Turning Work into Creative Play  

Turning Work into Creative Play   

Our schooling and teachers model how we thought we should act at work, what we can achieve at work and what work means to us. Work is never thought of as our calling but something we ‘have to’ do. By remembering and understanding that our early schooling models our perception of work and it is the system problems that limit our creativity that we can start to re-imagine how we react to problems and remedy it.

Learn How to Communicate with the Universe

Every action, every thought, every feeling we have is motivated by an intention and that intention causes the effect. We are not helpless but actually eternally powerful and creators of the experiences we see around us. It is our intentions that are a cause that will always have an effect on the world around us.  And here’s the kicker, according to Gary Zukav, the author of ‘The Seat of the Soul’, if we participate in the cause, it is not possible for us not to participate in its effect. We are in it till the end, come rain or shine, we are caught in the events of what follows from our intentions. It is unavoidable. Our intentions alone can turn worlds.  

So let’s talk about intentions. I want to design beautiful clothes. Why? Because I want to be a famous fashion designer someday, be invited to fancy parties, be adorned in magazines, be rich, have famous friends… there is so much fear operating in these words. Our need to be recognised and be celebrated are driven by fear, greed and desperation that ripples outwards into the world, making monstrous everything and everyone it touches until ambition and success is reached on the destruction of our earth, on the broken backs of others and at the sacrifice of our own soul.  Let’s try that again.  I want to design beautiful clothes.  Why? Because I want to bring joy to people.  I want to enable those who feel faceless to be able to create their own identities through through what they wear. I want to create jobs to low income women. I want to express myseld, I want to grow, I want to create.  These words come from a place of love. A love that re-grows the earth, that empowers its people, a love that balloons my soul and makes it fly.

With so much of life affected by our simplest intentions, how can we make sure our intentions are built on love and not on intentions driven by fear?  Below is my 4 step approach that I developed through my learning of Neale Donald Walsch’s ‘Conversations with God 3’ and Gary Zukav’s ‘The Seat of the Soul’.

Step One: Believe you are the universe 

This does not mean that we should believe that we are the centre of the universe rather that we are the universe itself.  We must start by accepting that we are connected to everything and everyone. That our thoughts, our desires, our very intentions do not operate in a vacuum but reach out to the furthest parts of all life itself and affect it. Through our intentions, we, like the universe are ever abundant and the potential for good that we can bring to the world around us is infinite.  

Neale Donald Walsh writes that in a future utopia, economic success will be measured on how much we cause others to amass. In the future economy, we will not do things for personal profit but for personal growth. Our commodity will be personal growth via the act of giving. With this in mind act as if every day is an opportunity to give and that this act of giving is enough to experience growth. Start today. Act like you have ‘enough’ money, have enough love, have ‘enough’ time, have ‘enough’ joy, what would you do differently? What would you share more freely and openly? 

Step Two: Be Present & Be Grateful 

Intentions driven by fear tend to originate from things in the past and are aimed at events in the future.  They leap over the present.  They are fuelled by regrets, failures, traumas and seek resolution in the future via desperation and hope.  To live in fear is never to live in the now.  It is love that seeks to make time stand still, to forever be in the present moment, to appreciate what is happening right now. “God I hope this moment never ends”, yeah that’s love talking!!  To ensure our intentions come from a place of love we must be present and to be present is to be forever grateful.  Start with being present.  Right here. Right now. What do you feel?  How do you feel? What are you grateful for?   I like to start this process with reciting the following quote by Neale Donald Walsch:

‘There is nothing I have to have, there is nothing I have to do, there is nothing I have to be, there is nowhere I need to go except exactly what I am being right now.’

 Rest peacefully, the kind of rest that is only achievable when one knows that everything will come to be at the right time. Stay centred and refuse to be influenced by other people's criticisms or doubts which send you hurtling towards your past and future.  Yoga teacher Maria Paz gave me a great tip to manage this which is that every time you have doubt, you must say ‘Thank you God for reminding me that IT IS coming to me, I thank you in advance.’

There are times when I simply cannot see the good in things and my world is bombarded with fear.  When things do not seem to be going to plan for me I think about how my actions have helped others, I focus on how much I have been able to add value to others even when I don’t seem to have got what I wanted.  This at least keeps me grounded in the present.  

Step Three – Seed your Intention 

As Gary Zukav explains in ‘The Seat of the Soul’ every action is motivated by an intention and that intention causes effects. If you build love based intentions you get more love, if you build fear based intentions you get more fear. Intentions derive from two key emotions: Love and Fear so build your intention board with love based intentions. 

In the words of Neale Donald Walsch, life is about creating the highest quality of giving, not the highest quality of getting.  Seed your intentions for the greater good and not for reasons that purely satisfy your needs.  What do you want to invite into your world? What new world do you imagine coming about from your intentions? Visualize yourself doing or being this intention you desire. Live your life as if you have already reached your intentions. Imagine how this is helping others. Speak it to yourself in a positive present tense affirmations. Write your affirmations starting with ‘I am or ‘I have’ and imagine how this will impact the world and others.

Step Four – Build your intention board

I like to create a collage of images that represent my intentions and the feelings of love I associate with each image. I like to pin them on a board and keep the board somewhere I can see every day.  So on my current board I have a picture of a puppy I want to foster and this makes me feel love. I have a picture of the sea I want to live next to and this makes me feel expansive, I have a picture of my dream house where I want to invite my friends and this makes me feelconnected. Each of these images connects together forming interesting possibilities and realities creating a beautiful collage that represents a life built on love in its purest form. This intention board helps me develop more clarity and inner peace when things are not going to plan. I focus on the feeling of giving and know the universe will bring these things to me.

The above is developed through my learnings of Neale Donald Walsch’s ‘Conversations with God 3’, Gary Zukav’s ‘The Seat of the Soul’ and Deepak Chopra’s ‘You are the Universe’.

Can we use self-realisation techniques to navigate the temperaments of others and live with authenticity?

Part 2 of the interview with Peter Harper founder of The Drunken Monk

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Recently I have realised that successful projects have less to do with the competencies of the team executing them and alot to do with the dynamics and energy formations of the team. Let’s just say that the same boiling water that softens a potato hardens an egg: it is about what we are made of and not the circumstances. Often in work and social spaces we can feel like we are floating in a pot of boiling water made up of different moods and temperaments, demands and desires, and thoughts and actions of others all colliding against ours. During these instances we may ask what impact do others have on me? When do I lose our vitality, when do I soften and break apart or when do I harden by putting up walls? 

In this part 2 of our interview with enlightenment intensive facilitator Peter Harper we continue our focus on the difference between resignation and surrender, listening with an open heart and how we can attract the kind of energy that heightens our potential and gives us the expansion for growth.

Mia -  During the Enlightenment intensive at the Mandali Retreat Center, I realized that energy is fluid, forever evolving as it flows through us. With energy being so flexible, how can we direct our energy to where it serves us best?

Peter - Where energy serves us best is in the nourishment of our needs. These can be as obvious as air, food, water, as well as emotional and spiritual fulfilment. It is our intrinsic nature to find satisfaction in our life. Energy follows intention; so the first step is to be clear how we wish to direct our energy. This can be into projects, people, travelling and creating a life where we feel safe, abundant and healthy. So a clear intention is essential. When the intention is driven by a passion, a natural enthusiasm is most likely coming from the heart. When energy flows from the heart, there is love, empathy and a sense of divine inspiration. It may even be that you find yourself ‘working’ yet it will have a feeling of purpose, joy and your energy levels will be higher than if you were simply working a job just to pay the bills. Observe, connect with your desires, your passions, direct your energy from the heart and be patient…those are the keys.

Mia -  In part 1 of this blog post we spoke briefly about the difference between surrendering and resignation.  Whilst surrender usually has a negative meaning, it is not about giving up. You describe surrendering like floating on water, allowing the water to carry your weight, knowing that you are fully supported and safe as you let go. It is the opposite of resignation which is the feeling of giving up and sinking.  How can we use the tools in the Enlightenment intensive to turn our feelings of resignation to one of surrender?

Peter - It is exactly, as you said: resignation is a feeling of giving up or not having hope and being emotional about it. Surrender is similar in the quality of non-doing but it has a quality of lightness. Mentally trying to change resignation into surrender will not work, it will become a mind trip. What you can do is to become more rooted in your Self-identity. I like to call it strengthening the silent muscles. 

Once you connect with your inner Self, then surrender will come naturally through the door of acceptance. My partner made a beautiful observation to express the difference. We resign ´from´ an external situation. We surrender ´to’ the moment in all its aspects. Resignation is an emotional reaction. Surrender is a state of expansion, opening into an inner space of awareness. There is a coolness about it.

Be careful not to jump into the common spiritual trap to accept / agree to everything that is happening and how other people behave. Healthy acceptance doesn’t mean I become a doormat. Acceptance is a feeling of a relaxed non resistance while establishing healthy boundaries. 

So, exercise your silent muscles. You can do this through meditation and on a daily basis with the practice of presence. This means taking your attention away from the grip of thinking and placing it into your body, your breath or just listening to sounds. The Enlightenment Intensive process is very efficient in connecting with the Self. Once you deepen the connection with your Essential Self, then surrender will come naturally.

Mia Jafari

Mia -  Recently I was working with someone that was very toxic and manipulating and I decided to leave that environment rather than deal with them. We cannot always do this in our social and professional lives where our relations with certain people leave us deflated and depleted of our life force energy. What can we do in these situations to protect ourselves whilst also maintaining a strong supporting relationship with others?

Peter -  I recently read that 25% of the population are at some level energy vampires. We all come across them from time to time and as you have said, they leave you feeling energetically depleted. Psychologically, they may be (but not as a rule) in a lot of pain that has been caused by developmental disturbances in early childhood that comes from being brought up in a dysfunctional and unhealthy holding environment. Very often they can be charming, well dressed and obliging. However, they will show signs of being self centred, gossip about others, respond vaguely, lie and guilt trip you. Most of all you will feel drained by their presence. Trust your intuition, your instinct!

When you come across such people the first step is to recognise them and protect yourself by setting clear boundaries. Ideally, you distance yourself physically and emotionally, you can wish them good luck to them on their journey and leave. Do not waste your energy to try to explain yourself or try to change them - you´re very unlikely to succeed.

Often they will find suitable targets and try to exploit them by triggering their guilt, shame and low self esteem. So, it is important also to look within yourself to see if there are any mechanisms that allow vampires to “parasite” from you. 

Secondly, understanding how these ‘suckers’ function can help you to be free from their manipulations. One friend of mine, after years in the relationship with a manipulator finally broke through and managed to leave him. Before she did, she literally spent months studying and reading about the manipulations and the mechanisms of toxic relationships. This research helped her to finally understand the whole story. Most importantly, she recognised which emotional pattern of hers made her enter into such a situation.

The Intensive process is a great start to recognising and transforming those traits in yourself thereby, leaving nothing to get hooked by. However, the best solution is to avoid these people. If this is not possible then set very clear boundaries and don´t waste your time trying to explain yourself or argue. They may try it on a few times, but if they do not succeed, they will search for someone else to hook into. It is natural and healthy to keep clear boundaries as this conveys a quality of genuine respect towards everyone.

Mia Jafari

Mia -  What do you think happens to our sense of belonging and our overall sense of emotional well-being when we shut down and stop listening to each other.

Peter - When we start to shut down we disconnect from our essential Self. When this happens we alienate ourselves from our core and our sense of belonging moves towards a feeling of isolation. This is often caused when our needs, in some area of our life, are not being met and nourished. There can then follow an emotional reaction such as anger, depression or fear. If the emotional investment continues, this will then lead to a deepening of the emotional suffering which may eventually manifest as dis-ease in the body. As our contact to our essential Self becomes more distant the dis-ease will increase. The more we identify with the emotional pattern that is creating the isolation the greater the sense of isolation and emptiness. It then becomes a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break loose from.

It is common for people in this state to turn to external sources of gratification in order to feel at ease. These tactics may provide a temporary relief and do not work on the long term.

Our well-being becomes damaged and this can manifest in a number of ways. Depression, illness, anxiety; these emotions can be over whelming and dominate your experience. 

The good news is that it is possible to reverse the trend and to restore balance by returning your centre of identity to your Essential Self and away from negative internal dialogue. Placing your attention from the life situation to your inner Self is core but it does not mean you have to do it alone. If you feel the need for help, make sure to ask the ‘right’ people or specialists. Sharing with others is a powerful way to lighten the load and share the burden. 

Mia - How can authentic listening be a key enabler to living a successful and fulfilled life?

Peter -  Authentic listeners listen to others with an empathic quality when they are in contact with themselves and present. They listen to their inner guidance (inner voice) which leads to a meaningful and alive interaction with others and naturally to an easier, richer and fuller life.

Authentic listening is a quality of the heart. It is an essential key to a deep feeling of satisfaction. It empowers us to follow our true nature, intuition and to have a deep feeling of being connected to a source of fulfilment. Ironically, it is not in any way dependent on our life situation. Authentically listening to myself and feeling connected to my heart naturally enhances my ability to empathically listen to others. 

Peter Harper is the founder of The Drunken Monk and currently lives in the Pre Alps of Northern Italy where he divides his time working at The Mandali Retreat Center and his recording studio where he produces Conscious Music and Guided Meditations

How practicing self-realization can take your business to new heights

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2018 was coming to its end. It was a year to celebrate. It was my year of ups, downs and achievements. A year of taking risks, falling and flying again; it was about reaching personal milestones.  And yet here I was, standing at the entrance of the Mandali Centre for a retreat in something called the ‘Enlightenment Intensive’.  What was I doing here? The centre nestled high up in the cliffs against the postcard perfect backdrop of Lago d’Orta in Northern Italy.  Below me the calm almost muted currents of Lake Orta itself stretching out towards an endless horizon.It is thought that this lake was once part of a much larger body of water; connecting the great northern glaciers all the way down to the south. Alas its environment changed and the lake became separated, isolated, disconnected from its source. I was here as I wanted to reflect on my core purpose of who I am to build a future and business that is truly aligned with my purpose. In Hindi, Mandali means a grouping of people who have joined together because they share an interest or belief. That made sense I thought; create a centre that helps people find their connection with themselves and others over a lake that had lost its own connection. Somehow I knew I was in the right place. 

The ‘Enlightenment Intensive’ is a five day retreat led by Peter Harper based on the teachings of Charles Berner. With the aim of unravelling how can we all attain a single moment of true Enlightenment. For three days we were placed in a completely silent environment with no distractions and blasphemously, no cell phones!! We filled our days with short but frequent sessions ranging from contemplative walks, physical exercise and deep meditation built around five meal breaks and what they dubbed the Dyads (conversations).  The Dyad forms the central core of this process. During the Dyads we were encouraged to break our silence, looked intensely into one another’s eyes and either ask or answer the question… ‘Who am I?

  • I know I am not my thoughts but they are still there. 

  • I know I am not my emotions but they are still there. 

  • I know I am not my past but they are still there.

  • I know I am not my future but they are still there. 

I see myself as two; I am currently sitting here tranquil, on a park bench under a tree enjoying every presence in my present to the sounds of pigeons finding leftover of a sandwich. But I am also a disruption; of stories from the past, concerns of the future, latent thoughts and emotional tendencies. The enlightenment intensive facilitator Peter Harper explains that the ‘two parts’ of us are actually the authentic self (our true identity, the parent) and the personality (the things we picked up as children). Imagine an empty house, made up of brick, tile, wood and cement, its architecture forming the very foundations of our existence.  This Peter says is our authentic self.  And now imagine that you begin to fill that house. Fill it with things that may seem like important objects, superficial objects that need to be owned, that are in constant need of replacement and upgrading.  Spend the day having to clean these things, building devices to secure it against intruders and pay its bills. This is your personality.  During childhood we come to identify ourselves with all the things we fill our house. The enlightenment intensive process allows us space to observe ourselves as what we really are, a structure, something strong, grounded… like a house rather than the objects that consume it. And why is this important for business growth? Because once you see yourself as the house with infinite potential rather than the objects that consume it, you see that what limits you is yourself. That what you imagine it, you can build.

In this two part interview with the enlightenment intensive facilitator Peter Harper we dig into the subtle difference between ‘letting go’ and ‘attracting what you want’. We discuss practical tools to bring the enlightenment intensive process to our everyday life and work and how we can all use these principles to accelerate our growth.

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Mia - Rumi said life is a balance between holding and letting go. What daily tips would you give for us to let go of our stories, thoughts, and emotions and sit in a place of stillness? 

Peter – The first thing is to embrace our thoughts and emotions. Intrinsically, they come from the ego which is a part of ourselves that is trying to protect us. Trying to push them away and avoid them will at best repress them. Give them space and attend to them with a feeling of loving kindness … to your self.

At the same time, our Essential Self, the stillness is constantly available. Through the practice of presence, this space becomes more easily touched. Simply take several deliberate and conscious breaths, accept the content of your experience as it is now, relax the body, keep your breathing open and natural and rest in the part of you that is observing. By allowing your breathing to maintain a natural rhythm, your thoughts will clear and you will be able to move from a place of clarity rather than panic.

 

Mia - How can we sit in the ‘place of ease’ whilst cultivating the things we want to achieve?

Peter– Life loves to create and we are brilliant creators. When I feel an enthusiasm and feel engaged in the activity I am focused on then naturally there is a flow of satisfaction. The journey becomes the goal, yet I am still aware of the desired outcome, and that is ok. So noticing the feelings that are flowing into what I do is a good indicator of the quality of the work I am doing.

If I am working out of a place of panic then my breathing and heart beat become irregular, adrenalin and cortisol are pumped into my body, my capacity to think clearly diminishes. In those moments I will first rebalance my breathing to calm the physiology, relax my shoulders or wherever I feel tension in my body and then repeat the steps into the present as described in the first question. Sometimes, even just a few seconds can be enough to restore clarity of thought and action.

Mia - Sometimes in our business we aim to get through the moment to get to the outcome. Is this wrong?

Peter- The present moment is as it is and when accepted it establishes the quality of the next moment. If the present moment becomes an obstacle to a goal, then we become divided and this can lead to stress and frustration. It’s not wrong to desire a specific outcome. It’s healthy to have drive and commitment. This passion will guide you in the sense that it becomes a fulfilling act rather than one born out of anger. It will have a lighter and more satisfying outcome when born from your presence.

Mia - Sometimes everything is going well in our life and work except one thing. Why does the child (or ego) highlight the one thing that is not going well and fixate on that?

Peter – It is the nature of the ego to protect and warn us of danger. It is like a sheep dog on a farm. It can be loyal and useful. However, if the sheep dog starts trying to run the farm there will be chaos. Observing when there is an issue in our lives can be useful and by giving that part space, understanding it and addressing the issue will calm the thoughts, tame the dog. This can be difficult if there is nothing to do except wait. Then the mind can go into a loop with thoughts that can become repetitive and incessant. 

So first give the issue space to help to understand what your options are. What can be done now? What can be done later? Or if there is nothing that can be done then how can I find support to deal with the weight of these feelings?  Sometimes life will sucker punch us with events that are beyond our control. In those situations it helps to have someone to support us in times of difficulty. Overall, it will depend on the nature of the issue that your ego is pre occupied with. As a general rule, it comes down to how deeply you can understand the issue and what direct action you can take to resolve. In any given moment there are only three options: Accept the situation as it is. Try to change it. Or walk away. Wisdom is knowing which step to take.

Mia - I know fear is an illusion but its still there and it hinders us greatly in our business goals (as well as life). It stops us from taking risks. What can we do about this?

Peter – For me fear can be a useful tool to warn us of danger. It is a natural part of our ego structure and when observed from a place of stillness, it can be a motivating force that drives us to create change. Again, the approach of giving space to whatsoever feeling is in my experience. Listen, understand and then decide how and if to respond.

Mia - How can we ‘be present’ and also ‘want’How can we just ‘be present’ and want to develop our business, want to build things, grow, experience new things and have certain things show up for us? 

Peter- Life loves to create. Just look at the earth, it is abundant, creative, spacious, colourful, wondrous, vivacious, dynamic.  As the microcosm of the macrocosm of life we are all natural creators.

When there is a connection with our authentic self there naturally arises the desire to give. When we connect with the energy that created all life then there is a natural feeling of abundance. We then become a natural expression of this life force. The creative impulse can be strong, to build a house, a company, to serve, to share and to contribute in a way where we are seen, respected and loved.

When we connect with our nature, with what we love then you will notice how the time flies. What we do will show a quality and beauty that is other-worldly. So any business that is imbued with a passion and drive that comes from a genuine love and caring will flourish.

When the feeling of abundance and authentic expression is there, people and opportunities are more likely to be attracted and support your business.

 

Mia - Sometimes we are doing all the right things; we are genuinely grateful, present, joyous and giving but then something comes out of nowhere that really jolts and challenges us. Why do you feel this happens?

Peter- Consciousness will literally force us out of our comfort zone to face the process of growth. It can be unpleasant but challenges and failure are there to help us to grow and take us to our next stage of life. Challenges are powerful. Challenges build our capacity to recognise what we truly are and build our resources to shift back into our authentic self.

Mia interviewed Peter on 8th January 2019

I hope you enjoyed this interview.  In Part 2 we continue our interview with Peter and will focus on the difference between resignation and surrender, listening with an open heart and attracting energy that heightens our potential for growth.

Peter Harper is the founder of The Drunken Monk and currently lives in the Pre Alps of Northern Italy where he divides his time working at The Mandali Retreat Center and his recording studio where he produces Conscious Music and Guided Meditations.

How Yoga Taps into Our Creative Genius

‘Yoga is not really about getting your body healthy, though it does that too. Yoga is about gaining the knowledge that can free you.’ 

Michael A. Singer - The Untethered Soul

This beautiful quote by Michael A. Singer encapsulates for me how yoga can tap into our creative genius.  To connect us into a creative state where the world appears to us as a set of infinite possibilities, where anything is doable and we can create our life (and the world) in ever new and exciting terms. Now who better to be a living example of this sweet yet all-powerful surrender of tapping into our creative genius than Michael A. Singer.  If you Google his name you’ll discover that he is the creator of a life-saving, billion-dollar software company that specialises in medical management with achievements archived by the Smithsonian Institute.  And whilst we are ingrained with this image of the socially awkward, tech-savvy, Harvard grad whose Zuckerberging it away in some basement rent-a-workstation at Silicon Valley hoping to create the next big tech gizmo; Singer created his legacy by filling his day with yoga and meditation at his cabin in the woods outside of Gainesville, Florida, USA.  

But it wasn’t always going in this direction of yoga and meditation for Singer.  Whilst working on his doctorate in economics in 1971 he had a deep awakening and went into seclusion to focus on yoga and meditation. In the 1970’s he founded the ‘Temple of the Universe’, a now long established yoga and meditation centre where people of any religion or beliefs can come together to experiment with inner peace.  Years later he authored the #1 New York Bestseller ‘The Untethered Soul’ and the New York Bestseller‘ The Surrender Experience’. What Singer explores in both ‘The Untethered Soul’ and his autobiography is that through the practice of yoga and meditation you will eventually catch on to the epiphany that you must distance yourself from your own psyche (your mind) to reach clarity. That you are not your own thoughts and that you must take the age old philosophical maxim “I think therefore I am” and apply a little Dadaist reinterpretation to say “I think where I am not; I am where I think not”.  Afterall, what is our mind if not the pollutant superhighway overflowing with the streams of thought that are not our own but a series of social scripts accumulated and reedited, cut and pasted from years of overexpose to living outside of ourselves.  It is through yoga and meditation that we can de-clutter, where we quiet the mind and are able to hear the voice of clarity that speaks to us. 

To get really creative you have to get really comfortable with trying many things and failing at most whilst having a clear end goal in mind. Failing as part of the creative process should be celebrated not blocked. To be really creative we need to be accustomed with making mistakes and so many of us are fearful of mistakes.  This is why we become so determined to do things the way we have always done things. Furthermore, even when we are able to gain the inner confidence to create something new our compulsion to conform and fit-in leads us into self-destruction and sabotage. It is again yoga and meditation that brings us back and enables us to create new ideas from a ‘place of knowing’ or rather from a position of reminding.  Yoga reminds us once again what we already know deeply to be true about what we must do – what we must create.  And like Michael A. Singer who forged his own creative line that connected his lodge in the woods to the skyscrapers of Silicon Valley without moving a inch; we must all understand that the greatest changes done to ourselves and to the world around us don’t have to come by following others and the way they have always done things. 

Now let’s get creative!!

My three favourite types of yoga to help tap into my creative juices:

Bikram Yoga- A system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional hatha yoga techniques. It became popular in the early 1970s and Bikram Yoga classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises. Bikram Yoga is a hot yoga style, and is practiced in a (95–108 °F) with a humidity of 40%.

Aroma Yin Yoga- Yin Yoga is a deeply healing and meditative form of yoga that targets the connective tissues and energy meridians of the body. A yin yoga pose is typically held for five minutes; enough time to release stagnation within the fascia, refine subtleties of our breathing and quiets the mind. In an Aroma Yin class, the teacher applies essential oils to specific acupressure points on the body while in complementary yin postures. Each pose and oil is selected according to the five element theory of Chinese Medicine to facilitate emotional, physical and energetic transformation.

Kundalini Yoga- An uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices, Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, such as Sat Nam, meaning "truth is my identity." The goal is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.

Techniques to tap into creative thinking and problem solving:

1). The Empty Room Simulation – Imagine you are an empty room with the door and windows wide open. Thoughts, energies and memories come and go but they don’t stay for long. This allows you to clear away all the thoughts about what is possible and what is not. Keep this thought whilst you are doing yoga, that you are an empty room and after the class brainstorm all the new solutions you can come up with in relation to challenges you are facing. I learnt about the empty room visualisation whilst at the Mandali Experience workshop, at Mandali, Northern Italy. I now try this towards the end of an Aroma Yin Class and my favourite class is held at Inspire Yoga, Dubai, UAE. 

2). The ‘I am filled with creative energy’ meditation – I love doing this whilst I am doing Bikram as it keeps me very focused and the 90 minutes flies by. My friends have tried this whilst doing power yoga to the same effect. Here is the technique to try:

1.        Imagine a golden red light glowing inside your root chakra (groin) and silently yet firmly chant ‘I am filled with creative energy’ whilst keeping the poise and positioning your gaze directly towards the centre of the room.

2.        Imagine a golden orange light glowing inside your sacral chakra (belly button) and silently yet firmly chant ‘I am filled with blissful energy’whilst keeping the poise and positioning your gaze directly towards the centre of the room.

3.        Imagine a golden yellow light glowing inside your sacral chakra (belly button) and silently yet firmly chant ‘I am filled with blissful energy’whilst keeping the poise and positioning your gaze directly towards the centre of the room..

4.        Imagine a golden green light glowing inside your heart chakra and silently yet firmly chant ‘I am filled with loving energy’ whilst keeping the poise and positioning your gaze directly towards the centre of the room.

5.        Imagine a golden blue light glowing inside your throat chakra and silently yet firmly chant ‘I am filled with pure energy’ whilst keeping the poise and positioning your gaze directly towards the centre of the room.

6.        Imagine a golden navy blue light glowing inside third eye chakra and silently yet firmly chant ‘I am filled with powerful energy’ whilst keeping the poise and positioning your gaze directly towards the centre of the room.

7.        Imagine a golden purple light glowing on the top of your crown and silently yet firmly chant ‘I am filled with intellect’ whilst keeping the poise and positioning your gaze directly towards the centre of the room.

The ‘I am filled with creative energy’ meditation whilst doing the long cardio postures helps me keep focused during the session and also makes me walk out feeling I am all these things and more! During the session I pay more attention to the areas which I feel I need the most help in my life that day. So if you feel you are lacking creative energy then focus on the chant ‘I am filled with creative energy’ more than the others. In this space of feeling that you are all knowing you feel unstoppable and your ideas/decisions become so much more clear. End the session with expressing gratitude to all the areas in your life where you have shown all these attributes (creativity, bliss, love, purity, power, intellect) paying close attention to where these attributes have positively impacted others. Finish the practise by imagining all your lights are shinning bright and filling the room. You’ll leave the yoga studio feeling euphoric and that’s the moment to do some creative brainstorming/ideation.  I like to try this whilst doing Bikram Yoga and my favourite classes are held at Bikram Yoga Studio, Canary Wharf, London, UK

3). The Forgiveness Technique – When we feel ourselves being creative, there is a sense of flow; like the tides moving in and out of an estuary. When we hold onto resentment or withhold trust from a person based on past hurt, we stunt our natural creative capacities. Since the feeling of flow is an expression of creativity, resentment, withholding, and mistrust block such flow and we need to let go of this blocked energy to be creative. Forgiveness is the process of letting go of past hurt so that our creativity can flow unobstructed. The forgiveness technique is a great one during Kundalini yoga. Try the forgiveness (Kundalini style) technique lying down with a towel under your hands, imagine someone that you have had difficulties with and imagine hitting them with your fists and simultaneously pounce the floor with your fists clinched on the towel and then opened for 6 minutes. When I first tried this I felt uncomfortable and thought I have no anger but so much pent up anger and frustration came up and then we did a forgiveness meditation to the person and chanting ‘I am sorry you are not as I wanted you to be, I forgive you, I release you’. Surprisingly after this exercise most of my negativity towards the person I had imagined faded away and I was able to think more clearly and creatively without them at the forefront of my mind.  I like to try this with kundalini and my favourite classes are held at Eco Sanctuary, Dubai and about Balance, Brighton, UK.

In a nutshell creativity and the creative process depends on our ability to reframe difficult situations so that we can learn, grow, and benefit from them. Yoga gives us the space to improve our inner mastery; learning to live with common disappointments and failures of the human experience. Inner mastery does not mean things dont go wrong; things still go wrong but we get to the point where we can endure them, seeing them as a lesson and opportunities to transform them. Yoga practiced with the above meditation techniques (among many others) allows us to see that things evolve as they are meant to and we can rise up more than we sunk in life. This allows us to get creative, to get messy, to put ourselves in uncomfortable places and use our imagination, to make mistakes whilst also knowing that we’ve developed our attitudinal as well as physical muscles.  What this all accumulates to is the belief that what will happen will work out not because underneath us there is no undertow but because we’ve learnt to swim well. We are strong and adaptable. We are anti-fragile.