At the start of this year, I set the sankalpa (resolve) that this was going to be a year of courage. I was going to be courageous. As with any intention you set, the universe in turn responds by testing your resolve!
What I’ve learnt so far, is there are two types of fear. The first is primal, it occurs when we are in potential physical danger. It allows us to assess a situation and activate the flight/fight response within us.
The other type of fear * False Evidence Appearing Real * is ego driven.
This blog is focusing on the latter, the ego based fear. Because trust me, I’ve faced a huge amount of fear this year. Mainly around my abilities as a yoga teacher, and rising up to the abundance of opportunities that have come my way.
When opportunities arise and fear kicks in, you have two choices. You can take the safe option, say no and walk away, or you can say yes and face the fear head on.
Given this year’s sankalpa to be courageous, I’ve said yes to every opportunity that I’ve felt serves my highest purpose.
What I have observed, is that I have quite a dramatic physical response. I become paralysed and debilitated, my physical body shuts down. First fatigue kicks in, all I am able to do is sleep. Then my digestion goes completely whacky, the butterflies in my stomach intensify and I become bloated, gassy and am constantly running to the loo. Then there’s the procrastination, Facebook becomes my best friend! I try to get on my yoga mat and I can’t. I even lay it out, step on it and after one sun salutation, I’m too fatigued to move. Sometimes I feel choked as if I’m going to vomit.
At a conscious level, I know I'm very capable in my abilities, all this fear is subconscious, presenting itself through my physical body. And it’s False Evidence Appearing Real. Ego driven. The mind creating obstacles.
What I’ve learned as part of this awareness is it helps to talk about it. First it validates and brings awareness to your feelings , the more you talk about it, the more you realise that others experience very similar fears, and it helps to ‘normalise’ the feelings.
Once you have identified the fear, thank it, make friends with it. Then I like to tell it to f*ck off. Sometimes it does, often it doesn’t!
Be kind to yourself. I’ve stopped beating myself up. If I need to sleep, and that’s all I’m capable of doing in that moment, then I take myself off to bed, guilt-free and sleep.
Have faith in yourself and know that everything is exactly as it’s meant to be. Trust in the flow of life.
Moving out of our comfort zone is uncomfortable. But the reward of experiencing the discomfort is growth and expansion. We are human, we make mistakes. There is no failure, only lessons which assist us on the path of growth. Here are some tools that help me get out of my head and into my heart when I’m feeling fear:
Pranayama – in yoga and life, breath is everything. By practicing pranayama (meaning the control or directing of life-force within the body), it takes us out of the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight mode) and activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the feelings of calm, peace and relaxation.
Chanting – this works on so many levels, when I begin chanting, I feel all the external layers around me soften and dissolve, I move out of the fear frequency and become connected to my heart. Using sound helps to activate the throat chakra (responsible for expression and communication) which in turn helps to tune in and express from a more authentic space.
Meditation – when you are a bundle of anxiety, sitting to calm the mind can be a challenge. However, I find that if I practice pranayama or chant first, the act of focussing on the breath or a mantra helps with stilling and focussing the mind and then I am able to drop deep into meditation. Meditation brings about so many feelings of love, joy and gratitude.
Journaling – often the act of writing allows the subconscious to surface, by bringing our fears to the surface, this gives us the opportunity to acknowledge them and release them.
Asana/physical postures – I’ve left this for last, because as I mentioned earlier, I have such a resistance to this when I’m in the midst of feeling fear. However, I’m also having a love affair with yin yoga (a style of yoga drawing on hatha yoga poses and Chinese philosophy), and all of these poses are done on the floor requiring very little physical effort.
Any pose that targets the inner thighs will stimulate the kidney meridian line, in Chinese medicine the kidneys are the organ relating to fear. I love lying on my back in reclining butterfly, or coming into dragonfly, breathing in courage, exhaling fear.
Camel is also a very powerful pose, it can make you feel incredibly vulnerable and often when I'm feeling fear, this pose can make me feel choked. When this happens, I focus on my breath, breathe through it and do 5 more rounds.
It’s our birthright to experience joy as our baseline, and the simplest way to experience joy is to stay connected to your heart. If you respond to life coming from your heart space, then you are being authentic, and if you are being authentic, there is nothing to fear.
If you have any experiences of overcoming fear, then I would love to hear them!
Love Lili x
I've recently completed this 10 day cleanse with five other spiritual friends while doing Module 1 at the Hridaya Yoga Centre and loved every moment of the process.
The Ohsawa 7 diet originated from George Ohsawa, the founder of Macrobiotic philosophy. It has been known to cure cancer and other dis-ease and is popular amongst the yoga community to balance the physical and emotional bodies.
It consists of eating brown rice (or other grains such as wheat, buckwheat, millet, oats, barley, bulgar or spelt) for 10 days. The intention of this cleanse is to balance the yin and yang aspects of our being, bringing us into a more harmonious state, physically and emotionally. It is believed that in today's society, we are very yin, so by shocking our bodies with yang based foods (brown rice is very yang) we reset our bodies back to their natural equilibrium. Also, the blood, which plays a huge part in detoxification, purifies 10% each day so at the end if the 10 days you have reset your system.
Having experimented with many fasts over the years, I have to say that other than one day where I felt a little nauseous (which I put down to emotional purification), I found this incredibly easy. It helps that I love brown rice! Having the support of friends and eating all our meals at the school was also an advantage.
I was averaging 4 - 6 bowls of rice per day, you can eat as much as you like and are allowed to have dry toasted sesame seeds and Himalayan rock salt for a little flavour, and I was never hungry.
My meditations got much deeper due to the fact that the rice is also very sattvic (no spices or stimulants to activate the mind) and some days I felt so much joy bubbling inside of me that I would have to stop myself from laughing out loud in the meditation hall! All of us were feeling very elevated, glowing, and full of love supporting each other along the way. Due to my digestion not having to work too hard, I was also only needing 4-5 hours sleep every night.
The biggest benefit for me though was losing my attachment to food. I realised I used to spend a lot of time thinking about food, mentally planning what I was going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner (especially when my tummy rumbled during meditation). When brown rice is your only option, there isn't a lot to think about!
At the end of the 10 days, all of us entered into a silent retreat. This meant that when enjoying our first non brown rice breakfast on day 11, we were in silence, unable to communicate with each other. Silently, I wished everyone buen provecho, and savoured the sweet flavours of mango and papaya.
If anyone has had any experiences with the Ohsawa 7 diet, I would love to hear them.
Love Lili x
I've been quiet the past few weeks as I've been on a roller coaster of a journey. Not a physical geographical journey, but an emotional journey, as I navigated my way through the Moon Course at Las Piramides, San Marcos, Lake Atitlan. This course was the reason Central America was first on my travel itinerary when resigning from my job last year.
After a couple of relatively introspective years in 2012/2013 I had been enjoying the social side of travelling that I'd been experiencing since beginning my travels in Guatemala, and was a little apprehensive about spending a month in one spot being introspective again.
However, the moment I walked into the grounds of Las Piramides and was shown to my pyramid set amongst lush jungle vegetation, met my fellow 'moonies' and experienced our first evening of meditation in a beautiful pyramid shaped temple on the lake, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
The moon course is a month long course focussing on esoteric yoga, meditation and metaphysics. We covered many topics, at a high level, such as lucid dreaming, astral travelling, tarot, numerology, the tree of life and much more.
The first week was based around the element earth and the physical body. Yoga focused on detoxification and I developed a stinking cold. I usually have a cold once every few years so this was frustrating, however I observed that by having such a cloudy head, I was able to enjoy deep states of meditation where I could feel the joy bubbling up inside of me.
The following week we focussed on the element water and the emotional body. The first week had been subtle, but this was the week where things started to shift. Emotions started to come from all directions! I also did my Reiki Level 1 training this week which was a very special process shared with some of my fellow moonies.
Each week got progressively more intense! Week three was focussing on the element air and the mental body (the mental body being where we store all our belief patterns) and this was the most intense week for me. I also attended a 5 day breath course where using an ancient pranayama technique we shifted past traumas stored at a cellular level in our nervous system.
Each day we had to regress through a specific time period of our life and journal about that period. I experienced everything from anger and rage to grief for everyone I've lost in this lifetime, followed by deep sadness that lasted for several days.
Although it was intense, after years of avoiding my emotions it was very healing to be in a such a supportive environment where I could experience and sit with the dense emotions.
This breath work was incredibly powerful involving breath retentions, and although it triggered some intense feelings, it also took me to other dimensions which involved a lot of psychedelic imagery! This was the fun part! I also passed out on one occasion. Not so fun!
The final week focussed on the element fire for our spiritual body. It was also the week of our five day retreat which involved five days of silence and fasting (we were given two juices and one soup each day).
To start the retreat we were taken up to El Arka, another retreat centre up in the mountains. Getting there was a trip, we caught a boat across Lake Atitlan to Panajachel then a shuttle up into the hills. After being mainly based at Las Piramides for almost four weeks we were behaving like a bunch of rowdy teenagers! It was a lot of fun and cemented our close friendships even more.
El Arka is a beautiful baron space, in the mountains overlooking Lake Atitlan, and here we shared our last meal together before attending a ceremony in the temple where we all dedicated the consciousness generated by the retreat to those in need. Silence then commenced and we had time to meditate in the grounds before silently making our way back via shuttle and boat to San Marcos.
The retreat was beautiful. I enjoy being in silence and not being distracted by the outside world. I look forward to doing many more silence retreats in the future. We were given daily assignments to contemplate and to journal about which gave us a focus. By having less external distractions, I find time in silence enhances my awareness of the beauty around me. Lake Atitlan has an abundance of butterflies and bird life and I loved lying in the gardens at Las Piramides marvelling at all the wildlife, flowers and vegetation.
Fasting on the other hand I find a little more challenging! I have a hearty appetite and find having restricted calories leaves me very low on energy. Day one and day four were very challenging, I barely had the energy to do my assignments and would have to spend most of the day resting.
Everyone's experience of the moon course is different. Some people come and find their life purpose, for me it just confirmed I am on the right path.
If you are after a strong asana practice, you won't get it here. The yoga is very gentle and some days you barely get off your butt. We only started doing sun salutations in week four. By week three I hardly made it to yoga. This is very unlike me, usually I'm very disciplined with my yoga practice, however, I found that with all the emotions I was working through, sleep and journaling were more important.
The meditation always started off with 30 minutes silent meditation and then the last 30 minutes would either be a guided meditation, selecting oracle cards for contemplation, AUMing continuously (my favourite) or expression meditation where we had to meditate on a question then pair up with the person next to us and express ourselves in relation to the question.
So in summary, this course will not necessarily get your zen on, but it will assist you in working through your sh*t! And the people you meet, become your family. Friends for life. And as always it's the unconditional love and support from family and friends that makes life so special.
I stayed in San Marcos for another couple of weeks after the moon course finished, San Marcos is a spiritual mecca and I needed some time to get reacquainted with the outside world and have time to explore the area as well as all the healing modalities on offer.
I've completed training in breath therapy and now have the skills to teach people to breathe properly and to prevent and treat many illnesses, visited Dr Bill the infamous channeller/psychic, attended Keith the Chocolate Shaman's cacao ceremony, gotten high from a cacao/kundalini workshop (many people come to San Marcos for cacao as it helps with meditation and opening the heart chakra), explored epigenetics, chanted uplifting mantras at Kirtan, attended vegetarian and probiotic cooking workshops, climbed Indians Nose for the most breath taking sunrise, eaten lots and lots of 'grounding' food and prepared myself to move forward with the rest of my travels.
It was an intense time. The energy in San Marcos was dense, everyone was feeling it, but energies have shifted and I now feel lighter and brighter and ready for more adventures.
Until next time amigos!
Love Lili xx
40 Day Challenge
My mama Kristina and I have recently completed a 40 day challenge with the Sa Ta Na Ma meditation. This powerful kundalini meditation uses mantra repetition and mudras (hand movements) and is known as the meditation for TRANSFORMATION. The mantra is known to move through different levels of consciousness when repeating the mantra out loud, in a whisper and in silence.
It also has the following benefits:
Uplifting Yoga Workshop
Over the past year, as I’ve embarked on my yoga teaching journey, I have experimented with many yogic tools. There are so many powerful tools available and they all cultivate an uplifting euphoric high as well as prolonged feelings of peace, love and joy!
Given my love for yoga and wanting to share the beauty and joy of yoga with others, I’ve developed a three hour workshop that encompasses a selection of uplifting yogic tools that I personally practice. I’m so excited to share these learnings! The first workshop will be hosted by the Bulow’s in Purakanui, Dunedin. I then intend to share this workshop in various locations on my travels. Over the course of the next year I plan to be in North & Central America, Europe, Israel, Egypt and India. So far I have had friends offer to host this workshop in the UK and Egypt. If you are in the position to host a workshop, or know someone who is, then let’s talk! Below are the details for the upcoming workshop scheduled for Saturday 25 January 2014.
Cultivating compassion for yourself and others
You are invited to join us for three hours of uplifting yoga that will work on opening your heart space to cultivate compassion for yourself and those around you.
Date: Saturday 25 January 2014
Time: 10.00am – 1.00pm (followed by a light lunch)
Location: Bulow’s, 23 Osborne Road, Osborne, Dunedin
This workshop will take you on an inward journey and is designed to detoxify, energise and cultivate sensitivity to yourself and others. Using a variety of yoga practices, we will work on bringing awareness to our hearts, opening ourselves to experience more love and joy in our lives.
A variety of yoga techniques will be explored, including:
Numbers are restricted to 10 people, so please RSVP by Sunday 19 January 2014.
The group will enjoy a light lunch after the workshop and we invite everyone to bring a plate of food to share.
Clearing space for the new year
Happy new year to you all! I hope 2014 brings all of you everything your heart desires and is filled with an abundance of love, joy and happiness.
In the past I’ve not taken much time to recognise the significance of the new year period, it’s always just been a time for holidays and to be with family and friends. This year, however, I spent a lot of time reflecting. Reflecting on all the amazing things that happened in 2013 and writing down my goals for 2014.
I was away for a few days over the New Year period, and when I got back home, I watched this vodcast from Mastin Kipp, the creator of The Daily Love and it resonated so much that it brought me to tears.
The topic of the vodcast is “Taking an inventory of the people in your life whose approval you think you need and clearing out all the junk around what other people think so that you can start 2014 with a clean slate.”
I realised that I was holding onto a couple of things that were no longer serving me. And by holding on I was not being fully present. I was spending too much time caught up in the craziness of my thoughts. Living in the past and daydreaming of the future.
What stood out for me most in this vodcast was a quote from Mastin:
“When you let people go, you create space, and the Universe loves to fill up these spaces. Have faith, emptiness doesn’t mean abandonment, the space you create will let you discover who you really are and what you really love’.
After hearing this, I knew it was time to let go and move into 2014 with a clean slate. It reminded me of a couple of major life changes I’d made in the past 18 months and how by letting go of the old (giving up alcohol and my job of 8 years) had made way for the new. Such amazing opportunities have come my way since. I’ve been to India, I’ve trained to be a yoga teacher and I’m now putting all my training into practice and am in the process of designing a yoga workshop that I intend to deliver at various locations during my upcoming travels.
I followed Mastin’s easy instructions in the vodcast. At first it was easy, I was excited about being free. Then a part of me put up a huge resistance. I was holding onto the past so strongly that I could feel myself getting fatigued, anxious and flat. I accepted this as being part of the process and eventually I found the strength to let go. At first I didn’t feel the sense of relief that I expected. I felt incredibly sad. But instead of finding an external sensory diversion such as the internet, tv or food, I made myself sit with the heaviness. It hurt. A lot. Then I fell asleep. And then the next day, I woke up feeling incredibly light. And friggin’ excited about the future!
So my dear friends, if deep in your heart you know there is someone or something you need to let go of, I encourage you to find the strength to do so. Clear your space. You will go as far in life as the five people around you. Surround yourself with people who lift you and support you, and great things will come your way.
If you have anything to share, or any questions, please feel free to get in touch.
Love Lili x