Day 4- 2/10: Siprong to Dovan (27.62 kms)

Disconnection.

Disconnection. Just like a coin, there are two sides to everything.

One can be a positive: disconnecting from work and technology in order to enjoy spending time with the people we love and doing the things we enjoy doing. The negative is the opposite: feeling disconnected from the people around us, because we are in a constant state of ‘busyness’; finding ourselves becoming more insular and separate. Day 4 into our trek (if you would like to follow my travel blog, please click on this hyperlink: Siprong to Dovan) and with no access to the internet, we are feeling disconnected not only from technology but our family and friends back home. Today I am going to talk about the positives of disconnecting.

Sometimes back in Australia I find myself permanently in a state of being ‘switched on’; available night and day to answer emails, chat to online friends, and working way too many hours a week. Worst of all, this is often to the detriment of my real-life relationships.

Just like my yoga practice brings me back to my mat, back to myself, and back to re-connect with the real-life people around me; trekking in Nepal has also had the same effect. Without access to and the distraction of technology, I found myself deep in my own thoughts, enjoying the sounds of nature and absorbed in meaningful conversations.

Trekking has been an imposed ‘switch off’ both mentally and metaphorically, from the digital clutter that fills a lot of my life. I have found that apart from the mind-blowing scenery in Nepal, the thing that I have enjoyed the most about my 10-day trek through Nepal was being with myself; both being alone with my thoughts and the quietness.

If you are reading this and wondering what does this have to do with yoga or thinking “I’m not keen to go on a 10-day trek through Nepal so that, I too, can practise being with myself”, never fear I have got a solution for you!

Why not try Easy Pose? In my opinion, it is the perfect a way to reconnect with that inner self and disconnect from all of life’s stresses (if only for a little while- I can’t imagine anyone sitting in Easy Pose for 10 days).

Easy Pose (Sukhasana):

  1. Come to a seated position, back straight, and your legs gently crossed in front of the body. If you struggle to maintain a straight back, either sit against a wall, or on a raised cushion/ Yoga block.
  2. Your eyes can be open or closed, but closing them often helps us to focus.
  3. Rest your hands either palms up, facing the sky, or down (if you need to feel more grounded), touching the knees.
  4. Begin to concentrate simply on breathing, inhalations and exhalations through the nose. If it helps, breathe in for a mental count of four, hold the breath for one second at the top, then out again through the nose for four. The moment when the breath is held at the top is thought to represent bliss, peace, the ultimate release.
  5. Alternatively, if yo are more experienced at deep breathing you could try inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts.

Try to aim to do this for a few minutes each day, to simply ‘be’ with yourself, allowing thoughts to come and go. And of course, ensure you remove any digital distractions before beginning your practice. 🙂

pa161049-e1508512614980.jpg
Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Disclaimer: While I am a certified yoga teacher, if you have any issues or concerns, please check with your doctor before performing the above pose. As always, listen to your body and modify as necessary.

 

Namaste,

Natalie

Advertisements

Day 2- 30/9: Ulleri to Ghorepani (14.21 kms)

Mantras

A mantra is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or a group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual powers. The repetition of a mantra is thought to affirm its meaning to ourselves and change our thought process. It has the potential of cementing a belief into our core being. Mantras tend to be short so they’re easy to remember and can be said repeatedly.

What are personal mantras?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, everyone has personal mantras. You may be good at maths and have a mantra such as, “I find maths easy” or “Maths is/was my strongest subject at school”.

But, for as many positive mantras we have, we also have at least as many negative mantras, such as: “I’m too fat”, “I’m not as pretty as…”, “I’m not good at…”, etc. Negative thoughts that shape our opinion of ourselves are cemented by repetition. We live our lives acting out of negative thoughts and behaviour until we make them a reality.

Why do we use them?

Now that you know this, you can do something to change your negative personal mantras to positive ones, switching your negative thoughts to positive ones… and trust me, this will have a profound effect on your life.

How can we use them?

When your focus lies solely on repeating a mantra, your mind will have little time to fluctuate and produce new thought patterns. Using mantras as a form of meditation makes it easier to concentrate on one thing because you have a mantra to bring your focus back to. Anytime your mind starts to drift, you can simply shift back to the mantra.

My most recent Mantras-

Today was my 2nd day of trekking in Nepal and I was finding it rather difficult (See my travel blog: Ulleri to Ghorepani). I had difficulty breathing, and my knees, feet and legs were sore and tired from all the steps. I decided to try some positive personal mantras to help me carry on. Below are the 2 mantras to helped me hike over 12 kms today in hard terrain from Ulleri to Ghorepani.

“My feet, knees and legs are a pillar of strength.” I repeated this mantra 3 times and then I finished each round with: “Thank you feet, knees and legs for everything that you do for me.” Feeling gratitude as I uttered thanks.

My lungs are big and full and I breathe easily.” I repeated this mantra 3 times and then I finished each round with: “Thank you lungs for everything that you do for me.” Feeling gratitude as I uttered thanks.

I was astonished at just how simple but effective these two positive personal mantras were. So, next time you are finding something difficult, perhaps you too can try a positive personal mantra to get you through.

Examples of other official mantras-

You may have heard some of the following Sanskrit mantras in some of your yoga or meditation classes:

  1. “Aum” or “Om”

Translation: “In Hinduism is known to be the source of all mantras. Om is believed to be the primordial or the ‘first’ sound of the universe generated by the cosmic vibration that resulted in all creation”

  1. Om Namah Shivaya

Translation: “I honor the God within”

  1. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (My all-time favourite mantra)

Translation: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

Namaste,

Natalie

The Two Wolves

ying-and-yang

An elder Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other stands for love, joy, peace, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person too.”

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”

–       Author unknown

 

What wolf are you feeding?

 

Namaste, Natalie

The 12 Laws of Karma that will blow your mind

h.png

Karma is the law of cause and effect– an unbreakable law of the cosmos. Your actions create your future. The reason your fate is never sealed is because you have free will. Therefore, your future cannot already be written. That would not be fair. Life gives you chances. This is one of them.

 “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” – Ghandi

 

 

  1. The Great Law/ Law of Cause and Effect: “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
  • The simple explanation of the Great Law is: our thought and actions have consequences- good or bad.
  • Energy (thought, action) that we put into the world has a consequence, immediate or not.
  • To receive happiness, peace, love, and friendship, one must BE happy, peaceful, loving, and a true friend.
  • Whatever one puts out into the Universe will come back to them.
  1. The Law of Creation: “What we desire comes through participation.”
  • Life requires our participation to happen. It does not happen by itself.
  • We are one with the Universe, both inside and out.
  • Whatever surrounds us gives us clues to our inner state.
  • Surround yourself with what you want to have in your life and be yourself.
  1. The Law of Humility: “Refusal to accept what is, will still be what is.”
  • One must accept something in order to change it.
  • We must first accept the present circumstances in order to change them.
  • In focusing on the negative instead of making changes to address the negative, we’re committing to a zero-sum result.
  1. The Law of Growth: “Our own growth is above any circumstance.”
  • “Wherever you go, there you are.”
  • The only thing we have control over is ourselves.
  • True change only occurs if we make the commitment to change what is in our heart.
  • It is we who must change and not the people, places or things around us if we want to grow spiritually.
  • When we change who and what we are within our hearts, our lives follow suit and changes too.
  1. The Law of Responsibility: “Our lives are of our own doing, nothing else.”
  • When there is turbulence in one’s own life, there is often turbulence internally. If we’re to change our life, we must change our frame of mind and surroundings.
  • We mirror what surrounds us, and what surrounds us mirrors us; this is a Universal Truth.
  • One must take responsibility for what is in one’s life.
  1. The Law of Connection: “Everything in the Universe is connected, both large and small.”
  • Our past, present and future are all connected. As such, we must put in the work to change these connections if we desire something different.
  • The smallest or seemingly least important of things must be done because everything in the Universe is connected.
  • No step- first, intermediate or last- is more important in the accomplishment of a task. All are required.
  • Each step leads to the next step, and so forth and so on.
  1. The Law of Focus: “One cannot direct attention beyond a single task.”
  • We cannot have negative thoughts or actions and expect to grow spiritually. We must direct full attention to achieve any desired task.
  • One cannot think of two things at the same time.
  • Always think thoughts of love.
  • If our focus is on Spiritual Values, it is not possible for us to have lower thoughts like greed or anger.
  1. The Law of Hospitality and Giving: “Demonstrating our selflessness shows true intentions.”
  • What we claim to believe must manifest into our actions. Selflessness is a virtue only if we’re accommodating something other than ourselves.
  • Without a selfless nature, true spiritual growth is nearly impossible.
  • If one believes something to be true, then sometime in their life they will be called upon to demonstrate that truth.
  • Here is where one puts what they claim to have learned into practice.
  1. The Law of Change: “History repeats itself unless changed.”
  • Conscious commitment to change is the only method of influencing the past. History will continue along an unconstructive path until positive energies direct it elsewhere.
  • One cannot be in the here and now if they are looking backward to examine what was or forward to worry about the future.
  • Old thoughts, old patterns of behaviour, and old dreams prevent us from having new ones.
  1. The Law of Here and Now: “The Present is all we have.”
  • History repeats itself until we learn the lessons that we need to change our path.
  • Looking back regretfully and forward pointlessly robs oneself of a present opportunity. Old thoughts and patterns of behaviour negate the present chance to advance ourselves.
  • Live in the here and now. Practice Mindfulness.
  1. The Law of Patience and Reward: “Nothing of value is created without a patient mindset.”
  • All Rewards require initial toil.
  • Toiling away cannot be circumvented through wishful thinking. Rewards of lasting value require patient and persistent toil, nothing else.
  • Rewards are not the end-result. True joy comes from doing what one is supposed to be doing, and knowing that the reward will come in its own time.
  1. The Law of Significance and Inspiration: “The best reward is one that contributes to the Whole.”
  • One gets back from something whatever they put into it.
  • The true value of something is a direct result of the energy and intent that is put into it.
  • Every personal contribution is also a contribution to the Whole.
  • The end result is of little value if it leaves little or nothing behind. These lesser contributions have no impact on the Whole, nor do they work to diminish it.
  • Loving contributions bring life to and inspire the Whole.
  • Energy and intentions are vital components that determine the significance of an end-result. Ideally, love and passion embody the motives of one that resolves to leave a lasting impression on the Whole.

 

Namaste,

Natalie

 

P.S. This list was adapted from several websites. The words above are not my original thoughts or words. For further reference you can visit the following websites where I obtained this information:

https://www.davidwolfe.com/12-laws-of-karma-change-life/

https://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/12-little-known-laws-of-karma-that-will-change-your-life/

https://www.powerofpositivity.com/12-laws-of-karma-that-will-change-your-life/

 

It is what it is

it-is-what-it-is-3

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“It is what it is,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed.

“It is what it is,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown off violently, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “It is what it is,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “It is what it is,” said the farmer.

–       Author Unknown

It is what it is. It is neither good nor bad; nor positive or negative. It just is.

Reaching for the stars

stars-moon-quote-facebook-timeline-cover-2621“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.

As you may have noticed I have already used a few quotes from the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I can’t remember how long I had to wait before I actually got my hands on it but it must have been at least 4 or 5 years. Whenever I passed a bookshop, I would pop in to see if they had a copy only to be disappointed when they said ‘Not at the moment’. Whenever I visited the library someone else always had it out.

You see, it would seem that the universe was actually conspiring against me by preventing me from reading this book until I was ready to fully appreciate what it had to offer. Obviously I wasn’t ready until the end 2014.

I had spent years trying to locate a copy of this book and then one day, BAM! there it was… in the hands of a stranger sitting across from me in the lounge area of a cruise ship. From where I was sitting, I could see that he was almost finished it so I plucked up my courage and approached the guy. As he closed the book and rested in on the table in front of him, I politely asked him if he would mind if I borrowed it when he finished reading it. He said yes but on 1 condition: that when I return it to his cabin I was to let him know what I truly thought of the book and he would do the same for me. We agreed, he handed over the book and we parted ways for a few days.

A few days later I knocked on the guy’s door with the book in hand. I handed it back to him and once again thanked him for lending it to me. This was followed by a long awkward silence. Eventually he cocked his head on the side as if trying to read my mind and let out a long slow “Sooooo???” Even though I knew that he was going to ask me what I thought I didn’t know what to say. I mumbled something that was pretty unintelligible, listened to what he had to say and went back to my room where I wondered why I couldn’t articulate what I had gained from reading this book.

For years I have wondered this until recently when I came across the abovementioned quote and I realised what it was about this book that had the greatest effect on its readers- it wasn’t the plot, the characters, or the setting, it was his quotes that have inspired millions of readers. Paulo Coelho’s comments on life are life-changing, thought-provoking and the mark that he has left on my soul is indispensable. Simply put, his words are words to live by.

“When you desire something, the world will conspire to help you realize your dreams. That’s why the best things take time. Require patience. Endure tragedy. Failure. And find their way through impossible.”

I have found that in my life that even when I haven’t got something that I desired something better has come along, the world conspired to help me realise my dreams, even though at times I didn’t even know they were my dreams until I got there. I have experienced failure, endured tragedy and had my patience tested time and time again while finding my way through life’s ups and downs but I am where I want to be and I am happy and grateful.

So my advice for my readers is to learn from your failures, grow through your tragedies, be patient and most importantly, recognise and appreciate what you have.

 

Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars- Les Brown

 

Namaste, Natalie

Get more out of nature

249364_10150386648924256_3073339_n
Grampians, Victoria.

Besides the clear health benefits gained by walking (strengthens your heart and lungs, releases feel-good endorphins while reducing stress and anxiety, and tones muscles to name a few), walking provides time to think, meditate and step out of the rapid pace of modern life.

 

Victorians are lucky to have an abundance of bushwalks that are spectacular, safe and easily accessed. For my husband and I bushwalking is a cheap and easy way to get fit, a great way to de-stress, a perfect opportunity to leave the suburban life behind, and most importantly, reconnect with nature.

This weekend in Victoria is a long weekend, so my husband and I have packed up our tent, sleeping bags, camping chairs and camp stove and have headed off for a weekend in nature with the plan to go on several bushwalks…

Well with the endorphins still pumping from our afternoon hike, I’d like to share with you some ways in which I enhance my bushwalks (and how you can too).

  1. Connect with your body:

Take the time to sense your body as you walk. Feel your feet supporting you as you walk, your lungs expanding and contracting, and your heart beating in your chest. Send good thoughts to them, appreciating how much they do for you every day. Observe any aches and pains and send good thought to them too.

  1. Mindful walking:

Try switching off and really focus on your surroundings. Utilise all of your senses- listen to the grasshoppers hopping from strands of grass, the cicadas chirping, the birds singing and the lizards rustling in the dry leaves and bark. Inhale the fresh eucalyptus-smelling air, feel the uneven ground under your feet, look up and observe how the light filters through the leaves creating patterns against the clear blue sky, notice the puffy white clouds float through the sky or feel the rough and smooth textures of the bark on the trees as you gently brush your fingers along their trunks as you pass.

  1. Take a moment to meditate:

Find a peaceful spot, take a seat, keeping your back straight, close your eyes, and just practice sitting.

  1. Grounding:

Find a good earthy spot, take your shoes and socks off and just walk on nature. Stand for a while and imagine you are an ancient tree with roots that feed down deep into the soil connecting you to the earth, supporting you and keeping you upright. This type of grounding visualisation works with the root chakra and will help you feel grounded, safe and secure.

  1. Socialise:

Walking with friends or family and talking to them is far more personal than talking to someone on the phone/ over Facebook, etc. If your friends or family don’t share the same interests as you, why not try joining a meet-up walking group? When my husband is not available, I sometimes meet up with walking groups around Melbourne. It is a great opportunity to walk with like minded people. Meeting new people can also allow you to share ideas or just give you an opportunity to listen to a different point of view.

 

Walking connects you to the earth, reconnects you with nature and is a great way to distress. If you are already a walker, why not try some of my suggestions above! And if you aren’t already a walker, why not get out and try it for yourself?

Namaste, Natalie

Mindfulness Moments

Mindfulness

A few years ago I signed up for an online Mindfulness course along with a 2 other courses. Well 2 years later and I have eventually got around to starting the mindfulness course (luckily it doesn’t have a time limit LOL). I thought today would be a good opportunity to share with you what I have learnt so far…

Mindfulness is about taking a step back and being aware of how you’re feeling. It is a method of paying close attention to your thoughts, moods, sensations and emotions in the moment without any judgment.

I love the time I devote each day to myself to pursue peace and calm. Every morning I have a daily routine followed by about an hour of yoga and meditation before starting work. This time is crucial for me to let go of my daily tasks and the running commentary in my head. It is a time for me to check in with myself and see how I am and enables me to set a platform for mindfulness.

Gaining skills in mindfulness might help you become more aware of the world around you, how you feel, the urges you experience, and how to take decisions about these urges. It can also provide a new perspective on negative emotions, feelings and bodily sensations. This, in turn, can give new ways of managing them.

When life get really busy, a sense of peace and just being can become a little lost or sidelined. However having a small array of mindfulness moments can help us maintain a feeling of ease, peace and calm in our daily lives. Below I have put together a few mindfulness moments that I have learnt along the way that you might like to integrate into your life:

Breathe- simply observe each breath as it comes in and out. Don’t try to change or force it, just observe.

Relax muscles- notice the tension that can be held in many areas (especially in the jaw and shoulders) and let it dissolve.

Flow- focus on the present, just doing one thing at a time and enjoy the peace and ease this offers.

Just being- spend a few moments doing nothing, just letting it all go.

All of these activities will calm the mind and body. In these moments we are able to let go, become still, feel peaceful and be mindful.

I believe having a small array of mindfulness moments can help us maintain a feeling of ease, peace and calm in our daily lives. Taking the time to become aware of, appreciate and understand the world around you, how you feel, the urges you experience, and how to take decisions about these urges is a magnificent gift that you can give yourself.

You may already have practised some of these or have your own. If you do have your own, I’d love to hear about them, simply share your mindfulness moments in the comments section of this post.

mindfulness

 

If you are always rushing on to the next moment, what happens to the one that you are in? – Anonymous

Namaste, Natalie