The Deep Power of Retreating

It’s a funny thing, but I used to be at odds with the word “retreat.”  It had come to mean in my mind something to do with running away. Running away from life, turning away from what you should be facing, giving up.

My first retreat experience changed all that. I found that far from running away from myself and life, I had found a portal back to myself and a connection to life that perhaps unwittingly I had been craving with all my heart and soul, but could not find while I was busying about all my daily tasks.

I found that a retreat has the power to rebuild you, re-set you and heal things that are getting between you and a healthy, happy life at a very deep level.

How does this happen?  How can going away for a few days really be so life-changing?

That, I think, has to do with the potency of intentionally going away for the sake of going in.  Going in to your own body and through yoga, walking in nature, massage and eating nourishing foods, experiencing the delight that at a nourished, engaged body can reward you with. Going in to your own heart, the parts of it you simply do not have time to hang out with in the maelstrom of your busy life, the parts of it you may not have visited for a long time because there are wounds there, and who has time for wounds and healing when there are so many other people to look after?  Going in to intentionally enter a deeper connection and conversation with yourself.  Going in to your true nature – that nature that sometimes barely has time to breathe – and remembering who you are.  

I have a love of language and the roots of the words we use, so I looked up the word “retreat” and was surprised to find it had nothing to do with running away. The word comes from Latin and Old French and its meanings are “to pull back”, “to fall back from battle”, “to draw back”, “to call back”.

Far from surrendering to overwhelm, going on a retreat is about you intentionally offering yourself – gifting yourself – the holy grail of self-reunion. A retreat is a time for massive assimilation and reintegration and we need that so much in our often crazy, scattered ways of living.

This “calling back” is a calling back of all the parts of you into wholeness. All those parts of you that you have been giving out in all directions and all of the time now have a chance to return to you and only you.  By answering the call to retreat, you have afforded yourself the time, the space and the perfect ingredients for a reunion with the real you.  By drawing back from the usual routines and obligations, shedding the usual roles and demands, you get closer and closer to your essential self and remember what it feels like when it is well rested, well nourished, nurtured by yoga and breathed full of prana from spectacular nature.  You are giving yourself a complete life-exfoliation. The result is a new healthy “skin” – the membrane of your own self becomes glowing and plump again.

This “calling back” that under-vibes the whole experience of retreating is powerful stuff, by the way.  There are places in our lives – lost places, forgotten and exiled places – which long to be called back.  There are things we are doing in our lives, almost unconsciously because they have become such a familiar part of the auto-routine, that are craving a break or a complete change.  We continue with habits and ways of thinking and talking to ourselves that do not serve our thriving. Once you know what these are, once you recognise your own vitality again, once you remember the powerful precedent of being an advocate for your own heart and your own free spirit….and believe me, all of these things will come to you in the magical oasis of a retreat…you get the kind of clarity that demands a response.  It may be a job, a relationship or a habit of yours that you know now does not serve the growth and nourishment of who you really are.  A retreat offers the space to call in the resources, strength, support and inspiration needed to return to life with your highest vision of yourself in full activation.

No, a retreat has nothing to do with running away.  But it does have everything to do with coming home.

Written by Alison Potts - Innate Being

Alison is partnering with Amy Wilkinson, founder of Inna Bliss, for their upcoming At Home In Your Heart - a winter luxury farm retreat at the Stunning  Wybalena Organic Farm in Byron Shire this August. Her and Amy and also very excited to be once again hosting 'Embodying Bliss' Bali Yoga & Meditation Retreat this October at the gorgeous Shala Bali in Ubud.

The Myths Of Meditation

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One of the problems with meditation is that there is a lot of chatter and received wisdom about it swirling around that people take into their practices as unquestionable truths. Some of these ideas come simply from misunderstanding and confused language that has become part of the meditation lexicon. Others are practices used for lives other than the ones you might have and were never meant for our lives, a key example being meditation practices which have developed around monkhood, for celibate men living thousands of years ago and who had renounced life.  

Nothing is more heartbreaking to me than people who have given up meditation because they have given over their natural instincts and inner resources to systems not designed for them or misleading meditation instructions.

So that being said….let’s bust some myths and reclaim a healthy and life-affirming approach to meditation. I haven’t invented this by the way – this healthy approach has been adopted by us humans since the beginning of time and is backed up by robust, replicated science.

“We Have To Concentrate in Meditation”

In life, there are thousands of ways in which we have to concentrate. We all have to concentrate on something and most of the time. We all come into a different range of ability to concentrate, so yes, we sometimes need practice. But meditation is not the place to come. Meditation is not the place we come to in order to improve our concentration skills.  We can go to concentration practices for that. Meditation is not a concentration practice.”

“We Have To Sit Still in Meditation”

More than ever, we are a sedentary lot. We sit in cars, we sit at desks, we sit on sofas and watch TV.  Our bodies, all the while are building a craving for movement. When we come to meditation in particular, we may very well feel this craving and start to feel fidgety and restless. Welcome this restlessness and ask your body what it wants to do with it. Dance has been a vessel of meditation in many cultures since ancient times, for instance.  People who walk often find they get clearer about thoughts, have “aha” moments or creative ideas while they are walking.  Even if you are sitting or lying down to rest during meditation, you can still respond to your body’s impulse for movement. For example, by swaying, rolling, moving your arms or hands.

“We Have To Endure Pain And “Transcend” Our Bodies During Meditation”

List the benefits of ignoring pain.
Are there any?
Our bodies are one of the allies of our intuition.  Should we really suppress what they are telling us?  Meditation is improved the more you are able to relax. Any holding or enduring of pain is counter to that. Further, we need to bring attention to that relaxation process. When we come to meditate and we begin to relax, often the first thing we feel is those little-to-big stresses and strains the body has been holding onto until we are not too busy to attend to them. Bringing attention to our bodies is a very important part of meditation. Not only does it allow the tense and painful parts to relax and release, but it can bring tour notice things we may need to bring to the attention to of a doctor or other professional healer in the outside world. Our bodies love this attention. So much so, that simply breathing with everything they alert us to can bring them respite, healing and renewal.

“We Have To Block Our Thoughts in Meditation”

If you try to stop thinking in meditation, you will fail. We stop thinking when we are brain dead. While we are vibrantly alive, we have the gift of this miraculous tool of consciousness, that deeply bonds us into being and expressing. If you want to make yourself really unhappy in meditation, shame yourself for having thoughts. If you want to be with your own naturalness and miracle of your whole mind/body/system, then welcome every impulse of the mind as expressions of the energy circulating inside you.

“We Mustn’t Let Our Minds Drift in Meditation”

Clouds drift, water drifts, feathers drift on the breeze……Nature is full of drifting.  And so is your innate nature. There can be few things as relaxing and expansive as letting your awareness roam freely. Scientific research shows that we need to daydream to thrive.  R.E.M. – the dreaming phase of sleep – is the most important element of the cycle. When sleep is interrupted and people miss this phase, they are deprived of essential rest. Decisions are harder to make, impulses are slower, moods are turbulent and they are likely to have more accidents. The benefits of meditation – clarity, restedness, peace, restored vitality – will not be there if natural dreaming and drifting is blocked from its range.

“We Must Close Our Eyes in Meditation”

Why?
When you lose yourself in your lover’s eyes, take in a breathtaking view of the ocean or gaze in awe at a sumptuous sunset, are your eyes open or closed?
Like many meditation instructions, this one is often accepted without question. When you think about it, there is no rationale to back this precept up.
I have had many a student who, on being given permission to keep their eyes open, found it transformed their practice. All meditation is enhanced exponentially by engaging even one of our senses. A great way to open your meditation is to let your eyes roam and settle on something that draws them in and then rest your gaze there and feel as you do, your inner world unleashed.
You may find, like I do, that your eyes spontaneously move between both open and closed during the cycle of meditation – the way I explain this is sometimes I draw from the beyond and others, from within, and between those two realms is a connecting thread, a pulse.
You may like to experiment for yourself. And remember the saying – the eyes are the windows of the soul.  It might be nice to keep those soul-windows open now and then, and see what comes into vision.

“We Mustn't Have Emotions In Meditation”

To me, this is such a sad instruction. It is like being told we aren’t allowed to feel what we really feel. We come into meditation to experience intimacy with the flow of life as particular to us, not distance. Every day, life is touching us in myriad ways, with the unwritten agreement that at some stage we will come inside and feel those touches and tend to them.  Emotion is – e-motion; energy in motion. Have you ever had a moment of spontaneous cherishing of someone or something and felt your whole heart fill and thrum with feeling? Behind that feeling will be your heart’s journey in the past and the present and even its perception of the future. All wrapped up in a sense of deep blessing. That kind of feeling-awareness is meditative.  Our emotions play the song of our lives. It is worth listening to that song and entering it more deeply.

“We Must Be In The Now where “Being In the Now” means in the present only”

Do you have memories that you cherish so deeply that when you play them over in your head, your whole body tingles with feeling, as if you were right back to where you were then? Are you looking forward to something so much that every time to bring that thing to mind – especially if you go into the rich detail of it – you have a wild sense of being thrilled to be alive?  Have you ever been so enchanted by a dream or fantasy that it seems as real and fulfilling to you as your ordinary life?
Our inner being is perfectly capable of cycling through many realms and this adds to our enjoyment and appreciation if life.

Great poets, visionaries, artists and film-makers have used this innate “time-travelling” ability we have to produce breath-taking creations and inventions.

The present in one dimension can feel very monochrome for a meditator. If you can be present in all the dimensions – well, then you get to meditate in colour.

Written by Alison Potts - Innate Being

Alison is partnering with Amy for their upcoming At Home In Your Heart - a winter luxury farm retreat & and also the long overdue second installment of 'Embodying Bliss' Bali Yoga & Meditation Retreat.

Is this on the test?

I listened to an interview with Seth Godin today.  Seth is one of my favourite authors and thinkers.  If you haven’t come across any of his work, I highly recommend him.  One of the things that Seth often says is that a question indicative that we are a product of the modern school system is, “Is this on the test?”  I saw this in our recent Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Trainees were freaked out by homework.  Not only was there apprehension simply around the fact of having homework, trainees came back asking, albeit in slightly different and round-about terms, “will this be on the test?”   This was homework that we had carefully constructed to provide processes of inquiry which would take students deeper into the study of Yoga and themselves, not the sort of homework that would be marked with red pen and big crosses.  While there were important learnings in there for the teacher in training (indeed, for any Yoga practitioner), what we were seeking to create wasn’t students who could memorise and recite the correct answers, but something different altogether.  We sought to open doors onto a journey of lifelong, passionate, engaged learning.  To me, this is what Yoga is.  Yoga isn’t mastering techniques or learning information until we ‘arrive’.  Sure, much of the Yoga tradition does hold that there is a definite place we can arrive at and journey no more (samadhi, or nirvana in the Buddhist traditions).  There are two things I would say to this:   1)  What if there isn’t? 2)  Even if there is, until I arrive there, I plan to stay open.  Ceaselessly, boldly, gloriously open to transcending old understandings and embracing new, more effective ones.  Douglas Brooks’ teacher, Dr. Gopala Aiyar Sundaramoorthy, said, “Yoga is virtuosity in being yourself”.  Not only is the target changing, as the self seems to be ever in flux, the self is complex enough that no amount of work could perfect us.   Training to become a Yoga teacher is a big deal, with a quite unfathomable amount one has to learn.  But what do you do to improve at a thing, to become proficient and to understand it more deeply and more fully?  You do it.  Engage in it wholeheartedly and learn by doing and course correcting, without the expectation of perfection.   Back to Seth Godin.  Seth relates that many people, when meeting successful creative people, will ask, “Where do you get your good ideas?”  This, he says, is a bad question.  Bad, because what we would ideally ask is, “Where do you get your bad ideas from?”  If we create enough, he says, we’ll have a bunch of bad ideas, but we’ll also have some great ones, so we should create enough, practice enough, do enough that we give ourselves that opportunity. Seth believes in this so much that in his online training program, he has students create multiple significant projects within the space of a month.  It’s the same approach that we’ve taken.  Our Yoga teacher trainees have their first experience of teaching on the first day of the course.  This is simple at first, and highly manageable. As the course progresses, students continue to learn and to layer more, teaching more and more as they go along, building in confidence, knowledge and proficiency. The next step along this journey is when teacher trainees begin to create their own classes and receive feedback as they go, leading up to their final assessment of teaching a full class to their peers.   This isn’t easy.  We know it’s not.  We saw trainees grapple with the awkwardness of getting all of this right.  We saw them come face to face with their own ‘bad ideas’ (In this case, words that came out less than smooth, lefts and rights mixed up, cues that weren’t the best in the pose and class plans that didn’t have as much clarity and direction as they could have).  In and through it all, though, they were held.  And remarkably, this audacious plan of ours to have students in the practice of teaching as they were learning and as a tool to learning paid off.  The teachers that we saw teach their assessment classes were ones that we couldn’t have imagined as we started out.  They were confident and competent.  Knowledgeable and well able to teach a wonderful Yoga class.   Most of all, and perhaps most excitingly, they were entirely themselves.  In and through this process, they had peeled back the layers to uncover their own expression as a Yoga teacher.  It was one of our main aims, and remains so;  that each individual dives deeper into what Yoga means to them, embodies its truths and expresses them in their teaching.  Not only this, we hope to facilitate that process in such a way, sharing our experiences with Yoga and passions for Yoga, that each teacher trainee is invited to become the sort of teacher and practitioner who is ever opening to expanding the possibilities of who they are as a human, as a teacher and as a Yogin or Yogini. "Marty (Martin Collyer), along with studio founder and owner Amy Wilkinson and partner Riss Carlyon, is one of the three creators and facilitators of our Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Our goal was to bring to the Brisbane market a Yoga teacher training which combined the best of Vinyasa and alignment based postural Yoga, a balanced approach to the history and philosophy of Yoga and a true journey of the transformation so important to becoming a Yoga teacher.  Yoga is our gift and passion, and we feel so blessed to share it with people in this unique course. You can keep an eye out for graduates of our first Brisbane Yoga teacher training in studio, where they are teaching across our three locations.  If you’re interested in becoming a Yoga teacher yourself and are based in Brisbane, come along to a class and say hi to Amy, Riss or Marty.  We’d love to see you and will endeavour to answer any questions you have about the suitability of the 2017 intake of our 200 hour teacher training.

I listened to an interview with Seth Godin today.  Seth is one of my favourite authors and thinkers.  If you haven’t come across any of his work, I highly recommend him. 

One of the things that Seth often says is that a question indicative that we are a product of the modern school system is, “Is this on the test?”  I saw this in our recent Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Trainees were freaked out by homework.  Not only was there apprehension simply around the fact of having homework, trainees came back asking, albeit in slightly different and round-about terms, “will this be on the test?”  

This was homework that we had carefully constructed to provide processes of inquiry which would take students deeper into the study of Yoga and themselves, not the sort of homework that would be marked with red pen and big crosses.  While there were important learnings in there for the teacher in training (indeed, for any Yoga practitioner), what we were seeking to create wasn’t students who could memorise and recite the correct answers, but something different altogether.  We sought to open doors onto a journey of lifelong, passionate, engaged learning.  To me, this is what Yoga is.  Yoga isn’t mastering techniques or learning information until we ‘arrive’.  Sure, much of the Yoga tradition does hold that there is a definite place we can arrive at and journey no more (samadhi, or nirvana in the Buddhist traditions).  There are two things I would say to this:  

1)  What if there isn’t?

2)  Even if there is, until I arrive there, I plan to stay open.  Ceaselessly, boldly, gloriously open to transcending old understandings and embracing new, more effective ones.  Douglas Brooks’ teacher, Dr. Gopala Aiyar Sundaramoorthy, said, “Yoga is virtuosity in being yourself”.  Not only is the target changing, as the self seems to be ever in flux, the self is complex enough that no amount of work could perfect us.  

Training to become a Yoga teacher is a big deal, with a quite unfathomable amount one has to learn.  But what do you do to improve at a thing, to become proficient and to understand it more deeply and more fully?  You do it.  Engage in it wholeheartedly and learn by doing and course correcting, without the expectation of perfection.  

Back to Seth Godin.  Seth relates that many people, when meeting successful creative people, will ask, “Where do you get your good ideas?”  This, he says, is a bad question.  Bad, because what we would ideally ask is, “Where do you get your bad ideas from?”  If we create enough, he says, we’ll have a bunch of bad ideas, but we’ll also have some great ones, so we should create enough, practice enough, do enough that we give ourselves that opportunity.

Seth believes in this so much that in his online training program, he has students create multiple significant projects within the space of a month.  It’s the same approach that we’ve taken.  Our Yoga teacher trainees have their first experience of teaching on the first day of the course.  This is simple at first, and highly manageable. As the course progresses, students continue to learn and to layer more, teaching more and more as they go along, building in confidence, knowledge and proficiency.

The next step along this journey is when teacher trainees begin to create their own classes and receive feedback as they go, leading up to their final assessment of teaching a full class to their peers.  

This isn’t easy.  We know it’s not.  We saw trainees grapple with the awkwardness of getting all of this right.  We saw them come face to face with their own ‘bad ideas’ (In this case, words that came out less than smooth, lefts and rights mixed up, cues that weren’t the best in the pose and class plans that didn’t have as much clarity and direction as they could have).  In and through it all, though, they were held.  And remarkably, this audacious plan of ours to have students in the practice of teaching as they were learning and as a tool to learning paid off.  The teachers that we saw teach their assessment classes were ones that we couldn’t have imagined as we started out.  They were confident and competent.  Knowledgeable and well able to teach a wonderful Yoga class.  

Most of all, and perhaps most excitingly, they were entirely themselves.  In and through this process, they had peeled back the layers to uncover their own expression as a Yoga teacher.  It was one of our main aims, and remains so;  that each individual dives deeper into what Yoga means to them, embodies its truths and expresses them in their teaching.  Not only this, we hope to facilitate that process in such a way, sharing our experiences with Yoga and passions for Yoga, that each teacher trainee is invited to become the sort of teacher and practitioner who is ever opening to expanding the possibilities of who they are as a human, as a teacher and as a Yogin or Yogini.

"Marty (Martin Collyer), along with studio founder and owner Amy Wilkinson and partner Riss Carlyon, is one of the three creators and facilitators of our Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Our goal was to bring to the Brisbane market a Yoga teacher training which combined the best of Vinyasa and alignment based postural Yoga, a balanced approach to the history and philosophy of Yoga and a true journey of the transformation so important to becoming a Yoga teacher.  Yoga is our gift and passion, and we feel so blessed to share it with people in this unique course.

You can keep an eye out for graduates of our first Brisbane Yoga teacher training in studio, where they are teaching across our three locations.  If you’re interested in becoming a Yoga teacher yourself and are based in Brisbane, come along to a class and say hi to Amy, Riss or Marty.  We’d love to see you and will endeavour to answer any questions you have about the suitability of the 2017 intake of our 200 hour teacher training.

Play it like a yogi!

One of the elements of my practice that I focus on enhancing and sharing with students is the ability to “play the edge”…but what does this mean?? In its simplest form, playing the edge is finding that point in a pose that is a perfect balance between self-effort and surrender. That is, there’s enough happening in the body so that our mind has something to work with but that there is still enough spaciousness so that breath and energy can continue to flow. The edge is not a static point, it fluctuates, it evolves and therefore takes constant refinement and recalibration.

Our practice of yoga is an opportunity to practice self-love and compassion. When we move into a pose slowly and with total awareness, we have an opportunity to become aware of sensations in our body. The sensations that we experience are our body speaking to us. Our bodies have a lot to tell us! Our biography becomes our biology and everything we have ever experienced in our lives in stored in our cells.  When we come to the mat, we have an opportunity to retrieve this information, information that we have stored as tension, tightness and dis-ease. If we allow ourselves to stay present to what we experience, to listen intently to these sensations, we can use our deep rhythmic breath to clear out some of this debris. Every exhaling breath is an opportunity to let something go, to surrender and soften a little more. Working in this way we begin to have a conversation with our bodies in that language that is not man-made and in this way our practice becomes pure medicine.

Allowing ourselves to be present for each movement, for each breath and for each sensation allows us to be guided by what we experience and in this way we work intuitively. We are all intuitive, we are born that way, but if we don’t listen to our intuition, then the voice of our intrinsic genius becomes quieter and quieter. Our practice is an opportunity to reconnect and allow ourselves to be guided by our own genius. When we meet our edge, we have come to a doorway. We stop and we breathe and wait for the doorway to open. This doorway is a portal, a portal for change. 

Often times we can miss this portal. If are impatient and focused on achieving a certain pose, we are working from the linear (ego) mind. The linear/ego mind will always try to take you into a pose or variation of a pose that your body may not be ready for and this is when we begin to struggle. We struggle by forcing the body and trying to subdue it into a projection the ego mind has created (even though you may be screaming on the inside!), we struggle with the breath, it becomes shallow and ragged and we struggle with reality, we are not in the present moment accepting what is. Practicing in this way, our progress will plateau and we soon loose the joy of our practice….this is when most people wander away.

Sometimes we are not ready to change, we may not have developed the will and courage that it takes to stay present for those sensations and we simply tune out…the mind wanders away and we are no longer present. Or perhaps we are just not ready to let go of the armour that we have created around ourselves, there can be an element of fear that we need to face to let go of an identity we are clinging to.

But you know what, that’s OK, that’s the journey and it’s why we call it practice. We practice and refine and practice and absorb and practice and integrate….and in this way our practice becomes a beautiful and wonderous journey or self-discovery, exploration and self-knowldege.

Written by Claudia Piazza 

Claudia is a leading Brisbane yoga teacher who also specialises in Kahuna Bodywork through Radiant Heart Healing.

Claudia can be found at all three of Inna Bliss Yoga studios in Brisbane as the esteemed Studio Manager. She currently teaches Yin, Beginner, Meditation and Vinyasa yoga at Bulimba, Camp Hill & Wynnum. 

Remember Who You Are: Claiming The Gift Of Being Human

Just by Being, You Are A Thing of Wonder. Reclaim the magic.

Human beings – we’re a funny lot, aren’t we? All that time and energy we put into trying to make ourselves something higher, better, more special, more important than being a human. All the money we spend. All the teachers we hire, all the magic potions we take, all the books we read. All the oppressive doubt and self- scrutiny we put ourselves through, sometimes give away our sleep to, even our very happiness and inner peace.

It’s not quite enough to be a human really is it? There are too many ways to fail, to mess up, to get muddy and befuddled and muddled. Muddy and muddled and befuddled are so unspiritual sounding. Surely there is something better – something purer, something clearer, something brighter and more Instafacebookbumpersticker worthy? And how may inherent wrongs do we need to right in ourselves even to get close to being that?

Where to begin? It’s an exhausting journey even to think about to undertaking. Beginning any journey from the starter block of failure makes it a hefty uphill climb.

So many of us seem to go through life as if through one long turbulent affair – falling in and out of love with being ourselves, at an impasse between embracing and rejecting the life we are in just as it is. Anyone who spends enough time absorbed in social media, other peoples’ judgements, the so-called wellness industry, spiritual psychobabble and your own self- dissatisfied thoughts, can be forgiven after a while for believing that being a human being is your real trouble in life. Surely, your journey here on earth is not to experience yourself as human, but to transcend it – become something “other”. Not what you were born. 

Is it?

Let me remind you of something you already know. Let me remind you of the miracle and the gift you already are. Not a gift that needs returning, exchanging, repairing or altering like a dress you got for Christmas that doesn’t quite fit the universal dress-code. Let me remind you that you are a miracle of creation that doesn’t need to perform, pass a test or change itself to prove its value. And that in every moment that you give yourself permission to be human, you are claiming and experiencing that miracle.  

How quickly we forget. A lot of magic went into the making of you - a unique being, here, right now, in this time and place, on this planet Earth. You might not have happened at all, but you did. You are and you are here. Want to know the odds on that?

How likely is it that that you are here now, reading this, sitting where you are sitting, about to do whatever it is you are about to do next?

From a biological point of view, the chances of any of us being here depended on that one sperm fertilising that one egg in that one moment. And roughly the chance of that is a one in one thousand, million, million. That’s one with fifteen zeros after it. One quadrillion to one.

But then, we have to multiply that up by the chances of your parents being born – again, for both of them the same odds.

But why stop there? 

If we take this back to the beginning of the human species – about 150,000 generations – we get an answer that any of us being here is about as likely as getting a parking space at Noosa Main Beach at midday on New Year’s.

It’s a chance in one followed by more zeros than there are atoms in the universe. The chances of this moment you are having are pretty much zero.

That’s more than special. That’s a miracle. And it is in this miracle that we journey. And we journey with other miracles – the people who have somehow arrived in our lives. How small and transient we are all in the infinity of space. But how important that should make us feel.

We have nothing to apologise for and everything to acknowledge and honour ourselves for.

And while we remind ourselves of that, let’s take back some of those apologies we may have got into a habit of making and which denigrate the real magic of ourselves and our lives. Here’s a quick checklist of things to stop apologising for in order to reclaim your natural right to be human, living with celebration a very human life.

  1. Stop apologising for being busy. Your business is the eternal harvest of all your life’s fruits: love, purpose, action, adventure, thrill, creating, nurturing, bonding, nesting, resting, living.
  2. Stop apologising for not slowing down. Everyone has their own natural speed. Where did we get this idea that speed is wrong? It is nowhere in the rest of nature. You wouldn’t ask a panther to move more slowly. How quickly we can grow, how quickly we can learn, how quickly we can turn a situation around. Like the Ferrari, we are built for speed – lets enjoy that.
  3. Don’t apologise for being vulnerable. Your vulnerability and softness nuance your humanity with texture and depth. That’s what makes you compassionate, connected and a good friend/son/daughter/partner/lover/colleague to have. That’s how your heart is able to experience the whole spectrum of life so that you can feel that you are living, rather than watching life from a distance.
  4. Don’t apologise for saying No. No is your golden key to liberate a Yes that would otherwise have to stay locked up.
  5. Don’t apologise for healing and growing. Nature has wired us for healing and growth.  Sometimes we have to shed a skin, leave something or someone behind, in order to keep our beings healthy and thriving.
  6. Don’t apologise for any part of yourself – from the way you look to the way you are. Love yourself unashamedly. One day you won’t have this body. One day you won’t have this life on earth. If it takes forgiving yourself in every moment in order to experience a reunion with your miraculous free self again and again, do that. We are wired to be whole and we can collaborate with that by connecting positively to every cell of our being, or abandon wholeness by abandoning ourselves.

Every time we deny our humanity, we are setting ourselves at war with natural selves. Every time we embrace it, we are embracing the whole of humanity, the whole human spirit and the spirit of the universe.

There is a great Sanskrit word in the early meditation texts – “Aham” – meaning I Am. Aham is your North Star, your guiding light to the home you have inside your human being and your feeling totally at home on earth for the little while you are here. The moment you grasp you are allowed to be who you are, you’ve got it. You’re free.

Do you want the quickest instant affirmation of being human you can take with you anywhere in life?

Here it is:

Place your right hand on your heart. Place your left hand over it. Can you feel your own precious heart beat? 

You’ve got this and the universe which created you has your back. Off you go.

Written by Alison Potts - Innate Being

Alison will be offering a workshop entitled "Back To Bliss: Weaving Magic Through Your Everyday Life at our Bulimba studio in September.  For further information flow through the below button.

 

Ask Your Body What It Needs - You Won't Regret It

Your Physical Body is a Spiritual Thing

Recently, a friend of mine who is in a daily meditation practice, commented on how the early morning chill was making it harder for her to stay in her practice.  She was freezing and finding it hard not to be distracted by that. I totally sympathise.  I hate being cold and I’m a British girl – you’d think I’d be used to it.  My lack of tolerance for shivering skin and frozen bones was indeed a not insignificant factor in what eventually drove me to sunnier climes here in Queensland. 

Here’s the thing. When I prepare to meditate, I give my physical needs the highest priority.

Now that may sound odd to people who have been trained to think that meditation is about putting up with or focussing away from physical feelings and that a sign of having ascended high in the spiritual hierarchy is turning away from one’s needs, ignoring them, deleting them or somehow magically transcending them.  Maybe those ideas come from those cool images of people walking on hot coals as if dancing on a feather-cloud or ideas of meditation that come from celibate men who lived in monasteries thousands of years ago whose whole practices revolved around ignoring their bodies.  

I was once in a practice of wholly ignoring my body. It wasn’t a yoga or meditation practice it was just a habit I had got into of shaming my body for having needs and feelings.  When I was exhausted, I pushed on through.  When I was hungry or thirsty, I asked myself to wait until I had achieved a list of self -made demands disguised as “tasks” before I would allow myself to eat or drink.  When I was in pain, I told myself to suck it up and stop being a wimp.

And the thing was, I was in pain a lot. I was exhausted a lot.  As time went on, my body had a growing and extended list of needs and concerns, roughly equal to the extent of the list of things I did to ignore it.

Then one day, having whispered to me politely to ask for some support, and then a little more loudly and urgently in a begging voice – please help me out here – my body eventually yelled at me so that I could deafen my ears to it no more.  I was diagnosed with MS and from then on, it wasn’t as if I had any choice but to start looking after my body, because I began to realize what an important part of my being it was.

Like anybody and anything we care about, our bodies deserve loving attention. They deserve our care and concern.  They deserve to be listened to and believed and trusted and upheld. They certainly don’t deserve to be ignored. And they are not going to reward us with strength, beauty, health and vitality and all the things I am sure we all want our bodies to have, if we do.

From the moment we are conceived, we are given this miraculous being in which nest and rest and move and dance through life.

It is our sacred home here on earth. It is the both the birthing place and the landing place for prayers, hopes, dreams, creations and manifestations.  With it, we love, we connect, we offer, we receive. Our bodies deserve the highest honour and respect. In the sacred space of meditation, where we want to commune with our highest selves, it is a good idea to make our beings feel welcome and worthy right from the start.

I think of meditation as "me time" (for me, that's the "me" in meditation) and as special and luxurious, and about everything that matters to me - from what my heart loves, to what my heart needs. So when I meditate, I want to give this special time a special kind of space - physically and metaphysically. My sense and experience tells me that as we all live in physical beings, everything starts with making our physical beings feel as comfortable and luxurious as possible, with all their immediate needs fulfilled. Not hungry, not thirsty, not freezing cold, not boiling hot. Lying down if tired. Moving around if needing to move. 

It is such a good and high spiritual practice to ask your body what it needs and then lovingly prioritise that. It is sometimes seen as unspiritual to prioritise the physical but how can our spirits feel free to come forward if we are not loving up the home they live in? I have journeyed with this all my adult life since my diagnosis and I have found that the better I have treated my physical body, the more my spirit has grown. 

We thrive when we make ourselves happy - from the ground-the earth, the physical - up. Flowers blossom when they get sunshine and light and nourishment and water. Us too! We are also of the earth and have needs. So yes, in cold weather lets meditate with blankets, hot water bottles, hot chocolate! Fluffy socks. Fingerless gloves. Get cosy! 

Alison Potts shares her teachings on self care, self connection and self empowerment as a coach, writer and teacher. You can hop onto her facebook page Alison Potts - Innate Being or go to her website for more on her offerings. Alison will be running a two part course at our Bulimba studio this July, entitled Innate Meditation - Embracing and Embodying Meditation Your Way.

Taking the next step in your yoga practice.

What does the next step in your yoga practice look like?  Where do you feel called to take it, deepen it, even share it?  Maybe it is tackling a more advanced class; perhaps you have been enjoying a Foundations class and are somewhat trepidatiously looking at Vinyasa class times.  Maybe it is tackling a posture you have always held in a certain awe while wondering if you’ll ever be ready to look at it.  Maybe it’s taking your practice deeper by taking a meditation course or maybe, the big maybe, you’ve been looking at immersing yourself in a teacher training course.

I’ll take a little detour, if I may...

This pose (the one in the picture)…  I remember seeing it, all those years ago as a beginner, new to the world of yoga, and feeling smitten.  There was something about the pose that without actually thinking, “I’ll have made it when I can do that pose”, I kind of thought that.  I was a professional ballet dancer at the time, relatively early in my career but at a high degree of competency in and with my body already.  I read in "Light on Yoga”, and, “Yoga the Iyengar Way”, though, that this was an advanced posture, so I wasn’t going to attempt it.  Sure, I played with preparatory shapes which would start to set me up for it, but I knew that attempting the full shape was a long way off.

Fast forward all these years (about fourteen) and it’s a shape which I can get into and find some play in.  I certainly wouldn’t say I have ‘mastered’ it, but then I wouldn’t say that I have mastered utthita trikonasana (triangle) either, if for no other reason than it being a strange concept.  My body is different every single day, its needs different every single day and so honouring that looks different, every. single. day.  A shape becomes a shape becomes a shape, a posture a means to honour the body and to inspire it to experience itself differently.  (When it comes to asana, I love the quote, “Change your shape, change your state”.  I believe it is attributable to Darren Rhodes, perhaps Anthony Robbins, perhaps both and  maybe neither).

So when do you begin to approach that next step in your Yoga practice, whether it be vinyasa class, advanced asana, a meditation course or teacher training?  Well for me, as with this pose, I only really began to play with advanced postures in the last couple of years.  In the process, I surprised myself.  Not only was I better able to grapple with the shapes than I would have expected, the journey they took me on was immense.  I progressed quickly in the ability to work with more difficult shapes.  Most importantly though, it improved both my relationship to more fundamental poses and to the overall health, integrity and comprehension of, and connection to, my body and breath.  The latter I believe to be one of the most important outcomes of postural yoga.

For me, this leap was an act of audacity.  For years, I held back from jumping in because it felt like saying, “I consider myself to be advanced”.  There are so many beautiful parallels that we can draw between our life on the mat and the one that happens everywhere else.  The saying, “How you do anything is how you do everything" springs to mind.  Is standing up and saying you’re up to a task audacious, especially when you possess no real evidence to support the notion but a still small voice which urges you forward?  YES!  But is it needed?  And how have you ever stepped up to a new level in anything without jumping in and swimming like crazy?  I know that any meaningful shift, any movement towards mastery in my life has looked precisely that way.

Just like Hanuman, unaware that he was possessed of Godly capabilities, wishing he could help save countless lives, so are we.  Hanuman’s dear friend, the great Jamabavan, turns to him and reminds him that he can make himself enormous (this, I believe, can readily be interpreted to symbolise our ability to become larger than any obstacle which faces us).  He reminds him that he is well able to leap the ocean and bring back the herbs which will save the lives of his dearest friends and beloved Master.  Furthermore, he lets him know that he is the one.  He asks him, perhaps, as our dearest friends do, “If not you, then who?"

And so, the audacity of standing up and saying maybe, just maybe we will approach those postures, those practices, those endeavours which we deem far beyond us becomes practice for standing up in life to do the things we can which no other can, or in a way no other can.  And we swim, we swim hard, and we grow.  And for each of these acts, whether it be the mighty or simply to say, “I’ll begin to play with that next step.  I’m not sure that I will ever be able to balance on my hands and touch my toes to the back of my head, but I’ll take that handstand workshop.”, or, " I’m not sure about ever standing at the front of the classroom and teaching, but I’ll register for teacher training and see where it may lead me.”, the world is made better.

 

You can read more about Marty Collyer in his teachers bio, or catch him on the mat in one of his inspiring and challenging weekly classes at Bulimba, Camp Hill or Wynnum. Marty is also a lead teacher in our upcoming, Live Your Bliss Yoga Teacher Training commencing in August and also runs regular workshops at Inna Bliss, which encourage, support and empower you to refine and deepen your practice. His next workshop, Foundations of Flow, focuses on helping you to find ease and seamless flow in the most fundamental moves and sequences of Vinyasa Yoga.

Time Passages - The Power of Being Away & Returning

When I was a little girl living in Oxford, England, we used to go for a fortnight’s holiday to France every year, staying in a simple villa near a beach.  Our lives in the city morphed into days of salty water, bright bright sunshine, smells of bakeries, peaches and French cigars. The difference in the language, the food, the supermarkets and even the types of cars people drove made everything feel so exotic and all of this contributed to a feeling of special atmosphere, of having been lifted out of ordinary life, that I felt even at the ages of eight or nine years old.

But it is the coming back that I remember.  As we switched from driving on the right hand side of the road, crossed the time/space boundary of the ocean between Le Havre and Southampton and found ourselves suddenly, increasingly, in more and more familiar territory I would press my face against the car window and feel something so profound it stands out to this day.

I had a sense that while nothing had changed, everything had.

That while we were only away for a mere two weeks, something inside me had shifted and the territory around me, though familiar, seemed to have shifted too.

It is fascinating that whenever we leave the routine and familiarity of our day to day lives and for however short a period time, we experience a sense of life touching us differently. As human beings, we take the energy of life deep inside us every time we breathe, and this creates a particular atmosphere inside us.

 The scenery is enhanced somehow – the sights, sounds and smells more vivid. We can experience different parts of ourselves when we are away from home – feel new things blossoming and old things asking to be released.  The common components of many of our holidays are the same and they include feeling relaxed, having more rest, doing more of what we love - reading, enjoying special company and meals, playing – and having an emerging expanded sense of time and space in which we feel comfortably at home.

We often have more immediate access to sources of intuition and inspiration, guiding us to having thoughts about things we want to do in our lives or change in our lives, when we get home. In short, our creative ability is ignited.

And with all of that, in this easeful sense of pleasure, a strong belief, an understanding – a knowing – that we can embody these feelings and experiences consistently, not just while we are away. Because they are closer to our natural state. We can take them home with us and they can take us home to ourselves.

But how? And when we step out of alignment with our natural state, how do we find our way back?

The Tantric meditation tradition has shown me that there are numerous techniques and practices to relocate me in this natural body of love. From accessing imaginal ability to using cellular memory (which is like muscle memory) to keep the vital energies that have been awakened coursing through our beings daily.  These practices are simple, life enhancing and joy bringing. They involve meditating with our real selves and understanding how the overall sense of authenticity and belonging we often feel when we are away, are counterintuitively, showing us where our home truly is.

Do you want to learn how to keep the good feelings going? How to steer a course away from what seems to be inevitable and regular meetings with depletion and exhaustion?  Do you want to make the vacation benefits last all year long? Do you want to find a way to bring some space and time back into your life but still get everything (and more!) done?

Please join me for the second Practical Magic meditation session.  It isn’t necessary to have attended Part One. Session 2 is held at Inna Bliss Bulimba on March 6th at 10am -12pm. 

Alison Potts is a writer and the Principle Teacher and Owner of Innate Being, encompassing Brisbane Yoga Tree, a yoga and meditation space, in South East Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The mighty leap from yoga student to yoga teacher

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When is it right to do your yoga teacher training?

I have begun to observe that often in a student of yoga, there is a certain subtle tipping point.  A point where their vessel of self, becomes so full, that it is palpable to those around them.  Something has changed.  

You seem different.  People tell you that.  There’s a certain glow, a new energy or fresh perspective that has overcome you.  The way you move, certainly, but the way you move through your life, has been altered.  

Here’s what seems true for most people I know.  Choosing to take a leap and do yoga teacher training most often does feel like a leap.  A mighty one.  Even for those most devoted practitioners.  Most of us do not feel ready.  Or worthy. We can’t imagine ourselves sitting up the front of the class and teaching it. We might not even want to. Ever. 

Add to that the fact that there is no quantifiable means to test for when you are ready.  There is no quiz with neat questions that provide you with neat answers of guidance. You cannot qualify against particular categories like number of years practice because, well, my 5 years of practice was different to yours and certainly the ability to get a foot behind a head is just proof of the ability to get a foot behind a head.  

These are some cosmic hints that you may be nearing the point of readiness to do your yoga teacher training: 

You have realised that your truest and best friend is your breath and you never go to yoga without it

You are experiencing more FULL, on more levels.  More joyFULL, easeFULL, soulFULL

You are sneaking home from nights out to hook up with yoga glo, or snuggle up on the couch with your Bhagavad Gita 

You seem to be using most of your holidays to do yoga courses, or go on retreat, or meditate

What you are unpacking on your mat when you practice is flowing into your life off the mat.  

Your postures may be kick ass and that is great, but you realise that you practice is not about the bendiness of your body

Your teachers are naturally spending time with you, answering your questions, bringing you resources to quench your thirst for knowledge, telling you of upcoming workshops and yoga adventures.  They are investing in the possibility of your growth as student and likely they have been planting the seed for some time, knowing that you have the potential to become a yoga teacher.  If you are not sure, ask them. 

At the end of this list, if you feel no surer one way or the other, that is ok, in fact it is perfect.  Yoga is about coming home to the heart. Your heart.  The heart is a faithful messenger and it will whisper at you.  Stay with your practice, keep devoting to the things that are working for you, keep coming home to the heart. 

Perhaps sometime into the future, its messages will become a soft roar.  

If you read this list, or ask yourself the question “am I ready to do my yoga teacher training?” and there is a soft roar (even in the presence of some freak out, and a lot of doubt), then this, I think is the sure fire time to start exploring the idea.  

Riss Carlyon is a E-RYT-500 who set out to do her yoga teacher training with the intention of deepening her practice and no dream to become a yoga teacher.  Some years on, she quit her corporate career to open a yoga studio and is now training yoga teachers to live their bliss through the Inna Bliss Yoga, Level 1 Yoga Teacher Training program, commencing this coming August. 

 




Our latest Bulimba Bliss shoot!

We recently got together at the Bulimba studio to take some new photos of some of our beloved bliss team, with Brisbane photographer & fellow yogi Camille. Here are some of our favourite shots from the day!

Our gorgeous instructor, and fabulous Studio Manager Claudia..looking supremely blissified.

Our gorgeous instructor, and fabulous Studio Manager Claudia..looking supremely blissified.

Miss Riss making inverting it look oh so effortless :)

Miss Riss making inverting it look oh so effortless :)

Who said yoga was meant to serious? Sigh, boys will be boys!

Who said yoga was meant to serious? Sigh, boys will be boys!