Relaxation Retreat

Wow! What an experience.

Where does one start… well of course me being me, I had to be fashionably late and organiser Alex was kind enough to wait for me to get through security. No it wasn’t the happy meal at Liverpool St Station… promise!

From the moment we arrived when we were greeted warmly by the lovely Clare and Madeleine. Whilst I was latest arriving to Stansted, I was the first through the gate at Bergerac.

We were chauffeured in a beautiful Range Rover and given a wonderful guided tour through the local vineyards en route to where we would call home for the next few days.

No stranger to France, having spent most of my childhood summer holidays in South of France with my Dad, it was nice to be reacquainted with the sounds and smells of Southern France. There was even a pizza van at the airport that brought so many memories flooding back.

It was a Nicholas family tradition to drive through France over 2 days to many of the camp sites where we would stay for 2wks. It was also a tradition to find the decent pizza van. Usually the only one in the vicinity that used mozzarella and pizza not taste like cheese on toast.

As we arrived the big cast iron gates opened and we pull up to a beautiful chateau. It was straight out of a postcard with big castle like doors and forage neatly surrounding the entrance.

Traditionally French with a wild boar head mounted on the wall as you walk in and a big dining table in the hall where we were asked to leave our bags.

We were welcomed with refreshments and given an official welcome to the outside terrace where we would congregate most our free time.

We were then shown to our rooms where we greeted by the most wonderful welcome pack and an agenda for the next few days. Now I would spoil it for future guests so I will just give a summary of the activities.

No rest for the wicked and straight into the action. We were welcomed on to a boat trip/letting go ceremony around the surrounding land. Now this place is absolutely stunning! Not only is the property beautiful but the surroundings grounds are vast.

Peter, who owns the property with Madeleine, is our designated driver and he is hilarious! Think a old country gent crossed with Michael Caine. We are served veg and dips, my fav! We are asked to think about what we want to take from the retreat but also what we need to let go of. We write on a piece of paper and burn it, letting it out and letting it go forever.

Clare as some of you reading will know is a keen meditation teacher and has various mediations on YouTube and Insight Timer so it was amazing to enjoy Clare’s soft tones in real life with lots of meditation throughout the retreat. She has the perfect voice for it. Check it out below and I think you’ll agree…

https://youtu.be/GGVl7Y0KLng

Some of the other activities included a daily silent walk around the grounds where some opted to paddle bare foot across the stream.

Massages – Clare is also a trained masseuse (Also currently training in hypnotherapy. Is there anything she doesn’t do?)

Mindful colouring- don’t knock it til you try it. It’s strangely therapeutic.

Yoga – it was nice to experience yoga from a local yoga teacher. Her chanting was hypnotic! Inhaleeeeee EXHALEEEEEEEE

Workshop – Where we explored what we wanted to get out of the retreat and why we were there. It was nice to be all together working on ourselves but for completely different reasons.

Kawasaki- Now you really need to experience this for yourself rather than me try and describe it and not do it justice. A all terrain golf buggy on steroids is the first thing that comes to mind. A tour of the grounds and how the owners use the land was a great insight into a farmers life in rural France.

Lots of various mediations – all were very different and brought something different to the table. Of course Clare being a seasoned pro, her dulcet tones were the perfect remedy to sail our stress away.

We even had a trip to the local market which was amazing! The weather really looked after us that day. We were able to sample some of the local delicacies, namely pastries, bread, even a couple of coke zeros. Old habits die the hardest eh! All of the market stalls were very picturesque.

I learned lots about myself being on the retreat. Mainly that we don’t need half the things we think we do. That we create our own habits.

In fact I did when I was there. I got into the habit of using the water bottle we were given as the fridge there had an inbuilt ice maker. So it was quite refreshing to take it everywhere I went. It was interesting to think I didn’t even think about my home habits of drinking Coke Zero and eating meat. Whilst we did eventually have some chicken, It really gave me food for thought that I could actually get by without both.

Also being in an environment solely to relax was extremely refreshing. Not to mention that the internet was very scarce that we could hardly use it if we wanted to. This was a welcome change. In fact I noticed how much I’d go into apps even though I wasn’t able to access them. A little bit like when I would go into the cupboards when intermittent fasting. We operate on autopilot.

I must admit, I have changed. All of the things I thought were important just aren’t. Made me think how much we polarise our problems. Also how little we actually need outside ourselves. Coke Zero, TV, Internet, Meat, Smart phones, low calorie ice cream. Why we incessantly spend our money on things we think we need. When I’m fav they’re all distractions from the relationship we can have with ourselves.

Instead we can appreciate the views, the sounds, new surroundings to run in, the sunrise, all the little things we overlook when we’re consuming “stuff”

Food for thought.

It was great to meet with likeminded people and be exposed to different ways of thinking. Not to mention such a blissful environment. I’ve noticed being in a class or group does allow positive peer pressure to get more out of yourself. Much easier to go with the flow instead of being kept to your own personal habits.

Saying that though I did do my own thing from time to time. I wasn’t used to the late night activities so tended to skip those to get well needed rest so my back could heal. There was a lot of sitting which really plays havoc with my sciatica so had to play it smart. Clare was very accommodating and I was able to lie down on my side a sun longer or sofa where possible.

I also very much enjoyed having the very relaxing hot tub on site and used it daily. It became my own ritual of mine to go and watch the sunrise as it twinkles through the trees and I read my book.

Also to sit on the terraces area and listen to the water mill was very relaxing. The white noise of continuously falling water really takes your mind somewhere else. A welcome change to the cars, airplanes, sirens and foxes in London.

Overall I must say I really enjoyed myself! So much so I’m already considering going again. I was even more excited to learn that Clare is planning further retreats to other destinations. However Maison De Gallas is absolutely delightful and a real joy to stay at. It was great to talk to the owners and find out what it must be like to live there and wake up there everyday. “Still grateful after all these years!” Madeleine told me. I must say that feeling is echoed even after a week and the profound effect staying there has had on me.

I really don’t feel like the same person I was before I went… and that’s a very good thing!

You can see some video highlight of the trip here:

https://youtu.be/GGVl7Y0KLng

If you’re interested in knowing more about the relaxation retreats you can check out www.ClareCockell.com for more info

I must say it’s an experience I’ll never forget… You’re welcomed into somebody’s home and made to feel a part of the family.

Top 5 books I’ve ever read… so far!

The Vortex  by Esther and Jerry Hicks

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If you’re aware of Abraham Hicks the chances are you’re already aware of the The Vortex. For me it’s been one of, if not the, most important book I’ve read to date. The most thought liberating since discovering The Power Of Kabbalah which I liken to where Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret originates. 

The Vortex says that we can decide at any given point what we see in any situation. You’re mad at someone? Instead choose to remember 5 things you love about them! In an instant you can start to generate warm feeling and shift your mindset towards said person/situation. It really is revolutionary and whilst is easier said than done, it can actually be done.

There are a number of books in the series all centred around the Law Of Attraction and how we are 100% responsible for the things in our life both good and bad. For me The Vortex was the most poignant from the ones ones I read as it gives you the tools of getting “in and out of alignment with The Vortex.”

I won’t spoil for you how Esther and Jerry Hicks knows all of this about how reality really is. You will need to go and read it yourself but be prepared to be shocked!

It also teaches that those things/situations meant for us will not pass us by. To pay attention to what feels good and follow that. Things meant for us will flow effortlessly towards us once we decide what we want.

But be warned, it says we are always attracting. That is whatever we’re thinking about. If you’re fearful and thinking about how bad you feel or worried or anxious about something, that is what will continue to arrive. Instead to think about things you do want and be aligned with them in what you say, think and feel. Rockets of desire will start to manifest with whatever you’re focus on most.

11/10 – A must read!

 

The Power Of Kabbalah by Yehuda Berg

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Another game changer for me. Rewind back to 2010, I was in a rut. Recycling the same experiences over and over. Chasing girls, sex, money, alcohol, drugs, crap foods and “good times”. Driven by the thrill of the chase and short momentary fulfilment. I had low self esteem, low self respect, lived for the short lived highs of the weekend. I was out for 2 days at a time on mind numbing benders. I was drifting with no purpose. I had a union. I collided with someone. Who put me on the path to Kabbalah. I attended my first Shabbat. Madonna was sat front row. Bizarre. Scary almost ritualistic chanting. I didn’t understand and people fear what they don’t understand but somehow I wanted to belong. I picked up a book in the foyer and so intrigued I signed up for my first course.

I learned so much about myself from this book. It gave me new perspectives and made me self aware at a level I didn’t even know existed. The 5 sense reality, being just 1% of reality. After all there are lots of things we cannot see we know exist. Infrared light that operate our remote controls. There’s dog whistles that we cannot hear. WiFi, cellular signals and bluetooth that drive our mobile phones. We are all connected it teaches. That whilst we all have separate karmic accounts that we are responsible for, we also have a collective consciousness. That we cannot change anyone, we can only change ourselves and be an example. 

Kabbalah is where The Secret, you all know and love, originates. The Secret is Kabbalah in layman’s terms if you like. The Zohar, their sacred book taught everything we now know, and science starts to discover, about the universe, consciousness and how we vibrate.

Everything I learned in Kabbalah has since been confirmed by other LOA books such those by Abraham Hicks. 

I learned about Tikkun (Correction), lessons we have to learn on our souls journey. That our biggest growth is found in biggest obstacles. Those people in our lives that we find most difficult is where we can learn the most. 

I also learned about the opponent. Sa-tan… not the gatekeeper of hell as we know it. Rather than a force that keeps us separated from others. Another name for our ego. Read more about him below in my review of Outwitting The Devil.

I also learned that our children choose us. We choose our partners. In fact every person that comes in and out of our lives serves a purpose. A blessing or a lesson, At a deep soul level. That we’re all here to learn from one another. That we can all help each other elevate. That there are no coincidences. That nothing happens suddenly. There is a seed. There is a sprout. Then there is a tree. 

This includes dis-ease. We are responsible for what we attract. As difficult as that can be to fathom. Apparently whether you believe it or not we are all bound by cause and effect. The only reason for time, Kabbalah teaches, is the distance between cause and effect.

So fascinating! Such a good read! Again thoroughly recommended!

9/10

 

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

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This is a story about growing up with 2 Dads. A rich Dad and a poor Dad. How their viewpoint and mindset gives them very differing realities and relationships with money.

The rich Dad teaches about building a business, creating assets, how to offset expenses. That rich people pay themselves first and everyone else, including taxes, last.

Poor Dad is how the 95% of the rest of the world is taught. To stay in school. Go to college, get good grades. Find a good job. With good perks and security.

Rich Dad is all about living his life on his terms. Being the boss instead of becoming an employee. To invest in assets that are going to pay you. Being patient and thinking long term.

Poor Dad is about liabilities. The big house. The car. Keeping up with the Joneses. Short term expensive holidays and luxury items.

Eat shit now to live of luxury later. Or waste your money on stuff you don’t need to have to sell eventually for things you do need.

This book gives you an insight into how the top 15% of society live. That you need a certain amount of wealth to even be considered for top investments. That most investment opportunities that are available to your average Joe aren’t investment opportunities at all.

That if you do the work and have the discipline to regularly keep your money but also to put it to work. Thinking of every pound or dollar as a little worker, that you can live a much better life than you think.

It’s what inspired me to create assets like My Miracle Journal that pays me every month. Thinking long term instead of the here and now. It also inspired me to document my journey in Chasing The Sun where I aim to create life on my terms and create a personal brand that will give me a life outside of traditional employment.

Again throughly recommended and I believe this stuff should be taught in schools. To give people a genuine thought provoking moment to what is possible if you put your mind to it and create assets from your ideas.

10/10

Outwitting The Devil by Napoleon Hill

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If you’ve read Think and Grow Rich (another must read!) then you will be familiar with Napoleon Hill

This book however is a conversation with the devil. An interview if you like. And what you learn is both shocking and thought provoking in equal measures.

Sa-tan as known in Kabbalah, or the reactive mind in Scientology, or the ego, or simply the devil as described in this book, is a opposing force that is inside of us all. 

It’s the one that keeps us separated. Anger, fear, judgement, cynicism, resentment, expectation. It’s the part of us that notices the differences in each other instead of the similarities. It’s the force that has us doing those things that we do that are harmful for us and we’re not sure why.

Over eating, over spending, drinking, drugs, sex, anything to change our state. This book teaches that those with no purpose or life with no meaning turn to things outside of ourselves for fulfilment and completion. When we already have everything we need but this force makes us insecure and leads us to believe we need something else to fulfill us.

It talks about smoking being the habit of the weak minded and weak willed. That the majority of people are drifters that listen to their own devil so much that they never get out their own prison they’ve created for themselves. They stay stuck in their comfort zones of their own self limiting beliefs and live a mediocre life. 

But that we can break free from this force and whilst it will always be there we can choose not to listen and we can actively choose our own thoughts. We can break the negative thinking cycle and go on to lead a truly fulfilling and meaningful life.

Be prepared to be woken from your slumber forever as once you identify your “other self” then it’s up to you whether you continue to give in to it or decide you’re going to fight back and live life on your terms.

9/10 – again another must read for me

 

Crushing It by Gary Vee

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As most of you will know, I am a massive Gary Vee fan. However I am really disappointed in most of his books. I say this maybe because I already know most of what it says from the content I watch online so for me I didn’t really learn anything new but for the first time reader and consumer of Gary’s content, this will be amazing!

Social Media is the new TV and attention is the new currency. No longer are SKY, BBC, CNN, FOX and ABC the way we find out what’s going on in the world. Now we have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn keeping us up to date.

Gary is a massive advocate of the internet and the opportunity it brings. Mainstream media is dwindling as we now pay more attention to our phones than ever.

Want to start a band? No longer are we at the peril of old white men of the music industry. Our smart phones are a direct link to our audiences. Our social media profiles are our new shop windows where we can tout our wares direct to consumers. The market decides if we’re good enough.

Gary promotes documenting your journey. That the opportunity is in the growth. That you can monetise your passion. That your vibe attracts your tribe and you can find other likeminded people all through our smart devices.

Refreshingly, if you mentally get past his swear words, he is a massive advocate of kindness, empathy and compassion. He does what no other CEO’s do and gives opportunity to everyone.

Again Gary has been a massive inspiration of mine in creating Chasing The Sun of me changing my life and letting everyone in to see my daily struggles and thoughts as my mindset changes.

He always regrets not being able to document his meteoric rise to where he is today. That he was putting out content for 8yrs before he started to get any traction. That we have to fall in love with the process to win and the results will come. To think in “the macro” (long term) rather than “the micro” (short term), that if we keep telling our story then people will resonate with what you’re doing. 

I must admit he’s right! Without him and his advice wouldn’t I have a journal for sale, a consistency coaching programme, a podcast, an online community. I’m building something I love and I feel aligned with my purpose and why I am here.

If you want to make a business out of your passion then I thoroughly recommend you read this sooner rather than later!

8/10 – only because I watch so much of his content. If you don’t, you’ll find it a 10/10

 

 

Let me know in the comments below of your best reads and I’d love to add them to my wish list.

Thanks for reading!

Still new year, new you?

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So all the excess Christmas choccies are all but eaten. There’s still a stray bottle of Buck’s Fizz you’re contemplating opening. All the gin is still winking at us.

This is it.

This the weekend when all of our hard work for the last 2 weeks go out the window! The dreaded third week in January when we start to feel the financial pinch from Xmas and our partner’s are already not talking to us due to the stress and wondering how you’re going to afford to eat at lunch at work tomorrow?

Do NOT beat yourself up! We’re all going through it. All of those mince pie… erm I mean sit ups… have not been done in vain.

Incorporating new habits is tough. Keeping up new things is tough. Our comfort zones come a calling. We’ve looked in the mirror and we’re not skinny yet. We’re now looking in our wallet to see if we still have the receipt to see if we’re still within our 28 days to take back our gym kit.

Now comes the excuses “Oh I’m just not a fitness person” “The gym isn’t for me!” “I don’t have the time to exercise”. But this is where I’m going to tell you that WE CAN!

We don’t need to go to the gym. We definitely don’t need all the gear. We definitely have the time… especially if you have the time to read this!

The thing is about doing things that are good for us is that often they’re painful. This is the game of life. Everything that is nice is usually bad for us! But I’m here to tell you we can have it all… just in moderation. Plus we appreciate it more when we’ve earned it!

Imagine the puzzle that puts itself together? What fun that would be!?

The basketball that goes in every time you shoot it!?

It’d be cool and funny for the first five friends you prank with it… but without the sense of earning it there’s no feeling of accomplishment.

Usually we make time for stuff that is important to us and if you’re like how I was 500 days ago then health wasn’t your top priority. Neither was my well being.

Fast forward to today and my health both physically and mentally is paramount to my very being. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate exercise now for the benefits it yields. But I didn’t see and feel this immediately.

How did I get here?

”I AM SO THANKFUL FOR MY GOOD HEALTH AND WELL BEING.”

“I AM LOVING BEING MORE ACTIVE AND INCORPORATING EXERCISE INTO MY LIFE, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER FOR IT.”

I starting telling myself what I wanted long before I started doing what I wanted. I had to make it important in my head until it started to feel important in real life.

Quite often we give up on things because of our mindset isn’t strong enough to continue with it. We don’t see/feel the results immediately. Good old instant gratification.

Drink this shake! Take this pill! Drop a dress size in a week. Eat just this food. Pay a coach. The majority of us look for shortcuts instead of putting in the work.

…but Jamie don’t you want to be a coach?

Yes! Yes I do. To inspire and instill the belief in others to become self sufficient. Self motivated. Self disciplined. To ignite the passion that every single one of us had inside us. Empower everyone I cross paths with that we all have a capability to be whoever we want to be.

I want to help people find what works for them. Not some copy and paste one size fits all plan sheet.

But I’ll let you into a secret… nothing changes until we do!

So if you’re thinking about giving up or you’re going to just give up before thinking…

WAIT!

Just go slow! Learn to slow the pace and make it work for you! Start working on you mindset that’s going to make exercising easier. Get yourself into a community that inspires you to take more action.

Start by watching others make the progress you want and be inspired to make your own changes. We all have the same 24hrs. Find what works for you. There’s no reasons apart from the bullshit excuses we tell ourselves  why we can’t have everything we want.

We just have to be prepared to put in the work but how do we make that work easier?

Start the day with some affirmations based on what you want to achieve.

I AM SO THANKFUL TO BE SMOKE FREE, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER FOR IT!

I AM LOVING BEING MORE ACTIVE, IT GIVES ME AN ENORMOUS SENSE OF WELL BEING!

Say them out loud every morning. I warn you they will feel weird and disingenuous to begin with as your words and actions aren’t congruent but keep it up.

Making your actions align with your words become so much easier as they begin to shape your subconscious mind.

Studies show it takes an average of 67 days for a new habit to be installed. So bare that in mind when trying this.

We just need to be prepared to put in the work!

If not the gym then start with something smaller. Just start somewhere. Start with a walk around the block. Walk to the bus stop. Combine it with something you enjoy. Listen to a book. Watch a movie. Watch Netflix. Anything to get it done. I promise you it’s worth it!

I honestly now look back and think I’ve deprived myself of a much happier life having lived so long without exercise. It’s the cure of so many of our modern day problems. The ultimate remedy for stress.

You can’t worry about anything other that trying not to die when we’re exercising. Haha! #TrueStory

Try it!

Run as fast as you can for as long as you can and see if you’re still worrying about what your ex is getting up to! Betcha you’re not! Bet you’re concentrating on trying to catch your breath. It’s the ultimate mindfulness.

For me it allows me to expend my energy productively and give me that release that would usually see me expend my energy in much more harmful ways, it’s so much healthier for me.

When you start to get good at it and you start to feel the difference that’s where the magic starts to happen.

So before you give up this week please please please give yourself another go and if you’re really struggling to motivate yourself then drop me a line on Instagram.com/jamiecnicholas and I’ll gladly help you on your merry way.

If I can do this then so can you!

Death – How it changes you.

It’s approaching 4 months since I lost my Mum to cancer and I must say it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride.

I’ve been up, I’ve been down, I’ve been really down. I’ve pretended to be up whilst actually been really down and sometimes that is an effort in itself. Pretending you’re ok. The smile. The nod. The avoidance of phone calls. The trying to convince everyone you’re ok when deep down inside you feel a little bit lost.

You feel lost because you do lose something when you lose your Mum. They say a mother’s bond is something that you will never ever feel with anyone else and I must say I agree. Since my Mum (and Dad) has passed I have lost an enormous part of me that cannot be replaced.

I am no longer a son. I am now officially an adult. Left having to embrace the fortitude of that moniker. Trying to make sense of just what has happened. I am trying to rebuild my confidence and my well being every day. Find out who I am now such a big part of me has eroded along with my Mum.

A relationship, a support network, an advisor, a voice and a heart that always had an opinion. Whilst I often disagreed with that opinion it was always comforting to hear.

I can’t say I’m any closer to finding who I am. Just when I finally thought I knew who I was something of that magnitude shakes up your life and shows you who’s boss. You have to surrender to it. You have to do whatever it takes to be there for those that need you. Then once they’re gone. You plunge down a rabbit hole. It’s a weird rabbit hole. A rabbit hole you think you know how to deal with and think everything you’ve been doing is enough to heal what has happened to you. It may distract you but it doesn’t heal you. It leaves you with an weird type of energy that leaves you in-between being ok and not being ok, and it doesn’t take a lot for you not to be ok again.

You hope that it’s something that you can just shake off. You hope that it’s the painkillers that are making you anxious. You hope it’s the pain of your sciatica that’s making you tetchy. But it’s the grief. It’s the uncomfortableness that rises to the surface at every given opportunity. It’s always there. A sensitivity ready to be pricked upon. And quite frankly I’m not sure how to find my way back.

I am hoping by just doing what I was doing, before all of this came along and turned my world upside down, will bring me back to who I was. The emotional resilience. The drive. The tenacity. The braveness. The courage and confidence. I feel them still there just in flashes not in the consistency they were before.

Then I beat myself up emotionally for not being able to execute the way I was before. Not to be able to run the miles I was before. Not to put in the work I was before. I get impatient with myself the demand more of myself which then perpetuates the cycle. Sometimes I’m ok with admitting I haven’t got my shit together and other times I pretend that I do. Other times I like I’m getting stronger then there’s days like today I just want to shut off from the world.

Which is kind of tricky when you’re building a personal brand. When you have to show up every day. Holding yourself publicly accountable, so you don’t end up back on the 2day benders, 3 day come downs and the 5 day fast food binges. They all come with one another like those naughty friends you had at school.

The weird thing is some days it feels like she hasn’t gone at all. That she’s still up “that Scotland”. Because she lived up there for so long it’s not unusual for us to go a while without talking to each other. Sometimes feels like we’re due a FaceTime call any time now. I am still paying for her phone bill. £39 per month from Vodaphone. That’s difficult to see on my bank statement every month but on a positive twist a reminder that I paid for her phone for the past 4yrs. Always made sure she had the best like the rest of my family.

Sometimes I wonder where she is. Whether she’s looking over. Whether wherever she is, is all she hoped it would be.

Then there’s the never ending apologies for her passing which I justify with the default cut and paste “that’s ok, everyone has to go sometime.” My way of brushing it under the carpet. Desensitising it. And I think maybe that’s where I go wrong. By not dealing with it. By not addressing it. By keeping pushing it along and hoping it will either subside or go away. Instead act like someone with bi polar in the interim.

I guess there is no right or wrong way of dealing with grief and I guess I’m still finding my way, and that’s ok. I guess I do put myself under this unnecessary pressure of being so publicly accountable and open to scrutiny which makes the days I can’t cope especially difficult. Maybe just writing this is a way of getting it out of me and accept that I’m feeling all of these things and that it’s ok. That the whole “it’s ok not to be ok.” is actually a thing. A healthy thing at that.

It’s also I learned recently that it’s ok not to be ready for a bit. Not forever. Just for bit.