To close the retreat light a candle and take some time to look back over your journal and make a note some of the insights that have been particularly significant to you. Think about how your perception of what you are seeking has been refined by this process then close your eyes and place your hands in prayer position. Focus your inner gaze at the centre of the chest and take the chant for peace chant. Then sit quietly, remaining focussed at the heart for 2 minutes, before bowing to close and extinguishing the candle.
The fourth attitude which brings tranquility to the mind and connects us into our heart is called upeksha. It means to overlook and what we are to overlook are the errors of others. In other words, we are not to stand on the moral high ground thinking we are better than others. If we remain non-judgmental about the bad behaviour of others we are clearer about a situation and what is our approach to take.
Our overarching task in all circumstances is to examine ourselves, act ethically and do what we need to do to live in good relationship with others.
In the yoga tradition human behaviour is seen to be a complex interaction of what we would now call genetics, the effects of past experiences and unconsciously learned behaviour patterns. As yoga practitioners our work is to change what we can. We can’t change genetics and we can’t change the past but we can make our behaviour more conscious by developing mental clarity. It is this that links us into the heart and the heart links us into our true identity and our true identity is joy and peace.
May your practice guide you in this direction.
The third of the four attitudes to adopt is called mudita. It comes from a root meaning to be happy or to rejoice. Since joy is a characteristic of the heart, rejoicing is a behaviour that helps strengthen our heart connection. Again, we don’t have to feel it and then behave like it, we behave like it so we can access what is already present within us.
The advice from the yoga sutra-s is that we are to be happy for those who are thriving and/or acting virtuously, especially when we are not. Resentment and comparison have no place in heart-based living. If we see others thriving and doing good deeds then we can learn from them and grow ourselves. To a degree, we become our role models.
Who are your role models? Who are you resentful of? Try this meditation:
Sit quietly and watch your breath for a couple of minutes until you steady your attention. Recall a way in which you are doing good deeds or thriving and be happy for that.
Recall a way in which someone you know is doing good deeds or thriving and be happy for that.
Recall a great role model in society past or present and be happy for that.
Close with 6 breaths, inhaling gratitude and exhaling resentment followed by the peace chant or words of peace.
The second of the four attitudes to adopt is called ‘karuna’ which translates as compassion. The word karuna relates to a root word which encompasses two meanings. The first of these meanings is ‘to do’. In other words compassion is not a feeling so much as an action. We are to act compassionately towards those who are in pain (i.e duhkha – see Day 5). The second root meaning is ‘to pour out’ which encompasses the idea of emptying out our focus on ourself so as to focus on the need of the one in pain.
Our true identity can, then, be found through engaging in practical acts of service to those who are suffering. This is a long way from self-absorbed angst about who we are and what we are seeking.
In your journal reflect on why this might be difficult and why this might be helpful.
In yoga the great quest of human longing is seen to be the search for the true self or the true identity. It is by taking the necessary steps to overcome the negative effects of the mind’s activities of the mind that we find what we are looking for. Through an ongoing process that develops greater clarity in the mind we become increasingly linked to our heart. Often we start in the wrong place by assuming that what we are feeling comes from the heart. A more reliable approach is to take some simple practical steps to clear the mind so we can see what may be clouding its judgment.
This requires constant vigilance since it is easy to slip back into old habits, without even realising that we are doing so, particularly in periods of change. The motto of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai (our sister organisation in India) is Yoga Sutra 2. 16 – ‘heyam duhkha anagatam’, meaning ‘future suffering should be avoided’. We do this by remembering that the ever-changing thoughts and feelings produced by the ever-changing circumstances of our lives are inherently unstable. The place of constancy is the heart. However, we may not know which of these we have linked to until the future reveals itself. This is why reflection is important so we take a step back to consider how the present moment came into being.
Over the next four days we will look at four different attitudes we can cultivate in the present to strengthen our heart connection.
The first of these attitudes is friendliness (maitri). This is different to cultivating friendships as such and relates more to having a spirit of friendliness that invites connection and prevents destruction. We are cautioned that this can be especially hard when people appear to be getting on better in life than we perceive ourselves to be. Maitri is part of the non-violent approach of the yoga way since a lack of friendliness quickly becomes animosity which will lead to separation, ill will and, potentially, violence itself.
When has this happened in our lives? What practical steps might we take to choose friendliness towards others? What do we need to clear from the mind to access the friendliness of the heart?
Day Twenty-Six & Seven
In the classical yoga scheme the mind is seen to have five modes of operation. We have touched on four of these: correct apprehension, misapprehension, memory and imagination.
The one we haven’t yet looked at is deep sleep or nidra. Deep sleep may not sound like an activity of the mind since we are, by definition, unconscious. However, what we do experience is the effect of the mind being in that state. If we wake up feeling rested, bright and positive then we have had an appropriate amount of rest at a deep enough level. This quality of rest directly affects and improves our mental functioning throughout the day.
Inspired by this, we are now going to have a two day rest on our retreat. For the next 24 hours try not to open your journal, look at your prompts or actively think about the retreat. Really give yourself a rest from it and make sure you take appropriate steps to get enough sleep at a deep level if at all possible on Sunday night.
Then on the following day notice if a key insight or question comes to you.
Today I’m flying low and I’m not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep. The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the gardening rumbling a little, the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten. And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off. Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors into the temple.
From Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings: Poems (New York: Penguin, 2012).
Because the journey towards peace and wholeness is gradual we are likely to encounter obstacles along the way that could derail us if we are unaware of them. Knowledge that an issue is present is the first step towards dealing with it and so, when we are feeling discouraged, it is helpful to try and discern which of these human weaknesses is present. It may be more than one.
Are you experiencing any of these at present?
Laziness Overindulgence Misunderstanding Lack of progress Regression
What could you do to get back on track?
The inner journey is a marathon not a sprint and yoga focuses on process rather than result. For example, this reflective retreat is intended to stimulate new ways of thinking about things or to help us recover our memory of teachings we already ‘know’. Its purpose is not to say that we completed it.
Transformation happens gradually over a long period of time and it requires sustained effort. This is why the Desikachar tradition of yoga emphasises the necessity of daily practice so that we continually influence the direction of transformation in a positive direction. In particular, practice is directed towards changing the patterns of disturbance within the mind to patterns of fluidity and openness. In other words, the mind no longer controls perception by interpreting it through the lens of past experience but is able to see things as they really are and meet life with equanimity.
In your journal, reflect on your attitude towards this retreat. Do you recognise this as part of your habitual approach to things? Have you surprised yourself in any way?
Here is a meditation offering using breath and visualisation based on yesterday’s peace mantra. Practice embeds our learning and is a vital addition to the journaling work.
Sit comfortably and quietly with index finger and thumb tips joined and the palms facing upwards.
Settle your attention on the breath. Take time over this.
Then, breathe 6 conscious breaths, inhaling truth and exhaling delusion. Now rest your attention on the truth within the heart.
When ready, breathe 6 more conscious breaths, inhaling light and exhaling darkness. Now rest your attention on the light within the heart.
Then breathe 6 further conscious breaths, inhaling stability and exhaling insecurity. Now rest your attention on the stability of the heart.
Finally, breathe 6 more conscious breaths, inhaling peace and exhaling peace to all beings.
Then place the palms of the hands at the centre of the chest and acknowledge the heart as the place of peace, stability, light and truth.
There is a very famous peace mantra from the brihadaranyaka upanishad which suggests that three internal movements are needed for us to reduce our avidya (the ignorance that leads to suffering):
A move away from delusion towards what is true. A move away from darkness towards what is light.
A move away from identifying with things that change to identifying with what does not change.
In other words seek truth, seek light, seek life. What would that mean in your current situation? What steps could be taken?
Please reflect on this in your journal.
While you do so you may like to listen to the chant in song form by Deva Premal. This is not the strict Vedic chant discipline of our tradition but it is beautiful and conveys the lightness of being at the heart of yoga.
According to the yoga sutra-s of Patanjali, something called avidya is the root cause of all our pain. This word is usually translated as ignorance but that can sound judgmental in English. I prefer to use the term ‘not knowing’ which sounds more neutral and is a statement of fact. Not knowing can also mean ‘not seeing’ since vision is a metaphor for knowledge in the yoga tradition.
Out of this avidya specific types of suffering flow and disturb our peace. We have touched on them already:
Fear and anxiety Attraction and aversion
An overblown sense of self
This not knowing is a kind of forgetting so ask yourself these three questions is your journal:
What is it that we are forgetting when we are in a state of fear? What is lost through our attractions and aversions?
Why is an overblown sense of self such a problem?
Even if you have made a study of yoga philosophy before try not to give the textbook answer. Try and relate to your own experience instead. Remember that growth through yoga rests on experiential knowledge of truth not on being told truths by others.
From a yoga perspective a paradox is true – we both know and we don’t know. That is why we are seeking.
Are we able to articulate what is it that we know and what is it that we don’t know? What it is that you know and what it is that you don’t know? It is important to have a go at this in your journal since language is the way we give outer expression to inner truth. This work will prepare us for the next few days.
Yoga is the art of less is more. It is a poetry of the self.
Today I offer you one of David Whyte’s poems. His few words always call up great volumes of heart wisdom. I invite you to write your own poem today expressing your quest or to find one by another whose words speak to your heart.
The heart simplifies by calling us into generosity. It is by giving away, letting go, surrendering that we receive.
The part of us that makes life complicated is the self-serving part. This is known as the asmita (pronounced asmitaa) and is most often translated as the ego. However, the literal translation of the word is ‘not smiling’ and that reveals quite a helpful insight. The self serving part of us does not smile because it is not serving a relationship. Remember that the word yoga means to join together.
In order to find the true Self we need to learn to recognise what brings temporary pleasure but ultimately pain. Equally, there are things that bring immediate pain but later prove to be gateways into deeper relationships with ourselves and others.
In your journal jot down something that felt good at the time but which brought sorrow in the end. Similarly jot down a time where something felt painful but ultimately brought peace or joy or a sense of deeper connection. What do you see now that you didn’t at the time?
An alternative title for this retreat could have been ‘The Inclinations of the Heart’ since what we are seeking requires us to lean in to the tendencies of the heart.
The inclinations of the mind take us away from our true identity and purpose whereas the inclinations of the heart lead us into the fullness of the true self.
Here is a phrase to ponder in your journal: The mind complicates, the heart simplifies.
Journaling is a way of engraving on our hearts the truths we need to remember but, for today, I ask you to put down your pens and go and do something that makes your heart sing.
These are a few of my favourite things when I need to rest from deep work: a spontaneous trip to the seaside, a long bath with lots of body cream, yoga nidra practices (deep, but they don’t require me to think), forest bathing, lying on the ground and staring at the sky, dancing in private, planting flowers, going to a concert, watching things that make me laugh, painting on my iPad. My absolute favourite is sleeping.
At these times I usually need to be alone and mainly silent but if you are someone that gets recharged by the company of others then do just go out for coffee and cake with a friend and forget the retreat for a while.
Please note that this Journaling Retreat was written for use in August 2018 when circumstances were different. Today it is not possible to go to a concert or casually meet a friend or two for coffee and cake, unless perhaps you do so via videophone. However, we are sure that you get the gist of what you might be doing on Day 16 of this very thought provoking and rewarding personal journaling retreat
So what is it that we love and hate?
These are likely to be the very things that could ruin our lives without discernment and wisdom. In fact all attachments, whether healthy or unhealthy, require careful attitudes on our behalf since they have the capacity to take us so far from the heart that we will wonder if there is any way home again.
A really helpful explanation is given in chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita:
Attachments lead to the desire that the things we love will always be available to us and the things we are averse to will never to be present to us. When this appears not to be the case we fear the change. From that fear we begin to push harder for it not to be so but when we discover that we cannot control the change we get angry. Then, if that anger goes unchecked, we lose our faculties of discrimination and our memory becomes so unreliable that we are unable to access our learning from past mistakes. Once we lose our head in this way then destructive outcomes are guaranteed.
Although it is not easy to address our attachments it is undoubtedly more productive to catch things at the earliest possible stage. To encourage us, the Gita promises that if we can make progress in this area then we will begin to find more peace, less sorrow and a growing ability to live in the wisdom of the true self that resides in the heart.
Might this be something to seek?
NOTE TO PARTICIPANTS
We are nearly half way through the retreat and you may be experiencing indigestion rather than digestion. Please take things at your own pace. We have a lifetime to ponder all these things and can return to what we need when we need to. Yoga is a practice of non-forcing and non-imposition so be kind to yourself for something beautiful is growing within.
Yesterday we began to think about the intersection of desire and need. When they become misaligned two important drivers of human unhappiness and dissatisfaction start to appear. These are known as raga and dvesha in Sanskrit and refer respectively to attractions and aversions. Both of these are problematic when they lead to unhealthy attachments. Raga (pronounced raaga) comes from a root word meaning desire and dvesha (pronounced dvaysha) comes from a root meaning hate.
Some of our desires are helpful and lead us towards the things we are seeking. For example, I desire to practise yoga and through following this desire I have found much of what I was seeking. However, it would be unhealthy for me to spend 10 hours a day practising yoga and not paying attention to other people and other responsibilities.
Similarly, some of our aversions are helpful since avoiding things that could harm us is protective but if we generalise from one particular bad experience that might not be quite so helpful. For example, if someone bullied us at school and we then avoid everyone who looks like them or bears their name then we limit our freedom of interaction by becoming unhealthily attached to past experience.
For our journals today the task is to make two further lists. The first one is entitled ‘ I love…’ and the second ‘I hate…’. . Please write freely, without judgement or censorship. The idea is to reveal aspects of our inner narrative rather than treating ourselves as a problem that must be solved.
Remember you could do this with pictures instead.
We have been posting TSYP teacher Helena del Pino’s wonderful month-long journaling retreat every day. Many of us have been taking the opportunity that the coronavirus measures have offered to do some inward reflection, and Helena’s daily posts provide helpful signposts for this. If you are just starting now, you need to scroll down to the bottom of the website page to start at the beginning! In addition, Helena will generously be holding a live Zoom session on Today, Monday 6 April at 6.30 pm* for all. This will be a chance to share your experiences and ask Helena questions, and yet another way for us to link up in these times of isolation.
Joining details can be found in the latest TSYP Newsletter
*Please note the time is 6.30pm not 8.30pm as mentioned in the newsletter
A further aspect of the purushartha that requires a great deal of wisdom in our time relates to ‘artha’, which is usually thought of as material prosperity. To help us think about this we can reflect on one strand of thought that runs through the yoga teachings like a golden thread. This is the idea that desire and need must coincide. Sometimes it is thought of as moderation, sometimes as not being greedy, sometimes as not being too mean with ourselves, sometimes as not taking what is not for us to take, sometimes about not pandering to lust for people or objects.
Yet, we live in a culture which seeks to activate our desire for excess material goods no matter how rich or poor we are. As a result, money issues promote fear and anxiety throughout society at every level.
How can we step aside and ask ourselves what we really need? We have to be realistic about our responsibilities and our frailties.
Do we ever reflect on our finances consciously and with clarity, asking ourselves deep questions about life’s meaning and purpose? Bringing our heart into considerations about appropriate material prosperity is one of the ways in which we become free for fulfilling human relationships and free from being defined by what we have instead of who we are.
Take some of this into your journal through writing or drawing even if it is only a promise to yourself to return to this theme again when the time is right.
Let’s think about freedom.
One of the aims of human life in the purushartha model is freedom (moksha) but what does that really mean? Often there are things we want to be free of but in the yoga tradition freedom is not only this. It is also about becoming free for. Much self understanding comes from thinking about these two concepts of freedom.
Divide a page of your journal into two. On one half write ‘I desire to be free of….’ and write everything that comes into your mind. On the other half write ‘I desire to be free for…’ and write everything that comes into your mind.
What do you notice? What feels light and what feels heavy? Why do you desire these freedoms? What stands in the way of your freedom? What needs to change?
In yoga we use the symbol of light to represent clarity and vision. It functions in these two ways. Light is seen to be present as fire in the belly and its action is the digestion of life experience. As a result of this action the veils covering the light in the heart are gradually removed. The light in the heart symbolises our true self and so, as this light is gradually uncovered, we are able to see our identity and our pathway more clearly.
Please take this practice today to help you further process the work on the purushartha:
Light a candle and place your journal next to it.
First, pick up the journal and hold it in front of or against your belly long enough to honour the processing work you are doing.
Then, pick up the candle and hold it in front of the centre of your chest where we locate the spiritual heart centre. Spend some time honouring the quest you are on.
Now, place the candle down and place your hands in your lap in zen mudra (left hand resting in the right with the thumbs touching). With ujjayi breath, let the inhale travel down from the throat to the belly and let the exhale travel up and rest in the heart space. Do this for about 5 minutes.
Let the breath settle and then join the hands in prayer position at the chest and chant hrdaye cittasamvit three times (see day 3 if you have forgotten the chant). Wait for a moment then place the hands over the centre of the chest and repeat these words silently: ‘shanti, shanti, shanti – peace and peace and peace’.
Bow to close.
If you then feel like writing more in your journal, please do but it’s ok not to.
Yesterday we began to think about the purushartha which is a model that helps us to engage with our desires. Purushartha literally means ‘the aims of man’ but we can think of it as ‘the aims of human life’. Aims and desires are linked since we achieve nothing without desire. However, the extent of our desire for each of the four elements that make up the purushartha must be appropriate to our need and life circumstances.
In your journal write about what you desired at the different stages of life you have lived so far, starting with babyhood. Consider the times when life has felt fulfilled or balanced and also those when it has not.
In the light of that knowledge write about what you think might be appropriate desires for now and at future stages of life. Use the dharma (duty), artha (prosperity), kama (pleasure), moksha (freedom) concepts to guide your thinking.
You might find that copying out yesterday’s diagram and writing on it or sticking pictures on it aids your reflections.
Desire is the great motivator for human action but it needs channelling towards the right aims. It is in the right ordering of our motivations that we begin to uncover the deeper driving desire of the heart which links us with our true identity. Often we start in the wrong place. We want to know our true identity as a piece of knowledge rather than as a lived experience. In pursuing this ‘identity knowledge’ we run the risk of overlooking much that is good or true or important in life.
The right ordering of our desires and motivations is an ongoing practice. In the Indian tradition the scheme for this is called the ‘purushartha’ and it is designed to guide us towards a meaningful life.
First, we must desire to live a virtuous life and to uphold our responsibilities – dharma
Second, we must desire enough material comfort in order to provide for the fundamental material needs of ourselves and those for whom we are responsible – artha.
Third, we must desire to find pleasure and a sense of delight in life – kama (not karma which means action)
Fourth, we must desire to be free – moksha.
In your journal write your initial responses to these four things. Notice which you feel drawn to, which surprise you and which you push away. What questions do you have about them?
Given the importance of the heart in yoga teaching it might be surprising to know that the word ‘love’ is almost completely absent from the yoga teachings. Yoga does, however, have a lot to say about desire which is seen to be the driver of human behaviour. Without desire nothing would happen yet it is our desires that often get us into trouble. Desire can be either creative or destructive.
Spend today noticing what your senses are drawn to. What do you look at longingly, what tastes do you crave, where does your nose lead you, what skin sensations do you seek, what sounds are you attracted to? Try and notice rather than analyse or judge.
We are going to take a pause today to review our journals but first take the meditation practice from day 3 before looking back or attempting to catch up a bit.
We have considered some important ideas so far so maybe you would like to discern what has been an important insight for you, where you are stuck or confused, where joy has come to the fore and what questions you have about the ground we have covered.
The heart is our hub. It is central to our life. It is where we experience feelings which guide us. However, it takes practice to distinguish the deeper feelings of the heart from the thoughts of the mind.
Our heart is a place of simplicity. We must meet it with simplicity. We must learn to listen to what is being experienced in the heart. This is not easy. Much stands between us and our true nature dwelling in the heart. When we are out of touch with the heart the feeling of anxiety grows. When we are in touch with the heart we approach life with ‘shraddha’. Shraddha is the quality of trusting in life, having confidence in ourself and faith in the future.
In your journal ask yourself what breeds anxiety within you and how you might allow shraddha to develop instead. Please share your thoughts by commenting on this post.
Yesterday’s image (day four) was inspired by an Indian story about a scholarly man who knew a great deal about everything except how to be happy. He sought the advice of a master who explained that people are like wheels with a circumference and spokes. They know a lot about the circumference (which is what rolls through life) and also about the spokes (which provide the necessary structures for life) but they know little about the hub.
This is an interesting story for yoga practitioners since the hub is the central part of the wheel on which the axle rotates. The Sanskrit word for pain is duhkha which means suffering experienced in the heart but which can also be translated literally as an ill-fitting axle. Conversely, the word for a feeling of sweetness in the heart, sukha, also translates as a well- fitting axle. The heart is the hub and knowing what fits with our heart means that the wheel of our life can roll more easily over the differing terrains that come our way.
Describe in your journal a time when your wheel rolled easily and a time when it did not. What was going on in your heart at these times?
Then at the end of today, spend some time reviewing the day and asking yourself when you experienced sukha and when duhkha. What is the self-knowledge that can be gleaned from these differing experiences? How might you do things differently tomorrow?
Take some time with this picture. What is it saying to you? What does it remind you of? What might the different elements represent? What could it become?
Set yourself the task of playing with the image. See if you can move out of linear rational thinking about the image and let a more playful, exploratory side of you come to the fore. Let that side guide your play and see what emerges. You could print out the image and decorate it, write a poem or story or simply free write an unedited stream of consciousness about the image.
Following on from day two, today’s prompt offers a short meditative practice based on Yoga Sutra 3.34 which states that the restless mind can be quelled by meditating on the stable quality of the heart. This practice can be repeated throughout the retreat and beyond. You may want to add a bit more in your journal to yesterday’s entry or make some art after it.
Here is the practice:
Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight (supported with cushions if that helps). Close your eyes and place the palm of one hand at the centre of the chest and the other on top. Focus your inner gaze at the centre of the chest and repeat the chant ‘hrdaye cittasamvit’ twelve times. (This has been emailed to you and you can play the audio file where it is repeated 12 times until it becomes familiar.) Then sit quietly, remaining focussed at the heart for 2 minutes.
You might like to experiment with voiced and silent chanting.
The quality of our relationships depends on our own connection with all that dwells in the heart. Yet, for myriad reasons, we all have a tendency to ignore the desires of the heart. We mistake the contents of the mind and our intellectual learning as ultimate truth or we value ourselves based on what we have gained rather than who we are and what we are willing to give (up). This is ‘spiritual bypassing’ and while we can survive like this, it is a diminished way of living that feeds our restlessness. In order to be able to discern the difference between the ever-changing mind and the stable qualities of the heart we need to connect deeply into the heart by turning towards it in meditation.* This is hard because the mind will raise many objections that we will have to cut through with perseverance.
*Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali, 3:34 (hrdaye cittasamvit)
On a page of your journal make 2 columns. Label one column ‘Things that change’ and the other ‘Things that are stable’. Spend 5 minutes thinking of things to put in each column. Write about the result and how this makes you feel. What was surprising and what piqued your curiosity?
Yoga is a word that describes both a process and a goal. Its definition is ‘to link together’. The process is, then, to explore what we are linked to and the goal is to be linked into life in a healthy way. When we think about all the human and nonhuman relationships we are involved in we see that life is a very mixed bag of experiences. However, the practice of yoga helps us to relate better by creating and sustaining the conditions for relationships that are more fulfilling and life-giving.
Spend some time writing down as many of your human and nonhuman relationships as you can think of. You might like to do this by drawing a diagram with yourself at the centre and then add in linking lines to what or who you are in relationship with. Making a collage of photos would be a lovely way of doing this.
Now sit quietly and spend a few minutes with your breath. Breathe in and bring all these relationships into your heart and then breathe out your appreciation for the web of life.
Introductory Day to: What am I seeking? A personal journaling retreat…..
“Yoga means to prepare” T.K.V. Desikachar
How will you prepare for this journaling retreat?
Maybe you will need a notebook, pens, paints, glue, glitter, old magazines, a camera or voice recorder? How might you record your insights?
We don’t have to use words to capture our wisdom.
The daily prompts are an invitation.
How and when you respond to the prompts are your choice. You may do them all.
Maybe you will stay with one for a few days.
Maybe you will save them for when you are ready. There is no right or wrong way to take the retreat.
May this retreat offer you nourishment and blessing. shanti, shanti, shanti – peace and peace and peace
Welcome to your Summer Yoga Journaling Retreat
Keeping a journal is an act of self-care that leads to deeper self-awareness. It is a reflective process that enables us to examine our life practice. According to TKV Desikachar yoga is meant to be a support for life rather than an escape from life. In other words, life is the main practice and yoga practices offer help in developing our abilities to see more clearly, to discover our path and to adapt to changing circumstances. We call this reflective work ‘svadhyaya’ which means self-study undertaken with the help of a teacher or teaching.
This retreat has been given the title ‘What am I seeking?’ in recognition of the restlessness that characterises the activity of the mind until we discover our true nature. Journaling allows us to express how we really feel and offers a space for all that resides in the heart to come forward so please remember that the prompts are invitations towards exploration and how, when and where you respond is your free choice.
To start the retreat, write ‘What am I seeking?’ on the first page of your journal and find a picture(s) that encapsulates this idea for you.
Helena del Pino, one of our teachers, has offered us a journaling retreat …. Beginning on Monday 23rd March we will be posting one day at a time for anyone to use.
If people wish to discuss this, Helena will be available for a discussion on line and we will let you know how to access this in due course. We invite you to share your experiences and thoughts on the website.
Why not get ready for this by getting yourself a new notebook and pen?
This time of national emergency will mean many of us will experience a much slower and quieter pace of life. There is always light in the darkness and one glimmer of light is that we can use this time wisely to read, meditate, pray and practise. In other words we can take our social distancing or protective isolation as a kind of retreat. I offer with love this retreat, written a couple of years ago, freely to you, your students and anyone else who might benefit. If anyone wants to contact me with comments, insights, questions or musings then please do so.
With love and in peace Helena “
We hope that you can use this time for some personal reflection. If however you are someone who has gone back to work or who is, in whatever way, on the front line we send you courage and above all gratitude.
With love Bea