Haiku – devises

macbook pro iphone cup desk

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Find your Middle Ground

Switch off all your devises

Come home to yourself

~

I wrote this haiku a while ago and it hit home. It was definitely a message for me to listen to. This is such a simple and practical idea, but putting down our devises isn’t so easy.

I have been experimenting with less online activities, including blogging. There is so much coming at me and trying to grab my attention. It takes me out of balance and out of my Middle Ground.

Technology allows us to connect to hundreds of people in any one day. Not long ago, we were reliant on physical contact, phone calls and mail. And yes – we had to go out to meet people and shop in stores.

Of course, having the smartphone within hands reach has become a habit. I used to leave it in the kitchen while I was in my office, only to find that companies wanted to text me with security codes and confirmations.

Are my devises running my life now? Could I function without the apps on my phone?
The answer is probably…..

What I am doing is being more and more aware of how these devises seem to be taking over my time and energy.  It is up to me to be able to switch off.
Right now I don’t take my phone to the bedroom and switch it off when I teach or practice yoga. That’s my true Middle Ground time.

Without external distractions, we can come home to ourselves.
When we come home to ourselves we no longer feel so distracted, separate and lost in the world.

Learning Something New – Be Like a Toddler

This re-post is dedicated to the people I have the privilege of teaching and mentoring.

ooOoo

As adults we are so used to being competent and knowledgable…. at least in some areas of our lives!
So when we take on a new challenge or want to learn something new it can be difficult.

I teach new yoga students and yoga teachers, and see how tough it can be for some to get their heads around being a beginner again.

Learning something new as adults makes us feel vulnerable. It’s a time where old fears about our worthiness surface, self doubt seeps in and egos rush to defend ingrained thinking and old beliefs.

beginner's mind

One way of countering this all too human reaction is to apply the Zen wisdom of Beginner’s Mind. This concept refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level.

Here are some steps to practice:

1. Be open and curious. Beginner’s Mind is about using the spirit of enquiry.  There’s a Zen story about this:
A student visited a Japanese master to inquire about Zen. The master served tea. When the visitor’s cup was full, the master kept pouring. Tea spilled out of the cup and over the table.
“The cup is full!” said the visitor. “No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” said the master, “You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

2.Take one step at a time and let go of the outcome. Focus on what needs to be studied at each step.

toddler running and falling

3. Be like a toddler. Fall down seven times, get up eight times. Celebrate falling down as well as getting up.

4. Let go of knowing. Embrace “I don’t know” thinking rather than conditioned “I know or I should know” thinking. We only know things up until now. How can we expect to know something beyond our experience?

5. Shake off shoulds. Shoulds are imposed on us. Instead, be the best you can be in that moment and take responsibility for your actions. Own your own life rather than ‘shoulding’ all over it.

6. Use your experience. Keep an open mind on how to apply your experience to each new circumstance. Get creative with what you know and what you are learning.

7. Experience the moment fully. Slow down and pause. Be fully present to what is going on around you and within you.

When you do this your mind quietens and you make space for the new. You find your Middle Ground.

Namaste

Confidence is Very Attractive

Today’s mantra is for when you want to make a positive impact. If you are heading back to work after a break, or starting something new, this one is especially for you.

confidence is very attractive

Confidence is very attractive

This photograph reminds me of the times when we move from trying to become something, to embracing it fully. When we move from doubting or being insecure and then begin to own our abilities.

To me this puppy has progressed from learning to walk on his leash to knowing how to do it. He is owning it… and boy does he look good … and happy!

What a great lesson for all of us.

He is radiating joy in what he is doing and feeling good about himself.

He isn’t needing validation saying “Look at me.”

He isn’t doubting himself saying  “I’m not sure if I am any good.”

He’s saying “I am me.”

This kind of “knowing” self confidence is so attractive – to others and to ourselves.

Knowing who you are – your strengths, needs and core values – are the foundations for building confidence, and becoming attractive to yourself and others.

Ahimsa and Kindness

person holding clear and red floral ball

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Ahimsa or non violence is the foundation of all yoga philosophy. Most of us might think we are not violent people. We don’t go around bullying or hurting others or animals. We are loving and giving, and would never want to do any harm.

However, there are many ways that we unconsciously do “violence” on ourselves.

How often do you stay at your desk to get through your work without a break or refreshment? Are you pushing yourself to exhaustion?
Is your self talk kind and supportive, or do you judge yourself harshly and put yourself down?

To paraphrase Gandhi’s words “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Being forgiving and compassionate to yourself is the essential step to practicing ahimsa in the world.

This is fundamental for all of us on the path of yoga.
We must start with ourselves and allow the past damage of inner violence to heal.

Everything starts with our awareness of it.
Here are ways to bring about more awareness and change.

Decide to commit for one day to notice your internal conversations. Take time to journal and capture your thoughts.
At the end of the day. What did you notice? Is it time to change your conversation?
How can you start every thought with kindness?

An other practice is Loving Kindness Meditation. If your usual meditation is guided or based on mindfulness or mantra, commit to a loving kindness practice instead.Choose words that resonate with you.

May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you free of trouble and the causes of trouble
May you live your life with ease

metta-prayer

Listen to Your Body – its Listening to You

The words we choose in our thinking, our speech and our writing, impact on how we feel and our overall well being.

abstract board game bundle business

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Have you ever noticed how a word can bring up a certain feeling inside of you? A sensation, a thought or an emotion?

Choosing a word that connects with your heart and soul can be not only uplifting, but also brings physical well being.

If you have a few moments, let’s explore.

Take your time as you connect to each of the words below. Go slowly. You can say them out loud:

Love
Tender
Soothing
Joy
Cuddle
Grateful
Smile
Gentle
Pause here and close your eyes. What is alive in you in this moment? Is there a warmth, softening, a feeling of tenderness or love perhaps? How is your breathing? Are you smiling? (me too) Notice how these words manifest themselves in your mind body and spirit.

pauseNow take a deep breath and take the same time connecting to each of these words:
Irritated
Ugly
Mean
Wrong
Frustrated
Cruel
Unfair
Bad
Pause here and close your eyes. What is alive in you in this moment? Is there tension or constriction or heaviness perhaps? How is your breathing? Notice how these words manifest themselves in your mind body and spirit.

pauseIn general when it is a word associated with lack, dis-ease, suffering or violence, our body responds by becoming tense, our breath shallows and there is resistance.

In western medicine when there is resistance in our body it leads to inflammation, and increases our level of stress. These are both proven factors for ill health.

I believe in western medicine, and I also believe in that when there is constriction and tension our life energy contracts as well, and a part of inner state becomes blocked. This impacts our emotional and physical wellness.

In yoga, when the life energy (prana) is blocked it can be released with postures, breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation. In Chinese medicine these blockages in Qi can be released through acupuncture.

pause and listen to your body

No matter what we believe in our minds, our body has its own kind of intelligence.

Listen to your body’s wisdom.

Be mindful of your thoughts and your words. Your body is always listening.

Want to feel Secure? Breathe!

feeling insecure

Source: WikiHow

“There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity.
But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change.

If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure.
To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid.

In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want.
To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.

To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”

~ Alan Watts

How are your breathing right now? I’m smiling, because I was holding my breath as I read this.

When we bring awareness to our thoughts, feelings and especially our breath, we set the foundation for finding our middle ground and inner peace.

Holding our breath is a defense mechanism of the human body. It prepares us to react to a threat. However, it increases the tension and stress in the body, rather than bringing it to a state of balance.

In yoga we learn to deepen the breath when sensation increases. We breathe through tension and discomfort and allow the energy to keep flowing, rather than contracting and adding more tension.

Yoga is an invitation to become present in our bodies. We connect mind to body via our breath. It helps us relax, breathe, feel, and where possible let go.
Ultimately this helps us make more skillful, conscious choices and allows us to feel grounded and secure in life.
And it all starts with the breath.

Find out more about yoga breathing by clicking here.

 

Inspiration – Life is Joy

This is a re-blog . To all the heroes our there – Have a joy filled day today.
little superhero

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.

I awoke and saw that life was service.

I acted and behold, service was joy.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore

Instead of searching for joy from what the world can give you, turn it around and give yourself to the world.

Take a moment and consider…

How am I serving others?
How can I contribute to what I want most for the world?

May we all find a life of joy in serving others.

Namaste