Yoga and Poetry

For those who attend my regular yoga classes, you will know that my favourite poet is Danna Faulds. Her words so often marry beautifully with my intention or theme for the week’s teachings. For me, richness of experience is deepened when the many aspects or layers of who I am are touched in the practice.  Movement and breath liberate held tension and energy in the body, which gives rise to feelings and emotions. When we give space for these feelings and emotions to be met and accepted as they are (without trying to fix or change anything) new levels of freedom become available to us.  Listening to poetry as part of a yoga class, gives us space to simply BE, to rest quietly and listen. As the words meet us, something awakens, stirs and moves through the body and mind. This is my experience…..may it also be yours. X

autumn yoga

Whatever Doesn’t Serve by Danna Faulds

What weight can you put down right now, willingly relinquishing the pointed quills of guilt or judgement?

What burden of the heart can lift, what dark corner can be lit, the candle flickering at first, then burning bright?

With the next breath, let it go, that old story you’ve told yourself a million times.

Whatever doesn’t serve you on this path of truth, leave it behind.

Offer this one gift: the simple sacrifice that in the giving sets you free to fully live.

 

 

Out of the fog

Five months ago today I said goodbye to a dear friend: my beloved dog, Buffy. It was an excruciatingly decision to have her put down; she was in pain, stumbling and had not eaten or taken any water for 2 days. My beautiful sweet girl was 14 years old and it was time for her to rest.

 

From that moment on, everything changed: I couldn’t bear to walk along the river without her, coming home to any empty house was avoided, the end of my bed was cold and I couldn’t face my morning meditation practice. Something I did notice through the grief, was my ability to meet the moment as it was. I didn’t suppress the tears, the ache in my heart – I opened to it all. Through my training and practice in meditation (especially iRest meditation), I had learned to meet the moment as it arises, to not deny or suppress what is present, even when difficult or painful.

What I noticed (even though my daily meditation had slipped) was that the 2 years I had put into establishing my practice had provided me with the necessary tools to navigate this time with presence and grace. As we learn to meet what arises, welcoming life as it is, rather than how we would like it to be, be can move more easily through emotions rather than getting “stuck”. When we truly meet and sit with whatever is present, we experience the transitory nature of our thoughts, emotions and of life itself. iRest meditation, has provided me with the tools to navigate the ups and down of life with more grace, acceptance and ease.

Through the commitment to a  regular practice over time, we can establish the inner resources that help us navigate the most challenging of circumstances. I have found this to be true time and time again.

We have adopted two rescue dogs, Boz and Bindi, 10 year old Whippets and they bring us so much joy. I am feeling more myself each day and look forward to re-establishing my meditation practice in the near future.

I welcome my commitment to practice  (abhyasa) AND the time to let it go (vairagya). It’s the ebb and flow of life. I trust in the process, I trust in life.

Photo on 5-2-17 at 7.17 pm.jpg

 

Peace is This Moment without Judgement

At times when we are challenged to find peace within ourselves, with others and the world we live in, I choose to turn towards beauty, nature and the wisdom of others.

Enjoy this beautiful poem by Dorothy Hunt.

Peace is This Moment Without Judgment

Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself? …
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?

Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.

Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome.

 

‘Mind Wanting More’ by Holly Hughes

eagle, water, sunOnly a beige slat of sun above the horizon, like a shade pulled not quite down. Otherwise, clouds.

Sea rippled here and there. Birds reluctant to fly.

The mind wants a shaft of sun to stir the grey porridge of clouds, an osprey to stitch sea to sky with its barred wings, some dramatic music: a symphony, perhaps a Chinese gong.

But the mind always wants more than it has—
one more bright day of sun, one more clear night in bed with the moon;
one more hour to get the words right; one more chance for the heart in hiding to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses—as if this quiet day with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.

Let it Go ~ a poem by Danna Faulds

As we move deeper into Autumn, I am finding a quieter place within even as the jobs continue to pile up. I recently attending a VCE evening (my son Zach has commenced year 11) discussing study skills. “The children”, said one of teachers, “can become overwhelmed with the enormity of the year, with homework and exams and the pressure of being expected to know their chosen path in life at the age of 17”. The advice given was for the children to focus on one day at a time; consider what needs to be done today, what can I realistically achieve today, just today. Essentially, this is a practice in mindfulness and presence, of being in the moment, the only point in time we can reletting goally have any influence over. What this means then is to Let Go of the future, the unknown, that which we cannot control. There is nothing new here, however reminders are often timely and helpful.

As we see the leaves around us change and fall, this reminder of Letting Go is ever present. Please enjoy this wonderful poem by Danna Faulds.

Let go of the ways you thought life would unfold: the holding of plans or dreams or expectations – Let it all go.

Save your strength to swim with the tide. The choice to fight what is here before you now will only result in struggle, fear,

and desperate attempts to flee from the very energy you long for. Let go.

Let it all go and flow with grace that washes through your days whether you received it gently or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.

Take this on faith; the mind may never find the explanations that it seeks, but you move forward nonetheless.

Let go, and the wave’s crest will carry you to unknown shores, beyond your wildest dreams or destinations. Let it all go and find the place of rest and peace and certain transformation.

One word to support action and inspire change

buddha In the busy and often unpredictable nature of our day, it can be  often challenging to stay centred. We may become reactive and  behave in ways that don’t align with our higher self. Ideally we  create space between what life offers us and how we choose to deal  with it; what we say, what we do. When we are mindful and present,  we learn to respond rather than react to life.

Harmony flows within us when we operate in line with our higher self, our inner truth. We may find within this space, a conflict free environment that cultivates peace and wellbeing: a space from which clarity may arise and creativity can flow.

Several years ago I was asked by my mentor at the time to choose one word that would move me in the direction I wanted to go and grow. This word came easily : SPACIOUSNESS. The next task was to chose one action that would support my word. This too came easily: to chose a regular time each week to sit and write articles for my blog. What followed next was really interesting: spaciousness flowed into many areas of my life without effort. I began creating more physical space around me; in my office, around my home, at the studio and immediately felt more relaxed and content. What one word comes to mind for you? A word that moves you towards your dreams and goals. A word that immediately feels right and inspires you to make change. Consider, when we change our mindset, we must feel ready in our heart and be prepared for necessary change in behaviour to follow.

So what can we do to help cultivate the space required to know what we truly want and where we want to go. For me, I chose my breath and stillness. When I find my breath and hold it gently with my awareness, connecting with its natural rhythm and flow, I feel soothed.  It is a balm for my nervous system that radiates out to fill my entire being with space; a space that opens to clarity and inner wisdom. Simply sitting quietly in meditation for 5 – 15 minutes is enough. Ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Who am I?

2. What do I want?

3. What is my dharma (life purpose)?

Asking these questions will plant a seed into the fertile mind. Don’t dwell – plant the seed and let it be. Each time you come back to these questions in meditation, you are watering the seeds and they will grow. Be open to life around you and any opportunities that arise that align with your intentions.

 

Another way to create inner space is to find stillness through rest: stop what you are doing and lie down somewhere comfortably. In a yoga practice, we find this space within savasana, however we can reap the benefits of stillness anywhere that is comfortable where you will not be disturbed. Just a few minutes of  focussed stillness can move one from feelings of anxiety and tension to a place of calmness and clarity.

Here are some simple tips for a rejuvenating rest :

1. Once comfortable, close your eyes and connect with the natural heaviness of your body; the weight of your bones and muscles. Release the weight of your head, backs of the shoulders and hips into the support of the earth.

2. Scan your body for areas of holding and tension and  let your breath create space and ease around any areas found. Allow time for resistance to melt away: this is a process of undoing.

3. Look within and connect with the natural rhythm of your breath. You don’t need to change the breath, simply watch the natural rise and fall. Feel your body open to receive the breath and surrender as the breath is naturally released. Stay with it; become aware of the space at the top of each inhalation and the bottom of each exhalation. Don’t create the space or hold, simply notice what is there. 

4. If the mind wanders, simply begin again; heavy body surrendering to the natural rhythm of the breath.

Great if you can stay with this for 5 – 15 minutes then stretch gently and reenter your day with more clarity and ease.

In a few days, I’m off camping with my family to Echuca. Here in the quietness of life, I will consider my one word and action for 2015. On the banks of the beautiful Murray river I will go within and listen to my heart, not my head for guidance and wisdom.

Blessings for a wonderful and spacious 2015.

Weaving yoga into each day

At tchristmas 3his time of the year many people find it difficult to get to yoga classes (with Christmas shopping or perhaps kids are home from school) and also many studios close over the Christmas/New Year period. The challenge can be to keep up a regular yoga practice when we can’t get to classes. Ideally the skills we learn within the class environment, once integrated, can be woven into the fabric of our lives.

I recently attended a wonderful yoga retreat where we explored the many and varied ways we can weave mindfulness into every moment of our waking life. We can use dharana (concentrating the mind on a specific object or technique) to find stillness, equanimity and peace of mind. In this place too, we may drop into the gap, the place between thoughts, between breath where we may experience our true nature first hand.

There are an infinite amount of techniques we can use to experience presence; here are a few that you may find helpful.

  • eat slowly and mindfully using all your senses. Avoid eating in front of a computer or TV.
  • go for a walk in nature and leave your phone and music behind.
  • when stuck in traffic or in a cue, take the opportunity to watch your breath (don’t change it, just watch it)
  • if feeling busy, rushed or overwhelmed, STOP and breathe. Breathe IN patience, Breathe OUT love, kindness or compassion.
  • find 5 minutes each day to sit quietly and simply listen. Listen to the sounds around you. There is no need to identify what they are or where they come from. Resist labelling them are pleasant or unpleasant. Welcome all sounds equally.

   beautiful food bare feet on grass