An intensely flavoured curry with the recipe to make your own Sri Lankan curry powder.  The curry has a twist with the addition of preserved lemons.  If you don’t have preserved lemons you can substitute with a whole lemon sliced thinly and salted with half a teaspoon of sea salt.

If you are short on time you can use a shop-bought garam masala, adding an extra half-teaspoon of ground cloves, a tablespoon of mustard seeds and the zest of a lemon.  Serve this dish with warm bread and rice, top with crunchy cashews and a squeeze of lemon.

Sri Lankan Curry Powder

This recipe makes enough for a couple of curries and will keep for up to two months.  If you don’t think you will use the powder in this time, half the recipe.

As the spices are toasted, this powder works well sprinkled over warm, buttered chapatis or naans or on top of yoghurt or even on mashed avocado.

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 10 mins

Makes a small jar


2 tbsp. basmati rice
2 whole dried red chillies or 1/2 tsp dried red chilli
4 tbsp. coriander seeds
3 tbsp. cumin seeds
2 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 tbsp. black mustard seeds
1 tbsp. whole cloves
1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds
2 heaped tsp fennel seeds
Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons


  1. Put the rice in a dry nonstick large pan and put over a medium heat until it starts to turn light brown.
  2. Add the spices and dried chilli and toast for three minutes, until they also start to brown, toast and become aromatic.
  3. Keep moving the pan to prevent the spices from burning.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, then leave to cool.
  4. Once cooled, use a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar to grind them into a powder and keep in an airtight jar.

Sri Lankan Potato, Coconut and Chard Curry

Serves 4

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 55 mins


3 tbsp. coconut oil or ghee
3 onions, peeled and finely sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 large thumb fresh ginger, peeled and grated
600g small potatoes
2 whole preserved lemons, roughly chopped
1/2 tbsp. Sri Lankan curry powder (see above)
400ml (1 tin) coconut milk
400ml (1 tin) tomatoes
1 lemon
Rotis or chapatis and rice, to serve

For the cashews

100g cashew nuts
1/2 tsp red chilli or a pinch of dried chilli
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt


  1. Put a large, heavy based pan over a medium heat, add two tablespoons of the oil and the onions, and cook until soft, sticky and sweet (15-20 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for another couple of minutes over a high heat, then add the potatoes, preserved lemons and curry powder, and cook for another three to four minutes, stirring all the time.
  3. Add the coconut milk and the tinned tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on, stirring every now and again.
  4. While the curry is simmering, toast the cashews in a frying pan over a medium heat until golden, toss in the spices and toast for 30 seconds more.  Turn off the heat, add the maple syrup and salt, and scoop onto a plate for serving.
  5. Pull the chard leaves off the stems, tear the leaves into large bite sized pieces and finely chop the stalks.  Once the curry has had 20 minutes, add the chard and the stalks, and cook for a final 10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.
  6. Serve the curry with the bread and rice, and top with crunchy cashews and a good squeeze of lemon.

Recipe inspiration: Anna Jones, The Guardian Feast Magazine

Chickpeas and Halloumi Recipe

A tasty twist for cooking chickpeas.  Using ras el hanout, a north-African mix, to spice up the recipe.  An alternative way of cooking halloumi and vegans can substitute the halloumi for a block of firm tofu and skip the honey.  Serve the dish with a drizzle of honey and flatbreads.

Serves 4

Prep: 20 mins / Cooking: 20 mins


2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
1 heaped tsp ras el hanout
1 unwaxed orange
Olive oil
240g block halloumi
3 tbsp. tahini
250g purple sprouting or tenderstem broccoli
1 large handful pumpkin seeds
Seeds from one pomegranate
1 small bunch parsley, leaves picked
1 heaped tsp honey, to serve
4 flatbreads, to serve


  1. Heat the oven to 220C/gas 7.
  2. Spread the chickpeas on a large roasting tray, sprinkle with the ras el hanout, the zest and juice of half the orange (grate the remaining zest into a bowl), drizzle with olive oil and season.  Roast for 10 minutes.
  3. Score the top of the halloumi block with 5mm deep criss-crosses, then set aside.  In a bowl or jar, mix the tahini, remaining orange zest and juice, and a tablespoon of olive oil – if the tahini is thick you may need a really good stir.
  4. Once the chickpeas have had 10 minutes, take them out of the oven and turn on the grill.  Add the halloumi, broccoli, pumpkin seeds & the tahini & orange mix to the tray, toss everything together, so it is all coated in the orangey spiced oil, then put under the grill for 10 minutes, until the halloumi is golden, the broccoli spears are softened and the florets are crisp.
  5. Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and parsley, then drizzle the halloumi with honey and serve with flatbreads.

Recipe inspired by Anna Jones, The Modern Cook in The Guardian Feast.

A tasty recipe for Spring using seasonal asparagus, radishes, spring onions and peas.  The mustard and orange dressing gives the dish some zing!  Serve with wild rice, fresh bread or new potatoes.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 mins / Cooking: 20 mins


4 eggs
250g asparagus, woody ends snapped off
1 bunch of spring onions
150g radishes, halved with tops left on
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
200g fresh or frozen peas
1 small bunch of dill, leaves picked

For the dressing

Juice and zest of 1 unwaxed orange
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar


  1. Heat the oven to 220C/gas 7.
  2. Boil the eggs in a pan of salted water for 5 mins, then drain and run under the cold tap to cool.  Peel when cool enough to handle.
  3. Arrange the asparagus, spring onions, radishes and garlic on a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil.  Season, then roast for 10-15 mins until the asparagus is just tender and the radishes still have a little bite.  Add the peas while everything is still hot and toss (pre-cook the peas if you are using frozen).
  4. Meanwhile, make the dressing.  Add all the dressing ingredients to a jar or small bowl.  Season, then shake or whisk to mix.  Toss the warm salad in a little of the dressing.
  5. Divide between four plates with the soft boiled eggs sliced in half, and top with the dill and a drizzle of the dressing.
  6. Serve with wild rice, fresh bread or new potatoes.

Recipe inspired by Anna Jones, The Modern Cook in The Guardian Feast.

Awakening The Spine‘ is one of my favourite yoga books and I revisit the book frequently.  Each time I dip into the book I am reminded of useful information and at the same time I see new information.  The beauty of this book is that it goes well beyond the physical body and can open you up to the true gifts of yoga.

This is not a step-by-step instruction book for asana, Vanda is sharing her wisdom.  Vanda explains “This is not really a yoga book nor a book on yoga, for yoga has been written about so much in recent years.  What we will try to do in this book is to create a much more serious approach to our bodies, which have bee neglected for so many years,  You have to listen to your body, going with it and not against it, avoiding all effort or strain and centring your attention on that very delicate point, the back of the waist (where the spine moves in two opposite directions).”  Vanda uses art, nature, music, myth, philosophy to explore yoga practice.

Vanda Scaravelli was born in Florence in 1908.  She came from an intellectual and artistic background.  Her father had a degree of piano from the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini in Florence and went on to create his own orchestra in Florence.  Her mother graduated in pedagogy and was one of the first Italian women to attend university.  Vanda was raised in a musical and intellectual atmosphere surrounded by artists and scientists visiting her parents.

Vanda herself studied music and was a concert level pianist.  Music and musicality informed her work throughout her life.

Movement is the song of the body” ~ Vanda Scaravelli

Vanda learned yoga from B.K.S. Iyengar who was invited to Switzerland by the well known violinist Yehudi Menuhin.  She met J. Krishnamurti and later met Desicachar who taught her the importance of breathing.

For more than twenty-five years, until her death at the age of 91, Vanda Scaravelli was transforming bodies and lives with her innovative approach to yoga through the proper alignment of the spine. She listened to the body and worked with instead of against it. She used gravity, grounding, and breath to achieve dramatic improvements in health and wellbeing.

The way we live is destructive to the body; there is no respect towards its needs and demands.  We destroy, little by little, that precious, complex, vital, vessel of life we received at birth, why?  Do not fight your body.  Do not carry the world on your shoulders.  Drop that heavy load of unnecessary baggage and you will feel better.  Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose.  Do not look at your body like a stranger but adopt a friendly approach towards it.  Watch it, listen to it, observe its needs, its requests, and even have fun.” ~ Awakening The Spine, Vanda Scaravelli

This classic inspiring yoga book features three parts – Part One “The Story of Stories” the philosophy of yoga; Part Two “The Asanas” short exploration of yoga asana and Part Three “Breathing”. 

Vanda skilfully uses nature and the wider world to illustrate her teachings and to show the internal & external connections.  We are skilfully guided to ‘see’ and experience the links of our inner and outer experiences.  The spine is central to her practice and teachings.  The nature images are carefully placed to mirror the asanas and to prompt a deeper examination of practice.

It is inspiring to see the photos of Scaravelli in the Asana section, showing that yoga is for everyone.  She didn’t start yoga until her 40s and the photos in the book are taken in her 80s.  This book is an inspirational reminder as to why you are doing yoga.


Scaravelli reminds readers that: “if you are kind to your body, it will respond in an incredible way.” ‘Awakening the Spine‘ offers a gentle way to achieve and maintain overall health and a naturally supple spine at any age.


This is an updated version of Vanda’s original work, with a foreword by B.K.S. Iyengar and revised by Vanda’s daughter based on Vanda’s extensive notes.

I also recommend ‘Notes on Yoga: The Legacy of Vanda Scaravelli‘ by Diane Long and Sophy Hoare.

Diane was the first of Vanda’s regular students and remained so until Vanda’s death in 1999. Sophy began working with Vanda during the period when she was writing Awakening the Spine.

In ‘Notes on Yoga: The Legacy of Vanda Scaravelli’, they share their experiences and memories of being taught by Vanda and offer instructive advice for practising asana, challenging many preconceptions about yoga.

The Path of Practice

An extraordinary book . . . [that] illuminates the wonderful truth of who we are. . . . As a result, we heal our bodies and our lives on the deepest levels.” ~ Christiane Northrup, M.D., Author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

We are busy preparing for our 2019 Menopause, Wellness & Vitality Workshops.  The workshop day is a content rich experience with plenty of time for discussion.  We provide an extensive handout packed with information and includes a recommended reading list.

One book on the reading list is “The Path of Practice” by Bri Maya Tiwari.  This is one of my all-time favourite books and is a powerful book for women interested in self-healing, self-care and practical lifestyle changes.

I discovered this book several years ago when my roommate on a Yoga Teacher Training course at the Anand Prakash Ashram recommended it.  I headed off to one of the many bookstores on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh to purchase a copy.  It is probably the best 295 rupees I have ever spent!

The Path of Practice” is an honest sharing of Maya’s experience of healing from her diagnosis of ovarian cancer at the age of 23 to her journey using Vedic healing practices to heal herself.   She undertook self-healing through meditation, the healing of her ancestral heritage, sound healing, silence, creating sacred space, breathwork and food sadhana.  This was a deep process taking Maya from America to Rishikesh where she became a practising Vedic monk devoted to developing and sharing her knowledge of healing techniques.

May the universe never abuse food.
Breath is food. The body eats foods.
The body rests on breath.
Breath rests on the body.
Food is resting on food.
The one who knows this
becomes rich in food and great in fame.

– Taittiriya Upanishad (11.7)

The book is an easy to follow, step by step guide which is part auto-biography and part healing manual.  For me the book gave me many “aha” moments, enabling me to journey deeper into my yoga practice and understand some of the practices that I was intuitively being drawn to.  We were practicing many of the sadhanas at the Ashram so it was useful to be practicing as well as intellectually understanding the processes.  Our sadhanas included full moon ceremonies to bask in the essence of the moon to heal shakti prana (feminine energies), holding ancestor ceremonies on the banks of the river Ganges, attending fire puja (rituals) to burn away impurities, chanting for healing and eating a sattvic (pure) diet.

We are wellness. We are consciousness. That is our natural state. Disease is an impostor” – Bri Maya Tiwari

This book is designed for women by a woman but it does not preclude men.  Maya states that this book is a “course in healing and in living.”  She maintains that “all pain is a reminder that we have strayed from the natural rhythms of life,” and this book acts to guide us back.  An easy to follow programme containing a wealth of knowledge and the depth of experience.  It’s a profound read and calls us to get in tune with deeper universal rhythms.

This informative book is an enlightening read and a useful book to dip into for ongoing guidance.  The practices can be incorporated into our daily life in order to live a more harmonious and healthy life.  This book is a valuable tool at peri-menopause and menopause when we are being called to take stock, to review our habitats and to pay more attention to self-care.

This is one of the simplest introductions to a step-by-step practice of sadhana for the uninitiated…. Her methods incorporate the healing nature of sound, food and breath and are easy to understand and follow to be in tune with natural rhythms.” – Book Reviews

The Enchanted Life

To live an enchanted life is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary.  Above all, to live an enchanted life is to fall in love with the world all over again.” ~ The Enchanted Life, Sharon Blackie

Deep in the heart of winter, I have been enjoying the connection with this season by slowing down and taking deep rest.  This slowing down has enabled me to catch up on reading, diving into the books that have been stacking up.

One book I’ve had the pleasure of reading over the holidays is “The Enchanted Life – unlocking the magic of the everyday” by Sharon Blackie.  The Enchanted Life is Sharon’s second non-fiction book published after the widely acclaimed “If Women Rose Rooted”.

Sharon states “The enchanted life has nothing to do with fantasy or escapism or magical thinking: it is founded on a vivid sense of belongingness to a rich and many-layered world.  It is creative, intuitive, imaginative.  It thrives on work that has heart and meaning.  It loves wild things, but returns to an enchanted home and garden.  It respects the instinctive knowledge and playfulness of children, and relished story, poetry and art.”

This is a timely book asking “What is Enchantment?”, why is it important right now, what is involved to truly inhabit our living world and how to explore the magic of the Everyday.

Sharon is a storyteller intertwining her personal story with examples of others’ personal journeys to enchantment.  Sharon has developed a deep sense of place & belonging over her life’s journey and this book explores these themes.

The Enchanted Life is an uplifting magical read reminding us of what really matters in life.  This book can guide us in times of unease and disconnection.  It’s a call to reconnect with the world and with nature, guiding us to explore and establish our sense of belonging.

Part personal journey, part collective stories, part storytelling & myth, part guidebook.  The Enchanted Life gives us the tools for exploring enchantment and directing us to a more connected whole-hearted life.


I enjoyed the journey to the windy wilds of Scotland and the picturesque landscapes of Ireland.  Sharon shared her experiences of healing and rewilding, finding her place in the land she was called to settle in.  The process and ideas truly inspire.

My holidays have been a time of deep rest and reading.  This book inspired me to get outside to explore my local area.  Over the holidays I spent time walking the local part of the South West Coastal Path.  To connect in more deeply to the landscape.  I walked a new stretch of the coastal path that I haven’t journeyed along before, and I explored the ancient footpaths inland connecting local villages & communities to the coast.

It is the intention that is the important thing – that’s what transforms a walk into a pilgrimage.” ~ Caro Woods, Artist

The Enchanted Life explores our connection with the nature world, the need for wilderness, the notion of embodiment, how to cultivate a mythic imagination, knowing our place and learning to belong, developing kinship and community spirit.  This is an invitation to find our true calling.

The Enchanted Life

For me, calling has nothing to do with religious beliefs; it is quite simply the work of a lifetime – it’s about living life as if it mattered.  It’s beautiful work, because it’s not so much about doing and accomplishing as it is about developing and expressing a vision for your life.  And one of the things that is forgotten in a task-driven culture which has no appreciation of calling is that developing a vision takes time.  Sometimes, it takes a lifetime – for it to emerge, and for it then to be developed and expressed in all the ways that are possible for us.  Because to express our calling is to allow ourselves to uniquely express one mode of being, one facet of the creative life force of the universe – whatever you might conceive that to be.” ~ The Enchanted Life, Sharon Blackie

I found this book inspiring and accessible.  There are tasks and prompts at the end of each chapter to encourage the reader to explore the topics more deeply and give ideas of how the ideas can be incorporated into our daily life.  It is comforting to know that developing our calling can take time, maybe even over the whole of our lifetime.

The Enchanted Life Book Review

I would highly recommend this book.  It’s magical, inspiring, relatable and is a guide to re-finding ourselves.

“I believe that enchantment is an attitude of mind which can be cultivated, a way of approaching the world which anyone can learn to adopt: the enchanted life is possible for everybody.” ~ Sharon Blackie


You may be getting a calling to book a Yoga Teacher Training Course.  Maybe you don’t want to be a teacher but you would like the opportunity to explore your practice more deeply or perhaps you would love to teach and are looking for a suitable course.

Here are a few useful steps to help your decision making process.

Set Your Intention

Are you seeking an experience to transform your life and take you overseas to immerse yourself in the training?  This may be an opportunity to step outside of your regular life, travel for your training and add travel adventures to your experience.

You may have a particular yoga style you would love to teach.  Research teacher training offering this particular style and explore the course content.

Studying and building connections in your local community may be your intention.  This is a wonderful way to make new like-minded friends in your community, get to know local teachers and find your roots in a supportive local community.

You may have aspirations to train with a particular teacher that has inspired you and you can seek out where they are hosting teacher training course.

Find out more about the programme

Ensure that you do your research as you are investing into this course and need  to make sure it is right for you.  Ask what lineage the training comes from.  Understand the learning objectives of the course and what skills you will learn.  Seek out testimonials and ask previous students for their feedback.  What does the course structure look like and what does a typical day look like.  Find out the finer detail in terms of course content and topics covered.  Who is teaching on the course and find out more about the teachers.

What is the best structure for you?

This is likely to be decided by your lifestyle, personal circumstances and learning style.  A year-round, one weekend a month structure may suit you if you have family and regular work commitments.  This may suit you if you prefer to learn over an extended time period in order to integrate your learning.  Alternatively you may prefer learning in an intensive format and can find 4-6 weeks in your schedule to attend an intensive course.  There in no right or wrong way here, it is all about personal choice.

Spend time doing your research and consult with others to fully discuss your thoughts.  It is important to remember this is the start of your yoga teacher training journey.  Dive in and fully enjoy the experience but know that it could be the first of many.  Your training needs may vary and develop over time so this is your first step on your journey.

Here are a few hand-picked Yoga Teacher Trainings:

Either I have attended these courses myself, studied with the teachers, know the teachers delivering these courses or have received excellent recommendations from students that have attended.


Devon School of Yoga
Devon School of Yoga was established in 1989 and offers a broad and comprehensive Yoga Teacher Training course.  The school has a mix of teachers in the faculty with a broad range of skills and experience.

Sheila Coombes in Kingsbridge
Sheila offers a comprehensive in-depth curriculum with several levels of training available.  You will study asana, pranayama and learn ways of engaging your students through careful class planning.  The group provides the opportunity for discussion around the shared teaching experience.


Akhanda Yoga YTT in London/Rishikesh
Yog Sundari offers a unique opportunity to study in the UK over 8 weekends and one week of study in Rishikesh.  This holistic Yoga Teacher Training will give you a strong foundation, a wider understanding of yoga and the opportunity to deepen your practice.

Scaravelli Inspired YTT
Intelligent Yoga Teacher Training is led by Catherine Annis and Tanya Love.  This course has been created to develop knowledgeable, responsive and confident teachers who teach yoga based on a solid understanding of the fundamental workings of the body and an appreciation of its natural intelligence.


Yoga Arts in Bali and Australia
Yoga Arts has been dedicated to training Yoga Teachers for over 24 years and is passionate about providing a high standard of teacher training.  Ultimately the objective of the Yoga Arts’ trainings is to train participants in quality, professional, safe and knowledgeable teaching skills and to offer, the teacher to be, as many available teaching tools as possible so that their teaching can be available to everyone. Most importantly, to bring about self responsibility, self understanding, spiritual maturity and awakening to the student.The Yoga Arts’ trainings prepare the student on an inner reflective level to move towards a spiritual maturity and self-understanding.

Akhanda Yoga in Rishikesh
Train in the birthplace of Yoga with Himalayan Master Yogrishi Vishvketu at the uplifting east-meets-west Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram. Let us guide you to become a radiant and inspired holistic yoga teacher!  Akhanda Yoga emphasises a balanced class including a full repertoire of yoga techniques sequenced artfully to align the layers of self.

Frog Lotus Yoga Teacher Training in Spain
The style that is taught at the Frog Lotus Yoga Teacher Training Course in Spain is a joyful, creative and intelligent vinyasa flow style which can be easily adapted to different levels. At the end of the Yoga Teacher Training Spain you will not only be qualified to teach vinyasa flow yoga but will also have the tools to create other styles of yoga classes, such as more basic hatha, prenatal and restorative yoga.

Happy researching and enjoy your yoga journey!

Soup Recipe

This Supergreen Soup has been popular at our Summer Yoga Retreats and also on the Menopause, Wellness and Vitality Workshop this year.  Christine, our wonderful retreat cook, took inspiration for this recipe from Davina McCall’s ‘Sugar Free in a Hurry’ recipe book.

Christine has adapted the recipe stating “I have adapted it to suit my taste, after all, recipes are there to inspire and shouldn’t been seen as prescriptive“.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 mins / Cooking: 15 mins


1 tbsp oil, I like rice bran
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 red or green chilli, roughly chopped
2 gloves of garlic chopped
20 grams fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
250g broccoli roughly chopped into florets
250gs leafy greens, I use a combination of kale and spinach
½ block of creamed coconut
750mls vegetable stock
grated zest of 1 lime plus the juice
2 – 3 tbsps chopped coriander


  1. Heat the oil in a large thick bottomed saucepan, add the chopped onion and fry for 5-10 minutes over a gentle heat until softened. Add the chilli, garlic, ginger and turmeric and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the broccoli, greens and stock to the pan and cook until the broccoli has just softened. Blitz with a stick blender until completely smooth and then add the creamed coconut, using the blender if required. Add the lime zest and juice to taste.
  3. Serve the soup with a little extra chopped coriander scattered over the top.


Book Review

The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.’ ~ Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW

Winter is the perfect time to retreat from the world and to spend time reading.  I’m working my way through books that have been on my wish list for ages.

I am currently reading Braving The Wilderness by Brené Brown and I’m having quite a few ah-ha moments.  This book is helping me make sense of some of the thoughts and ideas I have been developing and also sheds new light on the current global conversations.

I have been questioning and reviewing my ideas, releasing what no longer holds true for me or is no longer required.  Ultimately I realise that I am (re)discovering my true self.  This process can be confusing and sometimes messy but inner knowing is guiding this transition.

‘True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.’ ~ Brené Brown

This book is a mix of research, storytelling and honesty to encourage wider conversations.  Social scientist Brené Brown starts the discussion about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives – experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame and empathy.

Brown believes we are experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection.  In the book she offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and each other.

Brené writes, ‘True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in both being a part of something, and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.

One of the main issues identified through her research was the feeling of being ‘spiritually disconnected,’ a diminishing sense of shared humanity. What seems to bind us together now is shared fear and disdain, not common humanity, shared trust, respect or love. Emerging from the responses in her research, Brown describes four elements as ‘true belonging.’

1. People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.
2. Speak Truth to BS. Be Civil.
3. Hold Hands. With Strangers.
4. Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart.

I found this a powerful and inspiring book.  It unpacks our contemporary ways of being and the disconnect that is experienced on a global & personal level.  This book seems to connect with our desire to be our true self even if our true self has been deeply buried during our journey through life.  We can experience trauma, upsetting events, get stuck in life situations or end up completely lost but our deeper knowing will continue to give us messages to guide us back on track.  Our inner wisdom pushes us towards finding our true self again.

We have a collective and individual desire to belong.  It is what makes us human.  Brown writes “We are wired for connection. But the key is that, in any given moment of it, it has to be real.

Braving The Wilderness encourages us to build courage, resilience, review ourselves, move in, be civil, be our true self and to find our true voice.

Watch Brené Brown discuss Braving The Wilderness with Marie Forleo.  “How to Brave The Wilderness” with a particular focus on some powerful truths about belonging, courage, and why we all desperately need to change the way we talk about our enemies.

Also watch Brené Brown’s inspirational TED talk “The power of vulnerability”.  One of the most watched TED talks with 40 million views to date (TED website & YouTube views).  Brené Brown studies human connection – our ability to empathise, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TED, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

Book review

And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Recently in a discussion with a friend he quoted from Letters to a Young Poet as we discussed embracing isolation, experiencing solitude and the impact this can have on the process of creativity.

I was intrigued and purchased a copy of this book to find out more…

In the early twentieth century Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a series of letters to a young officer cadet, Franz Xaver Kappus, advising him on writing, creativity, love, sexuality, suffering and he shared accounts of his travels around Europe.

Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

This thought provoking book gives an insight into the life of a writer as Rilke gives kind advice to his friend.  Letters to a Young Poet illustrates the determination that artists require to stick to their path and to create.

Rilke shares wisdom and insight into the human condition.  This is a book for those that wish to explore living to their fullest potential, to explore the inner and outer worlds, to experience solitude and the growth this can bring and to become more connected in the process.

But your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Solitude is discussed with great wisdom and how stepping away from life and busyness can allow an exploration of the inner world.  This time and space can allow for the answers to come from within.  It is not to say that this process is easy, invariably it can feel very uncomfortable at the start.  A place of unfamiliarity, maybe with its own difficulties, possibly bringing up deep seated fears and emotions.  This maybe a slow and intense path but in the process of acceptance and surrender deeper awareness can be achieved.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.   …live in the question.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

This book is a useful read for anyone wishing to explore creativity, artistry, spirituality and deeper ways of living.

If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Sunset by Rainer Maria Rilke

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.

You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs–

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.