Mindful Breathing and Meditation Workshop Notes

Here are the workshop notes from last weekends retreat day here at Mellulah. A workshop on Mindful Breathing with Ken Huggins, mindful breathing & meditationfurther practical exercises for Mediation. Feel free to share. Kens next workshop with us will be on Sunday 22nd March as part of our Yoga & Sound Healing Retreat Weekend.

 

The Science and Art of Breathing

Breathing is something we can all too easily take for granted. After all, we don’t have to consciously think about it, because its normally handled for us by our subconscious. However, whilst many of its effects are quite subtle it has a profound influence upon our physical and mental well being.

The In-Breath and the Out-Breath are quite obviously two very different actions. It is easy to understand the simple process of breathing in fresh air, and then breathing out any stale air to make way for more fresh, but in reality breathing is a very much more complicated activity. So much so that the In-Breath and the Out-Breath are handled by completely different parts of our autonomic nervous system (the part of the body’s communication and control system that influences the functioning of our internal organs).

Anxiety / Relaxation and the Nervous System

Our autonomic nervous system has two branches, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Para-Sympathetic Nervous System (PNS). They use different chemicals to send signals to various parts of the body such as the heart and the digestive system and they usually function in opposition to one another in order to create a balance within our mind/body system.

The functions of the SNS include the Fight-or-Flight response, which is designed to energise us when we are faced with extreme danger and we need to act instinctively without thinking too much, because in a true life-or-death crisis we don’t have time to stop and think.

On the other hand the functions of the PNS include what has been called the Rest-and-Digest response. This calms us down and helps us to think more clearly.

Problems occur when the SNS/PNS system is out of balance. Over activation of the SNS can lead to problems like anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure (hypertension) and digestive disturbance. Over activation of PNS can result in excessively low blood pressure and fatigue.

It is important to understand the link between the way that we breathe and the way that the two halves of our nervous system operate. This gives us a vital tool that we can use whenever we need to calm ourselves down and take back control of our thoughts and feelings.

Breathing and the Nervous System

The In-Breath is associated with the Sympathetic side of our nervous system and the Out-Breath with the Para-Sympathetic.

When we are anxious our system is being strongly influenced by the SNS. Our breathing is rapid and shallow as we use just the upper part of our lungs, high in our chest. Our heart beats faster, and this raises our blood pressure.

In contrast, when we are calm our system is being more strongly influenced by the PNS. We breathe more slowly and deeply, down into the lower part of our lungs which means that our belly expands/contracts rather than our chest. Our heart beats slows and that lowers our blood pressure.

Knowing all this means that whenever we find ourselves becoming over anxious we can counteract the over-activation of our SNS by deliberately slowing down and deepening our breathing and in particular by prolonging each out-breath. This increases the supply of the calming chemicals released by the PNS, which counteract the stimulating chemicals released by the SNS. This can take a little while to master, but once we learn to control our breathing in this way we are able to free ourselves of feelings of anxiety and panic.

There is another very important way that this method of using our breathing reduces our levels of anxiety, and that is the link between our thoughts and our feelings. When we begin to feel anxious our thoughts naturally turn to things that we may feel threatened by. In other words we begin to think negatively, which all too easily results in a vicious cycle of anxious thoughts, leading to anxious feelings, leading to more anxious thoughts, leading to more anxious feelings and so on. Round and round we go, feeling steadily worse and ever more out of control.

However, when we take control of our thoughts and deliberately start to change our breathing, to slow it down, deepen it, and prolong the out-breath, then we give our mind something positive to focus on. This naturally interrupts any anxious thoughts and stops that vicious cycle of anxious thoughts and feelings.

Prolonging the Out-Breath in particular increases the calming effect of the PNS, which allows us to begin to think more clearly and to see the bigger picture, with everything in its correct proportion. This stops us making mountains out of mole hills!

The human mind is prone to negative thinking. As the philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) once said, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never actually happened”

The good news is that we are not powerless to stop a runaway brain! With just a little daily practice we can learn to instantly interrupt any negative thoughts that are leading us to feel anxious, depressed, helpless, and to take control of our thoughts and feelings so that we are able to think more clearly and to cope better with whatever life requires us to deal with.

So take a deep breath in now, allowing your belly to expand, pause, and breathe out long and slow, and notice how good it feels to be in control.

Ken Huggins
Clinical Hypnotherapist MHA METSI
01258 818223
kenhuggins@hotmail.co.uk
www.see-change4u.com

 

 

 

Mellulah in Arkadia Magazine

We have a great write up in the latest issue of Arkadia Magazine, the Souths very best bespoke artisan title on a shelf near you.

Mellulah in Arkadia Magazine

Pick up a copy where you can or take a look at the online version by following the link below.

 

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Unconditional Peace, Love & Happiness

Sky

We are all searching for inner peace, love and happiness. Is it possible to feel all of these joys entirely unattached from needs and wants?

Rather than asking for something to happen in your life to bring you positivity and joy, try asking to have it within yourself.

Rather than having it manifest in your life, ask for it to manifest in you?

Rather than asking for a relationship to fulfil your need for love, ask for your own heart to fill with love so that you can feel it every minute of every day. You don’t need a person to fulfil the dreams of your heart, it is there inside you. Make your affirmation be ‘Help me to feel the Love inside my heart, a Love that will help me feel Whole.’

Rather than asking for a particular person to be in your life, for a certain person to leave you alone or a negative situation to disappear so you can feel peace, ask to feel peace within yourself whatever is happening externally. Create an affirmation ‘I feel peace and serenity at all times, in all situations and no matter who or what is bothering me.’

Rather than needing something to happen in your life to make you happy, ask to feel happy unconditionally. Try to feel happy as life is, without anything having to change. Never mind if that person loves you, or if you get that job, move to that house or buy that car, be happy with no attachments. Try affirming ‘I am happy always, what ever happens today or tomorrow I will keep my heart open and feel loving happiness constantly.’

Rather than asking for money and wealth, can we ask to be happy and comfortable whether we have or have not? Can we be rich in self-love and inner happiness, rather than with material wealth but spiritual poverty? The idea of the law of attraction, often suggests we make a visualisation board, full of pictures of all the material things we wish for, why not a board covered in smiles that we will be wearing no matter what? An affirmation ‘I have all I need to feel full contentment and joy, I thank the Universe for all I have been given, I am blessed,’

Lonely? Ask to feel happy and whole by yourself.
Depressed? Ask to find a glimmer of hope and joy in your heart.
Broke? Ask to feel inner contentment with all that is.
Unwell? Ask for the grace and dignity to accept what is happening. Surrender.
Happy? Ask to be given the opportunity to share your blessing with others.

May you too be blessed with Unconditional Peace, Love and Happiness, Saira xxx

(Photo by Didier)

Healing the Heart

Centring, Opening and Cleansing the Heart

 

Pebble heart at MellulahThe heart chakra is an energy centre, the most powerful of all the seven chakras, when we are closed in the heart, we are cutting ourselves off from the rich and everlasting peace, love and harmony that emanates from the universe.

The heart holds Samskaras, from this and previous lives that influence the way we behave, think and react to certain triggers in this life. These Samskaras can be cleared and released to give us more freedom and mental clarity through the practice of yoga.

A Samskara maybe created through a traumatic experience such as a lover betraying you, the death of a parent or child, losing money, health problems, there are many ways that these impressions can be created. There can also be positive Samskaras, from feeling great love, being blessed with a child, a happy marriage, abundance or good health.

What are Samskaras?

Samskaras are impressions left on the heart centre from past Karmic experiences. We all have them , without them we would not be human, they are natural. Just as a garden always has weeds, the weeds will always come and we will want to uproot them. So we can uproot our Samskras through yoga. Yoga is union of body, mind and spirit. It would never be possible to rid ourselves of all Samskaras but we can work with the ones that challenge us most, the ones that keep forming and manifesting into our lives. e.g. if you had a Samskara held from a previous experience where you had been betrayed by a lover, you may keep attracting a similar experience to you so that you can eventually release and heal the blockage in your heart. This can be painful but in the long run it will help you to move more freely through your soul journey.

The memory of why we have a particular Samskara may now be gone, if it has affected us from a past life we would not know the cause. But the impression on our heart is still there.

Samskaras are a part of the cycle of Karma:

> Action (Karma) > Impression (Samskara) > Tendency (Vasana) > Thought pattern ( Vritti) > Action (Karma)>

A Vasana is the effect of a Samskara. These are tendencies are inclinations that are identifiable unlike the often forgotten Samskara. These tendencies are mental urges, desire and feelings, both negative and positive.

Vritti are the patterns that are created by the Vasana. Our thinking pattens (Vritti) are motivated by our tendencies (Vasana), we think to support our feelings. These Vritti form our patterns, our attitudes and our mental disposition.

Finally our Vritties lead us into action (Karma). We act out Karma because our mind tell us  through our Vritti to act, because that is how we will satisfy our desire (Vasana) which arose from an impression (Samskara) made in the mind from an earlier memory of an action.

So using the example of having a Samskara impression on the heart caused by a previous betrayal, this would cause a Vasana, an urge or desire to feel jealousy if our partner is close to another in any way, this Vasana would then create Vritti, thought patterns that make us think terrible things, negative thoughts of jealousy, letting the imagination run riot thinking of what could be going on between them, this could then lead to us acting out our Karma by reacting to our partner or the other person negatively. We could have an argument, push them away, get scared and behave badly in some way, end the relationship or befriend the other person etc.

We have many of the Karmic cycles continuing throughout our lives. According to Patanjali author of the yoga sutras  we must complete 36,000 cycles of creation before we can be released into Moksha, release from the cycle of Karma.

Can we control our Samskaras?

We can not control our past Samskaras because they have been created as a result of our actions, but perhaps we can stop our past Samskaras from controlling us.

The answer is in the practice of yoga which can help us to break the Karmic cycle at the Vritti level, so interrupting the thought patterns that cause us to act in particular ways, thus giving us new Karma and creating new Samskaras or adding to those we already have.

Patanjali defines yoga as this *Yoga is the restriction (control) of the fluctuations of consciousness*. So we must try to control our Chittavritti (the monkey mind/mind chatter) the various thoughts of the mind.

There are according to Patanjali 5 types of thoughts in the mind some painful others painless:

1) thoughts about truth
2) thoughts based on incorrect perception
3) thoughts which have no basis in reality (day dreaming, verbal delusion, talking to oneself in ones mind or vocally and making no sense, having no basis in fact and uncontrolled imagination)
4) dream sleep state of mid
5) memories

By practising the 8 limbs of yoga we can attain the highest state of consciousness and be freed from ignorance and egocentricity, which are the cause of ones pain and suffering. One gains complete mastery of the mind and is absolutely no longer controlled by ones Samskaras.

1) Yamas: non violence, truthfulness, non stealing, self restraint, non covetousness
2) Niyamas: cleanliness, contentment, discipline,study, surrender to God
3) Asanas: yoga postures
4) Pranayama: breathing control
5) Pratyahara: sensory withdrawal
6) Dharana: concentration
7) Dhyana: meditation
8) Samdhi: state of ecstasy

By controlling the mind through yoga we can begin to control our Samskaras and release ourselves from cycles of Karma. When we feel the effect of a Samskara we can sit still, meditate and release the energy through our heart centres, this can feel uncomfortable and it is common for us to wish to distract ourselves from this pain. But by allowing it to move through us we can release it once and for all. We need also to refrain from reacting in any way when we are feeling the effects of a Samskara, stay still, sit and move to a place of peace, then decide the best way to deal with a situation or what needs to be said to a person involved, this way we are releasing a Samskara and by staying positive and peaceful we are not creating another.

Forgiveness and Compassion

Firstly, when we begin to understand the cycle of Karma, we can start to forgive ourselves. The cycle of Karma is universal, Divinely guided and destined by God alone. Our Karma is beyond powerful and beyond anything we can control, therefore we can find humility in knowing that our patterns and our behaviours are being caused by blocks in this Karma and not just by our own mistakes and weaknesses in this lifetime.

Forgive yourself and move instead to looking deeply at how to heal your Samskara blocks through the practice of yoga, choose to put time and effort into working at the Vritti level to be more aware and mindful of your thoughts, rather than spending time feeling guilty for your mistakes.

To help us clear the heart further we can bring forgiveness and compassion where it is needed.

A vital part of cleansing the heart is to forgive, this is a beautiful prayer that we will be working with.

Adding the name of the person you wish to work with to the blanks, repeat the first and second part out loud or in your mind for 3 minutes each, then lay down with your hands on your heart and repeat the third for 3 minutes:

1) I forgive ……. for all he/she has done to upset me.
2) I ask and I receive forgiveness for all I have to done to upset ……
3) I forgive myself, I dwell in Light, I dwell in Love.

Repeat daily to instil a sense of peace and compassion in your situation

A chant/mantra of self healing, humility, relaxation, protective grace, ecstatic joy and emotional relief.
Guru Guru Wahe Guru, projects the mind to the Infinite, the source of knowledge and ecstasy.
Guru Ram Das Guru means, the wisdom that comes as a servant of the Infinite this brings us guidance.
Guru Guru Wahe Guru Guru Ram Das Guru

Listen to this beautiful healing chant on youtube xx

Centring, Opening & Cleansing the Heart

Stillness Yoga Weekend Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th November £100.

Sunday Afternoon Workshop with Saira

Centring, Opening and Cleansing the Heart

The heart chakra is an energy centre, the most powerful of all the seven chakras, when we are closed in the heart, we arePebble heart at Mellulah cutting ourselves off from the rich and everlasting peace, love and harmony that emanates from the universe.

We will begin this workshop by centring ourselves, we do this by becoming connected, both within and without, connecting with our consciousness, our core, inner selves and with our bodies, the space around us, the Earth beneath, grounded and fully present.

Once in a present moment state we can move past the ego and the shadow part of ourselves that veils the true light in our hearts. We can isolate the inner voices that come from our shadow side and ask them to quieten while we listen more deeply to the truth. We can learn so much from listening to our shadow voice, we can comfort and nourish our inner child, from whom our shadow descends and begin to release the strong hold that this childish, often fearful, disconnected part of us has on our consciousness, our hearts and our minds.

Often at this point in the journey into the heart, we find pain. But it is here that we stay present and connected, allowing the pain to rise up, to feel the heartbreaks of the past, the suffering of the child and the longing that is a part of being a human, the longing to end the feeling of separateness and to know the wholeness of being one with everything. The Sanskrit word for all of the pain we hold inside from past experiences is ‘Samskara’. These are impressions left on the heart from past events that cause blockages, this happens when we suppress pain and these Samskaras can build up during this life and past lives, the only way to release them is to face them, allow them through and let them go. Closing to the pain simply causes us to lock ourselves away, cut off and withdrawn. We will work with meditation exercises and yoga to help to begin to release through the heart, however difficult this might be, it is the way to freedom and peace.

Finally we will cleanse the heart, bringing in light and joy with chants, meditations and pranayama breathing exercises to bring a softness, a gentleness. Forgiveness, gratitude and compassion, these are the ways to move through suffering and pain in the heart chakra, these are the ways to bring healing and to stay fully connected with our truth and to cleanse and release, so we are free to move peacefully on with our souls journey.

For more information see the Retreat Schedule or to book please call Saira on 01258 880505 / email wellbeing@mellulah.co.uk .

Changes at Mellulah Retreats

 I know a lot of our past guests will be disappointed to hear I will no longer be running residential retreats here at Luccombe Farm, but a new energy is coming in for me, which means I feel I can work better without the planning and organisation that the retreats entail.

I long to spend time building lovely yoga sessions, guided meditation and workshops and the retreats just don’t give me that space at the moment, I feel I can give more love and light without all of the more practical administration that goes on before and during our weekends.

Also when I started them 3 1/2 yrs ago I had a lot of free time whilst my children where away with my ex-husband, but this doesn’t happen anymore, I’m a full time single Mum and I am adjusting to this change in space, time and energy.

Its not a sad change, its a healthy, exciting new change and I hope to have an awful lot more to give on the retreat days than I have had on the weekends, my desire is to give, to share and to nurture those that come here and by changing the format of the retreats I hope to have more love and light to pass on.

Most of the retreat days will run Saturday and Sundays, so you can still book in to stay here at Luccombe via www.luccombeholidays.co.uk or we can help you find a local B&B.

I will be updating the website this week with new dates and schedules for the next 6 months.

With much love and many blessings, Saira xx

Manifesting Through Mindfulness

Yoga Retreat Day Afternoon Workshop with Saira Francis

Saturday 12th July 10 – 4 pm £40

Manifesting through Mindfulness with Saira Francis

Manifesting through Mindfulness?

How can we manifest and create positivity in our lives, how can we attract love, happiness, joy and abundance? Our mind, our thoughts and our actions form the day to day life that we lead, the relationships that we surround ourselves with, the work that we do and our connection to universal abundance. By thinking positively, using mindfulness, by re-training our thoughts and our minds to concentrate on the good things rather than the bad, positive instead of negative, we notice how the world around us starts to change. Subtle changes that bring us closer to our truth, to our destined pathway and closer to a happier, more joyful and loved filled existence.

Stress, anxiety, being too busy and never having a minute to stop and centre ourselves, feel grounded and connected to the present moment, can cause us to have little or no awareness of the thoughts we are having. By never checking in with our minds, with the well trodden pathways of negative thinking, repetitive patterns of worry and problem solving that the mind loves to distract us with day in, day out, we can lose sight of our truth and the path to wholeness and happiness that we might wish to create in our lives is lost.

Becoming mindful, having mindfulness, awareness of ourselves and our thinking, using meditation and coming home to our hearts, listening to our own inner guidance and wisdom can change all of this over time. By connecting once again, we can take stock of the way our mind is roaming and bring it gently and softly back to a more positive and optimistic way of being, moving out of ingrained negativity towards a new, fresh, enlivened road in which we are in charge, we control our destiny and slowly we begin to see the magic of manifesting our positive future through mindfulness.

During this workshop we will look at the areas of our lives that have become lost to negativity and harmful thinking, we will address some of the reasons for this through meditation exercises and begin to re-set old, outdated modes of thought into exciting, new ones. We will learn how manifesting through positive thinking can create beauty in our lives with very simple techniques and meditations that anyone can use, anywhere, anytime.

To book your place on this yoga day and take part in this workshop please call 01258 880505 or see our contact page to reserve your place.

 

Gypsy Caravan available for June Retreat Weekend £200

The beautiful Gypsy Caravan here at Luccombe Farm will be available for our June Stillness Yoga Retreat running from Friday 13-Stay in our Gypsy CaravanMonday 16 June. The cost for a stay in the caravan plus yoga, meditation, sound healing, vegetarian meals, heated indoor pool & sauna is just £200.

The caravan has a traditional canvas roof and is ideal for a single person looking for something a little different and unique as part of their retreat stay. It is heated and we will provide you with tea making facilities. The Gypsy Caravan is close to a shower and toilet so only a few steps away if it did happen to rain a little!

You will also have access to one of our cottages with other retreat guests so you can eat your meals and enjoy the company of others if you wish.

The caravan is very sweet and very basic so not for the faint hearted but we love it and couldn’t think of a more lovely way to enjoy the peaceful sound of the birds in the morning and watch the moon and stars at night. A wonderful way to spend your retreat weekend.

Yoga classes starting Monday 28th April 2014

Regular weekly, blissful and chilled out yoga classes with Saira Francis will begin from Monday 28th April 2014.Saira Francis

Monday evenings 7-8.30 pm

Tuesday mornings 9.30-11 am

The cost of a drop in class will be £7.50. All levels welcome, classes will be mixed ability, some level of physical fitness required but experience of yoga not necessary.

Classes held at Mellulah, Luccombe Farm, Milton Abbas, DT11 0BE, for directions and parking instructions please call us on 01258 880505.

Our yoga room overlooks the orchard here at Luccombe Farm and the animals, donkeys,sheep etc. The peace and serenity of this special, tucked away place is quite magical and the perfect environment to practice yoga, meditation and relaxation each week as a part of your journey to health and wellbeing. The heated pool and sauna can sometimes be used before or after class for an added £5, please contact us for details. Holistic & Ayurvedic Therapies can booked by prior arrangement to ensure total bliss and relaxation!

Classes will be of a traditional Hatha style combined with influences from Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow, combining breath with movement. We will spend time meditating and relaxing at the beginning and end of each session. We will also explore Pranayama, breathing techniques to lower stress levels and encourage serenity and mindfulness in your yoga practice both on and off the mat.

Other yoga teachers currently working with Mellulah are Jodi Sanders, Jill Booth, Saira Francis and Finola Brennan.

Contact us today to book your yoga class and sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear of new class dates and times.

Yoga Classes Starting Soon

 

I’m very excited to let you know that I will be starting regular yoga classes here at Mellulah, Luccombe Farm, Milton Abbas, Dorset from Monday 28th April 2014.

Classes will run on Monday evenings from 7-8.30 pm and Tuesday mornings from 9.30-11 am. The cost for a drop in class will be £7.50 and class cards will be available to buy at reduced rates for blocks of 5,10 or 15 classes.

If you would like more information please contact me call 01258 880505.

Places for our yoga day retreat on Saturday 26th April are filling up fast with only 3 places left. £40 for the day, £5 extra to use the heated pool and sauna. More details here.

I hope to meet more of you soon!

Namaste,

Saira x