From mantras to breathing exercises, Farzana focuses on taking care of herself during the holidays. One of her favourite mantras is, “Events pass, stuff goes, you are always." In other words, you are not the events of your life; you are not your past actions; you are the choices you make today.
FARZANA JAFFER JERAJ
Yoga Teacher, Best Selling Author, Motivational Speaker, Coach, Hypnotherapist
Spends the holidays: baking and playing board games with her cousins
Teaches: accessible meditation and Yin at YYOGA
What do you get out of yoga?
My physical practice is the place where my will and my body align. It reminds me that ideas can become a reality the same way my will moves my body. Through my practice, I get to appreciate the gift of having a physical body to house my consciousness; that this body allows me to feel emotions and hold the energy of thoughts. Really, it’s the time where I get to realize that the emotions are not who I am, the thoughts are not who I am and while my body is the vessel of my consciousness, through my practice, through honing in, by getting my will and my intention to flow into all the things that I do, I get to be reminded of who I really am. My practice is my space to get back to myself.
How do you nurture your body?
I like a balance of yin and yang practices. I’m a big fan of hydration; quality hydration! And I think the body is nurtured by being emotionally healthy more than anything. I think emotional health is the first step to mental wellbeing. I think stress is a generalized label for our unprocessed painful or negative emotions. These emotions accumulate and voila: stress. There are all these studies on how stress affects our physical body but people don’t pay attention to the fact that stress comes from not processing your emotions. If you can learn how to feel your negative emotions as easily as you feel your positive ones...you realize that it’s not about losing control of your emotions it’s about feeling them and processing them so they don’t stay in your body. Emotional processing is one of the most important things you can do. To feel your feelings, to process them, to release them, that’s one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. And drink lots of water.
What's your mantra to live by?
First of all “Hugs are their own food group.”
The other one is “Sometimes things suck, but events pass, stuff goes, you are always. You are not the events of your life. You are not your past actions. You are the choices you make today.”
Where do you find your silence?
Sometimes in the noisiest places. I think silence is something people think is the cessation of all activity in the mind. The gift of silence is realizing that it’s okay if your thoughts are flowing, it’s okay if your emotions are loud and screaming at you. I think silence is the place where you can have so much perspective that those things are so far from who you are. It’s like you’re standing at the top of an extremely tall building and your emotions and thoughts and the world around you is the traffic below, you can see them. They’re there but they don’t have to affect you.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life?
I have to say my mom. Definitely my mom. I feel bad because my dad was obviously super amazing and was always there for me, but my mom. Through all the ways she challenged me, and through every opportunity she ever gave me. For believing in me, for always seeing that I was capable of more.
How do you stay calm during the holidays?
Oh, I have a few mantras for that. The first one is, “you chose your peers, and you love your family.” The second one is that I always have a choice “would I rather be right or would I rather be happy?” Those are my favorite. Your peers influence you, the people you love don’t have to. You can love someone and they don’t have to influence you but the people you chose to set as your peers do.
I do have to take time though. Christmas, the holidays in general, family gatherings, weddings, big events, they’re a time when we can get triggered and I think that getting triggered is actually a gift. If you’re willing to look at the patterns of when it happens, how it happens, there’s a lot to learn. Lama Marut always says when you get triggered, go to the bathroom. Just excuse yourself and go to the bathroom and it’s a good excuse because no one’s going to tell you you can’t go to the bathroom! So he would say go to the bathroom and take a moment for yourself and when I take my time out I just sit and notice my breath.
What I would say is when you consciously pay attention to your breath, and just notice how it’s flowing, automatically your body and your nervous system will start to slow down. Your conscious and subconscious mind will sink, and your brain goes into that meditative state of trance on it’s own. It wants to do that, it was built to do that so instead of putting effort in and fighting things, just notice your breath and let everything go.
It sounds so simple but if you just sit for a moment, and think about it. Your breath is subconscious, right? There’s the breathe that you take when you’re in a rush, in a hurry, when you’re stressed out, when you’re angry, they’re tight and restricted. When you’re calm or relaxed, you sigh or yawn. When you’re napping, they go into your belly and they’re gentle almost like a baby’s breath. So we have all these different breaths that our body takes for us but when we consciously try to take a breath and we put a lot of effort into it, we’re struggling to be calm and it’s work. One of the things that people don’t realize is that if I told you to just notice the rows of your teeth, just by reading this right now you’ve probably already released your jaw without even thinking about it. What I would say is when you consciously pay attention to your breath, and just notice how it’s flowing, automatically your body and your nervous system will start to slow down. Your conscious and subconscious mind will sink, and your brain goes into that meditative state of trance on it’s own. It wants to do that, it was built to do that so instead of putting effort in and fighting things, just notice your breath and let everything go. You’ll find your breath drops, your body will calm itself. What I would add to that as a little booster is to release your jaw, allow it to go slack as if you’ve fallen asleep sitting in a chair. Just let it release, because when you release your jaw it actually releases one of the centres of your mind that is responsible for worry. It makes it so much easier to just sit and be in a state of calmness when you allow your body to do the calmness for you.
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