The Beauty of Transition

I remember many years ago, one of my lecturers mentioning how the most beautiful places on earth are the ones where transition occurs. He gave an example of the shoreline where water meets land. This place of transition is like a magnet that draws us in with its beauty. Children and animals run towards it, artists paint it, and we walk along this edge to marvel at the wonder found here in the form of shells, small creatures and driftwood. Endless vistas of land and endless vistas of water hold a charm of their own, but none like that special place where the two meet.

The same is true of the transition of night to day and day to night. Ancient cultures have revered these times, even seeing them as auspicious. Through time immemorial, people have come to pause and marvel at the beauty of these special times of change. Dawn and dusk are my favourite times for practicing yoga. I’ve noticed that at these times, the noise of wildbirds rises in crescendo before dropping away to silence and stillness. These are the most beautiful times of the day and night cycle.

The same can be said of times of change in our lives. I’ve experienced many career changes in my life, and have come to realise that there is a time of transition when I am still working in my old career but mentally starting to move onto the next. Often times I’ll be doing a bit of both. This is a time of restlessness and frustration, but also a time of possibilities, new beginnings and excitement. There is uncertainty and fear, but over the years I have learnt that if I take that leap of faith, the safety net appears. This can also be a time of marvel and beauty, as I open myself to the endless possibilities of the universe.

Any time of transition contains these elements, whether it be a transition in or out of a relationship; transitioning out of school into the workforce; from working to retirement; setting out on a long journey, especially on your own; driving alone for the very first time after getting your license.

Yes these times can be scary, but there is an element of excitement that is worth embracing, in order for us to grow, evolve and live life to the fullest.

To draw on yogic philosophy, this is the principle of beginning, middle and end, so beautifully reflected in the mantra of A-U-M, which represents the concept of the universe. Life is dynamic and organic, not static. This is a universal principle which encourages us to embrace the flow and transitions of life.

In the words of Piero Ferrucci:

Eliminate something superfluous from your life,

Break a habit,

Do something that makes you feel insecure.

Embrace the beauty of these times of transition. Every sunrise is pregnant with possibilities. Open up to these possibilities. Trust that the power which ensures the orbital movement of planets with ordered precision, is the same power that will provide you with ordered precision as you make your way through times of change. Trust and have faith. What else is life for, if not for creating and experiencing to the fullest of your ability.

Life is short. Live without regrets. Embrace the adventure and beauty of transition.

The Learning within the Learning

Image by chenspec from Pixabay

I have recently gone back to study, something which I haven’t done for a number of years. I am undertaking a Design course, a large portion of which is learning Adobe Illustrator. I consider myself computer literate but learning Illustrator has been incredibly challenging. We were warned from the outset that Illustrator would be challenging to learn, akin to learning a new language.

Many hours have passed with me feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and tears were shed when things weren’t working out as they were supposed to.

I came to the realisation that even though I am learning something quite specific, there are other lessons that I am learning also. These are subtle lessons which reveal themselves between the lines, once I step back a bit, start to observe my mind and my reaction to it all. These are the learnings within the learning.

These are some of my revelations during the course of my studies:

We all come into this world knowing absolutely nothing (other than innate wisdom, but that’s another blog!). So everything that I ever see anyone doing has had to be learned by them at some point. If they can do it, so can I. Why not me?

Technology doesn’t always behave as it should. Yes, sometimes it is the operator but sometimes technology just has it’s own agenda. It is what it is. Mercury may be in retrograde which impacts on global communications and technology.

Google, YouTube and the Help function are great friends at times when things aren’t going to plan.

The undo button or CTRL Z is my best friend because it allows me to learn through trial and error.

I may not be able to control technology crashing or not working properly but I can control my mindset and reaction around this.

While the mind is infinite, the brain is not, so it gets tired. If I am struggling to grasp a concept or find myself getting overly frustrated, I walk away, make a cuppa, stretch, go for a walk or sit outside. A good night’s sleep is even better. I am amazed at how such a break can bring on an ‘Aha’ moment of ‘so that’s how it’s done!!’ If all else fails, walk away and allow the brain to recharge.

There is an optimum time for study which will be different for everyone. My optimum time is between breakfast and lunch, which is why I try to schedule the more challenging tasks for this time and somewhat easier tasks for the afternoon.

I avoid spending time in front of the computer after dark because it leaves me wired in such a way that I struggle to get a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes no matter what I try, there is no flow in my work. It’s okay to give myself a day off every now and again, without feeling guilty about it. This too shall pass, and my mojo will return. Life is cyclical.

Sighing and long exhales help to release pent up tension and allow for energy to flow through my body in a healthy way.

Albert Einstein was right when he said that insanity is defined by doing the same thing and expecting different results. If something isn’t working, try a different way. Often slight variations will make all the difference. Is there another tool that I can use to achieve a similar result? Is this absolutely critical to my learning or can I move forward without it?

The concepts that are hardest to learn are often the ones that I will remember forever, for the simple reason that I have put a lot of effort into coming to terms with them.

Sometimes near enough is good enough.

I remember my why. What is the reason behind me wanting to study this?

I make sure that I have a good support network (in my case, my sister who happens to be studying at the same time and an awesome online community of students and alumni). It helps to know that someone understands what I am going through.

Lastly, I remember that I exist as a separate entity from my studies. I am not my studies and I have a life outside of my studies. Creating that mental sense of separation can be quite cathartic.

Despite all, I get an incredible sense of achievement when I find myself whizzing through tasks that I had struggled with previously. Every challenge that I overcome makes me just that little bit surer of myself and builds up my confidence, task by task.

I am living life. I am growing. I am learning.

Ukraine – the madness and the beauty

(image of Carpathian mountains in Western Ukraine by Oleg Mityukhin from Pixabay)

As I sit down to write these words, my heart is filled with disbelief at the unfolding situation in Ukraine. A couple of days ago, Ukraine was subject to an unprovoked attack by the president of Russia and his army. This is the birth country of my parents, who had to flee after the second World War as the country was under attack, just like it is now – a pattern that has been repeating itself for hundreds of years.

I spent my childhood immersed in all things Ukrainian. My parents, (as is typical of Ukrainians) were patriotic and so we spent our weekends attending Ukrainian school, Church, dancing, singing, you name it, my sister and I were there. As I moved away from the family home, I discovered a world beyond the Ukrainian community, expanded my horizons, and my Ukrainian heritage was put on the backburner.

Like many of us in the Western world, I have taken for granted the ability to go about my daily life in peace. I can go to work, I can buy anything I like, I can travel freely (Covid restrictions aside!). In these past few days I have been reminded that in this very moment, there are millions of people just like me, with dreams and aspirations, whose ability to even enjoy a warm meal has been taken away. As I sit in the cool stillness of a new day in my apartment, families are being torn apart, children are crying, people are frightened. It isn’t fair and I cannot believe that in the 21st century, (some) humans are still oblivious to the atrocities of war.

As the current issue is close to my heart, it is hard for me to not be affected in some way, as I feel the Ukrainian part of me stirring. All of a sudden I have a desire to visit this country of my parents’ birth and I worry about how much of the culture, sacred architecture and natural beauty of this country will survive unscathed.

In many ways I feel helpless about a situation on the other side of the world and I am visited by feelings of anger, passion, disbelief, sadness and my mind often wanders to that other part of the world. I cannot control external events but I can control how I react to them, and I can control my inner world.

As a believer in universal energy and the oneness of all, there are things that I can do. I’ve been lighting a candle every night for the people of Ukraine. I can bring this light into my heart and I can send it to the people of Ukraine – the leaders, the soldiers, the mothers, fathers, children, the sick and injured. There is enough hatred and anger floating around, just as the perpetrators would like it. The people of Ukraine need hope, light and love. Yesterday I visited my local shrine to pray for the people of Ukraine, to send love and hope. I sat in silence away from the news, and I listened for the quiet whisper of divine wisdom to come through.

In daily meditation, I see myself as observer of my thoughts and feelings, which creates distance between me and my thought / feelings, so their impact on me is lessened. Distance always seems to dilute impact. I give my thoughts and feelings space to be acknowledged , so they can pass through me, rather than getting stuck inside my body and mind. Journaling is another tool that I find useful to release thoughts and feelings, getting them out of me and onto paper, again creating that sense of distance.

I remember that I am not my thoughts or feelings, they are merely visiting. They come and go but I remain the same at my core.

Yes it is challenging at times, like when I watch video footage from relatives as they watch tanks roll past their home. Yes it’s insane and yes it’s unfair, but I like to believe that even in the midst of this atrocity, there is divine reason, even if I’m not aware of it. I hold on to the belief that goodness, humanness and love will prevail in the long run.

I limit my consumption of news to prevent overwhelm. I focus on what goodness I have in my life – my work, my studies, my art, my family, and immerse myself in these. I move with the feelings, in yoga and dance, rejoicing in the blessing of being able to move. I go for a walk in nature, looking for goodness, beauty and life in the world.

Lastly, I find comfort in the words of Ralph Marston, and I hope that you do too:

Stop for a moment and calm your thoughts.

Let go of your anxieties and look around you.

What do you see?

You see a world filled with beauty.

You see a life filled with possibilities.

Yes there are challenges, yes there is sorrow.

Yes there is violence and hatred.

But more than these there is love,

there is goodness, there is joy.

Think of what a precious thing your life is

and how truly blessed you are to be experiencing it right now.

Breathe in the beauty around you, the beauty and richness of being alive.

The Suspense of Life

Most of us love a good storm – that electric energy in the air, the feeling of not knowing how dramatic or uneventful the storm is going to be. If it’s a big enough storm, it has the power to upend our well intentioned plans, with sporting matches halted, half dried washing brought in, traffic chaos and the destructive force of mother nature. We surrender to the storm, doing our best to live with it for as long as it chooses to grace us with its presence.

Then it passes and things return to normal.

There is a sense of suspense that accompanies a good storm. There is a sense of not knowing where the next lightning strike might be, somewhere far away or too close for comfort. Is it going to be a deep distant rumble, or a shocking thunder clap that feels like it is right above our head? Is there going to be hail? We might contact family and friends to compare notes to find out who got the bigger hail!

If we feel safe enough, we might like to venture outdoors, feeling the powerful might of the storm wash over us and the exhilaration that comes with it. (Please, only if totally safe to do this). We feel it in every cell of our body and being. We feel totally present and in the moment.

I feel like the sense of suspense of a storm is a fitting analogy for the suspense of life. We like to think that we have total control over our life and possibly the lives of others. But how much control do we really have? John Lennon said it beautifully when he said ‘life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’.

We make plans and we set goals. We like to feel like we are in control of things in our life. We feel happy when ‘things are as they are meant to be’. And yet. life may have other plans in store – an unexpected illness, an accident, unexpected good news.

Sometimes the suspense of life can challenge us.

As I write these words, I am facing a suspense challenge of my own. A few days out of venturing out on a much needed family holiday, Covid is rampant and people all around us are falling victim to the pandemic. If either one of my family were to become infected with Covid now, that would mean the cancellation of our much needed holiday. And so for the next week days we have no choice but to live with the suspense and anxiety of the uncertainty of our holiday. It is beyond our control. All we can do is continue to make the most of each day and each moment. The suspense will still be there. We can acknowledge, accept it and make peace without knowing the outcome.

For what is certain in life anyway?

Being an earth sign (Taurus), I crave structure, certainty and solidity in my life. I am a planner, I love mind-maps and lists. I have made many vision boards over the years and I have set goals. For a large part of my life, suspense and not knowing has made me nervous.

Yet the experience of over five decades around the sun, has shown that the uncertainty of life means that it has turned out in ways that I could never have imagined. In fact, I can honestly say that, my life continues to be imbued with magnificence beyond my wildest dreams. I’m certainly not saying that my life has been a fairytale, because not a single person on this planet is immune to the trials and tribulations of life. However, after five plus decades, I have finally learnt to trust in the process of life.

Life constantly surprises me. Life contains a sense of suspense. I have learnt that I can relax into the suspense and that sense of not knowing. Life finds a way to take care of things, if I let it do so. I can only control life to a certain extent, so I may as well get comfortable with the suspense of life.

I can wake up every morning with the thought of it being another ordinary day, or I can embrace the suspense of life, anticipating the wonder, magic and unexpected gifts in store. Even the not so welcome unexpected gifts can turn out to be blessings in disguise, in hindsight.

Quite often it’s the seemingly little things that can make a difference and add up to a life of magical moments – a smile from a passing stranger, a breathtaking sunset or a synchronicity. These are like the thunderclaps which take us by surprise as we never know when they are going to turn up. We cannot control how or when these magical moments turn up in our life, and this is how life keeps us in suspense.

By all means make plans, draw up lists and mind maps. Just remember to allow life to keep you in suspense and be open to the unexpected.

Invite in the wonder and expansiveness of life.

2022 – An Invitation to Create a New World

Another new year, and what’s so special about this one?

As anyone can see there are three twos in this one.

In numerology, every number upto 9 has a meaning and power attributed to it.

Number 2 relates to The Divine Feminine and its attributes. (To make it perfectly clear, I am referring to the feminine as an energy found in both men and women, which goes beyond gender) It contains the seeds of intuition, relationship, partnership, union, harmony and teamwork.

This is an invitation to relate and form unions in the framework of The Divine Feminine. For way too long, partnerships and unions have been formed on an uneven playing field, with some sort of a hierarchical system in place. Think of your traditional corporate workplace scenario with various tiers of management and varying levels of power and authority. In a traditional family structure, male and female gender roles have been very rigid. Although these gender roles have been around for a long time, clearly they are not working for most, with relationship breakdown at an all time high.

In 2022 we will be invited to explore the notion of relationship and union from the perspective of a more even playing field where the players see eye to eye. There is the potential to use differences in a way which completes rather than divides. Unity within diversity.

Number Two and The Divine Feminine invite us to replace control and authority with harmony and teamwork. This is an invitation to relate to others and form unions, both on a personal and collective level, in such a way that we strive to understand our differences, and see eye to eye, regardless of these. This is time to tap into the feminine qualities of grace and dignity, to operate with an understanding that as human beings we all deserve respect. The same blood runs through all of us. We are all branches of the same tree. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

Control through force is not sustainable. The Divine Feminine is a quiet but powerful influencer. Think of the feminine element of water as it makes its way in the form of a babbling brook. It is fluid, flowing and dancing along effortlessly, making a gentle, soothing noise as it goes. If you place a leaf in the brook, you will see it bobbing along as it gets taken downstream. Under the surface, pebbles are being polished and the bank of the brook is constantly changing depending on the water level. If the brook comes across a large boulder, it will not force its way through the boulder, neither will it go over it. Instead the brook finds a way around the boulder with grace, dignity and ease, in such a way that they both co-exist in harmony, side by side.

The Divine Feminine operates in a similar way, as the quiet but powerful influencer, acknowledging the power of compassion and co-operation, in guiding to a place of harmony and co-existence. This is an invitation to find a way to co-exist with that large boulder. This is a quiet, detached authority (for want of a better word). It doesn’t need to make too much noise or use force to be heard and validated. This is about power within, rather than power over. It’s about realising the power of harmony, compassion, grace and dignity.

I think we can all concur that the last 18 months have shaken our world to the core. The once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has brought us to our knees. We have seen systems crumble and experienced a distrust of leadership. The way we used to operate and relate to others doesn’t seem to work anymore. The phrase ‘we cannot go back to things how they were’ keeps getting repeated like a mantra.

Let this be an invitation to create a new way of being, doing and relating. Let’s share the Divine Feminine principles of compassion, harmony, teamwork, unity and finally seeing eye to eye. Let’s create a world that we will be proud to leave for our children.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi – Be the change you want to see in the world.

The Mystery and the Message of Pain

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For a long time I have held the belief that physical pain is our body’s way of trying to tell us something, just like painful emotional experiences bear a hidden message.

In my life I have had many instances of physical ailments and symptoms, with a medical diagnosis that tells me that there is nothing wrong and yet the symptoms are definitely there.

I had one of those episodes recently.

Midway through my day, I started to feel a pain in my chest which felt like tightness deep within the chest. I took the attitude of ‘wait and see’. By the evening, the pain had increased and spread into my back and left shoulder and still felt like it was deep within. I wanted to rest in Child’s pose but found it unbearably painful in my chest.

That night was difficult to sleep as I felt like there was a big bulge in my left shoulder area which was uncomfortable. I was thinking that I probably should get it checked out, but kept putting it off. My son had pericarditis a few years ago and his experience was pretty much identical to what I was experiencing. My biggest fear was that it was going to be heart related and that I would have to be hospitalised for a few days. On the second evening I started to develop a fever and the pain was extreme to the point where I couldn’t lie on my back or my left side, without experiencing excruciating pain.

The following morning I took myself off to hospital to get checked out. As I presented with chest pain, I was seen to immediately and put under a thorough investigation. I was given paracetamol which did absolutely nothing to ease the pain. To my surprise (and relief), my heart and lungs were seen to be perfectly healthy and I was free to go home.

That evening I decided to soak in an epsom salts bath and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to recline in the bath, whereas only a few hours ago, the pain would have been unbearable. I allowed myself to breathe into the pain and I asked the pain to reveal its purpose. The warmth of the bath water made me feel like my body and mind were melting into relaxation. The pain was melting too. There was a sense of feeling safe to let go. This is when I came to the realisation that it had been a big few days and months for me (and for many others I’m sure, as our worlds evolve and change). I feel like subconsciously I had been holding onto a lot of stress and it needed to manifest before leaving.

After the bath I made a nutritious dinner and had a restful evening. To my surprise, that night I found that I was able to lie on my back and on my left side with only moderate (and bearable pain). I slept well and woke to a new day where I just knew that all would be well.

I continued my therapy with yoga and essential oils and felt my mojo coming back. The pain was still there but very mild and I felt like the worst was behind me.

Am I the only one to feel a sense of mystery when my body is presenting me with so much pain and yet a medical diagnosis shows that all is well?

What is the message of the pain? I’m not totally sure just yet but I am certain that it needed to manifest somewhere in my body before it could be set free.

Have you had the experience of pain with no medical explanation?

footnote: Please treat any medical symptoms such as chest pain seriously and seek medical assistance as needed. Just because I put off seeking medical help, doesn’t mean that you should too!

Yoga during Covid isolation

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

So just before the Covid lockdown, you find your perfect yoga teacher and class. The time and date works well for you and the teacher gets you. You even feel comfortable with the other students. You feel like you have finally found a yoga class that you can commit to long term.

Enter Covid 19 restrictions and all bets are off. No more yoga class, unless you decide to go online. You can do that, you have the space at home and your wifi is pretty good.

You set yourself up in preparation for said class and you are proud of yourself for not giving up on yoga. The class begins. The teacher apologises as she has never done an online yoga class before. She starts to take you through some warm ups and some breathing. You feel yourself relaxing into the class and into your body. Other cares and worries are getting left behind.

Then it happens. The screen starts to glitch for a few seconds, then freezes, before internet connection is lost. You feel stress creeping fairly quickly into your body. Then somehow internet is reconnected and the class continues. You catch up. You feel better.

Then it happens.. Again, and again. Internet is lost. You feel like screaming and you want to throw the laptop out the window. You remember that this is a yoga class and you are supposed to be relaxing.

Somehow, all those years of listening to the words of your yoga teacher come back into your mind. You close your eyes.

SURRENDER….

BREATHE….

FOCUS ON THAT WHICH YOU CAN CONTROL….

BECOME THE OBSERVER

You become aware of tightness in your chest, tension in your shoulders and belly. You recognise these as the result of feeling frustrated and angry. You soften your belly, allow your shoulders to drop and deepen your breathing.

You realise that you cannot control internet connection. Let it go.

You have an hour of time that you have set aside for a yoga class, and your yoga mat is rolled out. You feel like you are all dressed up with nowhere to go. Ok so you can’t go to yoga class, and the online thing isn’t working for you today.

But maybe there is another way. Maybe you can simply do your own yoga. You stand in mountain pose on your mat and close your eyes. You follow the breath moving in and out of your body.

You realise your shoulders have tensed up again. You roll them slowly a few times and notice warmth and movement of energy throughout your body all the way into your feet. This feels delicious.

One thing leads to another.

Before you know it, you have worked your way through an entire hour of yoga.

Is this yoga? Or is this you just mucking around?

What is yoga anyway?

Yoga means to unite, to connect, to yoke.

As long as you are connecting with your body, your mind, your spirit / higher self, and your breath, you are practicing yoga. As long as you have a sense of self awareness of these aspects of yourself, you are practicing yoga.

Thoughts will come and go, feelings will come and go, insights may come. You may feel a sense of connection with all that is…a sense of oneness. Allow your yoga session to be what it is, without judgement. This is your yoga session.

I like to call this INTUITIVE YOGA, where you tune into how you are feeling at the time and allow yourself to go from there. The inner wisdom of your body and being is your guide.

I will be writing more about Intuitive Yoga in the following weeks. Watch this space…..

Namaste.

Is our world male, female or other?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

My first language is Ukrainian and in this language (unlike English) pretty much everything is assigned a gender – either male, female or neutral, which makes it potentially a tricky language to learn.

So how would I assign gender to the world in which we live?

Before I go on, I have to emphasise that I am not referring to physical gender, ie man or woman. I am referring more to the qualities of masculine and feminine, to something more subtle than mere physical gender.

As humans, we like to categorise and understand stuff. For thousands of years, we have assigned gender to most things, and here are some examples: (I’m sure that you can think of some more!)

MASCULINEFEMININE
YangYin
Heaven Earth
SunMoon
ActiveReceptive
Left sided brain (rational) Right sided brain (creative, intuitive)
MarsVenus

In yogic philosophy, there is a system of energy centres located within and around the body known as chakras. There are seven major chakras, each with its own corresponding, colour, emotion, sound, symbol, qualities, organs and (yes, you guessed it!) gender. The chakras can also be related to certain eras in human history.

There is a lot of information out there about the chakras, but I would like to focus specifically on three chakras – Sacral, Solar Plexus and Heart. I would like to relate these chakras to specific eras or epochs in human history, and why I believe that we are entering the Heart Chakra era.

A lot has been written about human history, how we evolved and there are many stories, myths, legends and truths. According to what I have read, there was a time when women ruled the world (and dominated men). Women were seen as magical creatures, with the ability to create new life. Life was closely connected to nature and the cycles. Men were seen as good only for procreation and moving heavy objects (sorry guys!) This part of history can be seen relating to the Sacral or feminine chakra. The element of this chakra is water and even though water can be fluid, cooling and soothing, and it can also be destructive and a force to be reckoned with.

Then, as it does, the pendulum swung the other way and men started to dominate the world (and rule over women). ‘Witches’ were burnt at the stake, women were deprived of basic rights and disempowered. In Sweden, women gained the right to vote and to work as recently as the 1970’s. This part of history can be seen relating to the Solar Plexus or masculine chakra. The element of this chakra is fire, which is warming, and can be destructive if left unchecked. Yet the energy of fire is necessary for transformation to occur.

Neither system is ideal as there is an imbalance.

I believe that for the last few decades we have been making the transition from Solar Plexus Chakra into the Heart Chakra era. The Heart Chakra is the middle chakra out of all seven and is represented by the colour green, which is a balance of warm (yellow) and cool (blue) colours. The element is air, which has a quality of lightness, expansion and ease about it. The Heart Chakra has a sense of balance to it.

The keyword here is ‘transition’. Like the birthing process, any sort of transition can be painful and ugly, but is necessary in order for the birth of something new.

As we move away from a male dominated world, we are fumbling our way into a new world of balance. We are making mistakes along the way, and hopefully learning from these mistakes. Sometimes it feels like we are taking two steps forward and one step back, yet we are moving forward. I love seeing men pushing prams and playing with their children! I have a friend whose husband is a truck driver. My friend recently posted on social media, pictures of her husband cooking up a storm in the kitchen and wearing an apron.

We are moving away from The Stepford Wives era, away from a world of perfection and keeping up appearances, to a world of authenticity and realness.

Masculine energy qualities of dominance, control, linear growth, competitiveness, large scale, are being replaced by Feminine energy qualities of co-operation, community, human scale, fluidity and cycles. Workplaces are starting to acknowledging the diversity of their team, not only in terms of gender, religion or family situation, but also in the respect of differing styles of communication and work style. Morning people are allowed to come in early when they are at their most productive and night owls are allowed to work late. There is more fluidity and co-operation, less ‘one size fits all’.

With thanks to the pandemic of 2020, we are starting to realise that our economies are unsustainable and that we have created a society of complexity, in our attempt to control the world (Masculine qualities). This pandemic has taken away our illusion of control, and replaced this with creativity, flexibility, community, co-operation and togetherness (Feminine qualities).

Traditionally, yoga has been practiced only by men in India. Yet in the last hundred years or so, it has started to become more inclusive of women. Interestingly, when yoga was first introduced into the western world, it was predominantly the domain of women. Now more men are taking up yoga as we are coming to a place of balance.

And so the pendulum continues to swing, yet I feel that the swing is levelling out. I feel like we are creating a world of balance, inclusivity, validity and authenticity, regardless of gender.

As a world, we are entering the Heart Chakra era, as one human race – male, female, other. We are all in this together.

‘May my life force be linked to my heart;

‘May my heart be linked to the truth within me;

‘May this truth be linked to the eternal.’

(With thanks to Acharya Upendra Roy)

Celebrating Perfection of the Imperfect

In Japanese culture there is the concept of Wabi Sabi, celebrating the perfection of the imperfect.

For most of my life I have struggled with being a perfectionist, which any perfectionist will tell you is an uphill battle. The older I get the more I realise that perfectionism is an illusion. There is no such thing, except in the mind.

Nature is perfect in its imperfection, like the tree growing sideways, atop a windswept cliff. The imperfection of this tree is testament to its courage to grow in such a place, and its resilience to survive despite the harsh environment.

Life is like that too. Life is not always perfect. Yet this imperfection is testament to our courage and resilience.

As a yogini, it comes as no surprise that I love my regular yoga and meditation practice. In a ‘perfect’ world, I would have a dedicated space in the house for my practice. I’m envisaging a space which is light and airy, warm timber, large windows bringing in the greenery, the distinctive aroma of incense wafting through the air, with my mat and props all set and ready to go.

In reality, I practice yoga in the lounge room which I share with my family. My mat and props get put away every time. There is cheap carpet on the floor and in certain poses I end up hitting the window. At times, someone will walk through the lounge and disturb my flow.

This appears to be far removed from my ideal yoga space and yet it works. I celebrate my determination and resilience as I make it work despite the challenges. My yoga space is perfect for now.

Through the asana (physical posture) practice of yoga, I have come to accept the perfection of the imperfection of my body and being. There are certain poses which I cannot do, and that’s ok. There are days where my balance is not that great, and that’s ok. There are days when my practice is only ten minutes and that’s ok too.

Off the mat, I have come to accept that I am getting more wrinkles as I get older, my tummy will never be as flat as it was pre-children and some days I get tired more easily. That’s more than ok, because it’s testament to the fact that I have survived to my early fifties, that I have children and that I have notched up life experience and wisdom.

Acceptance of the authentic self is really about seeing the perfection in the imperfections. The more I cultivate self acceptance, the more I will be likely to accept others for their authenticity too.

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The Power of the Pause

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In the practice of yoga, there is emphasis on the breath. One breath cycle is usually composed of four phases – inhalation / pause / exhalation / pause.

While all phases serve their purpose, I have always loved the pause. To me the pause is a special place, a fleeting few seconds where I have the luxury of not having to do anything, not having to go anywhere, not having to think about anything. In these few seconds, I can rest, I can pause, I can simply be.

When I come home from work, or if I feel like my head is spinning from information overload, again I like to pause.

I go into the lounge room, lie down on the floor and put my legs up on a cushioned chair. For extra inversion I like to put my lower back on a bolster, but this is optional. I allow my arms to fall naturally by the side, with palms facing up, in the pose of relaxation. I take a few big breaths out and simply let go – of the day, of worrisome thoughts, of excess information in my head. I close my eyes and just allow any thoughts to drift in and out of my consciousness, like clouds floating across the sky.

In yoga, this is known as supported Viparita Kirani and is known to reduce blood pressure, reduce heart rate, relieve headaches and soothe the nervous system. As the diaphragm doesn’t have to work against gravity, breathing naturally becomes deeper, which allows more oxygen to enter the body, creating more energy.

In this way, I reconnect with my self…..I restore my energy…..I pause.

Just like I enjoy my pause on a personal scale, I feel like we are being invited to pause on a collective scale also, at this time of the Covid pandemic.

This is an invitation to slow down, to rest, to go within, to reflect, on a global scale. If we accept this invitation, we have the potential to tap into the power of the pause – the power to reflect and question how we are living our lives and make any changes that we see fit; the power to restore; the power to simply be, with no expectations.

This is an invitation particularly to those of us who have always tended to do too much, to overachieve, to strive for perfection. This is an opportunity for us to realise that we don’t have to do it all, that it’s okay to rest.

The power of the pause reminds us of the importance of simply being. By being our true selves, this is enough.