Creating a Sacred Space by Loulou

At my beautiful studio in Spain we are so blessed to have many yogis coming to live and teach us for a few months at a time. Loulou is our latest visiting teachers, she’s from Yorkshire in England just like me and is a pro at creating special sacred spaces. Read Loulou’s top tips here…

LouLou's Sacred Space

Start by choosing a space in your home to place small objects that are special to you. A nightstand, a bookshelf, the top of a dresser are all great. Then pick three special items. Items that make you think and feel love. This could be a photograph of you, photographs with friends and family. Perhaps a piece of jewellery, a beautiful silk scarf, a flower, even a postcard with words that really inspire you.

It is very beneficial to add an element of nature to your sacred space, this will help keep yourself connected to the universe and all it has to offer. The element of fire can be represented by a candle or incense. You might like to have a glass of water you replenish each day - This practice alone can bring you a real sense of clarity, visually letting worries or doubt drain away is an added bonus to representing the water element at your sacred space. A feather could represent the element of wind, a stone or crystal to represent Mother Earth. There is no need to buy something new, what you already have around your home will mean more to you than purchased possessions and you can add to your altar when other cherished objects gift themselves into your life.

Use the altar you have created as a place for you. Just wonderfully unique, you. Try to dedicated 5 minutes a day at your specially created space. During this time, ignite the element of nature you have chosen (light the candle, sprinkle some water, gently waft the feather or hold the stone/crystal) and simply focus on your breath. Do not try to control the breath just notice how it effortlessly moves in and out of the body and creates committed energy of self love.

Pebble Meditation for the family

Bella & I have started to do a short mindfulness meditation with pebbles or shells every night before bed, it helps Bella make sense of the stresses and conflicts that she sometimes faces at home/school/in her mind and it helps me to believe that I am capable of meeting my responsibilities with love.

Pebble Meditation

We first discovered this meditation from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, the modern day Apostle of peace and nonviolence, sometimes we practice using a video with one of his monks and sometimes we make it up as we go along creating our own version.

This meditation helps us to remember that we are part of the earth and we are made of many elements, emotions and moods. The meditation also helps us both to take responsibility for the way we are being in the world, allowing us to wipe the slate clean every night and enter the new day fresh like a flower, strong like a mountain, clear like water and full of space. This moment together also helps us to bond and love one another unconditionally.

What do you need?
4 pebbles, shells, stones, crystals - something that holds the energy of the earth within it.


Method.
1. Sit comfortably and try not to worry about your little one(s) fidgeting, just make sure you feel grounded and calm and that will have a soothing effect on them.
2. Ask the children to bring their hands into prayer position and repeat the magic yoga word together 'namaste'. If you feel comfortable, children love to chant OM 3 times and SHANTI 3 times, it is OK to laugh and have fun with this.
3. Explain that you are going to do a special meditation and that as human beings we have lots and lots of layers just like onions do; while sometimes we may feel very happy, other times we may feel very sad and this meditation will help us to know that every feeling is OK and natural.
4. Close your eyes and smile and listen to the silence.
5. Take the first pebble in your hand and imagine this pebble is a flower.
Suggested words- Sometimes throughout our day we get very busy and tired, sometimes we may feel dry but it is important for us to remember we are FRESH, just like a flower. Please repeat - I am fresh, I am a flower.
6. Smile and enjoy the silence.
7. Take the second pebble in your hand and imagine this pebble is a mountain.
Suggested words - Just like a strong and stable mountain we remember that we are strong and we are stable. We are strong for our families, our friends and so that we can do all our jobs well with love. Please repeat - I am strong, I am stable, I am a mountain.
8. Smile and enjoy the silence.
9. Take the third pebble in your hand and imagine this pebble is water.
Suggested words- Just like water we understand that sometimes the waves in the ocean can be big and busy but underneath the waves, there is always an eternal ocean of calm. Please repeat - I am an ocean of calm, I am water.
10. Smile and enjoy the silence.
11. Take the fourth pebble in your hand and imagine this pebble is space. 
Suggested words- We all need space, our families need space, we need space, space helps us to remember who we are. Please repeat - I am space I feel space, space. 
12. Smile and enjoy the silence.
13. It is really nice to end the meditation by saying a big thank you to the children for meditating with you and to tell them that they are loved unconditionally. Namaste.









Meditation Tips for Busy Parents

A few years ago while teaching on retreat in Greece I downloaded a book which came highly recommended by my favourite online teacher, Jo Tastula, the book is called ‘Make Me One with Everything’ by Lama Surya Das. Everything in the book spoke to me but there was one section about how we can create a sense of calm and connection within our everyday family lives and not only on retreats or our yoga mats that particularly grabbed my attention.

Mummy Baby Meditation

Lama Surya Das, a great Buddhist meditation teacher, recommends a practice called 'Inter-Meditation' which kinda means instead of thinking that we can only find peace when we are away from the world or when we are alone (of course we do still need this precious time to ourselves), that we can also find this sense of tranquility when we are in the midst of our busy, hectic and sometimes challenging family and working life.

At the time when I read the book life was pretty darn sweet, Bella our daughter was 4 and was just so easy and good, Ru and I had just decided to get married and everything was flowing like a breeze - and then our new beautiful baby boy came along. Jacob sure was a gift from God, one that lovingly and naturally took all of our spare time. If I wasn't soothing Jacob to sleep or feeding there seemed to be a 100 million other things to do with the yoga studio and our daughter. Slowly but surely I went from feeling like Mother Earth to a new Mum with seriously erratic energy and then I remembered the advice from Lama Surya Das. 

Now I try to make snippets of time with the kids into my practice. For example, when I put Jacob in the bath and he's entertained with his rubber ducks I sit crossed legged on the floor watching him and Inter-meditating with him. When he's asleep I spend 10 minutes watching him and inter-meditate with him. I can honestly say it has turned mummy related chores into moments of immense love and gratitude, moments that light up my day. Of course I don’t manage to do this all the time and I accept that at times I am eractic and grumpy but it feels so good to have another path to walk along when I feel things getting on top of me.

If you fancy a go, here’s the technique:

. Inter-meditate by sitting in your kids room at night after they go to sleep. 

. Let a feeling of absolute love and appreciation wash over you. 

. Let go of all the things you need to do just and allow the tension to melt away. 

. Bring your attention to the breath and the sensations in your body. 

. Let the breath become very gentle and relaxed, maybe focusing on lengthening the exhale, keep looking at your gorgeous baby/child and allow your heart to keep feeling a wave of unconditional love. 

. Watch your children’s chest rise and fall with every breath and begin to breathe with them. 

. As you breathe with your child notice how everything feels calm, like there's nothing in the world as important as this very moment. 

. Take this feeling into the challenges and the noise and remember to breathe through it all. 

Blessings to all you gorgeous parents.



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