All my classes include mindfulness of the breath and other pranayama practices, asana (poses), some psychoeducation about how poses impact our bodies and minds (especially mental and emotional health) and yoga nidra and/or other relaxation and meditative tools.
These are from 12.30-1.30pm. My current regulars enjoy this very gentle class with a full 30 minutes for yoga nidra at the end.
I also teach at Benton Hall on Thursdays (12.30-1.45pm). The yoga nidras for these classes are around 20 minutes.
They (along with others I cover there) are bookable via Benton Hall’s reception.
If you’d like to join me but can’t make these classes or private ones, what time of day/week would be best for you?
I was delighted to see that my new sign is up and visible from Witham’s High Street. The one it replaced was my attempt at being muted (black font on white background) – I much prefer this one. (What do you think?)
Do get in touch whether you’re local and want face to face support (or anywhere via telephone and Skype).
I had a gorgeous trip to Florence (via Paris) this week for 2013’s Psychosynthesis Research Conference. The theme was ‘The Soul in Professional Practice’ and the selling point for me (apart from FIRENZE!) was the visit to Assagioli’s house.
During my training, we heard a range of stories about the creator of psychosynthesis. He comes across, in all the stories I’ve heard, as a really good man. Seeing his handwritten note, ‘The messenger is the message’ brought home his walking his walk.
An eclectic soul (hence psychosynthesis is so integrative drawing on psychoanalysis and Eastern practices and philosophy, too), Assagioli wanted to keep his beliefs away from the science. In the intervening century, the world has become more open to different ways of doing things (Assagioli was imprisoned by Mussolini’s government for his Jewish background and progressive writings).
I imagine the Italian psychiatrist / psychoanalyst struggled a great deal to balance his beliefs and medical training while pioneering this new approach to working with mind, body, feelings and the transpersonal (spirit).
Apart from just being in Florence, it was great to get a sense of how he’d lived (and to read references to the ‘intelligent Italian’ in Freud and Jung’s collected letters).
It was interesting to see his workboard where he’d experimented with the early theory (as a student, it was presented as the finished theory so seeing his question marks around aspects and, I guess, the messiness that real lives entail, was more inspiring to me than all the polished, finished things).
Similarly, the view from his desk inspired a little Happy Dance from me. We’d learned about his ‘evocative words’ techniques (think affirmations, but choosing just one word representing a quality you want to amplify in your life) but how wonderful to see his most prominent placement of Serenity and Pazienza (Serenity and Patience). (Patience is something I have to work at. Big time. It’s like that old cartoon: ‘What do we want?’ ‘Inner peace!’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘NOW!’)
Some of what I’d heard about him made him sound like a saint of sorts so this made him seem delightfully human. But ignoring all the (some of them fab) speakers and theory, and lovely people I met from around the world, the biggest lesson I’ll remember is Assagioli’s encouragement (we were shown bits of his manuscripts) to listen to ‘the pull of your soul’.
What Assagioli sensed all this time ago is being borne out by modern science. He spoke about storing reserves of joy and we now understand that while we feel emotions like joy, pride, love, hope, awe and so on, we create a natural performance enhancing hormone, DHEA, which, while feeling pretty amazing, also inhibits the stress response and creation of cortisol.
While the whole trip (especially choosing trains over planes) was something my spirit craved, the biggest gift I gave myself was crossing Florence to find a pool and being allowed to use it. Wherever I go, I love to swim and visit public libraries (the one I spent the most time in had a gorgeous courtyard and views over the stunning cathedral next door).
My swims are normally pretty easy to arrange but even having researched in advance, it appeared that the gorgeous public pools (mostly outdoors) were closed for the winter. Still, the lovely hotel receptionist saw that a local gym was offering free trial swims.
With my Italian being limited to ‘Magnifico!’, ‘Bellisimo!’ and ‘Grazie’, I knew I was taking a risk (wasting limited time in Florence getting spectacularly lost and potentially NOT getting to swim). But when I found it, I spoke to someone with wonderful English and, even though I offered to pay saying I lived in the UK, was told I could swim for free. Magic.
In your own life, can you think of a big gift (trip/course/experience of some kind) that your soul seems to crave?
How about little things you can build in each day?
What is your soul/spirit/whatever you want to call it pulling you to do right now?
If you want to, sit comfortably and just allow yourself to get a sense of what you need most in this moment. It might be a hug from someone, listening to a particular piece of music, visiting your favourite forest/beach/lake/gallery, singing, cooking or painting, exploring, having a mini dance break… You know better than anybody what’s best for you.
We’re all different and have varying needs day to day. Paying attention to whatever it is your spirit needs and doing your best to deliver will pay enormous dividends in mood boosts and overall wellbeing.
Creativity coach and The Artist’s Way author, Julia Cameron, calls it, ‘Filling the well’. Sonia Choquette (whose delightful Trust Your Vibes draws on a fair bit of psychosynthesis theory but in a wonderfully accessible, friendly way) suggests giving your spirit a name and conversing with it to really tune in to what’s right for you.
Have fun checking in with your spirit as well as mind, body and feelings. Just asking yourself, at different times throughout the day, ‘What do I need right now?’ will help you become more fluent in understanding yourself.
We live in such a busy, noisy world, becoming better acquainted with this wise part of yourself can not only make life feel so much smoother but enables you to access all your resources more easily.
All images (c) Eve Menezes Cunningham 2013
I have lots of exciting news re my yoga therapy classes and course in Witham, Essex – please share this post if you know anyone fairly local who might benefit.
NEW: Morning yoga classes – Wednesdays 10-11.30am
Having been asked about offering morning classes by a few people, I’ve decided to start next week! Click here for upcoming themes, available dates and more information. And you can book easily by getting in touch with me.
ONE SPACE LEFT for the Yoga Therapy for the Mind 8 Week Course for Stress, Anxiety and Depression
This is the first of its kind (a unique blend of yoga therapy, psychotherapy, neuroscience and mindfulness) to be run in Essex and I’m excited to have ordered manuals and cds etc for my first group starting on 24th October. Click here for more information. While there’s only one space left for the current venue (in Witham), if there’s enough interest within the coming week, I can hire a larger space and order more materials so please get in touch ASAP if you’re interested. And if you can’t do that time but are interested in the course, do let me know your preferred times/days of the week for when I’m scheduling future courses.
NEW: Yoga passes for themed Yoga Therapy classes in Witham
Passes can be used for 5 or 10 classes and you can save up to £30. They can be paid for via cheque, cash, credit card, PayPal or BACS transfer and are valid for up to a year from the date of purchase. Click here to find out more.
I look forward to hearing from you (email email@example.com or phone 07584 354963 or 01376 510012) if you’d like to find out more / book your space.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net / Ponsuwan
I always enjoy BACP Coaching and AICTP meetings – there’s something about integrating different models (coaching and counselling) that makes me (with all the hats I wear) Very Happy.
And tonight this went even further. I arrived early and a couple of friendly looking strangers asked if I was there for the mindfulness meeting. I said, no but that it sounded very interesting and asked more. Turned out that WAS the meeting I was there for. The lovely Liz Hall was talking about coming out of the meditation closet and her new book Mindful Coaching.
I’d had a sporadic mindfulness practice for over a decade. My psychosynthesis counselling training had incorporated some mindfulness elements and my yoga therapy for mental health training had mindfulness as a key component.
But it was only after hearing Jon Kabat Zinn (click here to read my blog) in March that it has really stuck as a daily practice.
Some days it’s 5 minutes, other days 20. Sometimes in between. On occasion, longer. Sometimes, the 5 minutes brings a sense of peace and wellbeing. Other times, even 20 minutes doesn’t give me that ‘hit’ of wellbeing but I have learned to be OK with that, too. Other times it’s in between.
I usually do more than my first thing in the morning practice by taking moments throughout the day to be more consciously present. But it still amazes me that my morning meditation has become even more essential to my wellbeing than brushing my teeth (don’t worry – I still do that too).
Mindfulness is a big part of my yoga therapy work and of my counselling (psychosynthesis is very holistic). But mindfulness (when not called something different like sensory acuity in NLP) as a key component of coaching?
Liz’s Mindfulness in Coaching survey (2012) showed the benefits of mindfulness going beyond self-awareness (70%) and stress reduction (59%). 61% of respondents said, ‘In being more reflective, our clients are better able to identify what they really want.’
Using mindful awareness (of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and whatever is arising in a given moment) enriches everything. It was a gorgeous evening and I cannot wait to read Liz’s book.
Whether you’re a coach/therapist looking to integrate more mindfulness into your practice or you’re contemplating having coaching and like the sound of this approach, you may want to check Mindful Coaching out.
And if you’re interested in exploring mindfulness techniques to boost your emotional intelligence, encourage neuroplasticity, reduce stress, help you feel more present and focused no matter what’s going on in your life, work or relationships, let me know.