A month or so ago many of you joined my dear friend & meditation coach Alison Potts of ‘innate being’ www.innatebeing.com for workshops in practices of self-care. What a blessing it was to host such an incredible human being, who shares her story with such grace, honesty and openness. She is a vivid example of how living a thriving & beautiful life is possible for everyone, regardless of circumstance/age/chronic disease.
There is SO much I could write about in regards to her offerings, however ill try and keep it succinct, and hopefully pass on some of the golden bits, that you may also find helpful.
I met Ali a number of years ago now, but was mentored by her last year. I was at a point where I knew I wanted & needed more meditation in my life, but hadn’t really found a practice that ‘fit’. I loved using guided meditations but found myself never quite making the time. I’d come through the other side of what had been a really challenging period in my life, & I felt like my own inner light had dimmed a little. I wanted to brighten up, & to reconnect with the pleasures of MY life (even if it seemed less than perfect). I didn’t realise it at the time, but what I was craving was an INSTICTIVE form of meditation.
Admittedly, I also felt a little fraudulent – I was a yoga teacher, but I couldn’t ‘still’ my mind. In fact every time I tried to, it felt like my body & mind literally rejected the concept, things seemed to get busier!! So I kinda just gave up, & used my yoga practice as a moving meditation (which I might add, still works beautifully for me today).
After working with Ali, I realised this ‘busyness’ of mind was of course, completely normal. It’s the way our brains bring things up to process and to HEAL. I find it amazing how quickly things can come up and then clear out, now that I’m aware of this and I know that I’m healing. Without this information coming up about our own obstacles/shadow, we cannot heal.
You see, we practice the yoga of ‘tantra’ – best described as the yoga of the householder. We are people with friends, lovers, pets, businesses – ‘worldly attachments’ if you like. You might hear some yoga practitioners talk about the practice of ‘non-attachment’, but when you listen to Ali, she speaks of ‘daring to be attached’. This for me, feels SO much more natural – it takes more courage to care for someone and to be invested in something, than to not…..More courage to risk sharing who we are, what pains us & what we love, in place of hiding. So this is it, a meditation practice that fits the life of ‘the householder’……….yep, us – not monks or priests or buhha’s – but every day kinda human beings.
Ali began her workshops by identifying three core truths for all us:
– My life is precious (and my individuality is precious)
– My body is wired to protect and enhance this
– Awareness can be enhanced (and bringing enhanced awareness to something is powerful)
She also asked us to remember and write down what we VALUE…..i was reminded to come back to the things important to me – kindness, courage, love, wonder, authenticity – among many others. It’s really made me REMEMBER them, and to live my life accordingly. It’s funny how we can lose track of these things that are so important to us, and it was lovely to be reminded. It has shifted both my perspective and my behaviour. I remind myself often now, of what I value – and I share it with the people around me if I need to. I strongly encourage you if you didn’t attend, to spend just a few minutes writing your values down – it truly is a powerful practice.
Another interesting point Ali highlighted, was how our brains are wired to move naturally from action and thrill, into rest and ease. At times we crave more action, and other times more peace – recognising these patterns is potent. It means we can be more deliberate in allowing ourselves time for both, & recognising what will serve us.
The more you stay on emergency, the more you look for it…..we actually have to train ourselves away from this. This behaviour stems from our survival brain – which doesn’t completely serve us in the developed modern world. We no longer have to ‘fight’ for food or survival, our stresses are different (though the response is the same). The more we can connect with what we love/value, the more we can process the backlog of ‘emergency’ (stress), and live more in peace.
Luckily for us, there are loads of little things we can do often, to combat this tendency towards hyper-arousal…..enter ‘Micro-practices’…..
MICROSKILLS – the practice of bringing enhanced awareness to everything
- Looking up (the sky, the stars, the trees)….and away from any device, or focused activity like driving/typing etc
- Vision: up/down/left/right (enhancing the action and strength of the small neurons around the eyes)
- Sending a blessing to someone
- Take time to tend to your own energies/emotions/experiences…..give yourself permission to really be with yourself and FEEL (remember, these things come up so they can be processed and let go)
- Sit on the front step, or by the window, and just watch
- Cuppa/drink/food (stop and REALLY taste, notice and enjoy the experience)
- Take yourself to places you love, to moments where you felt connected, loved, pleasure or bliss. Give yourself permission to remember the outstanding moments of your life – everything good stays alive in us.
- Meditate into sleep (‘Im putting the day away with honour’)
- Daydream (yes!!)
- Savour precious moments as they arise
Notice how these are all instinctive – things we do naturally. This form of meditation is not about doing anything new necessarily, but giving yourself permission to do it. It’s about being able to ‘drop in’ more often, to decompress without guilt, and to tap further in to what we love and enjoy in the knowing that not only is it enjoyable, but absolutely NECESSARY for our health.
Since becoming aware of these practices, I find I now have permission to slow down (which is weird – it was always there, but as a ‘busy’ person I had a tendency to always be ‘doing’something….no more!). I can enjoy the simple, exquisite, moments my life offers me. I SAVOUR time with my son – stories, hugs, puddles, conversations – it all becomes heightened, delicate and LUSH. It’s a way to tap in more to my innate & natural tendency to ‘live my own bliss’ & ‘to be in the flow’….if nothing else, this means enjoying the EXQUISITE UNFOLDING of ordinary life.
Let me leave you with this – I scribbled these down during Ali’s workshop and they have become a mantra for me:
I choose to get my information from inside.
I trust my inner compass.
I have CURRENTS of internal medicine.
My body is built for healing.
Pleasure is CRUICAL for healing.
All you need is already within you – Instinctive Meditation will help you re-connect and recognise that.
Take your own advice, from your own values.
Happy meditating/healing guys.