Where Would you Choose to Sit?

Over the past several weeks I have been walking in Chanticleer Gardens, near me in Wayne PA. Every time I venture out I have my iPhone 8 at the ready … and it seems to capture the colors, contours, shadows and perspectives pretty well.

I don’t see myself as a photographer, but I have been taught to have an artistic eye. Recently, I have not only wanted to represent what is before me, but also to appreciate different perspectives, shades, patterns and dynamics that are taking place.

So, these last few visits I have asked myself – where would I like to sit? As I brought new awareness to seats, I noticed so many more in tucked away corners as well as overlooking lovely vistas.

Where would you choose to sit?

 

Getting Clear about Transformation

Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

Most of us spend our time and energy trying to transform our experience of life. When things are difficult, we blame circumstances, someone else, or ourselves. We take on new things and make new goals. We may change jobs, move house, or get divorced, to move away from our circumstances.

We move away from the discomfort.

And we somehow find ourselves feeling the same way in the next job, the next house, the next marriage …

In this society we are constantly being pressured to focus on the external and to acquire things in order to be “successful” and to feel good about ourselves. The message is “you deserve better” or “this will make you happy”.

Instead of moving from job to job, wanting things to be different and wishing for events to change, pause and notice how you are resisting what you are experiencing right now. Are you telling yourself “I deserve better”? rather than trying to understand your experience.

It is the relationship with what is happening that is causing the pain rather than the situation itself. The relationship between you and the situation is one of resistance and frustration with what is.

But you are only changing the external situation, and the chances are you will start to feel the same again, unless you take time to look at what is going within you that is getting in the way of transformation.

What if our purpose in life is to understand our external experience and how we relate to it? or Seeing all of our experience as lessons in life?

When we start to look into our experience with curiosity and an accepting mind, we can bring about real change.

Its an inside out job.

Here are some powerful questions to ask yourself to bring about inner transformation:

  • How do I want to feel ….? at work/in my marriage/in my relations with my children etc. Imagine your future self and what it feels like.
  • How am I contributing to this situation? What attitude adjustment do I need to make?
  • What actions would support this? What do I need to do differently?
  • What support do I need to bring it about? What resources do I already have?

 

Clearing the Clutter

black and pink plastic clothes hangers

Photo by Henry & Co. on Pexels.com

Many of us are using this time to create space and de-clutter our work and home environments. Over the past few months I have been setting aside clothes that I no longer need. Yesterday, I went to Goodwill and let a lot of material things go. Not just the old, but also what might serve others better.

Letting go of what no longer serves us and creating space for something new is a powerful practice.

Its something that I am doing intentionally for a number of reasons.

It allows us to move forward and not be overly attached to the past. So we let go of the old that no longer supports who we are today.

It turns out that this is pretty hard for me … and I don’t think of myself as a hoarder!

For many years I was an Intercultural Trainer, supporting people from different cultures coming to the US and for Americans going overseas and working in Global teams. I loved this work as it let me expand my knowledge of different cultures – especially their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that may be unexpected and different.

When I become a life coach I moved away from training into the sphere of one to one coaching.

And now I am giving away my books and creating space for my yoga books on philosophy and spiritual inspiration. I feel drawn to bring more spiritual awareness and connection to our intuitive heart space, rather than our rational mind.

When we clear our environment it creates space for the new. Often it will create a new sense of spaciousness within us too … and sometimes not. Lets be realistic and human.

If you are in the process of de-cluttering, notice if this physical clearing is enough for you or if there are judgments and attachments that are also cluttering your mind. They may make you feel secure, but they may be getting in the way of what you really want.

person sitting on bench under tree

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

EXPLORATION

Take a moment to sit comfortably.

Feel your body resting in this space. Hips. Thighs. Lower legs. Ankles. The soles of your feet.

Take some full deep breaths as if you want to be here in your body … and feel supported.

Notice the change in your breath when you land here fully.

Slow it down even more.

This is the place to ask yourself:

“What do I need to let go of?”

Keep breathing and see what arises from the depth or your being rather than your head

With awareness of clutter and consciously letting go, we move away from past conditioning and towards balance and freedom.

Can you let yourself be here, just the way it is?

Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Home Bound Working Mothers … What if?

woman working girl sitting

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

This is a (provocative) post for women, mothers, sisters and wives. 

What if this is the time to let our sons, husbands, partners, colleagues, brothers, and adult children … find their own way?

In this stay-at-home working mother era, how many more times do you want to hear: “Where is the …?” “What have you done with my …?” “What’s for dinner?” …”What do we need at the store?”…

It seems to be such a habit for most of us to jump in to solve, find, soothe and show the way to support our males and children. We tell ourselves: “they need us”… “what would they do without us”… “we are good at this”… And we keep serving them and making sure their needs are met.

Isn’t it time for a shift in attitude and perspective? If you are tired, frazzled and feel out of balance, then the answer is absolutely YES.

You may be happy (to a point) to have your adult children home, but its up to you to set the guidelines and educate them about their role in this new family state. Reverting to the old ways doesn’t work any more, especially if you are the mother.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

“Am I contributing to old fashioned patriarchal habits from an earlier generation?”

Or consider “Why is it okay for the kids to disturb me rather than daddy when he is in his office?”

“What am I teaching my children about taking responsibility… equality… independence…  speaking up?”

This is an opportunity to create a new era of true equality and get Mankind and Childrenkind to step up to support one  another and the family.

To the women out there staying at home, does this ring true? Is there more pressure than ever for you to take on the role to support and ensure your menfolk and children feel comforted and loved? Are you depleting yourself by spending more time soothing and ensuring their needs are being met? And are you receiving the comfort and love that you want? Are you truly taking care of yourself? Are you getting your own needs met?

My heart goes out to you.

What if you let them find their own way and you gave yourself the time, space and nurturing that you desperately need.

Step back from taking care of everyone else. Instead of letting resentment build, speak up from your heart,  and come to a new agreement on shared responsibilities at home.

Do this for yourself. For them. For the new future ahead.

This is not about making our country like the past, its about building a new future, and it begins with each one of us at home.

 

 

 

 

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

~

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

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.