Cat Duval

Cat is a Senior Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance and founder of Nine Lives Yoga. Nine Lives Yoga is a unique style of Social Yoga that combines yoga, mindfulness and the power of collaboration to create a yoga style that is fun, challenging and transforms the way we inter-relate. Cat trained as a traditional Hatha Yoga teacher in India and went on to explore Acroyoga, Partner Yoga and family and kids yoga as well as thai yoga massage, NLP, hypnotherapy and mindfulness professionally as a teacher and coach all over Europe and Scandinavia. She is now a Wellbeing Consultant who loves to dance and dive into the water whenever she can.


What is Happiness?

Nic Marks gives a wonderful TED talk in which highlights our tendency to focus on the problems in the world, on our news and in our film-makings, promoting fear that triggers our fight or flight mechanism, rather than growing our capacity to envision a brighter future.  The mainstream promotes an idea of scarcity over abundance – so it lands on us, in the world of wellbeing, to carve the path of building abundance. Nic points out that our most dominant measure of wealth, our GDP, is a purely financial measure – it bears no measure on what truly gives us meaning in our lives.  He proposes the Happiness Index as a measure of happiness that includes relationships, love, contribution, wellbeing, health and connection to the natural world.

It feels like this move towards measuring happiness is in fact a powerful paradigm shift towards tapping into focussing on abundance. This idea is not new. But do we really spend enough of our time creating a clear vision of our future? – with our imagination alive with potential? With the capacity for human ingenuity being encouraged and our ideas harnessed?

If our external world reflects the internal world, then this article is a challenge to spend more time clarifying the vision of a brighter tomorrow. Because without clarifying that vision, how can we expect it to materialise? Our thoughts create our reality, right? So lets take inspired action and choose the thoughts that create and realise our highest potential!

Since 2005, the Wellbeing industry has come a long way – last year, UK companies spent over 72 billion pounds on Wellbeing initiatives. Stress, anxiety and depression are becoming huge issues for companies as well as families and communities – as we are becoming overwhelmed with information, to do’s, demands on our time, money and attention.  The world is acknowledging that happiness is the catalyst for change. Yoga and meditation have swept the world fairly recently since Swami Vivekananda came over to Chicago in the 1890’s which paved the way for many when great Swami’s to came over to spread the message of yoga to the West. We are realising on a global scale how important it is to maintain our internal wellbeing – and it is becoming increasingly more widely accepted that the deepest route to alleviating suffering in the world is to cultivate self-love and grow happiness from the inside out.

How that is manifests is a question for another article.  My ask of you is this: if we were to let our imaginations free, what ideas can we come up with that would inspire us for the future?

What is your inspired vision for the future?

As a Wellbeing Consultant and Partner Yoga Coach, I often lead meditations encouraging my clients to envision their highest potential, meditate on the 7 areas of wellbeing and unleash their imagination to help them realise their true potential.  Partner Yoga practice can free us of our inhibitions, and regular inversions can help us to overcome our fears and show us that anything is possible.

So what is that for you?

What do you see as becoming possible now and in the future?

Please feel free to comment below. I’d love to see your ideas.

What these times need is an explosion of inspiration – ways we can integrate happiness in our vision of the future and take on the negative bias head on.  The only difference between a dream and reality is a plan.

So what dreams do you have? Do you have an action plan to take positive steps to realise them?

I love my work, because I help people to EMBODY their dream plan. put this kind of plan into the body place. We’ve all heard about the Daily Greatness Journal and many like it that encourage you to take small steps in the direction of your dreams every day.  And if the vision changes over time, we edit the plan and change the steps to suit. Our happiness is not a set of static benchmarks, but in fact a constantly evolving journey.

Dalai Lama XIV: ‘Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.’

But yet so many of us are focused so much on the goal, we forget about the journey. So many millions of people do not put time into clarifying their vision and so end up being led by other people’s visions.

First, let’s get clear on what makes you happy right now.

What makes you happy?

What gives your life meaning?

How much of your day do you spend giving time to what gives your life meaning?

What small step would you like to commit towards to adapting your daily routine and choose to give more time to nurturing whatever makes you happy?

1) Spend time in nature

This one should be on our basic needs list.  We all feel better when we spend time in nature. Our eyes actually can process a wider range of greens than any other colour, with less effort, in more detail, in lower light conditions, meaning it takes less effort to absorb greens, so when we are in nature, this helps our ability to relax.  There is research being done into the importance of earthing which has been published in a book with the same name by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra (M.D.), Martin Zucker. The simple act of touching our feet on the earth actually balances our electro magnetic field. The book argues that one of the key ways we have removed our connection to the land is by putting a layer of rubber between our bodies and the earth through wearing trainers, we have ungrounded ourselves unwittingly and removed our connection to the land and the simple act of walking on the ground can reduce inflammatory conditions.

2) Nurture our Relationships

Robert Waldinger, the 4th Director of the longest running study on happiness rates our relationships as the most pivotal aspect of our lives.  It is the quality of our relationships that create happiness in our lives. Some of the hottest research says that the solution to addiction is connection.  In our current modern world we are addicted to everything, from sugar to phones, and alcohol to drugs. So what is the solution to that? Johann Hari researched the relationship between addiction and connection and suggests that social and personal connections are just as powerful and that as humans, we are looking for connections. When we are happy and healthy, we form natural human connections. When we do not have those human connections, we will form unhealthy ones. And so the true solution is in fact cultivating healthy connections between people. We can see this in action as more collaborative forms of yoga take the world by storm – acroyoga, partner and family and kids yoga. Hence my focus on social yoga practices.

How can you advocate more connection in your relationships today?

3) Let’s Be Grateful

Being grateful is being advocated by scientists to help us overcome the negative bias – our evolutionary pre-disposition for seeing the danger in things first. Rick Hansen, author of the Buddha’s Brain – reinforces the idea that neurons that fire together, wire together. Consciously switching the mind toward focusing on what we are grateful for turns our neural synapses toward noticing what is like that.  So theories such as the law of attraction come into play, and now have the backing of science, to advocate being grateful for what we have makes us more able to see puts us in the mindset for seeing the blessings in our lives. And actively choosing to focus on them. Practising gratitude every morning can literally change our lives.

What are three things you are grateful for in your life and how can you take a small action to show it today?

4) A Life of Meaning

The meaning of life is a life of meaning. We can search the world for the meaning of life outside ourselves, but when we take action to help others, that meaning floods into our lives through our heart, busting any ideas of happiness being sourced by any external means into the stratosphere. It is in fact so effective that the idea of being altruistic is under debate as research suggests our feelings of satisfaction may discount credit as it feels just as good for us as it does for the person or people we are helping! This is good news for wellbeing practitioners everywhere!  And once our basic needs are met, we gain the greatest pleasure from helping one another.

So in the name of creating meaning in our lives – what will you commit to doing to help someone today?