Day 17: Learn something new

Once you stop learning, you start dying. (Albert Einstein) Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Explore learning opportunities around you.

The final day of the general self-love section has arrived… and hopefully you already feel some of the effects. The final suggestion of this part is to think about learning something new: a language, a skill or just whatever you think is interesting.

Sadly, school and much of formal further and higher learning seem to be the worst ambassadors for learning. And many people get scarred for live with the forced learning experiences they make at an early age. But, if you open your mind and approach it with a positive attitude, purely for the pleasure of learning something that is of interest to you – learning can actually be a deeply pleasurable experience.

End of the preview.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here

30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR


Day 14: Small goals

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Laozi) Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Learn the importance of breaking down big goals into small steps.

The biggest challenge of making big changes … is that they are big. All to often, particularly if you don’t feel very confident, doing something new or making changes seems like a massive thing. The result is that for many big changes, people often start things but give up along the way as it seems not leading anywhere. Others just give up before starting. The problem with that is not just the issue of wasted hours trying to pursue a goal or objective, but also the toxic message it sends to your self-confidence:

End of the preview.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here

30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR

Day 12: Act confident

Act as if you are confident. And you’ll become confident. Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Learn about the connection of posture, gestures and feelings – and how you can use it to feel happier, more confident and sexier.

Do you know a simple trick for feeling happy right now? Smile. Yes, force yourself to smile. Smile for a few seconds. And you’ll see it will actually lighten your mood. There is a simple truth about this trick: act the way you want to feel, and you will feel the way you act.

Why this is, is mostly in the realm of speculation. Fact is,

End of the preview.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here

30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR

Making changes? Top 5 tips to keep on track!

If you read self-help advice or websites on how to make changes in your life, it often seems that change is fast and easy. But once anyone embarks on making changes, they quickly realise that things don’t go quite as quickly as planned. So it is really important to remember, when you make changes to your life, give yourself time for change to happen. You will have setbacks, you may even loose all motivation for a while. But that is just a sign that you are on the right track: it may feel like not making much progress, but you are. Don’t give up now.

Setbacks and loosing motivation show you that you're on the right track! Click To Tweet

There is nothing quite as powerful as remembering a U-curve when making changes, embarking on a big project or even trying to completely set your life on a different course: Why? It shows you how you will feel, and be prepared for it.

Most changes follow a U-turn: exciting at first, low in the middle, exciting when you see the results Click To Tweet

For people moving to a different culture (a pretty major change!), this is referred to as the culture-shock phase. It is well researched and so we know what often happens: People move to a new country, they discover many new things and are excited. People are often very positive at this stage.
After a while, they realise things are different and they become frustrated. Maybe start missing their old life (no matter how much better life is in the new place). Everything becomes annoying or irritating, no matter how irrational. The mood swings into very negative, often people suffer seriously at this point.
Importantly though, eventually most people will adjust to the new environment, and their mood returns to positive.

The same holds true for many other things in life, including making much smaller changes than moving countries: Take the example of going to the gym, giving up smoking, changing a habit or introducing a new one.
For example, it’s exciting to start training for a run. The first runs are exciting. After two or three weeks, it seems boring,… the weather isn’t quite right, you’ve done the route five times, it seems you’re not really able to progress…. You can imagine. Of course, trouble is, it is easy to stop it at this point. But then all your progress will be lost. But, if you stick with it, eventually running becomes natural, maybe you look forward to your runs and do your first competitive run.
It may not be quite as dramatic as the culture shock, but you can see the same “U-curve” in action.

Maybe you’ve done a few of the things from the bootcamp. Maybe started meditation. Maybe started to have more tantric connections, make changes to your life. Or maybe all of it. And maybe just about now you are starting to feel a little bored with it.

Knowing change needs time is the key to keeping on track and making changes successfully Click To Tweet

Does that mean the effort was in vain? There is a simple answer: only if you allow it to be in vain. Why? Because the most important step of any journey is always the very first one. You’ve probably stated a few steps in a direction that is right for you right now already.

The only way to make those great first steps not count is to give up now. Yes, it may feel like you have run the same track a few times. It may feel as if you have hit a bit of a plateau. You may lack motivation to change a bit more. So how do you best pull through and get to the good outcome? Here are a five tips:

1) Remember the golden rule of mindfulness: “All will pass”, including the lack of motivation or even temporary setbacks.

2) Identify and label the emotion: you are making changes. It is normal to feel disillusioned when you are making changes, or even questioning if it was a good idea. You are in the U-curve. On the way to get to the next high.

3) Remind yourself of why you made the changes in the first place. Yes, the past often looks rose-tinted, but there was a reason you made the changes.

4) Be gentle with yourself: If you make a step back, identify this. Importantly: Don’t blame yourself, just vow to do it better next time. You will get there when you are ready.

5) Gently guide your mind forward. Don’t dwell to much on the past, rather gently guide your mind to the present and remind yourself of the objective. Keep it in focus.

Hopefully with these five steps in mind, you’ll be able to progress your goals. Even if it doesn’t feel quite like you are making progress, remember, the only way to loose is to give up – always.
With that in mind, I guarantee you: one day you’ll wake up and look back and suddenly realise how far you have come.

Day 31: Sustaining the progress from the bootcamp

Wow! Well done you on completing 30 days of the bootcamp! This is amazing! We have touched on so many things over the last month, I’m sure it was quite a ride! Remember to check back in and pick out the good parts that you feel were particularly beneficial for you. It would also be great to hear from you which parts you enjoyed most! New: urbangay now has a community function – so please take the time and share your experiences there!

If you haven’t checked out the next “30 day” programs, have a look. Each program will pick up one of the themes from the bootcamp and develop it in much greater detail. Check them all out here.

In addition to being freely available on while they are running, they will become available as PDF-workbook downloads after the 30 days. So please make sure you get them!

I hope the bootcamp has been a good 30 days and it would be great to hear from you! Please also remember to share the bootcamp with your friends.

Check out these free programs for mindfulness, happiness, tantra, sex and life Click To Tweet

Day 18: Using Mindfulness to develop your life vision and mission

After yesterday’s activity, today we use blue sky thinking to create a vision and mission statement for yourself. Today has two activities to create the vision and mission: one “rational” one, one based on meditation. Depending on what type of person you are and if you are more emotional or thought driven, you can do either of them first. If you consider yourself more thought-driven and rational, then start with the first exercise. If you are more emotional, or indeed find the thought of rationally developing in a vision for yourself too challenging, you may find it easier to start with the meditation.

The min aim for today is to write two little sentences about you: a mission and a vision. Both should express similar aims, but are different. Let me quickly explain the difference: your mission is the ultimate end-state you would like to achieve. For example “urbangay’s mission is to enrich gay men’s lives through mindfulness” – ok, this may sound a bit lofty, but it captures the main aim.  The vision statement focuses more explicitly on how you are trying to achieve this lofty aim expressed in the mission. For example:
urbangay’s vision is to be the go-to resource to create powerful, personal change through mindfulness for gay men.
urbangay wants to build a safe space where gay men can learn about, develop, apply and put into practice mindfulness-based techniques for personal development in all aspects of their daily lives.
urbangay does this by educating, coaching and creating a community of connected individuals who learn and support each other in the process.

Some people find this activity challenging, as they relate often to very lofty visions – or try emulate too much a long-term business vision/mission. Remember, when you are completing this activity, that you are not fixed, and far more flexible than a large corporation.
On the other hand, don’t dismiss this activity as simply something big companies do: rather look at it as a tool that is used to (often) successfully focus large and complex organisations. So why not use it on you?
Importantly, don’t aim to create a very aspirational vision just because you think you have to. Your happiness is what counts, and you should think entirely what is right for you. There is no right or wrong vision: a vision of yourself living in a mountain retreat is just as valid as trying to make the world a better place. What’s right for you, is right for you. Nobody else can tell you that.

The first part I now describe is the rational activity to create the vision and mission.

Firstly, glance at the wall and lists created yesterday. Identify core values that drive your activities. These could be anything from charitable activities to a happier life through learning all there is to know about healthy vegan living. Basically, aim to take a helicopter perspective of the helicopter perspective from yesterday.
Aim to write a list of core values that guide your activities: these are the main emotional drivers. Simply put, the basic question you’re trying to answer is: “in an ideal world, what would make you jump out of bed full of energy every morning”.

In the second activity, go to . Use the guided meditation as a way to refine the ideas you generated in the first activity (careful, set an alarm at the end of the meditation, as it is a sleep meditation!). If you start with this activity, then mediate first, and use the first activity to refine your list.

In the next step, combine the list of values to a coherent vision: a few examples would be

The final step for today is to write a mission statement, e.g. how are you aiming to get there. Examples of this are

I hope these two exercises have been useful to you. I know they can be challenging for many people: taking a step back and looking at your life is never particularly easy. This is probably especially true when you feel actually relatively content with your life. In this case, it might be that these activities have clearly reinforced the life trajectory and the life plans you are on at the moment, which is brilliant news.
They may have, similarly, brought up a limited or a large number of areas where your future life needs a change of direction. In either case, you should have a pretty much clearer life vision now.

Again, try to keep the vision and mission statement clearly visible somewhere to remind you daily what it is that you wish to achieve. It can be particularly useful to keep it with the SWIPES lists, as you can then keep checking which activities should be prioritised from the nourishing activities contained in the lists. Of course, the vision/mission can also be a helpful reminder and source of motivation for completing depleting activities and recognising the greater purpose of these.

If you found these exercises helpful, or challenging, why don’t you share your thoughts below? It would be great to hear from you!

Day 17: Using meditation and mindfulness as guides: life choices

Yesterday you created lists of activities based on if you perceive them as either nourishing or depleting. That exercise should have helped you to delve into more detail of the here and now in your life, giving you a inventory of where you stand at this moment. Importantly, you should have been able to identify themes in your life: groups and types of activities that enrich you. Today, it is time to take a helicopter perspective: the aim for today is to try and look forward, taking some the nourishing themes with you going forward – and minimising the depleting activities. It may help you to write down the themes on post-it/self-adhesive notes for this exercise.

The guiding framework for this activity is the framework I wrote about a few months back, the SWIPES framework. The framework divides life in six different “areas”, all of which are important aspects to a happy and well-balanced life.

To complete today’s activity choose a blank wall if you are working with self-adhesive notes (if you don’t have notes, use a blank sheet of paper).
Imagine the wall to be a giant spreadsheet. To start label the columns by placing notes horizontally across the wall labelled

Now write each of the themes and major activities that you feel are nourishing for you on a note. Try and allocate these in the rows underneath the topic you find they fit best. For example, if running is a major activity for you, you should locate this under physical. Going to theatres or other arts events under intellectual, meditation under spiritual etc.
You may find some activities and themes fit in more than one category: no problem, simply put two notes – but mark these with a large X.
Take a look at the result: how balanced are you and your life?

In the next step, make a list of activities or themes you’d like to do. Try to strike a balance between realistic and reasonable: avoid unobtainable or unrealistic activities (something like life a life under a palm tree), rather focus on things you could, realistically achieve (more time at the beach).
Again, write them down on notes, marking them with a big G (for goals) and allocate these  to the categories.

In the next step, look at your categories: how balanced are your current activities? How your goals and your combined and current activities and goals?

You may find your placing great emphasis on one particular aspect of your life, e.g. work or emotional. This isn’t necessarily a problem if this is your intention, however, you should ask yourself if this is really what you want. Similarly, if you have parts of your life that are completely empty, ask yourself if this is a choice of yours. If you find imbalances address them by either including potential activities in that area, or alternatively by removing one or two notes/activities and placing them on a different part of the wall, where they form a “future” list.

After you have concluded this activity, if you can leave the notes on the wall for a few days, leave them there. You may find that you want to come back to them later and make some changes. Finally copy them down on a piece of paper: keep this piece of paper somewhere handy and visible, so that it reminds you of your ideas and choices.

I hope you found this activity useful to see a “helicopter” perspective of your life at present – and goals. Remember, this isn’t a fixed life plan, but simply a planning tool to help you take stock, balance and express goals. Let me know how you get on with this activity. I hope you find it nourishing to focus on your life and how to get more out of life. If you completed the activity, why don’t you use the comment function below to share how you’re getting on.

urbangay bootcamp: Day by Day

With just a week away, here is a look at the day to day program of the urbangay bootcamp, which starts on the 1. March.  As you can see, the bootcamp is divided into two parts:

Part 1 is the “skills” section: in this part, daily activities and material will cover the basic skills of mindfulness and meditation in a no-nonsense and easy to follow way.
Part 2 is the “application” section: here the skills from part 1 are the essential tools to take a break, have a look at life and love – and discover a bit more about you.

As you can see… it will be a fun month of daily, small activities, which make you think, change the way you look at life, make you appreciate life more, that are sexy and enjoyable!

To join – all you have to do is come back to the blog for the new activities. There is no fee, no application but please let me know how you like the bootcamp and the activities!
Alternatively: you can sign up to the newsletter (delivered as a weekly digest).
If you prefer your posts daily: you can also follow via Instagram or Twitter – and now also via Facebook.

Part 1 Mindfulness and Meditation
Wednesday 01/03/17 Basics of the bootcamp
Thursday 02/03/17 What’s meant by Mindfulness, Meditation and Tantra?
Friday 03/03/17 Here come the #urbangays! A Manifesto
Saturday 04/03/17 Switching from autopilot activity to mindfulness
Sunday 05/03/17 Focusing on Breathing
Monday 06/03/17 Daily life as mindfulness practice
Tuesday 07/03/17 Awareness
Wednesday 08/03/17 Awareness (part 2)
Thursday 09/03/17 Body scan – the quick way to check in with yourself
Friday 10/03/17 Letting go
Saturday 11/03/17 Mindfulness Recap
Sunday 12/03/17 The basics of Meditation
Monday 13/03/17 Meditating for relaxation
Tuesday 14/03/17 Meditation as a tool for change
Wednesday 15/03/17 Meditation for sex
Part 2: Life, Love, Sex
Thursday 16/03/17 Checking in on life: nourishing and deleting activities
Friday 17/03/17 Using meditation and mindfulness as guides: life choices
Saturday 18/03/17 Using Mindfulness to develop your life strategy
Sunday 19/03/17 Training Empathy and Gratitude
Monday 20/03/17 Mindfulness and Meditation as tools for Stress Reduction
Tuesday 21/03/17 Food – nourishing you mindfully
Wednesday 22/03/17 Mindful Exercise
Thursday 23/03/17 You are beautiful: Body Image
Friday 24/03/17 Defining your sexual self
Saturday 25/03/17 The basics of tantra
Sunday 26/03/17 Orgasm, Ejaculation and the role of breathing
Monday 27/03/17 Love yourself without shame: masturbation
Tuesday 28/03/17 Sensuality with mindfulness: Partner massage
Wednesday 29/03/17 Mindful Kink – spicing things up
Thursday 30/03/17 Mindful Relationships
Friday 31/03/17 Sustaining Mindfulness



Why 30 days?

Why is the bootcamp 30 days long? You may have heard about the idea that new habits need 21 days to become established. Unfortunately though, this is a bit of a myth. The actual number is much longer, and depends on a lot of different factors.

The actual number would be 66 days  at least according to science. However, it can be shorter or longer depending on the individual – and the habit.

Thus, the obvious question would be: why not a 66 day bootcamp? The easy answer: it is really about getting started on a journey – not all at once, nor infinite; but a little bit every day. This is why the bootcamp is broken down into 30 days. But apart from this, there are actually a few good reasons for this:

1. Putting some time aside for a month to kickstart a new “you” is a pretty good start. Doesn’t a little over two months sound quite scary? There are some books out there that ask you to commit three months to learn and apply mindfulness. They do have a good point: mindfulness gets better with practice. But three months is a long time. Some others promise mindfulness in 7 days… very short to really explore the concept and apply it. And so the bootcamp tries to strike a balance here: something you can commit to but that is not overly long and complex.

2. You don’t need to follow the 30 days – every day. I’m asking you to commit to following the program, because I really think it will give you the essential tools. However, you can and should follow at your own pace: if you feel like redoing a day – do so. Maybe you feel like going back to something you have done a few days back… no problem. I’m asking you not to skip ahead, but be gentle to yourself. This is not a race against each other, it is all about you.

3. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect the first time round. If you feel like it, try a daily exercise again. Or maybe just move to the next day, revisit the exercise at a later day. Sometimes some insights grow with time and practice.

4. It’s not about 21, 30 or 66 days… I’m not hoping and not promising you that after 30 days you will be stress free, eternally happy and enjoying life forever. The bootcamp is the start of a journey… and I hope that after one month you feel it is worthwhile investing a little time each day into yourself. Wether it is by revisiting some of the bootcamp exercises, or exploring some of the areas covered in the bootcamp more in depth – maybe as part of the follow up programs. The program is ultimately all about you – and only you can decide what you want to explore and experience.

In short, I hope the bootcamp is a start of journey: a journey together, where everyone can explore themselves, as individuals and part of the urbangay community.

Body, mind, happiness: the urbangay way

I had no reason to be unhappy: everything was fine.
But I had a nagging feeling that everything could be amazing.

The idea for urbangay didn’t start as an idea to create a specific program or even a specific approach… In fact, it all started as a personal growth project … and grew from there. How?

A few years ago things didn’t really go well for me: not that there was anything specific wrong that needed fixing. I had a stable job at as a university lecturer, traveled a lot, owned a nice apartment with an amazing view over the Thames and the skyline of London, had a lot of friends, did lots of voluntary work and generally everything was just the way a movie writer would love things to be at the end of a kitsch romance movie. But there was a little problem, and that was I just wasn’t really feeling happy. Not really unhappy either… just not really happy. (If you want to find out a little more about me, click here)

the urbangay idea brings together lots of different tools,
for your body, mind and happiness

The issue I had wasn’t really that new to me: Part of my work and almost all of my voluntary work experience over the last two decades included different forms of counselling: listening to people and their issues and helping them to find solutions, coaching people or helping people cope with set backs in their lives. And while specific issues could often be fairly easily addressed, many people I have met over this time didn’t really have a specific issue. In fact, one could say, many had “it all”, just like me – yet they were unhappy.

As part of that work and because of personal interest, I used all kinds of different techniques to help people: From coaching models to counselling techniques, from meditation to tantra. Hence, I assumed that if anyone should have enough experience in the field to resolve this riddle, it should be me. After all I had spoken to literally thousands of people. I managed to make them feel better, surely I should be able to “help” myself.

the urbangay way is affirmative, sex positive
and as individual as you are

My first step was to start to look around to find a solution to feel happier and more content. I came across lots of different solutions: I checked out everything from trying out minimalism to reading how changing the food I eat would change my life forever. The problem was, that all involved some really big life changes – and a lot of commitment, usually immediately up front. And I just wasn’t prepared to throw away all my stuff overnight, or commit to never eating a burger ever again. So while these techniques clearly worked for many people, they were just not right for me – at least not for the longer term.

Other approaches meant signing up to a bunch of spiritual or philosophical beliefs. Often I agreed happily with many of the principles or some of the outcomes, but I just didn’t want to tie myself down too much. For example, I vividly recall how I attended a tantra training. It was really great, and I loved the techniques and the way it felt. There was no doubt, tantra was something I liked. After the workshop I went out with the trainer, and he told me how tantra saved him quite literally from the brink. The story was good, and I could see how a completely tantric lifestyle could do that – but the problem for me was that, while I really liked tantric sessions, I also loved traditional sex. I didn’t want to give up on all other forms of sex. Committing my life to only tantric practice was something I simply wasn’t prepared to do. In short, I wanted something that combined the best of all the things I worked with, but without the dogma!

the urbangay way combines ancient techniques, brand new research
and things that really work – without the dogma

The result was that I started to revisit my experiences working with others: Often, I concluded, that these  dogmatic measures were really good at helping people who had a particular big issue. But what helped people who didn’t have such a specific issue was not a dogmatic application of some form of life principle, but a collection of different techniques borrowed from different methodologies or philosophies. A dip in and dip out approach if you want: something like a smorgasbord of small nibbles or a big buffet of tapas: something where one could try different things, and that once all the small portions are eaten, actually leave you really satisfied. That in mind I started to experiment around.

Eventually more and more friends and people I met or worked with became interested in what I was doing.  They encouraged me to write up the tools and make them available to others. The result is the collection of different workshops, “30 Day programs” and books available here. All of them building happiness by doing something for a healthier body and mind. And encouraging you to discover more and become a happier you.

I really hope the all the different workshops inspire you, too. I know change is often hard and difficult… but it is worth it.

It’s great if you can say everything is fine.
And a hundred times better when you can say it’s amazing!