Focus on the good in your life. Focus on presence. Focus on love and showing love to yourself and others. Once you do this, the overall happiness of your life will totally change. Suddenly life doesn't seem as hard. Rather, life is exciting and the challenges are embraced rather than avoided. And the ironic beautiful part is, when that fateful day comes, we can reflect upon our lives knowing we lived, felt and appreciated every moment.Read More
If you know me, you know the title of this blog is a pun if ever there was one. Whilst I would like to say I know the answer to a life of tranquility and absolute peace, the reality is – I don’t. And I don’t know anyone else who holds this solution either. Sorry.
This past week has been anything but peace and tranquility for me. And it seems for many of my students also. Uni has gone back, it’s been consistently hot weather (shocking for Melbourne standards)… Life is busy and stress levels are on the rise for people. Myself included. I like to write my blog as I feel something. As a topic of interest comes to me that I want to share with those who care to read it. But today, this week in fact, I’ve got nothing. I feel totally blank. My mind is scattered, and my practice is off. It’s just been one of those weeks. Nothing bad has happened, and I’m in no way dissatisfied with my life. All I can put it down to is simply just being ‘one of those weeks’!
The Type-A Overachiever in me tends to get really pissed off when I have a week like this. Actually, an unproductive day or even an hour can annoy me. I hate to waste time. I’m up at 3.30am every day and I make the most of every minute. If I don’t then the unhelpful, critical parts of myself begin to kick in and tell me to work harder, to stop slacking off. I often talk about being accepting of our own journey and the different paths we will take. To embrace the good and the bad, the tough times and the easier times. Well, this has been a week where I’ve needed to really take a leaf out of my own book and allow myself to be OK with the hurdles I’ve faced. My washing isn’t folded, the dishes are not put away and cooking – well, thank goodness my partner cooks or I would starve to death. I’ve lacked the motivation to really push as I normally would. It’s just been one of those weeks and that is OK!
At the end of the day, we’re all human. Our physical and emotional body will fluctuate. No two days will ever be the same and whilst we may have the energy to run a marathon one day it does not mean we have the same energy the next. I’m a classic example of someone who can quickly head toward burnout if I don’t pause and reflect, so I’m accepting that this time, this week has been an opportunity to do just that. Pause and reflect about where I’m at, where I’m heading and what steps to take next. Rather than being angry about this, I’m enjoying the process of being slightly more tranquil and a little more peaceful in my mind, achieved purely by granting myself permission to slow down.
If you’re feeling a little run down, be sure join our Sunday Restorative Yoga classes or a deeply relaxing Yin Class on a Monday and Friday evening. If you ask me, they’re always just what the doctor ordered.
Sending tranquil and peaceful hugs,
Your reality is the direct result of your thoughts. Where you focus your attention is what your life experience will become. Our perception will alter how we think about everything in life - if we choose to laugh about missing a flight, being stuck on an Indian train for 48 hours (seriously, I went through this and more), losing your keys, getting stuck in the rain. Whatever the experience is, we can choose how we respond to it. We can crumble and fall apart when faced with challenges, or we can look for the funny side, the lesson, the challenge - or all of the above - and rise above it. Grow as a person. Be better for the experience.
If you choose to be a victim in life, you will always be a victim. If you choose to be a powerful person who is in control of your own destiny, then this shall also be true. I have come across many people who blame the world for their troubles and laugh at those who encourage positive thinking. Sadly, the person who lays blame shall only ever see the grey colours in the world whilst the person who chooses to always look for the positives will always see all the colours of the rainbow. If I have a choice of which world I would like to live in, it’s the one with the rainbow thank you very much. Life will always throw a curveball at you - it’s how you respond to it that defines you.
Whilst there is much debate about the power of the mind - regardless of what others say - when you enter into the 5 thousand year old practice of yoga, you are entering into a practice which is all about controlling the mind. Yoga is often misunderstood to be able the physical body, when in fact it is about learning to choose peaceful responses to challenging situations. To conquer fears which exist only in our minds. To seek out our internal power, push boundaries and realise unexpected things about ourselves and our abilities through the practice.
When you feel an itch, let it go - choose to ignore the distraction. When you want to release yourself from an asana because it’s uncomfortable, breathe deeply and work through it. Be stronger. Be in control. Do not give into temptations of the mind. This is where true power lies. This is where your balance will be found and peace exists. With every breath, commit to finding this peace within. In time, you will know nothing else and your sky will be full of rainbows.
It is often assumed practicing yoga with your eyes closed leads to a deeper relaxation. That it allows us to go a little deeper into our practice and therefore into ourselves. It turns out, this common misconception, one I too have shared, is exactly that - a misconception. Let me explain.
Firstly, we all know that trying to balance with your eyes closed is not a good idea. It makes achieving the asana very difficult to do. Asanas like Vrksasana (Tree) or Garudasana (Eagle) require practitioners to concentrate on a single, unmoving point to maintain this balance. A simple, common sense reason for keeping our eyes open.
But aside from physical balance, I want to explain why keeping our eyes open during our practice is so important to truly achieve this deeper inner awareness and state of bliss we all seek. To give an example, sitting in my favourite little cafe in Mysore, India, I was having a most wonderful, enlightening conversation with a true master of meditation (and as such a true master of himself). We were chatting about the noise of India and my fascination with yoga originating from a place which is so loud and often overwhelming. His reply silenced me, and since that day I have continued to ponder his words. He said, “...you see Jessica, we need the noise in India for if you can find stillness within despite the noise and all other distractions, then you have found true peace.” Amazing. What a wonderful way of looking at the world.
The same applies with the following example. Many can find stillness and peace whilst standing on the top of a mountain, sitting in a silent Ashram or Church or enjoying a beautiful nature walk, but it’s when that same person can stand in the middle of a crowded market and experience that same feeling of peace that they have found true peace within.
So, when this is applied to yoga, if we can find true stillness with our eyes open, absorbing all the distractions but still managing to go deeper and truly listen to our bodies, only then can we achieve the ultimate bliss for which yoga can give. Commonly people think keeping their eyes closed will lead to relaxation. For some asanas, like Savasana (Corpse), absolutely. But asana practice, prior to finishing with Savasana, is not meant to be about relaxation as such. It is preparing our bodies to become relaxed as a result of the practice. Hatha Yoga, for example, is the ‘Yoga of Effort’. From this place, through this practice, we bring balance to our bodies and by bringing balance to our bodies, we can achieve ultimate bliss.
So with that, remember, during your next practice, be sure to keep your eyes open but make a conscious effort to notice what’s going on within the body. Listen to your body and respect what it’s telling you. You might be surprised what you find out.