Believe What You Want Into Being

No one showed up to take my class

(that’s not what I wanted, or was it?)

This hasn’t happened in a while, a long while, but it did today. Parts of me squirmed as 9:00, then 9:07 rolled by. The wi-fi was down, so I couldn’t squeeze in any work. And, I’d already completed my personal Yoga and meditation practice.

I picked up a grown-up coloring book from the studio coffee table and a cheery yellow colored pencil, and began filling in the part that would best deliver a true sign of Spring and abundance. I kept coloring for 15 minutes, showing myself I could create something beautiful while I did my duty of waiting 15 minutes before closing the doors and heading home.

Your True Nature Is Joy

As I was coloring I recalled the reading I shared with my Restorative Yoga students from The Secret Power of Yoga, Nischala Joy Devi’s Women’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras. I read verse 1.3:

” United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature –joy.”

And the beginning of her explanation: “When consciousness reunites and remains undisturbed, our true Divine nature is revealed as joy. The expression of this joy is infinite love, which encompasses and then transforms everything it touches. Everywhere we look, we see the reflection of our Divine joyful nature.”

If my true nature is joy, then unbridled anxiety (about a no show Yoga class or even an uncertain future) has no place in me. 

A friend recently brought her hand to her chest as she said something like,

“if I just paid attention to her–my soul, which isn’t that difficult,” I could get to know who I really am, and thrive.

When we are in touch with who we really are, this is when we open ourselves up to possibilities we otherwise couldn’t have imagined.

Law of Attraction or Law of Accessibility?Two winters ago, in my darkest days, I walked by a bench where I often imagined an older, wiser, more content version of myself sitting in waiting for me. The message I received as I walked by, dragging my very being of doubt, hopelessness, and insecurity, was this:

It’s going to be even better than you could ever imagine

What happened after this moment was pretty remarkable. I started believing that could be true. My life situation didn’t quickly solve itself. I still struggled regularly with deep sorrow and lack of appetite. But what changed was my belief that I not only had everything I needed already, but that abundance was coming. When I think of the Law of Attraction, I sometime feel a little prickly, irritation and concern for us humans as we continue to think we have and know it all. What I realize though, is that this mindset prevented me from believing I could have what I want, need, and know could be available to me.

The way I frame this thinking now goes like this: I believe that all we need and could cause us to thrive is equally accessible to all of us. It doesn’t magically come closer to us once we name we want it, but we are able to believe in it’s existence and begin to see it once we do.

Bring It, God!
This goes for the sweet & the sour. I’ve been known to pray for lessons I don’t realize I am quite ready to learn. Not so many months ago, when feeling quite grounded, connected, and I’ll admit, quite high on life and this new woman I was becoming, I stood in the kitchen and exclaimed in front of my roommate (I have a witness), “Bring it God!”  Well, She did. For the past 6 months I have been diving deep with questions like:
  • What do I really want in life?
  • Why is family important to me?
  • What does an optimal partnership look like?
  • Why do I want to be financially successful?
You Know Who You Really Are

While I have been amazed at what pen on paper reveal to me in my answers, I still do not know my future. I mean, do you? Does anybody? What I am beginning to know though, is the answer to a question I began asking while lying in bed late at night as pre-teen, “Who am I?”Without words, I am beginning to feel her, my soul within, to pay attention to her, give time, space, room to breathe. And when I do, I begin feel my own permission to be angry, tired, eager, uncertain, patient.

You Get to Color in the Lines
In this journey of discovery that I pray will not end, on which I know I will continue to ask, “Bring it, God!,” I am realizing more each day that I get to color in the lines of my life. Sure there are circumstances I cannot change, unavoidable, unforeseen, and obligatory engagements. There are societal catastrophes, family illnesses, grief of friends I cannot take away. What I do get to do, though is choose is what color to paint my day with. I can choose awareness over repression, gratitude over resentment, action over apathy. In my every day, I continue to believe into being the world I really want to be a part of, I continue to act as the woman I want to become. And in acting this way, I become her. I embody my freewill, trust that what is before me is my page to color in, and I co-create a life that’s even better than I could have every imagined.

How will you choose to color your world today?

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This virtual discussion group begins Monday, June 13 and ending Monday, August 22 from 6-7pm EST (4-5pm MT).

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Let It Rain Gratitude

Photo on 11-23-15 at 6.14 PM

Sigh… A lot of that happens for me…sighing, that is, when the overwhelm hits. This year there is so much change in my life,  with no shortage of the element of surprise, that I am grateful for reminders like the one I read on my Chill app. on my phone today:

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining, is to let it rain.” 

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Even for the more regimented, stable and orderly of us, spending extended time with extended family and/or dear friends can throw us (our expectations, rather) for a curve ball. Remember that distracted shoppers, burnt turkeys, sloppy weather, slow traffic, disappointed children, or parents, are not the cause of us going haywire, but really these external influences only change other things external to us. It is us, yes, that means you and me, who are responsible for our own, eh hem, dare I say it…..attitudes of gratitude.

It’s the time of year when what we intend to do and what we see our culture promoting may come into great conflict. We might see our family members running around like chickens with heads cut off to look for the perfect farm-raised turkey, and purchase the perfect vegetables at the best prices from 3 separate grocery stores down to the last minute, stay up late, wake up early, snap at loved ones, set a perfect table……and plunk down to force a smile and ask everyone to share what they are grateful for before taking a bite. I hope this reads like an exaggeration, though I know it may only be the tip of your iceberg.

It can be challenging to be grateful. If you’re used to your CSA and your in-laws serve green beans from a can, or if you’re used to football, and your friends don’t have a TV, or if you always text your very best friend at 5:00 somewhere for your first holiday drink and your homie took you to the middle of nowhere to celebrate a romantic holiday alone and there is no cell service,  grateful can feel a million miles away. But tension,  frustration, and disappointment can feel very close. And these are not emotions that help us to digest anything (food, experiences, anything that comes in through our sense organs) well.

So, let it rain. First, let it rain. Then, if you can muster it, close you eyes. Breathe deeply, let out a sigh or a yelp, or a favorite bird call, or one you made up. Then note one thing, as small as you can imagine even, for which you are truly grateful. To be grateful for something, doesn’t require it to give you eternal bliss, or unending happiness. Notice something in which you see value, in which you can rest, even if only momentarily. Start perhaps with seeing something that benefits you, for which you did not have to strive. Hmmm. It may just be that sigh, or noticing your breath is now slower, that sighing made you laugh, or that, despite the snow and clouds and ice, you have heat!

Let it rain, dear friend.

And after it is all said and done and your full enough to burst, or grateful you minded your body’s nudge to take it easy, after it all, rest.

And the next morning, log onto mindbodyonline.com and from the cozy of your couch, pjs, digestive tea, and heated home…

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Do this for your self of someone in whom you have a new spark of gratitude.

Sale is Friday, November 27  through Sunday, November 29. If you have any trouble with your order, please shoot me an email. If I don’t see it until after the sale closes I will honor the time of your note and your discount.

May you laugh, and get wet in the rain of new found gratitude.

Namaste.

Andrea
*20% does not apply to privately scheduled Office Yoga classes or Ayurveda Workshops, but there is a great workshop coming up!!….

The Lotus is Coming Out of the Muck

When things are shit. I mean when you literal feel stuck in the most bug-ridden, stickiest mess of your life, the things that steadied you may no longer carry the same potency– you are, afterall, stuck in a grotesque position–the problem is that ripping yourself free might mean that you lose a favorite boot or sandal and have to walk barefoot through the muck for a while. It may mean that you have to admit you played some part in getting yourself in this pile in the first place. It may mean that it gets worse before it gets better, because let’s admit, standing stuck in mud sucks, every step is laborious, but pulling your foot out of the boot to scamper stickily away will feel pretty nasty for a time, too. Sure, you’ll be free of your immoveable position, but you may end up knee deep in stink before you make it to the shower or at least to dry land. All that to say, that the way we define success in these seeming life-sucking situations must change, or else we also succumb to judging ourselves for not smelling like roses when we’re covered in shit, it’s just not realistic.

I am reminded of the end of a long, hot day of backpacking in the Porcupine mountains—heels blistered, the water ran out, stomach grumbling and menstrual cramps setting in—attempting to pump water through the filter only clogged it in the muck of a leech, deer fly, and mosquito ridden pond. That night it rained, and donning packs to hike the next day was delayed by airing camping gear dry on a rope between trees. Ironically, this memory recollection more often brings laughs and joy than the distress that may have been felt in the moment.

Of late, my day to day, breath to breath has felt much like that evening. I have gone from being a planner, thinking months ahead, plotting dreams and plans for work and pleasure, to only being able to bat away the bugs of the present moment—coaxing myself to get out of bed, to eat, to move, to sit quietly and breathe and not jump all over myself if the tears flow anyway. I am learning to redefine success, and at times to let the bugs buzz without batting them. Recent successes have been:

  • Allowing myself to sleep as much as needed
  • Jogging 5 minutes without stopping or having pain in knee or hip
  • Reading scripture and sitting in the belief that all will be made beautiful, in fact, the beauty is all around me even now
  • Moving my body through 30 minutes of Yoga asana
  • Sitting in 25 minutes of nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and coming back to my breath, even after the sobbing co-opted a few minutes of my focus
  • Taking myself on a date to a favorite bar, alone!
  • Appreciating my physical appearance and self-care practices
  • Leaving my phone at home when on a walk in nature or turning it to silent for an hour at a time
  • Reflecting on my needs, intentions and expectations before making even the smallest decisions: what to eat, whether or not to get out of bed, how to spend time while sitting in the unsettling looming of the unknown
  • Smiling without expecting a smile in return
  • Eating something good for me, slowly, without also reading, texting, or otherwise distracting myself (other than my raging thoughts)
  • Preparing food for ailing loved ones, sitting quietly beside and respecting a gentle “no, thank you” when help is offered
  • Swinging my leg over my darling bicycle and peddling into town to write this, albeit 2 hours later than previously intended—no judgment, Andi, you’re here now

In times like these it is crucial to come back to my intention of self-acceptance, believing I am beautiful, whether or not those I wish would tell me so are able to say it—I have found that telling myself this is more powerful, anyway!— to come back to my breath, to notice that an inhale and an exhale are gifts in themselves, not to be taken for granted, they are the essence of human life. In months like this one, when time passes too slowly and it is only the reminders I choose to repeat in mind, like I am able to cope with this moment (thanks to a dear friend for this mantra), or I want this or that, but I don’t need it. I am content, I can accept reality, I can accept not knowing (but of course, I wish I knew—again, no judgment). In times like these, success becomes as simple as keeping my commitments, as staying present, keeping the awareness that I am worth life, that there are still those who benefit from my presence, including me. And the biggest successes come when I can own that my emotions are responses to what is actually happening, but not what is actually happening itself. Then I can let lips part and teeth come together, cheeks lift and beam like I mean it, until I do.

Rather than lofty goals, my success is being redefined by self-imposed limitations that involve avoiding putting myself in a situation that could give me enough information to bring up, again and again, pain from which I have been healing. (I am not always good at this. Turns out delaying knowing a painful truth is just as challenging as delaying gratification. Why do I crave knowing even the ugly things?) It also involves making some changes for myself. In times like this, it can feel as if I have no control over my own life, so I take some: I start running again, I let myself sleep in if I need to, I sit quietly and cry and pray and scream instead of calling someone else every time I panic, I cut off all my hair, and then do it again, and enjoy the unending compliments, and more so my joy and freedom in the burden feeling lighter and lifted from my shoulders.

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To sum it up, Pema Chodron in her beloved book, Comfortable With Uncertainty (pp. 79-82) does it so well:

“We practice catching our mind hardening into fixed views and do our best to soften. Through softening, the barriers come down.

There’s no problem with being where you are right now…We can be where we are and at the same time leave wide open the possibility of being able to expand far beyond where we are now in the course of our lifetime…As we continue to relax where we are, our opening expands. When we say, ‘May I have happiness,’ or ‘May I be free of suffering,’ or ‘May any individual have happiness or be free of suffering,’ we are saying that it is the potential of a human being to expand our capacity for opening and caring limitlessly…the full human capacity for connecting with love and compassion, which is limitless, free-flowing warmth…This is our human potential: to connect with the true state of affairs. It begins with where we are.”

This refocusing on equanimity, on contentment, on undisturbed stability is the core of my new perspective of success. While nothing actually feels stable around me, I settle myself in the knowing that life continues to gust, blaze, bloom, wave, grow, die, and change; I imagine being like the rock at the shore allowing the waves to polish my sharp edges or like the iris outside my work building, bending and swaying with the Spring breeze, while staying rooted deeply in the soil that allowed it to bloom. Never has life been about achieving happiness. Ooh, did I burst your pretty little dream-like bubble? Happiness is fleeting. “It’s joy that is peace in action, and peace that is joy at rest,” says the beloved Anne Lamott, in her recent book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. These words, joy and peace, sustain themselves when feet are stuck in the muck of life, when all the air we breathe seems stagnant, when we may have to pick our feet out of soiled shoes and run through the sludge in order to get free and clean again.

So what can you do if you feel stuck due to the uncontrollable chaos around you—be it deep loss or disturbing change you never saw coming? Perhaps today is in allowing yourself to not do. Perhaps you sit quietly by with your screaming, sobbing mind a moment longer before raging against your own emotional machine. These emotions, they may be trying to tell you something! And I have noticed that when I can acknowledge them to myself (and not first pour them out to others), I can accept them, I can love me through them, in a way that no comforting word or even embrace can. Sigh. I am beginning to recognize that no love can soothe like the silent, humble loves of God and self, and I mourn. I mourn the loss of who I thought was me, or the needs I thought I had—comfort from others in words and hugs, attention, time, and affirmation, and then I bid them farewell and celebrate the sustaining spirit within me. Turns out having 10s of close friends offering empathy deeper than I imagined, can never solve my struggle, will not resolve my pain. This beginning to clear, this ability to look out rather than down, to lift leg over bike on a day of no real commitments other than to myself comes alone from the faith that God has this. It is too big for any human to hold, and all I can do is stand beside myself in the deep and compassionate love of Christ, hold my own hand, rest my own head on shoulder, whisper my own sweet nothings into my ear, catch puddles of giant, warm tears on chest and lap and notice my love for me growing. This is success. This is more successful than 7 days/week of neti and nasya, than regular meditation or bed and rise time, even more than smooth digestion, and even more than sustained positive relationship with another.

This possibility, and actuality of moments of stillness, of gentle appreciation for who I have been created to be, this is a success beyond any I could have ever imagined. And it can be achieved even while struggling to move slowly through the mud, even when noticing I am inhaling and exhaling is the only progress I make. For, in fact, I have not changed in these moments. I am still a daughter of God, I am still fearfully and wonderfully made, and so are you. The thing is, I did not learn any of this upon summiting a blissful mountaintop. I am only learning this by trudging through it all, pulling leeches from feet and waiting for the iodine to purify the water when the fast acting pump is broken. It is only here that I can see that it is possible to find peace amidst the pain. When I lift my heavy boot to move, that peace becomes joy, because here I am, moving, slowly and aware, not running away, not standing still and afraid, but taking my time to preserve myself in the grace of God.

May you begin to look up today, to take in the beauty beyond your gaze upon a blurry horizon. May you feel the sun warm your face as it peeks through the clouds. May you invite eyes to close and invite a smile across your face despite the darkness. May you redefine success, and see yourself like a beautiful lotus, making it’s way out of the muck.