, kinda-needing-this-kinda-thing driver down. Cursed my own inept directions. Let it go. Loathed the fact we were going to be late. Wondered if the three of us would get along all day. Then wondered if I was in any way responsible for the success of this experiment. Arrived 40 minutes late. Found a park. Aptly on “Church Street.” By a an actual park, also aptly titled “Woodstock.” Registered. Collected our dicky little name tags which we didn’t really need all day because no one ever needed to call anyone by name. Settled in. Bought the ticket. Took the ride.

And it was good. It was really good. For me, anyway.

I thought largely of my weekend and something pretty cool and new that’s seemingly come out of nowhere.. grew distracted by thoughts of him, and sex, and possibility. Coming back down to earth, every now and then, as the moment swayed, to observe the sensations in my body, the ones that weren’t toey.

I was then delighted to learn that so much yoga, and so much Vipassana in the space of a year could really make such a profound fucking difference. I jumped right back in to that suit. Sat there comfortably. Enjoyed it. Felt really still and quiet and high even, for hours.

Then we had lunch.

After lunch we did an “Earth Sitting” which was cool because it was sunny and the Sahaja Centre in Burwood really is a beautiful space. And who doesn’t like earth?

The Sahaja Centre is just a converted old Colonial house with an extended sun room filled with stain glassed ceilings, and big, bright floor to ceiling windows. Loads of plants, instruments, candles and incence. There was music and the strong scent of Frangipanis baking in the sun as smells of tomato and curry flittered in and out of the kitchen. There was also a big fuck off framed picture of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi on a throne surrounded by flowers at the focal point of the room.

All of this pleased me.

The garden is lush and spacious, with ample mats and rugs and lush green grass options for sitting, talking, eating and meditating. We took morning tea by the fish pond and ate lunch on the grass. We noticed a tiny little kids toy sheep jammed in to one of the saucers of a pot plant and someone mentioned a camera and a photo, to which I rolled my eyes.

This was followed by an hour “Water Ceremony” in the sun room. The Earth Ceremony was pretty straight forward. You sit on the earth and do some stuff for an hour. Run your hands through the grass. Keep your eyes closed. Try not to think about sex. Sit up straight. Listen.

The Water Ceremony was cooler. Our feet were each doused in our own chilly bowl of salty water. People complaining about the temperature. And I delighted in the opportunity to make the water warmer with my mind and with my body. Which worked, of course.

I thought a lot of my two friends at this stage. Opting not to speak much of the process itself while it was happening, and instead saying very little, and discussing the food items and toilet facilities, as well as our great park by “Woodstock.”

I had realised by this stage that the majority of experiences I have, mainly, I have alone. I go to these things alone. No one comes with me. I generally prefer it that way. I find the opportunity to lean on any sort of crutch, ever, kinda of distracting. I think I learned this from my dad.

Dad’s forever going to films alone. He likes to think about things as and once they’ve happened. He doesn’t care to share right away. And I like to think I’ve adopted this philosophy when it comes to all the wild and wonderful places I’ve found myself throughout the course of my little life.

I like to go there alone.

I like to be silent.

I like to make up my own mind.

And I also like very much to not have to consider others in these sorts of instances.

But today I did. Which was unusual. Which was soon a little stressful, to say the least.

I’ve had a really full on month if I’m honest.

I’ve made a lot of changes and been really, really kind and really disciplined with myself.

I’ve found things.

All manner of things.

And they are good. And they are healthy. And they are well.

Of which, of course, I am immensely pleased by.

But what about when that’s not the case?

What about when we’re not well?

I really wanted to go to this workshop today because I was excited about seeing how far I’d come. How much I’d grown. How well I’d gotten.

I really have gotten really, really well.

The two girlfriends I chose as company today struggled in their own unique ways, which is cool. Six months ago I couldn’t remember a time when things weren’t up hill. Which is why I want you to listen, or to have listened to Daniel Johns singing his little heart out just now about walking in straight line, about becoming well after being sick for a really, really long time.

Daniel holds a pretty special place in my heart, as those of you who have known me for a long time, roll your eyes and smile…

We grew up in the same neighborhood, at the same time, and we’re both artists and we both got really, really sick.

I remember returning to my native Newcastle from Tokyo for a couple of months– I must’ve been 22 years old– all cut up and healing after some surgery and some shit hitting the proverbial “My Health” fan.

I remember sitting on my parents deck, smoking cigarettes and playing my guitar as he’d walk past. His legs weak. His head down. Early of a morning. And often whistling.

His rhumetoid arthritis has rendered him bed ridden for some 18 months. It was a sight for sore eyes to see him up and about again, whistling.

And we both got better at the same time that summer.

He went on to record Young Modern and I moved back to Tokyo for Round II.

That seems like an eternity ago actually. But what got me thinking about that today, doing this workshop, was all the sickness and all the friends and all the family and the stories you have ever written or heard about the body breaking down, and ultimately failing it’s owner.

They’re everywhere.

All the time.

And lately, I’ve been feeling a lot more like the character Catherine Keenan plays in Charlie Kaufmans ‘Synecdoch New York,’ than Philip Seymour Hoffmans. Which is equal parts peculiar, and exceptionally cool because a year ago I was him, not her. And now I’m not.

I saw this film in a little art house cinema in the East Village the day it came out. I was bouncing around in New York on my own for a time and decided to buy another ticket and watch it again right away.

The guy that was selling the tickets at the box office smiled as I said I wanted to “…go again…”

He told me that he wrote a daily blog about films and asked what I’d thought and why I’d thought what I’d thought and offered me some popcorn which made me laugh, cause fuck Americans always have to be putting something in their mouths…

I wasn’t even hungry.

I expressed all of this to him and he asked me if I had a card and sold me another ticket at half price and asked how long I was going to be in town for. Where I was from. What I thought of Charlie Kauffman.

I watched this film a second time convinced it had been written for me.

I was Phillip Seymor Hoffmans character.

I was him.

That was me.

And so I studied the fucking thing, for some six hours in entirety and then walked all the way from there to Brooklyn, thinking.

It was cold out and I was scarved and delighting in all the introspection that comes with a Northern Hemispheric October.

I crossed the bridge as the sun set and reminded myself that I was put on this planet to do really, really cool things. And that this was just one of them.

I went back to the basement I was occupying at a friends place in Williamsburg and wrote and wrote and wrote all night. Till the election polls opened and I watched Obama become the next king of the USA around about midnight.

I stared at the walls and my laptop until the sun came up that day. The city full of kids banging on drums, playing flutes and trumpets in the street. George Bush was dead. And I was underground trying to finish something in my knickers.

I wrote well that night and laughed a lot at what I saw on the TV.

The house mates came down– one by one– intrigued by my sense of comedy.

“You guys are pretty funny…” I said, one eye on the TV, one on my laptop.

“This is a pretty interesting night to be alive in Brooklyn.”

And it was.

It really was.

I caught a terrible Strep-throat infection the next night and grew feverish and tired of traveling pretty quick. I emailed my travel agent and tried to shift my flight to Tokyo forward. I’d had enough. I wanted to go “home.” America had made me sick, again.

I had the rousing fortune of meeting a really cool GP a couple of days later on the Upper East Side. He was responsible for the health of Qantas staff and my dad had happened upon his details on line when he learned I was unwell again.

I had an incredible conversation with this doctor about medical rebates in Australia, Pfizer, chemo, the way of all things, and my poor little strained out system.

He was worth every $AUD460.00 of the transaction, though I failed to accept that at the time.

And here’s my point.

Which I shall now make brief as the evening has grown late and I need to be up early.

Being unwell, in whatever capacity you have come to understand that to mean, if a really, really tough gig.

But there are things to find.

There are ways to cope.

There is comfort to be found in quiet, small corners.

And people the world over willing to share with you their wisdoms.

None of it’s magic and none of it’s fast.

Little of it, in my opinion, comes from God, or karma, or the government or your mum and dad.

But it’s there.

If you look long and hard enough.



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