What’s your story? Do you really know? Strangely most of us don’t. We understand the basic shape of our history of course, but very few of us deeply understand the details and how we are still living in their echoes and under their influence.
Many people are reluctant to take a look. Often for fear of what they will feel and find. Often because they think it seems self indulgent or pointless - it happened, I can’t change it, what’s the point dredging up old stuff?
I also notice a lot of rhetoric out there preaching that “you are not your story” encouraging us to rise above our past and craft a new reality for ourselves. In essence this is of course true. We are not the things that happened to us.
You also ARE your story. Your history. Your upbringing. Your childhood. Your traumas. So am I. They are etched into our subconscious with (almost) indelible ink. And you simply cannot build a new future, be present, or access your True Self when the brain and body is still saturated with old emotions and thought patterns of the past. Where we come from defines and dictates the way we think, see, perceive and experience EVERYTHING and everyone. Including ourselves.
To access our Original Self we must explore our story. We often talk about healing as a process of peeling layers. I believe it is more like a process of peeling back pages. We must read ourselves in reverse to come to understand deeply - with the heart not the head - how we are, and why.
From this place many of the insecurities and fears and false beliefs that have held us hostage begin to simply fall away because we come to realise WHY we carry them and that they were never ours to begin with.
I often say we have to feel to heal. But feel what? Many of us have NO IDEA why we struggle with our relationships, low self esteem, depression, anxiety, or addiction (to name a few). I didn’t. We think there is something wrong with us. But there isn’t. Something happened to us. Maybe many things. If we don’t know why we are the way we are, how do we know what to feel to heal?
My experience is that until we connect, not just intellectually, but emotionally, with what those things were, the grief and rage and cleansing pain that the body is desperate to release - remain locked away, or at best, only partially accessed, and we will continue to show symptoms in one way or another.
For example: In spite of being gifted with many deep emotional releases through kundalini yoga & meditation without knowing what I was grieving, I personally could not access anger until my story connected me with what I had buried deep within my body as a child. Accessing and expressing my anger in a healthy way is perhaps the most potent healing process I have experienced thus far. It has created the greatest shift. Most of us are full of repressed rage. But for those of us whose families angered easily, it may be the grief and the shame that will be harder to reach.
My experience is also that it is almost impossible to see all our subconscious and self defeating patterns until we understand how our past has programmed us.
How can we stop doing something before we’ve seen it? How can we shape new beliefs until we have identified the old ones? How can I love myself fully if I haven’t seen myself completely? True compassion for self is to be found in courageously exploring our story.
It is not about looking for problems where there were none, portioning blame or pointing fingers. It is simply about understanding ourselves and that we are not faulty or failing. We are hurting, and our ‘issues’ are symptoms of something.
Ultimately the unaffected Soul Self is to be found back at the beginning. It is a rediscovery. Not something we need to manifest, vision, or create. We don’t need to work towards being more ‘well’. We simply need to reclaim the person that got lost along the way and pull them out from under the pages.
My experience is that you cannot just bypass all the bruises and wounds that need tending to by trying to foster new habits, behave better, pray it away or think your way past it all because “it’s not who you are”. It is. And to reject ourselves and try to silence the history that is trying to speak through us and to us wouldn’t be a very loving thing to do to ourselves in any case. Our symptoms are asking for our stories to be heard. We need to start listening.
It is vital to understand that this process is not a quick bit one time practice. It is a journey.
I have gone back to explore my story 6 times over the last 9 years. Every time has been a different experience, a deeper experience. Each gentle investigation revealed more, healed more. My perspective ever changing. My awareness ever evolving. The pages of pain unfolding me as I unfold myself, realising what happened, releasing what happened ... and ultimately reclaiming mySelf.
Exploring our story doesn’t mean we become attached to it or victimised by it. Quite the contrary. It allows us to liberate ourselves from it. Recognising how we WERE victims of this broken world allows us to foster internal boundaries and cease to be victimised by the damage it imprinted upon us. Exploring our story emotionally, rather than academically, allows the body to begin to release what got stuck decades ago. We reclaim ourselves and the power that we always were.
In exploring our story we get to script a twist in the narrative, rather than being unconsciously driven towards its previously inevitable end. Our life, quite simply, finally becomes our own.
What happened to you? Do you know yet? Are you ready to deep dive back between the pages? Are you ready to listen to what your history has to say? What’s your story?
NB This article is largely directed at women but its principles apply to all who may be interested.
The rhythms and cycles of life exist just as much within us as around us. We are the microcosm to the macrocosm. We are designed to be carried by these natural rhythms, but have culturally become profoundly disconnected from them. The society within which we live today demands us to be linear - to move in straight lines from A to B, from Monday to Friday, from month to month and season to season with little or no differentiation. The effect is that we are being forced, being taught, to bypass our own emotional processes, our own cyclic nature as women. Women by design tend to be much more aligned with The Feminine Earth Energies & the water element (emotions) and therefore tend to be far more effected by these planetary forces. To work without them or against them causes frustration and stagnation. We cannot feel the cogs turning internally and therefore cannot consciously work with what is attempting to come through. We are literally working against the cosmic currents and flow of life. It is deeply unnatural, and somewhat exhausting. To work with them, to be guided by them, is both healing and rejuvenating.
In the same way our body knows to rest when the moon comes up and wake when the sun rises, our body knows many other cycles. The soul has seasons. As we turn on the Spring Equinox this week we are moving out from the winter, where it is natural to introspect and shadow dive; for the darkness of our past to show itself. It runs many layers deep. Lifetimes in fact. It is normal during autumn and winter to feel vulnerable and exposed as we shed many limiting beliefs and old layers in exactly the same way the trees shed their leaves. We just tend not to do it so readily, so willingly. We resist. Because we have not learnt to honour the seasons of healing. To heal we have to feel, so many wounds and much hurt may rise to the surface during this time. It can be bleak. By now we are often desperate for the sunlight of the spirit to shine back through.
And it will. But we had to break to bloom.
Which is what the spring now calls us forth to do. It calls us to open and soften, to let the winter walls down. Spring is a time of new possibilities, fresh opportunities. If you open your heart to this knowing they will find their way to you. The rebirth unfolds both within and around us. If you had good enough guidance or enough courage to shadow mine during the darker months, a fresh sense of yourself will begin to blossom. Year on year your false sense of sense will fall away and your truth will emerge more fully. We lose our selves to find Our Selves over and again - weaving our way home. Nature takes us there. If we let Her guide us.
Every month this same cycle is embodied on a slightly smaller level. If we can learn to feel in, to become curious and conscious about how we are really, we will begin to notice miraculous monthly patterns. Patterns that we can learn to work with, to utilise for our evolution and revolution. We can quite literally begin to move with the moon. Here are the basics:
The New Moon is a time each month to dive deep. The dark moon brings our darkness, our shadows, to the surface so that we can work through them. It is a deeply sacred time. It is a time of absolute self acceptance, of holding ourselves in wholeness - not shaming our shadows. We allow them to rise so that we can release the self defeating beliefs and patterns embedded in to our being that keep us from our peace, power and wisdom as women. This is a time of cleaning the deep seated subconcious, healing our wounding and clearing the debris of the past. Nothing new can be authentically experienced and sustained without first creating space. We must clear the junk to make room for the joy. Awakening is not so much a process of becoming, but of unbecoming - of peeling the layers that keep us from our true radiant souls that await within. The New Moon calls us each month to this process.
It is a time to write, seek counsel, meditate, grieve, and feel. It is vital to honour all emerging emotions such as anger and sadness without self judgement or spiritual bypass (I should be over this by now, I should be more forgiving. I need to get it together etc etc…) We do this not by projecting them at others, but by directing them in to healing process and spiritual practice. This does not mean attempting to soothe or quieten them. It means expressing and channelling them, something most of us have never been shown how to do. These wounds cannot just be talked about. Feelings are felt. We must not intellectualise them. We must learn to cry, scream, shake, shout, to do what we need to to let it all out. Emotion is mean to be energy in motion. We must learn to move it through the body. Up and out not down and in. Kundalini Yoga is the most remarkable practice I have found for such clearing - which is why I teach it!
The Full Moon is a time of magnification. Directed rightly, we can use this magickal time each month to truly step in to our light and in to our personal power. The full moon tends to get a bad rap for bringing out our crazy but this is simply because it illuminates whatever state we find ourselves in at that time. If we are aligned and alight with the joy of being (because we allowed a release during the New Moon phase), then that is what we will experience an amplification of. We must learn to not only move with the moon, but with the emotional tides within us that the Full Moon tends to amplify. We must learn to centre ourselves and celebrate ourselves simultaneously.
Each month this is a time to raise ourselves up, to embrace ourselves as fully as the moon sits in the sky - to find and feel and shine our light as as brightly as she does. In the same way the New Moon is a time to draw in, the Full Moon is a time that we energise and express out - enjoy our vibrance and vitality as women of this earth. It is a time for action, inspiration and creativity. Creativity does not necessarily refer to arts (although it can!) – it references the creative nature of every woman and indicates a time to sculpt and shape our lives in a productive and prayerful way. This is a time to meditate, celebrate, socialise, connect, take inspired leaps and follow your feeling.
FOR FREE KUNDALINI MOON MEDITATIONS JUMP ACROSS TO MY YT CHANNEL!
Blessings to each and every one of you,
So look, I don’t want to start a big debate with all you juice fanatics out there. I am very aware that there are benefits to juicing such as resting the digestive system fully. Fasts of all kinds are advocated in many spiritual traditions, including in yogic teaching. I am not anti-juicing per se, but I have a little more to say about our ever increasing obsession with juice fasts. So if they work for you - super, I respect that fully, but bear with me a minute to consider another position.
I have a history of eating disorders. Many of you reading this will not. Some of you will. I would gently suggest that most of us do however, have a highly disordered relationship with food. It´s not our fault. We live in a culture that cultivates it. We are simultaneously sold highly addictive and unhealthy foodstuffs as part of a supposedly standard diet, as well as ridiculous thinness, ´´fitness´´ and an unrelenting message of unattainable airbrush perfectionism. It is dangerous, damaging & exhausting.
It traps the majority of us on a never ending treadmill of ´´good eating´´ and ´´naughty eating´´. We have a guilt based relationship with food and a shame based relationship with our bodies. We yo-yo back and forth over a lifetime. Our weight goes up and down. Our lifestyle goes back and forth. We are really just going round and round. The festive season followed by the ´´New Year New You´´ mentality magnifies this trend all the more. Just because something is normal doesn’t mean it´s healthy. Just because the world is living by a binge and starve mentality, doesn’t mean we should be accepting it for ourselves.
Juicing is a part of this culture. No matter how healthy juicing can be, I too often talk with people who will quietly concede that they´re doing it to lose weight, or compensate for a period of over indulgence. The extreme nature of juicing satisfies our sense of urgency to correct our ´´wrong doing´´. Its starvation. Its deprivation. Its self punishment. We eat to feel better. We starve to feel better. It’s a self perpetuating cycle that I would suggest we would do well to get free from. It’s a well intended attempt at a reset, but too often juice fasts are just diets in disguise … and so the cycle continues.
Dropping your dietary intake so drastically, especially after a period of excess, is extreme and shocking to the system. It can cause the metabolism to crash out. We don’t want that. When it crashes, we start to burn slowly. The more regularly we destabilise the metabolic rate the harder time it has ever getting back to normal. That means we gain weight faster and lose it harder. And so the battle begins again.
Juicing fruits gives you a sugar hit just like eating a KitKat because we´ve stripped out all of the fiber. Juicing vegetables is great … but you might as well just eat a carrot, its going to do an awful lot more for your rumbly tummy! When we are vibing for an occasional liquid lunch, I much prefer a green smoothie for the fiber punch. I also advocate smoothies in general as a super breakfast suggestion.
Additionally, when the brain is alerted to significantly less intake than normal, it senses this deprivation and on a primal level, fears starvation. So what does it do? It triggers craving in the body, for high sugar and high fat foods. It thinks its needs to store up for winter so to speak. That’s why the moment you go on a diet or finish your fast you reach for the biscuit tin - the deprivation switch was flipped.This is why so many of our diets and resolutions are short lived - because a foundation of deprivation rarely holds strong for long. So sure, have a yummy juice in a fancy glass with your lunch, but think twice about living off liquids for 3-14 days. It might harm more than it helps. This is why so many of our diets and resolutions are short lived. Because a foundation of deprivation rarely holds strong for long.
There is another way. What if your new years resolution this year could be to stop battling your body? To experience that it is in fact not your enemy, but your ally. Wouldn’t that bring a different vibe? A sense of release and relief? Imagine starting your year with self love instead of self loathing. What a different year that might be. That is a year of real transformation. That, is freedom in the making.
So let's, begin to nourish not punish.
This stuff isn’t so complicated. Just eat simple fresh foods. Three meals a day. Its not rocket science. Nature knows what she's doing. She didn’t invent juicers. Juicing is in many ways a mechanised way of compensating for our general nutritional lack. It's
time to change our vision and our lifestyle longer term, not just start yet another year on a drop kick diet and be back on the burgers & family sized chocolate bars in 2 weeks time, hating ourselves for having ´´failed´´.
As a yogi, I advocate a natural plant based way of living. Unlike animal products, plant foods are light on the digestive system, nutritionally dense, and filling! A yogic lifestyle generally advocates plant based because dairy is acidic to the system & animal flesh takes 72 hours to pass through the gut and is rotting by the time it leaves our bodies – not so healthy. Plus, as an extra bonus, its pretty cool to be compassionate and live by ‘’Ahimsa’’ - a life of no harm / non violence.
When we aren’t used to eating this way, it in itself can seem extreme, daunting, and maybe boring. It is far from any of these things. It is in fact the most natural and delicious way for us to eat, the way humanity has eaten for 1000's of years until quite recently. I'm not asking you to jump all the way in from now until forever. I'm just inviting you to be open to another way to cleanse and reset your system, and see how the food makes you feel.
When we begin to eat wholesome, tasty, natural meals with regularity, rather than dancing back and forth, the body can begin to breath, to relax. It will stop holding and start settling. You can enjoy your food and feel aligned with your beautiful body. You can wave the white flag and end the war. It doesn’t mean you can never enjoy anything on the naughty list again, but the funny thing is you will probably stop wanting it so much. It changes from an ''I shouldn't'' to an ''I don't really want to''. Plus, there are all kinds of better ways to bake and create sweet treats should you feel inclined at certain times.
When you eat fresh you feel fresh. When your plate is packed with vibrant and vital foods on a daily basis, the body feels vibrant and vital. You don’t have to get hungry to heal. Actually, eat enough of the good stuff, and the decent food portions actually fuel the metabolic fire, meaning you burn faster than before. It feels satisfying to self care so consistently. Your body starts working for you. Digestion improves. The immune system is boosted. Energy regulates. Inflammation & bloating leave the system. The skin glows. We gotta remember guys, that true beauty - radiant well being - really is an insides out (not outsides in) job. So, are we ready to go at it the right way around this year?
To get you going I am offering a Yogic Green Cleanse Guide For Free! No hungry tummies here!
This guide is to help you refresh and reset without starving or depriving. It is designed to help the body heal and set a foundation for a longer lasting and far more fulfilling lifestyle change. It also includes some simple extra yogi tips & practices for holistic healing and all encompassing health!
CLICK HERE NOW TO NOURISH NOT PUNISH and sign up to the newsletter and receive all the info through on Monday, New Year´s day and kickstart your self loving year.
All my love always & new years blessings to you each and all,
I recently read an article by Brianna Lyman called – ´´Stop calling your drug addiction a disease´´ and felt compelled to write and share this open response. You are welcome to view the original article by clicking HERE.
I appreciate fully what it is to feel baffled, confused and infuriated with the addict. Really I do. I have been the loved one on the outside looking in desperate for that person to wake up, wishing I could shake some sense in to them and incite them to ´´pull it together´´. It is natural to have anger and frustration come through, because both are really fear in disguise. I have felt this. I have felt this, in spite of also being the addict. Yes, I know both sides of the fence intimately, and in many ways I am deeply privileged to do so, as only experience can ever truly allow us to understand anything. All else is speculation and information.
However, in the potential absence of experience, I will now attempt to convey a more complete and fully informed picture of what it really means to be an addict and why addiction is a disease.
In her article Brianna explained that the only reason we call addiction a disease, is because certain chemicals affect the dopamine response in the brain, thus inducing a good feeling and desire for more. Other than this Brianna made very clear that it is the addicts fault that they are addicted because they ´´chose´´ to put that substance in their body in the first place.
It is absolutely true that many substances, including heroin, cocaine, alcohol, sugar and even cheese, affect the dopamine (pleasure) receptors in the brain making some substances more addictive than others. However, how then is it that many people, most people in fact, also chose to consume these very same substances - be it cocaine or Camembert, heroin or Haagen Daaz - and yet do not get addicted?
This is because dopamine can help get us hooked on a bad habit, but true addiction is much more than a bad habit to be broken. So what is it? True addiction, chronic addiction, is what I call the perfect storm.
Some people will be particularly susceptible to habit forming substances and struggle to control the amount they use once they have picked up. They may also create a dramatic change in personality and behaviour. This is because some people process substances differently and suffer an allergic – an adverse – reaction. When a substance hits their system they develop what is known as a ´´phenomenon of craving´´. Upon consuming even the smallest amount, a need for more is stimulated which is so powerful and all consuming, that they will be entirely unable to overcome or override it. For somebody who does not suffer this, it is almost impossible to comprehend.
This would be termed as acute alcoholism or addiction. These people may lose control at the time of using, but like general users or heavy drinkers with bad habits, will be able to stop should they chose. They will likely be able to stop, and stay stopped.
The true or chronic alcoholic or addict will find themselves unable to stop, either at all, or for any prolonged period of time (years), in spite of a crushing desire to do so. To be in the grip of addiction is to be held hostage by yourself. Any person in a well mind would of course, simply stop such a destructive behaviour. This much is obvious. But that’s the point; the addict is not well, they have a disease, they are suffering with a mental and physical illness that deprives them of the ability to take logical action in the way any well person would.
You cannot know true addiction until all you want in the world is to be free of the need to use, but have no ability at all to overcome the compulsion that is killing you quietly. To be a victim of your own incapacity to stop something that is wounding both you and those you love, is soul destroying. I know what it is to sob over a white powered mirror desperate not to use, whilst being simultaneously just as desperate not to get the cocaine wet, because I could not be without it… I could not breathe without it. I know what it is to be violently ill with every sip of vodka but be completely unable to stop swallowing it like life blood.
My addictions nearly stole a life, my life, a life that I was desperate to live. So why did I use to begin with and what made me, unlike some others, categorically unable to tame the beast for more than 10 years?
Many people may suffer with depression (mental illness) and may even become dependent upon substances to ´´medicate´´ that depression, but they are able to process the substance in their system properly, and therefore the craving and compulsive use is never sparked. They may use to change the way they feel, but will be very capable of picking it up and putting it down.
Some people suffer with the adverse reaction to chemical substances that sparks the phenomenon of craving and compulsive use, but not the severe mental and emotional imbalance. They may get out of control when using, but again, will be very capable of leaving it alone if need be and perfectly fine without it.
True (chronic) alcoholics and addicts suffer with both the adverse reaction and the mental imbalance. This devastating combination renders them completely powerless to stop, moderate, contain or control their use.
This condemns us to a vicious and violent cycle of needing to reach for something to change the way we feel because we are simply unable to process ´´life on life terms´´ and our emotional response to the world is completely skewed. In then reaching for that substance and sparking the craving, we are bound to continue to use it compulsively in spite of the fact it may be inducing more suffering. Sound insane? That’s because it is.
Alcoholism and addiction is an imbalance of both body and mind. An affliction that at the time is nearly impossible for the addict or alcoholic to grasp, see, or understand. To someone on the outside it will seem like baffling behaviour. But trust me; the addict baffles themselves just as much.
The paranoid schizophrenic, although they suffer, will not necessarily believe or understand they are ill and embrace treatment. It is no different for a true addict, and yet for some reason we condemn them to a different box.
Is it painful to watch someone destroy themselves? Of course. But is it also painful to be the assassin of your own crumbling heart? Without question. Having sat on both sides of the table – I would go as far as to suggest that the latter is the more miserable existence.
I feel it is exceptionally important to also note that studies increasingly show, (note the work of esteemed psychiatrist and leading trauma expert Bessel Van der Kolk) that the type of addiction and alcoholism mentioned here is almost always rooted in trauma. We are coming to understand trauma in a far more broad reaching capacity than ever before. Trauma can range from the obvious, such as abuse, to circumstances so subtle that only the well trained eye will spot it. Our brains, belief systems and the filters through which we process and experience life are mapped by our experiences. Traumatic experiences change the brain and in turn the way we see the world. Trauma locks the brain and body in to a state of hyperarousal causing the individual to be suspended in a state of intolerable fear and anxiety. They simply never feel safe, secure or at ease and are prone to deep depression and sense of disconnection from the world around them. This emotional and mental imbalance condemns them to need to numb, and quite simply, escape themselves. If our perception and reception of life is off whack, as an addicts is, there is always a reason why.
To appreciate the part that trauma imprint plays in addiction is not about blame or negation of personal responsibility. I fully believe that as we come to adulthood we all become responsible for our own healing and wellbeing. However, what this understanding does begin to do is crack open our awareness to the tragic plight of the alcoholic and addict, as well as all those whom the addiction ripple effects. The addict is simply someone doomed by faulty brain and body function, and healing is not easy.
I speak from experience when I say that the addict carries more self-loathing and shame than one could ever impose upon them. That said, we want to relinquish the need to fix or mollycoddle, for then we simply become the enabler and get in the way of the addicts own journey towards help and health. We must however learn to view them through informed and compassionate eyes, because blame and anger are unproductive. Hostility never initiates healing, for anyone, on either side of the street.
Indra Aimee Rai is a Kundalini/Tantra Yogini and Transformational Life Coach who specialises in healing anxiety, depression, trauma and addiction holistically. If you are interested to learn more about what is detailed in the above article, understand how it relates to you, or would like to discuss your own struggles or desire to heal then please get in touch for a free no strings attached consultation (online or in person).
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So often in life when experiencing fear, stress, anxiety or panic, a sympathetic soul will say to us ´"just breathe", but rarely do we fully comprehend the weight of wisdom behind these kindly words. It is easy to dismiss something so simple and miss out on the magic. In yogic terms breath is the very source of Prana, our vital life force or energy, and yogic tradition advocates the practice of pranayama – ´´mastery of breath´´ or more accurately ´´mastery of life force´´
To understand why the breath is such a powerful tool to both prevent and relieve anxiety and stress, we need to understand a little about our nervous system. The autonomic nervous system influences our digestive system, heart rate, immune function, and respiratory system. This system then branches out in to our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
It is our sympathetic nervous system that creates our instinctive ´´flight or fight´´ reactions through hormal surges such as adrenaline and cortisol. These are invaluable as they create our ability to energize, mobilize and complete tasks, but when they are sent in to overdrive, the continued elevation and state of arousal can cause multiple problems - including general anxiety and stress.
The parasympathetic nervous system is often referred to as our ´´rest and digest´´ mechanism and works to slow the mind and body. These sympathetic and parasympathetic branches are intended to work in union and equilibrium with each other, but too often our busy modern lifestyles cause the sympathetic nervous system to over function, poking us closer and closer towards what I call ´´the panic zone´´.
One of the secrets to feeling balanced and stress free… is to keep our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems working in balance with each other.
Our respiration - breath - is the only autonomic function that we have any external influence over. When we make the breath conscious rather than unconscious, we are engaging our brain, and in turn talking to and influencing our nervous system. To slow the breath is to slow the pace of your entire nervous system. Work with the breath, ,with regularity and commitment, even if only for a few minutes each day, and you will be able to bring your base line so far down from ´´the panic zone´´ that even the greatest of stressors will struggle to push you there.
Yoga means ´´union´´, and the simple act of focusing on the breath, unites body and mind in a unique way, soothing not only the nervous system but also gently beginning to train the mind to focus, and slow rather than incessantly spin.
To experience the calming, centering and empowering practice of pranayama, here are a few simple techniques:
Conscious Breathing / Long Deep Breathing
To breathe consciously is to simply to become aware of your own breathing at first, allowing the mind to focus in this alone, gently drawing it away from other stressors and distractions. The mind will drift, but just keep drawing it back without frustration or irritation. When people are anxious or stressed, they tend to take shallow breaths, breathing from their shoulders. Many of us only ever breathe this way, keeping us suspended closer to an experience of stress.
As such, sit in a comfortable position, with the spine reasonably straight without straining and place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart centre/chest. Close your eyes and breathe normally at first. Pay attention to your breathing rate, the rise and fall of the breath in the body, and how the air feels coming in and letting go. Then draw the breath a little deeper, down to your diaphragm so it causes your belly to softly expand like a balloon. Allow it to fill all the way up, expanding your ribcage and then your chest whilst keeping your shoulders relaxed, low and slightly back. The breath should never over expand so it becomes a strain. It simply needs to be fluid and full; soft soothing and a little deeper than usual. If you find your chest is rising in an exaggerated way to breathe deeper this is a sign that you are not breathing all the way down and using the full lung capacity. Visualise the air being drawn down as if in to the belly. Bring a little extra focus to the exhale, making sure to empty the lungs without over exaggerating. The exhale is the mechanism that switches on the parasympathetic nervous system, the one that brings you down.
Sit and focus on your breath for 3 minutes (with a timer) centering your mind with the simple mantra (tool of the mind) ´´I am breathing in…I am breathing out´´. With every inhale feel revitalized. With every exhale feel a gentle release, softening and surrender.
Left Nostril Breathing
For an extra boost in stress reduction left nostril breathing is highly effective but the simple long and conscious breath is advisable to master first.
Breathing through the left nostril for only a few minutes is shown to reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system lowering your blood pressure and creating a calming effect. It activates the ´´Ida´´ nerve ending in the left nostril, which relates to the qualities of calmness and relaxation. Left nostril breathing is also associated with the moon energy, which is changeable, feminine, yin, soothing and cool.
Sit comfortably and close your right nostril with your right thumb, your other fingers are stretched straight up like antennas. Your left hand can remain relaxed on your left knee. Close your eyes and begin to breathe long and deep, without over stretching, filling your lower lungs first and then up and in to the ribs and chest. Exhale slowly and completely. Continue to breathe only through your left nostril for three minutes.
Remember that pranayama can be highly effective to relieve already present anxiety, but to receive the most benefit, implement these simple practices daily to create and maintain a generally more neutral, calm and steady state of being. Build the times as you become more comfortable with the practice, remembering that 3 minutes a day is far more powerful than 11 or 22 minutes once or twice a week!
Science aside, when we focus on our breath, we draw deeply in to our innermost self and practice yoga in its purest form. We unite our body and mind so that we can unite with the moment. We get so caught up in the never ending torrent of life and in the fears and fretting of yesterday and tomorrow, that we lose touch with the reality that all we ever have is a continuous stream of ´´now´´. The moment, the now, is the peace and the stillness that resides within the very core of our being, regardless of what external stimuli may appear to be causing us ´´stress´´.
Feel in to this endless space by using the breath. Find your quiet center. Then feel the space in between each breath. There you will find, on the turn of the breath, a flash of the infinite, the stillness and silence, that exists in between the noise of our mind and of everyday life, that which is expansive, vibrant, joyous and always at ease; that which we could call God, but is nameless and formless. God is in the gap and your breath can journey you in to this sacred space of perpetual and uninterruptable peace. Just breathe.
Indra Aimee Rai
Transformational Life Coach, Kundalini Yogi
For more information or for a free consultation please visit the CONTACT PAGE
In our blossoming Western spiritual movement, it has become very ´´in Vogue´´ to look for the good in every situation. We have been taught that the antidote to suffering is to be almost perpetually positive.
I would like to invite you to drop this exhausting and unrelenting positivity, and explain why incessant and obsessive positive thinking is harming not helping us.
This, and the environment it creates, is counterproductive. It has birthed a spiritual community where we have become nervous to voice dissatisfaction, sadness, depression or fear… for fear, of being judged by our fellow seekers. Too often when expressing any such feeling we will be met with speedy solution and spiritual rhetoric telling us to ´´find the good´´ and ´think positive´. We have invited shame - the feeling that something is wrong with us - in to our healing. And shame is the original wound we are seeking to heal. I cannot tell you how many times a week I sit in a consultation with someone in in tears expressing shame - embarrassment - about what a hard time they are having. I cannot tell you how many times I hear them say ''I know I should be or im trying so hard to be ... more grateful/understanding/positive/forgiving. I'm bringing it on myself /creating it myself...'' or something of the like. I relate. I can do the same. It is all too easy to feel that on the spiritual path, that we ''should'' be able to move through our pain quickly and be back in the bliss in no time! Spiritual shame seems to be epidemic. I for one am over it. It is time for real, raw, spiritual healing. It's time to get muddy. The mud is where the magick happens.
These spiritual tools have emerged in to our western consciousness through law of attraction type teachings, delivering us the awareness that what we think we create. Our hunger for healing seems to have caused us to take this on so fully, that at times we become paralysed by positivity and terrified to permit a full spectrum of feeling.
Now let me qualify that I do not disagree with the law of attraction principles. These are fundamental laws of nature and it is essential that we begin to come to an understanding of what we draw in to our lives through our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and general energy.
However, to ´think positive´ is not really doing this. This is too often an unconscious act, a denial of how and what we really feel, and an attempt to trick ourselves in to feeling better. It is just another method of avoidance, a spiritual bypass; yet another way to ignore and surpress the pain and fear. Oh yes, the ego is cunning. It will come in the back door and over take even our spiritual practice, twisting it to serve itself and meaning that we never really left the prison, the shackles just changed shape.
More so, to attempt to think positive over and above our feeling is to fight 95% of the mind with 5% of the mind. The 95% subconscious or cellular mind (body mind) is infinitely more powerful than the conscious mind. Our emotions and the past experiences that created them are imprinted deeply on our being. The subconscious needs to be cleared, not fought. To heal the feelings we have to feel the feelings, not deny or resist them. The internal script cannot be rewritten with positive thoughts and affirmations until, the old embedded feelings have been recognised, honoured, processed and expressed. As spiritual teacher and neurobiologist Dr Joe Dispeza explains so aptly, ''thoughts are electric, feelings are magnetic. We cannot move in to a new future with the feelings of our past''. It is our old unprocessed (and often entirely unrecognised) emotion that truly attracts and repels, not the superficial thoughts that we think. Of course our thinking can shape us and our reality. But only if and when it becomes a deeply embodied experience. If we want to create a new, we have to clear the old. There's no room for both.
If we bury our fear and feeling, no matter with what method, nothing actually changes, we don’t evolve. Life and our internal condition does not truly transform in to a more restful space and the spiritual life remains no more than an illusion. We are not in a place of self love or self acceptance, but in a space of deep self denial. What we resist persists. Our emotions just bubble and brew below the surface, waiting to erupt at any time – usually sideways in a seemingly unrelated space causing untold damage and further suffering.
So what is the alternative?
To look for the God rather than the good. (I use this word in a spiritual, not religious context, as there are simply few words better to describe the indescribable)
This is a profoundly different approach. Why? Because ´good´ is something that we can only perceive through a filter in accustom with our belief systems. We experience life with limited vision; this is good, this is bad, these things are sad, these things are happy, and so on.
So, to perpetually search for the good in things means trying to force a square peg in to a round hole, and denying ourselves a healthy range of emotion. It is a desperate attempt to force ourselves in to the submission of our new found spiritual principle. Clinging and grasping to positivity is just another attachment; now to the high of the spiritual life. Our spiritual path has become conditional; our unwitting and unconscious trade off being that if we live this way then we should always feel good. This type of happiness is tiring and more akin to a subtle mania. It is not true blissfulness, Ananda, that arises from within when an awakened state is authentically realised. Let´s not pretend that we are enlightened before we are, because this is of course the very thing that will ensure true freedom remains elusive.
Not everything is ´good´. Not everything feels good. Life is tough. We will be served many a hard hand courtesy of the tough love nature of Our Cosmic Mother.
So if instead we can ask, ´´can I see or sense any way in which this situation grows me or offers me opportunity to know myself better?´´ then we can begin to see the God in it, the cosmic flow, the karmic unfolding. Karma is not the universe punishing and rewarding us. Karma is the universe serving us, in each and every moment without exception. Karma is the universe attempting to show us ourselves and journey us home to our own ultimate Truth, the highest experience of who and what we really are. We are meant to grow through life not go through life.
We console ourselves so often with phrases like ´it must be meant´, ´something good will come from it´ or ´every cloud has a silver lining´. All these statements are true, but only if we use the karmic opportunity at hand to unfold our reaction and discover what fears, false beliefs, attachments and limitations are at play. Each moment of struggle, grief, fear, confusion, anger, pain, is an opportunity to be explored, not an obstacle to be overcome.
The personal revelations and freedom that will be born of this thorough self-reflection are the silver lining. The universe only hands us the necessary ingredients, but we have to make the metaphorical cake to taste the sweetness of life. The tough stuff is the sand paper that sculpts us and thins the walls that stand between us and an experience of Spirit, of our own Soul Self… if we let it. The true experience of this is not light and fluffy. Unbecoming is deeply painful. It is like having your skin peeled off. You will feel vulnerable in ways you could not have imagined. And you will also find yourself filled with a light you have not yet known.
So please, let us not confuse the two and plaster life over with pseudo spiritual positivity. Let´s stop pepping ourselves up, brushing of the prickly bits and slapping a smile on our faces. Let´s feel it and feel in. Let´s dive deep in to the shadow, beyond the first or second layers, to find out what is really going on for us. Then and only then, can we truly experience that everything is happening for us, not to us.
That still doesn’t mean that every moment will be met with a spring in our step. Pain in life is inevitable, but pain and suffering are not the same. Pain is part of our beautiful human experience, part of what makes up the whole (holy) adventure. Understand your pain as sacred. No less beautiful than a stormy lightening struck sky. Suffering is the resistance of what is; the non-acceptance of and refusal to feel, that which we deem as negative. The soul has seasons. We must learn to honour them. Stop pushing through pain. Learn to listen to it, to be with it, to breathe with it.
So please, let us not sell ourselves short and wear ourselves down by desperately trying to always be positive. This is a mind centered idea, a pursuit of the ego alone. Let us not allow pride to keep us bound in perpetual positivity for fear of others judging us. We only judge another because we are in fear ourselves. We all hold on to our belief systems with both hands hard, because they make us feel safe, like we are 'getting it right'. But I urge you to let go of yours, not be held hostage by some else´s, and release yourself from the prison of positivity. Only then can we hold ourselves in wholeness, and come to an authentic experience of the good and God in all. The mud is where the magick happens. Get messy.
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