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

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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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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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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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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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.

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Yoga off the mat contemplation cards to inspire your practice

Make space for Life to happen

Do you fill all your life with busyness?

Perhaps like many of us you have grown up learning that being busy is a good thing and somehow equates to success? Productivity rules, right?

The trouble is that if we don’t leave some space, we might find that life misses us.

A regular practice of Meditation gives you space. It makes your life seem more spacious because you develop a habit of observing your thoughts. You get perspective too.

Among other things, being still allows for:
• creativity
• insight
• problem solving
• feeling blissful
• feeling in the flow
• rest
• gratitude

Allowing some unscheduled time also allows for random unfoldings and encounters. Not to mention not feeling stressed or the pressure of being scheduled down to the last minute.

Maybe it takes some undoing of old conditioning. I’m not suggesting turning into a sloth (they do get maligned don’t they?) Simply allowing space means there is ease and perspective that is hard to experience when every moment is busy. There is the opportunity to notice the small things and be grateful too.

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 minds 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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