How To End Your Bad Habits In 4 Easy Steps.

What would it look like to stop analysing what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong?

How would it feel to not have a list at the end of each day assessing our successes and failures?

To close our eyes each night with the joy of moments in our lives instead of regret and think with disgust that once again we didn’t do what we were going to do and not have that second helping, second glass, fourth cup……

I stumbled across a paragraph in a book on yogic wisdom (The Wisdome of Yoga by Stephen Cope) and it said this,

(I am paraphrasing to keep it short)

“A chain of events described by the Yogis: Appraisal. Impulse. Action. An object came into contact with my senses – a smell of a muffin. I recognise the smell. A pleasurable sensation enters my consciousness and on the heels of sensation I have a reaction to it – I like it! The appraisal turns into impulse I want the muffin and then action – I am eating the muffin.

It’s almost unconscious. The yogis found that we make poor choices when caught up in the action of it all, or rather we make no choices at all.

The yogis then studied the chain and wondered if it were de-linked, could we end our suffering? They found that impulse is highly influenced by our habits and patterns and conditioned by our experience so therefore can be de-conditioned.

If we become aware of the link, through observation of self and being in the present moment, then we can break the chain and overcome our bad habits, therefore ending suffering.”

Because you would have noticed that eating that chocolate, drinking that third glass of wine or having that fourth cup of coffee has not satisfied you. It has not ended the suffering which is why we inevitably want it the first place. To end the suffering of wanting. After we have experienced the item/thing we then experience a loss of the item/thing. More suffering. Then the guilt of actually actioning the want. More suffering.

But even more than a want, its a habitual patterning. We do not want to yell at our kids and yet, when triggered, we yell, we scream, we say things that we did not know was inside us.

We cannot be with the pain of everyday life, we cannot be with the pain of the constant whining, we cannot be with the pain of boredom, with endless options, with craving and not receiving, so we impulsively act and the actions cause us suffering.

You can have pain without suffering, if you do not act. 

  1. Use your awareness to observe your patterns, triggers, suffering – the internal chain of events
  2. Let your awareness penetrate – be here now.
  3. You will find that in light of your awareness the experience that you are feeling a loss of control over is not a foregone conclusion. Its feelings are fleeting, impermanent. The cravings go, the impulse leaves you.
  4. Finally, exposed to the light of your awareness, the craving and aversion evaporate.

Can you imagine this to be true? If you are about to yell at your child, but hold yourself back, take a few deep breaths, become aware of what you are doing – do you continue to yell?

I bet you don’t. I know I don’t. The anger subsides right? The feelings that well up in you dissipate and you are free to have a normal, much more productive conversation. The pain is there for seconds. The disappointment, the disbelief, the disapproval and then the love floods in.

Sometimes I pour myself a glass of wine in the afternoon. Because a thought has been following me around saying wine, wine, wine.  I finally pour it, the voice subsides but I am doing something else and that wine can sit there, un-sipped, for an hour.

These unconscious patterns are running our lives and we are not even aware that we have the power to stop them.

We assume that we need willpower right? But have you ever noticed that the more you think about not doing something…the more you want to do it?

So how do we take actions steps? How do stop this unconscious patterning? In real terms, not in yogi jargon like awareness and conditioning?

I think the number one point is – do not judge yourself. Just by having the intent to be better, you are on the path to something more. Do not judge yourself for something that is essentially so deeply ingrained you barely know you are doing it.

Can you forgive yourself?

Can you go to bed every night, knowing that you did your best? Knowing that what you have done today is all you could have done? And knowing that the moment has passed. That we leave the past behind, no matter how much we try to make it real, it’s gone.

  1.   Watch yourself and learn your triggers. Can you side step the pattern? Can you get the kids moving half an hour before you usually do so they are ready on time and your not late? Can you skip the TV show or the instagram feed that shows EVERYBODY drinking wine? Can you swap a coffee for a tea and see how that feels?
  2. Your going to have to learn that the present moment is all we have. The best way to enter the present is to follow your breath. You’re triggered, now just breathe. Think conscious thoughts. Breathe.
  3. Can you change anything? Do something differently. Hug your child instead of yelling, even if you still feel like it. Busy yourself with the laundry instead of social media. Make dinner, even if it is early, just so you don’t eat the whole pack of chips?
  4. Celebrate the little changes and forgive yourself for staying enslaved to the patterns that linger. Just know that you have power over your life and that willpower does not have staying power. You need to shine light into your darkness not hold it under water, it will just resurface when you have run out of energy.

 

Do you have any tips for breaking habits? Have you had any experiences that you could share and help others? I’d love to hear them. Leave a note in the comments or on social media.

Too Much To Do? Read This

I know you’re busy. I know you probably don’t have time to read this. But indulge me. Indulge yourself.

What if you didn’t have to be busy?

What if the most exhausted person you know, wasn’t you?

What if you slowed down.

Stopped?

What would happen? Would your world fall apart or would the fun, the love, the happiness creep back in?

Why do we try to squeeze it all in when it is pushing out the joy?

For years I have loved yoga without really knowing why.

Why do I feel so good after yoga when other exercise, although endorphin-inducing, doesn’t give me that same buzz?

Yesterday, when looking for a quote in a book that I could relay in my yoga teaching class, I found this,

“After practicing poses for several minutes, it is a good idea to relax and feel the rebound – calmly focus on the sensations of chi (prana).” Paul Grilley

Prana is life-force and it is seen as a universal energy which flows in currents in and around the body.

Regardless of the exercise you choose you to do, it will allow the prana to flow,but yoga specifically focuses on opening the channels in the body for the prana to flow more easily and freely.

My quoted paragraph pointed to feeling the rebound and that is where yoga differs again. In yoga, we are told specifically to stop and focus inwards. How are you feeling now? What are you feeling? Focus on your breath. Just be. This is our chance to feel the rebound. We might be in child’s pose, tadasana (mountain) or savasana to do this.

Usually in the down time in-between exercises, whether it is tennis, cycling, pilates etc you are encouraged to get a drink. you might also find yourself chatting to others or picking up your phone to see messages you have missed.

What you are actually missing out on here is the rebound. The opportunity to focus inward and feel the sensations of that prana flow throughout the body. Without it, that quiet opportunity to stop and reflect, you are skipping the most important part. The part where your mind chatter stops and sensations in the body take over.

That’s when you understand the true meaning of yoga. That calm, that inner-peace that takes over and you take that feeling with you when you leave. That feeling improves relationships, improves tolerance, empathy and compassion and instills a greater joy within.

I think it is a practice however that should go beyond our asana practice, the physical practice.

In life, between juggling to-do lists, children, work commitments, social life, family, we are missing out on feeling the rebound.

Today I got up, flew around the house getting the kids and myself ready to leave the house for school and preparing for my day. I squeeze in meditation, a hot breakfast, coffee, showers and lunches and then it’s in the car. Drop first kid off, then second, then third – now to yoga. Then to the shops. I looked at my watch, oops have to race to doc’s appointment. I had an x-ray on my foot and then I picked up a parcel from the post.

I was starving so I thought I’d pit stop at home for a coffee and something to eat. I was going to head straight out again – to do errands that could be done at anytime, instead I decided to stop and feel the rebound.

Enjoy my coffee. Come down from the whirlwind of my morning and regroup for the afternoon’s activities.

It’s so important to realise that life is about enjoyment. It’s not about getting stuff done or winning because you are the most busy or exhausted.

If you think about it logically being busy and exhausted is actually the opposite to how we want to feel and yet we persist and over-schedule until we squeeze all of the enjoyment out. I know that if i schedule back to back outings on the weekend or go out too many nights in a row – fun things become drudgery.

So slow down and feel the rebound during your day.

Being busy and always moving forward will not fulfill your dreams of a joyful and content life.

Standing still is where you can enjoy all the prana, the life force, you have created in you beautiful life xx

I will leave you with a piece from the Radiance Sutras, Lorin Roche.

fullsizerender

How To Create A Life You Love

Today I am reflecting on my life and how it came to be.

Today is the first day in seven and a half years that I am on my own, during a weekday. My two eldest are back to school and my littlest Elijah has started his little pre-kindy program.

I was a very different person seven and a half years ago. In fact, as I overlook my picket fence to the lake and enjoy the serenity of the trees, I don’t actually think I would recognise my life if I had been transported from then to now.

We all know that Motherhood changes us. That the love for our little people re-shifts priorities, interests, friendships and relationships. It changes our relationship to ourselves as well. Sometimes Motherhood allowing us to bathe in our own magnificence for creating something so perfect and at others it feels like our soul is being torn out of our body and the aliens are invading. Or maybe just some kind of exhausted half-ass alien.

But Motherhood creates a strength. It strips us back to our basics, without the bells and whistles. It forces us to take care of ourselves in ways we never had before and it quite literally pulls our hearts out of our chests and gives it to our beautiful creations, as a gift to take on their journey.

So then what is left? Who are we. Without our role as Mother, Wife, Daughter, Worker, Carer. What do we like to do? What do we want to say?

What do I choose to do with my time? Where will I make the biggest difference?

I went to two yoga classes this morning, with my newly found freedom and now I am sitting at my desk, with my beautiful view to look at, writing my joy and happiness.

I think of my funny, independent, quirky, different, amazing, miraculous children and I feel joy.

I think of my charming, humorous, loyal and adoring husband and I feel joy.

I think of my family, I have been gifted with two amazing ones, who are loyal, kind, generous and supportive and I feel joy.

I think of my friends and all so different but all loyal, fun-loving, do-anything for you kind of people and I feel joy.

I think of who I am and I feel joy.

I think of my life filled with beauty, nature, ocean swims, sunshine and love and I feel grateful.

Maybe you are here with me, today, so intensely grateful for all you have or maybe you are wondering where you took a wrong turn.

If so, I wanted to write down five things that are essential to creating a life you love, so you can have it too.

1. Acknowledging what is truly important

If it is important to you you will priorities it in your life. What you have to make sure is that you are important to you. If you look at how you are spending each day – where are you having fun – where are you feeling joy?

You do have time for the things you want to do if you value yourself enough. You are important. You can get to that gym class (sewing workshop, yoga, painting tutorial etc) if the kids do one less activity this term, or if your husband cooks the dinner one night. You can go out with your girlfriends, get away from the kids and have a date night, go for a lone swim at the beach…. you just need to figure out what is important to you.

There are brave souls out there who have realised that their lifestyle choices such as mortgage, fancy cars, and expensive material possessions were keeping them in a life that was joyless. What happens when they quit it all and follow what is important to them instead of what society has deemed important?

You need to know that your life is your own creation.

2. Simplicity

I say no a lot.

To nights out when I am swamped. To emails from companies I don’t want to email me. To more things. To added activities for the kids. To playdates when I am exhausted. To the status quo. To things I don’t believe in.

A lot of us fill our lives with the meaningless, the inane, the boring, the over-whelming and then wonder why we have this feeling of dissatisfaction, despite our full lives with material wealth.

Having no down time, no space in the clutter, no time to breathe or even think is detrimental to our mental health.

If you are feeling over-whelmed, weighed down, burdened, unhappy or even a little depressed it’s time to make things more simplistic. What can you dump? Clear out. Stop doing? Say no to?

It will make a difference.

3. Making Sure That You’re Manifesting What You Actually Want

I built a life once based on other people’s perceptions of what it should look like. I followed other’s plans and paths because I didn’t know what I wanted. I never got clear enough on who I was, to know what I did want. There were glimpses of my true self, sure, but it can sometimes feel like an out-of-body experience when you are not living a life you love. You wonder how you got here, you blame others, you make excuses and you feel stuck.

You need to make time for yourself to get clear on who you are and what you want. Follow your bliss, your joys and do things you love. Meditate, turn off your phone, get some space, some silence, some quiet time in your life so you can hear yourself. Because your true self whispers and sometimes she’s hard to hear.

4. Gratitude

Being grateful for what I have is one of the best things I have other done.

It’s easy to get off path and think other’s have it better. It’s easy to think that you don’t have enough because you always have desire. It’s easy to think that we are not good enough.

However when you focus on gratitude your perception of life starts to change. I am grateful that I can pay that horrendous bill, rather than feeling resentful. I am grateful that the crappy meal I put on the table means that my family have eaten. I am grateful that my sore muscles means that they have given my body the gift of movement.

Everyday there are so many things to be grateful for and I truly believe you cannot love your life if you are not grateful for what you have, right now.

 

5. Surrendering to a Higher Power

Give your best efforts and surrender the results. No effort on this path goes to waste.

I live for these two sayings. The more I live them the better I feel.

We are creators of our lives, yes but I believe we are co-creators. Life always has a curve-ball to throw at us or a dream that is better than we ever could think of.

Whether you surrender to God, to the Universe, to Life itself – giving up control of how things turn out is one of the most amazing things that you can do to make yourself happy.

That sounds counter-productive right? It’s not.

Trying to control the outcome is sometimes a futile purpose as you cannot control all the elements. Trying to control the outcome will give you expectations and when things don’t happen like you want, you make yourself unhappy.

Do we really want to make ourselves unhappy?

I don’t think anyone really wants to be unhappy, we just don’t know how to remove ourselves from this cycle of Want, Control, Expectation.

The answer is in all the ancient wisdom – cest la vie, what will be will be, let it be.

Give your best efforts and let the rest go.

control

The Benefits of Teaching Meditation and Mindfulness to Children

I am currently undertaking my yoga teacher training at Tamara Yoga in Perth and as part of my course we are asked to complete a research assignment on a suggested topic or a topic of our own choosing. I decided to choose my own, going with the area I was most interested in.

Having three children of my own and enjoying the benefits, myself, of meditation and mindfulness, I was interested in what cold hard facts I could uncover to explain the feelign of ease, peace and well-being in my household.

It’s long but worth it 🙂

The benefits of teaching meditation and mindfulness to children.

The Dalai Lama has said, “If every eight-year-old in the world was taught meditation, we would eliminate violence in one generation.”

How do you feel after you meditate?

How do you feel a month after regular practice? A year?

I know I feel like a different person. I feel I have more clarity, more regulation of my emotions, a more stable, centred, clear-thinking mind.

In my study of one person I can say with a resounding yes that meditation has had a positive impact on my life.

Ancient Yogic scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali refer to meditation as the path to ecstasy, to universal oneness, to God.

Modern day hopes for meditation are less lofty. In looking at the different programs for meditation and mindfulness, the number one reason for meditation seems to be to de-stress.

Deepak Chopra says, “We live in such an anxiety driven society that what we are looking for is the best way to manage stress, but what we should be looking for is peace, equanimity, love and enjoyment of our experiences.”

I think one goal leads to the other. Let’s manage our stress so that we can open up the pathways to peace and then feel that universal oneness.

The ancient texts describe the way. They teach us that the only way to get the mind under control is to still it and to still it, we must practice.

The Bhagavad Gita says,

“The mind is the friend
Of those who have control over it,
And the mind acts like an enemy
For those who do not control it.”

The Yoga Sutras say,

“Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness.”

Through the eight limbs of yoga, what we ultimately want to achieve, is to still the mind and the texts say, this is what will lead us to God.

Now going back to science, the research says that meditational benefits go deeper than just what we notice. Meditation is changing our DNA. Meditation is reaching down into each and every one of our cells and changing its structure.

A study on cancer patients noted that the group who meditated had their telomeres, which are stretches of DNA that prevent chromosomal deterioration, in-tact, compared to the control group whose had shortened with the disease.

We are making physiological changes to the brain when we meditate, increasing memory, sense of self, empathy and stress regulation. There have been extensive brain scans to prove this, using MRI’s on short and long term meditators. The results show the brain centre for attention and focus lights up during meditation and in long-term meditators, increases in size.

Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Waisman Centre, says that a growing body of “hard-nosed neuroscience research” is attracting attention to the profound effects of meditation. “This deserves serious scientific attention,” he says. “It also explains why people spend time sitting on the meditation cushion, because of the effects on day-to-day life.”

Davidson compares mental practice to physical exercise. “We all know that if an individual works out on a regular basis, that can change cardiovascular health,” he says. “In the same way, these data suggest that certain basic mechanisms of the mind, like attention, can also be trained and improved through systematic practice.”

Often in life when something is good, well it’s just too good to be true. Chocolate tastes amazing – the pleasure centres in your mind go wild for it – but it’s not good for you. The insane thing about meditation is that there is no downside.

You might try to argue that taking time out of your day to meditate is a down-side – you are losing productivity, but that’s not true. The research shows you that it actually increases productivity and I know that I get things done quicker, more proficiently and perhaps more intelligently when I have meditated and have a regular meditation practice.

Research studies show that people who meditate:

  • Sleep better
  • Use oxygen more efficiently
  • Have increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
  • Have lower cholesterol levels
  • Have decreased blood pressure and hypertension
  • Have lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress
  • Are more emotionally attuned

For parents, who may find the word meditation, weird, odd or religion-associated, schools have introduced meditation, but included it in the overall term “mindfulness” which is now an increasingly popular subject from the internet, to bookshelves to schools.

In 2004 psychologist Scott Bishop, then at the University of Toronto, and his associates defined mindfulness as “Maintaining attention on present experiences and adopting an attitude toward them characterized by curiosity, openness and acceptance.”

The million-dollar question now is, what happens if we get all these skills at a younger age?

What happens to future generations that can handle stress better, have more empathy and kindness for their fellow human beings? What happens to children, adolescents and adults that have a tendency to “be here now” rather than fretting over the past or worrying about the future?

But another question to ask is do our children need this? I mean, what do they have to be stressed about?

In 2009 the American Psychological Association sponsored the Stress in America survey finding that children were a lot more stressed out than their parents think. The reason parents are missing these stress signs? Because they are so stressed out.

A study was done of more than 200,000 children enrolled in mindfulness programs at school by The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. The results found that classroom behaviour improved and students were more engaged in learning. There was a decrease in depression and an increase in the ability to control emotion.

The Hawn Foundation funded research into the actress and mindfulness advocate, Goldie Hawn’s, Mind Up program. These programs have entered American schools and focus on mindfulness and meditation. The children on the program had less absenteeism, better reading scores, a 25% reduction in aggression on the playground, better attention, more concentration, quicker reactivity in answering questions and responding to teachers, better interpersonal relationships, improved ability to manage stress and a 63% rise in optimism.

Another study tested the samples of saliva for levels of the primary stress hormone, cortisol, which goes up and down naturally during the day. The children on the Mind Up program were able to bring that cortisol level down indicating they were better able to manage stress. Stress interferes with memory, the ability to concentrate, recall and focus, all of which would have a direct impact on school work.

Is there any surprise that in one study they found boys improving more than girls? Studies show that women have greater ability to reduce stress and anxiety in themselves than men do. How amazing is it that before some of these little boys even turn into men they will have these beautiful mindfulness tools to take into their lives?

So what are they teaching these kids?

These mindfulness programs are teaching children to understand their brain, where their emotions come from, why they are feeling like they are, what’s happening to their body when they have feelings like anger, sadness, rejection, overwhelm and then giving them the tools to manage these fluctuating emotions. These tools include sense training like mindful listening, mindful sensing, mindful breathing and mindful eating. They also have attitude training by using tools such as a gratitude journal and they are taught to undertake acts of kindness – for the community and each other.

When I think of the tools they are using, such as the mindful sensing, my thoughts go to The Radiance Sutras which has an incredible number of poetic, senses meditations to use in our day to day lives, such as:

“Wherever, whenever you feel carried away,

Rejoicing in every breath

That is your meditation hall”

Or

“Entering this current of sound,

The Listening One

Forgets the external world, becomes

Absorbed into internal sound”

These tools are being re-taught to children who have not long lost the art of being absorbed, being in the moment and understanding the stillness of the mind. It would be logical then to consider that it actually should be easier to teach these methods to children, than to adults, who have long lost the art of being mindful or having that one-pointed focus.

In terms of its implementation into schools there are of course going to be sceptics. One Doctor, Dr. Schonert-Reichl was quoted as saying, “I was surprised when I saw how quickly the kids (fourth and fifth graders) – and then the teachers – bought into the program and practices. The kids just got it right away and seemed hungry for something that would help them manage the stresses in their life… in my twenty years of measuring social-emotional learning quotients, I’ve never seen a program (she was discussing the MindUp program) that works as well as this one. I had to go back and look at the numbers again to be sure.”

Unfortunately, sceptics are not silenced by the sight of happy children. They are silenced by the incredible neuro-scientific research as well as the continued academic success that these programmes are producing.

Goldie Hawn has been thrilled with the research showing her program’s efficiency, but her main aim was to give something to children that they can take with them. She says that the results from her programme, which show that children improve across the board – increasing their self-esteem, relationships and academically, is just the results of a happy child. Neurological studies show that when the mind is less stressed the neuro-functions work better so they can learn better, feel better and care more.

In summary Meditation and Mindfulness Programs for Children:

  • Improve the connectivity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is linked to improved attention, memory processing and decision making abilities
  • Involve tuning in to internal and external experiences with curiosity, resulting in increased self-awareness, social awareness, and self-confidence
  • Increase children’s ability to self-regulate their emotions, especially difficult emotions such as fear and anger, through breathing and other grounding techniques
  • Improve empathy or the ability to understand what another person is thinking or feeling
  • Builds resilience by giving children skills to help them to cope better with stress

The mindfulness in school’s studies are a relatively new thing and as such there is no ongoing data about how these mindful young adults grow up. However, mindfulness practice is currently being taught in thousands of schools across the world, to hundreds of thousands of children, so eventually the results are going to come pouring in.

Professor Richard Davidson says mindfulness instruction in schools “takes advantage of a natural window of opportunity during childhood, when the neural circuitry that allows us to pay attention, calm ourselves and attune to our own and other’s feelings takes shape.”

Ultimately what I find the most encouraging is the absolute unrealised potential that these children, our future generation, will have taking these skills with them into the future.

The Bhagavad Gita says,

“One must elevate, not degrade, oneself

By one’s own mind.

The mind alone is one’s friend

As well as one’s enemy.”

We will have a generation of adolescents, who will have strategies, besides drinking, drug-taking and rebellious behaviour, to use when they are feeling rejected, over-whelmed, emotional and hormonal.

By bringing them to their breath, by focusing on the present, these kids will have the tools to increase their self-esteem and to really know their self, leaving them free to focus on their unique talents and gift them to the world.

And if that won’t change the world, I don’t know what will.

 

References:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-mindfulness-good-medicine/

https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters/mindfulness

(http://www.chopra.com/ccl/why-meditate)

http://mic.com/articles/103790/science-has-amazing-news-for-people-who-meditate#.zZViBUTvN

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ending-addiction-good/201405/mindfulness-and-meditation-helping-stressed-out-kids-cope

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/body-sense/201001/is-your-child-stressed-out-why-you-may-not-know

10 Mindful Minutes, Goldie Hawn and Wendy Holden, 2011

The Radiance Sutras, Lorin Rochem PHD, 2014

The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, Georg Feurstein,

https://mindfulnessinschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MiSP-Research-Summary-2012.pdf

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/changing-our-dna-through-mind-control/

http://news.wisc.edu/brain-scans-show-meditation-changes-minds-increases-attention/

http://www.chopra.com/ccl/3-kid-friendly-meditations-your-children-will-love

http://www.santosha.com/philosophy/gita-chapter6.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzNIgXoUfgs

http://www.mindfuleducation.com.au/

How To Deepen Your Meditation

I was at a yoga workshop yesterday on pranayama, the work of controlling or restricting your breath, or life-force in yoga.

The beautiful teacher was talking about the breathe, the mechanics, the different types of breath work we can do in our practice and then she said something that struck me as profound.

I knew there were the 8 limbs of yoga, each one supporting one another. They are:

Yama – Rules of morality

Niyama – Personal observances

Asana – Physical practice of postures

Pranayama – Breath work

Pratyahara – Sense restriction

Dharana – One pointed focus

Dhyana – Meditation

Samadhi – Universal oneness

But then what she said was,

If you are not getting to Samadhi, a state of being so deep that it dissolves all lines of separation in this world and you are at one with the divine,  then you need to meditate more.

If you are not getting into a meditative state where there are periods of stillness, nothingness of the mind, then you need to do more work on one-pointed focus, concentration, bringing your mind back to meditation and concentrating on that one thing, may it be mantra, a spot in the body, a sound etc.

If you are not able to concentrate then practice more sense restriction, practice ignoring sounds, make sure your eyes are closed, that you are warm and comfortable.

If you can’t do that then do more Pranayama, more breath work.  

If that seems hard then do more Asana.

If that is difficult then you need to work on your lifestyle, the way you are being in the world. The Niyamas and Yamas. 

They are not exactly linear – but if you are not where you want to be, if your meditation is less universal oneness and deep peace then you do more yoga. More of everything that encompasses yoga that I have mentioned here.

Do the work and reap the rewards.

It was suddenly so clear and bright for me, this path of yoga, why there are 8 limbs, why everything on that list supports the other.

As if stars had lit up to lead me.

Real understanding opening the doors towards the Universe.

I didn’t dissolve into the Universe, today, but my meditation was deeper. I felt different. It felt easier, lighter and I felt more inside my body than out of it.

I felt the real difference between doing something for the sake of doing it and doing something because you know why. 

 

 

The Parent I Want To Be

I am always learning.

Sometimes it gets a little uncomfortable when you realise the chasm between who you are now and where you want to go.

I’m reading a book called Conscious Parenting by Dr Shefali Tsabary at the moment.

I don’t read parenting books that tell me when my children should go to bed or what routine they should follow but I do read anything that can point the way to growth of who I am as a person and who I am as a Mother.

Conscious parenting is about parenting from love not fear. About a month before reading this book I wrote this post called F**K We Are Parenting Wrong which pretty much sums it up.

That was the moment I realised I was parenting out of fear of who they would become if I failed them. 

I was parenting out of fear of how they would behave if I didn’t pull them into line

I was parenting out of fear that they would not represent who I was as a parent 

I was parenting out of fear that they would show the world my mistakes

Instead of fully loving them for who they are now.

Instead of finding solutions together.

Instead of giving them respect and asking them questions about things I would bend them to my will, right or wrong.

And then I’d feel guilt. For the parent I knew I could be but wasn’t. That makes me feel helpless and fearful and the opposite of that is control.

So the next minute I’d try to control – helplessly failing as doors slammed and tears poured out, mine and theirs.

Conscious parenting is about giving children boundaries and freedom. Asking them opinions on rules that are not so important and making sure that you are following through on rules that keep them safe and function as a respectable member of our culture.

Being the authority when you need to be and being consistent.

God I’m not consistent. I constantly go back on my word, throw out bribes and throw up my hands in despair shouting, “Fine just have your way!”.

I am tired. This motherhood thing can pull you under some days. My husband and I laughed last night and suggested we needed a live in psychologist – what do we do now? In this situation? For this particular child? What worked in the past is no longer working!

I accept where I am. I am grateful for all Motherhood has taught me but I want to work smarter not harder.

The parent I want to be has more respect and in turn respects my children more.

The parent I want to be encourages my children to pitch into the family more. To determine solutions to the problems we are having. to let them have a say. Because then they are invested. Then they are valued.

The hierarchical model of parenting works great if you want rebellious teens or well-behaved kids that feel like they can make no decisions for themselves.

I want my children to have boundaries that allow them freedom to be themselves. A respectful, peaceful household full of fun and laughter and sharing of the workload.

I am writing my wish list to the Universe and hope for the grace and growth necessary to make it happen.

 

Mums Just Want To Be Appreciated

Did you read that hilarious post by Brad Kearns about being Mum for the day? It was so well written, hilarious and right on the money, but you know what I, and probably most of the Mums out there, loved the most about it?

The perspective it gave him to appreciate how hard his wife works.

When your life revolves around the washing that never ends, two – three dishwasher loads a day, endless toys to clean up, cherubs to bath, bums to wipe, food to give out, night waking, kids to put down for naps and beds to make…. well there’s just not a lot of fun in there. But you wouldn’t have it any other way. 

So if you get the “lucky you”  eyebrow raise when you say you went out for coffee (with screaming children!) well….I mean… you just want to hit them over the head with the frying pan.

So why is there such a lack of appreciation in homes around the world regarding a Mother’s work? When we would just like some thanks, some gratitude, some “I see how hard you work honey” comments, – why don’t we get it?

  1. A lot of it goes unseen – I don’t know about you but I work like a banshee to get things done so I can relax. This does not always work as seemingly the work never ends but a lot of the time my husband can miss the vast amounts of work that is done because I get it done so bloody fast and efficiently.
  2. Maybe a bit of jealousy – there is a bit of FOMO going on in parenthood. We would all love to be there for the milestones, for the cuddles, for the kisses and long to be “the favourite”, it’s just when the hard stuff comes round some parties are quick to beg off duty…
  3. Perceived freedom – There is a certain freedom in being able to structure your day the way you want but the reality with children is that plans change, things can seem just out of reach (ie yoga class) and you haven’t had a minute alone since number one came along
  4. It’s not a habit – gratitude for what we have in our lives is not a practice in a lot of households and even if it is, it’s probably not detailed enough. Saying you are grateful for you husband or wife is great – but what exactly are you grateful for? How many different things can you list that really make your life so beautiful?
  5. Sometimes when we hear it – we won’t accept it – and that’s about you. Maybe your tired, fed-up, have let everything get to you and now that you are getting what you want – well it’s just not good enough.

But in their defense when we scream, “You do nothing around here!” it’s not always true. My husband works hard, is there for the times that count and if asked directly will do anything I ask.

Sometimes you just need to speak up.

So when your feeling under-appreciated you need to do two things – start sending out some appreciation first (lets be adults here) and speak  up about what you are feeling resentful for.

Just remember to appreciate what you have. Appreciate the now. Appreciate the special people in your life.

Send out more love and you will get it right back.

xx