Candle Gazing Meditation

Trataka in Sanskrit means to “look or gaze”.  In Hathaa yoga we use it as a crea to cleanse and strengthen the eyes and it is a meditation which involves staring at a single point such as a flower, black dot or a candle flame.  It is said to activate the energy of the “third eye” and increase your intuition, improve memory and concentration. 

It is a practice used to concentrate the mind on one visual point which then activates the energy level of the brain.  Your attention is focussed internally whilst staring externally at a candle flame or a dot.  When this happens the energy of the body moves upwards into the brain, this allows the mind to empty itself of all thoughts and feelings apart from those which may arise spontaneously in the moment.

BENEFITS OF TRATAKA

Trataka is brillant for the eyes as it helps to strengthen the muscles surrounding the eyes and alleviates mild eye problems.  It helps to mitigate insomnia and it helps to greatly improve your mental and nervous stability.  It allows your breathing to slow which also affects your heart rate.  Tearing clears the frontal lobe of the brain of the chemicals responsible for negative feelings.  It also enhances concentration by removing distractions.  It allows you to feel energised, motivated and reinvigorated. 

It also feeds your pineal gland with light and heat energy.  The pineal gland is situated at the back of the head behind your eyes and it is the only one of your body’s glands which is receptive to light.  The pineal gland is often referred to as the “Third Eye”. 

The more you calm your mind by gazing at the candle, the greater the sense of peace you will feel in your everyday life.  The greater the sense of peace you feel, the more ease you will experience in any situation that may arise, so Trataka strengthens you from the inside, helping you to overcome any situation in your life. 

We have all done Trataka even if you didn’t realise this was what you were doing.  Have you ever sat in front of an open fire and just let yourself gaze into the fire?  That is Trataka.

I personally love this form of meditation.  It allows me to focus all of my attention on the candle flame as I do so, everything and everyone fades away into the distance.  This allows me to travel deeply into the meditation.

HOW DO YOU CANDLE GAZE?

It is best to do this meditation either early morning or late in the evening.  If the light is too bright outside I would suggest closing curtains to help darken the room.

Remove all distractions, phones, TV’s etc., turned off.

Wrap yourself in a shawl or a blanket to keep yourself warm or ensure that the room you are in is warm and ventilated. 

Keep the candle you are gazing upon at eye level about a foot / foot and a half away from you.  Ensure it is not close to anything flammable and remember to extinguish the flame when you have completed the meditation.

Allow yourself to come into a comfortable seated position either in a chair or on the floor,  please place a cushion or bolster beneath you for comfort especially if the floor is your chosen seated position.  You need to be able to sit comfortable for a number of minutes with your spine nice and elongated.  Do not allow your head to fall forward, keep your ears aligned over your shoulders where possible.

When you are ready to begin take a couple of deep breaths and sigh out the exhale.  Allow yourself to feel your support beneath you whether it is a chair, cushion or the floor.

Gently let your gaze land softly on the flame.  Notice the colours you can see within the flame, the light and the shadows.  Notice how the light is brightest just down from the tip of the flame.  Notice how it moves, dances, expands and contracts.  Allow your breathing to flow freely.

Try not to blink whilst you are allowing your gaze to linger on the flame.  Tears may come, let them and allow them to fall, they are cleansing out your eyes.  Continue to hold your gaze without straining.  If you blink, just allow your attention to return back to the flame.   Observe the fire of the flame, the intensity, the energy.  Know that this light exists deep within you also.  Give it the freedom to shine brightly.

When tears fall from both eyes, gently close your eyes and turn them upwards to the centre of your forehead just above your eyebrows, the third eye.  You will see the image of the flame where you place your attention here.  Keep your eyes closed for as long as the image exists.  Open your eyes when it fades and allow yourself to lay down into savasana.  Let your body relax for a couple of minutes.

A candle flame shines light into the dark and that light shines outwards from the centre of the flame.  This power and clarity exists within you also.  Find your centre allow your light to shine and let it bring clarity and peace to your current situation.

Namaste and Om shanti

Noreen.

Assistance for Exam Students during Covid-19

The current situation we find ourselves in is challenging in lots of ways for both you as Students and your Parents.  Stress levels are up, tempers may be short fused, caged animal syndrome maybe setting in.  As students the pressures of exams, not being in normal school routine and the uncertainty of exams taking place is an added and intensifying level of stress for you.  On top of that you also have Covid-19 to contend with.

BREATHE….  You can do this, you GOT this.

My advice to you is this….

  • Create a timetable.  Most of you I know are already following the school timetable.  Brilliant.  Keep this up and remember, you are doing the best you can, which is all that is expected of you.  If you are not doing this already, today is as good as any day to join in and be with your class mates on line, make a start.   
  • Remember it is OK to be feeling what you are feeling, express it, talk about how you are feeling to your parents, teachers, or friends. Don’t keep it locked up inside, it will only affect you healthwise. 
  • Stay the course with your study, you are showing up for YOU.  No one else, but YOU and YOUR future.  You may be in isolation but it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.  Reach out to your teachers and your friends, reach out to me, I will help as best I can.
  • Limit your exposure to Social Media and the News.  There is a lot of information circulating out there that is incorrect and untrue.  This serves no other purpose than to generate fear in people.  Fear incapacitates a person and lowers their vibration, weakening the immune system.  This will create even more fear, anxiety and panic attacks, because it tightens and constricts the body so your breathing becomes restricted, less oxygen is getting through to you vital organs and you become unfocused, uncertain, negativity and panic sets in. 
  • Do not feed into the drama of others, especially those who leave you feeling anxious and scared after you leave their company. Choose wisely who you give your energy too. Use this time of isolation to centre and ground yourself, to find your centre of calm.  A calm mind is a focused mind.  So create a sanctuary at home in your own home.  Have soft lighting, calming music, burn incense if you have it.  Create a space that is gentle and easy for you to be present and relaxed in.
  • With regard to gentle music, repeat the same album over and over again, I love easy listening or angelic music. By playing the same album over your body will recognise it and will respond to it, especially if you have been practicing calming techniques to it and you have created a memory.
  • Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot in your garden for a couple of minutes every day.  Practice your breathing whilst you are walking the garden.  Visualise every time you breathe in that you are pulling the energy of Mother Earth right up through the soles of your feet and up into your body, filling you, grounding you, connecting you to the earth and all that is around you.  When you breathe out send the energy gently, slowly back down through your feet.  Imagine your roots growing stronger, deeper into Mother Earth, anchoring and grounding you.
  • You may not be able to control what is happening around you but you can control what is happening within you.  So stay the course, stay focused, stay calm and stay as positive as you can.  This is real maturity on your behalf by looking out for your general health and wellbeing.
  • Eat as healthily as you can and eat freshly prepared food where possible.  Try to avoid processed sugar as much as possible.  
  • Exercise every single day for at least 20 minutes.  Take a break from study and the books.  You might like to get out of the house, go for an active walk, put on some dance music and shake, wriggle and dance your heart out for 20 mins.  Those of you who have done yoga with me in school will remember some of the poses, but more importantly please practice your breathing.  Remember the breath will carry you through any situation.

I will be uploading techniques which I use and find invaluable to me personally when I find myself in situations where I feel out of my depth, drowning emotionally and mentally, unable to cope, fearful and distraught.  It helped me get through some of life’s biggest challenges and I know it will help you to, if you practice them.

I am here if any of you need help or assistance so please do reach out. If I can’t help you I maybe able to guide you in the direction of someone that can.

You GOT this.  Remember that also. 

You guys have spent the last few years building on and deepening your knowledge of everything in all subjects.  I have seen you turn up day after day for classes. Just trust and have faith in yourself.  You have done the work, you have put in the hours and you are continuing to do so.  Your biggest challenge right now is to remain calm in the midst of this storm, keep your focus and breathe.

Each and every one of you can do this.  Yes it is different and yes it is a challenge for you.  But….

You got this!! 

Believe it.

I will be posting a meditation later on today especially for you guys.  With consistent practice this meditation will help you to channel your thoughts, stop the panic chatter in your mind, improve your memory, and increase your focus, awareness and productivity.  More importantly it will help bring peace and clarity to you at a very deep level.  It just takes practice and you will feel the difference within yourself even after just the first attempt.

Stay strong you guys, you are doing great and I’ll see you at the hatach when all this is in the past behind us.

Namaste and Om Shanti

Noreen

WHY?!

I was asked if I am actually doing the boogie song every morning.

The answer is yes!! Just ask my neighbor’s. Its turned up good and loud as I personally love when I FEEL the beat. I take off around my kitchen table with hips wriggling, shoulders shaking, arms flying, grooving and moving as if I was taking on John Travolta in a dance off.

💃

Why?

Why not?!

The alternative is to sit, ponder life as we know it right now and sink into a depression. Like a lot of businesses I no longer have any income coming in, the future is uncertain and the darkness of fear lurks in the shadows. It is completely out of my control what happens and when. I am someone who fear has ruled a lot of my life, it held me back, insecurity, but fear kept me from moving forward and striving towards my dreams. Not any more.

Fear is a low vibrating energy. If you don’t know what I mean by that just sit for a moment and notice your body and how it feels when you think about something you are worried about. Notice where you feel it in your body, how big / small it maybe, how dense. Now shake it off. Then think about something that bring you great joy. Notice how that now feels in your body and where that affects you. Personally, one tightens the body, shrinks it. The other opens it up and expands it. For the benefit of your health you need to keep your energy up. It helps your immune system and likewise – I need to keep my energy up!!.

It’s all about perspective for me and how I think about a situation. I can look at all I invested in a new business just over two years ago, I can fall down under the pressure of all the “what if’s” but at the end of the day it isn’t going to change anything or the outcome. What will be will be. However, stressing over it will only give me a hernia or a heart attack. The reality is I am still going to be socially distancing and will be doing so for a number of weeks to come. How I chose to spend to spend that time is my choice.

Do I spend that time fretting, panicking, anxious and sick with worry? making life miserable for those around me, filling them also with fear of the unknown? Or do I embrace this moment that we find ourselves in and find the gifts within it?

Higher vibrations mean you will look at your current situation differently, you will find positives, reasons to be grateful.

For me, my gift is valuable, precious time with my family that I wouldn’t have if they were still in college and I was working nights. Feeling into my body as I think about this I feel a warmth in my chest that feels really good as opposed to a constricted tight pressure when I allow the other option to surface.

So YES, I dance like a mad woman, my kids laugh, roll their eyes but they join in. 

💃

In years to come when they look back over the strange year 2020, this is what they will remember, their memories of the Corona Virus – will be their lunatic of a mother throwing shapes in the kitchen, smiling, laughing and they will remember how they joined in, how on a morning one of them didn’t get out of bed, we took the music beat to them, jumped on their bed, laughted and had fun. They will remember that and not the fear.

What memories will you create?

Choose a song that elevates your heart, turn it up loud and dance like no one is watching. Memories of the heart.

💜

Stay safe you guys, create those memories that is what we will remember on the other side of this. What will be will be. Keep the vibration vibrating at a high altitude.  Here is the boogie song for today as chosen by the beautiful Kate.

🙏

Grief, Silver Birch and Digestion – The healing link

Silver Birch is a tree that always catches my eye, so much so, I planted 8 of these beautiful trees in the front garden with another 7 thriving out in the back garden. I just love how its trunk stands out from all the other trees and can be recognised anywhere with its magnificent white peeling bark.   I love its elegance, how it rises majestically up into the sky with thin wispy branches adorned with small delicate leaves.  I have watched it bend and lean precariously in storms fearing it may never right itself, only to see it settle back into exquisite gracefulness once again.

Vesco was chatting with me recently and as always our conversations can take any direction, this particular day it took the path of the healing benefits of silver birch.  

Did you know….

“The white peeling bark is great for lighting fires and the buds and twigs have tons of medicinal uses:

  • A great source of vitamin C, tannin, and flavonoids, silver birch is useful in preventing viral infections and even cancer.
  • Silver Birch contains powerful diuretic properties that help in flushing out harmful toxins, uric acid, and excess water from the body, making it a good anti-inflammatory, and helpful for maintaining kidney and liver health.
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties mean it can treat conditions like arthritis, high cholesterol, heart and kidney swelling, and cystitis.
  • Silver birch stimulates the digestive system and aids in better digestion.
  • Its nutrients are also effective in strengthening the bones and boosting overall immunity.”  www.schoolofthewild.com

I was delighted to learn that you can make tea from the twigs and the buds.  I am here presently sipping and thoroughly enjoying a fresh brew which I made from some of the new growth leaves and buds.  I simply placed a fistful of the leaves and buds into a herbal teapot, poured boiling water over and let it draw for a couple of minutes.  It tastes wonderfully light and refreshing.  It is something I think I would like in the summer with ice as it would be really delicate.

The heading of this blog is “Grief, Silver Birch and Digestion – The healing link”.

What I have learnt from my personal experience over the last couple of years is this.  Shock and grief are difficult to face, deal with and release from the body.   Due to a decline in my health last year I was made to face and have a good hard look at myself.  I realised that where I am moving forward from the enormous grief on a physical level, I wasn’t dealing with it as such on an emotional level.  I had reverted to my steadfast pattern of shoving it down (into my stomach and intestines), keeping active and pretending that all was well, getting on with things outwardly but struggling inwardly at times. 

However, my body had had enough, my stomach or intestines were not digesting properly, I wasn’t receiving the full nutrients my body required no matter how healthy my diet, or the amount of exercise, my muscles were not being fed properly and aches and pains had moved in regardless of the amount of yoga I was doing.  My health had started to deteriorate and I was physically feeling the effects.  I turned as you normally do to the Medical Profession for answers.  Trips to Specialists, Doctors, hospitals, scans, test after test to discover there was nothing wrong physically.  Emotionally was another issue, so many months later I found my answer in the holistic approach. 

I didn’t know that after any type of a shock it is advisable that you up your intake of Vit C, B’s and Zinc.  This has been life changing for me.  For the first time in months I have a reserve tank behind me, I had known for months that there was nothing physically left in my body to fight if anything had shown up medically.  Taking the above concoction resulted in my body reacting and absorbing immediately what it had been starved of for so long.  This has been huge relief in itself as I started to feel better not just physically but emotionally also. I began to feel more sane and grounded.

As a result I have started to focus on nature and what is growing around us in a bid to feed my body the nutrients it badly needs. 

Fear is stored in the kidneys.  Anger is stored in the liver, grief and sadness are stored in the lungs which if not dealt with over time will weaken the nervous system and also weaken the energy in the body as well.  What I have noticed is this, my body is coming alive, it is like it has been crying out for this type of food for a long time.  It feels nurturing and beneficial in my system.  If I was a cat my insides would be purring with pure satisfaction.

The benefits of dandelion are as follows:

  • Promotes a healthy liver
  • A natural Diuretic
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  •  Aids weight loss
  • Helps fight against cancer
  • Supports a health digestion and treats constipation
  • Boosts you immune system.

Nature has a way of bringing us back into balance, I personally feel human again just by being in the presence of the power of the ocean, or walking in the woods. Nature provides for us and if you look at the benefits of both the Silver Birch and the Dandelion they have quite a lot in common both work on the kidneys, liver and digestion. 

The Dandelion pesto (see earlier post on Facebook) and the benefits of silver birch above are all based on natural nutrients found free in nature and all around us. They act as a deep cleanse for our liver, boost kidney energy, power up our digestion system and improve our immune system all freely available and at hand to our disposal. So don’t just see weeds next time you spot a dandelion see a nutricious boost for your body. 

Today the sun is shinning, I made a delicious dandelion pesto and I’m drinking silver birch tea.  Life is indeed good and I’m really grateful..

Om shanti Noreen.

Is turning 50 tough?

I LOVE it!

When every so often out of the blue I get asked a question which makes me stop, go WHAT?!  ……. Where is this coming from?! …………  Then I have to actually think and really ponder the answer before I reply. 

This week I got asked such a question.

Out of nowhere I got asked by a friend ….

“Has the time since you turned 50 been tougher than usual?”

A WHAT???!!!! Moment.

My friend continued to advise that according to a mutual acquaintance – a person’s 50th year is meant to be really tough.  While I am still pondering this I receive examples of such difficulties that had been evident in their life since they themselves had turned 50. 

I picked up my phone to respond only to find myself putting it back down and actually wondering, what has my 50th Year been like? 

I only turned 50 last August, so my 50th Year is still underway.  However, I found myself contemplating the last 8 months and how they have been and then found myself fleeting back and forth to my 40’s for reflective comparison.

It is funny what you learn when you delve truthfully into answering an unexpected deep question and not just rattle off some fast reply.

Here is what I responded with…..

They say life begins at 40……

But 50 has actually been my best year. (I was even surprised to realise this one!)

In my 40’s I was dealing with the raising of my two lads, going off the rails, scandal, breakups and mending my marriage.  My Mum passed away.  Cancer once again raised its nasty head and brought flooding back painful suppressed memories.  Then my sister Antonia sadly lost her fight for life.  I began the difficult journey of self-healing.   So to be honest with you I’m delighted to see the back of my 40’s!!

I actually feel freer, calmer since I turned 50.

I feel I am more in touch with who I am. I feel connected to myself a lot more and I will no longer do things just to please other people or because it is expected of me.

Antonia’s death put a lot of things into perspective. It was hard not to.

I also look at it this way, if I live as long as my Dad did, I have 8 years left in my life. 

If I live as long as my Mum, I have 19 years left.

And I have already lived 8 years longer than my sister Antonia.

I’ve learnt to appreciate the gift of age.

I’ve paid huge attention to all this especially in the months leading up to my 50th.  I was observing people everywhere whilst I contemplated if I had the liathroide to actually stop dying my hair and let it go natural.  Vanity played a huge part but with so much grief in my life I wanted to see what I would look like if I gracefully embraced growing old.

I’ve come to realise that most people view age negatively. It is all wrinkles, hair loss / hair going grey and menopause.  Menopause gets blamed for everything from what I have experienced so far, from swelling in the body, to tiredness, to whatever!!  No matter what your ailment is, it all appears to be put down to “your age and the menopause”. 

Menopause is followed by the middle age spread and mid-life crisis.  Interestingly next on the list is regret.  Regret for all that hasn’t been accomplished in life.

Maybe it is because of my life experiences but I have taken to looking at it in a WOW!! way.

I have had some amazing memories and experiences and I just plan on enjoying life.

Yes turning 50 means ailments kick in, but ailments, aches and pains is a way of life saying HEY!  Slow down, enjoy each moment of your life.

I look back and I can honestly say I have had one colourful life and it’s been bloody amazing, but I’m not through with it just yet.

There are places I want to go, things I want to do, experiences I WANT to experience and I AM going to do it. 

I love being 50 because now I have life experience under my belt and a realisation that a clock is ticking. I no longer have the innocence of youth thinking forever will always be there at my disposal, because it won’t. 

All I have is here and now in this moment.

I have embraced this year and will continue to create many more memories.  I have loved every moment so far, even the low moments, the loneliness, the sadness and the pain and I am working through all that.  It is all there, it is all part of me but it has also shaped me and made me who I am.

So in answer to your question NO!!  I haven’t found 50 to be tougher than normal.

I’ve actually found it easier, and a welcome change from my 40’s.

Life is short, no matter the age, embrace it.

Plus on the up side I can now cat nap in the afternoon because at my age as it is now socially acceptable to do so.

Mega Yoga – Holiday to Bulgaria

MEGA YOGA ADVENTURE

Would you like to deepen your yoga practice in the foothills of the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula?

Find stillness and calm amidst the rustling leaves of forest trees?

Cleanse your Aura and find deep inner peace within yourself by gushing waterfalls?

Maybe you would like to rejuvenate yourself by the flowing waters of some of Bulgaria’s most beautiful rivers?

Mindfully ramble in the luscious mountains, home to mountain goats, bears and eagles.

Ramble and wander at your leisure.  Experience the true essences of bear pose when practiced deep in the mountains.

Expand deeply into the sanctuary and tranquility of eagle pose when practiced in the open air close to rapids deep in the heart of luscious forests.

Spend a week in an altitude higher than you experience here in Ireland.  Being in high altitude increases your red blood cells which boosts your immune system.  Join us, let your spirit soar and enjoy the health benefits you reap for the rest of the year.

Spend your mornings doing mega yoga and spend evenings winding down in the same spas where Roman Gods and Goddesses came to restore their health and beauty.  Perhaps catch a glimpse of a Roman show in one of the world’s best preserved ancient theatres constructed in the 1st Century AD.

A yoga trip to Bulgaria is going to be an adventure of a lifetime as we travel in and around the Rila Mountains, some of the oldest historical sights and most stunning locations in Europe and quite possibly the World.

Yoga and Mindfulness will be taken to new heights literally with this trip as we travel to the highest point in Bulgaria and one of the highest peaks on the Balkans, weather permitting.

You will have an opportunity to practice yoga and mindfulness every day as we leave the comfort zones of the studio and on occasions practice our session in the heart of Mother Nature.  We will head back to basics and get in touch with our true essence, connecting to and expanding with nature, allowing ourselves to touch deep the inner states of our being as we find our own true nature within.

We will practice Yoga and Mindfulness in an area with the highest number of natural hot springs, we’ll bathe in the hottest natural geyser in Europe, don’t be concerned it has been cooled down to comfortable temperatures so there is no fear of us being scalded!

We will do walking yoga in our visit to the only capital that has an extinct volcano right next to it.  It is now mainly a ski-resort and hiking paradise so please make sure you pack your walking boots for these scenic delights.

Tour the birthplace of yoghurt and tickle your taste buds with other culinary delicacies.   We will pass the oldest golden treasures in the world, we’ll be right by the biggest golden mine in Europe but unfortunately we won’t be allowed in to visit.  Security reasons.

We are staying in Samokov, known for its world-famous painting and wood-carving schools.  The name of the town itself means self-forging and it came from the times when it used to be the main iron-making location in Central and Southern Balkans.

So where better than here to begin to raise you up to the next level of your yoga, self-discovery, self-empowerment, self-love and self-awareness.  We will walk the same cobble-stoned paths that some of the brightest minds of Europe walked back in Renaissance times.

Did you know that for years now Bulgaria has featured top of most surveys as being the cheapest destination in Europe?  Yes, it is extremely cheap as destinations go but rich and affluent in what it offers most to tourists – stunning natural scenery of pure epic mega rich proportions.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT ON THIS TRIP

  • Expect to experience yoga in breath taking beauty and learn how to be mindfully aware and present whilst doing so
  • Discover and explore the sights and history of the local area
  • Explore some of the most well-known pilgrimage locations of Orthodox Christianity and the healing relics they give sanctuary to
  • Wash away any sins you may have by passing through the cave of St. Ivan.
  • Expect to be pampered. I personally recommend the chocolate massage.  Just don’t wear white that day in case you miss a spot afterwards!
  • If you have the nerve, fly like dragonflies … well, semi fly, on the mountain lifts.
  • Master the local Cuisine.
  • Of course there will be time for some shopping where you can purchase local hand crafts

On this trip you will be nurtured and cared for and this will begin the day you arrive in Samokov with a massage to help you relax and release the effects of travelling.  Take time in the sauna or the pool and just allow yourself to gently land into the space.

Take time to settle into your surroundings and open up to the adventure of the week ahead.

Samokov is a small town and the hotel we will use was purpose built to host top sports teams when they come to do high altitude training and if you are lucky you may even get to spot some of the best teams training outside early in the morning.

As already mentioned you will indulge in the practice of yoga and mindfulness every day in some shape or form, mountain yoga, river yoga, walking and studio yoga to name but a few.

We will be mindful of our surroundings, the scents tantalising our nostrils, sounds floating around us and tactile touch at our fingertips.  Mindfulness will be ever present and forefront of our minds.  The experience will vary from day to day but the overall feeling of healthy goodness will only expand and deepen with each passing day.

WHAT WILL YOU GET FROM THIS TRIP

  • A new way of experiencing yoga out in nature
  • Deepen your practice of yoga and mindfulness
  • Learn new techniques to expand your own practice
  • Build and strengthen your immune system
  • A fabulous all in trip where you have none of the hassles of organising and simply enjoy
  • Travel alone or with a companion and meet new friends, enjoy new experiences and share many laughs.
  • Broaden your mind by a fabulous new and exciting experience in a cultural trip offering beauty, nature and city experiences.

THE TRIPS WE WILL TAKE ON THIS VISIT.

We will be exploring the beauty of the landscape that is Bulgaria in the mountains, there is so much to see in this amazing country it simply would be disgraceful not to.

You will adventure into culinary delights as we sample the local cuisine and you will learn how to recreate these dishes under the guidance of a professional chef and a professional granny. The latter has won a few awards for her cooking too, so perhaps we will get a few tips to bring back home with us.

THE RILA MOUNTAIN RANGE AND SEVEN LAKES

Wake up and arise peacefully each morning to the sound of natural running water and the glorious powerful presence of Bulgaria’s highest mountain range.  Breathe in deeply the crisp fresh mountain air.

Expand and intertwine with nature.  Home to the Seven Rila Lakes, these mountains are alive and abundant with tempting hiking paths.  Definitely bring you hiking boots for this one you guys or I guarantee you will be disappointed.

The scenery alone at Rila will lure you lustfully onto her trails.  Nature will bewitch you, drawing you deeper and deeper in the magnificent natural and untamed beauty that prevails all around and within this mountain range.

In ancient Thracian times the name Rila means “well-watered mountain” which aptly describes the area which is sprinkled with glistening lakes, numerous waterfalls and bountiful amounts of fresh mountain water which you can drink from at almost every location.  For me it was a truly wonderful experience.

MORE THAN 120 MONASTERIES

Bulgaria is home to more than 120 monasteries and we will visit one of its most famous – the Rila Monastery which was founded in the 10th Century by St. Ivan of Rila and is the most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.

Here I personally fell in love with Bulgaria.  It was the highlight of the trip for me.  I couldn’t even begin to find words to describe the peaceful presence it exudes.

Rila Monastery is a Unesco protected site as it was destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, subsequently it was rebuilt and restored.  It is regarded as one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments and is a key tourist attraction for both Bulgaria and Southern Europe.

You will be able to see stunning mural’s and paintings inside the monastery, some of which were painted by the self-taught genius painter from the Samokov School of Renaissance Art, the town where we will be staying.

If timed to perfection we may have an opportunity to see one of the Monks wearing the most amazing ceremonial gowns when he appears on the altar.

A visit to this monastery was definitely a highlight of my trip to Bulgaria.  Words cannot describe the feeling of being physically present and connecting to the energy in the grounds of this magnificent building which is home to over 60 monks.

Energy pulsates up through the ground at various power points.  If you are mindfully present you will feel this energy pulsating into your body filling you with an essence of peace and tranquillity that will transport you to a place of surreal calm. You will experience tranquillity and awe in this beautifully astounding place.

Please note that shoulders will need to be covered when visiting here.

A visit to the cave of St. Ivan will further transport you to a deeper level of natural peace and calm. Experience yoga here the way St. Ivan used to in the heart of nature.

Just to give you guys a heads up for this trip to the cave.

Legend has it that the cave will cleanse you from all your sins as you pass through but there is a test of character to be overcome first.  I am delighted to say I passed and definitely came out lighter after this experience.  So a tip for this outing would be to eat light on this morning.

I would recommend having your mekitsas after the trip to the cave.  Mekitsas?  Oh, this is an experience you definitely want to try as this monastery is famous for their flat donut type pastry, which are seriously delicious.   It is finger licking great.

STUNNING CATHEDRALS

Our trip will see us visit Sofia to see the serenely imposing golden domes of the St. Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral.  This building is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world and can hold up to 10,000 people.

SHOPPING

Our visit to Sofia will offer the ideal opportunity for a spot of shopping.  We will visit Vitosha Street, which is the equivalent of our very own Grafton Street.  We will set you free here to fly and shop to your own hearts content for a couple of hours.

I am hoping that we can time out trip well and be able to combine our visit with a flea market so you can experience the local markets first hand.

You will also have an opportunity to purchase pure rose oil in Sofia.  Those of you who care for your skin will already know the fabulous benefits of this amazing oil.  This oil has amazing qualities so we won’t be buying barrel loads to bring back with us as 1oz works out at approximately €20 as the oil is so pure.  They won’t recognise you when you get back home between the mountain air, yoga and oil you will be positively 10 year younger looking.

SAPAREVA BANYA – GEYSER

Sapareva Banya is located at the North foothills of Rila and is famous for its hot mineral and clear mountain water.  We will also visit the Geyser which sprang forth in the town in the year 1957.  I walked in this myself and it has a special quality to it. Romans used to travel across the country just for this luxury in days gone by so I felt especially privileged to be able to enjoy this experience.

Geysers / hot springs have huge health benefits.  Did you know that sitting in one boosts blood circulation?  The water found in natural hot springs contains a variety of different minerals, including calcium and sodium bicarbonate.  They reduce stress by relaxing tense muscles and promote a great nights sleep.  They have been known to relieve pain and heal skin problems.  So you are in for a treat with this one.

POTTERY LESSON

Bulgaria has its own unique pottery style and schools. I personally love it as it is quirky, purposeful and just dinky.  On this trip you will have an opportunity to learn from the best-known local potter. People travel from far and wide purely to be trained by this pottery master.   Some of you who have visited my kitchen have already admired the beauty of these fabulous creations which I purchased last summer on my trip over.

Bulgaria has its own pottery and we will have an opportunity to set lose our creative skills as we learn how it is made from a well-established potter.  This is where you can create your own special keepsake of this special trip.  If things go a bit wonky for you, don’t fret there will always be a backup plan and you can just purchase one of the already made items from the potter himself.  Don’t worry there is a mantra for this trip “what happens in Bulgaria, stays in Bulgaria” so mums the word.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR YOU:

The town where we will be centrally based during our stay in Bulgaria is Samokov and this town is situated approximately 2 hours by car from the Greek Coast.  So something for you to consider – perhaps you may wish to extend your stay to include a week by the coast and make the most of your trip away to Bulgaria.  We will gladly assist you in making the necessary bookings and arrangements if you so wish, just please advise us at the time of booking.

COSTING FOR THE TRIP

(The costs includes your accommodation, breakfast and dinner, away trips and yoga/mindfullness workshops)

The costing for the trip is as follows:

Early bird – €870 if paid in full by 30th April, 2019

€940 if paid in full by the 31st May, 2019

€990 paid in full by the 30th June, 2019

Please note that a non-refundable deposit of € 150.00 to be paid on booking in order to secure your place on the trip.

ITEMS TO BE BROUGHT WITH YOU FOR THIS TRIP

  • Comfortable walking shoes.
  • Shawl for visiting churches / monasteries
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun screen
  • Up to date Passport

BOOKING

Contract me – Noreen, on 086-7847998 to book your place on this amazing adventure.

Looking forward to spending time with you and creating wonderful memories.

Om shanti 

Meditation Evening

It’s Tuesday evening so it means it’s Meditation Night and Vesco is back in the studio.

This term Vesco has introduced mantra into the classes and I for one was wondering how that would fare out.  We briefly touched on Mantras during my college days and over the years I have picked up gems of information here and there.  Yet Mantras is something that intrigues me and draws me deeper the whole time.  So I was curious to see what would happen for me with this section of the class.

Now, those of you who know me know that a spade is a spade and there is no buffing.  So I am going to give you my experience of the first couple of weeks chanting mantras.  Vesco is sitting there in all his glory having explained in detail the mantra we were about to chant, the reason behind it and the benefits that can be gained from a committed practice.  I like other the other students were sitting there eagerly listening and awaiting instruction.  He spoke clearly and concisely as he gave a rendition of the mantra we were about to chant for 108 times.

Traditionally mala beads are used to chant mantras and the beads hold a total of 108 beads.  You may have seen the Monks holding these beads and if you have travelled abroad you may have seen the beads on sale.  The figure of 108 is a very auspicious number in Buddhism because according to ancient teachings there are 108 invisible threads from each person to the divine.  Chanting a mantra 108 times awakens these threads and aids meditation.

Personally I think it’s the repetitive chant, the sound that keeps my mind occupied and makes all my body vibrate with energy that helps me with the meditation side of things.  It is truly an amazing experience if you are willing to open to it.  You will feel so peaceful and calm after this and going into a meditation after it was really deep and wonderful experience for me.  I was so chilled out I forgot to ask Vesco if he’d like a cup of tea after the session and just wandered home!!  Oops!

I wasn’t going to argue with ancient teachings and went with the attitude that if it worked for them it may well work for me.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained mentality.  So I set my own personal intention, took my comfortable seated position and waited to be led by Vesco into the chant.

So we are sitting in a circle, Vesco commences and begins the chant with the others joining in in a rhythmical manner to his chant and I suddenly go blank, I can’t remember those couple of words he gave us only a few brief moments before, I mean OMG!! he had painstakingly taught us in slow motion and it just went clear out of my head!  The others are sitting there chanting a mantra for bringing change and abundance into our lives and Noreen is sitting there going hmm, lets wing this one, once I don’t chant too loudly I should be able to pull this off with no one any the wiser…. So out of the mouth of this babe comes “Om gum yum yum yum namah”, “Om gum yum yum yum namah”, for 108 repetitions. Eventually all I could hear myself chant was yum yum, and I was literally starving by the end of the session.

However, fast forward a couple of days, two to be precise and my request, my intention I asked for on Tuesday night prior to chanting the yum yum mantra had manifested.  I sat at home at midnight going OMG! (Well I used a couple of stronger words, but you get the gist)  This stuff really works!

I am now having great fun manifesting little and large things into my life and it is unreal to experience.

So a valuable lesson was learned by me i.e. when the intention is right, the focus is there, the energy of the group builds, things WILL manifest.

I am now working on another intention a much more elaborate one and time will tell if this too unfolds.

Meanwhile I have committed to doing the mantra for 40 consecutive days and I am delighted to say I am on day 7 and still going strong.  You will be glad to hear though that I have now learnt the correct words and I am chanting the correct mantra.

So you guys, if you fancy something a little bit different, if you’d like to put it to the test, come and join us this evening and broaden your horizons with Mantra Chanting.  Don’t worry if you don’t pick it up on the first night, just like me with persistence, improvisation and practice it will happen.

Have a great evening you guys I might see you later on at the studio.

Om shanti

Noreen.

Words….

At school, English was always one of my favourite subjects. I think it was because of the creative freedom it granted, especially in essay writing. It was pure escapism for me which I thoroughly enjoyed. I let my imagination run free and I went on wonderful adventures in the process.  I have always loved writing especially when it came to things I was passionate about or held an interest in.

Then there is thesaurus, I just love thesaurus. The way it allows you to expand on a single word to add depth of meaning to a point you may be trying to express, how it allows you to play with a word in many different ways. I think I prefer it personally to the dictionary.

There is one word, however, in the English language which has begun to haunt me. It floats around in my head like no other, toying with me, challenging me, tormenting me, alluding me on occasions whilst being as obvious as day on others. This word?

Projection!

According to the dictionary it is a:

Noun

  1. An estimate of forecast of a future situation based on a study of present trends.
  2. The presentation of an image on a surface, especially a cinema screen.

Synonyms: estimate, forecast, prediction, calculation, prognosis, prognostication, reckoning, expectation and there is more…

But perhaps Thesaurus is better to find closer to what I am referring to here today….

  • Extension
  • Hook
  • Jut
  • Protrusion

But my favorite has to be:

Outthrust

I am trying to figure out what Psychological Projection is.  You know that stuff you pass over onto someone else when it really has nothing to do with the other person but rather all your own crap, but you firmly believe it is the other persons.

“Projection is difficult to grasp and begin to understand and begin to feel because it is your unconscious stuff.  Which means it is the stuff you do not know you carry. Plus the Ego does not want you to know you carry it” a friend of mine explained to me.

He was spot on about something…. It is difficult to grasp and I have been grappling with it for some time now.

As an adult I know I am responsible for my actions and my feelings. How often have I rattled that one off without truly appreciating the capacity and power in the words I was speaking? I, ME, mir, yo, moi, am totally 100% responsible for how I am feeling and NOT anybody else.

That was an eye opener for me. How many times have I said over the years to someone or other “you are infuriating me, or making me anxious, or you are making me feel x,y or z”.  What a slap across the arse it was for me to realise it was actually my reaction to a situation that was making me infuriated, anxious, or x,y or z and NOT the other person.

If I have a reaction to something it normally means there is something deep within me that needs healing.

There have been occasions in my life when someone said to me “you are x,y, or z and I accepted it as truth.  I believed what they said as fact and I wore their thoughts like a t-shirt of shame as I accepted what was said to me as being true facts.  This was especially true when these declarations were made by people I cared about, family or friends.

What is psychological projection?

It was psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud that first coined the term projection, describing it as a way in which an individual projects their own undesirable thoughts and beliefs onto someone else.  It is a defence mechanism in which the individuals place characteristics they find unacceptable in themselves onto another person.

I have begun to think of this as each of us having a film (our life) and in some areas of our life, areas we may find undesirable or are not quite ready to deal with, we project out these thoughts and beliefs to someone else.  Much like a film projector will display an image on a blank wall, we project our film (life) onto another human being.  Except that we then see these images as being the film of the other person.  When in reality it is not, it is still our film and our story.

Examples of psychological projection:

  • Parents who have not achieved their goals in life demanding that their own children succeed.
  • Someone with adulterous feelings might accuse their partner of infidelity
  • Believing someone hates you could be signs of your hidden intense dislike for that person.  (Extract from good therapy.org)

I didn’t know or understand enough about this intricate word to realise that basically what someone was putting over on me was in fact their own unresolved stuff.  I have been trying to understand projection and doing some research on the issue.  Interestingly, It has happened to me recently and thankfully I managed to realise that what was said is not a true reflection of my situation but rather the other persons unhappiness within their own situation, their lack of contentment with their own life, their fears etc. They were using me as a wall so to speak to display or project the film of their life out onto.

It is actually quiet liberating to realise that it is in fact their shit and not mine.

Have you had experience of this?

How do you deal with same?

Do you use practices to help you become more aware of your own personal projections?

Over the years as I have been trying to become more aware of this behaviour in both myself and others.  I’ve learnt that it is very intricate.  Learning about “projection” also requires learning about ones “shadow” or dark side.  We all have one, some embrace it, I personally fear mine.  Sometimes it is easy to recognize others times not so much, however, it is a work in progress and at least recognising the fact that I have an element of fear around it at least a starting point for me.

PROJECTION …..

It has been the cause of much deliberation in my head but I think this is where I have been going wrong as my friend says I need to “feel” it in my body.

You are probably wondering why am I pondering this? It’s because we often put “stuff” over on other people which simply isn’t true, but which is a deep rooted issue within ourselves which needs healing if we are willing to take the task on.  Or, other people put “stuff” over on us when it simply has nothing to do with us.  As I said it happened to me recently and it brought the issue very much to the surface again for me.  It reminded me how important it is to stop, take a moment and see if this really is my “stuff” or not.

My quest continues with projection.

A friend sent me this parable once to try to help me under where I was projecting my “stuff” onto him in the hope that I would “get it”, I found it beneficial so maybe it may help you too.

It is a Zen parable

EMPTY BOAT.

Lin-chi said:

When I was young, I liked to swim in a lake. I had a small boat and I used to sail and swim on the lake and I could spend hours there.

One day I was sitting with my eyes closed and meditating. It was a beautiful night. An empty boat floated down the river and hit mine. Anger arose in me over being disturbed! I opened my eyes and was about to scold the person who bothered me, but I saw that the boat was empty. My anger had nowhere to go.

On whom could I vent it? I had no choice but to close my eyes and start looking at my anger, in me. The moment I saw it, I took the first step on my Path.

On this quiet night, I approached deep inside myself. The empty boat became my teacher. Since then, if someone offends me or anger arises in me, I smiled to myself and say:

“This boat is empty, too.”

I close my eyes and travel deep within myself ….

* * * * * * * * * *

Projection….. the great mystery of my personal healing journey.

Om shanti  

 

 

 

 

Mums Banana-bread recipe

This is one of my Mum’s recipes.  I will be honest I have absolutely no idea where she collected the recipe from but this is what I use when I am looking to rustle up something quick, easy and satisfying.  I completely forgot to post this recipe as promsied for you guys and I wouldn’t have thought about it now either except that one of you mentioned it this week in class.  My apologies for the delay but better late than never.

Firstly though let me be honest and advise you that I am one of those people who cannot just leave a recipe alone.  I always wonder what it would be like to add a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  I like to put my own personal touches to it.  So just in case you are wondering why it doesn’t taste the same as the bread you ate at the “Pop Up Yoga” event here is why.  There is no secret ingredient that I am holding back this is just my own special adapted version.

The alterations I made to make this my own….

  •  instead of Sunflower Oil, I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • I add sultana’s on occassions also.
  • I also increase the amount of Raisins in the mixture as I personally love raisins in the bread.  I have been know to double the quantity.  (I don’t like chocolate pieces in mine but again you could substitute chocolate chips instead of raisins)
  • I put one full packet of chopped walnuts into the mixture also.
  • I use organic coconut sugar instead of honey but I will use honey if I don’t have the sugar in the house.
  • I also like to be able to taste the banana so I use three instead of the recommended two bananas.

Everything else I leave alone.

So do play around with this and make it your own.

Enjoy.. this is one of my favourites, it is the quickest and easiest mixtue to put together, the hardest part is getting everything out of the press.

As an alternative,  you can also do a lovely butter icing for the top and mix some more crushed walnuts into the butter icing for extra texture and bliss. I personally just love it with a slap of real butter and a cup of tea.

 

Ingredients:

100g Raisins

200g White Flour

1 and a 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp bread soda

120ml Sunflower oil

150g Honey

2 Large Eggs

2 Medium banana’s

5 ozs walnuts

 

Instructions:  Mix all the dry ingredients together and then mix all the wet ingredients together, then simply fold the whole lot of ingredients together.  Line a 2lb loaf tin and its a matter of just pouring the mixture into the loaf tin. Placing in a hot over and waiting for your nostrils to be tantalised.

Bake for 50-60 mins at 180 degrees.  Allow to cool and enjoy….  seriously delicious.

Growing older and aging gracefully (hopefully)

 

Growing old and aging has been swirling around in my thoughts and head on and off for the past number of months now. I found myself sitting in cafes, restaurants, hair salons, standing in line and just simply people watching, listening, taking in and contemplating the various ways people approach old age.

Today, the 19th August, I celebrate a landmark birthday as I turn the BIG 50 and the lead up to this is the main reason for my moments of contemplation and observation. What intrigued me the most was observing how some women looked far more elegant than others as they aged.  Sorry guys, but you all seem to age gracefully,naturally, so it was the women who had me intrigued.  As I sat and pondered why, I wondered was it the clothes that they wore, their makeup, or was it that they dressed trendy? After a lot of observation I realised it had nothing at all to do with any of that but more to do with the inner power these women had by embracing age and just accepting that they were growing older.  There was no resistance.

In stark contrast others cling desperately to looking like they did in their 20’s and 30’s, surgery, botox, implants all in a bid to prevent age from creeping in. It’s made me wonder, WHY?  What is so dreadful about growing old?

I have a daughter who turns 21 in a couple of weeks and a son who turned 19 a few short months ago. If I tried to stay looking young it would mean I was trying to compete with my kids. That felt all wrong on many levels to me. Seriously would you really want to go back to being a twenty year old? I wouldn’t!  I’ve been there, done that, and I have worn the T-Shirt.

The thing is there is nothing wrong with growing older.  What’s more is that it is completely in vogue right now.  Like hello!! Every single person you meet is doing it.  They / we are all aging.

I’ve known people who have freaked out, had meltdowns and refused to celebrate or mark the occasion, all because of reaching the dreaded 5 O !!!  I know people who lie over their actual age.  Why?

I, as a woman can still pull off being elegant and sexy without looking like a joint of mutton dressed up as lamb. I can still take care of myself, live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.  I can still dance, have fun and I fully intend to enjoy life and live.

Why are we so afraid of wrinkles? If you have laughed a lot it means you have a lot of laughter lines, would you prefer to show off grumpy frowns?  Silver glints in our hair? These catch the light and lift the tone of our skin especially around our faces, often they are more flattering than the effect of hair dye.  So why do we fight it so much?

I am transitioning and I have decided to embrace it and see if I can be a silver long white/grey haired vixen.  I’ve always loved how my grandmother looked with her snow white hair and I also wanted to be a member of the blue rinse brigade. Even though I always told my kids I’ll go purple and get a tattoo.

Some of you have already seen the result of this transition and I’ve been quite amused by people’s reactions. Women in particular are so afraid of growing old.  It has me amazed.

  • I have been told “grey hair will age you”.   Newsflash, I am already aged!
  • “You’ll need to cut your hair into a pixie cut”. Why? Why can’t it be long? BUT, I will be honest for a while I did toy with the idea of shaving it off, thankfully. I didn’t.
  • “You’ll need to go blonde to pull it off”. HELLO!!! Have you seen my hair? I’m a brunette and bleaching my hair blonde will certainly deliver a mandarin orange head that would make any M & M proud!
  • “It won’t suit your skin tone”. Well if I was born a brunette and that suited my skin tone, then aging naturally will also suit my skin tone. As we age we also naturally loose pigmentation in our skin which some people forget as they continue to dye their hair dark.
  • I’ve had jaws dropping in front of me. I’ve been asked “what the hell are you doing with your hair?”  I’ve also had the silent nod and observation, where I can energetically feel she is losing it, having a meltdown vibe.
  • I’ve also been told astrologically Chiron will be returning and I’ve yet to figure out if that is a good or a bad thing for me, time will tell.

You’ll be glad to hear, I’m not having a meltdown or a breakdown.

Life has a great way of putting things in perspective and as I’ve aged I found that I am getting more and more secure in myself with regard to who I am, what floats my boat and what doesn’t.

Age brought with it a reality of understanding that youth lacked.

I always see birthdays as a celebration of a miracle.  For me it is the day I was graced in this world with my existence, the day I started the journey to who I am today. The day I started touching other people’s lives, made a difference, be it for better or worse.

I see each birthday as an honour, a landmark, a blessing, and a gift of life to be grateful for. I have been fortunate to make another one, some unfortunately haven’t been as lucky.

So putting things in perspective, brunette or blonde, grey or white, whatever I’m gifted with it is just a colour.  It is part of me and who I am if I am being authentic and real. So, right now, I am going to embrace it and see where it leads.  I’m in transition right now and what’s more is I am loving it.  I plan to rock my 50’s, free of the shackles, armour and masks of my youth. This is me, this is who I am, the real me and right now in this moment as mentioned I am loving it.

Happy 50th birthday to me, let the fun begin, let the adventure continue.  Forever grateful for the gift of this moment.

Om shanti