Snow

After taking these photos, my camera wouldn’t switch on. It was snowing as I wondered about my local area, and the snow would settle on the camera and melt. I feared the worst, but at the same time I felt like it would be a worthy sacrifice for some of these photos and I’m sure you’ll agree.

 

Morocco

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to go to Morocco for a week and take my camera with me. Check out the pictures!

Day 5-10 – Abseiling, kayaking, archery and rock climbing!

Exams are finally over. Higher education complete. The burden has been lifted off my shoulders and I can breathe with ease. And naturally, my disposition has become even more joyous.

I have a day of chill, and then straight off to an adventure camp for 5 days. I make sure to pack my essentials, including the little jar of shilajit.

The Journey of a Thousand Niggles

I am travelling with two young and energetic boys who feed off annoyance, like weird tvampires. A 3-4 hour long journey. And amazingly, for all but 15 minutes of our travels, I am completely complacent, patient. Let me paint you a picture. Imagine a troop of monkeys, each fed a sizeable diet with plenty of fibre, all working on perfecting their aim at a large canvas. Now imagine each one of these monkeys has a long-lasting ancestral feud, and today, debts will be settled. Yeah. But without the poop of course.

The last quarter of an hour finds the journey blissfully quiet, with just a little intervention. I can sincerely say that there can be positive mood effects from the mountain sweat. We make it just in time for dinner, and I make sure to top up a bit extra in apprehension for the rope climbing booked for later that day.

Abseiling! Not as easy as I thought…

Fearless! In my mind, I have the Mission Impossible theme playing, and I realise that it’s a bit harder than it looks; you have to release the rope you’re holding behind your back in pace with your jumps. If you don’t release the rope, you’re going to stay at the same height. Let too much rope pass and you’re basically free-falling and the whole charade will be over (It’s only around 10 meters tall is what I mean). Halfway down, I get the hang of it and imagine I’m Tom Cruise for a glorious 5 seconds. 10/10 would do again!

High tight-ropes. For the insane.climbers-backpack-caribiners_4460x4460

Having done a module on Design Failure Analysis in which we learn about the mechanisms of how things break, I actually did feel a surge of excitement as I precariously balanced several meters on a rope suspended in the air. I climbed up a wooden pole like a monkey on steroids, and began my journey across.

If I fell from this height, I’d probably break an ankle at the least. There’d be a lot of wear on the bolts holding this rope. I wonder how long they’ve been here. The wood holding the bolts looks a bit old… What if I slip and this safety harness turns into the wrong kind of lingerie?!


I learned something quite positive from that experience there. Don’t take a potentially dangerous situation and consider things that can go wrong. Unless you’re a bit bored and want to add a bit of spice to your life! YEAH!


Archery

archery-equipment_4460x4460I spent a long time just wondering, how does one aim with a bow and arrow? With a gun, you have sights which you can aim down, simple right? But with a bow and arrow, the best strategy I could come up with was to look down the arrow, try and keep both hands parallel to the ground, and just hope it goes where I want it to. I found this to be moderately successful, hitting the inner three colours each time. For a bit of fun, I even found an apple and put it on top of the target. And lo and behold, I hit it! It was a bit anti-climatic however, as the arrow essentially glanced off it, no explosion of fruit, nothing. And every time I tried to hit it after found my arrow going wide.

Still, I guess I can say I hit an apple with a bow and arrow! William Tell, eat your heart out!

Zip-line

A group of 10 people. Waiting in turn, for a 20 meter long zip-wire perhaps 3-4 meters above the ground. It takes time to put on safety harnesses, get the all clear, speed across and then get down, and finally run the line back to the starting point.

I don’t wanna run back with everyone shouting out “1… 2… 3… 4… 5…” No sir-ee.

20 long minutes pass by. And finally, my turn.

What can I do to… spice things up? 

“Alright, step off the platform.”

Step? nope! I need to run for what I got in mind. 

Without a second thought, I launch myself into the air and swing my lower body up, holding myself upside down as I discover what the forest looks like upside down. At the end, the instructor pulled on my rope but the knot didn’t come undone… She tried and tried, but it availed nothing. Bear in mind, if this knot gets undone, I’ll slide to the ground and be capable of carrying the zip-line harness back to the starter platform, with everyone counting up loudly…

“I’m going to have to run you back.” she says. She was not much over five foot. I weigh over 70 kilos, and she was going to run me up a hill. I couldn’t help but grin. hehe.

Inevitably, I began to feel a bit sorry for her as she hit a bit of a steep slope and almost fell backwards. But she took it on the chin, a veteran instructor, whilst I had a semblance as to what it must feel like being pulled by an eastern-Asian rickshaw.

It turns out, the knot was tied too tight, and so, my hope was fulfilled. Better than I had anticipated!

So yeah, zip-lining was a great experience to have under my belt.

Laser tag!

Imagine discovering that the laser on your

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Learn something new every day! (RadarAuthority.com)

gun stays on for about a second when you shoot. It’d mean that if you move your arms quick enough, you can take out three people with one shot. And now, you have people who play like they might be shot with real bullets, hence they hide behind corners or ‘camp’ for those literate with modern FPS games. Easy pickings for my laser-line rifle.

Funnily enough, I found that to be the most physically strenuous of all activities, running while crouching really works on seldom-used muscles. If you’d like to work out abs and back muscles, try crouch-running. Make sure you do it while no one is around because I’m sure it looks quite ridiculous, but it’s really effective!

All in all…

The family and I had a great time, the fresh Welsh air was reinvigorating, and I proved to myself I could overcome anything and add a little extra to keep things interesting. I found that I was headstrong with every activity and had buckets of energy for everything. Waking up early was great, and the routine of set meal-times is something I’ll dearly miss…

…Sadly, I found that when I got home, I had left my baby jar of the black stuff in the cupboard kitchens… More on that later!

 

 

Research on the ‘black stuff’

In a recent blog post, I mentioned that shilajit may increase testosterone. Upon research, I found the following.

If you are suffering from low testosterone, symptoms include decreased libido, rapid hair loss, fatigue, sleep disturbances, brain fog and depression amongst others. It largely affects your mood and is found in men under 30 and especially men over 60.

Shilajit is found to increase testosterone by 20% and free testosterone by 19% in a bunch of healthy men between 45-55 in a study. Whilst for those of us not in that 10-year bracket, it might not sound appealing, but what this suggests is that shilajit does increase testosterone production, and that it does it by a considerable amount. It’s not the same as taking testosterone creams which will increase your testosterone levels at the expense of making you reliant on them for normal testosterone levels. Whereas using a naturally-derived supplement allows your body to increase and regulate healthy testosterone levels.

So if you’re suffering from low levels of testosterone, and recognise a few of the symptoms, it may be worth giving this a try. I get mine from superfoodsco.com, it’s a good price as shilajit goes and it’s guaranteed 100% pure (apparently a few other sources have been found to have high levels of heavy metals – not good). I’d like to state that I am not a medical professional, and if you are experiencing any issues to speak to your doctor first.IMG-20170920-WA0004

Day 2 – Running

Lazy morning. You know the type. Barely get yourself out of bed, thinking about all the work you have to do which you kinda won’t have to do if you stay in bed… I’m sure there’s a fail in logic somewhere there but I don’t let myself figure it out. Comfort… mmmm.. An hour passes. And another. It’s Friday, and I realise I’m running late for an important appointment. I leap up from the bed, slap on on a pair of presentable clothes and fly downstairs to make a coffee. With my new special ingredient. Sweat of the Mountains.

The place where I’m headed is 1.2 miles away. I’m debating whether it’s actually worth even trying. I have no car, and I’ll have to run. Over a mile. I’ve been a couch potato for months. For years! I push through the waves of self-doubt, look at the time and see I have about 10 minutes. After downing a particularly strong dose of caffeine and shilajit and a Vita biscuit, I set out running. And boy do I run! I go uphill and downhill, running past people and stationary cars. I don’t slow down until the building is in sight, and by then I’m catching my breath. And the best part? I make it in time.

Afterwards, I meet with a friend I spot. He’s a big lad, probably weighing in about 90 kg from gym-going. I hug him like a long-lost friend, who I haven’t seen in years. Which is partly true because I haven’t seen him in perhaps just over a year. And as I hug him, he feels himself being pulled up to his tiptoes and asks if I can lift him. And I lift him off his feet like the worlds’ strongest Scotsman, hefting half a tree like it’s a twig. I feel like I haven’t exerted any energy by doing it, and leave him visibly impressed. And so naturally, I go on to tell him about my new-found supplement, shilajit, the blood, sweat and tears of the Giligit mountains.

By now, I’m feeling somewhat convinced of the energy boost shilajit offers. I’ll definitely keep on taking it and keep you updated with my experiences.

 

 

Day 1 – What is this stuff?

What is Shilajit anyways?

Shilajit is a thick, tar-like substance which found in the Himalayan mountains. The name ‘Shilajit’ is derived from a word which means “rock-conqueror”, a fitting name as this stuff seeps out from between crevices and cracks in the mountains.

Studies show that it increases testosterone levels which in turn better increase energy and mood, protects the heart from damage and improves memory. Furthermore, like many other superfoods, it is plentiful in those wonderful antioxidants. 

The black jar.

I have just received my 25g bottle of a thick, mysterious pitch-black extract from the Gilgit mountains (home to K2, the second biggest mountain in the world), often referred to as the Mountain Sweat. Sounds pretty impressive so far.

Not being the type to try out something without researching it first, I find out that this stuff has been used for many generations for a wide-range of benefits, from it’s positive impact on mood to increased metabolism and lots of energy. Friends and family tell me how it’s primarily used as a potent aphrodisiac and I hear a family member almost managed to patent the stuff at its source almost 20 years ago!

Not wanting to dely a moment longer, I make myself a nice strong cup of coffee the next morning, and scoop out a little sliver of shilajit. It dissolves really quickly, leaving trails of rich minerals in the milky coffee as I hold the spoon still whilst the coffee swirled from prior mixing. I give the coffee a sniff, and find a earthy smell rising from my coffee. Yes yes, I know my coffee beans were grounded not long ago. But really, you wouldn’t expect such a little amount of something to have such a strong effect on the smell of coffee, I mean; it’s not as if coffee is particularly weak in smell or flavour. My old history teacher would breathe out coffee with every single breath!

The coffee has a slight musky taste to it. Thankfully, the shilajit didn’t make it taste unpleasant. It adds to the full-bodied flavour of the coffee, tasting almost like an ethnic variant of some expensive coffee beans. Within minutes, I feel the lethargy slip away, and I notice my mind slowly clearing too. I’m fairly good at clearing my mind, but it’s something I generally practice at night – not when I just wake up. And so, finding my mind clear, I’m ready to start the day.

I didn’t feel much difference initially. I was being cautious, aware that a lot of what I might be feeling could be a result of placebo. But what I did have that I knew was more than placebo, was this surge of energy rising from my belly. I wanted to do something, and do it fast. I dropped down and did press ups.

Now it is important to note, that I have been living a very, very sedentry lifestyle, revising for important exams and spending my free time also sitting. I hadn’t done any press ups in literal months. And the most I’d do in one go would be 20. So you can imagine my surprise when I counted past 25. 27,28,29 and for the final… 30! My all-time new record. Thirty press-ups in one go. Now it’s not as if that I had gotten magic powers from shilajit or anything, but I found that I was able to push myself more without my arms and chest feeling like they had run out of energy. I wonder if being able to push yourself is related to the testosterone levels in your bloodstream (later I found out that this is in fact, true). So from that moment, I found myself growing quite fond of this silky black matter.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. I found my overall temperament to be quite calm, which no doubt many of other shilajit users will be reporting too, and sleep came easy that night. Will continue to take the substance, whilst continuing to document my experience.

 

Some people want the best for you

We give advice to people to help them. To reach them through our knowledge and experience. And we do that because we don’t want people to suffer.
Imagine a perfect world. People don’t get hurt. People live in peace. And you imagine that, because deep down. there is goodness in your heart, in everyone’s.

Now you may disagree. Because some people may have intentionally or not, brought you suffering. And these people, just like yourself, may have been hurt by other people, intentionally or not. And thus, as a result, your perspective changes. Your idea of what the world is about, changed. And that’s okay. You learn some of your most important lessons in this manner. Unfortunately though, this can mean that with your new perspective on life, you bring suffering to someone else’s life. And it’s understandable, there’s a reason behind it, it doesn’t make you bad. Continue reading

Journal Entry

In the final few months of my mechanical engineering degree with 4 projects and 4 exams to worry about, naturally I found myself writing in my journal and reflecting, thinking spiritual and big, attempting to concern myself with matters greater than coursework and tests. Of course.

And as I wrote, I found myself talking to an audience… And I wondered, why don’t I share this with more than just the NSA? And so, in a form of blissful procrastination, I spent a third of my savings to make a blog.

Right.

Well, moving on.
Here is my journal entry for today, unedited in all it’s glory. Enjoy!

Hello my Fellow Humans!

I am not quite sure why I write as if I am speaking to people. Maybe in a sense, I feel like this is my way of opening up in the world. I am not just talking for myself, I am talking for all of you. I, like all of you, have experiences, and my experience sharing has two benefits. One is for myself, doing all this writing about my thoughts, feelings, experiences and my spiritual expression, helps to clear my mind and focus. It also teaches you new things, as you and I are learning all the time. We don’t realise it, but we are. This alone is why it’s important that you surround yourself with good folk, and remove negative influences in your life, such as CNN news. Ha! I made a joke-Anyhow.

After so long, and I hope it is not too early to say, I have now got two hands with healthy looking nails. Well, healthier. My thumbs are looking great, and my left forefinger nail is evidently healing damage, but yeah, looking really good. And there’s a certain confidence I get by looking at my hands. They don’t make me feel like I’m nervous or anxious, they look like the hands of someone who’s not plaguing themselves with mindless & heedless suffering. How I did it, for those you ask? Well, I have been trying to quit for quite some time now, but honestly, I was staying with my aunt and just chose not to. I cut out a girl from my life, and with those two external differences, I found myself biting less and less… Sure that says something.

There’s two types of people in a particular sense I will explain to you. There’s the kind that get so focused on life, they work hard, play hard, and just get on with life. They become engrossed in life, as if it is everything. And it is! A person’s perspective, is the world, is their world, and we’re all entitled to our perspectives, as it makes us who we are. But they can change, if they have the will to change that when confronted with opposition in their belief. But I digress:

On the flip side, there’s those who are often wondering where they’re headed in life, wondering of direction and purpose. They admire the other type as they talk of their accomplishments, but can’t help feeling like they’re missing out on the simple bliss that being humble brings. Every now and then, we can all feel mindful, and fully live in the moment, and at these times, we will look at other people going about their lives, and often, at the top of a hill looking down at a city, we’ll see how insignificant they are, and how they should see the world from where you are, from your perspective. But how can you do that? You can talk to them, and share your experience, and some will have had similar experiences and bring up past memories. Others will glimpse at what it must feel like through imagination. And others, will simply not be able to comprehend what your words mean, and either understand they don’t understand, or more likely, create or add to preconceptions of you. (Maybe the person had originally thought you slightly mentally ill for your choice of clothes, and now they’ve affirmed it as fact. ha.)

And I feel like this, this right there, is not right. How can understanding be so universally limited, in this age of great progression? Why aren’t experiences like these, shared with everyone? Why isn’t there more value on such feelings drawn from the observation of nature, and perspectives from nature? These questions may seem silly, and you likely will answer these with because this and because that, but why is that the case? Not why, but why?! I suppose I am asking in a more philosophical manner, imaging what could be different.

And this is important. For people to spread awareness of things that could be different. Because it is only by questioning our current state of socioeconomic existence that names like Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Joan of Arc, Leonardo Da Vinci, Muhammad (PBUH), Mother Theresa,  and many, many more. 

All these people, looked at the world with eyes of compassion and sadness, as they saw what many other people couldn’t through their limited perspectives; the need for change, regardless of struggle and opposition, of apparent impossibility & improbability in the face of a powerful regime. And all of them, sacrificed for their cause, for making the world a better place.

And it was only by their sacrifice, that every single one of us lives a better life today.

The power for change lies within all of us. Change is possible. Personal and social. It’s possible. And it all requires sacrifice and struggle.

And it is all worth it.

And as daunting as the words “sacrifice” and “struggle” sound, don’t fret. It may not seem appealing, as many of us reading this are living quite the privileged lifestyle with our technology and warm homes and comfort. And it’s in those conditions growth doesn’t occur. Does an animal evolve when food, sex and safety are plentiful? No, animals adapt to run faster when hunted, evolve stronger legs for bounding to safety. Your pet cat is hardly going to evolve in a beneficial manner surrounded by food and comfort.

No, all I ask for you all to do, is pause for a moment before you set step in the outside world, appreciate that people you see are living, feeling and loving people like yourself, and don’t be hesitant to go out of your way a little bit to make their lives easier. And the universe has a way of reciprocating your good will and effort. Believe me.