Jade Lizzie

Sharing the yoga love

Tag: feelings

Do you have a hummingbird?

HummingbirdI was recently talking to friends about the times in your life when you feel utterly overwhelmed by sadness or despair. The times when all the clichés about your heart being torn apart or ripped out of your chest feel true, and you can barely breathe for crying – that ugly, red-faced kind of sobbing that leaves you feeling physically and mentally drained.  It was a cheerful conversation.

But something one friend said really resonated with me. He said that at the times in his life he’d felt most low, there was still a tiny little hummingbird of a voice somewhere in his head, saying, “This is ok.” That voice inside that even when you’re at your lowest knows that this is permissible. I don’t mean it knows that it will work out well in the end, because maybe it won’t.  But the hummingbird inside you is the part that just notices the sadness or pain right then and accepts it.

And I realised I too have a hummingbird.

Emotions can feel so all-consuming. There are times I’ve cried so much that my face was swollen and hideous the next day. (As a side note, it’s not ideal to be a school teacher at those times – “Miss, what’s up with your face? You look really weird today!” Got to love the unfiltered honesty of thirteen year olds.) But the analogy that I like is that you are the sky; the emotions you experience – grief, fear, anxiety, excitement, happiness, joy – are just the weather. There’s space in the expansiveness of the sky to accommodate them all. The sky is still the sky, constant and unchanging.

I think that’s what the hummingbird knows too. So maybe next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to tune into that part of yourself that sees what’s going on, and knows that it’s ok. See whether you can hear your hummingbird.

Have a beautiful day everyone!

Jade xxx

P.S. The easiest way to hear your hummingbird better? Meditation. I’ve resisted this for a long time, but I can honestly say that meditating is the best way I’ve found to learn how to approach life with more equanimity and acceptance.  Sorry. I too was hoping I’d find more success with methods which included more cocktails and less sitting still and being quiet…

Five Reasons Why Meditation Is So Hard

meditation (1)“I’m really bad at meditation.” I’ve heard this from many yoga students, and I’ve said it myself. I blogged about my meditation challenge here in fact. But what are the reasons why sitting still in meditation is so hard?

  1. It seems to go against everything we’ve been brought up to believe, in terms of striving for goals and taking action. You can read all the scientific studies you like about the benefits of meditation (and there are plenty of them – try this article for starters) but it still seems counter-intuitive that to enjoy all these lovely benefits you have to sit still and be quiet.
    2. It’s not actually just sitting there. If you come to meditation believing that it will be an easy, relaxing experience, you won’t be prepared for the sheer effort it requires. It takes focus, concentration and discipline to meditate. And that can be hard. The main feeling I used to experience on hearing the bell to mark the end of meditation was relief that it was over, and that I could stop trying to focus. This is normal, and it has lessened with time.
    3. Most people don’t understand the real purpose of meditation. The point of meditation is not to relax. Although meditation can, and does, help you feel relaxed, contrary to popular belief, that’s actually not the intended purpose behind it. The actual purpose of meditation is to understand the nature of the mind. Through that understanding, you gain the potential to harness the power of your mind, rather than being at its mercy.
    4. It’s said that your ego does not like this, which is why you experience such resistance to meditation. When you meditate, you recognise the way that thoughts and feelings arise, seemingly from nowhere, and fall away. And you realise that you are not those thoughts and feelings. You are the observer or the witness of the thoughts and feelings – a much deeper state of consciousness that’s completely unaffected by the events that happen to you. This brings the realisation that so much of what you think matters really doesn’t. Your ego doesn’t like this, so it resists.
    5. Being alone with your thoughts can be difficult. Sometimes they’re negative, disturbing, or (a lot of the time!) just plain boring. Meditation is so hard because your mind doesn’t want you to be doing it. It craves stimulation and distraction, and will try any number of things to get you to stop.

So what can you do about it?

There’s so much information out there about how to start meditating – a Google search returns 1,790,000 hits. The most crucial thing though is deciding that you want to meditate, and that you want to enough to put the effort into overcoming the challenges. It’s worth asking yourself – do you want to understand the nature of your mind? Do you want the potential to master your mind, rather than being enslaved by the random thoughts and feelings that pop into your head for the rest of your life? And if the answer is yes, meditation is probably a good place to start.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Jade xxx

P.S. All credit for my latest learning about meditation goes to my wonderful teacher Vidya at Frog Lotus Yoga.

 

 

The importance of being honest

When was the last time you told a lie? Why did you tell it? And what effect did it have on you, and the person you told it to?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about honesty, because as a yoga student and teacher I try to practise satya, or truthfulness.  I’ve also been inspired by the book Radical Honesty. This book argues that the illnesses and stress we suffer from are caused by us not being honest – with ourselves or with others.

So, in the spirit of being honest, I’ve worked out that the lies I’ve told in the past have generally fallen into one of the following categories:

White lies –  I’m defining these as the lies you tell to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings. “Of course your new haircut suits you.”

Guilty conscience – These are the lies you tell if you feel threatened in some way by the truth. Maybe you want to avoid getting into trouble, damaging a relationship or simply looking bad. “I’m sure I checked that there was enough milk in the fridge before I left.”

Storytelling – Ever catch yourself adding details to a story to make it funnier, or exaggerating to emphasise a point? These are the little lies that enhance the narrative to suit our purpose. “I’d literally been working for twelve hours straight, when…”

Hiding your feelings – Sometimes you might lie to hide your own hurt, discomfort or even happiness. “No don’t worry – of course I wasn’t upset when you said…”

How can you be more truthful?

The last three categories are the lies I’m trying to minimise. They’re generally motivated by ego, and thinking that your actions, behaviours or feelings aren’t ok just as they are and need hiding or distorting. They are sustained by the belief that being yourself is not good enough.

Holding yourself accountable for your actions is intrinsic in living more truthfully. I’m finding the more I own my mistakes, my weaknesses and my flaws the better I feel, and actually the more I trust myself to do the right thing. As for storytelling, I remind myself to be as fair and truthful in what I say as possible. Even if that means the story isn’t quite as funny…

But I’ve found the hiding your feelings lies to be the hardest to avoid. I don’t like admitting that I’m hurt or sad. It’s one of the reasons sometimes I find writing this blog so hard, because I try to always write with honesty, and that can leave me feeling vulnerable. But I think maybe these are the most important. If you can’t be honest with others about how you feel, then you’re only allowing them to get to know a representation of you. Maybe you even start to believe in that representation too for a while, but ultimately I don’t think you can hide from yourself and be truly happy. And when you’re honest with others, you encourage them to be honest with you, hopefully leading to more transparent and genuine relationships.

Being honest starts with being honest with yourself. Every time you are tempted to lie, or every time you do, ask yourself, “Why do I want to say that?” And if it’s because you believe you’re not good enough as you are or you’re ashamed of something you’ve done, take a deep breath and try speaking the truth instead. You might be surprised at the difference it makes.

What about the white lies? Watch this space for a whole other blog post to come on those…

Wishing you all a week of courage and honesty!

-Jade xxx

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