Author Archives: Wendy Young

Loving Awareness in the New Year

The beginning of any cycle is a powerful and tender time. Imagine a new blade of grass pushing its way through the dry earth or a newborn baby sleeping on its mother’s lap. Each is so strong and also fragile.

The New Year period is an important one, not because there is any inherent accuracy to the calendars we use, but rather because it reminds us of the cyclical nature of life.  Things arise, take form and then dissolve only to be reborn at the beginning of a new cycle.  Whether we consider these cycles to be that of birth and death, of day and night or of the movement of our breath, wherever we cast our awareness in nature, we see cycles.  Cycles can exist as a simple repetitive pattern where there is no transformation: a returning of the old without any renewal. 

What allows this cycle of your life, this New Year, to be not just a replay of the limiting patterns of the past?  What allows your next breath, to be a breath of renewal?  Just for a moment, let go of goal setting and planning.  Instead focus on how you meet this moment in a way that touches it with Loving Awareness.

As you shine the light of Loving Awareness on thought, the constricting patterns of thought dissolve, as you shine the light of Loving Awareness on emotional patterns, these knots untangle themselves and release life enhancing energy.  When memories are touched by Loving Awareness, they are seen to be the meaningful stepping stones that have brought you to this breath, to this moment. Whatever arises, acknowledge it, infuse it and release it with Loving Awareness.

By recognising that you are not your personal history or cultural conditioning, but rather that you are Loving Awareness, you are able to let go of the past and meet all that arises in this moment with Presence. 

Turn towards this new cycle with an open mind and an undefended heart and shine the light of Loving Awareness through this moment to touch the future and heal the past.

What does it feel like to enter this year, this moment, with Loving Awareness?

Smile, Breathe, Go Slowly

This mindfulness mantra from Thich Naht Hahn is powerful in its simplicity.  Try it now and notice how it affects the state of your awareness in the body, heart and mind! 

There is so much expectation at this time of year to experience the ‘Joy’ of the festive season.  This expectation creates tension and disconnection.  Practicing this mindfulness mantra daily, brings us back to what we are actually feeling – in our bodies and hearts.  From this place of honesty we access self-compassion and self-care. And the mantra brings us back to the precious present moment.

Taking time to acknowledge what we feel grateful for is another way of returning to our heart’s innate state of openness and ease.  It is easy to feel gratitude for the positive, expansive experiences and a little harder to be thankful for the challenges.  Every situation offers a gift and a teaching, by realising the lesson, we can shift how we engage with ourselves and Life.  

Dedicate time during the holidays to breathe in gratitude for all you have experienced, learned and released this year.

 “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
Thornton Wilder

 

Returning Home to NOW

Are you aware of what you are bringing to the world at the moment?  What feeling do you imprint on Mother Earth with each step you take?  Are you tired, stressed, rushing to fit in extra commitments before the end of the year?  Are you adding to the feeling of chaos? 

I invite you NOW to pause.  Sigh the breath out through your open mouth and allow the next in-breathe to happen slowly through your nose.  Repeat this practice three times.  Then notice what changes you feel in your body and mind. 

During periods of high stress and busyness it becomes even more important to make time every day to re-centre back into your still point and into this moment.

Again, sigh out through your mouth, and breathe in slowly through your nose. 

It is only in the precious present moment that we access the innate state of wisdom, flow, abundance, love and freedom.  The simplest way of doing this is to become consciously aware of your breath.  The breath links body, mind and Spirit.  A great way to start on the path of Awareness, is by noticing the breath.  It is only through the astounding power of Awareness that we transform every facet of our lives and flow through Life’s challenges with ease and grace.

Cleansing for a New Season

Global health has increasingly deteriorated in the past 50 years, where illness and pharmaceutical dependency is the norm.  Our bodies are besieged by WiFi, GMOs, electro-magnetic pollution, antibiotics, endocrine disrupting chemicals, toxic food additives and so much more.  If you are dedicated to a path of healing and awakening, it is important to cleanse and detox the body to increase your energy vibration. 

Fasts and cleanses are ancient Ayurvedic practices.  The best time to cleanse is at the junction of the seasons.  In preparation for the Spring Equinox on the 23rd September, I’ll be doing a ten day cleanse (12th – 21st September).  During these ten days I’ll eat a mono-diet of mung bean soup. The simplicity of this diet gives the digestive system a much needed rest from the rigours of processing diverse and often incompatible foodstuffs. The organs then have extra energy to repair and recover. 

But an Ayurvedic cleanse is not just a medicinal practice, it’s also good for the soul. There is a mystical connection between food and the soul.  Food can help to heal our emotions. And food can also be used to cover up our emotions through comfort eating.

Ayurveda has a very forgiving approach: no restricting diets, no self-blame, no judgement. Instead Ayurveda promotes a wise and balanced attitude to food. By eating what’s right for our dosha (unique body-mind constitution) we are able to bring harmony, vitality and moderation to our lives. Ayurveda does not view food in isolation, but rather within the full context of a healthy, happy life.

We all know that our state of mind when we eat is as important as what we eat. We intuitively feel that it’s important to enjoy food and that when we have a good meal we’re not only feeding our body, but also nourishing our soul. Modern science has little to say on this, but ancient science (Ayurveda) is premised on it.

A ten day fast will do wonders for your body and for your emotions. Our modern lives tend to be over-stimulated and when we relax from ‘stress’, we tend to stimulate the nervous system even more –  watching television, reading the newspaper, listening to hectic music, or snacking on something sweet. When we give our palate a rest we allow for any lingering, repressed emotions to bubble into the conscious mind. If we take the viewpoint that cleansing is part of a sacred healing practice, then we can embrace the opportunity to resolve blocked emotions.

So, please join me on this cleanse. Email me your commitment and receive all relevant information.  I will be offering daily check-ins during these ten days from 12th to 21st September.  And to complete this practice there will be a guided meditation for the group on Wednesday 23rd September, the day of the Solstice.

The Alchemy of Awakening

Sitting in front of your computer now, you have access to more computing power than existed in the entire world in 1950.  Your cell phone allows you to speak to whoever you like anywhere in the world, from wherever you are.  You can flick a switch and have light, heat, entertainment and comfort.  You can turn on a tap and out pours hot or cold water which is drinkable.  You can open your fridge and there are delicacies to delight: nuts from Brazil, coffee from Columbia and chocolate from Belgium.

We live in an age of plenty, but our desires create a need for more.  Inside many of us is a scared and unloved child who needs attention.  The fears and needs of the wounded little child become the insecurities of the adult ego.  These insecurities create a wanting mind; a mind that projects its need for happiness and fulfilment out there onto things, people and experiences.

We don’t need more.  Who we are and what we have is enough.  We are not separate from life – we are Life. The wisdom teachings of old have an important message for our modern condition, which is characterised by a sense of lack in a sea of excess.  The teachings call us to question our conditioning that says happiness is to be found outside of ourselves.  When we awaken to, and feel our completeness in this moment, we realise that lack is an illusion and that the fear-based ego will never feel fulfilled. 

It came to me the other day that if I had to label my work I’d call it ‘psycho-spiritual therapy’.  Offering sessions that are held and informed by spiritual teachings of non-duality, I allow the wounded inner child a chance to access and release his or her fears and self-limiting beliefs.  Yes, we all have personal stories of pain and suffering, but the story can never overshadow the Spirit, that endless capacity for love, compassion, forgiveness and joy.

I am honoured to meet people where they are, and to work with whatever is troubling them, facilitating an alchemical process of turning the base metal of psychological suffering into the gold of spiritual awakening.

Through Love all that is bitter will be sweet
Through Love all that is copper will be gold.
Through Love all dregs will turn to purest wine
Through Love all pain will turn to medicine.
Through Love the dead will all become alive.
Through Love the king will turn into a slave!

                                                                                                                                    a poem by Rumi

Deep Allowing

Spiritual life teaches us to allow and to accept whatever is happening – to us, within us and around us.  This seems so simple, then why do we struggle against what is?  The conditioned mind has a way of rejecting our day to day experiences.  Physically we experience bodily unease or pain.  At a mental level, there may be a self-perception that says “I don’t want this,” or “I don’t deserve this.”  We also reject life with our intellect, coming up with all sorts of reasons why “this shouldn’t be happening.”  And the mind has a way of splitting off and attacking itself, “I shouldn’t be thinking or feeling this.”

Coming home to rest in Being, flowing with Life and relaxing into Awareness asks for a different approach.  Acceptance, allowing, surrender – whatever resonates with you – and when we stop and become still, we let Life in.  Life is not wrong or right, it’s not beautiful or ugly, it’s not meaningful or random – it just is. No-one, not an intelligent philosopher or the brilliant scientist, can argue this simple fact – Life just is. None of us really know why Life is here or what it means but we can feel it running though our veins, tingling in our cells and inviting us to follow its rhythms and dance to its tune.

To do this, we need to become aware of everything that arises in the present moment.  Notice the two parts of experience: that which is aware, and secondly, thoughts, feelings and sensations that move through Awareness.  Instead of identifying with the thoughts and feelings, give them some space and identify with the witnessing part of experience – that which notices and allows thoughts and sensations to appear and to disappear, like the vast blue sky allows clouds to drift through it.  Happy clouds, sad clouds; pleasurable clouds, painful clouds; peaceful clouds, turbulent clouds – all are allowed to move through the vast blue sky.  In this way, we sink into deep acceptance, feeling a sense of ease.

Sometimes we need a break from the busy-ness of doing so we can return to and rest in Being. In my healing sessions I offer you an hour of deep acceptance and allowing where you can taste and feel LifeLife just as it is, free of the mind commentary, free of self-judgement.  From this stillness and connection, insight and wisdom can arise.

Returning to the body… and to practice

“Go within.  Use the inner body as a starting point for going deeper and taking your attention away from where it is usually lodged, in the thinking mind.”              Eckhart Tolle

The Body

How do we re-learn to be fully inside our body… to be embodied?

Our bodies help to bring us back into the present moment.  As you become aware of your body and how it feels on the inside (body sensations) and remember to keep returning to your body again and again, it anchors you into the here and now.

The body is the outermost aspect of our personality.   The gross form of the mind is the body and the subtle form of the body is the mind.  So the body tells the story of our habitual thinking and emotional reactions which in turn creates different shapes and knots in the body.  Every mental tension has a corresponding physical and muscular tension and vice versa.

All our experiences and reactions to these experiences, are registered in the body at a cellular level – body is constantly clenching, bracing, releasing, opening, softening and closing as you react to your experience in each moment – notice now how your shoulders, jaws, belly, solar plexus and heart feel – these sites accumulate chronic tension as a result of resisting feeling things that are difficult.

When attention is primarily in our head (holding onto the past or worrying about a future event that may never happen), we are unaware of how our body is registering the story of our life in this moment.

An emotion is how the body experiences a thought.  Each emotion that we experience has its own body sensation.  The habitual pattern of the conditioned mind is to suppress or to avoid something that feels uncomfortable, so most of the time we don’t allow ourselves to feel the body sensation.

Remembering to return attention back into the body, we learn how to feel these raw body sensations… in that moment of returning, we become embodied beings.  We are then able to feel life in this moment.  This helps us to respond to a situation in a fresh way that feels awake and alive; which is imbued with discernment and wisdom.

By returning attention into the body, we are learning ‘to be with’ whatever is there.  This also helps to release mental tensions at the physical level.

When we are fully aware of how our body feels, mind and body become synchronised … there is a feeling of connection and wholeness.

Practice of Sacred Mindfulness
“Begin your practice from the heart, doing it because of Oneness –
raising your consciousness raises all Consciousness,
pouring healing out into the Cosmos.
Our inner eye knows that we do not need anything so we do not need to grasp at the practice –
it is simply a way of being who we really are.
The practice has life force when it is offered to all beings as a gift.
Close your practice by dedicating it to peace and harmony in the world.”

Awareness … the Foundation for Transformation

Spiritual growth begins with bringing that which is unconscious into the light of awareness.

Yoga and meditation practice and philosophy inspire, inform and guide me with respect to awareness. What is your process or practice to cultivate awareness?

Meditation is a way of training our mind to rest in the present moment. This develops awareness – ‘to be aware’ – to see and to feel what is happening in our personality (body/mind), as well as in the environment, whilst it is happening, and accepting what it. In this way we learn to be present with our experience in a conscious and non-judgemental way that feels alive.

Yoga and Meditation as practices, have the potential to develop self awareness which leads to self knowledge and deepens into self understanding. We get to see and know ourselves just as we are with all our fears, doubts, judgements, expectations and habitual emotional reactions.

By becoming aware of our inner landscape, we awaken the capacity to observe, to take a step back creating a sense of space from these limiting self beliefs. From this feeling of spaciousness, we are more able to respond to a situation and to ourselves with compassion and wisdom, instead of reacting unconsciously from the story of our wounding. This is the process of healing and transformation.

Awareness is the foundation for transformation. 

Slow Spring Unfolding …

Slow Spring Unfolding

Can you make room for slowness in your life?  To feel and appreciate the sounds, sights and scents of spring life unfolding?

Since returning from my trip to India and 10 days in Fish Hoek over the winter months, I have been experiencing a profound surrender to what is.

A very practical impact of this on my daily life has been a slowing down and letting go of rushing, planning and controlling.  I feel more receptive to the wonder of life in each moment, a softening into my heart which feels as if I’m able to bring the gentle power of my heart more easily to each experience.  (There are situations that still push my buttons!)  I’ve also learnt that I can do things quickly with a slow frame of mind helping to transmute tension into relaxation.

When we rush we skim the surface of life experiences and miss a depth of connection with people and with the aliveness of life itself. We seek to cram in as many experiences as possible and seem to have lost the art of doing nothing, of slowing down and simply being – with ourselves and stillness.  Speed and busyness have become an addiction and a distraction.

Fast can feel busy, controlling, aggressive, rushed, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, quantity over quality.

Slow can feel calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality over quantity.

Every living being, event and process has its own inherent rhythm – nature teaches us this.  Be slow when it makes sense to.  Be fast when it makes sense to.  In this way you choose a way of being that can feel alive, connected and wise.

 

“Do you see that everything in the universe is simply doing its dance –

expressing itself the only way it can…

and this is happening in every moment. 

Seeing this clearly brings instant relaxation and peace. 

Why? 

Because everything is doing the only dance it can,

what is there to worry about?”

                                                                                                                    Bhakti Maa

Open Hearted Posture

Change, new choices and different priorities can be supported by an open hearted posture.

Our posture can reflect to us the relationship between our inner and outer worlds.  A fear-based, anxious and vulnerable inner reality can be felt and experienced by a round shouldered posture which closes our heart.  The more confident we feel in our choices and decisions, and the more courageously we can embrace life from a place of trust and letting go, the easier it is to experience and feel this inner reality with upright and self-assured posture.

Poor posture is also an unconscious habit… we think too much and feel too little becoming disconnected from our bodies.  We can become aware of our posture during our hatha yoga practice, while walking, cooking, driving, standing, doing any household task and while at the computer.

How is your posture now?

How would it feel to sit fully into the back of your chair as you continue to read, allowing your spine to lift and lengthen so that your body feels supported by the chair?

How does this change in your posture

affect your breath?

the state of your mind?

the feeling of connection through your heart?

“Don’t belong to anything
Don’t belong to anyone
Just Be
Feel your Being first and foremost and don’t compare or compete
Just Be your Being”
Mooji