Why Feelings are Smarter than Thoughts & 3 Tips to Translate Them

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Have you ever had a feeling about something but couldn’t explain why you knew it was right? A gut instinct? A hunch?

And have you ever chosen not to listen to that gut instinct simply because you couldn’t give a logical explanation for it, but then regretted ignoring it later?

I know I have! Too many times have I looked back on a situation and thought, “Man, I knew I shouldn’t have done that.” But in the moment mentally convinced myself otherwise.

Why do we ignore our intuition?

I believe it’s because we’ve lost sight of recognising our feelings and sensations as highly intelligent rapid messages coming from our body and greater awareness, and instead emphasised thoughts and mind as the ultimate intelligence.

But really, what’s faster our thoughts or our feelings?

Imagine someone you’re very attracted to has just walked into the room and flashed a big smile and sexy wink at you. What happens first:
a) Your heart rate goes up, you blush, you feel little butterflies etc.
b) You think, ‘He/She is so hot/awesome/amazing/sexy, wow, what does that smile and wink mean? That made me feel good.’

I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that most of us will pick a) . We FEEL the stimulus from our environment first and then our thoughts catch up to categorise, analyse and compartmentalise the experience.

To be fair, the mind does this generally quite rapidly, but the truth is that our sensations are always the first responders to our experience, sending us information about how that environmental stimulus does and will effect us.

How about with our health?

If you’ve ever had any kind of illness what was the first thing that led you to know something wasn’t right? I’d wager quite a big bet that is was a feeling. Maybe simply a physical feeling like pain or fatigue, or sometimes a feeling that’s harder to pin point.

If you think about any of your health issues, how long did you feel that feeling before checking it out further? How often have you ignored it or written it off until it was unbearable to ignore?

And have you ever wished you’d explored that pain or feeling earlier because then it would have been easier to heal, or at least you would have healed sooner and not suffered as long?

I hear people tell me stories like this all the time. And I know that I have regretted ignoring the signs of my body calling out for help far too often. And when I’ve done that they never go quiet they just start yelling louder.

Our feelings are messages from the body.

Sensations and feelings are not arbitrary or mystical, they are simply the way our body communicates to us how environmental influences are impacting us.

The environmental influences could be something we eat or drink, breath, touch, listen to or even see. And bazaar enough, biologically our own thoughts are considered environmental influences.

The science of epigenetic research shows that even our genes respond to environmental stimuli, and the type of thoughts we continually think create a physiological response that actually impacts how genes express.

Not to mentions our state of mind also influence our nervous system, how we digest, breath, our heart rate and so much more.

Feelings are a language and we need to learn how to read them.

Our physical sensations or feelings are the language of the body giving us feedback about how the environment is influencing us as well as how our thoughts our influencing us, and we’d be wise to pay attention and start learning this language.

Doing breath body mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation are one of the greatest ways to become more fluent in the language of feelings and sensations.

Emotions are defined as “strong feelings deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” So our emotions too are messages conveying the intelligence of the body that we can listen to and be guided by.

[infobox]3 Tips to Translate Your Feelings

1. Moving and scan your body every morning.

Approach each morning with movement and use it as a question to the self, checking in and seeing how you feel. Once you’ve noticed the dominant sensations arising simply ask, “What is this telling me about my health, life or mind set? What do I need today, right now to feel balanced?”

2. Use Feelings as a GPS Sat Nav System.

I like to think of my sensations in this way, as if they are constantly giving me directions. When I get a bad feeling I take it as a little warning sign saying, “Wrong direction! Wrong direction! Please proceed in the in the other direction.”

Then I simply ask myself, “What is the right direction?” I know it’s the right direction because when I imagine it or start going in that direction is feels good. That simple.

3. Voice Dialogue with Parts of Your Body. 

Voice dialogue is a technique that came from Dr. Hal and Dr. Sidra Stone, psychologists who developed a method of speaking to the different aspects of yourself. Traditionally it is used to speak to the different aspect of your psyche by giving each a voice, but you can also give a voice to various parts of your body.

I’ve work with people who’ve given a voice to their eyes, injured knee that wouldn’t heal, colon and immune system that was having an autoimmune response.

The basic idea is simple to have a conversation with this part of your self. You can do this in your head, while meditating or through journaling.

Begin by asking questions to it. For example, if you’re having digestive issues you could ask your stomach and intestines, “How are you feeling today? What makes you feel that way? What makes you feel good? What makes you feel bad? What would you like to tell me?

Simply allow the response to be natural and as if the stomach were speaking. For example, “I’m feeling a bit bloated today. I couldn’t really process all those almonds. I’d like to tell you just to relax, no need to rush around so much.” Just have a conversations as if it were a friend…after all, we want to befriend our bodies, care for them and love, not put demands on them as if they were lifeless machines. Every single cell in your body carries your soul and inner light, we are far from machine like![/infobox]

Trust your feelings and yourself!

Sadly, most of us weren’t taught these basic skills so we have a lot of doubt or numbness around our feelings and sensations.

Remember this is how we are designed to be and there is so much evolutionary and biological intelligence and validity to our feelings — even if we can’t logically explain them.

Just like learning any language it can be quite overwhelming at first and hard to understand, but the more you practice the easier it becomes until one day you realise you’re fluent and having a fantastic conversation without second guessing.

What are you’re favourite ways to understand the language of feelings and sensations?

Resources:

http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/psychology/science-positive-psychology-gene-expression-humans-01305.html

http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/epigenetic-influences-and-disease-895

http://www.voicedialogueinternational.com/index-intro.htm

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!

art in the everyday

3 Tips to Use Your Brain Better

Unknown-1Last week on my blog we learned about some fantastic neuroscience findings regarding the mind and body that remind us of our tremendous potential for self healing and creating the life we desire:

  1. We continue to develop new brain cells all through adulthood, meaning we can change patterns, learn new skills and even heal brain damage throughout life.
  2. Our heart and digestive tract have independent nervous systems to the brain, often sending more signals to the brain than the other way around, meaning the body is not just the puppet of the brain, but is in a dynamic dialogue.
  3. Our genes are triggered to express by environmental stimuli, so even if we have a genetic predisposition we can reduce the likelihood of that gene expressing by being mindful about environmental stimuli (like food, thoughts, exercise and exposure to toxins).

This week I want to look at a few practical ways to put that knowledge to use.

  1. Keep Trying New Things & Learning 

Staying in the same old routine dulls the brain and can keep us stuck in undesirable patterns. When ever we learn something new the brain is forced to fire differently, creating new and different neurological connections.

Dr. Joe Dispenza explains, learning is forging new synaptic connections, and every time you learn something new your brain physically changes. Nerve cells that fire together wire together, and as you begin to learn new information you biologically wire that into your brain architecture.

The mind is the brain in action. When ever we make the brain work differently, we’re changing our mind. Changing our mind means changing our experience of life, but if we stay stuck in the same old routines this is unlikely to happen.

So get out there and try something new! Next time you’re in a new yoga pose and feel silly or frustrated remember the effect it will have on shifting other mental patterns, generating new synaptic connections and cognitive ability could be life changing!

  1. Relax, The Saber Tooth Tiger is Extinct  

Stress is one of the biggest causes of disease in our modern world mostly because people do not know how to turn off the stress response in their body.  Over time this leads to adrenal fatigue, poor sleep, bad digestion, clouded thinking, reduced functioning of all bodily systems and ultimately disease.

Evolutionarily the stress response, also known as fight, flight or freeze response, saved us from things like sabre tooth tigers. When we’re in danger this response triggers blood to rushed into our limbs, eyes and our cerebellum or primitive brain, and away from our organs, frontal lobe and neocortex, the areas of logic, creativity and self awareness.

When we’re stressed out about work or life, or overstimulate ourselves with caffeine, the brain receives the same chemical messages as if we were in a life threatening situation, like being chased by a sabre tooth tiger.

The truth is, rarely are we in such danger, but the brain and body don’t know the difference between real danger or perceived danger. It errs on the side of caution and sends the adrenals into overdrive.

So what to do? Recognise that stress is a choice. As mentioned in my previous blog, we can observe our own thoughts, neuroscience calls this meta-cognition. Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation and getting all worked up, heart racing, can’t think clearly try to catch yourself and ask, is this really life threatening? Do I really need to stress out about this so much?

An easy way to diffuse stress and shift into the relaxation response is to take a few deep breaths and calm the heart rate. The Heart Math Institute calls the coherence. When the heart rate lowers it’s telling the brain, “Don’t worry, we’re safe, the tiger is gone, no need to trigger stress chemicals.” Moving the breath and body in a mindful way as well as meditation also turn off the stress response.

  1. Imagine, Visualise & Meditate on What you Want 

The fascinating thing about the body-brain connection is that it can’t tell the difference between real or imagined experiences. Simply thinking about the thing that stresses us out can send us into  a stress response. Or, simply imagining falling in love with someone can create a whole cascade of chemical reactions from the Limbic system generating emotions.

The point is, our body responds to our thoughts, even if they are imagined. Now this can be very very useful, or very very detrimental. If we’re constantly thinking negative stressful thoughts, this is how we’re going to feel. On the other hand, if we choose to think more positively, we’ll feel more positive.

Remember, nerves that fire together wire together. So if we’ve had a negative thought pattern for a long time it means we’ve neurologically wired together strong networks for this thought pattern and it’s much easier to keep using those connections than forge new ones. But we can forge new connections! And the more we think in the way we want to the stronger those connections become. The less we repeat an old pattern, the weaker those connections become.

Dr. Joe Dispenza says that learning is creating new connections, and remembering is maintaining them. You can choose which patterns you want to maintain, and which you want to let deteriorate.

Great ways to shift thought patterns include visualisation or imaging the new way you want to react to a situation before it happens. This is sometimes called mental rehearsal and a common practice among elite athletes because it’s been show to greatly improve performance. Apply this to any new way you want to act or feel and you’ll literally be rewiring your brain so that it becomes easier to act, think and feel the way you want.

Practical Ayurveda for Yoga Teacher with Morgan Webert

30 hour Continuing Education

17 April – 15 May, Fridays 12-6pm

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Debunking 3 Myths About Brain & Body That Can Change Your Life 

051227_synapse_02Last weekend I went to an incredible workshop about the neuroscience of the mind body connection. Something I’ve been fascinated with for years, but this weekend seriously re-inspired my passion for exploring the unbelievable potential of our mind-body and how important it is to work with it on a regular basis.

Before we dive into how to work with mind-body connection let’s start by busting a few myths.

Myth Busting: 

1) Adult brain cells don’t regenerate — total BS!  While it is true that the majority of our brain development occurs in our early years, neuroscientists have now documented that adult brain cells do keep growing and changing. In other words, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Nerve cells grow, change and develop networks of connections based on environmental stimuli and repetition throughout our whole life. As Dr. Joe Dispenza explains, learning is forging new connections, and every time you learn something new your brain physically changes. Nerve cells that fire together wire together, and as you begin to learn new information you biologically wire that into your brain architecture.

So even if you feel super stuck in an old pattern, know that you have the power to change it! If you’re starting yoga, meditation or any other practice stick to it, you’re brain will develop new synaptic connections each time you practice and eventually it will become easier and automatic.

2) The brain is the command centre — not quite. Our brain is amazingly powerful, but scientists are beginning to discover that it’s not the penultimate control centre of our existence. For example, the heart has it’s own independent complex nervous system often referred to as the “heart-brain” composed of about 40,000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn, remember and communicate messages back to the brain. In fact, studies show that the heart sends more neurological commands to the brain than the brain does to the heart.

“One important way the heart can speak to and influence the brain is when the heart is coherent – generating a stable, sine-wavelike pattern in its rhythms. When the heart rhythm is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them greater mental clarity and intuitive ability, including better decision-making,” says Deborah Rozman, Ph.D. and president of HeartMath Institute.

heart-brain-coaching-image-Scientists are also making great discoveries about the independent nervous system in our digestive tract, called the enteric nervous system, or the “gut-brain” and how it not only controls digestion but has a massive influence on our moods.

So remember, there’s a lot more behind trusting your heart and gut feeling that you may realise! The yoga system actually recognises that we have 5 bodies, the mind being just one of them (read my last blog for more details on that).

On top of that, something yogi’s have been exploring for thousands of years, and what scientists called “meta-cognition,” is the ability to observe the mind. If we can observer our mind it implies there is a cognitive part of ourselves separate from our mind. What is that? Our higher self or consciousness according to the yogi’s of yore.

3) Everything is genetically determined and we can’t change our genes — wrong! It’s commonly thought that we’re stuck with what we’re born with genetically and that familial patterns of health and disease are passed down generation to generation. The new field of epigenetics however, has made groundbreaking discoveries on how environmental factors actually control our gene activity and proving we are not prisoners to genetic heredity.

“Bottom line: While each of us inherits our own unique, hardwired, unchangeable version of the genetic code, epigenetic factors such as lifestyle and diet can radically change what our genes do,” says Dr. Frank Lipman. “There are thousands of genes that render you susceptible to the classic, chronic diseases so many people are experiencing today, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. But whether or not these genes are expressed, and blossom into disease, may be determined by how you live your life, how you eat, the toxins you’re exposed to, the supplements you take, your beliefs and how you handle stress. This means that though you may be susceptible to heart disease or diabetes, you do not necessarily have to succumb to them. That is, your genes are a predisposition, not a fate, and the expression of your genes is much more dynamic and modifiable than previously realised.”

Further research shows that what we think and believe is itself an environmental influence on how genes express themselves. So remember, that you have choice and power even with regards to genetic predisposition.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I’ll discuss five simple ways to use your brain, and mind-body connection to live a healthier, happier life!

I love hearing back from you! What experience or thoughts do you have about these topics?

If Yoga Changed Your Life Give Me a Shout! 

It’s something I hear all the time. “Yoga has changed my life!” And I always try to ask, “How?” What amazes me is that the answers always reflect how practicing yoga has changed many aspects of a persons life, not just their body.

I hear things like:

“I’m more calm with my children.”

“I take better care of myself now.”

“I just feel happier since practicing yoga.”

“I have a better community.”

“I’m less stressed and more clear.”

“I breath better.”

“I’m more courageous.”

“I feel healthier, sleep better, eat better, ache less…”

These are really just a smidgen of the responses, and typically when I ask this question people can’t stop telling me all the many ways their life changed for the better and why.

I’ll be honest, sometimes people injury themselves, but usually they learn a lot form it (about their body or pushing too hard) and heal, and sometimes the paradigm shift can throw people into a period of confusion about how they’re currently living their lives. But I’ve seen again and again the most beneficial and profound breakthroughs come after the struggles, both physically and psychologically.

I know for me this practice and all I’ve learned from my struggles with it has influenced my life so deeply and beautifully I couldn’t imagine an existence without it.

So why does yoga change our lives so much?! 

When we step up to a mindfulness practice like yoga, we’re never just working with the physical body. This might be where most of us start, and it may even remain the primary part of our practice. But the physical body is a gateway, a medium, for working with so many other aspects of ourself.

Traditional yoga philosophy says we have five bodies or layers, not just the one physical body. Each time we step to the mat or cushion we’re working with all five layers of ourselves, and the ripple effect into all parts of life is undeniable.

The Five Layers of Ourselves

  1. The Physical Body — Annamaya Kosha koshas
  2. The Energy Body — Pranamaya Kosha
  3. The Mind Body — Manamaya Kosha
  4. The Wisdom Body — Visjnanamaya Kosha 
  5. The Bliss Body — Anandamaya Kosha 

Our most obvious or gross body is the physical body, the annamaya kosha. It’s our tissue, skin, organs, bones, blood, lymph. The matter that creates our form, carries us through space and performs our deeds or desires.

This the layer we often start with in yoga. Anna in Sanskrit means food, so this is also called our food body, and manifests into form all that we’re ingesting. The thing to remember about the yogic and Ayurvedic system’s is that we ingest not just through our mouth, but through all five of our senses (sight, taste, smell, sound, touch). So what we eat through our mouth, but also through our experiences, will be reflected in our physical body.

Through practice we’re aiming to create balance and get rid of stagnation. 

As we work with our physical form, increase awareness of what the body really needs for balance and move through the stagnation within it, we feel and process experiences and begin to notice which foods actually make us feel good.

The clearer and healthier our physical body gets the more we can sense the next more subtle layer called our pranamaya kosha, or the energy body. 

Prana in Sanskrit means energy, and when we work with breath in yoga it’s called pranayama. Breath is considered the carrier of life force energy through us. Seems logical, when we stop breathing we die.

The breath is also intrinsically related to our nervous system. When we’re triggered into a stress response the breathing become more shallow, when relaxed we breath deeper and more fully. While the nervous system state can effect the breath, so too can the breath influence our nervous system. Simply by taking deep breaths we trigger the “rest and relax” state, or parasympathetic nervous system, and this begins to elicit feelings of calm, peace and harmony.

As the body and breath begin to harmonize we’re able to observe and work with our next subtle layer, the mind body called the manamaya kosha. 

One of the greatest benefits of any breath body practice is that it calls the mind into the present moment.

Our mind loves time traveling into the future or past, but our breath and body only ever exist in the present. When we breath deeply and move it’s like we’re telling the mind, “Hey, pay attention, life is here and now!”

This starts to clear the mind body of it’s chattering, worrying, planning, regretting, anxiety building hobby of time traveling. And then we start to feel REALLY good!

When we balance mind, body and breath a quietness arises within us. 

In this quiet space that we’ve created through practice we’re able to hear more clearly the next subtle layer of ourselves, the wisdom body called the visjnanamaya kosha. 

Traditionally the mind, body and breath practices of yoga aim to ready us for meditation, and meditation is the ability to concentrate and connect to our highest self, our wisdom and the wisdom of the universe.

The more we do this the more our actions come from a place connectivity, we feel empowered, supported and clear about what we’re supposed to do. Living from this places improves our relationships, our creativity, our performance at work or sport. Really, it improves all aspects of our lives, and for me I’ve noticed it heightens my sense of purpose and ability to act on that purpose.

When we live in alignment with the wisdom in and around around us we feel blissful. 

The more we balance our body, breath and mind, listen to our wisdom and live from that place, naturally our last most subtle layer arises, our bliss body called the annandamaya kosha.

And this my friends is why yoga changes so many people’s lives for the better. That simple.

How has yoga changed your life and connected you to your bliss body? Give me shout for yoga! 

YOGA EVOLUTION 22:2

Find out more about the yoga lifestyle program I teach at Qi Yoga starting Feb 22 . Ready to have yoga change your life?! SIGN UP HERE

Pressing the Annual Pause Button 

Unknown-1 “When we cultivate the discipline to pause, it becomes possible for us to make a choice that is outside our normal habit pattern. And it is in breaking through these entrained patterns that we can begin to experience a more liberated way of being. Gradually we become the freedom that we previously longed for.” Donna Farhi

This week while flipping through one of my favourite yoga books, “Bringing Yoga To Life” by Donna Farhi, I came across this underlined passage and it reminded me of exactly why I do all of the yoga practices I do, but particularly reinforced why I detox.

I see detoxing as pressing the annual pause button. A time to stop the “entrained patterns” as Fahri puts it, look at what they are exactly, and then consciously decide how, what or if any of them need changing so that I may live in a more liberated and happy way.

Fahri says what happens in the pause between longing for a feeling of freedom and how we respond to that longing is worth consideration because it is in the pause that we make a choice.

One of the most simple yet profound skills I’ve learned through practicing yoga is to take a deep breath before acting. We learn to do this in the yoga class room by slowing down, listening to the breath and then making conscious movements…and not only does it generate a beautiful grace, control and strength, but also a peace of mind and steady nervous system that is palpable.

The longer I practice yoga the better I get at taking a deep breath, a pause, in hard or intense moments of life, and then moving through them in a more graceful and conscious way.

But that pause, that moment of non action and just looking at what is, can be really uncomfortable.  In nanoseconds we may experience and feel anxiety, depression, unbound enthusiasm, fear, love, longing, aversion…so many powerful emotions. What ever they are it is their potency that often makes us feel uncomfortable and want to rush into a decision that gets us out of experiencing those strong feelings.

So often we’re launched into reactiveness just to escape the intensity of our feelings. On a day to day basis it may happen when we come home from work at night and feel lonely or overwhelmed and without thinking pour a drink, flip on the T.V., over eat or snap at our partner.

All of these little moments of unconscious reactions end up creating habits that we can become trapped by. Rather than listening the the message of the emotions which guide us to our deepest desires and life purpose we become trapped in patterns of avoiding them.

What would happen if we instead stopped, paused, and asked what would true satisfy us? Well, we might just discover the answer!

In previous detoxes when I’ve slowed down my life, created more me time for just a few weeks, stopped the habits like overstimulation, overeating and overexerting that lead me away from feeling all my deeper feeling — when I just paused normal life and looked within — I found answers and pathways to my hearts desire, to my inner power, my life-force.

Fahri says, “When we contain rather than constantly discharge [avoid] our feeling state, we allow ourselves to feel completely. In feeling completely we re-experience our aliveness and the source of that aliveness.”

This is why I detox. Yes, it is to cleanse my body and clear my mind, but these I do in order to re-experience my aliveness and the source of that aliveness within me.

Each time I detox I feel more and I also see the contrast of what is causing me to feel dull, low energy or foggy in my mind and intentions.

The seeing is uncomfortable at first, but the truth is, the long term experience of living without that life-force energy connection is more uncomfortable.

Fahri also talks about how this practice of pausing reminds us that we are not all the things we experience. When we pause we connect to our observer mind and remember our true identity is the part within us that does not change, the soul or purusa as it’s called in Sanskrit.

The perspective shifts to, “I feel anxious right now, but I am not this anxiety. I have the habit of emotional eating right now, but I am not that habit.”

There is so much freedom generated when we remember this! I always fell like a weight is lifted off my shoulders when I re-identify with my pure essence rather than the momentary life experience. And again, this is a huge part of detoxing. Clearing out the self identity that doesn’t serve us, and reconnecting to our identity as pure, powerful, conscious beings.

My New Years Yoga Detox starts tomorrow and I’m so looking forward to this journey, this reconnection to the source of my aliveness, and to sharing the journey with others. It makes such a  difference to support and be supported by others begin brave enough to pause and look a little deeper.

If you can join we’d love to have you, and if not I’ll be keeping you posted in my blogs about the experience.

The Grocery Stores Have Gone, What Now?!

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What would you do if you woke up and all grocery stores were shut down, emptied out and there was no place to buy food? Would you know how to feed yourself?

I’d frantically run to all my friend’s who have veggie patches and beg for seeds and off shoots or be left to subsist on the herbs living in my kitchen window. I can only laugh at how long it might take me to catch a fish, and might try harvesting some wild edibles but worry about which one’s were safe.

Wow, this could be the most effective weight loss program ever!

But seriously, I’ve been fascinated this week thinking about how so few of us in the West actually know how to source food from nature. In other words, many of us don’t know how to feed ourselves.

We don’t know how to provide one of the basic necessities of life, and I’ve been wondering how that effects our psyche and society.

We only need three things for survival right? Food, water and shelter (let’s add love to that list for good measure).

Yes we have all of those things in over abundance in modern affluent culture, and yet our society is obsessed with scarcity. Why do we always worry about lack when we have so much? And why do many subsistence cultures in third world countries seem to worry far less about scarcity than we do?

As I’ve explored and discussed this recently, I’m getting a sense that our lack of connection and engagement with the natural source of food has created a deep, primal insecurity that leads to a world view of scarcity, competition and discontent.

Where does your food come from? 

Recently, over the past 50 to 100 years, the majority of western population stopped learning how to plant and grow food, or hunt and forage.

The industrial revolution sent us on a detour further and further away from being part of our natural source of food that we now have epidemics of diseases such as diabetes that come from ingesting “food” who’s origin in nature can hardly be traced.

Maybe part of our over-consumption culture comes from not knowing where nourishment comes from. From feeling like it’s out of our control, and we then gorge in response to the subconscious fear that the lifeline will someday be cut. We stay dissatisfied because don’t know how to provide for ourselves.

People who live off the land face hardships and fears, but in general understand that nature provides all we need. They know how to tap into that wellspring and have control over their primary needs. They understand the pulsation of seasons and cycles, and know that often scarcity is temporary, or seasonal, so worry less about it and exude contentment.

Perhaps the anxiety, fear, constant striving for more and never feeling satisfied pattern I see (and get sucked into myself) could be assuaged by remembering and reconnecting to the inherent abundance provided by the natural world.

Plant-based diets are about connecting to the Earth Yogis eat

In my studies of Ayurveda, which at their core focus on aligning with the rhythms and wisdom of nature, I’ve learned that eating a plant-based diet is a crucial yogi lifestyle habit.

There are many physical health benefits gained from eating a plant based diet such as improved immunity, energy, digestion, better skin, sleep and less inflammation, but I think the greatest benefit of a plant-based diet has to do with how it impacts our world view.

When we focus on plants as our primary source of nutrition, we start to pay more attention to nature. Observing nature reveals a powerful and beautiful truth: the plant kingdom is doing everything it can to support and feed us.

Take a moment right now to reflect on all the ways plants support us — from the air we breath, timber we build with, food we eat, or feed other animals we eat, even to the car’s we drive (petrol after all is fossilised plant matter).

On top of that nature gives us a mind blowing canvas of dynamic beauty, architectural and chemical ingenuity scientists constantly mimic, intelligent communication systems and most importantly, being in nature just makes us feel good.

Eating a plant-based diet reminds us of the inherent support provided by nature and how we’re connected to that. Our world view shifts more toward unity, cooperation, collaboration and support.

When we feel into that support our stress levels drop, our sense of connectivity increases, and our mental and physical health improves. We focus on eating for nourishment and start to avoid low energy, depleting substances.

Eating a plant based diet is a practice of consciously connecting the outer ecosystem to the inner ecosystem, and it may well save our species and planet.

Tips to Upgrade Your Inner and Outer Ecosystems Connection with Plant Based Diet 

  1. Think about where your food comes form in nature. If you can’t identify the natural source of what you’re eating you probably shouldn’t eat it. Anything so processed is low in consciousness, life-force and nutritional value.
  2. Let eating become a trigger for gratitude and nature appreciation. Each time you eat think about the plant source on your plant and the inherent abundance on the planet, feel grateful and relaxed knowing you’re taken care of.
  3. Become actively part of the nourishment cycle and give back to the plants. Start to grow herbs, veggies, sprouts, support local farmers markets and brands that give back to the planet. Start a compost or worm farm and feed the soil. The natural design is symbiosis, only in modern times has that changed. Supporting plants reconnects us to a world view of cooperation and abundances v. competition and scarcity.

What’s your favourite way to connect to Nature? How do you become part of the plant food cycle? Share resources with us, let’s support each other!