A Complete Yogic System for Self-Directed Healing and Rejuvenation
The practice of yoga is a gateway through which we may pass into a deepening into our own being, into our true and real nature. A return to our childlikeness, a time where energy moves and flows through spontaneous movements, sounds and words. An experience of wholeness, unimpeded, unrestricted, unconditional.
As you sit in meditation – dropping into a place of “listening and watching “, relaxing all the body systems, mind settling on the breath, you begin to move away from thinking and move into feeling yourself, as you really are. Thoughts, feelings, emotions all pass in front of the screen of your awareness, abide for a while, and then dissolve. You watch this process, unfolding. This has a deeply, renewing, cleansing and healing effect upon us at a holistic level. You begin to feel yourself as energy, rather than as fragmented sections of a whole. Through this state of dynamic calm, intuitive awareness is cultivated. You begin to drop the masks you wear relating to who you are in the world, the conditioned patterns of behaviour are relinquished and new paradigms establish themselves.
Through the practice of meditation you ground into you. Through the practice of asana -yoga postures, you strengthen and realign your body and focus your mind. Through the practice of pranayama -breath control, you stimulate the neurological system into equilibrium. Through the practices of the Yamas and Niyamas the personal and universal ethics and guidelines, yoga becomes an effective system of personal biofeedback.
Wherever you begin your yoga practice, whether it is with meditation or yoga postures, you will come full circle. One feeds into the other, and gradually over time, the postures will take on a life of their own, because you are flowing from your natural state, from a place of love and joy. Your practice will be a continuous moment-to-moment meditation, and so will your life. As you begin to feel yourself, through your body, begin to see the nature and quality of your mind states and random thoughts, notice your emotions and moods, you develop the faculty of being able to watch yourself without becoming involved. To promote your spiritual growth you will willingly “get out of your own way”.
This process brings you irrefutably and continuously back to the present moment. Staying present in the now, allows the energy to flow through you, moving you from a previously held or rigid, structure, into one where form becomes free, creative and spontaneous. Your heart begins to open to experience the flow of life and the flow of yoga. You begin to notice the ease and facility you have in yoga and in your life.
Yogaflows is a comprehensive, holistic and self-generating system of self-healing. It originates from this place of deep internal listening and watching. It encompasses the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, subtle or energetic, and the benefits are felt at all these levels. Initially it is important to practice yoga poses within a flow using conscious, rhythmic breathing. In this way you can harness the attention of your mind, concentration is heightened, and all your senses are drawn inwards, just like in meditation. Getting a feel for the flow, means getting a different flavour of who you can be. Seeing what is real and you, and what is ungiue way to a primal wisdom, already inherent within the body mind spirit complex. This wisdom, riding on the wave of deepened awareness in each moment, is the meditative and moving experience of yoga and of life.
Yoga is a deep centred practice steeped in ancient wisdom and philosophy. Yogaflows has its origins in the deepest teachings and practices, working and benefiting us on all levels at all times. The diligent practice of yoga, the cultivation of alternative and therapeutic mind-states, the practice of consciousness at each breath, will lead you to open your hearts. The flow of energy in the form of love is an offering of the grace received when we let go and let God. This grace and love reaches you and touches another, promoting love, peace and harmony in each moment.
The voice I have been given is a gift. In the beginning I used it as a tool to get me into the world. It was fuelled and driven by my ego. The quality, delivery, artistry and energy were all compromised because of the emotional tension and baggage I carried. Eventually “it” (the voice) gave me up. 10 years on, with yoga, meditation, therapy and deep soul-searching driving a wedge between the ego and my true self to create a space wide enough for me to see myself, I have come full circle.
What I experience now, is myself becoming more and more a clear channel to receive this vocal gift. This ‘Sound of the Self.’ The journey I am now continuing, on with my voice as my guide, is one where I am empowered to transform my consciousness, by how I am affected by its sound, its power and the spontaneity I feel, as the voice moves me. I am exploring the “spiritual” dimension of the voice, and experiencing myself freer than every before, as I am being moved by the energy that is me, that is you, that is all of us.
I now begin to have a deep experience of sound, and it’s healing qualities. It is for others, too, to be touched by this sound, as their own and have equally moving experiences. I am not a concert, nor an opera, nor a rock singer. That has all been done. I am a vocal messenger of consciousness, bringing healing into my life and in to the lives of others, to find their own voice. To express their deepest sadness, grief, joy and love, as a means of transforming personal consciousness, and contributing to the necessary change we want to see on the planet.”
Bend and be straight Empty and be full Wear out and be new Have little and gain Have much and be confused”
“The Tao Te Ching”, Lao-Tsu
“Human doings” rather than “human beings” may be a more appropriate description for most of us. The sense of achievement, success or satisfaction one may derive from the task being complete.
Doing perhaps, as if driven by some deep, often karmic or unconscious propulsion or force. Driven inexorably to pursue, achieve, succeed, accumulate at all costs, by those deep reasons, which demand that we be better or braver, more intelligent or capable than who we actually are. No time allotted, allowed, not even a mere pondering upon the possibility to take stock, pleasure or sit back and enjoy what has been achieved. Little or no time to sit and feel and get “inside oneself”
Until something happens, like a tidal wave, a bolt from the blue, a wake-up call, which sweeps us up and away and shakes us out of this behavioural zone. An event, be it a sickness, a death, a redundancy, a relationship break-up, which at the time seems insurmountable, yet perhaps in retrospect or hindsight, appears then to have been a miracle in disguise. This miracle may release us softly and gently from any further need to conquer the world, from “doing” in the old way. The relief that comes in the wake of this visitor, bringing the message that the compulsion, the addiction or the obsession may have gone, the wildness tamed. The spirit then finds itself resting in No-Thing. In ItSelf, a place heretofore, unknown, unfamiliar. No need to try so hard any more, no need to live that way anymore.
Finding the “middle way” between Yang : doing, striving and struggle and Yin : non-doing , yielding and letting-go is an art. The Tao or Way of the spiritual aspirant encourages us to be in a state of subtle internal creative alertness. We can then be open to receive that which waits to be poured into us in the form of truth, indeed a challenge for the “doer”.
When we are identified with ego, our ordinary doing or what we call action, separates us from any receptivity of the conscious creative energy of the universe. The Tao encourages us to move beyond the mind which is governed by desires where we can only perceive the world of appearances. To remove the veil of appearances or illusion and discover what lies beneath : An All encompassing Awareness.
How to get out of our own way and become conduits of this undifferentiated Supreme creative power? All aspects of knowing truth, of feeling good, of accomplishing all that is effective and useful must flow from this place. Any other action moves from a place of struggle or wilful action.
Receptivity within us is required whereby we can open ourselves to the flow of all the constituents and ultimate forces of nature and the universe. It is the movement away from the tyrannical and rational mind and from discursive thinking and dialectic.
To become one with the Tao and feel flow or become natural in our lives is not an innate state. It is something we must work on within ourselves, through deepening awareness and inner consciousness.
“The Tao abides in the non-action Yet nothing is left undone.”
Flow in any and all of its forms are synonymous with spontaneity, emerging from a place of non-doership. Focus, concentration and undivided wise attention through action, is the reward of itself. It is self-fulfilling, neither needing nor searching for any ego gratification nor outside approval.
If we are then not the doers of our actions, then we are not the benefactors of the results. The consequences simply are. A paradox thus appears co-existentially: the subtlety of being there yet non-doing!
When actions arrive from a place of motive, urge or gain, we are separated from our heart, from innate spontaneous action, from our naturalness. The ego forces the energy to filter concepts through the personal ‘I’. As we let go of the doer, we may feel joy, gratitude, compassion, the dance of life alongside risk, vulnerability, exposure and fear. As the personal filter of the resistive ego gradually dissolves our hearts are cracked open, the light of wisdom can pour in. The flow of life can then pass through us and we participate naturally and spontaneously within it.
As we release the small ‘i’ , what remains is the harmonious flow of life. We become one with the Tao.
In 2003 I began to attend a weekly class to formally learn drawing and painting for my pleasure. I noticed how comfortable and relaxed I was with the experience as a whole. I began experimenting with different mediums from charcoal to pencil, oil and dry pastels, to more traditional oils and water-colours. As my interest grew, I was drawn deeper into exploring my own potential for artistic expression. I began to solicit inspiration from different sources : naturally drawn to the physical form being a yoga enthusiast this was my first port of call. My background in movement, dance and the performing arts followed swiftly behind, underpinned by uplifting and inspiring music.
In the Winter of 2004, I spent a 5 week-long spell in North India on an intensive yoga and meditation retreat. Led by a wholly genuine, inspirational and experiential teacher, Clive Sheridan, this was a truly challenging and transformative experience.
One of our group organised a drawing session and a couple of us joined her. She had learned a few techniques at a life drawing class in London which she shared with us. Nicole modelled some yoga poses and sequences. Instantly, squiggly lines of seemingly uninteresting shapes appeared. Each “drawing” lasted up to a maximum of one minute each, some only between ten to forty seconds. Some were drawn with the left hand, some not looking at the paper, others upside down, some with tip of the pencil. I interpreted these techniques as tools to free up the hand and the mind.
The speed at which we “played” each drawing resonated to me as an integral part of the process, to obviously avoid any attachment to form and to any specific outcome. There was no “best” or “perfect” picture. We drew naturally from within and each picture was in and of itself perfect. There was no place for judgement, criticism, discussion or comparison. Simply sighs of surprise, ease and joy filled the room.
One afternoon, the whole group went for a walk in the burning heat. I stayed behind. I was drawn to look at my “drawings”. The shapes on the paper looked insignificant. As I focused more intently on them, suddenly, and magically from out of the page I saw shapes, direction and flow. I was instantly led to “bold” out some of them. I transferred the “bolded” imaged and shapes to paper and painted. The colours “bled” quite naturally into each other. Within one hour or so there were 4 watercolours – Surya Namaskar I-IV (Sun Salutations I-IV). The whole process happened very naturally and organically with no planning or preconceived notions of any end result. The mind had been completely by-passed and momentarily suspended to allow for the spontaneity to emerge. The ease with which the paintings “arrived” carried with them a flavour of real magic where I experienced a synergy within myself of the art techniques, my breath, body and mind. There emanated an innocent sense of delight and wonder. I was fully present.
Since I returned from India I have been painting in the same way. My first book “Yogaflows“™ which contains spontaneous, meditative, flowing and dynamic sequences, now begins to serve as a vehiclefor artistic expression and inspiration.
I have moved onto oils now and using canvas rather than board. The canvas is alive and moves and dances in rhythm with the brush or finger strokes. I begin with a restricted palette of about three to four colours. As a beginner this is recommended to us, to explore use of colour, range of colours obtainable and mixable with say only three original colours. I intuit a rough idea of what colours a painting will be, and am guided by the feeling and the mood of the moment – moved to mixing and eventually I see emerging a whole palette like a bright rainbow blushing before me.
I bear witness to the places in myself where I have been “folded” slowly unfolding through this creative practice. It is quite amazing. I just don’t know what’s coming next and that’s all part of the inexplicable fun. It feels so innocent and childlike, and is reminder of the essence of who I am at a very deep level. The place that really counts. I stand back from a painting and see myself observing it; instructions and guidance for the next stage comes from within like bubbles rising to the surface around a fish or a pebble in water.
What emerges on the canvas is a representation of my mood, a longing or a feeling. I am also nourished by what I see symbolically appearing before me. Wherein may lie a message to stimulate my spiritual growth, insights or simply a reflection of the present moment. With each stroke I am invited and gently coaxed to take a little more risk leaving behind fear and stepping into trust.
I am now drawn naturally inwards, into this continuous and exciting process of self-discovery. As I move on inside, so the work moves on outside. The outside then reflects back more of the inside! I feel the “leela” or dance of the Divine’s playground. Externally constantly changing, and yet the ground of my being becoming more and more centred, deep, reliable and solid. A great deck upon which to erect my easel, my yoga, my song, my life.
Yogaflows ™ artwork is an expression of the human spirit, the happening when we let go of striving, trying and doing. The creative impulse arises as if from a deep internal well, one which is quiet, dark and open A place from where, when all thought and action is suspended, arrested or momentarily paused, emerges an incredible energy, a flow, a dynamic movement, an outpouring of spontaneity and freedom.
It is, for me, a felt Presence. A deepening of myself into Divine Creativity. A marriage of Shiva – the masculine principle and Shakti – the female.
When I look at the work, be it the book or the art, the treasure I see is a clear unimpeded space. They have come through me. I can bear no claim on them. They are an expression of everything which is good and whole in each one of us. They come from That place where joy and love flows through and are the source of That unstoppable energy. May you get pleasure, joy and inspiration from them also!