Today I am super excited to share a Yoga off the Mat practice that really shifted my life and in this specific case, my mornings: 3 Essential Question.
- learn how to communicate in a compassionate and loving way with yourself as well with others.
- step back to observe yourself to soften and relax your thoughts/very active mind.
- reconnect with your body, emotional landscape and as a consequence your needs.
- write down actions/strategies to meet your needs.
After almost 10 years of practice and 9 of teaching, at the end I learned a very simple thing: the more I bring self-awareness in my life (Yoga is a self-inquiry path at the end) the more I have tools to face not only uncomfortable situations, stress but also how to celebrate life on a deeper level.
Non Violent Communication
I learned this Yoga Off the Mat Tool from Non-Violent Communication Method, developed by the late Marshall Rosenberg. Believe me: learning how to see the humanity in myself and others, is one of the most complex and challenging thing I have ever done in my life.
Non Violent Communication has been described as a “compassionate language” or a “process of communication”. But of course, it’s more than that: it’s the capacity of active listening, empathic connection and to remain human in every circumstances.
What is at the core is Ahmisa, the first Yamas (Ethical Observation), second limb of Ashtanga Yoga System by Patanjali.
As Deepak Chopra explain Ahimsa in the Introduction of “Non Violent Communication, a Language of Life”, being in a state of Ahimsa is way much more that “do not harm”:
- It’s a state of consciousness and action at the same time
- It’s not what you do that counts, but the quality of your attention
In today’s Yoga Off the Mat Practice, we are going to tap in a state of awareness and Ahimsa towards ourselves. We are going to shift our consciousness and talk to ourselves in a loving way.
And stay tuned, if you want to practice deeper with me, scroll until the end of this Blog Post, where you can sign up for a PDF document to use as a guide for this exercise.
Yoga off the Mat
Self- Inquiry – Svadhyaya
Yoga off the Mat can be defined as a form of self-inquiry or self-reflection, or Svadhyaya.
Svadhyaya belongs to the second Limb of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga System: Niyama.
Here’s the a link to learn more:
Niyama – the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances: developing our own personal meditation practices, journaling or making a habit of taking contemplative walks alone are all examples of niyamas in practice.
And this is exactly what we are going to do now, so let’s roll our sleeves and begin this exercice.
Overwhelm – Chitta Vritti
Do you know when:
- you mind is spinning around
- thoughts are coming very fast
- the “theme” of the thoughts are repetitive, the movie in your mind is always the same.
When our active mind takes the lead, what is happening between our two ears becomes our reality, and emotions like fear, anxiety, overwhelm begin to surface.
The 3 essential question practice is a very powerful tool to stop the overwhelm, and I highly recommend to fo it a journaling exercise in the morning.
If we do it in the morning, we have an incredible chance to:
- shift our thoughts pattern/energy of the day
- decide the tone of the day
- identify what we need and take action
Let’s dive in to practice together.
3 Essential Question
The name of this Off the Mat Practice is: 3 Essential Questions.
Tomorrow, after you wake up, take your time to prepare your sacred space, light up a candle, some incense and ask not to be disturbed. Imagine you are dating yourself, open your heart and be present what comes up.
Take your journal and let’s being:
- As yourself: How do I feel this morning?
Take a couple of breaths to connect with yourself to your body, mind and hear (or a 5′ meditation is a great way to enter in this practice). Stay there in the presence of yourself, without changing or modifying anything.
Now take the time to describe how you are feeling mentally, physically and emotionally. Pay attention to all the nuances that are showing up in front of your eyes.
We are complex beings, and our inner landscape is rich, colorful and alive: what is happening inside yourself right now? In this way, when we listen deeply to our nuances, we can move away from describing our feelings as “good” or “bad”and learn how to be more descriptive.
The more we do that, the more we can build a mindful relationship with ourselves.
2. Based on what I feel, what do I need?
In the second part of this exercise, I invite you to ask yourself: “based on what I am feeling right now, what do I need?”
As I said before, the first time that I practiced it, I couldn’t give a name to my needs. It took me a lot of patience and guidance to navigate my needs in a meaningful way (I thought that I didn’t have specific needs).
The more you practice this, the more you will be able to identify quickly your needs.
To support yourself, as you are your best friend.
3. After that your needs are clear to you, ask yourself: what can I do in order to meet my needs? Are there specific actions or requests?
In my experience, I saw myself stuck here lot of times.
I was able to identify my feelings and needs, but I experienced difficulties to find strategies to meet them or open my mouth and express a request to somebody else.
This is the link between being aware of our inner landscape and put in place concrete actions to support ourselves. It’s exactly what Deepak Chopra was saying before: Ahimsa is not only a shift of consciousness (the being part) but also action (doing part).
Write down specific actions you can put in actions today to meet your needs. Put your needs as a priority for today: at the top of your to-do list.
To finish this practice, take a couple of breaths with your eyes closed to express gratitude to yourself and your willingness to listen and take action.
Open your eyes and now you can begin your day with awareness.
Your next step
The more I integrate this practice in my morning routine, the relationship with yourself and others will become more intimate and mindful. Our humanity will show up, and not the story we made up in our mind.
What is your next step?
#1 Sign up to receive a Step by Step PDF Document to guide you in this practice, with integrated the List of Universal Needs from Non Violent Communication.
#2 Practice the 3 Essential Questions for one week as a morning practice.
#3 If you feel fine with it, share with us your experience in the comment section below or writing us an email.
If you are curious and you want to learn more about NVC here’s the link to their website and two book you can start with:
I deeply hope that this practice is supporting you in finding balance and wisdom back into your life, so that we can have a meaningful and skilful relationship with ourselves, others and the events of life.