Category Archives: meditation

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

Guided Relaxation – Why should I use it?

I am a great fan of guided relaxations which allow your body and mind to completely relax and have just released my first collection of guided relaxations to download – Earth & Sky (Available on iTunesCDBaby Amazon & Google Play

In our current lives we are pretty much on 24/7 and I find through my yoga classes that people find it very difficult to relax.  It’s not something people are used to doing out with sleep and it’s not something people tend to consciously make time for.  I love seeing the effects on people when they’ve experienced a guided relaxation during class – the sense of lightness and calmness in their faces and bodies – and I wanted to share this collection so that people can receive the benefits more often.

It’s incredibly important that we find time to properly relax.  In this 24/7 busy and stressful lifestyle our sympathetic nervous system is switched on a lot of the time.  This is our fight or flight mode.  Whether it is work, family life, financial pressures, anxiety over the future, there are a whole host of stressors which trigger this fight or flight mode.  When the sympathetic nervous system is engaged our heart rate increases and our breathing rate is increased in order to get oxygenated blood to the major muscles to react to the stressor.  We make short terms decisions based on the information we have to hand to get us away from the stress.  With the blood supply busy transporting oxygen to the major muscles our digestive system doesn’t get what it needs to function properly.  If we live too much in this state it has a negative impact on our bodies and our lives.

It is therefore important that we ensure we make time to rest and engage the parasympathetic nervous system.  This allows our heart rate to slow down, the circulation system to deliver blood and nutrients to all the organs to allow the body to function optimally and repair itself.  When we are in a more rested state we are able to take longer term decisions, have the space to step back and find creative solutions to problems and be able to respond rather than react to events.

My guided relaxations are written to allow the body to come to complete muscular relaxation while staying awake and aware.  The conscious mind can switch off.  I like to think of these as a away for your mind to do a bit of file sorting – if the mind is continually busy it it can get overwhelmed with the filing of information and information gets filed in the wrong place or distorted.  When we allow the mind to relax it can have a bit of a tidy up and process information effectively.

In the relaxations you also have the option to utilise a sankalpa or resolve.  This is a short phrase, intention or affirmation that you can say near the beginning and end of the relaxation for something that you wish to change.  As you relax your mind can take in the intention so that it can act as a reference point for future actions.  Here are some examples:

  • I am beautiful and loved. I am proud to be me
  • I trust life to unfold in positive ways. The universe loves me and supports me
  • I choose to see everyone and everything with joy and love
  • Life is change. I adapt easily and accept the past, the present and the future

Any phrase or affirmation you use should be short and simple so that it is easy for you to remember.  It should be in the present tense ie said as something that you are doing now rather than something you have done in the past or will do in the future.  It should also be in positive language, bringing positive things in to your life rather than being about giving something up.  For example “I choose to eat healthy and nutritious food” rather than “I am giving up food that is bad for me”

Using sanklapas and affirmations in this way when we are going about our daily life our mind will look for ways to support these beliefs which will help to make positive changes if you choose.

Earth & Sky album is available to download on iTunes, CDBabyAmazon & Google Play.

Meditation or Relaxation – what is the difference?

 

I’m often asked by people in my classes what is the difference between relaxation and meditation.  They both have some similar effects on the mind and body and I believe they are both important in modern life but they are two different techniques.

Let’s start with relaxation.

There are two aspects to our nervous system – the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.  The sympathetic nervous system is where our ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response comes from if we are confronted by danger or some form of stress trigger.  The body releases adrenalin and cortisol to get the heart pumping faster and the breathing rate increases to get more oxygen around the body, particularly to the large muscle groups so that we can get out of danger quickly.  The parasympathetic nervous system on the other hand is our ‘rest, relax and restore’ response. The heart rate slows down, the breathing rate slows down and blood is transported all around the body to all the organs allowing them to function properly.

These days our lives are very much centred in the sympathetic nervous system.  We are so busy with so many competing demands for our time and energy the majority of us feel some form of stress on a daily basis.  And a small amount of stress isn’t a bad thing, the stress triggers us to take some form of action.  But if we are constantly in the ‘fight, flight, freeze’ mode then we are putting a lot of pressure onto our bodies and minds.  If the body is focussed on getting out of danger the mind is making very short term decisions, the blood circulation is diverted away from our digestive system, our blood pressure is increased for prolonged periods of time.

We therefore need to take time out and relax.  But this is easier said than done.  The common way to relax – a glass of wine in front of the TV.  We may think we are relaxing but we are still being bombarded with information which can create stress triggers.  The easiest way to relax is to find a few minutes of quiet time each day, lie down, focus on the breath and allowing all the muscles in the body to relax.   This allows the heart rate to slow down and the body to restore itself.

So what about meditation?

Meditation is a technique that allows us to become aware of the body and mind a to bring more awareness and compassion into our daily life.  Meditation works to quiet the internal chatter so that when we act we are acting out of choice rather than making habitual reactions to a situation.  It helps us to respond rather than react.  It also allows us to live in the present moment, not clinging to the past or pining all our hopes onto some future time or event.

Similar to relaxation techniques meditation also has the effect of switching on the parasympathetic nervous system but by tuning into the body and mind and choosing how we respond to situations it can reduce the effect of the stress triggers.  That’s not to say that if you’ll be more prone to danger because you can’t react fast enough rather it gives you the space to decide whether you need to react or not.

There are lots and lots of different meditation techniques but the general theme is a single point of concentration which then allows the mind to quieten.  It could be focussing on the breath – the sensation of the air flowing in through the nostrils, filling the lungs and the sensation as it leaves the body or one of the myriad other techniques.  Some days the focus may come easy other days it may be hard to quieten that internal chatter, the key is not to judge – it is what it is.  As with anything, regular and consistent practice is the key.

Over the next few months I’ll be exploring relaxation and meditation techniques in more depth and compiling some guided meditation and relaxation downloads.

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