The mind is a useful tool for living

The mind is a tool for living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sarasvati with yoga off the mat contemplation cards

Don’t fill all your time with busyness

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

Have you ever thought about decluttering your schedule?

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

Do you schedule every minute with things to do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you de-clutter your time?

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

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

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

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

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Sarasvati with yoga off the mat contemplation cards

Don’t look outside yourself for happiness

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

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

and then there is a great list of possibilities …

*When I lose 10 pounds (or kilos)

*When I have the perfect relationship

*When i have the perfect house

*When I have the perfect children

*When I have the perfect job

*When I can travel overseas again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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woman with busy mind, lots of thoughts

Don’t take your thoughts too seriously

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

Find the bliss and freedom that is dancing and sparkling within

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please share your experiences!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It IS the one that we have.

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

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

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

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

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

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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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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