Tag Archives: Mindfulness

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:



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?

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.


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”

Zombies and handbags

 Falling out of the Guardian this weekend was another one of those pointless, highly produced, expensive looking supplements on fashion and design.

It didn’t really contain either. Most of the content was advertising trying to sell stuff none of us need and even if you did would wear it? The advert for The Coach New York 2015 Spring Collection, called Swagger, really excelled. Zombies 8 zombies cluster around an open top car. Judging by their lack of weight, lank hair and vacuous expressions they have been dead for sometime. If you have seen the 1970’s version of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers you will know what we mean. invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-photos-1 In an effort to look arty and challenging the Coach reveal their real business model- to keep us all zombie-like so that we buy more and more of their pointless stuff. You don’t have to look dead to be dead, but in case there is any doubt the advertising executive have just gone a little further to put their point across. Which is if you want this stuff hard enough you can transcend death…you will be dead but what the heck you will look good and won’t stick out, appearing different from the other zombie friends. If you want to avoid the zombie in you the key is to know the difference between what you need and what you want. As the Rolling Stones told us…

You can’t always get what you want You can’t always get what you want You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometimes you just might find You get what you need

Or as we say in yoga: Breathe in, Breathe out, repeat.

Om Shanti everyone…

It’s the thing…

This weekend we completed our first YLP Beginners and Group meditation classes for 2015. Well done to everyone who, as usual, brought their energy, attention and serious intention to the class, sprinkled with a little humour and delight.

As one of the class realised..

’this is it – meditation is the key, its the thing. I could quite happily never do another downward dog as long as live if I am meditating’.


Meditation is the thing. Its the principal yoga practice. The postures are designed to firstly strengthen your physicality in order to sit still, but more importantly to build a deeper awareness.  If postures are about the mind, than meditation is about the body. They work hand in hand until you learn the core skill…..that everything you do is yoga – is meditation.

Another of our class summed it up like this….

‘Yoga gives you access to what we are’

We are faced with obstacles, challenges and limitations. Yoga teaches us to accept them, know them  and then  move on. That way we really do begin to gain access to what it means to be a human ‘being’. Any previous assumptions regarding what we take to be our physical state  begin to fade away revealing a deeper reality.

Its a transforming process and if we feel a, little more happier, spontaneous, optimistic, clearer in our purpose, more  loving and compassionate, even just for a moment two then we are succeeding.

Breathe in Breathe out – know and let go. How easy is that? That is all you need to do to practice your yoga.


YogaLife Project School gets go ahead…

This weekend we gained approval from the Yoga Alliance  to go ahead with the YLP Yoga Teacher School. This will be a fantastic new venture in our project to help change the world…

Scheduled to start late summer 2015 and spread over 24 one day modules the course will take students through everything required to teach yoga. Each module will tackle a core yoga theme such as  yoga science and theory,  teaching yoga nidra, posture and  everything in-between.  The course will also include 8 YLP ‘live’ classes where students will learn to design, manage and lead their own class. On successful graduation students will be able to teach in their own right and join the Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).

Over Christmas Mick (with some help) will be writing the course manual. No mince pies or Dr Who for him then…

RYS Logo

Ginger bread tree…

Not a day goes by…at YLP HQ without someone laughing at Mick and what he gets up to. During busy baking preparations for Christmas, out of the oven popped a gingerbread version of Mick performing the tree complete with trade mark stripes and glasses.

Ho ho ho…



This weekend we hosted our last YogaLife Project workshop for 2014. Based on the Autumn Equinox the theme was balance, inner reflection and stillness as a way of responding the changing world around us. In amongst fallen leaves we held our balance, attempted to find the still point in our breath and know what it is to be centered, moment-by-moment. Towards the end we did a nice little writing meditation (or drawing depending on your flow) in answer to four questions, before concluding with a deep –guided relaxation and pear drop scones made from the falling fruit in the YLP gardens.




21st September 2014. Peace Day.

Some of you know that our objective at the YLP is to change the world.

There is not much point, if you study and practice yoga, to have any lesser ambition. However, to change the world, we need to change ourselves first. That’s what yoga is for.

Things are pretty tricky at the moment. It goes without saying that if everyone practiced yoga no matter what religion or political system they followed we wouldn’t be in this mess. A world shaped by experience rather than faith, separation and money would probably end up without the need for iPhones, £300,000 /week footballers, or merchant bankers – but we think that’s a small price to pay for peace and happiness.

A week on Sunday is the UN’s World Peace Day. There are lots of things to think about and reflect on. Your job is to keep practicing yoga. Because once you know what peace feels like, where its source is, it starts to spread out from you. So keep up the good work.

We may do something special next week as part of our YLP Drop –ins. If you want to do something special on your own with other like-minded people then Inner Space in Spinningfields is doing a day-by-day meditation event. Mick goes there often to use the meditation room at lunch time.

So remember to practice. Stay centered and aware. Allow yourself to be the source of peace. Because you are…

6th pass_FINAL to USE


Relax, just do it…

Really interesting article by Tim Parks in this morning’s Guardian on Meditation. It’s a big thing now.

He describes how he came to meditation as a way of dealing with  chronic abdominal stress. He describes his experience of meditation as , ‘being very awake inside, with a sense of growing space’. We often try to get there with our guided relaxation and orientation into the present at the beginning of our YLP classes.

What struck a chord with me is that Tim’s experience is more than just feeling better. He explains, as  one makes  progress through meditation you will tend to start  to redesign your goals, what you do and how you do things. This is perfectly natural. What Tim is experiencing is his essential nature coming through as the notions of I, Me and Mine (your ego trio) start to lose their grip.

He has a new book out (natch) called, ‘Teach us to Sit Still’. Where he describes his earlier experiences of learning to relax. He describes sessions with Dr David Wise where Tim was taught, ‘Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia Breathing in Preparation for Paradoxical Relaxation’.  I have no idea what that means but it’s something to do with breathing and heart rhythms.  You see…words, notions, labels and images. They just get in the way. I don’t need to know how this computer works in order to use it and know it. We will be starting a special YLP meditation course next weekend. We will be keeping it real and authentic because just like yoga there is a lot of information out there.  Most of it not helpful.

The key with yoga and meditation is simplicity. Don’t get taken in by pseudo scientific definitions. With the world as it is now, we often feel that we  have to label and define everything,  separate things out. Paradoxically, when you experience meditation you realise how labelling and defining is pointless and everything is connected anyway. Nothing is separate.  With meditation, as with life, the gift is in the process – not the result. It’s a cliché but very true.

See you next week for our YLP Meditation sessions.

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