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My obscure Journey of Self-Discovery, from corporate law to mindful baking.

After three years of recuperating from an experience that could have killed me, my life goals and desires had completely changed. I no longer wanted to be a corporate lawyer slaving away for a company with no aim other than making lots of money. I had nearly died. I had hit my head so hard everyone was surprized that I was still on the same page. This was the perfect reason to throw in the towel and duck out of the race that I had been working towards for the previous four years before the accident. I now had a golden ticket to do what I wanted, with the backing of everyone who cared for me. My life before the accident had only one direction, my life now had options, choices, and freedom. Or, to look at it less positively, I could use the accident as a tenable way to procrastinate. Obviously that wasn’t a conscious decision but looking back at what I didn’t achieve back then, it seems fairly evident.

I think that in my heart of hearts, I just didn’t want to be a lawyer, working the majority of God’s given hours at an office in the city. I remember speaking to Karen (my boss at the skiing company) a few years after the accident and telling her that I had decided not to go into law anymore. Her response was quick and frank. She simply said: ‘you were never going to be a lawyer, Tim’.

Following the accident I set up a shirt company called 'Tier One Clothing' which, although it took up all of my time, didn't receive the success that I feel that it deserved, especially as they were of such incredible quality. Nevertheless, I spend a few years trying to make it work until I eventually accepted defeat and started the next part of my journey towards the Mindful Baker.....

Before I met my darling wife, Whitney, and settled down with her in the glorious Suffolk countryside, I was a bit of a lost cause when it came to dating and so never really had many girlfriends, bar a childhood sweetheart in my early twenties. That being said, therefore, meant that I was always on the lookout for one, seeing as the majority of my close friends were mostly all married and procreating by this stage.

I scoured the internet for answers and eventually landed on a website whose owner appeared to know the secret to getting into every girl’s pants (I would like to have said heart but apparently that wasn’t what red blooded males should be after). I was bewildered. Was I really just missing a simple trick, which all my other friends had found but neglected to tell me about? I was desperate, I wanted to find a girlfriend and this had to be the answer.

I enrolled on a day long course with this company and tentatively approached its location, a grand hotel on one side of Hyde Park. I was directed to a room where I met a charming young man who briskly took the day’s fee of £300 from me and then ushered me into the melee. While the other ‘clients’ continued arriving, I surreptitiously scanned the roomful of men to see what a whole bunch of losers like me really looked like. I say losers because that’s what I thought we must be. We couldn’t find girlfriends and had to pay an inordinate amount of money to be taught how to change this. The majority of them seemed similar to me, average-looking, with no visible impairments or alarmingly obscure personalities. There were a couple of chaps who looked like they might have misread ‘pick up course’ for ‘church choir practice’ but then first impressions can be very deceiving; I’m sure they’re probably now lying on a beach in the Bahamas, with a trail of hot girls in bikinis pandering to their every need. I digress; the day was about to begin.

The organizer made a fleeting guest appearance at the very beginning, said a few reasonably narcissistic words and then made her exit, after introducing us to some ‘highly trained’ pick up artists (PUAs). I did manage to have a few words with her and after explaining that I wasn’t actually after a one-night stand and that I wanted to develop my ability to meet and talk to my perfect match, she said that the final speaker, Luke, would be able to help me. I was intrigued.

We spent the morning being lectured on how to pick up girls in the daytime (‘day-game’), and then set off into Hyde Park before lunch, to put the theory to test. We split up into groups of three, each with a PUA. I was actually paired off with both of the ‘choir singers’, David and Graham, so I had a feeling this was going to be interesting. Ali, our PUA, instructed us to banish all fears of approaching women (‘approach anxiety’), by commanding us to just go up to the first girl we see and ask her where Oxford Street was. Easy enough, I managed that without a problem. Wow, I was almost a player. Not so fast. We then had to do the same thing again but this time compliment some lucky lady. I managed to complete that task by telling a very attractive young woman what a lovely hat she was wearing. This was going well. Ali then added to the directions and compliment by getting us to tell them our names, too. This was getting hairy. I felt that I wanted one of the ‘choir singers’ to attempt this gargantuan task, so I prompted Graham to give it a go. He was a little bewildered by what he was about to try to do. I noticed a slight young lady with blonde hair and unusually large breasts walking towards us. I pointed her out to Ali, who commanded Graham to complete this task.

Graham stepped away from us and approached the woman. Oh dear, his head was down and he wasn’t making any eye contact. He kind of shuffled himself into her pathway and then after some hesitation while she attempted to step around him, speedily blurted out:

‘Hello, do you know where Oxford street is?’ He was facing the ground and used this to his advantage, making some remark about how good her shoes looked for walking in – directions and compliment both achieved.

The woman didn’t seem fazed by any of this and quite candidly pointed him in the direction of Oxford Street and continued on her way, without responding to the compliment on her footwear.

My name is Graham, what is yours?!’ Graham articulated alarmingly to her back as she strode away from the now rather awkward situation, not acknowledging the fragile cries beseeching her.

‘And that’s what you shouldn’t do!’ exclaimed Ali, who then gave Graham a pep talk in confidence-building and led us further into the park for more ‘day game’.

Graham and David had been instructed to work together on their ‘approach anxiety’, while I had the genius of Ali all to myself. We arrived at an Information Point in the park, where hordes of people were acquiring the relevant material to help them on their way across London. Ali asked me to pick out the most attractive girl I could see. I pointed to a beautiful young woman, who unsurprisingly had brown, shoulder length hair, was of a slim build and who looked fairly similar to my childhood sweetheart.

Very pretty’, Ali approved. ‘Now, stay close to me and watch this’. I was about to watch a real-life Lothario in action. He sidled up to my unsuspecting victim and very gently brushed his hand against her hip, then patiently waited for her to turn around to face him, whereupon he quietly asked her if she had the time.

'Yes, it’s half twelve’, she told him, after looking at her watch.

‘Thanks’, he replied, ‘to be honest, I could have looked at my phone but I really wanted to talk to you’. She giggled and turned to face him fully. ‘Can I just say what a beautiful necklace you are wearing’.

‘Why thank you’, she dutifully responded.

‘I noticed it when I first saw you and wanted to compliment it’. He eyed the solid silver pendant around her neck where it clasped a silver letter E. ‘I presume the E is for your name?’ he asked. ‘I don’t want you to think that I am looking at your breasts, which are fantastic, by the way, but I genuinely love the necklace’. She giggled again and brushed his shoulder.

‘It’s Ellie,’ she smiled at him.

I was incredulous. Ali had just gone up to a completely random girl and within the space of about thirty seconds had managed not only to get her name but to compliment her on her breasts and be basically thanked for it, not slapped.

We left that area and found a bench, where we sat while Ali proceeded to explain to me that so long as you do not come across as creepy, you can say virtually anything you want to a girl. ‘It’s about confidence and presence’, he explained, before we walked back to the hotel to pick up some lunch, picking up the choir boys, on the way. I was impressed but unconvinced. Even with my less-than-perfect mindset at the time, I was sure there was more to a happy relationship than what Ali would have us believe.

That afternoon we proceeded to work on more ‘day game’ techniques, before moving onto ‘night game’ approaches and how to woo our way around a club. Throughout the day we received presentations from four separate PUAs.  As the day’s teaching drew to a close, before we ventured out to a restaurant and a nightclub to put all of our new-found wisdom to the test, we had one final presentation.

A young man, roughly my age, entered the room and introduced himself as Luke. Straightaway he seemed different from the other PUAs. For a start, he didn’t come across as arrogant in the slightest. Confident, yes, but not up his own arse like the others had been. I was excited by what he had to say, especially as the course leader had informed me that he had the ability to help me achieve my goals.

None of you will successfully find your perfect match until you completely understand and find yourself’, he announced.

Hmm, that was not what I was expecting. I mean, I am who I am, I knew who I was, I most certainly wasn’t lost, so why did I need to find myself? I looked around the room to see what kind of expressions my fellow wannabe PUAs were making. They all seemed pretty enthralled by this Luke character, so I refocused on his presentation and carried on listening.

‘I want you all to close your eyes’, said Luke.

Okay, this was a bit weird, but I was willing to go along with it. I closed my eyes and carried on listening.

‘Now, concentrate on your breath and very slowly breathe in’, he paused for a few seconds, ‘And now breathe out. Breathe in...breathe out’, any more of this and I thought I’d pass out. ‘Breathe in...breathe out’. This was a room full of fifteen red-blooded males currently in the process of some weird sort of namby-pamby-meditation-type-thing. This wasn’t what I signed up for, I thought to my judgemental, pre-enlightened self. Where are all the girls?

After about five minutes of listening to Luke telling us to breathe in and out, over and over again, I became quite transfixed by his words and began to feel a strange kind of tranquility. As the meditation continued, he quietly explained how we should live only in the present moment that we mustn’t live our lives in the past and we mustn’t live our lives thinking about the future. The only thing that actually matters is the here and now. I thought about this for a moment and actually saw some sense in the madness I was submitting myself to. The meditation lasted for fifteen minutes before he asked us to open our eyes again. I felt a really strange feeling of contentment and calm. What was happening?

I opened my eyes to see Luke, still very quiet, telling us that to begin this journey of self-discovery, we need to fully embrace our inner selves. Only then would we be able to develop and find what we are truly looking for. He then said he wanted each and every one of us to try to meditate every day in order to achieve this goal. Using a method of self-imposed targeting, he asked us all to commit to how long we were going to meditate for each day. The roll call started at the other end of the room, so I at least had time to think of an answer.

‘Twenty minutes’, the first person said. What! That’s ridiculous, you can’t meditate for that long, I thought.

‘Ten minutes’, was the next. Well that’s a bit more like it; still a little overly keen.

‘Thirty minutes’. Whatever, I thought, seriously, go back to the pub. The answers got closer and closer to me, until eventually it was my turn.”

“Um...’, I stammered. ‘Five minutes every day – but not at the weekend’. The weekend was my party time, so, I didn’t want to meditate then.

‘Very good’, Luke said, ‘you have now given your word to everyone that you will do this’. I didn’t know any of these people, so I didn’t really care about doing it for them but I had said it out loud and I had also set myself a very achievable target, so I was happy to do it.

Luke then gave us his email address, and told us to message him at the end of every week to tell him how the meditating is going. He then finished his presentation by saying that statistically only 1% of us would fulfil the requirements, which was not a lot of us, but that he wanted us all to be 1%ers. Virtually everyone in the room murmured some sort of anti-statistician stance and, I think, meant it. I, however, to my own surprise, kept quiet and silently contemplated achieving it.

We headed to the restaurant in Leicester Square, where we all had the chance to wind down a little and chat about the day’s events over pizza. I managed to sit myself next to Luke, who explained the whole meditation concept to me and advised me to Google it to find out as much information as I needed. We headed to a rather shady club, where I had Luke as my ‘wingman’. He coaxed me into chatting up a lot of beautiful young women. I managed to meet one who I had a great chat with but foolishly walked away from before taking her number (‘number closing’). Luke wasn’t overly impressed by this and so set about getting her number for me. He supposedly did but I never got a reply from the number he gave me (we are now good fiends and he still insists that it was real!).

The days and weeks after the PUA course saw me keeping to my daily meditation target and even expanding it to include the weekends because I was getting so much contentment and peace from it. I was still living at my parents’ house trying to make a success of Tier One Clothing. I had a pop-up shop booked in London that September, so I emailed Luke to see if he wanted to meet up. He did and we had lunch. It was great to see him again and discuss my progress with the meditation. I had managed to email him every week with my progress report, so I asked him how many others from my course still did. ‘You are the only one-percenter’, he proudly told me, which genuinely helped to give me and my newly-found meditation real meaning.

So there it is, the point at which my life fundamentally started to change. It has now been nearly ten years since I was introduced to meditation and the lessons that I have learned have been invaluable. My blog has already described a wealth of techniques and ways to get your life back on track, and will continue to do so, alongside my mindful baking and life coaching courses. So if you want to take part in a course or enrol on one of my life coaching programmes, please get in contact with me here.

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