Touching

I’ve learned a great deal about myself during lock-down. As a body-worker of 44 years, I am very aware of my physical well-being. As a yoga teacher of 44 years, I am very aware of my mental state and spiritual well-being. As a mother of 48 years, a grandmother of 23 years and a pet owner all my life, I am very aware of my emotional state. It is the latter that has most suffered during this period. Physical contact and physically expressed affection is a big part of who I am. I’m reminded of a horrible experiment perpetrated on monkeys some time ago. A baby monkey was removed from his mother by a glass screen. He could see her, he could hear her, but he couldn’t touch her. The baby monkey died. I have developed coping strategies, as we all have, but I’m aware of that emptiness within me and the ache that doesn’t go away. Humans need touch.

We talk about a story being ‘touching’. We say, ‘I was very touched by that gesture’. We reach out to touch someone when they’re upset. We instinctively touch clothing or goods that we’re looking to buy. During lock-down, I’ve noticed that I touch the plants in the garden. I touch the trees as I pass them. The more we are discouraged to touch surfaces in the world, the more we are discouraged to touch our faces while out and about, the more I need to touch the flowers and shrubs in my own garden.

Touch has two sides to it. The wholesome, loving touch with which I am familiar, and the touch that can spread infection. For me it has been a sobering lesson. Touch is essential for my well-being, but touch must be avoided to keep mankind well. My personal needs clash with my desire to help others. Mudras have been enormously helpful as I wrestle with this dilemma. The gentle pressure of the index finger against the thumb in chin mudra enables you to use touch to connect with higher good for all.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

P.S If there are any of my current yoga students who would like a weekly class, please do email me.

Suspense

We’re living in unsettled times. Life, for many of us, is suspended. And now we feel all the suspense connected with the release of lockdown. How will they go about it? What will we be allowed to do? Will we feel safe?

This has been a crisis like no other, and feelings of insecurity and uncertainty are natural. We all need to process this in our own way, and in our own time. I’ve planned a yoga class on the abdomen for my weekly students this time. Every time you strengthen the abdomen, you gain emotional stability.

It seems to me that we need inner balance, emotional stability, and great strength of purpose to ensure that we move forward in the right direction. We need to have learned all the necessary lessons. We’re reaping deep global karma, and if we don’t heed the lessons, the cycle will be repeated.

The slower pace of life which most of us have been forced to adopt has given us time for reflection. How can we adjust our old life to better serve the planet? How can we adjust our old life to better serve all creatures, not just man? How can we remember to care for others, to have compassion for all? Will we continue to focus on the vulnerable and the elderly?

We’re getting through this crisis by pulling together. This is yoga – being united. Let’s determine to remember always that we are guests on Mother Earth. We are not the masters. As we’ve dearly missed our own loved ones during this time, let’s remember that it’s people and love that we’ve missed. It isn’t material things, it’s hugs and laughter, and contact. Mother Earth need us to go on loving her; to go on considering her; to give not to take…

She has shown us how. Are we strong and steadfast and able to learn the lessons? If not now, when? She has shown all the patience of a mother, and now we must respectfully hear her voice. We must, finally, grow up.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Blackberries are free and organic

Do pick blackberries in the autumn! They ripen at exactly the same time as Bramley apples – perfect for crumbles and pies. They give a boost to the immune system ready for the winter months. Those people who picked their blackberries and put them in the freezer are smug right now! They are such a good source of fibre, were used by the Greeks to treat gout and contain Vit C and E. They protect against cancer, degenerative disease and infections…