Preparing for the New Year

As another year comes to a close, we  begin to prepare for the New Year.  Many people will make New Year’s Resolutions, only to break them by the end of January.  Here I offer you an alternative way to begin 2013.  A more mindful, purpose-filled new tradition that will have long lasting effects.

On New Year’s Day, my children, my husband, and I practice a burning bowl ceremony and then we set our intentions for the new year.  We begin with our burning bowl ceremony.   First, we each write down thoughts or actions that did not serve us the previous year on mini pieces of paper.  Last year, on my paper, I wrote “Good- bye fear.  Good-bye thoughts of lack and limitation.”  My youngest said good bye to getting angry so quickly.  Then after sharing them aloud, we burn the papers and watch our negative thoughts and behaviors go up in smoke.  The burning bowl ceremony can be very freeing, especially for children, as they experience what it means to say good-bye to thoughts and behaviors that do not serve them.

After this ceremony, we set our intentions for the New Year. We each write down what we’d like to have happen in our lives during the next year.  This time we place our intentions in our New Year’s treasure box to keep until next New Year’s.  We decorated our New Year’s treasure box many years ago as a family. We enjoy emptying the box the following year and reading the intentions that we set the previous year.  This has become a beautiful tradition and one that we all look forward to each year.

A new addition to our tradition that I am implementing this year is to create Intention Cards for us to keep visible (on a bedroom mirror or refrigerator) or to carry with us in our wallets.  This will allow us to revisit our intentions throughout the year and to be more mindful of the changes we wish to make.  I have some blank business cards that we will decorate and write our new intentions for 2013.  I’ll let you  now next year how this addition to our tradition worked!

Wishing you all a peaceful, prosperous, healthy 2013!

Namaste,

Lisa

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Help! I’m in a funk and I can’t get out!

Perhaps it was the strong energy from the New Moon yesterday (July 18th) or because my hormones are a bit unbalanced at the moment, but whatever the cause I began to feel the dark cloud of funk-dom close in on me yesterday.  It began as  feeling kinda out of sync, nothing specific, just not my usual happy self.  The feeling has only intensified today.  Now if you’ve never found yourself falling head first into the abyss of funk-dom, then you may stop reading now.  For those of you who have experienced the insidious, very stubborn dark cloud descend upon you without so much as a warning, then this is for you!

The great thing about living a yogic lifestyle is that I don’t stay in that funky place for too long anymore.  I used to.  I have a tendency toward depression.  I’ve battled with bouts of depression all of my life, including a debilitating case of postpartum depression after the birth of our 3rd child.  It was this severe case of depression that led me to discover the trans formative powers of yoga. (I blogged about Postpartum Depression earlier this year)  Since my first yoga class ten years ago, I have devoted much of my life to deepening my personal practice which has given me the tools to help others.

Here’s my go to list to help me remove the dark cloud of funk-dom when it creeps in:

1.  I get on my yoga mat.  For some reason, when our negative thoughts begin to take over, the last thing we want to do is what we need to do to escape that thinking.  We may convince ourselves that we are too busy to practice.  But it just simply is not true. We make time every day for things far less important than our mental and spiritual health.  When I first started practicing, I thought that if I didn’t have an hour to devote to my practice, I shouldn’t even bother.  What I’ve come to learn, though, is that after years of consistent practice, my body automatically goes into a relaxed state when my butt first touches the mat.  After years of practice, I can get my body to switch over from that fight or flight state of stress over to a more peaceful, stress-less place just by sitting on my mat.  It truly doesn’t matter if you  have 10 minutes or an hour, just get out your mat and practice.  Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!

2.  I focus on my breath.  Even if you don’t have your yoga mat with you,  you always have your breath.  Sometimes,  just bringing your attention to your breath will help to bring you down a couple of notches.  I’ve blogged about alternate nostril breathing and extendend exhale breathing in past blogs.  Both are easily accessible and are great ways to reduce stressful thinking.

3.  I get out my gratitude journal.  This seemingly easy activity is so powerful.  Try this:  the next time you are in a funk, list 10 things you are truly grateful for at that moment and WHY.  For example, today while in the throes of my self created pity party, I looked over at the preciously wrapped gifts my children had bought a week ahead of time for my birthday next week.  In my journal, I wrote: “Today I am grateful for my thoughtful, generous, self-less, caring children because they fill my life with unspeakable joy and love.”   This is has been one of my favorite daily routines. The challenge is coming up with 10 truly unique things to be grateful each day! It’s fun to look back over past entries at the multitude of blessings you have in your life.

4.  Phone a friend.  Talking to a trusted, caring friend can help get you out of your head.  We all have friends that can “talk us off the ledge” at the times when we need it or friends that will  just quietly listen and support us when we need that.  I had the blessing to have coffee with a dear friend this morning.  Just being with someone who shares your similar views on life can be the boost you need to move you out of your funk.

5.  If all else fails, get outta Dodge!  Sometimes, just a change in scenery can help lift our spirits. Whether it is going for a drive,  going for a walk, or getting an ice cream cone, just getting away for awhile can help change your mood.  At around 4:30 this afternoon, I announced to the kids that we were going for ice cream before dinner!  An unexpected little treat can be so good for the soul!

I hope that the next time you are in a funk, these strategies will help you get out!

Namaste,

Lisa

“The Yogini Next Door”

Defying Gravity

On the way home from taking my girls into Chicago to stay with their grandparents for a few days, I took advantage of being in control of what I listened to all the way home.  (Those of you with children know that from toddler-hood through teen-hood, a mother’s car stereo is not her own.)  I had prepared for my journey home by excitedly packing my Wicked CD for the drive back.

It had been awhile since I’d listened to Wicked from beginning to end uninterrupted.  I sang along loudly and unabashedly.  What kind of surprised me was that as I sang along to Defying Gravity, I started to cry.  As a side note, I am deeply affected by music, feeling it on a very personal level.  I can be uplifted and changed through music.  As I sang the words to Defying Gravity, the words expressed  perfectly how I want to live my life.  I felt this longing for more, knowing that I am here for a much deeper purpose.

Elphaba sings, “Something has changed within me.  Something is not the same.  I’m through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game.  Too late for second guessing. Too late to go back to sleep.  It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap. It’s time to try defying gravity! ……As someone told me lately, everyone deserves a chance to fly!”

The journey that I began 10 years ago when I started practicing yoga opened my eyes to different way of living. Over the years, my awareness has grown and continues to grow every day.  Something truly changed within me and I am not the same.   I used to live for others, worried about what other people thought of me, not really even knowing who I was as a separate individual.  It is not a fulfilling way to live. Through quiet introspection I have discovered who I am as an individual and what my purpose is while I am inhabiting this planet.  My purpose is to help everyday women live more peaceful, more purpose-filled lives through the practice of yoga, meditation, and mindful living.

I know I am here for more.  We are all here for so much more. The trick is to drop our egos at the door, see one another as God sees us, and feel free to be who we were meant to be.

We all deserve our chance to fly!

Namaste,

Lisa

“The Yogini Next Door”

And then the walls came crashing down…

My last post was at the height of my euphoria following a most powerful healing retreat.  Well, as they say, what goes up, must come down. Alright, maybe not always, but in this case I crashed back down hard.   Holy shit, did I crash.

I came back from the retreat fired up ready to move forward toward my goal of reaching more people through my yoga teaching and coaching.  I spent the week reading, writing, planning, meditating, and training.  I’ve been dreaming of quitting my job and committing myself fully to my life’s passion of yoga for awhile now.  But this time felt different.  I felt so certain that I was going to make a living teaching this yogic lifestyle to others through workshops, writing, speaking, and coaching that I could literally feel it in my soul;  I could see myself living the life I’ve always wanted to live.

I guess things got a little too real for my ego.  ‘Cuz she said,  “Oh, no ya don’t sister!”  in a big way!  Stinkin’ thinkin’ started to creep in Saturday.  My ego was saying, “Are you kidding!  Who are you to think you can coach others on how to live more peaceful, purpose-filled lives!?” and “Oh, and don’t forget you only have 2 people signed up for your next yoga workshop!” and my personal fave “You aren’t even that good of a yoga teacher!”.

In response, I answered as compassionately as I possibly could, “Not now, ego, I have work to do!”  I got out my gratitude journal, wrote down 10 things I was grateful for in my life and I went to bed for the night.

Egos are insidious, powerful parts of us, though.  I woke up Sunday morning sicker than I have been in years with a kick your ass to the curb kind of migraine.  Well played ego,well played!

Thankfully, I have a wonderful acupuncture healer friend who I have on speed dial.  The next day, I had an acupuncture treatment to relieve the pain.  However, as I was laying there with my needles in, I spoke directly to my ego to assure her that I would take better care of her throughout this journey.  I realized that instead of allowing and trusting in the process, I began to force the change.  I promised myself to take a much more gentle, loving approach to the journey.

Gay Hendrick’s referred to this experience in his book, The Big Leap, as an “upper limit problem”.

The gorgeous and brilliant Marie Forleo, life coach extraordinaire, elaborated on the upper limit theory. Here’s the basic idea: “Each of has an internal thermometer for how much success, wealth, happiness, love and intimacy we’ll let ourselves experience. That’s our upper limit setting. Kind of like our success comfort zone.

When we exceed our internal thermostat setting, and life gets super duper OMG good (we have an influx of money, get healthy, find a great relationship) — we unconsciously do things to sabotage ourselves, so we can drop back to the old, familiar place where we feel in control.

Upper limit problems can manifest like this: You’ve just had a huge win, and then you get in an accident, break a limb, fry your computer, over-drink, over-eat, over-spend, start a fight with your significant other, get really sick, etc. You know, fun self-sabotaging stuff like that.”

So why am I telling you all of this and why should you care?

Because if you are ready to make huge changes in your life, you will come up against your upper limits.  And when you do, you may want to back away from the pain and retreat back to your comfort zone, and ditch your dreams. Don’t!  Feel the discomfort, feel the pain.  Acknowledge the discomfort and pain, be gentle with yourself, and move through it.  Find a trusted healer, coach, or holistic practitioner to help you through it if necessary.

Just remember, the world needs us to dream big and stop playing small.  As Susan Jeffers tells us, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

With gratitude,

Namaste,

Lisa

Getting Out of Our Own Way

I attended a Tibetan Buddhist Healing Retreat over the weekend. I left blissfully empty of all the junk that I’d been carrying around with me.  But almost paradoxically filled with so much love I could have burst.

I spent two days basking in the afterglow of the healing.  Then, as Jack Kornfield’s aptly titled book says, “After the Ecstasy, The Laundry”.  Simply put, life happened and my glow started to fade…

I know in my brain that this is how life works.  You know, the whole Yin/Yang thing of life.  But I still get that pang of “Oh,no! I”m not ready for it to end yet!”

Flash forward to this morning when my mom (whom I attended the retreat with) and I were texting back and forth bemoaning that we’d lost the bliss.  I actually began typing the words, “Trying desperately to hold onto it….”  I looked down briefly at the words I’d just typed and literally laughed out loud at my momentary ignorance in thinking I could ‘hold onto’  or grasp or force this blissful state.

This evening while I lay in Savasana after a lovely asana practice and listening to Krishna Das chant, I was taken back to those words that I’d typed earlier in the day about holding onto our bliss.  This time, I saw those words from a different angle or rather they were revealed to me from a different place.

We can’t ‘hold onto’ or grasp after our bliss because it doesn’t ever go away!  That moment of bliss, that feeling of emptiness while at the same time holding the whole world in your heart, is who we all truly are when everything else is stripped away.  Our challenge then is not to hold on, but to get of our own way.

With a Heart Full of Gratitude and Love for YOU!

Namaste,

Lisa