Posts tagged self development
Why I'm not a vegan activist... and the approach I take instead.

I saw this picture post shared by the Veganuary team on Facebook earlier today. I went to automatically click the 'share' button, but as my finger hovered over the keyboard I took a moment to reflect on what it meant to me.

I knew there was a deeper story there waiting to be explored.

I cast my mind back in time to 2011 and relived those emotions. These were the words that flowed out of my mind into the text space.

Then I pressed 'share'.  

P.s if you want to read more about my transition to veganism, you'll enjoy this mini story!

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I never try to push veganism on people (if I find myself getting too vocally passionate I consciously tone it down!)

That is not because I am not passionate about a plant-based way of living and minimising harm to the environment around us BUT because I know that before I made the switch back in 2011 my ex-boyfriend tried to force his ethical views upon me and it did not work.

It created so many negative feelings of resistance, frustration, rebellion and denial within me compared with the mindset of curiously learning and feeling inspired to change through observing his actions alone and sharing information when asked.

It shut me down instead of opening me up to possibility and change.

I can still feel that resistance and disconnect inside me now when faced with the black and white 'militant vegan' approach. I fear it overwhelms those who are curious to explore more.

We are all on a journey, none of us are perfect and we've all been there at the very beginning. (No judgment on those activists who follow this more approach, if it works for you great, it just doesn't vibe with me personally).

Still, the seed had been planted and I found my own path to plant-based living, via nutritional education and then found the ethical side crept up on me slowly over time.

That is my hope for Including Cake and my work as a coach, to simply inspire people in their own journey of discovery wherever it may lead. No pressure, no judgement, just a willingness to open your mind beyond the conditioning of society. Questioning why we do the things we do and no longer accepting 'because that's just what I have always done' as a valid answer.

BUT... i'll be totally honest, when someone messages me to tell me they've become a 'week day vegan' or have permanently switched out dairy for plant milks, or are consciously evaluating all their nutritional and lifestyle choices... through being inspired by how I show up in the world, I can't help but feel so full of love, happiness and hope inside!

It's not just about saving the world, it's taking the steps to saving yourself and stepping away from the expectations of society.

We can all make so much more difference than we realise.

It may sound cheesy (pun intended!) but it's true, it really is all I want for Christmas!

Take on the Veganuary challenge and give plant-based living a try for 31 days in January and see what shifts for you. This is the perfect introduction without feeling the overwhelm of 'infinity' and also a supportive playground to get creative and explore alongside so many others feeling the same way. I guarantee you'll discover so much more abut yourself than you would have ever imagined.

I'd love to hear your stories... if you are already vegan what most helped you make that transition. What educational approach worked for you? Or, where are you at in your journey and where would you like to be?

P.s reach out to me if you want some support and let's have an open conversation!

With much love on your journey,

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The powerful truths about travel

I recently became a 'traveller'. After spending my 20’s too scared to get on a plane on my own, by the time my early 30’s came around curiosity had got the better of me and I took my first solo trip abroad. It was hugely daunting but ultimately a profound and pivotal moment in my own journey of personal discovery. 

Then last year my New Years intention was to create a year of 'experiences' and what then unfolded was a year of travelling, of culture, of embracing the tiny everyday details of life with fresh eyes.

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My entire experience of life changed profoundly, my comfort zone was blown wide open and my personal growth skyrocketed.

Over the last 12 months or so I have spent time with the Merkaba Community in Portugal, the ISKON community in Spain, the Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre Buddhist community in York and the Osho Leela Community in Dorset. Each time it has offered me a beautiful insight into alternative perspectives, routines and norms and in many cases really challenged my thinking. 

Living the lives of other communities teaches me so much and allows me to observe my own day-to-day world more powerfully than the nature of travelling on trips and holidays and observing from the peripheries.

Understanding that their way of being is not 'temporary' and that this is what real life is like, makes it all the more real for me. Going back to my 'normal' reminds me that the small (I admit sometimes frustrating) details of everyday life- however permanent, essential, ingrained and routine they may appear, are all within our control to change and shift. Nothing is permanent. The way we live our lives is for the most part based upon nothing more than a series of habits and social conditioning that we always have the choice to step into or away from. 

In moments of frustration at myself, at society, at the rut I may feel stuck in, at the 'shoulds' in my decision making... remembering this is all a choice for everyone of us in each and every moment is both an incredibly powerful and humbling reminder. 

As I began to create this blog post in my mind, I decided to reach out to other professionals in the world of self development, to understand how travelling and time spent with other communities and cultures had also enriched their lives and how their own personal development had evolved more deeply as a result.

What quickly became apparent and intriguing is the patterns that began to show...embracing the unknown, the subtle appreciation of another's culture, a shift in viewpoint, inner trust, a guiding intuition... These fundamental gifts found here through travel can be universal to us all, gifts that money cannot buy and that age, race and gender don't touch.

I'd love to share their beautiful stories with you...

 

Kama Frankling - Photograher

Travel Removes The Blindfold of My Mind. Travel opens my eyes to what is possible. While travelling I am reminded of how confident and capable I am when I need to be. Each moment is unpredictable and unfolds as it unfolds. While travelling I lose the false perception that I have control. There is no choice but to be with what arises as it arises. Travel keeps me in the present moment reminding me that life is only in each moment. Travel reminds me that everything is changing constantly, that each moment in life is precious and to be savoured. Travel gives me fresh eyes to see the world as if seeing it for the first time. Travel is the perfect awareness practice, moments in time so appreciated that they awaken the senses and remind me to live each day without the blinkers of my mind.

www.hatehavingmyphototaken.com  |   facebook.com/Hatehavingmyphototaken

 

Fiona Cooper - Motivational Life Coach

Living and working all over the world has been a privilege which I’m becoming ever more grateful to have had. I have lived in a generation where freedoms were real and where nearly all of the world was open to us. Many of my friends travelled to Kashmir and Afghanistan before they were closed and I have lived and worked in all continents apart from Africa. Being a motivational life coach, I’m fascinated by the way we use language to define ourselves and to create our reality.  Living overseas it has become more and more evident that every nation uses language differently and the words we use are key to how we live our lives and see ourselves. 

In France “bon appetit” is at the beginning of every meal and food is central in the language and culture. In Canada and North America (for the most part), sarcasm and irony are not understood (making our British sense of humour completely lost on most people) – but this leaves an honesty we are perhaps lacking sometimes in the UK – in the States you know where you stand.  New Zealand has a “can do” attitude which I haven’t seen matched elsewhere in the world – they have a phrase “the No 8 wire” which basically means you can fix anything with the right attitude.  Knowing and understanding these nuanced differences has made me all the more aware of our individual differences and the importance we should put on the actual words we choose to express ourselves particularly when we’re using words to define ourselves (something we do the whole time).  What words are you using to define your world?  Are there any words you might want to change?

Fiona Cooper is a Motivational Life Coach helping busy parents build the life of their dreams.  Her website is ficooper.com and she has a group on facebook called Dream Weave Achievers.

 

Kat Gal - Holistic Life Coach & Health Writer

To me the ultimate act of self-love is freedom: allowing myself to experience freedom, allowing myself the freedom to be my true self, the freedom to follow my heart and my intuition, the freedom to follow my dreams, the freedom to walk my own journey, the freedom to change direction whenever I want to or need to, the freedom to be present moment, the freedom to let go of all expectations, the freedom to let go of comparisons, the freedom to be vulnerable and authentic, the freedom to trust the process, the freedom to take risks, the freedom to feel alive, the freedom to be free, and the freedom to just simply be. Freedom has always been one of my highest values, and as a nomad I have valued my freedom for years. Self-love was something I had to learn and develop as an adult, and I am still learning every single day. When I realized that freedom and self-love ultimately meant the same thing for me, it was a life-changing a ‘aha’ moment.

Traveling allows me to practice freedom and self-love. Being at a new place, especially when traveling solo, I arrive with a clean slate with a childlike curiosity, with the opportunity to discover the world and in the process get to know myself. Returning to a familiar place - perhaps home or a place I know well – or being with familiar people allows me to practice this same freedom and self-love in an environment where society (and my past self) has already hung multitudes of labels on me. My travel experiences help this process greatly. Besides travel, ecstatic dance, writing, running, nature walk and family constellations are the most helpful tools to experience freedom and self-love as result.

facebook.com/arawtransformation  |   website: https://becomeahealthcoachblog.wordpress.com  |  Freelance writing: http://katgalwriting.weebly.com

 

Shelly Najjar - Bucket list and travel blogger

I am bolder because of my travel experience. Much of my fear comes from The Unknown, in life or when traveling... and there are plenty of unknowns in travel. It’s probably good that my first introduction to it was when I was very small, before I knew to be afraid. We continued traveling as a family as I was growing up. It showed me that traveling was safe and that The Unknown holds great opportunity. From my parents’ example, I learned how to be flexible and to deal with situations as they come up. At home, I’m not what anyone would consider a flexible person, and that’s often because I’m trying to control everything. However, when I travel, I can be my “travel self”: the person who approaches challenging situations with the mindset of “That’s just part of traveling. I can figure this out.” I’m finding that the more I travel (both independently, and with friends), the more my “travel self” is becoming my “home self” - I’m more flexible and less afraid, and I have the grace and confidence to face the things that make me nervous.

www.thegoallist.com   |   facebook.com/thegoallist   |   IG: @thegoallist   |   TW: @goallisttweets

 

Francesca Gentille - Certified Clinical Sexologist

I used to think I would travel when I had more time, money, health, lost weight, or the right partner. At 55, I was done waiting. I made a commitment to myself to do it. I bought a roundtrip ticket to Italy for 5 weeks. Now at 60, walking with a cane, waiting for a hip replacement I'm still rockin traveling, teaching, & enjoying my friends in Italy & Malta.  Traveling has taught me that when I can combine vision and action, I can do anything. “Until one is committed, there is  hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too." Goethe.

www.francescagentille.com   |    www.facebook.com/francesca.gentille   |   @Francescadiva

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Silvia Martin - Breakup Coach

Wherever you go, there you are. Traveling makes you expand that comfort zone. It exposes you to all types of situations, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. We travel to learn, we travel for an adventure. We also travel, in many cases, to escape. We think that, maybe, under a different weather, a different language, different foods… we will be able to leave “that” behind once and for all. It hardly ever happens this way. 

Traveling has the capacity to expose us to exactly what we don’t want to face. It’s nearly ironic how we always end up having to face the very own fears we are trying to run away from. It is as if life was saying to us “look darling, I am not going to leave you alone until you are able to overcome it!” 

Being able to get through “that” thing we are running from is, in my opinion, the biggest benefit of traveling. Once you are done, you are ready to board towards your next destination. 

www.shizencoaching.com   |   IG: @shizencoaching   |   FB: facebook.com/shizencoaching   |    TW: @shizenduende

 

Ann Skinner - Coach and Creator of The Contributionist

One thing that travel has taught me is that if you want to go, just go. 25 years ago I decided I wanted to go backpacking but I had next to no money to my name. Still, I picked a date and got enough money to buy a ticket and to see me through the first month. I ended up travelling in some form or another for the next 18 months. It taught me a valuable lesson that has been proven time and time again; there is no need to plan and schedule beyond the basics as the best experiences have nearly always been the unplanned, unforeseen ones.

Travel has taught me to jump in the deep end and trust my gut and to be ready to expect nothing but the unexpected. You don't have to have it all figured out before you leave, nor do you need to have a whole load of cash in order to live a champagne and oyster lifestyle! In fact, the best currency in the world has been my smile, which I found has been freely available to me on most days.

My smile has given me more than money could ever buy and was the catalyst for many of my adventures and the start of numerous short- and longterm friendships, including a very generous champagne loving oyster farmer who kept me and my partner happily fed and watered for 6 weeks without needing anything in return beyond the pleasure of our company.

www.thecontributionevolution.com   |   FB:facebook.com/thecontributionist  |   FB group: thecontributionevolution   |   IG: @thecontributionist  |   TW: @Contributionist

 

Tess Vergara - Money and Fulfillment Coach

Recently, a client shared that one obstacle that keeps him from moving forward with his business was not having a decent place where he can conduct client meetings. He realizes this is keeping him stuck as he needs to see clients in order to get out of the place he is in right now.

I smiled and shared how for the past 2 years I'd been living a digital nomad lifestyle. My clients still love me even when I show up with no make-up, wind-blown hair wearing beach wear instead of one might expect from a business coach.

I make no apologies for coaching right on the beach with the crashing of the waves in the background.

I also shared with my client one story where, while in Santorini, Greece, I remember feeling so torn to stay in and do client calls from the hotel but at last minute took a huge risk and went with my instinct against my rational mind.

Carried up by a donkey right on the edge of the cliff of Oia, breathless and thirsty after literally crawling in scorching heat, I arrived at the peak just in perfect time to find a quiet spot away from the crowd to where there was a strong phone signal. It was so freeing and exciting to connect with my intuition that way that allowed me to meet my need for adventure as well as deliver on my commitment. A story that emboldened me to follow my path to freedom.

www.openheartmindcoaching.com   |   FB: facebook.com/OpenHeartMindCoaching   |   Unlocking the Heart of Money Facebook Group   |   LinkedIn: @openheartmindcoaching

 

Gloria Coppola -  Lifestyle Consultant Clarity Coach & SoulPurpose Sage

We stand at the gateway and often don't walk through, doubting, fearing or unsure of what is expected if we do! When we make the decision to take the chance, to listen, our lives will forever change and a gateway of wisdom will be shown to you.

Travel has influenced my mindset, my insights and allowed me to explore unknown parts of my self.  One of the most impactful experiences was a trip to Egypt that would forever shift my perception of life....and death!  I Arrived in Egypt approximately two months after the tragic and unexpected death of my spouse while I was still in a deep and dark depression.

I recall standing on the  hotel viranda as the sun set, thinking how did I get here? The pyramids were surreal and I had no idea what I was about to experience.

Had I tapped into the great mystery?

Was I experiencing an altered reality? A dimensional shift?

A subconscious paradigm? A dream? 

Was I walking between two worlds?

Whatever this was, I was able to walk with my ancestors. To hear them guide me with words of wisdom. My loved ones would embrace me and I would be at peace.

Travel elevates me! Inspires me! Teaches me and taps into my soul more deeply than any book or workshop ~ It's a living history, an envelopment of spirit beyond words ~ it is transcending.

www.GloriaCoppola.com/blog   |   FB: facebook.com/soulFULLpurpose


Let us know what comes up for you as you read these stories and reflect on your own. Have you travelled or would you like to?  

Can you relate to the experiences of your own life adventures even if you haven't travelled... sometimes the biggest adventures of our lives are to be found in our own cities, neighbourhoods, homes and hearts.

Much love,

 

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THE COMMUNITY OF THE 'MYSTIC HEART'...

I was priviledged to spend the May bank holiday weekend 'working' at Osho Leela, Dorset for the Mystic Heart Festival along with some wonderful friends. My work simply consisted of building and tending the fire for the spiritual firewalk on Saturday night so there was plenty of time to relax and take in the setting for the three days. 

Wow, what an experience and another huge step in mind expansion. This festival was an observation of community living as i'd never seen it before...

Over the last 12 months I have spent time with the Merkaba Community in Portugal, the ISKON community in Spain, the Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre Buddhist community in York and now the Osho Leela Community in Dorset. Each time it has offered me a beautiful insight into alternative perspectives, routines and norms and in many cases really challenged my thinking.

To me Osho Leela was a community of pure heart felt love merging with hedonism. Taboos and 'Britishness' were totally broken away in the displays of affection from human to human. The safe space to 'be ourselves' was dramatic and profound as men and woman openly broke down in often loud and noisy acts of emotional outpouring during workshops and sessions 

I have never before been held and hugged by so many strangers multiple times a day, I have never before been greeted upon arrival with a full on dance rave, I have never before taken part in a 'dynamic meditation' early in the morning that was so full on with physical outbursts from others around the room (it involved shouting, screaming and flinging cushions around!) that it brought me to tears of emotional overwhelm.

Living the lives of other communities teaches me so much and allows me to observe my own day-to-day world more powerfully than the nature of travelling on trips and holidays and observing from the peripheries. 

Understanding that their way of being is not 'temporary' and that this is what real life is like, makes it all the more real for me. Going back to my 'normal' reminds me that the small (I admit sometimes frustrating) details of everyday life- however permanent, essential, ingrained and routine they may appear, are all within our control to change and shift. Nothing is permanent. They way we live our lives is for the most part base upon nothing more than a series of habits and social conditioning that we always have the choice to step into or away from.

In moments of frustration at myself, at society, at the rut I may feel stuck in, at the 'shoulds' in my decision making... remembering this is all a choice for everyone of us in each and every moment is both an incredibly powerful and humbling reminder.


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A conversation with 2017...

Good morning 2017.... may I take this chance to welcome you in to my life? Let's sit down with a mug of tea and have a quick chat shall we?

You see, I have big dreams for this year and I guess I just wanna check you're cool with supporting me in that.

Yes, I know I've got to put the work in myself and not just talk the talk, I know I can't just play it safe, and yes I understand your 'lessons' may come in many different guises. Don't worry I hear you. I get it.

I guess I just want you to know that I am ready to give you everything I have. Like no other year gone before. I feel a deep connection with you and just knowing that you have got my back would really, really help, you know?

What's that you say... 'Please don't worry'?   I try not to but it's hard sometimes as everything is so unknown and it's scary to take that leap... Sorry what?  I do accept 'what is', and i'm learning to 'let go of what was', but it's the faith that sometimes gets tough. 

Would you like more tea? No sorry, I wasn't trying to sweeten you up (promise) ;-)

Ahhhh ok so I get it. I get it. You've made your point. 

Wow... this is deep. To be honest I hadn't expected this level of honesty in our first conversation, I only met you a few hours ago after all! 

@@So, you can only give to me by degree of what I am willing to give to you. @@

So, if I trust you 100% then you have got my back 100%.

It's simple?? ...yeah right! 2017 it looks like you're a bit of a character already, but I think I like you. Though I am not sure I could handle you for the longer term.... a year maybe... ha

Ok i'm in dude. I'm glad we had this time together to talk. 

Now, let's go out into the world and do this thing!!

(Oh and please just make sure you put your mug in the dishwasher when you've finished your tea).

 

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I am who I am meant to be...

I found this photo taken of me by accident when scrolling through my client's (also a friend) Lanzarote retreat album from last year... so this was taken almost exactly a year ago today. 

I am not sure what it is about this photo that I love so much. 

Maybe the fact she caught me unaware, or the fact I was in the midst of living my bliss so wholeheartedly, the fact I was surrounded by the energy of the beautiful island and beautiful people, the fact that I look confident and reflective, the fact I am rocking my hippy pants, the fact that I have my beloved camera slung round my neck... or maybe the fact there is a touch of 'Lara Croft' about me, ha ha.

Maybe a bit of everything rolled into one. 

 

“I am me. I’m who I’m meant to be. I am my past, my present and who I want to be. I’m not anyone, I am all three. I am a work in progress, a destiny. I am who I choose to be. I am me.”

 

What photo captured of yourself do you love and why?

 

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YOU are NOT your thoughts.... my journey with overwhelm
 

Over the last year, the 'mindset' side of Including Cake has really come into it's own as an equal to the recipe exploration that was once the only purpose and content of this blog a few years back.  Including Cake is now about so much more then recipes and nutrition... it's a discussion and exploration about mind & body. Learning to become our best selves.

This shines a powerful light on my own journey, and is my space for journalling, often spontaneously, and more deeply understanding and accepting myself whatever I have to offer in that moment. It also comes from a place of pure love and vulnerability. I know there are many more people out there who connect with what I say and I want to share my thoughts not only for my own development but also to reach others and offer a space for love, support and exploration.

I watched this video amidst my morning Facebook scrolling and really connected with it and for so many of you here in my tribe, I know you will identify with the feelings in the video, like I did.

I'll openly admit that whilst I'm very grateful for having never had a full blown panic attack and don't give any specific label to the way I sometimes feel (I also note in writing these words a little voice inside tells me to be cautious not to be seen as a fraud without a 'real' mental illness), I do often wake up with feelings of anxiety bubbling away for absolutely no apparent reason- all the more so since I have been stepping outside of my comfort zone in big ways. At those times, the idea of a simple task like making a phone call or walking down road to post a letter seems irrationally huge and overwhelming.

I also have a tendency of riding adrenaline highs and lows... something I'm working to curb (and actually doing a pretty good job at these last few months) using my tools below. I'll often have a few days or even a number of weeks feeling totally 'high' on life, waking up in the morning with that Christmas Eve feeling of anticipation and having so much energy that I feel like I could run the world. The downside to that feeling is that somewhere along the line it will be followed by a 'crash', where the day is practically written off and my confidence levels drop through the floor.

These days thankfully, it usually only lasts a day before I'm back on a good even keel, whereas previously it dragged out a bit longer. But even just a day at such a confidence low is enough to make a significant impact on progressing my business ventures (cue inner critic 'fraud talk' again) and the extremes can be mentally exhausting and so finding a balance to bring the highs and lows in a notch either end is key for me. I'm on it! 

I think the key for us all along this journey of exploring life to its fullest potential is of course creating a network of positivity and support but also building our own personal 'toolkit' for noticing, catching and dissipating these feelings as they arise. For me, this also now means they don't pop up so frequently in the first place. Some of my personal tools are practicing mindfulness, decluttering, deep belly breathing, writing (often turning into drafts of these posts), yoga, drumming, drinking tea slowly, running/walking outside. 

Sometimes I have to force myself to do one of these things knowing that I'll feel better afterwards, because in the moment the overwhelm is trying to prevent me from taking action as if some kind of weird self-sabotage. Sometimes if these tools don't work so well, it's simply a case of sitting with the thought or feeling without trying to resist, question or understand it and knowing that it will pass all the more quickly if I practice self acceptance in that moment.

These feelings ALWAYS pass. 

Remember YOU are NOT your thoughts.

Know that I am always HERE for you on your journey too. 

Much Love. xx

 

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Yoga Connects!

After 36 hours of digital detox with my phone turned off...

15+ hours of yoga practice 

15 hours of volunteering 

A gong bath

Inspiring talks 

A an epic soul revival dance party 

And a yoga rave

...I return home with a weekend of experiences with some of the most passionate and compassionate people this world has to offer.

I had the privilege of working at the incredible Yoga Connects Festival. Spending time in the company and teaching of some of the yoga greats such as Celeste Periera and Dylan Werner, yet also had the grounding reminder that yoga is not about perfection of the skills to perform gravity defying hand balances.... but an ever evolving inner practice of tuning in your true nature. Of loving yourself in this moment.

Practicing yoga in a group space holds an incredible energy. It intensifies, magnifies and reflects our individual energy. I felt this when I was one of a handful in the sunshine on the bus deck at Merkaba, and I felt this again when I was one of many- sometimes 100+ at the yoga classes this weekend.

I also attended a gong bath, I would have loved to have attended more to go even deeper, but there was so much else I wanted to experience and so it was not to be.  This going bath was a particularly reflective experience for me. I had just finished an intense early morning shift of volunteering at the registration desk and my shift also over ran a little meaning I rushed to where the gong bath was being held, tiptoeing my way through the room to find a small space in a sea of yoga mats already filling the room.

I settled down as the teacher began with slow soft words to lead into the session. My mind was full and it wouldn't give up easy! I had a feeling I'd find it hard to get out of my head and into my heart space and relax but this then gave rise to an altogether different experience. With the sounds of the gong in the background creating ripples and crescendoes of sound reverberating around the room, my mind filled with thoughts, questions and scenarios... Random scatterings of thoughts that each powerfully caught my attention for a few moments... But almost as soon as I got caught up in them, I realised I was doing so and simply let them go.

I just let them drift off.

I told myself if it was important then it would come back to me later when I could do something about it, but that right now there was nothing I could do to help those thoughts and there was little point in them hanging around. It worked like magic. Throughout the 1.5 hour gong bath, my mind filled constantly but also gave me endless practice in letting go... again and again and again.

At the end of the session as I wiggled my fingers and toes, opened my eyes and slowly sat up as the leader brought the session to a close, I realised I remembered not a single thought that had crossed my mind so powerfully just a few moments before.

The epic teachers whose classes I attended... including (top right anti-clockwise) Jake & Chetana- acro yoga, Dylan Werner - yoga therapeutics, Luis Valentine- Jivamukti, 47 Soul- awesome musicians, Celeste Periera- Vinyasa flow, Charlotte Welfare- Boom Shanti, Brett Moran- yogi and inspiring speaker.

The epic teachers whose classes I attended... including (top right anti-clockwise) Jake & Chetana- acro yoga, Dylan Werner - yoga therapeutics, Luis Valentine- Jivamukti, 47 Soul- awesome musicians, Celeste Periera- Vinyasa flow, Charlotte Welfare- Boom Shanti, Brett Moran- yogi and inspiring speaker.

Guru is the Sanskrit word for teacher.

Yoga means unity.

We are all own own most powerful teachers when we open our hearts and let the world in to show us the way and allow ourselves to listen to and trust our own inner voice.

When we come together as one energy. Individuals with a common aim, united in physical space, sharing a common bond and a common love. We are one... We are a unity. We are spiritual beings in a physical body.

Hundreds of us sat back to back, bodies pressed together with a partner at the end of the yoga rave at midnight on Saturday, after a full on day of the festival under a huge tent canopy, energy and rhythm still coursing through our souls, coming down from the drug free euphoric high that only love can create. We sat in meditative silence which then closed with my favourite poem..

We are each beacons of light.

This weekend we let out light shine out to the world. I have no doubt it reached beyond the fields of Stanford Hall. I have no doubt it reached beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom. This weekend we came together from all over the country and the world for one common aim. To share yoga, to share passion, to share learning and ultimately to share deep inner the love that is innate to us all. 

From the book 'Love' by Leo Buscaglia which I have recently been reading, we do not 'fall' in love but we 'grow' in love. It is a constant, consistent practice in much the same way that yoga is also a constant, consistent practice for both body and mind.

This weekend the people of Yoga Connects came together to grow deeper in love.

P.s If you like to join in next year.... keep an eye on their website for 2017 super early bird tickets coming soon!


 

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My time at the Buddhist Meditation Centre

Finally I have written a blog post about my experience... just three weeks later!  

Every time I had sat down to do so I'd be distracted away from distilling my throughs into words. Then I had a story to finish that i'd be invited to contribute to a book which involved me digging deep and re-living a lot of emotions. It is only now I have the energy to focus in what this experience taught me.

So, as you may recall in my last post, that in January my focus for the year was to explore 'experience'. That was the word I gave myself. I wasn't sure how it would manifest at that point but I knew there would likely be some travel involved as I'd already booked a flight for April to see my sister in Thailand and volunteer as a yoga centre.

March rolled around and I felt the urgent need to 'expand'. That is probably the best word I can use to describe it!  I found Madhyamaka Buddhist Mediation centre a few hours drive from me near York that takes on volunteers in return for bed and food. It sounded perfect. So with just a few days notice at the beginning of March, and no idea what to expect, I went to live there for a week.

A little bit of everything captured!

A little bit of everything captured!

It was incredible! It's hard to put into words how it felt. I loved living as part of their community, hearing their personal stories, spiritual debates around the dinner table, going to meditation sessions 2 to 3 times a day in the beautiful ornate meditation rooms. There were a few other UK guests and also volunteers from around Europe whilst I was there and we all hung out together sharing cultures, language, jokes... it was such an enriching experience.

It was also the small things that made a huge impact, like the huge sash windows with the beautiful sunshine streaming through in every room as I worked on my laptop. The beautiful grounds and rolling hills of the countryside. I was so lucky to have such a sunny week, but even it it hadn't been I would have still been amazing to appreciate nature in all it's true glory.

I was working in the reception/shop a lot and designing flyers for them at the same time which was lovely as I was able to use my skills (I also run a design business on the side). All in all, I gained so much from the whole experience and would love to go back again sometime... watch this space! ;-) 

Spontaneous handstands in the fields with a fellow volunteer!

Spontaneous handstands in the fields with a fellow volunteer!

All together...Volunteers and guests on my final evening!

All together...Volunteers and guests on my final evening!

The most interesting thing for me, was that as someone who has always struggled to meditate in the traditional sense of sitting quietly. Doing that in a room full of others (whether it was 5 people or 50) felt so different. Even though my mind was wandering all over the place, it didn't matter so much, I was able to relax into it as I felt as though there was such an intense focussed energy in the room form the others, their 'beingness' infused and supported my own. 

The biggest thing for me at the moment is the realisation that I need to live from the heart not my head. I have spent most of the last 32.5 years getting caught up in my mind and letting my head and it's little inner chatter dictate my life, whereas now in those moments when I'm living from the heart everything just flows. Life is easy and uncomplicated.

I am so much more aware of the dynamic between the head and the heart than ever before and this is what I feel is my duty to explore in myself and enhance in my own life and therefore in time to come support clients exploring the same. Nutrition still forms a huge part of this as I feel nutrition is the gateway to your optimum self in terms of supporting clarity of mind and body.

Whilst I was at the meditation centre, I was privileged to be able to take part in a two hour meditation session as part of the monthly ‘Sunday Out’ program.

In a room packed full of 60+ people, all with open minds and a willingness to explore, the energy of the space was amazing. We were led into a number of guided meditations, but one visualisation in particular stood out for me, and after the session I found a quiet space to record some notes to later remind myself of the teachings. 

It was only this week I found the recording on my phone and listened back to it, it gave me the incentive I needed to put this post together and so I've typed it almost word for word as I had originally recorded it…

Sunday Out Meditation:

He (the monk) talks about clearing our mind and being more in tune with who we really are. He used the analogy of your back garden and your front garden… if you have limited time, which one do you choose to maintain? Often we may choose to maintain our front garden as that’s the one that people see, so we create a show for those who pass by our house to give the impression of a beautiful, proud space. 

But actually we let the back garden go to ruins behind the scenes. If over time this is left uncared for, the roots may grow and undermine the foundation of the house, the ivy may grow up the walls and begin to pull the bricks apart. Yet we keep this show up for the side that people can see our front garden, and hide our back garden away from the rest of the world.  

He likened this to the external side and the internal side of ourselves he asked: Which one is more impotent to you personally, the part that those can see- the tip of the iceberg or the internal side that no-one sees but is super important to our wellbeing. The balance to where we put our energy is imbalanced.

He also mentioned that when we first meet someone we might typically ask their name, where they’re from and what they do. In those three questions we think we have them figured out but actually we hardly know them at all. This is likened to the inner work and the outer work. It is our inner world that we need to put more effort in to, for a rich and fulfilled life.

The 'inner world' fascinates me as this is the realm which has the capacity to be so life changing. We are born with everything we already need in life, but get distracted and overwhelmed but the glamour of our external world and those around us. Everything we need is already inside, we simply need to learn how to better tap into it!  Isn't that incredible?


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