Deconstructing the pleaser.
With gratitude to  Genpo Roshi

and Andreas  Wisniewski.


A major AHA moment happened for me last year whilst in Salt Lake City on a sesshin with one of my teachers; Zen master Genpo Roshi.

After 17  years of rigorous zen practise and a kick ass yoga schedule, I finally realised that there is after all, nothing to gain.

This realisation reverberates now on and off through much that I do, and has been responsible for what could be seen from the outside, as a withdrawal from the outer world, of doing, of doing to an inner world of being.

Becoming my own best friend was my goal, and I can tell you if I had a best friend like me, it would have been over a while ago.

Since that moment I have been dismantling the pleaser..this skilled and insecure drama queen that has had an enormous role in my life, inspiring me to great heights, yet also fucking up my life. Including my yoga practise which was for the last 16 years mainly associated with trying to please my teacher Andreas Wisniewski. And failing quite spectacularly.

My Buddhist practise consisted of desperately trying to penetrate the reality of what it means to be enlightened and being whipped, kicked, and generally whopped along the way (Token’ s 49 blows, folks,)

It’s only really started to sink in in the past 12 months. There really is no one to please. I mean people give a slight fuck, but not much.

With regard to yoga practise this is important. Examine the pleaser people. How much of your practise is about pleasing the teacher, or the guru, or the father, or mother, or society. And how much is about pleasing your ego.

To drop beneath all this, has been liberating. Very challenging too. But being released from the need to please ( by myself) has had a hugely positive affect on my life, and my health, and my yoga practise.

Really the more you try to please others, or some disembodied idea of Buddha, God, et al, generally, the less you please yourself. It’s so simple but it has taken me a very long time, and a lot of pain to learn. It has also cost my mother her health and her home. So she has been my uncsoncious bodhisattva. I am grateful Mummy.

There are many layers to the pleaser. It begins ( if you are from my generation) by observing that in the home, it was the man who was pleased, and the women generally revolved around creating this situation. Of course there is the repressed or suppressed aspect of this in the women that please. This plays out with food disorders, dissociation, depression, anxiety and massive disempowerment.

So it’s in a way less painful just being the pleaser until you have disentangled all the various aspects, or as they say in Zen circles pulled up or out the pattern by its roots.

The roots include :the little girl begins to please her father.
She is rewarded in this by the attention of the main male.
It becomes a habit, a pattern and a samskara.
Even now in yoga classes-retreats, I will see myself play out this role until I catch the pattern, and go below to the real truth of the teachings.

Then there is the sanctioning by society of the pleaser. Non pleasers don’t really do so well in society unless they can find a nice monastery to hide out in.
Before it’s possible to transcend this pattern and choose neither the pleaser or the displeased you have to spend some time hanging out in both.
Really see beneath, above, around, and in and out this one.

Even my obsessive continuous desire to be thin has been motivated by a subconscious desire to please. Not only my father, but also society.
To really pull this stuff up by the roots you have to see it and make it conscious. Be Cognitive.

Be aware that in yoga and Buddhism there are a hell of a lot of disembodied pleasers operating. It’s one of the reasons that female students have such violent responses to the behaviour of the male teacher who misbehaves.
It’s also one of the reasons that the #metoo movement is so fucked up.
I am NOT blaming women who accuse the men they have possibly previously been working with.

But really if you want to transcend this pattern, you have to look reality clearly in the face.

The women have been employing the pleaser, and then the emotions they have suppressed in the role play come tumbling out as anger, fury, revenge, disgust.
It is not so much an attack on the man who provoked the situation, but something bigger. A huge fury against the whole of society for forcing women to be in those roles. But there’s no way out through court action and accusations. Unless it goes deeper, it will just be perpetuated. We have to look at the biggest picture without blame. If not we stay stuck in the victim/ perpetrator /rescuer triangle.

In yoga I didn’t understand why my practise was starting to fell like a punishment, why I felt so numb, why there was nothing that felt pleasing. I was still working to the agenda of the pleaser.

Only since I have given up, with many overwhelming emotional and painful solitary yoga practises that I broke through to a place of more connection, more gentleness, more empathy. Pleasing myself.

Anti depressants

I have learned and I am still learning to accept and embrace my depression. In the spirit that everything is a gift, and even the most desperately painful experiences we have are given to help us. Anti anything is really not going to help.

i have taken anti depressants on and off for 16 years. Recently I stopped. My yoga and meditation practise are able to help me now wee the mind off my addict, which began when I was a small child unable to receive  nurture and understanding. I have forgiven my parents by now, but having read Gabor Mates work on addiction I now understand that the lack of connection fostered a need that kept playing out in my life until recently.

when I meditate I can see the inner addict, and I can see how she I see just a small child lost in need. Then i can feel compassion for her, and the need disappears.

Thus with the anti depressant medication. I needed it to cure the need. It became a chemical dependency u til I could mindfully navigate what was happening in my brain to cure the need. I send my hippocampus love and impassion. I energise my amygdala and balance out the left and right sides. I do this energetically to work on the parts of my brain that didn’t develop well due to childhood trauma and neglect. It seems to be working!

neuroplasticity and yoga

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Whilst I am still at the beginning of the exploration of how yoga can increase neuroplasticity,  neuron firing, and recruit parts of the brain to function more efficiently,  and better; I am able to state clearly that yoga will help you to become more mindful, to sleep, feel increased joy, and to have a healthier brain function. Most importantly regular yoga practise is one of the easiest and most effective ways of working with insomnia. The key is to gently move the nervous system away from the stress response over time, towards the parasympathetic response, and to a balanced possibility between stress and relaxation. Mindfulness and yoga together can also help heal depression, ME, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and a host of other mental disturbances. I have been working with yoga practise and mindfulness intensively in a therapeutic way for over 2 years and I have been able to largely heal my insomnia (40 years in) anxiety and depression. This is in the main due to yoga practise, and Buddhist meditation. I am now training with the Minded Institute in London to further this research and work.


Is never what you think or expect it to be. By its very nature it cannot be contained, only allowed. Within our yoga practise we can create space by surrendering to the moment deeply, allowing difficult feelings to arise, and penetrating beyond them. In the same way the mind can create space. But if we have expectations about how it “should” be, then we lose the freedom and possibility of allowing the non conditioned mind to arise.

Sleep 26/8/2018


Sleep is one of the joys in life;  a blessing, and a right. However its all to easy to be tortured by a lack of sleep, and an inability to get to sleep. I have experienced this for most of my time on earth. Until recently.

For the past 2 years I have worked intensively to bring my sleep patterns towards a healthy norm. Yoga and meditation have helped tremendously with this. As have diet, exercise, relationship, and MOST importantly breath, and rest.

Despite a lifetime of not sleeping, I now sleep healthily. It has been an enormous relief to be able to sleep. My mental health has improved considerably, I now tolerate change, difficulty and challenge.

Resetting the nervous system through regular practise is absolutely key. Practising coherent breathing over and over again, during the night and day has been key. It’s not fun sometimes but the gentle overall effect is extraordinary.

My depression and anxiety cycle has been interrupted and I now plan life with optimism and not crisis management.

I can offer sleep management programs as part of my therapy work. Please use the contact information to get in touch.

RIP dr Shiniaki Hinohara

There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before;
The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round.

Robert Browning. Abt Vogel

depression is now officially

.one of the  most critical diseases in the developed world. Especially linked to women, and more and more the elderly. Radical solutions are needed, but these are not going to come from the current medical system. Anti depressants do not cure depression; they merely delay the problem and therefore the solution as well.

I have struggled for 40 years with depression. When I unconsciously accepted that the system into which I was being forced to accept, was destructive, unfair, dangerous and perverted.

It has only been in the last 5 years or so that I have begun to see some of the truths surrounding my existence. Thats how powerful unconscious habits are!

Yoga has been an important step on the road to seeing clearly along with meditation, and a few amazing people. See list of teachers, and books.

The first step in curing depression is to allow yourself to really really feel the depths of your pain. This is not easy. And most people will collude with you to prevent it, Including the medical profession. Not their fault particularly, as they are part of the system that does not hold failure, sadness, pain, confusion to be valid and important feelings.

When the futility of looking outside for cures begins to really sink in, then the problem becomes being able to sit with the pain, and discomfort, and not to run away. Meditation practise is essential here.

Music also.

Allow the feelings to really be there. See your own death as a friend, and realise that it will happen. If you can see how much you run away from this reality and start allowing it to be part of your life, things will change.

I am about to post my sequence on the website. Please let me know what you think.