The Jar of Life

jar-of-golf-balls
A professor stood before his philosophy class with a few items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large, empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the spaces between the golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
Next the professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked again if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes’.
The professor then produced two bottles of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar – effectively filling the space between the sand. The students laughed…
‘Now’, said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions – and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else – all the small stuff.’
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for your life.’
‘If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.’
‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.’
‘Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit your grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.’
‘Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked that – the beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.’

Enjoy your Jar Of Life this summer xx

In Control or Out of Control?

adult art conceptual dark
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do you get anxious or angry when things don’t go just as you want them to? Do you feel you have to take charge of ‘everything’ or nothing would get done?

Feelings such as these really do cloud our enjoyment of life. They are often termed as ‘control issues’. Sometimes the simplest things make you irritated – say going for a coffee with a friend and the service being a bit slow or on a walk with a loved one and the moment being spoilt by a one-sided diatribe of complaining. These experiences feel like they are so far from the ‘perfect’ idea that you had in mind. But this is life.

Sometimes things don’t go as we planned – but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. I’ve been learning ballroom dancing over the past couple of years – and it is the most fun when we learn something new and make a few mistakes in the process.

When we complain and are dis-satisfied about ‘inferiority’ or ‘mediocrity’ then we are only letting ourselves down and allowing our perception to cloak a situation in a pessimistic way.

Isn’t every aspect of our lives a matter of perspective?
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” ANNE FRANK, Diary of a Young Girl

We can alter our perspective on situations if we want to –

Don’t think MESSY – think LIVED IN/RELAXED

Don’t think SLOW SERVICE – think CAREFUL LOVING PREPARATION

Don’t think STONY SILENCE – think THOUGHTFUL/CONSIDERATE

I read Pollyanna (Eleanor H. Porter) recently – if you haven’t read it, well worth a look – and that has the thread of finding something positive about every situation you face. In fact Pollyanna makes it into a game – which is sometimes fun and often a challenge. Why not give it a go next time you feel like moaning?
LETTING GO OF CONTROL – A MEDITATION PRACTICE

1 Write about 3 recent occasions where you felt anxiety and wanted to take control of a situation or someone else’s behaviour.

2 Now come to a meditation space – seated on a cushion or in a chair. Take a moment to be still and watch the breath for about 5 minutes.

3 Chose one of the situations that you listed. Recall it in detail – especially the feelings. Perhaps a family member moved some cushions and didn’t replace them exactly as you wanted (small things can really get our goat) – what were your feelings?

4 Ask yourself why having things the way you want them is so important… Are you afraid of something? Do you feel that if you lose control you may become powerless? Alone? Abandoned?
There is no right answer – explore the feelings, even if you feel a bit silly now looking at them like this.

5 Let those thoughts go and commit to yourself to ‘letting go’ just a little bit at a time. See that by relaxing your grip (usually) nothing terrible happens. Look for a positive outcome when things are different from your expectations. Be kind and patient with yourself. Most people will have these thoughts at one time or another – you are not alone.

One final thought…

“All that we are is a result of what we have thought.” Buddha

Missing Your Yoga?

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If you are missing your weekly yoga class, why not sign up for the Side Plank Challenge?

I’ve created 3 short video yoga practices to strengthen the arms and the core ready for the Side Plank posture. The first was released yesterday – to get the next 2 please subscribe to the YouTube channel using the red button below the video.  You will then get notifications as soon as they are uploaded!

More will be released over the next term… so get signed up!

 

Keep Up Your Yoga Practice!

Although we will be taking a break from our weekly classes over the summer, there is no reason to stop your yoga practice. In fact this is a good time to make a resolve (in yoga we call this a Sankalpa) to do a bit of practice on your own. This will test your memory and motivation!

To help you I have made handouts for the Sun Salutes you have done in your class (if you haven’t got one, be sure to collect one this week) Plus I’ve filmed the following 2 videos -one is the Simple Sun Salute – best for beginner students and one is Surya Namaskara – more suitable for those that have got a couple of years experience. You can follow along anywhere you have WiFi – so no excuses 🙂

Please ‘like’ your favourite Sun Salute – and subscribe to the channel with the red button to see more videos later in the summer…

 

Finding Our Purpose in Life

jetty

I recently read a compelling tale about Alfred Nobel – he of the Nobel Peace Prize. The story touched me so much that I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. The story goes (and I can’t say how much of it is absolutely true) that Alfred Nobel was born in poverty but became very rich as an inventor, chemist and engineer. He created dynamite and had many factories making ammunitions thus amassing a great fortune during his lifetime. Sadly his brother died in 1888 and the media at the time got things a little confused and thought it was Alfred who had died. The obituaries in the papers were brutal ‘The merchant of death is dead’ and similar headlines appeared. Despite many other inventions and his vast wealth creation, the main thing Alfred was remembered for was the dynamite and the destruction it caused. This is said to have incentivised Alfred to set up the Nobel Peace Prize. He left his whole fortune to be invested and each year prizes given to those who contribute the most to society.

What does it all mean?

The ancient Sages suggested that to live a happy and fulfilled life it’s important to have a purpose and to consider what you might be remembered most for…

– great abs?
– fast car?
– amazing teeth?

In our increasingly time-deprived lives we can get caught up in minutia and drowned in emails missing the big picture of what we are actually doing here. Spending weeks, months and years doing stuff that makes us miserable and just wishing we were some place else.

Perhaps there’s another way? To take time to think about…

– what makes us tick?
– what do we care deeply about?
– what do we want people to remember about us?

Though the answers may change from time to time, our life on this planet is short – so we should make it count. I doubt anyone’s last words were ‘I wish I could have spent more time at the office’.

Change your mind

brain-and-thoughts

One of the great things that yoga teaches us is that we are not our thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts – they are invisible and intangible and yet have great power over our lives. When you gain control over your thoughts you can change them at will – it is easier said than done – but recognising negative thoughts when they arise can go a long way to prevent ourselves from spiralling off in a negative direction.

 “When obstructive thoughts arise, practice the opposite thought.”

(from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2:33)

Meditation on the Opposite (read through a couple of time and then try a practice)

Sit in a comfortable meditation position. Watch the breath for a while – feel the softening of the body with each gentle exhalation.

Allow a thought (something that is bothering you) to come into your mind and feel the accompanying sensations in your body – eg ‘ I should have done that differently’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m powerless’. Notice where and what you feel in your body – tightness in your tummy, heart, throat? Heaviness? Sadness?

Now consider a thought that would be opposite – eg ‘I did my best’, ‘I’m OK as I am’, ‘I am capable’. Bring into your mind a time or incident when this was how you felt. Review your physical sensations now – how does that feel? – relaxed? open? excited?

 
Take your time and don’t dwell for too long. It’s enough to begin with to appreciate the affect of a negative thought on our body/being. Spending time cultivating the opposites in this way affirms a positive approach to thinking and dealing with our thoughts as if they are separate from us. SMILE to end the meditation and be grateful that you have taken a little time to spend on this work for yourself.

 

Summer Yoga Day 2019

“YOGA FOR A HAPPY HEART”

I hope you can join me for a wonderful day of yoga on Saturday the 22nd June – to celebrate World Yoga Day. Places will be limited, so please book by email as soon as possible.

22nd June 2019 – Exton Village Hall – 10am to 4pm – Cost £35

Programme

10.00  Welcome and introduction to the day

10.15 Meditation on the Heart

10.30 Yoga Postures – Opening the Heart-space

11.45 Coffee Break

12.00 Mudra and Pranayama for a Healthy Heart

12.30 Shared Vegetarian Lunch (Please bring a plate of food to share)

1.30 Relaxation – Yoga Nidra with focus at Anahata Chakra

2.00 Circle Yoga Postures

3.00 …When you don’t feel like being kind…

3.30 Joyful Chanting

3.50 Questions, further practice and close

 

IKIGAI – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

ikigai

 

This is a beautiful little book that I got for Christmas. The authors spent time interviewing people (mostly over 100 years old and still leading active lives) to find out what keeps them going. It seems that having a purpose in life is one of the most common themes in these long livers. Finding what makes you happy and throwing yourself at it wholeheartedly! Doesn’t sound like a bad idea does it?

I’m quoting an excerpt here to give you an idea – but totally recommend reading the whole book – it doesn’t take long 🙂

“The ten rules of Ikigai

1 Stay Active; don’t retire. Those who gave up the things they love doing and do well lose their purpose in life. That’s why it’s so important to keep doing things of value, making progress, bringing beauty or utility to others, helping out, and shaping the world around you, even after your “official” professional activity has ended.

2 Take it slow. Being in a hurry is inversely proportional to quality of life. As the old saying goes, “Walk slowly and you’ll go far.” When we leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning.

3 Don’t fill your stomach. Less is more when it comes to eating for long life, too. According to the 80per cent rule, in order to stay healthier longer, we should eat a little less than our hunger demands instead of stuffing ourselves.

4 Surround yourself with good friends. Friends are the best medicine, there for confiding worries over a good chat, sharing stories that brighten your day, getting advice, having fun, dreaming… in other words, living.

5 Get in shape for your next birthday. Water moves; it is at its best when it flows fresh and doesn’t stagnate. The body you move through life in needs a bit of daily maintenance to keep it running for a long time. Plus, exercise releases hormones that make us feel happy.”

For the remaining 5 rules you’ll have to get the book and read them yourself!!

Time to relax with a good book

fireside

As the days get shorter and the outdoors less inviting, a cosy seat near the fire or radiator seems much more appealing. Curling up with a good book is a fantastic way to relax and unwind – why not chose some poetry???  Here are a couple of lovely wintery poems… or you could get creative and write a poem of your own???

 
Winter-Time

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850 – 1894

 
Winter’s Embrace
Shimmering lakes of silvery ice
welcomes skaters’ scarring slice.
Hills adorned in lacy white
watch children sleigh into the night.
In the brilliant pristine light,
snow birds in tall trees take flight.
Evergreens draped in capes of snow,
their heavy branches hanging low,
blanket earth as north winds blow
Winter’s dance is quite a show,
an ice-kissed, dazzling, magical place,
transformed by winter’s cold embrace!

© Patricia L. Cisco
Published: December 28, 2017