My Tree of Compassion

It’s good to take time to explore and reflect on your thoughts. Here’s an exercise to see how you feel about yourself. You can download the sheet at the bottom of this post. I’ve used the symbol of a tree. How do we nurture ourselves? What enables us to draw in the good stuff? Write these things along the roots of your tree. And then, what do we give out? How do we show that compassion, both to ourselves and to others? Jot these things down along the branches of your tree. Of course you can colour your sheet in pretty colours too!

Here are some words to get you thinking… they may help you to complete your tree if you find it difficult to get going (download the tree template at the bottom).

adaptable, adventurous, authentic

brave, beautiful, bold

caring, compassionate, creative

dependable, dynamic, dreamer

empowered, energised, enthusiastic

fearless, fun, faithful

gentle, gracious, genuine

happy, healthy, hopeful

inspiring, intuitive

joyful, jolly

kind, knowledgeable

loving, leader, lively

motivational, mindful, mild

nurturing

open-minded, open-hearted, opportunities

peaceful, playful, passionate

relaxed, restful, reliable

strong, soft

thoughtful, tender, tries

understanding

wholehearted

How to balance energy in Anahata – the heart space

Compassion is the emotion related to Anahata chakra – the energy centre in the heart space. When the energy is blocked in this area, we may feel a host of negative emotions such as anger, selfishness, jealousy, or confusion. Acceptance of these emotions is the first step to letting them go however, when we realise that we have been unkind to someone we can then feel another set of emotions such as guilt and self-hatred. In turn, this can lead to self-sabotage and abusive behaviour – examples are comfort eating and drinking or drug abuse.

Yoga always tackles things on multiple levels; physical, mental, and emotional. Beginning with the ‘gross’ – easing out the physical body, trying to undo the physical knots in the upper back and chest. Literally ‘opening the heart space’. Taking time to strengthen the muscles of the torso to lift the heart and lighten it. When we stand tall our breath is easier and fuller. In turn this enables us to remember to live in the moment. We are only human and today is a new day. Leave what happened yesterday to the past. Usually, the things we take to heart mean nothing to the other person. And the best way to repair a relationship is to try to be kinder next time.

Actions speak much louder than words. Rather than raking over mistakes and offences that you or others have caused, focus on how to improve the situation and helping people see the best of things. Open your heart and smile.

Top 10 Ways to Balance Anahata

Practice loving kindness at all times

Learn to tune into your heart’s messages and trust them

Follow your gut instinct which is usually generous

Take time to enjoy nature, walk gently on the Earth

Recycle as much as you can

Have pink flowers in your home

Notice if you are becoming judgemental, practice the stepped breath and be kind

Listen to uplifting music

Give lots of gifts

Take a moment each day to be grateful

Did you know that kindness is contagious? Have you ever caught kindness? Well just like our rotten old pandemic kindness is highly contagious.

Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond – watch the ripples as they spread out, eventually reaching right out to the edges. That’s what kindness is like. From one small, simple act of kindness – say letting someone in front of you at the supermarket checkout – it spreads, as people feel positive and grateful, they then pass that kindness on. It may just be in the form of a smile or they may feel capable of doing something nice for someone else or even 2 people.

I wonder if we could have an R number for kindness. Maybe we can call it a K number!

Anahata Chakra

Anahata is the Sanskrit name for the heart chakra. The symbol is a green lotus flower with 12 petals. As you would expect the location of this chakra (energy wheel where channels of energy cross) is at the heart.

This chakra is associated with love and compassion. When this chakra is balanced we feel loved and able to give love with plenty of patience, forgiveness and warmth in our attitude to people and life in general.

Each of our chakras relates to our emotions and the heart centre is all about trust -accepting new ideas, being open and flexible. When we are in a place of confidence, feeling loved and loving, we feel more secure less threatened by change.

In yoga we can focus our attention on Anahata by working on physical practices such as back bends and movements with the arms. When we place our awareness in the heart space and practice relaxations, meditations and breathing exercises we can develop a stronger sense of love.

I have prepared a downloadable exercise that you might like to do. You can colour in the Anahata symbol keeping your awareness in the heart centre. When complete, pin it up at eye level and gaze softly on the symbol. Finally close your eyes and focus in the heart space listening for the sound of your own heartbeat.

Download the Anahata Worksheet here

Home is Where the Heart is

Fill your home with joy and beauty – for home is where the heart is. Each of us has a basic need to feel secure – your home is that security blanket!

Surround yourself with objects, colours, textures and pets that lift up your spirits and bring you joy. Yes! Fill every nook and cranny –

  • Photos that remind you of loved ones
  • Pictures that make you smile
  • Objects that make you think positively

While there are lots of things that you can buy, why not make these personal? Why not make your own positive posters/fridge magnets/cuddly toys? I love Louise Hayes cards but I think there’s something wonderful about crafting your own.

Here’s a few crafty things I’ve made recently to help lift up the vibe in my own home…

Yes every smile really does make you a day younger!
Paper hyacinths – pretty things to make
Balloon modelling – a fun party that got us laughing our socks off!

These are just a few ideas to get you going. Happy crafting and filling your home with love and joy x

No Man Is An Island

Like most people I’ve been out walking for a daily dose of fresh air. Often meeting other locals and exchanging pleasantries which is nice; but I was recently struck when someone broke down about a friend who had passed away due to Covid. Both my walking buddy and I shed a tear too.

John Donne’s famous poem came to mind and now I can’t get it out of my head.

I suggest to ignore the word ‘Europe’ as this takes thoughts off in the wrong direction with all the Brexit business of the moment. It’s the line – ‘I am involved with mankind’ – that really hits the nail on the head for me. We are all truly connected despite the lockdown and isolation we are experiencing at this time.

Throughout the history of man, when a soul passes from this world to the next, we have had rituals to help those left behind reduce their suffering. What do we have now though? And how will that affect us?

‘No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

John Donne

Are you at a lockdown loose end?

Here are 3 YouTube videos I can recommend to listen to for your interest and wellbeing at this difficult time.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati offers help on how to be calm by focusing on the breath for 10 minutes a day

Sw Niranjanananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga has laid out a suggestion of how everyone can use their time in lockdown to try a yogic lifestyle. Getting fitter, chanting and learning new cooking techniques. You can read more about it here

Every little improvement and every small change one makes does make a difference. Every attempt one makes to live yoga moment to moment will be felt by all, even the Earth. Infections can spread quickly but so can positivity and smiles. The sadhana provided for you here is a beginning and a thorough way in which to establish yourself in yogic awareness for all times to come. Invest this time to try and live yoga moment to moment, you will be rewarded for life. Smile and spread some happiness and joy around. Yoga is the greatest gift to humanity; it is as relevant now as it was thousands of years ago.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The next YouTube video is more for general interest. ASMR is a technique used to help insomnia. The ‘French Whisperer’ has many different bedtime stories to listen to and help you drift off to the land of nod.

This last video is my yoga teacher from Yogapoint India with the first installment of the Bhagavad Gita. Gandhar has is really great at story telling. There are 26 half hour videos – so plenty to keep you going during the lockdown. It certainly gives you something to take your mind off the news!

Don’t let negativity drain your energy!

With such misery in the news all around us it’s easy to be down in the mouth, frustrated and moany. Not only does this make us difficult company, but it depletes our prana (life force or energy).

Try your best to look on the bright side and accept that life has its ups and downs and there is very little you can do to control the situation. The saying ‘go with the flow’ is absolutely right – we have to flex and bend in the breeze just like the trees.

The winter is a time for hibernation and reflection so why not give some time over to those things? Last year I spent ‘A year with Rumi’ (the book) and can highly recommend reading 1 poem each day for reflection and contemplation…

By accepting our emotions, we can learn to live with them and not allow them to eat up our energy. This can be put to much better use for healing, wellbeing, and restorative purposes. Plus trying to be a better person to those that you love and hold dear.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jalaluddin Rumi

Here’s a list of 7 things to avoid so that your valuable prana keeps brimming over

1 Worrying – it’s a terrible habit. It can be good to ‘have a word with yourself’ and simply say STOP WORRYING. Reason with that part of yourself that wants to feel anxious – is there really anything you can do about it???

 “Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

2 Holding onto things that happened in the past – it’s what happens now that matters most.

3 Checking your phone – put your phone on silent (or better still in another room) – have set times to answer messages and emails. This is far more efficient use of your time than being interrupted every few minutes checking out the latest photo or video.

4 Taking things too personally – it’s just not about you. Chill – it’s probably all about them.

5 Complaining – no one wants to listen to people moaning. Try to project positivity and lightness all around you like a lamp. People will really appreciate you for it.

6 Over thinking – you know yourself when you have had something on your mind for too long, it’s like a stuck record just going over and over. You have probably talked excessively about it too. If you have difficulty taking your mind off something try to build up a collection of special things maybe in a box – like treasures that will spark some deep emotion to alter the path of your thoughts. Perhaps a photograph, picture favourite book of poems. Alternatively you could do a playlist of music that lifts your spirits.

7 Procrastinating – “don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today”. Simple but true -empowering and endearing. If you have promised to do something for someone don’t put it off. If you need to do your tax, get on with it. Often, the more we procrastinate the more we keep doing it – simply the idea of tasks builds up in our minds. Man-up and get those tasks off your to-do list.

Remember that a regular yoga practice will help you to stay healthy, giving you both physical and mental strength to face whatever life throws at you. You can join me online from anywhere that has WiFi – it would be fantastic have you. Perhaps try out the Beginners Course if you are new to yoga.

The Mighty Breath

First of all the twinkling stars vibrated, but remained motionless in space, then all the celestial globes were united into one series of movements… Firmament and planets both disappeared, but the mighty breath which gives life to all things and in which all is bound up remained.

Vincent Van Gogh

Our prana (life force) will be the focus of our yoga practice this term. We are like small power stations – taking on fuel and turning it into movements, thoughts, feelings, dreams and ambitions. The fuel we use is mainly air; in the form of our breath. Allowing our breath to be as nature intended, smooth, slow and free will be our aim.

No strain, no stress, just simply returning to our breath!

Our physical postures will be flowing movements, graceful, soft and expansive. Our relaxations will enable healing opportunities. All are welcome to join our membership on Facebook and participate in as much or as little as you would like.

Please contact me here to join us.