Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Fresh Start: 3 Ways to Embrace Change

06/12/2013

Guilty. I have not made this blog a priority for awhile. Although, I think I have a few pretty good reasons for my ten month absence. You see, I’ve been busy with some pretty big changes. With a new year upon us, I find myself reflecting on all of the transitioning of the past year, and there are two words that repeatedly spring to mind.  Fresh start. Leaving my job, undertaking yoga teacher training, moving (across an ocean), redefining my professional path, bringing home a new mini dachshund puppy named Doug and really, starting over in so many ways. Making a fresh start.

I’ll be candid though. While it has been an exciting year of possibilities and adventure,  I’m also going to hypothesize that I would be slightly super human if I handled all of these changes with complete grace and ease. I cried. I moaned how much I missed my friends. I got frustrated when Doug made a mess. I doubted my choice to forge a new path. I doubted myself.

When we react adversely to a plot twist in life, we aren’t exactly fretting the change itself. We fear the unknown. When we feel groundless and uncertain we experience a disconnection to our true selves. So how can we shift our perspective and bring ourselves back? One way to do this is to remember that not all change is scary and it can provide you with a fresh start. Here are three tips for embracing change and seeing it as a clean slate:

Remember it is a START. When working toward a goal or through a transition, you may find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed when things don’t progress as quickly as you’d like. Some change comes slowly. Be patient. And be kind to yourself too. When faced with a new city, job or situation, it can be tempting to think about how good you had it in your old routine. You might forget why change is necessary for living. Look forward and remember that the changes you’re facing are only a start. Big changes like moving or starting a new job take time to settle into. Everything will fall into place. I read a funny yet wise fiction this year called ‘The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window” and I’ll always remember this line which I believe captures my point.: “Things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be.”

Every moment is an opportunity for a fresh start. Try this next time you’re feeling anxious about your circumstance. Close your eyes for a full breath. At the bottom of your exhale, open your eyes. Welcome to your fresh start. Repeat as many times as needed. (I also recommend this great little video on how to meditate in a moment)

I get by with a little help from my friends. If you begin to feel overtaken by life, remember that we’re part of a larger community. If you’ve been dealt with a change too enormous to face on your own then ask for help. Maybe you need to pay for help in the form of a life coach, removalist, financial planner or other professional. But sometimes all it takes is a call to an old friend who understands you and can help put life back into perspective.

The bottom line is change is really only scary because sometimes we’re not quite sure what lies beyond that door we’ve decided to enter. But it can also be exactly what we need. I love this quote by Joseph Campbell. ‘The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.’ And that treasure could be your fresh start.

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40 Day Revolution or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Downward Dog

16/03/2012

Today is the day. The final day of the 40 Day Revolution and I come away from the experience with a greater understanding of myself as well as an even more profound love for yoga!

Since the beginning, I have asked myself what I hoped to gain from the Revolution and the initial answers were to find more balance in my life and take the next step in committing to a more steady and consistent practice. I think I achieved both of these objectives but there actually has been one major theme that stayed with me for most of the 40 days though I couldn’t quite explain it until I had an a-ha moment during class this week. It was an unusually small class so the instructor jumped on the opportunity to ‘play’ a bit more (easier to do when there are less people in the room) and helped us discover more space in a few poses including Downward Facing Dog, a staple in any Vinyasa class.

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

For awhile, I didn’t quite ‘get’ this pose. Like I said, it is a staple and a go-to for finding a bit of respite during practice but I have always struggled a little bit. My hands never felt like a solid base, or my legs felt too tight – just found it more stressful than restorative. Then something happened. Over the last 40 days I found myself easing into my down dog with less worry and reached the point of… enjoying it! During this class, the instructor asked us to pair up with one of our fellow yogis for a partner assist exercise, then I really got it! Gently but firmly, our partners were asked to raise our hips toward the sky while in our down dog, allowing more space than what we could achieve on our own. Then they were asked to push against our shoulders, again bringing us deeper into the asana than what we might be do on our own accord. Not only was it a great stretch but also served as an example to show that there is always more space to move into. And this lesson can be applied to our mental space too. A-ha!

The 40 Day Revolution has showed me how to be more aware of my space and also the importance of creating more space in our lives. A pose seems really difficult? Just breathe and somehow, like magic, you can find just a little extra space to move and stretch into. Your mind is overrun with worry and stress at work? As hard as it can be (at least for me it can be!) then that is the perfect opportunity to step back, breathe and put your rampant thoughts into order, thus creating more space and awareness of where your head space is at in that moment. Watching how you feel in a moment can make a profound difference in how you proceed with your next task, day or whatever is coming up.

At times squeezing two meditations into a day plus a 90 minute practice at the studio could be challenging – and there were certainly days when it just wasn’t possible. But the revolution wasn’t about perfection or ticking all of the boxes. For me, it was a journey towards more self-awareness, paying attention to my space and inviting personal growth. I’m so grateful I finally went for the challenge. It has been an excellent experience that has moved me into another level of my yoga practice, beyond the physical postures into something much deeper. And of course, I learned to stop worrying and love the downward facing dog!

If you’re in Sydney, I suggest checking out BodyMindLife. They have beautiful studios in Surry Hills and Rozelle. And perhaps you will feel inspired to join their next 40 Day Revolution!

Let the revolution begin!

07/02/2012

So the revolution begins. A couple of months ago I had written about the incredible transformation that happens when you learn to take yoga off the mat and do it regularly. I also declared I would finally sign up for the 40 Day Revolution, a program and personal challenge to commit to yoga (five days at the studio, one day at home and one day of rest) and meditation twice a day.  I was pretty gung ho but as the first day, 6th February, drew closer and closer I started to question my capacity to undertake such a committment. However, I reminded myself that there is no punishment if something happens along the way and I can’t get to yoga one day or miss a meditation. The reward is in the journey.

Last night was the first night which kicked off with a meeting and I loved listening to my co-revolutionaries share each of their motivations for signing up, ranging from desire for physical benefits and learning to cultivate more focus and balance in life, in particular the ladies who work in advertising and another who runs her own business. A man from the Netherlands, who has only arrived in Sydney five months ago, explained his desire to connect with the yoga community in his new home. And a very honest reason from another guy: “Now that I have paid $300 for this I hope that will motivate me to go more.” We all have our reasons. No judgements here.

Now I feel inspired by the possibilities. Rather than feeling daunted, I am taking advantage of this time to really reflect through yoga and meditation, supplemented by daily journal writing. This allows me to think about and define my intentions during the revolution and observe how I’m feeling mentally and physically. This journey has great potential but only if I don’t allow my own excuses to persuade me that I can’t complete it. For now though, two days in and enjoying the experience so far.

Learn more about the program and the studio BodyMindLife here.

Yoga saves

04/12/2011

When yoga practice becomes more of a way of life rather than an exercise routine done once or twice a week, an interesting transformation begins.Though I have been doing yoga on and off with spurts of consistency for the last 10 years, this year I have made a pact with myself to strive for commitment to yoga and meditation practice. As the days pass, I find myself enjoying life simply by being in the present, approaching the day with more humour and above all, loving. I know that must really sound like ramblings of a hippie but it’s simple really. Love, laugh and be present. In many ways yoga has saved me. Not only am I realizing how to find happiness within but I am also equipped with a stronger confidence and self-awareness.

Frankly, I’m still a beginner. My journey began when I was 17 years old and followed the MTV Yoga video (on VHS!) hosted by Kristin McGee several nights a week. After graduating high school and started university in Minnesota, I was restricted by space and time, so these years my practice suffered as I only practiced once a month at most. There was a turning point when I thought back to how I felt when I did do yoga and wondered why I didn’t do it more. From then I steadily increased my sessions but still never hit the ‘sweet spot,’ so to speak. Now after living in Australia for four years, ten years since I first discovered yoga through MTV, I have unearthed the mental and physical well-being I am capable of achieving.

I am looking forward to 2012 and really allowing yoga to be part of my daily life. For a few years I have been making excuses for not doing the 40 day revolution, at BodyMindLife, a yoga studio in Sydney. The 40 day revolution is a journey and personal challenge, inviting a life changing transformation. The challenges requires five days of studio practice, one day of at-home Vinayasa practice, one day of active rest, and morning and evening meditation over forty days. All of this always sounded appealing to me but also very daunting so have found excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly sign up for such an event. I’ve realized now that it isn’t necessarily about ‘winning’ the challenge but rather about trying and encouraging personal growth.

Everybody who does yoga has a story as to why they first stepped to the mat, whether it was to lose weight, learn to become more focused or to find a bit of tranquillity in a busy life. Yoga is a wonderful way to achieve all of these and being open to it, you can gain some results that you would have never imagined. I for one am loving the journey and learning how to live with more presence, focus and energy.