Reflecting on a year past

I am writing this in appreciation of the countless number of people who have approached me during daily activities, corresponded with me privately though text, Facebook and my web page offering words of encouragement and support.  Knowing that you empathise and associate with my words is amazing and I draw comfort from knowing I am not alone in these feelings or experiences.  I hope that you may find some morsel of comfort in my discoveries to date to enable you take a leap of faith into your own personal dream whatever that may be.  Trust me, it IS worth it.

Three influences equal three sections.  The sections unfold as events occurred and it represents how I have been developing both myself and my Yoga Company and coping with these changes.

Section 1             Growing the business of Yoga

Section 2             Embracing Tantra and its healing Energy

Section 3             Rebirthing

I didn’t realise starting out that launching myself into business would also mean growing as a woman in a personal development capacity.  I just never stopped and gave it any real thought.  Both, however, are proportionately linked on all levels.   Growth in the deepest darkest layers which we all have – fear versus courage, light versus dark, contentment versus disquiet, the yin versus the yang so to speak fuse together in order to make it all work.   Anyway, I didn’t sail off into the sunset on a magical yoga mat having made my first million or write my first book (yet!!)  But I did learn what it means to survive in the business world and what it means to grow and evolve as a human being.

On a business level classes have grown in size, number and direction and plans are underway to develop and grow the business in other avenues.  I’ve identified areas of weakness and areas of growth.  With regard to classes – wow!  I have been so fortunate to have met some incredible people with whom I have bonded.  Life experiences were shared, survived and the combination of these energies transformed our yoga classes through the year.  Back bends re-opened our hearts closed from heartache and pain.  Twists helped us to view the world from two sides allowing us to recognise that sometimes life just isn’t purely black or white there are some grey areas.  Forward bends allowed us to travel inwards to seek answers and solace within ourselves, learning in the process how our emotional issues sometimes hinder and prevent us from moving freely into Asana’s.  Balances helped bring us back into focus and relaxation helped us release and let go.  This past year yoga has once again worked some element of its magic back into the lives of those who were open enough to give it a try.

It was a busy year too in relation to pregnancy yoga with many a yoga baby making their way safely into our world.  It was just so rewarding on a personal level to be in the presence of those angelic energies which shaped and often interrupted weekly practices with high kicks and somersaults.  There have been many magical moments and it has been an absolute pleasure for me personally to hear of their safe arrival.  Thank you to both Mam’s and babies for that joyful experience.  Due to outside work commitments and unavailable time blocks Children’s Yoga classes didn’t get off the ground as initially intended.  Again this is something that will be looked at for the forthcoming months ahead.  This year also saw the second of our pop up yoga classes which again happened in the Town Park and that was an incredible experience as thankfully the weather held up and we experienced harmony of mind, body, soul and nature.  What a blissful combination.

I believe that when you put your greatest desires and hope’s out there and carry belief as you’re back burner, the Universe WILL answer you, its what I like to call the boomerang effect.  Answers come in all shapes and forms via opportunities and people entering your life in the most bizarre and profound ways, just be willing and open to receiving.  The Universe answered me in the form of an invite to attend a talk being hosted by the Charleville Referral Partner Group.

Referal Partners Picture

 www.referralpartners.ie

These are a group of like-minded business networking people who meet every Thursday morning in Charleville.  They provide a weekly educational slot hosted by Donal Mulcahy of North Star Coaching. This slot covers various elements of business life.  Members and visitors introduce their business to the group, outline referrals being sought and basically get their name out there. These meetings are consistently closed each week with a positive quotation by the Chairperson.

Photo of Donal Mulachy

  www.northstarcoaching.ie

Initially I offered great resistance to accepting this invite because I was beginning to come face to face with my own personal fears.  Outwardly I appear very confident, calm and in control but we all know appearances are never what they seem and to quote the old cliché you should never judge a book by its cover.  Inwardly can be a very different story!  I declined the offer to attend and slunk back into my safe life on the mat.  My regret was politely accepted and advised that if I were to change my mind I was still most welcome to attend as a Guest.  This email was accompanied by a photo with a caption……

 Take a leap of faith

Fortunately for me Donal Mulcahy is a superb Business Coach and his expertise in this area had already sized me up as a visual, right sided brain person who didn’t like to be called chicken!  I would indeed have missed out on so many wonderful growth opportunities on every level had I not attended and subsequently joined this amazing group.   It wasn’t easy, my initial 60 second sales pitch saw me with my knees knocking frantically together.  60 seconds is a LONG time especially when you are sweating profusely like a pig on a hot spit.  I was engaging in a breath work for 90% of the time there, preventing the onslaught of a panic attack barely concealed beneath the surface of my facade.

What were my fears you might ask?  They were SUITS! Business people with thriving businesses! What could I possibly have to offer?  I feared not belonging, lacking in knowledge, not knowing what they were talking about and TRUST ME there were occasions when I didn’t know what the blazes they were talking about – SME’s, CPD’s, Mission Statements, Five Year plans and Goals.  OH MY GOD What am I doing here moments??!! All I want to do is teach yoga, share the benefits, the rewards, the joy and hopefully break even in the process.  I feared being worthless and the most catastrophic of them all I feared failing.   However, the Universe sends you what you need when you need it the most.  The Universe sent me the Referral Partners Group and in the safe confines of this group I am slowly beginning to evolve into an emerging business woman.  I am slowly but surely growing in confidence, self-belief and self-esteem in this area of my life thanks to the wonderful business opportunities, support and encouragement that this group have had to offer and I am truly grateful for this.  Also, as luck would have it, I’ve learnt I’m not the only one whose knees knock together, many of those with well established careers and businesses also have moments of weakness.  We are all human and all feeling the same fears. So from a business point of view this year has taught me that……

Woohoo!!  I can do this, YES I can!!

What does yoga mean to you?

Namaste

Whilst attending a college module recently our Tutor threw the question casually to us.  What does yoga mean to you?  Typical answers rattled off were discipline, practice, stretching, the union of mind, body and spirit to name but a few.  Yet weeks after attending that module this question still hangs in the air around me.  What exactly did yoga mean to me?

It’s a discipline certainly and one I sometimes have to work at especially when the “mood” isn’t upon me.  My practice would lean more towards the strong side of yoga rather than the gentle.  I love nothing more than the challenge of feeling the essence of the stretch, whilst allowing the breath to gently flow through with energy.  Finding that moment where nothing else matters but my connection to that particular pose and living in that moment.   Yet it begs the question, what does yoga mean to me?

I allowed the thought to settle and a host of answers filtered through.  If I’m to be 100% honest, top of my list would not be the discipline but sanctuary, haven, place of refuge.  Yoga is my safety net.  When all else fails or flounders in life, yoga never does.  It’s my one true constant. It never falters or lets me down.  People come and go in our lives like the ebb and flow of the ocean.  Friends regenerate as old move aside to make way for new.  Situations change and situations alter.  Yoga, however, albeit changes to a certain degree, with no two days on your mat ever being exactly the same, yet the benefits of yoga remain constant.  After a personal practice no matter what the time span a brief 10/15 minute or 1 hr 30 minute workout the effects are always the same.

Everything about me changes when I practice yoga I gain greater clarity, calmness, peace of mind, with energy flowing freely.  Yoga is my comfort blanket with greater benefits and fewer calories than a hot chocolate.  Yoga is the lift I need when I feel low.  Yoga is freedom, freedom from mentally, emotional and physical stress.  Freedom from a cage I often feel locked behind.  Yoga is the realization that material things do not matter as all the wealth in the world cannot buy you happiness.  Happiness to me representing a state of mind, created from an inner acceptance and inner peace.

Yet recently yoga grew a dark side and also became a fear, a fear of losing my comfort blanket, my safety net.  As my business started to grow and expand I became afraid of what might happen if changes occurred and I needed yoga as a financial means to keep this business viable.  What would happen if that failed?  What would happen if the business made me lose the passion? Where would I turn to for comfort and solace then?  This exposed my fear of change but change is inevitable in all aspects of life as our needs change from day to day and month to month.

I have an enormous passion for life.  I soak its experiences like a sponge, both the good and the bad.  I want to live life to the fullest, embrace every aspect of it so I may grow and eventually slide tackle into a coffin at the end of my days with a hoot and a holler of “wow what a ride”.  Yoga is carrying me safely through my journey.  It is empowering me and allowing me to travel with an open heart, ready to embrace life to the fullest.  So Yoga I’ve realized for me means “trust in my destiny”.

So I put the question to you…. At the end of the day what does yoga mean to you?

Om Shanti.  Noreen.

Facing a fear

Today was a learning curve, taken way outside my comfort zone, but aim was achieved. Sometimes pushing our comfort barriers way out is a good thing, growth!

 Namaste.

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I posted this status to my face book page recently.  It was typed and posted at the end of a day which was particularly stressful for me.  This stress was personally inflicted upon me by myself and was so powerful and all empowering I was physically sick from it.  Early in the day all the breath works and meditations in the world were of no benefit to me as I physiologically freaked myself out.  Habits of old were allowed to rear their ugly heads bringing with them more stress as I tried to prevent a panic attack from setting in.

What was the reason behind this stress?   Fear….  Plain and simple, I became afraid.   I lost belief in myself and in doing so slipped back into old familiar habits and mind sets and quite simple fell off the band wagon of healthy well-being.

What caused this fear?  Fear!!  Fear of the unknown…. Fear of something I have no control over.  Fear of my destiny, my life path.  I am a perfectionist by nature so everything gets planed, checked and rechecked.  Plan B’s get put in place and they too get checked in case plan A fails!!  I guess you could say I am a control freak of my own life.  Except life at the moment has other plans for me, and being in control of certain elements just isn’t on the cards.  Life is nudging me in directions where I have no control and where all I can do is trust.  Trust and hold onto the belief that I am exactly where I am meant to be and doing what it is, I am meant to be doing. For a controlling perfectionist like I, that spells fear.

I am launching my business All Round Yoga locally in the next week and the following week I am holding a celebratory launch in grateful appreciation to those who have kindly encouraged and supported me making this business of mine possible.  This is something which in some people’s lives would be considered to be child’s play and I can hear you say “what is she afraid of? Cop on?!!”  You’ve got to understand where I’ve come from to understand this fear.  I’ve been a PAYE worker all my working life and now suddenly I am standing up and taking ownership of a business I have personally created from nothing.

This business, yoga, has molded  protected and been a source of enormous strength for me personally over the last while and launching her publicly has made me feel very open and vulnerable.  Yoga has been my fall to and retreat strategy when things in life go wrong or when things get complicated and tough.  Right now she appears to be taking on a life of her own and as I stand timidly on the side-lines watching her growing and developing, I am afraid of both failing and succeeding in equal measures. Something I find difficult to comprehend and understand, as my dream is unfolding before my eyes.

With yoga, meditation, breath work and I will admit to a couple of Hennessy’s thrown in there also, I finally found clarity.  I learnt we grow, we spread our wings and we work at developing ourselves so that we may be better people.  We move forward, we progress.  We create and develop goals in a bid to improve ourselves and our lives.  But old ways and old habitual habits have a way of creeping back in when we least expect them too.  I allowed this darkness to seep back in.  Travelling back in under that cloak of darkness was fear.  This time however, I was aware that I was unsettled and insecure but most importantly I was also aware I was vulnerable.

What has changed?  I moved back to what felt safe and secure, what always remains steadfast and infallible in my life, my yoga practice.  In doing so clarity became more apparent, stillness set in, and tranquility flooded my veins. Taking on board the wise words of some very intelligent friends and practicing yoga Asana’s brought back the light of belief in me.  Trusting in that belief allows me to realize I am doing and achieving exactly what I initially dreamed and desired.

This blog takes life to show you, that with the best will in the world, with steps forward in the right direction, you can end up back in habitual old ways.  I stupidly harpooned from the present moment way out into the future of next week and beyond, and those moments in time have yet to materialize and may never even do so.  But in travelling out there I gave power to my fear, I made it real.  I, made it real!!   But it’s OK.  It doesn’t mean I’ve failed because I’ve met the fear head on, I gave my interview to the local newspaper and I duly had photographs taken for that same feature.  I’ve sucked up and drawn in the fact that I am now in business and in business you need to promote yourself publicly and locally. In this week I have traveled way beyond my own personal comfort zones but in doing so I managed to achieve something very positive and I’ve grown.

So don’t give up when you have a relapse or lack of judgement.  Don’t beat yourself up with an imaginary stick.  See it as a learning curve from which you can develop and grown from.  Sit with your fears.  Ask yourself, what it is you really fear.  Study and look at those feelings in a non-judgmental way.  Be honest with yourself and don’t try to sugar coat it.  My clarity finally came when I openly admitted to a friend the real fear behind what it is I am doing.  By allowing yourself to recognize your fear, you take the power and trepidation away.  Doing so allows you to move forward onto the next stepping stone in the story of your life.

Your dreams are worthy as are your goals and desires.  You matter.  Do not allow yourself to step in the way of your own dreams, by being afraid.

Namaste & Om shanti.

Letting Go – Meditation

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A few months back my family and I spent time some time in an airport restaurant pushing food around plates while we waited for a specific boarding call.  When the dreaded time arrived carry-on bags were gathered and we moved towards the gates.

I gathered Jack my 5 year old nephew into my arms and almost smothered him in a bear hug, with me savoring the moment.  His huge smile infectious and he was beside himself with excitement.  After a month of being separated from his Dad he was leaving to join him in Kuwait indefinitely.  My Mum said goodbye to my sister Lisa.  I turned and looking into my sisters eyes, both of us realized there were no words in that moment only pure emotions spoken from our hearts via falling tears.  Hastily we completed our goodbyes and made to move away.  A five year old outburst floored us all, “NO!!!!” he said, “Ye have to go behind the glass and wave goodbye to me and Mom just like we did for Daddy”.  Jaws openly crashed to the ground, but dutifully we took up position behind the wall of glass and waited for them to clear customs. Eventually my sister slowly approached the glass, Jack holding her hand bouncing along in glee totally ecstatic, living out a big boy’s moment just like his dad.  He waved enthusiastically, we forced huge smiles and blew kisses, hearts openly breaking.  When it became no longer possible to hold in, we “let go” and cried.  Lisa continued without faltering to stride past the window, tears visibly flowing down her face.  Jack clearly wondering why we were crying and not deliriously happy like he was.  In that moment I longed desperately to be consumed with the innocence of a child.  They continued walking to a new life.  Jack looking back, his Mum unable to do so.

On the journey home lost in our own thoughts, I contemplated the sorrow we felt.  I knew personally it would be my sisters physical presence I was going to miss the most and I realized that a very physical cutting of ties or “letting go “ had just taken place.  I couldn’t help but compare the experience and emotions to that of a toddler breaking free of its parent’s hand, taking its own tentative first steps into the world.  There is fear involved, fear of letting go, fear of holding on and fear of not moving forward.  Realization is though, once that connection has been severed there is only growth, with that growth comes strength and joy for a new beginning and a new way of life. We too had broken free with Lisa & Jack’s departure and all of us were progressing independently each creating new experiences, new adventures.

I wasn’t very good company that evening, things played heavily with me, so I took myself off to meditate.  It was a major challenge for me.  Tears and thoughts were abundantly present and I struggled to seek solace from my relentless mind and thoughts.  I tried a mantra which normally works “I am breathing in” and “I am breathing out”.  It lasted for all of….. 3 breaths!! I tried another couple of techniques to no avail.  Then yoga took over and I realized I needed to look at exactly what it was I was experiencing.  I needed to acknowledge what I was feeling.  Swallowing emotions and pretending it hadn’t happened wasn’t going to solve anything.  So I continued to sit and I finally acknowledged what it was I had been feeling…… loss…… and I cried. 

Why are we so afraid to cry?  Is it because we feel it shows a sign of weakness a sense of being unable to cope?  Why do we opt instead to choke back the emotion and not set it free?  We don’t stifle our laughter or our joy, so why stifle our tears?  Tears cleanse the soul.  They spring clean our emotional baggage and help us to let go.  Cleansing, real cleansing where you sit and take a good look at what it is you are feeling, brings with it awareness and an acceptance of what is. It allows you to live in the present moment. I was once told in a reiki session that “once you are aware, you can never again become unaware”.  It is so true.

As you meditate allow yourself to see the full picture, allow yourself to become aware.  Aware of how you feel and aware of what those experiences are doing to you. Give yourself permission, take time to sit and observe.  Look at the emotions that are being brought up for you.  Acknowledge them and then let them go.   Do this without judgement.  Accept what you are feeling and accept the reason for it.  Allow your new beginning to take place.  Endings are new beginnings.  New beginnings are stepping stones to personal growth and development.  Think about it, if the  toddler didn’t release its parents hand “letting go”, stepping into their future and life purpose would have been seriously hampered.

I didn’t manage to sit and meditate myself into bliss that particular day or for quite a number of days after that but I did take a major leap to the next stepping stone in my life.  I recognized my loss in a sister whose physical presence I will deeply miss at coffee mornings, family occasions and shopping trips.  I allowed my breath to find its natural balance and allowed my sense of calm to return and in doing so I realized I was now living in the awareness of how I was feeling and it was OK.   It is ok to feel loss and pain when someone you love leaves you or moves on.  It is ok to allow yourself to express those emotions, to acknowledge them and to let those tears flow.  It’s cleansing.  Cleansing is freeing and being free gives you strength and courage and allows you to grow as a person.  Moving on doesn’t mean you forget, in fact it’s quite the opposite.  Moving on means you remember, you remember with love what you felt, you recognize the emotions involved but you also recognize the potential for growth and development. 

So sit quietly.  Breathe, meditate and find the stillness and serenity that is deep within you. Then give yourself permission to feel the experience, feel the emotion.  Remember tears are cleansing, so give yourself the permission to cry and allow your true self to “LET GO” and grow.

Om shanti.

Namaste – What does namaste mean

Namaste (pronounced: nah-mahs-tay). What does ‘namaste’ mean?

NamasteThis is a gesture of respect from one person to another and it occurs in all yoga classes, from kid’s yoga to beginner to the highly advanced. It represents the belief that in each of us there is a Divine spark located in the heart centre or the heart chakra. Bowing in namaste is an acknowledgment of the soul in one to the soul in another.

“Nama” means bow, “as” means I, and “te” means you. Therefore, translated directly the Sanskrit word literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.” A deeper meaning of namaste is “the divine in me respects the divine in in you.” In other words we are all equal.

To perform namaste, you place your hands together in prayer position at the heart centre, close your eyes, and bow your head. You can also place your hands together in front of the third eye between your brows, bowing your head, and then bringing your hands down to your heart. This is an especially deep form of respect. Although in the West the word “namaste” is usually spoken in conjunction with the gesture; in India, it is understood that the gesture itself signifies namaste, and therefore, it is unnecessary to say the word whilst bowing.

Bringing the hands together at the heart centre increases the flow of loving energy and compassion. Bowing your head and closing your eyes helps the mind to surrender to the divine soul that resides within the heart. You can also make this gesture as a meditation technique. When it’s done with someone else, it is also a beautiful meditation.

I honour the place in you
Where the entire
Universe resides
I honour the place in you
Of love, of light, of peace.
I honour the place within you where
If you are in that place in you
And I am in that place in me
There is only one of us.