Yoga Me Well Blog

How to Stay on Track

 

This YogaMeWell spring/summer term (at 4Dverse Creative Hub St Kilda), we’re practicing the art of STAYING.

We’re going to hold our postures longer, not to keep up with the trend toward Yin yoga or to ease open soft tissue. Our aim is to watch the fluctuations of mind in an effort to command greater steadiness.

A pure focus.

By staying in a pose longer than feels comfortable, we invite the mind to speak loudly. The yoga we do at YogaMeWell is relatively gentle, so the mind is most likely to speak its restlessness first: “Come on! What’s next?” “Maybe I’ll buy a pizza on the way home…”.

If staying does introduce a level of discomfort, we can take the opportunity to observe how the mind handles that: does it push malevolently through to chastise the body, or does it recognise and yield to this plea to ease off until the body is better nourished, rested or repaired. 

 

A MIND FIELD OF SUFFERING

The point is, ALL the trouble we get ourselves into in this life is caused by the activities of the mind. The yogic guidebook to peace, the Yoga Sutras, mentions this in its first breath: “citta vritti nirodha”, let us “still the fluctuations of the mind”. 

Our practice is always about harnessing that wild beast and leading it to focus.

While staying also eases us toward flexibility, and to gain strength, its real purpose is to encourage us, as students of this tumultuous life, to stand back from the relentlessness of hidden mental churning. We might gain a peek at how the mind directs our pathway using Free Will or Ego Stealth.

Through our practice on and off the mat, we can come to observe the decisions our Decision-Maker makes. We invite the Seer (whatever is behind the decision-making Ego mind) to stand forward and review the thought processes. Watching the mind from peaceful distance brings greater control over thoughts and subsequent actions.

If you feel inspired to join us, your mat awaits Tuesdays at 6:30pm or 7:35pm.

We are friendly faces and encouraging of each other. And we enjoy sharing our group practice. Each week, we uplift each other through our careful focus and dedication to regain balance.

It’s not about how you look or ‘perform’. Not at all. It’s about how you feel.

All levels of experience welcome. However if you have significant restrictions, these general classes may not be suitable. (Private classes are available to develop a personal practice.)

Term 4 begins Tues 9 October

Enrol now: 0409 473 162 or livmitchell@ozemail.com.au

I’m looking forward to meeting you when the time feels right. Until then, stay bright.

Cheery,
Liv

Liv Mitchell

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Liv Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.

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A Guide to Self Inquiry

 

Winter’s dark days, long nights and cold contracting weather offer opportunity to dwell in gentler pursuits. Many of us feel drawn naturally to be insular. It’s a seasonal prompt to stillness and reflection.

I’ve had the good fortune for years of a dedicated personal mentor to guide me in this practice.  Broadly speaking, self-inquiry is a process that uncovers layers of original disturbance that are the root cause of unhelpful behavioural patterns and reactive responses.

In my experience, the practice reveals over time many and varied layers of an issue until I become less reactive – and finally neutral – in my response to whatever triggers it.

Triggers could be a situation, place, circumstance, person or event. Some of my responses include defensiveness, anger, victimhood, feeling trapped or powerless, despair and good old avoidance. It’s fun stuff.

Head in Ground Pose. It’s alright. We’ve all been there. But it’s better to go seek, than to hide.

Cleaning up our own psychic mess – which carries the patterns of prior generations too – requires strong intention and an attitude of self-responsibility. The process opens us to see clearly the aspects of Self that challenge us most such as our violence, aggression, selfishness, spinelessness.

The gifts of self-inquiry are:

  • self-acceptance
  • a quieter centre
  • lightness of mind and attitude
  • deeper insight into self and others
  • neutral and productive responses to life’s toughest challenges.    

**How to Self-Inquire

  1. Establish a daily practice and habit of quiet time to settle the overactive mind and becalm the nervous system. While 20 minutes of meditation twice a day is ideal, even 5-10 mins of natural breathing or mindful movement is an excellent habit.
  2. When a strong feeling arrives – day or night – pause to feel it. Name it.
  3. Practice knowing the full spectrum of your feelings, and welcoming them.
  4. Note if an obvious person, circumstance or event triggered that response.
  5. Consider this idea: our reactions are generally not about the thing in our immediate present, but refer to a past disturbing event that has imprinted to recreate that reaction.
  6. Over time you will learn to observe patterns such as particular personalities that trigger you, or situations such as being asked to do certain tasks by a partner or work colleague.
  7. Once you are established in awareness of your feelings, reactions, patterns, begin to self-inquire. After a reaction, ask yourself: “When did I first feel this way?”
  8. Trust whatever the subconscious mind reveals in answer to that question. It might be a flashback, or something you hear or see or read soon after that feels meaningful. It often reveals deep truth. Dwell on that insight from the strength of your older, wiser Self. Importantly, notice how you feel after the reveal.
  9. Next time a similar situation occurs, observe your response. Is it the same, deeper/stronger, neutral, or something else?

Taking command of your responses to life in this way is satisfying and empowering. There is so much to be gained from diminishing the whimsical impact of external forces.

** This is just one of many ways to inquire more deeply into why we are the way we are. This method, taught to me by  my mentor, may not suit all people. It’s not always appropriate to continue reaching back into past disturbances. This can reinforce old triggers. See my blog on yogic mindfulness for another way to clear your ‘psychic mess’. 

Warmly,

Liv

Join us  for Winter yoga (begins Tuesday 17 July). We’re taking time to reflect and go deeper.

Liv Mitchell

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Liv Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.

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Out of the Ordinary

I remember in my early 20s having the sense that to live a ‘normal’ life would be a lacklustre existence.

Striving to create something bigger drove me to ground again and again. Though outwardly I appeared to have an interesting, creative life, I was too often exhausted and confused, wondering when I would relax into the satisfying plateau of my Arrival, and enjoy myself.

It wasn’t until glossy work and health fell away, fruitful endeavours became overripe and financial stability disappeared that I emerged – floundering – in the wake of ‘normal’. 

There was no denying I had chosen this place. And it felt Less than even ‘normal’.

Luna Park – colourful chaos anyone?

It wasn’t until glossy work and health fell away, fruitful endeavours became overripe and financial stability disappeared that I emerged floundering in the wake of ‘normal’.

There was no denying I had chosen this place. And it felt far Less than any ‘normal’.

As perspective gathered, my eyes opened to precious everyday things.

I began to live in moments, rather than days or weeks. The Ordinariness of it all taught me to appreciate that I was living out of the ordinary, simply by feeling and seeing things that others seemed not to notice or care about.

The need to strive fell away, and with it, the desperate urge for bigger, better.

Contentment snuck in.

The undulation of normal is richly textured with challenging, progressive encounters, tempering thoughts and moments of great beauty.  To bear conspicuous Witness to our microscopic wanderings is liberating.

We watch ourselves fall, but ever more gently, growing the strength to rise and rejoin the flow.

Warmly,

Liv 

Liv Mitchell

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Liv Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.

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