Life is Easy, it's our mind that makes it difficult
Life is Easy, it’s our mind that makes it difficult
“Life is easy, it’s our minds that make it difficult” - My wonderful teacher Didier said this today, so simply put and so true. Being Mental Health Awareness Week I want to share some of my own thoughts.
My mind has been opened and heart touched by all the incredible people I have met over the years. Especially on my travels in India, men and women from all corners of the earth can suddenly meet in one place at one time out of beautiful coincidence. There is also a sense of having been exactly where you are meant to be at that time and this comes from slowing down, looking inside and listening to what it is you want from life. It is when we tune in to our true self, (not the person society moulds us to be), and what makes us happy, that we can start living the life we are meant to live and meeting people that we need to meet and who need us in turn. There is also something about being away from our own western countries that breaks down the boundaries of what people are willing to share. It isn’t considered weak to feel, (a stigma especially for men) or shameful to admit we’re not always happy all the time. Maybe this is what draws me in.
Something I am working on is listening, slowing down my urge to speak or share my own experience. How often does someone tell you some bad news of theirs and your first reaction is to respond with your own story. This is because our ego loves to be heard, it also loves to live in the past. When someone opens up to you, this is your time to be quiet, to listen. If someone asks you for the answer to their problems, instead of giving them the right answer, give them the right questions...provoke them to find the answer inside them self, as only they can.
From listening to others I have heard many cases of struggles with mental illness, often hugely inspiring, or their struggles with having a friend or family member with mental illness, (who really must not be forgotten as having their own battles).
One thing I feel is important is that while it is so essential to listen and to support, hearing someone else’s situation doesn’t make your own any more or less significant.
You many not have suffered abuse, have an addiction or have any seemingly severe external circumstances but that does not mean your mind isn’t suffering from its own torment. I can speak as someone from a seemingly ‘perfect’ background, with every opportunity, a loving family and unbelievable friends but that hasn’t stopped my mind making my life hell at times over the years.
I have been through a lot of stages with my own mental health and have felt the shame and loneliness it can bring.
I feel incredibly lucky to have found a lifestyle that I absolutely love and which doubles up as the best medicine the world could prescribe and that for me, is yoga. This doesn’t just mean working up a sweat on the matt, although that does wonders, but it is the time I take to reconnect to myself. To slow down. To breathe. To wonder, who am I? What do I want with this gift of a life and how can I make the absolute most of it rather that wishing it away. Meditation by itself and the meditation I reach through physical practice gives me rest from a crazy, whirlwind thought stream; it is proven to relieve stress, make you emotionally stronger, improve mood, improve sleep and can help manage depression and anxiety. After meditation I love to take a walk and enjoy a few moments of HD vision.. It opens my eyes to the tiny details that make the world so special, the hundreds of shades of green in nature, the warmth of the sun on my skin and I might notice the sound of the birds singing more than the nearby drilling or sirens just that bit more.
Only we hold the power to affect our destiny, or our future if that word sits better. We also have the power to heal ourselves, by unlearning a lot of what society has taught us to be true.. The manipulation that comes from a society that profits from pain and consumerism. Hundreds of years ago, when people lived a simpler life I would bet they were far less plagued with anxiety and depression. Last year when I first arrived in Goa, I was on the beach and two women came to sell me jewellery. I told them I didn’t want to buy anything and I wasn’t there to shop. They asked me then why have I come to India? I found myself saying without thinking, “To learn how to be happy again.” They sat down with me and spoke so openly of how little they have and how content they are. The more we have, the more possessions we collect, the more worry and fear that comes with it.
It is like the idea of shopping therapy, we shop for a quick fix, a boost of oxytocin and then that evening; the feeling passes and we are left with a new pair of jeans, less money and the same emptiness inside.
My point is that we can’t mask our feelings and we shouldn’t suppress them. There is no amount of material things or holidays or drink or drugs that will just magic everything better. Healing has to be done from within and is like any practice, something that requires commitment.
So it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and im saying my bit just because maybe my words might inspire even one person to know this not a topic to be embarrassed about. I’ll leave you with a couple of recommendations :
Books I’d like to recommend :
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig - a brilliantly honest and brave insight into Matt’s experience with Mental Health ... recommend to anyone, for those who suffer to know they’re not alone or mad and a good read for family and friends to get an insight into the mind of someone with depression and anxiety.
The Power of Now - by Eckhartolle
- this is on my own reading list, about being conscious and living in the moment.
Fern Cotton’s ‘Happy Place’ podcasts with an array of celebrity guests such as Dawn French, Gok Wan and Stephen Fry showing us Mental Health is not something to hide but to share.
If anyone wants to talk more on this I’m always happy to and if anyone is interested in yoga but maybe feels a little daunted at the idea of their first class as a studio - please get in touch about this I would love to teach you.
I am so so excited, and of course a little nervous, to teach yoga full time and equip people with a practice that can make a monumental difference to everyone in a multitude of ways.