Yoga For Mental Health Research

Yoga - Untangling Anxiety & Depression

Yoga – Untangling Anxiety & Depression

I’ve posted about his before here.  Do you know someone who suffers from anxiety or depression, it’s pretty common out there these days.

Yoga is the antidote.

Please forward this poster to anyone you think may benefit from taking part in this research?  Just letting you know that FREE private yoga lessons for eligible participants are available at Vaucluse now as well as Cammeray.  Please follow the instructions in the poster below for more information, and good luck!


Yoga For Mental Health Research

We See What We Believe

You See What You Believe

You often hear “seeing is believing” .. but is that really the case?

One of my Yoga teachers, Judith Hanson Lasater says, we see what we believe, not believe what we see.  I see this.  And I also believe it!

I always read a line from Judith’s teaching in my yoga class from her wonderful book A Year of Living Your Yoga.  In it, you’ll find these brief, powerful insights which reflect the author’s knowledge of classic yoga philosophy and years of experience. Humorous, inspiring, and surprisingly down-to-earth, they guide seekers both on and off the yoga mat.  Sometimes I read a line and it resonates deeply.  This was one of them … we see what we believe, not believe what we see …

What DO you believe?  This insight highlights for me, the importance of yoga and meditation, being able to stand back and observe ourselves, our thoughts, from a distance.  With more perspective and objectivity and less learned behaviour and emotional attachment.

Anyway, I then came across this article in Ulterior Motives … and thought I’d share it with you …

Your causal beliefs about the world influence what you see.
The world can be chaotic.  Cars whiz by on the road. People walk past you.  There may be birds and planes flying overhead. Despite all of this potential confusion, you manage to make sense of most of what is happening around you.  The ability to comprehend the world reflects an interaction between the things you see around you and your beliefs about the world.

An interesting question is the degree to which your beliefs influence what you are seeing in the moment.  This question was explored by Christos Bechlivanidis and David Lagnado in a fascinating paper in the August, 2013 issue of Psychological Science.

They created a simple computer-based environment in which basic shapes (like squares and rectangles) could move and influence each other.  By playing with the environment for a while, participants could learn how the various objects worked.  For example, when a green square collided with a barrier, it caused the red rectangle to become a star.  The blue square would only allow stars, but not other shapes to enter its borders.  So, in order to get the red rectangle inside the blue square, the green square had to collide with the barrier first.

In one study, some participants were given a series of exercises in this computer environment so that they learned how the objects acted.  Eventually, they learned how to get the red rectangle inside the blue square.  A second group got no training.

Afterward, participants saw a video of the objects moving in the world.  In this video, the red rectangle entered the blue square about 100 milliseconds before the green square hit the platform.  The red rectangle turned into a star after the green square hit the platform.  All of this happened in the same spatial position, so that participants could see all of the objects without having to move their eyes.

The participants then described the order of events in the test video and gave information about why the events happened in that order.  Those who received no training generally saw the events happen in the order in which they happened in the video.  They recognized that the red rectangle turned into a square before the green square hit the platform and that the rectangle became a star after it entered the blue square.  When asked, they said that this was the order they saw the events.

The participants who received training were much more prone to describe the events in the order that fit with their training.  They reported that the green square hit the platform before the rectangle turned into a star, and that the rectangle turned into a star before it entered the blue square.  They were also likely to say that this ordering happened, because that reflects the way the environment works.

At one level, it should not be surprising that we have to use a lot of conceptual knowledge to help us make sense of what happens in the world.  Causal relationships do not often change that quickly, and so it is valuable (most of the time) for our beliefs to influence our interpretation of what we see.

However, this influence of belief on behavior can be a problem in situations like eyewitness testimony.  It is well known that the reports of eyewitnesses are not that reliable.  If people perceive events in a way that is consistent with how they believe that the world works, then their reports of the order of events in a complex situation may be wrong.   Because groups of people are likely to share causal beliefs, even entire groups may see events in the wrong order, so having multiple witnesses who provide corroborating testimony about the order of events does not necessarily mean that the events happened in that order.

Published on August 23, 2013 by Art Markman, Ph.D. in Ulterior Motives.  This article can be read in full at Ulterior Motives HERE


Over the past few years I have become unsure about what I believe anymore, and maybe more to the point WHOM I believe.  This may read as a negative thing …. but in fact it’s just the opposite.  It opens up many more possibilities actually.  It means being open to more than one interpretation of an event or a story or whatever.  I believe this has expanded my consciousness in a way that helps me, not inhibits me.

This science, just compounds for me the results of what I am learning from studying yoga.  Practising and being mindful of all eight limbs of yoga has helped me to see what I believe instead of believing what I see.

The next big questions is:


Seamus Heaney

Irish poet and playwright Seamus Heaney died in hospital, after a short illness last Friday on August 30th 2013, at the age of 74.

I thought it might be nice to remember him here.

Seamus was awarded numerous prizes over the years and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.

He was honorary fellow at Trinity College Dublin and last year was bestowed with the Seamus Heaney Professorship in Irish Writing at the University, which he described as a great honour.  Among the academic posts he held, were professorships at Harvard and Oxford Universities.

He was born to a farming family at Mossbawn, near Bellaghy in Co. Derry, on 13 April 1939.  His upbringing often played out in the poetry he wrote in later years.

He later studied at Queens University Belfast, before making his home in Dublin, with periods of teaching in the United States.

His poetry first came to public attention in the mid 1960’s with his first major collection, Death Of A Naturalist, published in 1966.  As The Troubles in Northern Ireland took hold later that decade, his experiences were seen through the darkened mood of his work.

The writer is survived by his wife Marie, and children Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.

Blackberry Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.
Seamus Heaney

Yayoi Kusama

According to those-in-the-know, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is arguably Japan’s most famous living artist.

Her originality, innovation and powerful desire to communicate have propelled her through a career that has spanned six decades.

And I’m a massive fan!

Over the years, Kusama has explored painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, collage, film and video, performance and installation, as well as product design. Oooh and what about those ‘Happenings‘!  She is really out there and I love her work!  From the late 1950s to the early 1970s Kusama lived in New York and was at the forefront of many artistic innovations there.

Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton Collaboration

Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton Collaboration

She became the first Japanese woman to receive the Praemium Imperiale, one of Japan’s most prestigious prizes for internationally recognized artists. Now 84 years young, she is considered Japan’s foremost modernist.

She returned to Japan in her forties, where she rebuilt her career, waiting years for the international recognition she has only recently achieved. She continues to work, making art, and continuing to extend the range of her large-scale, dazzling installations as she relentlessly hand-paints extensive series of minutely detailed figurative fantasy paintings.  

Major retrospectives of her work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum (NYC), and the Tate Modern (London), and even here in Australia at the Queensland Art Gallery.

In 2008, one of her works was sold for $5.1 million in Christies New York, a record for a living female artist.

Three of her most widely imitated works are the soft sculpture (now credited to Oldenburg); the mirror room (credited to Lucas Samaras); and the repeat image (credited to Warhol). An important voice of the avant-garde, she has been acknowledged as a precursor of Pop Art, Minimalism and Feminist Art.

Venus - Yayoi Kusama

Venus – Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama has spoken about her difficult childhood, “My mother was a shrewd businesswoman… but she was extremely violent,” she relates. “She hated to see me painting, so she destroyed the canvases I was working on. She beat me and kicked me on the derrière every day, irritated that I was always painting. She forced me to help the employees even when I had to study for my term exam. I was so exhausted that I felt very insecure at times.”

It didnt help that her siblings were also against her painting, telling her to be a collector rather than a painter. “I went to Kyoto simply to flee from my mother’s violence,” she said. “Because she was so vehemently against my becoming an artist, I became emotionally unstable and suffered a nervous breakdown. It was around this time, or in my later teens, that I began to receive psychiatric treatment.”

I came across Yayoi Kusama, when I saw her delightful work in a book.  Kusama is quoted as saying “I am the modern Alice in Wonderland”.

I just had to have that book in my shop!
Here are some pictures of her stunning and fantastical illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a hard-backed, dazzling version of the book, available to buy here at Pure-Li Marketplace.
from Alice

from Alice … by Yayoi Kusama


from Alice

from Alice … by Yayoi Kusama

According to the book publishers, since childhood, Kusama has been afflicted with a condition that makes her see spots, which means she sees the world in a surreal, almost hallucinogenic way that sits very well with the Wonderland of Alice. She is fascinated by childhood and the way adults have the ability, at their most creative, to see things the way children do, a central concern of the Alice books.

The classic book is colour illustrated with a clothbound jacket, and produced to very high specification. Kusama’s images are interspersed throughout the text. It is produced in collaboration with the Kusama Studio, Tokyo and Gagosian Gallery.

from Alice

from Alice … by Yayoi Kusama

from Alice

from Alice … by Yayoi Kusama

from Alice

from Alice … by Yayoi Kusama


Oh come on … wouldn’t you just love some of the Princess’s polka dots around your home?!

Hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Yayoi!

Love Liloi, xo

Date Paste Recipe

I like to keep a little date paste in my fridge for use as a natural sweetener.

I’m frequently experimenting with recipes and find it useful to have some dates already blended, which essentially is what date paste is.

No need to use processed sugar anymore!

Dates may be natural, but they are super high in fructose, so if you’re trying to go fructose-free I would avoid them and use stevia, dextrose, rice malt syrup or some other natural sweetener instead.  (I do not recommend agave syrup since it is a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose. It is one of the more seriously mis-marketed foods in the ‘natural food universe’).

I avoided dates for a long time, but have slowly started to introduce them to my food, with zero negative effects!

My feelings are, a little bit every now and then won’t hurt, and I like that they are a natural, whole food.

While they are high in fructose sugar, they have a low glycaemic index figure and so don’t send your blood sugar soaring.  They also have quite an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are required for normal growth, development and overall well-being.

HERE’S an interesting little video on dates!

Some people add equal or almost equal parts water to the dates when making paste or ‘honey’, as some call it, but I like to just add a splash – enough to allow them to move in the blender, otherwise you’re just diluting the flavour.


You don’t want to test the warranty of your blender!

With regards to the soaking of dates, I have made batches in the past where I haven’t soaked them, usually adding a little more water yields me a better consistency.

However, I think it’s best to soak them for just a few minutes in warm – hot water, that should be enough to soften them up so they blend smoothly.

I also think rinsing them is a good idea.  Perhaps because I like cleaning stuff, perhaps because they remind me of cockroaches … who knows?!

I just use as many dates as I think I’ll use in 2-3 weeks, as that’s about how long my paste lasts for!  So I’m not giving exact measurements for you to use – go by your nose!

But don’t forget!  You’ll need enough to make the blender’s blades whizz!

My Very Precise Date Paste Recipe :


3 – 4  handfuls of pitted, possibly organic dates, rinsed, then soaked.

1 teaspoon vanilla powder (or to taste / this is optional!)

A sprinkle of cinnamon (or to taste / this is optional!)

Approx 1-2 tablespoons of water – enough to get the blades moving but not so much you dilute the flavour!

Barely A Pinch of celtic sea salt.


After you’ve rinsed and soaked the dates, drain them and transfer to your blender.

Add the salt, and spices if using them.

Switch it on and blend until you get a smooth consistency, scraping down the edges if you need to, in order for it to come together nicely.

Transfer the paste to a container ( I like glass jars!), seal and refrigerate until you need it!

Mine lasts for weeks, probably 2 – 3 weeks is a good guideline (just check for bad odour/mould if you’re concerned, but mine lasts for weeks!)


Possible Uses:

In cake bases, smoothies, cake fillings, curries, jams, chutneys, caramel sauce …. basically anything you need to sweeten!

Why I Love Chia

Lila's Chi-awe Balls!!

Above: Lila’s Chi-Awe Balls!

Take a look at this piece I found on Chia Seeds, from The Permaculture Research Institute, by Isabell Shipard, and see why I love chia!

“Chia (Salvia rhyacophila) is a hardy annual herb 1-1.5m high, that belongs to the Salvia family, with it’s name coming from the Latin ‘salare’ which means to save, referring to its curative properties. Blue flowers spike to 10cm long, set on terminal stems, and fill out to a seed head (that is similar in appearance to a wheat seed head) with pin-head sized, brown, shiny seeds. Plants adapt to a wide range of soils, climates and minimal rainfall. In the plant’s native habitat of South-west America, it has been highly valued as a staple food for hundreds of years. In Mexico, it was used as money and to pay taxes. A small handful of seeds and plenty of water supplied energy and sustenance, for a man traveling for 24 hours, and it is said that an Indian can exist on it for many days if necessary.

Several USA universities have researched the endurance properties of chia and found that a tablespoon of seed could sustain a person for 24 hours, with hard labour. Richard Lucas, in his book, ‘Common and uncommon uses of herbs for healthy living’, encourages anyone to try it, and discover its unique ability to provide the go power to get through a busy day with a hop, skip and a jump. The seeds have valuable medicinal properties and nutritional content, with essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and 30% protein. In USA it is grown as a commercial crop and seed is available in Health Food Shops.

The Chia Plant

The Chia Plant

The calcium content of chia seed is 5 times that of milk. Enzymes in chia act as catalysts to aid the digestion of food. Chia seeds contain the trace mineral strontium, which acts as a catalyst in the assimilation of protein and production of energy.  Researchers say that strontium has strengthening benefits to cartilage, teeth and bones.

The seeds contain one of the highest known sources of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), as linolenic acid (LNA) 30-60%, and linoleic acid (LA) 30%. EFA’s carry a slightly negative charge and spread out as a thin layer over surfaces and do not form aggregations; this makes cell membranes soft, fluid and flexible, allowing nutrients to flow in and wastes out.

Researcher, Linus Pauling, found that energy charged by EFA’s produced measurable, bioelectrical currents. These currents make possible the vast number of chemical reactions in the body, which are important in nerve, muscle and membrane function. EFA’s absorb sunlight and attract oxygen. A bounteous supply of oxygen, carried with the blood to the cells, is vital for vitality, pain relief and healing. The oxygen is able to be held by the action of EFA, at the cell membranes, making a barrier against viruses and bacteria. EFA’s are important in immune function and metabolic reactions in the body resulting in fat burn, food absorption, mental health and the process of oxidation and growth. They can substantially shorten the time required for recovery of fatigued muscles after exercise or physical work. EFA’s are the highest source of energy in nutrition and govern many life processes in the body. When EFA’s are deficient, a diversity of health problems may follow. Due to high refining and processing of many natural foods, EFA’s may be low or non-existent, therefore, we need to look at what we can grow to give us these essentials, daily. Chia seeds provide a rich source of EFA’s, and many other seeds that we can use for sprouting are also a good source. The mucilaginous properties of the seeds have a swelling action, similar to guar or psyllium as a bulking agent and fibre source, and are valuable for cleansing and soothing the colon. Chia acts like a sponge, absorbing toxins, lubricating the colon and strengthening the peristaltic action. Considering the high incidence of bowel cancer, diverticulitis, colitis, chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome in our country, we need to share the knowledge of this healing plant with our fellow Australians.

Smoothie with chia in garden

Lila’s Smoothie With Chia

Chia seeds come to the rescue when the tummy is upset and will not tolerate other foods; or to fortify the body against the exhaustive effects of extreme summer temperatures. The seed helps to quench the thirst, if added to a glass of water, a very practical benefit in our hot summers. It is an appetite satisfier and, therefore, useful to dieters. Chia is valued for calming the nerves and said to strengthen the memory: use 1 teasp. chia seed to 1 cup of boiling water, steep 5-10 minutes, take 2-3 cups a day. Chia leaves (fresh or dried) steeped in boiling water, make a therapeutic tea. Use the tea as a blood cleanser and tonic, also for fevers, pain relief, arthritis, respiratory problems, mouth ulcers, diabetes, diarrhoea, gargle for inflamed throats, to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to strengthen the nervous system. Try the tea sweetened with honey and a few drops of lemon juice added. Women who suffer with hot flushes may find relief by drinking chia leaf tea regularly. A recent TV program highlighted the benefit of chia tea, made with a few, freshly chopped leaves, for anyone feeling lethargic or lacking energy. Chia contains several very strong antioxidants that help to remove toxins from the body, which then give a feeling of improved health. As the seeds are able to absorb more than 7 times their weight, in water, and form a thick gel, this causes a slow release of carbohydrate; facilitating an equally slow conversion of carbohydrates, into glucose (blood sugar), for energy. The outer layer of the seeds are rich in mucilloid soluble fibre and, when mixed with water or stomach juices, a gel forms that creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrate foods eaten and the digestive enzymes that break them down. This means that the carbohydrates are digested slower and at a more uniform rate. There is no insulin surge needed to lower the blood sugar level after eating chia. The chia gel is able to hold moisture, which also retains electrolyte balance. Chia sprouts can come to the rescue for digestive problems, particularly when ‘windy’. Passing gas may be relieved by slowly chewing 1-2 tablesp. of chia sprouts, making sure that plenty of saliva is mixed with them. Together with the nutrients, chlorophyll, and enzymes from the saliva, the combination can act to relieve and prevent flatulence.

My Quinoa Porridge with Chia

Lila’s Quinoa Porridge with Chia

Chia seeds have a nutty flavour and can be sprinkled over meals, or seeds can be soaked in a little water (for several hours or overnight, to start the seed germination process) giving better assimilation when eaten. Soaking is also beneficial, since vitamin C will start to be manufactured. When seeds are sprouted, the vitamin content multiplies considerably and they can add a spicy, warm flavour to meals. Sprinkle soaked or sprouted seeds over breakfast cereal or tossed salads.

Try chia as a refreshing breakfast drink. Mix 1 teasp. seeds (rich in soluble fibre), in a glass of orange juice and let the seed soak for 10 minutes, before drinking. The drink will give a feeling of satisfaction and fullness for a number of hours. It has been found that chia can help to regulate sugar metabolism. Research has found that enzymes in chia act as a catalyst to aid the digestion of food. As chia has a low glycemic content, it is an ideal food to add to our daily diet. For a refreshing chia beverage, soak 1 teasp. chia seed in 1 cup of hot water and 1/2 teasp. apple-cider vinegar, 1 teasp. honey and a pinch of cinnamon powder. Add seed to cooked or baked goods. A small amount of seeds added, when making bread, will make bread lighter, with less leavening needed, as well as improving the keeping qualities. Many foods are said to be more flavoursome with chia added – bitter foods become more palatable. Sharp cheese, at maturity, will taste more like cottage cheese. Chia is useful for enriching baby foods, infant formulas, health foods, energy bars, snacks, breakfast cereals, etc. As oxidation of chia seed is minimal to non-existent, it holds excellent potential within the food industry compared to other alpha-linolenic fatty acid sources, such as linseed, which exhibits rapid decomposition due to lack of antioxidants.

My Chia Coconut Pudding

Lila’s Chia Coconut Pudding

Chia does not need artificial antioxidant stabilisers and stores well, without deterioration.

And when the garden yields a super crop, feed the seed heads to the hens. Research in South America, with commercial egg production, found that laying hens eagerly devoured chia when up to 30% of seed was added to their food. This also resulted in the production of eggs with a ratio of saturated to polyunsaturated fats, half that found in normal eggs, a real benefit to consumers, eggs with a heart-friendly profile!”

I use chia pretty much every day, by adding it to my yoghurt and fruit in the morning.  I also use it in baking by adding it to muffins, I use it as a thickening agent in mousses and pies, in cereal, porridge and puddings and my lemon and chia macaroons. Sometimes just sprinkle it over salad for added crunch. I don’t subscribe to drinking fruit juice, so I don’t add it to that, but I do always add it to a smoothie when making one.

My Lemon & Chia Coconut Macaroons

Lila’s Lemon & Chia Coconut Macaroons

Marrying it to my morning yoghurt is the easiest way for me to make sure I get some daily! I don’t think it really has any taste or flavour to speak of at all.  Which makes it so superbly versatile!

I have this thing where I like to buy food from it’s native region where possible, believing it contains more of it’s original health properties/nutrients as they exist in the native soil, so I always check the packet before buying.  Mine usually come from Bolivia or Mexico.


Welcome To Lilapud

Hi!  So you’ve landed at Lilapud … nice of you to drop by!  From here you can click around to find something that you like …  Each week or so, I add three new posts to this blog under Lifestyle, Anecdotal and Antidotal.  Every now and then I add a new product to the Marketplace.

If you look at the clickable tabs across the top right of this page, you’ll see that Lilapud is compiled of a few different sections:

Pure-Li Lifestyle:

Spinach, Feta & Sun-Dried Tomato Muffins
Spinach, Feta & Sun-Dried Tomato Muffins

Click Pure-Li Lifestyle to find posts with recipes I’ve made & like, lifestyle choice articles, what’s happening around town, shopping recommendations and stuff like that.

Pure-Li Anecdotal:

Druid's A Whistle In The Dark 2013 Dublin
Gavin Drea Plays Des, In Druid’s A Whistle In TheDark

Here is where I share a story I’ve heard, an subject/article/movie/podcast that interests me or some information I’ve come across that I thought was worth sharing!

Pure-Li Yoga:

View From Pure-Li Yoga
View From Pure-Li Yoga

In here you’ll find out details regarding my yoga practice and where you can come along to join in.

Pure-Li Antidotal:

Restorative Yoga: Supta Balasana & an inspirational videoRestorative Yoga: Supta Balasana & an inspirational video

This is where I usually post something either funny, musical, related to yoga … designed to make you laugh, reflect creatively, feel good, and/or release some tension.

Pure-Li Marketplace:

Lilapud Vintage Sari Quilts & CushionsLilapud Vintage Sari Quilts & Cushions

A little jumble sale of things that I love. Hand-made & hand-stitched quilts and cushions, Swarovski Jewellery made by me, hand-made 100% pure and very potent lavender oil & soap, organic dye 100% cotton hand-stitched scarves/wraps, beautiful books for children, yoga & conscious living inspired books.  Perfect place to buy a thoughtful gift or treat yourself to something different, meaningful, hand-made.

Fabulous Actresses

The fabulous actresses that are Anne Hathaway, Amy Adams, Sally Field, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Helen Hunt and Marion Cotillard, join The Hollywood Reporter’s news editor Matt Belloni and executive editor Stephen Galloway in an uncensored ’roundtable interview’.

On my first trip to L.A., back in the day when I thought I might give the acting thing ‘a go’, my old friend Mickey Knox, advised me to get myself a copy each, of the Hollywood Reporter and Variety, two must-haves, if I wanted to be on top of what was going down in the town!

The Hollywood Reporter is an American publication that’s been around since the 1930’s, reporting on … you’ve guessed it … what’s going on in the Hollywood movie industry!!  These days, so much good stuff is being produced out-of-Hollywood, it would be a bit limiting for them to stay focused just there, so now their reports encompass the broader ‘The Entertainment Industry’, and not just lil ol’ cutesie Hollywood!

It’s considered a most reputable publication, so it is with pleasure I bring you this uncensored interview with these lovely ladies.

I admire ALL these actresses and quite enjoy observing how they behave and interact, and to hear their personal reflections and experiences.  I especially appreciate it in these times of super-speedy information sharing and opinionated, paparazzi snapping, assumption based, biased reporting, not to mention those dreadful trashy magazines whose stories always seem to be based on “a close friend’s” remark!!!  Hahaha!

I prefer to enjoy something like this, as to me it is an offering from them to us.  Something we are presented with – an invitation to take, in a way that is less parasitic than a lot of the bombardment of ‘celebrity’ life that is flung at us daily!!

An intimate, and generous little revelation of themselves.  Of course it is set up, it is a structure that is simply as intimate and honest as they decide it to be, and as revealing as they choose.  But I feel much more comfortable being in on something like this where the actresses choose what they want to project, what they want to share, than the expose scenario, which just makes me shudder.

Anyway … hope you enjoy it too …



Compassion Training

I’ve always wanted to study at Stanford …. heh heh heh … 

Seriously though, I came across this workshop through my subscription to the Wake Up Project … I’m thinking I’m going to do this … it looks interesting … I need to learn me some more of that stuff …

STANFORD’S CENTRE FOR COMPASSION & ALTRUISM, RESEARCH & EDUCATION (CCARE) is a world-class academic centre within Stanford Universities School of Medicine. It was founded by Dr. James Doty – a renowned neurosurgeon, entrepreneur and philanthropist. It’s purpose is to scientifically study the neural, mental and social basis of compassion and altruism. In 2009, His Holiness the Dalai Lama provided his largest ever donation to help establish CCARE.


Compassion Training  

Here are the details taken from Wake Up Project‘s website:

Date/Time: November 1-3, 2013. Friday – Sunday 9am-4pm

Location: Mary Mackillop Place, Cnr Mount St & William St North Sydney, North Sydney, New South Wales.

Ticket Information

TICKET TYPE             SALES END         PRICE

Early Bird Ticket:    Sep 29, 2013         A$595.00

Standard Ticket:      Oct 31, 2013         A$745.00

Please note: All tickets are non-refundable, but fully transferable. In other words: if you can’t attend, send a friend.

Event Details


Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) is a highly respected and science-based program designed to improve health, happiness and resilience. Research suggests that living with compassion vastly enriches purpose, lowers anxiety and fosters positive relationships in workplaces, homes and schools. In this program, you’ll learn practical skills for cultivating emotional resilience, vitality and thriving in a fast-paced world. Experience a 3-day immersion in compassion cultivation based on the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program developed by scientists and psychologists at Stanford University. Join us in creating a more compassionate and resilient society

> Reduce stress and engage more fully with life

> Develop skills to thrive in a fast-paced world

> Cultivate resilience, wellbeing & genuine happiness

> Foster empathy & cooperation in your personal & professional life

> Nurture a rewarding & compassionate lifestyle

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”
The Dalai Lama


Margaret Cullen is a pioneer in the area of integrating mindfulness-based programs in business, health care and academic settings. She is a licensed therapist, educator and certified Teacher in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction based out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Margaret studied at Harvard University and is the author of innovative articles such as “Opening the Heart at Stanford, Google and Beyond” and “The Science of Goodness”.

Dr. Erika Rosenberg is a leader in the areas of human emotion, emotional functioning through meditation and a world-renowned expert in facial expression measurement using theFacial Action Coding System (FACS). She collaborates with scientists in the fields of psychology, medicine and computer science and currently conducts research with the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California.  She was a scientific consultant on the Fox TV drama Lie To Me and co-author of the book What the Face Reveals.

“The latest research suggests that a more compassionate workplace is a more productive, efficient and happy place to work.”

~ Stanford News

Getting There

Public TransportTrains: North Sydney station is a 5 minute walk from MMP.

Buses: Public buses stop on Miller Street and the Pacific Hwy in North Sydney. MMP is a 5 minute walk from the bus stops and two minutes from North Sydney Post Office which is on the corner of Mount St. and Pacific Hwy.

Transport Information: For information on bus and train timetables contact the Transport Infoline on 131500 or

DrivingStreet parking: is very limited and most parking stations in the area don’t open until around 11am on Sundays.

The Greenwood Plaza Car Park: is open from 6am on Mon – Sat (but does not open until 10am on Sundays). It’s located on Pacific Hwy North Sydney and is approx. 400m walk from MMP.

Lunch Tea, coffee, morning and afternoon tea will be provided. Workshop participants will need to bring their own lunch or purchase lunch from one of the nearby cafes.



The Wake Up Project offer a helping hand:

Kindness Scholarships. We offer a handful of reduced priced scholarships per event. If cash is super tight, apply for a scholarship and we’ll do our best to help out. Please contact us and answer the following two questions: 1. What are your current challenges and why you need a scholarship? 2. What event you are applying for and why you’re excited about it? Please note: All tickets are non-refundable, but fully transferable. In other words: if you can’t attend, send a friend.


Have questions about Compassion Training?  Contact Wake Up Project.

Do let me know if you’re interested or thinking of coming along …


Just Breathe

How many times during your day, do you take a moment to just breathe?!  Do you ever even become conscious of the system and workings of that which is our life force, that without which we wouldn’t be alive?!  It’s nuts isn’t it, but most of us never even think about it!  I get a kick out of thinking about it.  It blows my mind!

Pranayama can be translated from Sanskrit to mean yogic breath control.  It is the 4th limb in yoga’s eightfold path, and is something worth practising regularly.

I do.  Every morning I spend at least 10 minutes breathing through alternate nostrils. In through the left, pause, out through the right, pause, in through the right, pause, out through the left, pause, and so on. Technically it’s called Nadi Sodana.  The nadis are the subtle energy channels that run up and down the body, or channels for the flow of consciousness, and sodana in Sanskrit means cleansing, so in yoga it is known as a practice to cleanse the energy channels, and bring the body and brain back into balance and harmony.

But for me it is a little bit more than that.  It is ten minutes out of my day that I can say is truly mine, or for me.  It is a time where I give myself the present of the present.  And it’s a time where I have real peace.  It brings stillness in that moment, and the residue of that stillness is something from which I benefit after I finish the practice.

I feel it is best to learn Nadi Sodana and other pranayama exercises from an experienced yoga teacher.  As there are contra-indications for some, and also, the breath is a powerful force.  You want all the best direction you can get to reap the most benefit.

But in the meantime, everyone can practice sitting. Yes. Just sitting!


And I like to do it first thing in the morning for a few reasons:

1. I cringe when I hear myself spray the words “I don’t have time”.  Who DOES have time these days?  In my mind, it’s way too easy to say these words, which is why I cringe.  Time is big.  We just have to eek it out every now and then, and make our choices of how to spend it consciously. Shaping the life we want.  And so to say “I don’t have time”, for me, suggests there is not enough of it.  Some kind of deprivation.  I work towards abundance.  I know deep down, there is enough time. There is plenty of everything, especially for me. (Thank you Louise Hay!)

So I find it easier to make ten minutes for me, by waking up ten minutes earlier than I need to get going.  Those ten minutes become more elusive as the day’s moments pass.  The days that I say, “I’ll do it later”, are sadly, usually the days that I’ll be denied this gift to myself.

2. First thing in the morning is also physically and mentally an easier time for most of us to sit, as the body is still waking up and the mind is still working at a slower pace than later in the day, so it’s usually an easier time to practice stillness.

3. I feel good about making time for myself, even if it is only ten minutes – sometimes I sit for longer, like this morning, I sat in the stillness for another ten minutes of meditation because, well … I guess I needed it, but I think we all need it, I think it just felt very possible today, so I went with it.

4. Doing something that feels good is a clever way to start the day.  Nadi sodana is a calming, focusing, mind-balancing exercise, that works to slow the breathing, and I’ve shared below why this is a very beneficial thing to do.  It also works to teach us to remember to breathe diaphragmatically, is a tool to combat stress, and works to exercise the lungs and diaphragm.

I highly recommend a little morning sitting.  Don’t be afraid to start with 3 minutes, and slowly build your way up to something that will work for you. You don’t have to practise pranayama if you’re not familiar with it.  You can just sit.  Don’t worry about what happens in your mind … try not to have a rigid view of what should happen … just start with the intention of sitting comfortably and quietly first and foremost.

You can try to observe your thoughts if you like.  If you find you’re getting distressed with thoughts, refrain from being harsh towards yourself, just see what happens and notice it. Ultimately, it’s all about observing what comes up, eventually not getting caught up in the thinking through of the thoughts.

Maybe that in itself sounds too complicated for you right now?  So alternatively, maybe make it a gratitude practice.  Naming as many things as you can that you feel grateful for.  Set the timer on your phone or your watch, close your eyes and off you go!  It doesn’t have to be any particular thing or any particular way … let it just be whatever it is …. the important thing is that you do it.  That you continue to sit.  No expectations.  Just a commitment to sit.  I sit on a pillow in my bed!  But you can sit on a chair if that’s better for you.  Or on the floor – wherever, just make sure you are warm and comfortable, not straining and GOOD LUCK!  Remember it is a practice, so all you need is a little bit of discipline to keep practising.

Cartoon pranayama

I practise yoga at Sydney’s Yoga Synergy, and am a great admirer of the structure and background of their practice there.  I incorporate many of Simon & Bianca’s teachings into my classes, as I have been lucky to be able to attend some workshops with Simon on applied anatomy & physiology for yoga , and it’s added some stunning colour and texture to my understanding of yoga for the modern body.

I thought I’d share some of the golden bits for me, with you … this is about the breath … and how I practice and teach.  I definitely consider the teachings applicable on and off the mat, which never ceases to bring wonder and amazement to me!

Below I share what I have learned from some of Simon’s teachings, you can see more on the Yoga Synergy Blog.

Regulate your breath to control body and mind

Simon Borg-Olivier doing Pranayama in Kandasana

The ultimate state of pranayama (yogic breath-control) and meditation is a state where breathing is reduced as much as possible without force. However this is a process that can for most people take a life time. In order to work towards the mastery of yoga it is sometimes useful to breathe more than normal (hyperventilation) but eventually the aim to be able to comfortable live and practice while breathing less than normal (hypoventilation).

In yoga and life breathing may guided or controlled for five main reasons. These are:

  1. Physical
  2. Neurological
  3. Mental
  4. Emotional
  5. Cardiovascular
  6. Physiological

Pranayama (yogic breath-control) is the art of learning how to breathe less than normal (hypoventilation). Although sometimes fast, deep and/or complete breaths have benefits,  the less you breathe overall the better your mental capacity is and the greater is the blood flow to nourish the brain and the heart. The haemoglobin also transfers oxygen more efficiently to all the cells of the body (the Bohr effect). Many studies on meditation have shown that focus and concentration are better when you breathe less! Additionally, the nervous system is much calmer when you breathe less and this is reflected in a reduced desire to eat.

Breath-control is also useful on a mental level. Any type of focus on your breathing can help you concentrate but the nervous system works best if you breathe less than normal.

Breath-control works on the cardiovascular and circulatory system. You can enhance the movement of energy and information through your subtle channels and enhance the movement of blood and heat through your blood vessels by breathing differentially from your abdomen (diaphragmatic breathing) or from your chest (thoracic breathing). You can also bring more blood and oxygen to the brain and heart and less blood and oxygen to the arms and legs by breathing less than normal (hypoventilation). Conversely, you can bring less blood and oxygen to brain and heart and more blood and oxygen to the arms and legs by breathing more than normal (hyperventilation).

A brief summary of the the different possible effects of breathing is shown below.

1. Physical

  • Mobilising the spine
    • deep inhalation tends to cause spinal flexion (bends your spine more forward) while deep exhalation tends to cause spinal extension (bends your spine more backwards)
  • Stabilising the spine
    • the muscles of breathing out (especially from the chest) can make your spine more stable
  • Strengthening the spine and body
    • the diaphragm (the main muscle of inhalation) can be used as powerful strength muscle

2. Neurological

  • Control of the autonomic (automatic) nervous system via the diaphragm which can be controlled either by the conscious mind (somatic) or unconscious mind (autonomic)
  • Reciprocal relaxation of the muscles of abdominal exhalation (which include many of the muscles that can tend to over-tense and contribute to lower back pain) by the main muscle of inhalation (the diaphragm)

3. Mental

  • Focus on any type of breathing can help with concentration
  • Reduced breathing (hypoventilation) leaves the body slightly more acidic (with carbonic acid), which gives the physiological effect of calming the nervous system and the mind in general

4. Emotional

  • Slow abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing tends to enhance parasympathetic control of relaxation response with ahimsa (non-violence) and/or love and peace and happiness as dominant emotions
  • Faster chest (thoracic) breathing tends to enhance sympathetic control of ‘flight or fight’ response with tapas (passion to do your best) and/or fear anger and aggression as dominant emotions

5. Cardiovascular

  • deep breathing with the abdomen relax (which can be diaphragmatic and/or thoracic provided the abdomen is relaxed) causes an increase in blood flow
  • with this type of breathing heart rate increases on inhalation as does blood pressure
  • heart rate decreases and blood pressure decreases on exhalation
  • this type of breathing causes increased pressure into the abdomen on inhalation and decreased pressure on exhalation that increases blood flow and nervous system stimulation to the abdominal organs

6. Physiological

  • Reduced breathing (hypoventilation) for
    • Calmer nerves
    • Increased oxygenation and blood flow to brain and heart
    • Reduced hunger
  • Increased breathing (hyperventilation) for
    • Stimulation of nerves
    • Decreased oxygenation and blood flow to brain and heart
    • Increased hunger