yoga practice

MY JOURNEY & INSIGHTS ON MEDITATION

My journey & insights on meditation 

Someone sat opposite me at a wedding said to me ‘I don’t believe in meditation, it’s the biggest con’. I spent a minute trying to sway her but then thought fair enough. Sometimes I forget what it must look like from the outside if you have no interest. Being told to sit still for 10 - 30 minutes NO THANKS. 

I started meditation when I was 24, 7 years ago. I did the 10 day free trial on the Headspace app and I loved it. It was a profound experience. I realised that underneath everything going on in my life I was happy and calm somewhere within. And it only took me 10 minutes (at the time) to come to the realisation that everything was ok as it is. I was not drowning under the weight of everything going on, I was not treading water, which I often thought I was. I was just fine. I committed to the 10 days and did it each morning before work. I’ve had moments when I’ve struggled with the practice and moments when I could sit for 40 minutes. There have been times when I feel like I haven’t gotten anything out of it and days when it really helps me land in my body and quieten the noise. 

I have stuck with the practice (albeit at times with a struggle) because I can feel the difference in how I treat myself, and how I react to situations. If I don’t practice and allow things to build up, and don’t allow things to process and filter through, my tone is much harsher. My practice has taught me to notice when my inner critic is fully engaged and that niggly inner voice is getting the better of me. It’s how we interact with our thoughts that is important, how we allow them to manifest and affect us. How we interplay with ourselves affects how we are with others. 

I was chatting to a friend the other day who was upset as a girlfriend of hers said a flippant and hurtful comment that clearly wasn’t thought through. However it was how the girl dealt with the comment after that was most hurtful for my friend. We might say things and think things out of our control (saying is of course more in our control) but it’s how we grab the moment and react to these things, which is important. 

I have random insecure moments when my mind is telling me crazy things, which I know are utterly insane. I have to work hard to accept my insecurity with compassion and then consciously not allow those thoughts to manifest. It might sound unbelievable but only through my practice have I been given the tools to do this. (Not to say that this is the only practice that works but it’s what has served me).

Giving yourself the time to sit allows us the chance to observe what is going on. You might even write some things down that come naturally after meditation. Writing things down in itself is an incredible process for healing and working through stuff. 

Give meditation ago, it takes time so don’t beat yourself. If it’s not for you that’s ok. Figure out what does help you get out of the mind and into the body and in to the present and do that. 

N:B photo taken on the stunning Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe where I meditated each morning to the sunrise. 

INTENTIONS WILL ENRICH YOUR LIFE

INTENTIONS WILL ENRICH YOUR LIFE 

When I first started yoga I didn’t understand what it meant to set an intention at the beginning of the practice. When a teacher would offer this my mind would race around searching for something that had meaning to me. Setting intentions was not part of my daily practice. I set goals and targets, which is ingrained in most of us from work, but this is very different to intention setting. 

Intentions are positive and uplifting affirmations that help us to be more aware of ourselves in the present moment. Goals are things we think about in the future, things to strive for and to give us drive, which is no bad thing.

Personally, I work with an overriding intention that I come back to for a significant period of time. Some days, in my practice, I’ll work with slightly different intentions depending on what I need. We can set intentions at any point in our life. Often people set intentions in relation to the moon cycle or the seasons. 

Inspired by ‘The Art Of Happiness’ - an interview with the Dalai Lama, an intention I’m focusing on in my day to day is to be compassionate, and to really understand what this means from moment to moment, person to person and with different experiences. 

‘Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive’. - Dalai Lama

‘In Buddhist teachings, setting an intention is a path or practice that is focused on how you are "being" in the present moment. Your attention is on the everpresent "now" in the constantly changing flow of life. You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and make a commitment to align your worldly actions with your inner values.’

Setting an intention in our yoga practice acts like a metaphor to translate our practice off the mat and into our life. It is a vehicle that makes yoga an aspect of our lifestyle, rather than something we do just for exercise. Setting intentions in line with the yoga philosophy is a great way to integrate the philosophy into your life and to keep the teachings at the forefront of your mind. It’s important to set intentions that are positive with no negative connotations e.g. I intend to give off positive energy, I intend to spread happiness, I intend to be kind to all those around me including myself, I look for the best in everything, I am open minded, I am loved and share love.

Whether or not you’re practicing yoga think about an intention you might want to set for the week or month. Keep that in your mind and heart, throughout the day and make every effort to live by it. This practice will enrich our lives and those around us. If everyone were to set positive intentions and raise their internal vibrations think of the affects this would have on the world.