Hello dear yogi’s,
I hope this finds you happy and healthy and you are gently starting to emerge from hibernation.
At this stage yoga is looking at returning in Term 3.
Some of the community centres are re-opening but the restrictions placed on them make it almost impossible to teach a class. I also feel that we need to go gently and wait to see how this unfolds. Your health and well-being will always be my priority.
There is one thing that, when cultivated and regularly practiced leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now, and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening. And what is that one thing/ It is mindfulness centred on the body.
The Buddha, from the Satipatthana Sutta.
How we see ourselves:
Recently I have ben filming some videos of me teaching yoga.
As I replayed my first attempt it was quite a shock to see myself on film. My body appeared quite crippled and I certainly wasn’t looking like the idealised version of a yoga teacher.
Within moments negative thoughts and feelings, sensations became very loud and overwhelming. I pushed aside all sensibility and let myself have it and got caught up in feeling very sorry for myself. Over the years my usual response was to run away from what I was feeling, keep busy and ignore the insightful and helpful communication from my body.
Ah!, the blessings of a mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness practice consists largely in being aware of - experiencing - our body. This is because we are wanting to have a direct and present experience with life, rather than one controlled by thoughts. We are wanting to develop the ability to look at our thoughts rather than from them.
Gratefully it wasn’t long before my practice returned to me and I was able to pause and feel and accept. As I watched and witnessed my body reveal sadness and disappointment I placed my hand on my heart which helps to bring you into the calm and connect system in our bodies.
Slowly this brought me into to a state of peacefulness and safeness. Interestingly when we criticise ourselves we activate emotions of fear, anxiety and anger which activates the stress response making it difficult to see things clearly.
Acceptance and kindness are essential aspects of mindfulness so with the awareness of my breath in the background I was able to soften the criticism and lovingly accept imperfection.
This was over and let go of in a short period of time. I know that had I stayed in my head and ruminated over everything this experience would have taken much longer to pass.
I would like to share with a short excerpt from an interview with my teacher Vidyamala who has partial paraplegia, chronic muscular and skeletal pain and a paralysed bowel and bladder.
She talks of huge feelings of failure, she felt unable to cure her pain, manage living, or sort her life out. But she now tells her story as a story of healing. “Meditation is not going to heal my spine. But meditation has profoundly enabled me to heal my response to life as it is and that’s a much greater miracle, because we all have bodies that will age, we all have bodies where things will go wrong, if the paradigm is you are only succeeding if you can have a perfect body at all times, at all stages of life, we are all going to fail. I am not very interested in a cure, I am interested in learning to live with my life whatever arises in any day and we can’t control what arises in our life, but we can control how we respond to what ever arises.”
Founder of Breathworks.
“ Mostly I never see my self as anything else other than healthy. When we tap into our awareness and we sit with ourselves and develop the capacity to watch and observe we realise that this part of us is always, peaceful, healthy, vibrant and content.”
Below is a short meditation to do just this. I hope you enjoy it.
Have you have been able to find your way to an established daily practice during ISO?
Perhaps for some of us this may invoke feelings of regret or disappointment at not doing so. But I would bet that you would be practicing in some way each day. The secret can just be noticing it and valuing it when you do.
Gardening can be a beautiful form of meditation
Cooking for yourself for your family can be a gesture of loving kindness
A deep stretch at your desk is a moment of mindful movement
Walking in Nature, as Thich Nhat Hanh says “ Walking with ease and with peace of mind on the earth is a wonderful miracle”
Sitting on the floor when watching a movie - a favourite of mine, your hips love this ( I call this incidental yoga :)
Starting the day with 3 deep breaths outside, and savour the morning air. This is a morning ritual of zen monks.
If you do have a morning routine may I encourage you to check in with your bodies energy before you choose For years I was strictly disciplined with my practice. I have learn’t to allow my body to choose what I need for the day now, it’s much kinder.
Sending much love and care to you all. Remember I am here for you, Please feel free to email or call.
With loving kindness
Happy is she
a master -
who lives each day
able to say
I HAVE LIVED
I have been really alive,
Tomorrow may throw
the darkest clouds
the purest sun;
it is not for me understand.
For I have lived today.
Whatever has been
I cannot rub away.
No: nothing can change or make undone
That which the fleeting hour has brought in on it’s sails.
Horace, Odes 3.29
trans. Susanna Hislop