Have you noticed the days getting longer? I am always surprised by how quickly the light returns after the Winter solstice. Even though we are deep in the Winter season, there is a hint of Spring. I've already begun sowing vegetable and herb seeds, anticipating the colours and aromas of my summer garden. It got me thinking about my inner garden and the seeds I plant there every day. How much joy do I sow there? What about anger and other unwanted inner seedlings?
Planting and tending seeds of peacefulness
I'll be honest with you: in 15 years I have never managed to practice yoga or meditation every day. I have a lot of knowledge, but finding the time and motivation to do a practice that doesn't always feel like the right thing for my energy and mood proved impossible. Then I began to think more critically about what I was doing, why, and for whom. There are some aspects of the mindfulness panacea that have, over the centuries, become earmarked as the essentials. Daily meditation is positioned as a must, for example, or a daily physical yoga practice.
The Buddha taught an 8-fold path, with meditation being just one part. The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is also comprised of 8 parts, with the physical postures barely mentioned. Here are 2 ancient guides to living a good life. Together they give 16 insightful pieces of advice on the topic, yet just a handful of these have been selected and held up as representative of the whole. This paradigm shift - that there is no one right way to live a good and mindful life - gave me freedom.
I had told myself that I should practice in a certain way or else I was failing. Who made up that rule anyway?
One of my greatest mindfulness practices in the past few years has been psychotherapy. It takes a lot of energy to examine myself, contemplate what I observe, and find a better way to manage my internal world. I meditated sometimes and went to yoga classes, but therapy was my main practice. It has taken me a long time to realise how much work I was doing, and stop giving myself a hard time for not also doing a demanding daily yoga practice. I was asking too much of myself.
I have now graduated psychotherapy and am working with daily moments of mindfulness. I have decided that now is a good time to explore a daily meditation practice and my practice always includes a body scan and a Loving-kindness wish. That is, my meditation includes the essential mindful moments practice. That's just what I need. I have more space for a yoga practice too, which is mostly gentle and theraputic sequences. Who is to tell me I should be doing it another way?
How is your inner garden?
Movement classes are wonderful. I enjoy attending them, teaching them, and playing around with them in my home space. But there is so much more to caring for yourself with kindness than a weekly yoga class. I have come to see group classes as a place to experiement, be challenged and inspired, and consult with a teacher and peers. The core of a practice - mine and yours - is tiny moments of pause and mindfulness every day.
As Winter turns towards Spring, our energy shifts and we begin to shake off hibernation and prepare to poke our heads out of doors. Now is the perfect time to plant seeds of peacefulness which will grow and bloom with practice. For this purpose I have updated the online practice library for the "Winter turns towards Spring" period: 10 practices of various length and purpose.
Planting seeds in Winter
My goal is to give you a series of curated practices that you can combine and utilise in the best way for you. There is space for flexibility and tweaking. Several of the practices are simple and easy enough to remember and try out on your own.
In addition, there are group classes to inspire and challenge you. I am always available for questions, just drop me an email or ask in class.
Here's the breakdown:
- 2 full length sequences exploring key themes of the season
- Movement drills to build strength, stability, and mobility.
- Meditation to silence your inner critic
- Breathing exercise to soothe and calm your nervous system
- Inquiries to explore the subtle interconnectedness of body, mind, and breath
- Guided restorative practices to soothe and revitalise
- Additional practices to be added for Equinox and full Spring.
As an online member, you have access to a library of self-guided restorative practices and the Habits of Loving-kindness course.
Click here to learn more about online membership and start planting seeds of peacefulness in your life, ready to bloom.
Already a member? Go directly to the practice library.