A word to the wise …

Buddha
Serene and wise: we all have Buddha nature inside us (Photo credit: Stella Tomlinson)

I love a wisdom quote. That short sentence which encapsulates so much that is wise, simple and true. That if we can grasp, it will change our lives.

So here are three quotes which, for me, encapsulate my yoga practice and how I try to live my life.

I hope they lift and help you as much as they do me.

Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care. ~ Buddha

I love the simplicity of this thought. It brings us back to a grounded reality.

When we follow a yoga and meditation practice, get interested in yogic philosophy and explore our minds, we may get tempted to dismiss the physical needs of our bodies as we feed our spirit and explore our connection to a higher consciousness.

But the Buddha reminds us that we are physical beings first and foremost. That we inhabit our body for our whole life so if we want to pursue a good life, a spiritual life, we’d better not forget to look after it!

No matter what it looks like, however it may seem to malfunction, our first duty in life is to look after our body. To listen and to tend to its needs. To eat well. To move, strengthen and stretch it. To listen to its innate intelligence. To read its signals when it warns of stress and overburden. To rest it and let it relax.

If we don’t look after our body then our energy gets depleted. If we don’t eat healthily, if we don’t move to the best of our ability, if we dislike or disrespect our body, if we don’t show ourselves compassion how can we connect with others on a meaningful level? How can we empathise with others? How can we love? How can we find happiness and contentment?

Buddha shows us that to be born into a human body is an amazing privilege. We can achieve so much. We can act, create, think, meditate. We can love. We can connect to a higher consciousness.

No matter what lumps and bumps you think you have, no matter what ailments, discomforts or disabilities, it is your body. Learn to accept it otherwise you will never find peace of mind.

Listen to Buddha – wake up and learn to love your body! And of course, practising a spot of yoga helps :-)

An upright posture and a few relaxed breaths can make a great difference ~ Buddha

Another beautifully simple-but-so-true statement from the enlightened one (by the way, don’t forget that we all have Buddha-nature inside us, so we’re all enlightened really – it’s just that life experiences, our mind and the culture of our society conspire to make us forget…).

So, if you feel tired, if you feel anxious, if you feel stiff and achy, if you’re scared of doing something, if you’re so busy you don’t know where to start, if you’re in the middle of an argument…take a moment to lift your breastbone, open your heart and breathe deeply – you will feel better for it.

If you’re feeling happy, if you’re having a great time with friends or a loved one, if you’re enjoying some lovely food, if you’re watching a great film, if you’re out for a walk on your tod … the same applies. Sit or walk tall, breathe and you’ll connect to the present moment and enhance your enjoyment even more.

That’s why I love yoga – it helps us to improve our posture, to open our hearts and to breathe. And with these simple things we can live in the here and now…

Which leads me on to my next quote:

As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life ~ Buddha

So true, yet such a challenge!

Living with mindful awareness of what we’re doing, experiencing, thinking and feeling can bring such a sense of freedom.

And Buddha here gives us some practical tips.

As you walk, just walk. Notice the action of your body. Notice your feet connecting with and lifting from the ground. Notice your surroundings.

Most of us (myself included) often don’t notice how we got from A to B. We’ve been wondering what we’re going to do when we get to work, worrying about a meeting, judging other people’s appearances as we pass them, planning what we’ll cook for the evening meal, thinking about last night’s episode of some soap or drama we’re watching, wishing our lives could be more like someone else’s…

When you eat, notice the taste of the food, the texture, its temperature, be thankful for its goodness (and if you’re eating burger and chips be mindful of why you’re eating something that isn’t doing you much good!). Mindfully enjoy that, ahem, third glass of wine (hic!).

Put down that magazine; turn off the TV and be here now! Just eat, just drink.  Slowly and with awareness. Your digestion will thank you for it…

When you travel, switch off your iPod, put down your smart phone and look about you.  Notice the diversity of the people around you. Notice your surroundings as you look out of the bus or train window. Breathe and allow yourself some quiet time. If the bus is rammed, notice any feelings of frustration and discomfort which may arise. And breathe.

Our lives are ridiculously busy. Many of us are constantly rushing around attending to all those plates we have spinning worrying that one is suddenly going to crash to the ground. We’re bombarded with noise and distraction. Our senses are in meltdown through overload.

We are at risk of rushing through our lives without noticing what’s going on. It’s like we’re hurtling through our lives on a train at top speed with the blinds down – we’re moving forward, there’s an awful lot whizzing past us but we have no idea what’s going on, we didn’t get off at any of the stops and when we reach our final destination we may have no idea how we got there (and that’s death by the way, sorrow to bring a downer on you but that’s the reality – we live then we die).

So how about slowing down and enjoying the journey? Notice the here and now. Be glad, feel blessed to be alive – no matter your circumstances. Notice those little, life-affirming, glimpses of beauty – a raindrop on a leaf, the smile on a child’s face, tree branches silhouetted against a winter sky, the sparkle of sunlight on frost, the warm hug of a loved one…

All we have is the present moment. The past has gone, the future is a mystery. This moment is the gift we are given every second of our lives.

Make the most of it with love and laughter. Be alive now.


Stella Tomlinson teaches slow, flowing Dru yoga in Southampton, UK, to improve posture, flexibility and spinal health. Dru yoga is characterised by graceful movements, directed breathing, relaxation techniques and working with affirmations and visualisations. It aims to relieve the stresses of modern-day living. Connect with Stella via Facebook and Twitter.

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