Tag Archives: spontaneous

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.




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”

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.


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

Your teacher….

Quite a few people, who are new to the YogaLife Project have been commenting on Mick’s teaching style, particularly those who have experienced other classes.

They comment on Mick’s attentive, engaged approach towards the class and the students, rather than just sitting up at the front and doing the postures. Many report that this approach gives them confidence. It helps them feel more engaged and connected to the class energy and the wider objectives and emphasis of the class.

Mick will adjust, encourage and constantly move through the class making sure everyone is getting the most out of the session. His concentration on mindful breath counting, attention and focus, makes sure that students stay in the ‘zone’ ensuring they really experience going a little deeper. One of the purposes of yoga is to link everyone and everything together. If the teacher gets in the way of this, then that’s a problem.

Here are some good points to watch out for.

  1. The teacher is the conduit of yoga – not the source. If the teacher thinks it all about her/him then that’s not yoga – its just showing off which is one of the biggest obstacles to effective yoga practice you can imagine.
  2. If the teacher is practicing their yoga in class, they are not concentrating on the class and the student. Not only is this dangerous, particularly for the less experienced, its also selfish.
  3. The teacher must look to constantly orchestrate the class, keeping  its energy flowing and ensuring everyone is involved and focused. This requires a lot of energy and concentration from the teacher. Its a yoga disaster if the teacher is simply sitting at the head of the class thumbing through notes, mumbling instructions and looking distracted.
  4. Take note of the content and rhythm of the session. A proper yoga class is a balanced mix of breathing, relaxation, concentration and postures. If its just postures…its not yoga. It’s just posing.
  5. Finally if the teacher’s website exclusively shows lots of pictures of themselves in complex, challenging postures, half naked and oiled up, then this is a symptom of the four points above. Stay away from the class unless you want this….but doubtful you will not enjoy the benefits of real yoga.

Stay well and be happy.


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.


OmYoga Show Manchester…

We all had a fantastic weekend at the Om Yoga Show in Manchester. Our little stand was busy and wonderfully managed everyday by YogaLife friends and students. Mick bought far too many books and cushions. The workshop was a great success too. Mick led a one-hour pocket version of Happy Spontaneous Me, with longest roll of paper we could find. All together there were 30 yogis all getting into the flow.

Fish on Tuesdays…

Tuesday evening classes are going from strength to strength. Its great that are so many new yogi’s coming along to experience the real and authentic, gimmick free yoga we love at the The YogaLife Project.

Last night we ended with this little piece of advice from filmmaker, artist and yogi David Lynch. We have mentioned him before as he is a bit of a hero at YogaLife Project HQ. From his book on yoga ‘Catching the Big Fish’, (disguised as a book on film making) he says:

Stay true to yourself. Let your voice ring out and don’t let anybody fiddle with it. Never turn down a good idea, but never take a bad idea. And meditate. It’s very important to experience that Self, that pure consciousness. It’s really helped me. I think it would any filmmaker. So start diving within, enlivening that bliss consciousness. Grow in happiness and intuition. Experience the joy of doing. And you’ll glow in this peaceful way. Your friends will be very, very happy with you. Everyone will want to sit next you. And people will give you money!

We have added, ‘Catching the Big Fish’ on our Good Reads reading list (see bottom left). Enjoy. It’s a very easy to read and written in short sentences and chapters….a bit like a yoga sutra and ideal for all yogis.



So how long is a moment?

Well it’s a hard question to answer.

Essentially a moment comes in three parts – a beginning, middle and an end. If you want to stay in the moment you need to stay in the middle, which can be as long as you want it to be. The beginning and the end are all about what you need to do to come into and out of the present. In realty there is no beginning or end… that is why it is sometimes called the Eternal NOW.

Sorry it’s confusing….

It gets even more confusing when you realise that a moment cannot be measured, and even though we say things like, ‘just give me a moment’, it has nothing to do with time as we know it. However, even though we can’t measure it we can experience it. The key is to try to remember being in the moment and that’s hard because we are constantly forgetting.  One of best ways is of course to practice yoga. If you don’t its often a good idea to learn to stop and experience. Tell yourself to, ‘BE HERE NOW’ as often as you can, for example as you start something new, walking and sitting, watching the television. Take part in what’s happening, fully. It’s a simple as that….

In Island, Aldous Huxley’s last novel (1961) he creates a utopia Island called Palla based on deep yogic principles. The inhabitants are reminded to stay present because the Mynah birds on the Island have all been trained to constantly repeat, ‘its all about the here & now boys…’

As one of the Island’s heroes says,

“Well… …That’s what you always forget, isn’t it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what’s happening. And that’s the same as not being here and now.

I like the expression, ‘Here and Now’ because it describes an action, an event and a place. That’s the architect in me. The cover of Ram Dass’s book, ‘Be Here, Now’ (1971) features a single chair covered in interconnecting lines in a circle of words, Remember- Be Here Now, in a sort of stylised yogic mandela. The chair is a dead giveaway. It defines an action (remember) or an event, i.e. sitting, (now) and a place in space i.e. the chair (here).


I use it a lot in my architecture and place making work. In fact I feel when I give a talk about place making I am actually talking about yoga. It’s all the same to me. As soon as we learn to be Here & Now, we begin to notice things. We begin to experience ourselves in motion, in flow…. it’s learning, instructing experience which helps us evolve. Huxley goes onto say in Island,

“The more a man knows about himself in relation to every kind of experience, the greater his chance of suddenly, one fine morning, realising who in fact he is…”

And that’s every experience, any experience – not just the 90 minutes we share in our yoga class. In fact its yoga practice at its most highest and fundamental level. The very art of skilful living or in other words the experience of a life lived…. Serious stuff but the essential goal of all yoga.

Yogastah kuru karmani, is the thing. It translates as, ‘established in Being perform Action’.  Being of course, is you as a, conscious mindful entity. Action the stuff that you do in the flow. Both are constant of course. The universe determines action and we can never ever stop being in motion. Even when we are still, we are in action.  Joining, ‘being ‘and ‘doing’ together is yoga. So here is a little exercise to do, which is from my list of, ‘The Yoga of Just about Everything’.

The Yoga of Walking.

When walking down street look up. Don’t stare down. The verb looking is important here and is different from seeing. Looking is a practice intended action. Seeing is also an action but it’s a bit more passive. So learn to look. Engage, with your surroundings, consciously and actively, so that you are here right in their moment inhabiting your body, your space, and your moment. By looking, you can set yourself towards a point of view by which will orientate you both physically and consciously.

So how do we consciously combine doing and being? One way of doing this yoga of walking is to use a simple technique called SET. It will help you remember.

S = Space

Most of us don’t pay attention to what is around us. We are far too wrapped in the ‘fake’ reality our mind is constructing for us. Look up and be aware, feel the street around you, the edges and boundary of the spaces, its colours, sounds and moments. Don’t judge just observe and take it all in. Notice the light, the colours, the sounds the whole vibrancy of what’s around your whether you are in the centre of a city, field, forest, beach etc…

E = Event

Then add to your space perception an awareness of what you are doing. Are you walking, sitting, standing, waiting, or looking or a mixture of either? Again don’t judge. Don’t think this is good, this too noisy, etc just be aware of what you are doing in that space.

T = Time

Then finally add the time. Not so much the time of day but the time of Now. Stay at absolutely present and know that the feeling and awareness of the present is a subject of experiencing without judgment the space and event

So while walking look ahead keep your view on or above up above the horizon line. Don’t stare down at the pavement. This will you will noticeably feel more open, less anxious about yourself and your surroundings. You will feel more open, more engaged with the world and what your doing in it at that moment. Then look as far further as you can as far the street you’re in allows you toll look. Lit might be a building at the end of the street, a sign, some trees or perhaps the open sky. Engage with the distant pointy for as long as you can without losing concentration as you move down the street. Just be aware of that distant point. When another distant point comes into view then focus on that…. why do we do it? Well it’s a way of positioning ourselves in space, in a place in a moment.

You can use SET as a way of Engage with space, the event the moment, which will bring right into the still point where we know happiness lives. Imagine that, being able to find happiness while walking along Deansgate?