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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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You don’t have to sit in a cave on a mountain to do this work.

True, it is nice to be able to get away to contemplate, meditate, and get perspective on what it is to have this human life.

I do recommend getting to yoga retreats or something similar from time to time where you can. Your practice, while never predictable, moves in leaps and bounds. You discover or get clarity about aspects of yourself that were perhaps previously hiding.

But for most of us, for most of the time, our daily life is our path.

Not only is it not usually possible to drop out of our responsibilities for long periods of time, it is also not necessary. We can develop awareness and do the work of transformation, realizing the Self and finding freedom right where we are.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not meaning to come across as glib, or to suggest there is nothing to do. There is still work to do on this path to freedom and discovering Self. Among many of the practices Patanjali mentions in the Yoga sutras are tapas (burning desire, discipline, intensity) and also swadhyaya (self study).

Our daily life is the perfect practice ground. We can observe our reactions and behaviours and thought patterns. We can observe the ego ‘me’ in situ in daily life. We may find quiet in a yoga class or meditation practice. We develop awareness of how our body and mind operate and feel.

The real work is keeping this quiet awareness as we move on with our day. That is where the work is.

Many years ago I read the story of Tenzin Palmo in ‘Cave in the snow’. She is a Buddhist nun who spent twelve years living in a remote cave in the Himalayas, three of those years in strict meditation. One of her quotes from after that time is:

‘The more you realize, the more you realize how much there is to realize and, at the same time, how much you realize that there is nothing to realize.’

What we can learn from our practice is that we have everything we need already.

The thing is, we can be all in with our life, feel our reactions, and get perspective on what it is to have human existence.

The way I see it, if you can’t integrate the peace and connectedness that you find in meditation into your daily life, than what is the point? Your practice doesn’t replace your ordinary life, it is something that you can use to enhance your experience of everyday life.

For a while there is your practice time – asana, meditation and so on – and your ‘other’ time. Then little by little I have found that the whole of your life can become your practice. Can you feel the same sense of bliss when having a conversation as you can find on the mat or cushion? Now that is the work!

With a slight shift in perspective we might find that we feel connected, free and whole, right where we are.

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.

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Walk where your feet are

A series of blogs arising from picking a Contemplation card from my deck

To me this quote is a reminder to keep going, to take the next step.

It is also a reminder that right here where you are, where your life path is right now, is where your work is.

Why would there be a need to be anywhere other than where your life is right now?

Your path is where you are.

You can enquire into Reality and Being right here.

You can find the truth of who you are right here.

Right here is where you need to be right now. You can find freedom on the path you are on, there is no need to look anywhere else.

There is no need to wait until things are better or fixed. You path is unfolding as it is meant to, putting one foot in front of the other right where you are.

I first heard this quote spoken by Master Charles Cannon at an event many years ago. There were 3 spiritual teachers, all having spent discipleships with Swami Muktananada, giving their wise advice that night. The spiritual energy was high and while I’m sure there was lots of wisdom in the room, this is the quote that stuck with me.

Perhaps it was the simplicity?

(I’ve always been drawn to simplicity, I suspect we over complicate things a lot of the time.)

What do you think? Can you walk where your feet are and allow grace and wisdom to unfold?

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.

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

This work is about living everyday life with awareness

What is awareness?

It is being present for the moments of your life, rather than being in your head about them. It is about being aware of your connection to all that is, as well as your state of inner freedom.

It is about making conscious choices.

It is very easy to be blind to the effects of how we live. It is easy to not consider the consequences of our actions. To not take care in looking after our resources and our planet, as well as our loved ones. Every action has a reaction. Everything we do has some sort of impact. Living with awareness is being aware of our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.

This week I’ve been describing a tiny thing I’m doing at Christmas to reduce the plastic and paper waste from bon-bons. I’m wrapping up a small gift (one that will be used, not some junk) in the cloth napkin that we will use for the meal. There won’t be anything to throw out, surely a tiny win for the planet.

Living everyday life with awareness is a work in progress.

There are lots of things we can do everyday to be more sustainable and less wasteful. I’d love to know some of the things you do with awareness of our planet in mind. And of other people on this planet too.

Awareness isn’t limited to the sustainability of our planet, it is about the effects of all of our actions, even our thoughts. It is a big ask! Sometimes life gives us feedback and if we are aware we can learn from that. Little by little we learn to be present, conscious and aware. Sometime we forget ourselves.

We drop back into me and small self, forgetting that we are the ocean, we are the connected one-ness, we are the universal being.

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.

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Freedom is your birthright

A series of blogs arising from picking a Contemplation card from my deck

The freedom of Yoga is the freedom within of seeing how the mind creates a ‘me’ from where we operate a lot of the time. It is the freedom of not being bound by the mind’s thoughts and ideas. 

This freedom is not related to your bank balance or your personal circumstances, but the inner freedom where you experience the bliss and love of the universe.

This inner freedom has many names such as kaivalya, nirvana, moksha, Self-realisation or enlightenment. As I see it, if you have been born as a human on this earth you have as much right as anyone to experience that freedom.

From the humble cigarette vendor Nisargadatta, to Jesus, to Patanjali, the Buddha, Nityananda and of course many, many others, the nature of human existence has been questioned and unbound freedom experienced. You have this capacity too.

For many of us, meditation and contemplation are the means, and also for many of us this doesn’t happen without a good teacher to nudge us along and help us see what we cant initially see. To help us experience in a way that is different from the experience that the thinking part of the mind gives us. I am eternally grateful to my teacher Swami Shantananda for opening the path of inner freedom for me.

Why not experience inner freedom in your life? What is stopping you?

Most of the time we are in our heads living a ‘virtual’ life. A virtual reality played out largely in our minds.

You can wake up to awareness and be free of this substitute life. You can feel the love and bliss that you are. You can feel whole and connected and free.

Not much has to change on the outside. Your circumstances don’t have to change. Your family life doesn’t have to change. Your work doesn’t even have to change, although it might. What changes is the experience of that very same life. No longer being so caught up in the small identification of ‘me’ offers possibility for a much more expansive experience. You still have shit to deal with but it won’t feel so shitty and your inner life might explode!

What would it feel like to drop back from your thoughts and allow the feeling of inner bliss and freedom? It is but a heartbeat away.

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.

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

It takes courage to be still

The mind doesn’t like to be let go of.

The mind doesn’t like being still. Our minds are conditioned to be aware and ‘in control’. Perhaps it is a survival requirement?

Even when we know we are safe, it takes effort to drop back and be free from all that mental drama. To be content and okay with how things are.

We are conditioned to compare ourselves to others, to have more stuff, to do more. We are conditioned to travel to exciting places and to have more excitement and drama.

But perhaps the true contentment in life doesn’t come from having more stuff and doing more exciting things?

Perhaps true contentment comes from finding freedom within?

Finding a state of Yoga, or Union, that is always there just often hidden. Perhaps true contentment comes when we experience the one-ness, the state of unitary consciousness, the one big universal freedom. Does that sounds a bit far-fetched? It is available, but you do have to be willing to be still.

Have the courage to make time in your life for stillness. Make time in our life for finding yourself. You wont regret it.

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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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

Do you Multi-task or Uni-task?

Do you multi-task or uni-task?

You can have a cup of tea while you are working or doing many other things. Or you can have a cup of tea and really enjoy the flavour and the experience.

That is the difference between uni-tasking and multi-tasking.

Thich Nhat Hahn in his lovely little book ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’ reminds us that you can do the dishes to clean up and prepare for having a cup of tea, or you can do the dishes to do the dishes. There might not seem to be much difference, but doing one thing fully with awareness means not projecting into the future. It means being fully immersed of the experience. So be fully immersed into doing the dishes, then be fully immersed in making and drinking the tea. Can you see the difference?

So often while we are at work we might think about being at home or on holidays. Or while we are on holidays we might be thinking about a problem at work.

To the extent that we are in our heads about the past or future, that is the extent that we are not present, or not uni-tasking.

Yogis suggest uni-tasking, or being mindful, doing one thing at a time, for many reasons.

To be present with the simple pleasure of living life in a way that is present and aware.

To be able to observe the mind. A mind that is all over the shop is going to be hard to rein in and quieten down. A mind that is living in the past or the future for most of the time is not being present. A focused mind is easier to drop back from for meditation. A focused mind is one that will allow us to get perspective on life, being and reality.

Doing one thing at a time properly is more efficient, and not only that, it feels so much better too!

Fully immerse yourself the next time you eat something, eating slowly with full awareness of the flavours and textures, and see for yourself.

Think about what you want from life, and whether uni-tasking or multi-tasking is better for you. I’d love to know!

You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store HERE and postage is free in Australia. The picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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Be content right now, in this very moment

A series of blogs arising from picking a contemplation card from my deck

Where are you right now?

As I write this (back in August) I am sitting on a plane almost 2 hours into a 17-hour plane trip home. Believe me, travel is not as glamorous as it is made out to be. I can chose whether to be content or not, as can you right now too. I could be caught up in my head about the rest of the flight, the upcoming 6-hour delay in Perth that we have been told about and then the long trip across the country to Melbourne before negotiating our way though the airport and travel home.

Or I could make the choice to be content. To be fully present and okay with the situation I am in.

Okay, so what if you don’t have the luxury of having been on a holiday and then being in a plane?

Maybe you are stressed to the eyeballs with the juggle of work, home and maybe people demanding more from you?

It might sound hard to believe, but you can also make the choice to be content.

Maybe your boss is yelling at you, can you make the choice to be content? In fact it might be empowering to react with calmness rather than yelling right back.

Maybe there is friction at home. Or ill health for you or a loved one. Can you make the choice to be content?

Whatever the circumstances – oh and I know we could come up with much more horrific ones – there is power in being okay right now and you always do have the choice.

I am not suggesting that you put up with circumstances that you have the choice to change, or that things have to stay as they are for ever. But right now for this moment you have the choice to practice the Niyama of Santosa, or contentment. Patanjali suggested this practice as a method towards removing the afflictions and towards an experience of Union, of Yoga. It is an inner attitude over which you have control.

Even when shit is happening, you have this superpower to remain content.

You don’t have to be drawn into misery around you if you don’t want to be.

Try it and see for yourself!

I’d love to know how your practice of contentment goes.

You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store HERE and postage is free in Australia. The picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art. 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.

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Drop the ‘me’ and just BE

A series of blogs arising from picking a Contemplation card from my deck

‘Me’ is so familiar to us that we don’t see it as an entity that the mind has created.

It feels so real to relate as ‘me’, yet it is a package of thought processes. That is hard to comprehend.

When we drop the ‘me’ that the mind has created, maybe we can experience ‘being’ without the mental overlay, without description.

Aaaaah, peace, bliss.

Ezra Bayda tells a story in ‘At home in the muddy water’ where a zen student says to the master ‘There is something terribly wrong with me. I think I’m a dog’. The master asks how long he has had that thought, to which the student answers ‘Ever since I was a puppy’.

We can see how ridiculous it is to believe this idea of being a puppy and a dog, it is easy to see how thinking doesn’t reflect what is real, yet we find it hard to recognise that the thoughts we believe about ‘me’ or abut things happening ‘to me’ are equally misplaced.

We are often not even aware of our deeply held beliefs.

These beliefs, including the mind-constructed ‘me’, can keep us unaware of our Self, of our own true nature.

We are conditioned from a young age into this fundamental mis-identification. The work on this spiritual path is to realize the whole of your self and see where ‘me’ fits in. Just a mind invention, useful in communication, not as important as we think!

Of course the mind is useful, it is a great tool for living life. Use it for what it can do. When it comes to meditation, or realising the truth of who you are, the best thing to do is to drop back from the thinking mind, and have the experience of being. Aaaah, so peaceful and expansive.

In class we have used this as a mantra to take us to meditation, it seemed to work well.

Give it a try and let me know how you go, repeating over and over to yourself, ‘Drop the ‘me’ and just BE’.

You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store HERE and postage is free in Australia. The picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art. 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

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Be where you are

A series of blogs arising from picking a Contemplation card from my deck

Is the grass greener somewhere else?

To the extent we think that it is, that is the extent to which we are not living in the now. And it denies the reality of the here and now, the actual moment we are in. This is the moment you are in right now.

Be in it, not in your head about some other moment or idea.

You don’t have to try to change yourself. We explore this moment not to fix anything, but to experience life beyond the thought-based world. To simply experience your life as it is.

Charlotte Joko Beck says it like this:

‘All I can experience and work with is what my life is right now. That’s all I can do. The rest is the dream of ego.’

And Eckart Tolle says:

‘Be here now’

Your life right now is where you are, so you might as well be in it and experience it fully.

Does that mean we can sit at our computer and do some work because that takes us away from experiencing our body sensations? No, of course not. But if you are sitting at the computer doing some work, rather than procrastinating or checking social media constantly, be in the moment of doing what you want to do. And if you do want to observe your body sensations, why not take a moment to do that? To be present with how comfortable or not you are. Maybe notice how clever those nimble fingers are at the keyboard. And believe it or not, I do think a little bit of procrastination is okay, allow some space for some occasional down time too.

The thing is whatever the current moment contains, be all in with it.

Does that mean we can’t plan for the future? No it doesn’t. When you are planning, be present with planning. When you are reading, be present with reading. When you are at work, be fully at work. When you are going for a walk, be fully with that. Chopping vegetables for dinner or doing the dishes? Be with that. Be present for the moments of your life. Mindfulness has always been a practice of Yoga – to experience our whole self with moment-to-moment awareness.

Be with your feelings and emotions.

Be with your body.

Be with others.

Be where you are.

You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store HERE and postage is free in Australia. The picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art. 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.

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You are okay just as you are

A series of blogs arising from picking a contemplation card from my deck

You don’t need fixing.

Do you ever think, everything will be okay when …

  • I have the perfect body
  • I have the perfect job
  • I have the perfect relationship
  • I have the perfect children
  • I have the perfect home
  • I have the perfect yoga practice
  • I have the perfect meditation practice
  • I have enough time
  • I have the perfect knowledge / understanding
  • I have enough money
  • And so on?

Maybe these don’t all resonate, but maybe at least some of them do and you can probably come up with a whole lot more.

The feeling of not being good enough is pervasive. It is very common.

But the universe will not criticise you. Your life is unfolding as it is meant to and you really are okay.

Yes you can make changes, it is always possible to work towards change. But you are okay just as you are. This moment is okay.

Sometimes it is easier to see in others what we can’t see in ourselves. Have you ever admired someone only to find that they, too, suffer from not feeling good enough? And you think how ridiculous that is, right?

Do know that you have as much right to be here having you life – with all its ups and downs – as anyone else. Of course you can do some work. But intrinsically you don’t need any more validation that the fact that you are here on this earth.

The practice is not about ‘fixing’ yourself because you are not broken.

It is about being awake to who you really are and recognising your nature.

And then it is obvious, you really are okay just as you are.

Funnily enough when you do realise you are okay and let your authenticity shine though, that is when life feels rich and you are free to explore what it is you are here to do. To live your dharma, to be authentically yourself.

You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store HERE and postage is free in Australia. The picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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Acceptance does not mean Apathy

A series of blogs arising from picking a contemplation card from my deck

Being okay with how things are is a great yogic practice.

When we practice acceptance, we are not arguing with reality. We are being real. We are being truthful. We are being in the moment and being okay.

Practicing acceptance also does not mean there is nothing to do.

It doesn’t mean we can’t work towards change. It simply means that for this moment now, things are as they are. You have a choice about whether or not you want to do anything to influence the moments in the future. But for this moment now, it is what it is.

Acceptance of this moment can give rise to the capacity for change. When you are not busy in your head arguing with the reality of the moment, perhaps you can more clearly see what needs to be done.

Acceptance does not mean you are a doormat to be walked all over. Acceptance frees you to do what you can do. It does not mean apathy.

I’d love to know what YOU think about acceptance.

You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store HERE and postage is free in Australia. The picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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‘Meditation plus contemplation leads to insight’

A series of blogs arising from picking a Contemplation card from my deck

Meditation alone may not be enough!

It is true that meditation is a wonderful practice. You can step back from the dramas of the mind and find a quiet space. Even if the mind doesn’t quieten down, the time spent just sitting quietly allowing the thoughts to roll over is helpful. If you are looking for stress reduction and some peace, will get that. Along with the physiological changes from countering the effects of the stress response, that is a huge benefit of meditation.

And in that quiet place regular meditators may also find insight, creativity, flow and perhaps a feeling of bliss. How wonderful!

In meditation you can step back from being caught up in the mind to being able to observe the mind. But then who are you if you can watch the mind? And who are you if you can recognise that it is the mind that creates the ‘me’? ‘Me’ is a bundle of thoughts and so essentially a fiction, but it is also something that we are so familiar with that it becomes a central point from where we almost always operate. Maybe meditation helps us to see this mis-identification, this ‘maya’ or veil of illusion’. This may prompt further contemplation and questioning about how to integrate the experience of small individual self and the larger Self that we might call Universal Consciousness (or many other names such as God) into our everyday life.

This is the work of Yoga isn’t it – finding that we can experience that Union of the individual with the whole?

Then the experiences known as kaivalya, nirvana, moksha or enlightenment make perfect sense. Perhaps this can lead to further contemplation about being okay with the mystery of life and not taking the mind’s view of reality so seriously.

Fun, right?

You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store here and postage is free in Australia. The picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.

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