focusing your drishti

Drishti (IPA: [ d̪r̩ʂʈi ]; Sanskrit: दृष्टि; IAST:dṛṣṭi), or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention

Is there someone (a different ‘you’) that you believe you are supposed to be? Does this dream of who you want to be set your heart a-flutter? Do you think about being able to be this person, this authentic you, in the quiet moments when your heart can speak its truth? If you do, then my advice is to not let that idea of that person go. Keep hold of that dream, that desire for authenticity. Harness that feeling of living your truth and direct your drishti, your focus, to embodying this person, fully.

A drishti is called upon in yoga to direct the gaze or focus, usually between the eyebrows to the third eye, to help cultivate concentration and withdrawal of the senses for deep meditation. For the sake of this blog post, I will use the word drishti as a metaphor – as the intense, unwavering focus we can apply in our lives towards achieving and living out our dreams, our greater purpose, our true authentic selves.

Do you ever feel like you are working towards a greater purpose or are destined to be/become something more? And I don’t mean ‘being’ or ‘becoming’ someone superficially, like ‘being’ a state: better/happier/skinnier, or a title: dr/mrs/manager, nor do I mean it in terms of achieving material worth, money or status. I mean ‘being’ or ‘becoming’ in a deeper sense. Without the ego. Being more authentically you.

authentic living

Ask yourselves, who do you want to be, truly?

This question might hit hard. You might not feel you can be your authentic self. Or you might not know; ‘How can I can be someone other that who I am now? Huh?’ If you don’t know yet, that’s totally fine. But I want to float the question in case there are those of you who believe that underneath the ‘person’ you present to the world is in fact someone else entirely, someone more you.

For those who have an inkling that there might be someone else, a you you really truly want to be, embody, and express, then I urge you to feel empowered to honour that person, that authentic you, and let them come into the world.

Does what you do in your life bring you joy and align you with who you really want to be? Or is there something else you’re not expressing, some other you that you’re keeping bottled up inside…

I have discovered over the last year and a half, thanks to my eye-opening travels, countless conversations with Lucas and hours of doing and breathing yoga, is that living here, living a life that nourishes me in mind, body and spirit, and in an enivornment where I can truly appreciate the beauty of the world is where I can live in my authenticity, practicing yoga and teaching yoga, too. But that wasn’t always the case. The ‘me’ that is now wasn’t even imaginable when I lived in London, no way Jose. I felt so disconnected from everything and was living all in the ‘I’, the ego.

That yoga would play such an integral part in unravelling this ‘authentic living’ I only realised about a year or so ago. Before then, yoga (asana) had just been something I liked to ‘do’ physically but it was during those quiet hours in practice that would allow me the connection to my authentic self. At the time I didn’t realise its significance and my drishti, my focus, was on something else entirely. I was all ego and all external. But over the last 18 months, the deeper I have dug within myself and asked myself what really makes me feel like ‘me’ and makes me feel more ‘whole,’ and the more I began to deepen my practice, the more I found clarity: yoga (union, the eight limbs) was part of who I wanted to be; it was tied to being able to fully express and live in my authenticity, and live a life that nourished me, and so it became the target of my metaphorical drishti.

My (loose) ‘focus’ previously had been climbing the career ladder in London, like most people’s are. I was blinded and numbed by the distractions of city life running at a hundred miles an hour, overloading my senses, which was definitely keeping me separated from any sort of authentic being.

My focus next moved onto travelling the world, quite a leap from corportate life to a life of leisure! It was from the toxic ego-driven city environment that I was slowly peeling off the layers, and inching off the shroud, that hid away who I really wanted to ‘be’ while unlearning those years of conditioning that had come part-and-parcel with living in today’s world.

Now, many of those layers have been shed (and some are still a work in progress) and my drishti is on point. There’s nothing to distract me from who I want to be. I already ‘am,’ I’ve become this person more than I’ve ever been. I am living the life that I want to and in it I am incomparibly happy. I am driven to stay aligned with this life, to supporting my authentic being, my authentic living through yoga. I practice yoga, I teach yoga, I live a ‘yogic’ lifestyle as best I can; we eat organic food, we live in the jungle and breath fresh jungle prana every day, and we are surrounded by a community which uplifts us and offers endless opportunities for growth. Here, and through yoga, I can find greater purpose while living a life I love and being my truest and best self.

Now, this isn’t to say that I am a mental off-grid, gluten-and-dairy-free, straight-edge vegan, t-total crazy person. Don’t be silly. My drishti is inclusive, not exclusive; it includes things like chocolate and wine. Who am I kidding, I’ll never give those up! It aims for balance with nourishment and challenge.

By living in inclusivity and not exclusivity allows me to keep a better and much larger perspective and keep an unwavering focus on the bigger picture developing in the background, on my authenticity and being the real me. I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I’ve binged on all the fun and bad things, squashing and silencing the the real me, blinded by overindulging on things to heighten or dull my senses, and it has thrown me off completely and, no surprise, that led to dissatisfaction, frustration and unhappiness in myself. And long term, what does that achieve? Instead, holding a steady gaze, keeping my drishti consistent while finding balance is a much better strategy.

find focus in your life

So who is this person that, when you think about this ‘you,’ lights you up and makes you want to get out of bed every day and be that person? Be someone empowering. Someone who makes you feel whole, someone who you feel nourished by, fulfilled by. Then all you have to do is focus that drishti of yours on being this authentic you, all the time. Focus, focus, focus.

Again, I’m just sharing my experience; there’s no pressure to figure out this ‘you’ and direct your drishti one way or the other if you’re not ready or not sure of who you want to be, of if you have absolutely no idea about what I’m talking about. As I said, we’ve been conditioned to follow certain paths (careers, marriage, kids) and follow conventional rules set by society (job, house, pension), so digging deeper and listening to the little voice within telling you who you really want to be and what you really want to do might be a scary thing to do. Hey, it took me nearly 30 years to figure this out and still, who knows, in a few years’ time, my drishti might be pointing somewhere else and my ‘authenticity’ looking a whole lot different. But for now this is it and I welcome in change, too.

What I would like you to ask yourselves is what can you do to start becoming more true to yourself? Can you look outside your ego and into who you really want to be? Where can you direct your drishti to embody this truth? Honour that little voice that might have been silenced.

Allow yourself to start believing in the authentic you.

 

 

 

*Drishti definition by Wikipedia.

 

the power of manifesting

 “You have the power to do anything if you put your mind to it”

How many times have we heard that? It’s on every ‘inspirational’ Instagram profile you’ll find. But it’s TRUE! The power of manifesting has proved itself time and time again, in my life certainly. But what’s not to be taken lightly is the hard bloody work that goes behind it all!

Manifesting your life is, actually, quite simple. If you want it badly enough – if you dream it, breathe it, envision it – then you can imagine it into existence. And I’m not the first one to claim this works. Just google Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Jim Carrey on the subject, they all claim the same and look at where they are.

I think I can pinpoint the pivotal moment that I knew I wanted to – and COULD – shake up my life in a big way; it was when I was backpacking around Australia at the end of 2015/start of 2016. I remember quite vividly the moment when I decided: “OK, I’m going to move to Australia. I think I need a change. I’ll make it work.”

the power of manifesting - dharma dreaming

From that moment on, a noticeable shift happened in me, inside. Suddenly I became consumed with this new reality. This new future. All my thoughts turned towards myself leaving my life in London, packing up, and starting a new chapter half way across the world, by myself. But the biggest realization was that I BELIEVED it would happen. I knew I had the power to manifest this dream.

In just 9 months from that ‘aha!’ moment I had spent every day working towards making my move to Australia a reality and had planned it all out until I was physically on that plane leaving Heathrow Terminal 3, bound for my new life.

I had quit my job and timed it so that the lease on my flat ended as I was to leave, and other than those two major things, thankfully I didn’t have many other loose ends to tie up – I was pretty much free to go. But I had kept it that way on purpose. Nothing was going to get in my way. It couldn’t. I’d already created a new life for myself (in my head). It just hadn’t started yet (for real).

During the 9 months I planned, and planned, and planned. And every waking hour I dreamed my new life into existence. I imagined where I would live, the friends I would have, the job I would work at. Literally, I was making it happen through the power of my mind – and of course with hours of work behind the scenes. I created Pinterest boards on places to go in Australia, connected with flatshare websites, I emailed recruiters in Sydney and had basically lined up interviews for when I arrived. I even planned my travel itinerary for South East Asia where I’d be stopping on the way. I dedicated my every spare moment to creating this future for myself.

make a plan - dharma dreaming

So many things fell into place in the months running up to my departure and when I think back, so many things aligned beforehand to make this new life possible, too: a big break-up released me from a life in which I was unhappy and that didn’t serve me anymore, and then a brief new relationship introduced me to travelling and being happy again and an insatiable taste of freedom. The powers and forces beyond were in my favour and I became so abundant and so filled with joy that everything then kept falling into alignment still, as I kept working towards my new life.

The manifestation of the life I envisioned in Sydney changed while I was in South East Asia, it morphed into something new as I changed the direction of my energy. I was now manifesting abundance to be able to keep travelling, to keep discovering more of the world, more of myself. I wasn’t ready to go to Sydney just yet. Or maybe ever. I had bigger and better things to manifest.

I then ended up manifesting love after meeting Lucas along the way. I started to dream and believe that we could last another month, and then a month after that, and then travelling to a new continent, and then starting a life together.

Since meeting in a hostel in the Philippines we’ve now travelled across 24 countries and 3 continents and have now settled in a beautiful jungle casita in Costa Rica. How did that happen – travel romances never work? Ours did. Of course there is something special in it (and it takes two to tango!) but perhaps it helped that I worked to manifest our life together, too. Knowing, deep down, that it wouldn’t end after a few months, that it would be more than a ‘travel fling.’ I worked hard at what I could give and to grow we had/have, as well as dreaming, believing, and trusting that it would work out.

The thing with manifesting anything is that it’s a bit like baking a cake. Once you have thrown your all into it – and I mean your ALL – you kind of have to let it be. Sit back and let it do its own thing. Trust the process. Trust the Universe. Don’t open that metaphorical oven otherwise your baking will lose its rise and will fall. And you don’t want that to happen.

Now, looking at where my life is compared to when I started manifesting change and more freedom back in 2016, when I believed I’d be in Sydney, it’s completely different.

passion - the power of manifesting

Since then I’ve set new goals, new dreams, that have since come into fruition. I wrote down some intentions for the end of last year to deepen my yoga practice and to design and live a life more inline with my core values, to live more consciously, attuned to the needs of my wellbeing and health, and more recently, to become a yoga teacher and teach before I’m 30. Well, I’m a few months off that milestone and I already have regular classes here in Puerto Viejo having completed my training in April.

Again, thanks to countless nights of going to bed dreaming it, imagining it, meditating on it, literally envisioning the classes I’d be sat in front of, writing out cues and class sequences in my head, I have manifested more dreams. And it goes without saying that it also included months of prep and hard work alongside. Remember, you have to dedicate ALL your efforts and energy to your dreams in order to manifest your goals. And they won’t just happen overnight.

When you start to dream it and believe it, you’ll also find that you start to attract abundance and opportunities that weren’t there before. Things will become available to you that weren’t previously there to help you on the path of manifesting your dream. The more you dream and believe it WILL happen, the more the Universe will provide and you’ll find yourself more than able to make it happen. It’s the law of attraction. What you don’t want are any negative thoughts creeping in there, or niggling doubts – which are hard to keep at bay all the time, and which are natural, of course. But do your best to banish anything that doesn’t support this process. Any habits, physical or mental, that don’t support this new life, this dream, let them go. Remember, if you can imagine it, you can realize it – so you don’t want to realize the negative or allow any barriers or obstacles to get in the way of this powerful process. You don’t want to manifest it not happening.

Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it. It’s my mantra. I’ve actually thought about getting it tattooed on my body I love it so much! Even when I journal before bed I often write it at the end of every day as I work towards manifesting new goals and new dreams, thinking of them as the last thing before I go to sleep. Maybe it’s a little superstitious but I feel that if I write them out, too, it will help towards the process.

buddha quote - dharma dreaming

You DO have the power to create the life you want, to play the hand of God for a bit. You have more control over the destiny of your life than you think. I believe fate is linked with energy, with effort, too. Everything you can imagine is already real. Your brain doesn’t actually know the difference between what is real and what is not; if you can imagine it, you can realize it. It’s science.

So go away and write a list of things you want to manifest. How do you want your life to look? What do you need to do to make it happen? What do you need to release and let go to aid the process? (Remember: it won’t happen overnight, it will take time but it WILL happen). Finally, when you’ve written your list, memorize it, ingest it and absorb it through every cell of your body. Perhaps even hold a little ceremony for your intentions under the New Moon.

Whatever you do: Breathe it, live it, dream it. Every ounce of energy in your body, send it towards manifesting this dream. Whatever it is. Whatever they are.

If you can dream it, if you can believe it, you CAN achieve it.

[If you can’t, I’ll give you a full refund.]

yogini on the road

It’s been a while since my last post (5 months and a new year!) and I don’t have any excuses other than we’ve been having far too much fun. But, to be honest, I was lacking the motivation to write as I was busy dedicating my time to my yoga journey.

Recently, my life has taken a more focused turn – and turn for the better. For those who don’t know, I’ve been dedicating myself more fully to my yoga, both in practice and in life choices. Recently, I completed my 200-hour Teacher Training in a permaculture farm in the jungle of Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It was a transformational experience – not just a ‘yoga teacher training’ – and one that’s given me a giant kick up the butt (ahimsa, yogi style, obvs).

shala

Myself and 21 other goddess yoginis (their only all-girl group!) were immersed in the jungle for a 3-week intensive where we were up with the howler monkeys for a morning practice, followed by hours of technique, anatomy, philosophy; lectures on wom(b)en wellness, our menstrual cycles, our intimate relationships with the moon and mother nature, learning – and sampling – the magic of plant medicine; we did a cacao ceremony, had many, many, MANY healing and releasing exercises in catharsis… the list goes on. There were wounds opened (and healed) that I didn’t even know were there. I cried tears I hadn’t cried in years and sang more than I’d ever done my whole life in kirtan, ceremony and mantra. We ate delicious farm-grown food and produce locally sourced from Costa Rican organic farmers, all meals vegetarian or vegan, gluten and dairy free. Oh, and we stayed in upcycled shipping containers and pooped in compost toilets. Saving the planet, one go at a time!

But rewinding a bit. Before my training, way before, I’d felt something was missing. For a while. I felt misaligned. I felt lacking, spiritually, and I felt like I was going in a direction that didn’t fully serve me. Travelling was/is great, but it wasn’t enough. All throughout Asia I missed my yoga practice terribly (which had started a few years back, first in freezing cold gym halls, then in Uni on the floor of bouncy karate crash mats, later in London in fancy – and overpriced – hot yoga studios, and finally under the wonderful instruction of my Mum who is a yoga teacher herself).

In Asia I easily found reasons (excuses) as to why I wasn’t practicing: not having a mat, being hungover, it being too hot. The thing is, I could have gone to yoga classes here, there and everywhere if I’d have made the effort. I just didn’t – and then punished myself for it, mentally, guiltily, after.

I knew I needed a reset, falling victim to the temptations of travelling like late-nights, crap food and copious amounts of alcohol, so I took myself off for a retreats in Thailand and Sri Lanka to reconnect with my practice, and myself. Aside from those two retreats I’d lost my yoga, my ‘union’, and really, the connection to myself – though I didn’t know it yet. As soon as I would step back on the mat, my whole outlook on life, on myself, would change. It was as if an electric current had been shot through me, sparking me alive again. What was I doing? I asked myself. Why wasn’t I making my practice – myself, my wellness – a priority? I got so (SO!) much from yoga, why couldn’t I sustain it in my day to day nomadic life; didn’t I have all the time in the world? But again, I was making excuses.

Something had to change.

Later, when we were travelling in Europe, I decided I had to start practicing again. It was time to reignite my passion and reconnect with who I was and what I wanted. The next year would involve more travelling (we were already in Europe and had planned out the next 6 months and a skeleton plan for the 6 after that) so I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to find a way to make yoga and travelling work. I couldn’t’ feel ‘meh’ like I did in Asia, I’d procrastinated for 8 months too long and enough was enough. And yes, it was worth schlepping my mat, another item of hand luggage, around for the foreseeable future, without a doubt. Why hadn’t I done that in the first place? (The beauty of hindsight…)

I remember the day I first rolled out my travel mat in our Airbnb in Amsterdam. We were cat-sitting, too, and I was watched with curiosity from my suspicious feline companion. It was a rusty practice, but oh it was so good to be back. The next time I managed to roll my mat out was between our two single beds in Slovenia (FYI, a country keen on separate sleeping arrangements) so you can see I was still working up to a regular routine! Regardless, whenever I managed to find time, and space, it gave me wonderful moments for self-expression, self-reflection and just time to myself, which is precious when you’re travelling with someone 24/7. Those moments are like gold dust.

Not used to practicing without instruction, usually having followed the lead of a teacher, I was getting to know how to move by myself, for myself. I was nervous to practice in front of Lucas so would have to banish him from the room or make him turn around. I was also easing back into my body after so long, it was like working with a long-lost friend. My back was still a niggle from the disastrous cliff jumping experience, so I was also learning how to move more cautiously, with modifications, but it was ok; bodies change and I was learning accept that. Now I have a whole list of clicks and cricks that come with getting older!

yoga bled

As we were travelling over the summer I was able to practice outside, too, in the dewy meadows after sunrise in the long grass, or out on a balcony overlooking the sea. I tried to make it a routine, to practice daily (which realistically worked out at 3-4 times a week) and Lucas would often join me, after I got over my shyness, as I tried to teach him the basics of a vinyasa flow. It was then that the lightbulb moment happened.  I had already (re)realised the joy I got from yoga was not worth giving up again, changing my travel routine to include yoga, but now I wanted to make something more of it. I realised I wanted to learn to teach. I wanted to help people experience the joy that I felt in my practice with theirs.

I remember the moment I committed to this idea, in Bosnia & Herzigovina, and placing the deposit for the teacher training with a beating heart. I’d done it. The money was spent. I’d committed. This was back in August last year. The training was in March this year. In Costa Rica. So, there was a leap of faith to be made; a) that I’d still want to do it in 6 months, and b) that we’d make it to Costa Rica! Or at least I had to!

Within just a few months of reigniting my passion, and stepping back onto the path of becoming more ‘myself’, I had decided to turn yoga into more than just a lifestyle and a practice; deep down I knew it was what I’d been waiting for. Yoga was now more than just something to wake up for and ‘do,’ now I was trying to align it with my dharma.

From that day I dove into preparing for my training: watching videos, lectures, reading books on Eastern Philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita, the Sutras, e-books on the chakras, teaching myself the Sanskrit words for the poses. Everything. I felt alive again. I had a purpose. Whenever I could in the morning I’d roll out my mat first thing and flow. Feel into my body and create sequences inspired by previous mornings, other classes, Instagram videos, or muscle memory. I’d move differently every morning and give myself compassion for the ebbs and flows. Yes, some days I did more than others, some days nothing at all. I also had to be lenient about the days I would have to miss a practice by being stuck on a bus, or staying in rooms that were, literally, too small to swing a metaphorical cat let alone roll out a yoga mat. I’d often feel bad about it, like I was cheating myself of something, almost like I wasn’t feeding myself by missing a meal, but I would try to let it go and read instead, or mediate on-the-go. I didn’t want it to become an obsession. Non-attachment, one of the key practices in yoga!

My new routine stuck throughout our travels around Europe and Northern Africa – Lucas and I even went on a retreat in Croatia and Morocco together – and I only became more and more dedicated to my practice and to living with integrity in the run up to my training. And now, fast forwarding to May, I’ve done it. I’ve completed my 200-hour training to become a yoga teacher. The 6 months of preparation all paid off. It was worth every penny, every drop of sweat, every tear shed, every wound opened, picked at and healed.

But then what? Trying to align travelling with living a yogic lifestyle had its challenges. I knew that before, but it got to a point that I decided I really had to start putting myself and my yoga first. It was time to start becoming the person that I wanted to be; the best version of myself. It was time for a change. While travelling was/is SO nourishing, so educational, so inspiring, and so challenging, I needed to challenge myself, nourish myself, educate myself and inspire myself in different ways.

roof yoga

After a conversation over dinner one night in Nicaragua, Lucas and I – mutually and excitedely – decided that it was time to hang up our backpacks for a while and focus on how we want to live; sustainably, environmentally-conscious, healthily, and spiritually. More inline with our core values, which had taken a back seat in the many months we were on the road. We chose a spot to call home and have settled down for the foreseeable future in a small town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, where I completed my training, to try and live a (relatively) ‘normal’ life and live the way we believe will nourish us.

It was time; I missed community. I missed sangha. I missed having options to eat well. I missed treating my body well. I missed self-care not being a priority. These things seem so ‘duh’ but when you’re on the road, seriously, it’s hard to prioritize yourself and your wellbeing when things like brown bread and fresh fruit are hard to come by, or beer is cheaper than water! And you can probably guess which option we would go for.

We’ve only been here a week or so but I’ve already managed to find jobs teaching, we’ve shopped at the organic food shops and the farmer’s market, there are volunteering opportunities in permaculture farms Lucas is considering, women’s circles that I want to join and, of course, yoga, yoga yoga! Everything we had wanted to find in one place seems to be here. I’m excited to take my yoga journey to the next level, both in personal practice and living a yogic lifestyle, and also to have a job that I want to wake up for every day. Basically, having the option to do the things that will align me with who I want to be.

It’s time to adult again and put myself (and my wellbeing) first. After all, whose cup can I fill if I’m not filling up my own?

 

Stay tuned for most posts on my yoga journey, yoga on the road, and other yoga-related tid-bits and tales.