Reflections + Resources

Practice Love first

I’ve recently had a couple of yoga students ask me about establishing a personal yoga and/or meditation practice. In their experience, it has been very difficult to get something steady happening and although they know they feel the benefits when they do their...

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Being here, as it is, is my wish…

Reflections + Resources Being here, as it is, is my wish... “Many a wishes that I blew, finding myself was the one that came true.” – Anamika Sharma Many years ago – feels like a hundred now – I majored in drama at University. This morning I remembered coming up with...

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From little things, big things grow.

Last week I had a date to meet a friend for dinner. I arrived at the restaurant 10 minutes early and found a lovely spot out on the footpath under a leafy tree. As I settled into my seat, I found myself wishing I’d brought along something to read to pass the time....

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Move while you’re moving…

Last year I helped my friend Simon bring to birth his vision for a yoga & mindfulness phone app you can use while driving your car. It may seem counter-intuitive to attempt to do yoga while driving your car. However, our whole focus during the time of writing and...

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What is your healthspan?

Me with my mother, circa late 1959... It would have been my mother's 91st birthday a few days ago. I always think of her on her birthday and miss being able to ring her up and send love and greetings, just talk about life, the universe and everything, as we used to...

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Another kind of intelligence…

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
– 1960s pop song

In 1995, a science journalist, author and psychologist named Daniel Goleman wrote a book called “Emotional Intelligence”. While he didn’t invent the term that became the title of his book, he expanded and developed thinking around this different aspect of intelligence (EQ as opposed to IQ) that was to become part of business and popular lexicon around the world ever since.

Emotional intelligence is, as it implies, intelligence that is made up of more than just our intellect. It involves our ability to be self-aware – of our emotions, of what really matters to us at heart. And at heart are the core values that we see the world through. How aware are you of your core values?

It can be useful to sit and write these down from time to time, as a reminder and as a prompter of action. The yamas and niyamas of ancient yoga philosophy are useful starting points to consider.

Emotional intelligence also is a measure of our ability to self-manage at the level of our emotional response to the world around and in us, how adaptable we can be in the face of life changes, and connects into positive outlook and our ability to set and achieve personal goals. Paying attention to the way we speak to ourselves can give indication of whether we have a positive or negative outlook on life. As we pay attention to that inner voice we can start to manage it too – if I don’t like what I’m saying to myself, how can I change this? What are the messages I give to myself, and how can I make them more positive?

An emotionally intelligent person will also have a high degree of social awareness, which includes the ability to empathise with others, as well as knowing how to relate to people at all levels of work and life. Empathy and sympathy are often mixed up, and I like this definition – sympathy is feeling sorry for someone else, empathy is seeking to understand how someone else is actually feeling and then being able to act intelligently in response to that. Attentive, mindful listening is a good way to develop this quality – you know how wonderful it is to feel truly heard and received by another as you speak to them? Offering this to another, putting aside our own agenda for a few moments, can open the heart to the real message being conveyed by the other, and again develop that ability to feel another, to know how to offer something really useful back.

Being able to manage relationships at home, at work, and in the community is also a marker of emotional intelligence. This includes knowing how to influence people in a positive way, how to manage conflict, and how to inspire others. As the skills of listening, paying attention, and coming from what really matters at heart are developed, it stands to reason that relationships with others will have more depth, authenticity and creativity. Out of this comes the developed understanding of managing relationships at all levels of society, most specifically your relationship with yourself! Taking all the opportunities that come your way – in meditation, in yoga, in work, in play, to notice the relationship you have to yourself and  the things you do in response to the stimulus that comes your way – all this contributes to more adroit and nourishing engagement with others as well.

One of the areas of new scientific research into mindfulness and emotional intelligence is the area of compassion – most notably self-compassion as well as compassion and loving kindness for others and the world at large. While it may sound a bit woo-woo to the intellect, at the level of the heart an attitude of kindness brought into play in formal meditation as well as in general life is being proven to shift some deep circuitry in the brain, leading the way to more satisfaction, engagement, and positive experiences in life.

Daniel Goleman says that developing the quality of loving kindness starts to develop the ‘parental care-taking circuitry’ … rewiring our brain for a more compassionate and emotionally balanced view of life. In fact, he goes so far to say that loving kindness is the undergirding of the whole edifice of emotional intelligence, and mindfulness too.

I’m on board with that view. Good parenting involves all the dimensions of emotional intelligence noted above, and loving kindness is the most powerful of gifts to offer a child.

I’ve never had children myself, though I’ve been a loving influence on my gorgeous step-daughter since she was eight years old and now on the verge of 28! What I’m realising at this stage of my life, though, is just how critical it is to be a good parent to myself. To offer kindness instead of criticism, to listen deeply to my heart and values, and to assure myself that I have a really important job to do on this planet.

Which is, simply, to love what is mine to do, and to do it with love. That’s the deepest value for me, and I am glad to know that science is coming to this conclusion as well!