The Inner Critic versus the Inner Mentor


I’ve been listening to a wonderful book by Tara Mohr called Playing Big (I'm the slowest reader on the planet so listening is my preferred method). I’m only a third of the way through but I’m finding it to be profoundly important, especially at such an uncertain time in my life.

In her book, Tara explains how powerful the voice of the inner critic can be. She refers to this voice as one which tends to, unintentionally, keep us small. To stop us from ‘Playing Big’. This voice in our minds eye is there to protect us. It protects us from being vulnerable should we be placed in foreign situations. Unfortunately, however, it’s this same inner voice, this inner critic, that prevents us from trying new things, from experiencing new potentials. It’s the voice that tells us we have nothing valuable to say when we sit down to write that blog post or start the novel we’ve been planning to write for the past 5 years. I know my inner critic has prevented me from doing many things with my life. Why? Because I allowed it to. It felt safe and comfortable listening to this voice, indulging it. I didn’t have to try as much for I had an excuse not to. After all, “…as if you have the power to influence others in a positive way Jessica? Who would want to listen to you?” See how it works.

When I met the wonderful man in my life 10 years ago, he saw just how paralyzed I was by this internal world I had created for myself. Just as we get stronger when we go to the gym and do weights every day, this inner voice, my inner critic, had developed Hulk-like strength. This voice dictated my life.  It was so limiting that leaving the house without having mopped the floors and done my washing on a Saturday was verging on unbearable. OCD much! Heaven forbid had I left the bed unmade! 

10 years ago I made a decision I didn’t want to ‘play small’ anymore. I didn’t want to allow myself to live a life that was so bound by (my own) rules, so afraid of change and so victimized by the negative stories I repeatedly told myself – over and over and over again. So I began the long and ongoing journey to begin strengthening the voice of my inner mentor, as Tara would call it. She is the person I aspire to be. The person who is free from worry, from irrational thought, and is completely secure in how she stands in the world. She is the person who reminds me to keep going even when the present world around me feels as though it’s about to fall apart (which is most days at the moment – there’s no point lying!).

At the end of the day, I don’t know all the answers. God help me if I did! But what I do know is I’m taking active steps every single day to be the person who I believe I can be. To do what makes me smile and what gives meaning to my life. There are days when I allow the inner critic to take control of my thoughts and therefore my behavior. Those days are generally not fun at all. But when I take a moment to gather my thoughts, breathe deeply and just be, suddenly the drama disappears and my self belief reappears. This doesn’t mean the difficulties are gone. Let’s be totally frank here – life is always going to be filled with challenges. The difference is in how we respond to those challenges. That is what defines us.  That is what determines whether you follow a meaningful path, headed toward the place of wisdom where your inner mentor waits, or weather you remain stagnant, afraid and playing small.

For 10 years now, I’ve always maintained an attitude that anything is possible, and I maintain it to this day. Through my career in Rehabilitation, I’ve seen people recover from some of the most horrendous accidents whilst others who have had relatively minor incidents in comparison spiral downward. Why? Because it comes down to our choices. It comes down to the person we want to be in this life. No drug, no outfit, no amount of yoga can turn your life into what you want it to be. You need to want it for yourself, believe it can be yours and then fight hard for it. From here, yes, absolutely anything is possible.

So with that said, take some time to think about the stories your inner critic likes to share with you on a daily basis that keep you small. Be grateful for them and then graciously let them go. Visualise your inner mentor and the characteristics she/he possesses. When you feel anxious about a decision, ask yourself, what would my inner mentor do? And do that. Remember, your inner mentor is your place of wisdom, a place you can trust. There is nothing to fear here for he/she holds all the qualities you’re aspiring to possess. He/she is now showing you how to attain them.

I would love to hear from you? What is something in your life you dream to do but fear trying? Moving house? Changing jobs? Going on a holiday – alone! It could be anything. Then – let me know what your inner mentor would do in the same situation? You might be surprised at would you find out.

Be strong. Be powerful. Be you.

Sending huge hugs and love your way,

Jessica xo

Goodbye India - I shall miss you

Currently, Im making use of the best internet I’ve come across since being in India. The Wi-Fi in New Delhi International Airport. Yes - I’m on my way home. Since travelling through India I’ve had very limited access so it’s nice to write a final post from the airport (final for India - not final for the blog).

Sitting here, early as usual, I’ve been pondering my thoughts and feelings about the end of this ‘chapter’. There are so many emotions right now. Sadness about leaving but also joy to be going home, nervousness about what the future holds, gratitude for the lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had. I could go on! At the end of the day, I’m ready. It’s great to leave when you’re still having fun rather than when things turn to crap. Don’t get me wrong - I’ve experienced snakes in my room, rats in my room, rat poo in my bed, perverts opening my window to watch me shower, scariest toilets on Indian railway trains… believe me, I’ve seen and been through some VERY uncomfortable experiences. But every one of those not so pleasant experiences has led to some sort of learning. Funny and uncomfortable experiences aside - there have been far more mesmerizing, eye opening and just plain wonderful experiences also. For one, my training with Bharath of course. This has been a true highlight of my life and I shall never forgot the incredible journey I went through as a student of his. Seeing the tea plantations in Munnar, visiting the most southern point of India - Kanyakumari - where three oceans meet (Indian, Arabic and Bay of Bengal), the Taj Mahal, Ganges River in Varnasi. Just to name a few. The precious moments are endless.

India has a way of forcing you to be vulnerable and just ‘be’. In India, there is no future thinking. It’s all about the here and now, because everything is so in your face, there is no other way of being.

From here, I shall continue to blog about my journey as a yoga teacher. Really the journey is only just beginning. There are many people in Australia who I intend to meet with. The plan is to begin running my own classes in Melbourne somewhere near Glen Iris. Rent a hall and then spread the word Im running classes. Im also in negotiation with a luxury accommodation companies about partnering to hold beautiful retreats. What a life hey! I could think of nothing better than to spend time with amazing people who are seeking to deepen their practice with the aid of a stunning and relaxing getaway homes. Of course this will all happen slowly slowly, but that’s ok. If there is anything I’ve learned from yoga - it’s patience.

So with that, I want to say “Thank you India. Thank you for welcoming me so warmly, for offering new and exciting experiences, and most importantly - for opening my eyes. I shall be eternally grateful”.

And thank you to all the readers who have been following me during this time. You inspired me to keep writing - and to continue writing. I only hope my honest account has inspired you to follow your hearts also.

Well, it’s time to sign off but I shall be in touch back in Australia.

Lots of love. Jessica xxx

Precious moments - witness them, feel them, be present with them

What is so fascinating about India is how it forces you, me, to be completely present. There is so much going on that you can’t help but just ‘be there’. To observe. Never in my life have I been as still as I am here. I met a wonderful man in Mysore who explained the noise in India is necessary. That if one can master stillness amongst it then one has truly achieved a deep level of awareness, of being centered. I have my moments, but I certainly work hard to consciously be here.

This place also forces you to be very patient. Nothing is easy here. The usual things which are so simple back home are a real challenge. This is always the case when doing any sort of travel, but in India it’s especially true. I’ve mentioned many times about internet being an issue. For me, I’m use to it to connect with the world, but for Indians, its the least of their worries. And with that said, I’m boarding a 3 day train to Agra this afternoon so I wont be in touch for a couple of days!

Oh - funny but not so funny story.  In Munnar, while showering before bed, I noticed my bathroom window was open. As I knew it was closed earlier in the day, (and I told housekeeping not to worry about cleaning my room), I knew no one had been in there. A little nervous about this, I went over to the window to close it and saw a man starring into my bathroom!! He had been watching me shower!
The only people it could have been, (who knew I was in that room and that that was my bathroom window), was a staff member at the hotel. Las Palmas. I could have touched his face he was so close, but I screamed so loudly he ran away quickly. Seriously!!!! For you women travellers out there - make sure you double check your windows are locked!!

Ok, I have to run now. I had other posts written but with computer troubles and internet troubles I lost them :( I will have time on the train to write those blogs again and will be sure to post them when in Agra.

Wish me luck!!

Namaste xx

Brace yourself - prepare to evacuate!


Today Bharath sat at the front of the class on his blue and yellow mats, as he normally does, and just looked at us. Analysing us, noticing. I’m not sure what he was noticing but I think he was merely trying to get a feel for the energy of the class. He then asked the following questions; “…how many of you are sore or stiff; how many of you feel hungry; or not hungry at all; how many of you sleep very well; or wake up during the night; or don’t sleep at all; how many of you are suddenly crying and you’re not sure why; or laughing too much…” For many of these I put my hand up, as did the rest of the class, and with our answers Bharath just simply said, “Good”.

This is expected. Our bodies are going through so much change with the intensity of our practice. When looking into the Pranic body, it is trying to balance itself, and in doing so we are going through, as Bharath would say, “fluctuations”. It’s lovely to know I’m not going crazy!

These fluctuations are only about to increase. As of tomorrow, we are beginning a 5 day Sadhana - “an ego transcending spiritual practice.” What is it you ask? Well, on Saturday we will be completing the Kriya - Shanka Praksalana. Definition: Dhauti cleanses the upper digestive tract. Shanka Prakshalana evacuates the intestines and thoroughly cleanse the whole digestive system (from mouth to anus). Nice!

We will be drinking about 5 litres of saline water each and practicing yoga between each ‘round’ to get the water moving through the body and ‘out the other end’. OMG! For someone who doesn’t like to ‘go’ in public toilets or other people’s homes, this is going to be one hell of a challenge. Dignity may be completely gone come Saturday lunch time… We’ll see.

But in order to prepare for this process, there is alot to consider. The foods we eat must be very simple, nothing heavy like oils, or spicy, and we will fast the night before. Then the first meal we eat afterward will be prepared by Bharath’s assistant. As the mucus lining the stomach and intestines would have been removed, our bodies become sensitive so a very specific, bland meal must be eaten as the first meal post. We then need to be very careful the two days following the practice. I’ve been told no tea for 5 days!

This Kriya is important as we need to a) understand the technique properly and b) it will prepare us all to go deeper into our practice for the final weeks. I will keep you posted!

I met with Bharath today during my lunch break, to chat about a few things. How to pull together a sequence for someone with migraines (my thesis), the stiffness in my knees and back, the type of bed Owen and I choose when I get home… During our chat I couldn’t help but be in awe of how calm this man is. In his presence, you cannot help but be completely focused on what he has to say. Nothing else can distract you. I think this is merely a reciprocation of how he is treating me? He too is completely focused on what I have to say, which is such a rare quality nowadays. I know I can be terrible at being completely present - trying to do a million things at once. That path only leads to stress in my life. I think it’s time to actively work on the other.

With advice in one hand re my sequence and recommendations for a firm / rough bed to help with my posture and back troubles, I left Bharaths home with a big grin on my face the whole way home. He just has this effect on people. It’s a wonderful gift he has and I feel privileged to be training under the guidance of such a man.

So, with that said, it’s time for a final tea before prep work begins tomorrow.


Namaste xx


The house is world famous!