Tag Archives: housework

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.

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Taking time out

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Recently, I’ve been practising a lot of meditation.  Not so much writing as before,  but a lot of meditation.  There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do all of the things that make us feel good.  But it is so important to find time to do at least some of them.  For me, yoga and meditation make me feel good, as does writing, reading, quality time with my family, listening to music, cooking (but not the washing up!) – the list goes on.  You may like to think about what would go on your list.

But all too often, our days get filled with the things we must do.  The hours whizz by in a blur of work, driving from one place to the other, cleaning, tidying, phone calls, appointments and so on,  until we finally fall into an exhausted sleep at the end of the day.  Long-term, this will not do any of us any good at all.  We all need a break now and then.  And that week or fortnight that most of us manage once a year is probably not enough if we rush around frantically for the other 50+ weeks.  We need to look at our list of what must be done, long and hard, and work out if some of it is really necessary, if we could get help with it, or if we are creating unnecessary stress by our own perfectionism, our own demands of ourselves.

We also need to look at that list of the good things, the things which make us feel alive, nurturing our inner selves.  How can we fit more of that into our lives?  If you have a regular yoga and meditation practice, congratulations – you are helping to look after both your physical and mental wellbeing.  If you used to have a regular practice, which has fallen by the wayside due to the other demands on your time – well, we’ve all been there.  If you used to listen to positive, uplifting music, walk in the countryside or by the sea, and no longer do that, think how you could fit that into your day.  Maybe the whole world won’t fall apart if you have a few minutes out of each day, or a few hours out of each week to do the things which help you to feel good.  Maybe, just maybe, you will find that all your other duties seem easier to accomplish, that you achieve more and better by taking that time out.  And maybe you will be an awful lot happier, more relaxed, more vibrant , and more able to deal with the undoubted challenges of everyday life.