Tag Archives: yoga

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?

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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A Natural Unfolding…

 

Many people are completely ‘wrapped up’ in themselves. You can see these wrapped people everywhere – in the way they dress, talk, act, think…..they are sometimes on the Six O’clock news. They live in your street, work in your office. They are everywhere!

They are wrapped up so tightly that you can’t see what’s inside. They also can’t see out, so neither of you get to know what is really there. The wrapped people often don’t know they are wrapped until its too late and the wrapping gets so tight, so overwhelming they they can’t breathe. They can’t see, they cant feel….

Yoga is the key to loosening and eventually removing the wrapping. To practice yoga in all its forms is to know and experience a gentle, natural unfolding of the wrapping. And instead a feeling exposed, the feeling is of freedom. The unfolding reveals a lightness, a confidence and creative momentum of purpose which previously went by un-noticed.

Easy-Mummy-Costume-2014

 

 

Fourteen going on fifteen…

So 2014 is nearly over, although as yogis we know there is no such thing as time….just change.

First, a big thank you to our YogaLife Project tribe who had to put up with building works for the last month or so. The church space is now nearly finished and we start on the hall January 5th. Our classes and workshop will take place in the new church space.

Witnessing change all around us, even in the form of builder’s dust reminds us that nothing is permanent other than the continuous moment of stillness inside you. The goal of our practice is to experience that stillness so that we can project it out into the world. It doesn’t require anything extraordinary other than you just being yourself.  That’s when yoga really takes off and impacts on everyone and everything around you. You can be a force for change. In fact without you, change would never happen and that simple goal will continue to underpin the YLP.

This year, the support shown from all of you has given us the confidence to ramp up our projects and activities in 2015. We start with our usual Back On Track workshop on 17th January. A yoga intensive to help refocus your intention for the coming year combined with a Sankelpa, a personal yogic business plan – a self generated reminder to help you keep focused on what you need to do.

Next year also sees the start of our YogaLife Project Teacher Training School. We are very excited about this new venture which is planned to start around August- September. We are also starting a brand new Beginner’s Class called, Yoga Basics on 6th. January. This is designed to help rationalise the class levels more efficiently so that everyone can get what they need from the YLP (remember you need to book ahead now except for the Thursday Drop-in). Other ideas include a whole day workshop called: ‘Live like a Yogi for a Day’. Where we will offer a pocket sized ashram experience of full on yoga, meditation, eating, teaching and talking. The whole event will be a dry run to future longer events such as retreats. We are also continuing to develop our Beginner’s Meditation Course held at YLP HQ starting 24th January 2015.

We are also making better use of social media. We have a new twitter, @YogaLifeProject so that you can easily keep in contact with Mick and the YLP.  We also plan to make a couple of short films explaining  how we bring real yoga, to real people, who live real lives…Other plans include more downloadable stuff such as short, How To eBooks and apps featuring more of Mick’s guided relaxation and meditation.

If there is one thing we can take with us into next year – it’s the idea that everything good in the world starts with you. Try if you can to see the whole thing, the bigger picture, the wood, not the trees. It’s a message we are beginning to hear a lot, and have to act on, if we want to live sustainable, happier, purposeful lives. Mick, this year joined the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Based in California and founded by one of his heroes, Dr. Ed Mitchell the sixth man to walk on the Moon (Apollo 14). This team of scientists are researching into consciousness with a mission to help bring profound change on how we live in the world. This is yoga by another means and IONS have developed  the world’s largest on-line resource on meditation research. Here is Mitchell in 2012 asking us to see a bigger picture. Not me, or you but all of us.

So thank you everyone for your support. It has been brilliant. Next year we plan to go both higher and deeper.

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…

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Everything Changes…

That’s right. Constantly.

In fact it’s the only thing we are only ever sure of. Everything around us is on the move – changing from one state to another, moment by moment. Our quantum scientists tell us that even the very atoms of our bodies are constantly moving from one place to another, from one universe to another. They are never still. Our bodies, minds and breath, blink in and out existence constantly. That’s how ephemeral our every day is. We are here….we are somewhere else. We are hardly here at all….Most of the time we just don’t notice.

Yoga is about change. But its also about moving beyond change. The very act of union, the purpose of yoga, is to enable us to fall out this constant cycle of change. To watch and enjoy but not be shaped or defined by change. Change is cyclical. Your job as a yogi is to stay still. The only still place in this constant wheel of change is at its very centre. Your centre. As the Zen masters told us, the most useful part of the wheel is the empty hole in the middle…

Tomorrow we are hosting our last workshop of the yearEverything Changes. This time of year when Manchester moves into its sunny autumn days, we are invited to just stop and reflect on the days that have been. In autumn we are balanced between outward action and inward reflection. Like the world around us we should find time to slow down, and like autumn leaves, let go and fall softly. We will be seeking that place, that moment, balanced between action and non-action, doing and non-being, inhalation and exhalation.

Its an important time for all of us. In yoga we feel the world turning its equator towards the sun so that it is finally balanced between light and dark, when the length of day and night become equal – the Autumn Equinox. It reminds us where we have been and what might be coming to us on our journey.

The autumn equinox is a milestone but its also a departure point.

planet

Going Deeper Staying Longer 2014

This weekend the YogaLife Project held its second workshop of the year. Called, Going Deeper Staying Longer, the workshop did exactly that,  giving everyone a chance to go deeper with their yoga and spend more time experiencing new techniques not normally carried out in class. The theme for this workshop was the’ heart’ with an emphasis on deep yoga nidra practice combined with Sankelpa shaping (your deepest intention).

Key highlights were a range of new mudras, some visualisation work through two very advanced yoga kriyas, new posture sequences, combined with a little yoga science on the Koshas and how we can shape and experience them through guided relaxation and concentration.  As usual three hours went by very fast, which was good as we finished with the famous Sivananda cookies. Here is the recipe:

SIVANANDA OATMEAL COOKIES

These are very popular in all our locations. The students like to have a nutritious cookie after taking a Yoga class. They are good for you, they are filling, and they taste SOOOOO good. Makes about 20 cookies.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup ground almonds or hazelnuts
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups honey
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tbsp. baking powder

Instructions:
Mix wet ingredients. Mix and sift all dry ingredients (except nuts) into the wet ones. Now add the ground nuts. Shape cookies 2 to 3 inches onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes.

It was great to see old friends, new ones and even other yoga teachers which was great. We really appreciate the love, support, enthusiasm, and energy you all bring to the YLP. It really works…

Mick went for a well deserved lie down afterwards. See you all again soon.

Pictures by Beth Timpson