For those times when you want to Kick Yourself....

What happens in those times when you mess up, get it wrong, repeat the same old mistakes?

Have you ever felt regretful, unproud of your thoughts or actions?  I know I have! 

There are times when it can feel like no matter how much I learn and read, progress and develop that I'll repeat some old habit, some old thinking pattern and feel like Im never going to learn.

Thinking and related behaviours become habitual and like with any habit we want to change...it is hard!  We become addicted even though you might be unaware of it or not fully conscious of it. 

When we do become aware, we can vow to change our ways and adopt new habits and patterns.  All goes well and then Bam! We fall off the wagon and we feel like we've lost the fight.

I had an occasion recently where I just felt utterly hopeless at my improvement.  It was a day where it felt like I'm always going to resort back to a certain way of thinking and behaving because of my habits, how I grew up, the conditionings that I have taken on....but where would that leave me?  If I give in to my shame or guilt, or internal beating myself up, I certainly do not feel good about myself and no one else will benefit either.

So we notice, we observe, we take a step back and even smile- a bump in the road, a little receding in your progress and efforts, it is all ok.  How long would you say physically it has taken you to learn a specific new skill?  How often would you say you might fall out or stumble in a Yoga pose, or have to start walking on a run, take a break or turn back on a long hike?  We don't need to kick ourselves or beat ourselves up for these occurrences, we simply say, thats ok, I'll try again.  So it is the same with our mindset, our thinking and our behaviours.  We strive to be the best versions of ourselves, the versions we desire and feel true connection to and when we hit set backs and our own human foibles, we begin again.

'On this path, effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure.' Bhagavad Gita

Meditation with Elements Yoga

Meditation

Take a comfortable seat with an upright spine.  Sit on a cushion or against a wall if you need.  Set your timer for 4 minutes.

Soften your shoulders, your jaw and your breath.  Feel your spine lengthen and your sit bones ground down.

Bring your eyes softly closed.

Become aware of your breath, your inhale and your exhale. When you notice your mind wander or you begin to follow thoughts, bring your awareness back to your breath.

Begin to visualise a time where you have felt frustrated at yourself.  Notice your feelings and thoughts as a witness without judgement.  

Begin to visualise a warm light surrounding you and comforting you and we each breath you feel this warmth.

Bring your awareness then back to your great and repeat to yourself, 'I do the best that I can in any given moment.'

Once you hear your timer sound bring your awareness back to your body, notice your sit bones grounded and your spine lengthened and you can open your eyes.

Reflections

Following your meditation, journal about your visualisation, thoughts and feelings you observed.

Read back over your writing.

If you were listening to a friend tell you what you have wrote, what would you say to them to comfort them?  

How would you reassure and give them support?

Write down your thoughts and read them a loud to yourself.

Create a mantra for yourself for the next time you feel frustrated at yourself, the next time you feel disappointed or hopeless....have this mantra written somewhere you can see and remind yourself of it often and when you need.

 

 

Pursuits and Perspective

If you are involved in any sports or activities and particularly if you have been for a number of years, you’ll be aware that you can go through phases.  Phases of high intensity, high motivation, high performance and similarly low motivation, low intensity and low performance.

What is significant here is that these changes are a natural ebb and flow.  Changes in circumstances, life duties, family, friends, work and finances can all influence your participation.

Acknowledging this you can begin to recognise that sports or your activities are a big part of your life, a big part that can have a huge influence on you, create opportunities, offer success and become a part of how you see and identify yourself in the world.

But…they are not your whole life.  yes, you cannot imagine life without them or you feel low when deprived of them but they are one segment of your whole life.

This is not in any way meant negatively or to diminish the importance of your chosen pursuits, in fact quite the opposite.

If you took a few moments to establish and connect with your priorities in life, how many would you list?  As we grow older and life events open our eyes, we get afforded opportunities to establish what is important to us.  It may be your lifestyle or your family, your partner or your friends.  It may be your career or your service to others.  It may be to be healthy, o be injury free and to be able to enjoy life.  Whatever is on your list can help you connect to the any things that make up your happiness, give you a senseof grounding in yourself and life.

Your Psychological Needs

In our lives we have to address our psychological needs as well as everything else.  In our pursuits this concept is as valid.  Addressing just physical needs for example may leave you feeling out of sorts and not fully content.

The psychologist Glasser stated that we have 4 Basic Psychological needs, Love and to be loved, Power, Freedom and Fun.  When these needs are met, we can enjoy a sense of stability and psychological well being.  If some of these needs are not met or are lacking, there can be a sense of being out of sync, feeling disconnected.  Our psychological needs are no different to our other needs-Its like if you had not had a good meal in a few days , you may feel slightly lacking in nourishment, a part of you would be craving and signalling to you to source a healthy meal.

Obviously at certain points in your life sacrifices will need to be made and some areas may not get addressed as well as others but in the overall ‘big picture’ it would be important that you feel you cater for everything well.  

Can you see how your pursuits serve these psychological needs or how you can address them in other aspects of your life around your pursuits?  This perspective can remind you of your original motivations in your pursuits, you original intentions and help you to make better serving choices and decisions.

Clarity

Having this clarity, this sense of knowing why you are involved in your pursuits can help feed back into your efforts.  It can help you see past specific set backs, obstacles, losses or failures to remind you of that ‘big picture’ concept.

To do specific sports or activities for a lifetime there must be an acknowledgement of the internal rewards you receive, the aspects of growth you feel, the positive effect on your psychological well being, your view of yourself, confidence etcWhen you can see all of this, no matter what the results are on paper, your endeavours are worthwhile and integral part of you.  If you are solely chasing numbers, it can be fun, but it can be short lived an unsustainable.

Standing back from the details of winning or succeeding helps you to see why you might continue something indefinitely and how that can be possible and with that sense of ease you will actually have more energy and enthusiasm without pressure and you'll find your performance improves.

'I've yet to see a guy lose his card/status or form from under practice.  they all lose it from over practice, making golf the most important thing in their lives, losing perspective....the simplicity and joy from the game is lost and its a straight downhill from there.'- Paul McGinley

Heart and Mind

Our pursuits, sports or activities can be passionate fuelled endeavours.  By their nature they pull on our heat strings and this can be a great thing.  We love our chosen activities.

There is an importance in being smart, in not getting ruled by our hearts.  We may love chocolate or cake but eat it all day everyday and we can feel sick!

Recognising the value of your mindset can help you make smarter choices for training, it can help you assess, evaluate and plan more clearly.  It can also help you to walk away or re focus when needs be.  Listening to your heart is important for sure, and it brings us great joy in life, its just a matter of not being ruled by the heart to the detriment of everything else.

Remember to play

At the end of the day, we need to play and have fun in our lives.  We need to feel power which can come through succeeding and achievements and we need to feel a sense of belonging which can come from our teams or communities.  When we address all these needs we will feel at most ourselves, settled and content.  

When you find the ego gnawing away at you with negative feedback, when you feel pressurised to perform despite your better judgement.  When you feel at unease with yourself or situations it is time to reassess, to remind yourself of what is important.  

When you are most grounded in yourself and your choices, your pursuits and your whole life will flow with greater ease and success.

Relationships and What is happening right now?

When we so often get consumed in how we feel during particular situations or within our relationships with others, it is easy to lose sight of what is happening right at that particular time. We can become lost in our own perceptions, lost in our own thoughts and ways that we are used to feeling.

It is very easy now to get all sorts of information and advice.  There are endless opportunities for learning.  We receive all sorts of quotes, analogies, life lessons and often short tips on how to make the most of our lives.  What interests and fascinates me is the way in which we take this information in.  I feel that you can take in theory all day everyday, but unless you actually experience it, unless you feel the effects on your life and the lives of those around you, the information is somewhat redundant and inapplicable.

So how do we use it?  How do we apply it?  What we all want to know is how do we really make our lives better, run smoother and share more positive and beneficial relationships with others?....well at least thats what I have felt, maybe you already know the answers and need not read on!

So for this post think of it as a reflection on experiential learning to improve your response to and interaction in relationships and see what is happening right now.

Firstly....You cannot control anybody else EVER! You have no control over how they feel, how they react, how they choose to behave. How they interpret life and choose to be is entirely up to them.

Secondly...You cannot stop bad shit from occurring (excuse my french!) but it just does happen and that is life.  We are all human, we all make mistakes, no matter how much you try to perfect yourself and be the best, there are people in your life that you will meet that you will not click with, you may argue with, not see eye to eye, they may be unfair, you may be unfair.....it all just happens.

So what can you do?

Learn to deal with and learn from all the 'stuff' that has happened

That we have had a difficulty with a particular interaction or we feel betrayed/let down/hurt etc does not mean forever more we must shut ourselves off from these things, or never expecting any better.  What we can do is see these things for what they were and gain an understanding of the reality of what happened outside of just your own perspective.  You may feel unfairly treated by your parents for example, but look at it from the outside without emotion and think where they may have been coming from, or what may have been their reasoning or understanding at the time.  You may be able to look at situations and see how can I learn from this now in a positive way.  Sometimes people say things or act in a certain way, and sometimes it hurts or sticks but how you choose to move on is entirely up to you.

****Think of a time someone said something or behaved in a way that you felt hurt.  Think of 5 things that may have been going on for them at the time.  You may start to understand the situation and the other person a little differently.  we may not condone their actions but understanding them means less internalisation for you.

Start letting go of habitual patterns and reactions

Once we begin to understand others a bit better from the points above...you can then understand hat because one person may have acted a certain way, this does not now mean that everyone you interact with has the same agenda.  Within all your relationships the main common factor is you, so if you see patterns repeat themselves, most likely it is your response or interpretation that is the common denominator.

Question the reality of the situation you are in

Once you can understand how you tend to feel, or tend to react or respond, ask yourself then, what is actually happening right now?  If you can't see things from the other persons point of view, ask them.  Communicate.  Figure out what feelings you have because of this particular situation, and is it because of how you tend to feel or is it because of what is actually happening right now?

Reflecting on all the points I have written above, the most amazing part is the idea that you can start this all by yourself..what do I mean?  I mean that you can start looking at the relationship you have with yourself.  

Maybe take your body for example,

- you cannot control it, (e.g. we can work with our bodies/move etc but we cannot control ageing for example or genetics)

- bad shit will happen, (e.g. at some time or another you may get injured or feel set backs)

- you can learn from stuff that has happened in your body,

- you can start letting go of habitual patterns, ways that you see your body, ways that you feel about it, what you believe is impossible or unattainable or that you are not able to do.

- you can look at the reality of the situation that you are in, ask yourself what it is you want to do or achieve and then without emotion or attachment to the outcome, take the steps towards your goals.

Revelation!!!!  How we are with ourselves is how we can be with all our other relationships.  We can begin with ourselves, in our bodies and take all those lessons and moments of clarity out into the world.......Super!  This is what Yoga can do for us, or sports, or exercise, or movement in general.  Taking time to cultivate more positive interactions and grounds for growth and awareness.

We all have stories, we all tell them way too much!  We all began our stories in different ways, and our beginnings may have caused confusion or doubt or fears....but as you grow up, what you do with these stories is as I have said entirely up to you.  You can let go of and hold onto whatever it is you choose.  Growing up is as a result of becoming who you are now and taking what is now, rather than hanging on to what once was.

Start bringing awareness to the stories that you tell, the dramas that you get caught up in, the thoughts that meander, begin to see what is simply not useful to you anymore and not helping you in a positive way.

Then.....when we can let go of all the unhelpful stuff and embrace more of the positive, we may begin to see more positive in ourselves and others that we never saw before.....Happy days!

 

Personal Servicing

I had this thought at the weekend.  This concept of consistency and personal servicing.  I feel like we tend to drift so quickly now to the next new thing, or somehow we think there is always a new better way to make ourselves feel new and better.  Its this idea of needing to add something to ourselves, having to gain something else to make ourselves the best possible version.

But what if we start with a right now kind of view?  What if we begin to see all the things we can do on a regular basis?

So when we have a car we are familiar with the idea of getting our car serviced, general upkeep and maintenance etc.  If we don't, things start to go wrong or the car does not work as efficiently or it generally begins to get worn down.  So can we do the same for ourselves?  Can you see your physical training/exercise/activities as something that need to be done on a regular basis and consistently?  How about your thoughts and your mindset-Can you clean out old thoughts and habits and 'refresh' on a regular basis?  If you have your body and mind everyday, how do you want it to feel and operate everyday?

Most of us can get our heads around the idea that the food we consume everyday will affect how we feel, our functioning etc.  Similarly with our physical endeavours.  More than the specifics, I have come to the belief that its the consistency that makes the difference.  How often are you eating well, how often are you active/training and in the right manner...this is what adds up to healthy progressions.  

So as with our diet and our activities, can you see how you think everyday will affect how you feel and approach things?  Are there ways in which you can think more positively about yourself and your abilities?  Are there negative perceptions or outlooks that do not necessarily benefit you anymore?  Can you regularly check in and question what thoughts are there and in that way perform your own mindset service checks and ensure optimal performance and living.

You do not always need something new or different, continually checking in with yourself and being more of yourself is just what you and everyone else needs.

Training your Mindset

I have written about the importance of mental mindset before and having recently read The Training Think Tanks's post on one of his clients which also reflected some of my own thoughts, I was inspired to put this post together.

You may have heard of the term 'Mental Strength' before but it is something I see missing in people's training regimes or approach to life, and I think it is often over looked, under valued or mis understood.

In your everyday life there are most definitely things you can do to enhance your mental strength and develop skills for dealing with ups and downs of life, of training, of performance etc.

To clarify in terms of this post, I will provide my own experiential definition of mental strength,

'An ability to think, feel and act in unison and an ability to maintain a clear perspective of reality and to remain true to your values/beliefs in the face of adversity or doubt whether from yourself or others.'

So to me I feel that mental strength is the ability to observe your thoughts and cultivate thoughts that are in line with how you feel and how you act and that these thoughts, feelings and actions match your true values and beliefs. In short-keeping it together!

That even when faced with obstacles from yourself or others you can keep the ability to do what you believe in or act in the way you value.

That an individual can remain clear on the present situation or the steps needed to be taken for progression without getting lost in hypothetical or drama.

Think about performance or training and how you approach these, can you look at your thoughts or reflect how you were thinking during a given session, did you think and act how you would have liked? If there were distractions such as a crowd watching, a bad day at work, or your training partner is late or you don't feel physically on form, did you respond appropriately to aid a positive experience and effective learning?

To further understand my definition a little more I will draw on a little yogic philosophy which shows that states of mind that put us at 'un ease' are those such as doubt, fear, anger, greed, bitterness, jealousy etc. So it can therefore be understood that we cannot stop ourselves from feeling or being in these states but what we can do is observe their occurrence and when noticed encourage a response that effects us moving forward in a positive, beneficial and helpful manner.

To apply this to your life or your sports or training, consider the following;

1. Can you notice if your thoughts or feelings that you have at a given time are creating a sense of 'un ease'?

2. Can you observe that sense of 'un ease' and then without putting any more thought of distractions, get to the root of why you feel that way.

3. Can you now acknowledge your feelings and accept them and without ignoring them or running away from them understand that it is completely human to feel different ways and then allow yourself to move on?

4. Can you keep your focus then on what it is you wish to do, how you wish to act?

Taking the above steps, for example in a training/performance context, as you begin, are you aware of how you are feeling? Are you aware of what thoughts are present? Are those feelings and thoughts creating a sense of 'un ease'? For instance are you nervous/anxious/ stressed? Are you thinking that you cannot achieve what you are about to do? Is there doubt? Are you distracted by others or your surrounding environment? When noticed we can see that perhaps these feelings, thoughts do not help us in a positive way.

Once noticed you could assess why you feel that way, 'ok I feel afraid because im trying a new skill or I feel doubtful because I'm not confident in my ability today or are you distracted by your friend who looks stronger etc

So here is where a lot of people hit the stumbling blocks, on noticing our thoughts or feelings of 'un ease' we create more un ease maybe because we are ashamed of thinking that way or embarrassed, or annoyed at ourselves for being that way. All that does then in the situation is create more anguish, perhaps anger or frustration. Another reaction here is to ignore those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings and not address them, but this is like avoiding that area under the couch every time you sweep and one fine day you find a big mess!

What will help you is in step 3, acknowledge the fear, the nerves, the doubt, whatever it may be for you and realise that is completely normal and in doing that allow yourself to now choose to adopt more productive, positive ways to think in the situation and move on to step 4. So for example a climber may have now noticed 'ok I am a little nervous and hesitant but that's ok, I've tried this problem before or I know my friends will spot me, or I'm confident I won't fall this time'.

Whatever solutions you create to the original feelings or thoughts holding you back is the key to your progression going forwards. Realising that it is ok to feel frustrated or doubtful or fearful but in that realisation not allowing them to consume you or your potential for learning and being involved in the situation.

In the realm of mental strength, this is where the gold is, how you can effectively listen to, move on from and learn to deal with unhelpful thought processes and barriers.

Think of how you have felt or thought about your body image for example, or your ranking in relation to your peers, often if negative thoughts around these issues go un noticed over periods of time or become more consuming they can play an adverse effect on your progress and experience and ultimately hold you back.

This is what is most amazing, we can choose how to think, we can choose how to respond to situations, we can choose how to deal with challenges.

A lot of emphasis is placed on our physical strengths, our physical training and approaches and I know a lot of people who talk about these topics and share knowledge, but how often do we address our mind set during a training session or during a performance? How often do you take time to notice what thoughts or mindsets you often have and maybe ones that could help you achieve your goals quicker or in a less stressful manner?

It is not about right and wrong, it is not about changing who you are, but about allowing you to enjoy yourself more and adopting attitudes and thoughts that will make things easier for you. 

Which way??? Our need for certainty....

Over the past number of weeks I have been learning a lot and taking in a lot from various different sources, from books, to workshops, to online reading and podcasts.  There is so much to learn!

One concept that seems to be coming up again and again for me is the concept of certainty and why we crave it.

I will not attempt to propose an answer as to why individuals seek certainty, but one thing I do know is that in many cases this certainty is an illusion and this certainty does not exist.

It is in almost all facets of our lives, perhaps in an effort to feel more continuity, more security, more understanding of ourselves and our environments.  We tend to navigate through our daily lives filtering and sifting through all the knowledge that is presented to us.  

In his book, 'Thinking fast and slow', Daniel Kaheman suggests that the mind has no capacity for processing the sheer uncertainty inherent in life.  Instead we cope by providing convenient explanations of past events, in which the cause neatly leads to the effect.  He calls this the 'availability heuristic'.  Often the world around us is not easily made sense of so we create a number of biases in our thinking. Sometimes some effects have no apparent cause and this leads us to telling ourselves some creatively crafted 'truths'.  Another shortcoming in our thinking is what Kaheman refers to as 'cognitive ease'.  We tend to choose explanations that come easily to our minds even when those explanations may differ from actual reality.

So where there is no apparent cause we create one to which we can understand and if we cannot understand an apparent cause we choose our own explanations that make sense to us.

Take for example the vast wonder of mechanisms, structures and systems that are operating and involved in our own bodies daily functioning.  Can anyone claim to even begin to understand everything in the body, its relationship to everything else and how everything works optimally- I would go so far as to say No!  There is so much information there, that no one person holds all the answers to every anatomical, biomechanical and health related query existing today.

What we need to be aware of here is those that claim they do!

'The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.'- Stephen Hawking

In the 'Fitness' world, these same cravings for certainty occur.  What will make me lose weight?  How will I get fitter, stronger, faster etc? What is the best form of Yoga?  Is Pilates better at strengthening my core?

I hear these questions being raised all the time, and yes there are answers to those questions, and yes there is research carried out that can substantially back up the answers which are given, but.....there is also a huge amount of variables, every individual will differ.  Adaptations to programming will differ from person to person, physical and psychological approaches will differ from person to person.  We are all different and it is all random...How well you can cope with one strategy is based on a system of trial and error.  

Research and findings can be best used to create methods following best practices to date and following specific principles.

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”- Ralph Emerson

In movement for example there are a number of widely acknowledged principles that govern human movement.  Dr. Even Osar states that if we follow these principles, if we ask questions with them in mind, we can begin to practice what is ideal and optimal in motion.

In we focus on principles and keep them in mind, the method we choose to learn them, the method through which we move our bodies, the method through which we gain a greater understanding does not really matter.  The method is completely unique to you, your personality, your lifestyle, your passions and what inspires you.

So what does all this mean to you?

You may feel stressed, or have an injury, or have pain in your body, or have many questions as to how you can become a better athlete.  The first thing to acknowledge is there is no magic pill for everyone.  

The latest fad is the latest fad because we want to believe it.  We want to believe it so much that we pay for it, we convince our friends, we preach to convert the masses.

We all want to know what works and there is no harm in that, it creates a life long journey of learning, of exploring and experiencing.  What is important to remember is the presence of constant change, of constant variables and constant surprises!

In my own body and my own life, I am always learning.  Last year my body experienced its first injury that Ive ever had (lucky me!) and I have been on a journey of questioning, learning, rehab, movement and fascination ever since.  I definitely started out wanting to know specifics and definitive answers and experienced at times frustration when they did not really exist.  I have learnt for sure that all I can do is continue with designed programmes, continue with rehab and combine that with all my knowledge of movement to continue to create awareness and alleviate any reoccurrence or further issues. 

In your life, the relationship you have with your body is life long, the questions you have will change, the experience you wish to have will also change.  What works at one time will not be a given forever.  What is important is that you cultivate a positive relationship, that you experience your body in enjoyable, nurturing and sustainable ways.  How you choose to do that is always entirely up to you.  

If we can acknowledge the randomness, if we can free ourselves from the constant quest for what is right or wrong or what creates success or failure and concentrate soley on the process of feeling, of experiencing, of observing, of listening to our own breath, we can free ourselves from the trap of self expectation, of results chasing and become more present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choice

We find ourselves towards the end of January,  a great time, well it can only start getting better! Spring is on its way!

My last two blog posts to begin this year, have been on the concepts of Intention and Commitment.  Bringing yourself into 2015 and creating a strong vision, then creating actions and sticking to them to fulfil your vision.

I posted a video on Facebook about daring to dream last week which encompasses these ideas well. Considering how to really remind ourselves why we are doing what we are doing and what it is we would like to achieve.

Todays blog is then with regard to Choice…..

With all our intention and all our commitment, we are often faced with choices.  How do we choose???

Then, there are all those occasions where you think you have no choice…..I would go so far as to say You always have a choice.  If a family member is sick and you need to be there for them, you are still choosing, if you have a deadline in work that needs to be done, you are still choosing.  You are always making a choice!  There may be things you would rather do, or would find more enjoyable but in light of the factors taken into consideration and after weighing things up, you will have made a choice.

There is always a CHOICE.

Acknowledging this not only creates a sense of empowerment but more importantly I feel it creates Freedom.

Why is this sense of freedom important?  It is important because in the space of feeling freedom, you have space to choose what serves you best, you have space to be your best self, you have space to acknowledge the person you are and aspire to be.  In this space, you can find that even when you think there is no choice or there are only two opposites, that there may be an array of options, there may be choices you didn't even know existed or had not considered.

I recently watched the movie Wild, in this movie there is a constant referral to the theme of choice and self empowerment.  The lead character at a point is regretting many of the choices she has made and when she meets a man on her travels she asks if he would change things he has done or if he has regrets (video below at 1.29).  But to him, he didn’t have a choice. “Never been a time in my life when there’s been a fork in my road,” he says.  It seems to him that by feeling like he had no choice, he in reflecting can have no regrets.  However in this way, one would sort of live never knowing what could have been, never feeling their own strength, never feeling like the steps taken can be chosen and paved from your choices.

Sometimes we don't want to make choices because we are afraid of making the wrong ones.  Sometimes the fear of an unwanted result or outcome or the unknown prevents us from taking the lead in the choice making.  In wanting to stay safe as such, we avoid choices or acknowledging choices.

But…by taking a back seat, by being the passenger in choices as opposed to the driver, we risk never seeing or feeling our true potential.  We risk never truly knowing ourselves. Even our perceived ‘bad’ choices provide us with valuable lessons and maybe even more life learning than our perceived ‘good’ choices. 

Sometimes we have become so used to others making choices or being told which choice to make that we have forgotten how to decide for ourselves.

All choices are your own, OWN them, own yourself, learn from everything. 

As always, challenge yourself and grow…….

In moving forward into this year, create your vision, make your choices and Commit!

 

Intention

So how are you doing so far this January?  According to the media, yesterday was to have been our toughest Monday of the year-so you survived that!

In my last blog post I wrote about Commitment and the idea of staying true to your goals/intentions.

So today looking a bit more at Intention and what this means for you.

In my classes I speak a lot about creating the right intention but how do you know what the right intention is?

When you do take time to connect to yourself, to breathe, to sit, to let go of all the thoughts and distractions, you will find a space is created.  In that space and in those moments, there is an opportunity to feel, to be present rather than to think.

How often do we really feel? How often do we really connect to our hearts desire?  When you feel a fire light inside, an excitement, even a nervousness at the prospect of a new idea, a new challenge.

So often we wrap ourselves up in all the 'should's', the 'have to's', 'need to's', we see all the practicalities in our lives, the expectations of others, our image.  Pressure to excel in our careers, our sports, to perform or live in a certain way can create so many thoughts and cloud our sense of ourselves and connection to our true intention.

So when sitting in that space, in that time to yourself, pick an intention that excites you, that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.  Sometimes the action of going for that run, or avoiding that piece of cake can feel like a chore BUT if each action is so infused with your intention, you begin to live everyday in such a way that you do not even think about it anymore, you feel natural, you complete all your actions in tune with yourself and what serves you best.

If we create pressure around intentions, if we feel we are forcing, there will be a breaking point.  If however, we take the time to feel our intention, to understand why it is we want to complete certain actions, then they will become your entire way of behaving and being.

Intention is about reshifting your entire understanding and connection to yourself, about knowing how certain habits to date may have been unconsciously carried out over long periods of time but that with your intention and attention to your actions, you have infinite potential to redesign the way you move through life.

Commitment

'Books are infinite in number, and time is short, therefore the secret of knowledge is to take what is essential.  Take that and try to live up to it.' - Swami Vivekananda

As we finally emerge out of the Christmas/New Years Haze, we can step into January, take time to reflect and emerge with clarity and purpose.  

In our lives there is a time for everything.  After a few weeks of perhaps a little less discipline, a lot more socialising etc., it is now a good time to take some time to yourself and take stock.

If you are looking at specific ideas or goals you have at this time of year, one thing that is key is Commitment!

In times of commitment, of dedication to a specific goal there may be sacrifices, there may be a lot of other things you have to say No to.  It may feel difficult, it may feel like its not really worth it, it may feel like you are the only one on your road when you look at friends/peers etc.......BUT with that sacrifice, with that focus, comes a sense of purpose.  With the direction of your focus and energy, you can through commitment open up spaces to learn a lot about yourself.

If we dip in and out of this or that, there may be short term enjoyment or pleasure but it is in the 'staying', it is in the moments of doubt and the moments that it feels tough that we can really learn.  Those moments are where the 'Gold' is!

'At some point it is recommended to get in one boat if you really want to get to the other shore.' - Cyndi Lee

Commitment does not have to just mean to a specific goal/target and aiming ourselves there blindly.  It does not have to mean rigidity and focusing solely on one outcome. Think of your commitment as choosing a path, a way to travel regardless of the destination.  A way to consistently tune in and listen to your body, your mind and to hear and connect to your needs and desires.

2014 for me did not exactly go according to my original plan!  Following a niggling shoulder issue, I made the decision to take a break from my climbing training and to postpone an end of year climbing trip.  A break from training can seem daunting at first, can seem inconceivable to one's routine and sense of being.  A break can seem like a 'weakness' or drop in commitment or effort, however, by taking breaks, by letting go in the name of overall progression, longevity and sustainability of a pursuit, an ultimate commitment is made.  Committing to a lifetime of an activity/pursuit, rather than short term gains or enjoyment.

This bigger picture perspective can show its head in many aspects of our lives.  If we enable ourselves to see the overall aim/goal, we enable ourselves to have much greater freedom in our paths, rather than restriction.  Commitment to these alterations/adaptations/surprises in your plans will allow you to create much more flexibility in your mind to potential, to possibilities and open up to an array of opportunities you may not have originally perceived.

In this New Year, it can feel like there are so many ideas, special offers, information being thrown at you.  A lot of these short term goals, of chopping and changing can just create more distraction to distance you from yourself.  It is important to connect to yourself, decide what you and you alone wish to commit to.  Make a decision to truly commit, regardless of all the reasons not to, of all the reasons it may feel difficult.  It is when we commit we can really see all the ways we hide from ourselves, we can get sneaky and be dishonest!  When you truly see this and open up to it, you have the power to let those habits go and embrace a more positive and open way of being.

Commitment creates mental strength.  In your challenge you will grow, you will open up and in those moments of truth, any doubt, any fears will disappear and you will find Bliss.

Happy New Year and in 2015 I wish you every health and happiness, to find your path and commit., Naomi***

Training, your body and taking a step back

Approaching the end of the year I find myself at that sort of reflective ‘How has my year gone’ phase and ‘How am I moving forward?’

As I have been climbing for the last 10 years, everything usually revolves around that!  Training, planning and going on trips, thinking of the next adventure or goal.

However, when I sat down a couple of weeks ago thinking about training and climbing, I knew something had been niggling at me for a while.  I knew deep down that I needed a break, that my constant training and planning needed to be put aside for a while.  I’ve had a little shoulder issue for a couple of months now and it is time to get on the path to mending it.  After slightly ignoring it and hoping it would get better with some attention and all of my regular training, I've finally realised that it will take dedicated attention and that means time off climbing and off training.

But it’s not always easy to know when to back off from training and what we are used to.

For everyone there can be a lot of pressure out there to TRAIN HARD! To work out, to look good, to perform better.

It is hard to take a step back out of this pressure to BEING BETTER.

Golden Rule!

Its important to know when training, or participating in your sports/hobbies that sometimes things are not very linear.  We all want to believe that the answer is train, get strong, train, get better, train and then bingo! your goals are achieved, success and move on!

But what starts to happen when the next goal doesn't seem to be within your grasp, when it seems like you are not getting stronger, when it seems like there is no progression.

Mostly there are a number for reasons for this happening but what we tend to do is answer this problem with ‘oh I should probably just train harder, or more often, or just keep doing what Im doing and hope I still get better’!

It may seem obvious but the above approach will not help and you probably don't even know when you are the one doing that.

Progression can be stinted as I said for a number of reasons and the only way to really figure out what it is for you, is to take a step back, to review your goals, what it is you actually would like to be doing and formulate an idea of how to go about it and the potential factors that need to be worked on to get you there.

When I took my recent step back, I realised I've been wanting to figure out some things about my shoulders for a while now.  I want to build on some obvious weaknesses, I want to increase mobility and improve my overall core strength.  I want to do all this not only to benefit activities like climbing or my practice in Yoga but so that I can enjoy moving in my body better, pain free and confidently.  Taking a long term perspective on your body, your health and your overall goals can really hep to take the immediate pressure off of needing to ‘perform’!

These revelations can only come through taking that step back and asking yourself what are you trying to achieve.

Finding Your Purpose in Training/Sports etc

Try imagining this yourself:

Every time you train, you are working towards something bigger; think about what this is for you.

It might be that when you reach a certain age you still want to be able to perform a particular skill, for example, a cartwheel; or if you have children you want to have the energy to play with them. Whatever it is, use it as a way of putting your physical health and your training into perspective.

Be in the moment each time you train, remaining mindful of your reasons why and what you want for your future.

Mostly I would say that if you keep perspective you will stay true to your own values, for me I find that I am motivated most to enjoy myself, to enjoy my body, to feel freedom and any 'pressure' beyond that creates tension and restriction.  

Allowing Movement to Free You, Rather Than Restrict You

There is a much bigger picture, but only if we want to see it.  Movement should allow you to free yourself from fear, doubt, pain, allow you to feel strong, confident, energised…the list goes on.

Rather than getting stuck on the path of pushing to perform or restricted by our ego’s pushing us to the limits in this attempt to be better.

We can all get too caught up with how we think we should be and what we think we should want or what other expect of us.

Every time you train it’s not just about right now – it’s also an investment in your future and for your health. 

I know I don’t want to train excessively for the next ten years only to end up with an injury that forces me to slow down or worse, stop altogether. I also don’t want to close myself off to other opportunities I might come across in my life.

What it Means to Find Balance

To be balanced means relinquishing some of the “control” that we hold onto and think we have, but that actually controls us.

It means letting things go to make space for something else or someone else in your life.

It’s being given that permission, from either yourself or someone else, to expand your tunnel vision and see everything outside of the focus you have solely on your training. Look left, you see adventure, look right, there may be opportunities for fun, excitement, time with friends, family etc.  Stepping back from the training routine may open up a whole new way of looking at things for you.

I know for me now that I am changing my routine a little, at first this was a bit daunting and I felt pressure to still train and climb, but now I feel like I can enjoy a whole range of other things and get excited at being a beginner in activities again.  I know that in the long run when I return to climbing I will feel better for having taken an holistic long term approach.

Get What You Really Want Out of Life

Whatever age we are it’s so important to take care of our bodies. We want to be strong and healthy to be there for the people who need us, but we have to start with being there for ourselves.

 

It’s about finding balance and staying aware of what we are experiencing with our training and with life.

Sometimes we need that reminder from someone else to slow down, or think about how what we are doing will effect us in the long run.  It is better ultimately to make this choice and feel empowered rather than having an injury or burn out force us into decisions.

Movement makes our quality of life better if we respect and take care of our bodies.

When I climb or practice yoga, I’m constantly looking to find balance, and it’s the same with the rest of my life as well.

I’m looking for balance and trying to take things a little less seriously, so I can enjoy my life with the freedom I have to move in my body.