Meet Yourself Where You’re At

Actions aligned with self-awareness offer a gateway to our goals that will continue to serve our highest good. 

Tagging along from last month, I’ve been working toward supporting myself with some daily routines. It has been an enlightening experience. I can feel nourishing benefits when I do my practices daily, and can certainly feel the difference and a bit out of alignment, if I miss them. In this process, I have been reminded of a valuable part of creating any routine.

Where-you're-at

If you attend my yoga classes, you will know this is an essential part of my teaching. I encourage each yogi to meet themselves where they are at… to follow their own inner guidance, feel the sensations in their body, notice their energy, and allow these qualities of their awareness to lead the way. This is why I offer modifications throughout the practice, to allow each individual to make the practice their own. In essence, meeting yourself where you are at connects you to your whole self.

This self-awareness  is extremely valuable as you connect with what is true in the moment and choose your action accordingly. You are able to recognize when you are striving for something which is more than what you actually need, or is necessarily available to you in that moment. When instead you could be giving yourself more compassion or encouragement in other ways.

As well, when you work toward a goal, your present moment awareness helps you take action in alignment with your current state of being. It also encourages you to notice when your action is perhaps not in alignment with your current state, your needs or values. This is an integral to any goal. You need to notice how it is evolving and if it feels right for you still. As we move toward goals, sometimes circumstances change and we need to be able to alter things if needed. Being present helps to achieve this.

Consider incorporating practices that support this regular connection of self-awareness in your day. There are many modalities accessible to us. My favourites include, yoga, meditation, being in nature, dancing… others might include playing/listening to music, any uninterrupted physical activity, tai chi or qi gong, etc. What practice do you connect to and enjoy that would help you increase your self-awareness? Developing this awareness on a regular basis helps to be able to check in whenever you need to during your day.

Back to my evolving routine and the lesson I was reminded of. As I reflect on my initial routine last month, it makes me think of a bootcamp. I was hard-lined to make my routine work exactly as I imagined. Then I hit a wall, I was dead tired at the end of the first week. I knew there was something important I needed and wasn’t paying attention to.

I no longer desire to make a routine that is so strict that I lose track of myself in the process. What I prefer today is a routine that works with my ebb and flow. It gives me easy structure that I can follow each day without compromising myself and my values. Instead my routine can actually help cultivate my awareness of how my body is feeling, the thoughts present in my mind, and deal with those things you just can’t plan for. As a result, I can adjust my routine accordingly.

This means that I am actually cultivating more presence in my life, noticing what I need, and aligning myself with the practices and daily routines that serve my ever-changing body, mind, and spirit. This also help me connect to my heart’s callings.

If you were to meet yourself where you’re at, what would be different about you? How would you benefit? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

With love and light,
Brenda

Supporting Yourself with Routine

The way you carry out your day can have a profound impact on how you feel and what you can accomplish. How does your routine support you?

I recently returned from my second 10 day segment of yoga teacher training, as I work toward my 500 hour certification, with the Himalayan Institute. This center in Pennsylvania offers a deeply supportive space to nurture and grow within. As an institute that accommodates around 100 people with a small community also living nearby, you really begin to feel like you’re at home and the people become your extended family.

I anticipated this second journey for months, knowing how supportive and connected I felt the first time I went in the spring. I assumed a similar experience this time around, and though there was a similar structure, it is interesting how you meet each experience based on where you are in the moment. While most of the structure was the same, I notice myself entering into the structure slightly differently.

This time I ended up with a single room, previously I shared a space. This in itself created an altered environment as I was alone more often than before. That said, this alone time gave me more time to reflect and notice my own rhythms.

During my previous experience, I didn’t really have a specific routine daily, I showered at different times of day, had various beverages of coffee, tea, etc, and got up and went to bed at different times. Though I loved the experience, I completely crashed when it was finished. So this time, I found myself entering into the 10 day experience desiring to find a way that felt more balanced.

On our second day there, we learned about dinacharya (ayurvedic daily routine) in an afternoon segment on Ayurveda. The class triggered a memory for me, how in previous years when I was working at the bank, that I felt my best when I had a supportive daily routine. Back then, I would get up each morning with enough time to do some yoga and meditation, get ready and have some time to relax before heading out on my day. At lunch I would go for a walk and often each lunch a nearby park. Reconnecting with the way I felt by having that time for myself during the day, I knew I was hearing this information in divine timing.

RoutineI immediately chose to implement an easy routine for my remaining days; I woke up at 5:15am, I had a shower and got ready. Then I went to morning prayers and sat in meditation for about 20 mins. At 6:30am I made my way down to our morning yoga practice. For breakfast, I tried to choose food that felt warm, grounding, and nourishing. After my food had a about 30 minutes to digest, I would take a walk somewhere on the property. Then as I moved through my day with morning classes, a wholesome lunch, afternoon classes, a light supper, and evening class, I would take a moment to notice if I needed to relax, get some fresh air, take a walk in nature, or connect with classmates. I followed my intuition.

After experiencing this structure to my day, a sense of balance and purpose emerged. I was able to be attentive in class during these long days, I slept well, and even started to feel better with some digestive issues I have been experiencing.

Upon arriving back home, I decided it was time to rediscover my daily routine and find something that would feel supportive now on a continual basis.

Depending on the flow of your life, this can be simple or a challenge. For me, one week my partner and I are alone (just us and the dog), the next week we get to spend the week with his children, while also running to school and activities. Finding my routine is likely going to take some experimenting over the next few weeks. While I am currently only a few days into exploring my routine, I feel content each time I complete my morning ritual.

One of the most important things about creating a structured routine, is to make it easy, something that can flow without much decision-making, but with mindful intention. We want to be present in mind and body to our routine, so we can alter as needed, as our needs change over time.

While I am currently mostly focused on my morning routine, in order for my morning to flow with ease, I need to pay attention to my evening. Heading to bed at a time that is supportive to my ability to get up in the morning is essential.

Eventually, I want to look at the whole day. What can I do each day that will feel grounding, supportive, and enticing enough to follow? The sense I get is a routine that holds my energy on both sides of my day, morning and night, so I can show up my best in the middle to the world around me.

If you decide to explore with your routine, is it unfolds notice what changes about you. In the past, I know if felt more aligned with my true intentions, more confident in my abilities, and my intuition heightened.

I invite you to take a look at your daily routines and discover what shifts, intentions, or new actions would support you the most in your life today. And let me know what you discover! I’d love to hear from you.

Love and light,
Brenda

What’s this judgement about anyway?

If you were face to face with a critic, how easily could you overcome their views on behalf of your own dreams and desires?

What if this critic was within you?

Our inner critic has a strong influence on each of us. Often keeping us from taking meaningful action in our lives. It also has an impact how we relate to others.

It shows itself through this voice repeating in our minds, setting the bar so high it feels unfathomable, keeping us “safe” from potential harm, and holding us back from possibility. Don’t get me wrong, I think it truly means well…that’s the safety part. But what it does as a result, is keeps us stuck, standing in mud so thick we can barely move.

Then I invite you to notice how your critic sees the world around you. It seems to rear its head out of nowhere, with comments and judgements about others. Just the other day, I found myself judging this girl running on the spot at the corner I was driving by. I felt an urge of frustration at her for running on the spot while she waited for the light (ridiculous I know). I had a moment where a story come up about why I didn’t like her. I caught myself immediately and soon realized the truth of the story. I actually wanted what she was doing for my health and well-being. So I smirked and offered myself compassion for not having run in a while.

I’ve also had conversations lately with clients and even my step-daughter about how judgment is playing a big role in their lives, being afraid to try new steps and take action. In each conversation, it seemed to come down to realizing there is a judgement or criticism at play. Then discovering what was needed to allow them to try… with the possibility of potentially failing, having to try again, letting go of perfectionism or noticing if there is a story playing that kept them head strong in the judgement actually happening.

Many of us are worried about what others will think, and that also plays a big part in our actions. We worry that they will judge us or see us fail, when it seems that we are actually our biggest critics. The likelihood of someone actually judging you for what you judge yourself for is small. They have their own inner critic to deal with. You’re probably worried about messing up and they are worried about their own mess up, or you’re worried about what they will think and they aren’t even paying attention.

When it finally comes time to work with this inner critic and the judgements, we can’t simply ignore this part of ourselves, believe me, it will just get louder. I prefer we dig into its true wisdom, like I did yesterday with the runner.

Potential-emergesAsk yourself…
What am I truly seeing here that I want to see in myself? Is there a way I want to be that I’m not being? What’s truly important to me about this situation?

If you allow your inner critic to set the bar so high that you are scared to even try, you will never take a step forward. However, if you can work with this critic, that wants to see you succeed and do well, then allow it to help.

I believe we can all use the inner critic to help us see how we could do better, to nurture ourselves with growth potential rather than steal our potential. And where there is a critic, there is likely a compassionate praiser as well. Connect with the part of you that gently encourages, supports and cheers you on. If it’s hard to connect to, notice when you want someone else to do well, there it is! See what it has to say about your situation.

Some final thoughts and reminders for all of us.

  • When you judge someone else, this is your opportunity to realize what you really want to see in yourself. Then make it happen.
  • When you’re scared to take action because of judgement by others, remember those you expect are judging you are likely focused on themselves.
  • If your bar is set really high, let go of perfectionism. Remember, nobody’s perfect. ;) Then give it a go!
  • When you find yourself judging someone else, notice what you truly need inside.
  • If you were encouraging someone else to try, what would you say to them? Keep that in mind for yourself.

Give yourself a chance, every step counts, even the small ones.

Thank you for sharing your time reading this today. Let me know how this article resonates with you. I’d love to hear from you!

Please connect anytime!

Ālambana – A Key Aspect to Living a Yogic Life

During my recent trip to the Himalayan Institute (HI) in Pennsylvania for a 10 day intensive yoga teacher training, I discovered an aspect of yoga which felt very foundational and woven into the practice and living a yogic life. Ālambana revealed itself to me as a positive influence for any student or teacher of yoga, as well as in our overall lives.

AlambanaThough I may have heard the Sanskrit word ālambana before, this time it’s essence ingrained in me. Sanskrit words typically carry the vibration of many english words, encapsulating much essence in their meaning. Therefore in looking up ālambana on Wikipedia, you will see a long description for english understanding. That said, my during my studies, what kept standing out for me was the essence of support and foundation that ālambana offers to our lives and our practice.

During my stay at HI, I could feel ālambana vibrantly in the community living environment. There are around 100 people at any given time, who live there or come and go, through this amazing facility every week. Everyday we come together for practice, share our meals, enjoy conversation, meet new people and connect. The feeling when you walk though the halls is community support, all are included and no one feels alone. It is a beautiful experience that brings to mind how much happier we are when we feel connected to and the support of our communities.

While on course there, I chose to share accommodation with another lady also taking my course. This offered a supportive and nurturing relationship by being there for one another to download our days, discuss learnings, and feel connected. I made a new friend and felt a balance of support and autonomy though our time together. The feeling of connection truly supported me in my growth and enjoyment of the whole experience. I believe we gain more together than we do alone.

Turning our attention to the foundation of yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, you will discover how ālambana is woven into living a yogic life. There are foundations which move from one teaching to the next and from one practice to the next. For example, in the eight limbs of yoga, when integrating the 5 yamas (restraints for a wholesome life) into your life, you first need to follow the foundation of ahimsā (non-harming) in order to practice satya (truthfulness), followed by asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (moderate lifestyle), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). The same can be said for the second limb, the niyamas (observances for a healthy life). Each supports the next in how we can use them to live a joyous and self-aware life.

When we look at the third limb of yoga, the āsanas (postures), ālambana offers diverse supports. In āsana, the postures begin from the foundation of the floor as you in moving in and out of postures. We also use the support of the breath through the movements, which I will touch more on later. In my training, I discovered more ways of using supportive props such as blocks, straps, chairs, and blankets, as well as modifications to the poses to cultivate a more individual and beneficial practice. Learning about these supports and seeing the differences they made for each of us doing similar postures reiterated to me the need to ensure as a teacher and a student that we must learn to work with our body, as it is today, rather than trying to force our body into a perceived notion of what an āsana, or any other aspect of life, “should” look like. Though I have known this on some levels, it certainly has me looking deeply at my perceptions.

On another level of āsana, we can look at the breath and its relation to our practice, as well as our lives. Our breath is an indicator of stress and unease or comfort and calm in our body and mind. For instance, when we feel anxious our breath quickens and when we feel relaxed it slows down. In our āsana practice, learning to be aware of the breath supports us in understanding ourselves and our needs. If we are striving to get somewhere in our practice our breath will likely quicken or become shallow. However, if we move mindfully with gentle effort in our postures, allowing our breath to maintain a deep and smooth flow, we help bring balance to our nervous system and feel better in the posture. This in turn helps us when we encounter effort or agitation in our daily lives, to remember to breathe and be more calm in our actions.

The final aspect of ālambana, I want to share today is in meditation. When we sit down to meditate with supports we can deepen our experience. First, we need to sit comfortably in a supportive posture where our spine can be straight. This is very important for the mind to be able to settle into the meditation. If it’s distracted by discomfort your meditation will be challenging. Therefore sitting in a chair or using blocks/blankets can be helpful. In this way, the pelvis is neutral and the knees are in-line with or lower than the hips, which allows the whole body to be comfortable. It is also important to ensure you are warm. Then we can turn to the support of the breath to center the mind, allowing focus and concentration to emerge. Once we feel centred, the use of a mantra supports the mind’s wandering tendencies. It gives the mind something to do, an anchor to keep coming back to, when thoughts do come in. Now, fully supported from our practice and props, our meditation experience can deepen.

Though we each come to yoga for various reasons, such as healthy living, easing pain, or finding peace and balance in our lives, the supports we can offer ourselves are endless in our practice. It does not matter how long you have been practicing or how you feel on any given day, remembering to invite ālambana into your practice will deepen your experience every time. I invite you to also discover how ālambana shows up in your day-to-day life, in community, work and family. Please share your experience in the comments or connect with me.

OM, Shantih, shantih, shantih

Come Home to Yourself in 5 Simple Practices

Sitting in the stillness of my home today looking out the window at the blustering blizzard that is surrounding us, I see the magic of inner strength all around me. The winds today are gusting between 30 and 100 km/hr. Those gusts have quite a lot of force within them, yet the hard and soft wood trees that surround our home, continue to blow, then stand up, blow, then stand up, swaying and always returning to their home base.

While I was washing dishes and watching the trees swaying in the wind, I was reminded of a conversation I had recently with a client about coming home to ourselves.

We were talking about when we don’t feel aligned with our self, our inner truth, how it is easy to make decisions that we regret or don’t really serve our needs. But when we take time to feel that inner connection, check in with our needs, how we easily take action aligned with true meaning in our lives.

Over the years, I have had this feeling more times than I can count. Something in life knocks me off my track, and I stumble, becoming unclear of what I truly want or need.

When I have allowed these events to continually push me around, I felt like I was swaying out of control. I became frustrated and annoyed at myself and life, felt insecure and unsure of myself, my decision-making would go down the tube because I couldn’t easily trust my judgment, and so on…perhaps you can relate?

Coming-HomeWomen I work with have often expressed these same feelings, when they feel disconnected to that home within themselves.

This is why I want to share some practices I find helpful. Full disclosure here, these practices are what I use to continually bring myself home. If and when I get lazy and don’t do them, that’s when I feel myself fall off course. When I stay grounded in these practices, I can easily sway with life and stand back up.

  • Eating Well – When I put good food into my body, I feel better, I make better choices, and I feel my self-worth grow. When I chose food that doesn’t serve my well-being it is easy to let go of my true needs for what might be easiest instead of for my best.
  • Journaling –  When I take the time to write and reflect on my thoughts, it helps me to clearly understand what I need. Sometimes it helps me realize how my perspective is stuck, discover how I want to grow, or brings me back to my simplest truths.
  • Physical Activity – Whether it is stepping on my yoga mat, going for a nature walk, or dancing my heart out (hence why I love Chakradance!), taking time to connect with my body always helps me feel at home. Without it, I feel stagnant and life dredges along.
  • Meditation – Slowing down, getting present, and noticing my inner world through meditation in a key practice for coming home to myself. Finding that mindful connection with my breath, observing the workings of my mind, and continually coming back to the present moment really simplifies my experience. The winds of the world fade away and I sit in the peaceful stillness of myself.
  • Values Reflection – When the world feels confusing or I fall into uncertainty, coming back to my values helps me stand taller with what is important to me. It can be as simple as noticing how I’m living my values, or not, to help me remember and come home to my true needs.

Each of these practices cultivates mindful self-awareness. By being present to our experience, through our body and mind, we can feel grounded in our truth and create lives with purpose and meaning.

When we cultivate self-awareness, we stand tall in our core-strength, always able to come home to ourselves, no matter what life throws at us. Tweet and share!

When you incorporate practices such as these, what is your experience? And what practices help you come home to yourself?

Please share your comments and let’s help each other continually live from that sacred place of home within ourselves.

xo, Brenda

If you feel some support could help you find your way home, please connect with me. Through life coaching, yoga, or other mindful practices, I would be honoured to help you discover your steady and peaceful core.

The Blessing of Quality Time

I went back home to Alberta this past week to see my family and friends and meet my new niece. Each experience felt so amazing as I connected with long time friends and close family, and got to spend much of my time was with my sister. Every day full of talking and laughing at life’s amusements and memories.

Since I moved to Nova Scotia, spending this amount of time with my sister has been quite challenging, with both of our lives so full of commitments of work and family. So when I booked this trip home, my plan was to spend a lot of time with her and help her in what ever way I could with her new baby.

In the back of my mind, I assumed we would just be hanging out around her place with the her little daughter and my nephew. Yet over the course of the week, we encountered many life commitments that needed her attention. Not sure how I didn’t foresee this would be the case! But, here’s the wonderful part, even amongst running around, taking care of things, and managing life’s curve balls, we really just enjoyed being together. We drove many places, not once turning up the music or becoming distracted from the moment. Instead we chose to receiving each moment for what it had to offer, each other. And that was the true blessing, quality time.

This quality time didn’t have to be anything special, it didn’t have specific activities or expectations, it was simply whatever was happening was done, together. It was awesome! We took a day trip to go see other family and another day celebrated my nephews birthday, it was the act of being present to one another, giving and receiving that made it most meaningful.

Nquality-timeow back home again, I find myself reflecting on how this time of year is about giving. That doesn’t have to be giving of things, but can be giving of our time and attention, being with those those we love, creating a quality experience together.

“It doesn’t matter what I’m doing when I’m with family or loved ones, I’m simply grateful to BE WITH them.”

How does your quality time feel with your loved ones?
What intention might you make as you head into this holiday season of gatherings? What would make it most meaningful for you?

I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or send me a note!

May this holiday season leave you feeling blessed inside and out.

xo, Brenda

Give Yourself Permission

There is something you keep thinking of doing, but every time you consider taking action you feel guilty, afraid, or unsure. Maybe it’s been a long time dream or something more recent in your heart. Notice, how are you holding yourself back?

Take a moment to reflect on this inner desire, this recurring dream. When did it start? What is your expected result? What keeps you standing still when you think about it? And mostly, what’s important to you about it? You may be able to answer these, or perhaps the answers are a little cloudy. It’s okay.

I’d like to share with you a story about how I have been holding myself back and what I needed to actually take action. I hope it inspires you to check in and hopefully take action for yourself.

Over the past 4 years I have gone through a lot of transition, from work, to where I live, to how I live. And I absolutely love the changes, however part of my mindset has been stuck in the past. You see I changed my career, from a daytime job structure to self-employed. I moved across the country and did a complete 180˚ flip in my daily lifestyle. Self-employed work, has a very different feel in daily structure than “9-5” work. Yet, I have been stuck in this mindset of daytime job productivity, even though my work leads into the evenings, and sometimes even the weekends. When I am not productive all day long, I have had this self-destructive mindset that keeps showing up. “I’m not productive unless I am busy“. Which has caused me to often fill in my time with busy work. This busy work rarely feels fulfilling. So between lack of productivity and forcing myself to be busy, I have had feelings of guilt and sadness sitting within myself.

You see, in my heart I want to explore on hikes and go for walks during the day. One thing I love about this province, is you drive down the highway and there are cars parked in random spots, and I keep wondering, what amazing trails are they out discovering? Nova Scotia a beautiful province with so much nature to experience!

So, In my heart I know that a soul-rejuvenating walk or hike in the middle of the day would serve me well. What then is stopping me from doing this?

There is a bit of fear of walking down a trail I’ve never been on, by myself, but that fear also shares a twinge of excitement. The answer that really struck me though was that I felt like I needed permission from someone to go out and do it (like a boss, but I am my boss!). And that was it… I needed permission.

As an almost 40-year-old adult, why would I need permission from anyone to go do something I want to do? I decided to talk with my partner about this. I also felt a bit guilty going off on a hike when he was home working, but he had absolutely no concerns with me taking the time to do this and actually encouraged it. So that couldn’t be the barrier.give-yourself-permission

So I asked myself again, okay so now what is stopping you? My answer? Back to allowing myself the time to do it.

I remember back in the days of working at the bank, wondering how are all of these people out and about in the middle of the day? Why am I stuck behind these walls, this desk? How could I have that type of freedom for myself? Well, I finally have it, and didn’t even realize it, until NOW.

As I work with giving myself permission to go on walks or hikes, I make them part of my priorities, as a task. It feels amazing to breath in the freshness of the fall air. I’ve walked on a nearby trail a few times, hiked along the coast of Peggy’s Cove, and am excited to find more treasures for exploring.

Taking this time for myself is rejuvenating.  My body feels healthy moving, and being alone with my thoughts while walking is grounding. As a whole, I feel more connected to my soul. Plus, I find the more I do this, the better state of being I am in for my work. Knowing these definitely encourages me to make this time happen, but most importantly, I have to remember to keep Giving Myself Permission.

I hope this story of permission entices something with in you.

So I will ask you again… What have you wanted to do, but have not actually gave yourself permission to do? Why is it important to you and what would you need to make it happen?

I’d love to hear from you! Comment or send me an email about your inner struggle with permission or anything else holding you back.

Keep noticing… when you fight the flow, you stay stuck. Allow, accept, and always give yourself permission!

xo,
Brenda