Those delicious moments in between……

I have found since returning from my Camino pilgrimage last September/October, that what I crave most, are those delicious moments in between. (Stop now, close your eyes and take 3 slow, steady and smooth breaths). It’s so easy to get caught up in the doing; racing from one thing to the next that we forget to stop and breathe and simply Be.

When we stop, even for just a few moments, we have a sense of completion and there’s a feeling of coming back to our centre. This space helps determine what happens next, and this decision tends to come from a wiser, more grounded place. We learn to respond harmoniously and appropriately rather than react to life. 

So take some time in between your activities to pause and find a moment for yourself; enjoy a cup of tea or simply look out into the garden or up into the glorious sky.

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All we need, to get out of our busy head and into our body is always available if we choose to turn our attention towards it.

Namaste.

 

 

Tasting Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Have you ever had the experience of stopping so completely,
of being in your body so completely,
of being in your life so completely,
that what you knew and what you didn’t know,
that what had been and what was yet to come,
and the way things are right now
no longer held even the slightest hint of anxiety or discord?
It would be a moment of complete presence, beyond striving, beyond mere acceptance,
beyond the desire to escape or fix anything or plunge ahead,
a moment of pure being, no longer in time,
a moment of pure seeing, pure feeling,
a moment in which life simply is,
and that “is-ness” grabs you by all your senses,
all your memories, by your very genes,
by your loves, and
welcomes you home.”

 

Busyness robs us of the gift right in front of us

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. Rushing from one thing to the next, racing through life and feeling there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. I find myself at times saying “I’m super busy!”, as if being busy is a good thing; I’m being productive and contributing to life. What I am being is stressed, tired and disconnected.

“Busyness robs us of the gift right in front of us.”

One of the great things about being a yoga teacher is I practice and teach presence and mindfulness almost every day. When you practice doing just one thing at a time (such as breath awareness), you sharpen your ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate. When we practice one-pointedness, we are developing our ability to remain with a task for as long as it is necessary to accomplish a particular  goal. If we are to succeed in any endeavour, be it bringing an end to insomnia, anxiety, busyness, accomplishing a job at home or work, or awakening to our True Nature, the mind needs to possess the ability to remain one-pointed for as long as is necessary to accomplish our goal. The more you practice these skills, the easier they become and before you know it, you are more mindful in other aspects of your life. So when you become busy or rushed, you notice you are busy and when you notice you are busy you have an opportunity to make a choice. You can stay busy (and at times this is necessary and appropriate) or change your behaviour. We can choose also to be calm busy or chaos busy.

When we change our behaviour, the outcomes and consequences of our actions change too. I know this sounds simple and it is. The hardest part is noticing; being present enough to ask ourselves, “Is this behaviour or choice bringing me closer to contentment, happiness and peace or further from it?”

 

Tips for practising presence / mindfulness at home.

1. Do one thing at a time.one-pointedness

2. Eat slowly and mindfully (away from TV’s, computers and smart phones)

3. Focus on what can be done today. Think about tomorrow, tomorrow.

4. Plan your day before it begins. Ideally the night before or early morning.

 

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.

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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!

A lesson in humility

” Mindfulness is more than a practice, it’s a way of life”

Just over 12 months ago I wrote this post but didn’t publish. It is interesting to look back over the past year and reflect on how I was feeling then. Now I would like to share with you this story…….

I consider myself a good driver. I believe myself considerate. I am decisive and assertive (not aggressive) behind the wheel (I learned that from my Mum who is licensed to drive small trucks). I do not intentionally break the law or speed, however it seems my intentions have been overshadowed by mindlessness. My husband has told me that I tailgate, not leaving enough distance between the front of my car and the rear end of others.

My heart sank as I was driving along a familiar road, having picked up my son from school, when I saw a policeman step out into the middle of the road and put his hand up signalling me to stop. Naturally I pulled over to the side of the road and he asked to see my license and then informed me that I had been speeding: I had been detected driving at 56 kilometres through a 40kph school zone. He wanted to know if I had a reason for speeding, I said “No, I was just talking to my son”.  I am not one for lying or making up excuses or bursting into tears. It’s just not me. I live by truth. So there I was faced with the truth and faced with the consequences of my actions.

Now I did not feel that I was speeding, I was not in a hurry, it was not a conscious decision, yet obviously I had been speeding, I was doing 16kph over the speed limit. Now I know this is probably going to upset some people, being a school zone: it was 4:15pm, well after school had finished, yet in this area the 40kmh rule applies at all times, not just in school hours. I would have known this had I PAID ATTENTION. There is no excuse.

slow-down

I recently got a new car, it is a zippy little car, a manual and it is so easy to speed, without trying. I found that I almost need to have my foot pulled back towards me, not to speed. I had only received a speeding ticket a few weeks earlier on the way home from work. It was late, the road was quiet and I was listening to music. I was pulled over doing 76kph in a 60 zone. Again: no excuses.

When I arrived home and looked over previous correspondence from Vic roads I realised that my license would be suspended. I had accumulated 12 demerit points in the last three years (six of them in the last four weeks). My heart sank. I went into panic mode. What could I possibly do to change this outcome?

This outcome is not acceptable. I will not accept it!  

I had no reason for speeding, I simply was not paying attention. I was not paying attention, and that’s no excuse. My mind raced and I laid blame everywhere but with myself. I blamed the policeman for having the audacity to pull me over. I was not driving technically dangerously but of course I was: I was breaking the law. I blamed my son and his loud music because my car has this great stereo – he plays angry, heavy metal or hip hop music. Is that driving me to speed? I blamed my new car and I blamed the system. I blamed everyone and everything but myself.

So I am faced with two options, the first is to continue to drive but if I suffer any more demerit points over the next 12 months, I would lose my licence for six months or I can accept my penalty and not drive for three months.

As I considered both options, the three months is appealing because it is over quicker. If I chose to continue to drive, how could I possibly not speed for 12 months, I ask myself?

But this thought is ridiculous – I am NOT MEANT TO BE SPEEDING AT ALL. So I thought, Ok, there is still some time before I officially need to make this decision, but I know it is coming. So I choose option one: continue to drive, drive my boys to school, drive to my classes, run my business. All these things I need to do and I need to find a way to do all that without breaking the law.

“I am practising mindfulness all throughout my day and yet there is still more for me to learn”.

I am annoyed at myself, for not being more mindful when I’m driving. I’m a yoga teacher. I teach mindfulness nearly every day. I have just come back from a wonderful seven-day retreat, teaching mindfulness and how to integrate what we learn in our yoga into our life. I am practising mindfulness all throughout my day and yet there is always more to learn.

As the first day progressed I realise that I am feeling quite calm and relaxed. I did not realise how rushed I must have been behind the wheel, just as I did not realise I was speeding.

It is great to have a mindful practice; but to stay present all the time is really hard work. I am interested to see if it remains hard work or becomes easier. I know already after just two days that I can feel this sense of acceptance coming over me. I find myself considering: Do I feel calmer because I have moderated my speed or do I feel calmer because I accept it?

I do feel calmer and there is a gentle sense of acceptance. I know there is no one to blame for this but me. No one, nothing – all me. I think there are probably quite a few lessons bundled up here for me. So I thank the universe for this lesson, this opportunity to grow. To deepen my practice of mindfulness, to deepen my observance of svadhyaya (self study) and hopefully to be a good example to my boys. I am deeply grateful for my yoga practice, it gives me this wonderful framework, through mindfulness and svadhyaya to grow, to access this deep well of peace with me.

The affirmations that I have been working with for many months now – “I am grateful for all the gifts that come my way” and “I am at peace with myself and the world around me”. These were really hard to say only a few days ago. I said them through gritted teeth. I did not really feel them or believe them but I said them anyway. And now I do feel them, I feel them more deeply. It is very humbling to lose my equanimity and then find it again at a deeper level. I love this journey.

“When we struggle against something difficult or negative or painful, this only gives it more energy, and the negative aspect gains strength. When we acknowledge the difficult element, letting it simply be, it comes and goes: but it does not get stuck. It does not gain power” Bien, T. (2006) Mindful Therapy.

About 2 weeks later, I paused to reflect on this life lesson. I am studying yoga therapy and understand that for change to take place, there must first be acceptance. I also understand that what you resist, persists. I was able to shift my focus from the ‘problem’ to the ‘solution’. I considered my initial resistance to accepting the following: my license suspension, that this was my fault, the amount of effort required to make a change for a lifetime not just 12 months and that my mindfulness practice had not been integrated into my life as well as I thought it had.

I considered the calmness I experienced a few days after being pulled over. Was it because I was driving more calmly or was it the acceptance of the situation? There is a deep calm that flows from acceptance. What a blessing this has been. I am becoming now more mindful of times when I am NOT being mindful. I am noticing when I am disconnected, my mind in the past or future and not in the here and now. So more and more I’m finding mindfulness in my day, in all my activites. I do a mindfulness practice, yes, I have moments of mindfulness, yes, but my intention is to be as conscious as I can be as often as I can. There have been a lot of lessons in this, it has been really wonderful.

When we are aware, we are back in charge, we see ourselves in truth. We see our thoughts, behaviours, the sensations in our body, our feelings and emotions as they are, rather than as we think they should be or how it could be. We are experiencing the truth of the moment. And yes that can be painful and sad, yet it can also be wonderfully liberating and help you affect change.

Acceptance is a pathway to peace of mind.

The 12 months have now passed and without further incident, my driving habits have changed. I have changed.

Random Acts of Kindness – Pass it on

When we take time to reflect on our thoughts and actions we can learn much about how we interact in the world around us and how the world interacts with us.

Recently I realised some interesting things about myself…….

About 6 months ago, a woman I had only met a few times came to my door with a book I had mentioned on Facebook I would really like to read. She arrived with the book and a single yellow rose beautifully bound in a cream ribbon. Inside the book was a Ripple Kindness Card; on the front of the card are the words “PASS IT ON” and on the back it says,  “Someone has touched your life with kindness. Please put a smile on another face by paying it forward”. I loved both the gesture and the idea and ordered some cards myself through this Sydney based company – http://ripplekindness.org/

ripple kindness card

Over the next few months I would occasionally leave a card at my favourite cafes; I would order a decaffeinated coffee, pay for two and leave a Ripple Kindness Card for the next person who came in and ordered the same. Only once have I still been around when the card was played forward and I was keen to move on and hoped they didn’t know it was me. 

About a month ago I decided to leave a gold coin in a small zipped pocket in my handbag so I had change for a trolley when grocery shopping. I was pretty pleased with myself as I rarely have the right money and knew this would make my shopping experience much easier.  A week later after I had finished my shopping and replaced the trolley, I decided to Pay it Forward. I went back to the trolley bay, placed $2 coin in the front trolley and left a Ripple Kindness Card alongside the coin. On this particular day, I had a bit of time on my hands and decided to hang around and see what happened. Yep, that was a big mistake!

Before long I would see this play out and was a little excited. It only took a minute before the trolley guy came over and popped both the $2 coin and the card in his top pocket. I was so disappointed; how dare he ruin my surprise.

It wasn’t long before I realised that my feeling of disappointment was predominately directed at myself. Why did I need to stick around to see my plan play out? I wasn’t giving freely, but was attached to the outcome. Perhaps the trolley guy needed that money?  Maybe he would pay it forward. 

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I do believe that everything is as it should be; that we are, who we are, as a sum of all our experiences. I have learned many things from this about myself: to give without expectation or attachment to outcome, to trust in life and to be gentle to myself and others.

Life has many lessons for us if we are open, willing and ready to receive. I say, bring it on !

In the words of Maya Angelou; “If you get, give. If you learn, teach”. 

Namaste

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.