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Less is more

Less

Growing up in a society where more is best:

The more you have… the bigger the house… the more gadgets… the most amount of clothes… shoes… bags… more you travel… more friends… larger family… more to do…days filled… more food… bigger portions… more success…more choices… more words…

More, more and more.

So here we are in ‘The Land of More’, where has this gotten us?

Stressed, spiritually empty, tired, overwhelmed, and obsessed, over thinking, no time to sit and stare, and no room for contemplation…

Our mind reflects our external world, if more is the theme, then the mind speeds up and creates the pace required to live in ‘The Land of More’.

With more things and keeping ourselves too busy, our mind is fuelled to keep up.

What is the problem?

Simple, if you want to feel stressed then remain of ‘The Land of More’, or you can choose to feel at peace and at ease living with less.

Children and animals know this instinctively, they need very little to be happy; it is the grownups that have perpetuated this addiction to more.

Take a moment and imagine having less… less things to do… time for quiet… a few items of clothes to choose from… fewer things… no clutter… there is time to be listened to…the grass can be felt under your bare feet… you taste your food…breathe consciously…

With less, you have cleared a path for your imagination to spark and for life to have more meaning, beyond the busyness.

Take some time to think about how you can create less in your life.

Differentness v Sameness

differentLearning about yourself through difference.

How hard it is for many of us to step into differentness.

Differentness makes us feel uncomfortable, so what do we do?

We keep returning to sameness, either on the holidays we take, the food we eat or, the people we socialise with.

Sitting for seven hours on a Sri Lankan train, in oppressive heat, and people crammed into every available space, I had loads of time to ponder this.

To think about the differences between me and them. Their culture, dress, language, skin colour, food, mannerism and personal space.

The differences they saw in me as I saw in them. There was less of me, and more of them.

Children would stare with inquisitive looks at who this person was with light skin and short blonde hair. Noting in their minds the differences and possibly the sameness as well.

During that exhausting journey, and at points wishing I was home with my sameness. It became apparent that differences are what makes life more fulfilling.

It is not that anything is wrong with sameness, it is that sameness is just that… sameness.

Differentness, turns the wheels and adds more neurotransmitters to your brain.

It is what changes us, expands our horizons and ultimately gives our life a buzz.

As that little boy’s perspective will be forever changed, so will yours

You can only grow through differences.

Place yourself in the uncomfortable, even if you are fighting like mad against it, stay with the feelings until you settle down and then see how you have changed.

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What is family anyway?

DSC_0120Whilst celebrating Independence Day at the weekend with my yoga family and friends, my natural family, 3500 miles away in the US, was celebrating my younger sister’s birthday.

On this, the 2nd anniversary of my move to London, so much has happened. I have straddled both continents trying to make sense of not being close to my family.

I have found that family is not limited to my blood family. Since moving away, I have begun to realise that our family extends beyond what we define as our family.

We are all on this planet together…the cashier at Supermarket… the lady who walks her 3 dogs everyday… my Facebook friend from Nigeria… my Alzheimer’s chair yoga group… my Brentford yoga group… my spinning teacher….in other words ‘everyone’.

Believing our love can only be shared with one specific family group results in frustration and never ending disappointment. If we only recognise that our family is limitless, our capacity to love is also limitless, then the family pressure evaporates.

As a culture we need order, knowing who we can call our family, we think this provides us with a sense of security. Ironically this gives us a false sense of security. Acknowledging that we are part of universal  family of all living things, is the essence of our safety

Thank you for being part of my family.

Take your trouser’s off

trousersLet your weirdness out

I just finished watching a beautiful love story… it portrayed the real act of getting to know someone, with all their wackiness and without a sense of direction.

Aren’t we all in the same boat… tripping… weaving… banging into walls… trying to get this love thing?

In the film, the father, with Alzheimer’s, would often take his trousers off in public.. not knowing that it as abnormal. Weird, huh? His son, at first terribly embarrassed, but as a gesture of love for his father, also removed his trousers in the restaurant.

The son accepted his Dad’s weirdness and then began to embrace his own.

Don’t we hide our weirdness in the early days of a relationship, fearful of exposing the wacky self? God forbid the weirdness shines through… what chance in hell would you have of being liked, let alone loved.

Our weirdness has a mind of its own and will peak its ugly head out, at the most inopportune times… often when we are feeling vulnerable.

OH MY! That is the one of our fears… you then get trapped on the ‘merry-go-round’ of berating yourself… until there is not an ounce of love left in you… for you or for them.

But aren’t we all weird and wacky? Is there a person living on earth that is not? We like to pretend we are “normal”, if you are one of those… I hate to break the news and ruin your day; there is no such thing as “normal”.

Since this is a truth. Then why not let your weirdness out and take your trouser’s off? I guarantee, when you look around the room, everyone’s trouser’s will be off as well.

Here… here to weirdness!

Wild thing

Wild ThingLet your heart sing

‘Wild thing you make my heart sing’
You make everything groovy’ ‘(The Troggs)

It is an interesting dilemma for many of us when faced with the prospect of choosing between the good girl/boy or the bad girl/boy side of us.  Should we behave appropriately or let ourselves act as we wish?

I suppose the answer is; it depends.

I know for sure I have a massive, mischievous side to me…this conundrum of how to behave remains an  ongoing rift between my inner angel and devil .  Not quite sure if I am behaving badly, or just being me.

The wildness within each of us…more often than not, gets suppressed…especially at work…or in certain company…sitting on the bus…shopping…in most of our days activities…then we go home to place we feel safe and let it all out…at times we may go overboard and hurt the ones who love us the most.

When we unleash our wildness…we unleash our creative power…our zest for life…our smile…our laughter…our uniqueness…the very essence of what people fall in love with.

This inner fire…cannot emerge unless you throw caution to the wind…say and do things which may be a little edgy…

The Summer Solstice marks the first day of the summer…the longest day of the year…as we are surrounded by more light…our spiritual fire is stoked…then wild things start to happen… dreams begin to take shape…the suns’ energy catapults us forward. Whilst the diminishment of light draws us inward, the expansion of light pushes us outward.

For today…this week… for the next six months, set a goal to let your heart sing…

Take your hands off the handle bars of your bike…dance in the supermarket…smile at a stranger…speak to the lady sitting next to you on the bus…eat sushi, if you have never tried it…wear a dress that may show a little extra flesh…forget to put on your makeup…stay up late…make love in the morning or the afternoon after lunch…take up boxing…read a saucy novel…eat breakfast for dinner…kiss your lover when they least expect it…invite friends over without scheduling ahead…sing so everyone can hear…do yoga under a tree…in a park…on the roof…

Whatever stirs your inner fire…do it…and do more of it. You just “make everything groovy”.

Negativity and Pain

IMG_0038Sitting at Cafe Nero, an elderly cantankerous women sits next to me; chain smoking; her voice gravely from years of the adiction. My instinct is to get away…my whole being screamed for her to stop speaking…I absorbed her anger, and struggled to let it go.

A woman sat next to her with good intentions to quell her anger, listening to the complaints of her sad life, periodically interjecting with advice of how to be happier. The lady would not have it. Her anger escalated.

Then a young man, of Indian origin sat next to her, having already met her on several occasions. His demeanour was kind and gentle. He just sat and chatted. Her voice, no longer harsh, now softened.

It became apparent that here was a lonely woman, who just needed to be heard… to be seen… to be valued…

Negative people are actually hurting, so profoundly, they project their anger on to others. They try and push people away with their abrasiveness, often, successfully. In their mind, this justifies why people dislike them.

The young man projected kindness and compassion, then her anger began to fade.

Before walking away from a negative person sit and attend, you do not need to expose yourself for too long. Just remember the hurt they must feel.

The lesson here is that negativity usually means there is pain. Either in ourselves or others, stop…. pause…. take a moment to be present.

Get Naked

getnakedSummer is a particularly difficult time if any of us have even the slightest hint of not being at peace with their body. Sitting is a park soaking up the sun in one of the parks in London, people watching as I always do…

My eyes grazing the various people laying on blankets most in scantily clad clothes – not sure if they are at ease with their bodies.

It was about 20 years ago I hated my body…my legs were too big, my tummy never quite flat enough…I avoided the mirror at all costs…trying on clothes was pure torture…I had tried all the diets…lost nothing…gained when I had children..yet I struggled even before that.

Then…I got naked.

 No…not naked in public, just started getting in tune with my body…this was around 30. I would stand in front of the full length mirror, at first critiquing all the imperfections, then I began to see beyond those areas…and saw a body…a body that was protecting the soul…giving it the haven to explore the world and all its loveliness and sometimes its ugliness

I got naked…exposed my body to the world (fully clad) held my head up high…smiled knowing that my body and soul were joined now…they were on a journey together…holding hands as good friends would.

When it all started to happen…my body began to smile…and some of the excess weight, I used to hide my body with, slipped away. I ate differently…I exercised more…I stopped hiding.

Due to our busy lifestyle, our connection with our body and soul for many does not exist…your mind has become the authority…

Take time each day to connect to your body…stand in front of the mirror each day and look…keep looking until your judgment shifts. Meditate….practice yoga…breathe…exercise…make lots and lots of love…with the lights on…allow your lover to see every inch of you…

Trust…always believe in yourself

LakesTrust…trust you won’t fall…trust you will not regret…trust it was the right thing…trust in a higher power…trust in the self…trust in your loved ones…trust all will be all right…trust that hurt will eventually diminish…trust you will be happy again…trust…trust…trust.

Trust weaves a web around all areas of our lives. Until we internalise trust…living can be a struggle…questioning choices…people’s motives…life, itself.

Trust is instilled in us as children…our parents are usually the first teachers of trust. You trust they love you without conditions…they are there by your side no matter what…if you make a mistake they are there to pick you up.

Trust then begins to waver as we grow and enter the world beyond the family…this is the beginning of second guessing, everything. Our sense of safety begins to wobble.

Trust is essential for our wellbeing. How then can we return to a place of trust?

Trust your inner voice…the voice that speaks even if it is just a whisper…don’t wait for it to start screaming. As a child will start with a whimper and if ignored will eventually yell.

Trust that you are loveable.

Trust that no matter what you try you will make it happen, if you desire it enough.

Trust…just believe in yourself.

Open your eyes to the beauty of nature

daffodilsThis holiday weekend I visited the English Lake District, where the famous poet, William Wordsworth is buried. Remember he was inspired to write the poem “Daffodils”.

I was caught in a moment of emotion by this stanza from his poem (see above) which is standing amongst his memorial garden in a church yard in Grasmere.

His poem reminds me of the moments in our lives when we are consumed with loneliness and it takes something to lift us up and give us a different perspective. Though Wordsworth was alive several hundred years ago, he too experienced this universal emotion. It took the beauty of nature to uplift his spirits.

Hence this week’s theme is how our connection to nature can serve as the remedy for these feelings. Often, during a holiday weekend our feelings of loneliness can become more apparent, even if we are surrounded by friends and family.

By opening our eyes to the beauty around us we feel part of something bigger, we can experience pure joy

Stop “Shoulding” on yourself

spikeeeee-3

Laying in my morning yoga class my ears perked up when the teacher mentioned to us to “stop shoulding” ourselves. It is a familiar saying, yet every time I hear it I pause for a moment to reflect on how often I do this without being aware.

“Should” is one of the most overused words by parents, teachers, therapists… Even if parents try not to set expectations on their children, how often is this word “should” used to impose what they think is the correct way to act or be…and by the way where do these expectations come from anyway?

Many of our “shoulds” are spurred by popular culture,…being told how to eat…sleep…play…work…lose weight…stay healthy…get married… go to the gym…go to yoga…find a partner…and even how to be happy. By the way the “go to yoga” can remain on your “should” list 🙂

I still cannot grasp the idea of someone holding the key to happiness. Is it possible to design a one size fits all prescription for happiness? I have yet to meet two people who are identical.

Being the “Queen of Shoulds”, my head replays this term numerous times each day. ‘”I should”…be working…doing the laundry…putting fresh water in the flower vase…eating salad…go for a walk…working on my writing piece…call my family…not drink wine…smile…stop thinking…practicing my yoga…the list could easily go on and on. It is quite daunting when you start to list your “should” thoughts.

When we “should” a lot, our capacity to see things as they truly are diminishes…we can become a little paranoid…anticipating a “should”from other people, since our self-esteem is wavering towards the low end of the scale…we will never be content, ever!

Ask yourself, “where did these shoulds come from?” …challenge them…do not take them at face value.

“Shoulding” reinforces the fact we are not good enough…stupid…lazy…a failure…fat…out of shape…

What a terrible waste of energy and precious time…take some time and begin to list all your “shoulds” …do it for a day…just to see…then..

Stop Shoulding on yourself.

RJMindbody

RJMindbody