Yoga For Creativity & Connection, and Why I Want to Teach

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The Yogabarn, Ubud, Bali

CONNECTION and communication lie at the heart of all our experiences and have profound influence on the way we live our lives.
Humans are sociable creatures – we THRIVE on interaction with others. Yet because of this we often lose touch and suffer miscommunication with the one most important relationship any of us have – our relationship with ourselves.
By helping others to see this and to subsequently address the way they treat themselves and put it into practice, we contribute to their overall wellbeing and as such (in the long term), to society as a whole. This is why I want to be a yoga teacher.

I love to talk, to explore new ideas and places, and most of all, I love to connect. I see connection and interaction as the single most important means of attaining fulfillment, of enjoyment and progressing forwards, and of existing within our ever-evolving and increasingly isolating society.

I have passion. I have buckets of this undirected enthusiasm, dedication, and drive that is waiting to be deposited somewhere relevant; somewhere it can be made matter. I have so much potential to contribute to something amazing – and I am aware that I have the ability to do so. Yoga has provided me with the tools to believe this, and to direct this energy correctly; to channel it effectively in order for me to succeed in my creative pursuits, thus rendering my ‘passions’ (which have always existed) somehow more relevant. It has allowed me to glean an in-depth understanding into the way my own mind and body works, and instead of frantically trying to escape or change this – to sit with, appreciate, and respect it for what it is; knotty hair and dry skin included. For within the external imperfections there lies a potential that is just waiting to grab the next wave of opportunity when I’m feeling inspired or enthusiastic or energised. It’s always there, just lying low until I tap into it through my yoga practice.

I am also aware that many others like me possess this potential, and seek direction and guidance for which to do so too. This is another reason I wish to teach. The overwhelming tragedy of ideas and inspiration and unrealised potential being wasted on anxiety and circumstantial or locational misery is honestly very saddening to me, and I wish to aid this creativity and potential, however small, however ‘irrelevant’ or trivial it may seem, to come into being. Everything deserves to be given a chance. So do you.

In channeling my creativity through the energy and focus I achieve from practicing yoga, I have been able to increase my dedication, output, and potential for further exploration of these ideas. It’s not all going to come at once, but I’ve come far enough now to notice the difference between what I achieve on a day when I’ve done my yoga practice and a day when I haven’t.

Connection strengthens us all, and when you’ve included and taken into account your own self within that mainframe of responsibilities and polite interaction, the potential created becomes endless.

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The unpictured side of yogaclass in Ubud…shoes everywhere!

A Few Thoughts..

Today I taught children how to lay still.
To focus on their breath.
To listen.
To sit with the twitching toes and knocking knees of mis-directed energy.

While I sat at the head of the class,
Mouth forming words I now possess like my curls;
Naturally, instinctively, intuitively,
Yet my brain wandered ever forwards, escaping the moment I presented to them.
The moment they are always seeking – to be older, to be taller, to grow up,
Came to pass even as they stretched overhead,
Token gigglers in the class silenced by a sudden enjoyment of what IS.

It doesn’t have to be enjoyment.
It doesn’t have to always be great.
Because life is not always great.
But AWARENESS.
With awareness……..

It all becomes relevant.

To create, is not to conjure a thing from nothing.
‘Nothing will come of nothing’ – and nothing ever did.
We can only seek understanding through what is already here.
It is to link, to compare, contrast, and NOTICE the similarities and differences of what is around us. To acknowledge our own ignorance.
To sit.
To listen.
To be.
Within all that is happening around us, as a result of all that was, and to use those experiences, those physical, mental, spiritual, linguistic, tangible and untangible objects to form a new reality
– the reality of which will only ever last a second.

On The Benefits of Yoga….What I Have Learned

I can’t begin to describe the effects a regular yoga practice has had on me in the past few months. It’s been remarkable, and I’ve felt the strength in every aspect and element of both my mind and body. I may eventually lengthen this out into a detailed post of exactly the ins and out of how and why I feel it has aided me so much, but for now take just a few verses, and try not to get thrown off by the cheesyness…

‘On The Benefits of Yoga…What I Have Learned”

It makes no sense
That being where we are at this moment;
Right here and now,
Should take practice.
But it does.

Yoga teaches me not to rush ahead.
The meeting will come. Lunch will happen.
There will always be the threat of rain,
Even as we salute the sun rising hopefully
Over the arched back of beyond.

Anticipating is an anxious act
– Putting on the dog’s lead as you see a larger one approach.
Yet up, down, sideways, or around,
We cannot escape this moment.
Nor would I want to.

I have learned to occupy my space,
Exhaling into the changes underfoot.
A warrior standing her ground,
Even when the earth itself shakes and cracks,
The trees swaying and casting away leaves
That never served them much at all.

In a binding contract,
My feet have cemented my place here,
A far call from the apprehensive steps
I used to take to my own kitchen.

The scales in my head finding
Balance atop arms stronger than ever before;
A crow flying high over the gorge of
Mental anguish, supporting itself through
the turbulent, turbulent clouds to land lightly on the other side.

In the knowledge that each bend, twist,
and long stretch in the road is actually progressing me forward,
Refusing to look behind
Refusing to waver.

This is where I am now,
This is what I need.
This day, this second, this letter, this space,
I hear now louder than ever.

Namasté.

5 Questions That Will Bring You Back to This Moment (and Help You Greet Yourself as an Old Friend)

5 Questions That Will Bring You Back to This Moment (and Help To Greet Yourself as an Old Friend)

‘The time will come when,
With elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,
And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”

– Love after Love, Derek Walcott

“Come to greet yourself”, they say at the beginning of any good yoga, meditation, or mindfulness practice. Say hello. Greet your mind and body as you would that of a stranger. Consider yourself with the curiosity you would any new aquaintance. Who are you? What kind of books do you like? What’s your favourite food? Are you hungry?

 I’ve recently found taking these steps a very good approach to calming nerves and anxiety, and in coming to terms with issues that often present as larger than they really prove to be. By greeting ourselves in the moment and as a new person we are directly coming into contact with, our current mind and body are brought back to the forefront of our consciousness, and awareness is directed back into the present moment, as opposed to roaming around somewhere inbetween the regretful margharita of last night and the hazy uncertainty of tomorrow’s meeting.

When I ask myself these questions, I try to start at the beginning, and to maintain an open mind right the way through.

  1. Hello…How are you today?’ – this should rarely be as simple as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ answer. Try to elaborate, and really dig deep into your emotional and spiritual state of the given moment.
  2. What is it that you’re currently struggling with/worried about/working on?’ – Again, honesty is key. Be honest and open with yourself, just as you would appreciate the honesty and openness of a friend in need divulging their problems to you. Frivolity should not be an issue. You would not belittle another’s struggles, so why do it to yourself?

             Now sit with that. Sit with yourself, and with your struggle, be it an ill-fitting new pair of shoes or a pending medical examination. Sit side-by-side like two old school chums. Now dig deeper.

  1. How are you going to ease this struggle? – Are there any immediate solutions available to you? If so, what are they? If not, what precautions or procedures do you need to put in place in order to ease your discomfort? If this requires work or effort on your own part, are you willing to undertake it?
  2. Is it inside of or outside of your control? – So often we concern ourselves with issues and trying to overcome struggles that are ultimately completely outside of our own control. Identifying our stance in relation to these issues is key to overcoming the anxiety and worries that may surround them, and helps maintain an objective mindset when it comes to dealing with others.
  3. Can you do anything to change it right now? – If the issue is a worry concerning something which has either already happened, or not even come to pass yet, there is not a lot that can be done right now to solve it, and so this would signify that it is beyond your control. This thought alone should ease the persistance and immediacy of it, and allow you to sit in the moment, accepting now for what it is. If there is no immediate solution, this thought, worry, or preoccupation is not serving you in the slightest. In fact it is hindering your current moment, your current life. It’s hindering your ability to exist right now, and to be part of the environment around you. In this situation, the best thing to do, is to let it go.

But what if you can’t?

If you can, if you suddenly remember you have an emergency stash of plasters in your bag with which you can remedy the painful heel-cutting shoe, then by all means, do so. If however, like most of us, you would not generally ever think so far ahead as to pack for this kind of situation, you simple have to make do, and sit with the discomfort until such a time arises when you can fix it. It may well be that it’s the sort of issue you will never be in a position to control. If this is the case, then sitting with it is all the more important, to ensure it doesn’t become locked away and stifled amongst the waste-chute contents of the smaller day-to-day problems. Sitting with it and considering it from your current persepective is the most effective way to ease anxiety in the moment, and really to feel your feelings. They are there for a reason. Allowing them to flow freely through you like the air your breathe comes from recognising them when they occur, and accepting their presence, even if the reason or cause behind them may seem unimportant – if it has resulted in the developemt of a certain emotion or feeling, it is most certainly not. Identifying struggles and sitting with them in all their limiting and hindering glory is all part of accepting who we are, and ultimately coming to be comfortable sitting alone with ourselves.

These questions are things I find myself needing to ask myself on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. They help me return to the moment, return to where and who I am in that very minute, and realise that I am nowhere else, and cannot change the fact that I am where I am. It’s a grounding and humbling thought process, that takes careful practice and active engagement to succeed in, yet is so rewarding when dealt with properly.

I’ve always found I revert to a very polite and external version of myself when placed in a situation involving new people and introductions, and in doing so I present elements of myself I wish people to recognise or find attractive. We all do this. In others, we accept immediately what they present us with, a shaking of their hand or other form of salutation allowing us a brief interaction, which we generally accept as it is. If a person is sad, distressed, jovial, or energetic, we generally pick up on this vibe during our brief encounter, and take that for what it is also. Greeting myself every morning in this sense reminds me to accept my own mind, body, spiritual and emotional state for what it is at the time, and allows me to begin to take steps to overcome any issues or struggles I may be presented with that particular day. It requires a constant awareness and ability to pull back and listen to myself, yet it does not take long for the practice to become a habit.

Walcott’s poem is a testament to the importance of being able to sit with oneself in comfort as opposed to losing our energies and emotions getting caught up in worrying about something or someone else. To nourish our bodies we must eat well and regularly, and to nourish our minds we must practice a mindful acceptance of that which is, being kind to ourselves and rejoicing in the time and talents with which we have been afforded. It’s been predicted and prophesized many times that the sun will eventually burn out and cease to support life on earth. And so we are so lucky to have this time, this short handful years, even if it eventually proves to have meant little in the grand scheme of things, we are privelged to have this chance to experience the sun and it’s potential. If the world were to end tomorrow I want to be able to look upon it and say;
‘Yes, there’s the Earth. I lived there’.
Right now all I can do is embrace it for what it is and enjoy the warmth of existing here as a result of the sun’s light. Feasting on my own life and existance feels so good after prolonged undernourishment, and lack of acceptance for what and who I am. I almost feel I owe it to the sun and to those around me to be kind to myself and develop to the best of my potential -after all, it’s exactly what I’d want for and advise any friend to do.

“You are Beautiful. Stop looking at your phone.”

‘You are beautiful. Stop looking at your phone.’

I found a note on my phone the other morning with those words saved to it. I don’t remember saving it there, when or what even prompted me to write it, but I’m so glad I did.

When I looked up I realised that sure, all I was doing was sitting on the bus searching through my phone for some entertainment. But then I really thought, and I saw that I was sitting on the bus.
I looked around, and instead of shifting my gaze awkwardly from the searching eyes of the technologically-challenged elderly woman opposite me who had nothing but the world outside the window to pass the journey with, I looked at her full on and gave a simple smile.

Because at that moment, that was all I could do.
There was no point staring at the screen of my device and wishing I was elsewhere, or talking with someone online and losing myself in a life that’s not my own while my body was physically transported across the earth. From the past, I had inadvertently chosen to divert my attention into this present moment, and to interact with my surroundings.

And guess what the woman did?
She smiled back.
She didn’t have to, and I didn’t make her – but she smiled back.

 A short message, most likely written as a result of an inverted and paralysed moment of anxiety at some point in a public situation, had opened my mind and spurred me on to smile at this stranger. Purely because I had reminded myself of my own worth, she had then smiled and prompted a chain-reaction of positivity that would not have been possible otherwise.

Distraction

It’s so easy to look away when we feel we’re not worth looking at.
So easy to distract ourselves from our busy thoughts with other unimportant aspects of our lives, and get worked up about things that aren’t true, and most certainly aren’t worth it. We do it all the time with factors that are completely out of our control – we look away and ignore the world outside unless the sun is shining when we get up in the morning. But the world is still there, even during a storm. Even on a bad hair day, it doesn’t change the fact that I still have hair, no matter how many hairbands or hats I try to hide it with.

Power to Change

How often have you found yourself avoiding the mirror and leaving the house with a frown because of something you can not change at that present moment– be it your hair colour, height, weight, outside influences or thoughts about tasks you must complete within a given day?
By establishing mental boundaries and accepting the environmental factors that are both within and outside of our control, I find that my mind calms somewhat, with the knowledge and reaffirmation that although I am strong in myself, that there will always be things outside of my control. It’s a grounding and empowering realisation all at once, which places me firmly within my own body, and aware of both the potential and the limitations of it.

Everybody Gets It

We’ve all been in positions where we wish we could disappear or change certain aspects of our appearance. In grounding yourself in the moment, letting go of ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’, and coming to terms with the you that is in the minute right now, reading these words, it allows a lot of these preoccupations with beauty, perceptions and opinions to become irrelevant. We can begin to finally accept ourselves for what we really are.

So look away from that phone screen, close the laptop, and turn off the television for a mere few minutes – a fleeting moment in which you can think about where and what you are, and meet yourself there.

Just look up.

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Mumford ar mo Shon

Mumford ar mo Shon
-An t-aireachas (mindfulness) sa saol linn inniu

Ní rún atá ann go bhfuil bá faoi leith agam don ghrúpa ceoil Mumford and Sons. Is le linn an tsamhraidh i 2013 a cheannaigh mé ticéad ar DoneDeal.com do cheolchoirm dá gcuid a bhí ar siúl i bPáirc an Fhionnuisce ar an turas ‘Gentlemen of the Road’ in éineacht le Ben Howard, Ham Sandwich, agus Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, agus níl mórán nach raibh ar an eolas ag an am go raibh mé ar bís faoi.

Faraor, buíochas le hansmacht uilíoch an idirlíon, agus easpa taithí ar mo shonsa i dtaobh úsáid leithéid shuíomhanna, diúltaíodh isteach mé ag na ngeataí bonnoibrithe toisc nár thicéad cuí a bhí agam. Ag siúl ar ais in aghaidh an easa, na mílte daoine ar a mbealach isteach don cheolchoirm is mé liom fhéin ina gcoinne, bheartaigh mé gan mhuinín a chuir in aon suíomh idirlíne nó grúpa taobh amuigh den chóras oifigiúla ariamh arís. Ag mallachtú an saol agus an fear slítheanta ar cheannaigh mé an ticéad uaidh, d’éist mé leis an gceol ag taiscéal tríd an aer do m’chluasa is mé ag fanacht ar bhus abhaile.

Ó shin, níl rud ar bith ceannaithe agam ar líne a bhain le tríú páirtí nó ‘fear sa lár’, mar a deirtear. Scaití is in ionad na táillí breise a íocadh a gceannaítear na ticéadaí seo, nó chun brábus a dhéanamh nuair atá ceolchoirmeacha díolta amach, ach i ndáiríre is minic a bhíonn costas níos mó ag baint leis an sealbhú a dhéanamh thar cheann de na suíomhanna seo chun go ndéanfar brábús ar an táirge. Ní ar an tomhaltóir atá na mangairí seo ag díriú, ach orthu féin agus ar na féidireachtaí atá ann dóibh – an t-airgead atá le baint ó lucht leanúna na ngrúpaí ceoil seo ag iarraidh ticéad a fháil ar aon chostas. Go pointe, is dúshaothrú ar an ngnáthduine atá ar siúl acu, agus dar ndóigh ní ceart go mbeadh an féidirtheacht sin ann dóibh. Dom fhéin, tuigim nár cheart dom dul sa tseans mar sin arís agus muinín a chur le rud nach bhfuil aon bharántas nó chinnteacht ag baint leis, ach ag an am níor éist mé le m’instinn agus réasún, comh fíanta sin a bhí an fonn ionam an grúpa a fheicéail.

An uair sin bhí an locht orm nár fhiosraigh mé tuilleadh eolais ón bhfear a bhí á dhíol. Chas mé leis i Leamhcán, thug mé an t-airgead dó, thug sé an píosa páipéir dom (droch-chomhartha dá bhfeicfeá ceann riamh) agus as go brách leis ina Fiat Punto beag glas. Bhí mé comh sásta liom fhéin gur éirigh liom ticéad a fháil nár lig mé liom fhéin smaoineamh a dhéanamh ar na laigí atá soléir dom anois ag cuimhneadh siar. Ach mairimid uilig ó ard go haird, agus ba chúis sealadach an ticéad sin dom a bheith ar bís agus ag súil le rud eicínt faoi leith – cé gur ceannaíodh é gan mhórán pleanála a dhéanamh ar.
Ní dhearna na ‘Gentleman of the Road’ turas an bhliain seo chaite, agus i mbliana níl siad ag síneadh comh fada le hÉireann leis an bhfiontar. Ach ón méid atá cloiste agam d’albam nua Mumford and Sons go dtí seo, is cosúil go bhfuil draíocht d’shaghas eicínt eile ag druidim linn, agus má’s fíor sin táim go breá le bheith ag feitheamh ar an gcéad ghig eile. In amhrán amháin nua, ‘Snake Eyes’ s’acu, tá líne amháin a mhíníonn go mbeidh baol i gcónaí ag baint le rudaí den tsórt seo – ‘I can tell, you will always be danger’. Is orainn atá an brú a bheith ar an airdeall maidir leis na nithe beaga ag baint leo, agus gan dul amú is muid sa tóir orthu.

An t-aireachas atá tábhachtach sa chás seo – a bheith aireach ar an saol agus ar ár n-aigne agus inchinn féin, ár gcosa ar an talamh fúinn agus ár n-aird dírithe ar an nóiméad atá ann i láthair na huaire. B’fhéidir dá mbeadh an meon seo agam is mé ag dul leis an ticéad a bhailiú an lá sin, dá mbéinn ar an airdeall maidir leis an nóiméad sin ar thug mé an t-airgead dó, seans ann nach mbeadh gá leis an tubáiste ag na geataí iontrála. B’fhéidir. Scaití bíonn orainn botúin a dhéanamh agus ceachtanna a fhoghlaim ar an gcaoi seo ionas nach ndéanfar arís iad, agus le fírinne glacaim anois go raibh orm an botún sin a dhéanamh. Níor éirigh liom dul isteach sa cheolchoirm, ach bualadh go láidir mé le ciall agus soléireacht maidir leis an méid a bhí tárlaithe is mé ar an tsiúlóid sin amach ó na geataí. Bhí mé ann ag siúl, seachas a bheith ag smaoineamh ró-fhada romham nó i mo dhiaidh, agus cé go raibh brón orm ag cailliúnt amach ar an gceolchoirm, bhí mé lonnaithe sa nóiméad sin ag smaoineamh faoi, agus bheartaigh mé gan dul chomh fada sin ó m’inchinn fhéin leis an idéalachas riamh arís.

‘Cíbe áit ina bhfuil tú, is ann atá tú”.

“You’re Grounded”

‘You’re (very) Grounded’

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

Gone are the days when being ‘grounded’ meant being punished or told what to do. For me, now, there is nothing more important than remaining stable within my own body and mind, and maintaining that connection and awareness with the ground beneath my own two feet.
It’s not something that people generally think to take into account regularly, yet when you do, the mental and emotional benefits are so reassuring. I am here, in this moment, typing what you’re reading right now. For the time being, this is me.
I’ve just finished a morning yoga session, having previously consumed a small cup of coffee. The combination of these two things made for a peace and sense of self far stronger and more empowering than any temporary buzz or high available from the excess consumption of a substance, be it food or alcohol. This is me, this is the real person within this body, touching the mat at three main physical points, aware of the weight of my hands, knees, and elbows on the mat. Aware of my space, and of the fact that I occupy it.
The fact that I was grounded meant not that I was stuck in one place, but that I was aware of being in that one place, and of my potential to be in any one of the endless places accessible to me at that time.
It’s a far cry from being told to stay in my room on the weekend and banned from the computer and television. The freedom that comes from realising one’s own mobility and potential is remarkable. It’s a freedom I never thought would be possible, and is liberating in the sense that not only do I know that I can go anywhere I want, but the availability and accessibility of the world has also become clearer.
Maybe the confines of being restricted to stay in one place indoors will not seem so bad if I consider them in terms of being physically grounded, as opposed to the mental guilt-trip of parents telling you you can’t do something. I don’t know. But here’s to constantly moving forward, and being always present in the place where I find my body.

“Cíbe áit ina bhfuil tú, is ann atá tú”.

On Early Rising…

There’s something both peaceful and strengthening about being an early riser. I love being the first up in a house or shared living situation, and while I understand how the isolation and silence would scare certain people and make them uneasy, personally I relish in the brief opportunity before the day begins to spend some time with myself, and set my thoughts straight before assessing the potential of another day.

If there is work of any sort to be completed, you can be guaranteed that my best attention will be given to it before the hours of 9am. Not only am I feeling fresh at the prospect of an entire new 24 hours in which to create and do, but I have the time to do it – the day stretches ahead of me like an open sea, and even if there are clouds or other ships on the horizon to meet later on in the day, my position at the beginning of things gives me just enough space and time in which to plan my actions, and ensure anything that has to be done gets done before coming into contact with them.

Even if the weather isn’t working alongside my body clock, and the rising sun is blocked from view by gloomy clouds and drizzly rain as it is this morning, there is an element of newness and potential to this time of day that excites me. I could make it anything I like, do anything, embark on new challenges and begin new projects that weren’t accessible to me at 11.30pm last night. This writing would not have been possible had I not risen early today. Even though I have no commitments to attend to until much, much later on, here I am still, Ireland AM on mute (just for company) on the TV, laptop open, and cup of coffee balanced precariously atop my latest read. Were I not typing this and contemplating my current situation, I would be reading, and making the most of my heightened pre-9am attention span and energy.

I realise that everyone is different, and that even reading these words will make some people cringe in disagreement as they nurse lunchtime hangovers and wipe away the bleary-eyed weekend sleep-in. And that is totally cool. I’m not trying to push beliefs or judge anything or anyone for doing and knowing what makes them ok. I am merely attempting to assess and come to terms with my own emotions and current situation, personally taking into account my feelings and location, and ultimately just being mindful of how I am right now after rising early and preparing my mind and body for the day to come. It’s now 9.05am. The day is getting on….. Happy Saturday!