Tiger Leaping Gorge

The end.


Dear readers, I have decided that now is the end. I feel it is time to let go of this blog and start anew. Thank you all for joining me so far, it’s been a pleasure.

A few posts ago I wrote on the topic that essentially launched ‘thoughtofvg’ in the first place – a battle with depression. Now that I have written so openly on my journey from that point, now seems the right time to change direction.

The good news is that I’m not leaving the world of blogging alltogether, oh no, this is just the beginning for me. ‘thoughtofvg’ has been a learning curve, and a very meaningful one at that. From philosophy, to poetry, to art, to dreams and to me; I didn’t know where I would go. But it’s finished in a good place – a place which is a natural end.

So what next? Firstly I will be keeping this blog open, although I currently plan not to write on it again. ‘thoughtofvg’ is to become my base blog, as others expand from it. My first new blog will be my language blog (as of yet not created, but that’s what I’m doing next today!). I expect to start a new creative blog at some point soon, and given I sort out a VPN I will have my travel blog for my return to China in September.

I will be linking the new blogs here as the appear, so I hope some of you will be joining me on the other side!

So thank you all for reading, it’s been great. On to new and greater things!

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to let go of my goals”


That title gives off a common view. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to let go of my goals.”

Well then, at that point you’re already in trouble.

If you can’t imagine each element of your goals, then you risk never reaching them – even when it is the act of giving up on them.

We need to imagine what it would be like to let go of our goals, because in doing, we understand everything which is at stake.

Why not go imagine what it would be like to let go of your goals?

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Coffee Meditation? That makes no sense.


Luckily, in regards to the title, I make no sense either, which is why I have no inhibitions whatsoever for trying things out that seem a bit silly. And so I just finished a 15 minute or so bout of coffee meditation.

Meditation is widely seen as a relaxation tool; a way to calm and ground yourself in a world where calm is hard to come by. I’m of the opinion that there is much more you can do with meditation than that. For me it is indeed a means to relax, but it’s also a creative power, a sleeping aid, a concentration booster and among other things played a key role in the late stages of my fight with depression a few years back.

Nonetheless, the combination of coffee and meditation seems at first rather far-fetched. A couple of google searches revealed to me that the majority of the meditation community (but not all) are against drinking coffee before or during meditation, and many completely remove caffeine from their lives. I gave it a go anyway.

My ‘procedure’ was simple. I sat down on a chair, stuck on some ambient music, and held a cup of fresh coffee in my hands. As is usual for my meditations, I took my breathing under control, and focused on my awareness of my surroundings.

This is where the coffee changed the meditation slightly. when one focuses on their awareness, the strongest outside influences come first and one thing we can all agree on is that coffee has a pretty intense smell. You don’t usually get the smell of coffee to focus on in meditation, or really anything that intense, so naturally this was all new. I spent a while just focusing on the smell, and the warmth of the cup.

With higher levels of concentration than usual simply on the smell, a new depth comes from the smell. Often on a pack of coffee there will be some fairly pretentious tasting notes on the back (yes, I see the hypocrisy in this comment), but generally our own comments on the said coffee whilst drinking it will be “Oh, that’s a nice coffee”. With a meditative focus on that smell, you notice there are indeed numerous levels to the smell.

Drinking the coffee was essentially the same story and there is little need to elaborate. i was simply able to notice different levels to the drink to usual. The difference came a few minutes later as the caffeine started to have an effect. And it’s that caffeine that surely would ruin the whole idea of ‘relaxation’ that is usually seen as one of the main aims of meditation.

The result was more that coffee and meditation complemented each other. The coffee offered something to focus on, and gave a new experience of awareness – something I believe to be important in meditation. That given focus allowed the meditation to progress to a deeper level more quickly. As more caffeine hit, ability to concentrate increased. Increased concentration further increased awareness.

By the end I felt excessively aware and grounded, wonderfully peaceful and much more renewed than just coffee alone would offer.

Some of the ‘negative’ effects of each appeared countered too. Meditation’s habit of inducing sleepiness was countered by the caffeine, and Coffee’s favourite trick of putting you on edge was countered by the calming nature of meditation.

I would say therefore, that this seemingly silly combination is actually a match made in heaven.

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An odd escape


This is a continuation of my ‘honest’ posts where I finally say things which I haven’t said before. It’s not happy at the start, but please fight through it. There’s a light at the end.

I think it’s relatively clear to anyone who has read my earliest posts that I had quite a long stretch of depression a few years back. It flavoured probably the entirety of the first year, and certainly influences everything I write to this day. What has changed is how. It was at first a dark influence, entangling everything with chains of negativity, but now it has become a positive force.

Today I want to talk about how my former depression made me who I am today. A huge proportion of people experience depression during their lives, and every experience is different. I really feel that the more there is about turning that depression around on the internet, the better. There is only so much you can learn about depression from a health website, as it’s such a personal condition. Personal experience is important in getting above it.

I’m going to a gig in a few days. A band called Anathema is playing in Leeds Minster and I’m more than excited. I feel like it was an inevitability to see these beautiful people eventually, Because despite the apparent disconnectedness to today’s theme, Anathema is an integral part of my escape from Depression.

Funnily enough, I’ve talked about this band before on the blog. Why? How does a single band get so much coverage on a blog with very little link to music? Because their music changed me. They are one of a few bands in the world that are so important to me that they have influenced who I am very clearly. I’ll come back to Anathema in a bit.

It took me a long time to realise I was depressed. Several years actually. From about 14 to 17 years old, I was depressed without accepting that fact. I only realised when it became too much, when the darkest ideas had sprung into my head and I noticed that it wasn’t healthy to be having these thoughts. I won’t go into them too much, but they weren’t too happy.

I went to the doctor. I was given a form. I filled it out. I got very close to the ‘ seriously dangerously depressed’ mark on the form. The doctor sent me to talk to a counselor.

At this point I still hadn’t worked out why I was depressed. Depression is confusing – it has to be for it to go relatively unnoticed for 3 years. I was about to find out why I was in this awful position.

I only needed to see the counselor once. She referred me to a more serious counselor, but I never went. In a few days, I wouldn’t need to.

The meeting with this counselor was strange – terrifying at the time – but the realisations I made in that meeting changed everything. It was the first time that I explained everything to another person, and in doing so it was the first time I explained everything that was making me depressed to myself.

I found out that my depression boiled down in the end to a lack of trust, A feeling of failure, and fear.

the worst part is that it seemed to stem mainly from my family.

When I was 17 I genuinely no longer trusted a single person in my family. The only person I trusted in the whole world was one of my friends. One friend. And I got to this point because…

Fear. Two people in a household of four were prone to being incredibly aggressive and I have always been pretty non-confrontational. I was however for a while convinced that one day I would be attacked during one of their uncontrollable rages. Because of this I had the entire house mapped. Despite hating violence, I knew what I could use as a weapon in every room of the house if I needed to. Some days I was convinced I would need to know.

There was also the constant feud between my two divorced parents. Little did they know how much that feud tore me into pieces. I didn’t know who to believe, so I chose to believe no one. One parent always told me how I was being manipulated by the other. The other parent did not say how I was being manipulated by the other. I only realised a few years ago that by being told I was being manipulated, I was manipulated by those comments.

Then there was the feeling of failure. I always prided myself in being smart. Up to the start of secondary school I was at the top of the class for everything but sport, and depending on the sport I wasn’t awful at that either. Then, from a mixture of boredom of the ease of work, and pressure from the formerly mentioned things, i stopped caring. By the time I was 16, my grades had dropped considerably and I didn’t enjoy learning anymore.

I also had loved extra-curricular activities. I had loved music lessons. I had loved Scouts. I had loved swimming and table tennis. A couple of years of feeling like a failure and I didn’t enjoy these things anymore.

And perhaps the most important part of my feeling of failure, was a member of my family who certainly didn’t hold back on telling me how stupid I was. Every day I would be called ‘stupid, moron, idiot’ +numerous angry expletives. After a while you start to believe that rubbish. My reaction was to become completely apathetic to it. Which naturally made me appear more stupid. I wouldn’t answer questions, lest I appeared stupid. I certainly wouldn’t ask questions, because that’s apparently what stupid people need to do (NOT TRUE IN THE SLIGHTEST), I wouldn’t shout back at the accusations of stupidity, because I hate confrontation. Withering away under an onslaught of insults was the only option.

And so it was this realisation of distrust, fear and failure that I found myself after this counseling meeting… I had one very bleak day after this.

But just one…

Now back to Anathema. They started out as a doom metal band. Doesn’t sound like a too hopeful solution to depression, does it? The thing is that their music has evolved beyond recognition from those early days (which are also excellent, but very different) and now Anathema creates some of the most soul-resonating music, I would argue, ever made.

And so the following day, as i was walking back home from school I was thinking about the dark place I was in, desperately looking for a solution now that I had pinpointed the causes of my depression. I put Anathema on on my mp3 player.

This I what I heard.

“Needed time to clear my mind
And breathe the free air find some peace there
I used to keep my heart in jail
But the choice was love or fear of pain and

I…
Chose…
Love…
Cos everything is energy and energy is you and me…

Light shines in through an open window
Shines inside your heart and soul and
Light will guide your way through time
And love will help you heal your mind and

Life…
Will…
Be..

Cos everything is energy and energy is you and me…”

A choice of love or fear of pain.

And my solution became completely clear.  The answer was to forgive and love everything.

In a moment, the world turned beautiful. It was like the switch of a light. One moment It was dark, and suddenly the world was beautiful and I was crying. I looked around me as if I had never seen the world before, marveling at the sky, the birds, the trees.

I never told anyone that I had done this. I didn’t run up to my parents and say ‘I forgive you’. They would have been confused if I had, because they wouldn’t have known they had ever done anything wrong. In fact in many ways, this is a horrifically brutal blog, because I never said to them that I felt they played a vital role in my depression, and now it is on the internet for the world to see. 6 billion eyes could potentially look at this. But they can rest at least in the knowledge that they were completely forgiven a few years ago.

Over the course of the following week, I was called stupid numerous times by that particular family member (it still happens to this day actually). It didn’t matter. I’d forgiven them and I only had love at that point. Aggressive comments were directed from one parent at the other (but not the other way round – that rarely happens, to this day). It didn’t matter. I’d forgiven both parents for any wrong-doing they had done, and I had only love. The completely blown out of proportion aggression towards normal every-day inconveniences from one family member continued. It didn’t matter. It was forgiven, I no longer looked for weapons around the room I was standing in when it all kicked off.

I made my odd escape from depression through total forgiveness and love. i only found the answer through a band called Anathema. For all I know, that band might have saved my life.

.

.

.

And now I sit here, wondering if I should publish this or not. It’s a completely honest piece, and I have been striving to be as honest as possible, that honesty hurts. If certain family members read this, they would be hurt severely by it.

But honesty is honesty.

And so it becomes public honesty.

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Here’s a true story. About dreams and a nightmare


Truth and dreams don’t generally get put in the same sentence. But then, those who spend too much believing things to be true don’t dream.

Luckily, plenty of dreamers don’t get too hooked up on what is true. At the very least the idea of truth reshapes itself after while.

I’m going to continue my journey of honesty today, opening up about a strange part of myself I haven’t talked much about before. My dreams. This is post is more a narrative rather than my usual thinking through of something, because I’m as confused about it all as you probably will be if you read it the whole way through.

I’ve been interested in dreams for a long time, but only the last few years have I become really interested in them, and for a singular reason. Because I questioned why they had gone.

A large proportion of adults don’t think they dream anymore. It’s not the case, but I’m not here to talk about the science/psychology of dreams today and for the sake of reducing convoluted language, I stopped dreaming for most of my teenage years. I didn’t think much of them disappearing and this strikes me as really odd – as will be highlighted when I tell the background of my dreams in just a brief moment – because they play a pretty dramatic role in childhood.

Why do so many of us accept the disappearance of dreams, and why do we have to discount such beautiful experiences as ‘not real’ and hence ‘not important’?

Now I have been working for the last few years to get my dreams back, but let’s go back to the start of my dream story…

As a child, I dreamed vividly. I dreamed almost every night. I was sometimes lucid, although I didn’t know what that meant at the time.

The problem was, most of my dreams were nightmares, and dark, twisted ones at that. The good dreams have long been lost to time, but the memory of those nightmares still stay with me. Where most kids were having nightmares of zombies and aliens, I dreamed of walking over an endless chessboard with no escape. Sometimes it was the voice that whimpered, then laughed, then screamed, with no image at all – and that was accompanied with a feeling of illness that is impossible to describe but that still hits me occasionally when i’m awake to this day. There was the sleep paralysis – that was so real that I was convinced I was cursed.

And then there was the nightmare. Sometimes I called it the man. Sometimes I called it the mummy (it occasionally appeared as a mummified figure). Now it is just called ‘you’. (not directed at the reader, don’t worry!)

I can’t express how terrifying this nightmare was. I won’t even attempt very hard. The problem is that it’s image is both blurred and perfectly vivid in my mind. All I can say for certain was that it embodied fear entirely. It also felt more real than reality every time I experienced it.

I could attempt to say more about why ‘you’ was so unbearable, but it makes me terrified even now.

I, still in my childhood years, decided eventually to take action. This is where (if it hadn’t already) begins to get a bit strange and where you may begin to doubt the ‘truth’ of the account.

My solution, was to confront ‘you’. i decided to tell it to leave forever.

I remember the last  childhood dream of ‘you’ vividly. I was in a Scandinavian-like land at a turn in a river. There was forest all around, and here on the river’s turn was a clearing with a small shack in it. The door faced away from the river, and I new ‘you’ was in there, waiting for me.

This time, ‘you’ was robed all in black, with a hood over the face. The face is the part I can never picture. There might not have been a face. Yet somehow I’m certain ‘you’ had eyes, the most fearful eyes. The door to the shack, as they always did with my encounters with ‘you’ locked.

The sensations I always experienced in the presence of my nightmare started. They are too difficult to explain, not like ‘normal’ fear, so I’m afraid I can’t explain them.

Before it became too much and I sank into the usual complete terror, I somehow (I can’t remember how) managed to strike a deal with ‘you’. I can’t remember it’s side of the deal, but my side of the deal was that ‘you’ would never ever come back. It went to the door. The door unlocked and ‘you’ disappeared. I walked out the building, and the dream dissolved.

My nightmare never returned.

But my dreams disappeared completely.

And this, is why I wondered at the start of this post why I didn’t question the loss of my dreams, or have any concern about the loss of them, for the entirety of my teenage years. I had such a clear moment where my dreams stopped. I did in fact tell my nightmares, in the middle of a nightmare, to stop. And somehow i accepted the loss of dreams with that, without asking why.

I only began to remember parts of my old dreams when I began to meditate a few years back. I remembered how I had told my nightmare to leave me, and suddenly I realised my dreams had almost completely gone for over five years.

I started dreaming again, but no where near as vividly as I used to.

So I decided to try something. I tried to bring back my nightmare, with the intention of learning about it.

A few nights after deciding this, I almost forced myself into sleep paralysis. I forced myself out in terror when the lights in my room started flashing and horrific laughter filled the room.

Since then, I’ve seen glimpses of ‘you’ in my returning dreams. Only now, it seems to be on the run. It never stays for long enough for me to work out how to react. But I Know  it’s the same nightmare.

The problem is, despite the terror this…thing inflicts on me even today, I’m determined to track it down in my dreams. It’s one of my goals for once I successfully begin to lucid dream. I realised a while back that i’ve repressed a large chunk of my childhood, and I think this nightmare has some of the answers..

The nightmare however, seems no longer to be restricted to the dreamworld alone, and this does make me question further how close reality and dream actually are (I wonder about this a lot). Twice in the last few months, ‘you’ has appeared vividly in mere daydreams. I’ve been awake, and it’s been there.

And one time -thank god it was only once – I’m convinced it was in the park on my walk into university. Dressed in a long coat and a hat, ‘you’ was there,

It’s where this shocked, confused post here came from. – https://thoughtofvg.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/welcome-back-still-multi-part-poem-pt1/

So here I am now, chasing a dream, quite literally. Since childhood, I’ve been fighting with the same being, and i’m told there is no reality at all to a dream.

I’m trying to find out.

One last point on ‘you’. I few months back I watched the film ‘insidious’ with some friends, and I had a terrible shock. There is sort of a ‘main nightmare/demon’ in the film. This Nightmare, I think, is the same one as in my old nightmares. I had never seen the film before, but I knew that figure as soon as it appeared on the screen. It wasn’t it’s most common form, but It was the same. I’m still trying to work out how on earth a nightmare from a film produced the last couple of years was the same as in my childhood.

I’m going to leave a more analytical approach to dreams for a later post, but that there was an honest account of my ‘dream journey’ so far. I’ve focused only on parts of it, but I certainly covered the most important parts.

I will finish with a few short points however.

Why do we discount these dreams as trivial as we grow up when they are so important in youth?

How can the same dream be so real, so consistent, so constant, and even start breaking out of the dream world?

Have we all got the divide between ‘reality’ and ‘dream’ completely wrong? How do I know I’m not dreaming right now? What if that dreamworld is my reality and I’ve been stuck in the dream world for quite a while?

Thanks for reading guys, I hope you never ever encounter ‘you’. That won’t stop me searching for it though.