I like it, I don’t like it

We operate along gradations of I like it / I don’t like it, seeking pleasure, avoiding pain. This impacts our mood and our interactions. Our mind is always quick to judge ourselves and others and this influences our behaviour and our sense of being. Our brains can’t help producing states of desire and aversion regardless of our intentions. This can happen right this moment we can either be in some kind of neutral state, or somewhere along the I like it / I don’t like it spectrum.

Wherever we are there is an element of story telling,  we create past, present and future narratives in our minds and most of the time it is fiction. We are the protagonist of our own continuous unfolding monologue, and we must forever defend our sense of self. We are often wanting something else, not wanting what we already have, expecting something more from others and being disappointed when our expectations are not met. We didn’t like what someone said so we let it stoke a fire in us, and we can invent a story as to how this plays out if it were to happen again.

How can we can let go of this often defensive attachment to self during our day to day life? This is no easy task and takes commitment and time to tune into what is going on in our mind and our bodies, observing, noticing, reflecting, and letting go. We must be mindful not to be too harsh with ourselves, but to adopt an attitude of kindness as we cultivate a more balanced way to be.

It is a continuous ebb and flow as we let go of the narrow world of judgement and thereby slowly loosen the grip on our own self importance.

Your own Parachute

Imagine doing something that you enjoy and the more you do it the more you get better at it, and it helps you reach heights that you never thought possible? (And no, it’s not parachuting!).

Cultivating a regular yoga and meditation practice can prepare you for anything. That sounds like quite a claim but it’s true. If you can achieve a natural resting state of equanimity and emotional resilience then you are pretty much prepared for whatever comes your way.

I know because I speak from experience. A recent example is from early 2019 where I had to have an operation and undergo surgery. It is without doubt that my yoga and meditation practice helped me physically and mentally, pre and post surgery. The many years of yoga and mindfulness helped create the resilience necessary to face difficult times. Since my operation I feel that there has been a radical shift in my nervous system and consciousness, and my body has an unprecedented degree of suppleness and energy.  This is thanks to the operation itself but also to my regular practice of meditation and breathing work, all part of yoga.

Mindfulness research is showing how meditation can benefit physical health as well as mental well being and the best way to know this is to experience it for yourself.

Yoga unites the mind and the body through the breath, and that is an almost literal translation of the word. It also helps us in times of difficulty. When I did the 8 week MBCT course some years ago, the trainer said that sustained meditation practice was like weaving your own parachute, so that when the time comes when you need all the help you can muster, your parachute is ready. As Mark Williams and Danny Penman wrote in ‘Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World’, “there’s no point in doing this when we’re falling headlong towards destruction. We have to weave our parachute every day so that it’s always there to hold us in an emergency.”

Here are two videos, one is a short guided meditation, the other one is a body scan. Both can help you in your journey to weave your own parachute:

We are what we repeatedly do

We all have our positive and negative habit energies, cultivated over the course of our lives, a result of conditions and circumstances over time.

If we are aware of our negative habit energies or behaviours, then we might choose to do something about them, especially if we start to become aware of the detrimental impact on ourselves and those we interact with. The start of the process is befriending the self and becoming aware of how we act in the world, getting to know who we are from the inside out, stepping back and viewing this world of I, Me and Mine.

One way to begin is by bringing attention to the breath, even for a moment, this will set the stage for facing that moment, and the next one with greater clarity. It creates a small window to tune into the body and the mind, sensing what’s going on.

It takes practice to catch our reactions as they are emerging. Through ongoing meditation and mindfulness practice we start to lessen the hold that repetitive thought patterns can have on the mind and the body. Over time, through self observation, reflection, and self understanding, we can affect change, bit by bit, until the grip of the negative habit energy starts to loosen itself. Using the breath as an anchor in difficult moments we can create space so that instead of amplifying our reaction we can pause and choose how to respond.

The negative habit energy will not disappear completely, but overtime will reduce in volume.

As Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do, so let’s make the time and the effort to become the better version of ourselves.

Over Satty Yoga

Hello, my name is Satty VerbArt. I live and work in Vathorst, Amersfoort.  My husband and I have been living here since August 2017, and we love living next to the canals and experiencing the big open sky.  My purpose is to share my passion for yoga, mindfulness and meditation with you.  There are enormous benefits when you incorporate yoga, meditation and mindfulness into your life. You can read about these in journal articles and studies, but the best way is to simply try it for yourself.

I started practicing yoga over 15 years ago, I wanted to become a more grounded person, not so impacted by work or family stress. I knew yoga had physical benefits and I was curious about the mental benefits.

Once I got immersed in the world of yoga I focused on my body and the postures, trying to accomplish the best I could with each move I did. I judged myself, I was looking to achieve something. It took a while for me to realise that I was not being very mindful. I was holding tension, lacking compassion, wanting to get somewhere through a physical practice.

I started my yoga experience with the Ashtanga primary series. I also explored Hatha yoga and Bikram yoga, and in the last 6 years started to cultivate my own meditation practice, this allowed me to uncover the inner body and the co-dependent relationship with the mind. My yoga evolved and so did I. I learned that the real benefits went beyond being able to do the perfect downward dog or warrior poses, that yoga is in fact more about the internal than the external.

My practice has become one of integrated yoga and mindfulness. Yoga is the union of the mind and the body through the breath. A non judging, non striving approach to yoga; a felt experience that goes beyond the work on the mat. We experience the natural energetics of the body and at the same time still the fluctuations of the mind.

The classes I give vary from dynamic ashtanga based sequences to slow flow movement. All classes embody mindfulness, meditation and movement, a process of cultivating balance and harmony so we feel more centred, grounded and at ease.

I studied the foundations of yoga and philosophy with the British Wheel of Yoga. This was a sound basis for personal development and the start of the journey towards becoming a yoga teacher.  I did the 8 week Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Course which helped develop my mindfulness and meditation practice. This was a pre-requisite to study Integrated Yoga and Mindfulnesss with Hugh Poulton, a 200 hour yoga alliance teaching qualification. (Hugh Poulton is one of the UK’s most experienced mindfulness teachers, his work is referenced in Mark William’s bestselling book “Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world”).

Whilst the term mindfulness has become very widely used, and in many respects over simplified, it remains the corner stone for cultivating greater awareness of the unity of the mind and body and our relationship to tension. Through yoga and mindfulness we learn to recognise how our mental states are expressed in the body and how this impacts our moment to moment experience.

With me you will develop a yoga practice that meets you where you are now, allowing you space and time to grow and deepen your awareness of you, your mind, your body through your practice. Slowly through continued practice, yoga will bring an inner peace. You will discover a calmer mind, a more open heart and you will experience the inner energetics of your body on and off the mat.

Keep Smiling! 🙂