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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Don’t take it personally

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

But we do take it personally, don’t we?

Our usual habit, and it is so familiar that we don’t even realise we do it, is to view the world from a sense of ‘me’ – as though it is ‘me’ looking out into the world or ‘me’ that things are happening to. Life is just unfolding and yet it feels personal.

Do any of these examples sound familiar?

*You don’t get that job or enough clients, so straight away you think ‘I musn’t be good enough’

*It rains on your special day, so you assume ‘I didn’t deserve to have the perfect day, look what happened to me.’

*Someone pushes in front of you in a queue or to get a parking spot, so you decide defensively  ‘How rude people are, it just isn’t my day’.

Why do we think things are happening ‘to us’?

Not necessarily with any input from us, things happen. Why do we think the job, the weather, or other people’s behaviour are happening ‘to us’ when it is just life unfolding? If you can drop the sense of it happening ‘to me’ perhaps you can experience how it feels less personal.

Of course these are light-hearted, almost flippant examples. What if our partner or child dies? Gosh that hurts so much, feels so much worse as though it really is happening ‘to us’. It is not as though it is not happening, or that we shouldn’t feel pain or sadness. Of course we would. Yet it too is life unfolding, not really something happening ‘to us’. Life unfolds in all sorts of messy and shocking and glorious ways.

And if you really feel connected and whole, we feel the pain of injustices all over the place, the pain of damage to the planet, and the big love of connection and wholeness. Rather than feeling separate, when we feel connected and whole and free we ride the waves of emotion, we feel fully, yet somehow we don’t take it so personally.  And we are more free and able to respond.

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.