Inspired by a visit from a friend, Jackie Heffer-Cooke, Yogabuds yoga teacher in Norwich, Norfolk, writes about how to be alone with your own thoughts and how to actually find inner peace through Yoga Nidra and Antermouna meditation.
Summer 2016 I took a trip to Turkey, just me and my then 6 year old son, Sam. We had such a wonderful time, I got to spend time with him alone, something I had never done before, plus I enjoyed some wonderfully relaxing time off in the evenings when he was tucked up in bed. When I told a friend about our recent adventure the reaction was not quite what I expected…
She was horrified at the thought that I went my own, on a plane, to a strange country, just the two of us. She told me how she hated to be alone, that her thoughts drove her mad, and that she much preferred to be around people all the time, so she couldn’t be alone to think. My friend I describe is not a shy or retiring type, instead she appears confident, is bright and holds a job as a deputy head teacher. I was surprised, and somewhat saddened, by the revelation. On the contrary I would have thought that she would be a pretty cool head to hang around in, she is caring, and kind and cheerful.
But to be honest, it is only the last few years that I have found a place where I can be content in my own thoughts. I remember going travelling for a year with my husband James back in 2003 and it was one of the best, but the hardest experiences, to be alone with your thoughts away from the distractions of work, study, TV and entertainment. When on my own I seemed to get down, I pissed myself off, my internal dialogue going on-and-on like a stuck record. Even when I was on the most beautiful beach in Fiji, my mind was so busy that true paradise felt a million miles away.
Of course I now know that paradise and peace can only be found from the inside. And that no matter where you keep looking, it only comes from within.
So how do you find it?
In my YogaBuds yoga classes in Norwich we look at the notion of peace
For the body we have been focusing on meditative flowing vinyasa as a way of entering our ‘be-ing’ alpha brain state of flow, encouraging endorphins and serotonin and leaving our ‘do-ing’ beta brain in the office or at home looking after the kids. We have been looking at spine lengtheners, getting the weight of the world off our shoulders. And we have been practising some balances, tree – strong, unaffected, and just present in the now.
For the mind to get some peace we have been looking at different meditations. Yoga Nidra as a way of circulating a particular positive resolution. Antermouna meditation, based on the senses, to remind ourselves how great it is to be alive and wonder at what is around us. And perhaps my own personal peace giver, Antermouna thinking step meditation, the conscious awareness of thoughts, viewing my own thoughts as an observer, and really getting to learn about my different voices and dialogues, where they come from, how to file them, not to get too tied into the raw emotion of them, but to learn how and when, to calmly respond.
Now, I’m not saying I’m totally there yet with the perfect stillness of peace. Life can throw a thunderbolt that rocks you to your very core, and learning how to control and calm my thoughts is possibly a little different from the true blissful peaceful enlightenment of buddha! But these ideas and tools I have learnt have worked, and I know for sure that if I did that travel again this year, being alone with my thoughts would not be something I would altogether dread, instead I would revel at the idea of being still and retreating within myself for a while, to a place that is more peaceful now than ever before.
A place, dare I say, that I enjoy being. Alone with myself. One day I really hope that my friend is able to find that place for herself too.
Jackie teaches YogaBuds, yoga classes in Norwich for all, 8pm on a Monday night at the Norwich School for Girls. Classes are suitable for all levels and beginners are welcome. Find out more and book online in our shop or call reception on: 01603 631900