Planting seeds of perfection

IMG_1612 copyThe other day I was talking to a student of mine who told me she was looking to improve her practice. She wanted to be better at yoga and a better version of herself. She wanted a stronger core and to lose weight. Sincere and sweet, I didn't want to risk offending her by my reaction to what she was saying. My response (in my head) came from a place of love- but to her ears it may have sounded a little like judgement. I made a vow to myself some time ago to be a Truthspeaker but I still struggle at times with the delicate balance of ahimsa (non-harming).

So I went home and spoke it aloud to the trees in my yard. Weird I know. But I really wanted them to pass it onto her somehow. Like some sort of arboreal osmosis, take these words and plant them in her lovely mind. While you're hands are dirty, put these seeds in my daughter's mind too.

What if today you were perfect?
With no air-brushing, no modification, no transformation at all. What if everybody, in every room, exploded into applause when you entered and smiled when you left?
What if you stopped searching and found everything?
What if when you looked in the mirror today, you saw what your mum sees?
Or your child, or your best friend?
What if you could see yourself with a heart full of love? What if you saw the truth? What if your yoga was enough? What if you were enough?
Imagine if you decided to stop worrying about everything and just walked in the light and accepted grace.
Imagine if, just for today, you nourished your body with food from the earth. Filled up with art and music and soulful gifts. Made a new friend. Did stuff that made you whole and happy.
What if you gave thanks to your body and mind for it's brilliance?
What if you found gratitude?
What if I told you that all that hurt you've been carrying is a choice you made? Would you put it down? Would you choose a different way?
If everything could be forgiven could you let it all go?
What if, in a moment of quiet, the universe spoke only to you?
What if she whispered of your divine magnificence?
Would you listen to the truth?

Namaste

Mxx

Alchemy in the suburbs

IMG_2714 I was chosen by the bowl.

I'll never forget the moment the tiny Nepalese witchy-woman wound the swede wrapped mallet around her. The way the vibration enveloped my whole head, a strange disorientating sensation that seemed to have a altogether different origin. Some exotic heavy sound that possessed a weighty mass not unlike a heavy woollen blanket.

I was reminded of being tucked into bed at my grandmothers house, the satisfying poundage of lavender scented layers as she pulled them up to my small chin. Way too hot and heavy considering the mild night, but magical all the same. Safe and secure.

I bought the bowl, paid too much, quite happily.

........................................................

Yesterday my son was tender. Sore and sorry in that way that young men can be. A general malaise that doesn't form words and sits on his shoulders, resulting in a uncharacteristic darkness- the weight of the world.

I thought of my bowl and it's gentle mass of music.

He started too fast. To eager to get it done. I held his hand, correcting the angle and urging him to slow down. I watched his face as the vibration built and the sound lifted into her song. The look on his face was a beautiful combination of surprise and joy. Healing sound. He sat with her for ten minutes, until his hand grew tired of her heaviness.

He walked away transformed. He came and found me in the kitchen, big grin and a cuddle. Look at that! Transformed.

It made me think about how we could take our troubles and put them in a bowl. Mix them around and turn them into something else. Alchemy in the suburbs. What if it was possible?

Just throw in your shame and shit, couple of turns and wait for blissful swathe of trouble-no-more. A thorough energetic scrub down that turned your frown upside down and cleared the crap from your life. A bit like instant yoga, an easy ride to Ananda.

A little magic and lazy mysticism that asks little and gives loads- a whole bowl full of goodness.

A map for pre-menopausal moon howling.

IMG_0632 It seems like yesterday I was checking my temperature and looking for those two parallel blue lines. Reading volumes into late cycles and feeling thrilled at the slight nausea that arrived with my morning coffee.

Fast forward a decade or so and the next chapter is stirring within the delicate confines of my ovaries. A way off yet says my doctor but I hear it's whispers. Preparation is key I think.

I wasn't prepared for the eruption of maternal reverence that accompanied the birth of all three of my children. The weird paranoia (what if I drop him), the stress (what if he turns 16 and drops me), The crazy all consuming love (I have the most perfect children in the entire universe) and the horror (Please go to sleep or I'm going FREAKIN LOSE IT!!!!!!) I'd read all the books about conception, pregnancy and birth. I'd researched early developmental phases and sleep techniques, but I wasn't prepared for how I'd feel.

Same goes for menopause- information is power and I want to approach this next chapter armed with a map that will guide me both physically and spiritually. I also want to share it, which is why I teach women how to navigate this territory using yoga, meditation, visualisation, whole food, deep relaxation, women's circles, art, soft cheeses, (the occasional stiff drink), green juices, moon-howling, chocolate hoovering, crazy-making....and laughter. Women are so good at laughter.

It's powerful provocative work.

Know it young my beautiful friends. Hear the whispers in your own life so you might avoid the horrid shouting of night sweats and moods that might darken the very doorways of demon-hell-fire-houses. Use yoga to clear the way in your body for a new beginning. Opening your life to wisdom, compassion and steady strength.

Peri-menopause

Physically

The root of the word peri means around or near and in the case of peri-menopause, refers to the period of time that a woman’s body goes through hormonal changes that will eventually lead to the cessation of her monthly cycle (menopause).

Just as it takes around 4-7 years for a woman’s cycle to become balanced after her first period, peri-menopause can last for  many years. Most women transition for a period of two to seven years with a spectrum of symptoms ranging from nothing to debilitating suffering.

In the case of medically induced menopause, through cancer treatment or removal of the ovaries, women can experience a few years of symptoms condensed into a few weeks. Many suffer psychological trauma because they are unable to experience the gradual process of working through this important time.

During this process oestrogen levels remain fairly stable until the final year before menopause. Testosterone levels drop but not markedly and some women actually produce more testosterone.

The most significant change occurs with a decrease in progesterone and this accounts for most peri-menopausal symptoms. Progesterone and oestrogen are supposed to counterbalance each other during the menstrual cycle, with one falling as the other rises, so this drop in progesterone means that oestrogen levels go unopposed. The result is a whole lot of oestrogen that can lead to a whole lot of problems!

Symptoms of oestrogen dominance include mood swings, headaches, weight gain, reduced circulation, breast tenderness, bloating, irregular abnormal periods and decreased sex drive.

The ovaries slow down at this stage of our lives because reproduction is no longer a biological requirement. However it is important to know that in a healthy body, hormones are produced in body fat, skin, the brain and adrenals. Therefore we are biologically able to create balance within our changing bodies without relying on the ovaries.

The pituitary gland regulates the production of hormones within the ovaries. At peri-menopause the pituitary no longer signals the ovaries to produce hormones. In a functioning healthy body, the adrenals then produce small amounts of hormones in order to provide balance within the body. A healthy liver is necessary for processing excess hormones within the bloodstream.

If a women has experienced a lot of stress in her life it is likely her adrenal function will be impaired. If she has smoked or drank too much or eaten a diet high in processed food, her liver function is likely to be poor. Many westerners have an iodine deficiency due to iodine antagonists in the environment, this leads to problems with thyroid function.

All of this can compound to make peri-menopause a difficult transition that may require change and intervention. In this way it can become a positive motivator for nurturing ourselves and seeking to improve our health.

Spiritually

Peri-menopause can often be a confusing time for women. It is a period of reflection, adjustment and change.

Within this change, many women experience the death of an old life, old ways and old thinking. This often manifests in her disposing of what isn’t working in her life. Many women leave relationships that no longer serve them. They might radically change the dynamics within their families. They might return to the workforce and want to step out of the role of constant carer.

This can be a confronting and unsettling time as we find ourselves wanting to step out of the mothering phase of our lives. We feel guilty and sometimes resentful because we want a greater independence from our dependents! This is becoming more of an issue as we have children later in life.

This process of letting go allows us to experience the death of who we were before, so that we may ‘rebirth’ the fullness of our new self. By the same analogy, the process is not without it’s labour pains. Sometimes we need the space to grieve for what is gone.

Before we are clear on what has to go, it’s common to experience a frustrating paralysis. Unsure of what is required and feeling overwhelmed by doubt or fear. We do nothing, but an insidious discontent forces us to see things with new clarity. Our intuition hasn’t been this available to us since menarche. The universe is whispering to us, we need time and space to listen.

It’s normal to want to retreat or rest. It is required for our reclamation.

Many women are terrified by the ageing process. In our culture, we often don’t value the crone, the carrier of wisdom. Looking to other societies however this ‘change’ is one of the most exciting transitions a women can undergo.

In American indian culture women cannot become shaman until they have entered menopause. The word ‘crone’ may conjure up images of dried up old witches but in fact it comes from the word ‘crown’. As a woman reaches the pinnacle of this stage she is crowned with the jewels of her knowledge. American indian women rarely colour their hair because grey is a symbol of wisdom that is respected by both the men and women of their tribe.

The same is true for many eastern and european cultures. Australian Aborigines observe the moon cycles and teach girls about their cyclic nature. This wisdom is passed down through their maternal grandmother.

But some women are devoting their life work to changing this in our culture. We are beginning to hear the collective voices of those who went before us. We are looking for something that we have lost and we are being guided to honour our moon phases and in turn, our magic.

Women are mysterious creatures. We are governed by the moon in the same way as the ocean tides. We are cyclic and we beat in time with the rhythm of the Earth. Our cycles are intimately linked with the lunar phases. During her fertile years, many women will ovulate during the full moon. However as we approach our ‘crone’ years, entering peri-menopause, we bleed with the full moon.

By becoming aware of this cyclic relationship between ourselves and the universe, we open ourselves up to wisdom. We accept our magical connection to each other and the planet. We begin to respect our intuition. By learning to practice conscious menstruation we learn to trust our bodies and our inner-guidance to support us through our whole lives.

It is then our responsibility when we close our cycles to become elders in our community. We can serve women by passing this knowledge down the line. By promoting cyclic awareness we offer our daughters and grand-daughters a priceless gift. They too will be given the opportunity to witness their divine nature.

Peri-menopause is a time to enter your own possibility.

In honouring ourselves we learn to become Truthspeakers. As we begin this transformation we might struggle with this desire to be more authentic in our interactions. We might ‘lose our cool’ or erupt rather than being able to speak with dignity and restraint. But we are pulled into this urgent wanting to make our genuine voice heard. It’s important that we are aware of this spiritual calling so that we can make a conscious effort to observe ahimsa at this time. (and forgive ourselves when we don’t.)

We can speak with the weight of experience and the clarity of past mistakes in order to serve others.

We open ourselves up to kundalini energy. Ancient yogis believed that this is a time that the kundalini is released, cleansing the body of past trauma and burning off our ego. Anyone thats ever experienced a hot flash will have a sensual reference for this experience!

The Chinese believe that there is an increase in yang energy during peri-menopause. In our mothering phase, a woman in more yin (moist, receptive, passive) and as she enters the next phase of her life she is more yang (passionate, firey, independent). This burst of new energy gives rise to hot flashes until she settles into her new self.

One of the most difficult aspects of entering peri-menopause is the lack of support from other women. With many women so desperate to hold onto their youth, we don’t openly discuss the difficulties of this phase. We are loathe to mention our heavy bleeding or waning libido or night sweats because we’re projecting that image of the ‘thirty something’(sometimes till we’re sixty!). We don’t want to see ourselves as ‘old’.

At the other end of the spectrum are the women who have already crossed the bridge. We can certainly learn from these women but it isn’t the same as being ‘amongst your sisters’. That is why I’m drawn to this work. So that we might create opportunities to stand together and walk into wisdom.

Menopause

Physically

Menopause is declared by the medical community as twelve months after a woman’s last period. It marks the end of our reproductive cycle and means the ovaries no longer perform their primary function. We no longer release ova and we no longer shed our uterine lining each month. Once menopause is reached the symptoms of peri-menopause subside.

Spiritually

When we talk about the experience of menopause we often speak of a bridge to the other side. It’s true that whilst peri-menopause is a journey, menopause is a destination and should be celebrated.

We may appear to the world as ‘our old selves’ again but most of us are changed forever. For those of us who embrace cyclic wisdom and have crowned themselves, they are reborn into warriors, truthspeakers and wisewomen.

Pinkola Estes says it beautifully....

We may appear unchanged outwardly, but inwardly we have reclaimed a vast and womanly wildness. On the surface we are still friendly, but beneath the skin, we are most definitely no longer tame.

What ensures that we remain full juicy women as we embrace ageing, is being fully immersed in our lives. We might find meaning in ritual or reading, yoga or quilting. It doesn’t matter how we squeeze the life out of experience, it matters that we do it whilst being true to our spirit and aware of our gift to the universe.

Yoga for Hormonal Balance Workshop

Saturday 5th September

10 am- 4 pm Pine Rivers Yoga

In this workshop we will be exploring different ways to balance our hormonal cycles with yoga and meditation.

We will look for soothing antidotes to modern day life with all it’s demands and distractions. Exploring the benefits of pranayama, meditation, yoga nidra and restorative yoga. We will touch on the benefits of discovering our unique rhythm and learning to work with our bodies to create a sense of balance.

Please join Michelle and Ruth in a day of nourishing yoga designed to restore and rejuvenate. We will also cover ideas for you to establish a home practice and a light vegetarian lunch will be provided.

Cost $105 including lunch Bookings please go to www.pineriversyoga.com or contact Michelle on 0430 222 274 or Ruth on 0434 775 645

 Michelle xx

 

Conscious 'what the'?!!

cropped-img_1180-copy.jpg It was quite a few years ago that I met her.

I had begun to deepen my interest in yoga and had signed up for a workshop run by a beautiful yogini that specialised in postnatal yoga. I arrived nervous, feeling out of place and in the wrong clothes-I'm pretty sure I had baby cereal in my hair. She, by contrast, looked like she had spent her entire life in some approximation of a yoga pose. She threw her mat down next to mine and enveloped me in a warm haze of patchouli.

I forget her name and I forget most of the workshop. I can't remember the teacher's name or anyone else from that day- but I clearly remember the first thing that came out of her mouth after hello. She complained about the fact that it was a new moon and asked if I was bleeding.

Whoa mama! What? I remember feeling a bizarre mixture of shame and confusion and fear and excitement. This conversation was heading off the rails for me!!! She followed through with asking me where I was in my cycle and whether I new anything about conscious menstruation?

If I could have politely excused myself at that point I probably would have. But, there's the whole-pick-up-the-mat-move-to-the-other-side-of-the-small-room-weirdness. I considered telling a fib but I wasn't sure I'd be able to sustain my furby in the harsh light of further questioning. Instead I chose to tell the truth. "Um....I have no clue what you're talking about?"

Menstruating-Where are you in your cycle? How long is your cycle? How does it compare with the lunar cycle? You look like you bleed with the full moon. Do you chart? What brand of cup do you use? How's your rhythm?.......crickets. Nothing. I just stared at her slack jawed and totally stumped. Thank goodness the class started at that point and I was saved by the arrival of the teacher. The first thing she asked us was where we were in our cycles....The day passed in a blur of my own bewilderment.

But...I left the class with a burning curiosity to find out what these amazing women were banging on about. I had a long reading list that included Alexandra Pope and Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and I was inspired by how confident and self-assured they appeared.

So what is cyclic awareness? For those of you that find yourself in my shoes of old, I'll give you a quick rundown...

Women are cyclic creatures. 

We have circadian cycles- an approximately 24 hour cycle (in humans its actually 25.9 hours) of sleep and wake which is triggered by exposure to light (the day/night cycle) which then triggers cyclic shifts in hormone levels. It is a universal rhythm to which all living things respond – animals and plants.

Behavioural cycles - are one’s daily habits. It’s what time you sleep/wake, eat, work and exercise. One’s schedule may work with or against circadian rhythms. 

And we have menstrual cycles- the reproductive cycle of ovulation and menstruation. We are biologically driven to behave differently at different times of our cycle. As a general rule, we require rest at menses, are more vital and energetic at ovulation and more introspective as we approach a new cycle. Interestingly our menstrual cycle is approximately the same length as the lunar cycle and often corresponds with us e.g.. ovulating with the full moon and bleeding with the new moon.

This is however, only a general rule. All women are different and there cycles are also different. That is why it is a powerful process to chart your cycle. Being aware of your own unique rhythm allows you to understand your own specific needs. When we keep track of our cycle over a period of time, a clear pattern usually emerges. We may feel and act in a similar way at a specific time.

For instance, maybe you have heaps of energy from day 10-14. You notice this time is an excellent opportunity to get big jobs done with energy and enthusiasm. In future you might schedule work on these days. Or perhaps you notice your libido wakes up on the 13th day. Maybe you could plan a mid-cycle weekend away with your partner.

Perhaps when you witness a dark mood clouding the end of your cycle, you remind yourself that this is not crazy hormones. Rather it is your bodies innate intelligence telling you to turn inward and rest.

Within this menstrual awareness is enormous power and insight. We begin to truly understand ourselves and also the other women in our circle. If we begin to listen to our bodies and respond it’s signals, we create balance and ease in our life.

Armed with my new knowledge and a healthy dose of skepticism I began to chart my cycle and a really weird fact started to emerge. I (crazy, loose, batty ol' me) was predictable.

No kidding. Weirder still was the fact that I did in fact bleed around the full moon- handbag full of crazy right there.  :)

After a few months noticing my unique rhythm, a strange unexpected consequence occurred- I began to understand my fluctuations and plan my life accordingly. I threw myself into work around ovulation. I stopped worrying about dark clouds that gathered before my period and welcomed rest. I responded to my loved ones by showering them with attention at ovulation but took introverted space when I bled. I kept an eye on the moon and silently thanked her for making me feel connected to the Earth. I walked barefoot on the grass more and started listening to kirtan.

It's a slippery slope my friends.

So when she sat down and spoke to me that day- it was the first step for me on an important path of discovery. Conscious menstruation has been an amazing tool for self realisation, deepening my relationship with myself, my family and the universe. I can't explain the strange sense of self confidence that comes with understanding your own unique physical and emotional blueprint.

That's why I now teach about finding hormonal balance through charting and practicing yoga. To come to a workshop just click on workshops and see what's coming up. And don't worry if your a little green when it comes to the red moon....I still remember how that feels and by reading this, you've already taken your first step on the path.

Namaste.xx

mudra7sml

Yoga approaching Menopause

In this workshop Michelle Spencer will address the hormonal and spiritual changes that eventually lead to menopause. These changes often start to arise from the age of 35.  Yoga practises can provide both mental and physical balance to minimise symptoms and help us to enjoy the transition to the middle and later years of life.

Saturday 5th September 10.00 am – 4.00 pm

Fee: $105 which includes a light lunch

Location: Pine Rivers Yoga Studio, Cashmere

1 Pinedale Rd, Cashmere

www.pineriversyoga.com

A moment of confession...

the_night_sea_(sml)

..in that bethel of sound

I aroused my dark thoughts into silent invocation.

A small utterance of protest,

Against the darkening pall of wasteful words.

A thrown mass that held a storm

in its gravid deliverance.

The moist air heavy,  

abounding with consequence.

I held my breath,

and dove beneath the weight of sound,

to enter a deep sea of silence.

What do you have to say?

Will it improve on silence?

I have realised of late, that I use chatter like a bridge between meaningful conversation. To all of you that know me well, I can hear you having a chortle-"Well, um yeah, the girl loves a chat." It's true.

Ever since I was a child, I've talked too much. Every teacher said it, some debating whether or not I have anything worth banging on about. I use words to connect, to soothe, to scold, to lift, to lighten, to laugh, to protest, to ponder and to question.

Some days I never stop with the endless drudge of bloody words until I fall exhausted into bed, heaving big old sighs of wiped-out-sick-of-the-sound-of-my-own-voice.

Lately I've become more aware of the sheer volume of waste that pours forth from my muzzle. Just loose cannon blah-blah stuff that interrupts the quiet, it's made me question-

"Do I have anything to say that will improve on silence?"

I've begun to daydream about transforming into the strong silent type. Or at the very least, just the sometimes quiet one.

IMG_2516

The truth is I love silence. The three am quiet that descends on the house. Hallways filled with soft breathing and stillness, a dog far-off. All is far away in that moment. Putting on my coat and stepping outside, black trees against an indigo sky, the gentle light of the moon, the grass seems laid out smooth.

In this soft, languid quiet it's hard to fathom anything other than a peaceful world.

I am reminded of my time as a painter. It took me many years to arrive at a balance point in my work. It's experience and a good dose of confidence that prompts you to leave space in a painting. A place to rest- it's like visual silence.

Why not apply the same principal to speech? "Will it improve on silence?" Or music, television, media. So much noise and distraction and entertainment. We have arrived at some strange place of fear- that silence might hold some uncomfortable truth at it's centre.

But what if all that it held was a profound state of peaceful awareness? Nothing more or less than that. I'm so desperate for a little space to rest...

Quiet.

Bitchy, sexy, bad-Breaking the Beast

  IMG_0161I'm in a storytelling mood folks, gather a blanket and a mug of hot tea and lean in.

I'm writing this because I'm confused and a little sad and I'm trying to understand. Sometimes, when I'm struggling with something, I tell myself a story in order to try and make sense of it all.

This story is about us all being good. Despite all the horror and hardship, I would like to think of goodness being the basis of our humanity.  In a hippy dippy shared-consiousness kind of way I think were all just a lump of peace and love borrowing a meat suit for the hundred or so years that we keep on kickin'.

The problem seems to lie in the fact that we all seemed to have hooked up with an interloper. We're all tied for life to a big ol' lummox called Ego. He's bossy and bad and shits where he eats. He's not interested in our perfection or our happiness or anybody else's.

He's into self gratification, envy, money and his own importance. He would rather look good than be good. He's nasty and judgemental and righteous - basically he's a massive d**k.

But he's tied to every single one of us. We exist in antibiosis- an antagonistic relationship between two organisms, in which one is adversely affected. The more he consumes, the less fodder for our good selves. He gets bigger and badder and we shrivel under the weight of selfies and stinking media manure.

The yoga world is sadly not immune. In fact, two minutes on Face(less)book will bombard you with perfect yoga bodies screaming "Look at me!" from some glamorous locale. Probably trying to sell something thats sadly not yoga- clothes, props, retreats, books, packaged green juices and plastic wrapped 'perfect.

Big ol' egos dressed up as idols.

It made me think about that antibiosis. The bigger he gets, the smaller we get. The more we allow him to strut around, beating his chest and bringing the poocake to the party, the more we aren't able to share the love. He thrives on drama, gossip, bitchy, sexy, badness. He likes fast food, shiny shit and look at me flattery.

When we indulge him we starve ourselves. This made me think about how I feed my beast and at what cost?

We grow when we feed our souls with connection and kindness, good food and true beauty. When our work becomes service, our financial freedom is aligned with authenticity.

I'm so glad I became a yoga teacher after I'd cut my ego down to a manageable beast. Thank god I didn't find this in my ego driven twenties. I have no aspirations of grandeur as a teacher. All I really want is to be of small service. I hope if my ego ever chucks on a bikini and splatters bendy bullshit on social media someone tells me I'm a twat. I'll thank you in advance.

What I really want is a small and simple life. Connection. I want to learn and love and laugh. I know I'm going to have to drag around this whiny egoist but I'm going to try very hard to keep him firmly in check. I'm still trying to break the beast.

I've spent way too much time caring what other people think of me. Thats a whole lot of energy that I should have been devoting to being a better person. That's Ego's sly trick to keep us meek and needy. It sounds trite but realising our perfection renders him redundant.

But what is perfection?

Connection. With ourselves. With each other. With the moon and the stars and the universe. And even with him in a strange sort of twist. Best to understand who he is and the great threat that he poses to our humanity and our happiness.

Namaste.

 

 

Beauty mark

IMG_1478 Ever considered what your idea of the perfect earthly existence might be?

Mine would be an endless yoga workshop. Just show up, throw your mat down and get happy people. Learn stuff, use your body and your mind. Be amongst good bendy folks that smile easily and laugh freely and eat their veggies. The best thing about yoga is well yoga but the next best thing is definitely yogis.

I cannot believe that there are still people in my life that have never tried yoga. What?? It's like saying you've never tried ice cream or french brie. Why not? I seriously do not comprehend a life lived without some experience of this practice. Um.....no? Really?

Native Americans might talk about something possessing the quality of Beauty. However, the word Beauty doesn't have the same shallow definition to them as it might to us. The word Beauty to them is richly layered, spiritual and surprising, majestic or moving. It doesn't refer to a comely lass or flash ride. It's applied to those things that wake us up to magic, mystery and awe.

We live in a Beautiful world. (Despite what the news might want us to believe, thats a whole other bale of hay.) But if you can do something. Do it often and all the better to do it with good folks. Maybe try and do it well, not perfectly, just with a full heart of trying. Your life will open to the promise of Beauty.

...and that experience will mark your entire life.

A Beauty mark.

 

 

 

 

The first requirement of yoga teacher training is a sturdy pair of boots.

IMG_2413 When I decided to begin a teacher training in yoga I thought that I would arrive somewhere.

It seemed like a good opportunity to sort out my stuff and make some big changes. I had my money on metamorphosis and I was excited. I wasn't interested in the whole journey rubbish. I was interested in the prayer beads and the yoga pants and the freakin Zen baby! I may have been interested in a better body along with my clearer mind, but the point is I wanted it yesterday.

Well how do you hope to get anywhere without a journey?

I've now completed 200hrs of teacher training and the road stretches long both before and behind me. 

It occurred to me that I've taken about 150 million steps in my lifetime. Sometimes I ran like a tap or stumbled around in circles. Sometimes I strode like I was on a mission and sometimes I tiptoed quietly from the scene. But I've walked and walked and walked.

hate the word bloody 'journey'. I blame reality TV for completely overusing what used to be a rather romantic notion. I've witnessed too many tear stained beauties crying over their saggy soufflés or self imposed incarcerations. "Oh go and be quiet about your journeys and your pursuit of the Master Brother award for the best bloody Block! I'd rather watch Ross from friends than listen to your bleating."

Each day I just walk.

I can't decide I want to be 100 million steps in front without putting on my boots and taking each-single-step. The only way to move along is to move along.

I've learnt a lot in this past year. I've loved being challenged by yoga philosophy, I've faced some big fears and even stood on my head a few times. I've hurt myself and healed myself and made some good friends along the way. But most importantly, what this year has taught me is to put one foot in front of the other.

Where I stand today is exactly where I need to be.

Present.

More than the fancy poses and the yoga fads. More than the beautiful arms and hypnotic chants. More than the bliss and the bali huts and the mala beads and the love ins - I think that's actually yoga.

Just two feet on the ground, heart open present.

Grace

8a80a-img_1221 The wind blew your name across the wild grasses

the spiny call of the egret left

the air, out there

wheaten

hung over the idols of my youth.

Seed against cerulean sky

blown

promises suspended

caught for a moment

in a current of uncertainty

to fall at my bound feet.

I have walked

towards that sound,

made up ground,

in skins and ceremony.

I have carried a village

that spoke not a word of

worship

nor ever wrote

a sanguine wish

for peace.

In my memories,

we were sundered by the sea.

A glassy swathe

of welcome water.

Grace that brought

a flood to feed the earth

and flow between us.

I felt you near

still

in time.

Shelter from the storm.

IMG_2315It's rare that one is offered the opportunity to learn from not doing. I realised today that I learn more from not doing when it comes to my meditation practice. The lesson speaks loud and clear when I don't attend to stillness.

When I tell myself to 'have a holiday', 'sleep in' or whatever excuse I care to use.

I always take my kids away in January, prior to that Christmas spins through my life and the weeks flap by in it's wake. I drop my bundle for a month or so and the inevitable consequence is a post holiday storm in the teacup that is my mind.

 Chakras, whirling wheels of prana- I am reminded that our energy spirals.

Without my morning meditation I step into the spin of life. I allow myself to bounce around in fear and insecurity. Old habits surface, I become less patient, less certain and my world is quite literally louder. I am a whirlwind, I was born that way. I've ran with the wind in my face for most of my life. Torn up, turned on, trouble for a good part of it. I've brought the lightning and the thunder through more sunny days than I care to remember. I friend of mine once said I could turn the weather with a stick (whatever that meant!).

Meditation allows me to step into the centre of myself. It's my shelter and my sure bet and when I don't do, I experience the storm.

I'm not very good at it.

I'm never sure if I'm doing it right.

But then I don't do for a month....and this is how I learn.

I see the change in me and I know I need to turn in. I sit quietly and do the practice of not doing.

After one twenty minute session I am reminded. I am back and the sun is warming my face. I hear birds and crickets and the trickling water from last nights rain. I breathe into that warm dark place between my eyebrows and I see myself without the tempest and the tumbling. I am infinite energy, love, part of a whole that isn't bordered by my brain or my body.

I am back.

The power of Positive

IMG_1876 Call me crazy but I still believe we can achieve a peaceful world.

I believe in grace and goodness and humanity. I believe we can heal with energy and intention. You might be fooled into thinking I'm a new ager but the truth is far more ordinary with a distinct lack of cheesecloth.

I'm a mum and a partner and dare I say house wife. I'm middle-class, middle-of-the-road, vanilla. The most 'out there' thing about me is that I believe in my ability to make a difference. I believe you can too. We make a difference in our words, our parenting and our purpose. We can spend our thoughts on the size of our backside or healing the pain of humanity.

Too big? Not really. Too simple? Says who?

See a news story that hurts your heart? Send the victims loving kindness and a prayer for their pain. Hear a sad story of a friend's friend? Spare a second to wish them well on their way and the sincere hope that their fortune might change.

Doesn't make a difference? .....or it might.

I'm not a religious person but I do believe in 'prayer'. I believe in a moment spent connecting with the divine. Om Shanti. We send a small energetic wave of peace into the universe. Better that than wishing for a small butt people! Teach your children that their thoughts are powerful tools for progress. Teach them to tidy their thoughts in the same way they tidy their rooms. Find grace in the privilege of parenthood.

I've started to use a mala in my meditation. I found a wonderfully ethical producer of beautiful 108 bead malas. Maha Mala believe in their unique contribution to this process of 'sending out' and it's reflected in their craft. Their work is made with care and a conscience, you can check out the range here. If anyone would prefer to purchase a mala in Australia (and therefore reduce the cost of postage) message me and I will pass on the details of an Australian distributer. It will be in your healing hands in a few days! :)

Join me in sending out a prayer for peace. Most days I perform 'Japa' . I start at the guru bead and pass each of the stones through my index finger and thumb while chanting a mantra for each bead. When I arrive at the lotus pendant I send a prayer for my family. By using a mala in your practice, you imbue the semiprecious stones with the energy of your intention.

In this way your mala becomes a energetic vessel, a holder of your highest vibration and a conduit for healing.

.....and no, as usual, I don't get paid to say nice things about this company. I just believe in sharing the love Folks. :)

 

A full cup.... (without the crazy)

024e0-img_0932 Are you brave enough to be truly happy?

Are you ready to look 'the drama' in the eye and politely refrain from opening the door?

"So sorry, we have our little cup of crazy. It's still full from the last time you visited, we won't be buying today."

It can be really quite hard to say no. Especially when your mum spent so much time telling you to play nice and you're very busy with the whole compassionate-Ahimsa-kind stuff. But it's wise to remember that while your days may be long, they are also finite, so it doesn't hurt to throw a little sweetness your own way too.

I have been guilty of being lead down the path of pessimism in the name of being polite. If I am to speak truthfully, it wasn't because I cared, it was because I didn't want to offend by saying no. Don't misunderstand me, I have also willingly spent a night in the storm, holding a friends hand, while she rocked and ranted. I've been that messy, tearful girl, all snotty tissues and tantrums. I know what true friendship is all about, that's a different dance.

I'm talking about the people that take and tax you. The ones that need and need and need. Those who don't understand boundaries and that you're busy just being content. The ones that mess with your qi and muck up your vibe. To those, it's ok to say no.

It's important to use your Big Girl voice and speak it with conviction. "No. Not today thank you, my cup is full."

A High tide lifts all the little boats...

DSCN0068 What do you leave behind when you walk out of a room?

When was the last time you considered what you stand for, what you're dishing up or handing out?

I've spent the last week totally immersed in all things Yoga philosophy. But regardless of your beliefs (or mine), it made me consider my impression on the people around me. Am I doing a good job as a parent? Friend? Human being? What's my own philosophy on life and do I have the courage to look at my failings?

I'm interested in hearing your top three rules for life. What would you like to teach your small ones? Leave me a comment and share your wisdom. After all the terrible sadness in the news today, let's find some positivity. I thought about it for a bit, and here's mine...

"A high tide lifts all the little boats." A beautiful, evocative sentiment and a good way to live. Be happy and see the best in everyone and everything. Why not, where possible? Laugh a lot, forgive and play nice.

"Eat real food". I love the saying that if your great gran didn't eat it, you shouldn't either. There is so much confusion over what to put in our mouths today! Paleo, raw, vegan, macrobiotic and don't even start me on the crap in our supermarkets. So much unnecessary angst! If it's organic or homegrown. Perfect. If you can't afford organic, eat as clean and as local as you can. There's no need for deprivation or diets. Real food, not too much. Simple.

"Keep a secret, share a smile, tell the truth". Gossip is the language of little. Be a good friend and keep your confidences close. Thumper's mum was all over this. If you can't say something nice, don't say nuttin' at all. Try not to lie. It's difficult, but speaking the truth is a superpower! Become a truth speaker and concern yourself with the important stuff.

What's your truth?

Michelle xx

 

Lest we speak it.....

IMG_0169 What's the worst word in your vocabulary?

(Keep it classy folks!)

Yesterday, I embarked on a whole new learning journey to become a yoga teacher and I was reminded of the most dangerous word to ever run through my brain. Worse still when it leaves my mouth in the company of wholesome folk. Such a word really _____ be irradiated at all costs.

"Should". For me it's right up their with 'diet' and 'doctors'. However, the latter two are rarely uttered by my brain, preferring instead to avoid such unpleasant terms lest I upset my delicate disposition. 'Should' is the single greatest threat to our happiness and to a greater degree, our self acceptance.

"I should have studied more."

"I should be smarter."

"I should be more flexible."

There's a few happiness thieves right there. I'm tempted to remind myself that I shouldn't say it, but then it just takes my hand and leads me back to the problem. So instead I'm going to remind myself that I am in perfect place, in perfect time.

And more importantly, all is well.

Anatomy is going to infiltrate my brain with such force that I'll have no where to store such gems as.....Jellyfish eat and poop out of the same orifice or grasshoppers have ears on their knees. Or that ancient Greek dentists used stingray venom as anaesthetic.

Sanskrit is totally going to inhabit the dusty vestibules that house the really weird stuff like...kangaroos have three vaginas or 'almost' is the longest word with all the letters in alphabetical order. I still have a little room left in my grey matter for some important stuff.

I just need to trust myself and have a little faith in divine order.

All is well.

Michelle xx

 

Why Yoga???

35fba-img_1202 I love yoga. Like most people my experience with yoga began in a local hall on a few feet of recycled rubber. In recent times however, the practice of yoga has carried me off the mat and through to becoming...

Healthy.

Happy.

Whole.

There are of course benefits that are really obvious. I sleep better, I eat more intuitively, I  live more intuitively. I'm stronger, both mentally and physically, wonderful perks that come from regular asana practice.

All of which I was talking to a non yogi  friend of mine about the other day. Her response was to probe a little deeper. "Yeah that's great, but why yoga??"

Umm.....

It took me a little while to gather my thoughts on this very broad question, but here goes my top five reasons.

Yoga has taught me that I am not my labels...

I am not the daughter, sister, mother, artist, writer, partner, funny girl, emotional one, hormonal female, foodie, friend or hot chick. Ok, I may have made that last one up but you get the idea. For most of my life I have walked around believing I was all of this and more. Yoga has taught me that I am none of these things. I am in fact infinite and expansive, a divine manifestation of love in a transient body.

Yoga has taught me to honour my body....

Like many women, my relationship with this bag of bones has been fraught with negativity. I have never in my life treated any other human being as poorly as I have treated my own body. I've endured eating disorders, horrible harming behaviours, ridiculous diets and loathsome dialogue. Yoga has made me appreciate the extraordinary functionality of my greatest claim to humanity...the skin I am in. It's a miraculous, supportive and creative experience of being me. I no longer hate my sturdy thighs because I know they will carry me through warrior poses. I am less concerned with how my body looks and far more focused on how it works.

Yoga has taught me not to impose on others....

Not my children, or my partner. Not my beliefs or my bullshit. I'm so busy with the business of my own 5ft of evolution that I don't have the time to live other people's life for them. That doesn't mean that I'm self-absorbed and unavailable to be a parent, but I don't assume that I know how anyone else should live. Including my immediate family. I actually think my children have been sent to me to teach me a thing or two.

Yoga has taught me to breathe first and ______ later.

Fill in the blank any way you wish.

Yoga has taught me about love.

It has taught me the art of being present with another human being. About the destructive force of small thoughts in a powerful mind. It's taught me to pause when I face conflict and pause when I am at peace. Or laughing. Or doing my five year olds homework. Every day I make a decision to enter a state of loving, in this way I become a manifestation of Love and Light in the world.

Nameste

Michelle xx