“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others.” Mahatma Gandhi
I have worked in community services for over 30 years in a range of different areas including youth homelessness, women’s health, aged care and mental health. In my yoga practice and business the concept of service from Bhakti Yoga is close to my heart. The power of giving is immense. True service is not prompted by a sense of guilt or duty. It springs from a feeling of immense concern and care for others as well as compassion for their suffering. In her book Skill in Action Michelle Cassandra Johnson asks you to explore the deeply transformational practice of yoga, and to become a social change agent so that you can create a world that is just for all.
One Foot Forward
“Once you’re facing in the right direction, all you need to do is put one foot forward.” – Zen saying
I have worked in the mental health sector for over a decade now particularly in the area of mental health prevention and suicide prevention. Over 20 years ago I lost my Dad to death by suicide which was due to situational factors as well as possibly untreated depression. I myself experience symptoms of anxiety and that was my motivation to practice Dru Yoga and Meditation to calm the racing mind and still the fidgeting body. To find some stillness physically, mentally and emotionally.
One of the causes I have chosen to support is the Black Dog Institute One Foot Forward walk for mental health in October each year.
The mission of Black Dog Institute is Science. Compassion. Action. They are the only medical research institute in Australia to investigate mental health across the lifespan and their aim is to create a mentally healthier world for everyone. 1 in 5 of us will experience symptoms of mental illness in any given year. In Australia that’s around 5 million people. And roughly 60% of these people won’t seek help. That is why I also completed an online professional development course in Mental Health Aware Yoga with Dr Lauren Tober, a practicing Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Teacher of nearly 20 years. If you have been impacted and require crisis support visit Lifeline or find support and information at Beyond Blue.
World Peace Flame
“A Journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” Mahatma Gandhi
The World Peace Flame was created in 1999 when, for the first time in history, seven Flames of Peace were lit on five continents, flown across the oceans and united into one. Through my involvement with Dru Yoga I was drawn to the World Peace Flame as a symbol of hope, freedom and unity. In 2019 my Mum passed away and I acquired my own World Peace Flame lantern to support my own inner peace. I am currently participating in the Dru Global Ambassador of Light program to help spread peace and light around the globe.
If you attend a class you might see the World Peace Flame lantern and at various times I offer events with a donation to World Peace Flame projects appreciated. If you are involved with schools you might like to learn more about the Peace in Your Hands education package with free downloadable resources for teachers and educators.
Around the International Day of Peace on 21 September I bring the Flame to class along with candles, or you can bring your own special candle, to light. To transfer the energy of one Flame to another candle, light the second from it and let them burn together for a few minutes. You will then have a new World Peace Flame candle. You may like to pass the Flame on to others. The World Peace Flame is a ‘living flame’ so instead of blowing it out, waft it out with your hand or a candle snuffer, as breath represents life and it is best not to extinguish life with life.
To cultivate feelings of peace, joy and calm light a candle and sit comfortably with it for a few moments, gazing at the flame and focusing on your breathing. Take 3 deep breaths. On the next inhalation think: I am peace. As you exhale quietly think: I give peace. Affirm to yourself: May all beings know peace and may all beings find the true peace that lies in their own hearts. Relax into the vastness of peace you have created. Peace is possible and it begins with you.
“Just as the night sky is made glorious by thousands of stars, so our times of darkness can become radiant with transformation by a thousand acts of positivity.” Andrew Wells
It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
I have been a member of Amnesty International Australia since I was a teenager and was inspired by U2 and the “Conspiracy of Hope” benefit concerts in 1986. Amnesty defends human rights and around Human Rights Day on the 10 December I will donate some of the proceeds of my classes to Amnesty International Australia. I have hosted an AmnesTea event at a local cafe to raise awareness about human rights over a cup of tea and some cake.
Share the Dignity
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Since starting my yoga teaching in 2018 I have supported the charity Share the Dignity by hosting a Yoga4Dignity class in August as well as encouraging donations and collecting donated products to be distributed locally. Share the Dignity works to make a real, on the ground difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, or doing it tough. They distribute period products to those in need and work to end period poverty here in Australia. When someone is doing it tough, the last thing on their mind should be dealing with their period. They assist those in need through collecting thousands of period products each year through our collection drives and campaigns and distribute them directly to charities across Australia. In recent years the fundraiser has changed to be Move4Dignity and I have fundraised personally through walking and yoga practice. Each year I also support Share the Dignity by purchasing a pair of limited edition pink yoga tights from Active Truth who donate $10 for every tight sold which can purchase four period packs containing pads and tampons.
“Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society.” Cesar Chavez
This photo shows Jamie my foster fail cat as a kitten. I discovered I was not going to a be a good foster carer as I would want to keep all the kittens and we already have three cats, Peppa, Poppy and now Jamie. So one of my first fund raising yoga events was in the park in Dalyellup to support SAFE Bunbury. The yoga class was by donation and people were encouraged to donate products like pet food and kitty litter. In 2020 the theme for Term 4 was Animal Wisdom and I donated 10% of the proceeds from my classes to SAFE Bunbury as well as encouraging donations of money or products. The theme of the term was to practice a different animal asana or pose each week including Downward Dog, Camel, Eagle and of course the best of all Cat pose.