All you need is inside

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Lately I have been sharing a stream of quotes and thoughts with my students and I started to recognize a pattern. They were almost all about the appreciation of good, bad, big and little things in life.

“ All the things that truly matter, beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind” – Eckhart Tolle

We live in a world dominated by the mind, as most of us are well aware. But being aware is sometimes not enough to tap into the things that truly matter to you. It does not help you to connect inside with what brings you joy, love, creativity. It doesn’t help you to recognize beauty or find your inner peace. We have to take an extra step; we have to put in the work.

You need to be willing to perceive things in a different way, to see things in a different way, coming from the heart, from the connection you make inside. Not coming from the mind. Many times we are stuck in our day-to-day habits. We take the same way to work, we have our breakfast routine, we sit in the same spot for lunch, etc. There is nothing wrong with having a routine, the only danger is that you get stuck in your way, stuck in your mind, stuck inside. When we are stuck in our ways, it becomes more difficult to see the little things that can give us joy. Often we only give credit to the big things that happen in life and we dwell in the time between. But what about all these little things that bring you joy? Things like waking up to your baby’s smile, or the cuddle of your dog, getting a message from your family or friends, seeing the flowers grow, feeling a stray of sunlight on your face, the smile of the stranger on the street, laughing with your friends or colleagues, finding a space to sit down and take a deep breath, and so forth. The things that can bring us instant joy and happiness happen constantly. The question is: are you open to it or not? Are you grateful for what presents itself to you? Brother David Steindl-Rast said a beautiful thing about this: “In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”

But what if life presents itself in the most shitty way you can think of? I recently lost people who were dear to me, to old age and to cancer. These moments are hard, and all I wrote above seems to become irrelevant. But is it really? When life shows itself to you in its most ugly way, it becomes increasingly important to appreciate all these small things. They can give you a small spark of happiness, they give you direction to find your way out. It helps us to understand that you can choose to be loving to yourself, or you can choose to judge. You are in charge of setting your direction, you are in charge of when happiness is allowed back in. This choice is crucial, some people mistake this difference by thinking that loving means there is no room to push yourself, no room for improvement. None of that is true! You can support yourself and lovingly speak with words of encouragement.

Because “every thought you produce, any action you do, it bears your signature” Thich Nhat Hahn. You put your signature on what your world looks like on the outside, how people respond to you and what you bring forward. But more importantly, you put your signature on what goes on inside.

Practice this every day, in good times especially, find happiness, joy, inner peace, love, beauty, creativity in the simple things in life. Change your routines, try to see something new everyday, change where you sit down, take a different route home, switch around your fork and knive. Break out and break through. So that when difficult times arise, you know that there is something on the other side. Because ”the best things in life are free. Sleeps, hugs, kisses, love, friends, family, memories, smiles, laughter & fun” Author uknown.

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Practice, discipline and repetition

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I believe these three words are the recipe for any success. This also holds true for yoga. During a teacher training you live by these 3 principles. You have a tight schedule because there are only 200 hours to transmit the knowledge you need to be teaching on your own. After the course discipline is the keyword to make a difference: get up early to do your own practice, keep on studying the scriptures, postures and effects it has on you. Practice helps to feel and experience the yoga postures in your own body, which is your main source for teaching yoga to others. You repeat over and over again: mantras, anatomy, 8 limbs of yoga, breathing and of course the asanas. Repetition creates a patterns in your mind and body, which allows you to remember and become better and deepen each time you do it.

These three words have always sounded scary to me, it means work – hard work! Something I try to avoid when I am not sure what the work is leading towards. But now, after I have taken my first steps into teaching yoga, I realise that they are my friends and my mantra. Through practice, discipline and repetition I can built my own practice and grow as a teacher and human being. It will allow me to learn while I am doing, it will help me to keep on studying and growing as a person and it will guide in me into my next steps in life. And best of all, I am able to teach others what these three words mean and can do in their lives!

Self-love

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I am going towards the end of my yoga teacher training and I have to say that what I have learned has truly been a life changing experience. Becoming a yoga teacher doesn’t only mean you know how to perform the poses and show them to your students. It has everything to do with how you perceive life, how you live it and spread that message out into the world. Without pushing your believes on others, you make a difference by being true to yourself.

My most important lesson has been to practice self-love. Don’t criticise myself, but be gentle and true to myself. I drained my energy and love by taking care of others, before making sure I was strong and stable enough to give it to them. Here, at the teacher training, I found the strength to love myself and be strong from within with all I have to offer.

When I practice self-love I have noticed that I lose my fear of not being liked, that I am able to let go of the fear of what others think of me. I am enjoying life at the moment it happens, instead of worrying about the past or future. I focus on me, and through this I am able to share a lot more joy, laughter and love with the people around me. I am not draining love anymore; I am using it to make myself, and others happy.  The feeling of not wasting away my feelings and love is very powerful and gives me the strength to be who I am, without any doubts, worry or fear.

I let go and enjoy what life has in store for me.

So how do I do this? Here are some tips from my side:

  • Every day before going to bed write down 5 positive things about yourself.
  • Do a daily yoga practice (or any other thing that makes you happy), it doesn’t have to be 1 hour. 10 or 20 minutes suits as well. Reload your battery.
  • Surround yourself with the things you love. People, music, food, nature, sports, etc. It makes your life much easier and a lot more fun!