Open your Body to Presence – Jan 2022

We have a yoga retreat coming up soon (25 – 27/3/22) and the title of the retreat is “Open the Body to Presence”. I run these retreats every year and sometimes twice a year if I have enough interest. Each retreat is a bit different from the one before and they evolve and are influenced by events in real life, on the local and global stage. Events and challenges my students find really interesting and applicable to their own lives. And lucky us, we have been under the deluge of the COVID narrative for the last 2 years, so looking for inspiration and relevance in our current world, learning to open the body to presence seemed appropriate in a world preoccupied and distracted by one news event.

Distraction is one way of keeping us from the present moment. Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher and cognitive scientist wrote an article called “Strategies of Manipulation by the Media”. Chomsky describes how distraction can keep us from seeing the big picture and keep us from our own truth. Quote from the article: The primary element of media social control is the strategy of distraction which is to divert public attention from important issues … by the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information.

Sounds like a recipe for our current society: anxious, suffering from mental health challenges and fearful. Well the opposite of distracted is: attentive, present and grounded in the moment. How can you be swayed by shiny distractions if YOU open to, and remain in, the present moment? And when you learn to become present there is nowhere else to go. The present moment holds all the power, the fun and the inspiration.

The first step to becoming present is to pay attention to your life. Becoming present means that you stop sleepwalking your way through your life and you learn to remain fiercely grounded in your body. It’s hard to distract a person when they are acutely aware of the earth beneath their feet, aware of their immediate surrounds and aware of their breath. Your breath holds the key to your unconscious world. When you no longer behave like a distracted automaton you start to notice when you are holding the breath, practicing shallow, small breaths and this gives you the choice to change the breath. As you drop into your body and breathe with the whole of your belly and diaphragm and ribcage you’ll find your mind will calm down, your common sense will prevail and you’ll give yourself the chance to make good decisions based on how you feel: in your gut, in your heart and in your head. And opening to presence includes opening to laughter, to spectacular nature, to friendship and to our own true nature, that of joy. 

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