Touched by Acceptance, everything changes

What would it feel like to welcome ALL of you into your practice? Not just the parts of your body that work well, not just the positive thoughts and emotions. To truly allow everything to BE as it is! The busy mind, sore lower back, general stiffness and tiredness. What would happen if you met these parts of yourself with acceptance not resistance? Is it possible to notice a feeling of discomfort, a thought of “I wish I was stronger, more flexible”, with openness and curiosity? Perhaps when we let go of struggling with what is, we make space for a different outcome, a new way of being with ourselves.

When we fight or resist our experience, we bring more heat/energy to the circumstance.

As psychologist Kristin Neff puts it, “Suffering equals pain times resistance.”

The amount we suffer in life is the product of the pain itself, multiplied by the amount we resist it.

Suffering = Pain * Resistance.

Letting go of resistance doesn’t mean resigning to it. It’s about accepting that not everything is in your control. In fact, very little is.

So…the next time you find yourself on your mat—notice areas of resistance, whether physical discomfort, mental agitation or life not going as you hoped—explore the practice of acceptance.

  1. Notice when something painful or uncomfortable arises.
  2. Observe thoughts of resistance as they arise (e.g. “This shouldn’t be happening!” / “Why me?!”) and let them pass by.
  3. Come back to your centre by accepting the circumstance as it is. Be fully open to what is here, now.
  4. Bring attention to the physical sensations of the experience. Notice that they’re temporary and will pass.
  5. Continue the practice as life continues to change. Whenever you find yourself holding onto some resistant thought, let it go.

Reference: https://mindfulambition.net/suffering-pain-resistance/ by Kristin Neff

Reflection and Intention

At this time of the year, we are encouraged to consider New Year’s resolutions. While I think this is helpful, without reflecting on the year passed, we may find it difficult to feel into what most calls us forward.

Ideally find the space and time for reflection, to journal and feel into what’s true for you; what is going to move you towards your passion or heart felt longing and what takes you away from it.

You may find it beneficial to go for a walk, spend time in nature, practice yoga or meditate. Find something that helps  create a container of quietness for reflection and intention setting.

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Heart Felt Desire

Intentions come from the heart – they arise from the values that are most important to you. An intention is connected to your life’s purpose, and is a specific way of expressing it at a given time in your life.

Allow yourself lots of time to reflect and write on the following questions:

1) What am I celebrating? What am I grateful for? What has been wonderful and magical about this past year?

2) What is one aspect about myself that I have especially loved this year? What am I proud of?

3) What would I have done differently this year?

4) What do I want to let go of?

5) What do I want to call in for the new year?

With love,

G x

This post has been inspired by https://maiaduerr.com/how-to-do-a-reflection-and-intention-process-for-the-end-of-the-year/

Why go on Retreat?

Retreat comes from the Latin verb “to pull back.”

So a retreat is a place where you pull back from the world.

Here are 10 reasons why retreats are important. They help you…

1. Pull Back

You withdraw from your regular life, pulling in all the energy that’s otherwise fanned out and thinned out in multiple directions.

You gather your forces to focus them on something you love.

From this place, you get a new perspective, you regroup and re-energize. You find inspiration.

Then you put inspiration into action. You bring that thing you love to fruition.

2. Become Spacious

You step out of your structured scheduled day-to-day and step into space and time.

Time on retreat is different, fluid. There’s no need to rush!

You find a space where you can give yourself time to connect with flow, genius and inspiration.

3. Get Inspired

Inspiration, translates as “to breathe into.”

So, you breathe life into your life.

Inspiration is a frame of mind that can come from a change of landscape and outlook.

We’re all creative. Creativity and inspiration happen when you take the time away from your day job to remember your day dream.

4. Listen

When you’re on a yoga retreat, you get to listen.

Why? Because there’s no kids, TV, co-workers. Time away from mobile devices is encouraged.

What do you hear? The sound of birds, the wind and life around you and maybe, just maybe, an inner calling and the quiet inside your heart.

5. Detox

Everyone needs to unplug, unload, clean out and empty their mental desktop.

You will leave a retreat lightened, clearer, recharged, refreshed, and more present.

This new perspective can guide you to make changes in your life that you know you need to make.

6. Lose the Fear

Retreat is a safe space, literally and figuratively.

An opportunity to really let go.

7. Remember Who You Are

Society wants you to be the mother, father, sister, wife, husband, friend, lover.

On retreat you can drop all the roles.

You can just be the exquisite and unique expression of life that you are!

8. Find Your People

It feels wonderful to be with people who get you. Sometimes your friends and family don’t really understand your love of yoga.

On retreat you have an opportunity to dive deep into your practice and to share this experience with like-minded people.

9. Help Others

When you take some space/time, those around you (your partner, children, co-workers) gets space/time too.

This brings appreciation.

They realise what it’s like when you’re not around, to work, clean, cook and love them.

Without you taking up your usual spot, people shift positions to fill that space.

Life takes on a new shape.

Life may be different when you return and you are free to take up a new space in it. This is growth.

People may see a new you, and they see that they’re new, too.

People are motivated to make more positive change.

10. Establish a Routine/Practice

Establishing a new routine, practice or mindset is easier to get started on retreat. These changes may then naturally flow into your life

Retreats are important because people leave retreats rested, happier and clearer.

Who doesn’t want some of that?

Inspired by this blog post…https://www.theodysseyonline.com/11-reasons-need-retreat

Out of Hibernation

Wow! I cannot believe it’s been almost 3 months since my last post. It wasn’t intentional but it seems I have been in hibernation.  I did recently celebrate my 50th birthday (no grey hairs yet) and have just returned from a beautiful relaxing retreat in Fiji, so I have also been a little preoccupied.

hibernation2I was fortunate to attend a 7 day silent retreat with my spiritual teacher, Richard Miller on 20 April and it has profoundly changed my life. As part of moving deep within and letting go of the busyness, I found that my priorities changed. I live more in the moment, allowing myself to be guided by what brings me happiness and peace. Even the mundane tasks can be pleasant and satisfying if done with awareness and purpose. I take more time in the “in between” moments; after a job is done, when I arrive somewhere in my car – time to pause, breathe and simply be in the moment. I have found that when I make space for myself, I create more space in my day. How cool is that?

Meditation has been part of my mornings now for just over 12 months and it really has made a difference to how I see, experience and meet each moment. I am more content than I have ever been and feel deeply connected to all of life.

With the days getting a little warmer and the wattle and blossoms beckoning, I feel a gentle pull to look outward again, to become more active, start planning and looking forward.

I would love to share with you a beautiful sequence called the Goddess Vinyasa. It’s beautifully warming, opening the upper body while strengthening the lower body. The combination of stability, movement and breath is wonderfully uplifting. You will feel great afterwards! Thanks to my friend Gina for the inspiration and recording below. As we approach Spring and the warmer weather, this would be lovely outdoors.

Goddess Vinyasa

With love,

G

Mountain to the sky

This guided relaxation was inspired by a recent retreat at Mt. Buller, a truly beautiful place in spring.

We explore –

the mountain, a symbol of the earth and stability,eagle, water, sun

the water that runs at the base of the mountain,

the fire of the sun that warms the earth and sparkles on the water’s surface

the bird that glides on the warm air currents and

the space of the infinite blue sky.

Explore deep relaxation and understanding through iRest® Yoga Nidra

iRest® Yoga Nidra is a form of meditative self enquiry that stems from the ancient teachings of yoga. Within each practice we learn to pay attention to the various feelings, sensations, emotions and thoughts that are constantly changing within our body and mind. This is a mindfulness practice which has a calming affect on the nervous system helping to release physical tension and quiet a busy mind. We learn too, that the sensations we experience are messengers providing us with information; when we listen, we may come to a deeper understanding about ourselves.

yoga-nidra

We learn through iRest to meet, greet and welcome all that arises in our awareness. As we practice acceptance, we learn to meet challenging feelings, emotions, thoughts and memories with a more relaxed response. As we practice acceptance, we don’t “get stuck” or fuse with our experience and therefore move beyond it. We learn to respond, rather than react to life.

iRest offers deep relaxation and can be helpful in managing stress, fear, depression, pain, insomnia and trauma. It is practiced in a comfortable position (usually lying down) and no previous yoga experience is required.

I have included a short iRest practice below. Allow 20 minutes where you will not be disturbed, find a comfortable seated or lying position using cushions and blankets as needed.

If you are interested in exploring iRest further, I run a regular 6 week online course.

Enjoy!

Changing how we think, feel and experience

serenityIn class this week I am exploring the Apan (energy) mudra. This is a wonderful practice to help remove waste products and toxins from the body and to stimulate the energy of the liver and gallbladder. When our liver is functioning well, this in turn has a balancing effect on the mind.

When we work with the fingers and hands in yoga (hasta mudras or hand gestures), we are influencing the flow of prana (energy) in our body and minds; changing how we think, feel and experience on all levels.

With practice, qualities such as patience, serenity, confidence, inner balance and harmony may be experienced. As Apan mudra has a balancing effect on the mind, our ability to visualise, face new challenges and look to the future is enhanced.

THE PRACTICE

apan mudra

Find a comfortable lying or seated position.

With each hand, place the tips of the thumbs, middle and ring fingers together, extending the other fingers gently.

Close your eyes and feel where the fingers touch, while visualising the gesture in your mind’s eye.

Rest your awareness here softly, feeling and observing  – no expectations, or judgement, simply being with your experience as it is, from moment to moment.

You may like to simply sit with Apan mudra for anywhere from 5 – 45 minutes or include the following visualisation.

In your imagination, sit in a beautiful garden. Enjoy the colours and shapes of the plants around you – a garden that is blossoming and full of life. You appreciate the wonder of nature – how a seed germinates, how a plant grows and blooms. In an empty garden bed, plant something that you want to bear fruit, to come into being now or sometime in the near future; a conversation, a relationship, a project etc. Imagine how it sprouts, continues to develop, blossoms and bears rich fruit. See too, who will benefit from these fruits. Finish your visualisation with a sense of gratitude.

You may also like to affirm several times –

I plant my seeds, care for them and receive a rich harvest – that I thankfully accept. 

Rest quietly for a few moments and when ready open your eyes, welcome the light and world back in.

Ref: Gertrud Hirschi, Mudras: Yoga in your hands (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC York Beach ME, 2000), p73

Eternal Circle of Life meditation

The SATNAM mantra is one of my favourites and is widely used in Kundalini yoga.

This mantra is called the Primal Sound Mantra, because it consists of the five primal sounds: S,T,N,M, and ah. The literal meaning is as follows: Sa means birth (or infinity); Ta means life; Na means death; and Ma means rebirth. Thus, the mantra describes the eternal circle of life: birth, life, death, rebirth.  

SA is the beginning, infinity, the totality of everything that ever was, is or will be.

TA is life, existence and creativity that manifests from infinity.

NA is death, change and the transformation of consciousness.

MA is rebirth, regeneration and resurrection which allows us to consciously experience the joy of the infinite.

In addition..

Sa: evokes a sense of emotion and expansiveness
Ta: creates a feeling of transformation and strength
Na: stimulates a sense of universal love
Ma: evokes the quality of communicativeness

satnam

 

In this meditation, which could be practised either lying in savasana or seated comfortably, I have brought together mantra (sound), mudra (gestures) and a connection to the corresponding chakra.

Enjoy!

Welcoming the light and shadow

Does a snowflake, flung from an angel’s wing, trust the fall, 

not yet knowing the grand design or what it will become?

There is patience, a whisper of natural order,

as it follows it’s innate path, anchoring light to Earth.

~ Transformation by Myra Dutton

In the depths of winter I find myself moving between emotions; loving the gentle sun as it shines on my face, enjoying the layers of clothes that keep me cosy and warm, then feeling flat and demotivated when faced with overcast skies, grey and drab, or frustrated I can’t walk the dog as it’s raining.

Here are some recent pictures I took as I walked by the local creek; it captures both the shadow and light.

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There is peace to be found in acceptance; the inevitable change of seasons and to notice how our own natural rhythms and cycles are connected to those of the earth. We learn to value sunshine and shadow, light and darkness, activity and rest, work and play – to explore the balance; the yin and yang.  

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Yin characteristics are cool, wet, feminine and quiet, whereas the yang is the opposite: warm, dry, fast, masculine and extroverted. Winter is a yin season, a time for storing and conserving our energy in the way a bear retains fat by hibernating , or a farmer stores food for the cold months ahead.

 

The yin and yang symbol reminds us that both sunlight and shadow contain within themselves the potential or seed of their opposite quality. At the darkest part of the symbol is a small dot (bindu or seed) of light; at the lightest part, is a small dot of darkness. The challenge can be to accept the value of both the light and the dark.

yin yang symbol

At a time of the year when there is less light, we benefit from embracing the value the darkness. Think of a baby developing and growing within the darkness of the womb, or a seed in the darkness of the soil. The dark is good. It is a place for rest and renewal, a place of healing, wisdom and inner knowing.  We can use quiet, reflective and mindfulness practices such as yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and meditation to get in touch with this place within. Here we may find understanding, inspiration and insight into who we are and discover our heart felt desire, that which we want more than anything in life, for health, wealth or healing.

Here are some questions you may like to reflect on at this time of the year.

1. What aspect of yourself or life have you kept in darkness? What have you avoided, repelled or ignored?

2. Which aspect of yourself or life could benefit from warmth, compassion and light?

3. As the sun’s light strengthens over these next few months, what aspects of your life would you like to cultivate and strengthen?

I am running a 6 week iRest® yoga nidra course beginning Friday 9th August @ 6pm. If you are interested in exploring this practice of deep relaxation and self enquiry, please contact me or click here for more details.