My studio (spatial) practice can only exist within the definition of ‘architectural’ if the title architect is redefined. Rather I see this work as my dharma. My practice finds methods of giving people what they need, not what I want. This is not a practice of ego, but a process of creating spaces to nurture and support the spirit, to nourish the body, mind and spirit.
Air - Vayu
The air element is most associated with - but is not the only element present in - prana, our life force. It is the element that moves it around our bodies and minds. I practice pranayama daily. Prana = life force; yama = restraint; ayama = extension. Ultimately, pranayama works on the physical and subtle body as well as the mind and is a way to nourish the central nervous system - like sleep - and help prolong your life. Yogic philosophers postulate the length of our life is determined by our total number of breaths and not solar calendar years. By this assumption, if we learn to lengthen our breath, we should live longer (and probably healthier) lives.
Fire - Agni
The fire element gives life from the sun, provides the heat in the hearth of our home, supports cooking to nourish, creates the warmth in our bodies and drives all of our transformative processes from sight to intelligence to digestion. It is also the element integral to celebration in many cultures and worshipped with great reverence. Locally our celtic practices occur with the sun and fire at their centre, signifying the majesty, greatness, and cyclical impermanence of nature and the transience of time.
Understanding the alchemy and commanding supreme respect for this hallowed force allows one to adjust and support the spirit process. The flame for millennia is, has been and will always be the elemental symbol of meditation practice.
Water - Jala
Water is the predominant material component of our physical beings. The moon controls tide and ocean, ebbing and flowing in constant change. We too operate in constant flow. Water within can be balanced but water without can be employed to create balance within.
My early morning rituals include Wim Hoff Method inspired breathing techniques and cold water therapy towards ‘0’ degree temperatures. I feel deep benefits from these practices which help to maintain our inner fires, from igniting our seats of consciousness, to nourishing the heart through the vagus nerves, and firing our digestion.
Earth - Prithvi
Mankind has worshipped Mother Nature by bowing to the earth since the beginning of time, yet nowadays such deep reverence for the earth is increasingly reserved for more indigenous cultures. Our built environment eradicates the energetic uptake we experience when standing barefoot on the earth.I often wonder if Kazuo Shinohara’s 1966 ‘Earth House’ also understood the idea of creating a space for inner healing.
The ritual of standing barefoot on the earth rapidly illustrates the effectiveness of such practice as heat sensation builds and contact with the earth deepens a sense of grounding and stability through our invisible roots.
Removing footwear when possible is an excellent practice I embrace when I can. Stand barefoot in garden or city park and watch it bring more ease and calm to your world.
The ritual of standing barefoot on the earth in any environmental condition will rapidly illustrate the effectiveness of such practice, - heat sensation will build and contact will generate ease and comfort.
Removing footwear when possible is an excellent practice to ground self and senses. Stand barefoot in garden or city park bringing ease and calm to your world.
Another important component of how I start my day is an early morning ritual to deliver life force energy through the physical self. It brings health and vitality at the cellular level, and affords more focus, joy, ease, determination and resilience to enter into every moment.
I feel its invaluable to practice harnessing ideas and information in the written word. While perhaps principally this may manifest as a record of events, it is more a diary of experiences to bring understanding to energetic exchange as we commune with other or spectate on interaction, exchange, circumstance and phenomenon.
Vaastu Shastra is the ancient Vedic philosophy of spacial organisation, it accompanies and derives from the same foundations as Yoga and Ayurveda forming three branches of ancient wisdom.
‘Yoga’ - the science of healing the mind
‘Ayurveda’ - the science of healing the body (literally means “the science of life”)
‘Vaastu’ - the science of form
Practiced proficiently and responsibly, translations from the ancient texts offer a wisdom, a ‘spatial’ practice of construction organisation, to bring ease and well-being in life as we cooperate with nature and its elements to bring balance and alignment.
In 2005 I was commissioned to design a Vedic Monastery and Temple complex for a Vedic community, a proposition which allowed me to immerse in Vaastu wisdom. While this is a system like to employ in my architecture practice, projects ultimately find their unique grounding via circumstance, observation, insight and experience.
Ayurveda is an entire holistic medical system originating in India thousands of years ago that views humans as psychosomatic (mind and body related) spiritual beings. A self-healing science, Ayurveda offers day-to-day, season-to-season lifestyle advice on living in rhythm with our own individual constitution (microcosm) while existing in universal nature (macrocosm). Ayurveda seeks to address imbalances as a result of our work, our living and sleeping habits and rituals, our relationships, the foods we consume, plus the effects of climate and seasonal shifts. Upon understanding ones constitution, balance can be sought through adjustments to rhythm, routine and diet supplemented with massage, herbal remedies, yogasana, pranayama, mantra and meditation practices.
“Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body” Deepak Chopra.
First experienced in India, I am now married to a Yoga and Ayurveda practitioner, consultant and teacher. As householders we can become disconnected from our body mind rhythms. Ayurveda is a lifestyle practice guiding our family to be more in balance with the elements, the universe and one other.
In my opinion, to be in a state of equanimity is to be free. Free from the egoic forces that bring suffering by pulling us back and forth from pleasure to pain principles. The practice of Vipassana Meditation teaches the ancient techniques of observing body and mind without distraction. SIlent, 100 hr retreats over 10 days take one into a place of solace, contemplation, reflection and pain, towards equanimity.
Once the technique has been established Vipassana Meditation can be practiced alone to reinforce and build non reaction in day to day life.
As an architect, sensitivities to environment, whilst enlightening, can be intense and taxing. The built fabric of our cities can be devoid of “beauty, commodity and delight”, and so our sense of ease can feel threatened. I have often speculated on the idea of acceptance through a lifelong practice of Vipassana. Reach a heightened state of equanimity and live in a blissful state of experiential ease.
To retreat is to take time from ones day to day schedule, alone or with your tribe. It is time to re-centre, reconnect, and recalibrate. It is a method of grounding, connecting to your source and energising ones spirit for what lies ahead. A still silent retreat, or activating yoga retreat, festival or ceremony, it is a method of self care and preservation. Whatever retreat we experience it is what we need to grow. Fundamentally growth takes energy and effort. It is not an easy path, but one that will bring joy and lightness to being.
In 2018 I enjoyed a retreat to Santorini with yogini Shiva Rea and others, I went to Geneva for grounding plant medicine ceremonies, and participated several Ayurvedic workshops with Kate Smith Jamison. Coupled with my daily, calendar and seasonal practices these help to bring lightness and ease to my world and I look forward to more of these in 2019.
The road less travelled is the road where fear resides. When we push beyond our limits we grow. The cliches are all true. My practice of walking through doors as they open, fearlessly, founded its ease when understanding ‘we are all human’ and there is nothing to lose by pushing towards your dreams with a gentle but persistent heart. Whilst the practice is established, it requires work, and a continued desire to grow and evolve.
This is the practice of caring less. Easily achieved when we view all as ‘human’, as equal, and realise they too are children within. They too have dreams, and they too are happy to communicate.
Care less, dream more, move with an open heart, and the world will conspire with you to give you all that you desire and need.
DMT, THC, Ayahuasca, Cannabis, or other psychedelics can be consumed in small amounts to support and enhance brain function. Micro-dosing Cannabis is deemed to be a rich source of liberation and compassion. Today it is realised for its healing properties, yet remains unlawful in almost all western societies.
Whilst controversial in mainstream communities, consumption with recognised plant medicines have supported pioneering civilisations for millennia. DMT was widely consumed throughout Europe in the middle-ages a principle ingredient in beer and other imbibed concoctions until it was forbidden by the Church. Historians discuss the ability for DMT experiences to enable spiritual growth and enlighten communities, and as it threatened the control mechanism in place, it was outlawed.
When the foetus grows, the palate separates and pushes three similar branches of cells toward the frontal cortex. Two become the eyes, and the third sits below, centre at the front of the brain. With a similar cellular structure and reaction to light energy, it is commonly referred to as the third eye. The third eye is deemed to be the door to the inner guru, the subconscious mind and whilst enzymes in the stomach control the ‘door’ to inner self, DMT overrides the enzymes inhibiter enabling the journey within.
Lord Shiva is worshipped as a supreme god in Shivaism, a branch of Hinduism. Worshipers consume strains of the Cannabis plant to open astral connections in worshiping the supreme being, also integral to Rastafarian worship.
Health benefits include helping symptoms of asthma, cancer, depression and mental health issues. However, this is neither medical advice but experiential truths as an asthma sufferer for many decades now irradiated through ‘practice’.
I believe it imperative we disrupt our day to day living and working cycles for new and unique experiences. Alone, with family, tribe or community, I believe we can ‘ground’ our energies and therefore bring peace and ease. Traveling beyond the comforts of familiarity can provide opportunities to grow, breaking the edges of comfort and spectating upon the environment and landscape of distant cultures.
This is an important practice and need not require distant lands but simply new environments yet to be experienced. As a householder and a parent with structure and rhythm, opportunities for distant cultures can be more difficult, but soon as tides turn and nothing remains the same, these times will return.
Without moving very far at all the freedoms of today can be heightened when we turn off technology and turn on to the elements.
Almost a decade ago I would learn a great lesson. Observing the beating of dogs by young boys in a small village in Rajasthan I promptly attempted to prevent further harm. A confrontation resulted, and informed of the boys status as Brahman priests I was hurriedly advised to turn a cheek by a western Babaji and educated on the practice of observation and equanimity without projection of unwelcome western cultural rules, customs and traditions.
Today western civilisations operate from a position of authority, acting as global police state condemning customs and traditions not aligning to their own and often intolerant to acceptance.
I find a sense of ease when travelling in wonderment, disconnected from projection and reaction. I find a sense of joy when living in reverence to all the divine vibrations of culture, religion and custom, familiar and discovered. A posture, free of dis-ease.
Mantra is perceived in Ayurveda as THE way to heal the mind. It is simply the spoken word to purify the mind or ‘that which transports the mind.’ Resonating at a vibrational level spoken outwardly it will influence the outer world, and spoken inwardly, influence the microcosm and the direction in which we want it to go.
Om Gan Ganpataye Namo Namah
Om Mani Padme Hum
We need to find moments of solitude in our busy lives. Householders or nomads, silence is essential to connect with our inner voices, our higher self, our guru and our guide. It is the intelligence that resides deep within, steeped in lifetimes of experience and suffering onto which we shine a light and cultivate a higher spiritual attunement when we sit in silence of look and listen within.
We can find solitude within through meditation and mantra, or indeed in the greater realm of reality by searching and being alone in landscape, in wonderment of the natural and the divine.
To create a sacred altar, space or room will manifest a supportive energetic quality. An altar does not translate as religious apparatus, but imbuing a space with a divine energy.
A sacred altar can be as simple as a surface, with objects that bring joy and a sense of peace; flora, family photographs, deities, incense or a naked flame, all grounding, bringing focus and stillness without and within.
Say ‘YES’ to opportunities that come to you. Fear not, be grateful just because you are, and you have been given this opportunity. When that door opens, walk through it, however terrifying. Whatever is presented to you, it gives you the opportunity to grow.
The acceptance of death as a natural phenomena (in my opinion) will free us from the greatest fear. Our spiritual beliefs and practices hold ‘death’ as liberation or finality, and fear rises when we deny the ending. I believe in the transcendence of the soul to another more enlightened paradigm beyond death. Whilst contemplating finality of a present, and all that i am attached to and will therefore ‘miss’, my acceptance is supported by seeing a more enlightened and peaceful place beyond.
Every waking moment brings opportunity for teaching and learning. Every day, I try to remain a student to the gurus we engage with who may be more enlightened, from our elders to our children. We have the opportunity to observe our actions and reactions to everyday often mundane occurrences and learn from them. To see oneself as student is to suppress ego, and live a gentler, softer and arguable freer existence. This practice is not always easy but it brings more ease and is spiritually rewarding.