"And the people stayed home", K O'Meara.
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised,
and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous,
mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed,
and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices,
and dreamed new images, and created new ways
to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
We get inspirations from everywhere, even when we don’t expect it. Your creativity shine through in different aspects of life - like cooking, baking, painting, gardening, decorating the house, singing, making films and videos.... This Covid 19 lockdown inspired many of us to learn new skills, or to be brave to learn something new! I know many of us improved our tech knowledge and very proud of it!
I would like to present this amazing piece of art from artists Ray Burnside, Stephanie Grainger (Regular TOFFS Yoga Club student ) and another regular yoga student of Yoga Life Studio, Clive Whitburn. They were inspired musically to create a choral piece using a virtual choir (New Network Singers Virtual Choir) where each singer recorded their own vocal parts and then edited them all together. Even though people may be at home recording this on their own there is such a strong sense of community in this project as all the voices came together to form a choir. This piece, entitled "In the Time of Pandemic " (a short video of lockdown choral piece written to the words of American Kitty O'Meara) has been described as the following:
"Soothes the soul" ... "lifts the spirits... "poignantly reflective"... "I felt myself take a deep breath of hope at the end"
And now we are all invited to upload what we have been making and doing under lockdown to the website. It might be poetry, drawing, painting, short film, music, creative writing or photography... the only rule is that it must have been made by you between 23rd March this year and the end of lockdown. So what are you waiting for? Get involved ! Follow the link!
Enjoy the video and spot me, your yoga teacher Olga!
When the pandemic hit, and people started losing their jobs, a lot of people said that now is the best time to reinvent yourself, to learn a skill, and to dust off that passion project. Connect to the whole world and help people in need, save lives and the planet...
We all were talking about 2020 brining a lots of changes to our life. Here we are, we live the history, old "normal" will never be the same.
About what happened in USA with George Floyd. Meditation teacher Light Watkins said:
"With this Black lives matter movement, now is the time to be uncomfortable, by speaking up, asking questions, and engaging in dialogue with our friends and family. Don’t worry about sounding ignorant or feeling embarrassed. The only way we’ll uncover our own biases and assumptions is by talking about them openly and honestly. And instead of striving for this colourblind society, which keeps people of colour feeling invisible, let’s reach higher and create a colour-shine society, where everyone feels seen, celebrated, and treated with dignity, no matter how they look or which culture they were born into."
I would LOVE you to read this quote form another meditation teacher Anodea Judith:
"Love is not a matter of getting connected; it is a matter of seeing that we already are connected within an intricate web of relationships that extends throughout life. It is a realisation of “no boundaries” – that we are all made of the same essence, riding through time on the same planet, faced with the same problems, the same hopes and fears. It is a connection at the core that makes irrelevant skin colour, age, sex, looks or money."
"You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one"- extremely relevant with what the world is going through.
It’s easy if you try to IMAGINE. Let's all be dreamers and remind others about KINDNESS and LOVE.
We’ve all been finding ways to cope, and sometimes we can’t. I’m finding that years of yoga and meditation are real assets. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and 3rd months into lockdown is a good time to consider how that affects our current experience. The theme is kindness. Recently, I completed my Meditation course with brilliant Meditation and Spiritual Teacher Jeff Foster. He is also a writer and a poet.
As you know, I like to read inspirational poems during the relaxation time in my lessons. And many of you have heard some of his poems. I am sharing another of his creations in this letter to you. I found that this poem is a great reminder to be kind and listen to yourself, not running away from difficult feelings and be present…
How I became a warrior
Once, I ran from fear
so fear controlled me.
Until I learned to hold fear like a newborn.
Listen to it, but not give in.
Honour it, but not worship it.
Fear could not stop me anymore.
I walked with courage into the storm.
I still have fear,
but it does not have me.
Once, I was ashamed of who I was.
I invited shame into my heart.
I let it burn.
It told me, "I am only trying
to protect your vulnerability".
I thanked shame dearly,
and stepped into life anyway,
unashamed, with shame as a lover.
Once, I had great sadness
buried deep inside.
I invited it to come out and play.
I wept oceans. My tear ducts ran dry.
And I found joy right there.
Right at the core of my sorrow.
It was heartbreak that taught me how to love.
Once, I had anxiety.
A mind that wouldn't stop.
Thoughts that wouldn't be silent.
So I stopped trying to silence them.
And I dropped out of the mind,
and into the Earth.
Into the mud.
Where I was held strong
like a tree, unshakeable, safe.
Once, anger burned in the depths.
I called anger into the light of myself.
I felt its shocking power.
I let my heart pound and my blood boil.
Listened to it, finally.
And it screamed, "Respect yourself fiercely now!".
"Speak your truth with passion!".
"Say no when you mean no!".
"Walk your path with courage!".
"Let no one speak for you!"
Anger became an honest friend.
A truthful guide.
A beautiful wild child.
Once, loneliness cut deep.
I tried to distract and numb myself.
Ran to people and places and things.
Even pretended I was "happy".
But soon I could not run anymore.
And I tumbled into the heart of loneliness.
And I died and was reborn
into an exquisite solitude and stillness.
That connected me to all things.
So I was not lonely, but alone with All Life.
My heart One with all other hearts.
Once, I ran from difficult feelings.
Now, they are my advisors, confidants, friends,
and they all have a home in me,
and they all belong and have dignity.
I am sensitive, soft, fragile,
my arms wrapped around all my inner children.
And in my sensitivity, power.
In my fragility, an unshakeable Presence.
In the depths of my wounds,
in what I had named “darkness”,
I found a blazing Light
that guides me now in battle.
I became a warrior
when I turned towards myself.
And started listening.
To be or not to be… ONLINE YOGA?
"Be yourself! Make mistakes and carry on! " that's what I say to myself. I teach yoga classes on Zoom and then download them on YouTube and Instagram. And more I teach - more mistakes I do! I wasn't sure in the beginning, but then I realised that my students like me as I am. With my strong Russian accent and "sometimes" wrong English grammar!
I have been spending years of studying yoga and meditation. It's never ending process... My intention of teaching/guiding yoga is to help everyone to feel better in body, mind and spirit, and enjoy life to its full potential. Another aspect I love about yoga , that yoga brings us together and gives us a sense of community.
I came across this little gem today again, a reminder to all of us to shine the brightest light and don't ever to play small from Maryanne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
This week of Easter we are in the midst of a global experience. We live the history; we will tell stories about these challenging times and about this Pandemic. We have stretched ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, at every level, allow us to be present with adversity, challenge, and change.
Each day we are faced with new changes and challenges. Every day we are being called to continue to find ways to meditate, to practice yoga, to stay grounded and present, to breathe. To connect to our centre of inner strength. Whatever is happening around us, it is important for us to maintain our inner strength. Our inner composure and staying calm.
The spring and this season bring with it a promise of renewal. May we find whatever way possible to live up to that promise in whatever ways we can. Staying at home. Wearing masks. Helping others. Grateful for our breath. Finding healing and wholeness. Connecting.
Life is amazing.
“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful.
And then it’s amazing again.
And in between the amazing and awful
it’s ordinary and mundane and routine.
Breathe in the amazing,
hold on through the awful,
and relax and exhale during the ordinary.
That’s just living
And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”
― L.R. Knost
When things get hard, ask yourself: " What is the kindest thing to do right now?"
I found this poem so inspirational and comforting in this uncertain time.
NONE OF US ARE IMMUNE
By Jeff Foster
It’s going to be okay.
It really is.
We will face this situation together with love, humour and patience.
We will weep together, we will laugh together.
We will discover togetherness in our apartness.
And the worst of it will end one day.
And we will have learned so much by then.
We will now be called to face very difficult feelings inside of us.
Fear. Grief. The loss of an old way of life. Our devastated plans.
We will learn to face ourselves. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Nowhere to go except within.
A sacred quarantine.
We will learn to face our boredom. Our restlessness.
The part of us that wants to be somewhere else,
with someone else, doing something else,
having some other experience, in some other Now, living in some other life.
We will let go of the wonderful future we had planned.
We will let the fantasy future die, release it, and grieve it.
We will return to the solidity and warmth of the present.
We will make the present into our home.
We will begin again, here, build a new house on new soil.
We will explore a new way of life.
Strange, at first. But full of possibility.
Slower. Kinder. Quieter.
We will talk to each other honestly about death, and life, and impermanence, and how we feel about all the changes that have come to us and our loved ones.
We will learn to value life a little more.
Yes, perhaps we will learn to value life a little more.
And live with our hearts cracked slightly open to the elements.
And lean into uncertainty, and find our salvation there.
None of us are immune to change.
To rupture. To the shattering of old, familiar forms.
This is the way of things, this has always been the way of things.
From this perspective, nothing has gone wrong.
Crisis simply means “turning point”, and none of us are immune from the turning.
The breaking of the old makes way for the birth of new.
It has always been this way.
Love. Humour. Patience. With these things, we will come through.
Stronger than before. Renewed. Ready.
I am sending you all my love, my friends.
CATCH AND RELEASE – A Technique for Mental and Emotional Freedom.
Wise words from the Buddhist master, Thích Nhất Hạnh:
On true freedom:
"Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free."
My Yoga Teacher, Bruce Bowditch offers one method he has found to be consistently useful for disconnecting from negative and exhausting mental cycle. He calls it CATCH AND RELEASE (A Technique for Mental and Emotional Freedom).
It’s a meditation technique where you sit quietly and observe your thoughts.
“Soon, whatever is most prominently on your mind will show up; a worry, a doubt, a fear, a judgement, a painful memory or some other negative thought. See if you can identify the thought, then give it a name that captures its essence. Instead of pushing the thought away, acknowledge it, embrace it and offer acceptance by saying to yourself, “I love you.” This can be very challenging since many of our thoughts are painful – sometimes REALLY painful and have been held a long time. Or we may feel we are in the middle of a crisis with no good way through.
Many events in our life were not of our choosing. We didn’t ask for them but they happened. They may have been completely outside our control at the time and we can feel stuck with the aftermath. Here is the thing we must remember: we can’t change past circumstances and some present situations are beyond our control, but we can choose to change our thoughts and feelings about them.
That is precisely what this technique helps us do. By repeatedly and consistently practising the technique of “catching” negative thoughts, offering them love and acceptance, then “releasing” them, you can go a long way to gaining perspective and begin to see that your world consists of so much more that your pain.
When we offer love to our darkness, the light gets brighter. We can start to see what’s going right. Solutions and possibilities naturally begin opening up. Wounds can heal and we can forgive. The beauty that is in us and around all the time begins to shine through. We gain a taste of freedom.”