Showing Up Exactly As You Are | Escape Haven Yoga Retreat

Tips for stepping back into the present moment

Showing Up Exactly As You Are

Those who have had some experience with meditation understand that being mindful and present to every moment in life can be challenging! When we’re on the yoga mat or meditation cushion it’s easier to calm the mind and focus, but let’s remember that the other 12 waking hours of the day also count.

This other time is when we’re in the world, focusing on being our ‘doing’ selves instead of our ‘being’ selves. If you’re finding yourself experiencing difficulty in the world, try not to worry. Life’s uncertainties affect even the most experienced practitioners of mindfulness – the key is accepting and leaning into these feelings as they arrive.

We are big fans of meditation as part of our yoga programme at our Bali yoga retreat. To help we’ve written an article on how to use meditation to step back into the present moment when difficult feelings or thoughts come up. Whether it’s an unexpected disagreement, your own high expectations, or even a health issue.

Read on to discover how to return to the moment and teach yourself to respond wisely instead of reacting when life throws you a curveball.

Reacting Vs Responding

A reaction and a response may seem similar, but they are really quite different. A reaction is an automatic, instantaneous and instinctual behaviour caused by our reptilian brain. While a response comes from the wise mind, it’s a logical, compassionate communication that gives us a chance to open an honest and caring dialogue with whomever we’re dealing with.

These two pathways of behaviour are options anytime we find ourselves in a situation where we feel emotionally threatened. It could be something a co-worker says, or your husband, or even your mother. Regardless of the person, the option to react or respond is on the table and the choice is up to you.

Reacting can damage relationships and lead to regret or embarrassment. Every time you react, you’re letting your unconscious fears do the talking for you. Reactions are like baby defence mechanisms. They’re not personal to you but something all humans have. The urge to react was formed in our brains millions of years ago when humans needed to strike back to get them out of life-threatening situations. This “fight or flight” reactive mode is something that was deeply hardwired in our brains, it helped us to escape predators back then – so it’s only natural that it still comes up when we feel emotionally challenged.

The good news is that with some wise practice we can tap into the alternative path. When you pause and remind yourself that you’re actually safe, your brain switches into a different mode, one that is wise, calm and caring. This is the optimum state of your brain, the place where you generally formulate your responses when you’re not feeling under pressure.

So How Do We Respond Wisely?

The first step is always going to be a pause. A deep breath and a moment o re-centring of self. This is because formulating a response requires us to look objectively at the circumstances, empathize with the other party, think critically about the problem at hand, and reflect on the issue as a whole. This reflection period could happen in a few minutes, or a few days but it’s worth the delay. Responses are always more tactful and considerate than reactions. When you take the time to respond, you allow yourself to put your best foot forward and stay true to your values.

In a perfect world, we’d all choose to respond rather than react. But truth be told, even the most practised yogi is sometimes guilty of allowing an emotional response to take hold. We are simply human with brains configured that way. While we can’t be perfect all the time it is possible to rewire our brains to a certain degree. You see, each time we practice responsiveness, we are strengthening the neural pathways that lead to this behaviour. This makes it easier and easier to come back to. If you’re having trouble activating the responsive mode, mindful meditation techniques can make a world of difference.

How Meditation Can Help

A simple meditation practice can bring about vast awareness just by focusing on the breath and observing those thoughts as they pass by. By maintaining deep, evenly-paced breathing, we are able to find a place of calm and begin to detach from the mind talk or body sensations that feel so real. By doing this we can see the truth that those thoughts and feelings are not the reality – just one aspect our whole experience   

This is how meditation allows us to centre ourselves and remember what’s real. By regularly practising mindfulness, we are able to quickly realise how we feel and why we feel that way. If our negative reactions were spurred on by deep-rooted fears or biases, we are in a better position to recognise this after meditating. If we go forth in this centred state, we are able to interact with others in a much calmer and more gentle way. We are able to understand what is really being said without letting our emotions and fears take hold.

This new state of mindfulness will allow us to respond in a sensitive and appropriate way. At our Escape Haven Bali Retreat, we’ve learned that practising mindfulness leads to greater fulfilment and happiness in our relationships at home and at work. It helps us to connect with the joy that’s present in every moment so we’ve put together a few simple tips to help you get started.

Simple Guide to Meditation

Many women new to the practice find themselves feeling sceptical or intimidated by the idea of meditation. Some claim they don’t have the time other feel they don’t have the concentration or assume that meditation means sitting and thinking about nothing for 20 minutes then dismiss the practice as unhelpful. We urge you to put aside these thoughts and give it a try anyway.

Meditation can feel difficult at first You may wonder if you’re doing it right or if you’re the type of person that can meditate, but the truth is there is everyone can meditate and unlike work – there is no right or wrong way! There are many ways to practice meditating. Some enjoy walking meditation, some prefer to sit still, and others enjoy doing it in the bath. So don’t be scared to experiment and find out what works for you. Here are some basic tips to get started.

  1. Assign yourself some alone time
    It can be five, ten, or even 20 minutes if you’re feeling up for the challenge. However long you choose, ensure that you have no other commitments and that you’re able to give this time completely to yourself. Sit somewhere quiet and set your timer or consider using one of the many meditation apps that are available on your smartphone.
  2. Begin by releasing physical tension
    We don’t even realise how much tension we are carrying around day-to-day. Start at one end of your body, and mindfully release any tension in the muscles and joints. Soften your jaw, neck, hands and all the other areas where you might be unknowingly holding onto tension. At our Bali retreat, we guide guests through this in our yoga nidra sequence. A great thing to do before you hit the hay and one that will ensure you have a peaceful sleep.
  3. Breathe deeply
    We often use breath to help maintain focus in meditation. It’s very common for unwanted thoughts to start creeping in as you do this but don’t worry. Just bring yourself back to the steady rhythm of your breath each time and don’t beat yourself up if your mind is all over the place. You will get better at quieting the mind every time you practice meditation. Focusing on deep inhales and deep exhales will help you to stay centred.
  4. Relax your mind
    Try to focus on the present moment whenever you can. When your mental chatter returns uninvited, don’t boot it out the door. Just acknowledge it, observe it, and let it go. It’s there for a reason, whether you know it or not, and its purpose will become clearer if you acknowledge it and let it roll past rather than trying to shut it down.
  5. Give yourself a pat on the back
    Whether your session was 5 minutes or an hour, give yourself a little nod of appreciation for taking the time out of your day to care for yourself. Whether you feel it yet or not, you are actively working towards a more joyful existence, and that in itself is something to be commended.

Learn Meditation On An Escape Haven Retreat

Alongside the yoga, exercise, surfing and general joyousness you’ll find at an Escape Haven Yoga and Health retreat, our teachers also run a guided meditation practice. Meditating in a group is a powerful way to connect with yourself and get better responding to life instead of reacting. We’d love to meet you so just get in touch with us here to check out the dates we have left for 2018.

Those who have had some experience with meditation understand that being mindful and present to every moment in life can be challenging! When we’re on the yoga mat or meditation cushion it’s easier to calm the mind and focus, but let’s remember that the other 12 waking hours of the day also count.

This other time is when we’re in the world, focusing on being our ‘doing’ selves instead of our ‘being’ selves. If you’re finding yourself experiencing difficulty in the world, try not to worry. Life’s uncertainties affect even the most experienced practitioners of mindfulness – the key is accepting and leaning into these feelings as they arrive.

We are big fans of meditation as part of our yoga programme at our Bali yoga retreat. To help we’ve written an article on how to use meditation to step back into the present moment when difficult feelings or thoughts come up. Whether it’s an unexpected disagreement, your own high expectations, or even a health issue.

Read on to discover how to return to the moment and teach yourself to respond wisely instead of reacting when life throws you a curveball.