January 31st, 2015
I was driving to an appointment up the keys the other day and I joyfully noted the deep upwelling of gratitude I have for living on such a small piece of land in a spacious area of water and sky. As one driver in front of me slowed down and allowed someone to cross the street, I noticed how another driver gave him a thumbs-up, while no one seemed perturbed by that thoughtful action. No horns blared. No one was yelling or throwing obscene gestures. The time frame was in a place of generosity and kindness rather than the annoyed pace of “hurried.” I noted that this was not an unusual act but common and I was grateful!
I live on an island that is 2 by 4 miles, where the preferred mode of transportation for many is a bicycle or walking. The prevalent speed limit is 25 mph, with the fastest limit on our boulevard being 35 mph. If you are not used to driving here you stand out as you, flustered in your hurry, rush to get a few feet up the road faster while everyone else is calmly enjoying the view and the ease of island living. If you are not used to this pace you stand out.
It is a joy to slow down and bike or walk to an evening’s event in town. Conversations are extended in the extra time it takes to get there, and are often interrupted or even inspired by the beauty that is all around us as we see, smell and hear our environment embracing us. During the day it is the brilliance of the vegetation, the shades of light that dapple the colorful homes and the ever changing sky that catches my eye. At night the sense of smell dominates, as the ever-changing floral scents seem to sweeten in the evening air as I peddle or walk by. With the seasons shifts, the floral essence changes from mango to jasmine, stephanotis and gardenia to name a few of my favorites. With each sniff the mood changes, and feelings are stirred from deep within. Don’t forget to add a few minutes to your travel time as there is a good chance you may happen upon a friend, and will need to stop to say hi.
I am thankful for the opportunity to shed the teachings of a crowded place where time, space and nature is at a premium, and hurried or competition dominates in so many ways. I appreciate the teachings of a spacious place (even in its close living proximity) that continues to hold to a slow easy pace, inspiring those who live in it to embrace their community, to show kindness and engage with one another. May this “revolution” expand and remind others to slow down, look around and feel the connection.
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January 3rd, 2015
You crack open your eyes, you stretch and turn, then feel for this first moment of conscious awakening. How do I feel this morning? Take a breath and simply notice.
What is your morning habit? Take a moment and reflect on it. Are your first waking moments full of rote motion and doing? Do you hang for a moment in the ripeness of awakening just pausing to feel your state of being? Is the first day of a new year the only time you take stock, pause and become aware?
It is a lovely practice to take the first few moments in the act of awakening to take stock. Did your sleep refresh you or leave you feeling a tad weary? Are you waking up with some residue of your dreams that you wish to carry forward into your day, or shake off and liberate yourself from? What directives of your next action are going to be unnoticed and drive you during the day, or can you take this fresh moment to self direct from your personal awareness?
Many of us do this while crossing over from the past year into the new year, but why not every morning? We let go of the old. We commit to something new or rekindled. Between 12/31 and 1/1 we seem inspired to use the space between those dates to take action, declare, and find the courage to LET GO of the old. The heaviness of doing it once a year can be overwhelming. That’s a whole lot of renewal.
Well here’s to taking the first moments of each morning to reflect, feel and adjust. Little by little you turn your boat, gently in a new direction. Small tiny steps of renewal, rather than trying to turn a giant ship in one huge swooping effort, is so much easier and often more successful.
Here’s to this NEW DAY! I raise my heart to your renewal and healing, to your awakening and refreshing. Happy New Year!
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December 6th, 2014
By Céline Peccatte and Nancy J Curran
When many think about starting a meditation practice, often there is a feeling of great uncertainty. Where do I begin? That is the question for the beginner meditator and for the instructor when answering that question.
The simple answer is to begin by meditating. We know both the truth in this, and the pitfalls.
Without some form of support or guidance we can often find ourselves frustrated, confused, and in a pool of self-judgment. One of the collective misconceptions about meditation is that it helps one to stop thinking. This is an impossible task even for a seasoned practitioner. Because of it, one quickly concludes: “ I am not good at meditating!, I can’t stop thinking!” Wondering why we are doing this, in a state of judgment and defeat, we give up!
Yes, like many things that are new when you begin a meditation practice you will find the joy of conquering and discovery, at the same time you will be faced with roadblocks that will test you, and ask you to grow and change. In the beginning it is so very supportive to have resources that will help you along the way. A meditation teacher, or meditation mentor, being part of a group, taking a class, reading about other’s journeys along the way are all great ways to help you when you are faced with some element of the practice that becomes difficult.
For some finding a group to meditate with is helpful, especially if there is some guidance or discussion within the time spent together. Meditation is a deep practice that brings you to sit with yourself, observe and practice non-judgment. In doing that you will sometimes feel quite isolated, alone and separated. When practicing with a group there is a space created that helps the beginner to feel part of something, and supports you along the way when things may get trying.
In the beginning having support also helps to identify the benefits that you are receiving from the practice. Let’s be honest here, most people don’t continue to do something if they do not perceive a benefit. At first you may just feel more relaxed after the session, then you might start to feel the sense of calmness pervading throughout your day. Other benefits include a calmer sense of emotions even when there are stressors, clarity of mind, physical well being and an uplifting sense of personal power that enables you to meet life in all its spectrum, as it is. The benefits are not goals to reach; they might just happen as secondary effects some days and more than likely a delightful breakthrough over time.
If you feel really at a loss, start by talking to others who meditate, asking them about their experiences. Find out how they began or if they recommend any thing to consider as you begin your practice. Consider taking a workshop that will help you to understand the different ways to meditate, which will help you identify what may be a jumping off point for you. You will also want to learn about some of the roadblocks along the path of meditation, and then what tools to use to help diminish them. If you are someone who likes to read about your interests, try Meditation for Dummies by Stephan Bodian.
Again we go back to the simple answer, just meditate. Even for just 5 minutes, sit with yourself or lie down and be aware of your breath. Free of judgment, you become aware. You let go. You struggle. You are amused. You create, and let go again. Eventually, you will find your way to come sit, meditate, observe the mind and in the end no matter what transpired you offered yourself a moment of kind attention. Meditation can be as simple as that. Welcome to meditation!
Want to learn more? Céline will be teaching a Meditation Workshop on March 7, 2015
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November 1st, 2014
I love those moments when I truly discover “perfection” in my practice.
Yesterday I found it as we completed class, looked up to see a rainbow in the sky. Today I found it when I paused with my breath and felt my body and mind align. I felt the celebration that accompanied the moment.
For me it never seems to be about accomplishing a pose, nor does it have to do with achieving something. I have come to understand that perfection is related to the natural occurrences that simply happen and are accompanied by a sense of inner gratitude. Alignment of “this” with “that” tempered by joy, appreciation and/or love seems to express the essence of perfection for me.
How do you find perfection in your practice?
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October 1st, 2014
What is this thing called Well Being? That is the question I asked myself as I began to prepare to teach a workshop during our recent retreat in France. We all strive to find a taste of it, or have it be our root practice on our life path. But what is it? And then, how do I live in a state of it?
Let’s begin by looking at a couple of definitions of Well Being.
Wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness. It is a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Wellbeing is linked to how you feel about yourself and your life. Source
This quote brings up the understanding of Well Being that it is related to how you FEEL about yourself and your life. A yoga practice gives us the space to see what is really happening (clarity of mind), from there we can begin to change the way we feel about the situation. This raises our sense of Well Being.
Well-being is most usefully thought of as the dynamic process that gives people a sense of how their lives are going, through the interaction between their circumstances, activities and psychological resources or ‘mental capital’. Source
Well Being is a dynamic process, one where we may not be able to control what is happening around us, but we sure can use emotional intelligence and our internal locus to create a state of being that feels GOOD to us. Just like any ‘workout’, when we begin to stretch our state of mindfulness and awaken to how we are reacting to a given situation, the process of Well Being begins to take root.
We no longer live feeling a victim state of our situations or circumstances. We have the opportunity to see clearly, and then manage our emotions around what is occurring. Well Being not only is a result of how we feel, but it also begins to “propagate” so that our viewpoint is nurtured by the ever strengthening state of feeling WELL. The more we feel well, the more we see, experience and offer to our community wellness.
Did you know that according to Sovereign (an organization in New Zealand), for every one happy friend in your social network, your own chance of being happy rises by 9%. This is a wonderful example of the perpetuating nature of Well Being. It is exponential within us, and affects those around us.
Wellbeing is about the combination of our love for what we do each day, the quality of our relationships, the security of our finances, the vibrancy of our physical health, and the pride we take in what we have contributed to our communities. Most importantly, it’s about how these five elements interact. Source
What is so often missing as we outreach toward improving Well Being is that we look at things individually rather than holistically. We think fiscal improvements will improve our Well Being, so we focus only on that neglecting our family or social relationships. Anytime we focus solely on one aspect AND neglect the other aspects of Well Being we create a sense of isolation, which often undermines our sense of happiness, or at the worst creates our suffering.
Well Being is described as having 5 elements.
Take a week and notice if your way of living is a balanced sense of these 5 elements of Well Being.
- Community Well Being
- Professional Well Being
- Personal Well Being
- Fiscal Well Being
- Global Well Being
Are you involved in your community? Do you have a good feeling about the community you live in?
Do you love your job and have good relationships with the people you work with? Do you feel competent, and well compensated for what you do?
Do you take care of yourself, eat well and exercise? Are your thoughts self loving and caring, or do you tend to think with self critical thoughts?
How do you feel about your financial self worth? Are you comfortable giving to others fiscally, and receiving?
How do your actions and choices impact the planet we live on? Are you conscientious of your consumption of resources? Do you recycle, reuse, resource?
Most importantly, begin to see how these 5 elements interact with one another. When you are doing work you love and feel well compensated, notice how you may feel better about volunteering your time or finances into your community. When we are happy at home we are more apt to work efficiently so that we can spend more time with our family. When you love where you live, how does that affect your daily choices across the other 4 elements of Well Being?
Lastly, here are 5 ways to Well Being that you can begin to explore. Remember to work with all of them. Don’t be overwhelmed but find some balance in your approach.
Connect – talk and listen, be there, be connected
Give – your time, your words, your presence
Take Notice – remember the simple things that bring you joy
Keep Learning – embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself
Be Active – do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood
Moment to moment, day to day, your sense of Well Being will rise. It will be subtle at first and then become very clear to you that your sense of live is improving.
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