What is love? It is a question that has been asked for eons.
Have you ever experienced a moment when you have been met by someone who has been totally present with you? They see you for who you are, they see your beautiful, adorable qualities. They see your absolute potential and hold you in that.
This indeed is a beautiful feeling. We know love and we know when we feel it.
Then imagine meeting yourself in this very same way. Being totally present with you, seeing all of your own incredible qualities and enjoying being with all of that. How often do we actually take a moment to fully see ourselves like this? How often do we value those moments to stop and be, knowing that all those things we do, or keep ourselves busy with become empty if we aren’t valuing who we are first.
S E L F – L O V E
What then happens when we add the word SELF to the word LOVE? Is it . . . .
Self-love is meeting ourselves, totally being present with ourselves. It’s a body and mind thing. When we keep our presence with our body, keeping our mind together and focused on what we are doing, we get to become aware of so much more. We get to feel how delicate we are, how sensitive we are and how much we are feeling. In that state of presence we know how to take care of ourselves to the nth degree – a level of care that leaves us feeling very aware, present, open, still, joyful and ready for anything.
Our body very quickly tells us when we step away from the way it is designed to be treated. It knows love inside and out. The question is, are we present enough to listen and act on what we have received?
Esoteric Yoga is a sequence of movements designed specifically for us to explore being present with ourselves again. We observe the effects of a restless mind, its endless distractions, lies and stories that it feeds and very cleverly convinces us of. We learn how to settle the body and the mind through focus, presence and a level of connection with our body. We come to understand that we have a body and a being, an energetic state of being that is equally important to know and take care of. We learn how to look after this incredible body of ours in a way that is self-loving.
Whenever we are met by someone who has been totally present with us, what we are feeling is the way they are with themselves. For how we are with others is only ever a reflection of the care and love we have for ourselves. How could that ever be called selfish? That’s what I would describe as inspiring!
ESOTERIC YOGA - A WAY OF LIVING
There can be moments that we experience where everything just stands still. There is a sense of space, there is plenty of time and there is no need to rush. There are also moments that we experience where it seems there are a million and one things to do, there is stress, there is tension and there appears to be no where near enough time or space.
These two experiences are in complete contrast to each other. And there is no guessing as to which one we would prefer.
Why is it that sometimes we can feel that quiet content and a sense of stillness within us and sometimes it is nowhere in sight? Is it down to a matter of chance that some days are just better than others or is there something going on here that is worth paying more attention to?
These situations don’t just happen and don’t have to be something we just haphazardly stumble upon. In both scenarios a number of choices have played out, often unconsciously. To experience a sense of timelessness, harmony and space there has been a series of choices that have led to that experience. Just as the experience of overwhelm, exhaustion, stress and anxiety has come from a series of choices.
Our body is very specifically designed to run on a particular rhythm. Just like we don’t drive in second gear when we need to be in first gear, there is a natural rhythm and order that is optimum for the harmony of our whole body. Our body is made up of a delicate and intricate system of organs, with every system playing an integral part of our day-to-day state of health, wellbeing and awareness. When we make choices that interfere with this delicate harmony we register this as stress, as a form of disharmony and tension within our body.
When we listen to our body and make choices that support its natural rhythm and order we get to experience a state of being where time stands still, a deep inner content is felt and there is a steadiness and strength that is felt from within us.
So if we don’t leave it to chance, how do we consciously make choices that return us to the natural rhythm of our body and that feeling of an inner stillness, space and timelessness?
Esoteric Yoga, otherwise known as the Yoga of Stillness, follows an ancient lineage of Yoga and presents a simple and practical way of living in stillness. The key to Esoteric Yoga and therefore stillness is our movements.
Every movement we make is constantly impacting our state of health and wellbeing or our experience of illness and disease. All day long, and even during our sleep, there is movement. Our movements include not only the physical movements of our body as in walking, bending, sitting, standing and so on, but also all other movements such as what we think, our behaviours, emotional re-actions and even down to our intentions. Our whole physical body is viewed as a ‘vehicle of expression’ and therefore all movements are considered a ‘movement of energy’ in and through our body. Hence each movement is a choice, which comes with a quality, and that choice determines the effect on our body, health and our state of being and awareness.
An Esoteric Yoga class simply reminds us of a way of moving, and therefore living and being that allows us to be in stillness and harmony with ourselves. When we know ourselves from the quality of stillness, a movement away from this quality is registered and felt as a form of stress and tension. A movement that is in line with the quality of stillness allows our body to feel settled, relaxed and steady, with a quiet and focused mind.
Esoteric Yoga educates us on the importance of understanding ourselves from this perspective so we don’t have to live in a state of stress, exhaustion or anxiety and can instead experience and enjoy a way of living and being that not only feels good but also naturally deepens and expands our awareness.
For more information on Esoteric Yoga, the Yoga of Stillness visit www.esotericyoga.com
THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DISTRACTION
One of the more recent craze’s to hit the streets in the gaming world has been Pokemon Go. In the first week alone of its release it soon became one of the most downloaded apps ever and later it hit another record, the fastest app to reach $500 million in revenue. Computer games are nothing new but Pokemon Go, a type of augmented reality game, is far more than what it first appears.
Augmented reality games blend digital content into the real world, blurring the line between the physical world and the game world. Your eyes are scanning from the screen of your phone and then back to your surroundings. Your feet are walking, your body is moving, but your focus is elsewhere. Your mission is to find and catch small creatures that enter your ‘real world’ via your screen.
The objective of the game is to travel to an identified physical place, which are located worldwide, and collect objects (Pokemon) with your smart phone by catching, throwing, trading and battling.
As someone who works with the body and movement, this game got my attention. Not out of any interest in playing but the potential risks involved in combining a game that asks players to focus on something on their phone while at the same time walking. This is a whole new level of distraction that is now being actively encouraged.
The first time I saw it in use was while observing a young boy in my local town aimlessly walking along, moving his phone around in mid air, completely disconnected from his surroundings. What got my attention was that this type of behaviour appeared to go unnoticed by others.
Whether it’s a child playing a game as they walk along or an adult texting or reading an email on the move, it has become commonplace for these kinds of distractions to now be an accepted everyday occurrence. So much so that we don’t even question it let alone consider how unfocussed and scattered this leaves us, not to mention the after effects of being so distracted and disconnected from our body.
Pokémon Go’s objective is for players to be constantly on the move as they play. Immediately a player is distracted and on operating on auto-pilot. This is not only dangerous and can and has caused serious accidents since the games release, but add to that the physical movement required and this game soon becomes something else entirely.
Physical movement is a science in itself and one that is rarely considered in its everyday context let alone in relation to games such as this. Each time we move our body, whether that be bending, twisting, turning, walking and so on, we magnify and distribute energy throughout our entire body. Every movement therefore travels in and through our body and as such, our body receives the impact of each and every move. If we walk or move our body in a harsh or abrupt way this is the quality or energy that travels through every part of our body, that meets every organ and body system, right down to the cellular level. Equally if we move with presence and in a way that holds an awareness and care for our body, this is the energy that is distributed throughout our whole body. Then, consider for a moment, what is actually taking place if we walk around unfocussed and distracted by a game, or anything for that matter, unaware of the fact that we are even moving let alone the quality of that movement. What state does this actually leave someone in? Checked out, distracted, scattered, unfocussed . . . just to name a few.
With this basic understanding of the science of movement, any game that incorporates a level of distraction combined with physical movement is not as innocent as it may first appear.
And yet there is more . . . . .
The nature of this augmented reality game means that as you play you provide uninterrupted use of your location and camera. This means that there is also another objective to this game – each player is effectively a gateway to an unlimited source of data gathering.
Further research on this topic of data gathering uncovers a patent, held by the company behind Pokémon Go, directly linking the game's objective to data collection. The patent “System and Method for Transporting Virtual Objects in a Parallel Reality Game” discusses at length how a game such as Pokémon Go could be used to collect real-world data from a player without them knowing it (Hank et al., 2015). The patent also references an academic paper that states, “To our opinion the real challenge lies in motivating the user to provide the data constantly, even after the exciting appeal of technological innovation at the beginning wears off. We are convinced that entertainment and fun are an important design aspect of such data collecting services” (Matyas, 2007).
It is always worth looking behind a product or service to see what the real intention is and what we as consumers are buying into. When the aim of the game is distraction, combined with physical movement, along with a hidden intention to collect data we all need to ask ourselves what are we actually investing in and what are we giving our children? Is it just a game, or is there more to this than what meets the eye?
Hank, J.V., Augin, M.A., Kornmann, D., Milner, M., & Stern, L. (2015). U.S. Patent No. 8968099. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved from: http://www.google.com/patents/US8968099
Matyas, S. (2007). Playful Geospatial Data Acquisition by Location-based Gaming Communities. IJVR, 6, 1-10.
When was the last time you truly stopped?
Do you go through an entire day literally moving or even racing from one thing to the next, filling up every moment until you get into bed? And then even when there are moments during your day when you could stop and check in with how you are feeling, do you find something, anything, to turn your attention to – the computer, checking messages on your phone, having a conversation, thinking about what you have to do next, or one of the favorites . . . what is there to eat? Sound familiar?
With today’s fast paced life-style it is easy to think that you don’t have time to stop or another common thought is that if you do stop you won’t be able to get going again. The thing is that stopping isn’t actually the answer. We can stop and do absolutely nothing or very little, and a lot of people are very good at this, however if we stop and don’t change anything, when we do get going again, nothing has actually changed. This is why you can immediately feel stressed after a holiday or a day off - the stop becomes a momentary pause without any true change.
We are not designed to live each day stressed, tired, exhausted or anxious and we know this because it becomes very taxing on our entire body, taking it’s toll on our physical, emotional and mental health, the quality of our relationships, our work, in fact everything we do - every conversation we have is laced with all that stress and exhaustion we are carrying.
Esoteric Yoga introduces quality. First of all you are offered the space to stop, which is important, but in that you get to learn about choosing a quality that is going to allow you to truly unwind, let go and surrender.
Esoteric Yoga begins with the space for participants to stop and re-connect back with their body. In the stress and anxiousness of the day, it is very easy to dis-connect from the body entirely, not even noticing that your feet are touching the ground when you are walking or feeling your finger tips when you are touching something. Without first establishing this connection with your body, your movements continue to contain the stress, nervous tension, anxiousness and emotions of the day.
Rather than continuing in the rush and stress of the day, you have the space to stop and become still (on the inside) first.
In stopping and re-connecting with our body we then have the opportunity to choose our quality. Our movements can become gentle, we can become aware of how we are feeling inside and we can become present with what we are doing - which is to have our mind focus on what we are doing. In making these choices, the nervous system, along with your whole body, responds and begins to return to its natural harmony and order. This is because harmony and the quality of stillness, as opposed to the raciness of nervous tension, anxiety and emotional re-actions is our most natural quality.
The moment we stop, connect to our body and choose to become gentle and present with ourselves, we can begin to re-connect to the quality of stillness. The quality of stillness is always there, it is us who leave it. When we return to our body and stillness we can then choose to move in away that supports us to remain connected with this energetic quality inside of our body first and foremost. We literally learn to live from the inside out.
Esoteric Yoga reminds us that we can take this quality of stillness into what we do, rather than being pushed and pulled by what is happening all around us.
Even though stillness is our natural way of being, it takes practice and a supportive space to re-establish our connection with our body and awareness of our energetic quality. Esoteric Yoga presents a way for people to re-learn how to live in a way that sustains this inner awareness and way of relating with the world. Holding ourselves in stillness also offers others around us the opportunity feel at ease, to let go and connect with their own stillness. With stress, tension and exhaustion dominating relationships and societies everywhere, this quality of stillness, calm and presence is a very welcome change.
A sore ankle, aching lower back, neck pain, shoulder pain, tension in the arms, stomach ache, head ache – we have all at some time or another experienced tension and pain in our body.
The question is what do we do next?
Listening to our body sounds like it would be the most obvious answer, but the truth is, most are much more familiar with all the other options.
FACT # 1 Tension and pain is our body’s way of telling us that something isn’t right. Tension and pain makes us stop and take notice. However for most, tension and pain have become such a normal part of life, it is only when it becomes unbearable that it is given the attention required. Our body has a very specific way of letting us know that something needs to change in the way we are living and treating ourselves. Isn’t this the love and support we would all dearly welcome? And all of this comes from our very own body.
FACT # 2 Tension and pain is our body’s way of communicating that our choices are not supportive. If we all had this understanding would we not want to know what choices we are making that are creating the tension and/or pain we are experiencing? If our body had a way of saying, “be careful, if you continue to choose that behavior, you are creating disharmony and dis-ease in your body”, surely we would stop and take notice?
FACT # 3 Any pain or discomfort is a warning sign and a gift.
If pain is getting louder or more extreme, it is our bodies way of saying STOP – something has got to change or otherwise this is only going to get worse. This is where tension and pain can be deeply appreciated as it offers us a moment to stop, reflect and make the necessary changes before we create short and long term harm. If not, aren’t we only delaying the inevitable with much more pain and discomfort than is necessary?
Esoteric Yoga is a modality that first brings us back to our body. We learn the very important difference between connection and disconnection from our body and how this impacts every part of our life.
Any tension or pain is a sign that we have moved away from our natural quality and way of being. It is an immediate alert that something isn’t right. What a brilliant, natural in-built feedback mechanism our body provides for us all of the time.