Be Present

‘Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.’ ~ Thich Nhat Hahn

Ahhh … this is the key, isn’t it?

The key to unlocking calm and peace to the middle of a stress-ful, chaotic day.

What tends to knock us out of equanimity is the little monkey in our mind; the one that is cheeky, playful, frustrated, angry, bored, and it expresses itself in different ways.  Our cheeky chimp can be made worse by external factors such as the stress of being a single parent, a bully for a boss, doing the dishes or the draw of Facebook.  However, if we are to remain completely present, those external forces are no longer an issue. 

But what does being present actually mean? According to one dictionary, to be present means to be in existence at the moment in time at which an utterance is spoken or written. Interestingly, the word “present” comes from two latin words that are taken to mean “before” and “existence”. So, that messes with my head. 

If you are completely present, then the external factors no longer affect us because in that present moment, we only need to think about what is at hand. We do not have to let these factors add to what is already worrying us. For example, if your child interrupts your yoga practice, by being present, there is then only you and your child. You can appreciate your child for who they are and be thankful for that moment.

If your boss demands that you focus on an urgent task, you can choose to stress out because you have a million other things to do and not enough time to do them. Or you can be present, and focus completely on that task, and now there is only that one task and you. When you’re done, you can move on to the next task.

By practising being present, it allows everything else to fade away, leaving only you and whatever you are dealing with right now.

How to Practice Being Present

Like anything, it takes practice. When you practice something regularly and consistently, you become good at it. And the following method is fairly simple to do.

Whatever you are doing, right now, learn to focus completely on doing that one thing. Pay attention to every aspect of what you are doing, to your body, to the sensations, to your thoughts. You will notice your thoughts, if you are paying attention, jump to other things. And that is OK. You are not trying to force all other thoughts from your mind, but instead, by becoming aware of that jumping around in your thoughts, you have found the tool for gently bringing yourself back to your present task. Just notice the jumping thoughts, and patiently come back to the task at hand.

Do this once, then do it again.

Now this practice is not meant to be exhausting and you should start to notice how your worries melt away and you enjoy your present task much more.

Be joyful in whatever you are doing, grateful that you are able to do that task, and fully appreciate every little movement and tactile sensation of the task. Anything can be an amazing experience.

Set yourself little “mindfulness bells” are useful to remind you to come back to the present. E.g. The red light could be your mindfulness bell as you drive. Meditation is a fantastic way to practice because it can be done anywhere, anytime. It removes much of the complexity of the world and allows you to just learn to be aware of your mind, and to bring yourself back to the present moment.

Practice, repeatedly, in small easy beautiful steps. Each step is a wonder in itself, and each practice helps you to find that calm in the middle of the traffic of your life.

Be Happy

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne

We all want to be happy. But for many of us, happiness is an elusive, fleeting state that we can capture only for a brief moment, before it floats away like dust in the wind. The truth is that as human beings, almost all of our forward momentum is driven by the pursuit of happiness. 
The thing is, what we chase we perceive WILL bring us happiness. In fact, a big part of our struggle with life is figuring out what makes us happy, and perhaps more importantly, what makes us consistently happy.
I see the hashtag, #chasingmyhappy, or variations of that, on social media, and I wonder, how about if we #behappy instead?
Yesterday afternoon, I was having a one-on-one session with one our our trainee Ambassadors, and we were discussing different types of yoga vs. the intention of yoga. People get so caught up with the “style” of yoga that they forget what yoga is about. It’s not about what you do, it’s why you do it, and the intention of yoga is to realise bliss.
You are bliss.
You are happy.
You are a melting pot of glitter moments.
You just need to get rid of the crap that is stopping you from realising that.
So, what can you do?

  • Practice gratitude. Each morning and evening, list what you are grateful for. We get so caught up with stuff that we forget what we have. Realise what you do have and how far you have come.
  • Consciously make positive memories. Every region in our brains can be strengthened through practice. If our brains are really good at remembering negative things that happen; likewise, we can train it to remember positive things.
  • Look for the silver lining. There is always a silver lining; even though some need more searching. Keep looking for the positives to cultivate happiness.
  • Mix things up. Get out of the rut and do something different. Meet different people. Read a different type of book. If the cycle you are in isn’t making you happy, mix it up.
  • Live your values. When you start to look at your values, you will realise that you know all along what makes you happy. So, get clear on your values and live life on your terms.
  • Stay mindful. Sometimes we want to escape. The world seems dark and scary. Practicing mindfulness, we become more fully engaged in our lives.

Happiness is a choice.
Know that you are in control of your happiness, and every day you get to choose to be happy or not.
It’s time to take responsibility for your own happiness.

Our Kind of Yoga

This is Our Kind of Yoga! What a lovely blog. Check it out!

The Dragonfly Jar

I’m wondering what is the collective noun for a group of yoga teachers.  If we have a parliament of owls, an exultation of larks and a smack of jelly fish, then surely we can come up with something original for a gathering of lycra-clad bendy folk who teach yoga?

The reason for my pondering is that I’ve just completed an up-skill huddle for yoga teachers (By the way, I don’t think ‘huddle’ counts because it connotes groups conferring in whispers, rather than nutters offering up the bonkers conversation and laughter that I’ve just experienced).  This annual weekend get-together coaxes yoga teachers – trained and honed over many seasons by our Ladyship Ann-See Yeoh* – to travel from far and wide to her South West yoga studio.  Our kind of up-skilling (in case you are interested)  involves exchanging  stories, rolling out our yoga mats and – naturally – eating vegan cake…

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