Finding Sanctuary

“It was in leaving that I realized my truest sanctuary is within.”

I spent my final weeks of August 2018 in yogic study with a group of like-minded souls at the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania. It was a full 10 day segment which took four of us to graduation of our 500 hour yoga teacher training and the rest on their continued journey towards their own goals in yoga training.

The essence of the Himalayan Institute (HI), as I have shared before, is a supportive community where residents and visitors can embrace their own path through study of various practices such as yoga and ayurveda, or simply retreat from the everyday. Every time I visit here I fall in love a little bit more. It could be the inviting community, the seclusion in the forests and rolling hills of northern Pennsylvania, the nourishing meals, or simply that time spent in practice.

Going into this trip, I was coming out of a busy summer, full of change and adventure. My partner and I upgraded our sailboat to one that will take us on more comfortable and grand sea-adventures. Then spent two weeks cleaning and preparing it for our anticipated use. I was spending less time in practice and more time desiring our fun summer activities. I could feel the influence in my state of mind, somewhat carefree and not very disciplined. I’m not saying this was “bad”, but it did leave me feeling a little anxious as I left for my training.

Arriving at HI, I noticed my thoughts of not “being more ready” for the training taking hold. I could feel the tension in my body, my mind was a little unsettled, and emotions were stirring. This segment focused on the journey inward and I could certainly feel my resistance. So at the hand of a dear friend I met there, I stopped and allowed myself to feel the anguish I noticed inside. Over the coming days I felt held by the Institute, my peers, the teachings, and came to settle nicely into my self. The remaining of the training I allowed myself to just be in it.

As graduation day approached, I could feel everything coming together, stable in all I had studied here and comfortable in my wholeness of self. Though, it all felt so good I was a little scared and sad about leaving; scared that I would lose this inner awareness of self when re-engaging with the outside world and sad as I was unsure of when I’d return to this amazing sanctuary. Would I retain this practice and awareness on my own?

I graduated with excitement and gratitude in my heart, embracing the effort it took to complete the journey and holding dear the teachings of the amazing instructors and ancient texts.

As it all completed, most of my classmates left soon after. I stayed one more night, preparing to depart in the morning. I watched myself saying good-bye to people and places within the Institute, my gratitude at a high for my experiences in this place and perhaps a little attached. Bubbling within was that curiosity of how to stay true to my heart and soul when I left, to carry ALL I had received with me; trying to embrace my instructor Shari’s advice, “you will retain exactly what you need”.

Over the last few days of our training, we talked a lot about maintaining a MDR, a minimum daily requirement, to nurture and support us in our home practice. This means committing to do a practice, full or partial, but always something, with the intention of connecting to your self.

The day I traveled home I did a short MDR while I waited for my cab, this felt like a positive send-off. I settled into a relaxing and reflective bus ride, eventually arriving in Manhattan, where I felt the expected shift of environments. Thankfully a dear friend I had studied life coaching with greeted me. She was a delight to my heart; a transitioning support on my journey home. After our lovely brunch together, I wandered the busy streets of New York, finally sitting down in a beautiful inner city park watching the diversity in people go by. New York is one of those places where you can truly experience the sense of “I”ness that the Yoga Sutras discuss. Amongst the people of the city you do feel like a single drop of water in a vast ocean of souls, each soul unique, yet I believe… connected to one Source.

Finding-sanctuaryIt was here that I remembered…my source of energy, love, and devotion comes from within. That it doesn’t really matter where I am, I can always come home to my heart, my ever-lasting inner sanctuary. Finding sanctuary is not about the place that holds you, but in how you hold yourself, wherever you are.

So, as I sit at home today, my personal sanctuary supporting me in my daily practices. I recognize, I can take my practice anywhere and still connect deeply to my inner sanctuary. I chose to stop compromising on this valuable time for myself just because I am not in “that expected place”. All it takes is turning my attention inward and taking time for my practice, and when needed, that minimum daily practice.

And if for some reason I fall off this daily practice, I commit to getting back on.

I hope my story helps you connect to this final thought… While starting with a physical sanctuary is helpful for exploring practices that lead you inward, take time to discover how your daily practices (even modifications of your practices) can happen anytime and anywhere.

So please take time for you.❤️ What daily practices help you find sanctuary within?

If you don’t currently have daily practices, explore options to find your way into self-nurturing, soul-connecting practices that serve you.

Love and light,
Brenda

How to Not Lose Yourself on Vacation

Do you ever feel like you lose yourself and your personal routines and practices when summer comes or you go on vacation? You may just let loose into the adventure and spontaneity, or the fall into flow of life in an irregular way.

Summer time or vacations can leave you feeling disconnected from your true self, when you don’t take the time to connect or fall into unhealthy behaviours.

For myself, this disconnected feeling has occurred by eating abnormal food when away from home, consuming more alcohol than I normally would, and completely losing track of my yoga/meditation practice.

Yet other times, I’ve been able to embrace the opportunity to deepen and explore with my daily routines, and actually heightened my self-connection.

Let’s explore where disconnection might occur…

Perhaps you are vegetarian and often throw your eating patterns out the window when exploring new cultures. Though this is delightful to embrace other ways of living, it can leave your digestion in uncomfortable disarray.

Or when summer hits and temperatures rise, how much more often are you enticed to have some cold alcoholic beverages? Socializing and summer events can leave us with more morning recoveries then we may normally experience.

How about daily journaling, yoga, and meditation? Will you take the time to meditate when on your family vacation this summer? How about taking time to hear your inner voice in your journal?

Summer-Vacation

How can you set the intention to stay connected to your true self and your soulful practices while embracing the spontaneous adventures of summer vacations?

 

Get clear on what you want to experience

When you take time to notice what you want to experience, it is much easier to follow through. How do you want to feel as you move through your summer or vacation days? What personal experiences do you want to honour?
Often on vacation, I have set the intention to get up and watch the sun rise (even if it means I go back to bed after). I do this because I want to feel in rhythm with the sun, where ever I am, and listening to nature in the peace and quiet of the morning is so blissful.

Bring your daily routine/practice to your day

Without over whelming yourself, perhaps you take only one or two of your daily practices into your vacation days, or maybe you alter when then occur in your day? But notice what supports your personal connection the most and bring that into you daily routine.
Perhaps you will carry a journal and take time to write about your experiences, or maybe you will have more time to take long walks and explore, or sit and reflect. Notice ways that you can connect with yourself and care for yourself, with supportive and nurturing daily practices.

Open up to new possibilities in your day

Vacation and time off your regular routine can invite in new possibilities of adventure and exploration. Try a new activity or do something different to expand your awareness and grow. Vacations can also be a perfect time to play with new practices and routines to set new patterns of being.
Maybe you’re not usually a morning person, but you truly want to experience this time of day, but often feel too tired. When your on vacation you can create new habits, then bring them back into your day-to-day. Or perhaps trying a new activity like hiking or kayaking would expand your horizons and delight in life? Take time to consider all of the possibilities.

Receive each moment with your heart

Soaking up the experiences with your heart and mind. Slow down or stop and just be. Vacations and time off the daily grind can rejuvenate you, when you slow down. It’s never fun to feel like you need a vacation after your vacation, so stop and receive. Open up your mind to receive the simple beauty in your world, your surroundings, and your family and friends. Observe the essence of life around you and notice how you feel in your heart. Be present.

Set intentions and follow through

Be clear and follow through on your intentions to connect with yourself and the new experiences. Be open to the flow of your vacation, but come back to the intentions you set. Notice if you feel yourself falling off and reset, tune-up the intention if needed, but try not to just drop it. You will feel more soul-aligned when you do.

Explore these ideas and see how you feel during and after your summer vacation. Be mindful of how your feeling and what you need and make the most of your vacation times! Stay connected to your self.

Do you have any tips or practices that support you when on vacation? I’d love to hear from you! Pop me a note or comment on the blog.

And let me know how these ideas support you on your summer vacations or any time of year!

Wishing you a soul-full-filled and full of intention vacation!
Love and light,
Brenda

Time for You

Time is an illusion, so they say. Yet when you feel like you never have enough of it or it seems to slip through your fingers, it can feel very real.

Our lives are busy, we have a multitude of obligations, and if we aren’t careful, we can get swept away by our responsibilities and lose connection with the moments, and ourselves.

I recall a few years back, when I was working at the bank. As a dedicated Advisor, I often stayed late to make sure everything was wrapped up and not trailing into my next business day. I never liked falling behind, plus I needed to follow through on my commitments. Meeting the needs of others is engrained in me. I’m a care-giver.

Overtime however, this left me feeling quite drained. My evenings would take me to the gym or to a yoga class for my health regime, then often out for some beverages with friends to release more stress. I would wake the next morning, usually a little off from the bevys, snoozing my alarm to the last minute, then quickly getting myself out the door to once again meet the obligations of the day.

Eventually, I stopped to notice how I was feeling… frustrated. It felt like my life was to serve others, and there is purpose here, but I also wanted to feel like my life was to serve me and my desires. I was curious about how it would feel to get up and give myself some time before I had to give my time to everyone else.

Time-for-YouSo I tried it, I got up in the morning early enough to make a coffee, do some reading or watch the news for a bit, and slowly get myself ready. It was incredible. I couldn’t believe how different it felt. Over time, it became quite a nourishing routine. I transitioned into adding some yoga and meditation in the morning and felt more aligned with myself all day long. My mornings got a bit earlier and I started to go to bed a bit early too, because this morning time for myself was more important to me.

This was in my single days, when I could literally make my own schedule without any interference, but I have still been able to mostly keep to the same structure, even with my family now. Yes, I need to be more lenient at times, but when I do get up for myself, when the birds start chirping my whole day feels better!

What would it feel like to give to yourself first, then give to your world? What could you do to have time for you?

Pop me a note in the comments and share this with your friends! Support one another in taking some time for you!

Love and light,
Brenda

Communication Is Key

At some point in my youth, I fell into a pattern of fear. Fear of speaking my truth… my feelings… my needs. I am certain now that it was in a way of coping with those challenging feelings of growing up, but it also left me somewhat disconnected from how I truly felt and what I needed for quite some time.

Though I have made great strides over the years in connecting with my feelings, listening to my heart, and learning to speak my truth, I can still tend to fall back into that place of fear. It’s a place of comfort and protection from creating ripples in my external world.

Sometimes our feelings and needs can impact those we care about. For me, this is where it gets hard. I never want to hurt those I love, but if I stay silent, then I hurt myself. I’ve thought about this a lot. How do we find that tender point of balance between sharing what we need to say, and honouring the feelings of those we’re sharing with?

I remember a conversation I had with my partner a few years back when we were trying to figure out ways to communicate with his children. We wanted to connect with them in a way that they could feel our intention in our words, and not just tell them what to do. It came to us that children live in the space of their hearts, while we as adults often live in the space of our minds. If we want to connect with them in meaningful ways, we needed to communicate from our hearts to theirs… heart to heart, not mind to heart.

I still use this, especially when I need to communicate my feelings and needs, because they arise within the heart. The challenge emerges when my “powerful mind” comes up with all the horror stories about how sharing my needs will only hurt the other person, how I will lose love, and be left all alone.

The mind can have a lot of influence, but when we can realize this and drop our awareness back into our heart, we settle into a space of connection.

Communication is a form of connection, and connection lives in the heart. So unless I am using a communication style of anger, projection, or fear, which don’t come from the heart and only create separation; then my words from my heart will come from a place of love and this will connect my heart with the heart of the person I am communicating with.

A few months ago I found myself having a hard time communicating about some important feelings. I knew this was happening because I could feel it all bottling up inside. I felt scared and cut off from the flow of connection, trust, and love. As I’ve learned, this is a signal when I need to take some time to care for and connect to my heart. This self-care act opens me up to trust in and love for myself. Once I re-connect in this way, I am better able to relay my needs with compassion for myself and those I am sharing with.

I’ll admit it can feel scary and vulnerable, sharing your heart’s deep-seated needs, but the act of honouring your self in this way shows true love and compassion, and builds connection with the world around you.

Those relationships that are truly supportive and loving, will receive the words with their heart, and bonds grow stronger.

Now when I feel those fears of communicating my needs show up I remember to tap into my heart, and seek the heart of the other, and know that this internal connection will open the door. For without communication, we have no connection.

Communication-is-Key

Communicating heart to heart is the key to true connection. Tweet this!

How often do you hold yourself back from speaking your truth? Are you connecting with your needs in your heart?

Don’t keep your feelings bottled up, find your heart, and speak from this space of compassion and connection.

With Love,
Brenda

A Journey of Change and Growth

It was 5 years ago that I packed up my life in Calgary and drove East with Matthew to start our life together with his children. It was an exciting time and I was making big changes in my life. Not only was I moving provinces, I was leaving behind a 15 year career in financial services for a dream of helping people in ways closer to my heart.

I had recently completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training. The process of going through this training, opened up my mind and my heart to new possibilities. First for myself and second for the people I had been helping over the years at the bank. I saw the needs of our human lives in a new way. I knew in my heart that I could serve people more than simply in financial matters. I wanted to help people see their true potential to create lives of meaning and purpose in ways that filled their hearts and souls.

Emerging with this change came possibility to becoming a life coach to help fuel this dream. Yoga offers much enlightenment and potential, yet I felt I drawn to this complimentary pathway to reach more people.

Upon arriving in Nova Scotia, I took some time to settle into our rental home in Prospect Bay. It was a cute little spot right on the water. I was completely mesmerized by the rising and falling tides. It was magical for me to see the ocean ‘breathe’ in this way. Nature’s essence was all around me. I felt like a kid again discovering a new land!

The whole transition brought feelings of freedom and a perspective of anything being possible. Within a few months I had found my life coaching program and was off to New York city the weekend of my 36th birthday. This in itself was unbelievable. You seriously can never guess where life will take you when you follow your dreams!

Meanwhile we had purchased land in Seabright and found a builder for the home we designed. Our house started going up in November of that year. Things were moving quickly, but everything felt absolutely divine. Our dreams were becoming reality.

By May of 2014, one year after my arrival in Nova Scotia, we moved into our new off-grid home and I graduated from my life coaching program. It was time to lay down some roots.

Our first year settling into our home brought joy and some unforgettable challenges to life. Anyone can attest, when you build a new home there are quirks to work through. Build an off-grid home and you can expect a much steeper learning curve! The past 4 years have been interesting to say the least, but as Matthew likes to say, “we are homesteading” which can time. This past year we finally made it through a winter without much issue and this spring is bringing even more opportunity.

We began building a wood shed to keep that precious firewood dry and accessible, while our garden boxes are in production and our first little vegetable seedlings are reaching for the sun!

I feel so much gratitude for the home we’ve created and my life with Matthew and his children. We have an amazing view of St. Margaret’s Bay (which we enjoy sailing on as well), and last year I built my home studio to work from. This has brought a whole new light to my journey. I now have a beautiful space to create in, connect in, and guide my clients and my self into deeper soul clarity.

Since moving to Nova Scotia, I have gone through not only physical spacial changes, but introspective personal growth. Over the past few years, I have worked with coaches and healers to awaken parts of myself that were still living in the past or holding me back from living my dreams. Old beliefs and emotions that weighed on my heart and kept me playing small. Creating change takes awareness and effort. If you can do it however, the world opens up to you. It’s when you truly realize what you’re doing… how you’re being, that subtle mindset shifts emerge so actions you take can create significant influence in your life.

The whole process of transitioning through careers was slightly intimidating, yet amazing. I felt ready and couldn’t imagine staying where I was. Plus, I was moving into something that gave more meaning and value to my life. Acts like this do require self-awareness and conviction to follow your intuition.

Guided to the St. Margaret’s Bay Shambhala Center to check out a yoga class with Gabriela Larranaga. I was grateful to receive her classes and delighted when she asked me to help her by substituting when she was away. In time she helped me to get my first time slot to teach my yoga class!

I had a small following that first year, and if it wasn’t for our dear friend Ed, I can’t say I would have made it. But he was diligent in his 20+ year yoga practice and he kept me showing up. Learning to let go of my expectations of how my classes should grow, and instead being open to receiving each student as they arrived was not always easy, but served me well in the long run. It was quite a change from always having clients walk into my office at the bank to going out into the community, getting to know people, and sharing that I offered yoga classes.

Four years later, my heart is full of gratitude for how connected I feel to my yoga community and those who continue to practice with me. As well, the clients that I have connected with and served as a life coach have brought such value into my life. You always learn things that impact your life when you help people overcome challenges and changes in their lives. It’s never a one way street.

All of the changes I have created in the past few years have helped grow my self-confidence for what I offer and self-acceptance for loving who I have become. When I reflect back I can feel the shifts and changes. Today my life feels much more meaningful.

This year I have stepped into new growth, by running my first full day workshop; incorporating yoga, life coaching and Chakradance! Witnessing these beautiful souls embracing their inner truth and opening up to new possibilities filled my heart. I could feel my souls purpose emanating that day. I’m eager to continuing this growth with more workshops!

This summer I will complete my 500 hour yoga teacher training with the Himalayan Institute. Over the past year this training has evolved my teaching and I feel awakened to my inner truth of potential in such a greater capacity. My growth is ongoing… just as all of ours can be.

Sharing each group yoga class, opening my studio doors to private yoga sessions and life coaching clients, as well as sharing workshops of Chakradance, yoga, and group coaching has brought home my dream of helping others see the possibilities in their lives.

I feel like I have truly come home to my self in my life passions, both professionally and personally. Yet, I can’t wait to see what then next 5 years bring!

If you are contemplating a change or can feel the Universe drawing you in an unexpected direction, check in and discover the possibilities within you. You shine in your own unique way. Don’t let anyone else’s fears of your changes hold you back from living your dream. Be your best self and serve your soul’s vision. It’s worth it!

Love and light,
Brenda

Surrendering Certainty

This month I am offering my first full day workshop, Spring Into Clarity. It is a dream that first showed up last year about this time, though it percolated, it didn’t have enough energy to come to fruition. That said, this year when its momentum arrived, its energy was much more powerful. I felt the inspiration it emerge and I was ready to fulfill the dream.

Putting together a full day event like this seems pretty standard, and having been to multiple workshops, I have to agree there is a “set path” one can work from to coordinate and organize. This is truly a relief. Framework brings a sense of ease to new pathways. So I mapped it out, made some initial decisions and, with a deep breath, put it out there. It was alive! People began registering and it filled up faster than I could have ever imagined. Wow, gratitude!

I could breathe, that part was complete and all I had to do was finish putting it all together. That was a couple of weeks ago. Then my fears showed up.

“Will it be meaningful to all the participants? What if it doesn’t meet their expectations? Will I be good enough?”

These thoughts paralyzed my creativity for a few days. I was worried and uncertain about how it would go. I could see myself falling into the depths of these thoughts, though another part of me know they weren’t true. I just couldn’t let them go.

It took me getting rattled about something in my relationship that finally took me into the depths of my despair. I cried out the fears, the anguish, the false truths that I was allowing to rule my being. My energies settled. I felt calm. The next day I woke up and could feel a shift. I checked in… I felt more in alignment. My truth was back: I could feel my confidence and empowered self. Ahhh….

I once again realized, I knew I would offer my best self, I had trust in my abilities. I connected to my purpose from my initial inspiration and I could feel my faith that the Universe had my back (as Gabby Bernstein has helped me realize). I knew that no matter what happens, it will be okay… I will be okay. There may come some lessons with this new step, and those are certainly welcomed.

My truth lies in this affirmation…Surrender-Certainty

I have faith in the Universe, and I trust myself.

That is all I can really hold on to.

When we decide to take any step, especially those with unknown outcomes, we can only truly control ourself, the rest we have no control over, we must have faith.

Show up and Be your best self, leave the rest to fate. This releases a lot of worry and stress.

What outcome are you holding on to or afraid to take action on? What if you could surrender to fate and take your first step? How do you trust in your Self to be a part of the plan?

I’d love to hear from you! How does this resonate for you in your life? Comment or please connect anytime!

Love and light,
Brenda

Ready to Show Up for Yourself?

As I reflect on how I’m showing up to myself lately, I feel a sense of disciplined purpose in my actions. This is important to me, I need this time to check in, be with whatever is arising in my mind, body, or emotions. The more I take these opportunities for myself, the more I feel in tune with my soul.

When I set this time and space, my ability to show up to my family, friends, and clients is more focused and pleasant.

What does it mean to show up for yourself?

Showing up is being present to your thoughts, emotions and whole being. It’s being observant. It’s noticing what you need in any given moment and taking action with intention and purpose. It means living with integrity by honouring yourself each day.

What do you notice when you read this? Longing for more self-awareness, time for you, judgement?

I feel it’s important to note, showing up requires compassion.

The first principle in yoga guides us to practice Ahimsa, kindness and compassion towards yourself and others.

By showing up to yourself with compassion, you are better able to meet yourself where you are at with an honest approach. You can objectively see the range of thoughts that roam through your mind; you can allow the feelings that arise within you to help them pass; you can honour your needs and discover solutions by taking the time to notice.

Showing up requires a steady practice. This means you give yourself time daily to show up and be present.

What practices can you establish to create the space to show up to yourself?

* Meditation – focused breathing
* Mindful movement – yoga, tai chi, Qi gong, silent nature walks
* Check-ins throughout the day
* Taking a moment to step away from the busy-ness of life
* Nurture yourself with wholesome foods and self-care

Be disciplined in the practices you establish, show yourself true integrity for your well-being.

Show-up-for-yourselfAnd when you’ve taken this time for you, be grateful, and notice the shifts it makes in your life, in your interactions, and perhaps how your model self-care for your children.

How are you showing up for you?
I’d love to hear from you. Share your insights and set intentions for yourself.

May you choose the path of your highest good,
Brenda