On Thursday I woke up with a violent migraine, an aching body and not much in the mood to drive for an hour to the spectacular gardens of RHS Wisley.
Efforts had to be made as it was my partner’s Birthday so I lay in bed and listened to my own Healing Now download which triggered the energy needed to make breakfast and drive us via the M25 into Surrey… it was my treat.
I couldn’t have made a better choice! The beauty and elegance of the gardens at Wisely is staggering and within ten minutes of going through the entrance I experienced a tremendous sense of peace and wellbeing.
A one point I sat for ten minutes of eyes open mediation … bliss!
You really can’t beat nature when you need a little soothing and healing. Being surrounded by the full spectrum of vibrant colours, with the sound of gentle water running from miniature waterfalls accompanied by birds singing, was only surpassed by the subtle waft in the air of perfume from the flowers.
It was heart warming to see so many people volunteering their time to create a place of such beauty. It has a really strong sense of community there. I overheard a couple talking, they were financial contributors and had a sense of ownership and pride about the place.
We watched people enjoying picnics, drinking coffee and eating ice cream in the cafe’s.
We smiled a lot! It’s a place that melts tension and brings peace.
A limb of yoga known as Ayurveda suggests that most people benefit from being surrounded by nature. Why not make a weekly date to bathe in nature, whatever the weather, you can wrap up warm or peel off layers as you go out to your local nature reserve, woodland or coastline and spend some quality time soaking up the blues and greens of the earth.
I wanted to share a little of my day with you so take a moment to watch the clip and allow your eyelids to be heavy as you watch the screen and breath in for three and out slowly for five. You can watch and replay this as often as you like for a de-stress and mini energy boost. Enjoy!
Isn’t that what life is? Just a moment or should I say a series of moments. It’s true. If you really think about it, five minutes time, tomorrow or next week hasn’t happened yet and two minutes ago, yesterday or ten years ago is the past. So the only bit that’s real is now! Enjoy it!
Looking back and realizing what a great evening that was or anticipating the enjoyment of a forthcoming holiday is something we all do. Whilst it’s pleasant to reflect on the past and future, we may be in danger of actually missing out on the moment, the here and now, the present.
If you’re one of my yoga students you’ll know that I’m always directing your awareness to the presence of the ego mind. This is the part of the mind that is in charge of filtering. It sifts and sorts, categorizes and labels and is an essential part of our thinking. Without it we would all be bonkers!
Although an essential part of the mind, the ego can take over, acting as if it’s the only ‘mind’. It can gather steam with its labeling, comparing, judgments and criticism and before long it’s the only part of our inner dialogue that we hear.
If your ego mind is very busy and loud it will drown out deeper intuitive thoughts from your Self. These thoughts could be considered as natural perceptive ‘gut instincts. They have just as much, if not more value. They wish to serve you in the pursuit of being the ‘best’ you. They may for example alert you to a health issue that you are not paying attention to, this pushes you to take the necessary action that could be preventative.
Think of it like tuning a radio. If you only ever listen to Radio 1, how do you know that radio 4 exists, with all its amazing programs and information?
How do we access this deeper intuition you might ask? By being present is the answer.
Being here now equals less stress. If we want to enjoy life more and feel less pressured we need to make a conscious effort to be in the moment. Being present requires being ‘psychologically awake’ and more conscious.
Take a moment to notice what you can see right now around you. Now notice every single sound near and far. Next observe what you can feel… hungry, happy, and irritable, the fabric of your clothing, the air in your nostrils, the wind on your face and so on.
Practice this as often as possible so that you become the observer… the watcher… the listener… then you may wonder ‘who am I’?
Enjoy the Easter break I wish you lots of light, love and peaceful presence.
“Just what I needed, really great” ” … completely relaxed and enjoyed the practice, venue, food and great company… such great organisation” is just some of the feedback received after last weekend’s yoga retreat. (Book there for the next one in February.
Do you want peace in your life? What are you doing to achieve that state?
Even if you’re new to yoga get on your mat and breathe then begin to stretch, you’ll be surprised how quickly you will remember a couple of yoga poses you’ve enjoyed in the past and just do them. Listen to your body. If it hurts don’t do it! Apart from that enjoy!
Even 5 minutes of yoga can give you a break from the incessant dominance of the ego mind. You’ll recognise your ego mind as the part of you that labels, criticises, judges, demands and has big expectations. Sound familiar?
Yoga means union or to join, try taking a few minutes this weekend to tune into your breathing. Go on I dare you to take up my challenge and simply follow 10 whole breaths without allowing your mind to wander – good luck with that!
Oh and by the way this is a whole breath. Breathe in. Notice the natural holding of the breath. Breathe out. Notice the pause before you breathe in again.
Enjoy and let me know how you get on. Also remember there’s the ‘Ask Sue’ page if you have a yoga related or counselling question.
Join me and millions of other yogi’s and yogini’s across the globe celebrating International Day of Yoga and be sure to do something on Tuesday 21st June. At 5.00am I will be joining colleagues from the British Wheel of Yoga on the 69th floor of The Shard to welcome the sunrise as guests of the High Commission of India.
There are many events taking place across the country most of which are free go to http://www.bwylondon.co.uk to see what’s taking place in London.
If you want to be a part of something huge and peaceful on the day why not practice a couple of rounds of the Sun Salutations, it’s said to exercise every muscle in the body! click here to print off and download for free salute to the Sun. Alternatively meditate with 8 Moments of Mindfulness.
You don’t need to embrace incense and omming to get meditation into your routine!
Discipline and commitment
The way forward is to start small and stick to it!
Like exercise if you set yourself up with too big a goal you could be setting yourself up for failure. What’s your daily commitment? Can you realistically commit to THREE minutes a day? Great! Then that’s the place to start.
The next vital thing is to choose your time – morning or evening? How about both? Set a time 7am or 9pm and stick to it.
Space to breathe
Find a space to meditate in and ALWAYS meditate in the same place. Make sure it’s nice, you know, clean, uncluttered, not too hot, not too cold. If you only have one room, select a corner of the room, make it pleasant and sit there.
Make a deal with yourself
Once your time starts, close your eyes and make a deal with yourself to remain still. DON’T fidget and ignore any itches and irritations they will go away. If you have to cough, of course do so, it’s common sense to be comfortable but aim to just be. This is the training that will help it to become an automatic system.
Rinse and repeat
Repetition is the mother of all skill, as you repeat the daily meditation you’re likely to feel more in control emotionally and notice an increased ability to regulate thoughts, feelings and reactions. These are just some of the benefits.
Once you’ve got your 3 minutes a day under your belt and it feels effortless you’ll naturally extend the time to 5 minutes, then 10 and so on. In no time at all you’ll be meditating effortlessly for 30 minutes a day! a
Which Meditation style is best or right for me?
1. Breath Focus
Who’s it for? It’s particularly good if you are more kinesthetic, you can feel the breath in the nasal passages and follow its journey into the body.
Start with a regular daily practice of two or three minutes. Sit quietly where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes, and take your awareness to your nostrils. Be aware of breathing in and out through your nose for a few breaths and then Breathe in and silently count 1,2,3,4 hold your breath 1,2,3,4 breath out 1,2,3,4,5,6 pause 1,2,3,4.
Do this for 10 breaths.
Your mind is likely to wander. This is true for all of us since the nature of the mind is to be constantly moving. When this happens simply go back to ‘one’ and start again. This is a mental discipline and the ultimate aim is to get to ten breaths uninterrupted by thoughts.
Who’s it for? Mantra isn’t for everyone, however it could be very useful if you happen to be highly auditory, tuned into sound, or if you really have a poor attention span.
So which mantra? It could be something from any faith, for example the Lord’s Prayer, or it could be a Buddhist Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, or a yogi’s Om Namah Shiva, or even the repetition of a western word such as Peace, Relax, Be or I am Still.
Choose the one that works for you. Repeat it mentally and silently over and over for the duration of your mediation.
It should also be said here that some of the more ancient chants such as Om are said to be imbibed with a powerful resonance, said to bring extra benefit to the meditator. Sounds great to me!
This might be preferred choice if you tend to be more visual, or if your eyes are tired from too much computer work. Although Trataka is considered more of a Kyria (a purification process) than a meditation.
You do need to be sitting still and probably in the privacy of your own home for this one. Light a candle about two to three feet away from you at eye level. Remove contact lenses. Relax your body, sit up straight and soften your gaze to one of receiving the light into your eyes rather than staring.
As soon as you blink or your eyes water, gently close your eyes and hold the image of the candle flame in your inner eye. As soon as the image fades, open your eyes and begin again.
Develop a system so that it becomes automatic, bring your awareness to your breathing on the hour every hour for example.
The most important thing is once you have found a method that works for you stick to it. If you keep chopping and changing you’ll never establish a discipline, and that’s the key.
So, don’t take my word for it. Do it yourself. Commit to a month and see the benefits for yourself.
Please let me know how you get on, and if you have any questions remember to post them or go to the ‘Ask Sue’ tab on the website and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.
I’m erring on the side of caution here but if you’re unsure if meditation is for you or if you’ve been diagnosed with any mental illness please check with your Doctor first.