Sarasvati with yoga off the mat contemplation cards

Don’t look outside yourself for happiness

Can you find happiness within rather than being reliant on anything external?

Do you say things like, ‘I’ll be happy WHEN …

and then there is a great list of possibilities …

*When I lose 10 pounds (or kilos)

*When I have the perfect relationship

*When i have the perfect house

*When I have the perfect children

*When I have the perfect job

*When I can travel overseas again

*When I have a more up-to-date wardrobe

It is so easy to think that it is external things that give us happiness – the cake, the chocolate (oh yes, the chocolate!!), the perfect relationship, the right income, being the right weight, wearing the right clothes, children behaving, things going to your ‘plan’.

But … really … how can something external have such an effect on our state?

Surely we know that is not a long-lasting or reliable situation?

Being happy is much more an attitude and an inner state. This is the living practice of yoga off the mat, isn’t it?

And it is something we all have access to if we drop the mental chatter for a bit and feel within. Can you do that? Can you close your eyes and feel a sense of quiet, a sense of watching and perhaps even a warm glow inside? Can you sit with that feeling? Can you even allow it to expand?

We really do have to find our own happiness. Our own inner joy that is remarkably reliable, even if things are not going the way we want them to. Perhaps you first taste this feeling on the yoga mat? Or out in nature? Then it is a matter of remembering it, of keeping the feeling, of practicing yoga off the mat as well.

As the saying goes ‘happiness is an inside job’.

It really is. Have you found that? Please share your experience!

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.

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Sarasvati with yoga off the mat contemplation cards

Unitask, don’t multitask

Perhaps you have been taught about the benefit of multi-tasking, knocking over lots of things at once to get everything done. It is supposedly a way to be more efficient.

But if you are up in your head with the juggle and not really present with what you are doing, how does that feel?

Does it feel a bit out of control? Does it feel as though nothing gets done properly and that you never quite settle into one thing before moving to the next?

Have you tried uni-tasking instead?

Doing one thing simply and properly at a time? It is really all we can do anyway, and the stress of juggling from one thing to another not only robs us of time but means that we are juggling back and forth and not necessarily doing anything with full awareness.

Let me be clear.

You can eat breakfast and read the paper (or ipad/phone). Well yes you could, and I sometimes do so myself. But if you are fully present with eating your breakfast, notice how nourishing and pleasurable it is. Just eat to eat. Eat to nourish. Notice the flavours and textures.

Of course this is a practice in being mindful.

Compare this to having the distraction of a screen. Do you really even taste your food? Do you feel full and satisfied by your food? Perhaps not.

I’m not saying there are not some occasions where you might want to multi-task.

Maybe you can t talk to your mother on the phone at the same time as doing the ironing. There are some things that perhaps we don’t need to be so present for (haha, that would be the ironing, right?) but most people can tell if you are not giving them your full attention, and is that want you really want? It would be hard to write a blog post or work on a complicated problem while talking on the phone, wouldn’t it?

If you think about your day, think about how much more productive you are when fully focused.

Switch of your notifications and be present for what you are doing. It is win-win because life feels richer, you are present for more of it AND yes it really is more efficient than flitting from one thing to another.

And a focused mind is more easily dropped for meditation. A focused mind is more present and aware.

A focussed mind is more able to be observed from your natural state of inner freedom.

Try it and see for yourself. I’d love to know what works best for you.

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.

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woman with busy mind, lots of thoughts

Don’t take your thoughts too seriously

It really is wonderful to have a mind. Our minds helps us to navigate through life, to figure things out, to communicate and so much more. We become used to nutting things out and perhaps it comes as a bit of a shock to realise that it is not the mind that is going to be used to experience the stillness, one-ness, connection to all, the bliss of meditation, the realisation of Self.

It takes dropping back from the mind, it takes surrendering the mind to get a taste of bliss, freedom and connection to all.

So it really helps to be able to see the mind for what it CAN DO and also what it CAN’T DO.

We can’t use the mind to experience the ‘big’ Self.

We can understand the concept, and minds are great for that. We can know we have to drop the mind. We can observe the mind creating a sense of ‘me’. We can know that the idea in our head of chocolate cake is different to the reality of chocolate cake. It is harder to see that same thing with our self.

Minds don’t like being dropped, do they? They come up with all sorts of resistance! You know, the itch, the need to cough or swallow just as you are settling into a deeper state. Perhaps this developed as part of our survival instinct?

When we see that the mind only comes up with models, not with reality itself, how freeing is that?

How amusing to be able to watch what the mind invents! The mind decides what is right and what is wrong, what it likes and what it doesn’t like. And yet these are all just thoughts, not reality.

When we meditate, we learn to observe the mind rather then be so caught up in it. When you drop the meditation method, what is left is quiet awareness, and that includes awareness of the mind. Have you noticed that? That is part of the path to a state of inner freedom, recognizing that the thoughts are observable.

It is fun, so remember not to take your thoughts too seriously!

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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.

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

Find the bliss and freedom that is dancing and sparkling within

You may or may not believe that every cell in your body is alive with prana, with subtle energy, as well as the oxygen required for cellular respiration.

In her book ‘My stroke of insight’ Jill Bolte Taylor calls her cells her ‘girls’. She talks to them and encourages them. She has a unique insight due to her stroke and subsequent recovery.

In fact what you believe doesn’t really matter, it is the experience that matters.

You really can experience the inner bliss and freedom that yoga talks about and offers.

Maybe you have been fortunate enough to experience this in your meditation practice or at some other time, or maybe not. I can’t put myself into your body, but I’m pretty sure that this experience of bliss is available to all serious meditators at some point.

We soon realize that we can’t make these blissful experiences happen, but we can set up the circumstances and be willing to drop back and surrender to the experience.

I think dropping back or letting go is probably the hardest part of the meditation journey for many of us.

We just get a tiny taste of something that feels still and expansive and the mind jumps right back in. Have you experienced that?

Perhaps it takes a degree of courage to let go? A strong mind to let go of the mind?

The mind does not like to be let go of! It can’t know the experience that we have when it is dropped. But really, when you finally do manage to let go and drop away from the mind, that is when the magic happens. That is when we really do experience the feeling of bliss.

A feeling of love, a feeling of being peaceful and expansive …I do encourage you to find this out for yourself.

A place from where you can witness without having to be drawn in. You can see the mind but not have to take it so seriously. See it for what it can do, but see also that there is a watching aspect that is the observer of the thoughts.

Drop back, let go, find this inner place of observing and it really will change your experience of life.

Please share your experiences!

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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.

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This moment now – perhaps messy, perhaps complicated – is perfect

It seems like a strange time, when there is a world wide pandemic, to pick this card.  How can things possibly be perfect?

Then again, it is easy to see that there are perfect moments. Things when everything seems to go well. A beautiful day, a delicious meal, a nice full belly, time with loved ones, all feel so perfect.

What might be harder to see is that every moment is a perfect one.

This moment, whatever it contains, is perfect because it is what it is. If we argue with it, if we don’t want to accept it, then we are arguing with reality. We will never win that argument, it means we are not accepting reality. So the cold wet rainy day, the burnt meal, the hungry belly, how on earth can those situations be perfect as well? The messy and complicated life we are having, how can that possibly be perfect?

So back to the pandemic, no one in their right mind would wish that upon the world, right? However it is the situation that we have. I am not going to enter a discussion about whether it is good or bad for the planet, for humanity etc. because it is what it is, and no amount of explaining or rationalizing will change that.

I could come up with reasons why things are perfect. Of course our planet needs rain and a variety of weather, of course occasionally feeling hungry helps us appreciate food, and so on.

But again, that is not really the point. The point is that arguing with the reality of the moment is not accepting this moment.

The moment is perfect because it is the moment that it is. It is what it is. For this moment now, it is perfect.

This yoga practice of acceptance can be really hard. Perhaps we see things that seem desirable that we don’t have and think why can’t I have that / be like that? Whether it is the ease that you see in someone else, or the abilities that someone else has or even the circumstances in which we see someone else. Or maybe it is the other way around, we wish that they were not in that situation?

Of course things will not stay as they are right now, they never do, and time will give perspective. And we can work towards change, don’t let us forget that.

This practice of acceptance does not have to mean mean apathy.

I guess acceptance is another way of embracing the reality of our life right now. Our personality, our roles, whatever situation we are in and so on. It doesn’t mean we can’t make things different – both for our selves and others – but for now we can also be fully okay with this very moment.

It IS the one that we have.

I’d love to know YOUR thoughts! Has the practice of acceptance of the perfection of each moment made a difference to you?

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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.

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

Your everyday life is the perfect practice ground

The time to be free is now, and your everyday life is the perfect time and place in which to practice.

*Making dinner?

Feel the freedom within and be free.

*Driving the kids to school? Or dealing with them learning at home?

Feel the freedom within and be free.

*Preparing for a presentation?

Feel the freedom within and be free.

*Working out a complicated problem?

Feel the freedom within and be free.

*Dealing with difficult work colleagues?

Feel the freedom within and be free.

*Having a conversation with a loved one?

Feel the freedom within and be free.

*Working in the garden?

Feel the freedom within and be free.

Annoyed at having to wear a face mask?

Feel the freedom within and be free.

You get the gist.

Whatever you are doing or wherever you are, there is no better time than right now to be free.

To see the mind for what it can and can’t do, to use it as the wonderful tool that it is, and also to drop back from being so caught up in it that you can be free.

That is the work of yoga. To feel the connection to all that is. To feel connected to the flow of like and totally okay with whatever turns up.

Yes there is work to do. Whether it is paid or unpaid, simple or intricate, life has a doing-ness about it. That is simply what happens when we have a human life.

The attitude that we bring and the willingness to drop back from the thinking mind and into the flow is what makes the big difference.

Now it the time. Your every life is the perfect time to feel into the one-ness, to feel you sense of connection to all, and to be free.

My wish for you is the peace and love that comes from finding inner freedom.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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.

Share and Enjoy !

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

Surrender doesn’t mean no discipline or no passion

The practice of surrender truly is a practice of yoga that can awaken us to the experience of profound inner freedom. I really have found that it is.

I know that word ‘surrender’ can sound scary but really it isn’t at all.

It is true acceptance and okay-ness right here and now. And it doesn’t mean nothing will change.

The practice of surrender has helped me a lot in living my life. Find somewhere safe and quiet and practice surrendering your thoughts. Let them go, drop back from them. Stick at it regularly and there you will find love and bliss.

Not thoughts about love and bliss, but a no-thought state where the experience is one of love and bliss and inner freedom.

The Yoga Sutras talk about the practice of Isvara pranidhana, surrender to God, or to a greater power, or to the Universe, or a higher source. Isvara pranidhana is one of the 5 Niyamas or inner observances to practice on a path to experiencing the freedom that yoga offers. There is nothing that you have to believe though, simply practice surrendering to what is.

Surrendering into stillness, into flow, into a state of profound quiet and bliss and love does not mean we have no agency over the way we live our life.

Surrendering to what is right now does not mean we can’t work towards changing things for the future.

It does not mean we don’t have any discipline in life.

Actually it takes a certain amount of discipline, ironically a level of focus and strength of mind, to be willing and able to let the thoughts go.

To drop back from the mind that always wants to know and control. Practicing surrender to simply ‘what is’ does not mean we become a doormat because things are going to unfold anyway. In this context it does not mean flying the white flag.

We do have choice and practicing surrender doesn’t negate choice.

It doesn’t negate using the gifts we have.

Practicing surrender also doesn’t mean there is no point in being passionate if there are things you are passionate about. If you passionately work towards something and that thing doesn’t work out, practice being okay with that. On the other hand, perhaps that thing does work out.

Surrender to being okay whatever the outcome, but follow the passion anyway.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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.

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

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

We all have skills and talents.

Perhaps you think you have nothing special but if you consider your experiences leading to this point then they 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 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?

While you do the work that you bring to the world, you can also experience your divine nature.

They are not mutually exclusive.

It is so cool that you don’t have to run away from your life to experience the bliss of being or to experience your divinity.

To experience one-ness, connection and a state of flow.

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.

We can also experience inner freedom and bliss in doing the dishes. Not if we are grumpy about doing the dishes. 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.

What have you been doing when you have experienced your divine nature? I’d love to know!

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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.

Share and Enjoy !

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Stay aware of your connection to all that is

This card was picked in class recently.

It makes me wonder, when have you really felt connected?

*Perhaps while gardening?

*While sitting in a temple in India (if you have had such a privilege)?

*While meditating?

*While knitting or crocheting or painting? In a yoga class?

*Walking along the beach?

*Spending time in nature?

There are times when we feel a sense of peace and bliss, a feeling of expansiveness, of connection to all that is.

Times when everything seems perfect, when we somehow know everything is okay.

Have you ever had such a feeling?

If you can recognise your sense of connection once, then perhaps you can remember the feeling.

If you temporarily lose that feeling of connection, can you recall it?

The more you can remember and experience your sense of one-ness, of connection, the more you are in a state of Yoga.

You can’t necessarily make a state of Yoga, a state of feeling connected and free, happen.

You can set up the circumstances to make it more likely. Regular yoga and meditation helps, as does being in nature.

Being present in your daily life helps too. Keeping your mind in perspective rather than letting it run you life also helps.

I think being of service to others also helps us to stay connected. It gives us purpose.

What helps you to stay aware of your connection to all and to experience freedom?

I’d love to know.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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.

Share and Enjoy !

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Living a surrendered life is not the same as being a doormat

This card has been pulled as our contemplation in class a few times recently.  

The word ‘surrender’ sometimes freaks people out, but bear with me while I try and explain why really it is a powerful practice.

Surrendering to ‘what is’ might seem a bit wishy-washy, but it is the work of being present and fully in the moment.

It is acceptance of the reality of this moment.

When you are not complaining and arguing with the reality of any moment, you are free to be in the experience of fully living it.

How true this is in our current situation of pandemic and isolation? If we spend all our time complaining about the new rules and regulations (which in essence are there for our collective good) we can miss the opportunity to be at home both physically but also mentally with ourselves, to be less rushed, to explore new ways of connecting, and perhaps make some changes for the better.

We can make time to listen to the inner voice that we might be in the habit of squashing down in all our busyness.

That is not the same as being a doormat, a pushover, a weakling that just accepts without question. 

No it is freeing, because we can feel into the flow of life and slow down enough to listen.

We can recognise that yes we have personal agency in our life. We can listen to that voice in our head, we can make decisions, we can do things. We can choose the level of personal control within any situation.

Something I have noticed about surrendering, is that when my actions feel like they are in alignment with my dharma, with the universal big picture, then things will flow. They will come more easily.

When I am arguing with reality, then everything is a battle.

Which do you choose?

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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.

Share and Enjoy !

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