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DAY 225: Tai Chi-ing commuters into a rage

13 Apr

“RIDICULE is nothing to be scared of,” said Adam Ant, who should know.

I’m in an extremely central Melbourne precinct with 10 softly-spoken pensioners in sweatshirts, pants and gloves, repulsing the monkey.

And a strange thing happens. Gentle, gentle, I’m feeling so gentle. I’m so used to bowling over pedestrians and skewering my hipbones on the edges of desks, I didn’t know I could feel like this. It’s as though I’m pushing and sculpting treacle instead of air. Warm, lovin’ treacle. I look over at my friend Lou and she’s similarly entranced.

Tai chi is an internal martial art that translates as ‘great extremes boxing’ (it involves ‘yielding and sticking’ to an incoming attack. Maybe this limpet-like tactic repels the attacker into shaking you off). Stay serious, reader – I’m working muscles I never even knew I had as I form magical tigers, snakes and storks with my body, and there’s not an ounce of fat, nor orthopedic shoe, on any of these elderly athletes.

We’re in the middle of a complex leg balancing sequence to a watery Mandarin rendition of Irene Cara’s ‘What A Feeling’ when some huffing bronco in a suit ploughs through the middle of us, scattering old people in his wake. Luckily, I have achieved great mental clarity, so I don’t mind.

Other commuters may smirk, but I know they’re jealous. I’m starting the day parting the wild horse’s mane and they’re … well … they’re not.

Keeper: Definitely going to do this lots. Feel all smooshy.

DAY 224: Getting a gong bath

12 Apr

BACK when I wrote for gentlemen’s mags, some wag in the art department took a break from Photoshopping out ingrown pubes and assigned us all with superhero nicknames. Mine was Nicotina Stains, a mantle I accepted with some resignation.

Times have changed; I’m an upwardly mobile woman in her thirties with new teeth and a born-again liver, and I need a persona more befitting of a gracious lady.

Meeting Kimilla, a kundalini yoga teacher who wafts into the room dressed head to toe in radiant white, just reinforces this notion. Having grown up with a hippy mother in Angourie (“heaven on earth”) outside Byron Bay, she’s practiced yoga from a young age and has gone on to learn from top yogis from across India. Unsurprisingly, she exudes calm.

Kundalini yoga was once the exclusive practice of royalty, before Yogi Bhajan (the master of ‘tantric energy’) brought it to the West in 1969. One of Kimilla’s specialties is gong healing, so she agrees to run me through an abbreviated session.

We sit in the lotus position while Kimilla talks me through some breathing and meditation, asking that I consider what my intention is. I’m supposed to focus on this intention throughout the gong bath, but I’m put on the spot, so I come up with the epically lame “to be good”.

That sorted, I lie flat on my back under a sheet while Kimilla stands at my feet and rhythmically bongs a 28-inch symphonic gong so that the sound waves shimmer and recede like the surf. It’s incredibly loud; I find myself worrying about the neighbours. The gong, Kimilla tells me, aligns both the planets and the chakras and is infused with the spirit of the elephant god, Lord Ganesha – the remover of obstacles. I’m unsure, even after an explanation, of how the planets are aligning as a result of the activity in this room on Brunswick Street (I hope I’m not fucking anything up for the rest of you), but my chakras are feeling ace, so I let it through to the keeper.

I remember my intention, and try to imagine a bunch of typically vexed people in my life looking delighted with me. Kimilla tells me to rub first my hands and then feet together, to stimulate the nerve endings, and cup the base of my palms over my eyes sockets. She stands in front of me and crowns her hands on my head, asking me to imagine a gold sphere inside me, and shimmering gold around me. And then we’re done, and I’m feeling good. I’ve always had a thing for hands on heads, though – I used to have a terrible crush on the vicar.

In yoga classes I always find that my head says deliberately outrageous things to wind me up (I can’t even repeat them) when I’m supposed to be focused, but there are plenty of others – others with sinewy limbs and an omnipresent serenity – who credit yoga with changing their lives. So why isn’t it like that for everyone?

“It’s a living philosophy,” Kimilla concludes. “The ‘yoga class’ isn’t at all what yoga is about. It’s about living in alignment with your truth, fulfilling your destiny, living in love and happiness.”

In other words, you get out what you put in.

Read more of Kimilla’s philosophies here:

DAY 221: Cracking a wishbone

9 Apr

HELEN won the break, which is fair enough as it was her chicken.

Keeper? Ultimately unsatisfying. Hold tight, I reckon there’ll be exciting stuff happening soon.

DAY 165: Healing my embittered soul with song

12 Feb

OVER the years I’ve learned not to trust people who say “close your eyes and open your mouth”, but today at the joyful voice workshop I’m assured I’m in a safe environment.

This one-day course aims to help you heal yourself (your soul, rather than your gout) by the power of your own voice. Sometimes I’ll dream I’m singing, and it’s the most beautiful sound I ever heard. Something pure and unspoilt from years ago… You know… before the music DIED.

Anyway, in waking hours I’m in possession of a plaintive squawk with a blatant disregard for consonants, and my friend Esther is terrified of singing in public despite ordinarily being a gobshite, but with some gentle coaching (“gentle” is the operative word today), healer Chris gets all 15 of us here sounding like human panpipes.

After about an hour of cooing “ooooooooooooh” my head’s vibrating like I’m on a cheap pill, and this pulsing sensation starts travelling down my spine until all my cells expand and I feel like I’m going to fall over.

As soon as we’re all duly hypnotised, Chris whips out a synth and starts playing songs about angels and butterflies in minor keys. Eventually I feel a tear plop out down my cheek. This is supposed to happen.

“Was that just you feeling sorry for yourself, though?” Esther asks during snack break. I knew I shouldn’t have filled her in on the previous few days’ unbloggables. I persist that there’s something undeniably restorative about singing, especially when you’ve a tendency to hammer yourself into the ground. I mean, maybe some regular joyful song about angels’ wings could be the long sought-after antidote to drugs and booze.

“You might want to take up cutting,” Esther says. “Or bulimia.”

After the break we’re told to pair up with a complete stranger, take both their hands, stand about 2mm apart, and drone at each other until we’re both resonating like a bell and pulling off harmonics. This should be hideously excruciating, eyeball to eyeball as we are, but it’s just one of those rare situations where there’s no room for self-consciousness. And hey – everyone’s had the curry dip and poppadoms.

Next step is to become a human theremin, with one person leading – dipping and warbling over octaves and making bizarro shapes with their mouths. The other person, intuitively, is just a split second behind them. Third step, we mirror each other’s freaky arm waves while doing all the above. Fourth step, hugs.

After lunch and a giant coffee, I find my patience is tested. “I bet Chris comments on the coffee,” Esther says as we tromp back in with our haul – and certainly he does. He attests that the power of gentle breathin’ and lovin’ allows people to quit all sorts of substances cold turkey though, so we may as well have this last hurrah.

With another two hours of ultra-vague discussion about good vibes and negative energy, and lots of head-buzzy sing-songs around the synth, I find I’m fighting waves of violence, while Esther later admits she was muttering the serenity prayer to make it through.

“Why is it that people think spirituality always has to involve angels and butterflies?” she tuts as we sprint off to the car afterwards. “What’s wrong with being a human being?”

Keeper? Adapting to such in-your-face intimacy was quite an eye-opener, and I did like the singing as a way of, um – ugh – getting in touch with yourself. I was banned from singing sweet hymns in the car as a child (ask me for my rendition of Give Me Oil In My Lamp), but no one can stop me now.

DAY 156: Psychic and parma night

3 Feb

Get ready to rock that bottom.

“SO how long have you known you’re a white witch?” the psychic asks me over her shoulder as we hurry through the pub for my 10-minute sesh in a back room. As opening lines go I reckon it’s up there with “If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me”.

One archangel, a medieval past-life and a recommendation that I sit star-shaped in grass later, I’m moving on to the tarot reader. She bears an unnerving resemblance to Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom as she pins me with a stare and says: “You think you’ve reached rock bottom already, but you haven’t.”

Predicting a spell in rehab and a short-lived career selling drugs for bikers, she doesn’t pull her punches. What’s more, she seems to be almost imperceptibly vibrating her head as she cranes closer, giving off a weird strobe effect. Although my friends didn’t report the same.

“You’ve had two abortions … no … miscarriages … no … you can’t have children because of all the drugs …  no … you don’t WANT children!” she finishes triumphantly as I finally give a weary nod.

“You think men are only good for one minute; you tend to flip either way [for the record, I’m quite particular about only flipping one way] and you’re fed up of being told to just get over it.” She fixes me an extra beady one. “I hate the way the English treat their children; you know what I’m talking about, don’t you?”

Jeez, when psychics see your tattoos they usually just deduce you’re “creative”. Someone’s been watching too much Underbelly, I’d wager. ‘Jacki’ did nail my upbringing with further detail, but then, I can immediately sniff out someone with a story like mine, too – you don’t have to be a psychic, or a grifter.

Keeper? I’m kicking myself for not asking the psychics what I picked off the menu. Dinner was nice though, and the combination of the coffee and being told I was soon to gorge myself on hard drugs left me buzzing.

DAY 142: Consulting the I Ching

20 Jan

NOTHING could be as fun as the Oracle, but I decide to give the I Ching a go, since it’s based around very sage, ancient wisdom, which is always handy in the absence of common sense.

It’s way too complicated to explain here (convenient), but basically you ask it an overwrought question and then either throw three normal coins, or the coins in a proper I Ching set, or even sticks. Once you’ve totted up your totals, you refer to specific passages in the Book of Changes.

My reading portrays a bird’s claw enclosing a young animal, according to Clare, who’s got an I Ching set by her bed for emergencies. It suggests both being protected and making a successful capture.

There are also mentions of ‘little pigs and fish, symbolising fertility’, although I don’t remember asking the I Ching’s opinion on that matter. Everyone’s got an opinion on that though, haven’t they? Then it starts telling me that I’m a horse that’s going to wander off (hopefully this has nothing to do with next week’s horse trekking task), and the message starts getting a bit diluted. My life is once more shrouded in mystery and confusion, the way I like it.

“There are really nice philosophies though,” I remark to Clare, giving the book a good flick through.

“Most if it,” she says. “Sometimes it tells you you’re going to cut your arm off.”

Keeper? Unsure. Next time I will test the I Ching with fiendishly difficult questions that I already know the answer to. Or if I don’t come back from horse trekking, you’ll know it’s spot on.

DAY 128: Going to see a psychic

6 Jan

MY MIND’S been awash with flotsam and jetsam this week, hence the tardy upkeep of the Daily Waffle. While I’ve had my tea leaves read before, I’ve never sat down for a psychic reading – main reason being I don’t believe in them – so I decide that now is as good a time as any to at least have a good offload onto someone. Marnie has a kind voice on the phone, so she seems like a top choice.

At Marnie’s psychic boudoir in Bendigo, though, surrounded by flashing angel paraphernalia, I wind up saying little more than “mm” in an increasingly weighty tone. I want to believe, I really do, but the more she talks, filling my silences with a decisive “…yes, that’s what you’re going to do”, “…that’s what that’s about”, “…that’s what’s going to happen”, in a tic-like fashion, the more I keep loudly thinking, “Crook!”

Naturally, I then have a guilty fear that she’s heard me – kind of like when you boldly claim not to believe in God as a kid, and then mutter a little “I didn’t really mean it,” while tapping out an almost imperceptive cross upon your sternum.

This in turn makes it hard for me to control my face from laughing, so that I’m seemingly doing a samba of emotion to every point she makes.

Stoically, Marnie peruses the angel oracle cards. Every time I pick one, she punctuates the moment with a throaty, knowing chuckle.

Things I learned:

* “Your hair is going to get longer.”

* “You’re good with words.” (NB: Marnie did ask me my profession before we started, and before she pressed record. This is where the chorus of “crook” started up.)

* “I’m being told ‘France’ quite strongly. You’re going to move to France…” (I am an English, so obviously this is NEVER going to happen.)

* “…or New Orleans. You’re going to study the history of black music. And there will be costumes. Mm.”

* “You’re a great talker. I can see you in lecture halls. Mm, definitely.” (Please see Day 42 – Shaking at a Detox – for the likelihood of this.)

Keeper? I was focusing on the words “Can I go now?” for three-quarters of the reading… but still there’s that unquenchable desire to be understood; the hope that the next psychic would utter some specific name, phrase or date that implies they have insight into your hopes, fears and experiences, can hear the low, rumbling moan of your psyche, and can validate it all. Maybe I should just work harder on those interpersonal relationships, eh?

DAY 123: Sending the smokes up in smoke

1 Jan

I BEGIN today by chucking five cents in a wishing well and wishing great things for 2011, which I already know is going to be unbelievably good. The Lions Club might have wished for a larger donation, however.

Then, when I get home, I harvest any rogue packets of smokes I have hidden in drawers and burn them in my fire pit/open plan rumpus room, as I will not need them anymore. Mmmmm… the smell of burning tobacco…

The devil's candy.

Keeper? Only the feeling of piety.

DAY 95: Getting electrocuted by reiki

4 Dec

I’LL draw up a couple of DON’T TOUCH stickers to put on the two inexplicably intense points on my body that people should steer clear of, because even when I warn a New Ager not to go anywhere near them for risk of a knee to the nose, they do.

I’ve never explored reiki before. I’m given crystals to hold and there’s some touching and waving going on. The practitioner has very warm fingers and it feels kind of nice. Then she sends me shooting 10ft in the air by craftily going for one of the verboten points while I’m lulled into a false, floppy sense of security by the Native Indian chanting and wafty smell of jasmine. It’s like Luke Skywalker being electrocuted by The Emperor.

“How’d you go?” I ask her after, when I’ve climbed back off the table and regained my composure. “Can you feel anything when you’re working on someone?”

“You can feel blockages of energy,” she replies… And there’s a bit of a pause.

“Did I have a blockage, then?”

“You actually had a guardian child standing at your Sacral Centre,” she chuckles. “She had her arms folded and she was saying, ‘Nup,’ so I couldn’t get to it. I thought I’d just sneak around the side, but she wouldn’t let me. That’s when you jumped.”

I respond with, “Mm, that makes sense,” which is my default thing to say in these situations.

“It wasn’t like she was sitting in the corner crying,” the practitioner says. “She was quite feisty. In the end I persuaded her to take down your natural shield, and together we put up a pink shield with gold sparkles in it. You’ll find that it protects you, but it will get a bit ragged if you have too much emotional stress – and that’s when you’ll find you need another session.”

Keeper? I thought it was a touch manipulative. Still, having someone gently touch your head is always nice. I’d pay for that.

Day 93: Living my life at the mercy of fortune cookies

2 Dec

My first cookie.

I LOVE fortune cookies – they’re like a tasty I-Ching, but less complicated.

I buy a whole box of cookies from Chinatown to ask it a bunch of questions. Because I’m hungry, I scarf the first one down without asking a question, and it says:

A helping hand is no farther than at the end of your sleeve”…

That’s amazing. Because I’ve just come home from work to find my FATHER has totally overhauled my garden. Wow, that’s one smart cookie. Okay, here goes.


Q. What will I do about that email I forwarded where I thought I’d removed some of the earlier conversation, but actually hadn’t?

A. Your popularity increases once you express your desires.

Interpretation: They’ll find it really endearing and I’m not in trouble.


Q. Should I take on this new work project?

A. Not to risk loving is the greatest risk of all.

Interpretation: Yes; I’ll be able to look back on it when I’m old and reminisce about how life-affirmingly difficult it was.


Q. Will I die horribly?

A. You will always get what you want through your charm and personality.

Interpretation: Only if I want to. Which is my biggest fear – thanks, fortune cookie.


Keeper? Feel a bit sick now, but could just do one each day for breakfast. I’ve still got loads left, so let me know if you want me to ask one a question and eat it for you.