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Abundance, Gratitude and Generosity

How can we celebrate abundance without indulging in and celebrating conspicuous consumption? Is feeling abundant about feeling safe? If so, can we feel safe and abundant with what we have now?

In the yogic calendar it has recently been an auspicious time to celebrate abundance in all aspects of life – health, food, relationships, wealth, purpose and life itself. A mind that is resting in abundance is content and safe, perhaps even joyful. Everywhere they look there is enough, beauty and life in plenty. yet it is easy to slip into a wanting mind when thinking about abundance and confusing ‘abundance’ with excess, focusing only on material wealth and ‘more’. Perhaps we will feel safer if we feel more abundant.

Modern self-help gurus often refer to abundance by adding zeroes to your income or multiplying your income by a factor of two or three, or even exponentially. So tempting to think we need more in order to feel abundant; that if we add those zeroes or have that perfect house (or mansion) or car or fashion items, we will feel abundant.

Unfortunately what so often happens is that we feel less, tricked on to the endless treadmill of chasing that ’more’ that will make us feel safe. And the abundance that was supposed to make us feel safe becomes a cause of fear of the consequences if loose our abundance. How will we feel safe if our abundance is taken away from us?

So if our constant rush towards ‘more’ arises out of a need to feel safe, how do we step out of the ‘wanting mind’ and into an appreciation of the abundance that already exists in our lives? Gratitude and Generosity.

Gratitude for what we have now is the key to feeling abundant and we can train ourselves in feeling gratitude in the same way we can train ourselves in any other attitude or skill – practice.

Imagine how differently you would feel about your life if you looked upon your circumstances with gratitude, appreciating the aspects of your life rather than complaining? You would feel abundant. Then if you want to change an aspect of your circumstances you can do so by choice instead of compulsion. You switch from being reactive to proactive, from wanting to plenty and fearful to safe. Out of this generosity naturally arises.

How?

Practice gratitude in all the key aspects of your life

It is true that there are sets of circumstances for which it is difficult to feel gratitude, and I have been in some of them, but even in those times if I stopped to feel a moment of gratitude for a beautiful rainbow or flower, or see the beautiful smile in someone’s eyes, that moment of beauty and gratitude gave me peace. It brought my mind to rest for that moment which washed over the rest of my life and enabled me to live.

The gratitude practice

Take time each morning and each night to feel gratitude for:

  • Your life.
  • The food that you eat - even it is not your ideal version of food, you can feel grateful for having food and your capacity to discern ideal food and how amazing that that’s even possible.
  • Your health - in the case of chronic or acute illness this can be difficult and I have found that focussing on the bits that are working helps and flows in to the bits that aren’t doing so well.
  • The relationships in your life - if there are problematic relationships in your life, look for the lessons and learn them in gratitude, and if that’s not possible look for beauty and let your gratitude for beauty wash over you.
  • Roof over your head - if you have one you have plenty to be thankful for, even if it is not your ideal version and seeing every roof as something to appreciate is a lot more peaceful than wanting more.
  • Career/purpose/contribution - this can be problematic for those of us who think we need to have a grand purpose but haven’t found it yet, perhaps start with feeling gratitude for what you are doing in the world, now.
  • Goal or intention, no matter how small e.g. my goal today is to feel grateful - feeling gratitude for even having a goal or intention, even if you haven’t yet fulfilled it, simply having one with gratitude gets you out of bed to clean your teeth and reveal goals you may not even know you had.
  • Adequate means to fulfil your goal (the means may not always be material) - sometimes you may not be aware of the means, you may not see the means in your current but feeling gratitude for means you do have at your disposal is a great place to start.
  • For your whole life.
  • And then watch yourself becoming more generous to yourself and those around you, effortlessly.

Tips

  • Allow gratitude for beauty and the bits that are working to wash over the bits that are tricky.
  • Use your breath for each aspect – “I breathe in and notice, I breathe out and feel gratitude”.
  • When you catch yourself complaining, wanting or feeling like an aspect of your circumstance isn’t enough, find gratitude and notice how your feeling of abundance shifts and your mind becomes smoother.

I look forward to hearing of your experiences with gratitude

Remember, if you want to feel abundance in your life begin with feeling gratitude for life as it is now – you will naturally feel more abundant and safe, and generosity will flow effortlessly.

With love,
Lynnette

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Dissolving the Grief Monster of the Deep

Have you ever been sailing along triumphantly, feeling like you have a handle on this boat called life when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, an ancient grief rises from the depths of your ocean and threatens to swamp your boat with a tsunami of suffering? This happened to me last night.

I returned home from an amazing five days of preparation and teaching on a Dru Meditation Teacher Training module, feeling elated and inspired. I was finally realising my skill as a teacher and mentor, in a way I had not been able to understand previously, and the students were on their journey to stillness. My boat was sailing smoothly, the ocean of my consciousness was smooth and the sky was blue.

Then part way through a conversation triggered by an English television drama, the grief monster rose from the depths and began rocking my boat with a suffering I thought I had already resolved. A wave of sadness rose in front of me and seemed like an insurmountable mountain that was going to engulf me. Then another thought, ‘I thought I had dealt with this’, sprang a leak in the bottom of my boat.

After some moments of feeling the beginnings of drowning, I remembered that in the past my suffering has been released in layers when I was ready to hold the pain, and maybe this time was no different. It was a deeper, causal aspect of the very familiar issue I was seeing here not the same old same old, and may be the previous five days of practicing the eight limbs of yoga, including a shirt-load of meditation, created the space in my awareness to releasing this particular thought pattern. I was able to use my tools to navigate the tsunami and over time the grief monster dissolved – ‘it’s not my fault … it’s not anyone’s fault … it just is’.

Today I am again sailing freely on a smooth ocean in a clear blue sky and feeling very grateful for this opportunity to let go of this layer of suffering and embrace the truth I keep learning – it just is. I am also grateful that I have learnt tools that I can use to facilitate this letting go and am in a position to share them with other people.

We have all experienced traumatic events that leave traces of recurring grief long after the event itself has become a memory. Unresolved grief can have many negative effects on our lives. At the very least we unconsciously create negative patterns that impact on our relationships and our life decisions; at worst, our grief becomes the seed for disease, sometimes life threatening.

The good news is that when you are ready to let go of your grief, there are tools to help you to part the clouds and the let the sunshine through.

The Practice

I’d like to share three simple tools to help dissolve your grief monsters when they threaten to swamp your boat.

First is the Gesture of Letting Go that I shared in a series of tips for living life that I wrote for Dru Australia, called Dru Tips for Life,. It is a simple yet profound practice from the Dru publication, the Dance between Joy and Pain, by Dr Mansukh Patel and Rita Goswami.

Gesture of Letting Go

  • Come into a comfortable sitting position with your back aligned.
  • Bend your arms at the elbow so your arms are at a ninety degree angle, with palms facing up.
  • Allow the source of your grief to sit in the open palms of your hands.
  • Breathe in and lengthen through your spine.
  • Breathe out while raising your palms to face behind you, with the intention to ‘let go’ of your grief.
  • Hold this position for 1-2 minutes with your eyes closed, imagining your lungs filling with white light, with each breath.
  • When you are ready, lower your palms, and sit quietly with your eyes closed and your hands folded gently in your lap.
  • Rest in silence for a few moments before moving back into your life.

 

Shedding your Coat

The second tool is a visualisation that came to during a time of suffering and one I have since used often since and found useful. I hope Shedding your Coat might come in handy for you too.

  • When you arrive at the essence of this version of your grief monster, visualise it as coat resting on your shoulders.
  • When you are ready to release the grief, visualise lifting the collar of the coat off your shoulders and shed the coat on to the ground behind you before going forward and leaving the coat behind you.

Opposite Sides of the Coin

  • Ask yourself, “What is the belief I have formed from this suffering?”
  • Allow the belief to arise and observe it from a distance.
  • Watch the belief and notice the emotions, sensations and images that arise.
  • Then allow the opposite belief to arise in your awareness and observe any emotions, sensations and images that may arise from that opposite belief.
  • Invite your awareness to flow smoothly between the two opposites, observing each one before returning to the other, in your own time.
  • When you are ready, hold the two beliefs simultaneously in the hand of your awareness, and notice what happens.
  • There is no right outcome for this process but it helps to put your thoughts into perspective. They may dissolve or a new solution may arise or it may remind you that you are not just your mind.

Choose the tool you feel most comfortable with, knowing it is most effective when you practice it regularly, at the same time each day when have a few moments of peace in your life. You may even find your sea becomes smoother with each practice.

PS: remember, when you are ready to let go of your grief, find yourself a few minutes of peace in your day and practice the Gesture of Letting Go, Shedding your Coat or Opposite Sides of the Coin.

With peace,

Lynnette

If you would like to receive Drutips for Life into your mailbox on a regular basis, go to www.dru.com.au and register.

 

 

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Heart Meditation

I have spent a lot of time feeling lonely and isolated, not feeling the love in my life. I have found that meditations like this one from my book A Journey to Peace through Yoga, help me to feel love and loved. 

The Practice

This is a meditation for when you need love in your life. It is a good idea if you can do some gentle movement to reduce restlessness in your body and mind before you settle for meditation.

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position, with your spine as straight as possible.
  • Breathe in and contract your muscles from your toes to your crown and relax on your breath out.

Repeat a few times until you are feeling relaxed.

  • Gently close your eyes and take a few moments to notice your breathing.
  • Become aware of your breastbone moving in and out as you breathe.
  • Feel your heart and imagine breathing in and out of your heart.
  • Invite your mind to remember a time in your life when you felt really loved, and if you can’t remember, imagine what being loved might feel like.
  • Allow your mind to focus on the feeling (it may evoke a sensation, colour and or sound) and let the feeling fill your awareness.
  • Sit in that feeling for a few moments.
  • Then, when you are ready to come out of the meditation offer the feeling to someone who may be in need of feeling loved; let it go on your breath out.
  • Deepen you breath and notice the clothes on your skin and your weight on the chair.
  • Rub your palms together, gently open your eyes into your warmed palms and massage your face.
  • Take a few moments before returning to your day and appreciate the stillness and love you have found in your own heart.
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So What Does My Story Mean?

As I come to the close of this chapter of my journey I am wondering how my story will be interpreted by those who read it.

I am aware there are sceptics who will not give any significance to my yoga and meditation practice and dismiss my recovery as just another chapter in the story of MS – the mystery disease, nothing more remarkable than a spontaneous remission.

There are those who will say it’s a miracle or that I must be extraordinary.

So now I ask to ask myself.

“How do I interpret my journey? What does it mean for me?”

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Depression - Look up and out

In this modern world where pressure to be perfect is high and new heights of sadness are displayed through our media on a daily basis, we need to share our experiences of suffering and the tools that help us to manage and even move through suffering.
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Blog as the Red Tent

I have struggled with the rise of the blog for a long time. So many people have suggested that I write a blog but again and again, I sat to write and my mind went blank. All the words that dance around my head from minute to minute, left the dance floor for an early night. I felt choked.

I found myself judgemental of others who were able to blog while wondering why anyone would want to read anything I wrote. As if one had to be a certified expert/guru to have anything to say.

Exacerbating my feeling of being choked was the marketing concept of social media being a funnel to the 1-click-buy website/booking class or workshop theory. I felt like a cynical fraud funnelling my ‘readers’ toward my bank account, adding ‘three zeroes’ to my income.

However (apologies to grammar nerds), recently I discovered a reason for blogging far more compelling than funnels and zeroes. A FB friend reposted a blog from someone I had never read and may never read again. It was a deeply personal telling of a woman’s grief over the unexpected death of her husband, one month previously. I was overcome with the power of her grief, compassion for her and all those suffering grief, and the intimacy of her writing.

In that moment I found my motivation to read and write blogs. Blogging is this generation’s campfire, kitchen table and Red Tent in one five hundred word bundle. In a world where we are running at a million miles an hour and becoming socially isolated, blogging is our way of sharing the intimacies of life, of connecting to and sharing our stories.

It is not the often one line, self-obsessed trivia of twitter or selfies of Instagram or even the ‘life is always great’ posts of Facebook but more often deep authentic sharing of our story, as we might have done around the kitchen table or in the Red Tent; or exploration of our cultural and societal norms as might have happened around a campfire.

And the nature of the medium is freedom of self-expression. If people want to they can read what you write but really interesting blogs are not about writing for an audience but writing authentically about one’s own experience.  It might not be perfect prose as one might read in a celebrated novel or profound wisdom as might be found in spiritual or transformational tomes but it is valid as one’s own experience of life.

Every blog we write or read may not be perfect or to our taste but we all have the opportunity to walk with our clicks and leave. As humans we are nothing if not communicators and blogging gives us an unconditional opportunity to communicate and the even greater possibility of being heard.

Welcome.

 

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Is it possible…?

Is it possible to transcend acceptance and embrace the circumstances of your life? Is it really possible to welcome the circumstances of your life, each moment as a teacher? Is it possible to live in this state of freedom, in this state of love?

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From clouds to a blue sky

Welcome to my blog. I have tried to blog before but the result felt too formal for the format of a blog, inauthenticity in the voice. I Was trying to live up to some image of wisdom  and knowing that perhaps people didn’t even have of me and I certainly didn’t have of myself. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t continue.

I had the same issue and anxieties when I was writing my book, and became obsessed with not overstating or dramatizing any of the events, feelings or circumstances I was writing about. Perhaps they didn’t need to be dramatised anyway but I think more importantly, I have spent much of my life being inauthentic so that it has become really important to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

So where did my inauthenticity come from?

If I reflect upon my life, I think it was a deep distrust and dislike of who I was. I didn’t mean to misrepresent myself, I just didn’t know who myself was and always felt like I would be a disappointment to whomever I met; I learnt a deep distrust of my truth. What was my truth?

I suspect this was why I have been unable to properly market my book and even my yoga and meditation classes. I wasn’t quite ready to believe I was being authentic and thought I would be a disappointment when people met me after reading the book, would be disappointed by the book or disappointed by a class.

I hoped the story would stand on its own and magically disappear off the bookshelves of countless book stores across the country; that people would somehow hear about this story of woman who yoga’ed and meditated her way out of a wheelchair and automatically want to promote it then I wouldn’t have to do anything.

I was wrong. The thing was, if I didn’t believe in my work, why would anyone else? Every week I teach six classes in yoga and meditation and have several private clients, and my book has sold nearly two thousand copies, so I must be doing something right. There must be something about my story and my teaching that touches people.

I have had to learn to first recognise my inner voice and then listen to it so I could know when I was actually being authentic, and most importantly not judge myself for my past and present indiscretions. Acceptance of myself is allowing my whole self to surface and is enabling me to see the pathways to change, not just in myself but in the people around me.

I am realising as I move through this life that very few people (if any), do things that are not in alignment because they are bad people. Most people it seems are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, it just may be that they are working with fear and anxiety, and if we remove the judgement of right and wrong we may be able to find our compassion and support each other through our moments of fear.

The result is of course that I am much more accepting and it is more effortless; the clouds are parting and I can see the beautiful blue sky behind them.

Perhaps now I will be able to market my book and my classes with the confidence of speaking my truth. And perhaps this blog is the beginning. I really wasn’t sure what I was writing about when I started so it will be interesting to see what comes up next time I sit to write.

Thank you.

The practice

If you are having difficulty accepting an aspect of yourself (or someone else), try this practice and see what happens

  • relax your body with some stretching and a quick relaxation of your muscles (progressive muscle tense and relax works well)
  • become aware of the your breath, noticing the length of the out -breath and the in-breath
  • invite the in and out-breath to become equal
  • continue this even breathing until your mind settles
  •  allow the aspect or quality to arise and notice the shape, colour, place in your body, texture and density of the quality
  • when you have a strong image, bathe the image with acceptance (love, peace will also work); first the outside and then the inside
  • pause occasionally to notice any changes 
  • when you are ready to return to your life, notice the image again and become aware of any changes and thank yourself for giving yourself this time
  • repeat as often as you like until you feel the need has passed
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