Tag Archives: creativity

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?

You are Now…

Last night

In our Ready for the Week class we looked at what union means in yoga practice.  We know that the purpose of yoga  is ultimately ‘unitive’ experience of our inner centre of consciousness. But on the way to that goal there are many other smaller ‘unitive’ experiences that point towards the bigger picture.

A deeper connection

Through practice we begin to feel more connected to what we do, to who we are, towards others and what they are doing and how they feel. We begin to notice a deeper connection to the world, to its nourishment,  to its livelihood as we begin to notice more and more those events, actions and attitudes that get in the way of connection. When our sense of connection develops and grows we notice other ‘unitive’ moments. We begin to feel ‘present’. We begin to notice that somehow that feeling of being present is connected to how we perceive,  how we take notice, pay attention – how we connect attention to experience.  Not seeing things as we think they should or shouldn’t be. Just as they are…

We know ourselves

When that happens it will take your breath away as our sense of being present in the now opens us up to a whole multi-verse of possibilities. The body relaxes, the breath softens, the mind hums with creative clarity and potential. We see the world as it is,  as if for the first time. We know ourselves, if only for a moment. We intuitively know that somehow the very content, purpose and form of the moment is directly linked with how we perceive and inhabit it. Once we are receptive to this unitive experience we know, as Eckert Tolle tells us  we are not just in the now. We are the Now

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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…

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

The biggest yoga experiment ever…

Mick was invited to the opening night of MOSI’s fantastic new exhibition Collider. It was a wonderful evening with dancers, theoretical particle physicists, Professor Brian Cox and others. The exhibition takes us through theoretical physics and a mock up of what its like at CERN with the Large Hadron Collider which is the world’s largest ever machine and experiment.

Not many particle physicists however were interested in Mick’s view the LHC was in fact the worlds biggest ever yoga class, featuring 10,000 scientists and engineers. As most of you know the LHC is designed to complete what the scientists call the Standard Model. In other words what is matter, what is nature etc…? The discovery of the Higgs Boson is thought to be the last bit of the jigsaw but no one yet knows how it fits in.

The LHC is designed to look inwards. Literally. So in a sense it’s a giant yoga machine designed to measure and quantify what we can experience in yoga practice. The Standard Model is what we in the yoga world would call ‘Prakriti’ or the field. What they are looking for is the stuff behind the field that holds it all together. In yoga we call that the Unified Field, Consciousness or ‘Purusha’.

What came across in the exhibition however, was the sheer energy, joy and enthusiasm from everyone involved in LHC project. People from all over the world working together to discover and do something wonderful. If anything that what is brilliant about the whole thing is when the scientists and engineers get together and share their discoveries.  They call it the ‘unblinding’….almost poetic and very yogic.

 

180 degrees…

A few weeks ago The New Statesman magazine called for a ‘Revolution of Consciousness’ There is a well thumbed copy at YLP HQ. You can read about it here.

It’s worth tracking down. Between all of the excitable stuff from Russell Brand who was guest editor there is a well-organised argument for change based very much on Yoga principles.   There is a great article from one of our heroes David Lynch. We have tagged him before with his work on meditation via his Foundation. He too calls for revolution. A revolution of 180 degrees where we turn attention inwards, inwards, inwards, as opposed to outwards, outwards, outwards. We often do this at the start of our YL classes. This, he says, is where we will find the solution – in particular to the economic, social and environmental turbulence we currently experiencing following the greed of banks and the incompetence of our politicians, which is very much the theme of the NS issue.  We were really struck by Lynch’s accompanying sketch diagram which is a brilliant illustration of how we move from the ‘surface’ of life’ as he describes it, into the Unified Field – something we often talk about in class and most certainly experience in our practice.  In many ways if we were to write a manifesto to support our YogaLife then the NS Revolution of Consciousness would form part of it. It’s important though that we rise above politics and economics, as they are not real, and still very much part of the problem.

So what can we do?

Given the mess we are in, the lack of any plan for the economy, energy and the environment – .our role is to stay tuned. Keep paying attention and carry on with our yoga practice. That’s the way we can make real and lasting change right in the heart of our own community and make, as Lynch says a beautiful and peaceful revolution.

Back in town…

Right we are back from the blue skies of Greece to the blue skies of ……Manchester.

That can’t be right? Here’s the view from the office window this morning…

photo

Anyway we start with our first class at Chorlton Central tonight at 7.00pm. It will be nice to be back. As some of you know Mick is finishing his regular classes at the Yoga Rooms this weekend, although we will still be using the Yoga Rooms for the forthcoming workshop –Going Deeper Staying Longer on 7th September. Book here…

The plan is to do more during the week at Chorlton Central so we will be starting a Wednesday Class on the 11th September. This is intended to be a slightly lower level than Thursday. In the future we will be looking at doing an Absolute Beginners too once we have a momentum going. So if you like the YogaLife way of doing things. Real Yoga. Real People. Real Life. Then pop along. You won’t regret it and we really appreciate the support and the love…

Be still and aim for the centre…

For a while last year we had this simple diagram on the YogaLife Facebook page. Its simplicity is deceptive though. Drawn as a target it illustrates something profound and vital – how to be free.

Target

The ‘YOU’ part at the centre of the target is You. Or more accurately, Your Self. In Yoga we call it the Atman. That’s that part of you that knows who you are, where you are going and what you should be doing. Others call it, finding your voice, feeling right and natural or ‘Doing it your Own Way’… Sometimes its called ‘feeling centered’ which is why the target is a good visual analogy.  In other words it’s that part of you that is real, authentic and free from any misconceptions, belief systems or illusions. It’s a place of ‘Primary Reality where you will find liberation. When we commit to hitting the centre of the target we call it the practice of yoga.

The centre is where spontaneity , creativity and most importantly happiness resides. When you find the ‘Thereness’ at the target centre you will understand that you can’t ‘Be’ or become happy. You are happy. And it’s there. That explains the other part of the diagram,  the ‘somebody else’, which is where you land when you try too hard, ‘thinking’ you have to be like somebody else in order to get close to your own ‘bull’s-eye’. That perception or belief creates a secondary reality. Do that, and you miss the target, you don’t get to feel the freedom and happiness that is rightfully yours. Your aim is obscured, because you are living under an ‘Illusion’ of where your ‘centre’ really is.

The great thing though its pretty easy to hit the centre of your target. Because the YOU wants you to all the time. It wills you constantly to do the right thing. Because it is Primary Reality the YOU in you, wants to express itself in the world through you so it is constantly asking for your attention. Our problem is that we are so busy thinking we are somebody else, addicted to the picture of who your secondary reality we just don’t notice…and then we become overpowered and lost….ceasing to feel free. We literally miss the point!

So if you aim high  to  succeed, as we are constantly told you will definitely miss the target. We don’t need to be that somebody else we see in advertisements that tell us that to be happy we just need to consume, to be like that beautiful, happy woman or that handsome, decisive man (apologies for the stereotypes but that’s how it is). To find lasting, meaningful success all we have to do is aim true so that we join ourselves to our Selves. That is the very meaning yoga….to join together. To unify to focus in and hit Your centre. So how do we score a bulls-eye? It’s easy if you follow these steps

  1. Watch and mange the breath. Be aware of the cycle of breathing its depth a, rhythm. Bring your attention to yourself and feel the physical and material level of yourself
  2. Don’t try too hard or expect future success or reward. Stay present and be in the flow of the moment. Work without worrying about results.
  3. Don’t worry, stress or wonder what might happen if you miss. Fear gets in the way, creates attachment to what we think might happen and brings agitation and desires. Stay absorbed in the moment and task.
  4.  Focus and observe.  See the bigger picture and Watch yourself from distant and witness the action/moment. Non-attachment, or stillness in motion will mean you will remain centred, cool giving you the best chance to hit the target.
  5. And finally all the above will help you find your still point. That place where you can be yourself.

If you want to know more about how to achieve your still point, your centre, then YogaLife is hosting a special workshop, Stillness in Motion’ 8th June 2013.

You can book a place here.

Stillness in motion top

 So aim true and you will act in the world with success.