fbpx

Mindfulness Archives - Peacock Tree Yoga

By | News | No Comments

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

Mindful Eating for a Happy Christmas

By | Teachings, Uncategorized | No Comments

How do you feel when you think about ‘Christmas food’? Does your mouth water? Do you resign yourself to the fact that you will over-eat and plan to make up for it in the New Year? Do you panic at the thought of there being lots of ‘fattening’ foods to avoid? Then it could be time to start practising ‘mindful eating’…

Tulsi with cake mixer for mindful eating blog

Eating should always be a pleasure!

Eating more than we really need, and eating food that is convenient but not necessarily what our body needs, is an easy thing to do – even more so during the festive season.  Whether it’s the seemingly endless supply of Quality Streets found in offices across the land, the box of mince pies hiding in every kitchen cupboard ‘in case someone comes round’, or those last few roast potatoes that ‘need eating up’, there’s always something available, always something to reach for without thinking.

For some people, the ongoing availability of food – particularly at Christmas – presents a different problem: they feel guilty about eating certain types of food and go out of their way to avoid them. This has as much potential to bring about an unhelpful relationship with food as the tendency to gobble up whatever is being offered – the mind develops thought-patterns which underpin and reinforce negative ideas about body image. In this way, under-eating can become something we do without thinking, too.

Mindful eating for pleasure and good health

One way of exercising our powers of awareness, so that we can make conscious decisions about what we eat – and, importantly, truly enjoy and benefit from the things we consume – is to practice ‘mindful eating’. Before we go on to the ‘how’, here are a couple of definitions of mindful eating:

“Mindful Eating is allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom” ~ The Center for Mindful Eating

“Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention: Eating with the intention of caring for yourself [and] eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body” ~ Am I Hungry?

As these two statements suggest, there are big advantages that come with eating mindfully – the main one being that when we are aware of what we are doing, we can make choices which will have positive effects on our physical and mental health. The person who has a tendency to unthinkingly swallow more than their fair share of chocolates can choose to say ‘No, thank you’ when offered yet another, and the person who has grown to deny themselves the pleasure of eating sweet treats can choose to say ‘Yes, please!’.

Yoga and mindful eating

Have your cake and eat it!

Have your cake and eat it!

This is all good news for those of us who attempt to live our lives according to the principles of yoga, which state that a healthy mind and a healthy body create the optimum conditions for our practice – and, therefore, for reaching the goal of spiritual enlightenment that a consistent and dedicated yoga practice promises.

Not only this, but by training our powers of awareness through the practice of mindful eating, we can pay more attention to everything else we do: the things we think about, the words that leave our lips, and our behaviour in the world. Practising mindful eating works very much like practising yoga postures – we learn to listen to our inner wisdom. Just as we might acknowledge thirst and quench it with a glass of water, we can identify the need to adapt a posture in order to avoid injury, or to deepen the pose.

How to eat mindfully

One very effective exercise for honing your mindful eating skills is given in ‘A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook’, by Stahl & Goldstein. It involves spending time looking at, smelling and considering what you’re about to eat, before gradually taking in more and more sensory details as you put the item in your mouth and chew it.

If you’ve never done this exercise with us in our classes, have a go at home. Try the exercise with a small a handful of raisins, as suggested in this adaptation of Stahl & Goldsteins’ mindful eating exercise, and then see if you can apply the same technique in other situations – like when you’re sitting at the Christmas dinner table!

Read more about how you can gain control over your desires!

The animating force of rasa!

By | Teachings | No Comments

Cast your mind back to the start of May and that weekend of glorious weather we had after months and months of cool temperatures and soggy boots. I daresay that at some point – perhaps as you walked into town along the river, or wrapped your tongue around a 99 for the first time since last August – you felt yourself being overcome with pure sensation, pure joy. If you did, you were experiencing the force of ‘rasa’.

What is rasa?

One of the best descriptions of rasa that I’ve come across is attributed to an Ayurveda teacher called Robert Svoboda, in an article on the subject, written by Shiva Rea. Svoboda says, “Existence without juice is dry and tasteless. Rasa is life’s fluid reality, life’s juice, in every sense of the word.” In other words, rasa is the stuff that makes us feel alive! It is the very essence of being – and it comes in many forms.

In historical terms, rasa is, in fact, a concept which comes from Indian theatre and it refers to an actor’s successful transmission of a character’s emotions to an audience. It’s not just a matter of conveying emotions, but of instilling those very same feelings in the spectator. The actor seeks to transmit rasa and literally bring the play to life!

Rasa in daily life

FullSizeRender

Tulsi in the flow of rasa!

Daniel and I took Tulsi to the Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre in Pocklington during that recent warm spell of weather. The sun danced on the trees’ new leaves, sparkled on the dewy grass and warmed our flesh. We were utterly enraptured by our surroundings, the moment and each other – the rasa was flowing! And as Daniel launched Tulsi into the petals of the cherry blossom, leaving her suspended mid-air between catches, she too drank up this intoxicating ‘juice’ of life.

Rasa is something everyone can experience and enjoy – and they do, even if they don’t realise! How many of your non-yoga friends have you heard talk with such fervour about certain ‘moments’ they’ve had? How many photos of sunsets captioned only with a heart emoticon have you seen posted on Facebook? In all these cases, rasa is at play. You need only be open to the beauty of life.

Yoga and rasa

As yoga practitioners, we open ourselves up to rasa. By cultivating our internal and external awareness and by finding perfection in each moment, we invite rasa into our lives. This does not mean we can rest on our yoga laurels, however…

It’s all-too-easy to simply ‘go through the motions’, to sleepwalk through a series of postures. When this happens, we must bring our awareness back to the present moment. Only there can we feel a posture inside and out, feel what it awakens inside of us, gauge the fluctuations in our energy levels, consciously contract and relax our muscles… Only there, in that moment, can we feel the inspiring, uplifting force of rasa flowing through our veins and hearts. Try it and see.

Rasa for all

It’s rare for a yoga teacher to tell you to be greedy, but with rasa you can be! There’s enough juice to go round. Enough for the Indian theatre-goers. Enough for the people posting pictures of sunsets, who don’t know what they experienced, only that it made their heart swell. And enough for those on the path of yoga. For as the philosopher, Ramachandra Gandhi, points out:

“When you taste the rasa of life, you drink from a well that is never dry.”

This Perfect Moment

By | Teachings | No Comments

What are you doing right now, at this precise moment in time?

You’re reading this, of course, but are you fully engaged?

A perfect moment on a clock in York

Time won’t stand still, but you can

We hear so much about Mindfulness these days, but being truly present – being ‘in the moment’ – can feel impossible.

There are so many other things to think about, after all – we chew over last week’s mistakes and difficult situations and we anticipate the challenges of the future. We live in a chaotic world, things happen in our lives that we can’t control – and the memory stays with us, sometimes forever.

The external world of distracting messages and time-consuming media doesn’t help either.

But taking small moments for ourselves can be hugely beneficial (that’s why we hear so much about Mindfulness!). And it’s not as difficult as it seems – have a go:

Pause for a moment and acknowledge the perfection of the moment – without judging your surroundings or yourself. Even if you desire change in your circumstances, know that this desire is also perfect. Be comfortable with it.

This is what Aristotle meant when he said, “We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.”

Perfect moments aren’t just for perfect lives; there’s time for everyone and everything.