Yoga teacher. Trauma sensitive yoga teacher. Freelance writer & copywriter. Freelance documentary producer. Passenger of la medicina. Instagram: @charlienicyoga
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About six years ago, I collapsed in an exhausted heap on the floor next to a photocopier in an anonymous corridor at the BBC. It had jammed on me one too many times that morning, and instead of shrugging it off for what it was — a minor irritation — it felt personal, like all the cards of the universe were stacked against me. A kind friend, passing by, picked me up, half-carried me into a spare meeting room and sat with me while I cried and cried and cried.

I was less than a year out of a divorce, growing into a big promotion at work — which meant I had suddenly stepped into a toxic torrent of endlessly self-serving corporate politics — and my father had been diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer. Everything seemed to churn, whipping me relentlessly in all directions at once. Nothing about my life felt certain, under control, in balance. …


Pulling the parts of my life together into something meaningful was like trying to weld something blindfolded, but these very simple words tore it off.

Woman in yoga pants standing in tree pose at sunset
Woman in yoga pants standing in tree pose at sunset
Photo by Liz Seabrook

It was in my late twenties that I began to feel restless. Was I restless in my work? In the city in which I lived? In my relationship? I didn’t know. I had climbed my way up to TV producer in a city I’d commuted across almost daily for approaching 15 years, and the grooves were well-worn — but well paid. And my relationship seemed to be resolving itself into well-worn folds of deep friendship, rather than a partnership of lovers. Yet so much else was smooth, easy, an enjoyable whirl, that I tucked my unmatched desire for intimacy beneath those folds. Still. I was restless within the existing contours of my life. Or perhaps confines is a better word. …


Woman meditating by lake
Woman meditating by lake
Photo by Liz Seabrook

I asked my friend Amy McKeown, a mental health and wellbeing and women’s health consultant who works with organisations to develop employee wellbeing strategies, to lead me in a menstrual healing meditation. She is among the first intake of women training to become a facilitator of menstrual medicine circles, a new healing modality developed by psychotherapists and women’s health experts Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer and taught through their UK organisation The Red School. …


It’s time our families and societies joyfully celebrated their girls’ first periods, so that we can all be proud of our bodies, not ashamed of them.

Woman lying on the ground with hands resting protectively on her heart and pelvis
Woman lying on the ground with hands resting protectively on her heart and pelvis
Photo by Liz Seabrook

I’m fairly certain I was 14 and I believe I must have been at school when I started — an all-girls boarding school. I suppose there must have just been a lot of blood suddenly there in my underwear. So much! So deeply, darkly, thickly red! This is me guessing at the thoughts that must have tumbled through my head, presumably in a toilet cubicle. But I do have a vague sense that I was surprised at the sheer volume of blood that fell out of me, and that sensation of it falling — viscous, a bit like honey without the sugary stickiness, and very warm; I still find it curious. …


Tales of an acid trip

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Image by Laura Mora on Shuttershock

I never imagined my first acid trip would begin with chopping up pineapples and melons into Tupperware, along with mixes of raspberries, blueberries and nuts, stirring cacao nibs into pots of coconut yoghurt and squeezing everything into rucksacks, along with water, juice and vegan chocolate bars.

“Oh yes,” said my friend Alex, “this is the cleanest trip you’ll ever have. Out in nature, feeling, tasting, touching her.”

In the psychedelic healing world, session facilitators talk about the importance of ‘set and setting’, a phrase coined by Harvard psychologist and psychedelics advocate Timothy Leary in the Sixties, to describe the mindset with which you approach taking a psychedelic and the context in which you journey. …


For a few days afterwards, belly still swollen, I felt bereft. I had nothing to show for it. But as the synthetic hormones drained away, they took with them a suffocating pressure.

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Image credit: Charlie Nicholson / Lara Sanan

The first thing I felt as consciousness returned was someone patting my leg. It was my consultant surgeon, standing beside my trolley in the recovery room of one of central London’s leading fertility clinics, beaming down into my face, which I could sense was still a blank from the general anesthetic, along with the rest of my body.

“We got 22 eggs!” she twinkled. …


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‘So what do you think of it?’ he asked, indicating with a wave of his hand the maroon walls wrapped around a huge four-poster bed hung with matching drapes, the low, breathless music floating somewhere beneath the ceiling, a Moroccan lamp flinging jewel-like points of light across it in the otherwise-darkness. There was an earthy smell of an essential oil, but I couldn’t say which it was.

Moments before I had been wandering up and down the street outside, a short walk from Old Street in East London, turning Google maps this way and that on my phone, searching for the entrance to the Ecstatic Joy Temple. I’m not sure what I expected. Not what I found, eventually, which was a concrete apartment block, an intercom, a number, a corridor, a door at the end of a row of identical doors, all very residential. …


Woman alone in a hotel room looking out of window
Woman alone in a hotel room looking out of window
Image credit: Eunice Stahl on Unsplash.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on my balcony in East London tearing pages out of a stack of notebooks, feeding them into a fire in a little iron brazier I had found on Amazon (always has exactly what you have never needed before) and watching the flames lick my words.

I live fairly minimally, but the one thing I come close to hoarding is notebooks. In them I’ve written ideas, dreams, streams-of-consciousness; research or interview notes from work; scribbled phone numbers, addresses or recommendations of things to watch, read, listen to or taste. Packed with rich seams of half-ideas and semi-thoughts, potential treasure. These particular notebooks dated from between 2015 and 2017 — two-and-a-half years during which I put my life on hold waiting for the man I loved to be with me. For the man who loved me to leave his wife so that he could be with me. …


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‘Divorce’. The word itself sounds like someone putting their hands on your chest and giving you a hard shove. It is framed as a fight from the moment it leaves one partner’s mouth and shuffles despondently into a lawyer’s inbox. On the Tube one day, dragging sleepy eyes along the ads above the busy-busy-scrolling heads of the people opposite me, I saw one for a firm of divorce lawyers. Like a bird flying into a window I smacked up against BOLD-TYPE words urging me to: “CALL US BEFORE YOUR EX DOES.”

In the UK, this is in no small part down to cruel marriage laws. If a couple wants to divorce quickly and quietly, then someone has to be officially blamed. Otherwise they must live apart for two years, if they can afford it, in painful limbo (or five years if one partner does not consent), unable to move on, frozen in aspic with time and their trauma. So, which would you rather: ‘adultery’? ‘Desertion’? Or ‘unreasonable behaviour’? That’s the current choice and has been for decades. No room whatsoever for a couple to have just…. changed. To not be in love anymore. If neither side wants to shoulder the blame, it means lawyers locking horns. Money. Strangers pouring over intimate details of your relationship and — having never eaten at your table nor slept by your side — deciding on your behalf why it broke down. Although sweeping cuts to legal aid over the last few years have made even this inaccessible for many. …


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In the treacle darkness of the maloca, surrounded by sighs, belches, yelps and giggles – there was even barking – of people I’d only just met, as the medicine wound its way through us all, I suddenly had a strong urge to stick my hand down my trousers and stroke the flesh of my right thigh. “So soft,” I murmured aloud, “so warm.” I wriggled my fingers in between my toes, noting the rainforest sand lodged between them, and then — the touch receptors in the skin of my palms dancing — stroked up and down my legs, traced the hard-soft-hard contours of my abdomen, chest and arms, the grooves of my throat, raked my fingers through my hair — as a lover would, or an obsessive cartographer confronted by pristine landscape. Everything felt like a miracle; every square millimetre some newfound treasure. I wanted to nuzzle against my own skin, climb inside it and finger the surfaces of my bones. “I love you,” I murmured, “I love myself; I love this body.” I took off my watch, my necklace, tied up my hair so that my skin would be bare, pure, nothing in my way. I turned my face up towards the roof of the maloca, to address something vast I sensed gazing down at me — the cosmos perhaps: “It’s a gift. You entrusted it to me and I haven’t taken care of it. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I said. Sorry especially for a decade of bulimia during my teens and early twenties. And then I did something powerful: I forgave myself. …

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