yoga off the mat contemplation

What would freedom look like for you?

Would it be

  • Lots of $money$ in the bank?
  • Perfect relationships?
  • Perfect home?
  • Perfect family?
  • Perfect job – or maybe no work at all?
  • The choice to do whatever I want, whenever I want?

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is NOT the sort of freedom that yoga offers.

>> The sort of freedom that the ancient writings and teachings point to is INNER freedom.

Okay, so perhaps there are some things on that list that look pretty good. The funny thing is that once you experience inner peace and freedom, you no longer see these things as goals and funnily enough you may even find you have many of them!

Certainly relationships become much easier when you have perspective on what it is to have this human existence. And your purpose, your work, might unfold a bit more easily as you feel into the flow of it. It may not really feel like work so much, as you realise you can be present and fully engaged in whatever you are doing.

Freedom in yoga is a capacity to drop away from the personal ‘me’ to feel a sense of expansiveness within.

Yes we still have a human life to deal with. But when we feel more freedom within, we also feel more connected and whole. Compassion and okayness are natural outcomes.

And we realise that where we are right now, and doing whatever we are doing, is where we find that freedom.

I’d love to know if YOU find freedom in your everyday life?

To me, that’s what this work is really about (I even wrote a book about it!)

*If you are interested in experiencing more inner freedom in your life, then my online course Fluff-free freedom might be just perfect for you. Find out more HERE

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.

Street library

An unexpected benefit from decluttering

A few years ago if someone had said this to me I would have been shocked … but thanks to my decluttering and simplicity journey, I am delighted to hear it:

‘I picked up your book Yoga off the mat’ at a street library during a COVID lockdown. I have read it slowly. I have had yoga in my life for many years and find the journey so exciting, including finding your book. Sending you lots of love and appreciation.’

It makes me smile.

Someone thought to pass on my words because they had served their purpose for them, and now someone else has benefitted.

Not only that. Another week or so later, I got this message:

Hi, I got your CD Shavasana at a garage sale. It’s so great, I use it 3 x a day for burn out recovery. I want to buy some for family and friends, where can I get it?

It really does make me happy.

To have my book in a street library and a CD in a garage sale of course confirms that I have been around for a while, (the book is over 4 years old now and the CD over 14!) but I suspect that not too many years ago I would have felt a twinge of hurt, ‘who threw away my book / CD?’

What I am finding by getting rid of anything I no longer need, is that my surroundings feel clearer and cleaner, and somehow I am freer to go in whatever direction feels right, without feeling too weighed down.

It is great to know that all the trips to the op shops in Mordialloc and Parkdale and the Already Read shop in Euroa are helping others too, perhaps in quite unexpected ways.

Decluttering to me is a form of ‘sauca’, a term from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras meaning something like ‘purity and cleanliness’ and of ‘aparigraha’, meaning ‘non- grasping’. These are both behaviours that the Patanjali suggest we cultivate and I could go on about each one at length (but won’t).

Putting it simply, if our space feels cluttered we feel that as a burden, whereas having clear space around us feels lighter and freer. We really don’t need or use or even enjoy many of our possessions. For example, when looking at my wardrobe, it helps me if I remember that I can only wear one outfit at a time.

And we all know that we are constantly bombarded with ads and images suggesting that our life would be better if only we had this outfit or that furniture, this product that is going to make our complexion look dewy or that device for keeping in touch or for cooking something amazing in record time.

The truth is, we need a lot less than we think, and that does not for one minute mean we can’t have nice things, just a reminder that we don’t have to grasp at all the things that other people want us to think we need.

This is all part of a yoga journey, who would have thought?

So, over to you now, what have you learnt from your yoga journey or from decluttering. I’d LOVE to know!

Want to know more about yoga off the mat? Check out my online course Fluff-free freedom or sign up for my newsletter to keep up with the latest.

finding freedom in everyday life

YOU are the only one who can free yourself

Yes a teacher might point you in the right direction.

But unless you do the work yourself, you probably wont get to experience the wonderful state of freedom that is available for you.

The wonderful state of bliss and connection that comes from dropping back from the busy mind.

The state of yoga that is your birthright.

This is something that takes work to realise, it certainly isn’t immediately obvious, is it?

To see the mind for what it can do and what it can’t do.

To practice being still and dropping away from the mental drama so as to experience the bliss and Shakti of being.

It is wonderful to have a mind and we use the mind in so many ways to make our way in life.

We get so familiar with it that we mistakenly think that we are the mind and that the mind is somehow what defines us.

Our work is to free ourselves from the trap of the mind.

The trap of the ego.

The trap of the mind-developed sense of self.

As this card suggests that you contemplate, you are the only one that can do that for yourself.

When you do, what is left is experience of inner freedom and bliss. Of perspective. We realise the Self as one big connected being.

We are the droplet in the ocean, so we are the ocean itself.

Freeing yourself is the work of yoga.

Oh, and when you truly get that, guess what? Then there is more work!

Feeling free within in a big step.

And then life goes on and continues to require actions, responses, interactions and so on. If you take the time and effort to keep noticing (and not just float around in your newfound bliss bubble) you will observe that life still has its ups and downs. You can observe yourself interacting. You see the effect of your interactions.  You can observe your mind chatting.

Perhaps you have a new compassion for yourself and for others.

***

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a starting point.

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.

*If you are interested in experiencing more inner freedom in your life, then my online course Fluff-free freedom might be just perfect for you. Find out more HERE

Surrender to what is, be OK with what is

Surrender to what is

Can you be okay with how things are?

They don’t have to stay as they are, in fact there is nothing more certain than change anyway, but for this moment now can you simply surrender?

Or do you feel the need for control?

Having a human mind means having a want to control, a desire to know and be certain about things. And yet control really is an illusion.  Yes we have a degree of personal agency, but the bigger picture is always just what it is, regardless of how we would like to control and manage it.

Surrender happens when you no longer question ‘why me?’

We could well ask instead, ‘why not me?’.

We can be annoyed when things don’t go the way we think they should, can’t we? Have you seen that in yourself? Sometimes it is easier to see in other people’s situations.

An alternative response is to surrender to the reality of the moment.

When we surrender to ‘what is’ we no longer ‘argue with reality’ and can find a place of acceptance, and then funnily enough we have better capacity to deal with whatever it is we have to deal with. We find a way to be OK.

‘Surrender’ is a wonderful mantra for meditation, and for life! One of the tracks on my Shavasana CD and digital recording is a Surrender meditation – you can get it right now here.

Have you practiced surrendering?  What have you found?

While considering the idea of surrender, you might also be interested to read ‘The Surrender Experiment’ by Michael Singer. A book and author I have only come across in the last couple of years: https://untetheredsoul.com/

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a starting point.

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.

*If you are interested in the possibility of surrender and experiencing more inner freedom in your life, then my online course Fluff-free freedom might be just perfect for you. Find out more HERE

inner freedom, self realisation, awaken

Now is the time to get back in touch with your Self, to come home to your Self.

This quote is a good reminder for me that right now is where our work is.

Not in some future time when everything about life is more tidy and organized. Not when we have more money, more time, better relationships etc. No, that is an excuse to put it off. Why wait?

Why not experience inner freedom now?

If not now, then when?

Patanjali used the word ‘atha’ in the first of the Yoga Sutras, which is ‘Atha yoganusasanam’. I am not a Sanskrit scholar, but my understanding is that this translates as ‘now to Yoga’. Now is the time.

Not some other time, but right now.

Why waste another day not exploring the possibility of feeling connected and free?

If we are willing to let go, willing to drop back from the mind, we are there, home with our Self.

Still-mind Meditation and contemplation are the means that worked for me to experience this, along with my practice on the mat. I don’t think anything works sufficiently without some guidance and support. Some help to tease out the way we live in our heads…

The usual ways we think of our ‘self’ is a person with a body and a mind isn’t it? The mind comes up with a ‘me’ that describes our roles, our relationships, our desires, our problems, the whole lot.

We think that mind-created ‘me’ is who we are.

It takes a lot of effort to see that ‘me’ is something that the mind creates.

That the mind creation called ‘me’ is only some thoughts and has no substance really – isn’t that mind-blowing?

What this card suggests is that there is a Self to come home to, and that Self becomes apparent when we drop the ‘me’ self, when we drop back from the thoughts altogether. What may become apparent when we drop the body and mind (like we do when we practice corpse pose, and also when we meditate) is a stillness and quietness, a place from where the mind can be observed.

To me, this is much more where we want to keep our awareness. That quiet, watching, non-commenting Self. The expansive and unlimited space. The place where we experience what I like to call inner freedom.

Lets do all we can to get in touch with that now!

To realise your Self, to come home to your Self.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a starting point.

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.

*If you are interested in the possibility of experiencing more inner freedom in your life, then my online course Fluff-free freedom might be just perfect for you. Find out more HERE

Sarasvati contemplation cards

You already have everything you need within

You don’t have to search anywhere else.

The freedom you seek is within. The happiness you seek is right there too.

The truth about your being and reality, which maybe you did or maybe you didn’t know was part of the puzzle, is right there as well. The truth of your path, your dharma, is within you.

How do you find out what there is to know if it is within?

You have to be quiet.

You have to quieten the busy mind and drop back from it.

Ironically, if you really want to know your path, if you really want to experience freedom within, you have to be willing to surrender the need to control and know.

When you give up all the mental habits and desires you may well find a sort of profound joy and okay-ness.

And then perhaps a glimmer of insight as to your path will bubble up and become apparent. Where you are right now is perfect for now. Sometimes it is perfect for later on too, but we all know that change is inevitable. Maybe in stillness we get a little nudge about moving in a certain direction. And if you listen quietly maybe the message gets clearer or maybe it fades away.

I have always found that projects and ideas have presented themselves, and rightly or wrongly I have tended to follow the little nudges. Some have been more outwardly ‘successful’ than others but I always grow and learn from them.

The nudges I have followed are many, here are a few:

*Do yoga teacher training (way, way back in 2001!)

*Teach meditation as well as yoga

*Teach mother and baby yoga

*Teach yoga for breast cancer 

*Write a book

*Buy our house in Mordialloc (moving to the beach from the eastern suburbs where we had spent most of our married life)

*Create yoga off the mat contemplation cards

*Blog and chat about the contemplation cards

*Create an online course that takes people to a state of inner freedom

Some of these projects had a natural duration and others continue. The thing I have found is to stay open and to stay tuned in to the inner voice, so to speak.

Life presents us with opportunities as well as what might be seen as challenges. These are the ups and downs of any life. How we accept and ride those waves is up to us. Spend some time tuning into your inner wisdom and you might find that everything really is okay. You really can feel a sense of inner joy and okay-ness. Maybe even great bliss and love. That is always my wish for you.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a starting point.

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE and postage is free in AustraliaThey make a perfect gift too.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.

*If you are interested in the possibility of experiencing more inner freedom in your life, then my online course Fluff-free freedom might be just perfect for you. Find out more HERE

Sarasvati contemplation cards

Drop the neediness for life to be any different to what it is right now

Of course this card was going to pop up during lockdown number 4 wasn’t it?

Just when we think ‘it should NOT be like this’, we get this reminder to drop the neediness for life to be any different to what it is right now. I might add that these quotes were created and cards were made before the pandemic, and even though the message seems to be particularly apt today, the messages apply universally.

Here we have a good reminder not to blame, not to get stuck in our head, but to find a way of being okay so that we can get on with this one life that we have.

It would be a pity to waste this one precious life on negativity and blame wouldn’t it? Why do we think the grass is greener somewhere else? Why do we want what someone else has? Why do we think things will be better some time in the future? The future is an idea in our head isn’t it?

The only time we really have is this moment now.

If your life right now is the one you have, this is also the moment where you can do the work of freeing yourself from the veil of illusion. This moment is where you are. Do you think it has to be any different? If you do, you have an argument with reality. Can you be okay right now where you are? Can you find peace and joy and contentment right where you are? Can you feel a sense of inner freedom?

Can you do the work of freeing yourself from a sense that you are an individual separate person to a sense that you are consciousness expressing itself? Can you do the work of rather than identifying solely with a sense of ‘me’ as this body and mind to that of a larger sense of being none other than universal creativity and energy? Can you see that the sense of ‘me’ is created by the mind and really only exists in the mind? I know these are hard concepts to grab, but understanding them is so freeing.

You don’t have to wait until everything is different, or somehow better, to do this work.

Yes it is work and it may take some time to feel it experientially, but there is no better time than right now to begin. To drop back from the busy mind and feel the creative expansive flow that expresses itself through the body and mind that you have. Can you see the difference that makes?

It doesn’t take different circumstances to get that, it takes the willingness to drop some conditioning and look.

You don’t have to take anything on faith or belief. Look and see, that’s all. You can do that right now.

The perfect time to do this work is right now. Right in the middle of your life – messy as it may be. Do you agree? I’d LOVE to know.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a starting point.

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE and postage is free in AustraliaThey make a perfect gift too.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.

*If you are interested in the possibility of experiencing more inner freedom in your life, then my online course Fluff-free freedom might be just perfect for you. Find out more HERE

inner freedom is possible

Use your talents and skills, and also experience your divine nature

We all have skills and talents. Things we like to do and things we are good at.

Perhaps you know what your skills and talents are. Or perhaps you think yours are nothing special, but if you consider your experiences leading to this point, then yes they really do make a unique set!

Maybe also there is something that you want to do, something that has been nudging at you to come to life.

Are you talented at or curious about music, art, accounting, organizing, motivating, singing, creating, engineering, story-telling, IT, yoga teaching, meditation teaching, sharing mindfulness, teaching stress-management, gardening or whatever combination of these and other things you bring to your life?

For me what this card is saying is that while we do the work that we bring to the world, we can also experience our state of inner freedom, our divine nature.

These are not mutually exclusive. We are not divine only every now and then, or only while we are sitting in meditation. There is nothing in our world and our life that is not divine, that is not connected and a part of the whole.

So perhaps we don’t have to run away from our life to experience the bliss of being, or to experience our divinity, our inner freedom?

Whether we are zen on the mat or caught up in an argument, whether we are out in nature or doing our work, this is life and all of life is divine.

Does this mean that life always feels blissful?

Sometimes it takes being fully immersed in our creativity to find our bliss. We find ourselves in the flow and the work pours out of us. But I think we can also experience inner freedom and bliss in doing the dishes. Not if we are grumpy about doing the dishes, and probably not if we are rushing and trying to be super efficient either! But if we simply go about our day, we can do it with presence and awareness, rather than being on autopilot without such awareness. We can practice moment-to-moment awareness, and moment-to-moment inner freedom and divinity.

What have you been doing when you were just going about life doing your thing with your unique set of skills and talents, and have felt the experience of divinity, your divine nature? I’d really love to know if inner freedom is a more or less constant experience for you, whatever you are doing, or even if you think that is possible.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a starting point.

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE and postage is free in AustraliaThey make a perfect gift too.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.

*If you are interested in the possibility of experiencing more inner freedom in your life, then my online course Fluff-free freedom might be just perfect for you. Find out more HERE

The mind is a useful tool for living

The mind is a tool for living

Have you ever thought of the mind as a tool? As not the whole of you are, but something useful to help you in your life? And just like other tools, something that you can drop for a while too?

We have many tools to help us live well. For example, we have a car to take us places. It is a fabulous device for transporting us around. The mobile phone is another useful device. It helps to keep us connected with others (oh and so many other uses too!) And what about our computers? They really do make our lives easier even if they also have us tearing our hair out at times!

The thing about these tools is that they are great for assisting us to live well but we don’t need or want them to run our lives.

We turn the car off and leave it in the garage. We shut down the laptop or at least close the lid. We (hopefully!) take a break from constantly interacting with our mobile phones. And all the other gadgets we use throughout the day – we understand their place in helping us to live our lives and don’t mistake them for who we are, right?

The mind is also a useful device, great for thinking, planning, and helping us to communicate.

It really does make a difference when we learn to take a break from the mind. To drop back from reacting to the chatter and busyness that the mind creates. The constant mental commentary is so familiar that it fools us. The mind creates a sense of ‘me’ and we forget that we are not the mind. I think it is almost like some people who forget they are not their phone!

It is not of course immediately obvious that you are not your mind.

The ‘me’ in your head is a mental projection and not the whole of who you are. We gradually develop meditative awareness as we learn to drop back from the mental busyness. This is something we have been exploring in **Fluff-free freedom, and it really does make a difference in people’s lives.

It is not as though having a mind isn’t useful, of course it is! Dropping back from the mind is what helps us to feel connected, whole and free.

Not having to be drawn into the drama of the mind gives choice and perspective and ultimately gives us the capacity to feel into the larger, creative flow and sense of being. My invitation is for you to find this inner freedom for yourself.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a starting point.

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE and postage is free in AustraliaThey make a perfect gift too.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.

**Find out more about my online course Fluff-free freedom HERE

Sarasvati with yoga off the mat contemplation cards

Don’t fill all your time with busyness

de-clutter your schedule
Don’t fill all your time with busyness, leave some space for life!

Have you ever thought about decluttering your schedule?

I have been clearing and de-cluttering lately, and it feels so nice and fresh. It reminds me that just as I can clear out a wardrobe or kitchen cupboard, I can also don’t have to clutter up my schedule. It is important to keep some time clear just as it is important to keep some cupboard space clear.  

Do you schedule every minute with things to do?

How would life feel if there was some space between tasks and appointments?

  • Space for ‘life’ to reach you?
  • Space for inspiration?
  • Space for feeling into the flow?
  • Space to feel inner freedom?

Sometimes the words used to describe finding space have negative connotations, you know like lazy, indolent, laggard, slovenly, slacking off.

We have been conditioned to think these are all bad things, but are you going to let that stop you? I wonder whether we haven’t learnt that it is okay to make space for life?

Don’t get me wrong, if we were like that all the time, just sitting around for days on end, then perhaps there would be a problem. In case you don’t know, I’m a doer much of the time.

Leaving some unstructured time in our day seems so counter to the ‘making the most of every moment’ efficiency that we are supposed to have theses days. But I have found it is really useful.

Maybe that is why we have had to add more formal downtime in practices such as restorative yoga, massage and healing practices – because otherwise we don’t leave time to just be?

Supported restorative yoga, deep relaxation, shavasana and meditation are all practices that we can use to find space.  

How do you de-clutter your time?

Do you leave any time in your day to just be?

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start.

You can purchase your own set of these ‘Yoga off the mat, contemplations to enrich your practice’ cards from the store HERE and postage is free in AustraliaThey make a perfect gift too.

The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.