How Do You Want To Be? πŸ™πŸ»

Choices, choices, choices. We have so many to make and so much to choose from: what to eat, what to do, where to go, who to see. But how often do you spend time choosing how you want to be? And what would that you look like?

Visualisation plays quite a role in many yoga classes – from ‘journey’ visualisations during relaxation to ideas which pepper the yoga path: “Rain down your hands”, “Imagine an indigo light radiating from your Third Eye”, “Breathe in cleansing, white steam and breathe out grey smoke.” This is kalpana, or constructed, intentional imagination.

Using visualisation is a highly effective method of making experience more accessible, more powerful and more memorable. And it also has proven impact; imaginative constructions, such as imagining practising scales or getting the ball in the hoop, have been shown to actually improve people’s skills and physical performance. So why not use this process to bring about a better you? 😊

Whenever suits you – during the minutes before you fall asleep or fully wake up, or on a yoga mat or sitting on your sofa in silence – try this. With your eyes closed, breathe easily and ask yourself which quality (or qualities) would improve your person. Now, ‘breathe in’ the word or an image for it and ‘breathe out’ its opposite for as long as is comfortable. Alternatively, visualise yourself embodying this quality in common situations or relive and alter experiences in which it would have served you well.

As with everything, change will only come with practice! But, over time, you should see a shift in yourself and hopefully feel more calm, centred and content, too. But don’t be too hard on yourself. As my yoga teacher often says:

πŸ’—
Observe your Self and observe your Self gently.

Let the quality of mercy be unrestrained.

For there is nothing within your Self with which you are at war.

πŸ’—

And remember, imagination always precedes transformation.

Om shantiπŸ™πŸ»

Ms Yogapot πŸ™πŸ»

Contentment πŸ™πŸ»

“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process (…) to look at a thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn, (…) to know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.” (The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak)

Few things that will last or which are complex and require consistent perseverance are easily won. These words leapt out at me because I’m severely frustrated at the moment and my natural feeling of contentment is being challenged! I’m frustrated because I can’t go out for walks in the beautiful autumn weather, because of knee problems (which can ironically only be improved long term by exercise). And I’m disappointed by practical constraints which mean I need to wait before working with a very special person.

So, the quote made me realise that I need to shift my perspective and adjust my attitude and expectations and practise not only patience but also the virtue of contentment – santosha. To embody this, it is advised that you accept whatever circumstances present themselves, including success, pain, failure or pleasure. It guides you to accept and be content with the way you are and your current limitations, rather than making happiness dependent on achieving certain goals or striving for more. In short, to see both the bigger picture as well as all that life offers you right now.

Replacing frustration and disappointment with contentment is helped by taking time out (on my mat or even in a comfortable chair), eyes closed and just breathing to the simple pattern of inhaling for two, pausing for two, exhaling for four then pausing again for two counts. This really helps to create a literal and metaphorical breathing space, in which I can calm my mind and mood and am able to reassess and gain perspective.

After all, I am lucky that there is a way to make my knee better and fabulous NHS staff to help me do so and also I am truly fortunate to have found another very special soul to connect with in this world.

Silver linings.

Namaste πŸ™πŸ»

Ms Yogapot πŸ™πŸ»

Slowly Does ItπŸ™πŸ»

Speed and efficiency, being busy and productive, getting things done – these are common elements of much current living and thinking. Yet human beings have not always been in such a hurry. We have made phenomenal progress as a species – in the past two thousand – and two million – years. Nature takes all the time it needs.

Okay, so we don’t have two thousand years to play with. And, don’t get me wrong, I myself am keen on making the most of my time here! Yet we all have the option to choose and the ability to change – to make more of our life by actually doing less and taking our time over what we do do.

Cramming life with doing compromises being. It also inhibits the development of our awareness and impedes our connection to our self and to others. And busy-ness distracts us from the world around us and from our actual life. By slowing down, we not only notice more, we absorb more, reflect more, enjoy more and feel more a part of the extraordinary world in which we live.

In yoga, slowing down your practice – moving into each pose and through every transition between poses slowly – is both more physically challenging and actually takes you more inside, allowing you to really be in that moment, in your body and mind. This union, this contemplation and this inner peace are key aims of yoga: and can be reached merely through taking your time.

If you cannot slow down your ways, try to give yourself one half hour space in your day! In a US study, participants meditated thirty minutes a day for eight weeks. All this involved was recognising thoughts and feelings that arose in the mind, and letting these pass without judgment. The results were incredible. The density of the amygdala decreased, specifically in the areas governing anxiety and stress. Equally excitingly, grey matter in the hippocampus increased, suggesting an increase in the capacity for learning and memory building.

Slowing down how you do what you do, allowing more time for everything (whenever possible) will bring you rewards. You will feel more connected to your self, to others and to the incredible world around you. You will notice more and stress less and feel more contented. It takes practice to shift and to be comfortable with this approach (I’m practising!), but it’s worth every moment of retraining for every moment you’re gaining.

I’ll leave with these words of wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh:

“The purpose of a rose is to be a rose. Your purpose is to be yourself. You don’t have to run anywhere to become someone else. You are wonderful just as you are.”

(The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching)

Namaste πŸ™πŸ»

Ms Yogapot πŸ™πŸ»

Reality vs Regret πŸ™πŸ»

A few days ago, despite much reasoning and reflection, I had only just emerged from a semi-permanent state of nagging, gnawing regret that I Didn’t Do My Best.

This, I knew, was very First World problemy – ‘Oh no! I didn’t win Β£10k on a tv show!’ Yet I sensed there was something to be learned here, beyond the superficiality of the actual experience.

So, in an attempt to shake some sense into myself and to step outside of the rotating bubble of pointless thought, I decided to read up on regret.

Regret isn’t something I usually am bitten by. Wishing I could do something again differently or better, or wishing I could have done something or not done something, seems to me like a waste of time. Equally, regret is not part of the yoga view – which is firmly fixed in the here and now, while regret clings to the past.

So why was being I affected by this? Because, albeit in a small and temporary way, I had suffered a wound to my sense of self: I always prepare for tests, but in this instance I wasn’t fully prepared – because of elements I could not have anticipated. Which of course happens in life all of the time.

It took me a while to see this clearly for what it was. In yoga, this is avidya, the first of the five kleshas or obstacles which block the spiritual path. Avidya – literally, spiritual ignorance – can also be interpreted as incorrect understanding or a fogged sense of perception. Something which also happens in life – and had definitely been happening to me!

Regret had created a veil over reality and blocked my view of my true self and of the real sources of my happiness: it had prevented me seeing my reality.

My true self is not stupid. The reality is I have not failed in life. And real happiness to me is not that money or what anonymous viewers will think – it is love, family, friends, health and everyday happinesses; joyous birdsong, a juicy apple, cool moonlight, perfect music, vibrant sunshine, a long hug, the beautiful sea, kind words, my daughter’s face, a good book, silence, laughter; in essence, appreciating, understanding and connecting with the amazing people and the incredible world around me.

Let’s embrace the riches of our reality,

Namaste πŸ™πŸ»

Ms Yogapot πŸ™πŸ»

What is winning?πŸ™πŸ»

😊TV show update:

I didn’t win (financially) but I gained insight; and it was not an entirely enjoyable journey!

Day One: I came close to winning but was fairly and squarely beaten by superior gameplay – and annoyingly by my own nerves and hesitation. But to get to that stage, I did really dig deep and do well, using a lot of inner strength, mentally and emotionally, which gave me reasons to be cheerful.

That night, however, I was awake for several of the early hours – my brain replaying all of the poor choices I had made, all of the ridiculous answers I had given and the wasted opportunities when I really did know what I should have done. How was I going to bear the very public (5-episode) embarrassment?

After a few hours of sleep and a long shower, I realised that my ego was tormenting me. The only way to put it in its place was to gain perspective and finish the job by doing Day Two (even though I felt like running away).

Perspective (my reason reasoned) looked like this:

*it’s just a game (on tv)

*I don’t know most of the (alleged) 2 million people who will watch it

*I may not be very competent at answering random general knowledge questions under extreme pressure and within a very short time limit, but I’m successful at and truly enjoy many other elements of my life – things which really matter to me

*my own work can positively impact and even change lives, whereas a game show is the fish and chip paper of tv land – it will all be forgotten as soon as the credits roll

*and, I did meet some incredible people – my fellow contestants, who were inspiring, heart-warming and enriching to be with

My conclusion? You can “win” in different ways; just don’t let your ego distract you from the true value of life’s experiences and from your own worth.

πŸ™πŸ»Om shanti, shanti, shanti,

πŸ™πŸ»Cosmic peace, calm, bliss to all,

Ms Yogapot πŸ™πŸ»

Non-graspingπŸ™πŸ»

So, here’s the thing.

This week, my yoga teacher talked about the first of the yoga yamas or ‘Don’ts’ – aparigraha or non-grasping.

“Release your tight grip on everything, from your desired outcome of a pose to how you want a job or relationship to be. Release your hold on all that does not serve you, all that is not useful. Let it go. Make way for and be open to the new, the fresh, the harmonious.”

Now I am on a train, going to take part in a tv quiz show. I kid you not. Somehow, four weeks after first watching the show, I’ve passed the application, telephone interview and video audition. And how am I feeling? Nervous, excited and conflicted – should I visualise my triumphant return home, cheque in hand, or not grasp and just let it be?

Of course, I have entered because I want to win. However, the questions will be random and may or may not make sense to me! All I can do is stay calm, be clear-thinking and press the buzzer in time ☺️. But if I do all of these in a grasping-after-the-outcome manner, will I block my energy – and the possibility of success?

Crystals are at the ready: lapis lazuli and citrine, for mental strength and prosperity, respectively (Thank you, Krissy*πŸ™πŸ»πŸ’Ž.) I’ve been cramming random facts and testing myself every spare moment. But, if any questions on soap operas or tv stars come up, no amount of letting go will help the answers to flow!

Trying to stay yoga-aware but not deny my hope, I will try to:

Let (my desired outcome) go.

Breathe.

Be positive.

Forgive (myself if necessary).

Be generous.

Practise self-care.

I’m not sure I can shake off the “I did it!” image in my head, but I’ll do my best to be as non-grasping as possible.

See you on the other side!

NamasteπŸ™πŸ»

Ms YogapotπŸ™πŸ»

*https://serendipitycrystals.co.uk/

Easy-Peasy, Calming Bee Breath πŸπŸ™πŸ»

Anxiety, frustration, nerves, tension and stress rear their worried heads in everyone’s life – momentarily, prolongedly, unexpectedly or predictably.

🐝Humming Bee Breath, or Bramhari Pranayama, is an easy-to-do, on-the-spot meditational remedy – as long as you have a little privacy!

Find a place you cannot be overheard – a car, a bathroom, outdoors where you have space. Sit with a tall back and with your shoulders and face relaxed. Breathe naturally for several breaths. Then, with your lips lightly sealed, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, making a humming “mmm” noise. Make the exhale (and buzzing sound) as lengthy as you can, yet without strain: you can make yourself feel more panicked if you overdo the exhale. Continue with the practice for three or four rounds, then take a few natural breaths at the end. Repeat if you need to, but remember, as always in yoga, maintain a balance of ease and effort.

This gentle humming takes you away from the thoughts spinning or on a loop in your head, while the vibrations calm and soothe you.

πŸ™πŸ»Please try this – it really works!

🐝Happy humming!

Namaste πŸ™πŸ»

Ms Yogapot πŸ™πŸ»

N.B. You can intensify the calming effect by closing your eyes and/or blocking your ears by gently pressing on the ear cartilage; however, stop these if they increase your feelings of anxiety etc.

Also, if you can’t find a quiet place, practise silently, imagining the hum.🐝