The Lost Sheep and the Shepherd

“Loneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence. The lost sheep is lonely; the shepherd is not lonely.” ~ William Deresiewicz

white sheep on farm

Photo by kailash kumar on Pexels.com

When we feel lonely, we grieve the absence of company, yet overlook our own. Perhaps we haven’t learned to like or appreciate our own company…
Many of us have relied on others to meet our needs, validate and stimulate us. The desire for the external however, prevents us from seeing and learning to appreciate what is already here within us.

Being content with our own company is a lesson that many of us only learn as we get older. As we learn more about ourselves,  we let go of conditioning and become more authentic and express ourselves in our own way. We like ourselves for who we are and how far we have come.

If we don’t like ourselves, or are afraid of what we might discover when we are alone with our thoughts, then we won’t want to spend time alone. When we do find ourselves alone, we create distraction with the TV or media, reach out for others or numb ourselves with substances.

Take a few moments to reflect on this and how it sits with you.

The second half of the quote shines a different light on loneliness. The lost sheep is missing others, while the shepherd is not lonely. The sheep is a follower of others and is dependent on their company. The shepherd is taking care of his sheep and this is his purpose. There is meaning in his life.

Take a few moments to reflect on what meaning and sense of purpose there is in your life.

Journalling is a great way to uncover our inner thoughts and desires.  Why not make this a time for reflection and self exploration.

Namaste

 

Haiku – conscious deceleration

man standing beside train

Photo by Trace Hudson on Pexels.com

~

Stressing to be fit?

Consciously decelerate

Find your Middle Ground

~

“Conscious deceleration” is a term I came across in a report from The Future Laboratory  which identifies macro trends and new directions in the Health and Wellness industry.

The bottom line is: We are being bombarded with new ways to achieve fitness goals and to be less anxious. A recent study by researchers at Yale and Oxford found that too much exercise is worse for mental well being than no exercise at all. People, especially Millennials,  are getting burned out trying to avoid burn out. Everyone is getting more stressed out about how to de-stress!

The pendulum has swung too far and we are out of balance.

We must consciously slow down and create some calm in our every day. We need to take time to pause as a counter balance to the busyness and constant demand for our attention.

Having a regular practice of mindful breathing, yoga and meditation are ways to consciously decelerate and can become a haven in the world we live in.

Research is now being done about how music and vibrations can recreate the same calm state of mind as regular gentle yoga and meditation. You may want to experience crystal singing bowls at 432Hz or listen to binaural acoustics that induce a Theta mind state. Its already here and more in coming.

What was once rooted in the sacred past of yoga and meditation is now being developed using new technology to reduce stress and bring more peace into our lives.

May you Find Your Middle Ground in this new decade and beyond.

Namaste

 

 

When You Lose Heart

“The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you’re feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. 
Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves.
This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering — yours, mine, and that of all beings”.

~ Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap

letting go in yin yoga

Reading these wise words I think of poses in yoga, especially Yin, where we lean in to the physical and emotional discomfort and embrace the sensations and thoughts that come up.

Surprisingly it is the poses of surrender and letting go, rather than strength building that can be the most challenging for us.

Our practice on the mat is a great metaphor for life. We learn to be present with whatever comes up and use our breath to lean into it. Accepting where we are in that moment.

Breathe into whatever is occurring …. knowing it will pass.

Let there be no blame, just presence on our mat and in life.

Namaste

Haiku – devises

macbook pro iphone cup desk

Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

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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

Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

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