Kelsey is a friend of my favourite yoga teacher Madina's friend, and they hosted the retreat together.
At the retreat, I was made aware of how 'I am not my thoughts' through an enlightening meditation. It was an aha! moment as up until then I never experienced the separation of self from thoughts. We then learned how to cultivate mental calmness in the face of life's challenges.
After the retreat I had a 16-hour red eye flight to Doha in Qatar Airways economy which I had been dreading. I thought I'd practice equanimity on the flight but nothing worked and I cried on and off during the flight.
So when Kelsey hosted another Equanimity workshop at Barefoot Yoga, I thought it might be worthwhile to attend so I can refresh and deepen my understanding of equanimity in practice.
I used to think it's a waste of money and time to relearn or reread subjects and materials that I have learned before, but after reading Religion for atheists, I feel it's almost a necessity to revisit helpful concepts regularly as humans are forgetful. And as with meditation, each practice brings a new layer of clarity.
Barefoot Yoga is opposite Berkelouw, a lovely bookshop and cafe which I love. Managed to squeeze in a quick lunch of yummy roast pumpkin soup and half an affogato before the workshop.
Barefoot is pretty and charming, unlike the chains I frequent for yoga classes (Crunch and now YogaBar) which are more.. motivational -
|Beautiful wall mural at Barefoot Yoga|
|Those fairy lights!|
Then we set our intentions for the workshop. I wanted to learn how I could have better managed my flight meltdown.
Kelsey explained equanimity to us next. One way to practice equanimity is to have
- kindness/compassion - with no judgement
for yourself first, then extend to others.
We also learned what equanimity is not - equanimity isn't inaction or avoiding responsibility for our actions. Firstly, inaction is an action. You may sit around in bed all day, but sitting in bed is an action. Secondly (my thoughts), if a person commits a crime and says, I am not my thoughts. Well, guess what? You are also not your body (another common philosophy), which is currently rotting in jail.
After learning the theory of equanimity, we meditated sitting up (as it is easy to doze off when meditating lying down) followed by a discussion and sharing of our meditation experience. It is still quite interesting how often we don't realise our thoughts are drifting until somebody points it out to us! Also funny how often our (my?) thoughts are of food!
Meditation was followed by an exercise where we jotted down a situation where we struggled and how we can approach the situation from a place of equanimity. Writing really helps, although my handwriting is shaky because I haven't actually handwritten much for ages. I figured I could meditate more to cultivate zen. After listening to my rather ridiculous 'situation' (there were students there who were stressed from demanding jobs, moving interstate and physical injuries), Kelsey's advice was to practice more compassion and be less judgemental towards myself.
Be your own best friend - comfort yourself like you would your good friend.
(I have actually read that in a magazine once, and thought it was good advice.)
It appears that most people suffer angst not because of how they feel, but because they don't think they should feel a certain way. We're so conditioned to aspire towards happiness and react quickly that sometimes it's difficult to pause, acknowledge and accept our 'bad' feelings before responding.
I remember wondering why? in Madina's class when she invited the students to scan our bodies for areas of discomfort and just acknowledge them without trying to do anything. Why? My shoulders are sore. I want to brainstorm ways to relieve them.
Perhaps being able to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, knowing this too, shall pass, is part of yoga practice.
This skill might have come in handy when you're feeling overwhelmed in an environment you can't really control eg. you can't leave the full economy cabin whenever you wish.
We closed with restorative (yin) yoga.
It was good to see Kelsey again (I know it's irrelevant, but she's so pretty!) and refresh my understanding of equanimity.
I feel grateful for today- I practiced (hot and yin) yoga for 2 hours with Madina at YogaBar in the morning, had a hot shower (hot water makes me happy, because we run out at home sometimes), ate a delicious lunch at Berkelouw, spent a couple of hours learning about equanimity in a beautiful boutique studio complete with Lululemon mats and got a ride home.
At home the dishes had been done so all I had to do was my own laundry. I researched and discussed our upcoming weekend getaway to Canberra to attend a truffle hunt with my friend. Ate yummy food- chocolate from Bakedown Cakery, homemade mung bean and sago dessert soup. Soon I'll see X, whom I haven't seen since Friday as he has been working evenings, finishing at midnight.
A perfect Sunday.
- Ram Dass, Going Home (Netflix) - We are all just walking each other home
- Peace is every step (book)
- Tara Brach