They say introverts enjoy and need their own time to gain energy and that extroverts need the opposite; social groups. I say what about both? I can’t categorise myself as introvert or extrovert as I have traits of both, are we not all a bit of everything.
For me, it’s just about knowing yourself, listening to yourself and acting based on that, making a choice; whether a moment in time to think or act different or a big decision. This is mindfulness in reality.
It’s not just sitting and meditating, this is just one way to be mindful. This is great practice for the real world, but how about the rest of the day, the rest of your life?
‘Emotion’ means to ‘move out’ and if we suppress them, they get worse. Emotions are also our navigation system, guiding us to new choices that bring back our balance. When we learn from pausing and listening we get so attuned that we can prevent dis-ease within ourselves and adjust as we go along.
As a new mum I had temporarily lost a big part of who I was – taking holidays by myself, to ponder and to think. I lived alone overseas for 5 years and discovered peace isolation in a hectic world and with this came my love of solitude and retreats. So after I ran my one of my retreats for others in October, I decided it was time for my own retreat.
So I booked myself into a luxury pod in the middle of wales for 2 nights. The below was my experience:
So as I step away from my partner, my mum and my baby, even though I had done it before, I leave with mixed feelings; the first time I went away was pure work, a service to others – a retreat that I lead. I had to see my writing also as work and also the importance of simply connecting back to me. Feeling emotional in all sorts of ways, including how I might feel for 2 nights alone, with no contact and just my own head. It had been a while.
As the nose of my car emerges over a little collection of hills, approaching the heart of wales, an awesome view comes into sight. Huge hills both distant and close shine in glory as the bright sunlight flows over them, contrasting against the darker shadows made by the neighbouring mountains and the occasional white fluffy cloud dispersed amongst the bright blue autumnal sky. As the strong beams of sun blind my eyes, I pull down my visor down and observe the purple tinged heather to my left and the lush green fields to my right. Sensing the dewiness in the air and the sharp, cold dryness typical of an impending winter, I sit back in my warm car and listen to the music, letting my mind wander.
The movement in the car fills me with a sense of transition, with a destination in mind. An excitement of what the destination will be like. I have the gift of time. The same feeling I would get on a train where I can would let my creativity flow from the pen.
As I arrive at the gorgeous little pod my heart skips a beat. I am here, I let out a little squeal as I see the pod come into view on the little hilly mound ahead of me.
I was already inside before I got there! I walk in and the smell of wood takes me to a nostalgic place where I would smell the wood carvings and sawdust in my dad’s work garage. It is perfect; warmed underfloor heating, a cute little desk, sofa and the most comfortable double bed tucked away at the back next door to the clean and new bathroom, complete with shower. The kitchen is modern and equip and I am glad to notice the salt and pepper which I had forgotten to pack, along with my towel. Oh well.
I unpack in a frenzy noticing how I would always do this. It’s like I would get into a mild panic that I need to do everything now, a pattern I had since identified. I have my notebooks, my manuscript printed, books also for reading, lots of bits and bobs – but from previous experience, knowing not to over do it and overwhelm myself with ‘stuff to do’ or distractions would lead to procrastination and corrode the peace.
I make tea, light an incense stick and sit. Then a mild anxiety comes over me as I realise not only is there no 3G but there is no phone service in the area either. I fully trust my partner with our daughter so there is no worry there but hang on, this means I cannot contact anyone even if I wanted to. It’s kind of what I want but also a little uncomfortable. I find myself continually checking and sending messages that don’t send.
I always want people to know where I am, what I am doing and yet there is no way to contact. It doesn’t of course stop me checking my phone. What an interesting habit.
The evening is spent a little all over as I settle into the pod. The darkness surrounding the pod is heavy with autumnal storms brewing all around me. The clatter of leaves and branches on the pod feel a little spooky at first and then I just choose to ignore it. In and out of bed I get, many times. I write things, plan things, list things, record myself a self-hypnosis, and listen to it. I drink more wine and talk to myself. The night is hit and miss. It feels like I am awake half the night but the dreams of the past all make sure that I realise that wasn’t the case. Plus by morning I feel genuinely refreshed and the air is again calm. I’m not tired.Ah the breath of the still fresh air outside as I open the door, step out and stretch – slippers on and a cosy dressing gown wrapped around. Warm tea in hand.
Buzzards are flying high and little sparrows are tapping away on the ground.
I take my time. I decide that to manage head space in these kind of isolating conditions that I must mix up any intense ‘head stuff’ with practical stuff like cooking, washing up or showering otherwise to prevent feeling overwhelmed and intense, with a sense of fatigue or weird feelings. The days flows beautifully, and by the next morning I am satisfied with my progress. I was productive but had not given myself a specific goal, it makes me think that perhaps some goals don’t need to be SMART. Maybe being smart is giving the goal a time to breathe, to flourish and evolve, like a flowering.
I ponder over my short time away, half craving more and half recognising that my human connection is essential not only personal connection but also in the creative process and especially as a freelancer. Whether a chat with a passer by, such as the farmer I connected with, or whether working alongside a professional to help guide or collaborate with, or your colleagues if in employment.
I also notice that clutter depresses me, and simplicity clears my mind. I will declutter some more when I get home – and not just physically. I leave the little pod leaving a little piece of my heart, while looking forward to the next place I find, and step away feeling excited to see my family.”
What brings you back to you? What promises would you like to keep to yourself? I say if it’s something you can book, book it in. Set a date and protect that time because something else will always come and steal it from you if you don’t.
#solitude #timeout #rest #holiday #retreat #mindfulness #nature #country #declutter #metime
It was Buddha who said the root of all suffering lies in attachment. Attachment to people, things, experiences or outcomes. It can even be to our identity, our thought patterns and so on. The opposite of this is detachment. Often it can be a very empowering choice, especially when there is a negative energy attached to it. However it can still imply that there is some underlying issue within you that you are unwilling to let go of if you find yourself going to extremes of being detached from people, places or emotions whenever you feel the need. Buddha says the best way to find balance and a peace within all these things is to find an element of non-attachment. This means not having a strong pull either way, on any particular outcome. With no strong feelings but at the same time not denying or suppressing emotions.
However it is true that sometimes we need to cut off completely from a person or behaviour but with compassion and learning and not through anger, only you know if this is required ethereally and physcially. In some cases, it’s just about setting a new cord connection with a person but refreshing and cleansing and old one first. If you often find yourself feeling drained or lacking in energy when you are around them, or thinking about them or sometimes for seemingly no reason. Or if there is someone that you just can’t seem to get over or stop thinking about no matter how much you try to let them go, or certain people tend to drain the life out of you, then it could be an energetic cord pulling you to them and them to you.
There are invisible cords of energy going from you to other people and from them to you. How many times have you thought about someone and the phone goes? Unless you sever the ties that are draining you, you will have energy cords attached to you that you do not need. You cannot get rid of something if you are not even aware that it exists. Initially as you read this you may feel as though you must have billions. However you might see that there are maybe a one or a few strong ones; ones you are aware of and ones you are not.
The cords can be from a number of different sources – from all kinds of past relationships; family, lovers, friends, co-workers. Often these cords keep us ‘attached’ to unhealthy emotions and energy from our past, to people we thought we had let go, or they follow us home from the daily grind. Until we consciously let them go, we are unable to free ourselves and move forward to our full potential.
If you would like to release these energy cords, then practicing the meditation linked to this blog will help you. Like the four seasons, there comes a time to let go and each person, experience or situation will also move through the seasons. Like mini births and deaths. This includes old relationships, old ways of acting, reacting, and interacting. What if we had some way of releasing the energy that we are still putting to that which is outdated? Actually there are many ways, one of them is “cord cutting”. It’s not an aggressive cutting; it’s with love and compassion for both you and the person, situation or belief. Cord cutting is not just for other people but for old patterns and beliefs as our consciousness evolves. However, it must be noted that cord cutting can not be done with the mother, whom has passed over into the next chapter or still present in our lives. There are other ways and techniques to build a stronger, more loving connection where one needs to be established. Certainly working on the current cord is one way of doing it.
When we enter contracts of all sorts, an ethereal thread or cord is activated, and this ‘bond’ becomes stronger as time goes on. As we move through life, often these relationships can turn into something that we no longer need or want them to be. “Cord Cutting” allows for the energetic thread that has been running to be cut. Relationships don’t have to end, but this allows for new beginnings instead of being trapped in the past. Sometimes, we want relationships to end, such as when you are no longer in a relationship with a partner. Every time you enter into such a relationship, particularly one that leads to sexual involvement, an energetic thread is started. If the relationship continues, the thread gets stronger. Often, people can feel this, or have an intuitive sense of what is going on with their partner. This is due to the energetic connection. Even relationships that have ended, years later either yourself or the other person can ‘tap’ into the line.
Also as children of our parents, as we grow we wish to have more adult relationships with our parents, re establishing new connections can help to break that old way of interacting with each other, of being seen as the child, and parent and allow the relationship to evolve. We need to have different relationships to children when they become adults; with their own responsibilities and choices. Likewise, business partnerships that are no longer valid, also have energetic streams connected with them, that need to be broken.
As you can see all these relationships carry an attachment, a stream of energy, and unfortunately it is often a stream that holds us down and saps our energy. From time to time, we all have experienced the various “energy vampires” and these definitely need to be broken, or at the very least our boundaries need to be established. Most likely if it’s not a complete cut and new boundaries are set, if the person is not able to feed from you, then it may naturally dissolve. If you would like some more advice on this saying ‘no’ and boundaries email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for my 1 hour video.
Also the times, when in order to help a friend through a trying situation, we mY become caregivers. As that person moves through their situation we need to cut the cord, and allow for the growth of the relationship to enter into a new phase of that friendship and vice versa.
Even in happy marriages/long term partnerships, from time to time we need to do this. Generally speaking, as we grow older and mature, we become more mentally healthy, as we give up old ideas, and expectations, and come into our own definitions of who we are. This is true in partnerships as well. The needs and expectations differ, as we come to redefine our idea of partnership, and therefore, cutting cords, can allow for this growth and maturity. It is very important when relationships are ended that we cut the cord. This can even help us with the grieving process of letting go of someone, whether through death, or the ending of the relationship. With relationships that are ongoing, it creates the space for new levels of connection, and can add freshness to the relationship. Where there is discord, it can cut that discord, and allow for new perspectives. It can be particularly useful with co-workers who we have had problems with, and those who tend to “get under our skin” or push our buttons, and grate on our nerves. It can provide the space for us to detach and perhaps see what is really going on.
Cord cutting requires a certain amount of energy and is not passive, therefore, it is best done when you are well rested, and relaxed. it is also quite intentional, so being firm in your intent to let go is important. You don’t have to enjoy letting go, you just have to be intent on letting go, knowing that this needs to happen for the good of all. Sometimes it is not easy letting go, and we want to hold on, but as Sting says in one of his songs, “If you Love someone set them free”. Not just them, but YOU.
The energetic streams by which we are attached to others can run throughout all of our energetic body. Your energetic body surrounds you and even goes into the earth as well as above your head. Cutting cords is a little like pulling weeds. Just as in pulling weeds, you have to get all the root out, this is true also with cutting cords. Another strong aspect of cutting cords is visualisation, and also breathing, taking long full breaths, and strong exhalations, releasing as you exhale.
It is not uncommon to feel all sorts of emotions while doing this. It is important to not hold back on the emotions, as emotions hold and carry energy and allowing the emotions out is part of the process. E-motion means to move out, so let’s do that.
Remember this can also be done with belief systems and cutting your cord with them; how you feel about life, yourself, or people in general. About your fears and limiting beliefs of things you thought you could never do. Sometimes allowing yourself to visualise how your life can be can break that limitation. Try it for yourself as you go to bed one night, show yourself another possibility.
When it comes to the mind, pain comes from when we are thinking too much into the past (depression) or too much into the future (anxiety). We have all the emotions on this spectrum for a reason and so some anxiety, or feeling down, or anger are all normal and required for various reasons e.g. to move away from something, to be aware of danger, or to push you to follow what’s right for you. It’s only when we are stuck in those extreme emotions in a chronic way that it can impact our health and wellbeing.
Sometimes we can get stuck in a pattern which just needs to be rewired. And part of that healing is the acceptance of where we are right now. This alone can relieve anxiety. There are various ways that I lead people to that in the work that I do which is why my slogan is ‘you are what you are looking for’. I have found that through my training as a Yoga teacher, NLP coach and Hypnotherapist that our pain comes from when we attach emotions to a thought, when we struggle to move out the emotion. Emotion means – to move out, so if it gets stuck then that can be physical, mental or emotional. We need to find our own tools to shift that out. It’s a journey of self awareness. This is mindfulness.
Whether this is occurring in your personal life or at work it is equally as important. Over the years working in corporate learning and development and working with various groups from shop floor salesmen to top execs, I have witnessed anxiety showing it’s face at varying levels with various faces; frustration, anger, introversion/extroversion, physical symptoms such as heart pounding, palpitations, reddening of skin, tightness in chest – ultimately leading to more physical illness. Often it is linked to a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Our fight, flight and freeze is activated when under stress and certain hormones are released which occur to help us survive. Adrenaline and Cortisol prepare the body to escape or fend for yourself, and they are supposed to subside after the alarming situation (in the modern world this also includes just thinking about something). When we are stuck in a pattern our body struggles to let go of those hormones and this can cause a cycle of feeling anxious then thinking about anxiety, which in turn makes you feel anxious. This means you end up feeling hyper-sensitive in situations that might not ordinarily feel stressful.
The five major types of anxiety disorders are:
This is of course not as simple as it can first seem and you would need to read more into each one. E.g. OCD is often associated with obsessive cleaning, but it also refers to obsessive thoughts, not being able to let things go in the mind.
We have two main pathways where anxiety comes from; the Cortex (thinking part of the mind – the ability to project and reflect), and the Amygdala (our primal system that manages our fight, flight and freeze reactions. This is a much quicker route to the symptoms of anxiety as it happens on a subconscious level. This can also include experiences of situations that have had the Amygdala believe are dangerous, even when they are not. This includes unexplained phobias etc. This is because there will have been a time when the Amygdala decided it was something to be feared by storing it in the subconscious most likely from a very specific traumatic event from the past, or a repeated situation from observation or experience that cements a belief system. Either route that anxiety is produced (by the Cortex or Amygdala) they both end up with the symptoms that the Amygdala produces. The Cortex just takes more time to get there. We have to talk to each source differently; the Amygdala is mainly body so needs body talk such as relaxation, laughter, meditation, yoga, walking in nature – to bring Cortisol down and bring Oxytocin and other happy hormones in. The Cortex needs mind techniques. Sometimes we need both.
In my experience anxiety comes from these main areas:
We have a cycle that needs to be broken for the pattern to be rewired. I believe we each have a spiral – up and down; sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in our spiral. Thereby we can raise awareness of red flags, while preparing a unique toolbox for when you find yourself on different places on that negative spiral. It could be nutritious food, walk, meditation, dance, friends, alone time, bath, holiday, depending on what you like to do. But it’s also about raising your self-awareness of what works for you at varying stages of your spiral; sometimes a walk may not be what you need.
Where you feel you need external support you can speak to an external support professional. The objective is always to get you to a place where you know your own tools and have taken empowerment back into your own life. These tools are interchangeable and selecting the right one for me comes with awareness.
The way I see the progress based on the clients I have had is the following:
For example; a person who is calm at work but gets palpitations at home when trying to sleep. This is an example of anxiety. This person wants to change it (step 1). They have acknowledged it, which is an achievement in itself. Then they explore why they get like this (step 2) – perhaps it’s workload, a person at work, their personal pressures at home. Or it could be a pattern that has been around for a long time. After identifying reasons (step 3) they can look at options to move past it (step 4) and make that a new habit (step 5).
Of course it’s never as simple as that and can take some deep soul searching, as well as go through this cycle numerous times to get to the true core. I have found that not one single person alone can help you, it’s about you helping yourself and taking bits of information you resonate with, from different people and different scenarios.
Here are some of my tips for breaking the cycle or maintaining a new balance or way to be/think/live. Of course everyone is different, so it’s about experimenting with what works for you and being kind to yourself in the process. Rather than feel hung up on your feelings and adding more anxiety to it, see if you can step back and observe that feeling without attaching a negative emotion on top of it. Praise yourself for noticing with awareness and keep that positive reinforcement. For your long term anxiety support it’s worth looking into a professional to explore the root cause, it might go back further than you think; a coping mechanism that may have been developed. That’s ok, but if it’s holding you back, perhaps it’s time to address it with compassion and learning to move forward. This also applies to professionals who deal with the biochemistry which can be triggering anxiety.
Everything is choice. From internal reactions to external actions Are you ready to make new choices?
In case you are interested but not too sure what to expect here’s a little run down of how we go about it. There are various ways and methods out there, and so there no right or wrong kind of meditation. Just like finding a Yoga class – it’s all about choosing what vibe sits best with you.
We begin with a theme of the month – in a workshop method we discuss using flips charts and examples. Examples can come from my personal cases, my training or participants. It’s important to note that no one is asked to speak out or put on the spot because these sessions are aimed towards managing anxiety so that’s the last thing we all need! This means you can sit quietly observing or you can participate if you feel something you have to share will help another person to hear the story, to know they are not alone, or hear how you overcame it. Often just by speaking something out you can have a ‘aha’ healing moment.
These sessions are based around tools and techniques that I have discovered along the way that I have found to help me reduce anxiety. They can be anything from NLP techniques (Neuro-Linguisitic Programming) to Tapping, to meditation, to yoga philosophy, to organising your mind, to saying ‘no’, to self-hypnosis and so on. Full details can be found here. We then practice or practically apply the tool; this could be wriring something down, or closing the eyes and ‘working’ with the mind.
After this we always end with a meditation which is usually a mindfulness meditation. In our class we usually sit in chairs because it’s important to have a straight back to allow the energy channels to flow but also to maintain mindful throughout or you can sit on the floor with our without a back rest. It’s different to a relaxation session, but I believe in choice for happiness so I always give the option to lie down for those that know they don’t fall asleep 🙂 but I always say that even if you fall asleep perhaps that ls what you need on that day. There’s no right or wrong. In our Monthly Sound Healing Meditations, I usually recommend to lie down with the head closest to the bowls to get the benefit but again it’s all about choice.
We experiment with different styles of meditation; mindfulness (staying with the now), guided visualisation, healing, mantra or sound etc. At the end, we take a moment to be in the peace of the effect of the meditation itself. If we feel like sharing, we summarise at the end how we felt – what was difficult, what was easy, what we experienced that was different, or the same. Again it’s optional as some people prefer to remain peaceful and quiet in the moment.
So the meditation itself is around 35-40 mins. Regardless of the style of meditation, we always focus first on mindfulness practice – this is training our brain/ mind to be in the now.
This is really helpful practice for optimising the benefit of a peaceful mind, back in the real world. It becomes a habit; both conscious and subconscious. Looking back can be useful in learning, as can planning into the future. It’s required. But too much of either way can create depression or anxiety, respectively. Therefore it goes without saying that the benefits of meditation are:
Of course, all of this leads to greater wellness both in the mind and body; less stress creates less tension in the body, storage of negative emotions and toxins – shoulders drop, neck relaxes – reducing headaches and body aches and the further physical damage that can lead to more serious damage. In turn it can lead to better food choices and physical activity, further promoting your mind-body wellbeing into this wonderful positive cycle. It only takes one shift in perspective to move from the downward spiral, onto the upward one.
We have the answers to everything within. It’s only what goes on out there that leads us to believe it’s out there. ‘silence is loaded with answers’.
Depending on the origin you can hear Chakras having 7 or more, or 5 in Buddhism. There are 7 in Hinduism and that’s what we are focusing on, linking to yogic chakra understanding.
History of the Chakras and origin
The chakras are inextricably linked with the science and practice of yoga. Yoga means ‘yoke’ and it is a system of philosophy and practice designed to yoke the mortal self to its divine nature. Although yoga was said to have dated back to 6000 BC it was somewhat more recent that the written yoga was formed. The earliest mention of the chakras was in the Vedas, meaning ‘knowledges’, a series of hymns created from an older verbal tradition. It was developed out of there same writings as the chakras found in documents called the Upanishads. It was said here that the organs are a conduit through which the elemental self or consciousness acts on the world and the organs as receptacles or conduits for the divine energy. Prana.
Yoga talks about how to move the prana and form the spiritual energy Kundalini, this basically means prana is refined and shaped into specific patterns. Kundalini means coiled in Sanskrit, like a snake. It wraps around the spinal cord at the base of the Crown and here we again have the reference to the impacts on the the physical body. It’s objective is to unite the individual with the divine, as Yoga is to unite the mind, body and soul.
What are the chakras?
There are dimensions in time too, and chakras describe the stages in personal and cultural life-cycles. In childhood the chakras open sequentially -it is the root in the early years, moving into the crown in adulthood. As adults we may focus on one chakra more than others e.g. exploring sexuality, developing personal-power, creating prosperity, creativity or spiritual exploration. In terms of evolution there is also this pattern. Anodea Judith who wrote ‘The Wheels of Life’, says she believes we have passed through primitive humans at the Root chakra of humanity focusing on survival, into the agriculture and ship travel and now we are in the 3rd chakra of power and energy, moving into the fourth realm of the Heart chakra, focusing on love and compassion.
In the Chakra Series Workshops we discuss: How is the spiritual, mind and body linked.
Click here for event info
Chakras relate to certain emotions and thinking on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and they can actually be associated with certain areas of the body with certain thoughts and feelings which also sometimes manifest physically in that part of the body.
What does it mean when we are out of balance and how can we keep the balance?
We can feel stressed, sad, nauseous, get ill, shy, confused, aggressive (depending on the chakra). Prevention is better than cure and so we aim to tackle at a subtle level before it becomes physical
How can we keep our balance?
Full details can be found on our Chakra Series
While many interpretations on the chakras advise transcending the lower chakras in favour of the more expansive upper chakras, it is not necessarily the view of all of those working with chakras. This view arose during a period in history where all the major patriarchal religions advocated the importance of mind over matter, thus denying the existence of the spiritual within the mundane realms. Careful reading of the texts does not imply the denial of the lower chakras in favour for the upper, but merely an enfoldment; where each higher level is a transcendence, which includes and is built on the level below it. In this way, the lower chakras provide a foundation for our spiritual growth, much as the roots of a tree, which push downward, allow the tree to grow taller. We do not help the tree to grow taller by pulling up its roots.
More and more research is being done that supports the existence of chakras and the Kundalini energy, however it is something to be felt and experienced rather than proven because the scientific aspect gives little practical value in actually using the system other than intellectual reassurance, since the chakras are ultimately an interior subjective experience. This is a love story between your inner self and the universe that surrounds you.
Finding Your Yoga Vibe
Like anything in life there are so many options and choices! One CEO one told me that ‘choice’ is the definition of strategy, in one word. I love this. It’s clear and straight to the point.
Some people say that there are too many books, or too many types of therapy or too many paintings. Not so. There are so many types because there are as many types of people as there are choices.
This applies to Yoga. There are many different types, but also styles of teachers. This is great news! This means that the benefits of Yoga can be experienced by more and more people. Whether you’re looking for a physical practice, release, or a break from the monkey mind, there are Yoga styles out there. Usually the mind, body and soul combination can be found in all styles but perhaps with a different weightage or emphasis depending on the main theme. When I first explored Yoga more in depth, I discovered that the postures or physical part of Yoga is only ⅛ of the wider world of Yoga, and so I entered a fascinating world where the true benefits of living the lifestyle of what Yoga can be felt.
Although there is some discussion around what constitutes as ‘Yoga’, even on a purely physical level Yoga can be extremely rewarding and beneficial. Any Yoga is better than no Yoga. I was in and out of Yoga for years before I found a style that suited me I then took that style forward into my teaching, adding on my own unique teaching on top of that.
I was trained in Hatha, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga so my style follows typical Hatha Yoga poses but in a Vinyasa flow. I focus on a theme for that season and prepare the sequences in advance. I first feel the theme e.g. ‘Chakra cleansing’, ‘Balancing Energies’ or seasonal such as Autumnal ‘letting go’ and then I feel my way through the moves, visualising a smooth transition between each move and optimising some of the Yoga websites with all the poses and sequence suggestions. I pick and mix and make my own flow… take myself through it and then I’m ready. At the beginning of the session I talk about the theme and then we always have a short moment to set the intention for the session in meditation. Building the energy slowly we move into each move and I intuitively speak at intervals that allow for healing and mindfulness, always emphasising the ownership of the group that individually they know their own limits and should go within to monitor their level of challenge that’s right for them.
I am drawn to healing as it is part of my profession and so ensure groups are small enough to support any individual care with barriers or injuries but always recommend they also speak to doctor of physio before carrying out Yoga. We have a variety of students, some undergoing physio, some with arthritis, or other ailments and together we have seen great improvements physically and in their approach to life. We always draw a line in the sand as to where we are today, and that being exactly where we need to be. We don’t judge, we simply observe, have awareness and continue to grow forward. Some days we have more energy than other days so it’s also about optimising that but being kind to yourself when you’re not feeling as proactive. Sometimes we need support, sometimes we might even need a push and sometimes we want to push ourselves. Sometimes we just want to stretch and go easy. This should all be your own choice because only we know what is right for us at any given time within our own mind, body and soul. It’s about getting to know yourself and taking back control of your own mind, body and soul. We reflect a lot back to life throughout Yoga. My main message is that your life is yours and your sessions are for you to make the choices that are right for you.
We always end with a luxurious meditation at the end that is linked to the theme but slightly different each week, making use of guided imagery, aromatherapy oils and singing bowls. We often incorporate small breathing exercises which is a typical factor of Hatha Yoga.
Whichever Yoga you are more drawn to, it’s also not always necessary to stick to one style. If you choose a more feminine restorative energy one session and a more masculine cardio another session then this can also be a nice balance of your own energies. For my cardio energy I like to jog; I often find this very meditative in itself. The space allows me to either clear my mind completely or I choose it for contemplation, working out my feelings or solution finding. Sometimes I even use it to run through any speeches I’m due to give. Check out my blog on ‘getting back into running’ on Yoga Class Near You.
I recommend that you you visit different styles and teachers to get an idea and keep going until you find one that sits well with you. Here are some keywords to type into a search engine, depending on your overall main aim such as:
masculine, feminine, restorative, physically demanding, meditative, healing, laughter, yin, hatha, vinyasa, beginner/ intermediate/ advanced, calming, ashtanga, relaxing, evening, energetic, cardio, fitness, relaxing and so on.
Here’s some descriptions below of the main Yoga styles to give you some indication of what you might be looking for
Hatha yoga is a generic term (meaning balance of the sun and moon or masculine and feminine) that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Nearly every type of yoga class taught is hatha yoga. When a class is marketed as hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the basic yoga postures with some advancing into intermediate and advanced depending on the progress of the class. You may not work up a sweat in a hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving class feeling looser, longer, more relaxed and positive. With varying styles of teachers there will also be added unique benefits.
Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, but it was popularized and brought to the West by Pattabhi Jois (pronounced “pah-tah-bee joyce”) in the 1970s. It’s a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures and is similar to vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. The difference is that ashtanga always performs the exact same poses in the exact same order. This is a hot, sweaty, physically demanding practice.
Approximately 30 years ago, Bikram Choudhury developed this school of yoga where classes are held in artificially heated rooms. In a Bikram class, you will sweat like you’ve never sweated before as you work your way through a series of 26 poses (like ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence, although a Bikram sequence is different from an ashtanga sequence). Bikram is somewhat controversial, as Choudhury has trademarked his sequence and has prosecuted studios who call themselves Bikram but don’t teach the poses exactly the way he says they should. It is also wildly popular, making it one of the easiest types of classes to find.
Basically the same thing as Bikram. Generally, the only difference between Bikram and hot yoga is that the hot yoga studio deviates from Bikram’s sequence in some small way, and so they must call themselves by another name. The room will be heated, and you will sweat buckets.
Iyengar yoga was developed and popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced “eye-yen-gar”). Iyengar is a very meticulous style of yoga, with utmost attention paid to finding the proper alignment in a pose. In order to help each student find the proper alignment, an Iyengar studio will stock a wide array of yoga props — blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, bolsters, and a rope wall are all common. There is less heart rate increase but you’ll be amazed to discover how physically and mentally challenging it is to stay put. Great for any injury or chronic condition.
Restorative yoga (sometimes also known as ‘yin’) is a delicious way to way to relax and soothe frayed nerves. Restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students in passive poses so that the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort. A good restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap. Studios and gyms often offer them on Friday nights, when just about everyone could use a little profound rest.
Vinyasa (pronounced “vin-yah-sah”) is the Sanskrit word for “flow”, and vinyasa classes are known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices. Vinyasa teachers choreograph their classes to smoothly transition from pose to pose, and often play music to keep things lively. The intensity of the practice is similar to Ashtanga, but no two vinyasa classes are the same. If you hate routine and love to test your physical limits, vinyasa may be just your ticket.
Good luck and keep going, keep growing
For me, exercise is like any habit that we get out of because ‘life’ gets in the way. But when will we make our positive habits our life? As a Hypnotherapist, NLP coach and with my previous 13 years career in learning and development industry as a senior manager across the Middle East and Far East, I have always been interested in the mind and behaviour. Working alongside 250 nationalities in Dubai I had my belief systems shaken and stirred in the most wonderful way, which opened my mind to other possibilities.
We can easily lose something but we can easily get it back too. I have found over the years that I’ve been in and out of exercise habits; the most difficult part being the decision to get back into it. Doing it is not actually that hard, especially when I’m we’re the zone, but the thought of it? Dreadful. Yet it’s only a thought. Therefore, knowing myself well and observing my patterns I decided to take a different approach to my habits and have applied it to all parts of my life in order to build a healthy and balanced life
I found that two things are essential for it to work; convenience and positive reinforcement. How many times have you found yourself berating yourself for either promising yourself you will go exercise and ‘failing’ to do it, or not doing enough? The bark is worse than the bite. When we decide to take a new habit up we take it to the nth degree. We never make the statement:
‘I would like to become healthy and balanced by taking one step a day and taking it easy on myself, with the appropriate amount of pressure that works for me as this will be the most impactful, long term’.
No we say:
‘I’m going to be so fit that no one will even believe me at first sight, and I’m going to do it in 3 weeks! First I’ll cut out all bad food and work my body like a dog!’.
This is why I don’t do ‘diets’ in the sense of the word when it’s used for the purpose of losing weight. In this instance I don’t even use the word. I still have wine, I still eat pizza and have a coffee here and there and this is what works for me. What works for you might be something different but it starts by getting to know yourself and having a balanced and logical conversation with yourself about this when you’re feeling calm and practical, not when you are in the middle of negative self talk when emotions are ruling your heart and mind. Balance is the key and a balanced mindset reflects the balanced approach to your overall health and well being and then nutritional choices fall under this automatically.
In Yoga we take the teaching from various Gurus and Buddha being one of the main ones would say that there is a cycle in everything that we do in life and peace comes when we can take ourselves out of that cycle. For example, we try to work towards being a selfless person so we give and give until we feel we are taken for granted and then we take back and take back. Then we feel guilty for being selfish and so we give and give again to overcompensate. We get stuck in this selfish-selfless cycle. There is only yourself who can determine what the balance is for you – by going within and taking time out to understand, observe and continually work on yourself in that path towards peace. It’s the same with attachment-non-attachment and working hard/ resting because the human experience is filled with duality; night and day, male and female and love and fear.
So when it comes to building back any kind of positive habit, it helps to first approach it with a positive mindset and balance. We always want the fastest results but long-term it’s not effective. If we can step back enough to see this and have patience we can achieve anything. So I took this method and applied to my running, another love of mine. I am not a fit runner, I’m not an athlete by any means and this is where my acknowledgement and realism takes the first priority in my expectations on myself. So how about start by setting yourself a realistic end result that is unique to you, taking into account your lifestyle.
Then…. it’s literally the first step; try the following:
Blog focus: Looking at embracing the genuine light and dark side of us all, as a whole person, through understanding our unique selves and embracing a new way of thinking through choices in the real world.
Positive people are happy people aren’t they? They’re always happy and smiling. Not so. But it doesn’t mean that those who smile are fake. It’s deeper than that isn’t it?
Maybe some people are just born positive by nature, and sometimes the happiest are the ones whom have been through the worst and come out the other side, with strong appreciation. Isn’t this true? Because taking life lighter is sometimes the only way to deal with some things. This realisation and appreciation of life then this becomes a habit. Maybe this has happened to you, or maybe you are going through something difficult right now.
When you are down you have two choices; you keep going down or you choose to come out of it, and each one has their own limit and messages that encourages that choice. When you find that, and you want to come out of it, you find a way to see things differently.
With a learning and development industry background I do believe that sometimes, learning and growing is also connected to some element of pain. It doesn’t have to be extreme, but maybe sometimes uncomfortable or frustrating; being out of the comfort zone (whether physical or emotional, or otherwise). Sometimes when things are at the worst, it’s often the cusp of something wonderful that is about to happen. Yet it should be mentioned that there is a difference between growing pains and unacceptable pain.
No one can really advise you. No one can help you understand a situation. They can walk you to the door, hand you the key, even unlock it for you and open it, but only you can walk through it. You have to experience it. Can someone tell you about how love feels if they have never been in love? It’s not tangible, and no one can tell you what a broken heart feels like either, even with in depth description. Life is experiencing.
After each experience in our lives somehow after it there is more calm; with learning comes growth, comes an understanding. But only with a conscious awareness can we see these as opportunities. How many times have we been told to ‘find the learning and growth in this?’ At the time it can feel nearly impossible but when we look back, it’s the truth. Think about that and your own experiences. If we can’t find the learning, healing or growth while we are in it, then we have to hope there’s a rainbow at the end of the storm. For me I don’t say ‘the calm before the storm’, I say ‘the storm before the rainbow’.
We have to have faith and hope. I look at life like the waves of an ocean. When I lived near the ocean, I would sit and look out and find answers in what I see.
One day I realised what a metaphor it was for life. When we think about the ocean it has so many meanings and analogies. The waves will always come regardless, up and down. They never stop, not for a second. Sometimes they are high, sometimes low and sometimes misleading; they look big but it’s nothing, or they look small and then come out of nowhere and knock you down. Sometimes, you jump over the waves and sometimes you dive under, you make a call.
Maybe sometimes you just sit on the shore looking at the waves, and sometime you run in confidently with a friend, laughing and getting knocked down together. When the sea is calm, you might float upside down, silencing out the world with a gentle smile. Some might say it’s too cold to get in and nervously flick water on themselves, easing themselves in, some say the water is lovely, calling out to the others and encouraging them to get it ‘it’s ok when you get in’. Do you wade in or do you jump? Do you watch while they others take the risk? Do you use it to observe the beauty of a sunset, alone or with a loved one? There is no right or wrong, and every day is different, you are different.
You choose. It’s your choice. Everything is about choice, including how we react and feel. It’s about finding your way, getting to know yourself; increasing awareness and choosing whether or not to be influenced by others or not. It’s about assessing whether the pain is growing pains or if it is unnecessary pain. The waves are always there, and so too are the choices. The waves will still come. Who or what these waves are, we might not yet know, but our approach to them is what is important because anyway they will come. And the sun goes up and comes down the waves will go up and go down, the tide will come in no end go out. The key is maintain that neutrality in all instances, that inner peace and calm.
I used to be more fiery than now, after some awareness I am more calm. For example, I used to curse erratic idiot drivers diving on the roads, moving in and out of lanes and showing off the size of their engine, which was the norm when I was living in Dubai. Until one day, I was driving to work to meet by strict deadline of an 8:00am start, preferably 07:50 in the company I worked for. I would have rather risk racing to work and getting a ticket, or worse, than arriving at 8:01 with the unwelcoming unfortunate consequences of being late.
As I was beeped at by one or two drivers, I shouted back from the protection of my metal cage, ‘WHHAAATTTTT!’…. and simultaneously I squirmed down in my seat as I realised that I was that idiot on the road that people were cursing at this time! At this, I was able to feel some compassion for others behaviour, not just on the road but in other scenarios. As I buy petrol, clothes, step into an elevator, experience someone else’s bad energy in a meeting. I began to wonder what their story was, could my experiences be a series of me misunderstanding people and people misunderstanding me, and I became more compassionate and less judgemental. Regardless of how I was treated, at least I wanted to treat others well and at least trust that this was the case. ‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, be kind, always’.
This blog came to my mind when I was asked to give speech on positive thinking to a group of managers, and it got me thinking deeply on what is positive thinking. It was a day that I was not in a positive mood. And even though many people tell me I’m positive, it isn’t always so. It has been a development of habitual process of my own journey. What I came to conclude is something that can apply to all. The key is to have a conscious awareness about making choices in many ways, but as a starting point about choosing to rewire a belief pattern or thoughts which influences emotions and therefore behaviour and in turn actions and therefore, your life.
I wondered, was I then a fraud in my own projection of positivity? So then what is positive thinking anyway? What does it mean to you? How? Perhaps appreciation, acts of kindness, seeing with compassion. But again, I could say it, but it doesn’t mean anything without walking through the door. Words are guidance with the comfort that we are not alone in this inner battle; we each need to find our own way, but recognise it’s a choice. What I discovered was that positive people are not always positive. Therefore those on the quest to positive thinking can fall into a cycle of guilt or failure when they feel sad. But it’s not human to be positive all the time. We are build up of emotions, light and dark and it’s about accepting all of us, which make us whole. It’s also about working with them, and not against them.
So how do ‘positive people’ do this differently? When they feel down (which is a completely normal – we have a spectrum of emotions for a reason to guide us) there are a couple of actions they do:
I realised that anyway you get over it; the wave goes. So you may as well get over it faster if it’s a small thing. If it’s a big thing, avoid making it worse by feeling bad that you feel bad! Feel genuine compassion for yourself and issue/ person involved. Move yourself onto the positive spiral.Behind every behaviour is somewhere a positive intention. It doesn’t excuse a behaviour but it gives some understanding around it, and we can all be that idiot in the car, at different times. We all have similar fears and anxieties behind the mask we put on. No matter how cultured, mature, professionally experienced, educated or spiritually developed; the trick is to find some release through compassion and choice. Emotion means ‘to move out’. It’s about self-leadership; bringing peace and balance to yourself, leading by example to support others who are experiencing their own turmoils.
So my questions to you are:
Try to be the one person who considers that the other perspective, not the one that adds to it. The gift of giving is the fastest way to feeling positive and that can be done every day, even with a genuine warm smile.
To become who we are we have to un-become everything that we were
As I looked at my knotted, once beautiful necklace, I made a choice that today was the day to untangle. As I observed myself untangling my necklace, I found my mind wandering; bringing me an a image here and there. With the image came one or two realisations, interpretations or summaries in the scenarios of what I saw.
It was a person usually that popped into my mind, from now or from the past, which seemed to still hold an unresolved feeling in my mind; an interpretation of a stranger, a conclusion of conversation I had had (and how I had felt as a result), or an emotion about a person’s character. A final opinion was formed while untangling the knots; generally it seemed it was a decision on an action that needed to be done, inwardly or outwardly.
It wasn’t an emotional struggle, but more of was a conscious choice of letting go and surrendering to the outcome of what I had no control over, or actioning what I could control. Thereby this task of untangling my necklace seemed like an opportunity to relax, focus and allow natural resolutions to flow, encouraging me to move on from confusing scenarios that did not involve anyone but me and my own inner monologue.
Sometimes meditation can bring solutions, an understanding, or simply create a space of stillness and silence to clear the mind, bringing peace. Not always is it guided, and not always is it silent. Meditation holds many different methods for different objectives; it can even be through hours of fun and laughter, or sport, walking, or watching a funny film, being with nature. So long as it brings you what you need by focusing the mind in the present, while holding a positive intention in your objective, rather than going round and round on the same issue, causing more pain and multiplying the negativity.
I don’t tend to believe in many rules with meditation, self-discovery and healing. When we share our own stories and journeys, it is great gift of experience coming from another’s reality, without a right or a wrong. This is extremely valuable and important as it can be a comfort, inspiration and a guidance on where to heal and how, and at the same time we are each our own person, with our own complicated mind and rich experiences, as well as senses and self-healing capabilities coming from our own intuition. There is no definitive book, video or guru that can support your individual journey, for the one and all who can help you, is actually you. This is why there are so many options available to us in books, in healers, in more and more from traditions across the world, for you to choose. Not to mention the experiences along our own path that offers lessons and development along the way, if we choose.
I believe everything comes from the energy in the form of intention, and with the right focus and intention, accompanied by love and positive affirmation. From this comes the result you are looking for, whether that result is clear, or still lying within and yet to be discovered. Either way, your subconscious knows your path and will guide you there with its 7000 times stronger drive than your conscious. When you are not following that you are bound to feel predicaments and conflicts, mainly with yourself. Try not to let these times burden you, let it come and pause; it is a message – any discomfort is a message for you, listen to it, for it will not cease until you listen. It will simply start to knock louder and louder.
This is when the psychological conflicts manifest into the physical. Healing is about the mind, body and spirit. It cannot be a part by part process as it is all connected. It’s not necessarily easy or fast but often it is our beliefs that hold this very notion of perception of difficulty and speed. If it is us we are healing, is it not us who are holding us back?
It was these thoughts about meditation that came into my mind while I embraced the challenge of untangling my necklace. I prepared my environment to support the outcome of success; I began with a peaceful mind, music softly playing in the background. I had no agenda for the day and so no pressures externally placed upon me, there could only be those of which I placed upon myself, internally. I took upon the opportunity to observe the mind and the process of the internal and external interruptions on the task and consequently, the result of the task.
As I observed my emotions and feelings and how they impacted the progress of the task, I noticed that the ease or difficulty in which I untangled the necklace was effected by the status of my mind at that particular moment. It reminded me of a quote I once heard; this person had explained that they felt they could understand the character of a person by how they dealt with tangled Christmas tree lights. Sometimes I remember who quoted what, and more often than not, I forget and I let it submerge into my subconscious. So many times in academia and business especially, we are trained to remember specific qualities by specific accredited people and we feel embarrassed if we forget who said what, and we feel we sound intelligent or add credibility when we remember.
During my Masters qualification I felt I had many perspectives and suggestions but we were advised to look and research who said that before us. We were not encouraged to explore more with our own perspective, creativity and so on. I can understand that this is to ensure we are not taking credit for someone else’s’ work and thoughts but I felt some frustration because I felt compelled to remember the theorists who first stated this or that, rather than my own collective knowledge I had gained through experience, observations and teachers. Therefore, while there is value, credibility and importance placed on these great thinker and leaders of their time, for me it’s about who put the quotes into practice that is most admirable; living and leading by example.
I choose now to not concern myself over remembering who said what and why, accepting this is a quirk of my character and one I am happy to embrace. It applies to remembering names and places too! I’m useless at that and not going to exhaust myself perfecting these elements. Instead I will work on areas that either I want to develop even more, or areas that might be causing me pain and suffering. Everyone has different strengths, it’s meant to be this way. I place my energy into embodying what I hear, learn or observe and truly put them into practice. Surely this is what those visionaries would like us to do with their insights? This again is how I feel about healing modalities, spiritual teachers, therapists and so on; take it all in, soak up as much as possible, and leave out what doesn’t resonate with you. Blend it all together as a random and unique recipe that you are, and deliver up the wonderful homemade dinner that you made.
And so as I began tackling the task at hand – the necklace, it was interesting that despite the calm mind and music, there was certainly some stronger intensity of feelings when thinking about certain people, than others. The emotion dissipated once a conclusion was seemingly made in my mind. It was only during this heightened sensitivity of the very calm place, physically and mentally, that I was able to sense this subtlety of shifting energy. Emotion means ‘to move out’, so finding our tools to do this can help us move forward.
Another interesting observation was how I noticed when a decision was made. If it wasn’t the right one (as perceived by my higher self) the knots got more tangled. I knew this meant I needed to make another choice, and when I made the other choice, the tangles were more easily unravelled.
I started to think about the necklace as a metaphor for life. The most obvious one being that a necklace is worn around the neck; with two outcomes 1. of beauty by glimmering against the skin, complementing the natural colours in a person’s skin tone, using colour in the necklace. Necklaces can also be used for a connection to a faith or loved ones with the pendants chosen. They can also be used as an expression of identity. 2. On the other hand it could be a source of frustration, tightness or heaviness, even discomfort or pain if it catches on tiny hairs or the hairline. Often certain types of material can cause discolouration and every allergic reactions.
As I worked through the untangling, I also realised that the one necklace could very easily become tangled either in itself or in other one or two chains, if not taken care of. I realised that to solve the knotted necklace we cannot not do it fast, it cannot be cut, for it will be broken. We cannot tug at it or else it might snap. During the process we might even drop the necklace, and depending on where we are working on the necklace, it can even drop on the floor in a heap, folding up so small into a messy ball. When it is free from knots it can be stretched out fully – it looks so long, elegant and is smooth to the touch; the flexibility allows the chain to be moved around like fluid on the table; there are so many shapes it can be moved into, gracefully like a piece of art; like drawing in the sand with your finger.
If we are prepared and cautious about where we approach the solution of untangling the necklace, we might sit at a table and it might just land gently in front of us. Depending on what happened, it might take time to pick up from where we left off, especially if it drops all the way to the floor and we have to pick it up again and seemingly start from the beginning. And so with all the potential inner and outer distractions, I realised that the way to successfully untangle the necklace was with dedicated time and focus, with love and positive energy on the outcome, with a clear vision and motivation for it; to wear the necklace.
Focusing on our outcomes visually and with positive emotionally can support a process, even if it seems a world away. We can also draw upon our previous positive experiences where we remember something seemingly taking forever but looking back each problem was always resolved. Sometimes we have to wait for the storm to pass but sometimes we need to learn how to dance in the rain (quote by someone). We cannot change what we cannot control (quote by someone else… but also by me 🙂 ). So we may as well learn to manage our inner if we cannot our outer. It is a choice.
When we break the necklace down and get through one knot we might be surprised it was actually two separate knots. Sometimes there are knots on knots and it looks like there is no way in. We might get a needle and prod around; sometimes gently, sometimes firmly sometimes; one way works and sometimes the other. We feel our way through. It first seems impossible when the knots are so tight, but then we find a way in, sometimes after trying many ways and angles… but we get in, because there is always a way in. It depends only on the person and their intention and choice to do so.
On a very knotted necklace it can take time, and after completing the release of many knots, we may see there are still one or two tiny ones left. It’s very tempting to leave it, with the intention of coming back, after replenishing energy and intention. In some cases this is fine, it takes time to get to the root cause, as always, it’s a choice. And we might not be able to iron out those knots all in one session. Just remember one thing; it is the root cause that begins the multiplication of the knots in the first place; so we have to keep the awareness in our consciousness; the awareness and intention to return after a break with the same positive intention as at the start.
With an appropriate break, we try again but with a refreshed energy we see this time only to a tiny knot and this time the knot released with more ease, more than anticipated. And so imagine an environment where there is no peaceful music, there is drilling going on outside, you slept badly the night before, there’s a work deadline, your back is giving you grief, your relationships are not running smooth…. You attempt to tackle the necklace, how does it start?
What happens when despite this, you still take a deep breath and with positive intention attempt the untangling, and then the phone rings and you get more distractions? Does it even get started? Or does it get put back on the shelf gathering dust and tangling more and more with other chains as a result of you ruffling around in your jewellery box, looking for an alternative, a distraction? It’s always a choice, led by your subconscious; make that choice at the deepest level and your subconscious and conscious will lead your there hand in hand.
Begin with the self-awareness to get the necklace off the shelf and to look at it and recognise it needs to be brought back to beauty, to live its purpose and life it was intended for, which was not on the shelf. This awareness and peace at this awareness is healing in itself. It can move out some suppressed feelings from simply acknowledging it and making a decision to begin. From here, you will find some knots easy and some hard, but the right tools, environment, mindfulness and positive intention will achieve the results. It’s about the choices you make surrounding this. There are a million ways to approach the task, externally and internally; it is your choice. Everything is choice, yours.
And so when we are along our path and we are moving forward one by one…..imagine this….all the knots will be out… You will wear your chain beautifully. Little knots might come along, but with our new awareness and learning, they have a whole other energy. It’s easier this time because mindfulness is present.
And so becomes the habit of looking after ourselves, to try preventing any knot coming in the first place but gently untangling if it does. These are the choices we make; it’s all up to you.
© Inspire and Rewire 2016