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meditation

Yoga & Meditation

Manifesting Your Dreams

January 10, 2017 • By

New Year YogaIt’s the start of a new year, 2017. It’s a time that we evaluate where we have been and where we aim to go. It’s time to set yourself some goals for the months ahead.

If you follow me on social media you’ll have seen my posts about manifesting your dreams on New Year’s Eve. It’s the ideal time to let the universe know what you want to achieve, thoughts become things after all.

If you managed to peel yourself away from the prosecco for long enough to write your dreams and goals down on paper then you have made the first step towards manifesting your dreams. It’s advised to place these offering in your personal meditation area. This will remind you to meditate on these aspirations each time you sit.

I’m such an advocate for manifesting goals because in 2016 I tried it for the first time, wrote down my goals, offered them out to the universe and by December 2016 I had achieved each one. Don’t get me wrong, it takes hard work, effort, patience but the focus is never lost. Things slowly begin to fall into place, you’ll be amazed that as soon as you make one big change everything else just seems to fit.

If you have not yet decided upon your 2017 goals here are some tips to manifesting your dreams:

  1. Write them down! Writing something down makes it more real somehow.
  1. Place them within your meditation space. Maybe you have an alter at home containing some of your favourite ornaments, sages, sing bowls, inspiring images. By placing them on your alter will remind you to meditate on your dreams each time you sit.
  1. Don’t stop working hard! Just because you have written down your dreams and offered them out don’t mean to can relax for the rest of the year. You have to work hard, you have to take risks, you have to say yes to every opportunity and do the things that scare you.

I hope you had a wonderful welcoming into 2017 and I hope you have many blessings and light in your life for the year ahead.

If you are thinking about making your health and happiness and priority this year be sure to check out my yoga classes. Visit my timetable or get in touch for more information.


Yoga & Meditation

Why I Chose Stillness and You Probably Should Too

October 25, 2016 • By

Beach Yoga

2015 was meant to be my year of achieving things. On New Year’s Eve 2015 and wrote three things that I wanted to achieve in 2016. It’s good to have goals and I wanted to make a dramatic change to my life.

The goals:

  1. Buy my first home
  2. Qualify as a yoga instructor
  3. Witness the completion of my partners feature film (not a direct goal for me but one that affected me nonetheless)

Pre New Year’s Eve 2015 my life was fairly familiar to most. The stressful 9-5 job in a passionless environment, the micronutrient guzzling, health conscious gym goer who practiced yoga daily and always, always, always dreamt of better things to come. I knew that by setting some, rather large yet very achievable goals for the year I would be forcing a change in my life. Dissatisfaction comes when we believe we have no choice or control over our current circumstance, so I was dissatisfied because I felt a lack of control, trapped without choice. I’d unwillingly subscribed to a lifestyle that gets sold to many of us from a young age; work hard, get a well-paid job, earn lots of money, retire rich, die. Nowhere in this sales pitch did anyone mention happiness or what to do when there is a day to day lack of it.

When January rolled around I signed up to a yoga teacher training course. I thought I was ready for the challenge to come but, my goodness, teacher training is hard! It requires all of your energy, focus, adaptability and strength. Probably not the most sensible time to buy a home but during my course my partner and I found our perfect house, put in an offer and waited with baited breath.

The offer was, of course, rejected. Ouch.

The second offer was accepted too much relief but then follows that horrid period of having to deal with lawyers and agents and bankers and builders and contractors. Everyone who wants as much as possible from you in a very short space of time. It’s hard to find stillness when legal pages need signing and flooring needs choosing and removal men have broken your favourite mirror.

I kept moving through the bustle. Working the 9-5 job, travelling 200 miles each weekend to train to teach and then I read, revised, practiced and panicked in pockets of free time. I never stood still.

In May I got a phone call from my doctor that said something along the lines of ‘We’ve had your smear results back, the test is showing quite a severe abnormality and you need to go to the hospital as soon as possible, this week in fact’. The phone call that every woman dreads. The cervical cancer call.

What followed was weeks of tests and procedures and tears and panic and what felt like an eternity of waiting. But still no stillness.

Following this news, and in the midst of yoga exams, my body become this place I no longer wanted to be. I shook constantly, my muscles twitched, my neck was stiff, my head pounded, my heart palpitated, my stomach couldn’t handle food, I panicked if I was away from home for too long, my periods become irregular, I became exhausted and my fuse was short. I lay awake at night and struggled to get up in the morning. I didn’t want to roll out my yoga mat and practice asana but I forced myself to because I felt it would help me, plus I was about to become a qualified yoga teacher so how could I not practice asana (yoga poses)?

Once qualified I was prancing around at the front of a class of yoga students, preaching health and happiness. Then I’d go home and keep my misery company. I found some solitude in red wine, heck all wine but I feared being alone. Unfortunately my third yearly goal was to support my partner in achieving his dream, a goal that took him away from home every week, took my strength and support away. So I was forced to be alone, to sit with my fear and my misery and the body I no longer wanted to be in. It is really, really difficult to sit with fear. So even though all was now quiet, there was no stillness.

You see, there is a difference between quiet and stillness, silence and peace. Just like there is a difference being sitting and meditating. Everyone sits but not all are meditating. Everyone can be quiet, but not all are still.

In these quiet moments my body raced with fear until, one day, I chose to stop. Fear, anxiety and stresses don’t just go away overnight, but you have a choice about how they affect your life. So I stopped watching the television, the news scared me. I stopped scrolling through newsfeeds and tweets and updates because my body only knew how to absorb the negative. I stopped drinking caffeine, for now, because it made me feel worse. I tried ever so hard to step away from my smartphone, the gateway to infinite symptoms that made my heart race. And I chose to be still, to just sit attentively, dedicated and focused on this stillness. Letting it do its magic and wash my woes away.

Stillness can only be found deep inside of yourself, you can create the perfect surroundings, dim the lights, burn some non-toxic candles, sit on a comfy cushion and block out the external noise. But stillness is something you bring out of yourself into the world we live in, not vice versa.

It took me 9 months of madness to realise that my body craved extended moments of stillness. More than just taking a long bubble bath or a relaxing autumnal stroll, it wanted to hear that quiet little voice inside that says ‘Everything is going to be okay’.

Finding real stillness requires dedication, time and bravery. You may have to sit with emotions you’d rather avoid for a little while but what happens on the other side is the realization of the entire universe residing within you, a place you can visit in times of need, a tool you can utilize when the road gets a little rocky. And eventually you will find yourself sitting in stillness with the bravest soul in the entire world, you.

 


Yoga & Meditation

Mindfulness at Work: Will it catch on?

September 28, 2016 • By

Meditation at work Everyone’s talking about it. Nowadays you hear the word ‘mindfulness’ used in the most obscure places; by big brands and official organisations. Massive corporations are jumping on the bandwagon and you’ll see ‘mindfulness’ exercises being pushed upon employees in most workplaces. But what’s the big deal? Can a few minutes of meditation really change your day?

In 2007 Dr Yi-Yuan Tan from Dalian University of Technology, China carried out a study which concluded that a meditation practice can reduce stress and increase attention to detail in just 5 short days. It went on to show a reduction in anxiety related issues, depression, fatigue and anger.

In 2015 35% of workplace illnesses were stress related, resulting in a 43% of all sickdays. These figures are pretty shocking. People are becoming increasingly aware of their health and happiness (rightly so) and leaders of organisations are finally understanding the importance of a happy healthy workforce.

The answer seems so simply in hindsight, your employees are feeling the stresses of modern day life, meditation reduces the symptoms of stress and makes employees sharper and more attentive. Let’s roll out meditation exercises in the workplace!

Unfortunately the reality isn’t always as simple as it sounds. So why aren’t more employees jumping at the chance to Workplace Meditationmeditate at work?

  1. Most industries are made up of an older, old-school age group and meditation is for hippies.

People don’t like change and they also don’t like being told what to do, especially if they have worked in that company for 45 years and the new HR manager is a twenty-something, green juice guzzling weirdo. You probably aren’t going to persuade Eric from finance to sit in lotus for the next 20 minutes breathing his stresses away. Eric prefers to have a pint and a moan.

Unfortunately, sometimes health isn’t valued until sickness comes. And it isn’t until that point that people are willing to consider changing their ways. Never force people to join a meditation session unless they actively want to do so, the benefits just won’t be the same and they’ll go off thinking meditation is a bit rubbish.

Let people become open to it in their own time. Openly share the rewards you have reaped from your own practice but don’t expect Eric from finance to feel the same. Choose your battles.

  1. Meditation makes people feel self-conscious.

It’s not a usual environment to be in with your colleagues. You can hear everyone’s breath, your thoughts are screaming so loudly in your head that surely Sandra from legal can hear them and how do you know everyone has really got their eyes closed, what if they are just sat watching you struggle to meditate?

Mindfulness at workPeople within the workplace like to have a leader, so if you are introducing meditation into your office you need to keep it within a format your workforce are used to. Hire a meditation guide, someone who will talk your employees through a 15-20 minute practice. It will make them feel a lot more comfortable to be guided, less lonely and it will give them the tools to go off and practice in their own time.

My first workplace meditation was one of those awkward moment where the manager got really excited about trying something ‘experimental’ with his workforces and had us all sit around in his office whilst the ‘teacher’ guided us through a ‘meditation’. It turned out that she wasn’t a meditation teacher after all, but had listened to a few YouTube videos and then labeled herself a guide. We were then all asked how we felt afterwards. Just plain weird.   If you’re employees are happy to try meditation at work don’t ask them how they feel afterwards. Let it all settle and then maybe follow up with some feedback later in the day.

Explaining some of the benefits of meditation can make it more appealing to people. Benefits such as;

  • Reduces anxiety by teaching people the importance of controlling their breath
  • Stops symptoms of stress (such as headaches, tightness in the chest, tingling in the hands and feet etc.)
  • Makes it easier for people to concentration on one task at a time
  • Makes people feel more compassionate
  • Makes for a kinder workplace
  • Increases the happy hormone
  • Reduces insomnia
  • Encourages a healthier lifestyle
  • Brings a sense of calm to modern day living
  • Helps you feel more in control
  • Slows the ageing process
  • Reduces high blood pressure

And all you have to do is sit still, control your breath and focus. It really is that simple.


Wellness & Lifestyle

Autumn is here!

September 27, 2016 • By

autumnIf you live in the northern hemisphere like myself then you’ll know autumn upon us, it started on 22nd September to be exact.

Not only will you notice autumn beginning, the leaves changing colour, the air becoming crisper and the evenings becoming darker. You’ll feel it too. Your body is super sensitive to seasonal changes because it believes it needs to adapt in order to survive (your body isn’t yet aware of supermarkets, year round crops, central heating or the internet). This means that you may begin to feel a little more tired in the morning, may start feeling hungrier than usual or may not be feeling as active as you were a few weeks ago.

Your body is preparing to go into hibernation mode, it slows down and begins to preserve energy to get you through the winter months. To help you mentally survive this wonderful season I’ve put together a few tips and tricks, let’s see if they work for you too:

  1. Get yourself in the garden: It’s important to get as much vitamin D as possible at this time of year and hours of daylight are becoming less. Whenever you get free time get yourself into your garden and begin planting for next spring. Not only will you have a beautiful garden to look forward to but you’ll be practising mindfulness and getting your RDA of vitamin D. Win, win!

 

  1. Eat well: okay, so this applies all year round really but did you know your body is naturally preparing to lose those stubborn summer pounds in autumn and winter. So eating right now will ensure you don’t have to work extra hard come spring to prepare for beach season.

 

  1. Daily dry brushing: your skin will become drier during the next two seasons. It will lack moisture and the Autumn Yoga | Northern Yogicombination of cold air and central heating will play havoc on the skin. Dry brushing daily will help shift dead skin cells and moisturising will help your skin look fresh and beautiful come spring. Add some coconut oil to your nightly bath, it’s a super easy way to ensure you’re getting all the moisture your skin needs.

 

  1. Meditate: If you’ve never had a meditation practice before then autumn is the ideal time to begin. The nights are longer and your social calendar will no doubt become a little calmer. Take this time to learn to sit with yourself, focus on the breath and making your exhalations longer than your inhalations. You’ll soon have a sharp, focused and calm mind.

 

  1. Appreciate your surrounding: autumn is such a beautiful month yet I sometimes fail to stop and appreciate quite how beautiful because I’m already dreading winter. I now make an effort to live in the present moment, to look up to the crisp blue skies and kick my feet through the dried, sunburnt leaves. Wrap up warm and go for a long walk outside. Collect the fallen conkers and pine cones, take them home and decorate them in time for Christmas. Enjoy the magic of this wonderful season, take care of your body, breathe deeply and look forward to the coming months as a time for relaxation, peace and copious amounts of hot chocolate.

Yoga & Meditation

6 Steps to Enlightenment (hopefully)

March 15, 2016 • By

Meditation Tips Meditation should, in theory, but one of the easier things in the world to do. After all it’s just sitting still, right? In practical those that try meditation know that this isn’t exactly true. It is impossible to clear your mind of thoughts, if anything you’ll have one thought left, which will no doubt be ‘My mind is clear of thoughts now’. This too being a thought.

I’m not going to write a post about Samadhi or enlightenment because I have experienced neither and believe that, even if I were enlightened, it would be pretty bloody difficult to describe what that felt like.

The purpose of asana practice is so you can meditate and the purpose of meditation is so you can still the mind in the hopes that one day you’ll reach enlightenment. Knowing just how difficult it is to ‘still the mind’ I’m going to share with you the things that have helped me sit more comfortable, calmer, stiller and commit to a proper meditation practice (and by ‘proper’ I mean regular, not that I’m a better mediator than you, or Gandhi).

Step 1: Understanding meditation

If the reason you’re trying to meditate is because you read that Beyoncé does it and she’s rich, successful and beautiful so you’re going to do it too then you are probably going to still for 10 minutes thinking about Beyoncé. You have to want to meditate for you, to sharpen your mind, awaken your consciousness and journey deeper within you.

There are numerous benefits to a regular mediation practice that may make it more tempting to commit to one:

  • Reduces stress
  • Decreases feelings of depression
  • Helps manage anxiety or feelings of anxiousness
  • Improves your focus and concentration
  • Makes you a better decision maker
  • Brings a sense of calm to this manic world
  • Improves creativity
  • Harnesses compassion, kindness, love and eradicates fear and anger
  • Reduces the desire for materialistic gain

There are also numerous physical health benefits that you can research (I’m not a doctor so can’t advise of health)

Step 2: Make it natural

Don’t see your meditation practice as a chore. It may take some time for you to settle into a regular routine but don’t look at it as something you have to do, think of it as something you want to do. Eventually it will become as natural as cleaning your teeth in the morning (or at least that’s that aim)

Step 3: Don’t make it weird

You need NONE of the following to partake in meditation:

  • A cave
  • Incense
  • Status of Buddha
  • Lotus position
  • To be wearing a robe
  • To chant
  • To be religious

We are not trying to be monks, we are trying to be better versions of the person we already are. If you are most comfortable sitting on a chair, your sofa, a bed then do that. Just make sure the space is free of distractions and don’t fall asleep.

Step 4: Go to the toilet

Not much explanation needed for this one. If you need to pee, all you’ll think about is needing to pee. So pee first.

Step 5: Set a timer

This one helps me so much. I like time limits so if I started meditating without a time limited all I would think about is ‘Wonder how long I’ve been sat here, surely an hour has passed now’. If you want to meditate for 10 minutes then set an alarm for 15 minutes time, this gives you time to settle and a full 10 minutes of meditation without having to worry about the time.

Step 6: Enjoy the journey

Meditation is difficult at first. In this modern day world we aren’t used to being still mentally. We are bombarded with so much information each day that it’s hard to truly switch off. Take your time and ease into this new activity. You will slowly become to not only love it but depend on it. It keeps the ‘crazy’ at bay!