* Pause … and Refresh

mindful pause at work

“Whenever an answer, a solution, or a creative idea is needed, stop thinking for a moment by focusing attention on your inner energy field. … When you resume thinking, it will be fresh and creative.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

Most of us know this to be true, yet how many times do we take time for a conscious pause in order to refresh ourselves? I know that I used to pour myself an other cup of coffee and push through.

Let’s face the truth – This “where there’s a will, there’s a way” mentality results in mediocre work, as well as stress and fatigue.

For goodness and wellness sake, move your body and take a few deep breaths. Get out of your head for a few minutes … and notice the difference.

Taking a lunch break during the day is often overlooked nowadays. Yet this is the most important thing we can do to be fresh and creative!

I’m grateful to teach Mindful Hatha yoga at lunchtimes in two companies right now. Bringing together mindfulness and movement ensures everyone feels better and goes back to work with a lighter step and a smile on their face 😊

Please follow this link for more inspiration on Mini Mindful Moments.

* Haiku – root down

Root down to rise up

Image by Siro Lopez http://www.sirolopes.com

~

Find your Middle Ground

Settle in the here and now

Root down and rise up

~

 

If you are new to this site, welcome!

To find out more about finding your middle ground, please click here.

* Inner Alignment

inner alignment

We live in a self absorbed society where everything seems to be directed to feeding the insatiable and bored little “me”.

When we start finding our Middle Ground, we get in touch with our inner being and experience what is happening in the moment. This inner world includes our thoughts, beliefs, needs, feelings and knowing what really matters to us – our values.

We become observers of ourselves.

We come nurturers of our inner being instead of critics.

Life becomes more satisfying just as it is. There is less need for stimulation, excitement and acquiring of things to entertain us, show others, or to keep boredom at bay.

I remember thinking how strange it was that I am rarely bored. I have always enjoyed my own company. I like being me by myself.

Through yoga, I learned that this feeling of centered contentment was when my mind, body and spirit are aligned and in harmony.

I call this place of inner alignment the Middle Ground.

Thank you for joining me here 💛

* Haiku – shifting moods

meditate at work

~

Breathe, let go and feel

Shifting moods and thoughts settle

Find Your Middle Ground

~

In only takes a moment to pause and find your breath. Opening up an inner world of self connection, space, and clarity.

To find out more about finding your middle ground please follow this link.

 

* Awakening to What?

Most of us who see ourselves on a journey of evolution or spirituality, have a sense of awakening. But an awakening to what? I wonder if we all awaken to the same thing, or if we awaken to whatever we are ready to awaken to…

Whatever it is, when we find it we think “This is it!” But it is really so? Is it the final piece of the puzzle or just an other piece along the way that finds its rightful place?

pieces of the puzzle

As I reflect on my life there have been moments of awakening, when it seemed like my inner world and outer world launched into a new way of being. Yet, on reflection it is now clear that these have just been pieces of the puzzle.

As these pieces connected to each other, yet they revealed only a part of a great unknown picture.

Here are my reflections on my journey towards the unknown and the awakenings along the way.

Life Awakenings

I can only imagine what it must have felt like when I first discovered I was no longer merged with my mother. This experience is beyond my thinking mind. But I can imagine how traumatic and profound it must have been becoming separate and in all that bright light!

The next awakening was when I learned who I was in relation to other things and people. My ego developed as I grew into a separate human being with preferences and beliefs. I learned how to get what I wanted, how to be in relationship with others. I created beliefs about who I was as a girl child, daughter, sister etc…

Not long after this revelation came the waking up to feeling hurt when I didn’t get what I wanted, or when I was not seen in a way that I wanted to be seen, or when I felt abandoned and unloved. I believed that there was something wrong, and it was me. I wasn’t good enough. So I would try to be good and perfect.

This part lasted for quite some time. I continued to learn who I was in this world from those around me, and in the roles I played. I was looking outward for validation and love.

Then as an adult I awakened to the part of me that wanted to express herself fully. To slough off the conditioning and expectations of others. I started to look inward so I could find the real “me”, not through anyone else’s eyes, but through my own… Awakening to myself as a strong individual who mattered… Stepping into my own shoes and expressing myself to the world.
From not being good enough, I realized I was precious, unique and strong. I could make things happen! I took on challenges and overcame my fears. It was a period of tremendous personal growth.

Around then I began training to became a life coach. For the past 15 years I have worked with people to discover who they are as unique human beings who can overcome challenges and be their very best in the world.

Yet, this was not the end. From this place of confidence and expansion, an other kind of awakening started to unfold. One where I started to question who “I” was.

spiritual being

At a time when I was disillusioned the competitive, self absorbed human beings around me, I fully embraced yoga and took my first yoga teacher training. Unlike a lot of yoga trainings nowadays, our practice was more than asanas and breath. We had time for self reflection, read yoga philosophy, and committed to following the eightfold path of Patanjali.

Through yoga I became aware that my personal “self” was made up of my thoughts and beliefs. The world around me mirrored my own perception of it.  I had been creating stories about who “I” (this “small self”) was. I had grown as a person, but had replaced stories of not being good enough, with new stories about all I could achieve and show the world.

A part of me still got caught in patterns of self-doubt, fear and worry. I also had moments of glory and immense satisfaction and had glimpses of the timeless beauty and mystery of being alive.

In yoga I felt drawn to the belief that we are all connected and share the same Source or Conscious Presence. When one says “namaste” in greeting and farewell, it means that one recognizes the light shining within each of us.  This inner light is our true spiritual Self.  We connect to something more that our human body and thinking mind. Whether we call it God, the Divine, Brahman, Source, Presence or the Universe. There is a part inside of all of us that is connected to an infinite beingness, that words can’t fully describe.

egg opening

Egg World by Bradley Blazed. http://www.deviantart.com

Then something happened. It was like the outer shell cracked and the gloriousness of what was within was revealed. From understanding in my mind, I experienced a overwhelming feeling of love and connection with my fellow human beings, animals and nature.  A deep sense of oneness that is profound, no matter what is happening in the life. It is hard to put into words, because it is beyond words.

If I were to try to use words, it was be something like a veil had been lifted to reveal what had always been there. It is something that once felt, can always be accessed.

The aum symbol of yoga symbolizes this seeing beyond the veil and embracing an unchanging reality of oneness with spirit or pure consciousness.

aum symbol with meaning

 

Finding Your Middle Ground

Finding your middle ground is the gateway to this awakening.  The starting point is when we take time to pause and become self aware. We begin, by simply learning to slow down and noticing what is going on inside: our thoughts, judgments, emotions, body sensations …

I like to think of it as the phase of personal expansion and growth. Its a place of new perspectives, letting go of the past, and understanding and accepting who we are as imperfect human beings. We discover new aspects of ourselves, our passions and what gives us meaning in life.

From here, can come new insights into who we are beyond our beliefs and thoughts. Beyond our own small separate self.

With more compassionate self awareness, meditation and mindful living, a new way of seeing ourselves and the world unfolds. We realize that we are not separate, but are connected to something so much bigger, and to each other. We realize that we are not the master of the universe, but are simply a part of it all.

There is no right or wrong, because we know that it’s our thoughts that make it so. Everything becomes as it is. We stop resisting life, and begin to let go into its own flow. We let go of ego and surrender to being small as we connect to the Source of being.

Wherever we are on life’s path, we can open ourselves to new insights and awaken to a new way of expanded being.

As human beings perhaps our purpose is to awaken to what we are ready for, and to be open to surrendering to the next unknown.

What a ride!

These words from Mooji reflect this so well:

“What is the ego-mind’s fear of awakening? It is: Who wants a relationship with Miss Nobody? Who will employ Mr No-Mind? What kind of future is there for one who is desireless?
But I am reminding you that all these are the ego’s taboos, imaginings and attempts to distract you from your ever-perfect nature.
In truth, your awakened life will be magnificent, harmonious, joyous and complete.
Follow your intuitive sense of the divine within. Welcome its presence and vibration. Like this, your insight opens to fully recognise the real as your own Self.
The awakened heart invites and allows the Supreme to shine its light upon this world.”*

 

*Mooji (2015-12-03). White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji (Kindle Locations 232-238). Mooji Media Publications. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

* Fulfilling Saturday

yoga happy
Saturday’s are my busiest work day. As a yoga teacher and mentor for teachers, today is the day when most people can come to class or attend a workshop.

I love it! But it does take me away from my regular check ins on WordPress, and being as available for my husband Don.

Today was a very good day. I woke up and checked in with Don to see how his night went. He is going through a new round of chemotherapy for skin cancer that has metastasized to his lungs. He slept well last night, but didn’t have the energy to get up to feed and water the dogs or have breakfast with us. So I did the doggy duty before getting ready to teach a gentle yoga flow class at 9.00.

I am so appreciative of my regular students who show up no matter what, even when others have escaped to the shore or the beach for the weekend. (Its a big thing here around Philly!)

After class I set up for a Restorative Yoga workshop. Three new people appeared ready to relax and be restored! They brought humor and a willingness to go with this strange and intimidating yoga stuff.

As I watched the participants let go and connect to their physical body and breath, it was wonderful to hear at the end “I never thought I would last for an hour and a half, but I wanted it to go forever”. So many of us have forgotten how to let go and relax as part of our daily living. We don’t need a class to sign up for, but we do need to be aware how essential relaxation is for our well being.

restorative yoga

We talked about starting a gentle beginners class to introduce them to more yoga in a safe and nurturing environment.
I hope I never forget how intimidating yoga might sound to people, until they experience it for themselves in a way that they are ready for.

After a snack I met with a yoga teacher as part of catching up with my signature program mentoring yoga teachers. A new insight and discovery of a way to be true to herself and keep her students safe was embraced 💛

Saturday is a time of practice, teaching and inspiring others to tune in to their own wisdom, be open to new knowledge and integrate it into their very being.

happy day

Saturdays are no longer “leisure” to me but one of the most meaningful happy days of the week.

When I left the studio I stopped off and got some great looking Norwegian  salmon for dinner. (Almost as good as Scottish!).  I soaked a cedar plank and we had delicious grilled salmon.
Don came down and manned the grill. He was able to eat and said he enjoyed his meal.

This has become an awesome day. 🌞

Gratitude to all of you who touch my life and expand the love and connection is so many ways.

Namaste

* Pivotal Moment in my Teacher’s Journey

Val's yoga class

One of the most pivotal moments for me was when I was taking an advanced yoga teaching module at Kripalu. One morning I was in class and it became clear that the teacher’s intention was to energize. She chose standing sequences then back bends. She was working to a pinnacle pose of Camel.

This dreaded realization began  like a lead weight in the pit of my stomach. This would be everything I knew I had difficulty with because of misplaced vertebrae.

I got really upset with her for “putting me through this torture”, and then myself for not being able to do it. I couldn’t do what she was asking of me because I knew I would hurt myself.

It was a real struggle for me. To calm myself, I began a BRWFA practice and went into child’s pose for the rest of the class.

On reflection, what was missing was that the teacher did not take into account that someone would not be able to do the postures.

She didn’t give me permission to modify and adapt. Or find my own practice. I felt left out, not good enough, and a failure.

At that point I was ready to give up on teaching yoga. However, with support from a wonderful yogi, I realized that what was an obstacle, was my way forward.

I vowed to do all I could, so that my students would never feel this way.

We take so much for granted based on our own experience. As yoga teachers we must reach beyond our own experience and connect to our students with empathy and understanding.

We must hold that safe and nurturing space for each and everyone of them.

In the next Yoga Teachers Mentoring group we will be diving into this.

Namaste

* Sitting Still

sitting meditation

“People began doing (yoga) postures so they could sit for a long time.
And what will happen if you sit longer? Conflicts will disappear. You will feel calm.
So learn to sit first before you talk about meditation.”

~ Vijayendra Pratap

I enjoy this practical approach. So many beginners try to meditate when their mind is hyperactive or they feel overwhelmed and distracted. Just sitting down and expecting your mind to be still doesn’t work.

Taking time to prepare for sitting meditation is important for beginners and practitioners alike.

Yoga postures prepare us by moving the body and stretching while focusing on the breath.

At the beginning you are able to sit for a bit and notice what is alive in you: your thoughts, emotions, body sensations, resistance or judgments about what the experience should be like…

In meditation you learn to embrace everything that comes up.

Focusing on the breath will help you keep coming back to each moment.

Remember meditation isn’t about getting anywhere.

Its about finding where you already are.

In that knowing is where peace resides.

* Yoga’s Reach

nature within yoga

Photo by Victor Tondee Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It is a wonder
how a simple stretch
deepens breath,
and an elegantly held pose
grows to touch the
whole of me.

Like sugar stirred into tea,
the potency
of yoga spreads
from body into mind
and heart, revealing
an ocean of energy
that heals and opens,

holds me close
and sets me free
all in the same moment
~ Danna Faulds. Taken from “From Root to Bloom”

This is a wonderful time to open, stretch, breathe and melt,  like sugar stirred into tea. 😊

Thanks to Danna Faulds for this inspiration.

* A Yoga Teacher Haiku

This is a re-post, dedicated to yoga teachers who bring their loving guidance to the body, mind and spirit of their students every day. I am honored to be a part of this amazing yoga community.

… And now I embrace an other group of beautiful and courageous souls, whom I met today at the first session of the Yoga Teachers Mentor Program and Practicum.

This haiku is for you and all your yoga students.

With gratitude and love ❤️

Namaste

Yoga from the inside out

A being centered

in melodies gentle flow

breaks open my heart

~~~

A being open

to life energy within

lets the soul soar free

~~~

A being in awe

of  the fullness of Presence

can bring light to all

~~~

* Inspiration – It is Enough

Kripalu sunset

It is enough right now
to taste one moment of
peace. Of course I want
more, but at least the
door is open.

It is enough to draw a
conscious breath and
let my hands relax,
fingers releasing their
tight grasp on things
outside of my control.

It is enough to shed a
layer of stress as if
taking off a jacket or a
pair of too tight shoes.

Ease of being has to
start somewhere.
This breath is my
first step.

~ Danna Faulds. Taken from From Root to Bloom

This is a lovely reminder that ease of being begins with a conscious breath. Just one moment of peace opens the door.

Don’t rush it.

Breathe into it

Be with it

It is enough

💛

* Mantra for Healing

“Ra Ma Da Sa, Sa Say So Hung” is the mantra for sacred healing. This healing meditation is used to pray for healing energy for our friends, family, and ourselves. If no particular person comes to mind, open your voice and heart to all of humanity and mother earth.

Sit quietly with eyes closed. Sing along with Snatam Kaur and imagine sending healing energy to whoever needs it most today.  I am sending this to my angry monkey.

Translation:

Ra – Sun

Ma – Moon

Daa – Earth

Saa – Impersonal Infinity

Saa Say – Totality of Infinity

So – Personal sense of merger and identity

Hung – The infinite, vibrating and real.

om symbol

* Resistance Wake Up Call

resistance

In Carl Jung’s wise words “What we resist persists.” Noticing where we have resistance is a powerful practice.

I keep thinking about how I want things to be a certain way, yet it’s out of my control. And rather than letting it go and letting it be, I find my thoughts still hanging on how things were and how I don’t want this to be happening right now.

I ask myself … Why is this happening? … How can I escape the unfairness of it?… How can I make things right?

This kind of thinking only takes me away from being present and makes me feel off balance and fearful. There’s a tightness around my heart.

And then I read this quote:

“If you are resisting something, you are feeding it. Any energy you fight, you are feeding. If you are pushing something away, you are inviting it to stay.” ~ Michael Singer.

Whenever we push something away, we bring energy to it and it resists. The more we push, the more energy is created, and so it resists even more in order to stay.

When we push something away, we are inviting it to stay.

Well I certainly don’t want that!

fish slap wake up call

I love messages that hit me like a cold wet fish being slapped across the face.

Others might think of it as a kind of wake up call.

Hello river, here I come again.

Consider what you have been resisting that is still firmly there…. Feel the fish slap, let it go and join me in the flow once more.