Thamkrabok Temple – Meditation from Buddhist and Christian Perspectives Meeting

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There is going to be a one day event at Thamkrabok Temple (Saraburi Thailand) on Saturday January 26th 2013. I will be one of the speakers, but the star attractions will include the abbot from Thamkrabok (Phra Ajahn Boonsong) and the director of the world community of Christian meditation (Father Lawrence Freeman). Other speakers will include; Mike Sarson, Dr Vanessa Crawford, Julian Gryp , and Sarah Sowinska. The focus of this forum will be on how the vow of recovery can lead people to a full and flourishing life.

Here is the pamphlet for the event – please click on it so you see it more clearly.

Air Guitar as a Path to Fitness

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I’ve shared some of my darkest secrets on this blog, but there are some things that feel just too embarrassing to reveal. I worry that if people knew about these other things they might laugh at me or think a bit less of me. Today I’m going to take a leap of faith and trust that my readers are open-minded and non-judgmental. I’m going to admit that I’m a middle age man who likes nothing more than playing an imaginary guitar while pretending to be Kurt Cobain. I do this alone in my office with a chair jammed against the door so that nobody can come in.

My Dark Secret

I haven’t told my wife about this strange hobby of air guitar. I’m not even sure if this is something that a she could understand – it is not a behaviour I’ve seen any Thais engage in. A couple of times Oa has noticed my door locked in the evening, and she probably suspects that with all the bumping noise I’m up to something a bit more sinister. She is good enough never to quiz me too hard about my flushed face, but she accepts my claims of “just exercising” with obvious scepticism. Not that I’m telling her a lie because air guitar is superb exercise.

Air Guitar as a Path to Fitness

Air guitar is the most enjoyable type of exercise ever invented. There is no need to buy any equipment – all that is needed is my imagination and some loud music. Forty minutes of this imaginary guitar playing can get my heart going almost as much as a few rounds of pads in Muay Thai. I’m sure it burns plenty of calories. Best of all is that it doesn’t feel like exercise at all, and it always puts me in a good mood.

Ten Weeks of 5:2 Fasting Diet

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When I’m anxious or stressed my habitual response is to turn to destructive behaviors in an attempt to self-soothe. For years this meant binging on alcohol but after giving up on that particular madness my attention turned to food. Now instead of hitting a bar when life gets rocky I raid the fridge. Neither of these solutions would be described as ideal, but I prefer being an occasional fatty than a habitual drunk. As soon as the stressful period ends I do return to healthier eating patterns, but it is my goal to eliminate this behavior completely. I wouldn’t mind so much if comfort eating actually did help me during difficult times, but it just makes me feel worse.

Today's healthy food :)

Readers of the blog will have heard about my most recent stressful period. My regular visits to the fridge has seen me put on 5kg (about 11 pounds) in just over a month – I’ve hit 80kg. My belly is once again flabby and my energy levels are well below what they should be. I’ve also been struggling to shake off a cold, and I’m sure my poor diet has been the main reason for this. I’ve eaten so much junk food over the last few weeks that I feel bad just thinking about it. Now that things are returning to normal in my life the priority is to get back in good physical shape. I’ve had success in the past with mindful eating, but my mindfulness goes out the window when I’m stressed. I want to try something different this time.

Fasting for Health

I first became interested in fasting back in the 1980s after reading Dan Milman’s book ‘The Peaceful Warrior’. Back then I was skinny and I saw fasting as more of a spiritual practice. I did try it a few times but never lasted longer than a day. During the last years of my drinking I’d regularly go days without food, but I wouldn’t call that fasting and it wasn’t something that was done out of choice. I’ve always believed that fasting is good for mental and physical health, but I’ve kept away from it because it seems like a drastic solution except as part of a spiritual retreat.

My interest in fasting has been rekindled after watching a Horizon documentary from the BBC called ‘Eat, fast, and live longer’. It seems that science is confirming what spiritual seekers have known for centuries – fasting is good for you. There is now good evidence that intermittent fasting helps people live longer. It also greatly reduces their risk of developing things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and prostate cancer. I’m not obsessed with trying to stay alive for as long as possible, but I am interested in anything that can help me stay healthier for longer. Fasting does seem to offer a means to increase the number of years that we will be healthy and active.

Ten Weeks of 5:2 Fasting Diet

They looked at a number of different fasting options in the Horizon Documentary, but the one that interests me most is the 5:2 fasting diet. This involves fasting for two days of the week and then eating more or less what you like for the other five days. With this diet we still get to eat on the fasting days, but we limit ourselves to 600 calories for men or 500 calories for women. It doesn’t seem like that tough a regime to me so I’m fairly confident that it could work for me.

I’m going to give the 5:2 fasting diet a try over the next 10 weeks. If it proves to be successful I will try to maintain it indefinitely. Today is my first fasting day and so far so good. It is now noon and I’m going to eat my only meal of the day soon – I’ll also allow myself an apple later on. I will add updates here on the blog so people can follow my progress.

My Other Posts on 5:2 Intermittent Fasting

Second Week of 5:2 Fasting Diet
Changes to My 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Plan
Week Three of the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet
Intermittent Fasting as a Spiritual Exercise
5:2 Fasting Diet Update Week 6

Update:I recently came across Eat, Fast, Slim: The Life-Changing Fasting Diet for Amazing Weight Loss and Optimum Health. This book is packed with useful information about all the different types of fast – it would have been a great help to me if I’d read this before taking on this challenge.

Update September 2013
I am repeating the 10 weeks of 5:2 intermittent fasting – this time I’m going all the way to the end.

Muay Thai Fighter e-Book Released on Amazon

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Maverick House have just released the e-Book version of my new book ‘Muay Thai Fighter” on Amazon. The paperback is to be released within the next few weeks. This is the story of what happened to me when I tried to take on the toughest martial art in the world. It didn’t end as I expected, but it was one hell of a journey. I’m really looking forward to getting some feedback on this book so don’t be shy.

Muay Thai Fighter in Amazon US
Muay Thai Fighter in Amazon UK

Woo Woo Drives Me Nuts

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I bet that the first person to use the words ‘woo woo’ did manage to make people chuckle. It sounds like a fun word – especially if it came out of the mouth of a child. I have to at least admire that first person for their originality and quick turn of mind. These days the term has been adopted by the debunkers and they use it to describe anything that does not fit in with their beliefs. It is like a joke that just is not funny anymore because it has been told too many times – yet people continue to use it.

People Flaunting their Closed Mindedness

Not only does the word ‘woo woo’ sound trite but when people use it I can’t help but assume that they are closed minded. The word skepticism used to refer to a “questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts” , but modern skepticism is all about defending a certain dogma – i.e. scientism. This is why I prefer to call these people pseudoskeptics or debunkers. I think that Thomas H Huxley gave a good description of how a true skeptic should behave when he used the words:

Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing

Few of the people who call themselves skeptics today would follow this advice of Huxley. If they believe that something does not fit in with the current materialist paradigm they just dismiss it as woo woo. It is a shame that people who claim to love knowledge have such a closed minded attitude – particularly as so many of our brilliant scientists did and do believe in ‘woo woo’. Unfortunately modern day scientists who are open minded about the unknown tend to keep their opinions to themselves out of fear of ridicule – for fear they will be tarred with the woo woo brush!