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

Why do People Blog?

silhouette of people standing neat tree under the moon

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

There are so many diverse people and approaches to blogging in the WordPress community.

It makes me reflect on what my motivation for blogging has been, and to be curious about how others have experienced blogging. (Please add a comment below if you would like to share here)

I started blogging as a way to express myself and to share my message to more than one coaching client at a time. Back in 2014 and 2015, the posts I wrote were to provide new insights to specific clients and others wanting to see things more clearly or to bring about change in their lives.

It was also a way for me to become known and a platform for sharing what mindfulness, yoga and Finding Your Middle Ground was about.

Here, my passion grew and blossomed as I found community with like minded people around the world. It became an opportunity to educate and inspire others to find contentment and peace in stressful times, and to explore our spiritual journey and awakening.

I never thought of myself as a writer, poet or photographer, but I have discovered these aspects of myself along the way.

Blogging is an evolution … if you stay with it.

If you come to blogging with the intention of promoting yourself, or manipulating others, getting the most “likes; and “follows” then you are giving yourself short shrift. There really is so much more here.

Blogging is about connection, being inspired and nourishing each other, building community and finding like-minded souls.

Some times the connections fade or disappear. Other times a new voice and talent emerges and brings new perspectives, inspiration and joy.

Thank you for being here and making it all possible. You are the inspiration.

 

 

 

Yoga with Val – Teaching Schedule

Here is the latest update on my teaching schedule.

Good Karma Yoga and Barre, 55 State Road, Media (at the corner of S Overhill Road),PA

Hummingbird Yoga and Massage 940 Haverford Road, Bryn Mawr, PA

yoga class


Monday         
9.30-10.45 Mindful Hatha at Good Karma Yoga, Media, PA

Tuesday:
11.15-12.30 Dynamic Gentle Yoga at Hummingbird, Bryn Mawr, PA

Wednesday:
9.30-10.45 Mindful Hatha at Good Karma Yoga, Media, PA

Friday:
9.30-10.45 Dynamic Gentle Yoga at Hummingbird, Bryn Mawr, PA

Saturday:
Once a month – 9.30-10.45 Mindful Hatha at Good Karma. This class is followed by Restorative Yoga or a Kripalu Yin Workshop.
11.00-12.15  Other Saturdays I teach a Gentle Yoga class at Hummingbird and offer Kripalu Yin workshop for each season of the year.

Sunday:
9.30-10.45 Gentle Yoga at Hummingbird, Bryn Mawr, PA


December Restorative Yoga Workshops

Take time out after the Holidays to restore and nourish yourself.

♥  Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra at Hummingbird in Bryn Mawr on Saturday December 28th from 12.30-2.00

 Restorative Yoga at Good Karma Yoga on Sunday December 29th from 11.30 – 1.00

Spaces are limited, so please reserve ahead of time, via the website or on the MindBody app.


NEW for 2020!

In the New Year I will be offering a weekly Gentle Yoga with Chair class at Hummingbird in Bryn Mawr.

This differs from most Chair Yoga classes as we focus on three specific areas:

  1. Sitting to bring awareness to the breath, quieten the mind and seated postures to increase flexibility
  2. Standing postures for strength, stability and better balance
  3. Floor postures to support the back and build core strength. This is optional for those with limited mobility, however, the intention is to become more confident and skilled in getting down and up from the floor, as this is such an important life lesson for older adults.

Chilling at Kripalu

~

Kripalu sunshine

Warm glow and pranayama

Found my Mother Ship

~

I am taking ten days for learning, chilling and Middle Ground nourishment.

May you too find space to expand and quiet to drop into this week.

Namaste

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

At Every Fork in the Road

photo of person holding umbrella

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The Path to Freedom

“What is the path to freedom here?

The answer is clear the moment

I ask. At every fork in the road,

there is a conditioned response

and one that is unpatterned, bold

and free. The old, known way is

more comfortable, but the other

path holds mystery and wonder.”

~ Danna Faulds, from her collection of writings and poems “Limitless”

 

I love this question. What is the path to freedom here?

So often we will ask “What’s the right way here?” or “What should I be doing now?” This alerts the mind to start to analyze what is “right”  – which is usually based on our old conditioning or brings up feelings of guilt and “shoulds” from the past. So often the answer is fear based, especially the fear of making a mistake.

Can you see that we have already created a cage around our response and limited our choice based on the old known way.

It isn’t about avoiding doing something wrong or pleasing someone else. It isn’t about being a good or a righteous person either. Or being safe and comfortable.

In my experience, the answer isn’t in the analytical mind at all, but is in the passion and inspiration that fills your heart and uplifts your soul.

Its about being aware, bold and free to approach the mystery of the unknown, and trust the inner voice that’s calling you.

One step at a time is all it takes.

This question will take you there.

 

Dealing with Ego on a Spiritual Path

When we are on a spiritual path, the idea of ego becomes something to overcome and get past. It feels contrary to how we want to be in the world.
Its the part of ourselves that we would rather hide or deny rather than show. So we battle with it or suppress it…. or disguise it.

ego in disguise

Here are some examples from my own experience of an ego in disguise:
~ We see ourselves as knowledgeable and evolved…. so we don’t want to be seen as not knowing or caught up in our self image.
~ We see ourselves as spiritual beings who give a lot to others…. so we don’t want to appear selfish and put ourselves first.
~ We see ourselves as good people in a world of danger and mistrust… because the world is a place where things are out of our control and other people can harm or take advantage of us.

Does this sound familiar to you? Can you see the ego at play here – in our thoughts about how we don’t want to be.
That’s our ego in disguise.
We are creating a “better” ego to overcome the inferior one from the past.

The irony is that in order for us to evolve past our ego we need to get intimate with it and acknowledge it. If we want to truly evolve into a new level of consciousness then this is the place that must be embraced.

silhouette of man standing near body of water

Photo by brenoanp on Pexels.com

When we look at the aspects of our ego, or our shadow side, and we feel resistance and discomfort … its a good thing.
Of course, this very human part of us doesn’t want to be looked at. Yet, when we accept is as a part of our experience, we begin to see it more clearly. We  feel it’s impact and see the power it has had over us for most of our lives … even now.

Being awake and conscious  and witnessing how our ego comes and goes is something that the most enlightened people are able to do.  It brings a smile and possibly a shrug. There is curiosity, compassion and detachment.

We cannot deny it just as the left needs the right, one side of a coin has to have the other, and  they cannot be separated from the other.

When we accept it and see it for what it is, it loses its power. We must embrace it in order for it to be no longer important as a driver in our lives.

If we continue to beat it up it will find ways to become more powerful in our thinking and stories about ourselves.

Be kind to your ego, so you can let it go and transform into your whole Being.