Nurturing Compassion

“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You're able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And, you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.” - Pema Chödrön, Practicing Peace in Times of War

On the yogic path of inner exploration one has opportunity to address both our personal psychology and our deeper spiritual nature. This can involve three principles; grounding, letting go and awakening the heart. Thus counteracting the obstacles of spiritual bypassing, ego-centric self involvement and numbing distractions. A really useful tool to connect with these principles would be the practice of meditation. Along with that, a method of self enquiry is helpful in addressing the unconscious patterns and emotional complexes that interfere with living more authentically, with roundedness, openness and heart.

Tantric Buddhism used the metaphor of the snake uncoiling to describe the process of awakening. The coils of our neurosis have raw, wild energy entangled in them. To uncoil these tangles, so that we do not remain ensnared does not require us to kill the snake or even sublimate its energy into more socially approved forms. Instead by simply allowing it to do what it naturally wants to do - unwind - we tap into its power and aliveness. What allows this coiled snake of the mind to unwind is awareness and gentle compassion. Compassion doesn't try to suppress the snake's wildness, but rather draws upon the energies entangled in it to propel us forwards on our path. Liberating the qualities of our being, proclaiming and celebrating them, using them to help ourselves and others is a never ending path and with great compassion we can tap into them.

The ego mind is a learned set of behaviours and programs and the ultimate goal in yoga is to move beyond them by virtue of the radiant Self. The presence of the Self is experienced as compassion for all living beings, in all their expressions, including its evolution as one's personal self. As a consequence, condemnation is replaced with forgiveness, which is a sign that it is now safe to proceed deeper into inner inventory without undue stress. I find it useful to remember that the world benefits from wisdom and not from hatred, blame or guilt. An Indian yogi I trained with once explained that compassion is like recognising we are all part of the same body, that I might be an arm, while another a big toe, or the other way round. This doesn't prevent the need for healthy boundaries in practice, however it can remind us of what connects humanity in a time where there is so much out there that seeks to separate us. 

The capacity for forgiveness arises from accepting with honest humility the limitations of the human condition, which is on a learning curve as our consciousness evolves. This process is on-going and a practice. Consider in your practice how you relate to yoga, how you see yourself through your practice and how you communicate internally as your body expresses itself through movement, breath and form. What is your conversation within? When you fall off balance, do you sigh in condemnation? Or are you compassionate, accepting of where you are at and resolve to carry on and do better? The simple act of observation can be incredibly illuminating especially when we are honest with ourselves.

In my experience, self-honesty requires courage, humility, patience and compassion for the immature aspects of the conscience, which after all, arose originally as a product of childhood while nurturing a sense of humour along the way can ensure that the deep sincerity is met with the lightness of heart.

Namaste

By Jessica Brookes
Yoga Teacher / Founder at The Shanti Space

References:
Toward a Psychology of Awakening - John Welwood
Oneness With All Life - Eckhart Tolle
Practicing Peace in Times of War - Pema Chödrön
The Yoga Tradition - Georg Feuerstein

 

Hatha Yoga Bandhas

Carl G. Jung the eminent Swiss psychologist, described yoga as 'one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.'  Yoga sutra consists of two words only: yogash chitta-critti-nirodah, which may be translated as: “Yoga is the cessation of agitation of the consciousness.”

The word yoga is derived from the root yuj, which means to yoke, unite or to join together. Hence, the practice of yoga leads to the union of the human with the divine - all within the self.

Hatha Yoga is a development of which its fundamental objectives are the same as that of any authentic form of Yoga: to transcend the egoic consciousness and to realise the Self, or divine Reality. However the psychospiritual technology of Hatha Yoga is particularly focused on developing the body's potential so that the body can handle the onslaught of transcendental realisation. Mystical states of consciousness can have profound effects on the nervous system and the rest of the body. After all, the experience of ecstatic union happens in the embodied state.

Hence the central aim of the physical efforts of yoga is to generate a spacial capacity and flow of life energy, known as prana, within the body and aura. This energy is both increased in quantity and quality. It is then directed into a natural pattern of circulation and flow that releases the healing powers of the body's natural intelligence and the discerning functions of the mind. In this state of inner health and clarity, the sense of being and spirit awakens.

"Hatha" has a symbolic meaning derived from it's sanskrit translation of Ha, 'sun', and tha, 'moon', symbolising opposites - passive and active, female and male energy - coming together in balance. 

Prana, the energy that flows into the body and aura, and apana, the energy that flows out of the body for cleansing, are the generative and eliminative qualities of energy. If both of these qualities exist in sufficient amounts, and blended together, a new phenomenon is created.  The yogis described this as the opening of the flow of energy into the sushumna, the central channel up the spine to the brain (see image).

Demonstrating the subtle energy system; sushumna, ida and pingala nadis, kundalini and chakras.

Demonstrating the subtle energy system; sushumna, ida and pingala nadis, kundalini and chakras.

A dormant reservoir of vital energy known as Kundalini (meaning the 'coiled one') at the base of the spine is awakened and directed upwards toward the eyebrows said to be the seat of wisdom. On its journey, it purifies the body - physically, mentally and emotionally - and on arrival consciousness expands and all is revealed.

Practically, a fundamental aspect of one's yoga practice is to be aware of the three inner locks known as Bandhas. These are special bodily maneuvers that are designed to confine the prana (life force energy) within the trunk and thereby stimulate it.

The combination of opposing muscles forms these “locks”, stimulating nerve conduction, illuminating the chakras and initiating the opening of the energy channels (Nadis) that distribute vitality around the whole body. 

Moola bandha / Root Lock
This is the most complex of the three locks. It is like a hydraulic lock at the base of the spine. It coordinates, stimulates and balances the energies involved with the rectum, sex organs and Navel point. It redirects sexual energy into creativity and bodily repair. Moola bandha contracts the muscles of the pelvic floor lifting and toning the organs of the pelvis including the bladder and genitalia. The pelvic floor muscles are recruited and awakened by contracting associated muscles such as the iliopsoas. This focuses the mind on the first chakra at the base of the spine and stimulates the proper flow of spinal fluid. 

Udyana bandha / Diaphragm lock
Udyana bandha contracts the upper abdominals in the region approximately two inches below the solar plexus and focuses the mind on this third chakra. Only apply this lock with the breath fully exhaled and never do it on a full stomach. This lock vertically integrates the emotional qualities of the mid-body and allows circulation of the pranic energy into the central channel, sushumna. Whether applied sitting or standing, this lock directly massages the heart muscle and intestines. It stimulates cleansing and is associated with youthfulness and the slowing of all degenerative ageing processes.

Jalandhara bandha / Neck Lock
This is the most generally applied of the locks. It is a general rule to apply it in all chanting and meditations and during most Pranayama meditation exercises. Jalandhara bandha contracts the anterior neck muscles, flexing the neck and drawing the chin to the sternum. The head stays level and centred and the muscles and throat remain loose. This focuses the mind on the fifth chakra and creates nerve reflexes that stimulate and balance the thyroid and parathyroid glands. 

Maha Bandha - Practicing of all three Bandhas at the same time. With all locks applied (with the breath out) the body is in the perfect healing state. The practice and perfection of this lock is said to cure many ailments such as menstrual cramps, improper blood pressure, poor circulation. The glands, nerves and chakras are rejuvenated.

Generally, the breath is held during practice of the Bandhas. Mula Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha can be performed after the inhalation as well as after the exhalation. Uddiyana Bandha and Maha Bandha are only performed after the exhalation. 

Maha Bandha is an advanced practice and should be learnt under the guidance of an expert. There should not be any strain while holding the breath outside. If there is any discomfort, release the lock and breathe normally.

The benefits of bandhas:

  • As the Bandhas momentarily stop the flow of blood, there is an increased flow of fresh blood with the release of the Bandha, which flushes away old, dead cells. In this way all the organs are strengthened, renewed and rejuvenated and circulation is improved. 

  • Bandhas are also beneficial for the brain centres, the Nadis (energy channels akin to Meridians that run through the body) and the Chakras. The Nadis are purified, blockages released and the exchange of energy is improved.

  • Bandhas alleviate stress and mental restlessness and bring about inner harmony and balance.

Try to bring more awareness of these inner locks during your yoga practice and notice the subtle difference it makes to the integrity of your asanas (postures) and the subtle energies you feel within the body during your practice. While the benefits and yogic knowledge can be explained in theory; it always comes down to your own experience and realisation of these benefits.

Namaste

By Jessica Brookes
Yoga Teacher / Founder at The Shanti Space

References:
The Yoga Tradition by Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D.
Laya Yoga: The Definitive Guide to the Chakras & Kundalini by Shyam Sundar Goswami
Everyone Try Yoga by Victoria Woodall
The Aquarian Teacher by Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D
Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff
Asana Pranayma, Mudra, Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Main Image: Eyes of the World by Mark Henson 1993

 

Humility of the Himalayas

himalayas

It was late May in 2011. I was living in a beautiful beachside apartment on the pristine Bondi beach of Sydney, I heard the ocean’s waves through my bedroom window and admired the sunrise daily as I rode my bike to the office. I worked as a strategist in an advertising agency and was working on award winning campaigns. My evenings would be spent snuggled up to my long-term boyfriend or out having dinner with friends.

On the outside, I was a woman who had it all.

At least that was what it looked like. The truth was there was a burning desire within me for something else. My heart longed for what I couldn’t find and in reflection I never would have done outside of myself. 

So when a window of opportunity came along to fulfil a dream, I chose to trek the Himalayas of Nepal with my old university friend Stephanie.

Stephanie upon our arrival in to Lukla.

Stephanie upon our arrival in to Lukla.

We began our trek to Everest Basecamp full of enthusiasm; we made jokes about yak cheese, sang and danced. We ran out of breath as we climbed the high altitude mountain trails and gasped in awe at the splendour of the world’s most magnificent mountains. The Himalayas wrapped in peaceful stillness and the wind reminding us of the constant shifts in life among these fierce mountains. Little did we know that our planned mission to the world’s biggest mountain, Everest, was to take a surprising turn.

Stephanie and I didn’t make it to Everest Basecamp.

The Golden Jubilee Festival of Sir Edmund Hillary's first school in the village of Khumjung.

The Golden Jubilee Festival of Sir Edmund Hillary's first school in the village of Khumjung.

We found ourselves at the 50th Jubilee for Sir Edmund Hillary’s first school in the region attending celebrations with locals, charity founders and the high society of Nepal. The locals danced in their colourful traditional dress, we tucked around open stoves and learned of the typical meal of the region; Dhal Bhat and how children walked with arms around one another climbing through the dusty paths of these old mountains, crossing giant bridges in order to get to school. We saw old ladies tending the land with their hands, the livestock wandering freely and landscapes so breathtakingly expansive that the heart could hardly comprehend it.

As Steph and I sat crossed legged in one of the highest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world, meditating to mantras harmoniously sang by the monks; I experienced a new sensation in my body. An energy vibrated within me from the base of my spine and as I felt it climb up my body, a euphoric feeling expanded through my being. I felt inspired and expansive. As the monks started playing brass instruments, among the chaotic sound, I felt a blissfulness resonating.

Tengbouche Monestary

Tengbouche Monestary

I’d been doing yoga for a while and attended various meditation courses. I knew to breathe, I knew to be present and conscious and yet this experience in me was the beginning of a very deep journey within.

From that moment on things have never been the same. My world literally transformed. I returned to Sydney with a different perspective and not before long I had left my job. My boyfriend and I broke up. I said farewell to my friends and sold or gave away most my belongings. I became engaged with yoga, herbal tea and detoxing. With a sense of life's impermanence and an adventurous spirit, I booked flights to every destination I’d ever dreamt of visiting and began a new journey of wonder living life out of transportable luggage, while learning (and often relearning!) the virtues of patience, grace and acceptance. 

The following year I returned to Nepal and spent some time volunteering at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery meditating every morning, teaching a little English, collecting wood and washing up. Sometimes my meditation would be an afternoon of pealing potatoes. I also finally, completed the original mission by making my way to Everest Basecamp. This time however, I carried my own bag, used a map and a compass and was accompanied by companions that I had met along the way who remain friends to this day. It was an enriching and inspiring trek.

The trek to Everest Basecamp

The trek to Everest Basecamp

Visiting the world’s greatest mountains was more than a dream come true. It made me realise just how small we are and yet how big and beautiful our dreams can be; one does not feel big amongst those giants. The space, the quiet, the simplicity of life and the fresh air are lovely reminders to humanity.

Now I am delighted to be the founder for The Shanti Space; an enterprise that seeks to create spaces for peace and well-being around the world; in the knowledge that real peace, begins from within… But my goodness are the Himalayas a wonderful place to start!

Sharing is beautiful by ERK

"So you share yoga? What does that mean?" Diego asked, a slight smile breaking through his beard. I thought for a bit, trying to distill the philosophies of yoga and why I choose to share rather than teach.

"It's rather simple. If you feel like yogaing, we yoga." Chin rising in an almost-nod, he processed the words, probably wondering if yoga can also be used as a verb. Looking out the window at the beach, he said, "So, can we yoga?"

"Let's."

And just like that we found ourselves in dandayamana dhanurasana, barefoot on one of the beaches hugging the coast of the Argentine Patagonia, yoga toes grasping at the sand as the chilly wind challenged our balance with gravity. We found ourselves falling over, turning hearty laughter into pranayama.

Diego is a world traveler we met in a sort of happenstance by virtue of the living, breathing, interconnected network of world travelers known as couchsurfers. For about a week we shared what we had, music, films, yoga, ideas, curry. In that week we also met a few of his friends and we learned about a little project they had scheming, Qultural Nomade. The idea was simple, pack up a van full of childhood friends, follow roads to other places, and share art. That was over a year ago when our paths crossed.

Now, the dream is alive and rolling. The van, dubbed the yellow submarine, is a beautiful piece of machinery infecting art and "la buena onda" wherever it finds port. Currently, the crew has taken up anchor in Valparaíso, Chile.

Check out their website and make magic with them if you find yourself wandering the same lands.

Pura vida! 
ERK (Erick / Karma Yoga)

Shanti

Shanti, Santhi or Shanthi (from Sanskrit शान्तिः śāntiḥ) means peace, rest, calmness, tranquility, or bliss. 

The poet T.S. Eliot, in his poem The Waste Land (where he spelled it Shantih) translated it as "The Peace which passeth understanding."

The ability to find stillness and acceptance for ourselves and for the world around us and this is a journey through love away from the constraints and attachments of ego.

Peace is the light that overshadows chaos. Peace is the doorway leading to knowledge and respect. It’s the stillness, the soft and quiet that births love for all creation. This is the truth held in the hearts of the masters who radiate love, understanding and compassion. You can make Peace by forgiving, have Peace by accepting, find Peace by trusting, bring Peace by respecting, be at Peace by understanding, and give Peace by loving.

Take inspiration from the lotus flower

The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud - the obstacles of life and its suffering.

The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one - Buddhist monk Nechung Oracle via Goldie Hawn's Memoir

Enlightenment means taking full responsibility for your life. - William Blake.


To see the world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour


If one wishes to be sure of the road one treads on, one must close one's eyes and walk in the dark. - Saint John of the Cross


To the illumined man or woman, a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same. - Bhagavad Gita


We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy is when adults are afraid of the light. - Plato

Being

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”  ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

The present is the only moment there is.  The present is sometimes seen through a veil of experiences that can colour ones view of reality and a lot of these imprints are created at the impressionable time of childhood. Situations bring up emotions which we translate as good or bad based on mind signals.

"Dvesa (aversion) is an emotional repulsion and flight from pain, manifesting as prejudice and hatred and making it impossible for us to learn from life's hardships and our own mistakes" - B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga

Emotions could be seen as "energies in motion" and when we don't express or breathe through them they can create blocks within the body. 

Karma

It is true that we should not be bound by the linear and logical alone. Our reality can extend beyond that. But is it not add, that by observing all things knowable in the Universe that we can see, everything functions and reacts according to precise, physical laws and truths - Malcolm Graham (from Guru to God)

The word 'Karma' literally means action. It may appear that Karma is happening to us, as if some outside force is causing good things or bad things to come to us.

"There is a principle which is bar against all information, which is proof against all argument and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." - Herbert Spencer

The 'Law of Karma' is the spiritual translation for 'Newton's Law of Motion'

"Each action causes an equal but opposite reaction. No difference between action and reaction. Cause is affect concealed and effect is cause revealed. When you know one - you know the other"

One might realise all karma is due to debt. Karma can occur between two individuals only if there is some bondage of debt between them.

The more you scheme and plot to snatch from others the farther you bind yourself down in karmas. The freer you are, accepting when it is given and giving when it is requested, the more of your sufferings are believed to be effaced.

A person performs actions and is remunerated. The fruits of the actions motivate him to perform actions again, and then again he is rewarded. It becomes a cycle: the fruit arises out of the action, and the action out of the fruit. From time immemorial, life has proceeded in this manner. This is called the wheel of karma. The law of karma is equally applicable to all.  Our past samskaras (sufferings: desires and aversions) are deeply rooted in the unconscious so these latent samskaras, or impressions, create various bubbles of thoughts that express themselves through our speech and behaviour.

It is possible for the aspirant to get freedom from these samskaras. Those who can burn these samskaras in the fire of non-attachment or through knowledge, are free from the bondage created by them.  It is like a burnt rope that has lost its binding power, though it still looks like a rope.

"Self-identification with one's actions converts them in to karmas by binding the ego down more tightly to the limited, temporary personality." - Rnanu Bandhara

See

“One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realisation of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself; the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you. It is just like the sky: the birds fly, but they don't leave any footprints. You cannot follow them; there are no footprints left behind.” ― Osho

Awakening by Naoto Hattori

Awakening by Naoto Hattori

"There is a principle which is bar against all information, which is proof against all argument and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." - Herbert Spencer

Touching the world

Its a very personal journey and a beautiful experience to reveal not only all the beauty around you, but that which shines within. Learning to get beyond the mind's interpretations and in essence truly touch the world.

In yogic philosophy we cognise the physical world around us through our five organs of perception and without them we would not be aware of the physical world. Interestingly through genetics, conditioning, society and perception, all of these senses are experienced differently for different people.

"When we are harmed by another's actions, it is wise to recognise the harm, to rectify it, and to avoid future harm. Aversion (dvesa), on the other hand, is not seeing (avidya) the distinction between awareness and the self and thus reflexively carrying the hurt forward by becoming identified with it. It becomes part of 'me,' and the one who harmed becomes the 'hurter.' Mired in these identities, both we and they will have a more difficult time moving forward from a painful experience. Righteousness and guilt can seem worthwhile and may certainly appear to promote personal and social goals, but they actually prolong suffering. Neither is the same as clear awareness, the true foundation for taking responsibility." - Chip Hartranftm The Yoga Sutra of Patanjal

 

Words

It is written.

The words one chooses. The words that define form create certain responses in our minds. Words can hurt and words can heal. Words can separate and words can unite. Words are sign posts to the language of the soul.

Breathe out tension

Language is an incredible gift. It allows us to express. When we feel stuck, blocked, unsure, spoken words and written words can help release that tension and rationalise ones experience. Journaling is a powerful way to transform, reflect and release. If you can't sleep, get up and write down everything that is keeping you up. It'll take the tension out of your mind. Writing a journal and practicing being grateful is a great way to relieve tension through word.

Breath intention

"Gratitude opens the door to the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the Universe. You open the door through gratitude" - Deepak Chopra.

Be mindful of the stories one tells oneself.

Words help us create. Words have a special power. Ask yourself what it is in your heart that is not in your reality. Write it down, put it in to the present tense, speak these words to yourself everyday and watch the magic happen.

These are the affirmations used in Reiki:

1: Just for today, I will not be angry

2: Just for today, I will not worry

3: Just for today, I will be grateful

4: Just for today, I will do my work honestly

5: Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing 

Get creative and write your own. Set your goals and intentions for the day and count your blessings along the way.

 

Sound

In the beginning there was sound.

Have you ever noticed how sound can affect your mood? Sound vibrations have an incredible power on the body and mind. They can get your feet tapping and help the mind be still with a resonance that communicates on multiple levels.

In religious culture sound has been used since the beginning. Bells are a consistent feature in the Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Judaism faith. Before religion the Earth worshippers such as shamans, pagans and druids also used sound as a way of connecting with the 'source', finding the divine through instruments such as drums and bells that create that magical space between notes.

Whether it be through music, birdsong or merely the the sound of thoughts in one's mind and words one chooses; there is a constant sound vibration permeating around and they can create.

Atoms vibrate at different frequencies in order to manifest. This includes all of the cells, tissues, and organs of our bodies. When we are healthy, everything in our bodies is vibrating in harmony. Dis-ease results when a part of our body begin to vibrate at a different rate, out of harmony with the rest which is normal in a growingly fast paced urbanised world.

Put two swinging pendulums together and in time they will assimilate one another to create balance.

tibetan singing bowl.jpg

 

The Shanti Space uses the resonance sound of the handmade Tibetan Singing bowls as a way of providing sound therapy.

The healing power of gongs and Himalayan singing bowls derives from a natural phenomenon where the body synchronises with a certain sound.

As gongs and singing bowls are sounded, the powerful rhythmic vibrations resonate throughout the body. The sound of these harmonic vibrations stimulates the alpha and theta brain waves associated with deep meditative and peaceful states that are highly conducive to healing. They also slow down the heart and respiratory rate, creating a therapeutic effect upon mind and body.

When the brain waves and body are synchronised, balance can be restored and stress relieved.

Sound in the Modern World

You don't need singing bowls to find 'shanti' in the modern world. Increasingly we are living in cities where police sires, construction and traffic are all features in the day to day urban world that one must accept.

If one is too sensitive to the sounds of modern day life there are some solutions that really help create space and time apart from it. Firstly music. Music is the most beautiful gift.

It can make you smile, dance, forget your mind and let go of the world. It can take you to new places and teach you the things you need to know.

One might find that some of the most profound insights can come through the healing and enchanting power of music and sound.

Bodywork

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

Image: Naota Hattori

Image: Naota Hattori

MASSAGE offers a wonderful way of easing the areas of the body that often experience tightness, fatigue and pain in this day and age. Often caused from working at a computer or in front of a television and losing consciousness of our posture.

Involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques body work can ease the areas where blockages in your nervous system have created unease.

REIKI is a practice developed by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui using hands in order to transfer universal energy through the palms, which allows for self-healing and a state of equilibrium.

Reiki works with the magnetic fields we all have, to channel a balance and allow energy to flow where it is needed.

Essentially reiki seeks to connect with a relaxing energy that can be transferred through touch to offer a state of calm.

When we were born we were held and this contact that we have as human beings is very healing and balancing. 

MEDITATION

 

“The basis of any healthy, harmonious society is always the healthy and harmonious individuals who populate it. Only if each individual has a pure, peaceful mind can we expect peace in society.” S.N. Goenka

Meditation is about focusing the mind to be conscious and in present. The present moment is all you have, the past is a memory to learn from, the future created on the basis of how you are in the present, so be there.

You can work with various relaxation techniques depending on what feels good for you. The aim is to be vibrating at an expansive frequency and the body an embodiment of well-being.

It takes time and practice to be a witness to your mind, to be the sky and allow the clouds of thought to pass through.


YOGA

Yoga is to unite. Its a practice which helps open us up and create space while surrendering the limitations of our bodies.

Be Conscious.

Listen to it as much as possible. When you're walking, when your talking, when your waiting in line, when your sitting at your desk. Watch the itches, the sweat beads, the tingles without having an attraction or aversion to them. If you can learn to observe them; you'll find they irritate you less.

When you have pain or discomfort ask yourself what it represents to you, it may be an indication as to where there there's a misbalance.

We work with the chakra system as guidance.

Base feet & legs - security, survival, being true to your path, ability to stand and move

Lady/Man bits front & back - creativity, sexual energy, ability to 'let go'

Stomach digestion, understanding information, worry/nerves, acceptance, judgement

Heart front & back - love, balance, compassion

Throat expression, speech, expressing your truth

Head frontal lobe - Intuition, imagination, memory

Crown inspiration, morality, creativity, spontaneity

 

MOVEMENT

Humans are habitual creatures - the key is to develop good habits for your well-being. For example try walking or riding a bike to work and be present every moment of it. When you are sitting at a desk, work your pelvic floor or pull in your stomach muscles in to support your back. Stretch spontaneously. reach for your toes in the shower. Use the stairs instead of the lift. Our bodies are made to be pushed and often the limitations are more in the mind than in what we perceive to be the body. Wake up in the morning and put your favourite song on and dance, dance, dance.

Use your intuition to work out what your favourite exercises are. Its the most natural thing in the world to do. Great urban exercises are:

  • Running up the stairs
  • Walking instead of getting the bus
  • Running in the park
  • Cycling around feeling free
  • Dancing to music first thing in the morning
  • Spontaneous yoga asanas
  • Head and shoulder rolls at the desk


DIET

Every 35 days your skin replaces itself and your body makes new cells from the food you eat.

It is essential to know what is good for you and what is bad for you. Listen to what your body truly needs, not what your mouth desires. There's a difference.

We recommend learning from food. What your relationship with it is. When Food is Love is a great book by Geneen Roth and explains how we love to create drama and how food is represented in that role play. Here's an article that might inspire you to reflect.

Its also worth learning a lot about body and diet through self-study of the 10,000 year old ancient medicine Ayurveda.

WATER

What a blessing we have to be able to drink water from the tap. Don't take it for granted. Its a gift in a world where for many its scarce.

You are mostly water. Stay hydrated. You are mostly water. Water is life.

DETOX

Regular detoxes are great. Detoxing affects your whole psyche as well as your body. Here are some detoxes you can do at home.

Addictions: Alcohol / Sugar / Smoking

In the Modern World there are many 'vices' that psychologically we can depend upon in order for us to cope with the stresses of life.

They are destructive on your body and state of mind. Addiction, desire, is a form of suffering because you are not content with yourself as you are. Try to look at the source of this addiction. How did it start? What was your state of mind? What does it represent to you?

If you fall in to the trap of an addiction, do not suffer further through your guilt. Your guilt will only perpetuate as will the habit. Look to replace the habit with something better for you.

BREATHE.

Bookshelf

Inspiring:

TED Talks

Animal Documentaries - David Attenborough

Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson

The Art of Original Thinking by Jan Philips

 

Philosophy / Spirituality / Yoga (free PDFs):

The Manuel of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho

The Art of Happiness (audiobook) by Charles Dudley feat Dalai Lama

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

What is Man? by Mark Twain

Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

What Makes You Not A Buddhist? by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle

Tantra by Osho

Ramana Maharshi

The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

The Shiva Sutras

The Great Path by Osho

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redford

Conversations With God by Neal Donald Walsch

The Tao Te Ching

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda

Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

What is man? And other essays by Mark Twain

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Constaneda

Goddesses in Every Woman

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

A Course in Miracles

True Love - A Practice for Awakening the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh

Tantra - The Path of Ecstacy by Georg Fcuerstein

Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet (World of Tibetan Buddhism, Vol. 2)

Introduction to Tantra - The Transformation of Desire by Lama Yeshe

The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

How to Know Higher Worlds (Christian Tantra)

 

Yoga:

Light On Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar

The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T.K.V. Desikachar

Awakening the Spine by Vanda Scaravelli

The Sivananda Companion to Yoga by Swami Vishnu Devananda

Beyond Power Yoga: 8 Levels of Practice for Body & Soul by Beryl Bender Birch

Asanas: 608 Yoga Poses by Dharma Mittra

The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (pdf) by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

Yoga Body (free pdf) by Mark Singleton

The Great Work of Your Life; A Guide for the Journey of Your True Calling by Stephen Cope

The Inner Journey; views from the Hindu Tradition edited By Margaret H. Case

Prana and Pranayama (free pdf) by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati


Poetry:

Mystical Poems of Rumi

Oscar Wilde

Kubla Khan - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

William Blake

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran