We shape each day. We shape each moment. With, first of all, awareness. And then, out of awareness, comes insight and understanding. Then we continue that process by creating positive patterns, positive ways of living.


Next Big Day In with Yoga

Sunday 03 July 2022

Theme: Moments of stillness and recognition

A day at home doing yoga. Practical classes, yoga nidra, meditation, short talks and discussions.

The Big Day In provides an opportunity to let go of life’s distractions. Refresh purpose and energy.

Whether you are considering doing a course with us at Sharing and Learning Yoga or have done courses with us in the past, make the connection, join us on a big day in with yoga.

Learn how we do things, make or renew your links to the Sharing and Learning Yoga community.

Broadcast live with recordings available afterwards.

Free but donations welcome.

Shaping your life with yoga does involve being aware of your body, of your mind, of your emotions, but also of your environment, whether that is a place that you have created around you, or somewhere you simply find yourself. Shaping your life begins with conscious awareness.

Yoga practitioners have always had big days in, yogis would often spend time alone or time away from their usual routines, spend some time in isolation. When you think about it, we often feel the need to simply retreat, to go away, to escape. Typically, what we do in the world we live is distract ourselves. A distraction is usually as close as a remote or a button, or our phone, or whatever it happens to be. And most of you could probably reach several things which would quite successfully distract you, right within the arm’s length of where you are now. Perhaps it hasn’t always been this way. There was always the opportunity for distraction if you went looking for it, but it was never so close to us as it is in this world that we live. In the last couple of years, many people have found that a lot of the things that they used to do for distraction, going out and socialising, are not so available to them. As a result of this, for some personalities, this has been a real crisis; and other people who like to go “in” have had ample opportunities, but they’re not necessarily healthy for anyone. The need is for more than distraction.

There are there are lots of pairs in what I’m about to say. The first pair is, you can’t shape your life with yoga without a recognition of the shape of your life as it exists now. If you think about each day – close your eyes for a moment and consider – contemplate the things that you’ve done today that uplift you. You immediately may go to things that don’t do that, but don’t worry about them, focus on the things that uplift you. What did you do today that uplifted you? Perhaps it was a morning yoga class, perhaps it was your personal sadhana, perhaps it was a very special breakfast. Perhaps it was a moment outside watching the sunrise. Perhaps a moment with a loved one. Life itself, lived the right way, can uplift us. Consider what you have done today to uplift you. And then when you’re ready, you may like to open your eyes.

We have this situation every day. We are making choices. I’m not so comfortable with the word choices, because choices means that you’ve consciously thought about it, made a deliberate decision. But often acts that we do to create upliftment are things we no longer think about. We’ve made a habit of things that work for us, not just our bad habits. We may be on autopilot for most of the day.

If we’re going to shape our life, we need to consciously shape our day. And when we shape multiple days, this becomes our life. Each day builds upon the day before. Fostering transformation. Each day becomes a step to the following step, the following day. Even if we do one thing each day that uplifts us, we’re beginning to create a pattern of change and transformation which will resonate in our lives, and over time will become a substantial change. But it works on the little things. The little things each day that contribute to uplifting us. Something positive done on the first day may require effort. Yet something done after several consecutive days may require less effort. If it’s some huge mammoth task that we’ve created to uplift us’, then it probably won’t be sustainable. But the little things, the little things are sustainable. Little efforts become habits and a path for transformation.

So, look after the little things, look after the day. It transforms life. Shape the day, to shape your life.

Next idea is that we need to take time to see what is happening, to understand what is happening in our life as it is now, to acknowledge our flaws, or weaknesses, our bad habits, but also the positive things. This is a hard thing, but unless we do that, we create a split, where some of the time we’re positive, bubbly, and beautiful in one way or another, and then on the other hand, we fall back, we break out of that positive pattern. Because it’s unsustainable if we haven’t acknowledged who we are. This is uncomfortable to even talk about because we don’t want to think about those things, however, it doesn’t mean dwelling on the negative. It doesn’t mean ruminating about our problems. It doesn’t mean going into that headspace where we go over and over our troubles. Yoga is about awareness. The answers come even as we do the yoga practices. We set up a field of awareness in which we can see ourselves impartially and without judgement. We learn see our strengths and weaknesses.  With acknowledgement, patience and, potentially, acceptance, we notice what’s going on in our life. In the opening created by this awareness, we gain insights, which don’t come from the rumination.

How many times have we had a problem that we worry about it, we worry about it, we worry about it, we worry about it some more, and we think by worrying about it we’re going to solve it. Finally, at the end of all our worries, we fall asleep. We wake up in the morning and our unconscious and subconscious mind has worked it out, and we go aha, now I’ve got the answer. But we couldn’t find the answer while we were awake and worrying about it. In a way yoga often works the same way. In the same way, we stop the worry. We do practice, we do asana, we do pranayama, we do meditation, we do yoga nidra, we do mantra. We do whatever it takes – you could see it as a distraction, but in fact, it’s bringing us back in touch with our body. What does the body reveal? The body reveals where we’re tense. The body reveals what’s not quite right about the way we’re living. The body reveals what we need to eat. All these things.

With heightened awareness of body and mind that asana and meditation and provides beautifully, a rich source of information is provided. When we’re engaged in asana, we’re not just doing them. We’re bringing awareness, and we’re bringing reflection. And ultimately, we bring understanding. We derive understanding from that experience. And of course, that’s just one element of yoga.

We also have what we’re feeling, a whole new layer to this. Being conscious of what we feel. Part of this is in our body and mind too, and in this process we come to a better understanding what we’re feeling. I remember, before I did yoga, I went through life experiencing lots of emotions, and not really understanding what they were. Not even having a name for some of the things I was feeling. Not being able to even recognise them as part of myself. I did not consciously know this. I had no words for my experience. But over the years, with yoga, and with growing awareness, I now feel I understand my emotions much better. When you understand what makes you angry, what makes you sad, when you understand different patterns and feelings that emerge in life, we are better able to manage them and our lives.

We have patterns of emotions, feelings and thinking, and out of these patterns come behaviours. One one thing feeds another. We have patterns of mind, patterns of behaviour. And understanding these things, becoming aware of these things, we become conscious of what has been shaping our lives, until now, unconsciously.

To turn those unconscious patterns and habits that we’ve created into something else, first of all we need to recognise them. Not confront them. We don’t need to ruminate on them some more, no. But we need to understand them. We need to create a space, through yoga practice, and through heightened awareness in each day, and heightened awareness of our own behaviour and interactions with others. Now we’re talking about something more about just being in a yoga class. We’re talking about how you live in each day. How you engage in each day and ultimately how you shape your day. It doesn’t begin by shaping the day, it begins by being aware of what you are doing each day. And when you’re aware, the insight comes, the understanding comes. Provided that you are not imposing a sense of perfection, a sense of repression, a sense of denial. A sense of… oh, there are so many. Whatever we impose it stops us seeing. It stops the awareness. It shuts everything down.

Create an openness, and in the openness, see what’s there. Then the foundation is set, for insight, for understanding, and for us to shape our day. Shape life with yoga practice, refining the way that we engage with the world and with ourselves. How we set up everything about us, everything about our day, the place we live, the times we get up, the times we sleep, and what we do, what we say, what we think, what we feel, becomes the space for a playful investigation. New habits, new ways of doing things. We become so familiar with these positive patterns, that, hopefully, when we get old and demented, it’s the only thing that remains! I can make jokes, but some of you don’t know me so well. What remains as we grow old? Hopefully, it is the things that have been most dominant in our life. And perhaps it is these new patterns that we create, these things that uplift us, that sustain us. It won’t always be this way of course. And then that requires a different kind of learning, a different kind of acceptance, a different kind of understanding.

We shape each day. We shape each moment. With, first of all, awareness. And then, out of awareness, comes insight and understanding. Then we continue that process by creating positive patterns, positive ways of living.

Theme talk from the Big Day In with Yoga in January 2022

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