Category Archives: general

Happy when others are happy, sad when others are sad

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Over the last couple of days, a very english yogi has been working on a practice which is simple but very, very challenging.

He is happy when others are happy, and sad when others are sad.

Sounds very easy?

In principle it is obvious.  At first glance it is easy. Your husband, or wife, or child or parent – or even your friend or work colleague tells you that they have received some good news and they are overjoyed. It could be anything – a job, some money, a clear medical test, a successful exam result etc.  They’re your friend/husband/wife/child etc. So it’s almost by default that you are going to be happy for them. And the opposite is true. If they have some sad news or are upset. It’s again, almost by default that you are going to be upset or sad with them.

Now: try it with people you don’t know, or perhaps you don’t care about, or aren’t close to. 

Take it a step further: try it with people who cause you difficulty, who’s actions seem geared to make you angry or upset.  Try it with anyone who you think is your competitor or rival. Try it with the boss. Try it with the cleaner.

The ‘yogi found an interesting thing. The competitive world seems to encourage us to thrill in others misfortune and get annoyed with other peoples’ success and happiness.  Seems like the whole of news on TV, in the press and on the radio (and the web..) is geared around to thrill in others’ misfortune and get jealous of others’ success and happiness.  Gossip in the office, in the pub, or on the street hinges on the intrigue of others misfortunes and struggles and to query and question others’ success and happiness. It seems to the ‘yogi that this route is a crazy making route: a downward spiral.

To shift the spiral upwards why not try being happy when others are happy; and sad when they are sad.Everyone.

 spiral_of_recovery

Good luck.

The value of being ‘curious’

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Today has been a delightful day for a very english yogi. Life threw him the opportunity to practice kindness and compassion. And curiosity was at the heart of this.

Kindness because he had the opportunity to help a number of people. Nothing too big, just simply turning up and welcoming people to a new home and showing them round, and giving them information to make their life easier.  I really enjoyed the day for this. I think some of them did too. Who knows where it will lead and or how it will evolve – but I am grateful to life for giving me the opportunity to help them.  Behind this was a curiosity about the people who turned up: who are they?  where have they come from? what makes them tick?  how can I help them? And curiosity led to new connections being made and people feeling welcomed.

Compassion because during the day, two old pals of the ‘yogi needed advice. They were arguing and spoiling to fight with each other. Language became terse and agressive. They came to the ‘yogi for him to side with either of them. They wanted advice. They wanted some sort of judgement. The ‘yogi isnt great on giving advice….the yogi doesnt like the thought of being a judge.  And he certainly doesn’t feel as if he can comment on how others should live their lives.  His Pals were mired in a quandry and some might say a mess of their own making.  The ‘yogi spent a fair bit of time listening to them. What was clear is that nothing is ever really straight forward or clear.  It would be wrong to share their argument and their issues.  But the yogi found that starting from a position of love, respect and compassion seems to be much more straight forward than responding with judgement, animosity, criticism or ridicule. So we make mistakes. But it’s not to far a leap from a mistake to learning and wisdom. So lets make mistakes and lets learn from them. The interesting thing about this experience is that if we simply attend without judgement and hold to a sense that people make the right decisions for them at the time – there is a neutral logic in all of this and it is simply ridiculous to be critical.

Indeeed curious is the more hopeful position and from ‘curious’ springs love and respect for other peoples’ process; and from there – compassion. With this foundation, it all makes sense. And things can move forward, as they did. This was because the ‘yogi’s curiosity about his Pals’ arguements and issues led to a growing curiosity between them. Why does X behave like that? What does Y really mean when she says that? When you get below the surface you find a world altogether more richer and stranger. And when you begin to make sense of this world,  you know you are really begining to understand the situation. And curiousity – a gentle compassionate probing – leads to a richer, fuller understanding and new insights. Which is what happened today – for me and my two Pals. Somehow we are all the more knowledgeable and understanding as a result. No one got hurt nor hindered and the friendship is stronger I am sure, as a result.

The culture that the Yogi lives in,  has this view that curiosity isnt necessarily a good thing. It’s summed up in the phrase “curiosity killed the cat”.  Curiosity is associated with nosiness and intrusive behaviour. But if curiosity is driven by the principles of compassion, respect and love – it can be a valuable perspective.

I’m curious : what do you think?

Namaste

 

Equanimity

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The aim of yoga is to cease the movement or turning of the mind as Patanjali suggests in the 2nd sutra of his Yoga Sutras. So if through yoga asana, meditation and pranayama the practitioner achieves this cessation of mental fluctuation – what then?

The stillness of the mind quite possibly creates the conditions for equanimity. A very english yogi likes this word. It means composure and evenness of temper regardless of the situation.

This state of being is perfectly symbolised in a quote that the ‘yogi heard recently. He thinks it’s Tibetan. It goes like this:

“If something is broken, why worry if it can be fixed? If something is broken and it can’t be fixed, why worry?”

and just the other day, the Yogi was re-reading a well known poem by Kipling which seems to sum up this sense of equanimity:

If by Rudyard Kipling
Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!

Equanimity comes from yoga practice – the more you get on the mat and practice asana; the more your cittas stop vritting and the more likely you are to have a sense of equanimity.

Life throws us plenty of challenges to this. You walk in to your office and your work mates are arguing, your boss is shouting at you, your car broke down, another driver cut you up, you didnt get the job you had placed all you energy and hope for. There are so many scenarios in the play of life that one is tempted to think that these things are thrown into your path to test your much treasured and worked for equanimity. Much treasured because it is hard in this world to achieve this; and possibly the only way to get this is to work hard, turning up on the mat practicising asana and living yoga off the mat as much as possible.

A very english yogi knows that Kipling is a bit dated, and recognises that it’s written from a father to a son – but he thinks that it has resonance over the years and across generations and gender.

Here’s to your equanimity!

Procastination Buster

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Here’s a quick tip.

Stand up, walk over to  your mat, unroll it, step onto it, lay down in srivasana. Breathe.

Consider what asana your body and your mind feels drawn to.

Do it.

See where it leads you.

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Great info gram (A very english yogi loooves Infograms) blog by Alison Hinks at Bull City Yoga, Durham, North Carolina.

A very english yogi loves Alison’s website – its packed full of yoga infograms and her sassy style of bloggin – and he is sure of teaching.

If he’s ever in the area he would go to her class – it sounds great and the blog tells you all about it.

Alison Hinks Yoga

7things

click for pdf…

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Right here, Right now…

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Every so often a very english yogi is reminded of a striking fact.  It’s usually when he is walking out on the fells and across the dales.  Or he remembers this fact when he is out in the garden like he was today, sweeping up the last of the winter leaves for the leaf mould bin. Mostly though,  he is reminded of this fact when he is practicing yoga asana and pranayama on the mat – or even off the mat.  It happened the other day when he was making a cake for his loved ones.  And yesterday when he was playing the didge while one of his nearest and dearest was playing the saxophone.  It happened recently on the fells when the ‘yogi was walking: surrounded by fells and mountains, the lake glistening in the sunlight, and the sky a shocking bright blue.  The ‘yogi sat down to meditate and instantly felt that overwhelming sense of being absolutely centred in the present moment.

He remembers that the only reality is right here, right now. averyenglishyogi1 ‘This’,  is it.

Yesterday, rich with experiences,  is now just a memory, drifting in and out of the memory store that is the mind. Tomorrow is rich with opportunity and ripe with potential -waiting to happen and become now. You can’t physically go back to the moments that have passed; and you can’t grab the moments to come and live them now.

So we are left with an immense and extraordinairy fact: it’s all happening right here, right now.  This makes every living moment rich with possibility, and ripe with potential.  But it also offers us a challenge: when it’s gone – it’s gone.  Lost time is not found again. So the onus is one us to realise this possibility and this potential.

Yoga through asana, meditation and pranayam seems to offer a way of realising the rich possibilities and ripening of potential.

And in a strange way,  every single moment when lived to the full feels like a millenia where the possibilities are endless and the potential mindblowing.

A good starting point is simply to relax and go with the flow of the moments you are in. Don’t try to grasp or control,  judge or criticise, just simply observe.   If you feel blocked or bored, find a stretch (like touching your toes carefully, or reaching up to touch the stars)  or practice an asana  (warrior, downward facing dog or trikonasana – triangle). If your mind is monkeying – practice some simple breath observation or mantra.  You’ll find some ideas on this site or simply by googling.

With love and best wishes,

xx