Posted on January 2, 2018
January 1st, it feels big, like a spotlight shining on you saying, “Okay, let’s see what you’ve got!”, …and you freeze. It could be stage fright, forgetting your lines, or perhaps you feel unprepared.
I had a mix of these feelings yesterday, and it had me confused.
I usually find January 1st to be an anticipated and opportunistic day. In the past, I’ve conquered habits like smoking, set resolutions to better my life, and felt uplifted with new possibilities. Yet, somehow I couldn’t grasp these supportive mindsets.
I had planned to create my vision board, send out some emails for the start of the year, but I couldn’t get there. I was disappointed in myself, which certainly didn’t make things any better.
It was like the shadows I didn’t want to face were staring at me and saying, “you know if you want to get anywhere, you have to deal with us first”. My self doubts were big and scary and my vision was dark and dull. I didn’t feel prepared or ready to face them.
So I ignored them, preferring to follow my best distraction habits…cleaning and organizing. “There was much to be done”, I told myself. The holidays were over and the house needed a reset. I was still eating holidays style and instead of getting to bed early, I also detracted from my needs by playing the new VR we got.
To be truthful, I could see what I was doing, yet I didn’t have the conviction to change it. I allowed these darker parts of myself to take over.
Fast forward to this morning. “Back to work”. I got up early, cleanup breakfast and got ready for a new day. I came out to my office and followed my first intuition…sit on your meditation cushion.
I sit down…”oh, this feels nice”, like receiving a hug from an old friend just when you needed it. “Okay, settle in”… the thoughts come and go, come and go, I see myself dwelling on the to-do list, “let it go… settle in…” hearing sounds outside… “let it go… settle in…” eventually I settled enough to be there, but my mind was certainly disturbed and distracted. But it was a good start. The teacher in me, reminds me this is okay… I agree “yes, okay”.
Then my yoga sutra book flashes in my mind, so I grab it and sit down for a quick read. The first sutra’s gentle reminder, this is the entrance to the path to fulfillment. Immediately I’m reminded of the purpose of my yoga practice, the gateway to my true self. Then Sutra 1.2, if straying from the practice, how easy it is for the roaming tendencies of the mind to take over. How that simple moment of noticing the distracted and disturbed mind becomes purified and clear through a steady, one-pointed mind. Here I am better able to distinguish the real from the unreal.
I’ve been out of my regular practice for 10 days, abundantly enjoying the freedom of the holidays, and I immediately recognize my disturbed mind, disconnected from my true reality and purpose.
There’s a dichotomy in this scenario for me. I certainly enjoyed the time away from the “daily grind”, sharing time with family and friends, travelling to Old Montreal for a mini vacation, celebrating and being merry. I have no regrets.
But I do notice what I need now. Normalcy, a moment to settle back into reality, to re-ground and prepare for all I want to create this year.
And perhaps that is the reminder.
When I choose a moment of freedom, I must remember to give myself a moment to re-ground and rebalance before expecting myself to already be back in the creative flow.
Even taking the time to write this, I can feel the glimmer of new possibilities emerging. Those ideas and plans for the new year sparking in my heart.
If you connect to my thoughts and feelings here as you embrace a new year, take a moment to remember what grounds you, notice what you need to be reminded of the luminosity of your own essence, then create space for your true self to shine into the new year.
How are you settling into 2018? Do you feel yourself jumping right in or needing some time and space to settle in? Pop me a note or comment here, I’d love to hear from you!
Blessings to you for a healthy and prosperous 2018.
Posted on November 30, 2017
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.
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,
Posted on November 3, 2017
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.
I 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,
Posted on September 28, 2017
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.
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!
Posted on April 15, 2017
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.
Though 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
Posted on February 13, 2017
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?
Women 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.
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.
Posted on December 5, 2016
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.
Now 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.