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Reflections

Exploring what it means to have a soul & how to take care of it

Over the past few years, I have been reading a lot more books on spirituality. Exploring the areas of looking inward, being mindful, finding joy in the every day, expressing gratitude, living simply, & more recently praying. The soul is often mentioned in my readings & it is an area I’m looking to expand my knowledge & understanding. Below is my understanding of what the soul is and how we can do small things every day to take care of it. My understanding comes from all my readings & the practices I do every day to help care for my soul.

The word soul is often combined with the mind & body to make up the entirety of a person. The soul is a part of us. But what is it? The mind and body are easy to recognise, the soul, however, is surrounded by mystery. The soul seems mythical, we cannot prove it is there. When I think about my soul, I have to use my imagination to help create visions of what I believe it is. The soul for me is the absolute good in everyone. The light that burns inside each one of us. This light can be shown in the love we have for our family, friends, pets, art, & work. It is the hope that drives us through hard times. It’s the belief in the greater good. It’s the trust we have in humanity & ourselves to eventually do the right thing. It’s the strength & grace that helps us through grief. It is our love for our environment & all the creatures in it. The soul shines in many different ways. It is eternally with us and lives on when we die. Where it goes is a mystery.

Our souls are all connected, unifying every being and making us one. Our actions have a direct impact on others & our environment around us. If you smile at a person, 99% of the time the person will smile back. Our actions & inactions don’t just affect us, they affect everyone. It is said that when a butterfly beats its wings in Japan it can cause a storm somewhere else. Care for our soul is vital as it has an effect on everyone else. We need to look internally and see who we can become, we need to work on ourselves to uproot the weeds of greed, anger, jealously, & fear. We need to plant the seeds of gratitude, hope, care, compassion & kindness. This involves personal reflection, mediation & action.

It is hard to prove the soul exists as it cannot be proven by science, there are no facts to describe the soul. Feelings & emotions are how we describe the presence of the soul. We can tell if a person has a soul by looking into their eyes, there is where you will see zest for life. The eyes are often described as the windows to our soul. A statement we often hear in the music industry is when an artist has a soul. For me, when I hear this, I think this person is authentic, living & breathing their art their way while being a kind & unassuming person. Soul food is wholesome simple food prepared & cooked with love. A meal prepared with love requires the presence of mind and attention to detail which exudes through the meal and fills the bellies of the guests with joy, comfort & appreciation.

The soul is the part of us that feels all the emotions, good and the bad. It may seem like sometimes it feels like we have no soul. We feel down & depressed, devoid of hope & happiness. However, the soul is always with us. It always remains we just have to care for it. Going through hard times is normal & a good challenge for the soul. It is natural for us to go through tough times in our lives, the soul needs to experience the downs as well as the ups. We appreciate the good times all the better because of our daily little struggles. So how do we care for the soul?

It’s very simple, care for it every day by small gestures, practices & rituals to make your day a more fulfilled & pleasurable experience. Think about how you start your day, do you give thanks for a new day, the gift of life for another 24 hours? How about listing 3 things you are grateful for in your life every morning. Do you love a cup of tea or a mug of coffee in the morning? How about drinking your favourite warm drink from a beautiful cup, waking 10 minutes earlier than everyone to enjoy it alone in silence. Look around your home are you surrounded by simplicity & beauty or do things look a little chaotic? Start by arranging your home in a way that generates happiness. For me it is simply having clean floors by the end of the night, everything in their place and the lights low so I can relax. Taking pride in your home, keeping it clean and welcoming creates a space that is both inviting & warm.

Take the daily chores of everyday life and turn them into a ritual which you know will make you & your family feel better, food for the soul. Don’t underestimate the power of a clean & well-kept home.

Another area we can care for our soul is exercise. A simple walk is great for our health, however, a walk in the park among trees or by the beach is so much better for your soul than walking in the shopping mall. Skip the mall and go outside. Feed the soul.

Take time every day to meditate for 10 minutes, sit and breath & do nothing else. This will eventually lead to a greater understanding of who you are & who you want to become.

Write down your life goals. Don’t let life slip by, have a purpose & work on that purpose every day in a small way.

Read a great book while drinking your favourite tea, or hot chocolate. Get up for sunrise, watch the sunset. Listen to the birds for 1 minute, cuddle your pet, call a friend. Play with your children, be present with them. Learn from your children, be patient.

There are so many small things we can do every day to care for our soul. It doesn’t take much, be present in your life, don’t let it slip by & the soul will be happy. Start with smiling at a stranger every day & see how it makes you feel, gradually add more to your list & I guarantee you will feel so happy……these everyday rituals work but we must do the work. Do the work for you, do it for the planet & do it for all living beings.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

 

Finding Your Passion

Are you one of those people who knew what they wanted to do from the age of 5 and pursued it? Have you always known that one day your passion would become your work or vice versa? I always admired people who knew very early on what they were born to do. For the majority of my life, I had no clue, I wanted to be & do everything. I could imagine myself in every job but just couldn’t figure out that one job that I would LOVE to work at for the rest of my life.

Up until recently (30ish years old) I had no clue but now after many years of study, working and travel I believe I have found my calling. Practising yoga has changed both myself & my husband’s lives. If we could teach full time and earn a living from it this would be our full-time careers but alas that is not possible for us right now. I am not saying we will never do it, it’s just we need to put those dreams & aspirations a little further forward in the future.

Why do I say this? Because we are practical people. We both have steady jobs, a daughter and a lovely lifestyle which we are happy with. We need to invest more time, money and education into our dream before getting there. We are on the path but just at the beginning, we are determined to make our dream a reality but slow & steady wins the race.

We both love teaching & are passionate about the yoga practice. We love the physical aspect of the practice but more so the study & personal reflections it involves. To us, yoga is a way of life, a set of guidelines to live our most authentic & happiest of lives. It has helped us simplify our life and in turn, has created a life which we both feel content & happy no matter what stage we are at. We love the idea of aiming to be the best versions of ourselves & to not let negative emotional or mental boundaries get in our way. We are realists and know that to get to work in an area you are passionate about requires hard work & planning. We are still at this stage but each day we work towards our long-term goal.

Finding our passions didn’t just come to us, we had to search, reflect and work damn hard to be able to find our passions. George had always thought of writing but never thought it was feasible or even possible to ever do that until one day he decided he would write. He made time to write each day. Starting with short stories, which lead to larger stories which lead to a novel…. then another novel. He didn’t give up his day job or run away to some fancy retreat to write, he got up earlier in the morning, he stopped watching TV and he wrote instead. His first novel was accepted by a publishing house in NY city and goes to print this month. Even if it doesn’t sell it’s a huge achievement regardless.

I always wanted to know how to cook but never truly gave myself the time to do so. Then one day I decided to start a blog about cooking (private account), I cooked about 2-3 meals each week at the beginning and documented how they went on my personal blog. I took a vegan cooking course; I began posting meals on Instagram & Facebook. I love cooking and baking and have made time to work on this passion. Hopefully, someday I can combine yoga & cooking and live the dream. Every day gets us closer.

We may not have known our true passions when we were young but now, we do. It took us several years of trying lots of different interests, self-exploration & reflection to find our passions. So if you are thinking “I have no passion”, or you don’t know what you would love to do in your spare time, I say go try anything and keep trying different activities, crafts, courses etc. until you find something you want to work on. Who knows eventually that something may lead to a passion you may never want to stop. Go out there and try.

 

Thanks so much,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

Belief Allows Us To Achieve Everything

We often set our sights on a task, something that we want to achieve in life, for example, to take yoga teacher training and teach regular classes. This was certainly not an insurmountable goal but it was not possible without believing it could be done. I am a civil engineer. What business does a civil engineer working in the construction industry have in teaching yoga? That was my thought process but that had to change. I had to believe I would teach yoga.

External circumstances do not dictate the ultimate direction of our lives. We have the power to go where we want to go. We have the power to steer our lives in the direction we want to steer it, we just have to realize that. We can achieve whatever we want to achieve, once we believe it.

Ask yourself. What do you know to be true about yourself? What are your limitations? What holds you back?

Now go back to those questions again. What holds you back? Nothing. There are no limitations. What are you reaching for? If it’s out of reach and you can’t grasp it, then build a ladder.

In other words, do the work.

The material is there for you to build a bridge, build a ladder and climb up and reach for the stars.

You just have to realise it and believe in yourself. The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.

― J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Have you heard of the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset? Fixed mindsets are limited, an example being, “I can’t do this,” whereas you could counter that with a growth mindset by telling yourself, “I can’t do this….yet.” The difference is in the belief that the inability is not permanent. It can be changed and you are in control.

When we praise a child for being smart we are working with a fixed mindset.

We do not succeed because we are good at something, we succeed because we have worked hard to be good at something. The belief that we can and will succeed encourages us to put in the work to eventually get where we want to be. Not because we are good at it but because we have worked hard to become good at it.

Our thoughts control us. We are what we believe we are. If we believe we are kind we will be kind, if we believe we are strong we will be strong. If we believe we can win we will win….eventually.

We need to dig deep to find that inner strength. There are so many layers that we can peel away to access what is buried within ourselves, within our soul, close to where our true selves lie. That is where our true intentions, our true beliefs, our true personality can be found.

There is no fooling that true self. There is no denial and no way to lie to our true selves. That aspect of ourselves will see right through the bullshit because it is sitting there at the back of it all watching.

We can dig deep physically to find that belief in ourselves, but we can also dig deep into thoughts and mind by sitting with ourselves and exploring the silence, looking inward and really seeing where we are at and what we are capable of.

We can achieve what we want to achieve.

We can look deep inside, like searching in a black well of nothingness to find a treasure deep within us which will guide us. That is the true self, it is belief and knowledge in our capabilities.

We want to work, we love to work. We want to sweat and fight and work through the back-breaking, painstaking labour to get to our destination, but why do we do that work? We do it because we believe. We know we can get there.

Peace,

George

 

 

 

Reference:

Useful videos:

The Power of belief — mindset and success | Eduardo Briceno | TEDxManhattanBeach

Related blogs:

Photo Credits:

Photo by Ran Berkovich on Unsplash

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

 

My Mindset When I Am Guiding A Yoga Class

I’ve been teaching yoga for a couple of years now. It is only in the last few weeks that I notice my head goes to a different place when I teach.

Maybe it’s like when someone gets in the zone, I don’t know, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in “the zone.”

I find as I walk through the pillars of people as they take the postures I offer, I look, really look at them. The judgement disappears from my mind. It is just me and the practice. There are no assumptions, no background chatter, no fluff spinning around my mind.

It’s a very meditative experience, there is no room for anything else. It is the one chance in the week I get to really focus.

I am fully there, with strength. A different commitment takes over and I am filled with a determination, a drive to give this class my best.

There is neither time nor space for nerves, nor is it necessary if I am properly prepared. I am doing an injustice to those who have shown up if I am not prepared. They have shown up, expecting to have a qualified teacher who can lead them through the class with confidence and purpose.

There is only the now. No past regret, no future indecision, just now. That now is filled with the breath. I stop and ask all of us to listen to the breath. The breath is the most beautiful thing when you teach a yoga class.

There is also great strength in the moment, the strength of the people who have come to class, mental strength which is being carved through a tough rock of turmoil with a blade of calm as I wander through the students standing strong in a balance posture like a great statue in tribute to a long-gone hero.

I don’t really agree with the term “yoga teacher”. We are not actually teaching anything. Yes, we ensure our students are safe and will not harm their bodies but I like to think that we are guides rather than teachers. I don’t have any great wisdom to offer, in fact, I learn through the wisdom and humility of those who I guide through the yoga practice.

If I am the one guiding the class, all that means is that it’s my voice in the room. I have to remind myself that it is not my class, the class is for those who attend. I need to drop the ego and put out what is needed, not what I want to put out.

It is my responsibility as the voice in the room to put out positive energy, even when I struggle. I need to offer a class that serves the people who attend and let go of how I like to practise and serve those who come to be served.

I find it difficult at the end of class to really and truly express the gratitude I feel towards those who attend. It is truly humbling to be given the chance to offer something that helps others and to be enabled to express myself through a practice that has helped me so much through life.

Thank you.

Peace,

George

PS. Theresa and Naoise return from the old country today so we will try to get back to weekly log posts.

Thank you all for reading.

What Is Peace And Where Can You Find It?

Peace can come in many forms; silence, contentedness, emptiness, void, happiness, contemplation….. The opposite can be found in these places also.

I have found peace in silence and contemplation. In today’s society, it is more important than ever to get some alone time, time to sit with or without your thoughts. Sitting with your thoughts will help you realise the issues that bother you.

Sitting without your thoughts, to me means quieting the mind. Sitting in silence and noticing when that open space closes in with thought.

Contentedness can be found in many different places.

It can come through effort, and this effort shines through in the quality of our work, the restraint or good work in our actions. When we have worked hard to arrive at a result we are satisfied with, it brings us peace. We are content in knowing that we pushed hard and did our best.

What is the void and is there really such a thing? Literally speaking, the void exists in the dark vacuum of outer space, though even that is apparently filled with dark matter, but is there a void space for us to find? Is an empty void true peace or is it just devoid of everything?

For me, void space can be found in the mind, when we bring ourselves to a complete halt. That space doesn’t last long if we manage to find it, it quickly fills, like stars, with words, thoughts, feelings, intentions, plans…but without creating this space in the first place, would this debris, so to speak have made its way to the surface or would it linger at the bottom, slowly filling up.

If we keep finding the void space and it fills as quickly as we found it, is there any point in looking for it in the first place? Look and see for yourself. Find the void inside your mind and see how you feel when you touch it – if you touch it. Even if you don’t touch it, see how you feel during the journey as you search for it.

I also like the idea of void space between words. I live at both ends of the spectrum on this one, there is no in-between for me. I am either a great listener who will let people talk as I prod them in the gaps of silence with a question to open up more or I am a pest who can barely hold my self from interrupting someone at every sentence.

There is, for me something beautiful about the space between the words, both the literal white space on this page as you read and the silence that holds a conversation together. Have you ever listened to the silence that lingers when someone has told you something amazing, or the profundity that hangs when you have received grave news? Is there not something beautiful in both.

There is also the power of unsaid words to consider, not all looks, actions, touches or gestures need to be accompanied by words. They can make their own way to the listener without sound.

There is great peace in this silence. It is something we can practise, give ourselves time, and with that time the gift of silence allows us to be at peace for a little bit.

Peace can also be found in the Earth, there is nowhere more profound than the top of a mountain, the scale is vast combined with a great, wide silence than can only be found above the clouds. I have looked down from many great mountains and been humbled, delirious and oxygen-deprived with the effort to get there, to stand literally looking down at the clouds, thousands of meters into the sky.

Think of the stillness of night time, wherever your favourite memory of the night, dark and black, I bet it was silent. I bet there was peace at that moment. You were content and did not need anything else.

Think of the forest. It never stops moving but there is beauty and peace in abundance. The silence and emptiness, almost like the space between words, is the space between the rays of light as it is separated by the branches in the canopy. It is almost like the trees listen to your problems and help you offload them.

We can look for peace outside of ourselves, like when we search for the void space inside of our minds we can look to separate ourselves and see ourselves from the outside in. I am not talking about out-of-body experiences, but just observing where we are in the moment from an external point of view. The ability to step aside and objectively see where we are at only comes with hard work and practise but allows us the ability to not be slaves to our reactions and not bend to the will of our immediate wishes.

It allows us to chisel away at the exterior and work on ourselves to carve out the true version of ourselves hidden below.

“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hope that we can all find some peace and really take the time to be still and just be over this holiday season.

Peace,

George