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So the summer seems to be over! Finally we had a classic British summer and September is suddenly here, luckily for us it seems like the weather will hold just a little while longer.

In Chinese philosophy late summer is the time of the Earth element. It is that moment after the growth and activity of summer and before the autumn begins and the leaves and the light levels fall. The earth is the centre around which the other elements move. Now is the time when the fruit on the trees is just ready. The blackberries have grown, they`re ready and just waiting to be picked.

For me there`s just a sense right now of the calm before the storm. Before it all begins again, the kids go back to school and the seasons march onwards to Christmas(!).

So Just allow yourself a moment of reflection and gratitude, for the summer we had and what is about to arrive. I hope the stillness of these days leaves you feeling recharged and ready for the fun and games ahead.

 

Remember the breath is the still point in life. It is what brings you back to the present moment. Observing the in-breath and the out-breath and the gap in-between will help to create stillness and relaxation.

 

Try this basic Buddhist meditation

 

Find somewhere comfortable to sit, with your back reasonably straight and feet flat on the floor. Try and find somewhere without any distractions. Oh and put your phone on silent for 5 minutes.

 

Close your eyes and focus all of your attention on the nostrils.

 

Breath in. Notice the cool sensation of the air rushing in.

 

Observe any pause in the breath.

 

Breath out. Notice the warm air rushing out.

 

That`s it. Just try and be present with the breath. Focus your entire attention on these sensations. When your mind wanders bring it back to the task in hand, it’s just your monkey mind distracting you.

 

Keep breathing for a few minutes until you feel relaxed, have had enough or reach enlightenment (if you do, let us know).

 

That`s it! Enjoy the stillness of these days!

By Jeremy Marshall

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Many of you mention that you would like to take up meditation. Well here is your chance. There is no mystery to it; it just means that you take the time to focus.

Ginny has given us this little gem.

Don’t be put off by the use of certain words, it’s just language and this is a really powerful way to focus your energy on something so positive to create a wonderful life for yourself. Imagine if large communities of people did this meditation, the world we could create…

Ginny Haswell

Ginny Haswell

 

This practice is an ancient  Buddhist technique which increases positive emotions and cultivates mind states including acceptance, patience, kindness and compassion.   Using a repeated phrase or mantra, we are asking for peace and health.

With regular practice, negative thoughts and emotions are replaced with a positive attitude towards ourselves and others.   This can transform our approach to life and lead to lasting peace and happiness.

The technique always begins with asking for peace and wellbeing for oneself.  This can often be difficult – perhaps it feels inauthentic or selfish – and it is often recommended that until we are comfortable with this first stage, we should not move on further in the practice.  Always notice any resistance you feel without judgement and simply hold the intention of directing loving kindness.

The practice

To begin, find a suitable meditation position, where you are sitting with a comfortable and upright posture, ideally with the eyes closed or a soft lowered gaze.  This can be sitting in a straight backed chair or using a cushion on the floor.  Check that you are warm enough and that you won’t be disturbed.

Take a few minutes, or longer if necessary, to bring your awareness into your body.  Feel the support of the chair or floor underneath you.  Allow your weight to rest on your sitting bones and from this base of support gain a sense of your spine rising up from the tailbone to your head.   Invite a sense of wakefulness to your spine.  Allow your shoulders and arms to soften and relax.

Then become aware of your breath moving in and out of your body, feeling the expansion or filling up of your torso as you breathe in, and the softening or releasing sensation as you breathe out.  Stay with this awareness of your breath until you feel relaxed and settled.  When you are ready:

Bring to mind a feeling of appreciation of yourself and silently repeat:

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I be free from fear and harm

May I live with ease

It is good to repeat this until you can feel compassion, acceptance and unconditional love for yourself.   Then we are ready to continue using the same mantra as follows:

–          Bring to mind a close friend, someone whom you feel love and warmth for.  Perhaps notice what emotions arise when you think of this person.  Repeat the mantra by replacing ‘I’ with this person.

–          Bring to mind a neutral person, someone who you neither like nor dislike e.g. a neighbour down the road.  Repeat the mantra with this person in your awareness.

–          Bring to mind a difficult person, someone who you do not see eye to eye with or to whom you feel hostility.  Repeat the mantra with this person in your awareness.

–          Now bring to mind a sense of your local community e.g. the whole of Brighton and Hove.  This will include people you know and don’t know.  Repeat the mantra as you hold them in your awareness.

–          Finally, we can bring to mind all sentient beings the world over.  Holding them in your awareness as you repeat the mantra.

To close your meditation, relax your concentration and become aware of yourself and your body sitting and breathing.  Then externalise your awareness by visualising your surroundings and then gently open your eyes.

By Ginny Haswell, Yoga Instructor.

Ginny, who has been teaching yoga at Coast for five years, recently attended a week’s teacher intensive training in London with Shiva Rea, one of the world’s leading Vinyasa Flow yoga teachers.   Here is what Ginny has to say about her course and the influence this will bring to her Monday evening class.

Vinyasa Flow, in Shiva Rea’s words is “a natural sequence unfolding with creative intelligence – a conscious evolution connecting each moment with unifying breath.”  This dance-like style of yoga, in which we are rarely holding postures statically (except for those that ask for it, such as balancing poses) requires us to be completely present with our body and breathe.

I have found the benefits of switching my daily yoga practice to Vinyasa Flow to include stronger core, (my abdominals seriously ached after the first few days of the course!), my upper and lower body strength has increased and I feel more toned.  I have found that the concentration I employ during my yoga practice leaves me feeling very calm afterwards and as a result my meditation practice has also become easier.

The art of sequencing Vinyasa Flow yoga, as taught by Shiva Rea, is really intelligent – we work our way to a ‘peak posture’ (e.g. an arm balance or backbend) but we approach this in waves, each wave becoming more challenging than the preceding one, so that we can choose to stay with the earlier stages of preparation if we are not ready for the peak posture.  This wave sequencing teaches us that it’s ok to be where we are and that evolution is possible, an understanding that we can take with us in all areas of our lives.

My Dynamic Flow class will be re-launched as Vinyasa Flow and is now set to music.  The class is not suitable for beginners to yoga so if you hope to join this class one day, why not start off with a Hatha Yoga class first?

Ginny is off to Turkey soon to teach on a Vinyasa Flow Yoga Holiday 16th – 23rd July.  There are two rooms left so if you fancy booking a last minute week in the sun with yoga, great food and like-minded people, please see Ginny’s website for further details.

Written by Ginny Haswell

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