What Makes Simon Rogers Tick

In ‘What Makes You Tick’ I get the chance to pick the brains of some inspirational people from all walks of life, in the hope that by sharing ideas we can continue to progress, push our limits, and inspire each other.

Simon Rogers is a yoga teacher, a natural health and wellbeing therapist, and the host of Blackhill Woods Retreat. He supports people to find their own natural well being, whether it be through yoga, or therapy, or through staying at Blackhill Woods Retreat. Blackhill Woods is a Yoga & Well Being Retreat center based in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, Ireland.

“I’m a yoga teacher. I’ve studied Craniosacral therapy, Reiki energy therapy from Japan, and other energy therapies. I’ve studied Shamanism, Celtic philosophies and spirituality, and also the spirituality of nature, I’m very interested in Irish spirituality. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woodland here, in the trees, studying life. Most of my knowledge comes from the trees. It sounds bizarre, but that’s how it’s all evolved.”

“When I initially moved to Blackhill Woods, I realised that I was being pulled in by the woodland; rather than it being a case of me choosing the woodland, it chose me. That’s been one of the biggest understandings of being here.”

Simon was kind enough to take the time to share his insights and experiences, and to talk about his journey.

Would you say you are more introverted, or extroverted?

Introvert, absolutely. My whole life I’ve been introverted without realising it, and without ever knowing what the word meant; introversion is a new concept. Everyone knows what it is now, whereas in the past they would have thought they were just shy, or that they didn’t socialise very well or mix very well.

I know that one of my archetypes would be a hermit type energy; I could quite happily retreat home and into the woods for long periods of time. I don’t go out much, and when I do it can be a big step. Obviously people come here now, so that’s helped me to be a bit more extroverted.

What are your hobbies/interests?

It’s funny, I was just writing about this the other day. I was an artist at school; I was studying fine art. I’ve realised now that I’ve always remained an artist. That art has expressed itself through different forms depending on whatever stage in life I was at.

So my hobby is being creative, whether it be little videos on iMovie for Instagram, that to me is creating. I keep sketchbooks; I write in a journal; I design food, healthy food that I serve here. This is all part of the artist that is always expressing itself in whatever medium it chooses, at whatever stage in life I’m at. So my hobby, is my job.

I’m constantly designing, and expressing myself through art. On the yoga mat, you’re being artistic in your approach with how you talk to others, and how you support others in class. Sometimes yoga- especially flow yoga which we teach here- is like a dance. It’s pure artistic expression. So yeah, I suppose it’s good that my hobby is my life.

Describe your typical morning routine. 

I wake up early; I set my alarm to wake up early-ish. I drink about 750 ml of water whilst I’m still laying down. It’s an Ayurvedic method of cleansing the body. All the valves are open, and the water flushes through your body, cleansing the body. Then I would do about 3 traditional yoga Sun Salutations whilst I’m waiting for the shower to heat up. It’s always been part of my routine this past ten years, to do some sort of mindfulness exercise whilst waiting for the shower to heat up; the bathroom is a sanctuary; the place where I can find peace from the busyness of the house.

After my shower, I will get back onto the bed, sit up, and do a ten minute pranayama exercise. This is the key bit. It is the opening and expansion of the body, the softening of tissues, the connection to the whole body. As your ten minutes start, it can be uncomfortable, almost painful just to bring the breath into the body, but by expanding the breath, you’re waking up the body from where it left off. So, as the minutes go along, you start to smooth out these restrictions in the body. It’s like this bumpy road of breath, and you get these jolts in the body, and as the ten minutes pass, it turns into a motorway, a beautiful, soft, smooth road of breathing, and it may sometimes be the case that the last breath is the smoothest.

Then, I’m ready to start my day. Sometimes I then will do a ten minute meditation, or I will save it for later in the morning depending on my schedule. But my ten minute pranayama is my anchor practice; it’s crucial.

Describe your perfect Sunday.

Waking up slightly later than normal. I always feel like Sunday’s are for laying in, albeit half an hour later than normal! I would do my practice: breathing, meditation. Then to come downstairs with the kids, sit and enjoy a big, long breakfast together. The guys sometimes make pancakes with nutella or bacon, a treat is always nice. We would hang around until 11 or 12, maybe go to the bog in Abbeyleix with our dog Ollie, and take him for a walk. It would be great then if there was a 2 o’clock kick-off in the 6 Nations of a Sunday afternoon, a nice roast dinner after that. The fire going. Everyone home.

Yea, that’s pretty good.

I am happiest when…

When I come out of meditation. Just that last few seconds of meditation, when you’re in both worlds. You know that you’re physically here, and you also know that you’re spiritually there, and it’s that pure connection between both worlds. It is bliss; it is what I would describe as bliss. It’s our balance between the spirit and the physical.

Or…

When I see the Divine in something outside of me- that makes me very, very happy. When you experience it, or see it. I see it in nature all the time. I will be thinking something, and nature will show me something, and it’s like the Divine is communicating with you, responding to you. To notice it is the first step, to acknowledge it and to understand that there is a line of communication existing; that is bliss in the middle of your day. You may see the Divine in everything, if you look. Sometimes it takes you unawares, and it’s just like, a “Wow” moment, you know?

The Divine is all that is, all there is; it is everything that I am, within and without. There is no other. There is no higher or lower, it’s this. This is it. And recognising it, brings such happiness. When you realise that you are part of it, that you are not going anywhere; you’re not trying to find somewhere, this is it. This is what I’ve created. This is me. This is the Divine, Sacred energy, flowing through me. And it has to be flowing through me, for me to be able to see it and to experience it; to be able to connect with nature; to observe it in people, in animals, in your life, in different situations, in every experience you have. It comes from within.

Our spirit experiences through feeling tones within our bodies- within our physical. Those feeling tones send messages to the spirit for experience. So if I’m happy, my body feels bodily sensations that equate to every cell being a representation of what happiness means to me. Also if I feel sad, then all of me experiences sadness from my experience, and demonstrates to the spirit this is what sadness feels like now. We can have all the knowledge we like, we can read as much as we like, but if we don’t experience, we never know that knowledge to be true. So our bodies experience what our spirits know, but our spirit is here to experience what it already knows. Because without experience, knowledge is worthless. So our spirit creates to experience an aspect of the Divine- all there Is, God- which it knows already, but needs to taste it or witness it for it to become complete.

I do also understand the desire to name the Divine, to put a label on it, and to define the entity. Sometimes I hear people talk about God and I cringe a little, because there’s so many different ways that people manifest that name, and so much history attached to it, and I guess that’s why people avoid using it, as it doesn’t seem complete enough. I went through a stage where I used it a lot, because I knew what it meant for me. It’s not a guy with a white beard, it’s not a man, it’s certainly not the all condemning, all mighty that we should fear. It is simply, all there is.

We humans label our experiences on the surface, but by labelling them we can belittle those experiences. We try to work out what something means through words, so when we put names on something, it limits it straight away.

So it’s the Divine, it’s all there Is, and when you see it, recognise it, acknowledge it, it is pure bliss.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Musicals, especially Moulin Rouge & Les Mis, for some reason! I think it’s the passion of life, love and loss that gets me. I relate to both stories, and lose myself to the fantasy, thus getting a chance to switch off and wear someone else’s shoes for a change.

What’s the best book you’ve read, and why?

There’s a series called Seth Talks, which was written in the 70’s. This teacher called Seth was speaking through a lady, and her partner was writing down everything that the spirit said. They were turned into a series of books. In these books, the personal realities of the spirit, and of life, are discussed. I’d already studied Craniosacral therapy, and I’d already finished my Reiki therapy course, so I read them at the right time for them to have an influence, because I was looking at them from the perspective of healing.

Understanding myself and my clients more so, through beliefs. Essentially, it all comes down to belief therapy, you are what you believe. This is what Seth talks about in his books, but you have to read the lot of them; they’re heavy going because the language is such that he tries to simplify concepts in order for us to understand. It’s that thing of putting into words what the spirit has no words for. You know, there’s no such things as words, it’s all about environment and experience; words generally belittle experience. That’s why poetry can be the preferred language of the soul as it creates feeling, rather than labelling it.

The writer is a natural medium, and Seth talked through her. It was all prearranged by their spirit before the woman was even born, she had to live a certain life for all these things to come together to enable Seth, who is a Speaker (a speaker spirit is a teaching spirit) to talk through her. She would sit down, go into a trance state, and Seth would then talk, and continue with where he left off from the last time; talking about her problems, talking about her partner’s problems, talking about world problems, talking about everything to do with what we have forgotten to be actual life.

But it’s still only one perspective. It’s not the be-all and end-all. It affected me because I was meant to read it for my journey. I started to understand consciousness as being the one and only reason of how we experience life, and also how we have this tendency to put labels on things. When we talk about good and evil for example, that’s human consciousness that’s decided that. It’s not the absolute truth. The absolute truth is that there is no good and there is no evil, it is all one. To start to understand that human consciousness has created this idea of good and evil, that the earth itself is just purely the earth, that humanity has put their stuff on top of the earth. I used to feel what I thought was darkness or evil from areas of the earth, from the woodlands and from blocked energy. Once I realised that it was human consciousness and not the earth, then I found it was very easy to clear the energy. So I would walk the woodland here to clear the energy. I realised that I wasn’t clearing the woodlands energy, I was clearing humanities energy in the woodland, for the woodland to be what it was meant to be. It’s understanding that the land is blessed, everything born with the earth is blessed, everything that dies of the earth is blessed, everything that lives on the earth is blessed. It’s as simple as that. It’s human consciousness that hides this fact through what we create; we create what we call negative or dark sides to life.

So, those are the books. But the funny thing is that each session is recorded with a date. When I finished reading the one on personal reality- the best one in my opinion- it was the morning of my 40th birthday. I realised that the session was written on the 14th of July 1971, the day that I was born. It was so bizarre.

That’s a perfect example of a time when the Divine is speaking to you; this is the oneness, this is it, this is the Divine. It’s a pure moment of bliss that you experience; that feeling of synchronicity, is the Divine. Simple as that.

What is your passion?

I think it is by being simple in life, how it leads to allowing the Divine to flow through you. So when I’m working with someone on a plinth, sometimes it is by the simplest of support and by listening to the body, that the body will evolve, and all of a sudden an opening will appear, and pure energy will flow. It’s that connection to the Divine that the person feels, and it may be the first time that they’ve felt it. So to facilitate that in others is my passion, more so than feeling it myself.

I’m passionate about experiencing it myself, but I feel that it needs to be seen to be experienced in others so that they can start their journey too, and to get support along their journey. It may be the first time that someone has been truly listened to since they were born, and that to me is pure Divinity flowing between two people. I happen to have the job as a facilitator, a therapist, but there is two of us in that room. We both benefit from that experience of true Divinity flowing. And it is an absolute, unconditional love that you feel.

It’s only really in the last couple of years that I’ve understood, that in the therapy sessions I’ve felt that there’s this unconditional-ness to life, and it’s pure beauty. It’s radiant, it’s everything you would expect and more. It’s just this incredible experience; often you get it in a yoga class too, the whole group feels this release, this energy that flows through the whole room that is just incredible.

That’s the passionate bit.

How do you measure success? 

In the last few years, success to me is having the logs to put on the fire, having the food to share at the table, having the children all healthy and sitting around the table. That’s pure success.

And that’s pure wellbeing. Wellbeing is not just a state of body, it’s a state of mind, a state of environment in which you’re existing, it’s your whole being. So that perfect Sunday that I described, that is the height of wellbeing, that’s what wellbeing is all about. You never take for granted, having the logs to put on the fire.

And that’s the Buddhist philosophy; you experience bliss through meditation, and then you go and chop logs. Because, the physical is as important as the spiritual; the present is always the center of being. And I’ve always maintained that we live here in the physical; we’re here for a reason; we’re not meant to be levitating through life, we’re meant to be fully grounded in what we do. So whether it’s chopping logs, sweeping the floor, washing dishes, or making the beds, it is all a part of life. The other thing I’ve learned from this, is to be the best you can be with each hat you wear in life. When you chop the logs, you do it to the best of your abilities, because the only person you’re cheating is yourself if you don’t. You experience life to the fullest, in the present moment; you create with the creator. You create the best system for chopping and stacking the logs. That’s what we are here for, to experience fully the physical manifestation of the spirit. The spirit has the knowledge, but it needs to experience, and it experiences physically. That’s why the holy trinity is the physical, the mental, and the spiritual: all three are equal.

This has been one of my other big lessons in the last ten years, it’s not all about the physical or the spiritual. The mental aspect of our being isn’t something that we block, the mind is as equal and as beautiful as the spirit. The physical, is as equal and as beautiful as the mind and the spirit. But sometimes if we want to work upon the spirit we can do it physically, through yoga. Sometimes if we want to work on the physical body, we can do so spiritually by changing our beliefs. We use our mind as this gateway between the spiritual and the physical. So mind, becomes the holy spirit. Everything is a balance.

To try and live our lives in meditation, travelling off on these astral spiritual experiences, is not being true to our spirit. The truth to our spirit is to chop and stack the logs to the best of our ability, knowing that our spirit wants to do that now. That’s the essence of success.

Who had the most influence on you at a young age, and why?

Definitely Ann, because in her passing my life changed. I started asking questions of life, because of that. She’s constantly supporting, guiding, and loving me as I go through life, I know and feel that more and more and more each day, and of course the children too, but I can only talk from my perspective.

It’s a huge loving sacrifice that her spirit must have made, for her passing at such a young age can only have been somehow predesigned or determined to create space for us all to experience more of the Divine, thus evolving along our path with a greater purpose and direction. When you’ve experienced that deep, indescribable loss you are very much aware of life in its deeper forms, and you question life accordingly. Which brings you upon- and helps you along- the road.

It goes back to this idea that there’s no point in having knowledge, if you haven’t experienced. We don’t always need to experience to that extent, but perhaps for some reason we did. Also on that point, the pebble that’s thrown into consciousness as a result, creates ripples of effect. It was not just us that was so deeply affected by Ann’s passing, but also family, friends, and the wider community; past, present and future consciousness in its entirety. That is how it is. The effect is infinite.

It definitely woke in me, what I felt was always there but could never touch upon or bring out; I was frustrated in life, lost almost to the point that I didn’t know who I was; I didn’t have any understanding of my own spirituality. For life starts with birth, and family at the root, and progresses energetically to experience creativity, sexuality, then our own power, our own sense of who we are. We connect to our heart and experience heart based emotions and truths. It is by working through the lower energy centers of our body, that we start experiencing pieces of who we are. But it is generally in the middle of life that, having experienced huge energy shifts of heart and of our truths, we start to connect heart chakra to throat chakra, which is about being true to ourselves; not just speaking with love but speaking from a place of love, of experience, and of knowing and of sharing. Of being your own truth. This is the part that we have to learn how to evolve from, from the heart to the throat, and then beyond. And we all do that in our own way. We all work through the energy of life in our own way, learning different things and different experiences that we’ve all chosen on some level to experience, because our spirit needs to experience that knowledge and to experience those lessons. And not just to learn, but to create and to experience and to allow the Divine to flow at the same time. I’m sure there’s many, many things going on at the same time, we’re not just here to learn. It’s definitely a part of it, though.

Ann’s influence certainly is the most significant. And it’s funny, that I suppose 2 or 3 years after she passed I started to find little things, like books that she’d had that I’d never even noticed she’d read, like The Power of Now and The God of Small Things. She had all these kind of nice, spiritual books waiting for me dotted around the house, and little crystal unicorns tucked away in bedside lockers. Almost like she was showing this side to her that I’d never known; as if she was gently nudging me to start my new journey.

What was the most significant learning experience you can recall having?

One day, I understood that I am, today, all that I can be. I am me. I am perfect, I don’t have to answer to anyone anymore. And I, being a bit of a placater, would have tried to make sure that everyone was happy, but it was only up until recently that I realised, Hey look, this has got to stop. I’ve got to be happy first. You’ve got to work from the center out. When I embraced that bit of self-acceptance, and started to like and love myself a bit more, that was a significant time in my life. That was a small breakthrough.

I’m quite happy now to chant away in a yoga class, whereas before I wouldn’t have because of what people may think or because I didn’t think I could, or now when I talk in a yoga class or talk philosophy, I’m quite happy to do so because I come from a grounded heart space, instead of coming only from a place of books, or wanting to please the people in the room, or thinking that I should be saying this or should be saying that. Now I just talk from me, because that’s all I can do, because it comes from pure love and roundedness in the middle of me. So that was a very significant learning experience for me; the point when I released the chains; it allowed me to be free, and I’ve just been freed of myself, and of my own restrictions. It’s only me that puts the restrictions upon myself, it’s only me that puts the restrictions on my own physical body, my own mental body. So it’s only me that can release them. That little bit of self-worth, self-love and appreciation. I’d recommend it to anyone.

You know, I would have grown up with a very English, stiff upper lip attitude, that you please others and you keep yourself nice and small in the corner, and you don’t encroach upon others space, that you don’t be the one in the middle shouting the loudest, all this kind of stuff that made me just go further and further into myself, to the point where I didn’t want to ever say my opinion, nor did I have any faith in my own opinion, in my own energy. And therefore, through life, I mixed with people that would use that against me. Eventually, in the last couple of years, I started to feel better about myself.

Perhaps I can say that now. Perhaps I can start to share my song, to share my version of the wonderful existence that is, to share my experience of life, as I see it now. Not my past, but the beauty of life now, in this moment, today. Because tomorrow, we may have different beliefs. Yesterday I had different beliefs, but today, what I believe and what I experience is all I can be.

I can be all that I am today.

How do you deal with adversity or self-doubt?

Generally I doubt myself a lot. During this whole conversation, I come from a place of doubt; being an introvert and not having much faith in myself, I do doubt a lot. But, I do feel that doubting checks in with the self. It’s balance of doubt and of loving the self, that the doubt part just checks in to see are you coming from a grounded place. Are you coming from a heart-centered place. If the answer is yes, then I’m OK.

So the doubt plays it’s role, it’s a wonderful intuitive tool to check in on yourself. But sometimes, when I have doubts, I’ve found that all there is- the universe- just answers for you, it will tell you, and show you not to doubt. It will present beautiful experiences for you to enjoy, it will allow synchronicities to transpire, so that you can’t have any doubt. It answers your doubts. And the more that happens, the less you have to doubt.

But the doubt is still a tool that can be used as a grounding tool, because you can go the other way too. Being too confident, so cock-sure of yourself that you’re not doubting anything you say. And at that point I think you’ve lost it, I think you’ve gone the other way. So I think doubt is a part of who we are. It’s questioning, Where does this come from? Does this bring me towards joy. Does this bring me towards what my spirit wants to experience now.

What are some moments to remember or defining moments from doing what you do?

I think there’s been a few along the way. But most recently, I noticed myself being able to go into a restricted yoga position that I hadn’t been able to do before. I hadn’t practiced it, but I changed my beliefs about myself. Next time I was on the mat, and I went into this position, I was fully able to do it. So, the spiritual had facilitated and healed the physical, and I noticed and acknowledged it. But that too had happened the opposite way, defining moments when I had been doing physical practice, and had been pushing myself physically, to continue with a demanding yoga practice, a strengthening practice, a repetitive practice, and I found that in doing so it changed my day; my life was changing because I had this inner strength to continue that I’d never had before. I started doing lots of headstands. Headstands are about having a strong connection to the earth, a strong core center which will allow you to flip life upside down, and allow life to go in reverse, and to watch and to observe. So my physical practice evolved through headstands, and my spiritual and mental day, week, life changed dramatically as a result, just by doing headstands.

Another defining moment was the first time I’d ever had a CST session, about 2 years after Ann had passed. The lady got me to lay down on the plinth, and she supported my body, and I went back to being 7 years old, reliving an experience that had been a defining moment in my life. It was the first time in my life that that part of my story had been heard by another person. Once you have been heard, you start to release, you start to let go. Sometimes the most significant and the most defining moments transpire from just being heard. That’s what happened for me that day.

I practice CST, but I call it natural health and wellbeing therapy, because I don’t just do CST alone, I do everything I’m trained in together. I combine all my experience in life and in therapies, in yoga and CST and reiki energy therapies, and all my study of books and spirituality, and it all comes out in a therapy session. I know the therapist who worked with me that first day is more than just a CST, she has other therapies too, so again it’s that labelling. By labelling one therapy, you’re losing so much. But yes, generally it was a CST session. It was incredible.

And there’s a place for all these different modules and techniques and special gifts. I used to think, Why do people go to mediums? But sometimes you just need to know that your loved one is with you. That they are actually there. That you’re not just talking to an empty space, you are actually talking to your loved one. And that can be the biggest healing that someone needs to hear. It can be life changing. I’ve learned that there’s a place for all these different therapies. The same with the medical profession, there’s a place for absolutely everything.

What advice would you give to the younger generation, who may find themselves at a crossroads in life, unsure of what path to pursue?

Really it’s about being still, breathing, stopping if you’re unsure of your direction. Not doing. Not feeling that you’ve got to decide now, or that it’s going to wreck the rest of your life if you don’t. What I’ve found, that when I haven’t known what to do or if I feel I’m on the wrong path, I just do nothing. And, as you do nothing and allow yourself to do nothing, to constantly allow yourself to keep going back to the breath, to that grounded place of stillness, all there is flows through you, and directs you to what is the right next step for you. And you can be as blind and as stubborn about it for as long as you like, but eventually you’ll know the right path. So, my thing is definitely to allow the universe, allow all there is, to flow unhindered through you, showing you, creating with you your next step towards all of life, showing you what the totality of you, your spirit, wants to experience next for the betterment of itself. If you’re not sure, ask again, and again, and again.

Seems to work for me, anyway.

You can check out Blackhill Woods Retreat on Facebook and Instagram. You can also learn more about Simon’s Simple Breathing Technique, to be able to incorporate it into your routine.