Monthly Archives: October 2015

Autumn mornings

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I’m really enjoying the cool, dark mornings this week. Tiptoeing through the dark house, setting up my space for meditation, has taken on a new aspect and a new element of ritual, as I turn on the heater and light my candles and incense, before wrapping myself in my meditation shawl and settling into my practice.

I’ve been waking early, too, meaning that the house is in total quietness for much longer, and I’ve had longer for my meditation than I’ve managed in the week this whole term. Sleeping poorly at the beginning of the week has been a blessing in disguise, as I have rediscovered the bliss and peace of an hour (or more when I can!) of meditation. And it’s dark enough to practise Chandra namaskara (moon salutations) without feeling it’s the wrong time of day!

Adjusting my routine has proved a little more difficult than I hoped when my son and I started needing to leave home at 7.30am back in September. I was already waking at 5.20 before that, when we had extra time at home in the mornings, and pushing back to 5am to keep my meditation practice the same length of time just seemed too hard!  And I think I really needed to break that resistance, to learn that, for me, an hour of meditation is so worth a few minutes less sleep and a bit more rushing around! And considering I’d had so little sleep that night, my hour-plus to work deeply in meditation got me through the day with far more energy than I sometimes have with a full night’s sleep and a short meditation. So in a strange way I’m grateful for a night where sleep wasn’t happening…..it’s helped remind me of what I already knew and set me back on the right path.

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Finding clarity

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wave-64170_1280We live (most of us, anyway!) in a rushed world.  Just take a look at the drivers around you next time you’re in a traffic jam, or watch people walking in a busy city street.

As a yoga teacher, people often tell me they would love to have a regular practice, or they would love to meditate, but there just isn’t time. They are busy at work, with their families, and so on – and I get that!  Me too! But sometimes taking a few minutes out to calm and quiet our minds can be just what we need.  It takes us out of the constant whirl of our minds, in which it can be hard to find clarity. If you take a bowl of water and swirl the surface, you have to wait for the water to settle back into stillness before you can see clearly into the water again. Our minds are often swirling like that bowl of water, agitated and dashing from one thought to another.  I heard once that while we try to remember something we have forgotten, we will forget another 5 things.  That’s a whirling, distracted mind for you! (And it’s why I like making lists!)

Some people rarely stop to experience a still, calm mind.  They are either awake, dashing from one thought to another, one task to another, or asleep.  Or watching tv to block out their thoughts. But we also need time to relax whilst still being fully alert.  In a poised, alert, yet relaxed stillness, we start to see the clear water beneath those swirls, as the thoughts settle and calm down.

There are no doubt many things that can give us that space and stillness, a little mental clarity amongst the hubbub of our lives. For me, it’s yoga and meditation mainly, but also cooking, sewing or knitting.  Even a nice bit of peaceful ironing from time to time!

One of my lovely students told me this week that her yoga seems to give her the opportunity to reach decisions.  Often tricky ones, that can go round and round, being thought about continually without becoming any clearer.  During yoga, that thinking process –  the swirling waters – can be sidestepped, and answers can appear as if from nowhere.  All the surrounding thoughts and their associated emotions start to settle, allowing us to see more clearly and find more creative solutions.

So being busy may be one of the worst reasons for not doing yoga or meditation.  (If that’s not your thing, substitute your own activity that you love but don’t manage to do). We may become more productive and creative  – and, by taking those few daily minutes, we may save ourselves far more time being stuck in an endless and unhelpful cycle of thinking.