Letting Go Made Easy, 3 Simple Tips 

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There is nothing more frustrating to me at times than being told to “let it go.” I get that crazy punch-them-in-the-face mental flash, then have to remind myself I’m a yogi and repeat ahimsa, non-violence, until I chill out.

This phrase can trigger me so much because it’s in exactly those moments that I’d love more than anything to “let it go,” but some part of me keeps holding on…to something that’s happened, or might happen…and I feel like screaming, “can’t you see I’m trying!”

The great irony is that I’ve built a life and career around telling/helping people to “let it go.”

As frustrating as it can be I’m passionate about “letting it go” because I know it’s in the letting go that I find my peace, my healing, my wisdom, inner light, purpose and guidance.

It’s pure bliss once I’ve broken the threshold of resistance, either physically or mentally/emotionally with an issue.

Each time I “let go” I promise myself I won’t hold onto grudges or worry or fear or my tight shoulders or hips ever again. Ha! And then life happens and inevitably I’ll cycle back to holding onto something that blocks my energy and brings me down…until I re-remember the path of letting go.

Thankfully I remember a lot more quickly these days and hold on a lot less frequently…and I attribute that shift to a regular practice of yoga, mediation and EFT — three tools that have changed my life and made finding the path of least resistance much easier.

The key is to PRACTICE REGULARLY. I find doing even 5 minutes of meditation, yoga or tapping a day is much much more impactful overall than doing massive sessions rarely.

To me these practises are like short cuts to let go of blockages and BE present.

I was inspired to write this post after listening to an interview for Mindful in May with meditation teacher Mark Coleman yesterday, who said, rather than focus on letting go, focus on letting be. 

He explained that letting go was not something we do but rather a result of letting be. Letting be means observation and acceptance. When we practice these two things, the natural result is a letting go.

I really resonated with that and it made me understand why yoga, meditation and EFT work so well — they are all practices of observation and acceptance.

I want to share with you how to make letting go easier by using these tools in a simple, day to day way.

Breath Body Practice 

To me ANY mindful breath body practice is yoga. Yoga is not just about contorting our bodies into funny poses, it’s really about the mindfulness required to contort our bodies or balance on our hands. That said, doing really simple movements can generate just as much mindfulness.

The point is, when we move our body and connect to our breath, our attention is called to the present moment and our brain chemistry changes — our senses heighten, we feel more, and it causes us to forget about future or past worries (even if just momentarily).

The body can only ever BE IN THE NOW, so any mindful breath body practice creates a state of “being” that leads to letting go.

That’s part of why we feel so damn good after yoga, or come up with solutions that previously evaded us.

TIP: What ever your yoga is (surfing, running, walking, dancing, asana…any mindful movement), do it EVERY DAY as a practice even if just for five minutes, knowing it’s a practice of BEING PRESENT, which creates space to let go.

Meditation

Letting be is a combination of observation and acceptance, and meditation is the mighty act of self observation. 

Through meditation we cultivate an ability to sustain our focus on ourselves without reacting to what we see.

This non-reaction piece is huge. Some days I sit down and my mind is running with so many thoughts I feel leagues away from the ideal vision of peaceful meditation. But I sit anyway and I practice watching all those thoughts.

I can’t stop the thoughts but I can feel separate from them. I can remember I am not my thoughts or sensations, I am just experiencing them. 

This act of not identifying with the thoughts or sensations is so powerful because it leads to letting be and letting go.

We have to practice this mindset, like building muscular strength, and that’s why even when my mediation practice feels far from peaceful I know it’s worth doing.

TIP: Even if you think you don’t know how to meditate and you’re head is full of a thousand and eight thoughts, just pause, close your eyes, sit or stand still, observe those thoughts and remind yourself you are more than your thoughts or sensations. Even one minute a day makes a difference!

E.F.T. — Stands for Emotional Freedom Technique, commonly known as “tapping,” and has been one of the biggest positive influences in my life over the past few years.

It’s so simple that it almost feel ridiculous, but man it’s powerful. (The older I get the more I realise the simple things are often the most powerful).

In the E.F.T. technique we tap on a series of easy to remember points on the body that correlate to the meridian system. Much like acupuncturists needling points to stimulate and move energy (especially stuck energy) tapping stimulates all of the meridian lines, moves energy, and increases somatic awareness.

As you tap these specific points you also state what’s bothering you, where you feel it in your body and then say, “and I love and accept myself anyway.” That’s the basic and anybody can do it

ACCEPTING is the second part of letting be. Sometimes it’s hard to say those simple words “I love and accept.” It feels lame or makes you realise how much you haven’t been accepting. But this may be one of the most potent phrases in the English language!

I’ve found in my own experience and when facilitating a session (I loved this practice so much I recently became a qualified EFT practitioner), is that these simple words coupled with stimulating energy can catalyse an embodiment of acceptance that is both cathartic and profoundly transformational.

TIP: Practice tapping regularly at home (see youtube link). If you can’t remember the pattern juts tap the sternum (breast bone), name out loud the issue, how it feels in your body starting with “Even though xxx…” followed by “I love and accept myself anyway.” End with placing your hands on your heart centre and taking three deep breaths.

I’d love to hear what tools you’ve found in your life help you let be and let go, share with the community below!

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Why We Don’t Meditate and How to Get Over It 

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The international Mindful in May campaign has inspired me to dedicate May to meditation and to sharing with you the useful tips and information I’ve learned over the years that have helped me develop a meditation practice.

Mediation has improved my life in so many ways and has become one of my most valued personal tools for health and self care. That said I still find myself missing meditations, hitting obstacles to my practice and understand the struggle with consistency.

We can talk about meditation all day long, but results come from actually doing it. So before I launch into the benefits of meditation and dork out on neuroscience details I thought it more valuable to discuss what gets in the way of meditation and how to move past that.

Most Common Reasons for Not Meditating 

  1. I don’t have the time to mediate. 

I get it, we all lead full lives and time is the most precious asset we have, so who has time to just sit there with there eyes closed doing nothing, right?!

First of all, before you puff your chest up and say “yay!”, take a moment to think about all the times in your day spent unfocused and therefore unproductive and wasting time? Or getting sucked into an internet time warp (thanks Facebook and Youtube). Or obsessing on something you really wish you weren’t wasting your time thinking about?

I’ve found that even taking 5 minutes to meditate makes me so much more focused on what really matters and efficient that I magically seem to have more time on my hands AND get just as much done.

You don’t have to mediate for 20 minutes or sit in silence for 10 days to feel the effects, you just have to do it.

I believe you can make a huge impact with even one minute of meditation. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath, count to 60 and let yourself slow down for a minute. Do this multiple times through the day in moments when you’d otherwise be wasting your time and you’ll start to find more time than you ever realised you had.

  1. I don’t know how to mediate.

Meditation can be as complex or simple as you want to make it. What I’ve found over the years is that simple is often the most effective, not to mention practical.

Meditation unfortunately is sometimes shrouded in cryptic ritual and seems only for the enlightened or initiated. But the truth is, it’s for everyone, it’s right at your finger tips and can be super easy.

The easiest first step is to sit comfortably (you don’t have to sit on the floor in lotus, just find a chair, support your back, lay down, whatever supports your body).

Then close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. You can also repeat one word (called a mantra) like “Aum” or “Love” or “I am.”

Don’t worry too much about getting it right, the word or breath are simply vehicles to focus the mind and in so doing create a sense of stillness.

Yes, thoughts will come up, that’s natural, no problem (more on that next blog). The key is to let them come and then let them go, don’t hold on to the thoughts. Keep gently and quietly coming back to the focus on your breath or mantra.

Sit for 5 to 20 minutes a day and this alone will have a huge impact on your nervous system, mind, body and life.

  1. I can’t sit still and I get anxious.

First of all you don’t have to sit perfectly still.

Try not to fidget and move around too much, that become a distraction, but be easy with yourself. If your foot goes numb just shift until you’re more comfortable and then comeback to your simple focus of breath or mantra.

Stuff comes up a lot in meditation, like anxiety, sadness, frustration, worries and memories. This is actually part of the benefit of meditation. I like to think of it as psychic digestion. We are giving our subconscious an opportunity to process the experiences of life, and that can bring up a whole lot of feelings.

Again, the key is to let them go. Then gently and quietly come back to your breath or mantra. This is called releasing Samskara, and one of the greatest benefits of a meditation practice.

  1. I forget to mediate.

We want to make mediation a habit, and forming a habit doesn’t just happen in some haphazard way.

Habits need to be triggered by something that reminds us to do them. Many of our daily habits are triggered subconsciously, but if we want to form a new habit we can consciously choose something to trigger it.

Think of things you do every day, like put on the kettle, brush your teeth, take your makeup off at the end of the day, go for coffee in the afternoon.

Choose one that make sense to you and make that your trigger for meditation. Write it down. For example, when I put the kettle on in the morning that reminds me to sit down and meditate (even if it’s just for 5 minutes). I even used to have a sticky note on my kettle to remind me.

  1. I don’t see the point. 

What’s the point of anything if it’s not connected to your spirit, heart and purpose? To me, meditation is all about FEELING the connection to your highest self, but it also has an endless list of medical, physical and psychological benefits.

To  name a few:

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves digestion
  • Generates peace, calm and happiness
  • Increases mental clarity and creativity
  • Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
  • It lowers oxygen consumption and decreases respiratory rate.
  • Slow aging process

The list goes on, for more motivation check out 100 Beneftis of Meditation or 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today.

I hope this has helps you overcome some of your hurtles to meditation! As part of Mindful in May I’ll be sharing posts all about Meditation, stay tuned for next week’s blog debunking common misunderstandings about how to meditate.

If you want to support my Mindful in May Charity page and help bringing water to impoverished communities in Uganda the world and myself will be grateful for your generosity!

As a thank you to all those who donate to the charity I’ll be sending a series of free meditation recordings that I’ve made. Thanks in advance for your support!

I’ll also be hosting a free group meditation and potent discussion about how to make meditation part of your life at Qi Yoga in Freshwater on the 31st at 7pm. Mark your calendars and see you there!

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Dealing with My Sh*t in a Sensory Deprivation Float Tank 

images-2This week I tried out the new Sydney Float Centre in Brookvale and admittedly felt nervous about booking my first appointment for an hour long sensory deprivation float tank session.

I’ve always struggled with claustrophobia, but being a yogi and meditator the curiosity to explore weightlessness with no external distractions and gaze inward without the need to adjust a cushion or ignore noises intrigued me enough to get past my fear.

The first four of the eight limbs of yoga aim to prepare us for meditation. The breath, movement, diet and lifestyle of a yogi steer us in the direction of finding inner stillness, which leads to the last four limbs, all focused on meditation.

“Withdrawal of the Senses,” or Pratyahara (the fifth limb) bridges our consciousness from external awareness to internal awareness. It’s the first step of meditation and in an overly stimulated world it can be difficult to achieve. So when I heard about the new Sydney Float Centre in the Northern Beaches, boasting of taking people effortlessly into meditative states I knew I had to try it.

Meditation, Floating and Theta Brainwaves 

Floating, just like meditation, brings people into a theta brain wave state where we are very relaxed but not sleeping, aware but not overly active. We’re in the in-between consicousness, like lucid dreaming. It’s believed that in this theta state we process the experiences of our day and life.

The Ayurvedic system looks at all experiences as consumption, as if we’re eating all the things we hear, see, smell, touch and interact with. We internalise all of it, and just like food we must digest all of life.

Digesting our food means breaking it down, taking up needed nutrients and then eliminating that which is not needed, the waste. And when we don’t eliminate the waste from what we’ve consumed, well, we feel pretty shitty (pun intended).

Yoga and Ayurveda teach us how to digest all parts of our life as best as possible, not just food. But, just like eating food, if we don’t eliminate or let go of the parts of our life that don’t serve us, we end up getting emotionally constipated, and well…feeling pretty shitty.

So much of the healing power of mindfulness relaxation practices like meditation, yoga or floating come from the ability to bring us into the theta brainwave state where we can process and release the experiences of our life.

Sadly, many of us live lives where we don’t take the time on a regular basis to mentally and emotionally let go of the waste. Creating a practice of this is a curtail part of living a healthy life as is actively cleaning out the waste that’s creating blocks within you.

Yoga style detox focuses on cleansing not just with regards to food, but in all areas of our life. In the New Years Yoga Detox starting next Friday we’ll create time, space and systems to process and eliminate physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

Processing In the Float Tank

As soon as I stepped into the room with the alien looking float pod I had a mini freak out about being stuck inside, but Paul the xviyzafe01ilsay40gqicentre directer assured me I was in control of environment at all times.

So I took a deep breath and stepped into the tank and closed the lid. After the first few minutes of nervousness and talking down my claustrophobic feelings I was able to let go and really relax in the  9ft by 6ft spaceship looking pod filled with a water solution of over 500kgs of epsom salt that held me in an anti-gravity feeling float.

Because the water is kept at 35.5 degrees, considered skin-receptor neutral, I started to loose sense of where my skin ended and the water started.

I turned the lights out on the pod, closed the lid to the tank, and in the sound-proof, light-proof room my sense of external world started to dissolve and the awareness of my inner reality became extremely heightened.

I could feel myself slipping into a deep meditative state and enhanced it by using body scanning and deep breathing techniques. I watched as my body, completely free from the pressure of gravity, let go and released tension in areas I didn’t even realise I was holding it. And then I began to watch my mind do the same.

Thoughts, emotions, fears, memories started coming up and there was nothing to distract me from seeing them, feeling them and then just staying in a state of witnessing and experience them past through me until I dissolved back into a state of feeling held and relaxed.

At the end of the session I felt like I was still floating. I felt lighter and could hear my voice sounded more relaxed and at ease. The experience of letting go of all effort, physically and mentally took me to a deep theta wave length state and the crucial act of releasing that which was blocking my system just happened naturally.

More Ways to Experience Theta Brain Waves

  • Meditation
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Deep Breathing, Pranayama
  • Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga
  • Floating
  • Massage & energy work like Reiki
  • Chanting

Only 4 spots left for the Bali Spirit Retreat I’ll be leading April 1-7

Inquire Here

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Do You Know What Stillness Is?

BKS Iyengar focused and still in sayanasana.

We’ve all heard references to “stilling, quieting, clearing or bringing peace to the mind,” and as many times as I’ve heard such phrases only recently did someone challenge me to ask myself how well I really understood what it meant. 

You’d think studying yoga for ten years or sitting in a silent meditation for ten days would provide ample time to grasp this most pervasive idea.  No doubt I’ve FELT a still and peaceful mind in sivasana  or Vipasana meditation, whilst surfing or finding a steady forearm balance, but not until I took an 8 week course on the Yoga Sutras with Michael De Manicor did I intellectually look deeper into what stillness really implies.

The second sutra, perhaps the best known of the Yoga Sutras, is often translated as “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” 

In other words, Yoga is stilling the mind.  Influenced by Buddhist philosophy, I, like so many others, took this at face value to mean stopping the mind and thoughts, but De Manicor insists that this is NOT what the sutra means.  Key to his point is realizing that stillness is always relative.  Lets for example look at two people sitting next to each other on an airplane. Relative to each other they are still, but relative to the Earth they are moving hundreds of miles an hour.

As I thought more about this I began to see stillness as synonymous with harmony, cooperation or union (another yoga catch phrase).  When two or more things move in the same direction, at the same rate, toward the same purpose they cooperate or harmonize and generate a sense of stillness between them.  This could apply to people in an airplane, strings on a guitar or thoughts, breath and movement.

When I further applied this idea to myself, or any other individual, I decided that another synonym for stillness was focus (epiphany light bulb: dharana).  I examined the moments when I’d felt a sense of mental stillness and realized that my thoughts didn’t stop but that every part of me was focused on what I was doing; all of my thoughts, movements and breath cooperating and harmonizing.

Dharana or concentration is the 6th of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Dharana leads to dhyana (meditation) which then leads to samadhi (mystic absorption, the highest state of consciousness).

Mental stillness therefore does not mean that the mind or thoughts stop, this would perhaps be death or at least serious stagnation, rather it implies we can choose thoughts and actions that an any given moment cooperate, and by working together create a sense of relative stillness.

So lately in asana practice, in my classes and in life I’m viewing struggle or mental clatter in a slightly different light.  I’m asking what thought or action is out of sync with this moment to cause the internal discord, and what thought or action can I replace it with in order to generate harmony and thus lead me closer to a feeling of stillness.