Yoga Experience

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Must Begin With A Single Step


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‘Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.’ – Buddha

I have heard many things when it comes to yoga and meditation and I have to admit it, I was definitely a sceptic. I refused to believe that sitting down and focusing on your breathing for ten minutes could release all of the toxins and the bad energy from the body.

Today I decided to stop talking about yoga and start doing yoga. I have always had an interest in yoga and meditation but never really pushed myself to actually do it. I am so glad that I finally motivated myself. I have suffered with anxiety for numerous years, it crept up on me one day when I was at college and it has lingered over my head ever since. It only takes something small to trigger it, whether it be the stresses of university work, family worries or relationship struggles – my anxiety takes over. My heart beats increases, my chest tightens and I feel like I lose control of my positive thoughts. I sometimes get frustrated because I can still get anxiety symptoms when I don’t have anything stressful on my mind.

Here is where yoga comes in. I didn’t expect a permanent solution, I just wanted an outlet. I also have a hip condition so the idea of yoga has always seemed like an impossible achievement for me. I decided to give it a go anyway and in the process of experiencing yoga, I found meditation. I struggled to let go of the tension that built up in my mind and my body. I didn’t believe that meditation would work, but it did. I entered a trance-like-state without even realising it. I focused on my breathing, inhaling and exhaling. That’s all that I needed to think about. I cleared my mind. My eyes closed. I felt at one with myself. When I had finished I felt revitalised and free of anxiety and tension.

Amazing right? The lesson I have recently learned is a journey of a thousand miles must being with a single step. You have to try new things and find your true self. Take that first step and you may discover something great. I just hope that I stick to my yoga and meditation. I frequently go through phases of doing things. I learn a new subject or skill, I am fascinated by it and for a while it is my new favourite thing until it fades into obscurity. I get bored easily but I feel different about this. I believe that yoga and meditation will help me in every aspect of my life and I am determined to carry on doing it. It is a discipline that I feel that I need right now. I am going back to University in a few weeks and I don’t want the ghost of my anxiety to return. I haven’t had an attack in about six months. University is the number one trigger but now I have my new tools to help me cope. Yoga and meditation will hopefully help me control my worries and my anxious thoughts. I am confident that this is the beginning of a new spiritual journey, something great, something peaceful, something new.

Book Reviews

‘Shadowing The Sun’ By Lily Dunn Book Review

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A gripping, dark novel about betrayal, sexuality and the loss of innocence.

Shadowing The Sun has dark beautiful prose, unusual characters and a gripping storyline. Dunn is an excellent writer and I will definitely be reading more of her work.

As an avid reader, I read a lot of books and only a few books leave a lasting impression. I often finish a book, place it back on my shelf and I then read another book, without thinking about it again. Shadowing The Sun was a rare find, after I finished the book, the story and the characters still had a lasting affect. The emotional roller coaster of Sylvie’s story gripped me and I still had a lot of unanswered questions after reading the book.

Shadowing The Sun revealed the terrible consequences of neglecting your children. I was moved by the essence of the story. It was written from the perspective of 12 year old Sylvie. An inquisitive, innocent girl who craved to be loved by her father. The point of view switches from her twelve year old self to present day and it is clear that whatever happened when she was 12 was still having a lasting effect on her present life.

Dunn achieved a perfect balance of naivety and innocence in the tone of the narrator. Sylvie was visiting her father’s commune in Italy for the summer with her brother Sam and her two friends Max and Josie. Whilst she was there her father was neglectful towards her, her father’s friend Jeet abused her trust and Sylvie learnt that things are not always what they seem.

The story showcased the shocking truths of how quickly innocence can be taken and how one summer can affect not only the present but impact the future too. Dunn also captured the feelings of being a teenager perfectly, the story was gripping and sinister at times but also had some light-hearted moments too. What I loved about this book was how Sylvie wasn’t judgemental, which is real to how children actually are.

With beautiful prose, the author created a smooth transition between the flashbacks of Sylvie’s childhood and the demons that affected her in her adult life. At the age of twelve Sylvie was caught in the shadowy space between being a girl and a woman, Sylvie was fascinated by the behaviour of her father’s colourful friends. The men were like predators, circling her, touching her, and constantly commenting on her looks. Sylvie’s vulnerability and innocence shines through very clearly because she doesn’t see that it is wrong for them to treat her this way.

Towards the end of the novel, everything is revealed and we find out that that adults in Sylvie’s life failed her when she needed them the most. They were completely unaware of the terrible things that happened that summer in Italy which explained why as an adult Sylvie found it difficult to trust and love her partner Jack.

We discover that she had chosen a career as a photographer, which is her way of taking control – ‘Now it’s me who’s behind the camera, no-one has to see me. I’m the one taking the picture now.’

Dunn crafts the crescendo of the ending brilliantly – adding in subtle clues and hints throughout the novel. This book really got under my skin and I found it a compelling read, the story and the characters have stayed with me ever since. Shadowing the Sun is a perfect choice for those who love a gripping plot.

Rating – 5/5

Stories

Treacherous

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A beacon of light saved me.  July 15th was the day that everything changed. It was an ordinary morning, the sun was shining but sadness clouded my mind, I was on the edge of destruction, praying for salvation. Darkness had snatched away the hope that I would one day be completely happy. I had no positive thoughts left to keep me going, I was living a pitiless life on the streets and I didn’t want to carry on. It never crossed my mind that a single moment could change the direction of your life. I thought that my miserable life was all that the fates would allow for me. But now I realise that life is a treacherous journey, you never know what will happen day by day. Life is a stream of  moments. A collection of photographs. Before I met James, my photographs were black and white. My life had no purpose. But now my life is colourful. I have to keep the shadows of my past locked away to enjoy the lease of life I have been gifted. If James ever discovered the ghosts of my childhood or the insidious struggles of my young adult life, he would leave me. Just like everybody else does.

   ———————

  One night I slept in the ginnels behind The Slug & The Toad pub on Western Avenue. I was lucky to find somewhere cosy for the night but I knew I couldn’t stay there for too long, I needed to keep moving. It was roughly day seven on the streets. I was past the point of desperation now, I managed to get by like most homeless people do but I was hoping that luck would reach me soon. I was twenty two years old and I had never had a place that I could call home. The second the hand on the clock reached twelve on my eighteenth birthday I left the children’s home. They wouldn’t come after me; I was able to do what I wanted to do. I stayed in a few hostels but I never spent long in each one. I was at my fifth hostel when things spiralled out of control. I had been in the hostel for a week or two and one night there was a new girl who was about the same age as me, or she may have been a tiny bit older. She sat in the corner, withdrawn and lifeless. She had extremely shallow cheekbones and her ratty blonde hair was tied in a messy ponytail, I noticed that the skin around her right eye was bruising silver. Her eyes were pale green, she hardly blinked in the few moments that I watched her. I never usually introduced myself to the other girls in the hostel but pity took over my natural instinct that night, I walked over to introduce myself.

I tapped her on the shoulder.

‘Hi, I’m Erin. What’s your name?’ I waited for a response.

‘I know it seems scary in this place but it isn’t that bad once you get used to it, are you okay?’

Her eyes darted in my direction. She stepped towards me and before I had time to even process her actions, she had punched me in the face. Sharp blows continuously imprinted my cheek and she didn’t stop until someone had to pull her off me. Stunned, I walked away in silence and all of the other people in the room quickly ignored the existence of the fight. I assumed that it was something that happened  frequently in hostels , but I wasn’t prepared to stick around and find out. The next morning I left. I decided that I had to go it alone, no more hostels. Ever since I have been living on the streets. I still don’t understand why that girl lashed out at me, something terrible must have happened to her before entering the hostel, not that it gives her any dignified excuse to attack me. I tried to forget about her but her troubled eyes have been carved into my memory ever since.

To be continued.