Cass and Marcus Hamill of the Sattva Life are experts in simple yet highly effective breathwork and meditation training. They are masters in calming the mind and the body, ultimately creating space to engage in life with clarity, creativity, vitality and joy.
Here, Cass Hamill talks about the triggers of stress and power of calm, plus simple daily practices to slow and succeed.
M+E: Your overarching offering is to provide people the tools to calm mind and body. Can you provide some insight into the damaging/disruptive effects of stress/anxiety on the body, particularly when it runs regularly/constantly?
CH: Stress is responsible for the overwhelming majority of our modern-day ailments! Stress in and of itself is not a bad thing, it’s a natural response to challenges, but the problem with modern life is that our stress tends to be related to emotional, financial, and cultural pressures (relationships, work, money, world events) – things that never go away, so it’s persistent. This is why we say it’s essential to have a practice to release accumulated stress and fatigue from our systems.
The AMA (American Medical Association) says 90% of disease is caused or directly complicated by stress. Not to mention mental/emotional health issues such as anxiety and depression and general feelings of overwhelm and worry.
M+E: You talk about calming mind and body, what comes first, and give us a basic rundown on the physiological response of the body to the brain once meditation and breathwork is actioned?
CH: Where the breath goes the mind follows. We can verify this through our own experience. Pay attention and you’ll notice that when you’re stressed or in fear, that the breath is fast and shallow, and that your mind is racing, complicated, unable to problem solve – with a tendency to fixate on worst case scenarios. So, through the practice of consciously controlling the breath, we find that the noise and agitation in the mind settles.
The practice of meditation is about transcending the busy mind altogether and accessing a deep state of inner silence and peace. A harmonising of the mind, nervous system and heart rate occurs – and the body, in this deep state of coherence begins to heal, release latent stress and fatigue, and our consciousness expands. Our mind and body begin to flow together in unity. When we work, everything in our life works. Breathwork and meditation allows us to be in tune with the natural flow of life rather than experiencing a life of struggle.
M+E: What are some simple breathwork techniques we can implement in a short period of time, potentially in a private space at work, should we encounter stress and seek to calm the mind and body?
CH: 3-Part Breath is a powerful technique that we can engage any time of the day – don’t be fooled by its simplicity! To practice, we inhale through the nose for 4 secs, hold the breath for 4 secs, exhale through the nose for 4 secs. The breath is slow and fluid. We are conscious of drawing the breath deep down into the belly, feeling the stomach and rib cage expand on the inhalation. On the exhalation our navel will glide back towards the spine as our belly deflates. Practice for 2-to-5mins with awareness and notice how your nervous system starts to settle and your mind becomes quieter and more present.
This is a meditative breath practice to calm, stabilise the mind/body system.
‘Breath of Light’ Guided Meditation www.instagram.com/tv/CW12AwQAZgm/
“Happiness is our birthright – but we must claim it. If we want to experience happiness as our natural state of being – we need to slow down.”
M+E: How is the decision-making process effected in a state of stress versus a state of calm?
CH: My teacher from the Himalayas often says, ‘life is not complicated, people are complicated’. Meaning that we tend to create far more trouble for ourselves than necessary due to the unrelenting discourse and complication in our own heads. A certain level of stress is unavoidable and a natural part of life – and that’s why we need a personal practice (such as meditation and breathwork), so that we have a means to release the accumulated stress and fatigue of the day. Through commitment to our practice, we obtain greater clarity, creativity and sense of self (and we get to know ourselves at a deeper level). It is supremely empowering to get in touch with our innate inner wisdom. To access this powerful intuition and knowingness, we need to be able to access the silence from which it arises.
M+E: Talk to us about the practical wisdom you teach, and how these principles assist in calming our mental and physical state, for a more successful/joyful approach to life?
CH: Meditation is the foundation practice of everything we share. Through the deep state of rest that meditation brings one into, the mind settles, our entire system finds balance, our consciousness expands and we become more present to ‘Now’. It’s important to note, that we don’t meditate for just what happens when we practice – we meditate because it literally enhances every aspect of our lives. Why? Because without engaging in daily stillness, we find most people’s minds are moving between being lost in the past or anticipating/worrying about the future. This is a problem, because the only place life is ever happening is Now. When we are able to anchor ourselves in the present moment – each moment becomes richer and has more depth. Every aspect of our lives is enriched; our relationships, our ability to consciously create the life we long for, our capacity to appreciate beauty in this world, and also our capacity to deal with challenges that arise in our experience. We start to see ourselves more clearly – where we’re stuck and where we’d like to be heading. Ultimately, we don’t want to spend our lives just coping, feeling overwhelmed, or living for the buzz of the next weekend or holiday – we want to thrive, experience reasonless joy, to know ourselves intimately and express that most authentic sense of self to the world. Happiness is our birthright – but we must claim it. If we want to experience happiness as our natural state of being – we need to slow down.