Mind Monkey.. pipe down already!

25 Jan

Lately I have been fortunate enough to have a large chunk of free time in my life. I am currently between yachting jobs, so my daily priorities have been that of yoga and.. drinking delicious coffee. Yoga and I really have developed a newly formed love affair in the previous 3 months. Prior to this, I had participated in a few classes here and there in the form of Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Bikram, but it wasn’t until my move to Mallorca in October that I really committed and bonded with this ancient practise.

This morning, my class was Ashtanga, which in Sanskrit, literally translates to “eight limbs (or “eight limbed path”). This is form of yoga with eight components: morality; ethics; posture; breath control; sense control; concentration; meditation; absorption. I have only practised the first (or primary) series; that consisting of about 75 poses taking between 90 and 120 minutes to complete.

Just let me vent quickly: anyone that claims yoga is for “pussy’s” or “stupid hippies” voice their close minded opinion because a) they have clearly never rolled out a mat, taken off their socks and joined in on a class and b) because frankly, they are idiots. If you have given yoga a go, then you surely know that damn, this shit is hard! Not only physically, but also emotionally, spiritually and mentally. It can all be very testing.

Personally, I find that the Ashtanga is very physically challenging but equally, I find it really tough to remain balanced, focused and centred mentally. During a class, the “Mind Monkey” often appears.. and you’ve all met him in everyday life. You know that annoying “voice of doubt, impatience, hatred or negativity” that appears sporadically in the mind. Yup, that is him!

Well today in my class, he came for a visit and the little whisper began. He told me that ‘I couldn’t possibly do that posture’; ‘that my hamstrings are far too tight and they are not good enough’; ‘I wasn’t a “good yogi” because I couldn’t get my shoulders under my knee caps, flatten my hands and hold myself mid air for 25 breathes’… And, ‘that the 60 year old women behind me all twisted up like a perfect animal balloon was making me look stupid.’ All rubbish! One word = TRAP! And I fell deeply into it by comparing myself to others and momentarily becoming caught up into a false train of thought by measuring my “success” based purely on the physical and then proceeding to put myself down.

In the book “Yoga Body, Mind and Spirit: A return to Wholeness” author Donna Farhi touches on how in the west, we are taught from an early age that “what we do” and “what we own” are the sole components for measuring whether we are “successful.” What yoga aims to teach us is that “who we are” and “how we are” constitute the ultimate proof of a life lived in freedom; and if one does not truly believe this, it is likely that they will measure their success in their yoga practise through the achievements of external forms (yes me, momentarily!).

She then goes on to explain that it is easy to measure physical prowess, but then we compare ourselves to others who are more flexible, or more “advanced” in their yoga postures, getting trapped (there is that nasty little word again!) in the belief that the forms of the practice are the goal. BUT these outward feats do not necessarily constitute any evidence of a balanced practice or a balanced life. She explains that this is where we need to remember that the techniques and forms are not the goals in themselves but vehicles for getting to the essence of who we are.

She also states that one of the greatest challenges in practising yoga, is to learn to perceive progress through “invisible” signs; signs that are quite often unacknowledged by the culture at large. Donna asks –
Are we moving toward greater kindness, patience, or tolerance towards others? Are we able to remain centred and calm even when others around us become agitated and angry? How we speak, how we treat others and how we live are the more subjective qualities and attributes we need to recognise in ourselves as a testament to our own progress. She says that If we remain committed to our deeply held values, then, we can begin to discern the difference between the appearance of achievement and the true experience of transformation, and thereby free ourselves…..

Whether it be yoga or any other daily scenario/ activity, It is extremely difficult to master the art of self acceptance. If we were able to magically play back the often unkind, unhelpful and destructive comments and judgements silently made toward ourself in any given day, we would then realise exactly how destructive what we think can be. Imagine voicing these thoughts to another person? The vocalisations would be nasty and vicious and could potentially really hurt another human being. This just proves that violence to the self is not only debilitating, but said simply, plain awful.

So how do we become more accepting of thyself? In my opinion, it is to attempt to recognise these thoughts as they occur and accept them. Rather than fight against them, make them wrong and reject them, be compassionate towards them. Imagine your mind suddenly being filled to the brim with lots of love (rather than hatred). Accept the thoughts for how silly they are and laugh not only at yourself, but at the annoying little monkey that lives within the mind.

Nobody is perfect, we all have moments where we doubt ourselves, our choices and our abilities but it is learning to overcome these thought patterns that is the real challenge. If we can master this to the best of our ability, in turn we will all be much happier people; not to mention more tolerant and accepting who we are and the people around us. I know that this is a challenge for me, not only yogic-ally speaking, but in life in general.

As for my monkey, I feel sorry for him, but I accept him in my life. One thing is for sure, I will not let him persuade me into believing falsities!

Progress comes in all forms and like stated above, the invisible is often more powerful.

Until tomorrow’s class

Gypsy xx

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Shine down on me… just a little?

22 Jan

“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine” – Anthony. J. D’Angelo

At this time of year, my internal “weather clock” tells me that the temperature should be really hot, the sky full of bright sunshine and my body would like to be lying on a sandy beach, in my bikini, reading either a good book/ or trashy magazine and then dipping sporadically in and out of the sparkling blue ocean. Please and Thank you. No? Well, not now, but yes, my body craves correctly as I am Australian, so naturally if I was in Australia this is exactly what I would ideally be doing. But I am in Europe and it is winter. The beaches are cold. And worse, I resemble Casper. Scarily transparent on the eye, friendly ghost.

I am inside my apartment literally sitting on top of a bar heater; in slippers, my favourite trackie-daks, three layers on my upper body and I still feel the chill. I swear I feel cold temperatures right down to my bones and as I step outside daily, I resemble a little marshmallow. I wear so many pieces of clothing that my outer jacket is stretched to full capacity and I lose the movement in my arms, they simply just rest there, on the excess cushion. I then try to assure my partner that no, I am not a whinging over – exaggerater, but rather, the cold just really gets to my core.

And to make it worse, my younger sister is travelling through Mexico at the moment and I just received a text message telling me that “she is off for a buffet breakfast followed by a day in the pool bar, cerveza in hand”. Great. It started snowing here yesterday. I may just go and put a beanie on and hell why not, gloves as well. FML. Did I just say that I don’t over – exaggerate, okay.. maybe I do. Just a little.

But don’t get me wrong, Spain is majestic, I do love this part of the world, but it is indeed bloody, freaking cold at this time of year. The winds have started coming from the north and overnight, fresh snow appeared on the distant mountain tops. Brrrrrr…

Yes so like I have said, it is cold, but, we are actually lucky here in Mallorca as the sun is still shining for a few hours a day. During this short time, I try to make sure I get at least 15 minutes on my terrace (weather permitting of course). Sure, I am wearing a full neck-to-toe body suit, but my face feels it.. the rays warm up my heart, I instantly feel happier in every cell and it doesn’t matter what the circumstance, all is wonderful at that present moment.

It has been proven that sunlight happens to be one of the greatest healing remedies that you can find in nature. I truly believe it is because the sun provides the energy that all living things need in order to exist on this beautiful planet.

But what are the other benefits and why does it make you feel so darn “good”?

* Feeling down or sluggish? Exposure to natural sunlight actually stimulates production of serotonin in your brain, an important neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Higher serotonin levels will increase more positive moods, sooth nerves and promote a more focused mental outlook. Grumpy, step outside!

* Overall depression: People affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can develop symptoms of depression in the winter months when the daylight hours reduce significantly. Symptoms can include fatigue, moodiness and a lack of interest in day-to-day functions and activities. Sunshine decreases the symptoms of depression by releasing endorphins into the body (the bodies natural antidepressants). Moral of the story, again, sunshine is awesome!

* Sleeping patterns: Sunlight stimulates the pineal gland which is responsible for producing the hormone, melatonin. Melatonin is one of the chemicals that operates our bodies clocks and assists quality of our sleep.

* Vitamin D: Now this is an important one as sunlight stimulates the body to create Vitamin D. This vitamin promotes absorption of calcium in the gut and transfers calcium across the cell membranes, which provides strength to both the bones and teeth. Vitamin D can help to slow the ageing process, fight heart disease through lowering blood cholesterol levels, offer protection from some cancers (such as lung, prostate, colon and skin cancer) and also assist with osteoporosis, rickets and diabetes.

Not to mention, sunshine –
* Benefits the stomach, improves digestion and stimulates our metabolism.
* Strengthens the immune system.
* Aids detoxification of the body.
* Aids in diabetes.
* Reduces Cancer risk, including prostate, breast, colon and ovarian cancer.
* Enhances Blood circulation.
* Is beneficial for the skin and to improve chronic skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

**

Like anything that is beneficial and in general, makes us feel good (for example. junk food, drinking, lots of fiesta and lack of sleep), too much sunshine can cause the reverse and then lead to harmful repercussions, i.e. skin cancer and eye damage. Be smart with the sun and use your common sense. Get your 15 minutes a day, reap the benefits, but love and protect your body at all times. Whether you use sunscreen, natural alternatives, shade under a tree or like me, a full winter body suit, listen to your individual body and its requirements and limitations in regard to the sun.

To all my friends and family at home, now that the rains have disappeared, may you too enjoy the sunshine and be thankful for it.

Gypsy x

** If you seek more information on the positives of sunlight, please check out http://www.lifemojo.com/lifestyle/health-benefits-of-sunlight-35071756

The land of the french bread.. oui!

19 Jan

On a recent trip to Vancouver for Christmas, we were “forced” to divert through Paris for just one night. We got stuck in the Heathrow airport mess around Christmas time (where all flights were cancelled for days upon days due to ice), so to catch a train and then fly from this beautiful city was our only option. We set out for our one evening of sight-seeing and whilst on route to the Eiffel Tower, we crossed a bridge just as an old barge floated underneath our feet. Something about this photograph makes me so happy.. to feel so blessed and grateful for the world we live in. Like all things, from difficult situations come wonderful outcomes and this moment standing on the bridge, with frozen toes and tired bodies, is surely a testament to this.

Our thoughts and attitudes really do dictate our reality, so make them count.

What can you change today? What are you grateful for?

Gypsy x

But of course…. Mallorca!

18 Jan


Okay.. so maybe I haven’t bought you a beer, had the camels shampooed or saved you a spot on the beach (unlike the 2006 Tourism Australia Campaign above promises). ** Reason being is no, I am not in my Motherland, but rather sitting on a brown two-seater couch at 11.43pm, drinking 7up in a beautiful island called Mallorca. There are no camels here and no, I am not Lara Bingle, although, I wouldn’t mind it. Just for a minute.

Where the bloody hell am I, or rather, this place that sounds like a spicy ingredient for an international curry rather than a magical, holiday destination?

Well, Mallorca is one of the Balearic Islands (combined with Ibiza, Formentera and Minorca) located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is just over 3,600 square kilometres and is home to roughly 900 000 beautiful people. I am in Spain, where the typical Majorcan diet consists of olives and almonds (a fact new to me: apparently there are over 4 million olive and almond trees here – umm.. woah?!). Also, the sweet pastry “Ensaimada”,”Sangria” and “Sobrassada”, a revolting sausage look-a-like, made from pork, species and paprika; one delicacy that is sure to leave enough fat on the roof of your mouth that you could butter half a loaf of bread with the build up.

It is winter, so the air is chilly right now but as I look out through my large glass doors and into the distance, a castle lights up the dark night sky. The streets below are filled with tapas bars, coffee shops and during daylight hours, the spanish language fills my ears and these people, are amongst the friendliest and most tolerant that I have so far, been blessed to meet. And even better, we have siesta hours here. Yes you heard me correctly, between 2 and 5pm daily, depending on the establishment, the stores close. For a nap. A rest. Family time. Or whatever it is that makes the local Spaniards hearts content. Imagine this happening in Australia? “Oh I am sorry, we cannot serve you, I need to sleep!”

I am here, living, breathing and working on super yachts (you can read my “About the blog/blogger” for more information). For the now, not forever. BUT, at this moment, I am privileged to travel, to live in a unique location, to have good health, an amazing boyfriend who makes me smile daily, taste-buds (to enjoy the delicious spanish cuisine of course) and an unknown, yet prosperous and exciting future ahead of me. As Mark Twain says, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowline, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Tales of Gypsy will be filled with my random thoughts, experiences, moments, facts and the stories I collect along the way. It will include music for the soul, recipes to satisfy the tummy (and overall health), photography, jewellery updates and inspiration from people far and wide. I hope that this blog will inspire not only my own creativity, but will also evoke some type of happiness within you. As I share myself, I pavé my way… Join the ride, destination… unknown. I am excited!

May my journey continue.

Delicious Ambiguity.

Gypsy x

** Unless you are an “Aussie” this first paragraph may confuse, as my Canadian boyfriend so cutely pointed out when he looked at me with a very puzzled expression. “Where the hell are you?” was a Tourism Australia Campaign in 2006 that caused much controversy. Too view, watch this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn0lwGk4u9o