Tag Archives: expression

Create! A New Plan

New Journal, page 1

“He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” — Louis Nizer

I

I always loved learning but I didn’t like school. I hated being obliged to take mandatory classes (and in college, courses) that I didn’t care for. The few things I enjoyed, I went really deep, and neglected the rest, much to the dismay and chagrin of my instructors. I entered university intending to study painting and then, amidst the drama and depression, I switched out and never picked up a paint brush again. 

Soon after I graduated, I went to work in films (a field that did not require the degree I had, yet it gave me some odd seal of legitimacy which opened doors – even to this day – so it’s not that I’m not grateful for it). 

Over the years, I occasionally considered going to graduate school. I thought of studying writing. Or Italian Literature – but only for the purpose of returning to my beloved Italy (not a reliable reason). But memories of classroom politics and a rigid structure made me recoil. (It’s the same response, incidentally, I have to the corporate world, which I also was temporarily part of.) 

I love teaching, but I didn’t think I would be a student again. 

journal, page 2
II

Then, two months ago, after a mere 28-year gap, I began drawing again (as I’d written here). 

And once I started, it felt like meeting my Great Love again – a sense of “rightness” at last clicking into place somewhere deep inside, a combination of comfort yet excitement, and the challenge of the very best kind: one that makes me come alive. 

The idea of being without it ever again sounds as ludicrous as waving goodbye to the person you know you want to spend your life with. 

As Elizabeth Gilbert said in her brilliant book, Big Magic, when explaining why people persist in creating, even when it’s difficult, inconvenient and often financially unrewarding: When people are having an affair, they don’t mind losing sleep, or missing meals. They will make whatever sacrifices they have to make, and they will blast through any obstacles, in order to be alone with the object of their devotion and obsession—because it matters to them. Let yourself fall in love with your creativity like that and see what happens.”

trying my hand at watercolour for journal, page 3
III

And so, amidst the upheaval of the past few months of a back injury, packing up my life, moving countries and the trauma of travel in the time of Covid, I made the time. 

In my teens I used pencil and charcoal then moved onto oils. This time, I fell in love with pen and ink. Sometimes I don’t even draw per se, but just have my hand move across paper, creating shapes and sometimes words. I bought watercolour and brushes too. I played a little with it, but retreated.  

I’m now staying with my mother for the foreseeable future. I’m still in isolated quarantine so actually haven’t seen her yet, but the relief of no longer being alone has brought me great comfort. Now I feel I can exhale and stop waiting for the Next Thing. 

(Okay, I admit, I’m also ready to hit the road as soon as it becomes safe to travel again, but I’m aware that the global situation is not changing any time soon, so for all intents and purposes, I’m Right Here Right Now.)

from previous journal of ink sketches
IV

I’m very happy sketching and scribbling and doodling. I could do it forever. I draw the way I do everything: precise, detail-oriented and controlling everything (see cat sketch, above). 

From the start though, I’ve wanted to get into colour – because, well, life. My previous tools now don’t feel that compelling. Pastels feel too dusty. Oils feel too elaborate. My approach to life now is lighter and mobile. Which is why I’d bought watercolour, knowing instinctively this could be ideal. 

There’s a more loose, free-flowing, trust-in-the-universe quality to watercolour that has confounded and terrified me every time I ventured near it. I know it could be hugely revelatory if I really go for it. As always, I know the real magic lies in letting go. 

new journal, page 4
V

There is an incredible wealth of resources online to help me. I tried a few short tutorials online, but it felt like scratching the surface. The more I dug, the more I wanted to go deep. So I thought: why not?

Here’s my plan: Rather than go about this in a haphazard manner, I want to treat the next few months as my own semester of intense learning. To pick the instructors I want to learn from, to select the subjects I think will enrich my life and knowledge (I want to understand everything: what are the properties of different pigments that make up watercolour paints? How do they suspend in water and how does the kind of paper I use change the effect? I’m a sponge when it comes to soaking up knowledge I’m fascinated about). 

Making great watercolour paintings at the end of it is not even the goal. Nothing thrills me more than a steep learning curve. To apply myself to a complex task and come out the other end somehow transformed by the journey – that’s the reward. 

At the end of this year, I can assess where I want to go next: try intermediate watercolour classes? Add supplementary lessons on typography, book binding (how I’d love to bind my own sketchbooks!), or even making my own watercolours? But all that can be decided later. 

Honestly, the mere idea of spending my next few months drawing and painting makes me cry with happiness. The only thing that remotely made me feel this ecstatic in a long time was being in nature last month after a six-month lockdown. 

I always heard the expression, “Youth is wasted on the young”, which feels broad to me. I think it’s more accurate to say “education is wasted on the young”. When I was young I thought I knew everything and resented being taught. 

It’s only as a grown up do I revel in saying: I want to be a student, I want to learn. 

It’s as an adult I know that to keep learning means to keep growing, which means I stop feeling stale and stagnant, which – ironically – makes me feel young. 

“I tell my piano the things I used to tell you.” — Chopin

This week on nupupress.com: Nature is a Healer – how the grass, hills and lake made me whole again.

Related Recommendations

I’m assuming there’s not a hoard of secret wannabe watercolour enthusiasts reading this so I won’t detail my (very long) reading, watching, blog and class lists here (if you’re interested, do email! I’ll happily share). I’ve hand picked a few which may be fun for everyone. 

 Koosje Koene has a chatty, friendly style, and she’s been sharing a free tip every week called Draw Tip Tuesday for seven years on her YouTube channel as well as on Sketchbook Skool’s channel. I watched this video and was charmed by her light, playful touch. Then I watched this and learnt to get over my terror of a new sketchbook and draw my art kit (it took me three days but I got there eventually, see above).

Although she’s currently on a temporary digital detox, I look forward to Koosje’s tips weekly. 

 I tried a number of classes on Skillshare. For those unfamiliar, Skillshare is an online platform where instructors offer short courses on a wide range of topics. You sign up for a monthly or annual premium membership which gives you unlimited access to thousands of courses. (The price range varies depending on the country you’re signing up from.)

However, Skillshare overwhelms me the way a brunch buffet overwhelms me: everything looks tantalising until I actually bite into it, then I feel that inevitable pinch of disappointment. My greed is not matched by the offerings (though I stress I’ve only tried a fraction of what’s available, so my opinion is akin to trying a few olives and declaring the whole buffet unappetising; apologies. They have awe-inspiring speakers like Roxanne Gay and Simon Sinek too, it’s just not what I want at this time).  

Domestika is similar to Skillshare in that it’s a platform where different instructors have short courses. But, oh! Domestika is like the plush, glamorous version. All courses are design/art based, the largely Spanish-speaking (all lessons have subtitles) instructors are award winning, and the videos are exquisitely produced. They feel like an Armani ad. 

I believe there is a membership option where you can take unlimited classes for a monthly fee, but I want to avoid that buffet dilemma and only pay for the courses I specifically want to take. I purchased a couple during a recent 75%-off sale, though they normally are in the region of US$40 per course. 

The more in-depth courses (offered directly by artist–instructors on their own websites, to be taken in your own time over 6-12 weeks) are more heavy-lifting. They are more expensive and require more commitment so I’m choosing carefully though here, too, I am spoilt for choice. 

 In my earlier attempts to get back into drawing, I’d start with a single large sheet of blank paper, and found the prospect terrifying. This time, I’ve kept it casual and (somewhat) private by keeping a small A5 journal. 

If you plan to use watercolour, then it’s good to get a sketchbook that specifically caters to watercolour or mixed media, otherwise the paper can warp and bleed through. For pen and ink, any sketchbook should work well, though not all take fountain pens without rebelling. 

As mentioned in my earlier post, I loved Samantha Dion Baker’s book Draw Your Day, and Danny Gregory’s compilation, An Illustrated Journey, which outlines how various artists around the world keep travel journals. 

One of my favourite journal keepers is José Naranja. His intricate drawings and typography are jaw-dropping. He sells curated facsimiles of two journals to date: The Orange Manuscript (also available as a free PDF download on the same page), and The Nautilus Manuscript.

Prolific Cathy Johnson (who will certainly figure in my current art education) is sharing her ebook, Keeping an Artist’s Journal, for free during Covid. You can download it here. 

Keep growing!

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Live Storytelling Q&A this Sunday, 17th May

I’m definitely looking forward to greener pastures… One day soon, fingers crossed.

“I don’t believe in luck. Luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity.” — Oprah Winfrey

I wanted to write a full post this week but it’s been one of those weeks. The lockdown here has been extended again, which is no surprise to anyone, but it’s beginning to feel distinctly Groundhog Day-ish. I’m trying to conserve whatever energy I do have left from the ceaseless cooking-cleaning routine for quiet contemplation (well, that’s been the idea anyway).

I wanted to flag that the Live Q&A for the 10 Lessons on Storytelling from Films will be held this Sunday, 17th May at 12 noon EST (9am PST, 5pm UK, 9.30pm India, 10pm Bangladesh). It’s for 30 minutes.

You will need to send an email to Opus 40 at info@opus40.org or call (845) 681-9352 if you’re in the US. You will then be sent a link and details of how to get onto the Zoom call. (This type of detail can’t be shared publicly online for fear of Zoombombing!)

Apologies for the rescheduling; due to Mother’s Day last Sunday, Opus 40 wanted to push it to this week.

I would be so thrilled if you could make it! You don’t have to be visible, but it will bolster my spirit to know I’m not talking into a giant void. You’ll be able to send questions live on the call. You’re also welcome to send me questions in advance at nupu at nupupress.com if you prefer.

Thank you, everyone. I hope you’re staying safe and well and healthy.

Hope to see you Sunday!

“Move, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.” — Rumi

P.S. Apologies for the double posting to those who subscribe to both blogs. They’re identical this week.

Related Recommendations

Loved this! Really cheered me up. Comedian Julie Nolke explaining the pandemic to her past self.

I’ve been off the news, and mostly off the internet. The only thing I can tolerate these days are cat and dog videos. Here’s one my cousin sent: a cat that doesn’t want to be in a family portrait. I live for this shit.

I have not yet started this yet, but my friend Anne has been doing it daily and swears by it. Also recommended by other friends (though Anne’s loving push has convinced me to finally start), Yoga with Adriene is an internet sensation – now an institution too. Adriene gives free yoga classes on YouTube and is followed by millions of devoted fans around the world (you can read extremely moving comments on her page). Adriene has several 30-day programmes (all free). This is the one – Home: a 30 Day Yoga Journey – I’m planning to start tomorrow. Promise.

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Why Creativity

© Abeer Y Hoque: The bridge to the sea

A quick heads up that the live Q&A for the 10 Lessons on Storytelling (on Zoom) has been pushed by a week. It will now take place on Sunday, 17th May at 12 noon EST (9am PST, 5pm UK, 9.30pm India, 10pm Bangladesh). I will post details of the call closer to the time. I do hope you’ll be able to join me – it would thrill me to no end! (Please click here to go to Opus 40 to see my two video links on storytelling. And thank you!)

“Everything is hard before it is easy.” — Goethe

Hi my lovelies,

I hope you’re all hanging in there, and are in good health. I know some of you are in countries that are slowly lifting lockdown restrictions. I hope you all stay safe whatever your circumstances are.

When I thought about narrowing the focus for this new blog, I was clear about the self-care and the sustainability angles – subjects I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about and working on.

Creativity felt a lot more risky. After all, who am I to talk about creativity? (I am more often blocked than not.)

But the point of life, I believe, is be creative. It doesn’t have to only mean how it’s conventionally categorised either (art, music, writing, etc). The reason to keep it as one of this blog’s pillars ensures I’ll keep addressing it – for myself as much as you.

In this time in our history, we are bombarded with relentless input. It’s a non-stop stream of entertainment, news, information, opinions. I for one have reached saturation point.

If we don’t carve out space to express what we feel, what we believe, and what we think, then we are in danger of never actualising the privilege we have of being who we are.

It has been really easy for me to push away my own work and put my (passive) energies on other people’s output. It requires far less of me, and there is comfort in that.

The hard part is the realisation that it makes no sense to put myself out there unless I’m willing to get real and honest – like brutally honest. Otherwise, a bunch of pretty words strung together (or, as the case may be, a pretty melody or a pleasing picture) ultimately means nothing except passing (maybe even ultimately wasting) time.

Hiding behind my bravado is a whole lot easier than facing my own demons, than talking honestly about what hurts.

This is my fear: if I talk about the stuff that really matters, then I’ll be exposed. I’ll have nowhere to hide. I’ll lose my beloved armour.

But I know that for as long as I don’t bring it out into the open, then the fear has power over me. I’ve lived that way for so long, it’s become normalised. It’s like using a handkerchief to cover my nakedness – I remain in a state of panic, trying to do quick moves to constantly stay one step ahead, hidden as much as possible, hoping nobody’s noticed.

It’s easier to just stop. To drop the hanky. To say, this is me. I may be messed up. But I’m owning it.

To do this doesn’t require permission from anyone else.

Our only real offering is our truth. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and it often isn’t. 

I’m pledging to do the hard work. Whatever the outcome. Because this shit matters. This is the purpose of creativity.

I leave you with a quote that kind of makes me feel faint with terror but also inspired…

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison

This week on nupupress.com: Aim Higher

The beautiful image on this post is – fittingly – by one of the bravest artists I know, Abeer Y Hoque (whom I interviewed here). She is a writer, poet, photographer, editor and so much more. You can see more of her work on her website, Olive Witch.

Related Recommendations

I was deeply saddened this week to hear of the deaths of two remarkable actors, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, both from cancer.

I had the privilege of working with Rishi Kapoor on Do Dooni Chaar when I was at Disney, and accompanied him and his amazing wife and co-star, Neetu Singh, to New York for a film festival. Coming from a highly lauded film family, he started at age three and never stopped, leaving behind a lifetime of moving performances.

I sadly did not get to work with Irrfan Khan, though was absolutely wowed by his immense talent and he remains one of my all-time favourites. He was one of the few Indian actors who crossed over into Hollywood films, and did both with a rare kind of beautiful honesty. In English language films, he shone in The Namesake, Life of Pi, Darjeeling Limited, Slumdog Millionaire and many more. In Hindi films, I loved him in so many roles, including Paan Singh Tomar, where he played an athlete-turned-rebel, based on a true story. In Piku, he was his most charming self as the outsider who takes a father and daughter on a road trip, balancing their eccentricities with his own. He was an investigator in Talvar, based on a real-life murder case that stunned India. And most of all in The Lunchbox, where he played a widower who accidentally got someone else’s lunchbox at work.

Both extraordinary actors gave us film fans immense joy, and both will be deeply missed.

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Video: 10 Lessons on Storytelling from Films

“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” — Margaret Atwood

Hi my lovelies!

I hope you’re safe. I hope you’re staying indoors. I hope you and your loved ones are well and healthy.

I’ve been giving talks on creativity, storytelling and films for a number of years now. This is one of my favourites, which I recorded especially for Opus 40, a non-profit cultural organisation in Hudson Valley, New York.

Since the lockdown, they are offering online events, giving me an opportunity to participate from the other side of the world. (A giant bear hug to Abeer Hoque for connecting me to Caroline at Opus 40!)

There are two videos of 25 minutes each. I designed the talk not just for screenwriters but writers of all forms, as well as anyone who likes movies and wants to deepen their appreciation for cinema.

You can see the two videos here. I do hope you enjoy them!

There’s also going to be a 30-minute live Q&A on Sunday, 3rd May at 12 noon Eastern (9am Pacific, 5pm UK, 9.30pm India, 10pm Bangladesh – covering, I hope, the majority of you!). I’ll share details closer to the time.

I’m a little terrified that the Zoom call will be me in an echo chamber with nobody else on it, so if you do have any questions, please do ask! Feel free to post them in the comments box below, or email me on nupu@nupupress.com.

FYI: when I give talks, I’m usually a safe distance from everyone watching, and I can hide on a darkened stage where the focus is on the screen next to me where I show film clips. So this was an inordinately tough task to record myself.

I mean, sheesh, do I really look like that? Why do I pull those funny expressions? And why does my hair seem to have a mind of its own? It was quite excruciating.

I was to do another talk for Opus 40 on simplicity, which I’m afraid I ended up not doing due to other commitments. But now that I’ve braved the video camera, I may do more of these on various topics if they are fun/helpful to you.

The videos will be available for a week until the Q&A, so do please watch soonest if you’re interested!

The link again is here. I’d appreciate it if you would spread the word and share with anyone you think may be interested!

This is a rare occasion when I’m posting the same message on both blogs, so apologies to anyone who subscribes to both (for which, naturally, I love you). Other than the Q&A updates, I will refrain from doing so.

“I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money.” — Dorothy Parker

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Toby Maguire: Zen Breathing, Zen Body

Toby Maguire | Nupu Press | thetinlife
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” — Zen proverb 
I’m so thrilled to share my exchange with Toby Maguire, a health and wellness consultant. His simple techniques have had a significant effect on my wellbeing in a short period of time. Here, he discusses his tips and tools for healthy living. The connection between our breathing and immunity has been especially valuable to understand.
Toby’s work on managing stress has been featured in the Sunday Times, Forbes magazine and Huffington Post, among other publications. He’s worked at wellness resorts around the world, and his clients include Olympic athletes, Premier League football players, as well as British and Hollywood actors.
He was born and raised in Windsor, in the United Kingdom. He has an MA in Holistic Wellness, as well as Diplomas in Hypnotherapy, Auricular Acupuncture, Thai Massage, Chi Nei Tsang Therapy, Meditation and Qi Gong.
He is the CEO and founder of Living in Balance Ltd, which runs workshops on stress management for company executives and upper management. He has been practising Eastern healing therapies for almost 20 years.
The early years
How did you become interested in Asian philosophy and healing?
I moved for work to Thailand in 1998. While there, I went for a Thai massage and was so impressed by the various techniques the therapist was using, and how I felt afterwards, that I decided to study it. After learning how it helped the body to heal, I wanted to learn more so went on to study Chi Nei Tsang (abdominal massage) and acupuncture.
As I learned how our mind affects what happens in our body, it led me to study meditation, hypnotherapy and Asian philosophy on how to live a happy and peaceful life.
What specifically interested you in meditation?
I suffered from depression and anxiety when I was in my late teens. One day I happened to pick up a book called How To Meditate [author forgotten] in a bookshop. It promised peace of mind, confidence, reduced anxiety and everything that I was trying to experience in my life at the time. So, I promised myself I would practise whatever was taught in the book until I could get over this dark period of my life.
Within three months of learning to meditate, the anxiety and depression completely disappeared. It also gave me a clear understanding of why I had had it in the first place – how I was the one who had created it and what I had to do to eradicate it permanently. I have never had anxiety or depression since.
What did it take for you to make the switch from your day job to doing this full-time?
It took some soul searching to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life. My first career move was to leave my career as a stage manager in the theatre in 1998 to follow my heart and go to Thailand. I took a great risk by buying a one-way ticket with a four-week Teaching English certificate and about $1,000 in my back pocket. But everything worked out 10 times better than I could have expected.
After about eight years, I realised exactly what I wanted to do: help heal people. To change from my career as an English teacher to a holistic therapist took about two more years of part-time study until I was confident enough to take up a full-time position at Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Thailand.
Toby Maguire | Nupu Press | thetinlife
The breath
There are so many interesting facets to your teachings. I’d like to start with the breath. Could you please explain why it’s so important, and the benefits of proper breathing?
The breath has a huge impact on what is called the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.
The breath changes when we experience stress or anxiety. We breathe more shallowly from the upper chest, the heart rate increases, while our muscles around the abdomen tense up to protect our internal organs. Blood and oxygen are drawn away from the digestive tract to supply energy to the arms and legs so we can run away faster.
As a result, long-term stress and anxiety can cause digestive disorders, an imbalance in the hormonal system and the internal organs, as the functioning of major internal organs becomes impaired, which results in a weaker immune system.
In contrast, when we breathe deeply and slowly into the abdomen, we restore blood and oxygen to the internal organs. Our heart rate slows down, reducing blood pressure. And stability is restored to the hormonal system – this is not only responsible for all the communication in the body but also for our emotions.
Therefore, deep abdominal breathing not only improves our physical health and boosts our immune system, but it also brings our moods and emotions back into balance.
Amazing. Do you have any tips for what someone can do when s/he is stressed – at a work meeting, say, or feeling helpless like so many of us are now?
There are a couple of techniques that you can implement at any time to calm the mind and improve your focus and mental clarity. As mentioned, deep abdominal breathing will calm the mind by breathing in and out as deeply as possible into the abdomen at six breaths per minute. This means five seconds inhale and five seconds exhale. This will also keep what we call the internal chatter in the back of the mind occupied, so you can listen and think more clearly.
I loved this. I hadn’t realised something so simple could have such a speedy and profound effect.
Taking deep breaths can help focus your body into relaxing. As you relax the body, then your mind switches from what is known as the animalistic, emotional brain over to the frontal lobe where logical and rational thinking takes place. This helps give you better perspective on the situation at hand.
Meditation can feel really daunting though. How do you like to introduce people to it?
The biggest obstacle people have with meditation is that they completely misunderstand what it is, and so they think they can’t do it.
The first point to establish is that meditation is not about trying to stop your thoughts. Any attempt to stop yourself thinking will just lead to frustration as the nature of the mind is to think.
The aim of meditation is to be aware of your thoughts, which is completely different; to be able to almost stand back and observe what you are thinking – without jumping into the story and letting your thoughts take over your mind.
When people understand this, they realise that they can meditate and it isn’t so difficult at all. It is also important to explain to people the benefits of meditation and how it improves productivity. When they understand a regular meditation practice will save them time and help them to work more efficiently, they are more likely to continue practising it.
What would be a good meditation habit for us to adopt?
Most people tell me that they don’t have time to meditate. In this case, I would encourage them to start with 10 minutes per day, but to make sure they practise every day. This way, it becomes a simple habit very quickly. Once a meditation habit is established, then the benefits become obvious. It’s then easier to lengthen the amount of practice time.
 
Toby Maguire | Nupu Press | thetinlife
The body
What is your view of the human body through Chinese medicine?
The major difference between the Western and Chinese approach to medicine is the meridian – or energy – lines that flow throughout the body. These meridian lines are connected to the internal organs, so, for example, you have your heart line that flows down both arms, and your kidney line that flows down both legs. The organs and meridians must work in synchronicity with one another to experience optimum health and wellbeing. But often due to injury, poor diet, lack of exercise or excessive emotional states, the organs and energy lines can become unbalanced, which can lead to long term pain, illness and disease.
Could you give an example of the interconnectedness of our bodies with a patient case study?
I had a client who was a nurse who suffered from something called Stapedius Myoclonus Tinnitus, a frustrating tapping sound that would occur in her ear and often prevent her from sleeping.
Her husband was a medical GP and, for the previous three years, she had been through every test and treatment available on the National Health Service to resolve the issue, but without success. She was very sceptical about Chinese medicine but came to me as a last resort.
I used a Korean form of acupuncture called Sujok which involved using the acupuncture points in her foot. This made her even more sceptical, but after just two sessions, the treatment resolved the issue and it never returned.
Is it a constant process to bring the body into balance, or can we actually stay there if we’re diligent and dedicated?
With the correct knowledge, diet and exercise, the body is far more likely to remain in balance. However, few people have the willpower to exercise regularly and eat well; as a result, they are likely to require treatments in the forms of massage and acupuncture.
 
Even the healthiest of people may need to be treated sometimes, especially as they get older, as the overall energy starts to deplete, which weakens the immune system.
What do each of our organs signify?
Each of our organs can become excessive or deficient in energy, which then affects our emotions. The negative emotions affected with each of the organs are:
kidneys and bladder: fear 

digestive organs: anxiety 

lungs and large intestine: grief and sadness 

liver and gall bladder: anger 

heart and small intestine: excessive joy, and lack of empathy
Could you talk a little about using sound as therapy? I found that fascinating!
Each of our organs can be strengthened by cultivating positive emotions, visualising specific colours, and also through specific sounds.
Sound is a vibration, and different sounds generate different vibrational frequencies. Each organ has a different density and vibration, so by using a specific sound that resonates with that organ will cause it to vibrate, stimulating the cells within it. This is a key aspect of Qi Gong.
Toby Maguire | Nupu Press | thetinlife
Our habits
I feel we have become so disconnected from nature that we have overridden our body’s innate wisdom with processed food, chronic stress or insufficient rest. But this has sadly become the norm. What do you say to patients who find it tough to change their ways?
Don’t try and change all of your habits overnight; be realistic about what you can achieve. For example, if you never exercise and are overweight, start with a 15-minute walk every day. If you are stressed, spend 10 to15 minutes a day meditating.
If you and your partner drink a bottle of wine every evening, then try to drink just a glass a day or every other day, and a bottle only at the weekend. If you set yourself simple goals to achieve that you really think are achievable, you are more likely to succeed in making those lifestyle changes. But if you try to do too much, you may have one bad day, then think you can’t achieve your goals and give up.
Because you have so many methods to treat a patient – acupuncture, nutrition, hypnotherapy, and more – how do you choose the right one?
It depends on the client and the reason they have come to see me. If they are in some sort of physical pain, I usually use a combination of massage and acupuncture, and perhaps some Qi Gong exercises for rehabilitation.
If they want to lose weight, I would use either hypnotherapy or acupuncture, or both. Also, depending on their knowledge about nutrition, I may offer them some dietary advice too. For something like stress, I would usually treat them with hypnotherapy, and teach them some meditation and breathing techniques to help them cope with stressful situations in the future.
But I also base my treatments on what I feel is right for the client. For example, there is no use doing hypnotherapy for a client if we’re not fluent in each other’s languages.
Any resources you recommend?
I like earthclinic.com. If you go to the menu, click on “Old Version”. This the best website for natural cures for almost any symptom or illness.
There’s also an app called Insight Timer. It’s free and there are thousands of meditations on it.
Toby Maguire | Nupu Press | thetinlife
Living your life
You live the way I lived for so long: out of a suitcase and roaming the world! What is it about living this way that appeals to you?
I love the feeling that every day is a new adventure, every day is different, and that every day I get to meet and work with people from many different cultures and backgrounds. As a result, I am always learning new things.
I also love that exciting feeling of being in a new place and experiencing new sights, sounds, smells and feelings I have never experienced before. And I have learnt that no matter what country or culture I experience, they always respond positively to the same thing: kindness.
What does a good day look like to you? Which daily practices do you ensure you do for your own health and wellbeing?
A good day is waking up in a nice hotel room, practising Qi Gong for an hour and maybe 30 minutes of meditation. This is followed by a nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant and seeing about four clients throughout the day. Finishing work around 6pm and having time to go for a swim in the sea as the sun sets. A light dinner followed by a bit of reading or listening to a podcast on spirituality or Traditional Chinese Medicine. It may sound strange, but my work is my passion and I love learning new things to improve myself and the treatments that I provide for others.
What has been your toughest lesson?
The realisation that everything comes to an end, and to accept it when it does. This has given me the ability to appreciate what I have today and to let go of things when their time has come. Nothing is permanent; it all appears from nothing, reaches its peak, then declines and disappears to the same place. It is the nature of the universe, and everything follows this same path.
When were you most happy?
I can quite honestly put my hand on my heart and say I have been very happy for the last 21 years since the day I abandoned my former career, and started to follow my heart to live life as an adventure.
But there are two situations when I am the happiest. The first is when I am on a sailing yacht in the middle of the ocean; there’s something magical about this. The second is having Sunday dinner with my mum at the family home. She is 72 and won’t be around forever, and knowing this makes these moments very special to me.
Toby’s favourite motto:Be kind, to everyone, all of the time.”

Toby’s Recommendations

The film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Ben Stiller (also the director) plays Walter Mitty, an office worker who constantly daydreams about living his life as an adventure, and eventually, he does. So inspiring! 

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. I read this book in my early 20s and didn’t understand a word of it. But in my 30s and 40s, it became my bible, so full of wisdom. 

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is the best book I ever read. When you learn how people think, you can gain their trust, confidence and deepen your relationships with everyone.
Thank you so very much, Toby!
You can find out more about Toby Maguire and Living in Balance Ltd at zenmindcoach.com.
All images (except for the top) are copyrighted and courtesy of Zen Mind Coach.