Growing up in a family of nine kids, I always felt that I had to work on getting my share of love and attention from my parents. Don’t get me wrong, they did their best to be fair and did a great job raising us, but I always felt that I was just another one of the nine kids… I felt that I needed to differentiate myself by working hard at school, following the rules and being the “good one”.

As I grew up and had relationships, I went through the same motions of trying to work hard for the love I “deserved”. Sadly, the harder I tried, the less fruitful the relationship; with my heart being broken far too often.

Essentially there was this void I desperately wanted to fill.

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One of the best things that happened to me in 2017 is the discovery of Sarah Blondin’s Live Awake series of podcasts. They have awakened me at a fundamental level, so much so that I have shared them with our already inspired teachers, my sisters, nieces and girlfriends, even John! Without fail, the response has been something like “I needed to hear this, it is such a profound and beautiful message”.

What I like about Sarah’s podcasts (apart from her soothing voice) is that each episode provides a different perspective to some of life’s most difficult and challenging times. Her basic message is that perspective is everything, and by choosing to see the beauty that exists in our everyday life, we begin to live a life where happiness is our natural state of being rather than a temporary occurrence.

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“I vow now to develop mindful attention in this body, heart and mind for my own and others’ benefit.”

Just a few more sleeps and it’s 2018! Where did the time go?!

Early this year I was finalizing the education and certifications I planned to do in 2017. So far, I was able to fulfill 5 major training’s that I set myself to do in order to be a better teacher and better person in general (wink, wink). One of the highlights so far was the 10-Day Insight Yoga Level 1 training in Hong Kong with Sarah Powers – my Yin Yoga mother and the one who actually named Yin Yoga as Yin Yoga!

It was my first time in Hong Kong but as usual, I travel not to sight-see but to train with teachers I have been following (or stalking) my entire yoga life. After spending time and learning from her, I am already looking forward to the Level 2 training in May 2018!

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The Pursuit of Stillness

What is stillness? Is it a feeling of calm; an absence of agitation or excitement. We often hear this terminology used in classes and we think we know what it is, but how do we accomplish it?

In today’s world, time is money and time is something we are all lacking. People are working less than they were 50 years ago but we have less spare time, we have more and more timesaving devices but less time to use them and we are constantly on the go, working on the go, staying connected on the go. The connected world means we can reach people far away – but in doing so, we’ve lost contact with ourselves … we’ve lost touch with the inner search engine. In such a world, when do we have the opportunity to find stillness other than when we are sleeping and ideally at some point on our mat?

Why am I focussed on stillness?

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Embracing Diversity

We are all one is a spiritual truth we are told as yogis, but to see the end of inequality in society we need to embrace what makes us different.

We live in a world where billions of people exist together and have the advantage of technology to be connected and learn anything they want by the click of a button. The diversity of religion, race, gender, culture are things that are bound to be different from person to person. Now is the time to embrace this diversity.

Rather than embrace, it seems that many people in the world see diversity as a reason to divide. This is not a political statement; it is simply recognition that we need and can do better. We don’t have to focus on nations far from us (and there are plenty of negative examples!) rather, we should start within our own community. We need to recognise that each of us is unique and amazing, and the collective human experience is richer for the difference we bring.

So how do we get there?

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What is Fear?

Emotions play an important part in our daily lives and fear is one such emotion. It is an unpleasant emotion caused by a perceived threat and is pre-programmed into all animals and people as an instinctive response to potential danger.

Biologically speaking, when a person experiences fear, certain areas in their brain take control causing physical reactions such as:

* Rapid heart rate
* Increased blood pressure
* Tightening of muscles
* Increased sweating

All these are protective mechanisms to increase our chances of survival.

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What we do today contributes to tomorrow success and happiness. How, therefore, should we fill our day?
What daily practices should we complete to lead a holistic and happy life? Are we living each day as if it were our last and would we be proud of our life at the end of that day? Are we an inspiration or warning to others?
Since we opened our doors at Inspire, I have been asking myself these questions at the beginning and end of each day. They are the catalysts to ensure the day ahead of me is one that I am proud of; a day of fruitful conversations, meaningful work and valued time with my family and friends.

What we do daily, even if imperfectly, will bring more success than what we do perfectly, occasionally.
Here my recommendations to maximize our day:

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At dinner last week, the conversation got onto the books that impacted ones thinking or philosophy. Fountainhead by Ayn Rand was a book that I read at the age of 15; it has stayed with me ever since. I was surprised (because it is a heavy read) that one of the other guests had a similar experience.

The philosophy of Fountainhead is individualism. It says: think for yourself, draw your own conclusions, choose your own values and live by your own standards. It celebrates the heroism of the “men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision.”

The novel suggests that the few who lead truly “first-hand” lives of independent judgment are the source (the fountainhead) of all creative achievement. The primary example of this is the novel’s hero Howard Roark, who does not seek popularity or prestige, but does his work in architecture according to his own standards and style — he thinks for himself, judges for himself and makes decisions based solely on his own thinking and judgment.

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Our Comfort Zone – what is it? The words are obvious. It is “that place” where we feel comfortable, right? So why can’t we stay there longer? Why does it consistently change? Why are we pushed out of that zone when it is comfortable and cosy?

I started asking these questions when I began practicing yoga. I remember my teachers always saying: “To transform and change you need to move out of your comfort zone.” Back then, I was resistant. I didn’t want to get out. I liked where I was.

Thinking more about “that place”, I had doubts and noticed that many things in my life felt different. The environment and the events, my body and mindset, even the people, have since changed. Then it hit me – “that place” was no longer my zone of comfort. It was shocking to realize that it was a zone of half-comfort; even discomfort. Immediately, I wanted to change, to move on and to find “that place” again – the zone where I felt comfortable in myself.

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Embrace Change

Change is good, and we either crave or dread it. It built, and continues to build, civilizations. It led you to where you are right now. It could come as a result of a decision you have made (a self-imposed change), or it could just come out of the blue and catch you off guard. Whatever life throws at you, no matter how good, bad, scary or exciting a situation is, it will always change sooner or later. You may resist change or welcome it, but it is always there.

Change is inevitable. It is a constant denominator. The only variable is your behavior.

That is why, I made it my friend! For 10 years now in my 37 years of existence (turning 38 after a few more days), no dramatic change has happened yet that I did not initiate. I will not let you drag me, Change!

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