I Went to Yoga Classes at a Hindu Yoga Ashram in Australia.

I was living alone in a caravan in Central Victoria, Australia.

A group of us went off once a week to a Hindu Ashram in the middle of nowhere for yoga nidra lessons.

And a very memorable time.

I was living in a caravan in Central Victoria.

A friend was a member of the nearby Rocklyn Yoga Ashram.

The ashram was located in a peaceful retreat centre in the heart of the Wombat Forest.

I’d already learned chakra yoga with Australia’s first full time yoga teacher.

Margrit Segesman taught me a form of yoga that I practiced daily for over 50 years.

There were 10 asanas or positions based on balancing the 7 major chakras.

I believe they kept me healthy and physically and mentally well for most of my life.

You should think about learning chakra yoga too.

No matter what your age.

I was 24.

Both yoga and chakra balancing are beneficial in so many ways.

And yoga is relaxing for starters.

Margrit Segesman’s interest in breathing and relaxation techniques branched into an interest in the expansion of consciousness, a subject she had discussed with Carl Jung when they met in the 1920s.

He suggested the study of yoga and yogic philosophy and reading The Science of Breath by Yogi Ramacharaka.

As well as studying philosophy, she developed her own progressive yoga relaxation technique that she later incorporated into her classes.

After spending time in Indian ashrams, she found her guru at Rishikesh on the Tibetan border and spent about five years living in a cave as an ascetic:

“For years I knew nothing else but meditation, raja yoga, hatha yoga, the intense practices of kriya and tantra, [and the] study of cosmology and evolution,” she later wrote.”

When she set up her school, she found Melbournians were keen to embrace yoga which was still considered to be very ‘new and exotic’ for Australia.

However, following a radio interview about her relaxation technique, Margrit was inundated with students and so took the step to full-time teaching.

When she embarked on her voyage from Switzerland in 1954, Margrit planned to travel to Sydney, but mistakenly stepped off the boat in Melbourne instead.

The Gita School of Yoga was Australia’s first full-time yoga school with its own permanent premises, offering classes each week day and night.

I remember having to step carefully along a narrow pebbled path to arrive at the front door – beginning class with a walking meditation.

A class then consisted of limbering, ten basic yoga asanas with many variations, breathing practices and relaxation.

On 22 September 1960 the Gita School of Yoga opened at 21 Alfred Place, Melbourne, which ran alongside St Paul’s Cathedral.

Soon after I was there as one of her early students.

Be well and healthy.

Neil

PS. Click here for the Rocklyn Yoga Ashram’s website.

Discover my new book of my real recent New Age adventures here in ‘Man Steps Off Planet’.

Little Things Mean a Lot

Mr Moloney was feared by all of us.

He’d stand on a rise in front of the shelter shed every morning before nine o’clock assembly awaiting his prey.

Late school kids.

In his hands he would usually brandish his weapon the feel of which across our bare outstretched hands we would dread.

The ‘cuts’.

That was our favourite name for the leather strap as it bore down upon our outstretched hand.

Once we’d passed the start of morning assembly and if we were late, watch out.

We were in for it.

Once across the outstretched hand was enough.

A high price to pay for being a few minutes late, I thought.

I never got the strap but I did once in class and it hurt all day and the next.

Of course no school teacher today could do that.

I’m talking about wartime, the end of WWII.

I had a friend who’d always ask me questions in class.

Once in geography class he turned to me to ask a question just at the moment the teacher turned around and caught us.

We were both hauled out of our desks to stand in front of the class, hands outstretched. awaiting the agony of the strap to descend upon us.

It was the only time but enough to taste how it felt.

I made sure I was never late.

I met my next fearful Principal when I was transferred at the start of my third year.

I followed my brother to a different school nearby when he wasn’t able to enrol at my school.

This was a fateful move.

For the better.

He was another hat wearing Principal to be feared, but this time because of his tongue.

Not an instrument of punishment.

But in a kindly way.

He was fair but feared.

With the same name as the American President John F Kennedy he ruled the school like a true president.

The school would later boast having a student named Cate Blanchett the movie actress.

I never met her.

I first got noticed by Mr Kennedy when I started collecting used stamps for charity.

We started a stamp club and I collected them from all the kids.

Little things.

All due to the stamp club, in Year Six I was chosen by him to take on the school’s electronic system, the music, the school bell, everything needed to run the school and its timetable.

I enjoyed that.

I can’t forget being hauled over the coals for my bad choice of marching music for the girls’ marching squad practice.

I mean, I can only hear Colonal Bogey played so many times and I took it upon myself to change the tune after so many times over.

I fell in love with march composer John Phillip Sousa and his marches.

They’re like mini symphonies.

Every year swallows nested under the eaves of the wash house in the backyard.

Come Monday my mother would tackle the pile of clothes gathering all week on the floor before boiling them in the copper she heated with kindling wood.

There were no washing machines then.

Washing clothes was done by hand which is why this became her Monday morning routine.

And around Year 4 I fell in love with a tiny seaside town called Point Lonsdale at the Heads to the city of Melbourne dominated by an imposing lighthouse.

I fell in love with lighthouses.

Little things.

Every winter, thanks to the blessing of my champion School Principal, and the kindness of a neighbour returning a favour, me and my family would head for Point Lonsdale for a free two week holiday at an old house with a bull-nosed verandah.

I’d go to sleep every night to the sound of roaring waves breaking on the beach.

Wild nature came to mean a lot then when I was just an impressionable school kid looking for small adventures which remained with me all my life.

I fell in love with Point Lonsdale where I returned to the area many years later to live with my daughters and grand-daughters.

Every year as we drove out to return home I left my heart behind in this magical town beneath the lighthouse.

A little thing at the time that turned out to be the biggest thing in my later life.

Which is where I live now.

Watch out for the little things.

Take care,

Neil

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How a Ghost From The Past Led Me To Investigate a True Royal Mystery.

I didn’t see it coming.

“I always thought it strange my Granny Fitz never ate at the dinner table,” Florence told me, “You see, she was dead.”

Seems that Florence’s dear childhood friend Granny Fitz was probably a ghost.

What do you think?

I’d called in to visit my mother on my way home from the city late one afternoon when I l lived in Melbourne and worked from home as a freelance advertising copywriter.

I thought I was making a social visit to learn the latest gossip about the family but I was in for a shock.

As Florence greeted me at the door, eyes watering and cheeks flushed, she looked like she’d seen a ghost.

I think she had.

She’d been researching the family tree.

So when she came to check the birth and death details of her childhood companion at the Melbourne Cemetery she got rather more than she expected.

According to the information on the gravestone her Granny Fitz had died seventeen years before Florence was born.

Interesting.

What royal secret did Granny Fitz bring beyond the grave with her?

Where did my investigations lead, what major historical characters were revealed from this simple fact?

And what unexpected historical territory did I enter when I started to follow the trail that Granny, or Mrs Fitz, left for me?

Read this amazing mystery for your self in my book ‘Man Steps Off Planet’.

Best wishes,

Neil

PS. Illustrated above is the present day replica of the historic tall ship ‘HMS Lady Nelson’ of which one of our characters was Acting Commander.

Is Life A Quest To Find Peace Amongst The Noise?

At the age of 11 I started high school which was located on a noisy main road with clattering trams passing every few minutes ding, ding, dinging their bells. In those first few weeks I thought I would go crazy with the traffic noise outside.

After a while I forgot the noise and began to pay attention to my teachers instead of the trams.

Was this a metaphor for life?

All my life I’ve sought the solitude of being alone, searching for peace, whether among Nature or in the midst of family, work or just life.

I’ve owned a country cottage where I would find my peace and worked in offices in the heart of the big city of Melbourne.

In the end, finally, I can say I can find peace wherever I happen to be.

So I’m wondering if this is the point of being alive on this planet, the purpose of life if you like.

To find our peace among the clatter, the ding, ding, dinging going on outside our head.

I’m wondering if we need to be more tolerant of the noise around us instead of reacting to it, as I have done for most of my life.

Could this be the secret of overcoming stress and anxiety which have become so prevalent in our society today.

Deal with it, yes, but reacting to it, I’m not so sure.

I can say this because I am the greatest offender in overreacting to the noise and disharmony around me.

So I can speak from experience.

Didn’t the Buddha talk about first learning to “chop wood, cart water”?

Is this what he meant?

I’m working on it.

I hope that my experience can benefit you too.

Best wishes,

Neil

To read about my book ‘What They Didn’t Tell Us About Life’ click here.

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I’ve Done Some Crazy Things In My Life.

I’ve swum at the nude beach on Fire Island off Long Island, New York, with a cute school teacher from New Jersey.

I’ve been to the Statue of Liberty.

I’ve known the delight of floating down the Grand Canal in Venice in a water taxi with an Italian nurse with the voice of Sophia Loren.

I helped to launch Animal Liberation here in Australia.

I was the first member of the Permaculture Association started in the 1970s by two academics from a Tasmanian (Australia) university.

It’s become a world phenomenon in the race to save the planet helping individuals and communities introduce a sustainable agriculture into their lives.

I was kicked off a commune a group of us started on 40 acres of land north of Melbourne in the 1970s for opposing questionable practices that would turn it into a religious sect.

I’ve sat with channels who’ve had books published of their words (for example, ‘Earth to Tao’ and ‘Tao to Earth’).

An article I wrote for a local newspaper about the Swiss-Italian gold miners who came to the Central Highlands goldfields in the 1850s was the inspiration for the annual ‘Hepburn Springs Swiss-Italian Festa’.

For a while I ran ‘The Springs Whole Health Group’ with monthly speakers on subjects ranging from hypnotherapy and reflexology to water divining and ley lines relating to health.

I’ve lived in a caravan parked by the roadside in a small country town in the Aussie bush where I became lovingly known as King of the Hippies.

On the side of a hill near a lake in the north of Italy I enjoyed an outdoor family feast of Italian food and wine served beneath a canopy of vines in a magical setting resembling a movie set.

I’ve run my own one-man freelance advertising copywriting business for over 10 years in Melbourne.

My first big ad presentation was at a week long client conference on the steamy tropical South Pacific island of Fiji.

How did I survive being left homeless, penniless, jobless and friendless when my business and I were declared bankrupt and I lost everything?

Before all of that I worked at the Melbourne office of the second largest ad agency in the world now known as McCann’s.

A campaign I created, wrote and produce for meat pies and donuts won an award at the annual National Television Society Awards in 1972.

I had a fairytale reunion with my 21 year-old daughter living on the famous Gold Coast of Australia.

I’ve been twice married, have 2 grown daughters and 3 adorable granddaughters.

I live now in a beautiful seaside resort town across the bay from the city of Melbourne where the Annual Mussel Festival and Annual National Celtic Festivals are held.

I’ve authored 4 books (not novels).

“Either write something worth reading,” wrote famous American author Ernest Hemingway, “or do something worth writing.”

I reckon that’s what I’ve done in my crazy life.

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Best wishes.

Neil