Wake up alive

The feeling on the train back to my home in Tokyo after a heart opening trip to Bali is hard to explain. I felt energized in the mornings, I was relaxed by the simplicity and I fell in love with a simple lifestyle & warm culture. When I woke up on the last day feeling so in love with life I took time to look back at the last time I felt that way.  But I couldn’t remember.  This shook me awake and made me start thinking about what I want my life to look like…

I want to enjoy my life everyday.  I want to be so in love with it, that I beam bright energy.  I want to live MY life, not the life that impresses others or is the “right” or most “reasonable” path.  I only get this life once and I am ready to live it differently!  I am ready to be creative again, dedicate myself to health and be surrounded by overwhelming feelings of warmth and love.

I’ve never felt as relaxed and at peace as I did in Bali last week. It was incredible and I feel blessed to have been able to share such a beautiful experience with one of my best girlfriends Gill.

I am ready to make a drastic change and direct my life down a new path. And with me, I will carry the bright energy and peace I have within.  I know I am ready to loosen up, shake my fears and start down a new path.

See ya in Indo…

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Love, balance and humility.

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Balance and moderation; two things that roll off the tongue nicely and are so easy to preach about, yet sometimes are a little more than tricky to practice.  Things in my life have been a little off balance recently and so I have opened the books to remind myself why such harmony is so important.

“The sisya (pupil) should above all treasure love, moderation and humilty. Love begets courage, moderation creates abundance and humility generates power. Courage without love is brutish. Abundance without moderation leads to over-indulgence and decay. Power without humility breeds arrogance and tyranny.” B.K.S. Iyengar

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This week is all about love, balance and humility.  I will be gentle and treat myself (body, mind & soul) and others with love.  I will practice moderation, pay attention to what is necessary and act out of good intention. I will be humble and graceful, be open and ready to learn.

It all seems so simple, and it is, just as long as we keep our focus.

Fear Not.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is that holds me back, makes me hesitate to take the next step, afraid to enter into the unknown….FEAR.  So I turn to 3 of my greatest teachers in life to learn more about the big F-word…

Fear can be paralyzing.  It can stop you in your tracks and you cannot budge, like you’ve been dumped into sludgy wet cement.  But as Michael Jordan once said, “Fear is an illusion”.  Fear is not real.

For something that is not real, it tends to have a lot of power.  When we allow fear to settle in, the discomfort can be great and can lead to physical and emotional stress.  Gandhi understood the force behind fear and stated, “Fear is not a disease of the body; fear kills the soul.”

Krishnamacharya described fear as “Perhaps the most secret aspect of avidya (misunderstanding) and its expression is found on many levels of our everyday life.” He said that fear can be expressed as uncertainty, doubt, anxiety, shyness, and hesitation.  My stomach turns when I think about those expressions of fear.  And yet most of these expressions of fear are part of our everyday lives.

All this talk about FEAR has me thinking about what it is that will fight in the face of fear…

LOVE, COURAGE, PEACE, TRUTH, TRUST, JOY. These are my weapons of choice when fear paralyzes me, causes my soul to suffer and makes me anxious.  So when that wave of fear pours over you like a heavy salty thrash of the ocean, dig for faith and find one of the expressions that will drive fear away.

Simply your life.

“Know yourself.  Know what is good.  Know when to stop” 
~ Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher.

Last week I heard Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia say “The Hardest thing in the world is to simply your life.  It’s so easy to make it complex.”  Yet it should be our goal to simplify, get closer to who we are and listen to our own heart beats, not the nagging of the world around us.

I have spent the summer running around, traveling on boats, trains, planes and automobiles, trying to be involved in everything while adding more and more to my ‘To Do’ list.  Finally the chaos conquered.  In the hectic state of my life, I lost touch with myself and forgot what is good and forgot when to stop.  I pushed a little too hard and my body put on the breaks.  I got sick.

When your mind and body are not in good relations, your mind tends to over complicate and create too many “To dos”, eventually forcing your body to speak up and tell you to stop.

Remembering simplicity, knowing yourself and knowing what is good for you will keep you in good health; mentally, physically and spiritually.

 

Be Truthful, Gentle and Fearless.

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It’s like I’m on an insane roller coaster ride and am doing my best to hold on tight.  I keep telling myself that my daily yoga, running and cycling keep me sane.  But in all reality, my breath is keeping me alive.  When you don’t know what else to do.  Breathe.

Though this turbulent time, this is my mantra…

Be Truthful, Gentle and Fearless. ~Gandhi

Gandhi is one of my many and one of my favorite teachers.  A man who encompassed those three qualities so gracefully.

Be truthful with yourself.  This is not an option, it is so necessary. Honor every thought, feeling & emotion, and trust where it is coming from.  Do not lie to yourself to get through a tough situation, find out why it is challenging you.  When you practice truth with yourself, honestly with others comes more naturally.

Be gentle in every action, thought & encounter.  Breathe before you make decisions, it helps you to stay conscious and committed to your every action and thought.

Be fearless; lean into fear.  Stand up straight.  Don’t be stingy.  When you are faced with some challenge that seems too big…stop, break it down into smaller pieces and overcome each of the small parts.  Do not allow a big situation to intimidate you.  Know your ability.  Know you can and do make a difference with every thought and action.

A big shout out to my teacher Gandhi for such words of wisdom, grace and fearlessness.  We have so much to learn from you!

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Expand your capacity. Exercise your willpower.

“Let the goal be to reach Perfection, but be content with a little progress toward perfection every day.  Overambition can be destructive of sustainable progress.  Perfection is ultimately only with God.  So what is the value of perfection if it can be found only in God? We are creatures who can dream of perfection, and it is this dream that inspires one to improve.  It is this dream that ignites the effort needed to transform.  Perfection creates interest in art and life.  The instinct that draws us toward the dream of perfection is really a desire for God.

Sometimes our body is willing, but our mind is weak and says ‘We don’t have time,’ or ‘Forget it, it’s not worth all the effort.’  Sometimes it is our mind that is willing, but our body is weak and says ‘I’m really too tired for all the trouble.’  A practitioner must focus between the mind and the body, listening to the counsel of each, but letting the intelligence and the soul make the true decision, for this is where real willpower and real dedication are found.  Do to your capacity while always trying to extend your capacity.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar (Light on Life)

By practicing every day, I am amazed to see the changes that can occur but am also learning that it is possible to do the work yet remain stagnant.  If I show up and do the work everyday, but do not push my capacity, I will not go further, I will not learn more, I will not go deeper.  But if I show up every day and focus and apply effort and dedicate myself to expanding my capacity, my practice then deepens and I discover that I can do what I didn’t think was possible.

Chaturanga Dandasana.

Chaturanga Dandasana.  The pose that I want to perfect, and most importantly the transition into this pose without dropping my knees, like a girlie push up.  When I stepped on my mat today and set my intention, I focused on continuous effort.  Committing to breathe and lean into all challenges. There was a lot of focused breathing and sweating going on…and voilà, I was Chataranga-ing all over the place!

It is best to acknowledge that something is going to be tough, and it might not be the thing you want to do, but chances are it’s good for you.  And before you know it, willpower and dedication are carrying the load and the effort seems to be much less than before.

Mama knows best

“May today there be peach within you.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.  May  you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.  May you be content with yourself, just the way you are.

Let this knowledge settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.  It is there for each and every one of us.”  ~Mother Theresa

Mothers always know best, and I have a feeling the same is true for Mother Theresa.  A woman that exuded love and graciously helped and cared for so many beings.  She is teaching me to start by loving myself, being content with who I am, and celebrating this life.

I was feeling awfully unbalanced this morning and was wavering side to side as I practiced my yoga this morning.  This is because I am not feeling grounded.  Overwhelmed with feelings of where I want to be and wondering how I can get there…my mind chatter has been loud in the past few days, causing me to question myself and my path.  But I am focusing on creating a peace within; stopping to breathe, exercising my faith, and letting go…

May I someday have the grace and the light of such an inspiring woman, and share it with the world…

Don’t Stop!

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.” ~Sir Winston Churchill

Yesterday, I wrote  a blog post about Persistence and tenacity and I cannot stop thinking about the importance of energy and momentum.  Approach your life with a fire and an energy that keeps your breath and effort flowing.  To stand still means to pass up opportunity and growth.  It is this change and challenge that builds our character, makes us more of who we are, and brings us to amazing new places we could never imagine.

You may need to get creative, change your approach, or you may realize that your goal changes and that’s all good.  Just be sure that you are exercising your resourcefulness, your resiliency and your trusty tenacity!  Whatever you do….Don’t Stop!

Happy Friday My People!

You, my child, are divine.

“My beloved child, break your heart no longer.
  Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart. 
You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality. 
The time has come. Your time. To celebrate. And to see the goodness that you are.
  You, my child, are divine. You are pure. You are sublimely free. 
You are God in disguise. And you are always perfectly safe. 
Do not fight the dark. Just turn on the light.
 Let go, and breathe into the goodness that you are.”
  ~Swami Kripalvanandaji

Look inward and celebrate all that you are.  Do not get caught up in what others are doing or how they are doing it.  Walk your path in peace.  You are where you are at because that is where you need to be.  Walk in your own truth and celebrate your freedom.

Firmness in body creates firmness in mind.

This is the teaching that brings me back to yoga time and again.  When life gets busy and there doesn’t seem to be enough time for strengthening of the body, I start to lose my mind.

“Health begins with firmness in body, deepens to emotional stability, then leads to intellectual clarity, wisdom, and, finally, the unveiling of the soul.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

This is a lesson that sticks with me every day.  I repeat it to myself when I am slouching, when I get tired and want to be lazy, when I hesitate getting out of bed for my morning practice.  But I remember that my all will suffer if I allow my body to become weak.

3 weeks ago I got back on my mat and recommitted to my ashtanga yoga practice. 21 days in, practicing every morning (except moon days), I feel like a new woman!  So I have started Ashtamber….my 100 day commitment to Strength in Body, Mind & Soul.

Working on this one today…

Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimattanasana

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