A couple of years ago I was reading this Dutch magazine about happiness, called Happinez. Many people who read Happinez, are looking for happiness in their own lives. So was I. It wasn’t that I was unhappy, I had a good life. I had a great partner, an awesome job (I really loved that job), and I lived in a nice house.
I was surfing twice a week, and I did my yoga. There was something missing though. I didn’t like the city I lived in (too far from the beach), but it was more than that.
I was being plagued by anxiety attacks. First at night, later also at daytime. I knew where they came from, cause I’d had them before. Something to do with the fear of losing loved ones, fear of abandonment, fear of commitment…, you know, the usual. It got to a point where it was hard for me to enjoy a day at the beach in a normal way (and that says something).
So I was reading Happinez, in search for some peace and eh… happiness, when I stumbled upon this article about a new book. The author, John C. Parkin, said in the interview something about how people who suffer from anxiety attacks, actually really love life. They just love it so much, that they are afraid to lose it. As I understood it, the underlying cause of an anxiety attack is the fear of death.
To me, this was an eye-opener. My panic attacks might have certainly been related to stuff from my past, but what they came down to in the end is the simple fear of death.
The fear of losing loved ones, is the fear of death. The fear of getting sick and losing yourself, is the fear of death. The fear of not being able to enjoy life because you’re too afraid, is the fear of death.
I am a person who loves life, always have. It made sense. I bought the book. And it has helped me tremendously.
John C. Parkin helped me to let go of my fears and my worries, and live more in the here and now. How? By teaching me to say these two words which make up the most powerful and simple Zen tool there is: “Fuck It”.
Basically, when you say Fuck It, “you let go of your hold on something – usually something that’s causing you pain. When you say Fuck It, you give in to the flow of life – you stop doing what you don’t want to do, you finally do what you’ve always wanted to do, and you stop listening to people and listen to yourself.”
“When you say Fuck It, you carry out a spiritual act (the ultimate one, actually) because you give up, let go, stop resisting and relax back into the natural flow of life itself (otherwise known as the Tao, God, etc.).”
Of course, there’s a bit more to the book than these two little words alone. John just found a simple Western approach (that works like a charm) to the Eastern spiritual philosophy of Buddhism (letting go, releasing attachments, relaxing etc.).
There are so many other books that have the same message (Mindfulness by DeWulf, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, even Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert). And I have read those books too, but only after I read Fuck It.
To be honest, I wasn’t all that spiritual before, actually. More than that, I used to get creeped out by anything on religion, spirituality, or other ‘fixed’ theories. Too much abstract stuff and I got spooked.
But that’s just it. John’s Fuck It isn’t about abstract stuff. Mindfulness isn’t about abstract stuff. It’s about focusing on concrete things that we can actually feel in our own body.
He describes the different things to which we can say Fuck It and the effect it has when we say Fuck It. He also gives you concrete ‘Fuck It techniques’, to practice with on your own. He derives these techniques from Chi Kung; the Chinese energy practice.
I strongly believe that everything is made up from energy. I mean, that’s not something to believe in, that’s just science. Now, I can also feel it. I can feel the life-force of chi flowing through my body. Not in all of my body yet, but I can definitely feel it in my hands and in my feet and legs.
It’s strongest when I relax in Savasana (lying on your back on the floor eyes closed – on a yoga mat preferably). If I relax deeply enough, I can feel it tingling from my hips down to my feet and up, and in my hands. It’s a warm, sweet feeling which makes me smile from the inside and out (that sounds totally hippie, but it just does).
Maybe you’ve heard about Tai Chi? That’s also a form of Chi Kung. John’s Fuck It form is even simpler. Each position is based on something that you already do. Whether you’re sitting down watching television, reading a book, lying down, standing in the kitchen, if you focus on your breathing and become aware of your chi, then you’re doing the Fuck It form.
Basically, they are all meditation techniques. And breathing is an essential part of it. Becoming aware of your breath, focusing on your inhales and exhales (without really influencing it), already helps so much in calming down your nervous system, reducing anxiety and stress, and promoting relaxation and happiness.
“the more you say Fuck It, and the more you relax, the more your chi will flow. […] The effect of all this relaxing is, ultimately, to increase the length of your life. (Horrible life-shortening accidents aside, of course). If you say Fuck It to one big area of tension in your life, you are going to increase the amount of time you spend on this earth.
Whenever you relax fully you slow down the process of ageing. If you relax really deeply, you can reverse the process of ageing. So, funnily enough, the less life means to you, the more of it you get.”
So I said Fuck It, and started practicing every morning before I went off to work. I set my alarm clock half an hour earlier (or came to work half an hour later), dragged myself to the couch in the living room, sat down in a crossed leg position on a rolled-up blanket under my tailbone, and closed my eyes.
I tuned in, focused on my breathing and meditated for about 10 minutes. Eventually, this has helped me get over my anxiety attacks, it helped me get through the dark months of Winter, and it has helped me with anything that’s come my way.
And I’ve been doing it every day since. I mean, I’ve become a yoga teacher so I kinda have to / want to. I also still read John’s book every day, just a couple of pages. His words have almost the same effect on me as a short meditation. And they’re a nice addition to my yoga practice.
I said Fuck It to my insecurities and started doing what I love (teaching surf and yoga, helping people, writing). I said Fuck It to security and chose my own path (which at this moment is a dirt road in Indonesia).
By saying Fuck It to my fears, even my fear of death, to all of the shit that has been imprisoning me for so long (my own expectations of life, the expectations of life from the people around me), the big shit and the little shit, I now live my life the way I want to.
My perspective on life right now is helping me every single day to get through minor and major challenges.
Fuck It has become my mantra.
That’s just a matter of speech actually, it sounded cool. It’s not that I go around meditating saying “Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it”… or maybe I do. I don’t know.
Anyway, after all these positive words there is also a tiny point of criticism. Although, I really don’t see it as criticism, cause it doesn’t bother me. I think it’s quite funny actually. But, to give a heads up to you as a potential reader, I will mention it anyways. The books (there are follow-ups, I’ve also read the second one ‘Fuck It Therapy’; it’s even better), are a bit commercial at times. John has a background in marketing, and that translates into his books. He and his wife run retreats in Italy, and they promote it well. Fortunately, he does it in a funny way. His whole writing style is hilarious. So, just forget what I said, and go on and enjoy his book, and learn from his excellent marketing skills as well.
To me, John’s Ultimate Spiritual Way of Fuck It is the best book I’ve ever bought. I would (and am) recommend(ing) it to everyone I know.
Whether you’re dealing with stuff, or whether you’re just naturally already living the Fuck It life. No matter where you are or what you are doing. It’s a good reminder of how to live life to the fullest, release your fears, and just relax into the flow of life.
Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John C. Parkin
Rating: 5 out of 5 (which means it’s really good).