Connection Through Heart of Yoga ~ Episode 39 ~ My conversation with Jill Harris

Heart of Connection Podcast
Heart of Connection Podcast
Connection Through Heart of Yoga ~ Episode 39 ~ My conversation with Jill Harris

Connection through Heart of Yoga

Mark [0:00] Hello, Jill welcome to the How to connection podcast. I’m your host Mark Randall, it’s lovely to have the opportunity to have a conversation with you about the heart of Connection to Self, Others and ‘All That Is.”  Just by way of intro, would you mind giving an introduction of yourself, please?

Jill [0:16] Sure.  Thanks for having me, Mark. Yes, my name is Jill Harris.  I’m a yoga teacher, a yoga teacher trainer & my Yoga Studio is called Yogabijam. I am studying to be a yoga therapist at the moment.  As well as the other hats of my life, which is a mother and you know, so forth.

Mark [0:32] How many children do you have?

Jill [0:33] I have two boys.

Mark [0:35] Oh great. How old?

Jill [0:37] 12 and 8 years old.  Fun times.

Connections through Yoga Therapy

Mark [0:42] Can you tell me a little bit about yoga and yoga therapy. What does that entail?

Jill [0:47] So, yoga therapy is a way of looking at the person in a sort of holistic sense.  So it’s not just about yoga as per movement.  It’s more about understanding what’s going on in the body, as well as what’s going on in the mind, and the emotions and the whole picture.  Of the person and then applying a practice for that person that can ultimately reduce suffering, which is what Yoga is about.  It is the idea of reducing suffering.  It’s another modality, I guess, for people who are not just having problems within the physical body, but may be problems emotionally and in other layers of their system.

Mark [1:28] When people are experiencing those sorts of problems, does that impact on their connection to themselves?

Jill [1:34] Yeah, sure does. Yes, absolutely.

Mark [1:37] What do you notice?  What do you experience?

Connecting to our Suffering “Dukhum”

Jill [1:40] Well, everybody will present a little bit differently, I suppose.  Generally, there’s this great sense of suffering in some way.  Yoga talks very much about suffering, as being like, they call it “dukhum” which is essentially it means sort of darkness.  So it’s almost like a closing of the heart space if you want to, you know, look at that in those terms.  So people generally find that there’s a restriction of some sort.  It might not be physical, it might be a feeling of restriction.  This can manifest in different ways.  Generally, most people will come to yoga therapy, because they’re suffering in some way and they want to reduce that suffering.

Yoga talks very much about suffering, as being like, they call it “dukhum” which is essentially it means sort of darkness. Click To Tweet

Mark [2:19] And do they move into yoga therapy coming from yoga?  Or might they just be attracted externally to yoga therapy?

Jill [2:28] It can be both ways.  Often, I find generally, people are coming to yoga a lot, often don’t so much need the yoga therapy.  They’re already doing the work in some ways.  Having said that, if there’s a particular injury in the body or something that they that they’ve tried to work through, then yoga therapy would be helpful.  Sometimes I’ll say people who don’t know a lot about yoga at all, really, and they’re just coming to use it as another way to achieve some health in their life.

Mark [2:58] Connection on yoga, how does the connection and yoga merge together?

Yoga Is all about Connection – “Yoke ~ Union”

Jill [3:10] Well, yoga’s is all about connection.  I mean, the word Yoga actually means union.  The root word of yoga is yoke, which is the idea that – it’s the center.  If you think about an egg, you’ve got the egg white and the egg yolk and it’s the merging of those two parts to create the egg.  So Yoga, is totally about center, coming back to center and that inner connection.

I mean, the word Yoga actually means union. The root word of yoga is yoke, which is the idea that - it's the center. Click To Tweet

Mark [3:25] I assume you would have a daily practice yourself?

Jill [3:35] Yes, I do. Yeah. .

Mark [3:38] Can you describe what it’s like when you connect to that center?

Connection to myself through my Daily Practice

Jill [3:44] Some days, it’s more challenging than others.  Of course, depending on what else is going on in life. Generally, I try and do my yoga practice every morning when I first thing when I get up.  So, it’s quite early in the morning in this that quietness and that space around me – to move into it.  It is a little bit of physical practice, but a lot of its breath-work, what we call “pranayama.” Then there’s a reflection space, which is, I think, just getting on the mat makes you have that connection with yourself.  That’s ultimately why you’re doing it.  So even though it might be difficult, some mornings, the connections do happen over time, once the practice begins for you.  It’ll be different every day, some days, the connection might be more obvious other days, it might be a little distance.  So, it’s just about doing the practice, and seeing what happens from there.

Mark [4:33] When you experience the connection to be in the distance, do try to work to bring it back to be not distant to yourself?

Acknowledgment of where my connection is

Jill [4:45] Well, there has to be I guess, that acknowledgment that you are in that space, first of all, because if the mines fighting you, you know why, then it’s very hard to, to come back to that connection.  So acknowledging what’s going on often just gives you that release, and that you no permission to come back with you?  Whether you do or not, depends (laughter).  I think acknowledgments the first part of it. I think we all have so much expectation with all the things we put into our life.  One of the good things about yoga is that says we don’t, we shouldn’t have an expectation.  We should just do the practice for the sake of it and not expect an outcome.  I think that’s where the real juice, of the practice, happens for people.  I’m sure it’s the same with most disciplines or spiritual practices, that there’s an element of just letting go of the results.

Mark [5:34] When you let go, is there a sense of freedom and connection to freedom in yourself?

Jill [5:40] Yes, I would say so.  One of the things I like to do, or I have in my practice at the moment is just sitting at the end and focusing on – an opening around the heart center.  You know, which probably sounds a little bit strange to some people.  It’s more just a sense of not holding tightness, not holding ideas, not holding set beliefs.  It’s just about being open – to whatever I feel, or whatever comes to me at that time, without a judgment.

Connection through Open Heart

Mark [6:13]  And the more open-hearted space is, with that, and follow through with a deeper connection?

Jill [6:22] Yeah, I think so. Yes.  Often, I mean, the beauty of yoga is that sometimes the connection comes later. So, it’s almost a hindsight thing, often the practice is done, then perhaps, later on, there’s the realization of something.  It doesn’t always happen during practice.  So I think that’s valid too.  Just giving yourself that space, to be open to what is going to come next.  Then, when it does arrive, sort of noticing and going, ‘okay,’ thanks for that and just moving forward from there.

Mark [6:59] Sometimes I find it’s like the hearts got its own inner wisdom and ego mind got its wisdom.  They both are fighting or the ego mind wants to fight the hearts inner wisdom.  How do we get a balance between both of those things and connect to ourselves – through both of those realms?  It’s not always easy, because as you said, the mind likes to have its own ideas,

What is the Mind & What is the Heart

Jill [7:27] The mind can be very dominant.  I mean, yoga talks about the body having five layers, one of which is the mind.  Then, there’s the emotional layer, which is a separate layer, which I guess is more connected to heart space.   Even though they separate, they’ll influence each other.  In fact, the ancient Yogi’s would say, the mind resides in the heart.  So it’s a very close connection.  I think sometimes it can be very challenging to know, what is the mind? And what is the heart?  I think, again, that’s where the regular practice of some sort of discipline helps in understanding that difference.  It can become apparent over time.  Some days I’ll get really mixed up about – is my mind telling me this or is my heart telling me this?  You have to sort of sit with that for a little bit and not make a decision.  Just let it be for a while and then the answer often comes to you.  Forcing decisions is never a good thing, for either the mind or the heart.

In fact, the ancient Yogi's would say, the mind resides in the heart. So it's a very close connection. Click To Tweet

Mark [8:28] When you experience that open-heartedness. What do you notice happens to the connections to others, when you’re well connected into open-heart?

Connection to my open-heart opens me to others – “Pratipaksabhavana”

Jill [8:40] I’m a lot more tolerant, is the first thing.  It’s one of the reasons why I do my yoga practice every morning because it sets me up for the day.  My relationships with other people, not just my family, but I can come into that space with other people where I’m a little bit more open to their perspectives and where they’re coming from.  I think that’s you know, a really important lesson, is that we’re always, we always judge people, regardless.  That’s just how our minds tend to work.  Once you can start to understand that people are coming from their own starting points.  There is a word in Yoga called “pratipaksabhavana” and it means to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.   I think that’s a very valuable thing to be able to do.  I definitely think that you know, you something like a regular practice of yoga, or whatever it is, can assist with that.

There is a word in Yoga called “pratipaksabhavana” and it means to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Click To Tweet

Mark [9:32] When you feel disconnected from people, what happens?  What do you experience when there’s a disconnection? Do you be mindful of that?  Do you come back into your own center?

Disconnection(s) closes me up a little

Jill [9:47] Yeah.  I think for me, it’s a feeling of closing up a little bit.  I can feel the mind starting to get very stuck in how it thinks about things.   When that starts to happen, I’ll know, that I’m not being quite true to my own feelings, or to whatever the situation is.   That can, you know, of course, our emotions always get, in the way sometimes, and it can be hard to extract yourself from that feeling.  Which is where I think, everyone needs a little bit of space in their life to be able to do that in some way.

Mark [10:27] Is it some of that emotional stuff that – prevents us from connecting to others?

Jill [10:35] Yeah, because I think we all operate on our past “dukhum,” scars or habits or whatever you want to call them.   They’re very much linked to emotion and they’re not always positive for us.  So, it’s really easy to slip into old patterns, I guess.  It’s about you know, coming to that moment, where you can see that it is an old pattern or one that maybe not serving you so well and wanting to do something about changing it.

Connections can be Teaching Mirrors to ourselves

Mark [11:06] That connection to the other person could be a great mirror for us to then reflect back on ourselves and to go deeper into that all pattern and see what’s underneath that and then eventually heal that?

Jill [11:21] I think most of the time when we’re reacting, for one of a better word, we’re operating in a way that is something we’ve learned over time, or we’ve been brought up with or whatever it is.  It can have a negative impact at the moment because it might not be a relevant reaction to here and now.  It’s one of the challenges, isn’t it a relationship.

Mark [11:47] It is a challenge, and if we look at the connection to relationships, it’s all about for me, it’s about self-awareness and growing and that delicate dance.  We will have a strong connection, some days and other and other days we won’t.  Rather than automatically want to blame, its how do I step back and check in – okay, ‘what do I need to do to connect with myself in this space’?  What’s really going on for me deep down so to learn to – now need to respond rather than react?

Jill [12:23] Exactly. Yes.

Connections self-learning and self-growth in relationships

Mark [12:25] Connections to people are really important tools for our learning and for their learning too.  They may not want to learn – at that point in time?

Jill [12:36] That can be the challenge can’t it – when you’re in that space of wanting to learn from the experience or change it in some way however the person in front of you is – not in the same headspace at all, or heart space.

Mark [12:54] That is tough.  You sort of want them to share in the connection with us.  That can be painful at times. There can be a bit of sadness because it can affect the energy of the connection.  That’s really important.  When you connect to others, what does that do for your well-being to have that connection to others?

 Connection to Others, Life Flows More Easily

Jill [13:28] I think life just flows a lot more easily.   I mean, there’s always going to be challenging with connecting to others.  When there’s that open space for connection, I think you’re always coming from your own truth. So you know, you’ve made the right decisions or said the right things, or whatever it is.  So you can move forward from that.  If there’s any sense that you’ve done the wrong thing, I think that’s when you start to feel the suffering.  So, the open space is very important to move into and I’m constantly challenged by that, particularly in yoga class.  Especially when you’ve got so many people in front of you.

Connection opens my empathy to Others

Their all operating from their own perspectives with what they’re doing.  I think, as a teacher, you have to go in with that, again, that sense of “pratipaksabhavana” and put yourself in the other person’s shoes.   Don’t be in the class for yourself, be in the class for the others.  I have to say, that takes quite a long time to develop as a Yoga teacher, or maybe as you know, other sorts of teachers too.

Mark [14:37] Yes, that’s a connection.  That connection is holding the space for all in the room.  What’s that like as you’re holding that connective space – for all in that room?

Jill [14:54] Over time, it’s got a lot easier for me, I guess, with experience.  I think you’re very unaware of it when you start out as a teacher.   Over time you start to see it and develop it.  Now, because I know a lot of my students quite well, I’ll go into space with – what I think is an understanding of their starting points, not that I always know.   At the end of the day, as I said, you have to just go in with that sense of openness to the experience and be willing to see whatever happens.  If somebody’s feeling bit emotional that day and needs to leave the room.  If someone’s struggling with postures because they’ve got an injury, whatever it is – just being attentive to that and not sort of moving away or trying to ignore it.

Connection opens intuitive attentiveness

Mark [15:40] Is it an intuitive attentiveness?

Jill [15:43] Oh, absolutely. Yep, and people’s bodies tell you a lot about them, just by how are they moving, how their breathing?

Mark [15:51] Yeah, when you’re in that space, do you radiate in that space?  Does something shift inside yourself, as you’re in that space?

Jill [15:58] Yeah, often it can yet.  For me, sometimes I just see or feel a vibration in the room, which sounds a little bit esoteric.  I’m a very, I would say – a very practical sort of straightforward person in a lot of ways. Sometimes in that yoga space, I get a real sense that there’s a shift happening.  People will often say at the end of the class, they’ll come up and say, “wow, I could feel the energy in the room, at the end of the “Savasana.”  Whatever it is, sometimes they will be that comment and that will reinforce for me that – yeah – there was something going on there.

Sometimes in that yoga space, I get a real sense that there's a shift happening. Click To Tweet

Connections from Yoga is a natural embodiment

Mark [16:31] So you move out of that practical you, down into – embodied into the yoga teacher, whatever is?

Jill [16:39] Well, I think the teachings just does that naturally for you.  When you’re connected to the teachings, it’s almost like, you’re just the conduit of the teachings if that makes sense.

Mark [16:50] Channeling them?

Jill [16:51] Yes. The teaching stands for themselves, which you know, I really feel my background or the tradition I’m within in yoga really does, then you’re just the vehicle in some respects?

Connected but technologically disconnected

Mark [17:07] We’re talking earlier about the concern about – as a society with technologically connected but in that process, are we becoming more disconnected?  What do – do share in that concern?  Do you observe it? When you observe it, what goes through your mind?  How do you manage it?

Jill [17:33] I try very hard to not be on my phone very often, unless I’m sending a text message and something that I need to do.  I just feel like we’re going down that path of isolation, essentially, with a lot of technology. I see it in my kids, just in the way they respond, when they’re on, iPads, or the PlayStation, or whatever they’re doing.  It’s like, there’s a vortex they’ve been sucked into.  Even though they’re socializing with their friends, perhaps on their devices, I just, I feel like, you know, it doesn’t substitute for personal interaction.  I think that’s possibly where technology is a disadvantage for us.  We can’t see the person that we’re talking to, we can’t know what their reactions are physically.  I think that’s dangerous because how does that set us up for them, when we go to have relationships?

Are our Interpersonal connections losing their Intuitive Essence?

Mark [18:30] The interpersonal relationships down the track?  I guess, in a lot of relationships, is that intuitive connection to.  I am wondering whether they losing this ability?  The more we’re involved in the technology, are we losing that intuitive essence or just that knowing – of the connection?

Jill [18:50] Yes, absolutely.

Mark [18:52] What do we – how do we help?  What do we put out there to society to sought of say – hey?  How do we do – We can’t stop it, but how do we live with it and how do we bring attention to it and bring awareness to it?

Jill [19:10] It’s probably the million dollar question!

Mark [19:11] I was on the train on Monday, coming back from Melbourne, and it’s just incredible experience just sitting – watching.  Everybody was connected to the phones and there was very little cross conversations going at all.  With the connection, I wanted to move into the ‘All That Is aspect of connection, which is greater than self, How has yoga, assisted you in deepening the connection to yourself, others, and to the All That Is?

Connections beyond Self ~ “Isvarapranidhana”

Jill [19:48] It’s a very good question. So in yoga, there’s this concept of it’s called “Isvarapranidhana,” is a concept of, the greater outside of us.  However you like to put it in, yoga doesn’t say you have to be religious.  It can be a spiritual concept or if you believe in God, it can be a religious concept.   It is that idea that you’re connected to something greater.  Again, I just have to come back to that – doing the practice.  The practice teaches you that because at the end of the day, you can’t control how you are at the end of that practice, or how you might move into your day.  There’s a giving up in a way of the result.  You’ve got to give that result up to something and it becomes the greater – the thing that’s greater, that you’re giving the result up to.  I think, for me, that’s just developed over time, that awareness.  I definitely struggled with it when I first heard the concept in yoga.  Then after quite a lot of study, and a lot of my own work, I’ve just come to see it, as being necessary, really for life and for the way we move through.

Mark [21:00] Is it a letting go?

Jill [21:02] Yeah, it is.  A realization that you can’t control everything around you, or even within you.

Mark [21:11] What your experience happens in your body when you hit – that letting go or touch that letting go, or it just, let’s go?

Connection of Letting Go is a gift of relief

Jill [21:18] It’s quite a relief, I think.  It’s not, you know, it’s not a cop-out.  It’s not saying I don’t have to try.  It’s not that kind of idea.  It’s more just understanding that everything is actually quite intimately connected around you.  Leading out from there, it’s like, what did they say – ‘the butterfly wings somewhere make, something move on the other side of the world.  Whatever it is.  It is that kind of concept that everything is actually linked.  I don’t think people can really, you can’t rationalize that, you just have to, I think, ultimately feel it.

Mark [21:22] What happens to – What to experience happens in your sense of self when you are into – that – beyond and into that Interconnection?

Interconnection creates an opening & a softening

Jill [21:25] I guess there’s a little bit of a softening or a little bit of an opening for me. I suppose I feel it a lot around mainly the heart center or the chest space.  It’s definitely something that’s a positive feeling, not a negative one, for me.

Mark [22:29] Do you merge with it?

Jill [22:32] Probably, I would say in times better, perhaps when I’m doing meditation or reflection at those sort of times that can sometimes happen.   Just generally day today, it’s more of an acknowledgment for me, rather than something that I, might have space to actually merge with.  Maybe it’s a difference between mind and heart. I’m not sure (Laughter).

Mark [22:58] It doesn’t matter – this is an open-ended conversation, just to what is?

Jill [23:05] That’s right.

Mark [23:07] What other things help you connect to, “The All That Is’?  Does nature help you do that?  Do you have a practice where you get out into nature?

Connection in being in Nature

Jill [23:19] Well actually live by the beach.  In the last 12 months, we’ve bought a dog.   Previous to that, I wasn’t actually a beach walker, or I wasn’t a walker at all.  Now I get out there every day, pretty much regardless of the weather.  I have a Kelpie so he’s very active.  So, the beach for me has become a real place of just – that connectedness, to everything else around me.   It’s so vast, and so, it operates on its own terms entirely.  I guess nature just does.  So, I think really a connection with nature is very important to forge that inner connection with the greater – whatever you want to call it.  I think nature is essential actually.  I’m not sure that people who live in cities get such a connection with it, as we probably do, in places like the beach or country areas.

Connections to Our “Aha Moments”

Mark [24:15] Sometimes when we’re down the beach, you have those “Aha moments” – that we have?  When you have those “Aha moments”, can you describe, what happens, the sense of Self and the connection to yourself in those moments?

Jill [24:30] Oftentimes, I’ll probably just have a little giggle at myself.  It might be something that I’ve, that’s been staring me in the face, but I just haven’t been able to perceive it, and then suddenly…

Mark [24:41] Or connect to it?

Jill [24:42] Or connect it.  It’s just a feeling of being quite complete, I think when you have those “Aha moments,” even if it’s just for a few seconds (Laughter).

Mark [24:54] I jokingly say, it’s the glimpses of enlightenment.  Just that momentary glimpse of enlightenment, and imagine if we could learn somehow to string more of those together.  How would life be different?

Jill [24:58] It would be amazing.  Unfortunately, I don’t think our society operates in a way that allows us to do that very easily.  Just in how busy we are all the time.  I think space is essential to have those “Aha moments,” and I don’t think we give ourselves enough space in our days.

Mark [25:29] That worries me a bit about the way society is going like that?

Connections to Happiness & Flow

Jill [25:33] Mmm. Well, I think when you say the rising mental health, rates, that’s really going on in society.  I think that’s indicative of that lack of space that we actually create for ourselves.  What is it about us that feels like we need to keep pushing, need to keep going need to keep achieving, like whose standards, are we living up to there?  Really, I think there’s a lot to be said, for just being happy.

I think personally, once you’re happy, then the rest starts to flow for you, anyway.  So, all the stuff that we worry about, jobs, money, picking the kids up on time, getting them to the right activities, whatever it is, all those little things.  I think once we can just sort of come to a sense of having our own space around that, we start to find that all that becomes a little bit easier for us, in a lot of respects.

Mark [26:31] If we bought more of the connection to those things, what would happen to those things?  Would we do less of them?

Jill [26:40] Quite possibly, yes (Laughter).  It’s like, there’s been a quite a shift, in the last few years to things like part-time work, or being able to work from home or whatever the case might be for people.  I think all that’s really important.  I think, in some ways, people are starting to realize that the job does not define you.   That isn’t all there is, to life anymore.  Of course, oftentimes, we’re caught up in that, and we have to acknowledge it or be with it, for a period.   I think what you do around that is very important.  When you do have the time.

Mark [27:17] When you’re more heart-centered, do notice, your well-being and your mental health is a non-issue?

Jill [27:25] Yeah, do.  I mean, you know, in the past, like, probably most people, I’ve struggled times, at times mentally.  I guess coming back from that, what was important for me was, again, to have that space for myself to implement, doing more yoga.  For me, it was studying more about yoga.  For someone else, that might be something entirely different.  Really putting that working to yourself or myself was the important thing.

Mark [27:56] Did the yoga embody you into your body and out of your practical mind?

Jill [28:02] It does, but as a teacher, that can be really challenging (Laughter). I’m a very practical person by nature, but I think that’s why I need yoga because I need to come out of my mind.

Mark [28:16] Embody into your body and connect to your body and you’re being in that process?

Jill [28:20] Yeah, definitely.

Mark [28:22] It looks like such a joy as you, as you’re reminded of it?

Jill [28:27] How far I’ve come?  (Laughter) Yeah, definitely.  At the moment, I’m teaching some people in a mental health setting, yoga.  It is just so amazing to see – often these people don’t have any experience with yoga at all.  For them to come into the practice and be able to sit with themselves.  Just to start being with their breath, which is really the key.  Coming back to the breath is, vital, for any kind of connection with heart, I would say.   It is no surprise that our lungs or our main breathe area of our body – sits right where the heart space does.  So they’re really intimately connected.  You’ll often find that people are very short of breath.  When there’s tightness or restriction, is what we “dukhum” – which is suffering.  So, to open that space out is vital, allowing that heart connection for ourselves, I think.  I see that in people that come into class, once they get the breath, or understand how they breathing.  It’s like the light bulb goes on.  For me, that’s the first step – to lead them into that heart space.

Mark [29:32] What a beautiful thing to do?

Jill [29:33] Yeah. It’s amazing.

Mark [29:34] Beautiful connection.  The more we do that, as practitioners and with ourselves, I’m wondering whether, by healing ourselves, we heal the world, healing Mother Earth?

Jill [29:45] I think so, definitely, yep.  It’s that step by step process.  That’s why doing something like yoga for me such a joy, educating people about what Yoga is and what it can do for them.  It’s really there to service all. If we have the, the readiness to step into it.

Mark [30:06] Jill, just mindful of time.  I just always ask the guests, what would be a piece of advice that you would give a young woman walking behind you, your footsteps?  Or a young boy, walking behind you in your footsteps?  What would that advice be to them?  Around the Heart of Connection to Self, Others and ‘All That Is”?

Jill [30:31] Well, I think, from what I’ve learned about life, so far, the most important lesson for me has been about listening to myself.  Coming back to what we’re talking about with technology and all the distractions around us, I think that’s the hardest thing for younger people these days is to really listen to themselves and to start to know themselves.  So my advice would be that, start listening and move forward from that space where you are listening to yourself, not to everything else around you.

Mark [31:06] Great. Jill, thank you very much.  Can people contact you for yoga classes?  We can put your Webpage up?  That’s okay if they can contact you. Come along to classes.  Do you take beginners?   One of the things I can start putting on the Podcast.  If people are experiencing any disconnections, and they want to connect, you know, yoga is important.  We’re also providing counseling services through empowered change to help people if they are disconnected.  They can make contact with the service to help build that connection and open their hearts to a better connection to themselves.  I really appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation.

Jill [31:54] Thank you for having me.

Mark [31:55]  Namaste.


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