Experience Change through Awareness,Acceptance and Action

It can be really useful through the day to find time to pause. To notice when you feel a sense of busyness, rushing, doubting – and to notice how this feels: how it feels in your body and where you experience these feelings and sensations. Often we experience this as constriction or tightness in the belly, chest, perhaps in the hands or around the eyes.

The first step in creating change is to notice, to become aware. Then to simply take one mindful breath, and in that breath we can feel a shift from contraction to expansion. One breath will open the space within and that space will continue to grow and expand . Within this moment of presence there is an acceptance of what is. Acceptance creates a sense of expansion and freedom within. From here we open ourselves for more creativity and confidence to flow. We are not looking to change or fix but to shift the feeling from contraction to expansion and our awareness from wishing things were different to presence and acceptance.

Here is a short practice that can help you become aware of holding, constriction and tension in the body and how to change that experience through awareness, acceptance and action. The more we practice these skills, the easier and more effective they become and over time they become another tool you can draw upon whenever and wherever needed.

Feast your eyes

I love this poem by Marjorie Pizer; just perfect for a Spring class.

Feast your eyes on the tops of the trees.

Drink in the dark greenness of the tall gums,

Walk on the firm ground with bare feet 

And absorb the stuff of the earth into your bare soles.

Take branches into your hands,

Feel the leaves with your face

And take in the inner growing of the tree.

Lie close on the leaves of grass

And let them caress your body.

Take the hot sun into your soul

And let the whole sky sweep into your mind.

Give yourself back to the living earth

And the earth will give itself back to you

In unmeasured and unbounded pleasure.

It is in the simple pleasures that one finds the deepest sense of peace and beauty.

Namaste

Just for now…

Just for now, without asking how, let yourself sink into stillness. Just for now, lay down the weight you so patiently bare upon your shoulders. Feel the earth receive you, and the infinite expanse of the sky grow even wider as your awareness reaches up to meet it. Just for now, allow a wave of breath to enliven your experience. Breath out whatever blocks you from the truth. Just for now be boundless, free, with awakened energy tingling in your hands and your fee. Drink in the possibility of being who and what you are – so fully alive that the world looks different, newly born and vibrant, just for now

~ a poem by Donna Faulds

Dipping cloth into dye

I love Erich Schiffmann’s book ‘YOGA The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness’. He speaks in a way that resonates truth: his words  feel familiar and comfortable to me, like a favourite jumper. I share with you a piece I particularly enjoy. It is about awareness, connection and presence; the benefits of a mindful, ongoing yoga practice.

“Deliberately be still. Close your eyes, relax and breath, be aware, and consciously experience your present moment of conscious awareness. Immerse yourself in your own unique feeling-tone. Feel you. Bask in the exquisite experience of being alive, of conflict-free high energy peace, and become thoroughly familiar with the core tone of who you are.

This is like dipping cloth into dye.  Each dip of the cloth strengthens the cast of the dye and enhances the colour. Here, however, you are dipping yourself into you. You are experiencing you. Each time you do so, you become more you; that is, your sense of the authentic you is enriched. Each dip into the silent experience of you washes away more false ideas, which enables the real you to shine forth more clearly to yourself and others; that is, your sense of the authentic you is enriched.”

We can find this connection to self when we rest in savasana, as we hold a posture, or sit in meditation. When we hold our thread of awareness throughout the practice, it becomes more about the feeling, tone and experience of the yoga. We find an inner stillness that enables our authentic self to the rise to the surface of our awareness and into the light.

This thread of awareness can be observed and experienced on many levels. I invite my students to notice:

1. Any sensations or feelings from the physical body

2. The quality of the breath

3. The state of mind

4. An overall feeling or tone that permeates the entire being

How wonderful it is to take the time within your practice to truly observe, to be fully present; to be witness to the amazing changes that are taking place moment to moment. The opportunity to know yourself in truth, beauty and peace.

In practice, I find patience and peace 

Ways to fill yourself up

Often in our busy lives it is difficult to find time for ourselves. We can become consumed with getting things done and meeting other people’s needs and over time we become depleted and sometimes resentful. It is important to find ways to fill yourself up, so that when you give, you give from your overflow.
I have attached a short voice recording (about 18 minutes in total) taken from one of my regular yoga classes. The recording ends with around 9 minutes of quiet piano music. It would be appropriate to either sit comfortably or rest in savasana. You could also sit for the audio (around 9 mins) and then rest in savasana for remaining time.
Relax and enjoy!

Breathing to a quieter place

The word pranayama is comprised of the sanskrit words “prana” meaning breath or life force and “ayama” to length or expansion. This practice of controlled breathing helps the energy to flow more easily into the nadis or energy pathways and koshas (layers) of the body. The koshas can be visualised as the rings inside a tree trunk, where the outer layer is the physical body, moving inward to the energy (pranic) body, the thinking mind, inner wisdom and spirit. When we influence the flow of prana in the energy body through pranayama its effects penetrate every cell and fibre of our being.

When practicing pranayama, choose an environment that is clear, clean and free from distractions. Begin by observing your natural, spontaneous breath; breathing through the nostrils.  As you connect with your breath cycle, observe the four phases of the breath: the inhalation, retention, exhalation and suspension. Check there is no holding of breath or strain; that the pauses at the top and bottom of the breath are natural. The more you stay with your natural breath, the more the breath will deepen and lengthen without effort or force.

When we work with pranayama we are looking to cultivate two qualities: dirgha and sukshma. Dirgha means long and steady and sukshma means smooth and subtle. As we find the steadiness in breath, we find a steadiness in the mind, calming and quieting, soothing the nervous system. This in turn triggers a cascade of physiological changes: the heart rate slows down, blood pressure decreases and muscular tension is released.

We discover that changes in the prana maya kosha (energy body) affect the physical and mental bodies. When we find the steadiness, quietness and space within these outer layers, we open a doorway to the deeper and subtler aspects of self. Our inner wisdom, intuition,creativity and spirit move into our field of awareness as the ripples of disturbance subside.

Here is a simple pranayama practice. Enjoy!

 

In practice, I find patience and peace

More than a physical practice

When people think of yoga, it is often the postures that comes to mind – the physical practice (or Hatha yoga).  For me, yes of course the physical work is important, it helps us feel strong and supple, vibrant and at ease with our bodies.

Yoga, too is a practice of awareness. It is this mindfulness that transcends the physical into a spiritual practice. A teacher of mine often referred to yoga as “Your Own Growing Awareness”. I like that. The wonderful thing is that the discipline we learn on the mat begins to permeate all aspects of our life. We “tune’ into our bodies and mind with a heightened sense of observation and from here anything is possible.

When we navigate the waves of our emotions and the chatter of the mind with increased awareness, we sail an ocean of grace as master of our own ship.

A beautiful poem by Roger Keyes titled ‘Hokusai Says’

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing, you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself as long as it’s interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child, every one of us is ancient, every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.
He says everything is alive – shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is Life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength is life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.