Get your meds in.

Med, not medicine, meditating, is good for you.

OK, another post that’s nothing really to do with what we do here at CarbonCube, well, not with regards the printing of the Oyster Card Holders, but we’re more than that… If you call up you’ll get Sophie or Gill dealing with all the initial enquiries, me and John on Sales, Jon, Richard, Johanna on designs and a team of guys on the floor. We all have a role in the process of producing the travel holders and we’re the main ingredient that makes the oyster wallets the best you can buy (not being too big headed, of course) and there are many reasons for that. One of which, is meditating.

Last month we did a first – the first office in the UK to conduct a transcendental meditation group. Everyone in the company met in a single room and started the process. Earlier in the month we had a guided meditation sessions but this was the first moves to get everyone really in the groove.

If you’re not into meditation, let me give you some interesting facts, then an interesting story. Again, this isn’t going to be about Oyster card holders, but if you are OK with that, keep reading. 😊

Meditation helps reduce stress, concentration, cardiovascular and immune health, it reduce aging makes you feel happier and help you ‘accept’ more. All these are scientifically backed, no voodoo rubbish.

Now, personally, it wasn’t these reasons that got me into meditation, it was a friend suggesting it when I was stressed once (once as in for 6 months, bad times!).

Now, I’m an all or nothing kinda guy and as such didn’t just delve into 20 minute twice a day, I went on a 10 day silent meditation ‘retreat’. Retreat makes it sound nice. It wasn’t.

The rules, first.

Leave all your possession, apart from 5 t-shirts and trousers and changes of underwear. No electronics!

No talking, at all. For 10 days.

No eye contact, at all. For 10 days.

Up at 4am, every day.

No food after noon, every day.

Think that’s enough? Nope – 11 HOURS of meditation, every day.

Think that’s enough? NOPE – some of those sessions were 2 hours long and YOU CAN MOVE. Not move as in anything. No scratching, no fidgeting, no flaring of nostrils, no cracking of neck, nothing.

Retreat my arse.

Day 1 was tough. The instruction, for 11 hours, was focus on the inside of your nostrils. 11 hours of that?! Crazy hey. Day 2, for 11 hours, focus on the skin around your nostrils. Day 3 we got adventurous, focus on your top lip, 11 FRICKING HOURS.

Sleep deprived, starving and with no social interaction, having to do this, silently and without moving, is hard.

I won’t dwell on the tough times but they offer some context. Around day 7 I had, what I would call, an experience. Three in fact.

Firstly, while sitting on a bench during the initial 30 minute rest between sessions I looked up at the bright blue sky and saw a bird, flying high in the sky. Mesmerised by the grace and beauty I gave it more attention, then, suddenly, I felt immense vertigo. I don’t often get this so when I do it feels intense and unnerving. Given I was sat 40cm from the ground, it was even more so. As fleeting as it was unexpected I was left to ponder what the hell?

In that second I was the bird. Shortly after as I looked around at the rest of nature, I was the nature. I had a deep love over everything in my immediate vicinity and everything as a whole. The experience was a real and vivid as this moment as I type my words to you. Please don’t ignore these words as tosh – I’m a massive sceptic in most things, but this was real!

Secondly, while walking in the gardens of the amble stately home land I sat near a drying pond, sat on the dusty, half built ruin of a wall. Looking down around my feet a frog appeared, without having moved, if you know what I mean. Again, a connection between 2 beings that felt as strong as the connection I feel for my dear brother, or he recently born sons. I couldn’t explain it, and can’t to this day, but it started me wondering, that’s for sure.

Before I touch on what it got me thinking about, is the third. Similarly to the frog incident, but with a caterpillar. This caterpillar was in the middle of a large lawn, equidistant to the nearest shrubbery where he might find shelter from the potential prey above. I sat with him, for an hour. At one point I gave him some of my apple. That sounds utterly ridiculous to say, and needless to say he didn’t eat any of it, the ungrateful worm, but I was so moved by the moment that I wanted to help him so much that was the only thing I could do. Given my imposed silence I supposed speaking to the little fellow would have been more obvious, but, in that moment, we communicated on another level. God that’s corny, but again, it’s true.

So let’s pull it back… What was I wondering?

Well, Since then I’ve been moved to read more into these things, be more accepting and most of all be open to ideas and concepts that might have previously made me cringe. I’m still not going to embark on a reiki class or have my chakras cleaned (please) but I have to admit my life have taken a different path, and this 10 day ‘retreat’ gave that path more solid foundation , a serious bend and most importantly, was closer to the direction I a) want to be going in and b) of the ‘light’.

Enlightened isn’t a thing you can achieve as much as something you can discover within and I feel closer to that, whatever that is, every day.

Reading ‘The Power of Now’ by Ekhart Tolle and having some amazing discussions with friends subsequently led me to make some big changes in my life and I now continually put myself in spaces where I feel I can learn more, see more of the truth.

Now, before I lose you totally and you think “what a hippy nob!”, let me bring you back a bit – I didn’t explain the last day, the ‘best’ day. And for that, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. There are a mountain of designs that I need to complete for our customers. Oyster card Holders don’t make themselves you know!

Until tomorrow, breathe.


Love, James