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Keep it simple

The fourth theme of the Joyful Living Crete Retreat (21st-26th June) is ‘Flow through your day: how to keep things simple and follow your heart’.

Whatever comes your way, keep it simple. Flow with the day, observe what it brings, and play with it. Keep your mind cool, your heart open, and you’ll make sharp, intuitive decisions.

It helps to set your priorities so that you’ll feel content about having written that article, or gone for a run. What is the one thing that you want to do today, if nothing else?

Combine being organized and flexible. I always leave free time so that on a beautiful day I can go out in nature. Do you allow yourself to do something spontaneous, like curling up in bed if you feel like it?

This is not selfish or self-indulgent. The more you do the things you love, the more fulfilled you’ll be. Consequently, you’ll have more energy to grow and be available to the people you love.

Love Your Food!

Great fresh vegan meals are soon to be served at YogaOnCrete’s large communal dining table.

Join me for the Joyful Living Crete Retreat (21st-26th June).

The third of the five Joyful Living themes is Eat joyfully: how to eat what your body needs.

The food you take in makes a big difference to your day, but first make sure your food goes out! Rehydrating your body does wonders to kick start your digestion. I drink a liter and a half of lukewarm water and herbal tea every morning, ideally before starting my yoga routine.

Then it’s time to think about food! What are you craving? What does your body need? If you’re fighting a cold, add turmeric or echinacea to your smoothie. If you’re anticipating a demanding day, make a filling breakfast, like oatmeal. I mostly eat fruit and vegetables to complement the body’s nightly detox. Think of breakfast literally — better not to break your fast with a huge meal.

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Mindful Routine

I can’t wait to practice on this beautiful open air yoga platform, feel the soft breeze, the morning freshness and gaze at the deep blue sea.

Join me for the Joyful Living Crete Retreat (21st-26th June): http://www.yogaoncrete.gr/en/joyful-living-retreat

The second of the five Joyful Living themes is Mindful Routine – how to build a regular yoga and meditation practice.

It’s important to dedicate a part of your morning to a routine, such as yoga or meditation. If you prefer to potter around the house or go for a run, that’s fine too. Most importantly, create an oasis of calm so you can anchor yourself in your values, even if only for 10 minutes. If you have a family, carve out some time before everyone wakes up, or during your commute.

My own practice combines meditation and yoga. It normally lasts an hour, but I can shorten it to 30 minutes. Meditation stills my mind, and mindful breathing connects me to life’s flow. Yoga offers an opportunity to love my body. I add restorative or energizing poses according to my body’s needs. Even after sleeping restlessly, 10 sun salutes will refresh me.

Wake Up Mindfully

How about waking up to this??

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Waking Up Mindfully is the first of the five themes of the Joyful Living Crete Retreat (21st-26th June).

When your alarm rings, take a moment to notice the blank canvas of a new day. I always feel mornings are freshly quiet as the day is still unwritten. Don’t check your messages yet, and get present to this particular morning. Is the sky blue or gray? Are your dreams still with you? Are you feeling rested or restless?

Slowly turn your attention to the day ahead and set an intention. What matters most to you today? An example could be “I want a loving relationship,” or “I want to deliver a flawless presentation.” Repeat it a few times, write it down or pick an object like a bracelet or picture to remind you during the day. Once you’ve made your intention clear, you’ll be surprised how often it comes true, usually in an unexpected way.

Want to know more about Joyful Living? Keep following the blog, every day we’ll be going through each of the five themes.

How to make 2015 count

Wow, the start of a new year. A blank canvas soon to be filled with memories and experiences. This snow white, quiet time is traditionally used to commit to New Year’s resolutions.

Resolutions, however, are a little old school. They don’t tend to have much effect because they’re lopsidedly left brain commands, like ‘start yoga now!’

In January, I’m coaching my clients to set intentions instead of resolutions. Intentions lead to transformation when they integrate both the left (doing) and the right (being) brain.

So we work on a realistic and practical plan of how you’ll start yoga, while at the same time internalising the importance of optimising your health so you can live your life fully.

Here are 3 tips to turn your New Year’s resolutions into powerful intentions.

1. Saying yes means saying no

One of the biggest mistakes people make in setting their intentions, is to only say yes, without saying no. If you want to practice yoga 1 hour a day, then you’ll have to stop doing what you’re currently doing for that 1 hour. Otherwise the intention is likely to fizzle out in January.

So for every ‘saying yes’ intention, make sure there’s a ‘saying no’ counterpart. For example: ‘I won’t stay out later than 10pm so I can wake up in time to do my yoga practice before going to work.’

2. Visualising

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Let’s visualise your perfect 2015. Imagine you have everything going for you, that 2015 is fulfilling year straight from your heart. What does this ideal year feel like, what are the colours, the sensations? Let it all come so alive you can almost taste it.

Visualisation matters because your brain is more motivated to change when the left brain plan ‘do yoga 1 hour a day’ is complemented by the right brain feeling light, fit and flexible. Click here to read more about the neuroscience behind this.

Visualising your ideal year also matters because you anchor your intentions into what is most important to you. Ultimately it’s not about doing yoga, but about fully expressing your gift to the world. Ask yourself, what do you need from 2015 to live your life purpose?

3. Completing

Finally, make up the books for 2014. What are you proud of? What are you grateful for? What have you learnt? What is no longer serving you?

Completion matters because it will allow your energy to be focused on what’s next for you, and because you can use your lessons learnt to make 2015 even more awesome.

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Now your New Year’s intentions are firmly rooted in your conscious and subconscious. It’s time to sit back and observe. While resolutions are hard work, intentions tend to happen with little effort.

If you’re interested in doing a 1:1 Intentions Workshop over skype or in person in South India, get in touch with me. We’ll anchor your intentions in your values and ensure each intention has both a powerful left brain plan, and right brain experience. You’ll be fully committed to making 2015 count!

How to unlock your potential

This blog is based on the ‘How to unlock your potential’ workshop on Monday 8th September 2014 at Whistling Duck Kitchen & Bar, Chandigarh. If you’re interested in bringing this workshop to where you live, get in touch with Julie (julie@maitreecoaching.com).

“It is as if we were extraordinary children, possessing all sorts of genius, and we were being undermined by the society around us, which was dying to make us normal people. Whenever we would show any mark of genius, our parents would get embarrassed and try to put the lid on. We’ve also been doing this to ourselves. When we see something extraordinary, we are afraid to say so, we are afraid to express ourselves. So we put the lid on our potential, on our capabilities” Chögyam Trungpa

So how do we find and unlock our potential?

It’s about recognising what resonates with us, what gives us fulfilment, the energy that opens us up, lifts up our hearts, creates options, possibilities, flow. When you are fulfilled, you are in your element, make better connections, make things happen naturally, without struggle. This is about identifying your values and bringing them into your life as much as possible. It is about connecting with your inner leader and working towards your life purpose. It is about doing what you love, making time for it and keep doing it until you are really good at it.

In coaching sessions I work with clients to set them off on a path of fulfillment by identifying their values, their inner leader, their life purpose. To be sure, there is always a different energy unlocked when clients start to take this courageous, sometimes radical, path. It is the energy of ‘But what about…’, and then come fears and worries about money, family, risk, finances etc. Our saboteurs come in many guises and they always carry the opposite energy of fulfilment – dissonance. Joy disappears, options vanish and what’s left is a dead party.

It is important to recognise these saboteur voices which are expressions of our self limiting beliefs. They will tell us ‘You’re not good enough,’ ‘What will other people think?’ ‘It’s too late in life,’ ‘Who do you think you are?’ ‘I’ll do it later.’ What are yours? It helps to give them a name – such as the Bitchy One or the Gremlin – and tell them they are not needed now because it is about your bigger self and unlocking your full potential. Accept that they are a part of you and have probably served you by protecting you in the past. Do not give them more energy than they deserve. They are a small part of you, but there is so much more to you than your saboteurs!

“If today was the last day of your life, would you do what you are about to do?” Steve Jobbs

It is only natural that they show up as fulfilment can be a radical act. We have not been trained to risk the unchartered territory of what we really want in life. To rock the boat we need fierce creativity and perseverance which are both rare and yet present in all of us. We can all sing instead of talk, we can all dance instead of walk. When we follow what our heart is telling us, fulfillment becomes about the road, not the destination. It is about the dance because it inspires us and others to create new possibilities which we had never thought of before.

When I took a sabbatical from my corporate job in London to write my second novel and study yoga in India, I never thought my neighbour in Mysore would become my life partner. I never thought that I would go back to Europe to train as a life and executive coach. I definitely never thought that I could build up a vibrant international Skype coaching practice while living in India to set up a retreat with my partner. All I knew was that the first step of fulfilment was to go on a sabbatical.

This does not mean I am happy all the time. It does mean that I know I am living my life based on resonant choices that reflect my core values. Sometimes I forget because it is easy to forget in day-to-day life what we really want, what brings us joy and fulfilment. We forget what we know deep down so we need a support structure to remind us. This is why I have a coach, and this is why coaching is so great. It helps us to stay true to what brings us alive, and to commit to offering our gift to the world. Because the world needs people who have come alive.

India, land of paradox

Living in India is a great reminder of the power of paradox. I love paradoxes because embracing them creates so much new energy and possibilities in my own life. And I often work with clients on discovering how they may hold themselves back by self limiting beliefs.

Predominantly Hindu, India is also the second largest Muslim country in the world. It’s daily life is infused with spirituality, yet there is a strong atheist tradition dating back to the early Middle Ages. It’s poor, and yet immensely rich. It’s chaotic and dirty, yet beautifully pure and quiet.

There’s a great lesson in this. Having no option but to embrace paradox, we have to accept that two extremes can exist at the same time. And life becomes much simpler. Why waste energy arguing that it’s this or that when it can be both at the same?

However, our mind seems keen to keep things black and white.

Continue reading India, land of paradox

About meditation

On Thursday I came out of a 5 day silent meditation retreat in the green mountains of Sri Lanka. I would like to share with you 5 insights I gained as many of my coaching clients are keen to keep up a regular meditation practice and lead more mindful lives.

I often work with clients on addressing the balance between being and doing. Meditation is a great antidote against our tendency to perceive ourselves as ‘human doings’ instead of ‘human beings’.

1. The middle way

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One of the challenges of meditation is finding the middle way between trying too hard and too little. The meditation instructor at the retreat explained that he generally taught Northern Europeans to reduce their current effort by 50%. Southern Europeans should reduce their effort by 25%, while Sri Lankans should increase their effort by 500%.

Continue reading About meditation