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Abstinence Archives - Peacock Tree Yoga

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A week of #peacocktreelent

Well done everyone and thank you SO much for getting involved with #peacocktreelent. You’ve amazed, inspired and amused us with the things you chose to give up – from coleslaw (yes, really!) to your car, technology, the daily mail on-line (ha!), packets of haribo . . . to name but a few – WE SALUTE YOU! Here’s a look back on some of your Facebook and Instagram posts – click on the images to read the comments that accompanied them.

DAY 1 – Letting go

DAY 2 – Motivation

DAY 3 – Alternatives

DAY 4 – Temptation

DAY 5 – Support

DAY 6 – Benefits

DAY 7 – Insights

Launching into Lent with Peacock Tree Yoga (#peacocktreelent)

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Lent is traditionally about giving something up (more on non-attachment in a moment…), and we definitely think that’s a good idea. But this year, we’re asking you to commit to doing something too: We’d like you to keep us all up to date with how it’s going, and help create a supportive and encouraging community, by using #peacocktreelent on your social media posts.

PTY rob yoga kula blog photo 6

Let’s support each other OFF the mat, too!

As practising Christians will know, giving up something we enjoy, but which is not necessary for our survival, is a central part of Lent. In recognition of the 40 days and nights Jesus is said to have spent fasting in the desert, believers go without for the same length of time – ending their ‘penance’ just before Easter Sunday.

Lent and non-attachment

Going without something we like but don’t need is a familiar concept within the world of yoga too. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, ‘aparigraha’ (not being possessive – over objects or people, for example) is listed as one of the codes for living known as the Yamas. The Yamas, which focus on matters of the self (small ‘s’) and what we should avoid doing, sit alongside five Niyamas, which are more about our behaviour in the world and how we should behave.

Find out what happened when Steve gave up technology for a month

As yogis, we can use Lent to practice not wanting things we don’t need, thereby removing our attachment to them – as discussed in our blog, Spring clean your mind for Lent. It doesn’t really matter what we choose to give up – only that it is something that has the ability to cause us distress if it is taken away – something our minds have become ‘sticky’ towards.

Marking Lent with Peacock Tree Yoga (#peacocktreelent)

Giving something up isn’t easy. But it can be made easier by having a supportive network around you. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve with our social media campaign. We want to build the same vibrant, friendly community online as we have in our classes!

We’ll share our experiences – our frustrations and revelations, the highs the lows – in the form of images on Facebook and Instagram, and we’ll group our photos by tagging them with #peacocktreelent (please do this – it makes it a lot easier for us to find your photos and videos!)

Of course, you’re welcome to get started as soon as you like – we know many people will want to begin on Wednesday 1st March, when Lent officially begins – but we’ll be online, sharing our own Lent pictures as well as daily ‘prompts’, from Monday 6th – Sunday 12th March.

Get creative!

Tulsi drinking a babychino before the start of #peacocktreelent

Tea? Coffee? Babychinos? What’s your weakness?

Throughout that week, we’ll include ‘prompts’ in our own posts, to help give a focus to the images you post. So on the first day, for example, the prompt will be ‘What I’m giving up for Lent’. You might simply post a picture of a bag of coffee. Or, you might choose to post a picture of an empty cup, a coffee cup stain on a table, or a selfie in which you’re holding your favourite (empty) coffee mug.

The comment you add to your photo, should you choose to, might also give us some insight into your experience of Lent – so on the first day, for example, you might tell us what you’re giving up for Lent and why, or explain how reliant you’ve become on that thing. Whether you include a comment or not, please remember to use the tag #peacocktreelent!

Get ahead…

For those of you who might want to plan ahead (apparently this is a thing on Instagram), or at least have an idea of the sorts of moments you could capture and tag with #peaocktreelent on Instagram or Facebook, we’ve listed the prompts below. You don’t have to use them in chronological order, or at all, however – other moments might come up that reflect your experiences better, after all.

  • Mon 6th: Letting go (what you’re giving up – a habit, a behaviour, a type of food… More ideas here
  • Tue 7th: Motivation (what’s motivating you to do this?)
  • Wed 8th: Alternatives (how you’re filling the gap)
  • Thur 9th: Temptation (moments when you’ve been close to falling off the wagon)
  • Fri 10th: Support (friends, family, clubs and groups that are helping you stick to your Lent goals)
  • Sat 11th: Benefits (examples of how sticking to your Lent goals is benefiting you)
  • Sun 12th: Insights (what your Lent goals have taught you)

Any other business

Below are a few other important bits of information about our week of social media Lent support. If you have any other questions, please do send them to us (email is best) and then we can add the information to the page and everyone can benefit from your inquisitive nature!

  • You can carry on using #peacocktreelent for the entire 40 days of lent, if you like! – we’ll continue to be inspired by you!
  • You can use other #s alongside ours if you’ve committed to another challenge, such as the Trussell Trust’s #40in40 challenge.
  • There’s no limit on the number of posts you tag with #peacocktreelent.
  • Oh, and if you’re giving up social media for Lent, print this blog / take a screenshot ASAP, capture your experience on camera throughout the week commencing Monday 6th March, and send your photos to us at info@peacocktreeyoga.com !

Turn on, tune in, drop out?

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Could you give up communication technology for a month? No late night phone calls with your lover, no scrolling down your Facebook newsfeed on the bus, no emails to open while you have your first coffee of the day. On the face of it, it sounds impossible – we live in an age where these things are the norm – but when Peacock Tree Yoga student and teacher, Steve Poile, traveled to a remote ashram in India, he was determined to leave the electronic world behind… 

Sivananda ashram, Himalayas

An ashram by the Ganges. Perfect.

This was my second TTC – the first in Mysore at The Mystic School last year, was in the centre of the city with meals and access to the outside world a short walk from the classroom. Whilst it was a great Indian experience, it lacked the peace and tranquility I was seeking. I wanted a place where I’d be able to develop a deeper spiritual practice, create closer ties with the Sivananda path, develop my readiness to teach, and withdraw from the outside world in order to be able to focus on my own yoga practice.

After a lot of research, I decided to register with the Sivananda Kutir, Uttarkashi, an ashram next to the Ganges, in the foothills of the Himalayas. It offered everything I was looking for, in particular, a core focus on Sivananda yoga, remoteness in the mountains, and an absence of any outside distractions due to the (supposed) unavailability of wifi and mobile phone signals.

Leaving it all behind

Departing from York, it took over 40 hours travelling time to reach the Ashram, the last leg of the journey being a seven-hour car journey from Rishikesh (the spiritual home of Swami Sivananda) through mountain passes and past beautiful scenery to the little collection of buildings by the Ganges that was to be home for the next month.

After just one day to recover from the trip, the ashram experience began, with a daily schedule as reliable as the sounds that formed our soundtrack; the rushing water of the Ganges, the melodic calls of exotic birds, and the rhythms of the local bugs:

  • 5am – get up
    meal time at the ashram

    Even meal times were a meditation of sorts.

  • 6am – Satsang (meditation and chanting)
  • 8am – asana practice
  • 10am – brunch
  • 10.30am – karma yoga (performing helpful tasks around the ashram)
  • 12 noon – lectures
  • 4pm – asana practice (yes, another one)
  • 6pm – dinner
  • 7pm – Satsang
  • 9.30pm – lights out

The Ashram ‘rules’

All activities are compulsory at the ashram, there are no exceptions. All food is sattvic lacto-vegetarian, consisting of one veg curry or dahl and rice (sometimes substituted by a dosa, noodles or roti), and a piece of fruit – all very basic but delicious. Everything – Satsang, meals, lectures – is undertaken sitting cross-legged on the floor. Daily Vedanta and asana homework must be crammed into the few moments of spare time since there’s no room for falling behind – hand-in is required the following day.

I was expecting all of this. However, there was one ‘rule’ which no longer applied. The relentless march of technology meant that the local area had recently obtained a 3G mobile phone signal! Giving up communication technology was no longer an externally imposed withdrawal from the external world, but a choice I would have to make. Did I switch on my phone and have access to the outside world or did I keep it switched off and maintain the remoteness and withdrawal? I chose the latter, since this was an opportunity to experience a different pace of life and be liberated from the demands of modern technology.

Read about Rob Milner’s yoga studies in Austria

Tuning out and tuning in

PTY_ashram_blog_steve_meditation

A moment of pure stillness

Every day as I awoke, I no longer felt the desire to reach for the phone and see the latest news, emails, and Facebook posts. Instead, I focused on my own wellbeing, prepared for the day and quietly walked to the Satsang hall free from thoughts generated by this and that in the world beyond the ashram walls. As the month progressed, my mind became quieter and more peaceful. I didn’t once feel the need to switch on my phone. I felt liberated, able to sit by the Ganges, my spine tingling as I felt only love radiating out, and a blissful nothing coming in.

The modern world, with its demands on your time and resources is, you begin to understand, a self-made constraint imposed by the self on the self. I can choose to allow social media, email, mobile phone and so on to make constant demands, or I can choose to ignore these demands. The more I ignore them the quieter they become, and in turn the quieter and calmer my mind becomes.

Bringin’ it all back home…

When I returned to the UK I asked people what of importance had happened whilst I was away. My question was met with quizzical responses….nobody could really recall anything of importance that was worth a mention. I hadn’t missed a thing – and that’s partly why I have chosen to maintain a lower level of reliance on technology now I’m back on home soil. I leave the phone at home and don’t reach for it in the morning, and in doing so, I’ve managed to retain a quiet mind and a sense of calmness. It feels strange at times since I was used to having a mind full of thoughts.

So did I achieve the objectives I set out at the start of my trip? The answer is as loud and noticeable as the sound of insects scurrying along the stone floor of the quiet ashram: Yes! The regularity and simplicity of ashram life, combined with a voluntary withdrawal from technology, allowed me to delve deep into my yoga studies, and tune into an inner peace and tranquility that I’ve been able to hold on to – even when my phone lights up.