“There is nothing more important to true growth than realising that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it.” ~ Michael Singer
By Lydia Richards
This week in preparation for Melbourne’s cooler months, I spoiled myself with a new warm and cuddly winter jacket. I LOVE this jacket so much that I have worn it everyday since I got it. Three days in, already I feel like this jacket is very much a part of me. Frankly, I don’t know how I got by without it!?
It got me thinking about Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, in which he writes about the contextual framework [or walls] that we build up around us that we use to shape who we are. These walls comprise things such as our thoughts, our experiences, [limiting] beliefs, values, our physicality, emotions and memories. This is the framework through which we define ourselves.
Our yoga practice helps us to break down these walls and peel back the layers.
I talk about these walls and layers both visually and metaphorically in my classes in a hope that students will one day see that – they are not the contextual framework they’ve built for themselves throughout their life because…as Singer writes: “We are the one building it.”
What becomes a truly incredible journey once you’re on the path, is the unpacking and breaking down of these layers, these walls. Imagine walking into a deep and dark cave with only a candlelight guiding the way… seeing the light fill the darkness of the cavernous space and suddenly seeing everything so clearly.
Achieving this level of clarity however needs with it a willingness to unzip and throw away your beloved jacket. It is a deep knowing that this jacket, that has kept you safe and out of harms way for so long, is no longer serving you.
As the winter months roll upon us, we as humans have a tendency to layer up, hibernate and move less. We do this as a method of escape…propping ourselves up in an effort to fend off a time of the year many of us enjoy less.
Consider that as the crisp air and rainy days move upon us, there is in fact more of an opportunity to harness the energy that opens our skies and moves our trees in a way that helps you to revive, rejuvenate and re-generate.
Here’s five ways you can peel back layers this winter:
1. Get outdoors and experience nature in it’s most lush state.
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus.
Bask in the glorious energy that comes with the change in season. Breathe cool and fresh air into your lungs and move and experience the incredible feeling of hot and cold at the same time. It’s these moments that remind you the breath still moves through you and you have so much to be grateful for in life. Move in places in opposition to the winter cliché of comfy beds and fireplaces. Swim in cool water, walk along the beach, ride your bike in the rain…feel every moment. But don’t catch a cold!
2. Do something every single day that challenges you.
During the cooler months we have a tendency to retreat from both ourselves and, more particularly others. Eckhart Tolle says: “You don’t transform in your comfort zone,” so do something every day that challenges you. Do something you’ve never done before, try a new flavour of soup, take the bus instead of the tram or talk to the person standing next to you in the elevator.
3. Wear bright colours.
“Mere colour can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.” ~ Oscar Wilde
You’re probably not surprised to hear that the colour grey best describes the mood of a depressed person – while happier people prefer yellow. Nothing says happiness more than colour. So in a windy and wet city full of grey and black, why not instead standout? Wear a pop colour – shoes, lipstick, scarf, handkerchief or hat and bring a little lightness to your life and to those around you. You’ll be amazed at how a bright red coat can help fire up a conversation – an exchange between two strangers. We all need a little diamond in the rough… and believe me your iridescent pink (animal-friendly) lipstick can help!
4. Try a colour meditation.
“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” ~ Marcus Aurelius.
Try bringing colour and lightness into your life through a short meditation.
Take a comfortable seat and bring your awareness to your solar plexus… the area in your torso just above your belly button and below your chest. This is the energy centre (or chakra) responsible for personal power, self-esteem and confidence. In this area, visualize a radiant yellow colour and keeping breathing in this colour until you feel it radiate through your entire body. Use the breath to send this colour from your Manipura chakra to every cell in your body.
You may also wish to couple this meditation with a mantra. On the inhale say to yourself “I am strong” on the exhale, “I am powerful.”
5. Keep coming back to your mat.
I get it, it’s hard. Sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is pulling yourself from the comfort of your bed and into the studio. That’s okay – consider a home practice on those really cool mornings or nights or Hot Yoga is wonderful to warm up the body from the core. The best way to stay open to new experiences is to open up to yourself. Keep coming back to your yoga mat to tap back into that warm light that burns brightly inside of you, constantly. That’s the dharma.
So rather than retreat this winter, why not keep breaking down those walls and peeling back those layers? In doing this, know that you are not the body, nor are you the mind. And you’re certainly not a big fluffy jacket of layers. You are much deeper than that and have so much to give – no doubt others can see it, you just need to see it too.
Much love xxxx