Category Archives: meditation

Locked Down in Paradise

It is now 4 months since I arrived in India.  January seems like an age ago and it feels like I have been here forever. My plan had been 3 months here & see what it leads to……hmmmm!  When I arrived the ashram was very busy getting ready for Amma’s South India Tour, then it was really quite for a few weeks with so many people away for the tour.  Mid-February the numbers had swelled again as the tour returned and then March numbers started to gradually dwindle as new visitors were no longer allowed into the ashram.  Mid-March we were only allowed to go out of the ashram for essentials – the bank or pharmacy – but we could still go across the road to the beach.  Then complete lockdown, across the whole of India.  The ashram closed its doors completely to all but supplies.  Over the last month there’s been a further dwindling of numbers as people take repatriation flights back to their home countries.

I now haven’t been out of the ashram for 2 whole months.  Fortunately, the ashram is large enough that there is space for everyone to move around – maybe not with a 2metre distance – and there is sunshine, amazing views over the backwaters and to the sea and we have delicious food (I haven’t cooked a meal in 4 months!).  Whilst I can’t go anywhere I am not considering myself ‘stuck’ here.  Anything but.  I feel very blessed indeed to be here at this time.  Amma normally has a very busy tour schedule and is not usually at the ashram for long periods of time so to have this time is truly a gift.  I have been learning loads, being completely immersed in Eastern philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita and vedanta and also finishing off my Psychology and Philosophy degree with the Open University – thankyou coronavirus for my end of module assignments being cancelled!  Lockdown gave me time to focus on my last two assignments over April.

Ashram life is not all love and light – whilst that is what everyone is aspiring to, every day in the ashram brings you something to work on! Someone to challenge your inner peace, situations to see how you react/respond!  There are plenty of opportunities for self-development.  I’ve shared a room for most of the time here and not every roommate has seen me as a gift from the universe, likewise I’ve not seen every roommate as a gift from the universe either!  There’s also the uninvited roommates – bees, mosquitos, moths, geckos – to contend with!  And the heat.  It has been beautifully sunny but hot, and now the rainy season is definitely here.  Mother nature has been treating us to fantastic lightening shows most evenings, but now they are accompanied by torrential downpours, and they are becoming more frequent.  The downpours don’t last too long but a whole lot of water leaks out of the sky in that short time, and they are becoming more frequent.  I can see why Kerala is so green and lush.  Of course, after the downpour everything becomes humid – if you didn’t get soaked in the rain you’ll soon be soaking from the humidity after.  With that amount of rain it takes a little while for it to drain away so some wading is required too!  It’s great to see and experience the change in season and weather.  I don’t think I ever would have chosen to come to Kerala during the wet months!

I’m missing teaching and coaching.  Trying to find ways in which I can share some teaching online, however, struggling to find a place where I could film from.  My internet connection isn’t very stable either to be able to run an online class – guaranteed to have you holding plank for more than a few breaths, I’m not sure anyone is going to appreciate that!  I am still exploring though so watch this space.

I’m not sure how long I will be here for – Lockdown across India has been extended until the end of May.  There’s speculation of international flights starting back up in June – but who knows!  The Indian Government is extending visas for 30 days from when international flights resume, fortunately I haven’t needed to go through the visa extension process, so far – some people are on their third visa extension process!  It looks like I will be here for at least another month or 2!

Despite all the uncertainty I feel very content here.  It has its own craziness but it feels like being in a bubble from the rest of the craziness of the world.  We don’t know what the world will look like a week from now let alone in 6 months time but one thing is for sure – we need to get used to living with uncertainty.  Nothing is permanent, nothings stays the same for very long and we are seeing that more than ever now.  Being in the present moment and acting with compassion are therefore essential.  It’s how we should be but I know how difficult it can be, especially when there is so much fear around.  So we have to put in the practice, witness our thoughts and weed out the negative and destructive ones, adopt a mindset of curiosity rather than judgement when you do spot those negative and destructive thoughts.  Let go of the ego that wants to control so you can be more open and allow for the good stuff that is there underneath all of the madness.

Om Shanti

🙂

 

Renunciation and Non-Attachment

This week I had the privilege of watching over 250 sannyasins (renunciates) being formally initiated into bramacharya or sannyasa ashrama – renouncing everything in service of the world and God.  There were preparations during the week – a renunciation ceremony at the beach which culminated with the sannyasins walking into the sea and offering everything to the ocean.  The official ceremony on Friday started early in the morning with chanting the 1000 names of the Divine Mother and a Ganapathy Homa – a fire ceremony to remove obstacles.  The sannyasins received their new robes of orange or yellow, the colour being symbolic of the fire of renunciation.

“Sannyas is a state of total renunciation where one overcomes even the mind and its thoughts. One doesn’t reach this state just by wearing robes. Each moment should become filled with alertness, love and faith as we strive to reach that goal. We need to develop awareness in each and every word, look, thought and action.” Amma

As we see the world going a bit crazy this month – people having to self-isolate and give up freedom to move around that they have previously enjoyed, people being limited in what they can buy – I thought it would be a good time to think about non-attachment, also called aparigraha in the 8-limbs of yoga.

Complete renunciation takes a lot of courage, to release attachment to everything and everyone, to live with nothing but the grace of God.  Over the last few years I have scaled down my belongings considerably but it is difficult to do and there are things that I can’t bring myself to get rid of.  I don’t travel lightly – I make sure absolutely sure I utilise every gram of my luggage allowance (usually with stuff i don’t actually need)!  Here in the ashram I am now very attached to my comfy pillow, and also I cannot live without the ceiling fan on at the moment – I don’t think I could ever be a renunciate!!

The stuff we accumulate and become attached to.  I speak to people with grown up children who have a loft or garage full of things from their offspring’s childhood – just in case the children want them in the future.  I know people with lofts full of their own belongings that they are keeping ‘just in case’.  Often, when people move it is an opportunity to de-clutter, but it then, somehow, more stuff starts to fill the space!!  Some people just move everything without even a consideration as to whether they need it or not.  I’m not encouraging a throw-away society, there is too much of that already – but I think we need to be more thoughtful in what we buy, thinking about whether we really need it or not.

Non-attachment isn’t just about renouncing material belongings either.  We attach to our thoughts, our stories, our labels and identities as well.  When we have a perceived injustice how many times do we recount the story to anyone who will listen (and those who don’t want to listen!!).  How many times do we make excuses for not doing something because of a label or identity that we hold on to? – for instance “I’m not good enough” or “I could never do that”.

Right now the world is changing dramatically, at an astonishing pace.  We’ve never experienced this situation before and we need to be flexible and adaptable.  We need to ensure we don’t cling to outdated beliefs, that we don’t attach so ferociously to material possessions (maybe give up a toilet roll or two!).  Maybe it’s a good time to have a spring clean  –  particularly if you are stuck at home.  When you can socialise again there may be people who would really welcome some of the things you don’t need anymore.  And not just spring cleaning your mind as well, witness your thoughts and actions and see what ideas and beliefs you are clinging on to, and carrying around like excess baggage.

Live more lightly.

Om Shanti

🙂

All photos by MAM Amritapuri: https://www.facebook.com/Amritapuri/

Feeling Contented – Santosha

It’s a few weeks since my last update from the ashram.  I was due to be coming back to Glasgow later this month but this last week I took a decision to extend my stay here.  With so many travelers to the ashram there has been a lot of consideration about risk of coronavirus and last week the ashram stopped accepting new visitors and there is no public darshan with Amma.  This means there are a lot less people at the ashram – relatively speaking! – and so quite a unique and interesting time to be here I think.  I have been feeling like a limitless sponge over the past few weeks as I learn and experience more here and don’t feel like I’m done yet!!  So flight has been cancelled and I’m staying 🙂

I feel very fortunate to be able to stay – a lot of nationalities can only stay in India for 3 months at a time, for the UK it is 6 months.  There are a number of people that need to leave the ashram due to their visa requirements and for a while at least will not be able to come back.  As for everyone in the world it’s creating a lot of uncertainty but it’s time to put into practice putting our fears aside.

I’m missing everyone back in the UK so keep sending me your news.  It’s lovely to hear what everyone is getting up – I hear the hot topic is toilet roll shortages, please use it wisely!

We are moving into the raining season here.  There is a torrential downpour some mornings around about sunrise and it is quite humid.  I think the humidity is to increase.  When I arrived I could put laundry out to dry in the evening and it would still dry quickly, now there is a window of opportunity during the day to get it dry, if you miss this window it just stays damp!  And you have to do more laundry because it is so hot and sweaty!  The humidity is also an issue for getting my hair dry – that same window of opportunity!  It’s kind of just like being in Glasgow really but warmth with the wet!

Diet is also on my mind at the moment with me staying longer.  To be honest food is always on my mind!!  There is a lot of choice of food at the ashram – Indian and western options.  I mostly eat Indian food for lunch and dinner but I still can’t get used to curry for breakfast.  I’ve discovered ragi pancakes – ragi is a grain like millet and makes really good pancakes.  It’s got quite a lot of nutrients in it, including iron which is very much lacking in this Indian vegetarian diet.  I have it with some fruit – bananas, mango, papaya or pomegranate and some jaggery syrup.  Jaggery is used here instead of sugar but mixed in water makes it is a bit like golden syrup.  There’s plenty of lentils, chickpeas and beans in the curries but a lack of green veggies so spirulina is coming to the rescue.

In the evening you can get Dosa for dinner – a thin pancake stuffed with spiced potato curry & served with sambal (a sort of thin spicy gravy) and coconut chutney or Puri – a deep fried puffed up flatbread.  Here it is usually served with a chickpea curry.  I think Puri is absolutely my favourite thing at the moment, but it’s not the healthiest!!

There are a lot of snack options too – Samosas (yum), paneer or curry puff pastries, vada – a savoury spiced donut – I sometimes have with curry instead of rice

There is also lot of sweet food available in India but it’s very very sweet – coconut naan (a Danish pastry type thing with coconut and candied fruit. Ada – Cooked rice soaked in sweet stuff then wrapped and steamed in banana leaves.  Fortunately I don’t really like these, although I have been trying everything purely so I can tell you all about it.

Ragi Pnacakes with mango and banana

Puri

Samosa and paneer puf pastry

I would have more pictures of food but either I’ve eaten it before I remember to take a picture or it doesn’t look nearly as good as it tastes!

I have good food, sunshine and still have my comfy pillow – Santosha! (contentment)

Om Shanti

x

Craving silence, a comfy pillow & contentment

I’ve had to embrace earplugs this week. The constant noise through the night – birds squawking, dogs howling, fishing trawlers, doors banging, the fan whirring. I long for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I long for a comfy pillow rather than my awkward combination of hard ashram pillow & meditation cushion that I currently have!  I long for just a few minutes with no noise.  There are moments of ‘quiet’ in the morning, at the beach at sunset, but when I am ready for sleep everything seems to be making a noise!  Some weeks it feels like I’m getting used to it, and then it’s like everything is conspiring to keep me awake!

Life is full of extremes – always too much or too little of something. I feel like Goldilocks this week, nothing is quite right.

There is always something we desire. The mind will seek out something that isn’t right. Some days here it is too hot, but it’s then so welcoming to feel the breeze. If I was in Scotland I would be feeling too cold & would be dreaming of sunshine, of spring, of lighter nights. Our minds will always seek out the negative if we let it, there is always something to disturb us, to stop us feeling content.

We do have a choice though, dwell on the negative, what is lacking in our lives or opt for gratitude, focus on the good aspects. Pain is a motivator to take action so it’s not about putting on a smile & white washing over the negative feelings. Recognise what you have control over – change the things you can & don’t waste energy complaining about those things if it is in your power to change them. The things we can’t change we need to learn to accept. We can complain about them over and over but it’s such a waste of energy, think about what you could use that energy for instead, what could you achieve with that additional energy.

What desires are disturbing your contentment?  What can you change and what do you need to accept let go of?

I started writing this blog on Monday & this morning (Saturday) I found a very nearly new, super comfy pillow in Ram’s bazaar – the ashrams second hand store. I am so so happy!!!

I am content – for the moment!

Om Shanti

Fi 🙂

 

Sunrises, sunsets & smiles

Greetings again from India.  Sending warm sunny vibes to wherever you are in the world.

Three weeks into ashram life.  I’m really getting into my seva serving chai in a morning.   I also serve filter coffee, and other teas.  There’s another window people go to for the fancy coffees (cappuccino, Americano etc), I’m not advanced enough for that yet!  It’s really nice doing this thing in a morning – greeting everyone with a smile for 2 hours leaves me smiling for the rest of the day.  Just as I started doing this seva I was reading a book (Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell) which reminded me about the physiological effects of our facial expressions on our mood – when we feel happy we smile, when we smile we feel happy.

I notice not everyone in the ashram smiles – some people come to my chai window in a morning looking a bit grumpy, in need of their coffee, chai or tulsi tea to pick them up.  Others come frustrated with the system – you queue to pay and then bring your token to get your beverage of choice, possibly needing to queue again!  The ashram teaches patience in that respect!  A smile costs nothing and can help lift someone’s mood.  You might never know the effect that your smile has on someone’s day.  And who doesn’t want to feel happier?  I on a mission to infect the ashram with smiling.  There are some that know this secret already – Hari at the coconut stall, every day he has a smile on his face as he chops the coconuts for their water; The chai-wallah – proper Indian chai poured from a great height to mix the tea and milk (maybe I’ll graduate to that one day!); the Indian snack man serving sweet treats in a morning – this has now become my regime before my seva in a morning – chai and a slice of banana cake or a sweet banana fritter type thing!

Other news this week – I have found a little bit of beach where you can get down to the water and swim in the sea – hurrah.  I go there most days after my chai stint.  It’s really nice bobbing about in the warm salty water, especially after I’ve been standing for a couple of hours, it’s like a big warm salt bath!

My study this month has been about weakness of will and I have been thinking about it in relation to morning practice.  As I said in my last update it is definitely easier getting up in a morning here – it’s warm, I don’t need to think too much about what to wear, the temple is only a 5-minute walk away, the laundry roof for my sunrise practice is just 3 floors down from my room.  Some mornings though I wake up and think how little sleep I’ve had and, as I get used to the noise of the birds and the fishing boats, could just stay in bed for a few more hours.   I could say to myself there are plenty of mornings ahead that I could practice.  But I remember that practice requires consistency, and habit makes it so much easier.  Some philosophers say that weakness of will doesn’t exist, rather that we fail to take account of the relative size of the immediate pleasure vs the longer term pain.  I think this is true in some instance and we need to keep focussed on the longer term gain.  Others suggest that we are just very good at revising our options – this seems a bit of a get out to me!  A further idea is that when we are tired and our resources are depleted we switch from consciously making decisions to acting unconsciously out of habit and familiarity.  The good news is though that we can anticipate when this might happen and put strategies in place to help us – e.g. getting organised the night before so you can just roll out of bed onto your yoga mat!  So this week I want you to focus on the longer terms gains of anything you are trying to achieve to keep yourself motivated and strong-willed.  The more we do this the stronger we become mentally so it’s a win-win.  And if you can do it with a smile on your face…….. all the better 🙂

Om Shanti

x

Blue Skies & Backwaters

I’ve been at the ashram for 2 weeks now – I had a few days to acclimatise myself and then I joined in a retreat for a week so it’s only just now that I’m finding the flow.  It’s a lovely place.  The ashram is nestled amongst the palm trees on a strip of land between the backwaters and the Arabian Sea.  The sun rises over the backwaters and sets over the sea so I’ve been searching out my spots for practice.  In a morning it’s the laundry roof top overlooking the backwaters for a sunrise yoga practice.  In the evening it’s down to the beach for some meditation at sunset.

It’s not a quiet place – in a morning the birds are awake early making a cacophony of noise, the fishing trawlers are motoring down the backwaters heading for the sea and then there’s the sound of chanting coming from another ashram or temple across the river.  The noise makes it harder to sleep in so getting up to go to the Kali Temple for 5am and chant the 1000 names of the Divine Mother is not so difficult.  Getting up is the easy part –learning the 1000 names is the hard part, I’ve got a long way to go there!

The ashram has everything you need – food, snacks, a shop, laundry, fresh juice, fresh coconuts, yoga, meditation, although things are only open at set times!  The ashram relies on seva – selfless service –  people chipping in and helping with jobs.  You can get involved with all sorts – for the first few days when I arrived I helped with food prep, chopping vegetables and then during retreat we did seva for the yoga studio.  Now the retreat has finished I have a regular seva job serving chai at the café in a morning.  It’s a nice seva as you get to see everyone as they come for breakfast.

The ashram is pretty relaxed at the moment while Amma is on tour in Southern India.  There are less people here as a lot of people have gone on tour with her.  When I say relaxed, that excludes the times when the free chai is served in the morning and afternoon – It’s a serious business getting in that queue and getting your cup or flask of chai!

My room is on the 10th floor of one of the accommodation buildings.  It’s basic, shared accommodation but the room is at the end of an open corridor with a little balcony at the end where we can see out to the sea and to the backwaters.  Being higher up also means there’s a nice breeze coming in off the sea.  It’s pretty warm otherwise, 25-30C.  I think it gradually gets hotter as we progress towards March/April time and then it gets wet and humid.  Apologies to those of you in Scotland reading this – I believe it’s been pretty wet/snowy this last week!

There’s a bridge over the river into a small town – I’ve only ventured over as far as the ATM so will update you further on that when I’ve explored more.  You can walk over the bridge or you can get a boat over.  There’s a motorised boat or a traditional hand-poled boat.  I opted to come back via the hand-poled boat, I did think I might end up swimming part of the way – it wasn’t the most robust looking of boats it has to be said, but the old Indian man knew the flow of the waters well to get into just the right spots to help guide the boat across to the other side!

There’s a real mix of people here – people who live permanently in the ashram, renunciates, people staying for a few months and people just staying a day or two.  People from all nationalities, all ages, people visiting for the first time and people who have visited many times.  It makes for interesting people to chat to and who knows whether your paths will cross again in the future.

It’s time to go get in the 4pm chai queue so I’ll leave you with this brief insight into ashram life & hope to be sharing further updates over the coming weeks.

Om Shanti

5 Steps to Happiness

The many faces of emotion

Emotions – we all experience them. Some people share their emotions, they don’t try to hide them. They make it known exactly how they are feeling. Other people hide their emotions and you never quite know what they are feeling. What’s right? There is no right or wrong way, but what we must ensure if that we are not ruled by our emotions. They are fleeting sensations and experiences that we give a label to, give meaning to. Sometimes we cling to those emotions and become identified with them, sadness, anger, fear, shame, disgust. It is when we cling to those emotions that there is suffering. It is ok to feel anger if a situation warrants it but when that anger is uncontrolled, unwarranted or held on to for excessive periods then then it becomes destructive and leads to suffering. It is ok to feel fear in situations, it drives us to take action, but if we constantly live in fear then it prevents us from taking any action at all. Similarly, with sadness and grief – it is ok to mourn the loss of a loved one, but we also need to remember the joy and happiness that person brought into our life. Emotions are energy, they carry a vibration. Negative emotions really draw us down to the root chakra and our sense of survival. Positive emotions lift us up but we also need to be careful that we don’t get too attached to positive emotions. All emotions cloud the way we see the world around us.

Our main aim in life is to be happy, but that happiness has to come from within. It is not the responsibility of anyone else to make us happy or for an object to make us happy – as once that person or object is gone then so is our happiness. Take control of your own happiness.

5 Steps to cultivating happiness within

  1. Gratitude – Spend time each day giving thanks. It might be being grateful for the roof over your head, the food on your plate, the money in your pocket. The more we focus on the things we can be grateful for the more we are training our minds to focus on the positive.
  2. Meditate – Spend time each day meditating. Calming the mind so that you can see the world as it really is. Meditation allows you to witness your thoughts and see those emotions for what they are.
  3. Watch the energy around you – What is the energy around you? Remember that no one is responsible for making you happy and likewise you are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. Are you surrounding by people that drain your energy? Take time out so that you can refocus your energy. Visualise a protective bubble around you that shields you from negative energy.
  4. Move – When we feel a negative emotion it’s important to move. How we sit or stand has an impact on how we feel. If we always walk with our head down, shoulders hunched we are sending a message to our brain that we are sad. Adopt a more positive position. Stand upright, o for a walk. This can be really hard to do if you are feeling down but make yourself shake off the emotion and you will feel a whole lot better.
  5. Choose to be Happy – Happiness is a choice. If you actively choose to be happy rather than sad, angry, fearful you are also training your brain in happiness. You might have to keep reminding yourself to start with that you choose to be happy but eventually happiness will become the default setting.

Meditation

I know the idea of meditation scares a lot of people.  The idea of being alone with your thoughts when there is so much going on in your head.  It can be an overwhelming concept.  I also hear people saying to me that they can’t meditate as their minds are just too active and they can’t quieten it down enough to meditate.  Trying to meditate and not being able to quiet the mind can be another stick to beat ourselves with!

The practice of meditation though is just that – a practice.  The more you practice the more you can train your mind to become quiet.  Some days it happens, you get moments of peace, calm, serenity.  Other days the mind flits from one thing to another, to another, to another, to another…………

When you practice meditation you become the witness, and when you can rein the mind back in you can observe the thoughts.  From this position of neutral observer you can be objective about the thoughts and notice whether they are of use to you or not.   You can let go of anger, judgement, resentment, shame, inferiority and much more when, from this place of neutral observer, you see that the thoughts are only causing you suffering.  Only you can hold on to these thoughts, and you also have the power to let them go if you choose.

There are many different forms of meditation and the ultimate aim of meditation is finding bliss.  Sat Chit Ananda – truth, consciousness, bliss, as the yoga sutras say.  Ultimate awareness of reality, resting in our true nature.  The act of meditation is not the same as achieving sat chit ananda. Through meditation we might have glimpses of this blissful state.  If we practice long enough and become skilled enough we might achieve samadhi, that place of truth, consciousness & bliss.

But how to meditate?  Withdrawal of the senses and single pointed focus (pratyahara and dharana, respectively,  in the 8 limbs of yoga) help us.  Having a point of focus such as the breath, a candle to gaze at, or focussing on the pressure of the feet on the ground in a walking meditation.  These allow us to transcend the mind and become the witness, to see things as they truly are, dive deep into meditation and maybe attain Samadhi – the state of pure bliss.  You don’t need to be able to site in lotus pose or even cross legged!  There are many different way to bring that focus.

It is not a scary place to be – it is quite the opposite.  Allow yourself to be curious and to explore.

If you’re interested in learning more about mediation join me for my Finding Stillness Workshop 28th April or 26th May.  We’ll be exploring different forms of meditation alongside yoga practice and pranayama techniques to help support the meditations.

Both sessions take place 3-6pm at Seasonal Yoga Academy, Glasgow

You can book here or contact me for further detail fi@fishepherd.com

 

The Art of Manifesting

The Art of Manifesting

Yes, Spring has finally Sprung!!  It’s a time for visioning, setting goals for the year ahead, and with a second full moon this month, a Blue Moon, what better time to set some intentions and start manifesting what you want from life.

When it comes to manifesting it doesn’t actually matter when you do it – full moons, new moons, beginning of the season or month, beginning of the year, beginning of the week, a new day or any  symbolic moment in your life.  Any particular time you feel drawn to creating a new beginning is a great time for setting intentions and manifesting.  Listen to your intuition – if you are wanting to make changes then “now” is a good time to start.  In terms of Seasons, Spring is the perfect time for looking ahead, for setting out what you want to achieve in the year ahead.  Planting those seed intentions and then nurturing them throughout the year so that they can grow and expand.

I like to create some rituals, to create a space to think and dream. Nothing overly complicated, do what feels right for you.  You might want to light a candle, grab a notebook, have an object with you that will be symbolic of the change.  Meditate to get you into calm and focussed state of mind.  Then start to dream.

  • What do you want to achieve over the next year?

Be specific, dream, but start to create a clear picture in your mind of what you want to achieve, how it looks. Take time to really explore that picture in your mind and see how it feels through all 5 senses.  Let go of the if’s, but’s and maybe’s – this is your dream and it is limitless.  What does that dream look like?  Explore that picture – the sights, sounds, smells.  How does it feel?  How do you look in that picture?

Once you have this picture your unconscious mind can start looking for opportunities that align with your dreams.

  • Why do you want to achieve this?

Understanding why you want this, what your purpose is, gives you a context for achieving your goals.  Like having a compelling picture in your mind, having a compelling reason for what you want to achieve is great for keeping you on track.

Make sure that reason is for you and not linked to someone else’s expectations.

  • What do you need to do to achieve your dream?

Now you have this compelling picture in your mind you can start thinking about the steps that you need to achieve it.  It might be a big goal or dream so start breaking it down into chunks.  What can you start doing now that aligns to your dream and will help you?  What tasks are on a slightly longer timeframe?  Plan them out, write them down.

Once you start breaking it down into smaller chunks what might seem like an impossible dream suddenly looks achievable.

  • What do you need to let go of?

What is stopping you moving forward with this dream?  What is holding you back?  Acknowledge these things.  Ask what purpose they are serving in your life.  Wht are they holding you back?  The majority of times it is fear that holds us back – fear of the unknown, fear of change.  If this dream is something that you really want then something has to change.

Can you let go of these things that are holding you back and no longer serving you?  Revisit that picture in your mind of what you want to achieve – make that picture so bright and compelling.

  • Take Action in alignment with your dreams

Start taking action – start making progress on those small steps that you’ve identified.  Don’t put them off.  It’s amazing how quickly times passes by so start taking action NOW – by taking action in alignment with your goals you are sending a powerful message to the universe that this is where you are going, this is what you want.  Once you start taking small actions it also reinforces the dream in the unconscious mind and it will keep looking for opportunities.  Keep taking small steps forward and the plan will start to come to fruition.

When we take action that’s not in alignment we are sending messages to the brain that it doesn’t really matter, it confuses the brain & it will direct us back towards comfortable habits.

Take action now.  Do it with purpose and focus.  No half-hearted measures.

  • Stay open to possibilities and opportunities

Don’t become too rigid in your goals.  In Spring time when we set goals we can become too wooden, allow space for flexibility, for new ideas and opportunities to present themselves and above all, allow space for magic to happen.

When we stay open it is amazing what opportunities might present themselves to get you to where you need to be.

  • Tune into, and Listen to, your intuition.

Sometimes we become so fixed on our goals that we say yes to things that seem like they might be good but our intuition says “No”.  They might be part of someone else’s dream and tempting as it sounds might not be quite in alignment with what you are doing.  Listen to your gut instincts

  • Get EXCITED

When we are manifesting new things we are manifesting changes to the current status quo and change can be uncomfortable thing.  Pushing us out of our comfort zone, into unknown territory.  Be curious about where that could take you, get excited about where that could take you.  See it as an exciting new adventure full of learning, full of new possibilities.

Where will your dreams take you?

Seasonal Yoga – Winter

Winter is a time for relaxing, restoring and recharging your batteries.  The kidneys and bladder are the organs associated with the season of winter according to traditional Chinese medicine and the kidneys can be thought of as our own battery pack.  We need to ensure they are recharged to support us through the year.

It is a time for reflecting – contemplating what continues to serve us and what no longer serves us.  But this is not a time for taking drastic action or making radical changes.  It is a time to reflect and contemplate, building a bigger picture so that we can start planting seedlings in spring that we can nurture and grow.

Water is the element associated with winter.  It reminds us to go with the flow or to be still and reflect.  When the kidneys are out of balance we tend to feel fear – the adrenal glands are paired with the kidneys and are involved in our ‘fight or flight’ stress response so if you are feeling a bit stressed or fearful practice some gentle flowing yoga or find stillness in meditation to calm the body and mind.

With the start of a new year many people choose this time of year to go on a diet but this is the time when the body is seeking warming hearty meals such as soups and stews.  That doesn’t mean you have an excuse to be unhealthy at this time of year!  Fill up on healthy vegetable with warming spices – curried parsnip soup or cumin spiced roasted root vegetable.  Check out @seasonaleats for some weekly inspiration.

Winter Recipe: Spice Roasted Winter Vegetables

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Sweet potato
  • 2 cloves garlic – peeled
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • Olive oil

Wash & peel the vegetables & cut into large chunks/wedges.  Combine in an ovenproof dish with the garlic and cumin seeds.  Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven (180C) for 30-40 mins or until the vegetables are tender.

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Watery Winter Moon Flow

This lovely practice is great for easing out tension and gently moving the body.  Moving between child’s pose, upward dog & downward dog. Flowing through the spine, closing your eyes and taking your attention inwards.  Listen to what your body is asking you for, spending a few breaths in one particular posture, perhaps swaying the hips from side to side in updog or down dog.  Keep the focus on the watery, fluidity of the movement.

Child’s Pose – Up Dog – Down Dog – Up Dog – Child’s Pose

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There are still some spaces left at my Mini Retreat this Sunday (14th January) at Prana Yoga Hamilton.  Give yourself some time and space to relax and recharge.

Or join my weekly Restorative or Yin Yoga classes at Seasonal Yoga Academy Glasgow

I’m also starting a monthly meditation workshop which kicks off on 11th February.  This monthly workshop is suitable for beginners and those with a regular meditation practice.  It will offer a supportive space to learn more about meditation, develop a regular practice and dive deeper