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.

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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.

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Make time to be still

Yes there is a lot going on right now.

Maybe when we are still, we can make more sense of things.

We get perspective.

We eventually notice that there is watching happening, there is awareness. Awareness that can observe the mind.

Awareness that can observe the reactions and judgements.

Awareness of our thought patterns. Oh so many thought patterns!

Awareness that eventually might see the old habit of how we invent ‘me’.

We invent ‘me’ according to how we see ourselves, not how others see us. A perfectly natural mind invention. Perhaps we eventually see that mind invention as a fiction, even if we still use it.

Being still also allows us to be aware of subtle body sensations than can tell us so much.

  • Perhaps that feeling in the gut of being nervous about the next step.
  • Or that feeling in the heart-space of being unloved or not good enough.
  • Or that feeling in the throat of wanting to say something and perhaps feeling blocked somehow.

When we notice feelings, they may not all be blissful, but we notice them.

We notice what is real right now and perhaps recognise that that is more real than not noticing.

In stillness we can understand ourselves better.

Maybe that helps us to understand what we perceive as ‘other’ as well. Maybe there is less other, and more ‘one-ness’. Maybe there is more empathy and compassion.

We may not get all the answers, but perhaps we get enough to be okay right here and now on our path.

Maybe we get insight or inspiration.

Maybe we create space for a solution to a problem to bubble up.

Why not make time to be still and see what there is for you to notice today? I’d love to know how you go.

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

Can you live the mystery rather than trying to manage life?

Do you usually live a very predictable life? Do you try and control as many aspects of it as you can? Dotting all those ‘I’s and crossing all those ‘T’s so to speak?

Rather than attempting to control every aspect of life, what would it feel like to be open to the idea that everything can’t be controlled, and that we really don’t know what is around the corner?

Can you be open to the mystery, the unknown?

Meditation can be a great help.

There is a difference between going into panic mode about catching the Novel Corona virus COVID-19 and taking sensible precautions.

We do what we can, and for me, as well as hygiene measures, it also includes taking the time to practice yoga and meditation at home in Mordialloc and eating well so as to stay as well as I can.

When we let go into meditation, we are dropping all that control and surrendering to the unknown.

It is unknown because we are dropping back from the mind that knows.

Aaaah, bliss, the mystery, the great abyss of peace. Life’s inner mystery might be more real than any idea in your head!

It is true that right now we are in uncertain times. As well as the opportunity that meditation offers us to drop into a blissful state, I think that knowing how to reduce stress with yoga and meditation and regulate your own nervous system is so helpful.

We have a great opportunity to slow down our own nervous systems and help to reduce the state of heightened anxiety and nervousness that surrounds us.

This yogic contemplation is about being OK with the twists and turns that life takes. And it is also about not being so attached to outcomes. We can do the work we do and by all means have goals, but perhaps we can still be okay if the path swerves a little or a lot and the work no longer leads to those goals.

Don’t live small and controlled, micromanaging every second. Be open to the mystery!

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 Australia. They make a perfect gift too.

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

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Freedom and happiness are not reserved only for special people

I picked this card in class today. It reminded me that our attitude to the experience of life makes a big difference.

I remember that after I had been meditating for a while and also exploring Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras with Mataji (Swami Shantananda) at some point I realized that while my life didn’t really look that different on the outside, my inner experience was forever changed.

I no longer asked myself questions such as:

What is life about?

What am I doing with my life?

Why am I here?

Why are we all here?

How do I want to be remembered?

What does it all mean?

It is not that I necessarily had the answers, just simply that something had shifted inside and these questions were no longer burning as they had been.

I had come to a place of inner joy and okay-ness, an acceptance of things.

So what changed? And why do I think we can all access this inner freedom?

I realized that life had a sort of flow and surrendered to something greater than the little ‘me’. When I really surrendered I felt inner bliss. And still do. There was a realisation that even though I had a degree of agency and choice, I also could relax into the flow.

Aaah.

It is not as though life didn’t and doesn’t have its ups and downs, but an inner sense of okay-ness is there anyway.

If that is something that an ordinary Medical Scientist turned Yoga and Meditation teacher living in suburban Melbourne can come to, then I have absolutely no doubt that this is available for you too. Take a look and see for yourself.

Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback!

You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store HERE and also my book Yoga off the mat, freedom in everyday life HERE and postage is free in Australia.

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

Reality is more acceptable than fantasy

The work of yoga is the work of understanding Reality.

It is the work of understanding the truth of who we are.

The work of recognizing that the mind-generated sense of ‘me’ is limited and isn’t the sum total of who we are.

The work of feeling into the one big connected being.

Feeling into the ocean of one-ness and recognizing ourselves as the little droplet as well as the whole ocean.

Accepting the reality of how things are is real and truthful.

Being okay with reality is the work of yoga. Being present with what is real right now is yoga. As my wise teacher Swami Shantananda always says, ‘You will never win an argument with reality’. So I guess that means we might as well accept it!

Fantasizing about some other moment somehow being better than the one you have takes you away from the present and into mind-generated fantasy.

There is nothing wrong with using your mind, that is one of the tools you have to live your life.

But thinking that there is a fantastical life where everything is somehow better than it is now waiting for you some time in the future – that is pure fantasy.

That is not real. Reality is accepting the life you have right now. The circumstances you are in right now. That is where you do the work of Yoga. That is where you can find freedom in everyday life.

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 contemplation cards from the store HERE and also my book Yoga off the mat, freedom in everyday life HERE and postage is free in Australia.

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

Life is a mystery that unfolds

We don’t really know what is coming next, what ups and downs and twists and turns lie ahead.

That doesn’t mean we should just lie down and give up! It means we can stay open to the mystery! It means we don’t have to always know. We don’t have to always try to control (we can’t anyway).

There are lots of amazing things to notice in life if we pay attention, here are just a few:

  • The buzzing of bees and the incredibly industrious work that they do
  • The human body and its amazing capacity, even despite how we treat it sometimes
  • The practice of meditation that can give us a taste of wonderful bliss, as well as perspective on life
  • The way plants can pop up in a crack in the concrete
  • The way clouds make patterns and float across the sky
  • The way our hands are so dexterous
  • The way our dogs greet us when we get home
  • The kindness of a stranger

What is it like living in the mystery?

Life is going to unfold whatever we think, isn’t it? Maybe if we have an attitude of being open and okay rather than feeling as though we always have to know and control there is a different feel? Maybe there is a feeling of being more connected, and also more accepting?

Lets live the mystery as it unfolds!

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 contemplation cards from the store HERE and also my book Yoga off the mat, freedom in everyday life HERE and postage is free in Australia.

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

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When we work on ourselves, it ripples out and we heal the world

When you listen to the safety advice on a plane, they always tell you to take care of your own oxygen mask first before helping others. That way you are better placed to serve those you are helping, right?

I think it is the same with the work we do on ourselves.

Have you ever noticed how the energy of some people has a heavy feel and you have to work hard to stay centred and not pulled into their energy? I know I have.

When your energy is light, when you feel truly grounded, centred and inwardly free, then you pull people easily into your orbit, so to speak.

I know it is tempting to try to ‘fix’ other people.

Especially if we finally see something that has been hard to see, when the penny finally drops, when we finally ‘get’ what yogis have been talking about all these years. We want everyone else to see it too.

The method I have chosen is to not try to help unless people want it.

Walk the walk, do my practice.

If someone books into a meditation or yoga class or workshop then of course I will offer things that have helped me. I wrote my book because I wanted to share what I had come to realise. But you can’t force this onto people, it will unfold as it is meant to, and if you are really keen then it will definitely unfold for you.

So work on yourself, that is the work. Let people see the difference it has made for you, that will be enough to draw people in and they can work out what is right for them.

I do wish you profound freedom. It is your birthright. Work on yourself and let it ripple out.

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 contemplation cards from the store HERE and also my book Yoga off the mat, freedom in everyday life HERE and postage is free in Australia.

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

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It is ALL my time

I remember writing about this in my book, ‘Yoga off the mat, freedom in everyday life’.

Over 20 years ago when I had young children, I remember getting through the day, getting everything done, so that I could sit down at night and have ‘my’ time.

It is not as though I didn’t enjoy my routine of work (part-time as a Medical Scientist back then), the children, bath time, story time, bed time and so on. Even though I had not discovered the mindfulness aspect of yoga in a formal way, I think I was okay at being fully with what was happening at the time.

At work I was focused on work.

At home I barely gave work a second thought.

I especially loved having cuddles and reading bedtime stories. And then I loved it when the children went to bed, there were probably still a few more household chores and then I got to have ‘my’ time. Does this sound familiar?

All it takes is a slight switch of perspective to realize that of course all our time is ‘my’ time.

We all have the same amount of time, the same 24 hours in the day. And we do have agency over how we spend that time. There are repercussions about choices we make in life, so of course young children need looking after. If we chose to study then we have to spend time doing the course work and assignments. Most of us have to work hard to pay the bills.  If we want to eat healthy home-cooked food, someone has to do the shopping and make the meals. Running your own business could take up every moment of the day if we let it. Can you see what I am getting at? We make choices, and then can have an attitude of it all being our time.

I know some people with busy lives who have ‘their time’ with a once a week yoga class, or with their regular walk, run or a swim. That is ‘their’ time. But it is only a slight change of attitude to recognize that the rest of the day is their time as well. It is all their time.

Maybe we can recognize that every moment of our life is ‘my’ time?

Wow, would that make a difference to how you feel as you go about your day? 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 contemplation cards from the store HERE and also my book Yoga off the mat, freedom in everyday life HERE and postage is free in Australia.

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

Practicing contentment does not mean we can’t work towards change

This moment now is the one you have, so you have a choice to be content or not. Why not be content right now?

This doesn’t mean that you can’t work towards change (if you think that is desirable). Yes you can plan. You can figure things out, have goals towards change, do some work. And also be content with reality as it is right now, be content with the moment you have right now.

If your circumstances are not as ideal as you think they should be, or next time something doesn’t go the way you think it should, maybe you could bring this contemplation to mind and simply choose contentment?

  • Stuck in traffic? Can you be content? Maybe you can be okay with the slower pace and therefore not rushing? But that doesn’t mean you can’t also plan to allow longer time next time. Can you see how both these things are responses to the situation but you can still be content?
  • Waiting for someone? Instead of feeling frustrated and annoyed can you simply be content with your own company? Use the time for contemplation or meditation? Look around and see some beauty in the world around?
  • Don’t have your ideal job? Maybe it isn’t wise to walk away from it today, or maybe it is. If need be you can plan your next move, look around for what will work better for you. You can also be content with this moment right now. Your equanimity doesn’t have to be disturbed.

I know these examples are superficial but they are relatively common examples of daily life. Your circumstances might feel much more worthy of complaint than these.

The thing is, your external circumstances do not have to dictate your inner contentment. You can work towards changing your external circumstances if you want, and that does not have to affect your inner contentment and peace. It is always a choice you can make.

What about more difficult situations than the ones I described above? Maybe you are dealing with the untimely death of a loved one, or the diagnosis of a terminal illness? These are things we could expect to happen in life, they are the way things unfold, and some circumstances are much rougher than others. I am not meaning to come across as glib or suggesting for a moment that there wont be sadness and grief. Of course there will. These are life experiences that we all face.

Feeling intense feelings does not mean you can’t also be okay and find contentment.

That may seem surprising.Instead of asking ‘why me?’ perhaps the thing is to say to yourself, ‘why not me?’. And then get on with somehow accepting reality and finding contentment.

Now for a quick note about stress. With all the best will in the world to be content, we will still find that we can get stressed when life happens and things don’t turn out the we thought they would. Do take some time to practice long slow exhalations and ideally yoga, meditation and relaxation or whatever works best for you to counter the stress response.

While stress is a natural response it is not healthy to have those stress hormones running through your body, so it is important for your long term health to figure out some ways of countering it. Please let me know if you need some guidance with this.

Practicing contentment is a choice we can all make. I wish it for 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 contemplation cards from the store HERE and postage is free in Australia.

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

Share and Enjoy !

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