Category Archives: Positive thinking…

The Art Getting it Down on Paper…

We have completed our first mindful creative writing workshop with the Chorlton Book Festival this week – The Art of Getting it Down on Paper.

We swung from Steve Jobs, Picasso, Denis Potter and David Lynch. We moved back and forth from the writing table (our doing space) to a our meditation circle (our being space) and then brought it all together with a series of mindful based creative exercises.

Each exercise was designed to point towards the experience and  techniques of non-doing or non-attachment. Knowing how this way of working can be ‘turned on’ we can develop an awareness of effortless flow which comes from just brining attention to the act of doing rather than expectation of future outcomes.

These simple mind/body techniques bring about a sense of the present and ourselves in the centre of it, moment by moment. When that happens we open up and allow ourselves to ‘receive’ creative flow. But as Picasso told us, the flow of inspiration is always there but it has to ‘catch you working’  – you don’t sit and wait. You use it.  You have to get out of the way and allow it flow.

This  is at the heart of all creative action. Its also where real happiness is found in the joy of just being and doing.

 

 

 

Meditation. Art or Science?

Its clear that meditation and mindfulness have, over the last few years become a major area of scientific investigation.

On the whole this is a good thing because it has taken this very ancient practice back into the main stream. And if there ever was time we needed to reconnect with essentially human practice –  its NOW!

However go to any mindfulness conference these days and almost all presenters will show you a picture of a working brain, a Buddhist monk sitting in a scanner and a set of graphs showing something or other…

There is lots of talk on how meditation practice changes brain structure and mass. How it repairs and builds neural pathways. There is also lots of talk about emotional intelligence, kindness and compassion.

This is all good stuff but the concluding analysis is limited staying very much on the surface. Many scientists have trouble with the C words – There are two of them:

Creativity

 Consciousness

From where I am sitting they are pretty much the same thing.

But much scientific analysis on meditation resists defining these essential forces, which makes for a bland definition and shallow analysis of what is happening in meditation and why we do it.

It’s all a question of what consciousness and creativity are and where they come from? Many scientists will tell you they are functions of the brain. Others will tell you it’s the other way around. The brain is a manifestation of creative consciousness. That’s the whole point of meditation. To open up to deeper level of being and know that unitive experience.

By just assuming from the start, that everything happens in brain and that its the source of consciousness and creativity limits a really profound analysis of what is really happening and cuts across what is the experience on many long term meditators, artists, designers etc… Its a little like looking for the source of your favourite radio station inside you radio.

Its not there!

Science tells how the world works. Art tells us why the world works.

Now think about the question?

Where do ideas come from and how did you catch them?

In many ways its better not talk about ideas as ready-made events just waiting to be discovered. They take work.

The key to any creative process is knowing how to get them down on paper, no matter when, in a form that is useful to you and others.

It’s a cliché to talk about creative flow –  but its real.

Creativity, or better still potential is in constant flow everywhere all the time…If you try to define or label the flow, keep it for yourself, claim ownership you will soon find you have inadvertently blocked yourself off from flow and happiness.

Thats because authentic creativity and sustainable happiness are pretty much the same thing.

Ideas take courage. You need to learn how to get out the way.

That’s why creative block is so painful. It’s self-inflicted

You need to let go, not try too hard and catch them unawares. But you don’t sit around waiting for ideas. Those of us who use their creativity for a living know you have to be there…aligning with clients, budgets and deadlines. It’s a serious business.

Inspiration does happen but you have to be there to know it.

Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will – through work – bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art [idea]….Chuck Close

Or better still:

 Inspiration exists but it has to find you working….Pablo Picasso

So where ideas come from?

Who knows…. but they are waiting to be discovered. And when you do you will find every idea come with its own momentum. Its own potential

How do you catch them?

 By getting into the flow, learning to swim and by going deep.

Did you know happiness and creativity are the same thing?

We are leading a special mindful, creativity promoting  workshop in Manchester called the Art of getting Down on Paper.

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Using simple meditation, combined with mindful exercises you will learn how to move beyond your over thinking inner critic. Discover how cultivating a deep flowing, creative act of connection can link what you are doing with who you are, moment-to-moment to make happy work.

You can book your place here:

Real Yoga + Real Food = Real Life

This weekend we hosted our very first food based yoga workshop with Hannah Patterson from Make it Healthy.

Three hours just flew by as Mick gave a talk on the gunnas and led a  posture and breathing based routine focused on prana flow emphasising twists and abdominal body work.

Hannah demonstrated the making of a powerful green juice, ginger balls and a very tasty carob smoothie. We finished with a wonderful pumpkin pie made by Hannah in honour of Halloween.

All in all a fantastic workshop designed to show how yoga practice can be taken off the mat and into day-to-day life with the choices we make on how and what we eat.

Thank you everyone for making the event a big success. You can visit Hannah’s web site here for the recipes…

 

Staying in the middle…

Yoga practice is like life. It only works if you turn up!

Turning up simply means being here, in the now, moment-to-moment.

Very easy to say but very hard to do.

The masters tell us that yoga postures became effortless when the plays of opposites diminish.

In life we are shaped by what we think are opposites. Our likes, dislikes, our needs, wants and what we try to avoid. This is exhausting.

When we treat everything the same there are no opposites. There is just now. When we tune into now we are centred, balanced. When we tune in we are beautifully poised between opposites.

No worries, no you, no me, no outside, no inside, no past, no future…. just stuff…arising constantly.

This doesn’t mean you reject everything or fall asleep on the job. No.

It’s the opposite. When you pay attention in this way you become fully alive to what you are doing and who you are. The reality of now, its purpose, its whole reason for being becomes crystal clear.

Then you have moments of absolute clarity. They will pass, but the experience will stay with you. Then you will want to know more…

When you feel that don’t delay…..act on it!

In your hatha yoga practice every time you turn, move stretch, balance and breath; their combined practice creates a close localised context, a physical and spatial field into which your attention should be fully engaged.

But what sort of attention?

It’s a knowing, letting go of imagined outcomes and expectation. Your attention should simply be on the experience of being and doing and not on future reward or results.

Simply stay away from comparisons or judgments. What you are doing is fine for you in that moment.

All good artists know this. Stick with what you are doing. It will all come good in the end as long as it’s done with a knowing attention.

After some practice your ability to pay attention will grow. You will feel ‘embodied’. You will learn to be…. just as you are.

When you learn to apply this new perception into what you do day-to-day you begin to ‘switch-on’.

Then waiting for the bus, siting in meetings, listening to your friends all evolve into yoga practice. Where you are, what you are doing no matter how trivial become opportunities for deep connection with others and yourself.

Which is pretty much the meaning of yoga – union.

 

Changing things…

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

-R. Buckminster Fuller

So many of the problems we face in life and in our world are rooted in us having a limited experience of who we really are.

If we could change our view and recognise ourselves not just as separate physical individuals, but part of a larger interconnected whole we may find ourselves leading a different life towards a more thriving, purposeful, sustainable world. Imagine what that new world would be like. Its starting to take hold in some places but there is a lot of work to do if this new model, as Bucky says, makes the current world obsolete.

The current model is clearly not working anymore. We are beginning to see that the existing paradigm – more of the same, will ultimately be self-digesting. We may need to move fast before it’s too late. Going to the odd yoga class may seem pointless, but the new model starts with you and your yoga practice- providing you with the tools to design and inhabit that world.

We now live in an age of conformity and control. Many of our institutions have succumbed to the idea that being rational, left brained, materialistic, economic, target driven survival of the fittest is the most important and that everything else is secondary. Just witness how education, health, environment, energy, transport, business, entertainment and building homes have all just been sucked dry by a market first, ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. The world may appear to be bright, colourful, full of vitality and opportunity, but this is just maya (illusion).

None of the old paradigm is designed to help you regain or even realise an authentic, integration with your personal life and purpose. As soon you find that deeper awareness, the ‘unitive’ inner reality you will notice a softening of maya. It becomes translucent, allowing you to see and know a little more. When the world ‘everywhere’ seems a little brighter, more colourful, more purposeful, you know you have started to empower your inner architect towards designing and building the better model.  And then you start to explore that vital inner knowing of who you really are, what the cause of your ‘aliveness’ really is and how it shapes the world.

So choose the art and science of yoga to help you and others, your community, workplace and home thrive, adapt, change and grow. We all take small steps, but even these will bring profound change and expanded awareness in what you do and who you are – everyday.

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Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor. Fuller published more than 30 books, coining or popularising terms such as “Spaceship Earth”

Drawing without purpose…

Last month we hosted an amazing Happy Spontaneous Me workshop as part of Chorlton’s famous Arts Festival. We are pleased to showcase a little piece from yogi Hannah Patterson who took part. We love the pictures from Hannah’s little shrine…

The combination of yoga and drawing is surprisingly beautiful. Not only will you express yourself from a deeper place, you create something to display that is a reminder of how perfect the present moment actually is, no matter how you’re feeling.

Within the workshop, we were guided through meditation and simple yoga postures and then asked to put pen/crayon to paper with some specific techniques. These techniques weren’t to teach you how to draw properly. Quite the opposite. You experienced how to draw without purpose, perfection or judgement. We were encouraged to draw with feeling, allowing our hand to wander across the blank page aimlessly. Very therapeutic.

The reason I love yoga so much is because it allows me to let go of the need to be perfect and achieve. I find peace in the postures and zone out from the people around me and I give up my urge to compete. In fact, I am merely comforted by the closeness of others. Happy Spontaneous Me gave me an opportunity to experience this two fold. After the yoga postures, we’d turn to the page to again connect with our inner world as well as having the closeness of those next to us – knowing that they too were connecting with their own self.

I’d really recommend attending one of Mick’s workshops or classes. If you’re new to yoga, it’ll be a beautiful introduction to your journey. If you’re a regular practitioner, you’ll experience an authentic class and gain a little more wisdom to add to your tool kit.

Here are some pictures of one of my drawings from the workshop – it is part of my shrine at home as I genuinely think it is a brilliant expression of myself at the time. It may look totally arbitrary but to me it’s a reminder of my happy spontaneous self.

hannahp_2You get in touch with Hannah here and find out about her inspiring work with healthy foods and healthy living…

Happy Days…

This weekend at the Om Yoga Show, Manchester Mick led another Happy Spontaneous Me workshop. This Yoga in Action practice is at the heart of the YogalIfe Project, to bring yoga to life out into the world through you. This may look like wild scribbling. It is in fact deep  yoga practice where concentration is on the ‘doing and the making’ for its own sake, not on imagined future outcomes. This is a karma yoga experiment  where you can be free from always trying to judge and evaluate everything you do. To disentangle yourself from getting trapped in thinking about comparisons with others or wether what you do is good enough against an imagined ideal. This is action done without worrying about results leading to inner contentment, a timless feeling of being present in the now through the flowing action of mark making on paper. This sense of effortless, creative, moment-to- moment connection of flow is what is meant by yoga. Being and doing. Union. As the Bhagavad Gita tells us.

2.47 This is the secret to living a life of real achievement.

For those of you who worry about what you are doing –  just stop. Look inwards and let go… Your intuition, inner knowledge spontaneously applied is more than good enough. And because its coming from the true source of who you really are its perfect and right!

Here are two short videos and some pictures.

Next Wednesday we are hosting another session (a little longer) at Chorlton Central as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. There are only a few spaces left…Book your place here.

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Getting into the flow….

On Wednesday 20th May Mick is leading the special yoga in action YLP workshop Happy Spontaneous Me, as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival.

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Happy Spontaneous Me, combines ancient yoga science and practice with the latest thinking on ‘flow’, creativity and happiness. The workshop takes the form of an active meditation, merging being and doing into one – a favourite theme at the YogaLife Project. Using simple techniques such as repetitive and free mark making on large sheets of paper, using chalks, pastels, pens etc, we begin by utilising a yoga mind set to connect, moment-to-moment with what we are doing. You can chose any action to be a flow creating activity. What is key is your relationship to the activity. Its not what you do its how you do it that’s important, and this is where yoga science comes in.

Being and Doing…

This is yoga practice, which can be taken off the mat and into the realm of where everybody lives and works. It teaches you to take notice, observe and find harmony with what ever you are doing. This experience is sometimes defined as autotelic awareness, or ‘flow’ when we are fully and consciously immersed into, and with whatever you are doing purely for its own sake. The term autotelic derives from the Greek, ‘auto’ meaning, self, and ‘telos’ meaning goal or task. When we are in the flow, action is effortless and smooth. The moment fully lived.

Happy Spontaneous Me, points to a deeper form of yoga practice called Karma Yoga or the yoga of action. At the YLP we call this ‘Being and doing’, where work is done without some future expectation of reward in mind but just for the sheer joy of doing it. When we pay attention to the activity for its own sake, not thinking about future results or past mistakes we become centred, we stay present. We are in our own yoga state or ‘union’ – the goal of yoga.

To get into the flow experience we have to change our mode of thought from trying to exert force over what we are doing towards an imagined result, to aligning our action with an inner harmony and intuition. This is an essential and fundamental yoga teaching that leads towards a happier more creative and fulfilling life. We are in a world now of image, appearance and desire. Most people are fooled into confining themselves this world placing themselves onto never ending treadmill of expectation, desires, and rewards. We know this causes frustration, anger and unhappiness. But its possible to step off the treadmill, still be in the world, but free, once we realise where real happiness and creative contentment can be found.

But I am not creative…

Yes you are! If you breathe, you are creating yourself everyday moment-by-moment. Imagine if you could harness that amazing, powerful creativity and direct it with purpose into the heart of your everyday.

Everyone is creative – that’s the whole point. The fact is that when you are in your yoga flow, self created expectations, desires or limiting feelings about oneself are stilled. They simply do not matter. You will feel in total control, present and fulfilled. In the workshop, emphasis is on letting go, stepping outside your comfort zone and learning to get out of the way.

During the workshop we will learn to:

  • Understand how to make any activity into a flow or yoga experience.
  • Unlock your creative flow and liberate your inner joy
  • Develop a sense of meaning, effortless control and involvement in what you are doing.
  • Discover a deeper a sense of self and your purpose.
  • Feel what it means to be totally present and not lost in an imagined future or past.
Life flows through you…

When we practice this technique correctly and with an open heart you will sense a new type of reality different to what you feel in your day. A world of effortless, creative being where your sense of self and purpose is there to be felt and acted upon. A richer, rewarding more creative life that flows from and through you and not determined by the imagined expectations but being right here, right now.

At Happy Spontaneous Me we use mark making and drawing as a way of supplying a simple creative flow producing action. We use timed exercises, combined with breathing and drawing, fast mark making, flowing and mindful action techniques combined with guided relaxation and special pranayama. The main technique is karma yoga combined with jappa (simple repetitive) action. Mick will guide you through all of these techniques to get you into the flow…You will not need any art or yoga experience.

You can book you place at Happy Spontaneous Me here.

All material is provided

Real Yoga Real People Real Life at Chorlton Central

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