Move Mountains

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new car, or a friend buys a new car, suddenly you see that same car everywhere you go? It’s like the moment you start to pay attention to it; it pops up everywhere you look.

This is how awareness works. What you pay attention to becomes bigger—it fills up more space and becomes a larger part of your reality. This is good news and bad news, depending on where you place your attention. The good news is that this gives you the power to attract the situations and experiences that you want to show up in your life—yes, the power of your awareness can change external events! The bad news is that when you’re unconsciously throwing around a lot of negative dialogue and feelings, then your experiences will reflect that negative energy.

When you look in the mirror, do you zoom in on all of your beautiful qualities or do you zoom in on what you don’t like?

When you perceive your life, do you focus on all the positives or do you focus on what’s not working so well?

When you think about your goals and aspirations, do you feel excited about the challenge or overwhelmed by it all?

This isn’t another ‘half glass full’ lecture, because in order to facilitate positive change, sometimes you must look at what’s not working. The key is to look at it in a different way. How about, rather than hate or resist what you find difficult to accept, you nurture it instead?

Because, here’s the thing: the foundation of positive change is acceptance. If you try to facilitate change from a place of non-acceptance, hatred, fear or discontent, then you’re setting yourself up for an uphill battle. Positive, sustainable results cannot rise from a negative start. What do you expect to grow out of soil that is contaminated with toxins? Initially, you might find some growth and progress that rises out of fear-based actions, but it won’t be sustainable. The same negative energy and dialogue will follow you every step of the way until you find that you’re right where you were, regardless of what changes have been made. If you’ve ever found yourself still feeling frustrated or discontent after completing a lofty goal, then you know what I’m talking about.

When you’re ready to facilitate positive change in any area of your life, start by accepting the situation as it is. Better yet, nurture it and offer gratitude for whatever it has taught you. Then, let it know that it’s time for a shift and you’re ready to release it—with love.

Cheesy? Maybe.

Effective? Definitely.

Then, proceed with the feeling of gratitude, joy, love, and the excitement that comes from positive change. If you catch yourself acting from a feeling of anger, frustration, fear, or anxiety; back up, slow down, take a pause and realign your course; make changes if necessary; but make sure that your actions resonate with the feelings that propel you toward positive results.

Keep in mind, this takes practice. You may oscillate between feeling frustrated one minute and grateful the next. This is normal. Just keep focusing more of your attention on the way you want to feel. Eventually, the scales will tip to reflect more of what you want, and with that, the experiences of your life will confirm that the power of your awareness can move mountains.

If these ideas strike a chord, light you up, or make you want to learn a little more, then I’d love for you to join me for one of my yoga and meditation workshops. For details, click HERE.

beautiful

Ever been hurt? Shine even brighter.

Remember when you were a kid and you were going along, perfectly content about yourself and your life, and suddenly somebody, (maybe that mean kid in grade school), pointed out that you have big ears, or a crooked nose, or a weird laugh, or…fill in the blank. And suddenly, you’re mortified to find out that you DO have big ears or a crooked nose or a weird laugh, and based on the way the information was delivered to you, you recognize that apparently it is not a good thing?

And so it begins…your perception shifts to see yourself as ‘less than’, ‘too much,’ or ‘not enough’ and this perception makes you think you aren’t worthy of love or attention, or praise.

And so perhaps you went on thinking this way for a while; but hopefully, at some point during all of those years you started to realize that while your ears may be big, they’re really unique and beautiful, and that your nose may be crooked but it’s just like your grandmother’s, so you love it anyway; and your laughter is contagious so everyone around you finds joy in it also.

Hopefully, you have come to realize that these qualities are what make you beautiful.

Yet, sometimes it doesn’t work that way; sometimes old wounds get buried under new ones, and before you know it the wounds run so deep that it requires some real effort to heal what hurts.

You might resist a certain part of yourself or your life because it hurts, but it hurts because it needs to heal. When you have an injury your body lets you know about it through physical pain. The pain reminds you that you need to nurture the wound until it heals. It’s the same thing with emotional or psychological pain. You can’t ignore the pain and expect the wound to heal. You may even go so far as reopen the wound again and again by replaying the scenario or repeating the same cruel inner dialogue again and again. It’s pretty hard to heal when you’re constantly being reinjured.

You can’t ignore it, and you definitely can’t keep opening the wound, so what do you do?

You’ve got to nurture it back to health.

First of all, you’ve got to stop the offensive dialogue or events from invading your head space. Police your own mind. If the thought doesn’t serve you, tears you down, or makes you feel like crap, then Get.It.Out. Replace the image or the thought with something else—a song, a mantra, or a kind thought would be nice. If that doesn’t work, sit with the feeling of it. How is the thought showing up in your body? Where can you feel it? Can you sit and hold the feeling of it in your body or surround the sensation with space and light?

Old habits die hard, and acceptance doesn’t happen in one day. This is a process, so be patient with it. Especially if it’s an old wound—it may have been there for years—so give yourself time to really let it heal. Recognize that you’re going to have good days and bad days. Sometimes you’ll be strong and resilient against any negative attacks, but sometimes you’ll crumble at the slightest hint of negativity. Don’t let those days derail you. The fact that you can hold awareness of the good days and the bad days is a very powerful practice, and a sign that you’re on the right track. Being able to look at yourself and observe that you’re really feeling hurt, sensitive or raw at any given time is a sign that you’re slipping into a more expansive state of consciousness. Recognizing that you’re experiencing pain is different from being completely, unconsciously devoured by it. The difference is that you either hold the experience of pain, or it holds you.

Here’s the thing; life is full of people and experiences that will shake you up, tear you down, and break your heart. Don’t let those experiences be what defines you. Allow your response to those experiences be what defines you. Ultimately, you are in control—maybe not in control of what life throws at you—but you’re definitely in control of how you respond.

Be courageous. Nurture. Heal.

Then go out and shine even brighter.

If these ideas strike a chord, light you up, or make you want to learn a little more, then join me on Saturday, February 28th for a Yoga and Meditation Workshop, with emphasis placed on awareness and self-acceptance. For details, click HERE.

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Awareness can change your life big time. This is how.

Sometimes life is crazy. Emotions can knock you off your feet, relationships can derail you, and thoughts can be enough to drive you mad. When this happens, a little bit of space, a touch of freedom, or even just a slight shift of perspective can change everything.

You know that friend who offers you the space you need—the one who listens without judgment, gives you room to vent, and doesn’t try to fix anything—they’re just present for you?

Awareness is that friend. Imagine what it would be like if you could offer yourself the support, the freedom, the space and the acceptance you need when you’re just being you—no matter how you’re showing up.

Awareness is about pulling yourself out of the chaos for a moment to catch your breath, readjust your vision, and take a fresh look at the current situation. All you have to do to practice awareness is observe. No judgment, no strategizing, no agenda. Just observe. Look at your thoughts, feel your emotions, and pull yourself out of the situation, even if it’s only for one conscious breath. Taking the time to do this will give you a glance at the big picture, and when you can see the big picture, you’ll see that where you’re at is only temporary. That simple realization can help you savor the moment (if it’s a good one), or know that it will pass soon (if it’s not so pleasant). Either way, awareness buys you time so that your next move is a conscious one made with clarity and poise.

The only hard part about awareness is remembering to do it. The key is practice, practice, practice. Make awareness your new healthy habit. You can practice on anything, anytime—your daily commute, washing dishes, taking a shower—select something that you do every day and make a commitment to transform that activity into a dedicated practice of awareness.

As you’re going through the motions of whatever it is you’re doing, tune into all five senses; notice how you feel, observe what thoughts pop into your head, and pay attention your body’s reaction to those thoughts. Observe whether or not you can release the thoughts that aren’t serving you, or any tension that arises in the body as a result of them. In the beginning it may seem dull to pay such close attention to yourself or to mundane activities, but over time, you’ll realize that daily activities of life can be fascinating, but more importantly you’ll come to realize that YOU are fascinating, and truly, there is nothing more worthy of your attention then the study of you.

If these ideas strike a chord, light you up, or make you want to learn a little more, then join me on Saturday, February 28th for a Yoga and Meditation Workshop, with emphasis placed on awareness and self-acceptance. For details, click HERE.

Make Something Old New Again

Anything you commit to for the long term has the potential to lose its luster. It’s natural to fall into routines, get stuck, or stop seeing the magic in the same thing that once made you feel alive. Falling out of love with your life, or some aspect of it, doesn’t mean you have to walk away. You can breathe new life into anything if it’s your intention to do so. Whether it’s your career, your hobby, a relationship, or life itself, it’s normal to forget what made you fall in love in the first place, but here are three ways to help you remember.

1. Take a break. It could be five minutes or it could be five years. It’s up to you to decide what’s necessary. When you step away from something or someone you’ve lost passion for, it gives you the opportunity to miss it and sometimes that’s all you need to go rushing back with open arms and a fresh perspective. Taking a break will also give you the clarity to recognize if there is something more that must be done, whether it means shaking things up, (see no. 2), or making a big change (no. 3). Space brings clarity and clarity brings the opportunity to see things for what they are, and sometimes that’s all you need to remember why you love what you love. Additionally, taking a break will help you make difficult decisions if that is what’s necessary. If you find that you feel better, more spacious, and excited about taking a different direction, then perhaps taking a break will show you that it’s time to walk away.

2. Shake it up. Once you’ve put a little space between you and what you’re trying to rekindle, you’ll be able to see the big picture—the one that reminds you why you were drawn to it in the first place and also see the potential for where it might go. Furthermore, with some space and a fresh take on things, you’ll usher in a new flow of creativity. Use that creativity to put a new spin on things: add something new, change the routine, or take away a part that’s no longer serving its purpose. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.

3. Make a Big Change. After you’ve taken a break, and tried shaking things up, you might realize that a big change is the only way to go. You might decide that you still carry the same passion, but you’d like to try it in a new light. For instance, if you teach art, but you’re tired of teaching, maybe it’s time to shift your focus—open a gallery or work on your own art portfolio. Within each passion, the possibilities are endless. Again, through space and clarity, you’ll be able to get creative with all the options that are available to you.

It’s normal to forget why you love what you love, but the beauty in forgetting is that you get to experience the love you have for it again and again in different ways as you evolve, your passion evolves, and life reveals new and exciting opportunities each time you remember.

I’ve taken my own advice with regard to this blog; I took a break, made a few changes, and made the decision to return to it with a fresh perspective and fresh ideas. I love it now more than ever, and I hope you will too!

Somethingnew

Photo: Flickr

Dear Lady

Dear Lady,

I know you aren’t just a Mom,

A daughter,

A sister,

Or a friend.

I know that, in the stolen moments of your life, you dream;

You write,

You dance,

And you sing.

You are not your job;

Or your title,

Or your role.

You are a creator;

An inventor,

An artist,

A muse.

You are not your weight on a scale;

or your face in the mirror.

You are not your money;

or your have and have-not’s.

You are life.

You are love.

You are energy.

You are a Goddess.

You’ve just been told the wrong story about who you are, by others who were told the wrong story about who they are.

Write a new story.

Start it now.

Start it with

I Am

blessings

Photo: www.mysticmamma.com

Integrated Wellness: Listen

Dear Reader: This blog post relates to lessons that are currently taking place as part of a course I’m teaching at Utah State University called Integrated Wellness. You are welcome to follow along and share any remarks or ask questions. I’d love to hear from you!

One of the most beautiful lessons learned through the yoga practice is how to listen. Stepping on the mat is an invitation to let go of everything and place your awareness on your body for a while. The practice of listening to the body not only offers the physical benefit of gaining greater balance in health and well-being; it teaches you how to trust and listen to your intuition.

There will be moments in your life when your instincts defy logic. You might find yourself in a battle between your heart and your mind; or between feeling and reality. When this happens, regardless of whether or not it makes sense, how crazy it seems, or whether or not your friends and family agree; you’ve got to trust your instincts. Even when the current reality of your situation doesn’t seem to support how you feel; you’ve got to go for it, because your feelings create your reality.

Learning to trust your intuition takes practice. It takes time to decipher between a genuine intuitive hunch versus a dead end idea, but the more you follow your own leads, the stronger you become at knowing the difference. Furthermore, keep in mind, that what may seem like a dead end idea, could simply be something that will come to fruition later on.

It’s important to realize that your heart already knows what is best for you. Every answer to every question you’ve ever had or ever will have, is already inside of you. The trick is in learning how to listen for those answers.

Go to your mat; listen to your body; listen to your breath; listen to your heart, and you’ll find that everything you seek is already in you.

listen-mysticmamma

ART: IVAN MESTROVIC

Integrated Wellness: Your Life is Your Masterpiece

Dear Reader: This blog post relates to lessons that are currently taking place as part of a course I’m teaching at Utah State University called Integrated Wellness. You are welcome to follow along and share any remarks or ask questions. I’d love to hear from you!

The idea for today’s class came from the brilliant, beautiful, Glennon Doyle Melton. She wrote a piece titled Your Body is Not Your Masterpiece for Huffington Post and you gotta read it; go HERE for a hefty dose of inspiration.

Basically, she reminds us that your life is your masterpiece, and your body is the instrument that you use to create it. Your body is already perfect for what it is meant to do, which is to sculpt and craft and create the life of your dreams.

So how does that all fit in with Yoga?

Well, yoga helps you keep your instrument clean, fine tuned, and ready for creation. It helps to get rid of any built up tension, stress, worry, fear, and all the other junk that doesn’t serve you, so that you can use it the way it was meant to be used—as a tool for incredible creativity, deep connection, endless joy, and infinite love.

Furthermore, yoga keeps the body functioning in top form so that you can do the things you love to do for the rest of your life….dancing when you’re 83, or rock climbing when you’re 97!

It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that you need to change your body in order to be happy or fulfilled, but in reality, your body is already perfectly designed to bring you endless happiness as it helps you carry out your purpose in this life.

So rather than place your focus on how you wish your body were different, start focusing on how perfect it already is for the life you’re meant to manifest.

charlotte-mcknight

Photo: Charlotte McKnight

Integrated Wellness: Why Practice Yoga?

Dear Reader: This blog post relates to lessons that are currently taking place as part of a course I’m teaching at Utah State University called Integrated Wellness. You are welcome to follow along and share any remarks or ask questions. I’d love to hear from you!

There are many different reasons for starting a yoga practice, and every single one is the perfect reason—because it got you started! Sometimes the reason for beginning something changes. As the practice or activity transforms, so does your reason for doing it.

This week the focus of class was on recognizing the way the physical, mental, emotional and energetic parts of ourselves relate and influence each other. Each one has an effect on the others—sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes in not so obvious ways. Some thoughts, emotions and experiences carry positive energy, which will help to open and heal the body, while others carry a negative energy, which can cause contraction and limitation in the body. For example; the experience of a stressful day filled with stressful thoughts and emotions will manifest in the physical body through sore muscles, fatigue, sickness, heaviness, or maybe just an uncomfortable feeling. On the other hand, a positive thought, emotion or experience will create high energy, vibrancy, joy, or a feeling of lightness and radiance.

Through a practice of awareness, you learn how to determine which thoughts, emotions and experiences have a positive effect, and which ones don’t. Then you can be selective about what is healthy for you—and if it isn’t, choose to avoid it or let it go.

One of the benefits of a yoga practice is to bring awareness to what serves you what doesn’t serve you, and to help release any negative manifestation that’s being held by the physical body. When you stretch and breathe space into the body, you’re not only moving and stretching the muscles—you’re also releasing the buildup of tension, stress, worry, fear, or whatever else you’ve been carrying around. When you build strength through proper alignment, you’re not only getting physically stronger; you’re building up a channel that helps efficiently move oxygen, blood flow, nutrients and energy through your body. Once you begin to release some of the unnecessary heaviness that you’ve been carrying around, you create more space for love, compassion, creativity, connection, and greater energy.

No matter what your reason is for practicing yoga, ultimately it embodies all the parts of yourself in a way that heals, opens, strengthens, creates space, facilitates awareness, and offers you a glimpse of your own Divine Truth.

Oh, and it’ll stretch out your hamstrings, too!

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Before and After

Before I had Max, I had time. Enough for my boys, enough for my sweetheart, and enough left over for me to think, reflect, meditate, write, practice yoga, run, wander, read, and ah…sleep… my time was mine.

Before I had Max, I had freedom. I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I had the freedom to choose the perfect time and place to pour over the art of articulating just the right combination of words and sentences. I had the freedom to write in the right setting, within the right state of mind, at the right time of day.

I had the freedom to craft and refine a yoga sequence that would suit my mood and specific needs. I had the freedom to walk away from the practice if I wanted, because I would have the time to do it later.

Before I had Max, I had energy. My mind was sharp, clear, concise, and poised for conversation. I had the energy to juggle everything at once, and never worried that I had forgotten something important.

Before I had Max, I had solitude. Meditation was sacred, private and yielded to quiet inner peace. I was alone, All One, whenever I needed it.

Before I had Max, life was easy, predictable, and secure. I was rarely challenged.

Before I had Max, something was missing. I searched and longed for something that I couldn’t understand.

After I had Max, I faced fear. I grieved the loss of my old life, my old habits, and my old me.

After I had Max, I found something new.

I found strength.

I found clarity.

I found direction.

I found Grace.

I found humility.

I found commitment.

I found discipline.

I found surrender.

I found a new way to meditate, a new way to practice, a new way to run, a new way to wander, a new way to read,  a new way to write, and a new way to love.

I found a new me.

And I like her.

Thank you, Max, my beautiful baby boy.

prettytransformation

Photo: www.anetaivanova.com

A Perfect Body is a State of Mind

I recently came across a photograph of myself in a bathing suit when I was around 17 or 18 years old. My body language perfectly illustrated the degree of my insecurity as I tried to fold into myself, as if trying to disappear. The scowl directed at the person behind the lens demonstrated my irritation and embarrassment.

As I look at the photograph now, nearly 20 years later, I see something that I didn’t see then. I see a beautiful girl and a beautiful body—not a perfect body defined by media standards—but healthy and perfect enough. Why didn’t I see the beauty then? As I reflect on this, I wonder if, in another 20 years, I’ll look back on some photograph taken of me during this moment, at this stage of my life and think, “Why didn’t I see the beauty then?”

What would it take to accept the fact that you are beautiful right now? To embrace your imperfections and see that they are the attributes that make you uniquely perfect? And why is it so hard to do?

I think part of it is that we’ve been taught not to love our bodies—that it would be arrogant or egotistical to feel love toward ourselves. Yet, wouldn’t we want our sisters, friends, mothers and daughters to feel like its okay to love and accept their bodies? There is only one way to truly teach another person to love themselves, and that is through your own example. In order to teach another person about true self-love, you must live and breathe and embody self-love for yourself. If you truly love yourself and accept your body, then nothing more must be done. The energy of that love will extend beyond you to everyone and everything around you, and it will be felt deeply, in a way that no words or actions could ever express. If you can’t love yourself for you, love yourself for someone you care about.

I know that self-love and acceptance is much easier said than done, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process of reconfiguring your thoughts and perceptions—a process that starts out foreign and uncomfortable, but over time becomes easier, and eventually, a natural part of what you believe in.

Here are three simple suggestions for getting started on learning to love and accept your body:

1. A perfect body is a state of mind. All change is facilitated from the inside out, meaning that you are what you believe in. If you always believe that you still have to… (fill in the blank), before accepting yourself, then you will always feel that way—no matter how many times you succeed in filling in that blank. Start by believing that you are already perfect enough. That simple shift of perception will create an energetic ripple that extends from the inside out to transform everything—including your physical appearance.

2. Tell yourself you’re beautiful. (I know—it’s cheesy, and initially it will feel like you’re merely spouting words without meaning), but make a new habit so that every time you look in the mirror, smile and tell yourself you’re beautiful. You can start out being silly or sarcastic and its okay if you don’t believe it at first, but over time, something will shift and you’ll begin to see that you really are beautiful. If you can’t remember to do it, stick a post-it note to your mirror as a reminder.

3. Think about one thing that you enjoy experiencing through your body—the feeling of soaking in the tub, the pleasure of hugging someone you love, or the exhilaration of pushing your body through exercise—it could be anything. Be grateful that your body offers that experience. The more you practice gratitude for what your body offers you, the more you’ll find to be grateful for.

Forming a new way of seeing and believing takes time and patience, but loving and accepting yourself for you and those you love is well worth the effort.

margaretdurow

photo: Margaret Durow