Over two months ago I was in Italy on the 5-day Silent retreat lead by Sarah and Ty Powers (see Zen page for more). It was such a deep and meaningful experience that coming back to London was difficult. I was determined to keep that sense of calm and the discipline to practice but during the month of December this was difficult. January however, has been a reset; I’m determined to do more Lojong (mind training) and yoga and to read and study more. I find with resolutions it’s better to set small tasks, so don’t make them big challenges, but doable efforts which can become long-lasting habits.
I was feeling increasingly pressured (mostly by my own ego) to do power yoga and be active, but my body started to protest so I listened and chose a yin and restorative practice instead. Every morning and every evening I spend 15-20 minutes doing hamstring stretches, hip and chest openers. Within 4 days my mind started to feel more open too - the mind can feel closed when the body is tight.
It helps with my meditation practice -again it doesn’t have to be long- but every morning for 10-15 minutes I observe my thoughts. Additionally I’m trying to be more mindful of my breath and posture during the day and have little resets. I notice I hold my breath when I am focussed or busy and when I am breathing it is quite shallow. Just a few deep breaths will reset both breath and posture.
During the coming year I am really keen to learn more; I feel like I have been so fortunate to learn from very inspiring people and I want to further explore the seeds they have planted. Lojong and gratitude through Pema Chödrön and Norman Fischer and anything on life/yoga/Buddhism through Alan Watts, BKS Iyengar, Stephen Cope, Thupten Jinpa, Michael Singer, Eknath Easwaran, Bo Forbes and many others. There are so many inspirational books and courses out there and with our modern technology you can choose to listen, watch or read anything you like. Book club will be a way through which I can share my findings – see Books page for more!
In less than three weeks I get to go back to Kripalu, to finish my 300 hour Yoga Therapy training with a module on mental health. I’m looking forward to see my fellow yogis in that beautiful place; so many kindred spirits and kind souls. Furthermore I cannot wait to give my favourite Elm tree a big (cold) hug!