Raised in Brittany, France, where daily life is completely connected to the natural elements, the rhythms of the ocean and the changing weather, I grew up listening to nature, educated to feel the wind like a sailor in order to plan life and understand what directions to take.
Since I was a child, the connection with the water element has been my main source of wellbeing.
I’ve been travelling the world for several years, which forced me to create a bag of tools to maintain my balance in order not to lose myself and my health along the way.
This article’s aim is to help you get started with your own meditation practice. My favourite definition of yoga is: Yoga is Samadhi. Samadhi is a state of bliss and union with the infinite, which is arrived at through meditation. Yoga and meditation are therefore inextricably linked.
First of all, why should we meditate? On a practical, scientific level, meditation has been shown to improve concentration, reduce feelings of stress, decrease depression and improve immunity. It brings a feeling of calm and peace into our day and helps us deal with the demands of daily life. Some very compelling reasons to start a meditation practice!
by Caron Williamson, Fivelements’ Wellness Liaison & Sacred Artist
When we think of yoga, we often picture pretzel-like bodily contortions, but yoga is much more than a set of exercises on a mat. Yoga is an integrated science for living life in which we can transform our feelings, reactions, beliefs, the very way in which our mind works. Asana (the physical postures of yoga) energetically and physically transform the body, preparing us for meditation, which ultimately leads to enlightenment and joy. Asana forms a useful entry point into this wider practice since working with the body is easier than approaching the esoteric aspects of the subtle body and mind.
It seems my whole motherhood, 18 years thus far (including the months in the womb), I continue to be privy to similar conversations with mothers from all over the globe, feeling challenged with not enough time for the self, let alone wellbeing. Whenever I’ve inquired about what mothers do for themselves, not surprising, most of us respond immediately with smiles…and sighs. In-between breast-feeding, family meal planning, organising logistics, producing the increasingly full schedules on any given day, cheering at soccer matches and music performances (or carrying the guilt of not), not to mention the millions of other tasks required from their paying jobs, women from around the world share a common challenge - not having enough time, or shall I say, not taking enough time for self-nurturing and personal wellbeing.
Just as the sun must shine and the bees must make honey, it is said that all beings must accept their dharma for order and harmony to exist in the world. If an individual is following their dharma, they are pursuing their truest calling, serving all other beings in the universe by playing their own unique role. In Buddhism, it is said that acting in this way is the path to enlightenment.
It can be difficult to grasp from a Western perspective, but I feel that living your dharma means to act in accordance with your divine purpose – you may even call it cosmic destiny. Since dharma is also closely related to the concept of duty and service to others (and in the Bhakti tradition, unconditional love), I feel that one's dharma can never be selfish.
Growing up in Africa, having lived in Asia most of my life, led me to believe that “Home is where the Heart is”.
To feel home and in harmony within my heart and body, I go back to the Four principles of Life, SHU, SHOKU, DO, SO, that the Japanese Master, Kazunori Sasaki Sensei taught me.
By Anne Cousin
It is easy to get caught up in the details of our lives, even suffering and losing sleep when we perceive that we have no solution to the problems we face. We can too easily forget about joyfulness of living, that aliveness itself has an essentially joyful quality.
I often guide and advise clients into slowing down, deeply sensing and feeling into their body aliveness. This is a form of Somatic meditation. Somatic means that we relate to the body. There are many ways to do this, as each person has their own unique inner resources and intelligence.
For example, every pleasurable activity can be turned into a doorstep toward gratitude, by taking a moment to notice how it feels, acknowledging its ripples in ones sense of wellness, nourishment. As we experience this the body relaxes, the brain begins secreting new hormones of wellbeing, in a what we could call a virtuous cycle. We cultivate presence, mindfulness or body-fullness.
This simple practice to shift perspective, even 5 minutes a day as a start, has a profound effect on our brain chemistry and body. Our brain has a natural tendency to register and focus on potential threats. In a given moment, we experience feeling weak or being in fear or discomfort. Yet this is only one-side of the picture— we can expand our awareness to include other perceptions. There is always a possibility to shift perspective and to feel better.
By Michael Hallock — Fivelements Wellness Curator
Sometimes people consider meditation and sport as mutually exclusive. Their thinking is that some people are the type to meditate and others are the type to play sports. After all, we usually think of meditation as sitting still with closed eyes, while sports is all about action. While there can sometimes be a divide between those two worlds, there is more and more overlap as professional athletes bridge that gap and develop peak performance through meditation and mindfulness.
What they find out is that meditation improves their focus. The meditative concept of being “in the present moment” translates directly into being more present to the game, less distracted by thoughts, emotions. Exactly what is needed to play well is what meditation teaches us — be present, be attentive, “keep your eye on the ball” as they say.
After you practice for some time, you’ll notice that meditation helps “emotional regulation” too. That is, we learn not to “sweat the small stuff”. Which means that we are less deflected by a loss of a point or a referee or judge’s decision. We learn to maintain our determination without wasting time and energy by beating ourselves up or throwing a John McEnroe style tantrum. We develop a kind of relentless perseverance, and we get back in the game.
At Fivelements we are plugged into living with a conscious mindfulness. In a world that seems to be run by stress, we understand why it is so important to have an antidote that brings physical, mental and emotional calm. Here we present the next of our series of staff recommendations for how to ensure that balance, happiness and health, rather than stress, take over our lives.
Stefanie Jencquel, Wellness Consultant
“Nature, meditation, massage and cuddling are all on my short list for dealing with stress. When life is threatening to become stressful, retreat to the elements of life that really matter – nature, nourishment, peace and love.”
At Fivelements we are dedicated to living with mindfulness and living in harmony. But how to keep yourself physical, mental and emotional calm in this world? Here we present the fifth of our series of staff recommendations for how to ensure that balance, happiness and health, rather than stress, take over our lives.
Helena Izhoykina, marketing manager
“My dearest Papa taught me that, ‘All material is ash, and our soul is eternal’. I accept this philosophy fully and so it is easy for me not to care about many of the material things that usually cause stress. I avoid feeling stressed whenever possible and don’t let circumstances ruin my life balance.”
At Fivelements we are plugged into living with a conscious mindfulness. In a world that seems to be run by stress, we understand why it is so important to have an antidote that brings physical, mental and emotional calm.
Here we present the fourth of our series of team members recommendations for how to ensure that balance, happiness and health, rather than stress, take over our lives.
Joao Ricardo Alves, Head Chef
At Fivelements we are dedicated to living with increasing conscious awareness, or mindfulness. In a world that seems to be run by stress, we understand why it is so important to have an antidote that brings physical, mental and emotional calm. Here we present the third of our series of staff recommendations for ensuring that balance, happiness and health, rather than stress, fill our our lives.
Michael Hallock, Wellness Curator
“Three essential keys that help us reduce stress and improve our quality of life are physical relaxation, ease in breathing and simple curiousity.”
At Fivelements we are plugged into living with a conscious mindfulness. In a world that seems to be run by stress, we understand why it is so important to have an antidote that brings physical, mental and emotional calm. Here we present the second of our series of staff recommendations for how to ensure that balance, happiness and health, rather than stress, take over our lives.
Isa, wellness liaison
“The best tool I’ve got to manage stress and multitasking is the one that serves me in all circumstances: conscious breathing.”
At Fivelements we are guided and inspired by the universal wisdom of Balinese philosophy and have embodied the notion of Tri Hita Karana, living in harmony among spirit, human and nature, as our definition of "living well." In a world that seems to be run by schedules, appointments and tasks, we recognise the importance of having antidotes that bring physical, mental and emotional calm. Here, we present the first of our series of Fivelements' tips on how to ensure that health, happiness and harmony, rather than stress, lead our lives.