Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern

Embracing the Abyss: A Story of Spiritual Awakening, Balance, and Transformation

May 20, 2024 John
Embracing the Abyss: A Story of Spiritual Awakening, Balance, and Transformation
Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern
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Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern
Embracing the Abyss: A Story of Spiritual Awakening, Balance, and Transformation
May 20, 2024
John

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When the ground beneath you gives way, and you're plunged into an abyss of uncertainty, how do you find your bearings? This is the crucible that my friend Oliver Cowmeadow, principal of the Devon School of Shiatsu and the Devon School of Macrobiotics, bravely navigated during his profound spiritual awakening. Join us as Oliver recounts the tumultuous yet enlightening road he traveled, facing the daunting nothingness and emerging with a peace that transcended his previous understanding of existence. His story is a testament to the power of confronting inner fears and the metamorphosis that follows.

Oliver's journey is not just about monumental shifts in consciousness; it's also about the intricate dance of incorporating these profound changes into the rhythm of daily life. We examine the delicate act of balancing the ethereal with the earthly, where heightened awareness and spirit communication intersect with the tangible practice of shiatsu and macrobiotics. His experiences serve as a beacon for those navigating their own spiritual expansions, illustrating the importance of staying grounded in the physical while embracing the mystical.

Finally, we unwrap the delicate layers of spirituality and personal growth, challenging the constraints of dogma and underscoring the vitality of discerning one's own truths. Oliver and I share thoughts on the harmony of solitude and community, and how serving others enriches our journey without eclipsing our individuality. This episode is a deep, heartfelt exchange on the joy of service, the essence of self-care, and the cultivation of a vibrant spiritual life. Oliver's insights offer a profound compass for anyone seeking to enrich their spiritual understanding and live a life that harmoniously blends the spiritual and the everyday.

This Podcast is sponsored by Onlinevents 

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Send us a Text Message.

When the ground beneath you gives way, and you're plunged into an abyss of uncertainty, how do you find your bearings? This is the crucible that my friend Oliver Cowmeadow, principal of the Devon School of Shiatsu and the Devon School of Macrobiotics, bravely navigated during his profound spiritual awakening. Join us as Oliver recounts the tumultuous yet enlightening road he traveled, facing the daunting nothingness and emerging with a peace that transcended his previous understanding of existence. His story is a testament to the power of confronting inner fears and the metamorphosis that follows.

Oliver's journey is not just about monumental shifts in consciousness; it's also about the intricate dance of incorporating these profound changes into the rhythm of daily life. We examine the delicate act of balancing the ethereal with the earthly, where heightened awareness and spirit communication intersect with the tangible practice of shiatsu and macrobiotics. His experiences serve as a beacon for those navigating their own spiritual expansions, illustrating the importance of staying grounded in the physical while embracing the mystical.

Finally, we unwrap the delicate layers of spirituality and personal growth, challenging the constraints of dogma and underscoring the vitality of discerning one's own truths. Oliver and I share thoughts on the harmony of solitude and community, and how serving others enriches our journey without eclipsing our individuality. This episode is a deep, heartfelt exchange on the joy of service, the essence of self-care, and the cultivation of a vibrant spiritual life. Oliver's insights offer a profound compass for anyone seeking to enrich their spiritual understanding and live a life that harmoniously blends the spiritual and the everyday.

This Podcast is sponsored by Onlinevents 

Malcolm Stern:

Welcome to Slay your Dragons with Compassion podcast, which I'm doing in conjunction with my friends at online events, and a big mention here for Erwin Santiago, who's our sound engineer, who's done every one of these with me, and it's really nice to have some great, great technical support. So thank you, Erwin. So this is a series which explores the adversity that people have been through, the changes in their lives and the practices they've undertaken as a way of becoming whole, as a way of finding themselves and finding a new direction for themselves, and often people find themselves in having one or two extraordinary situations in their lives which have turned their lives into a different direction. So I'm very pleased to welcome today a good friend as you can see, he's in my home as well, so Oliver Cowmeadow, and he is the principal of the Devon School of Shiatsu and the Devon School of Macrobiotics and his work has been very selfless and very much about creating an environment where people learn the skills that he studied of Asian techniques for both food and body. But today we'll be looking at very much at a personal level at the changes in his life.

Malcolm Stern:

I've known Oliver for probably 40 years 30, 40 years a long time and I've seen Oliver, sort of quite a lot of changes in you as we've gone along. But you had one particular thing that actually turned your life in a different direction. You had what we've talked about before that you call a spiritual awakening, and I know that that's for real. You do walk your talk and you do from everything I've ever seen in you. You're in a place of service. But something happened for you quite some time ago. Perhaps you could tell us a little bit about that.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, I'd be delighted to Malcolm, and thanks for asking me to come on this podcast. I'll be delighted to Malcolm, and thanks for asking me to come on this podcast. I was in my mid-30s. I was working very hard with macrobiotics, diet, setting up schools and I was also doing a lot of driving between Penzance and Totnes about 100 miles, young man driving quite fast, often at night, and there was a whole series of experiences that I had which, yeah, should we go into all of that? Why not? Yeah, so the kind of beginning of it all was driving late one night, very tired and observing that I couldn't concentrate on the road and think at the same time.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Every time a thought came in I lost my attention on the road. So I thought, okay, well, I'll just stop thinking. And that was my first experience of going into the kind of space, no mind, no thoughts going, and I thought, hey, this is great. And one with my car and one with the road Very high experience in my youthful naivety. I thought, hey, hey, this is this is this is enlightenment, hey, this is something amazing, I want this. So I practiced driving more in that state when there's not a lot of traffic around, just that mindless state and just feeling that kind of beautiful feeling of kind of oneness and relaxiveness. But then I was living on my own and then the shit hit the fan in that experiencing that place in their mind was very challenging and I was so scared of facing this that I would watch the television until it unbelievably then finished around about 12 o'clock as a distraction. And then the experience of this emptiness, nothingness, disappearing, feeling I was dissolving, which brought up terror.

Malcolm Stern:

Actually, I realised afterwards that's quite common, isn't it? I think the stories I've heard before of people who've had some sort of spiritual awakening yeah, it's. The initial thing is like wow, it's amazing. Yeah, but there's often a sting in the tail, and I'm hearing there was a sting in the tail absolutely, absolutely so.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

I actually slept on the sofa for two or three months, couldn't go to bed for some reason, to do, to do, to do days on top of me, because I was just in a cold sweat. I was literally in terror.

Malcolm Stern:

What were you frightened of? What was the terror about?

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Well, I'll say a little bit more about that, but also it, just just it also fascinated me.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

It fascinated me. Here I am in my own home, in complete terror of something that was happening internally rather than something external. It was bizarre and really curious, and one of I couldn't go to sleep until I faced it, until I faced guess what you'd call the dragon, and that dragon was experiencing myself dissolving and disappearing, just losing my whole identity. I think that was part of the terror. It was losing my sense of self and sense of identity. Terror was losing my sense of self and sense of identity. And I had this vision of this abyss, deep, dark, black abyss. And here I was on the edge and I knew to get to sleep, I had to go down to the bottom of this abyss. Night after night. I had to go down to the bottom of this abyss night after night and when I did, it was like jumping off a cliff into complete blackness. And I got to the bottom and then there was light and there was peace and I was kind of accepting this new state of being, which was just very peaceful light, empty, no identity, no sense of self, and then I could get sleep and I was. That was the peak experience. I felt like I was going mad a lot of time In my daily life. I was extremely disorientated.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

I remember reading. I couldn't find much that was describing what I was going through. I couldn't find any person was describing what I was going through, couldn't find any person that I could talk to about it, which I think made it a lot more difficult. I did find a few books. There was Gabriel Cousins' the Rainbow Diet. Didn't really agree with his dietary recommendations, but he described this experience. Also. One of the Alice Bain books, the Initiation Human Solar, but he described this experience Also. One of the Alice Bailey books, the initiation human solar, described it in detail. So these were the kind of things I held onto to reassure myself that this was a normal thing to happen to human beings and I wasn't going crazy.

Malcolm Stern:

It's quite an interesting thing that it's normal, because it's so far outside most people's normal. Or maybe people have these experiences and don't talk about them.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Well, I think it's rare for people to go through it. I think a lot of people go through this more gradually. It's when it, you know, know it's because it hit me and I've talked to quite a lot of people you know since um, who I see are going through a similar experience, because I'm seeing a lot of clients and students occasionally. Someone was going through a similar experience who I just love to help because I know it feels very lonely experience. Yeah, in many ways feels I know it feels very lonely experience. Yeah, in many ways it feels very lonely experience. It feels like something you have to go through. Nobody can hold your hand. You have to go through the experience yourself.

Malcolm Stern:

I think that's right, but there is something about some people. I mean me, for example. I had a sort of visions of the devil when I was in my 30s and I found a Buddhist monk completely synchronously and studied with him for many years as a result of this experience. So he didn't in fact hold my hand, but I'm hearing that you had to resort to books, but there was no one out there. You could go what's going on for me? That you had to resort to books, but there was no one out there, you'd go.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

What's going on for me? I couldn't find anybody and it feels like absolutely to have someone who knows what's happening would be very rich. Some years later, I was in Thailand with a group and we were visiting a monastery and I saw this young woman walking through the forest, just instantly, relate to that state of no mind and just awe at just looking at everything and totally present in the moment, and I thought, wow, and I felt so. So she was so fortunate, I felt so good for her that she was in this context where people knew exactly what she was going through, which I hadn't had.

Malcolm Stern:

I think that's the other thing. When we have to hide away from our experience, it's almost like you don't know whether you're having a psychotic experience, a spiritual awakening. You don't know what it is. Having a psychotic experience, a spiritual awakening, you don't know what it is and so you don't want to frighten people. But also it's like you. I suppose what you became was quite shut off from people this time.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Well, it wasn't something I could really share with people very much because you know, my need was to be understood and I couldn't find anyone who understood and just to kind of go back. I'm sure a lot of people go through this opening, but it's often much slower. You know it's three years of meditation or being in nature or whatever their particular part is. So I'm sure it happens to many people, but much slower it's when it happens kind of suddenly. It's a bit shocking.

Malcolm Stern:

So how did you find your way out of it, how did it have its say with you, have its way with you effectively, and what brought you through it? Yeah, that's a good question.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Well, I remember reading one book which described the experience as a yo-yo effect, and it's what it felt like. It felt like there was this totally new sense of sense of sense of sense of the world, you know presence.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

And then there was my kind of normal material sense. I was looking after my kids regularly and still running teaching and so on, and I was flicking between these two and during the day one of the things that helped was just getting on with very practical activities and it helped bring me down and then I could be okay, then I can deal with material reality earning money, grinding, cooking. And then there was this other state and it felt like they were a long way apart and every night I was learning and I was lowering myself down with this, having this experience.

Malcolm Stern:

You had no nights. You didn't have any time off for good behaviour effectively.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

No, it was every effing night for the last three months and it was like these two different experiences were really separate and I'd bounce between the two, but gradually the more I, every night, was pretty much forced to go into this more different state altered state they gradually became closer together.

Malcolm Stern:

So the altered state became the everyday state or integrated into the everyday state.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, became integrated, so I could be. You know, as I am with you now we're doing a podcast. I'm in this material reality and also that other sense is there as well.

Malcolm Stern:

And I know you are able to tune in, because you've actually done it for me as well. You're able to tune in to something've actually done it for me as well. You're able to tune into something beyond our everyday earthly reality and a bit like a medium bringing through um understandings of people who've gone beyond um or of something beyond our everyday earthly experience.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Say a bit about that yeah, yeah, I didn't know whether you wanted me to go there or not?

Oliver Cowmeadow:

So one of the things and then maybe I'd like to get back a bit more to the kind of internal experience through that process but one of the things it did for me was gradually learning.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

It's quite easy to be in that state of no mind and then it feels like that produces a lot more sensitivity and increased perception, Because when your mind isn't busy then you can really be looking at what you're looking at, feeling what's in front of you. And I started becoming aware of some of my past lives, of spirits, and I kind of developed that. So at times, well, experiencing my sister passing on my father, passing on other people, passing on, and finding that I could relate to them just as they left the body and afterwards, and feeling the stages that they went through and what kind of help that I could give them, or sometimes days or weeks afterwards, often when people pass through, there's still things troubling them and it's just like counselling someone in the body. It's just resulting things so they can keep moving forwards. So it felt like. So I really enjoyed that one, because it's quite a thing to leave this body and then get stuck and not be able to move on when you need to move on.

Malcolm Stern:

I don't know if you've seen the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I'm sure you know of it anyway, but I don't know if you've looked into the precepts behind it, and it's very similar to what you're talking about actually.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, and I did read it a long time ago. I don't read a lot, I kind of use my own experience a lot. And you know, something else I did, which was just in meditating, was going to the end of my last life and then going through my own death and passing on and all the different stages that happen. You know, being in the room, being close to the body, wanting to, you know it's a big thing to let go of one's body. You can take a bit some people. Some people can't let go and they stay around for years or decades or centuries or millennia even. They're trapped and they can't move on. Usually it's a few hours and then one moves on to a higher level welcoming committee so much help and love and assistance, getting to know your way around, meeting old friends, family, and then the time of facing one's karma, not in a partial way but in a hopeful way, because this is the intense classroom we're in down here.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Certainly is an intense classroom, there's no question about that. And then you know it doesn't finish. I quite often laugh when people talk about when people die. They say, oh, rest in peace. Fantastic if people can die peacefully, feel in peace, but they work to lose on the other side. The idea that there's peace on the other side is relatively it's less intense. But we're helped to look at this, our most recent life. What did we learn? What did we mess up? Who did we hurt? What can we do to repair that memory? You know, et cetera. Then a period of freedom, then the preparation to coming back, which is another whole kind of series. You go through another series of steps.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

So that's kind of really fascinating. It just gives me a much deeper appreciation for my life and life on the planet, and why we're here.

Malcolm Stern:

I think what's quite interesting is that a lot of people who talk about past lives or reincarnation and all that sort of stuff can be quite disconnected from their bodies. And, in fact, you work intensely with the body, you work intensely with people, you have a very strong practice, both with groups and with individuals, of working with shiatsu and macrobiotics, and so you have you kept yourself grounded, as well as being something of a mystic as well.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Well, thanks, I really appreciate that, malcolm, because sometimes I feel like I spent my whole life trying to get grounded. Really, I think I was in my late teens and twenties and then I started opening and a lot of people start opening and then everything all the while past that's coming up and it feels like I've spent the last 40 years really trying to get grounded. So I really appreciate it. But I love it. I love talking about spirituality from a grounded place. It's, you know when I when this first happened to me and I was in my mid-30s ah, I'm getting enlightened. There's that arrogance, spirituality plus arrogance which says a lot about, and you know, spirituality. Open spiritually is just completely and utterly normal for human beings and every day it comes to tens, hundreds of millions of people around. I think what?

Oliver Cowmeadow:

I see a lot and it's nice to stick around with it. Yeah, this is all happening, but it's nothing to do with my need for identity or ego.

Malcolm Stern:

And, of course, we are on the earth plane, A lot of people who, because I ran this series which you know called Alternatives for a long time St James and Piccadilly, and we had some very profound speakers there we also had a lot of people who were what is now called spiritual bypassing, who profess spirituality, but it was almost as a way of escaping from the world. And I think our job, as I see it, is to be in the world, but not of it as a quote from Christ actually, but to be in the world, but not of it as a quote from Christ actually, but to be in the world and to do our thing in the world, but also to have an awareness of other realms.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

I completely agree. I think, when in my 20s and early 30s, I was very attracted to what sounds more transcendental approaches to spirituality, which are about getting out of the body and getting out of the emotions, for me and I think for most people in these times, I feel like we want to open this, we want to open these other chakras and then we need to do the work which is being on the planet and in our bodies and in our emotions. And I would say, really now my main work is on the emotional in myself.

Malcolm Stern:

Yes. Because, Say more about that emotional meaning.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

What Emotional meaning what Well, I'm just going through it. I'm just going through Well. I had a three-year relationship going through well. I had a three-year relationship which was just amazingly loving, passionate, full, deep relationship. And also we challenged each other to help with all our patterns. So mine, my childhood fear of speaking up, speaking the truth, getting whacked, which then made me withdraw, anxious not want to tell everything to people around me, to my partner. My pattern was to keep a bit hidden because it was safe.

Malcolm Stern:

Yes.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

But it was. It made a mess of the. You know it was not helpful for the relationship.

Malcolm Stern:

I think relationships strip us naked, don't they in so many ways, which I've seen again and again?

Oliver Cowmeadow:

for myself and in others they can do. I mean, this was with a beautiful woman who was really after the truth and honesty, so it's very demanding. And also likewise around the other way. We both grew, grew enormously, through a lot of pain and unfortunately it's now finished and I'm going through a lot of pain and I think one of the biggest teachings for me in life is any physical, emotional, spiritual pain is always a gift. There's always a learning, just as painful as it is.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

It's also there's gold in it, so that I think has really transformed my life, because we all experience a lot of thing and if we can realise actually it's inevitable and there's always a gift. Yes it kind of lightens life.

Malcolm Stern:

I think the other thing I saw, one of the gifts that I saw that you got from this relationship, was that you became sexually awakened and I watched you rejuvenate yourself. It's almost like something in you got engaged and you found this bodily joy. I've seen you very much. You felt very monastic to me as a person that you were very driven by what you did and there was a good good relate Sarah as well. But something in you got awakened at a sexual level as well, which I think was profound for you well, it wasn't any sexual, it was just getting it back into my body.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

It was just right. Yes, you know, I've had a lot of monastic past lives and so that's really strong in me. So that was, you know, it's a very strong impulse to me to live that way, but it feels that really this life, my life, this learning for me in this life, is mostly about being my body and creating loving relationships, developing loving relationships with family, friends, problems, which means being in my body. A peculiar thing happened about 15 years ago. I couldn't dance. It was just so weird because I used to love dancing when I was young. I just couldn't dance anymore For some reason. It just left me and this partner was very embodied. So she helped me really embody, helped me sexually, helped me to dance, just helped me back in my body, helped me get in touch with pleasure, with tantra, which is a path to spiritual opening through pleasure, among other things, and really opened myself.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

So, yeah, she was an utter gift to get me back on my path and sort of keep escaping into my monk-like self, hermit-like self, which just makes me miserable. Yeah, of course Makes me miserable. Yeah.

Malcolm Stern:

Yeah, so a lot of rich, rich experiences in your life. And you said you talked before you mentioned something about growing up that you would sort of keep quiet because of fear of being hit or other things. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Well, just a father who was in his three to five-year-old, a lot of the time enraged and stank. He wasn't physically violent, but he was a big man a lot of anger. So me and my brother, sister, mother we cowards, you know and you know, adapted to having this three-year-old, who was six foot three tall, you know, letting off a lot of anger. One other thing I'd like to do is just kind of finish off the story a bit, please do, because part of the reason I want to make this is that it was so scary and I have so much sympathy for people going through the same experience and it just feels just a complete story, a little bit Of course that might be helpful.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

So there was that three months of terror and kind of gradually bringing these two states together. Gradually I got this new sense of identity, which was just a kind of presence. It's something I couldn't describe in words. It was just like a buzz, a presence in me. So then I felt, okay, well, this is who I am. I'm not not father, a healer and share some therapists, you know, etc. But I'm this and that gave me something to hang on to and that lasted me.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

I found meditation essential during that time to keep experiencing this other state and bringing the two together until I could just be in both simultaneously. A couple years later, even that sense of presence started disappearing. Yeah, and then again I found meditating was essential to you know just, you know, it's like now, if I just pause, it's just like I have no sense of self. It's just, you know, everything is as it is and it's just like I'm making the same stuff as you the floor, the tree and it's challenging to experience that. It's on one level. It's challenging to experience that it's also beautiful, it's very calming and peaceful, peace, peace is a valuable thing. So that's kind of where just to kind of complete. Sure, that's where I'm up to and I just want to say eventually I discovered a book, the Stormy Search for Self, by Groff, and Groff who describes Is that Stanislav Groff? Sorry.

Malcolm Stern:

Stanislav Groff.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yes, who really describes this whole experience very, very well. So that's the book I recommend to anybody who feels that they're going through this experience.

Malcolm Stern:

Of course, Groff was very instrumental in exploring autostates of consciousness and also seeing that people who are described as having psychotic breakdowns were often having spiritual awakenings but were drugged out of them. Fortunately for you, you weren't drugged out of your awakening.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Well, I just managed to hang on. I just managed to hang on. I just managed to hang on. It felt like I was, a lot of the time, like I was going crazy. I experienced that I could have one thought that would then completely occupy my mind for hours, which feels like going crazy. But from that I learned that I'm totally responsible for all my thoughts. To some extent, thoughts are generated in different ways. They're generated from emotions, and I'm still working a lot with emotions, but in the end, we're responsible for all our thoughts and we have a choice around what thoughts we have and what we don't have. So it was which is, which was very interesting realization, yes, but I needed to choose at times.

Malcolm Stern:

I needed to choose my thoughts and not be kind of prey I think when you describe this as sort of like the sort of like the no mind state, where the, the constant humming and the, the chatter that goes on in the human brain is switched off for a while, it's quite common when I've looked at people who've had spiritual experiences it's quite common to see that that actually something becomes very clear and the background hum goes away, and then it's much easier to see things in a different perspective.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

I think so I think it gives extra clarity. I'm just trying to think of the first book, the Tao Te Ching, which talks a little bit about that. It's like when you can really empty your mind, it's like you're looking at things on the whole. I just loved Oriental medicine and philosophy since I was about 24. They're looking at things on the whole. You know, I've just loved oriental medicine and philosophy, you know, since I was about 24. They're looking at things from above. In the West we tend to look at things from material from below upwards. They look at everything from above. When you can empty your mind, then it feels like you do see things much more clearly. Of course, we're always deluded in certain ways.

Malcolm Stern:

It feels like I see things, I see myself more clearly.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Of course, we're always deluded. In certain ways, I see myself more clearly, I can identify when I'm talking to someone who's just passed on or a spirit. I get more guidance from spirits, which is really, really handy. I get more guidance from spirits, which is really, really handy, and that it takes a fineness to differentiate those other voices from from my own, to be clear. And, yeah, I think it makes me a little more more perceptive as to other people's emotions, feelings, yes, where people are at as well. Ram.

Malcolm Stern:

Dass saying that just because someone's dead doesn't make them wise. We often if we have a connection with something outside of ourselves, with someone who may have passed on and often there can be a delusion as well but clearly in your case, you've done a lot of exploring around this and so you are blessed with having wisdom from outside of yourself.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, I mean, the more I explore the spiritual dimensions, the more I laugh. Because, for example, you know, we often think, oh God, I had this amazing idea. I just woke up this morning and had this amazing idea. God, I must be, I must be amazing to have these amazing ideas. Now, actually, what? What? You know what? The spirit world? Uh, you know we have guides and you know they're trying to contact us because they they want to help us, and so, just when we're in that space between sleep and waking up, where our thinking mind hasn't got going, there's a space. Oh yeah, I'm just going to get this idea in right now. And you know, some of the greatest ideas on the planet really come from the spirit, when they've just kind of slipped them into a place where people are receptive. So I just find that really fun because we think we're so great, we're so creative and we beings, we really are.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

We're so creative and make all these amazing things. The spirit world is so much richer. The amount of wisdom in the spirit world is just amazing and I'm sure many of us tap into it. We may not be aware that it's a certain spirit or something we're talking to, but just you know we go quiet and things come to us from the spirit.

Malcolm Stern:

I often feel like when I'm running groups, it would be easy for me to go God, I'm brilliant and I used to do that as well.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, you did.

Malcolm Stern:

But now what I recognise is that actually, if I can get out of the way, something can come through me and then magic happens, absolutely.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

And that's the spirit world. And you know there's probably half a dozen guides in the room when you're teaching, because there is. I've watched other people teaching. It's like those guides and they're just channelling energy or ideas or perceptions through us as soon as I sort of go oh, what a genius I am.

Malcolm Stern:

It disappears the effort Hubris gets in the way.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, cheers, yeah. The spirit world really works. Everybody works together. We have such hubris as human beings, yeah, and it just creates so many problems for ourselves and the world, and you can just see what's happening in the world right now Hubris.

Malcolm Stern:

So where do you see yourself going from here? So you've set up a very profound school of oriental medicine. You've become one of the leading macrobiotic teachers in the country. Where do you see your path leading you as you come to your eldership?

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, on my 68th in July, a mere child potentially. Yeah, yeah, I thought you'd brought me. It's going to be 68 in July and me a child, yeah, yeah. Well, I've always been very enthusiastic, very energetic about teaching and helping people and I thought it would just go on forever and actually I'm finding actually I have less energy. I have a lot of energy but I'm having less and I think, partly for my last relationship, it feels like my learnings to take is to take care of myself. Yeah, I really want to go on running at the International Microbotic School. We run a lot of self-help classes for people who just want to be well physically, emotionally, spiritually, great cooking school and also run three-year training course. I wanted to delegate a lot more work to other people. I want to be truly pro-existence. I want to do the things which I really want to do, but I don't want to do any of the things that I don't want to do Very good.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yes, that feels like one of the biggest things for me at this time. I want to make a lot of videos About three books, I want to write when I can find the time and I just want to have a lot of fun and enjoyment and enjoy my children, my nephew family, a lot as well, being in nature of a lot as well, being in nature, really taking good of all days, taking good care of me, leaving behind that old monkish habit of self-sacrifice which is such a delusion. I sacrifice myself for God and spirit. It's like it's just it's creating a division. It's creating a division that somehow spirituality is out there and I'm not worthy or whatever. I have to kill myself in order to solve something else. It's division, it's not true spirituality. I really want to live that spirituality, see the art in myself and enjoy myself. I enjoy myself all the time, every day, that's a lovely idea.

Malcolm Stern:

That could sound very hedonistic, but I know in your case that's not what you're saying, is it?

Oliver Cowmeadow:

No, it's not. It feels like I move more towards that, but at the same time, I really Well, you're about rebalancing, aren't you? But I really experience pain as well. Part of it is we really align ourselves to experience pain, emotional pain.

Malcolm Stern:

And that can often be the great awakener as well, allowing the pain to have its way with us.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Well, it's one of those sorts of laws with life that if we resist pain, we generate more pain, and if we face and let the pain go through us, then it leaves us and we are strengthened and wiser for it.

Malcolm Stern:

So we're coming towards the end of our dialogue today. It's been brilliant talking with you, and the question I usually ask my guests is what's the dragon you've had to slay? And I'm not talking about beating up poor defensive strikers either. I'm talking about finding the place where we've had to find something in ourselves to shift, to shift our lives. What's the dragon you've had to slay in your life?

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, can you say just a bit more of something I've had to slay.

Malcolm Stern:

It's almost like root up, bring out by the roots and not allow it to drag you down. Something where you've had to find something that's elevated. You find something that's actually brought you to a state of more consciousness actually brought you to a state of more consciousness.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, Well, what immediately comes up for me is this lifetime feels like a turning point for me. A lot of lifetimes as monks, priests, not having children, often not having problems. I'm really re-entering life. I have two amazing children and an amazing nephew and family and I've had some amazing partners. I am looking forward to my next partner and I really want to explore love, loving relationships and being in this world and experiencing love and pleasure in this world. That feels like I want to slay, that. I will make life that's lovely.

Malcolm Stern:

That's what I want to say, because often when I hear people talk about you know they want pleasure. There's a sort of a blind sort of longing for happiness, upliftment and an avoidance, and that's not what I'm hearing with you. What I'm hearing is that you've spent your life almost avoiding that part of you that can flourish.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, suppressing, avoiding, thinking that that was the right thing to do, and there's a lot of spiritual teachings where it's a technique. The trouble is, there are all these techniques that Greg's spiritual teachers, male and female, have taught us, and then we make it into a bloody religion. So, yes, to experience spirituality, sometimes it's really useful to be on our own and somewhat detached from our physical, emotional, mental self, but then to make that into something you do your whole life or for lifetimes or for millennia, it's just ridiculous. It's just we can do whatever we like. There is no creed that we have to do and in the the end, we have to make up our own mind what our next step is. And it might be to experience spirit more strongly. And it might be to experience having our feet on the planet. Yes, and learning how to relate to other people. I mean, what bigger challenge is that than learning to relate to other people? I mean, what bigger challenge is that than learning to relate to other people?

Malcolm Stern:

I mean from my perspective. I think what I see is that we're all in service to something you can call it divine, you can call it God, you can call it whatever you like. And the joyful acceptance of that service also means you're not just sort of like blindly trying very hard to be a good person, that you're trying to live the whole of you, your fullness.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

I agree. I think the learning for me is that being in service is not to become self-sacrificing.

Malcolm Stern:

Very good yeah.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Which is a kind of false spirituality. Which is a kind of false spirituality, it's to enjoy my service, which I really get so much from, and also really enjoy nourishing myself in lots of different ways as well.

Malcolm Stern:

Lovely, well, thank you very, very much. It's been lovely talking with you and we've had some chats over the years, but this is a whole different ball game as well. So much appreciated.

Oliver Cowmeadow:

Always interesting to talk with you, Martin, and really happy to help out with this. Thanks a lot.

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