Weekly Inspiration #17

My old friend anger came to visit me this week. At first it was just background noise but then the eclipse came along and turned the volume up, until it was all that I could hear. Anger throbs in my ear drums, beats in my veins, and shouts:

I want a big life
A bold life
A life with colour
A life that pushes the boundaries.

I want excitement
And adventure
And newness 
And wonder.

And if that’s not 
The life you want
Then get the fuck
Off this train.

 

Have you ever felt like that?

This weekend, there were some fun things on. Last night one of my favourite bands, The Cat Empire, was playing at a town near me. Today is my monthly writer’s group meeting. In addition, over the whole weekend, starting last night, was the Dorrigo Bluegrass Festival. A friend of mine invited me to go with her – a girl’s camping and music getaway. I went home and looked at the website – and it looked like something my whole family would love. I say, let’s all go. The Bear is mildly interested and sees no reason not to go.

Except we haven’t got much camping gear.

I say: Okay, let’s buy a bigger tent – we’ve needed one for a while anyway.

He says: Well, that makes it a very expensive weekend if we have to buy all the stuff as well as the tickets – and we need something to sleep on as well.

This goes on, backwards and forwards – and the longer it goes on, the madder I get. I feel, rightly or wrongly, that not only do I have to come up with the fun thing, I then have to work out the logistics of it (which is super difficult and stressful for me), create enough enthusiasm not just for myself, but for everybody else – and then drag everyone behind me. So, I don’t.

The result? No Cat Empire, no writers group and no festival. I don’t know if I’m angrier at myself:

a) For complicating the whole thing when I could have just gone away with my friend;
b) For not putting the effort in, organising the whole shebang and dragging everyone else behind me like I normally do;
c) At the Bear for not participating, leaving it all to me and then making snide comments about how I don’t like camping or stepping out of my comfort zone – and that’s why we don’t do those things as a family! What makes me even angrier is there’s an element of truth in that: but I want to be braver and bolder, and I need some help, goddammit!

And then to top it off, the Bear and my son come down with a stomach bug, and I say to my daughter, who ended yesterday with a screaming, kicking tantrum, and began today in the same way :

You can’t just crack the shits when things don’t go your way! It’s not okay to do that.

And straightaway, in my head, an amused voice said, but isn’t that what you do?

And all of that can be summed up by this quote from Madonna:

Darling,
Just
Fucking
Own
It.

Best (short) Read

You Are Your Own Damn Permission Slip – Justine Musk

This must read article begins with a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert:

For some reason, and this just boggles my imagination, there are still just huge swaths of women who never got the memo that their lives belong to them.

Justine describes the heroine’s journey, using the examples of the Persephone and Inanna stories:

These underground stories introduced me to the term “the heroine’s journey”, the neglected psychological complement to the well-known hero’s journey. If the hero’s journey is about going out into the world and slaying dragons, the heroine’s journey is about pulling inward, traveling down through the layers of yourself until you sound the depths of your soul.

She talks about the recurring nature of our spiritual journey:

Like the seasons, like creativity itself, personal growth cycles through stages. A journey doesn’t happen once in a life; it happens over and over again, for different reasons and varying lengths of time.

But you never descend into the same place twice; and you always rise a little higher than before.

And how in our society, maidens are desirable, mothers are useful – and the crone, with all of her wisdom and power is neither desirable nor useful… to read the rest of this awesome article click here.

Best Mercury Retrograde Shenanigans

I thought I had gotten through the Mercury retrograde period unscathed: In fact, I was quite enjoying it! I had begun an exciting project that had been percolating for a few months, the house was clean, I had given away bags of clothes, and I could see the bottom of my inbox. Being what is called a ‘mercury retrograde native’, meaning I was born within a mercury retrograde period, in Gemini no less, I usually find this thoughtful, slower time quite restful and a great way to catch up on life.

Cafe Medlow - on a good day :)

Cafe Medlow – on a good day :)

A friend and I run a bi-monthly pop up cafe at our local school as a fundraiser for the P&C. We set up on the hall verandah and serve espresso coffee, bacon and egg burgers, toasted sandwiches, quiche, apple and berry crumbles and whatever else we get around to baking. It’s fun, the community gathers around chatting, laughing and connecting with each other – and we even raise some money :). Last Sunday was cafe day once again. Set up was all going smoothly until we plugged in and promptly blew the fuse in the hall. Even though we flicked the switch in the fuse box, there was nothing. So we picked everything up – tables, appliances and food – and moved down to the undercover area where there was another power point. We plugged in and promptly blew that fuse as well. It was 20 minutes before opening time, too late to cancel and we had no power. We couldn’t get to the fuse box as it was locked, and we had no access to the classrooms as they are locked and alarmed.

I rang a member of staff who lives nearby and she came down to help. For some reason, we couldn’t plug the milk frothers in with the coffee machine, or the pie warmer in with the electric frypan, and the toaster hated everything. Finally, with extension leads snaking everywhere, and each appliance plugged into a separate power point, we were in business. Why today and not any of the other days? Who knows? Mercury retrograde shenanigans? Maybe :). Funny thing was though – we ended up having a great day!

Best Yoga

Ajna Chakra - third eye

Ajna Chakra – third eye

The meditation group I go to started on the Ajna or third eye chakra this week. We were given practices to do over the next few weeks – mantra, mudra, meditation, pranayama – so I went one step further and created an asana sequence as well. Click here to check it out in a printable graphic form – you can even print it out if you want to (yes, I do think I am very clever :) ).

  1. Balasana – pose of the child – arms outstretched.
  2. Uttanasana – standing forward bend.
  3. Ardha Uttanasana – half standing forward bend – hands on ground or knees, back flat.
  4. Vrksasana – tree.
  5. Natarajasana – dancer.
  6. Matsyasana – fish.
  7. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – one-legged king pigeon.
  8. Janu Sirsana – head to knee pose.
  9. Paschimottanasana – seated forward bend.
  10. Ardha Matsyendrasana – seated lord of the fishes.
  11. Salamba Sarvangasana – shoulder stand.
  12. Sirsasana – headstand.
  13. Balasana – pose of the child.
  14. Savasana – corpse pose.
  15. Nadi Shodhan – alternate nostril breathing – 10 rounds.

Best Image:

sketches in stillness

 

 

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of an Imperfect Woman (me)

I wrote this to the Bear last night:

Okay…my day:

     Wake up at 4:15am. Meditate.

          Go through inbox – action and delete emails (156 FFS!)

               Reply to blog comments.

Add new contacts to mum’s mailchimp account and send her the report of the bounced emails.

                    Take my turn in scrabble.

Go over to the house, fill the birdbaths, water the herb garden and pot plants, let the chickens out – or chicken to be precise – the other ones have already let themselves out. Attempt to make the pen more secure.

                         Get kids ready for school.

Harry comes over before 8 – coffee, chat and coconut bread. Nick describes the difference between when the Bear looks after them and when I do. Kind of funny and kind of not. Harry borrows a book to read – I give him Kara-Leah’s No More Excuses for Yoga to read. He leaves just after 9 – and comes straight back and says that it’s funny, but on the way down here, he was thinking how he really wanted to do yoga to break a bit of a rut he’s fallen into, but he had all these excuses…

I go straight over to the cottage because Tuesday is my writing day (yippee!). In 5 hours I get 3 chapters blocked out, and discover a new one hiding. I now have 15 chapters. It feels good to work in this structured way and great to be started, but   it feels slow as well. Everything feels slow at the moment though.

                              Hang washing out.

Mick messages and asks if Jamie can come after school – he’s got an appointment in the afternoon he forgot about. No problem.

I pick the kids up from school, chat to a friend who has had a bad hip, and to the teachers about work. Go home and make kids a deluxe afternoon tea plate and they ride their bikes and wrestle on the trampoline while I do the cleaning I didn’t do this morning.

Alani tells me she went up another level in reading! She’s six and she reads like a 9 year old. Very proud.

                                   Take three loads of washing off the line and fold it.

I get cranky when I find out Alani didn’t eat her lunch and is now pestering me for more food. Nick comments that if I made lunch that they actually liked they might actually eat it. That stung and I get even more crankier; it’s not my favourite job, but I try really hard to make the best lunches that I can. I tell Nick he can make his own lunch this week.

Put together a new yoga sequence to go with the third eye chakra work we did in the meditation group on Saturday and then do it. I’m really happy with it. I get Alani to video me doing a free-standing headstand in the middle of the floor, which is fun to see. I think my bum looks a bit big, and I’m leaning a bit to the left, but still pretty impressive.

                                         Vacuum the floor. 

Alani asks me what we’re having for dinner and I say we have some little chipolata sausages. She tells me she hates every kind of sausage. Nick tells me he loves sausages; I feel what little desire I had to cook dinner ebb away. I just stick the         sausages in the oven for Nick and have a bowl of cereal.

Alani doesn’t want to be in the bathroom by herself while she’s having a shower (Nick and I have already had showers) so I go in there with her so she isn’t scared.

Put Alani to bed – I sit at the end of her bed until she falls asleep – about 10 minutes. Tell Nick to turn off the television – he’s watching Horrible Histories – and go to bed. It’s 8:30pm.

Read blogs before I go to bed. I literally nod off while I’m writing a comment – 9:30pm.

Gough Whitlam is dead. Long live Gough!

A 1972 quote from Gough Whitlam, Australia's much beloved 21st Prime Minister from 1972-1975. It is equally relevant today.

A 1972 quote from Gough Whitlam, Australia’s much beloved 21st Prime Minister from 1972-1975, who passed away at age 98 today. 

Weekly Inspiration #16

It’s been a funny week, don’t you think? Some things are on go-slow or even on retreat because of mercury in retrograde (it’s just taken me 25 minutes for my computer to load up after a windows update!) – but have you noticed? Other things, ideas, dreams and projects that have been incubating for weeks or even months, are suddenly pecking their little beaks against the shell of our consciousness. I’m not quite ready to expose my baby to the cold air of discussion yet – but this week I have started work on a very exciting writing project that has been nestled away, taking shape for the last few months. This morning the Bear is home, and I asked him to get the kids ready for school so that I can write until I have to go to work at 11. It is worth noting that all three of their faces went a little pale – but the Bear, although not a morning person, is a reasonable and fair man – and he quickly, if not enthusiastically, agreed. So, here I am – on an early Friday morning, with the mist lifting off the fields outside my office window, the soft melody of meditation music playing in the background and the chatter of birds, drunk on spring time nectar, providing a background to my work (play). Can it get any better, I ask you?

I am sooo excited by all of these index cards :)

I am sooo excited by all of these index cards :)

And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. – Meister Eckhart

What am I Reading?

I’ve just realised that it may appear that I don’t actually read anything longer than articles and blogs :) It’s not true, I promise! At the moment I am reading two books (I love to have two books on the go at the one time – one fiction and one non-fiction). One is A Heart as Wide as the World – Stories on the path of Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg, and the other one is a collection of short stories, essays and memoir from the Griffith University Literary Review. Both of them are worth reading and have some wonderful pieces of insight and wisdom – but neither of them have sucked me in and swept me away from all the other reading and writing I do. Rest assured when that happens, I will tell you all about it :).

Best Quote

At every moment of your life, the universe is either expressing a miracle or is pregnant with the next one. – Marianne Williamson

Best Short Read

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write by Rachel Grate via Mic.com

People who write know this: it’s the secret behind the benefits of morning pages and journalling, and it’s why we writers are just so damn well-adjusted :) Writing about what is happening in your life, the things that you are grateful for, the things that are worrying you or making you sad, angry or confused – is good for your mental health, and has had demonstrable, measurable effects, which we know scientists absolutely love.

James W. Pennebaker has been conducting research on writing to heal for years at the University of Texas at Austin. “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health,” Pennebaker writes. “They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.”

Why? Pennebaker believes this act of expressive writing allows people to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Instead of obsessing unhealthily over an event, they can focus on moving forward. By doing so, stress levels go down and health correspondingly goes up.

You don’t have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life’s most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music.

From long-term health improvements to short-term benefits like sleeping better, it’s official: Writers are doing something right.

Read the rest of the article here.

Best Watch

Guys. I love Glennon Doyle from Momastery, and here’s why: she’s smart, funny, honest, kind and brave. Everything I love about humans, really :). This video post from her is another reason why I love her:

How Trying to Save My Sex Life Taught Me to Love My Body For the First Time

So, the first time I was on the #OWNShow I talked about feeling angry and used during sex, because I like to keep things light and easy-breezy.

Also, remember when I told you that for the first 25 years of my life I never said the word f-a-r-t aloud? I said it on the #OWNShow. I’m kinda proud of myself. I feel like maybe I’m becoming less of a lady and more of a woman.

Love you and I hope you like it.

Fart.

G

Best Poetry

Our True Heritage

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting,
see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvelous look
of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Best Astrology

From Yogastrology:

October is a balancing act…

This month pushes the edge of everything, forcing expansion, new strategies for balance and a necessary letting go of what really does not work.

It is an exciting, terrifying, exhilarating month with the challenge of extreme panic and fear as well as the opportunity to experience the ecstatic state of higher frequencies like never before.

It is truly a circus that we are both witness to and performers in.

There are two eclipses this month as well as some interesting astrological aspects that support the month to be one of the most eccentric, creative, surprising and unpredictable we have had in a long time…

We have everything we need to support our lives and to midwife our transformation. We just need to trust our seemingly unstable environment, and pay attention to how we are navigating our lives every day.

We need to be in our personal power, connected to the integrity of our hearts and striving for a new balance.

We need to release our old stories and become more comfortable with the mystery of the unknown.

We need to shift our platforms of security from exterior systems to interior ones.

In other words, trust more in our talents, inner wisdom, personal beliefs and the higher self…

- Lena Stevens, The Power Path

Best Ironic Snort Laugh

ebola

Have a beautiful weekend – and I’ll see you on the other side!

Weekend Inspiration #15

Well, how did the Aries full moon eclipse/mercury retrograde/fire trine/zap zone shenanigans affect you this week? I added PMT into the mix, making for an speechless red hot rage experience on the night of the eclipse and the following morning, so intense it felt like insanity. I’m looking back on it now from the safety of 24 hours wondering what it was all about – but I know better to ignore anger when it pops its head up: Hint: Relationships are front and centre of this energy. You need to bring your A-game to your relationship (including to yourself). Also, I wrote this to a friend yesterday who was spooked by the intense energy around at the moment and wanted to know more.:

Think about this: this is the last phase of an intense, rare astrological transit that kicked off for real in mid-2012. Anything change for you around then? This is the kind of transit where you are not allowed to be complacent about your self work – it is your most important focus. Also, it’s really important to be clear and real about money matters, both on a personal level and on a global level. This year has strong echoes of 1996 – you may notice similar themes – but hopefully your more mature, enlightened self is doing it better this time around. There is also a mercury retrograde at the moment as well as the overwhelming feel of the eclipse, making this time feel very frustrating – there is change afoot, you can hear the bells tolling – but you have no idea where it’s coming from or what’s going to happen. No matter – you’ll know when you’re supposed to :)

Best Short Read

Want to know how to instantly piss people off? A guest post by Katie Rainbird on WoogsWorld.

So, how do you instantly piss people off? Talk about food and diets, particularly the Paleo movement, that’s how :) Mrs Woog, the owner of WoogsWorld is not a nutritionist, but Katie Rainbird is – and she writes here about her food philosophy and how it differs from the paleo diet:

Cake; when made from scratch using good ingredients (wholegrain flours, organic dairy and eggs, sugar free cocoa, natural flavorings and colorings, whole butter or coconut oil icing [there’s many ways to healthy-fy a cake]) and when eaten, as a minority percentage of an otherwise whole foods diet is FUCKING LUSH and WITHOUT SHAME.

Note my mention of a “whole foods diet”, which is essentially what the Paleo diet constitutes.

Although there are myriad versions of the Paleo diet its primary guidelines are to eat wild game and fish, grass fed organic livestock and their produce, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and cold pressed oils.

YES! A great line up of foods, I agree that these are virtuous and worthy of regular rotation on our plates from breakfast through to dinner.

But there’s no rainbow cake on that list. Which makes it immediately not allowed and therefore a no-no. Bad. Wrongful to consume. Only the weaker Paleo dieter will know the pleasure of tucking in at a birthday party.

I don’t get on board tying guilt up with eating because I believe that the communication between the mind and the body plays a substantial role in the outcomes of one’s diet. Click here to read the rest of the article

I really enjoyed this article, basically because it taps into some of my core beliefs: namely that food is not and should never be a religion where you are right and people who don’t agree with you are wrong, evil or stupid; there is not one right way to eat; and that a healthy, home-crafted, wholefoods diet is a beautiful thing. Plus, Katie Rainbird studied nutrition at Nature Care College, same as me, so I feel like I have some small connection with her :)

Best Watch

Guess what? I watched television this week :) I know! A-mazing :) Seriously though, this was incredible television. This past week has been Mental Health Week and the ABC, our national broadcaster, has shown their support for it on all of their platforms (radio, television, internet) with their #MentalAs programming. The highlight of the week was Changing Minds – The Inside Story, a three part documentary set in Liverpool Hospital’s Mental Health Unit.

Filmed inside one of the busiest Psychiatric Units in the country, Changing Minds: the Inside Story uncovers the realities of 21st century mental health treatment as we meet the patients and staff who are challenging, with humour and honesty, the stigma and taboos that exist around mental health.

In order to film the series at Liverpool Hospital, an intensive 6 months of pre-production, involving protocols, legal and access agreements was undertaken by the team before filming commenced.

Over 12 weeks, a small crew from Northern Pictures filmed inside the locked wards of the Mental Health Unit. From electro convulsive therapy, to modern psychiatric drug regimes, access has been unprecedented. For the first time on Australian television, we film the proceedings of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and see the legal process that allows unwell people be held against their will whilst being treated.

The series follows the journeys back to health of patients unwell at the time of their admittance. It’s raw, funny and sometimes uncomfortable. But the message is clear – help is available.

You can watch it for free on iview – check it out.

Best Short Watch

In this TED talk, Ash Beckham talks about coming out of the closet. Not just the gay closet – Ash describes the closet as a difficult conversation that we need to have, and how sitting in our closet holding our grenade is not only bad for our health, but is depriving the world of our true authentic selves. A wonderful 10 minutes and a great start to our weekend!

Best App

This (free) app, recommended to me by Elysha Lenkin from Mind Body Stylist, is called Smiling Mind:

Smiling Mind is modern meditation for young people. It is a unique web and App-based program, designed to help bring balance to young lives. It is a not-for-profit initiative based on a process that provides a sense of clarity, calm and contentment.

I immediately thought of my 6 year old daughter – she loves to listen to music as she drifts off to sleep – and I’ve been wanting to teach her meditation for a while now, knowing that it is a skill she will come back to time and time again. Of course, I would also like to teach my 10 year old son meditation, so maybe when Clash of Clans or Minecraft puts out a meditation app, one of you will let me know :). Anyway, I downloaded it, and my daughter loves it – she lies in bed for 5 or 10 minutes practicing mindfulness and breathing before she goes to sleep. Yay!

Best Words

Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.
– Marianne Williamson

Best Art

Art by Jenna Rivera

Art by Jenna Rivera

That’s all from me today folks – have a beautiful weekend!

How Yoga Helped Me at Every Stage of Life

Hey, this is pretty exciting – I’ve just had an article published in The Yoga LunchBox as part of Kara-Leah Grant’s Because Yoga is for Every Body series! This series of articles has had a range of contributions from the yoga community, students and teachers alike, and has been fascinating in the range of views and insights about yoga. While I may not be a yoga expert, whatever that is, I am an expert on myself and the benefits that a home yoga practice has brought me over the years. Here’s my story:

I still remember the moment when I chose yoga as an adult.

I was twenty four and just beginning my own journey of personal growth and spiritual development. I knew that my mind, body and spirit were all connected, and what I did to one affected the other.

I wanted to be more flexible in my mind, so I figured that if I became more flexible in my body, my mind would (hopefully) follow.

          How can I become more flexible? Do yoga.

To read the rest of the article, head on over to The Yoga Lunchbox.

yoga mat

The Best Home-Made Muesli Bars (gluten free)

“Can we have some muesli bars in our lunchbox, Mum? Pop buys us these yummy ones – see?”

I kinda groan when I hear this – not because I mind if my parents buy my kids muesli bars (I’m all for that) but more about the muesli bar aisle in the supermarket. I don’t like things in packets and I try to never buy individually wrapped things, especially if those things are chock full of sugar and marketed as health foods when they are clearly not. Sigh. See where my mind goes?

I dutifully went and surveyed the muesli bars anyway on the off-chance that some miracle has happened, and that Kelloggs, Uncle Toby’s and the rest of them have been blown off the Earth, leaving behind two or three humble, healthy and delicious bars. Sadly, that is not the case, and my eyes and brain are assaulted anew with fresh insults to my intelligence. What the hell? I think to myself. I’ll just make them. 

Over the years, I have experimented with the muesli bar – because of course, this is not the first time I have ever had this request. What I am sharing with you today is the result :)

The Best Home-Made Muesli Bars

170g of Puffed Corn or Rice (I use Abundant Earth)
1 Tbl of coconut or olive oil
1 cup of almonds, chopped roughly (or other nuts of your choice – macadamias are also yummy)
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds (you can use pepitas, linseeds or sesame seeds if you like them better)
1 cup of shredded coconut
choc chips – strictly optional
3/4 cup of rapadura sugar (you can use whatever sugar you have)
125g butter
1/2 cup of rice syrup (honey is fine)

So, here’s what you do: Pour the puffed grains and chopped almonds into a large shallow baking tray, drizzle with oil and toast in the oven at 180°C for about 10 minutes until crispy. Don’t take your eyes off those babies – they burn easy, and if they do, you’ll have to chuck the whole lot out and start again. When it’s ready, pour into a large bowl and add coconut, sunflower seeds and choc chips. Line the baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

Meanwhile, take a small saucepan and start melting the butter. Add the sugar and rice syrup, bring it to the boil over a low-medium heat and then let it simmer for 5 minutes until a thick, luscious looking caramel forms. Pour it over the mixture in the bowl, and then pour the whole lot back into the now-lined baking tray. Put it into the fridge and leave for an hour or two.

IMG_0099

When the bars have set into a block, lift it out of the tray by the baking paper and cut into bars, like I have here:

IMG_0100

And then call the children into the kitchen and tell them that you have a small problem that needs taking care of :) They don’t always care about my problems, but for this one, they are happy to oblige :)

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And then when school starts again for the week, I have a moment of satisfaction:

image Note: These bars are best kept in a sealed container in the fridge.

Seven Sacred Books that have changed my life – part 4

KL-Book

“The only thing ever standing between you and your practice is your mind.”

I love this book, and I talk about it all the time, even two years after reading it. The reason is simple: it changed my life. When I first came across this book in August 2012* I had a non-existent home practice. I loved yoga, I had enough space and time, I wanted to do yoga at home – but I still wasn’t doing it.

From the first chapter, I was hooked.

40 days quote

You want a home yoga practice, but you don’t have one. Why is that? Let me guess. Is it because you think you don’t have enough time or space, the people in your life don’t support you, you lack confidence, you don’t know what to do or you feel guilty about spending time doing something just for yourself? Join the club. Most of us use these things as reasons for not having a daily yoga practice, including me.

Forty Days of Yoga teaches us that they are not reasons, they are excuses, and those excuses are stopping us from having the kind of yoga practice that we so desperately want and need.

Using worksheets, Kara-Leah takes us through our jungle psyche, turning over rocks, brush-cutting and mowing the tangled garden of our minds, until finally, there is space to see. As you can imagine, this process unearthed some curious and surprising realizations for me.

I learned these things about myself:

  • Yoga and I have a 30+ year history. I first started doing yoga with my mother when I was six.
  • The only times I had managed to maintain a regular home practice were the times when I was pregnant.
  • I believed that I lacked discipline and commitment. One of the worksheets had me writing a list of successes I had achieved in my life and the personal attributes I used to achieve them. Guess what? Discipline and commitment featured strongly in just about all of them. I just hadn’t applied them to this area of my life. Yet.
  • I felt that I needed a block of uninterrupted time in which to practice yoga, rare with a preschooler at home with me (what I found in practice was that my four year old daughter came and did yoga with me. And if she didn’t feel like it, she would go off and do her own thing).
  • I felt that my family would not be supportive of my yoga practice, that they didn’t want me to do anything for myself (what I found in practice is that my family loved that I was doing yoga every day, and would check to see if I had done my practice that day. They turned out to be my biggest support group).
  • And here was the killer: I felt that time spent doing yoga was unproductive, meaning that nothing tangible was achieved, nobody benefited from it except for me, and doing yoga didn’t earn me any money (or bring me closer to a place where I would earn money, like studying for example). Another name for this is guilt. Beware folks, it’s insidious.

I wasn’t even halfway through the book when I decided that I would do my own 40 days of yoga.

I made a Forty Days of Yoga Facebook group and invited supportive friends to join. And because the book said that it would help to make a public declaration of my intention, I decided to blog through the process. I wasn’t nervous or worried—I knew I could do it, because I have commitment and discipline in spades people, in spades!

That was November 2012.

Two years later, and after 32 years of yoga, I now have a daily practice.

In the process of turning up to the mat every day, whether I thought I wanted to or not, not only did I improve my yoga practice, my strength, flexibility and fitness, I understood myself better. I listened to all the self talk that would go on in my mind, the talk about how selfish I was, how self-indulgent to be doing things that I like to do, like yoga (and writing!), while other people are forced to live lives of misery and drudgery.

On the days that my thoughts would wander down these paths, I would go back to the tools that Forty Days of Yoga gave me. One of these tools is preparing a list of:

Very Important Reasons Why I Want to Have a Regular Yoga Practice.

Discipline: because when I am disciplined, I will achieve much more with my time and energy. I will feel worthy.

Peace: when I am peaceful, I feel more able to cope with life.

Flow: when I am flowing, I feel love and trust in abundance.

Presence: when I am present, I feel alive, alert, calm and wise.

And I would say to myself:

I love to do yoga. I love everything about it.

I love to write. I love everything about it.

I am a better, more disciplined, peaceful, flowing, present person when I do yoga and write.

I have used the 40 day process many times since then. I have done 40 days of writing, 40 days of meditation and I do 40 days of yoga when I really want to drill down and work on a particular area, like the heart and throat yoga that I have recently been doing. Whenever I hear my mind say something like:

You don’t have the discipline to do…
That is a very big undertaking – too big for you.
Your family won’t support you, you won’t earn any money from it…

Don’t you think you’re a bit selfish and indulgent?

Other people are out there slaving and suffering and you want to… write, do yoga, meditate…fill in the gap as you please…

As soon as I hear that broken old record whirring its whining circuit through my brain, I say Hang on a minute! That is complete and utter bullshit. The reason I know it’s bullshit is because I have just done 40 days of yoga, and you said exactly the same thing to me when I wanted to have a daily yoga practice. I have a daily yoga practice now, and you were wrong about that, and I bet you are wrong about this as well.

That kind of talk is ego talk, self-destructive and boring as bat shit – and I continue to prove it wrong every day. Doing what we love and what nourishes our soul, is not wrong, or self-indulgent or unproductive. I know that, because the process of reading 40 days of yoga, and then doing 40 days of yoga not only gave me a daily yoga practice, but it has given me the tools to live an honest and authentic life.

It has given me the skills to navigate my own psyche and to trump my ego, and for those reasons, Forty Days of Yoga -Breaking down the barriers to a home practice has made it on to my Seven Sacred Books that have changed my life series.

* I came across this book when I received an email from Kara-Leah as a subscriber to her website The Yoga LunchBox (I had literally only joined days before) asking for people to act as beta readers for a book that she was writing on creating and maintaining a home yoga practice. I wanted a home practice more than anything, I enjoy the process of editing and feedback – so I held my breath, jumped into the deep end and replied yes! to the email. The rest is history :) Just so you know, I never receive any payment for anything I recommend on this blog – I just like to share with you the things that have made a difference to me.

If you are a yoga newbie – you want yoga to be a part of your life but you just don’t know where to start – Kara-Leah Grant has just released her second book, and I just know that it’s going to help you out:

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