Yoga Off The Mat

Hi Everyone,

I’ve got an article in the March issue of Australian Yoga LIFE magazine. It’s about incorporating powerful yoga techniques into daily life — without getting sweaty on the mat!

I’d love you to read it and look forward to your comments.

If you’d like to learn about these yoga techniques and are in the Sydney area come and try my classes. Visit: www.yogacoopmanly.com.au for details.

I hope you can support this great Australian magazine. It’s now in newsagents, or you can subscribe online at www.ayl.com.au.

Tina Wild AYL Mar 2014

 

Sowing the seed for a happy new year

nye-fireworks-1

As the year takes its final bow to usher in a fresh new 2014, how many of you have made a new year’s resolution? You know; be fitter, healthier, shed a bad habit, find a new job/hobby – that kind of thing.

How often do you make a new year’s resolution, with high hopes (or half-hearted ones) only to break it by the end of January? Do you even remember what your resolution was from the beginning of this year?

So how do we keep the hope alive and bring the goal to fruition throughout the year?

We could take a leaf out of yoga’s wise book. In yoga this resolution is called sankalpa; a positive statement to transform negative thoughts into positive ones. The trick is to harness the willpower by repeating and re-affirming this statement every day. According to Swami Saytananda:

“The sankalpa is one of the most effective means of training the mind..a powerful method of reshaping your personality and direction in life, along positive lines.” [i]

Formulating a sankalpa can be the first stumbling block, with so many choices and opportunities, how many of us really know what we want out of life? How to decide on one single goal? As Swami Satyanada says:

“Most of us are floundering in the darkness, like ships without rudders, sails without sheet anchors. We don’t know which way we are headed because we are being led. Using the technique of Yoga Nidra, however, we have a choice in life, and that choice is created by the sankalpa.” [ii]

The sankalpa, repeated mentally on a daily basis, at a time when you’re feeling calm, is like planting a seed into the soil and watering it. It is also repeated at the beginning and end of Yoga Nidra—a deeply relaxing meditation from a lying down position that releases all physical, mental and emotional tensions—a practice I highly recommend for fatigue, stress, anxiety and overall wellbeing.

Now you may have to practice Yoga Nidra many times before you formulate your sankalpa. That’s no big deal, I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t enjoy and feel the benefit from Yoga Nidra.

I have adopted this sankalpa, it’s a poem that was pinned to my dear Auntie’s wall, who passed away recently. She embodied this as her philosophy and purpose, not just for one year but for her whole life.

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Mahatma Gandhi

I have other goals that are more achievement-based but I hope this resolve will help me to become less self-centred, less competitive, to shed my ego and soften the hard edges that sometimes cluster around my heart.

Wishing you a joyful, peaceful and healthy new year, in which all your goals and dreams are realised.

Best wishes

Tina

Lotus pond

Lotus pond

Notes

[i] Satyananda Yoga Teacher Training YS1 2010; from Yoga Nidra text, Sowing the Seeds of Change

[ii] Satyananda Yoga Teacher Training YS1 2010; from Yoga Nidra text, Sowing the Seeds of Change

References

Sankalpa, Sowing the Seed of Change. Australian Yoga Life, Issue 21, July-November 2008.

 

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yoga Nidra, Yoga Publication Trust, Bihar, 2008

Blooming of a Lotus

lotus flower

‘You have enough.’ This postcard on my fridge reminds me every day of my trip to Plum Village monastery and mindfulness centre in the Dordogne, France. With food in my belly, clothes on my back and a roof over my head I have abundance.

I’m left literally with the clothes on my back when my luggage is lost at Bordeaux airport, on the way to Plum Village. Lesson one: trust my instincts. Initially bereft, I surrender to the serendipity of being unburdened of my possessions. What could I possibly need apart from a change of clothes and toothbrush?

I miss the last train from St Jean station and endure a two-hour taxi ride with a grumpy, chain-smoking French driver. He throws the car recklessly round sharp bends, whilst chatting on his phone, gesticulating how ‘magnifique’ this slice of God’s cake is. And it unquestionably is, if only he would slow down so I could take in the ancient chateaus, farmhouses, patchwork of fields, abound with grape vines in manicured rows that whizz by in a green blur. Handing over 180 Euros when we arrive at Plum Village, I should be the grumpy one.

 panorma

 

Anger

Upon arrival at Plum Village at 9.30 pm I receive a frosty welcome from a sister, reluctant to let me in because I’m late. Exhausted from the journey and close to tears, I don’t relish sleeping outside, the grass is dewy and there’s a chill to the midsummer country air. Eventually another sister appears and gives me food, clothes, a toothbrush and towel, after I explain about the lost luggage.

Not a wink of sleep. There’s a snorer in my dorm. I vow to find earplugs and to never share a room again. I am so absorbed in my anger I forget the faithful saying that ‘this too shall pass.’

 ceremony plum village

The next morning in the hall, covered in delicate wisteria, looking onto the plum trees, we meditate on – guess what? Anger. How appropriate. Incidentally, the grumpy sister apologises to me, saying she is sick. No excuse, I think, rather ungraciously, learning my second lesson: spiritual leaders are just like the rest of us. Human.

 

the monks playing ping pong

As I stroll through the gardens, to my amusement a group of young monks are playing ping-pong. They do other things than sit and meditate and be serious? Another reminder – don’t judge and don’t put people on pedestals, they fall off.

Tina's reading nook at Plum Village, France

Tina’s reading nook at Plum Village, France

 

 

I float around, forgetting I’m dressed in a sister’s robes, and am perplexed when people bow and say ‘hello sister.’ I realise, however, from the faux pas I make with protocols they’re probably humouring me!  Take the phone incident. Curled up, reading my book—this place is a labyrinth of nooks and crannies for peace seekers—I listen to the rain drumming and watch it drench the flowers. The phone rings. ‘Shall I answer it?’ I shout to sister several times, unable to work out if her gesticulations mean yes or no, or something else. The something else, it turns out, is the ‘rule’ to pause and take three breaths when a phone or bell rings, before answering.

Cloud room

Cloud Meditation Room

As the day rolls on I retreat to the meditation room, aptly named Cloud; a converted barn with red roses rambling up sandstone walls. Oak cathedral beams soar and hold medieval candle fixtures, like crowns. I stretch out like a cat, bathed in stripes of afternoon sun, like yellow glory. Sinking into plush purple cushions, comforted by the smell of wood and flowers and burning incense, I sleep soundly.Who says Buddhism is all work and frugality?

 

Thay's talks

Thay’s talks

Food To Make Your Heart Sing

Each day Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist master, holds a talk at one of the hamlets. At eighty-six, he looks fragile and tiny yet exudes self-containment, happiness and peace.

To my surprise the first talk and lesson is about nutrition. He gives us a bottle of sesame oil and tells us to gargle a spoonful for thirty minutes per day. Thay, as his friends call him, says all disease starts in the mouth, therefore it can also be expelled through the mouth.

As my insides sing with each delicious meal, I realise how appropriate nutrition is as a topic. The retreat teaches us to be mindful in everything we do, say, think and eat. Food served is vegan with Vietnamese influence—Thay and most of the monks and sisters are Vietnamese—combined with hearty fresh produce from the surrounding farms, it’s a delectable feast.

Bell Tower, Plum Village

Bell Tower, Plum Village

Despite the decadence and abundance of the food, eating meat and drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden and, to Thay, ‘like eating a child’s flesh.’ A great believer in moderation, I find this a little extreme, as I’m sure Nigella would agree. However, Thay tells us, it is scientifically proven if the west reduce eating meat and drinking alcohol by fifty percent it would be enough to feed the world. I love his phrase: ‘May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, preserve our planet and reverse the process of global warming.’ But…I would still relish a glass of the local Bordeaux wine with dinner, whose grapes I see growing on vines in rows, like braids, ripening in the summer sun and pure air.

Mulberry Paradise

Mulberry Paradise

At dinner we sit around the mulberry trees, as if in the garden of Eden, plucking the plump sweet fruit and licking the blue-black juice that stains our fingers and drips down our arms. Paradise. I love how the French wish each other ‘buon appetite’ before a meal. There is no English equivalent. It reminds me of my uncle; a French teacher, who always says this. Plum Village has its own beautiful Buddhist version of grace:

‘We accept this food with gratitude to beings of the sky and earth who helped to produce it. We eat with gratitude for sharing this nourishing meal with our loved ones.’

  

Impermanence

 The following morning at 6.30 am we practice meditation. Revived after a sound night’s sleep and from the bliss of silence between dinner and breakfast, my mind is still. I relish the Qi Gong that follows; stretches to stimulate Chinese pressure points and kidney meridians, whilst my bare feet sink into the lush wet grass. Afterwards, I sit by the lotus pond, invigorated yet deeply relaxed, counting the flowers; a symbol of impermanence.

‘The whole cosmos is in the lotus flower: mud, cloud, sun, flower, you. Everything inter-be’s with everything else so don’t discriminate between the mud and the lotus; accept both. The lotus is impermanent, if you don’t preserve the lotus it turns to mud.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

Lotus pond

Lotus pond

Walking Meditation

At the largest hamlet, where around 500 people gather, Thay leads us on a walking meditation. Silently, the long procession traverse the gentle hills, with each breath in we place the left foot down, each breathe out the right foot. Simple. Beautiful. It’s amazing how loud silence is; the birds sing, the tall grass swishes, the earth crunches beneath my feet. The wild mushrooms are early to sprout this year, I notice. Back to the meditation. Left foot down inhale. Right foot down exhale. Wild lavender and daisies sway in the breeze. Left foot inhale. Right foot exhale. Cypress trees cluster, like broccoli florets, in shades of green, yellow and brown. The very last in the procession, I continue at my own pace; the rest must be quick breathers.

Walking meditation

Walking meditation

Pursuit of Happiness

Thay says ‘meditation is looking deeply at something and finding the roots.’ How empowering we have all the answers within to resolve our problems and make ourselves happy. How? Happiness is a training, by which we teach ourselves to come home to the present moment; noticing the ringing phone, the barking dog and the traffic lights.

.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice is ‘don’t look for happiness, you are happiness. Don’t look for the Buddha, you are the Buddha. Fulfillment is only possible when you stop trying. You contain the whole cosmos. Look into your body and you’ll understand the whole cosmos if you understand yourself.’

 

Mindful Living

‘Mindfulness is the light that guides us. Desire to live simply, to be compassionate and healthy. Look deeply within to discover if your desires are healthy. Select your environment carefully, choose where you feel safe, be near positive people, and not assaulted by consumption.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

My final lesson: the arrival of my lost backpack. So at peace with being possessionless, I greet it with indifference. Do I pass? I think so. The retreat teaches me to weave mindfulness into every day life. I try to observe my actions, speech and thoughts. I watch and feed the positive seeds; of joy, confidence, generosity and love. Not the negative seeds; of anxiety, jealousy, depression and anger.

 

Wise Teachers In The Midst

I recommend Plum Village for its peaceful, enriching experience but there are plenty of wise souls around us. Seek them out. I find one such teacher in my veterinary surgeon. Worried why my puppy is so small and under-developed, he responds: ‘He is exactly as he is meant to be.’  How very Zen. I try to apply this lesson in acceptance and gratitude every day. As my stepfather wisely says, ‘if you can’t do anything about it, just accept it.’

 view of vineyards from meditation room

This article was published on:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/12/preserving-the-lotus-lessons-from-a-buddhist-master-tina-wild/

Yoga for Cyclists

Calling all cyclists, MAMILs, Weekend Warriors and aspiring Kings of the Mountains.

Are you guilty of not doing enough stretching?

Do you always have aches, pains and injuries?

Do you want to enhance your performance on the bike?

Then join our 6 week Yoga for Cyclists course

When? Saturdays 3 – 4.30 pm starting 15 February

Where? Yoga Co-op Manly, Ivanhoe Park, Park Avenue, Manly, 2095 NSW

Cost? $108

Bookings: tinajwild@gmail.com

See the website for more info on classes: http://www.yogacoopmanly.com.auYoga for Cyclists Course Flyer

How does meditation help to unleash creative writing?

Tina meditation Curl Curl colour

As a meditation teacher and a published writer I have found that the two compliment one another perfectly. How? When I write my mind needs to be still and spacious for creativity to blossom. How often is my mind in that state? Not very often, unless I’m on holiday and free of life’s daily challenges. Or…when I meditate.

The purpose of meditation is to create a point of focus whereby the mind ceases to chatter. You become calm on the inside, releasing physical, mental and emotional tensions.

When I write fiction sometimes I often begin with an idea for a story. These ideas tend to be preoccupations, if you will, that by voicing on a page help me to tease out and make sense of. This reveals a similarity between writing and meditation, both of which enable you to become your own counsellor, get to the root of your problems and discover what your burning desires are. Actually it was through yoga and meditation (meditation is an integral part of yoga) that I convinced myself to stop procrastinating, stop being too afraid of not being good enough and start living my life’s purpose: writing.

What happens if there are no ideas bubbling to create a story? That doesn’t matter, idea or no idea, either way I still write freely in the technique known as ‘stream of consciousness’ writing or to use Sue Woolfe’s phrase ‘loose construing’. This method is extremely liberating and fun, you never know what is going to come up from the depths of your mind! And, the best thing about stream of consicousness writing is that you don’t have to show anyone, it is writing in its rawest, most authentic form. By meditating before I begin to write, I put myself in that quiet space and the floodgates of words bubble and flow like a river.

I have developed a workshop and course which marries the art of meditation with the craft of creative writing. This is available for anyone seeking creativity, whether you’re an aspiring writer with a story bursting inside you but not sure how to start. Or an accomplished writer who has lost your mojo or suffering from writer’s block.

If you’re interested in unleashing your creativity please contact me to book a place on the course: Email: tinajwild@gmail.com or call 0424 590 960

When? Saturday 30 November, Saturday 7 December and Saturday 14 December 3 – 5 pm.

Cost? One workshop $35 or book the course of three consecutive sessions for $90.

Where? Ivanhoe Scout Hall, Park Avenue, Manly 2095 NSW http://yogacoopmanly.com.au/location/

I have been teaching yoga and meditation for seven years and practicing for fifteen. Having studied many meditation techniques, my greatest influences remain the Satyananda Yoga tradition and Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. See my yoga website http://yogacoopmanly.com.au/classes/meditation-creative-writing-workshop/

My love of books and writing led me to attain a BA Degree with Honours in English at Nottingham University in the UK. I am now studying a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney to fulfill my goal of completing my novel.