I was washing the Schnauzer Dog this morning and the young pup and rest of the family kept interrupting me, pushing open the door hitting me in the shoulder, when I was working with the dog in the tub, full of shampoo.
If it wasn’t the pup pushing open the closed door latch, it was the Moth a.k.a. ‘Man of the House,’ (New homes appear to have internal doors that don’t securely latch closed, unless you slam them).
Each time the door was opened, the very wet and soapy Schnauzer, now full of shampoo would repeatedly try to leap from the tub, and and you can just imagine how slippery a fully soaped up dog was. It was a slightly exasperating situation.
Dog washing complete, I then set about cleaning the laundry and the same scene repeated, much to my dismay. Newly cleaned floors covered with either Schnauzer paw prints or Moth footprints as suddenly everyone wanted to get into the laundry for some reason. Grr.
I felt the tension rising in my body. I was irritated by the door latch not staying closed and the laundry suddenly becoming busier than Central Station. After a few grumbles under my breath, I paused, took a deep breath and tried to remember the wise saying I read earlier this week:
If there is something you don’t like, you can either change it or change the way you think about it.
Each and every day, the real battle for freedom takes place in your mind.
Do you have a way of dissolving tension that works for you?
So many of us seek, even actively chase, a sense of peace and fulfillment. We enjoy the fruits of life that we find bestowed on us, in parochial measure, but can we say that we truly treat ourselves kindly or are content, with ourselves?
Kindness as an act, is something we do in treating and interacting with others. Whatever your beliefs, as a child of this universe, we are all deserving of kindness and respect. It is a fundamental human right.
And yet, we shy away from practising loving self-care towards our own bodies and minds, because it gives rise to feelings of guilt. Or, we see it as some kind of character flaw, a sign of weak indulgence or self-centred narcissistic navel-gazing.
Body Image and Disliking Ourselves
Some of us take this even further developing an intense hatred or discomfort with parts of our bodies, for whatever reason. We seek to change the way we look via cosmetics, surgery or decoration.
We may have been unkind to ourselves over time, seeing ourselves only through others’ eyes. It is all too easy to be hyper-critical of an imperfection, when comparing oneself to others. It is important that we see that this kind of perspective, or lens, distorts the way we think about our own bodies and our sense of self suffers. Over time, these thoughts become hard to shift.
..there is no hurt, no lost or berated part of ourselves that cannot be touched by our own loving kindness. Indeed, little kindnesses towards ourselves made habitual in daily life are enough to turn any tide, bit by bit, day by day.
Whatever we think of ourselves, at this moment, we must not forget that we ARE INDEED unique and valuable to this world.
In apportioning loving kindness to all, we can consciously practice self-care.
Being kind to oneself, on a regular basis, is a useful life skill which can help us more readily soothe and quell anxiety and distress in the face of difficult challenges, or thoughts.
Furthermore, when we are kind to ourselves, (and others), we begin to see that we are indeed worthy of tenderness and this, in turn, may strengthen not only our own self- confidence, but also feelings of comfort and support.
It is never too late to be kind and loving towards ourselves. The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. Focus on thinking that will sustain and support you.
Before you panic, I’m not advocating opening up borders and businesses in the midst of a pandemic. Far from it, I err on the side of caution and conservatism when it comes to nasty bacteria and viruses.
Rather, I am referring to opening the door to our minds and our lives, which often stays closed, to the present moment.
The Present Moment
When old friends get together, they reminisce about the past. Older people love to chat about those heady, carefree days of youth. Their stories are tinged with regret. Regret that they didn’t do more, see more, love more.
Why is it we close our mind to really seeing the world around us, as each moment passes by, a moment that we will never be able to fully experience again? Many of us appear to prefer our own thoughts and stick with thinking that revolves around plans, or worries, for the future, and regrets or reminisces about the past.
When our minds are fixed in the mental construct that is the past or the future, we are more likely to create anxiety within ourselves.
Our Public Persona
Most of us have secrets and thoughts we stash away in the far recesses of our mind. We rarely show our complete self to another person. Presumably for fear of rejection. Because rejection hurts. So we present a public face and persona to the world and our private self is only for the movie that is running in our own minds.
It seems we now prefer to see what everyone else is doing, via the medium of a glass screen than to be involved in life, with all our senses.
Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world that occurs when we’re afraid it will hurt us or let us down. Cynics always say “no.”
If we always say no, we miss out on learning and growing. Saying yes leads to firsthand experience and knowledge. “Yes” is for strong, open-minded people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”
Marc and Angel
Why are we ignoring the immediate world around us?
Could we be preferencing cynicism over wisdom?
As Marc and Angel state,
“Accepting some level of risk in life is important. Everything you want to do takes daily practice.
Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to remember years from now.
Make decisions and act on them. Make mistakes, fail and try again.”
Most of us spend our waking lives up in our own internal world. We over-think and, like overdoing anything, over-thinking tends to have negative consequences. In the case of constant mental meanderings, the risk is that they will lead to a negative spiral of indecisiveness, self-loathing depression and insomnia. One way to counter this is to make yourself more mindful.”
Dr Michael Mosley – The Clever Guts Diet
Can Mindfulness Meditation Improve Your Mood?
Dr Michael Mosley, famous for his documentaries on the human body, was examining the role of diet and gut health on the body. He wanted to objectively measure what effects, if any, mindfulness practice would have, on his brain. So he underwent a series of tests before embarking on beginning mindfulness techniques.
The studies showed he had cerebral asymmetry, which meant he displayed greater activity on the right side of their frontal cortex, than on the left. This indicated he was pessimistic by nature. Pessimistic people are prone to high levels of neuroticism and anxiety.
Evaluation of Mindfulness Techniques on the Brain
Following the testing, Michael Mosley practised mindful meditation for six weeks, mainly via an app. Like many busy people, he found excuses not to complete the practise: he was too busy, too tired, too hungry, too stressed. Practising along with his wife and incorporating mindfulness into everyday activities, such as having coffee, worked with a hectic lifestyle.
After six weeks of mindfulness practice, an Oxford University Professor re-tested Dr Mosley to find his brain showed an improved balance between the right and left hemispheres, accompanied by a sharp reduction in negative thoughts and emotions.
Beneficial Effects of Mindfulness on Physical and Mental Health
[Shannon] looked for the equivalent of a 30-minute workout for her mental wellbeing, [and] there was nothing. Worried for the future mental health of her kids who were growing up amidst epidemics of stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, in a world-first experiment, Shannon recruited a team of scientists to put mindful meditation to the test.
Shannon Harvey documented how she experienced astounding changes over the course of the year practising mindfulness, despite having some serious misgivings and scepticism about its techniques.
Why Does Mindfulness have a Calming Effect?
Dr Michael Mosley believes that mindfulness works to calm the mind and body because it helps to strengthen your sense of control over your own thoughts and feelings.
Not only does mindfulness assist in learning to distance ourselves and let go of repetitive troubling thoughts; it also encourages a mind that remains focused in the ‘present moment’, thereby reducing anxiety and overwhelming emotions that stem from reflecting on the past or stressing over the future.
Mindfulness Techniques Improving Mental Health
In a study published by the journal, “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,” 15 volunteers completed four sets of 20-minute classes of mindfulness. Brain scans have found that mindfulness reduced anxiety ratings by 39%. They also found that it increased activity in the areas of the brain that control worrying, [….]which supports the claim that mindfulness strengthens our ability to ignore negative thoughts and feelings.
I am a bit late with posting my Sunday Sayings quote as it is now Monday afternoon, in Australia. I don’t want writing a regular blog post to become a chore, for then I feel sure my writing would lose spontaneity and appeal, so if I can’t think of anything useful to write, I won’t post at all. Just so you know.
Today’s inspiration resulted after a long walk along the beach with a friend.
Being on the beach at sunrise is fantastic and I feel extremely fortunate to experience it. With little accompanying wind and a mild air temperature, (given it was a winter’s morning in a sub-tropical part of Australia), the sun bid good morning through the low level cloud, hugging the islands across the bay.
That fire breathing star of atoms we all depend on for life, shone over the lapping seawater like a spotlight on a runway carpet. A beam of golden light that stretched across the ocean from the horizon to the shore line like a path to eternity. Magical.
As we walked, my friend and I chatted about life’s dramas, past experiences and the week ahead. She told me about a gentlemen on a UK TV show, who faced enormous challenges in his daily life, and who had seemingly had more than his share of devastating family tragedies, with one cataclysmic life event following another.
In chatting about the TV show and these experiences, I remembered a quote I had read some time back.
Life Challenges and Adversity
After our walk was done and I was at home sipping a cup of tea, I pondered some more about life and facing adversity.
We have all experienced some level of adversity in life.
Everyone has challenges, sooner or later. There wouldn’t be one person on the planet that hasn’t faced some kind of adversity.
Given that such challenges and adversity are omnipresent, or a natural part of life, aiming to live a life without them seems a tad unrealistic and even far-fetched.
Yet how often do we yearn, and sometimes expect, life to be challenge free: wishing for an easy life.
I guess it is in our nature to want life to be trouble free and have free time to pursue hobbies, sport or leisure pursuits. Devices, gadgets and the latest electronic inventions promises itself as a panacea to our time-poor existence.
So I ask:
Why are we looking to save so much time?
In doing so, are we living in the here and now, or looking forward to a mythical ‘down’ time, failing to notice our lives, passing by?
Why do we Want More Leisure Time Anyway?
To make life more meaningful
To experience more relaxation and peace
To conduct leisure pursuits
To stop working in a job that bring us joy
What is it that gives us a sense of satisfaction in life?
If the Covid pandemic has any lesson, it is that some folks become completely bored without work, with nothing constructive to do, and a few even create mischief for others.
Is it in the facing of challenges that we come alive?
In overcoming adversity and challenges, even if painful or sad, we can learn and grow. This, in turn, might lead to a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment. Right?
You tell me.
What is it that you are seeking in wanting more leisure time?
Would you prefer a life completely free from challenges?
Join the Discussion
Everyone is welcome to comment, well except for spammers, of course.
Are You Expecting Too Much? Is it time to evaluate or eliminate unreasonable rules and expectations.
When we are feeling a bit dissatisfied with the way life is, we tend to make judgements about other’s actions that are somewhat misaligned or skewed.
We might miscontrue their intentions, place expectations on others and inadvertantly set uprules for how life should be, when there may be an alternative explanation.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking:
“He was late, so he must not care about me.” – Or –
perhaps he just got caught in traffic.
“If I can’t do this correctly, then I must not be smart enough.” – Or –
perhaps you just need more practice.
“I haven’t heard back from my doctor, so the test results must be bad.” – Or
– perhaps the lab is just really busy and your results aren’t available yet.
Marc and Angel
Inventing rules like these about how life must be, based on stubborn expectations, may lead to dissatifaction. We must deal with the world the way it is, not the way you expect it to be.
Life is under no obligation to give you exactly what you expect.
This isn’t to say that you should never expect anything at all from yourself and others such as diligence, honesty, ambition, but rather that the rules that govern your expectations should not steer you toward unreasonably negative conclusions.
Just because it didn’t turn out like you had envisioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what you need to get to where you ultimately want to go.
Marc and Angel
If you feel dissatisfied or let down by an outcome, then you might have been thinking or expecting something quite different.
Were your expectations too high/narrow?”
“What new truths have you learned from this experience?”
Keeping an external focus allows us to find a lesson somewhere from every experience. When we find the lesson, we can grow from such an experience, rather than retreat into misery or unhelpful mindsets.
We must be careful to see and accept things as they are instead of allowing ourselves to be upset that things are not as you hoped, wished, or expected them to be.
Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend. – Jim Harrison
Most of us have some kind of inner dialogue within our minds, that is the manifestation of our thoughts. Sometimes our self-talk or thoughts are kind and positive, supporting and encouraging us, such as, “Don’t be afraid, – you can do it!” Other times, they can become a destructive enemy, suggesting we don’t deserve any measure of happiness.
Our minds hear these inner thoughts or talk, and sometimes they get stuck on an endless repeat. The subconscious mind might then have a difficult time distinguishing between reality and imagination, as both positive and negative thoughts may stimulate neural networks and result in physical reactions in the body.
We can use mental imagery to our advantage in slowly or stopping those recurring thoughts, through simple visualization techniques. Listening to slow music and visualizing your day helps to organize your thoughts, mentally prepare you, and reduce stress. Studies on visualization techniques have shown positive outcomes whereby the subconscious mind hears and believes a suggestion leading to a boost in confidence and mental preparedness, not felt before. www.huffpost.com
I have used the following visualization to help me deal with persistent undesired thoughts, feeling of anxiety, frustration or stress and just when I am feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated or wish to calm down.
I use a visualisation that involves imagining that I am sitting comfortably on the bank of a stream, watching random twigs or branches float by with the gentle current. I imagine that a twig, branch or even a leaf, is an individual thought.
Sit comfortably on the bank of your ‘imaginary’ stream.
When a thought comes along in your mind, imagine seeing that thought as a twig or leaf, floating on the surface of the water.
Watch each leaf, or thought, approach from a bend further up the stream; imagine each leaf approaching you, getting closer and closer, until it floats in front of you.
Acknowledge its presence but continue to watch it floating by with the gentle current.
Continue watching it on its way downstream, until it slowly disappears from view and is out of sight.
You can use a leaf for a minor thought like a household chore that needs to be done and a branch for a big “worry,” if that helps you.It doesn’t matter.
What matters is the movement down the stream and out of sight.
Occasionally a twig will get stuck on the side of the bank, (ie the persistent unstoppable thought), until the current builds and builds and then you imagine seeing it finally washing downstream, too.
Sometimes you might find your focus wanders a little, or that twig gets stuck for too long behind a rock on the bank. Distract the mind into letting the thought go, by moving your focus to look further upstream again, to ‘see,’ what thought the mind will come up with next. Try it!
Feel free to adjust location, or image, as you prefer. You might prefer sitting in a field watching a animal such as a bird, (or deer) instead of a leaf in a stream. You could watch the bird come into your line of sight, watch it pause to eat and then watch it fly away.
In this way your mind allows thoughts to come, it acknowledges them, yet you remain a silent observer of your thoughts. You are not fighting to keep the thoughts away.
This allows the mind to release the thought and leave your attention. This is way better than the troubling thought! It gives your mind that much-needed break.
Visualization is one of the ways to get your mind back on track when you feel out of balance.
Another stress relief technique from another blogger:
“Lie on your back and imagine all the stress in your body is warm lava concentrated at the top of your head. Then, slowly imagine it pouring down your ears, neck, shoulders, and entire body. You should actually feel a sensation roll down your body as you imagine the stress leaving your head. I use this to fall asleep, and I have never stayed awake past my shoulders.”
The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. – Dag Hammarskjold
Everything is a gift of the universe–even joy, anger, jealousy, frustration, or separateness. Everything is perfect either for our growth or our enjoyment.” – Ken Keyes Jr.
Frustration is an emotion that arises from challenges that stand in the way of us achieving our goals. How we deal with frustration depends on how much we can tolerate that discomfort.
Do you give up easily or procrastinate when starting difficult tasks?
If you find it difficult to suffer fools, or become irritated by everyday inconveniences like traffic jams, noisy kids, or waiting in line, you might fall on the lower end of the frustration tolerance spectrum.
People with a low frustration tolerance may often have difficult relationships as they tend to have a short fuse and are easily triggered.
Annan manns lyte er lette å sjå.
The blemishes of another are easily seen.
Signs of Low Tolerance to Frustration
Frequent procrastination due to an inability to tolerate the frustration associated with a tough or boring task
Impulsive attempts to “fix” a situation due to impatience rather than waiting for the issue to correct itself
Exaggerating temporary discomfort
Insisting on pursuing immediate gratification
Giving up immediately when presented with a challenge or obstacle
Growing irritable or angry about everyday stressors
Thinking or insisting, “I can’t stand this.”
Avoiding tasks that might cause distress
Depression and Anxiety lower our frustration levels.
Intrinsic personality traits – some have less/more patience and less/more expectations with others.
Core beliefs and values may contribute to how each person deals with frustration. Using language such as “It isn’t fair,” or “Life should be easy,” or “Why don’t they just do it.” [this way.]
Changing Frustration Tolerance
Frustration tolerance can be learned. Life will throw some curveballs. Thinking that you have a harder life than most, or are singled out for unfair treatment fuels thoughts that kick off frustration triggers. Sitting with mild discomfort of a distressing thought, for short periods is part of acceptance.
“Why do these things always happen to me! This is horrible.”
Is this something you can change or do you need to change the way you respond?
Can you re-think your attitude, or is it better to accept it and move on?”
Do not Doubt your Ability to Cope
A certain amount of frustration can stem from doubting your inability to tolerate distress. Thinking “I can’t stand to wait in line,” or “I am too old/broken or overwhelmed to try again,” will only increase your frustration. These thoughts do not help or support you and can even stop you from achieving any growth or progress.
Deep breathing is the best instrument you have at your disposal to calm your body.
Breathe deeply and sit (for a short time), with the uncomfortable thought or feeling, before taking any action. Meditation, exercise or muscular relaxation can also assist in calming the mind and body.
We can alter some feelings by keeping it real, more often. Instead of thinking about how “unfair” life is, that it is always going to be bad, we might reduce runaway and triggering thoughts by questioning the reality of what we were thinking. There are going to be difficult moments in anyone’s life.
Like any new skill, dealing with discomfort and thinking more realistically takes practice. A low frustration tolerance doesn’t have to be permanent.
You can take steps which could lead to a more fulfilling life experience.
“No wonder Lucy doesn’t present well, her clothes are so old-fashioned.”
“You should take more care with your car.“
How often do we hear judgemental comments about others, analysing what folks should or shouldn’t do? These comments or suggestions are often negative and critical in nature.
Making a judgement about someone else effectively puts up a barrier between them and us. So if we stop, or at least aim to reduce, judging and analyzing commentary towards others, we might find communication improves, and we might begin to feel closer.
If we minimize judging and analyzing, the spin off can also be a greater peace of mind for us.
When we complain about other folks, we are actually sabotaging our own peace of mind. This is because we allow ourselves to be disturbed that things are not as they “should be.”
The Taoists say,
“It is possible to appreciate people for their uniqueness – like you might enjoy a certain song. You don’t have to analyse and pull it apart.”
In being more open, flexible and accepting, you let others be the master of their own lives.
PEACE OF MIND CAN COME MORE FROM A CHANGE OF ATTITUDE, THAN A CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES.
We learn so much from our mistakes, don’t we?
Therefore, it is sensible to let others make mistakes and not rob them of that learning experience opportunity that might be so valuable to them.
We are also taught, via our education system, to analyse and have an opinion. But it is perfectly okay to have no opinion at all.
Question: –“Do you think Frank should get a job?”
Answer: – “I think Frank should do what he wants.”
This week I will set a challenge for myself and for anyone who cares to join in to:
Spend a week not judging anything or anybody.
When I meet someone who talks about others, complains a lot or doesn’t work, under my breath, I will say something along the lines of:
“I give you the space to experience life as you choose.
It’s not for me to judge you.”
Let’s see if life is a lot easier that way.
Will you join me in trying this?
It doesn’t mean you have to like everybody.
Being less judgemental means you can maintain your own particular preferences in life, but remain more calm in your attitude.
If you are around a complainer, you might choose not to be in their company, but this is coming from a position where it does not feel right for you, rather than open condemnation of their differences.
If you spend your whole life being irritated by others, it is obvious that there is going to be a lot of people who don’t see things your way.
You can wait for people to start thinking like you or you can grant them the right to live their lives the best way they know how.
YOU GRANT THEM THE RIGHT TO LIVE THEIR LIVES THE BEST WAY THEY KNOW HOW.
Let’s check back in a week to see how we are doing with this.
You are having a difficult day, right? The sales assistant in a local store refuses to do what you need them to do and you’re running late, that new work colleague continues to micro manages every aspect of your work, (despite the fact you have been doing the tasks perfectly well for five years or more), and to cap the day off, you get home, the baby is screaming, house is a mess and said partner has left the toilet seat up!
Feeling a little annoyed?
Suddenly, it is all too much!
People who think they know it all are especially annoying to those of us who do
When we feel irritated by people’s behaviour, feelings can build up inside us and we might blurt out harsh words or criticism, that is later regretted.
Feeling annoyed at other people’s behavious not only damages our work and personal relationships but detracts from our level of contentment in life and even might affect our self -esteem.
In any other context, or situation, these actions would be almost meaningless, (such as leaving the toilet seat up), so we must ask ourselves:
Why are we so irritated by their behaviour?
IF YOU LET SOMETHING ABOUT A PERSON ANNOY US, (eg. eating noisily), PEOPLE WILL KEEP DOING IT TO US.
What is it that prevents us from seeing the person’s good points and focusing on something bad?
Why do we seem to ascribe a negative meaning to another’s behaviour in our own minds, yet feel annoyance and irritation in ourselves?
What ARE we gaining by being irritated?
We do it because it gives us a payoff.
We get to feel like a martyr – meaning I AM still okay so you are NOT
We get to blame others for our feelings
We get to feel unhappy and it’s someone else’s fault
The alternative is to take responsibility for our feelings and aim to be more flexible and more accepting of other people’s temperaments and priorities.
Everyone IS different.
Some shout and scream, others never open up, some hoard their money and others spend it. Some love Donald Trump and other abhore him. Some like to be alone, others need to be around people. Some are loud, funny or raucous, others quiet, mellow or aloof.
If we want to be accepted as we are, we must therefore accept others just as they are, too.
Give other people space to be who they are.
“No matter how big your house is,
how recent your car is,
how big your bank account balance is,
our graves will always be the same size,
Unknown – Let me know if you know who wrote this
Respect others enough to allow them the opportunity to experience life in their own way. Being irritated or upset is fine, unless it gets in the way of our own enjoyment of life.
It is much preferable to not become upset. [This might take practice if you have been irritated with other people, for a long time.]
Putting conditions on how others should behave around us, cuts us off from life itself. If your friends are much sillier, more serious, more talkative, drink more, ruder, more overly polite or more boring, liking or hating your favourite politician, delight in these differences of the folk who make up your world around you.
Enjoy their uniqueness for what it is, and do yourself a favour.
Everyone has a right to enjoy their life as they see fit.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.
If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”
― Oprah Winfrey
Are you constantly seeking contentment?
Marc and Angel stated that there are two variations of contentment in life – fleeting and enduring.
“The fleeting type is derived from instants of material comfort, while the enduring type is attained through the gradual growth of your mind. At a glimpse it might be difficult to decipher one from the other, but as time rolls on it becomes vividly obvious that the latter is far superior.
Enduring contentment sustains itself through life’s ups and downs, because through them your mind remains confident and at peace. On the other hand, when life’s fleeting changes have the ability to ruffle your mind into a frenzy, even the most elaborate physical comforts won’t make you any happier for very long. “
“We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.”
― Immanuel Kant
Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Friday’ on my blog, which morphed into Sunday Sayings. I became fascinated with traditional proverbs and sayings, their metaphorical layers and the many different interpretations found within just a few, succinct words. I marveled at their ability to transcend race, religion, opinions and age. They offer us knowledge; knowledge that is passed to us in much the same way relay runners might pass a baton. Once it’s handed over, it is up to us what we do with it and how we pass it on.
When you live in a hot climate, exercising is hard. The will to jog or pump iron in the blistering heat of a steamy summer’s day, is almost impossible to find.
Entering my fifth decade, I discovered that if I didn’t exercise regularly and followed my ever increasing sedentary lifestyle, my body and its joints quickly became stiff. The flexibility and mobility of my youth was lost. As we age, many of us find this loss might even become permanent, if we don’t find a way to move.
Balance is also the first of our senses to deteriorate with the passing years, so it is vitally important to find a way to preserve that sense of balance, for as long as you can. How many older folks pass away or deteriorate after a fall and the consequential broken hip?
Gentle Exercise with Benefits
If you find the prospect of jogging or hard aerobic exercise unbearable, as I do, Yoga is the perfect way to begin an exercise routine and achieve some gentle movement, in your body. If you are able to devote a few minutes each morning or even three times a week, you will find that before too long, your body will begin yearning to stretch.
The best thing about Yoga is that it is designed for people of all ages and levels of fitness. The beautiful thing about Hatha or most styles of yoga, as opposed to the punishing regime of Bikram or hot yoga, is that it is not competitive. You work at your own pace, listening to your body, gradually encouraging it to stretch and strengthen when it’s ready.
Hatha Yoga practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit.
But don’t think you won’t get any sort of workout in Yoga if you like something more challenging. You can choose to push your limits, if you are able, but you will do it gently and safely and calmly. No stress, no over reaching your body. Just gentle stretching.
Practising Yoga not only keeps you fit and toned, but provides innumerable benefits to the internal systems of the body as well. The many forward bending asanas, or positions, stimulate digestion and elimination.
Calming the Nervous System
Twisting poses and backbends stimulate spinal nerves, benefiting the entire nervous system but please start out small, very small, if you haven’t exercised for some time.
Yogic stretches and accompanying breathing techniqes are one of the best way to calm an over-stimulated nervous system, and with regular practice, you’re find that you are able to relax and face life’s difficulties more easily. Inversions – even as simple as forward bending and touching you toes, pump up your blood circulation and can even counteract depressive feelings.
The ancient Yogis believed that holding a ‘downward facing dog’ posture for up to 30 minutes could cure depression! Perhaps that is a stretch, (no pun intended), but I think holding a pose like this, would certainly distract anyone from feeling bad about themselves, albeit temporarily!
What is the Secret?
The breathing exercises incorporated in yoga, bring increased oxygen to the blood, which then washes through the body’s cells, rejuvenating them from the inside out. It is the squeezing and releasing of muscles within the many physical poses that then creates many of the bodily benefits.
Yoga asanas may also affect the glands and regulate the production of hormones, something modern medicine finds difficult to control without nasty side effects. In fact, hatha yoga does wonders for all systems of the body and for your general immunity.
Even a small effort at this form of exercise is repaid almost instantly with increased feelings of well being.
With regular yoga practice, you will quickly notice how your body feels lighter, livelier and more limber.
Depending on the Yoga exercises you choose to do, you can focus on improving your balance, strength and/or flexibility and general mobility.
More subtle forms of yoga aid and prepare for a meditation that may relieve stress and benefit the body, mind and you, the soul.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Negative, Hateful Feelings
When we have been hurt we feel strong emotions, like hate. We might be filled with passionate rage and its the body that might automatically switch on strong emotions, bypassing the more rational thinking and analysing centres of the brain.
That bodily rush that comes with anger is due to a surge of adrenalin, and it might even mean we forget why we actually hate the things we do. If hate continues to fester, we might even forget what and who we hate and just experience raw bodily emotion. It is then we might begin to hate for the sake of hating itself, to vent at something – anything. Ultimately, if we do not halt and process this raw emotion, it often seems to turn inwards and we might even begin to hate our own selves too.
It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. Confucius
In order to counteract hate, one has to move on from the past mistakes or troubles, disconnect from other haters if they are in your circle and shift our mental focus.
Hating prevents any enjoyment of the present life. It does not satisfy or heal, it only destroys.
If basic needs, such as physiological needs and safety are not currently being met in a person filled with hate, then this needs to be dealt with first. One cannot begin to resolve hate, if the person feels insecure, hungry, or even lacks a sense of belonging, in their lives. When basic needs are not met, the person might be vulnerable to extremist social and religious groups or behaviours, for they offer that sense of community/belonging which the individual is desperately seeking.
The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.
Age and Anxiety
As we age, and deal with life experiences and challenges, both good and bad, one realizes that many worries and fears don’t ever come to fruition. They are, more often than not, unfounded. How many opportunities to experience joy are lost because of months/years of needless worry and negativity?
Letting go of rage, raw emotion and fear, the need to always be right and control others, the need to have everything perfect or everything your way, or the feelings of not being good enough requires hard work and discipline but can be done.
If we accept that we can not change the past, and shift our focus ahead, to a new future, you just might be bothered less by all the past with its regrets and nonsenses. What’s done is done, and now is history. It is no longer real, so it is best to look forward and focus on what you CAN actually do, right now, in this moment.
The Present Moment
The present moment is significant, not as the bridge between past and future, but by reason of its contents, which can fill our emptiness and become ours, if we are capable of receiving them.