Tag Archives: nature

Weekly wonders

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This week the woods I drive past every day have magically turned from almost bare trees into every shade of green.

The sun has shone today whilst digging home-made compost into the garden.  Time to put in some veggies for the summer!

A lot (!) of baby snails in my son’s aquarium.

A walk through the bluebell woods last weekend. The steady rain seemed only to intensify the heady fragrance of the flowers.

A fun morning helping with a pottery session at my son’s school. Only hope the works of art produced survive the kiln!

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Moments of wonder

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Reading an article in a magazine (The Simple Things  – thesimplethings.com) the other day, the author Dr Matthew McFall was writing about wonder.   Children have such a strong sense of wonder, everything is new and exciting. As we get older, we tend to get a bit more jaded, and take truly amazing things for granted, sometimes failing to notice them at all.
When we take time to renew our sense of wonder, we can appreciate the good in our lives so much more, building a strong sense of wellbeing.

It got me thinking about the wonderful moments of this one week:

A walk with my son

The sunlight shining through a rabbit’s ears as he played at the edge of a field

Drops of dew on the long grass

Sunshine breaking through the clouds

Moments of utter peace and contentment in meditation

Laughing with friends and family

A delicious home made cake

A fritillary – quite possibly my favourite flower – opening out on my front lawn

A previously undiscovered grassy footpath with cowslips in bloom!

Hope you find time to think about the wonderful things in your life too!

Finding balance

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Some yoga students find balance postures easy.  But many, many more find them difficult.  And even once we master a particular asana, on some days they may still prove more challenging than others.

I think balance is like this.  We can be drifting along, happily centred and relaxed with the way things are in our lives, and then something happens, maybe even something quite small, which rocks us and knocks us off balance.  A little irritation, a cross word, an unexpected traffic jam, anything which interrupts the natural flow of our day can throw us off course and make us lose our balance.  Imagine that you are walking along a nice, smooth path, which you’ve walked many times before, and then – bam! – you land on the ground.  You’d never noticed that patch of uneven ground before.

Maybe we weren’t ‘in the moment’.  Perhaps we were concerned with other things than the here and now.  Maybe that’s what tripped us up.

We can be ‘tripped up’ in our yoga practice, too.  We can think yes, the tree is a cinch, I really get it!  And then comes the day when it’s just too much to concentrate, to focus, and it’s not so easy.  The tree is wobbly, it’s a real effort.  It’s harder to stay grounded through the foot while reaching up with the arms than it should be, than it normally is.

Maybe what we tried to do was to set a moment in stone, instead of noticing the flow of our life.  ‘I can do this posture, it’s easy, now I will be able to do it forever’.  And then we can’t!  Instead of getting irritated with ourselves, and getting even further from our centre, we could remember that everything is changing, and practice acceptance of where we are today, in this moment, in this class, right now.  Not last week, certainly not last month or last year.  And when we do master that posture again, to try to relax into it, not to grasp after that success, not to cast it in stone, but to live in this moment, the here and now.

Sometimes, we can take our practice away from our normal environment.  Practicing in nature, maybe on the grass or on the beach, can add in the challenge of uneven ground.  Then we need to step up our mindfulness, and ease up on the need for perfection.  We can feel the movement in our body as we try to find equilibrium, without leaning into any wobbles and making them worse.  In our lives, when we encounter those irritations that disturb our peace of mind, we can learn to stay in our centre, rather than lean into the wobbles of our mind, and worsen things by our unhelpful reactions. We take the lesson from our yoga on the mat, and use them in our lives when we are off the mat.

A feeling of belonging

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We all like the feeling that we belong – that we are part of a group, whether that be in school or work, with our family or friends, or our communities.  Children initially belong within their families, and, when they are very young, they accept their family’s way of doing things as the way. As we grow older, we learn that there are so many different ways of doing everything in life.  And this is where judgements can start to creep in.  We may still like to believe  the way we have been brought up is the right way.  Or we may admire someone else’s approach to life and adopt it wholeheartedly.  As parents, we can try to encourage our children to be accepting of other traditions and values, and to keep an open mind.

The sense of belonging is a comfort in difficult times.  No-one really wants to feel different to everyone else, or to feel as if nobody understands them.  But how much should we compromise our own inner guidance in order to fit in with our chosen group?  We all have an innate sense of what is right for us,  and the challenge is to adhere to that without judging someone else’s views as inferior or wrong in some way.  As we grow spiritually, we begin to see ourselves as belonging more widely –  not only all humanity but the whole planet and universe are one.  We remind ourselves of this every time we are tempted to set ourselves or others aside by our strong attachment to our own way of doing things, and we allow ourselves to lighten up.

To belong is to feel secure.  The sense of belonging is associated with our base chakra, mooladhara,  the chakra concerned with our sense of security and stability in life.  With our ability to weather the storm, and to withstand life’s ups and downs.  When our security is challenged, we may become fearful and depressed, unable to see our way out, and this can often happen when we feel rejected by a group with whom we have identified, or when a phase of our lives comes to an end and we are literally removed from a group – for example, when we leave a job,  a school or a relationship.  It can also happen when we move home, leaving the familiar and the comfortable and starting again somewhere new.

At times such as these, it is important to work on increasing our sense of security through our work on mooladhara.  This can be done through grounding yoga asanas, such as tadasana or trikonasana, feeling the ground beneath our feet.  The beautiful Dru yoga Earth sequence, Prithvi Nasmaskara, particularly when done outside, is wonderful for enhancing our sense of belonging, our sense of oneness with everything around us.  Connecting with our breath in pranayama and meditation can also help our sense of embodiment, of being safe and secure within our bodies.  Getting out into nature is another way to connect with mooladhara – exercising outdoors in the fresh air, going for a walk by the sea or in the countryside, or doing some gardening or cooking, can all help to enhance our sense of wellbeing, and our sense of belonging in our world.  When we moved home, I really started to feel settled when I went out into the garden with my son, picking rhubarb from a huge clump we had inherited, and then cooking it together in a lovely sticky cake. Amidst the boxes still waiting to be unpacked!

When we feel strong and grounded through our base chakra, we are more open to the changes that will occur throughout our lives – we feel less threatened by the movement of our lives.  As  Mary Burmeister, who brought Jin Shin Jyutsu to the West, used to say, “movement is harmony”.  Without movement, without change, we stagnate, we get stuck.  The movement of our lives keeps us fresh; change keeps us engaged in our lives with vitality and interest.  We let go of phases of our lives we have outgrown, and develop and grow with our new circumstances.  We are more able to take risks and to move into the unfamiliar.  To feel that we belong, not only in the past, not only in some imagined future, but right here, right now.