New Years Resolutions-Getting to know yourself....

This week as we approach the end of the calendar year and the beginning of a New 2016, we are granted with an amazing opportunity to connect, reflect and look forward.

This concept of connecting is in the sense of 'self connecting'-taking time between the Christmas period and before you go into the New Year and regular routine again to switch off your computer, switch off your phone and taking time to yourself.  It might sound a little alien if you have a lot on or people to be around but even taking an hour can be extremely beneficial.  

Between the hustle and bustle and comings and goings of family and friends or even if you have spent some time alone,  you can now give yourself the gift of quality time, of consciously choosing to mark out some time for yourself.  Being online or around others is great, sharing and discussing is definitely beneficial but there needs to be value in your 'me' time, in its importance.  

Around this time of year as I mentioned you have a great opportunity to connect, recalibrate and align with your values, to set goals and targets and plans to reach them.  (To be honest doing this many times a year is super important!)  In this process, you can ask yourself what works, what is not working, you can be completely honest on what your strengths are and where you need to work a little more or need more skills or support.  

What can be difficult at this time of year in particular are all the voices!  There will be online and around you an onslaught of ideas/options/offers for the next greatest thing that will make you feel more amazing and love your life and achieve happiness.  The rest of society and the people around you are all talking about goals and plans, and this can be helpful but when overloaded it can get confusing, overwhelming and you can end up feeling burnt out and lack the energy and enthusiasm to even plan tomorrow!

So over the next few days make an effort to sit, to switch off your devices, to reflect, to meditate and to tune in.  Become aware of the concept that you have everything you already need.  That you have the strength and courage and ability to be the best version of yourself daily.  That you have the knowledge to serve your needs and those around you.  That you know what to do and even though thoughts and ego may often tell you how hard it is or impossible a task-you know how to reach your true potential.  You have all this in spades-it is just about checking in and remembering.  

This is truly the spiritual journey-'How can I be the best version of myself and how can I best serve others?'

Forget all the hype, the fads, the opinions, the talk, that will always be there in different voices and volumes.

Once you check in, once you connect to yourself and get to know yourself, you will most definitely feel more open to listening to others too, you will realise skills that you can work on and traits that others have that you can benefit from.  

Meditation


Find an upright posture for your spine and where legs are crossed and comfortable.  Set your timer for 15-20 minutes.

You can have your eyes open or closed.  Begin with a body scan, from your toes all the way around the body, observe completely how everything is feeling.  Then notice your thoughts, what is coming in and out.  Then notice your emotions, what is present?  Then turn your awareness to your breath, observing and feeling your inhale and exhale, not changing, not judging, just becoming observant.  

As you notice thoughts or become distracted bring your awareness back to your breath.  Let your breath be your anchor point for your awareness.  Each time you notice a thought or become distracted, smile and bring lightness to your observation, remind yourself with ease to re focus back on your breath.

Remain like this for the entire duration of the Meditation.  If it feels hard, persevere.

 

Reflective Journalling


In your reflections this week you are really paying attention to your needs, wants, desires and goals.  You are unique and you will have a unique set of needs to serve.  It is up to you to pave the way towards your own happiness from inside first-ultimately you know best.

Thinking of new beginnings and the start of the New Year consider the following questions and write on each, set your timer for 5 minutes for each question so you can really reflect and take time to consider them.......

**Goals: Align yourself with the concept of your true values and purpose in life regardless of the outcomes what do you want to do?

**Goals do not have to be huge external achievements, you may have a goal to be more loving, or patient for example.


-When stripped down from 5 to 3 to 1, what are your main goals going forward with the last 1 being the most important to you.

-What are your reasons for choosing the goals above?

- What tendencies do you already have that will help you achieve your goals?  What positive influences from your environment or those around you will support your goals?

-What tendencies do you have that may hinder your progress towards your goals?

-What influences from your environment or those around you may hinder your progress or may be of negative impact?

- In any of your goals and the considerations above, can you recognise how to enhance your beneficial qualities and let go of your 'un-beneficial' tendencies?  What could work for you going forwards?  

-What do you need from your environment, from yourself and those around you to keep you connected and on track to what you want most in life? 

**Remember: Learning occurs in optimal discomfort-in anything you wish to achieve for the year ahead, embrace a sense of discomfort and rise to the challenge as you learn and grow and combat perceived limitations and barriers.  If something doesn't work, adapt and change and repeat the process above.

On this journey you have undertaken you may have felt already or begin to feel a connection to something deeper within yourself.  Beyond your body and your mind there is a space.  In all our lives we must strike the balance of serving the needs of our bodies, of enjoying all our bodies can do and achieve, likewise with our thoughts and our minds-asking ourselves 'what do I need and what can I let go of?'.  Once served, once in harmony, you can connect to this space, beyond body and mind, to a sense of flow, peace and true joy.  It is certainly not easy, and we are all walking a tight rope keeping balance.  The principles are simple however, and possible!  
 

Your journey to Intelligence-start with your body!

'It is difficult to speak of bodily intelligence in words.  It is much easier to experience it, to discover what it feels like.' Iyengar

Over last weekend I took part in 4 workshops in Dublin with an International Yoga teacher Dylan Werner.  I really enjoyed the weekend, I loved being a student, I loved meeting old and new faces, I loved being in the atmosphere of learning and of course moving!  

I took a lot from the weekend and enjoyed the perspective the teacher spun on a few topics and certain aspects of Yoga.

As I practice a lot of my Yoga on my own, its always nice to get some inspiration and motivation from watching others and getting fired up to try new variations and fun movements.  This is where my own intelligence of my abilities comes in and my own understanding of everything I have learnt to date.

This issue of intelligence came up a few times over the weekend, and the idea of using our own intelligence and discernment to discover what is right for ourselves.  Am I moving this way because it is good for me?  Do I have to do it this way just because someone said to?  Am I doing it this way because its a habit?  Am I doing it this way because its the only way I know?

In any community/group we are part of, it is absolutely up to each individual to take on their own journey of learning.  It is you who will have to feel your joints when they ache you will have to rehab an injury, you will feel how good it feels to be mobile and pain free.  You will feel the benefits to your body and mind if you move in the ways that serve you best.

Your physical journey is yours to take ownership of.  

I've been around the block enough and I have been part of enough teams/groups/communities to know that trends/fads/beliefs can be made by all of us.  I have friends who may not believe in the greatness Yoga can offer us because they have seem how it can cause problems physically in the ways certain methods and practices are being taught or understood.  But.....this is where we must look at ourselves as individuals.  It is not Yoga that is wrong, as much as it is not running's fault if someone pulls their hamstring or gets plantar fasciitis.  

 

It is not what you do but how you do it.

I obviously agree that we are affected by those around us and take on traits of the groups that we are part of but we must as a responsibility to ourselves and our health begin to use intelligence and discernment.  This physical body and all the conundrums it presents us with, all the perceived limitations, the break throughs, the disappointments and the successes- its our tool for managing ourselves, becoming more familiar, more fascinated, more accepting, respectful, more compassionate.

It really does not matter what method you choose to move or learn but that you empower yourself, that you become responsible, that you question what is presented to you, that you take what works and you let go of what doesn't.  In that way we can all become individuals within communities that can be strong on our own and then support and enjoy the company of those around us.

There is no right or wrong with any specific community or way of moving.  Certain things will click with you, will make you want more and others will not.  The strength of any community will depend on the validity and utilisation of its methods, it will depend on the questioning and awareness of each of its individuals.

Yes we must find good teachers and good coaches, but we must ask ourselves are we ready to be good students? Are we ready to develop our own intelligence?

Physical Homework!

If you practice Yoga or not here are some things that I noticed at the weekend that serve as an interesting homework project.....

-Can you move quietly? If you are in downward dog for example, can you step your foot forwards without a sound?  Can you step from standing into a lunge without a sound?

-Can you stand up without using your hands?

-Can you move into and out of a posture like Hanumanasana (splits) with control?

-Can you move from a posture like Pigeon pose from one side to the other without using your hands?

These issues are worth exploring in your own body.....where are the limitations, where does it feel good etc........The importance of the answers feels like it warrants another blog!

Are you "getting" older or "growing" older?

As I'm celebrating another wonderful year of life, I'm reflecting on how I'm using these years best and what wisdom I am gaining and how I feel about different aspects of my life.

What does it mean to you to grow older? Are you gaining wisdom? Are you learning lessons? Are you making smarter choices and decisions?  Do you feel content and happy, and are you contributing to others happiness and contentment?

or........

Are there places/parts of your life where you feel stuck or in a fixed mindset??  Changing your mindset to a growth mindset allows new opportunities and possibilities to happen.  You will feel happier and more productive.  

Think about this, if stuff in your life feels like it sucks or it is not the best way you would like it to be, how can either that be changed or your perspective of it so you start to feel good.

You are in charge, as you 'grow' older, its about taking ownership, about standing up for yourself and not settling for less!

Whether it is in your work or your sports, or in your relationships or your lifestyle, a few simple changes can help give you a new perspective and greater chances for success and fulfilment.

Offer words of appreciation. Let people know how much you value them.  Your performance and happiness will increase in direct proportion to the appreciation that you show others. 

Choose to see opportunity. The next time you are faced with an obstacle, flip it around and consider it an opportunity. Face the challenge with optimism.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly problems dissolve and how soon optimism becomes your default mechanism.

Remind yourself that there is more than enough. There is enough pie to go around, so break that nasty habit of comparing yourself to others. Repeat everyday!: There is plenty for everyone. Say the sentence often enough, and it’ll become second nature.

Carefully select the company you keep. Mindsets are contagious. Think about it!

Spend time in reflection. Learn to acknowledge and appreciate all the positives in your life and work. Gratitude is a powerful aspect of an abundant mindset. A grateful heart is at the center of an abundant life. In his book, Life, the Truth, and Being Free, coach and speaker Steve Maraboli comments that, “Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.”

Give more of what you want. Although it may sound counterintuitive, one of the best ways to increase your abundance is to give. Don’t feel like you have enough time? Slip away from your obligations, even if just for an hour, to help someone in need. Don’t feel like you have enough money? Give to someone less fortunate. In other words, be a river, not a reservoir. Giving is sure to put you in a more abundant and appreciative frame of mind.

A few little changes can take you from 'getting' older to 'growing' older and theres a world of difference there about how you feel about life***