MARCH 2018

Howdy SunYogis!


WOOF! Greetings to all my subscribers :-)

Here we are, well into 2018, an Earth Dog Year.

I always like to take a peek into each Chinese Astrological year and see what the Chinese Zodiac has to say about the year ahead. And being a proud paw-rent, I am taking the opportunity to featuring my own beloved pooch, Chumley. Read more about the Year of the Dog

Term 1 SunYoga classes are drawing to a close and you will find all the Term 2 classes info below. Please remember to book your class spots. All the classes are well attended with many close to full. To secure your spot book as soon as you can.

This e-news my feature article was triggered by a pertinent question which was asked when teaching my recent weekend retreat at Clearview. During some discussion the question of what is meant when we talk about our true nature came up... Read full article below

I am happy to announce that the September 21 - 23, Clearview Weekend Retreat, is exclusively on offer to SunYoga students, (past & present).

This SunYoga Weekend Retreat is a special opportunity to dip your toes into retreat life in the company of fellow students and a teacher that you know well. On a regular, open to anyone retreat, there is a lot of getting to know you and adjusting time needed to settle in. On this special weekend we all start on the same yoga page, creating a very sacred sangha (yoga community). It will be a beautiful weekend, with much opportunity to deepen in and develop your listening skills amidst the glorious spring abundance at Clearview. l invite you to join us.

September 21 - 23
Retreat theme - The Heart of Listening

Places are limited to 8
All Inclusive Cost $375 (shared room)



News & Info Links:

  • Term 1 classes finish on Saturday, March 24th.
  • Term 2 classes start on Saturday, April 14th. The details are listed below and you can book your spot now. Read more below
  • Term 2 Early Bird cut off date is Tuesday, April 3rd. This is day after the Easter break. The Early Bird price is $150 for the10 week term.

Happy Easter to you,
your loved ones!
Love Claire & Chumley x


What is your True Nature?

" What exactly do you mean when you talk of our true nature ?"

This was the question posed by a student on my recent retreat. We were talking about our retreat theme "Coming Home", and the topic of our true self, our true nature, came up for discussion. With much wild hand gesturing and searching to pull THE ANSWER out of some elusive place, I gave the best response that I could. With some pondering afterwards I realised that perhaps a simpler question to grapple with is:

If we can't say categorically what it is, then perhaps we can talk about what it is not?

Let's take a look at what the traditions say that it is.

Buddhists teach that our true nature is emptiness. This emptiness is obscured by veils and negative mind states like wanting, (desire and aversion), fear, ignorance and delusion. We move towards our true nature through developing awareness, slowly gathering wisdom and gaining insight. With time, patience and practice, the divine states of compassion, loving kindness, empathy and equanimity emerge. This is our true nature, our Buddha Nature.

Yogis and the Hindu faith teach that all life is a journey towards union with Brahman. Brahman is defined as the ultimate Supreme God, the cosmic spirit. Brahman is formless, limitless, omnipresent, boundless, unknowable and the Truth. Until we achieve union with Brahman, the human condition is to remain caught in a cycle of suffering and reincarnation. Each human soul is born with an Atman (our individual soul); this soul is our permanent, true nature, and is a spark of the divine Supreme Brahman. The path of our soul, through many lifetimes, is to strive towards liberation from suffering through right action, practicing devotion, self study and gathering knowledge. With right action we achieve liberation from the human condition, resulting in bliss and ultimately, union with Brahman.

Pure knowledge is not imparted by another; it comes unmasked. It is the one that is listening: it is your own true nature. ~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Words are just blah, blah, blah, unless you know what they mean. And further to that, when the words hit a spot that vibrates with crystal clear, sparkling, hallelujah truth, then you know you are really onto something. So when an aha moment strikes, do yourself a favour and pay attention! How do you feel about the Buddhist idea of emptiness? Or the belief in reincarnation and suffering for many lifetimes? Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion) is not what I am personally drawn to, but it may be the sparkling, shining truth for you. But even if we don't believe in reincarnation, or enlightenment, there IS something to explore in this true nature proposition. We feel it!

I observe that my students come to class for so much more than just a good old down doggie, a nice sit, or a lovely lie down. They want more. We all feel a yearning for more understanding, clarity, and a greater ease with ourselves and being alive. The promise of yoga (yoga is union of all parts of the self) offers something eminently desirable. We don't know quite what we want, but we do know that we are wanting. Compassion, loving kindness, empathy and equanimity are all appealing qualities. Achieving liberation from suffering is a tantalizing goal. What do you want freedom from?

There are many winds full of anger, and lust and greed. They move the rubbish around, but the solid mountain of our true nature stays where it's always been. ~ Rumi

So how do we recognise our true nature?

In the quote above Rumi talks of the "many winds of anger, lust & greed". The internal weather analogy makes great sense and is helpful in identifying when you have blown off course. It shines a little light onto the true nature question. What it is not. We all feel the storms that rage within us, the subtle and not so subtle winds of discomfort and dis-ease. They push, pull, shape, burn, bury, saturate, flood and obscure our more balanced states of being. They throw us out of whack and we feel bad. We react. We suffer. Life is continuously throwing up small and big challenges, and daily we meet these challenges and make choices about how to act. Do our choices result in joy, compassion, loving kindness? Or are we lost in a storm, battling physical, emotional and mental disturbance, trying to survive? The disturbances make us angry, sad, jealous, resentful, lazy, confused, sick... They make us suffer. Are these reactive states who we fundamentally are? Or are they learned habits of behaviour? When you are not trapped in the tide of wants and fears and reactions, then who are you?

Always with me was the inner twin: my true nature, my true self.
It is timeless, free, compassionate and in love with whatever is natural to me ~ Alice Walker

" ...And in love with whatever is natural to me", is a pertinent phrase from Alice Walker's words above. To follow a path of love; to allow and foster loving whatever comes naturally to you, gives a strong road map and helps tune your inner divining compass. Finding, pursuing, and being led by a path of truth and love. Your truth. Your passion. Whatever floats your boat. When you are not struggling and straining against the heart of your true nature, you are able to act from a place of compassion, ease and loving kindness. You will be more contented, joyful and happy with your lot. My favourite Chinese proverb - "Relaxation is who you are, Tension is who you are not", illustrates it beautifully. It really can be that simple.

The other factor helping us on our quest to reveal our inner truth is growing older. Growing old equals growing wisdom. How quickly this wisdom grows depends on effort and how diligently you pay attention. For most of us this process, to some extent, is natural and intuitive. There are also the examples of the person that gets more cantankerous, bitter and angry as they age, but that really is largely their choice.

The natural, maturing process teaches us:

Less resistance! Less hurry! Less worry!
Less trying to please others!

More settling into the comfortable couch that is the seat of your natural self, and more allowing the everyday stuff of life to wash, wash, wash away the irritations and struggle. The washing, the scrubbing, the dusting, the settling, the resting, the loving, the polishing ... and hey presto, the gem is revealed!

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves…
~ Mary Oliver

The other important point to make about this quest to uncover your true nature is the ordinariness of it. You already know your true nature, it's nothing special really! It is YOU.

It is easy to be seduced by the idea of spiritual growth and awakening meaning that you will be transformed into an exalted, other worldly, extraordinary self. A different self. As if the one that you are already is not good enough. And you may be believe that when you find this ideal true nature, you will be walking around in a cloud of pink heart love, smiling at everyone, greeting your enemies with a kiss, and having no problems... Hmm, well, there will be moments like that, and then... er....there's the shopping to do and the rubbish bins to put out and...

The real effort and regular work towards settling in to your comfortable seat comes through attending to the grubby stuff of everyday life. The daily irritations, annoyances and challenges - not just the big life changing moments but all the small hurts and pains - the daily elbow grease of polishing the gem.

We can never KNOW the truth about what happens after this mortal existence, but we all feel keenly and KNOW the truth about living this messy, mortal existence. Quite enough to be getting along with for now, me thinks, and you?



A Dog of a Year

As of Friday, the 16th of February, we entered the Chinese Astrological Year of the Brown Earth Dog. This particular Dog year is associated with the Earth element , (a once in a 60 year cycle), giving this year of dogginess a grounded and stable quality. Think more calm, loyal, settled dog rather than wild, snapping, nervous pup!

Dog years are 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018. People born in a Dog year are said to be fiercely loyal and fair, never abandoning their friends, family or work. Justice and honesty is important to them and they fight for what they believe in. They have an altruistic nature and will always reach out to a friend in need. They are generally friendly and intelligent, but can have outbursts of anger, and even be cool and cynical towards others, particularly when they perceive that an injustice has been committed.

In general terms this Earth Dog year is said to be a slower year than the previous fiery, showing off and fast moving Rooster year of 2017. It is a year of consolidating and integrating whatever you started in the previous year. Choosing what areas of your life you would like to build on, and working towards achieving this growth with more stability and confidence. A key question for 2018 is "What do I want to build in my life?"

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet. ~ Edith Wharton

And... I simply can't help myself!

Ode to my little doggie:

As I sit at my desk writing,
Chumley lies on the floor beside me.
His loyal presence and companionship I can count on.
Day in, day out.
He is fiercely and unreservedly mine.

Every day he wakes and goes to greet the day,
as if there has never been such a glorious moment.
Not ever.

The wiggle-waggle, the unbridled excitement is pure joy.
Ever enthusiastic, ever opportunistic, ever hopeful and ever loving.
Oh the love. Oh the love.
Every hello, such a HELLO!
Every soft nose and kiss planted whenever he can sneak one in,
Every micro to macro wag,
It's YOU, he says, it's YOU,
What are we going to do today?

Yes, he can also be annoying, demanding, jealous and stubborn,
But I look in his expressive, brown earth eyes,
I watch his helicopter tail,
and all I see is LOVE.

Oh Chumles, dear Chum,
I am ever in your service, as you are in mine,
And with much gratitude I thankyou.

The poor dog, in life the firmest friend. The first to welcome, foremost to defend. Lord Byron
Read more at:
The poor dog, in life the firmest friend. The first to welcome, foremost to defend. Lord Byron
Read more at:

The poor dog, in life the firmest friend.
The first to welcome, foremost to defend
~ Lord Byron


Term 2, 2018

Dawn at Clearview Retreat

Term 2, 2018 - 10 weeks

9.30 - 10.45 am (Albion)
6.30 - 8 pm (Footscray)
Apr 17 to Jun 19

6.30 - 7.45 pm (Albion)
Apr 19 to Jun 21

8.30 - 10 am (Albion)
10.15 - 11.30 am (Albion)
Apr 14 to Jun 16

Golden Elms at Clearview Retreat


Term 1 classes finish on Saturday, March 24th. Term 2 starts on Saturday, April 14th.

Term 2 Costs - 10 weeks

By the Term:

Book and pay by Tuesday, April 3rd, for the *Early Bird special rate.

1 class per week
Full $160 / $150 *Early Bird & Concession
($16 / *EB $15 per class)

2 classes per week
Full $300 / $280 *Early Bird & concession
($15 / *EB $14 per class)

By the Class:

Drop in Casual - $20

Account Details for Payment:
bsb - 063 172
account number - 1068 4549
Please include your name as a reference code and email me when you make your payment.

More Info?

Email me

0448 074 204

Read More