We are in the depths of winter right now. What does this mean for our yoga practice? I like to think of it as a time to retreat into ourselves and have a tidy up. I believe it does us all good to get out of our comfort zone and this is easier to do if you have a safe place to come back to. In winter we are coming back in. We take the time to digest, rest and rejuvenate. We are tidying up our comfy zone. Put the fairy lights up, relax, move at a slower pace.
Our asana practice is slower, more meditative. We hold poses for a little longer, taking the time to look inwards and explore. Now is the time to look back over the last year.
What have you learned? What are your resources? Your strengths and weaknesses. Where are you going? Where do you want to go? What do you want? What is stopping you from getting to where you want or need to be?
While in Glasgow facilitating a retreat some months ago, Suryacitta asked me to write a blog for him and I said yes, having no idea at the time what on earth I would write about but figured an idea would come at some point! Lots of ideas did come- and then they went– my story from going on Suryacitta’s eight weeks beginners’ course to becoming a teacher myself; how Mindfulness helps me be more of the parent I want to be to my two daughters; writing about The Wee Retreat (the Community Interest Company I set up which organises meditation and wellbeing events in Glasgow)… none of them really struck a chord. It was when I was sitting on the veranda on the first morning of the retreat in Spain this summer that I knew what I would write about- meditation. So I thought I’d share what I wrote here too…
This is what I had come to Spain to do, this is what I do every day (well, almost) and this is what has made the difference in me as a person and subsequently, my life. Decision made. So, I take a closer look at mindfulness meditation for the rest of the day and this is what I see… I see that meditation can appear to be full of contradictions. It is simple to meditate yet it can be extremely difficult; meditation can create whirlwinds in us and at the same time calm us; when we meditate we can be passive and let things come to our awareness , while we need to be active in our curiosity…. I think that the list could go on but that is enough for me to be exploring over the next few days of the retreat; besides, Suryacitta has rung the bell for the next sesshin! – (Silent meditation retreat) The next time I have to ponder this idea of contradictions I am reminded of a period when my meditation practice felt very difficult- it was when the voice in my head would say ‘really, again?’ when I went to meditate and I’d reply, ‘Yep, again’ and talk myself into sitting. Again and again and again… it almost felt like a prison sentence. It was after some time that I became aware of what was making my practice so difficult- the word ‘meditating’ had become a ‘doing’ word- I had to meditate every day, I had to try to meditate, I had to do my meditation. I had forgotten to be kind to myself- I could just sit every day. I had been ‘trying’ too hard. Once I began to simply sit with my breath in my practice, the difficult aspect didn’t seem so difficult anymore. Pondering the idea of contradictions a bit more when sitting after our evening meal, my thinking mind is immediately confused at how something can be both active and passive. Reflecting on my practice, I see how it works. When meditating, are you directing the show or watching it unfold before you? When we are directing the show, it is the ego guiding the meditation for us- “I am controlling my thoughts; I am making myself breathe; look at me, I am meditating!” The passive side will allow you to observe things as they come into your awareness which you can then be curious about, engaging the active side of the process. Meditating without being curious is a bit like hearing a neighbour’s burglar alarm go off and turning the TV up louder. We have to actively engage with what is present, gently, patiently. With dinner over, I take myself for a wee walk and am surrounded by reminders of how simple life. I take myself back to my first beginners’ course with Suryacitta. As I have found over the years, it always comes back to the basics- the simplicity of mindfulness. Whenever life seems difficult or I am struggling with my practice I have learnt to ask myself, ‘what is it I have forgotten?’ -patience, awareness, kindness, compassion, curiosity? And then usually I get my answer. Seven years on from that first beginners’ course, I have learnt that meditation is a practice and a discipline. It is about starting with a clean slate every time you sit. It is about being open to the possibility of learning, feeling and becoming aware of something new when you meditate. I have also learnt that it is ok to forget these things as you go! Keeping in touch with Suryacitta, teaching the beginners course, going on retreats and meditating with others all give me the chance to remind myself of these fundamental aspects of meditation, again and again. With this comforting thought, I put aside thinking about meditation and the contradictions within the practice for the rest of the retreat and go back to doing what it was I came to do- simply meditate. By Vicky Kakos
This week @theweeretreat mindful parenting course, we were tackling a biggie….. Guilt. Oh yes, that huge heavy feeling that follows you around constantly when a little one arrives. It can be a relentless cycle of guilt over every little move and you never quite feel like you are doing anything right and every decision can feel so weighted.. We spoke about ways to combat guilt and reframe situations, it was refreshing to chat openly among other parents about it and hear their experiences. The common thread was of course that we all suffer from it in various forms but we learned it doesn’t have to continue if we approach it differently.. We also managed to squeeze in a meditation and of course some tea and some cake too. These sessions are just so rewarding in many ways and it is really inspiring to come back together each week and discuss what changes we have made and the results they have had. In other news, there is now stock of organic totes for sale! I will be wearing mine with pride ??.
Week 3 of the mindful parenting course with @theweeretreat and in the warmth of the gorgeous winter sun we lay on mats to do a full body scan meditation which was well needed for all in the room.
It is funny how little you sit still and pay attention to the pain or twinges you feel across your body. It was really nice to make space for that in the session and reflect on what we felt. We chatted about the different stages of children as they grow and what their needs are at these stages. We also spoke about a parents changing role and requirements in these stages and how remembering these changes can help us respond differently…
Great food for thought for me just starting out in this adventure and so useful to hear those with older children share their experiences too. It is amazing some of the things we are uncovering through simply chatting as we go.
Blogger Beauty h2t has joined our 1st Mindful Parenting course at our new premises and we’re thrilled she will be sharing her insights via her weekly blog… here’s week 1!
“I was beyond excited to see the new home of the Wee Retreat and boy was it worth the wait. Vicky has created the most beautiful spot to bring together an impressive array of practioners offering some amazing services under a calming, comfortable and functional space. It is perfect for a group of us to come together to try out Vicky’s mindful parenting course, I had week one just before the weekend and will be sharing the mini updates as I go over the next 4 weeks with you… For the first session we introduced ourselves to each other and learned a little bit about why each of us wanted to do the course. It was reassuring to hear that we all have such similar reasons for doing the course and the same struggles as each other with raising little people and it felt really encouraging to have that group support. It’s a small and diverse group of people joining in which will be helpful in sharing our experiences as Vicky leads us through the content and I am so keen to get into it. I know it’s going to give me some vital tools to carry with me in the coming years to help me be the kind of parent I would like to be… So stick with me on here and I’ll be updating with a full review post at the end.”
I felt a lot of emotions going into week 8 of @theweeretreat. The emotions in particular are less imortant here than the fact I both felt them and could acknowledge I was feeling them as I walked in. Now if that doesn’t instantly tell you I have taken a lot from the course I don’t know what else will! For some that might seem something that should be a given, but for me it is an observation that means quite alot.
I will be doing a proper summary blog post shortly on my whole experience, but for now I just wanted to finish up my little weekly diary. Today we summarised what all we have looked at over the course, and we reflected on the changes it has meant for us. It was so nice to chat through the different ways we have interpreted the content and how we have been applying it to our busy lives. We learned more about how Vicky came to structure her courses and the huge amount of work she has put in to ensure retreaters get as much from it as possible. Her passion for making sure retreaters get the most from the course is really inspiring. .
Words that resonated me in this past week were from the song in ‘A star is born’
Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?
I might not be knocking back the booze or narcotics like Bradley Cooper in the film, but to me the line made me think of how tiring it can be to just always be moving, keeping going, not stopping and not acknowledging how I feel. @theweeretreat has absolutely shown me how exhausting keeping that pace is, and how beneficial it can be to slow it down, get to know myself and be present in my own life. Its weirdly been like I have been going on a date with myself every Saturday these last 2 months, and boy have I learned alot about me.
Patience. The word feels so weighted to me seeing as I have little of it, and what I did have has been stretched since Arthur came along. This week’s session at The Wee Retreat was incredibly insightful as we explored patience, what it means to us and how it might help in our day to day lives. The biggest learning was where I might work on my patience with others and attempt to build on it, when it comes to myself, I have zero. It leads to beating myself up terribly and even though I know i should talk to myself as I would a friend, it is easier said than done.
As a group we shared our experiences, and laughed as we learned new ways to try to take a moment to be patient with ourselves. We spoke about practicing mindfulness and not just berating ourselves for ‘getting it’ right from the start and instead just accept it for what it is. A big weight is lifted when you just give yourself a bit of credit and stop for a moment to breath.
We spoke about allowing ourselves pauses in our day to process what is going on around us and that’s not something I am good at doing. Ally is always commenting when he gets in that I still have my jacket on and am in the process of doing 15 things….. Why as a society do we pride ourselves on that business? So this week I will be granting myself permission to take a pause and practice patience when I find It difficult.
It is amazing what you can take away about yourself in just one week of #theweeretreat. And that cake you ask?? That was this week’s wee retreat treat! Homemade vegan apple cake. Well worth taking our pause for ?
[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.74″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”]Spring time this year we found out the UN hold an International day of Peace on September 21st every year- the first we’d heard of it! Once we knew, we wanted to do something about it and put Glasgow on the map as we really believe people make Glasgow and care about world peace. After a bit of pondering, deliberation and too-ing and fro-ing we went for it and booked a beautiful room over-looking Buchanan Street at The Royal Concert to put together a public meditation for 100 people to mark the occasion. A few months on and an amazing event is taking shape… director of Interfaith Scotland Maureen Sier will be setting the scene with the theme this year “The Right to Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70” which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights– the most translated document in the world (available in more than 500 languages apparently) which is as relevant today as it was on the day that it was adopted. Poet Imogen Stirling and David from Samadhi Soundscapes will also be joining us to make the event a truly inspirational and memorable occasion. The event is entirely not-for-profit. Everyone involved is doing it for free. Tickets are £5 so we can cover the room hire and posters we are using to help market the event. We can’t wait to be part of a 100 people meditating together, hope you can join us! Tickets available from Eventbrite here. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/world-peace-public-meditation-tickets-44593361946)The Wee Retreat A special shout out to Holistic Scotland Magazine for their media coverage for the event. https://www.holisticscotland.com