Ram Dass, ‘this body is not who I am’

The following excerpt is taken from the book The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield. I had already read about Ram Dass’s stroke on previous occasions but this sounded very suitable as a link up to my post on struggling with some limited immobility in 2010.

Joelle, a forty-seven-year-old Buddhist practitioner, developed multiple sclerosis, which progressed rapidly. In the first few years she lost her balance, then she couldn’t walk well or carry things, and finally she needed a wheelchair. As she got weaker she felt more and more apart from the world. She felt ashamed, as if there were something intrinsically wrong with her.

“Then she came to a retreat with  the American spiritual teacher Ram Dass, whose books (starting with Be Here Now) and lectures have inspired  generation of meditators. After more than thirty years of teaching and service to the poor, Ram Dass had had a major stroke. He too was in a wheelchair, his speech was impaired, and yet he was bright and joyful and free. He said, “If I take my body to be who I an, I am in trouble. But I have learned this is not who I am.” Joelle’s life was transformed by this encounter.

Running, walking, watching

Something with which I struggled in 2010

Physical mobility was my biggest challenge in 2010. Near the end of January I over exercised my right knee, while running with poor form, and I hurt / irritated the area.

This was pretty bad news because I had just signed up for the London Marathon and I needed the training. On the plus side though, my running technique needed work and my muscles needed a lot of building up. I may not have been able to run the marathon at all without the injury getting me to see a physiotherapist.

Mobility issues were a big part of my life until the end of April. I couldn’t climb stairs, couldn’t walk more than 10 minutes without hurting, limping, needing to rest. Once the damage had healed I started to face different issues, namely my body having to handle the long runs and then build itself up again. Black toe nails, swollen toes, damaged knees, hamstring injuries (well, just one), general aches and pains.

It was fascinating. The only suffering, as opposed to pain, I remember, was the frustration at not being able to run. The pain itself was manageable and even enjoyable since it seemed worthwhile.

Once the marathon was over, there was the Bristol 10k on 9 May and I’m not sure if it was too soon or not but I completed it in 1:00:17 but with a painful, spongy feeling in my right ankle. The pain started at around 3kms in to the run and didn’t let up until the end. The physiotherapist said to give my body some time to get back to normal before we started to look at what to do.

On the 1st of June however I found out I was pregnant. I was fatigued for the first few weeks and went to the doctor to find out if I was anaemic or if I had caught some other kind of bug but no, it was a baby.

The next few weeks / months were taken up with fatigue and morning sickness. My body was completely unwilling to run and in the first six months I ran twice because I only felt well for two days. I had a month or so when I felt ok and then once I got to seven / eight months I started to struggle with walking again.

I am now 39 weeks pregnant and walking, sitting and sleeping are pretty painful. Standing isn’t much fun and bending down to pick things up is barely feasible.

I have been back to see the physiotherapist because of pelvic problems. My tendons and ligaments that keep the pelvis fused together have been relaxing to prepare for labour. This means that the bones have no support and the pain can once again be immobilising. I was offered crutches and told not to do too much and I told her I barely do anything. Two – three hours of the house every couple of days isn’t much.

She told me to try to stick to five minutes walking since I would have to walk another five minutes back. No housework and nothing like vacuuming or anything strenuous. I was a bit shocked. Five minutes? I couldn’t even picture that.

Once again, the suffering is from frustration and not from the pain but it has made me think a lot about immobility and patience.

To The Left

The Wackiest Advice I Have Heard

A couple of years ago I was having breakfast with my dad in my parents apartment in Athens. The apartment has a spectacular view of the Aegean Sea and the sunlight in Greece seems brighter and whiter than anywhere else. We were eating cereal in the kitchen right next to the balcony when my dad advised me that, if I let the cereal soak in the milk for a little while, it would soften.

Being in my 30s, I hope that I would have realised that myself.

Disclaimer: I adore my dad and this does not reflect on his usual logic and conversation.

Milk and Cereal

Image used according to the licence terms.

Teaser Tuesday: Parenting From The Inside Out

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading and I found it from Carly Bennett’s blog. Anyone can join by doing the following:

* Grab the book you are currently reading
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* Please avoid SPOILERS (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away so you don’t ruin the book for others)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

The book I’m reading right now is Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. and the sentences are as follows:

Teaser sentences (p.108): ‘Secure attachment, the baby is hungry and starts to cry. Her father hears her crying, puts down his newspaper, and goes to her playpen to see what might be causing her distress.’

Data: Mapping The Time And Place

Obtaining data is often the most difficult part of any analysis as access to resources is often restricted to academia or to those who can afford to buy it. It is rarely cheap. Even if you happen to be a student who is in a highly privileged position to access so much of what is available, what you want may not be collected.

The data.gov.uk project was created in 2010 to make availability of data much easier. This could be a significant matter for freelance researchers and it’s hard to imagine why if you don’t use this sort of material. The move towards open access of data was followed by a second one which saw the discount of the cost off of the National Statistics Postcode Directory. This used to cost around £3000 a year and is now available for free. This is a very big deal.

Postcodes are useful as distance is not usually a trivial matter when analysing effects. Where you live matters as does where you shop, travel, send your children to school and work. There are many things associated with location such as funding, control, regulation, health regulations and other top-down measures. Being able to plot these, or map them as the case may be, is incredibly helpful.

There are some examples on the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis site of work that is being done with a spatial focus: Virtual London sees the creation of a three-dimensional model of London; Pollution Mapping sees the creation of a 2D/3D interactive air pollution map of London with a system that not only shows current pollution levels, but also predictions through to the year 2010; and the geo-genealogy project which mapped surnames across Britain.

The NSPD can be ordered by completing the order form and returning it to ONS Geography by email.

Three Countries I Would Like To Visit


John Le Carre, in one of his books, relates an anecdote about the KGB not bothering to set up base in two countries: Greece and Japan. Greece, because everyone talks and Japan because no one does. I’ve lived in the former country and the amount of ‘talk’ is indeed constant and at times very active.

On a bus ride into Athens, we were just opposite the parliament when a car failed to stop at some traffic lights and a girl who had just left the bus, very narrowly avoided being hit. A police officer on a motorbike was behind the bus and pulled the car over. Well, you should have been there. Everyone started talking to the people closest to them and we all had an opinion. I think the bus driver even waited a little bit so we could see what was happening.

Another time I found myself telling off an older man at the Ministry of Education when he complained about queueing too long and criticising the relevant minister. I consider Greece as much a home as Bristol but it can be exhausting.

Japan appeals to me for a few reasons. It seems socially quieter, I studied Japanese for four years during High school in Australia, I love sushi and Japanese horror films.


I lived with a Peruvian at university and he made for a great ambassador for his country. His tales were of Machu Picchu, Inca Kola and coca leaves. Football came up as well but that wasn’t necessarily enticing. Peru seems lovely, adventurous and representative of the great wide open.


I like the sound of Sweden after reading the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Lots of snow and a cabin in the woods. There’s also part of me that believes they drink strong coffee there. I haven’t visited much of northern Europe but stayed in Amsterdam for two weeks once and never wanted to leave.

I’m Posting Every Day In 2011

WordPress have started a Daily Post blog and I like the sound of it, similar to the many Flickr 365 days projects. With an unknown quantity of time on my hands, this could be quite a challenge. I am in resolute 2011 mode, however, so I will do my best.

Resolution 1: I will be posting on this blog once a day for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me.



Reflecting the records offices
Keeping on track, just like the records offices

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