Choosing a Different Way Forward Dec 2023

This is the 4th article in honour of our Yoga Retreat: OM the Silent Yoga Retreat coming up in March next year (22/3/24 – 24/3/24). 
When I started teaching yoga, I was given some great advice from one of my mentors, to stay on the Classical yoga path. To keep my classes abundant with not just movement, but breathwork and meditation. Because the students I attracted and retained would grow past just the movement and through breathwork and meditation catch a glimpse of a future quite different to their current lives: richer in balance, joy and peace in the present moment.

Indeed in Classical yoga, the asanas or postures are just one of the 8 limbs of yoga and the postures are meant to strengthen and purify the body in readiness for the real action: Silence/ Sense Withdrawal (Pratyahara), Concentration (Dharana) and Meditation (Dhyana). These 3 extra steps will lead you to the final destination: Freedom (Samadhi). This freedom will connect you with something much bigger than YOU: God/ the Divine/ Universal Consciousness. It’s little wonder that some of the greatest minds, inventors and very successful people are meditators. Oprah, Russell Brand, Sting you name it, if you want that edge, learn to control your mind through meditation.

So, if meditation is so wonderful why isn’t it more popular? Because its hard, and it requires discipline and tenacity which are in short supply in modern society. I can guide you into a meditation, I can give you all the tips to help stay in the moment and not be overwhelmed by your feelings and thoughts but at the end of the day you must do the work. If you read the stories of those who end up learning to meditate its often a last resort. Things are just not working in their lives; their relationships have issues – my adult children no longer talk to me; their health is challenging – I’ve just been diagnosed with an autoimmune; or their careers have stalled – I was passed over for that promotion yet again and I suspect it’s my anger management issues. And meditation, if they can hang in there, is the last, toughest, most powerful thing they can use to change their lives. Why?

Because most of us are either prisoners to the past (ruminating, regretting, going over and over those horrid things that happened) or prisoners of the future (if I just visualise hard enough and use those positive affirmations, I will achieve X). If part of me is stuck in the past and part of me is stuck in the future of hopes and dreams, where am I now? Who is home in this body? Where is all of me?  I am just a shadow of what I really could be because bits of me are elsewhere: clinging to the past, fixated on the future. I am a prisoner to all those thoughts looping around in my head and I am missing out on my life, right now.

And this predisposition to ruminate over all those sad scenarios is not actually your fault. You can blame your caveman brain and its negativity bias. The negativity bias is our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events where we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise. In yoga we call these default thought patterns Samskaras. Samskaras are all our thoughts, words, feelings, actions, behaviours, and life experiences that create impressions on our consciousness and are like scars, or grooves on a record. Something will trigger us, and we’ll default to that samskara, that thought pattern, that deep habit of neural pathways which we have reinforced over the years by thinking that same old thought, reacting in that same old way. It’s like a deep ditch in your mind and it’s really hard to climb out of that ditch without changing something radically in our lives.

Meditation and silence will help you become aware of those samskaras. As they bubble up it will be an AHA moment – hello, here we go again. You’ll have that millisecond chance to stop and decide. Do I go down that well-worn path of poor me, sadness, anger, regret, or do I choose a different response? You’ll have good sessions and average sessions, but with tenacity and discipline, learning to meditate will be a game changer in your life. Throw in lots of yoga, silence, breathwork, fabulous company, divine food – our OM Silent Retreat is going to be life affirming! Love and namaste Margot

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