Category Archives: Spiritual

Yoga and Mindfulness Tuition in London

Finally the flyers are out…

We offer a wonderful mix of Hatha Yoga, Traditional Thai Yoga Massage and Mindfulness Meditation to help you find peace and relaxation in the present moment and the strength and energy to follow your visions and dreams…

See the flyer for more information.

Find your breath, know your body

Take your time, just to be

In the moment that opens up

So many ways for you to heal

love ॐ

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Deep Observation

Observations lead to interaction. We need a deep sense of observation to perform healthy interactions; and more observation to  fuel reflection and further action.

The Buddha talks about penetrating the objects of observation; diving into them and observing the body in the body, the perception in the perception; only so we can know the object. From observation comes insight; from insight comes knowledge. In the end it is deep observation that leads us to an interaction based on understanding. The interaction closes the loop; an interaction based on insight or true understanding creates meaning.

“When you practice deep looking and master yourself, you dwell in peace freedom and safety.”~Thich Nhat Hanh

A safe place …

… is a place where we are welcomed and included in all our being; physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. A safe place is a place where we can fully be ourselves and express, share, give insight to the brightest as well as the darkest places of our soul; here we can portray the pattern as well as every little detail of the landscape that lies within us.

It takes commitment, participation to include ourselves. It takes humility and empathy to be able to include others. It takes contemplation and self-awareness to develop these qualities; they are all essential group ingredients to provide a safe place, a place for peace to develop, a place for us to lay down our weapons, our armour, our shields of protection and fully open ourselves towards change, embracing our whole being.

Painting by Monica Giglio

What a blessing …

By Neno Vučković

… to be alive. Born to learn and take the lessons. Every day we learn, we see ourselves, who we are, in different lights. What we think is what we become. The mirror is in front of us. Giving us, serving us every moment with what we need, exactly what we were looking for. We reflect ourselves, and again, become what we see. Can I be and stand the strain? Be myself, fully pure?

Life is a flow, like a river, guiding me, while I was ignorant. I am here as I’m meant to be, in the flow of things. It is love, the Earth is compassionate, direct, wise. If I look deep, I will see, it’s no surprise, it’s meant to be. The breathing in, the breathing out, the moment here, the moment now.

Talking to the mind

We are today what we were thinking in the past and we will become what we are thinking today (see also).

Our plastic mind makes this possible. It always takes on the form of what we are thinking. When we think of an apple, our mind is an apple; when we think of a dog, our mind is a dog; when we think of light, our mind is light.

This experience can teach us how to change our character. Whenever I think “I don’t want to be an angry man”, my mind creates this image of an angry self. Only when I think of myself as being peaceful, my mind becomes peaceful.

I observe, that every thought is preceded by a concept or a term, which I create, through previous experiences; this ends up creating pattern, pattern of the mind that repeat themselves.

Can I use  prayer, acceptance, training in positive thinking to create new pattern, a positive mind frame for myself?

Raja Yoga and the 8-fold Path

Raja Yoga, one of the four main paths of Yoga, is considered the royal path, the Yoga of the mind or of self-discipline. It is a more integral and scientific approach to Yoga.

Raja Yogis believe that the mind needs first to be tamed in order to be purified. Patanjali, composer of the Raja Yoga Sutras writes the famous description of yoga which says ‘yogah chitta vritti nirodhah‘: chitta – thoughts; vritti – thought waves, modifications of the mind; nirodhah – to find tranquility, to control; a common english translation is ‘yoga is the slowing down of the modifications of the mind‘. If we slow down our thought waves we become able to observe them and acknowledge our mental patterns. This is the first step towards consciously changing them.

Every thought that comes up in our mind leaves a lasting impression, called sanskara in sanskrit. The more we repeat a thought, the deeper this sanskara becomes ingrained in our minds, so that it forms a thought pattern, a habit. You can imagine this like a river, the water flows down the same lines over again and leaves a valley. The deeper the valley, the harder it is for the water to find a different flow next time. When we here the name Michael Jackson, we think of music and when we hear the name James Bond we think of movies – these are our thought patterns, categories that are put together by the self-organising function of the mind. We use these categories in daily life to work more efficiently. In the same way however when we buy a piece of delicious cake at a bakery, we create a sanskara. Next time we walk past the bakery we think of that piece of cake. We buy it again and the sanskara becomes deeper. With repetition it becomes a habit, habits form our character and the character determines our destiny.

To free ourselves from these pattern, to look into the categories and consciously reorganise them, we need to slow down our waves of thought. For this purpose Patanjali put together the eight limbs of Raja Yoga which compromise elements from all of the main yogic scriptures.

The eight limbs consist of four points that deal with the external and then four that deal with the internal:

The Yamas represent the code of conduct and are practices of self-restraint, like Ahimsa, non-violence, Satya, truthfulness, Asteya, non-stealing, Brahmacharya, abstinence from sexual misconduct and Aparigraha, non-covetousness or non-possessivness. These Yamas are behavioural norms and are said to be essential to slow down the movements of the mind. If we are possessed by greed or violence our mind will not be able to concentrate.

The Niyamas are the five observances and are more of a spiritual practice to train the mind and control the emotions. They are Saucha, internal and external purity, Santosha, contentment, Tapas, austerity, Svadhyaya, study of scriptures and self-reflection, Ishvarapranidhana, self-surrender to God.

Asana is defined as a posture that one can hold effortless for some time observing calmness and breath. 84 asanas are considered to be the main ones while the most important one is padmasana, which is the lotus pose and helps us in meditation. The practice of asanas effects us physically (blood circulation, flexibility, inner organs, glands, muscles and nervous system), psychologically/emotionally (developing emotional balance and stability, inner harmony), mentally (improving our concentration, memory) and on a consciousness level (purifying and clarifying our awareness).

Pranayama is the control of prana, the life-force or energy which we achieve through regulation of the breath. The breath is what harmonises the mind, the prana and the physical body. Pranayama and asanas, often referred to as Hatha Yoga,  are the external practices that prepare the body for the internal following four practices.

Pratyahara is the control of the senses and teaches us to go inside ourselves and not be disturbed by what is going on outside of us. It is considered a prerequisite for the further practice of concentration and meditation.

Dharana means concentration. This is where every meditation starts, in focusing the mind, becoming-one pointed and not being distracted.

Dhyana is meditation, it goes beyond concentration. It is here where we are able to consciously alternate our mind and mental pattern, being awake, free from distractions and desire.

Samadhi is the final stage, blissful awareness, the superconscious state.

Creativity

Facing South, I call the element fire into the circle, asking for inspiration and creative strength. I turn towards the youth movement engaging in a way forward, into a better, more creative and resilient future based on values and collaborative social structures. I open myself for renewal, new promising visions and ideas.

Have you ever asked yourself what the inside of a seed might look like? Have you ever planted a seed in a bit of soil, given it water and sunlight? Have you seen what grows out of it? A sprout, a couple of leaves on a tiny little stem. Have you ever wondered how a seed of such small size can bring forth a tree, stingily rooted in the earth, reaching up to the sky, giving shade, fruit, life for hundreds of years to come? I’m amazed It seems like something that goes beyond; there is an inherit order of things that is larger than me, bigger than me.

Creativity is the nature of the universe. Everything works, everything constantly creates and deconstructs to create again. Can I even grasp it? How can I bring my creative power into being, into true existence, join the forces of nature and be an instrument for peace in this world?

When I sit in meditation, practicing mindfulness in the moment I am practicing peace within myself. When I practice walking on the earth I become aware that I am a part; a part of the whole, of the process of becoming. I make the whole complete. When I walk into empty spaces can I fill the void? Can I bring that creative presence, be that missing piece that makes the space complete? The landscape, the trees and me. The picture forms as I walk. Does it exist without me?

I am letting go of the idea that I need to be and I become. My intention is peace; peace is the seed that I sow; it will grow as I paint the landscape within; I paint the landscape without.

Towards Permanent Cultures – An Introduction to Ecovillage Design 4th – 11th August, Chiang Mai

This 6-day Introduction to Ecovillage and Permaculture Design is based on the Global Ecovillage Network’s Ecovillage Design Education, an internationally taught training for sustainability and social change. In an interesting mix of head, heart and hands on experiences we will teach 40+ hours of interactive workshops around the five dimensions of Ecovillage Design.

Social dimension: We will explore the non physical processes necessary for community to thrive; positive communication, decision making, conflict resolution and meeting facilitation will all be covered. We will look at organisational structures of different scales, from intentional community  to wider society. By discovering what we believe to be true community we can develop new ways of working and living together.

Ecological dimension: Actively building natural capital throughout the duration of the course we will learn how to live with the earth, restoring and regenerating ecosystems. Workshops will include learning how to save seed, build healthy soil, catch, clean and store water, manage forest sustainably and use appropriate technology.

Economic dimension: We will take a look at the current global economic system. Analysing its strengths and weaknesses, we can explore alternatives and the possibility of a Common Welfare Economy that is truly beneficial to society. We will learn about developing local currencies, gift economy and LETs schemes amongst other ways of being community reliant.

Worldview and Cultural dimension: A diverse mix of community building games and exercises will guide us through the week. An Open Space to share and a World Cafe event will give us the opportunity to explore our collective power as a group.

Design dimension: Discovering concepts of systems theory and pattern language we will learn to observe and recognise patterns in nature, society and ourselves. Once we become aware of these patterns and systems, we are able to incorporate them into intelligent design from garden landscaping to community development. We will focus on Permaculture Design and Dragon Dreaming as integral approaches to project/land design.

This brief overview of the topics that we will cover is by no means comprehensive.

The Panya Project Permaculture and Sustainability Centre offers an optimal and inspiring environment to truly experience living in intentional community, exploring an alternative way of life and reconnecting to a natural state of being. This 6-day workshop will equip participants with the right inspiration and tools to become a force for positive change in this world.

Find more information at the Panya Project’s webpage here.

Four Paths of Yoga

… there are many roads leading to the top of the mountain – once we’re up there we all have the same view.

Karma Yoga as the path of action teaches us to do our own duties skillfully and selflessly; dedicating the results of our actions to humanity. Practicing this kind of yoga helps us to be unselfishly and successfully in the world without being burdened or distressed. Many teachers agree that this is the most meaningful yoga for modern times. Generosity becomes a part of everything we do and is not relying on any object or person. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist Zen master, gives us the image of the left hand helping out the right when the right is injured. If we are washing dishes and think of others that do nothing we cannot enjoy washing the dishes. In that way Karma Yoga is a good practice of acceptance and getting beyond Raga Dvesha. As people that were mostly Karma Yogis we could name Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Terese.

Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion is often said to be the easiest path of Yoga in this particular time of evolution. Bhakti Yogis use devotional practices such as chanting, mantra meditations and God visualisations to transform their emotions into pure devotion, open hearts and turn every action in life into an action of love, an offering to God. The path of the Hare Krishna group is mostly a Bhakti path of Yoga. Ramakrishna is an enlightened Yogi and guru who reached his high state of consciousness through devotion.

Jnana Yoga, or the Yoga of Knowledge involves intense mental discipline. Discrimination between the transient and the everlasting, the finite and the infinite through the intellect is the goal of this Yoga. Jnana Yoga is an extremely difficult path that is only mastered by a few. It involves questioning the Self, existence itself, the mind and its relations to every other thing in the universe. Krishnamurti or Ramana Maharishi are popular Jnana Yogis.

Raja Yoga is considered the royal path, the Yoga of the mind or of self-discipline and is a more integral and scientific approach to Yoga. It is believed that the mind needs first to be tamed in order to be purified. The indian God Siva is believed to have thought the art of Raja Yoga to Parvati, his beloved and feminine aspect. The spiritual teacher Swami Vishnudevananda is one example of a popular and accomplished Raja Yogi. (More on Raja Yoga following soon)