Thursday, 25 May 2017

Who To Vote for on June 8th - Tactical Voting

If you, like me, value the good values and the good institutions of Britain, then follow the below link, type in your postcode and vote accordingly.

Lets oust the Tories on June 8th.

https://www.tactical2017.com/

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Dream Theater - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence


I've been listening to this today whilst writing today's post and drafting a few new ones. It would seem selfish of me not to share it. A great album from a band who consistently put out great albums and 100% guaranteed to surpass anything currently in the charts. 

The Age of Narcissism and Envy

Social media makes us envious of people's 'better' lives, makes people narcissistic so everyone goes and buys bigger and better.

We live in an age when millions upon millions of people share a carefully edited, deliberately filtered version of their lives. Holidays, shopping trips, events, academic and professional accomplishments. Everyone is keen to show off their own bigger and better lifestyle and everyone is desperate to be at the same 'standard' as everyone else. This means more holidays, more shopping, more events, more promotions. Competition, consumerism, capitalism, all for the sake of filling a self created, social media induced void.

The scariest part is the damaging impact this will have on the younger generations being introduced to social media, the generation hooked on their phones. Indeed recent studies have concluded that our youth are becoming ever more narcissistic due to their use of social media. The problem here is that we need to be educating future generations to want less, not more. The planet simply cannot cope with more.

So what to do? Well the crucial thing is to live intentionally. Learn about how social media traps you into constantly using it, traps you into a cycle of competition with peers and strangers. Then learn about the effect consumerism has on the world, on pollution, global warming, economic imbalance, worker exploitation and even your own mental health as you struggle to work to afford everything. Then learn about the alternatives, the concept of anti-consumerism and simple living and the reasons why minimalism is so popular right now.

There is an alternative and it's a happy one.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Labour/Conservative Choice on June 8th

For starters you are not voting, on June 8th, for Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May or Tim Farron. You are voting for a political party, not an individual, they are just leaders of the parties you are actually voting for.


That said, on with the post.


This is not a post about my political opinion, or yours, this is just a post about what has happened and what might. Facts and conjecture based on said facts.


Under the Conservative government homelessness has increased, as has child poverty. On top of this our healthcare system has been underfunded and so our healthcare system is in decline. There has been a lack of affordable homes, a lack of societal aid for young people and young families. The cost of education, energy and even food has increased. The country and the opinions of its people have become increasingly divided.


The proposed Labour government will increase societal aid for young people and families, construct affordable homes, fund healthcare and lower the price of energy and education.


The Conservative government promotes austerity, they are very open about this. The result of austerity, the fact that it doesn't work, is easy to see. No one can rightly deny it because it is right in everybody’s face. So you can do something else or carry on with it. The Conservatives will carry on whilst Labour will try something different. It is often said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again despite knowing it doesn't work so by definition is the Conservative party insane?


The fact of the matter is simple: the Conservative government has caused bad things to happen to our country and caused our country to regress whilst the Labour party will try something else.

So it's simple, vote Labour. Vote for houses, healthcare, energy and education - things that benefit everyone.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Individual is Powerful

When faced with the fact that if humanity doesn't change, the environment, our civilisation and most if not of all our species will die, it is easy to feel powerless.

What can man do against such reckless hate?

But in the mission of saving ourselves and our planet the individual is the most powerful tool we have.

An individual can reject consumerism, the consumerism that causes environmental destruction, massive poverty, exploitation and inequality. An individual can reject carnivorous and omnivorous diets and realise that animals are our peers, our fellow earthlings, our equals in all the ways that matter. An individual can reject the racism that divides so many, causes so many to fall victim to hardship and harm. An individual can reject the apathy that permeates so much of society and its institutions.

Be the individual who does all of these things, be the individual who cares about the planet, their fellow humans and animals. Be the individual who wants the world and its inhabitants to survive, thrive and do so for billions of years.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Mindfulness for People put off by Mindfulness

A lot of people find the idea of mindfulness off putting. They assume it's a bunch of airy fairy hippy nonsense.

In early 2016 I was one of the those people, then I gave it a go. Now I love it, I meditate regularly, welcome periods of silence and solitude and rest and am more able to recognise what is truly important to me.

But that's just me and my decision to try it was somewhat forced on me, others may not wish to try it in such a full on way. So go about it in a different way, you don't have to dive in at the deep end with periods of meditation and deep/honest looks at yourself.

Just try and have periods when you aren't rushing from one thing to another, where you aren't working on something. Put your feet up and read a book or go for a walk by yourself. Exercise or sit and talk with someone without the distraction of a smartphone or a TV show. You'll find you'll be practicing mindfulness and that you won't have turned into an airy fairy hippy.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Lawrence Krauss: A Universe from Nothing

I didn't like science at school. It was tough and it seemed scientists didn't know anything. Forgive my adolescent minds' obnoxious understanding of scientific theory.

So it has shocked no one more than myself that, largely thanks to debates on religion, I have developed an interest in science. For my first read? It had to be Lawrence Krauss' A Universe from Nothing.

He writes with a palpable sense of awe, his passion for science is overwhelmingly infectious and the sense of humour and the pace of his words make even the most confounding of scientific minutiae a joy to read.

Whether reading this with an atheist angle or not (there is an afterword by Richard Dawkins and Krauss himself is an atheist), the argument here is utterly compelling. Of course our Universe came from nothing! In fact it very likely had to!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Answer is Simple

When speaking to people about the state of our world, the disastrous state of our environment, the amount of poverty, war and famine, the inequality of wealth, I am often met with two things:

Agreement and dismay.

'I just don't know what the answer is.' This is a common response to the discussion of the above topics.

But, with the help of various blogs, videos, websites etc. I have realised that the answer is incredibly simple:

Reject consumerism.

Don't buy that new phone, computer, TV, album, car, film, house, skirt, t-shirt, pair of shoes.

Say no to the endless cycle of environmental degradation, wealth inequality, exploitation and greed.

Go vegan, stop raping and murdering for food, drink and materials that we don't need, that poison us and our world.

Oppose ignorance, oppose racism. Educate and talk to one another.

Its easy, it feels good, it helps everyone and it helps our planet, our home.

Monday, 24 April 2017

13 Reasons Why: An Irressponsible Depiction of Depression and Suicide

For all normal intents and purposes 13 Reasons Why is a good show. But there is this vast controversy surrounding it due to the way it tackles its core subject; depression and suicide.


As someone with depression let me tell you: the experts have it right, it does not handle it in an acceptable way. From the way they depict it as a revenge suicide to the way they graphically and needlessly portray the suicide in its entirety, in other words from inception to conclusion, suicide is sexualised, glamorised and simplified. They make the act of her death seem far more pleasant than it actually would be (not that what she does and is shown to do is remotely pleasant to start with.)


Much like the school in the show is criticised for, Netflix begin each episode with a paltry disclaimer and information on how to get help. It seems token, like the posters the school put up. If someone is going to be severely affected by the show a token line at the start may not be enough. It also does not convey the extent to which the content of the show can and does trigger issues and thoughts relating to depression.


Beyond this there is little left to say and there is no need for me to go into further detail. The experts are unanimous and first hand accounts like mine reinforce all that they say. The show is irresponsible, at best.

Friday, 21 April 2017

A Young Man's View on the June 8th General Election


Whether you love or loathe Brexit there can be no doubt that, at best, Theresa May is a sociopath bent on servicing her own short sighted self interest at the cost of a nations' unity, identity, values and infrastructure - damn the human cost of it.

One cannot cast a vote for the Conservative party on June 8th and claim to have a shred of compassion, altruism or conscience.

Be it through systematically gutting the NHS, sentencing war refugees to a life of sex slavery, abuse, fear and death, stripping the poor and vulnerable of societal props or redesigning our education system to wash the lower classes clean of knowledge and influence, Theresa May and the Conservative party have been disastrous for our country and will produce only more disaster with Brexit.

This is an election in which political opinion can and must take a back seat and humanity must be brought to the fore.

I do not support Jeremy Corbyn, regardless or my enthusiasm for some of his policy ideas the man simply is not an inspiring leader for a party who, from Blair onwards, has done little but tarnish its reputation. But he is at least human. Votes on the 8th June must be cast for Corbyn, for Corbyn alone could set right our nations' affairs, deliver a Brexit that doesn't turn our shores into a tax haven for the one per cent and rebuild the infrastructure of our country so it can function in a way that benefits rather than dehumanises.

I entreat all people of voting age in the U.K., on June 8th, vote for Corbyn, vote for Labour. Not for politics, nor for patriotism but for our humanity.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

How We Get Milk From Cows

For a cow to produce milk she needs a baby. (Much like us humans).


So we need the cows that are used in the dairy industry to be in a constant cycle of pregnancy and birth. This obviously is not natural, so how is it achieved?


Well, a metal rod is coated in semen and forcibly inserted into the cow. She then falls pregnant. Upon giving birth, the mothers' baby is taken from her, causing a period of great trauma for both mother and child.


The milk that is then produced by the mother, the milk that she produces to feed the child we (humans) have just taken from her, is taken by us.


So to recap, the cow is raped and then her baby is stolen and then we take the milk from her.


What's more is that the average life expectancy for a cow is 20 years, the average life expectancy for a cow in the dairy industry is 4 years. We rape them, we kidnap and murder their child and then we deprive them of 16 years of life.


We do this every single day, all so that we can drink milk designed to raise healthy baby cows.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

End: Civ

End:Civ is documentary inspired by Derrick Jensen's book: Endgame.

For those who don't know Derrick Jensen is an environmental activist who believes that as long as there is civilisation then the world cannot be saved and the environment will die. He views civilisation as our industrial world - the same world that is poising itself.

It is an interesting documentary, with a lot of hard truths and good ideas. It is however, qhite controversial. You see Derrick, like many others, believe that a cause and its activists must use violence if they are to affect any real change. They say that for every Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. there was a Malcolm X or  Bhagat Singh. He believes civilisation must be attacked and destroyed for humanity to survive.

This idea is discussed throughout the documentary and, though I strongly disagree with the use of violence, it does not ruin the remainder of the documentary, as some sound observations are made and, after all, it is always interesting to hear a different approach.

So although I disagree with a lot of what is said I'd still recommend giving this film a watch, the link is below.

https://vimeo.com/22791307

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Saturday, 15 April 2017

My One Year Veganniversary

In April last year I watched Earthlings and went vegan.

I discovered compassion, discovered how easily society is fooled into perpetrating cruel and immoral acts, discovered that entire generations of people have been raised to believe a lie; that the exploitation, rape and murder of animals is acceptable, is good.

I am now healthier, happier and contributing to the world more so than ever before. I am aware of environmental issues, animal rights issues and human issues and am trying to do my part to help combat them.

A vegan lifestyle is moral, compassionate and healthy for all.

You should try it, the world will thank you.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Capital Punishment: Cruel, Senseless and Immoral

Capital punishment cannot be justified. 

The act of taking someone's life as a punishment is cruel, hypocritical, devoid of sense and totally immoral. 

There are too many cases of the wrong person being convicted and there are too many cases, such as Bruce Ward's, where mental health assistance is required. 

Don't support this madness. Talk about it, educate people about it. No country is civilised if it institutionally supports and perpetrates murder. 

You can read about Bruce Ward here:



https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/13/arkansas-executions-death-penalty-bruce-earl-ward

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Tips to Stop the Environnement Dying

Science tells us that by the end of the century we will likely have 50% of all species on the earth facing extinction.

Science tells us that the Arctic sea ice, come summer 2030, could all be gone.

Science tells us that each new prediction often becomes obsolete because we do so much damage to the environment that environmental degradation increases in speed rapidly, forcing scientists to recalculate and remeasure, never with good results.

In short science tells us that the world is dying and that it is our fault.

So what can we do?

Veganism

Animal agriculture is responsible for about one fifth of global warming emissions, that's more than all forms of modern transportation combined.

Give up consuming animal products and that whole glut of industries will be forced to disappear.

Consumerism

Stop buying things. The music industry, film industry, fashion industry, TV industry, phone, computer, car industries et al. dictate to us that we buy more, meaning that they make more.

If we stopped this, by replacing things only when they cannot be repaired, thinking about what we really want and need, by not buying plastic like CDs, films, games, computers, by not following the manufactured fashion trends, in short, if we rejected consumerism, these industries would disappear.

Imagine a world where millions of plastic discs, of cheap clothes, of cars, phones, computers, pieces of furniture weren't churned out daily in vast factories. Imagine a world where people bought second hand, learnt to make things, fx things, learnt to be content with what they had. 80% of the emissions from a Macbook occur when it is made. So don't buy a new one, stop it from being made.

We have to accept that consumerism has introduced us to a lifestyle that the earth cannot sustain. We have to accept that we cannot keep buying more. We have to stop.

Education

Everyone, from individuals to institutions, needs to be talking, teaching, spreading ideas, knowledge and passion. Surely the most important thing on earth is the earth? It supports and sustains the life of billions of people and billions of animals and creatures and plants and trees.

We need to talk about it, how to save it, what we do, what we value. Spread the word, educate others and help everyone see what really matters, see how to value it, see what gratitude is and how to practice it.

Some people say it's too late, others say we need to work with organisations like Green Peace, to compromise with consumerism and diet, others say we need to use violence to tear down civilisation. All interesting ideas, all worth learning about but, ultimately, the most effective weapon in the effort to save the earth is the individual.

If everyone rejects consumerism, if everyone rejects the lie that is that we can keep consuming, keep expanding, keep using the earth and it's animals as a resource and nothing more then everyone can save the earth.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

On Foreign Aid

A child in poverty in Syria is no different to a child in poverty in England, Nigeria, Germany, China.

They all deserve our help.

Suffering does not consider nationality.

Only an ignorant man, a cruel man, a racist man could oppose and deny foreign aid.

But we are a species capable of great compassion and great action, so act and act compassionately.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Mainstream Veganism

Veganism is a great thing, its good for the animals, the environment and our own health. That said the fact that society and its institutions have taught us that animal products are good for us and are necessary has long kept it as a niche lifestyle.

So it pleases me that in recent years the amount of vegans in the UK has more than doubled, vegan YouTube channels are attracting hundreds of thousands of subscribers, chains like Zizzi's, Handmade Burger Co. and Pret (just to name a few) are offering vegan options. Even the UK's The Guardian, arguably our finest newspaper, has said recently that a vegan diet can reduce an individuals carbon footprint by 20%.

I know with it being mainstream it will likely be a fad, it could take decades or more for veganism to just be the standard lifestyle of the world, but it pleases me that we are moving forward, making progress and it seems like it must be easier than ever to give it a try.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Is the Pursuit of More Getting you Down?

All our life we are taught to want more, that more is better. We are taught to want a bigger TV, a faster car, a new phone, the new games console, newest on trend clothes and accessories. We are told that the newest things, the biggest things, the fastest things, are what dictates our success as a person. A big house means you've done well, a small house means something went wrong.

So we work harder and longer at our jobs, chasing promotions, raises and over-time pay. We spend our spare time in shopping centres, walking through crowds to get the new smartphone, the new pair of shoes. We constantly dedicate our time, our energy to the pursuit of more.

Is it worth it to you?

Does your job stress you out?

Does the new smartphone bring you that feeling of contentment and happiness?

Do the 40 hour weeks, the aching heads, the poor moods just go away when you replace your Blu Ray collection with 4K Ultra HD discs?

Or does the cycle just repeat? Leaving you in the stressful job, with mounting debt, feeling like a failure, feeling like you can't be happy?

What if you rejected that way of life? What if you learned to practice gratitude, what if you could learn to be satisfied with what you have, learn to want less and learn to dedicate your time and energy to other things: friends, family, relaxation, meaningful pursuits and happiness?

Wouldn't that be better?

Monday, 27 February 2017

Rojava - Democracy for the People

It's pretty hard to argue that Western systems aren't failing. Between homelessness doubling in Britain in the last six years, the NHS being systematically defunded whilst nuclear armament has money pumped into it, unjust wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan and the frightening apathy of governments and populations towards refugees from nations like Syria, its hard to say our systems are working well.

So imagine my amazement when I read about Rojava earlier this morning. Rojava is an area in Syria where new systems of democracy are being implemented. The state has been scrapped, in its place a combination of local and district assemblies, running all aspects of life in a democracy built from the bottom up rather than from the top down. Their new democracy allows for equal rights for women, people of different faiths and different nationalities. They are implementing different forms of justice in an attempt to improve on the typical system of state dictated punishment.

In short they are doing an awful lot of inspirational things, things that many nations may well benefit from if they could only snap out of their state induced apathy.

You probably haven't heard of Rojava, or of the developments there, because our media has hardly even mentioned it. It's a real shame, this sort of forward thinking is something the world sorely needs to embrace. We must try to improve ourselves and our way of life, we must save our nations and democracies by improving and fixing them. The same, of course, goes for the planet, which could perhaps be given greater emphasis in a better run democracy?

The problem is the nations surrounding Rojava; Turkey, Iran, Iraq et al, are doing everything in their power to crush it. They are blocking trade, humanitarian aid for the war torn areas affected by ISIS and the broader Syrian conflict and even cutting off the supply of electricity and water. If these aren't terrorist acts then what are they?

People need to take it upon themselves to read, to look into things, to educate themselves, to challenge their preconceived notions of things. Then we can sort out our governments, our democracies and our environment. Rojava seems like a great example of what a democracy could and should be, we all owe it to ourselves to learn about it, to spread the word about it and encourage our governments and our people to help it grow and flourish.

If you want to know more about Rojava take a look at these links:

https://www.ft.com/content/50102294-77fd-11e5-a95a-27d368e1ddf7

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rojava_conflict

Credit to https://radicalglasgowblog.blogspot.co.uk/ for first educating me about Rojava.


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Changing Priorities

When I started this blog it's because I wanted to blog about anything and everything, things that interested me, things that were important to me. It was largely about veganism, gaming, movies and other geeky things.

More recently I've dedicated the few sporadic posts to my issues with depression and the changes that I have gone through to get to a healthy state: discovering the ideas of mindfulness, minimalism and anti-consumerism. These things, along with veganism, are now the most important things in my life.

I still enjoy video games and movies but want to dedicate far less of my life to them, I want to enjoy what I enjoy but don't want to fuel what I see as quite horrible industries - industries of environmental destruction and unfair wealth distribution. Don't get me wrong, films and games are great fun and often great works of entertainment and art but the cost, in terms of environmental impact and the ludicrous situation of actors being millionaires unsettles me greatly. I also want to own less, spend less and take time to focus on what is important to me for my life: friends, family, preserving the earth, being happy and healthy.

I am more politically engaged, more environmentally engaged and more personally engaged than I ever have been and this makes me happy. I want to keep blogging, about my experiences, about what's important, so I asked myself the question of whether or not to start a new blog. With my most recent posts the tone of things here has taken a dramatic shift and that shift is only going to continue. But I have decided to stick around here, my love of geeky things and the posts about them will remain and ill be able to look and see how I changed and when.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Take a Look at my Writing

You might have noticed that I've shuffled things around on my blog so that on the right hand side of the screen, just below the links to my popular posts, is a section called 'My Writing'. There you can read any stories or poems I write and publish here and, if you want, can request a free PDF copy to read on the go!

First up is my short story Scarlet's Way Out - you can read it here http://robthevegangeek.blogspot.co.uk/p/scarlets-way-out-short-story-for-pdf.html.

Then there is my first collection of poems called Frayed - you can read it here http://robthevegangeek.blogspot.co.uk/p/frayed.html.

There'll be plenty more to come, I'm pretty much writing every day now. Everything will be published here and available as a PDF, for free and free of copyright.

Friday, 20 January 2017

What is Anti-Consumerism and Why Should You Try It

As well as becoming a minimalist, I've become an anti-consumer, the two really go hand in hand quite well. You see consumerism is killing the planet. Think about it, we want stuff, so people make stuff and sell it to us to make themselves money. All well and good but the world isn't Space, it isn't infinite. Everything that is made takes resources and many of the resources aren't renewable. When you upgrade your smartphone, your TV, your car, your games console, you are indirectly harming the planet. Unfortunately it can be a hard truth to realise, I only did so about a month ago!

The western world is built on consumerism and capitalism, we consume new products constantly, spending billions upon billions of pounds every year whilst much of the world is left developing, striving to function at all let alone reach our consumerist level. The US consumes 30% of the world's resources, so when all of Africa and Asia reaches ours and the US' levels of consumerism the world will have insufficient resources to sustain life. Humanity as we know it will inevitably begin to die out. Forgive the simplified explanation, this is about the gist of it rather than the minutia.

If that weren't bad enough then there's also the short term to consider. We (as in society) put ourselves under great stress and strain to earn the money we need to acquire more things. Many of us work jobs we hate, we tire ourselves, cause ourselves stress related illness. And if we still can't afford the new phone, car, house then we use a credit card or take out a loan, putting ourselves in the debt of massive corporations. And why? To get the slimmer version of the phone we have? A phone that often still works! To buy a bigger TV? A faster car? A house with a pool?

Not to mention the vast time and effort needed to face down our social, political and economic short comings. Think about it: billions of pounds spent yearly on 'goods' could be put to improving environmental efforts, helping those fleeing war, helping the homeless, working in local communities, travelling, learning.

Consumerism is destroying our humanity and our planet. Our relentless pursuit of materialistic goods will annihilate our habitat in the long term and annihilate our physical and mental health in the short term. It allows for social and political injustice, it facilitates corporate greed. By saying no to the new thing, by questioning what really adds value to your life, what goes in to making something, by saying no, you can make your life and the lives of others much better.

Want to know more? Check out http://www.enough.org.uk/ and http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Bit of What I Want From A Government

A lot is made of the youth and politics, what young people want, what we vote for etc. I myself take an active interest in politics and here is some of what I want from a government.

An Overhauled Education System. 

When kids leave school knowing that Henry VIII had six wives but not knowing how taxes and mortgages work then your education system has failed. Sadly this is the reality in Britain. Don't get me wrong, history is important, so is a lot of what is taught at schools, but schools need to teach us how the world works. We need to be teaching people to understand taxes, mortgages, rental agreements etc. School should prepare someone for life.

Nationalised Public Health

It's no secret that the Conservatives are hell-bent on privatising the NHS, I would like a government that abandoned this dangerous idea and pumped funding into a fully nationalised health service.  After all, what's more important than health?

Significant Cuts to Military Funding

I would like a government that realised Trident is a waste of money, that stops funding proxy wars and that greatly reduces our spending on destructive things. Pump the money into important things like health, education and infrastructure instead.

Massive Tax Reform

It is too easy for companies and individuals to avoid paying tax. For our country and its services to work at their full potential everyone needs to be paying their full and fair share. Massive corporations should pay more, the poor should pay less. It's really quite simple.

Nationalised Public Transport

Our public transport system is a disaster, its expensive, unreliable and does not reach far enough into rural areas. With a publicly owned, publicly funded transport system we could get to work correcting this.

Nationalised Phone and Internet Services

Communication is crucial in our 21st Century western world so why is it in the hands of greedy corporations? All homes should have phone and internet access. The two of them are simply too crucial to modern life.

Genuine Work on the Environment

We need a government that moves away from our current lifestyle. One that makes genuine attempts to look after the environment, one that highlights the true cost of our diets, of our consumerism, of capitalism.

So there you have it, a small snapshot of what I, as a man in his mid-twenties, want from a government.

Monday, 16 January 2017

What is Minimalism and Why Should You Try It

One of the large changes I have made in my life during my time away from the blog has been to adopt minimalism.

'What's minimalism?!' I hear you cry. Well its simple: I own and pursue only that which brings true joy and meaning to my life and the lives of others and those I care about. Gone are the stacks of video games, gone is my unnecessary spending on trinkets. My pile of possessions has been reduced to what is meaningful or essential. I spend less time and energy pursuing more stuff, worrying about my stuff, worrying about other people's stuff. I appreciate some people find true value and joy in their things and so clearly minimalism is not for everyone but I would urge you to at least think about it and maybe look into a bit further - if for no other reason than the interest.

I used to own every console Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft had ever made. And dozens of games for each. I bought things just to stick on a shelf, things that I would worry about breaking or losing and things I would spend time dusting. Now all that money, thought, time and effort can be spent on other things, like writing stories or poems, learning about new things, spending time with loved ones. By owning less and by desiring less I am able to better enjoy what really matters to me. I can't take a new Xbox with me and I won't remember it like a gathering of friends and family on my death bed.

I'm not crazy, I still own furniture and things like that, I'm just less materialistic and I'm healthier for it. Why not take a look at it yourself by checking out Becoming Minimalist, a site that can far better explain the finer benefits of this amazing lifestyle than I can!

Friday, 13 January 2017

How and Why to Meditate

Meditation is surprisingly simple and magnificently powerful. Many know of it and many mock it but few have actually given it a try. Here is how and why you should start meditating.

1. Do it Little and Often

You don't need to start meditating by embarking on a hour long trawl through your inner most thoughts and feelings. The best way to start meditating and to keep meditating is to commit to just two minutes each day. Maybe try getting up just five minutes earlier in the morning and, before you do anything else, sit and meditate for two minutes.

2. Don't Worry About Where and How to Sit

Don't worry yourself with buying special cushions or getting into the sort of position only an experienced Yogi could manage - lord knows I don't! Just put a cushion on the floor, sit on it cross legged and try to keep your back straight, maybe by sitting up against something. Be relaxed, be comfortable, just rest your hands in your lap, close your eyes and...

3. Just Breathe

Focus solely on your breath, in and out. Don't do anything to alter it, just breathe naturally and focus solely on that. On every out breath count one, two, three etc. When you hit ten start again at one. If you feel your mind wonder and start to think about things ( this is completely natural) then just come back to focusing on your breath.

When you feel ready gradually bring your focus back to where you are, wriggle your fingers and toes a bit, open your eyes, raise your head, maybe stretch a bit, and then get up and crack on with your day.

You should feel peaceful, aware of yourself, your thoughts, your feelings. Meditation allows you to reflect, to pause, simply to stop and just be for a moment. No worries, no frustrations, no expectations, no pressure. It is a blissful experience and I urge you to try it and see so for yourself.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Depression and Meditation

Six months ago, to be honest maybe even three months ago, if you had mentioned meditation I'd have scoffed. A bunch of idiots sat in stupid positions humming inanely. Utter nonsense. Yeah, three to six months ago I was a bit of a dick when it came to the idea of meditation.

Now I must stress I am not a spiritual man, I'm an atheist, anti-theistic and do not believe in energies, the afterlife or anything in that spiritual vein. But I think meditation is one of the most useful, awesomely powerful things someone can do for themselves. Seriously, try it. It was recommended to me whilst I was being helped with my depression, I didn't try it for quite a while but it was part of my course and I was recommended the app Calm. After trying a few minutes of it in my course, with no real understanding of what it was, I realised it was an interesting idea. So I tried the app and went through the 7 days of Calm, basically an introduction to meditation. By the end of it I knew meditation would be a part of my life forever.

You see it turns out it isn't a bunch of spiritual nonsense. It also isn't hard to get started, all you really need to do is sit quietly and focus solely on your breath. You don't need to change your breathing, study complex mantras or anything like that. Just completely clear your mind by focusing solely on your breathing. Try it, you won't regret it.

Now if I feel down, angry, anxious, confused - pretty much if I am not happy with how I am feeling, I know I can find a quiet space and spend a few minutes focused solely on finding wellness. I can clear my head, scan my body, understand my thoughts and feelings and come to a state of calm and well-being.

A lot of things have helped me with depression, they've helped me understand it, confront it, embrace it, but nothing has helped me manage it in quite the same way that meditation has.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

We Should All Make More Room for Silence

These days we are constantly bombarded by noise. Self inflicted noise. We never give ourselves the chance to take stock of things, people, of our surroundings. No chance to unplug for a second and just think.

I've been just as guilty as most.  At home alone I had a YouTube video on my phone, a series on Netflix or music on my headphones, plugged into my iPhone. Out walking my headphones were in, a song playing, podcast streaming etc. Even if I was on the loo, the speakers had something coming out. I never experienced silence.

Some people do it to feel less alone or less anxious. I don't know enough to say whether this is a good idea or not, though I suspect it isn't. I was and am not one of these people. Much like being distracted by Facebook et al I was distracted by the sounds, filling the air with anything, meaningless noise. Then I realised this just filled my head with nonsense. So off went the sound.

Now when I'm out and about I can think about things, reflect on thoughts, feelings, my surroundings, people I pass. When I'm at home I can reflect on my day, how I'm feeling, what negative or positive things happened and how I handled them. I can think about creative projects, think about things I want from life, things I want to learn, reflect on things I have learnt. My head isn't full of noise so I can focus.

Since doing this I've been far more creative, more aware of how I'm feeling, more aware of what I want. I feel less in a bubble and it's marvellous, well worth a try.