Tag Archives: life coaching

Deep body presence

Transforming Pain into Presence

Life is full of moments of disappointment, suffering and loss. We all know this. Nobody's life is perfect, although carefully curated Instagram posts or other public profiles of individuals seem to suggest otherwise. Since we can expect to have to weather life's ups and downs, it would make sense to understand how our handling of painful events can help us adapt and cope, and ultimately, to thrive.

In this post, I'd like to highlight the dangers of unhelpful coping strategies, share some excellent resources, and offer you a 5-minute yoga nap!

Think about the last time you faced a painful event. How did you respond? What did it feel like in your body? Do you remember?

Our natural stress response to emotionally painful events translates to pain that is palpable in the material body. For example, when we say we have a heartache, it is due to tightness across the chest, constricted breathing and increased heart rate. Some people withdraw from these distressing sensations, or numb the pain with activities, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. Others suppress their emotions and demonstrate a stoic front, although inside they may be crying for help. And some others are overwhelmed, sucked into the whirlpool of negative emotions, ranging from self-loathe, anger to depression. These strategies are unhelpful as they run us aground.

Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk in his book The Body Keeps the Score, highlights how excess stress and the physiological changes in the body and brain can be debilitating in the long run, predisposing us to autoimmune diseases and more. He worked with trauma survivors of all stripes, but the implications are the same for those who have suffered other emotional pain. The body does not forget.

Can we find a more skillful response to painful events that are part of life?

If you are hurting, one possibility is to switch from evaluating the event (which has caused the hurt) to acknowledging what is happening at the raw sensory input level. So, we move from cognitive processing of "What went wrong?", "Can I handle it?" and "Why me?", to noticing the sensations in the body, of "I'm feeling heavy in my heart," and "My breath is shallow and rapid." We stay with the direct felt sense of the ripples of an event on our emotions and body. This is mindfulness in practice.

As we stay present to what is happening in our own bodies, we are a witness to our processing of pain, and begin to de-couple the binding of sensations to our go-to conclusions of aversion, overwhelm and other judgments.

To begin to transform pain, learn to befriend yourself. Be kind. Stay present for as long as you need you. Cultivate a daily practice of just closing the eyes for 5-10 minutes to check in on your bodily sensations. Tell yourself you are not alone to experience such pain. Humans for millennia in the past, and today all around the world, experience suffering of different magnitudes. It is part of the human condition. 

Hold this space for yourself. Trust the process. You'd begin to integrate the painful event and see it for what it is - just one of life's moments. And before long, you might notice less and less of the pain you used to notice, and develop a deeper awareness situated in the body. This feels safe, nourishing, and healing. 

You've transformed pain into deep inner connection and presence.​

If you find it hard to sense your body, you are not alone! Get literate with the felt sense, and practise with a Focusing community near you.

Restorative yoga is an excellent way to cultivate interoception (perception of inner environment and bodily self) at the same time as the poses and calm breathing can help calm the nervous system. Louise Carr shares a list of great reasons for practising restorative yoga.

Here's the 5-minute yoga nap I promised. The pose is restorative, and we are borrowing it to cultivate presence, relaxation and bodily awareness. Breathe with me!

Instead of a power nap​, practise this restorative yoga pose for 5 minutes (and more, as you get more comfortable). 

In gratitude,

Ling

If you haven't experienced my body sensing online course yet, here's an invitation to sign up. It's another way to cultivate deep body presence, and is very suitable for those who are new to more subtle mindfulness techniques. From me to you, with compliments!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Reach out through any of these channels, leave a comment. I look forward to discussing with you!

#ProfoundPause

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Headstand yoga pose

How to Flow with Boundless Energy

"On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure." - Bhagavad Gita.

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Many people stay away from yoga and tell me that "I'm just not flexible enough," or "I can no longer twist", or "some poses are too challenging for me."

But are we missing the point when we count ourselves out based on a self-imposed pre-requisite of strength and flexibility? Perhaps we can be more flexible in exploring yoga without fixating on whether we would succeed or fail in it. In yoga, we don't have to meet any performance benchmarks.

The practice is the practice itself.

If we are open to exploring yoga, we begin to discover that the practice will soften and strengthen us in ways that we have never imagined possible.​

Yoga Retreats in Nature


Physical strength and flexibility will come through a regular asana (physical pose) practice. At the same time, there is a softening through the surrendering of the ego and opening of the heart, and a strengthening of our personal resilience to face life's vagaries.

Beyond the physical, yoga as meditative practice and as a philosophy is an effort in reconnecting to our center, to our true essence of being. Every effort counts.

We'd find at this center the essence that is unafraid to be vulnerable, that abounds in unselfish love, that is immaculate; the essence that does not get stuck in petty pros-and-cons dilemma, and is free from prejudice, hurt and blame. It welcomes 'failure' as part of the process. It does not dissipate energy in constant worrying about the past and anxiety about the future.

This reconnecting with the true essence of being is the euphoria we sometimes get to taste at the end of a yoga class, or experience in life's moments as a sensation of flow, orgasmic bliss, or as a second wind.

IF there is one goal to this practice, it is to tap into this vast potential, to flow with this boundless energy.

Remember, effort is all that is needed. The practice is the practice.

The practice itself is the practice.

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Get to your big goals using meditation

Bon voyage message in chocolate
All the best…

For the past few months, I have been feeling on top of the world. Life’s great and nothing can get in the way of its greatness! I mentioned that I was leaving and friends and those from my practice circle have been really sweet, sending me all their well wishes. And today, I am sitting here in my sunny room looking out at the Manhattan skyline, thinking, wow, if you want it, you can really get it.

Manhattan skyline
New York – a trip of a lifetime, just a subway ride away.

I have chosen to be here, and I am here, in New York – the mecca for ongoing innovation in yoga. One of the agencies was running a lovely campaign with the tagline: “For most people, it’s the trip of a lifetime. For you, it’s just a ride away.” I do feel privileged to be here, where mindfulness is hot with executives in Wall Street boardrooms and there is so much yoga happening in every street and in every park. I have been spending a lot of my time either practising with my favourite teachers or offering classes, building training curricula, and getting the privilege of being invited to co-lead the Sattva Retreats immersion to Kerala, India in 2016. Drop me a note if you’re interested to join me!

It has not been easy running all these while trying to put together a new life in a new city. But life is boring when it is easy. And how activity energizes and drives you, especially when it is your chosen activity. You set yourself free when you choose to do what you want, rather than what you think you have to want, because you have to be somebody in society, or because there is a mortgage to pay off or because you led yourself to believe that you need a certain level of comfort. These fall away and you know that you can live differently, and that once in a while, you can take a long-distance coach instead of a flight to keep within your new budget; and maybe you figure you need to downsize your possessions and finally get rid of the car, which you barely use, or move out of the full-serviced condominium that has given you a lot of borrowed joy in the past.

Meditation can get you there
Meditation can get you there

We don’t need that much to launch into freedom. Freedom itself is energizing. Just look at all our start-up friends sandboxing, brainstorming, and pitching away to investors in co-working spaces; it seems that at all that is keeping them going is mugs and mugs of coffee. Of course, it is the dream, and the belief in the realisation of it, that drives us all. So many of you who practise or have practised yoga with me also have such amazing stories to share, giving up a corporate job to follow your passion, be it farming, or starting a trendy restaurant, or travel writing, or working with underserved communities, or finally going for that Yoga Teacher Training that you have been eyeing for a while. Sure, many learn after a while that they are not making money from their new endeavours, but they are generating a lot of authentic joy from pursuing that which gives them meaning every day.

Back bend on yoga block
Open up and let possibilities enter your life.

To a large extent, we are the ones holding ourselves back from our own happiness. You know that expansive feeling of joy that wells up when you practise a back bend? When you open up, you let space in; when you stop constraining your options with your preconceived notions of the good life, you let in new possibilities and a tangible connection with the abundance that surrounds you. When you align all your energy and efforts with the ultimate goal of life, you have the foundation for enduring happiness.

In concentration meditation, we practise gazing at a fixed point until everything else just melts away. The same thing happens when you set your gaze on your goal and retain that connection, unbroken, for a long time; everything else just melts away.

I hope you never give up that dream; if you have shelved it for a while, take it off the shelf, dust it and start meditating on it. Quite literally! Write it down and meditate on it every morning and evening. Start with 15 minutes and work it up from there. Notice how it changes the way you go about your week, how it resets what you prioritize in the day.

Be relentless, and when the result manifests itself, I want to hear your story!

May you be happy and free,

@SpiceSadhaka

Kundalini Rising

Is kundalini for you?Tree Pose at Sunset

Yoga philosophy believes that Man’s essential nature is blissful, and that the ultimate goal of practice is to remove ignorance and attachment to our egos, shedding the belief that happiness can be obtained from external sources. To be happy, we simply have to reconnect with the divine, blissful essence which is within each of us.

What is kundalini? A kundalini class aims to push the practitioner beyond deep-held beliefs and pre-conceived boundaries, to tap more latent potential of the self. The sanskrit term, kundalini, refers to a coiled pit deep at the root chakra. Yoga practice can unleash this latent power. One could look at kundalini yoga as similar to life coaching, where the client is guided to go beyond perceived limitations to attain the limitless.

Kundalini practice can be physically and mentally demanding. High repetitions and long-held poses and breath control send the neurons firing away, the body vibrating with subtle energy, opening access to an expansive, transcendental experience. Deep meditation coupled with sound therapy is also another way to awaken the inner energy fields. Through regular practice, one can tame the fluctuations of the mind and enter into greater consciousness of the self, and perhaps catch a glimpse of that internal, imperishable bliss.

— Spice Sadhaka

Image courtesy: arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhotos