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"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Theodore Roosevelt
Yesterday, I had an OFF DAY. PERIOD. I woke up feeling off, my morning practice felt off, and I walked into the day feeling ungrounded, distracted, tender-hearted, and irritable. Can you relate?
I knew that I was feeling this way, and (at first) rather than slowing down, getting gentle with myself, and asking what was up, I pushed through. I got busy. I started rapid-fire tasking! "I need to do this, then this, then this..." my breath got more shallow, my pace quicker, my conversations short and fiery. By the time I got to Sunday brunch with my husband- something I had been looking forward to, I felt sick to my stomach, had completely shut down, and was in tears.
I had a good cry- as my coach would say "let it up and out!" and then, feeling exhausted, I rested. It as if I had to tire out my mind with the many thoughts of life and the "figuring it out" so that my body/mind could be still for awhile. And I was- for a few hours! I had jolts of "I need to get up and do X" but mostly, I SAVORED the REST.
After I had had some time to get out of my head, drop into what my body was feeling, and to honor that, understanding came (as it often seems to). In the midst of change: in the span of two weeks I moved to a new home, in a new state, started a new master mind group, and shifted the focus of my business- I had been looking to OTHERS, OUTSIDE of myself, for the "right way". I was looking to others for the right way to live here, the right way to start and run my business, and the right way to feel in this experience. And guess what- there are ENDLESS OPINIONS on that! EVERYONE has a different opinion, likely because we all experience life a bit differently. So when we hand our POWER of CHOICE over to "other" it gets chaotic, and in my experience, you never really feel settled or grounded into any one decision.
When I took a literal adult TIME OUT (no work, no tasking, no phone, no people), I was able to create the space to realize I was in this mode of operation, and that while I TRULY VALUE mentorship (people who know me well know I am student for life!), I ultimately need to make the choice/take the action that feels true for me in that moment. I also need to be ok with the fact that some will be opposed to that and that I may change my mind down the road. If we can truly LISTEN IN, DROP the agenda of the ego mind, and HONOR what our higher selves/intuition is asking for, the "right" answers will be there. It may not be what our sister/mom/coach/husband/tv personality would have us do, but it's the action we need to take. THAT action liberates. THAT action keeps us in our TRUE NATURE: peace, space, clarity, joy, and LOVE.
Don't let comparison ROB YOU of that.
With so much reverence for this Path of Awareness, I send this from my heart to yours.
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This realization, #sadhanaha , came to me this morning, with a new 90-day sadhana (practice), sitting in my new yoga room, in a new city, a new state- the energy of newness is with me!
For years, my practice to self-understanding has been to dig deep, to get the root of thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, with the idea that when (and only when) I can understand WHY something is happening, at its root, can it be released (if it seems to no longer be in alignment with how I want to experience life). This approach shaped my initial career path (psychology), my yoga practice, journaling practice, and really, my interpretation of the world. I truly held to, and identified with the belief that the root must be plucked to release something, and that that process was inherently lengthy and arduous. What an assumption!
This morning, with the lightness of new, this belief was challenged and changed for me. As I sat on my mat, breathing, being with the feelings of uncertainty, unfamiliarity, and the fear that can come with the unknown, this is what came:
1. The awareness that I was in a fear mentality
2. That I could choose differently, not through some lengthy process, but RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, IN THIS VERY MOMENT.
I said to myself, "This fear is not mine; I release it now." And it was released! Seriously! I took a deep, huge, spacious breath. I felt massive space within and without. I felt a warmth, a settling. It felt amazingly liberating. And through that direct experience (principle #1 on the path of yoga) my truth was changed. It was clear that, at least not always, and maybe never, is it required to take the long winding road to understanding WHY this fear is here, WHERE it came from, WHAT it represents, or HOW to overcome it. In fact, taking that approach can keep us stuck in it-overly identified with it as our only option. Sometimes, coming into the awareness that we are in a particular state of being, and that this state of being is not in alignment with the way we want to live our lives, WITHOUT judgement or clinging, is enough to release it and move on. Though our minds would convince us otherwise, sometimes it is as easy as saying, "I choose differently", affirming that we indeed create our reality in each and every moment with each and every thought we allow to take up space.
Without thinking about it too much, give it a try. Notice, observe, affirm, release, repeat.
With love and the lightness of release,
P.S. As always, if you feel inspired, please share a comment below, and share the love with your community; we grow together <3.
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ARE YOUR ACTIONS KEEPING YOU BOUND OR MOVING YOU BEYOND?
This #sadhanaha didn’t come up during my morning practice. It’s an especially challenging obstacle for me, and the reflection, aha’s, and shift in perception and action often come AFTER a struggle. That is how it has been happening FOR (not TO) me recently.
In this instance, I was getting ready to give a yoga talk in my hometown, and the time was drawing near. I was a little nervous, rushing around the house (NOT breathing deeply and evenly!), getting dressed, gathering the materials, grabbing a quick bite of dinner, and in this swirl of frantic energy, I glanced over at my husband who was sitting comfortably on the couch watching TV. “Are you kidding me!?”, my mind said, along with a few additional rapid-fire thoughts about how inconsiderate and selfish he was for not noticing me, reading my mind, and helping me. Welcome to my VICTIM MENTALITY! As long as I allowed my mind to stay busy condemning AJ and feeling sorry and self-righteous for myself, my breath continued to be shallow and my actions, chaotic and aggressive, taking me further and further away from the practices and state of being I was about to teach!
Previously, I might have remained stuck in this mentality and stayed passively aggressive and angry toward my husband for the rest of the night while feeling guilty and criticizing myself for feeling those feelings, but since beginning a regular meditation practice, where I sit with my mind, with the thoughts and emotions, and their root, in a neutral and compassionate way, an increased awareness has resulted. This time, instead of feeding into those OH-SO-TEMPTING emotions, I said to myself, “How would be most helpful to you right now?” I decided asking AJ to dish up a plate of dinner for me would be most helpful. I took a deep breath, asked him for the favor kindly, and he quickly agreed, glad to be clear on what he could do to help. THAT is moving OUT of victim mentality and into LIBERATION! My ego was a little angry that it was so simple, but she got over it, and I was able to save SO MUCH energy that was then channeled into a MUCH higher service while giving the talk.
In Yogic philosophy, actions that BIND us to our old habit patterns are called Karma, while those actions taken with the intention to move BEYOND the limited beliefs and into greater space and awareness are called Kriya. In each moment, we have the opportunity to choose, to let go of the heaviness of thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that stem from fear, anger, uncertainty, and insecurity and to embrace the lightness and peace of love, humility, forgiveness, acceptance, and trust. Most of the time, we all want the latter; it’s the becoming AWARE of our default patterns that keep us bound (karma), creating a better alternative (kriya), and choosing the action that liberates when the opportunity arises. Starting out, this happens most easefully for us in the space and quiet of our practice of turning inward and getting to know, understand, and befriending our minds, the space without the intensity of another person’s energy and the stimulation of the environment. While our victim mentality would like to keep us stuck by saying “that’s too hard; there’s not enough time; I’m too busy; I don’t need one more thing to do; my spouse/friend/whoever isn’t committing to doing that” our liberating mind says, “what will bring you the most peace, space, and greater awareness? Do that!” And I would have to say I agree with that mind J.
Give it a try, even if it is 3-10 deep breaths upon waking. I would LOVE to hear your aha’s as you are lifted out of default mode and into liberation.
Love to you and the space that awaits.
Did this post inspire you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below and if you feel someone you know could benefit from reading this post, please share!!
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"The 'deed in thought' is often underestimated. One imagines control of action is the chief accomplishment, and forgets that frequently lack of opportunity or fear of external laws are the motivations which make us so virtuous." - Hatha Yoga Pradipika Swami Svatmarama
One word: MOTIVE. We as human beings are creatures of reason; we tend to take action to create a specific outcome or avoid another. For example: I wake up an hour earlier, so that I can meditate, or I brush my teeth so that I avoid tooth decay. Sometimes we even involve others, I'll do this so that he/she will do that. Right? RIGHT!? We know we do it and it's ok, the point is to become aware of it; to notice when we are doing it and WHY.
The path of Karma Yoga requires that we take action for the sake of the action, not any other motive, and beyond that, that we RENOUNCE the fruits of that action- good or bad. How often do we take action in the moment simply because it FEELS (outside of the mind) like the 'right' thing to do- uninfluenced by societal standards, rules/beliefs we have learned, or a desire for some sort of outcome, intrinsic (too feel good about ourselves) or extrinsic (to have others tell us how good we are)? The answer lies in YOUR AWARENESS.
BECOME AWARE OF YOUR MOTIVES; this is an exercise that my Teacher gave to us during our last training in LA: set aside a few moments at the end of the day to write down a list of things you did or didn't do in ONE COLUMN. In the second column, beside each action, write down the MOTIVE behind that action (i.e. to accomplish X; to avoid Y). My husband and I have been doing this for a couple of weeks now and sharing at the end of our day. In our experience, it has been ILLUMINATING; we've grown to understand ourselves more deeply as well as found opportunities to understand one another more clearly.
May this serve your Highest Good and the Highest Good of all around you.
If this exercise serves to INSPIRE you or brings you any AHA's or QUESTIONS; I would LOVE to hear it! Please comment below. If you feel that someone you know could benefit from this message, PLEASE share with your community! Thank you thank you!