“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” ~Buddha
I love the holidays. It’s a time with loved one’s friends, family, celebrations, food and everything fun. But there always seems to be some mini drama popping up every now-and-then; diminishing my celebration of life, unity, growth messing up my joy. I’m learning some tricks to rise above the gloom and dooming Drama and how to keep the light of Joy burning brightly; inside and out.
Here are some of these tricks from all my big family holidays, living in NYC and all my global adventures.
1. Smile 😃 !
Just this simple expression has tremendous physiological and social effects. On the inside, it literally changed my chemistry. My “frown turned upside-down” boosts my bloodstream’s dopamine levels keeping me feeling uplifted, euphorically connected and loving. On the outside, it’s been studied (and also from my experience) that people respond more positively to people that are smiling. Those interacting with you and your smile listen more intently, let their guard down and open to you and possibility.
2. Stop Complaining
Talk about a waste of time and effort. Complaining is a killer of joy. It’s reductive. Fires up more anger, frustration, anxiety, toxifies me and my relationships; and keeps spinning me into deeper and darker misery. No solutions here! Instead of complaining chose to release this tension by doing something physical; go running, go to yoga, box, swim, hike.… Ok maybe you don’t have an hour, no worries, we all can change our ‘state’ in as little as 3-4min, by simply dancing to our favorite song, jumpin-&-shakin out our limbs or with some deep, slow and rhythmic breathing. Just to name a few. Whatever it takes to exorcise these feelings. Get them out! Then put your smile back on and joyfully carry on.
3.Let go of Expectations
The first universal principle: everything is changing all the time. #anicha. No month, minute or moment is ever the same. By moving through life with my expectations I’m cut off from the world’s flowing nature and set myself up for a continual experience of disappointments. To remain in the Joyful Flow of life, I practice gratitude for everything that for everything that shows up. It’s not easy sometimes, especially when my favorite avocado and toast is sold out BUT I navigate back to joy through gratitude and order my favorite smoothie instead. lol #firstworldproblems#shift
4. Being Patience
Patience is #HUGE especially living in “the City that never sleeps.” #NYC. If I feel like I am rushing ahead, I function the opposite way and SLOW DOWN!! Yep, literally sloooow doooownnnn. I walk, talk, breath and moooove sloooowerrr. I also pick up my doubting posture and see a broader perspective while I plunge back into the life flow. Oh and then guess what’s next, I smile, stop complaining that the world won’t meet my ridiculous demands and let go. (Are you seeing a pattern? 😉 )
I hope this helps. More to come. comment with your questions.
The Yoga Adventure is pleased to officially announce our next winter getaway.
Yoga | Nature | Friends – on the beach!
February 24-March 3rd, 2018.
We are heading to Costa Rica, another first for our tribe, to a unique place called Cashew Hill Jungle Cottages. Accommodations are all shared stand alone Jungle Cottage including three vegetarian meals per day, yoga twice per day, and transportation to and from the San Jose, Costa Rica – Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) and more.
The beach in just a short 3-4min walk away where you can take surfing lessons or just chill and soak up some rays. Nearby
is the cute town of Puerto Viejo where we can take in the local seen, dance the night away and shop. We are also offering a day at the Jaguar Animal Rescue where we can play and feed the animals and volunteer your time if you so desire. Also hiking and much more.
“Root out the violence in your life and learn to live compassionately and mindfully. Seek Peace. When you have peace within real peace with others is possible…. Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If in our hearts we cling to anything; anger, anxiety or possessions we can not be free” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Wow! What a powerful message. Zen Master Hanh has loaded this with all sorts of wisdom. Let’s unpack it.
What is “peace”? According to Webster’s peace can be defined in several ways. Here are the two most applicable: – freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. – freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.
From my experience, the world around me changes when I stop fighting with it. I haven’t always known this. Before I came to this mindset I battled with almost everything for too long.
How would I fight with the world and people around me? Several ways, these are my most common; – Casting judgment on people and situations that I know very little or nothing about. – Imposing my beliefs on people or situations. – Or playing the fruitless game of “who’s right”.
All of this fighting would keep me in this toxic bubble of anger, frustration, agitation and even aggression. Yielding more of the same feelings and results time and time again.
I am learning to retire this unproductive and destructive arsenal. Now I make a conscious effort to continually practice, compassion and tolerance everywhere and always. Instead of battling with the world, I am finding my life more peaceful if I step back, listen and “go with the flow” I know, I know it’s such a cliche nowadays, “go with the flow”, but there is a tremendous about of truth within these four little words. Here’s an example. Some of my family, like all families I assume, lie on the opposite sides of our political spectrum. In the past, with those who disagreed with me I would armor myself with a superiority complex, “I am right, you’re ignorant” attitude. What would this complex create? Absolutely nothing good, just more war, anger, frustration, usually ending in us yelling at each other as one of us exited the room. That’s not I how I want to be family. I wanted to change this. The big test came shortly after the 2016 election.
Every year 25-30 of my family members head off the grid and camp in central PA in these rustic old-school cabins. Knowing I was going to face my family after such a stunning election, I knew it was time to make this shift towards the power of peace. With some reflection and a lot of help from my men’s group, I showed up for our winter weekend doing the best I could to create tranquility everywhere all the time. Through a mindfully objective peaceful approach, I actively listened the entire weekend with an open mind and heart. The results were incredible. Engaging in this way, I began to understand why my family members voted the way they did. In the process of nonjudgmentally listening new understandings were unleashed. I was able to feel and connect with them on a human level, beyond all the emotions and words. The experience was extraordinarily satisfying. In contrast and during the same trip, one of my 22yo cousin was very vocal and confrontational with the opposing beliefs. Some of the family began to avoid her to avoid conflict and talking about how “nuts” she was being. So I take this experience with me everywhere. Life is just so much smoother by seeking peace. Thich Nhat Hanh is spot on; ‘when you have peace within, real peace with others is possible’. By ‘letting go’ of all the fight, I was free to experience happiness, joy, and connection. I don’t want to be any other way. How about you? How much are you fighting in your daily life? What is one small change you can make that will bring you peace and connection?
I would like to take some time to focus on one of my favorite words, TRIUMPHANT. Just by saying it I get a feeling of my greatness
Definition: Triumph: (as a noun):
the act, fact, or condition of being victorious or triumphant; victory; conquest.
a significant success or noteworthy achievement; instance or occasion of victory.
exaltation resulting from victory; joy over success.
(as a verb w/o object)
to gain a victory; be victorious; win.
to gain mastery; prevail: “to triumph over fear.”
to be successful; achieve success.
to exult over victory; rejoice over success
Syn: celebration, joy, elation, jubilance, rejoicing, reveling, pride Ant: disaster, failure, forfeit, loss, sadness, sorrow, unhappiness Triumphant (adjective; describing a state of being): Syn: champion, conquer, dominate, master, winning, lucky, swaggering. Ant: depressed, discourage, sad, defeated, unsuccessful.
Do you feel what I mean…? Who wouldn’t want this word more a part of their life…?
Quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~Theodore Roosevelt, 1910 from his speech,Citizen in the Republic
Thank you Teddy!! That’s a powerful message.
So I ask; do you feel triumph throughout the week? Are you stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks and trying something new? Are you willing to get dirty and accept failure as a natural part of achievement? If not, what are you waiting for? No one is handed greatness it’s something that is earned through diligence, persistence, patience and playfully.
Triumph is a powerful state of being but let’s gain some understanding from its brother, Failure.
Failure sadly has a negative connotation in our society. Most of us are taught at a young age that we need to be the “best”, outshining others and that failure (losing) is not an option. As we “mature” into adulthood most of us continue this hyper-competitive philosophy in the workplace and elsewhere with an attitude of “win at all cost”, “second place is the first loser”, “cover your ass.” as we put others down to look good, etc..
I don’t know where the break occurred between failure and success but we can’t experience one without the other. They are true opposites just like up and down, light and dark and rich and poor.
What if we start understanding failure as is a form of success?
Roosevelt states: “…who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;…” Falling short of our goal provides vital information that helps us eventually triumph as long as we commit to staying in the arena Failure only occurs when we don’t learning from the wisdom of our mistakes. The flip-side. Here are the traits of a triumphant life from my experience:
Self talking in compassionate and encouraging ways allowing me to sustain inner peace.
Inhabiting an unshakable confidence about who I am and what I am here to do.
Living every event in terms of possibilities and an opportunity to grow.
Being a risk taker and being willing to experiment and play with life.
Knowing that I am 100% responsible for my experience.
Establishing open and honest communications with all people.
Consistently challenging myself.
Knowing that I have what it takes.
Learning to simply listen
Tools for Transformation:
How do we live in a state of Triumph? “Mind matters most” Triumph is a state of mind. The material success and/or the titles we achieve are only a physical manifestation of ourself belief.
In part of my Let Go of Your Bullsh*t workshops we do a visual meditation that helps us access the feelings of Triumph. It’s a powerful state. The more you practice and experience this mindset the more you be able to live in the benefits of it . Here is a guided meditation to get there. Give yourself about 15-20min to complete this and find a quiet place then begin. Discovering your Triumphant Self – Meditation
Go a step further. Express your Triumphant Self. How? Go for a walk; go to the store, wash dishes, dance; whatever it takes to experience more of the feelings of your Triumphant Self. The more physicalized this state the stronger and more powerful the dialogue with your Triumphant Voice becomes. If one practices enough it will become second nature.
YOGA. Putting it into Practice: We all have yoga poses that we view as “impossible” and tell ourselves “I can’t” in one form or another. What if we use these “impossible” poses as a means to discover and experience triumph?! TRY THIS!
Take on one of these “impossible” poses. Start slow, don’t give yourself a deadline only the goal of its mastery. Learn the particulars of this posture. A great resource, go to YouTube and look it up. There are 1000’s of teaching videos on that very posture. Dedicate time each day or 4-5x a week and practice. Practice could mean backing away from the pose itself and strengthening the necessary muscle groups first. For Example: I am have been working on handstand for over two years now and I still haven’t mastered it. Working diligence, persistence, patience and playfully and after thousands of failed attempts I realized (feedback) that I was lacking the required abdominal strength. So for several weeks every morning I did core exercises. I am still doing them. All this hard work has brought me much closer to my goal. I hope to have handstand mastered soon. Go For it!! Or will your soul be one that “neither knows victory nor defeat.”?
(in speech) to control the outgoing breath in producing voice and speech sounds.
to pause, as for breath; take rest:
to live; exist; to be alive
(as a verb; used with an object),
to give utterance to; whisper.
to express; manifest.
to deprive of breath; tire; exhaust.
A QUOTE (inside a Quote):
In his great book “The Big Leap” by: Gay Hendricks has this to say:
“There’s only one way to get through the fog of fear, and that’s to transform it into the clarity of exhilaration. One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I’ve ever heard comes from Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt therapy. He said,
‘Fear is excitement without the breath.’
“Here’s what this intriguing statement means: The very same mechanisms that produce excitement also produce fear, and any fear can be transformed into excitement by breathing fully with it. On the other hand, excitement turns into fear quickly if you hold your breath. When scared, most of us have a tendency to try to get rid of the feeling. We think we can get rid of it by denying or ignoring it, and we use holding our breath as a physical tool of denial.”
“The best advice I can give you is to take big, easy breaths when you feel fear. Feel the fear instead of pretending it’s not there. Celebrate it with a big breath, just the way you’d celebrate your birthday by taking a big breath and blowing out all the candles on your cake. Do that, and your fear turns into excitement. Do it more, and your excitement turns into exhilaration. I find it very empowering to know that I’m in charge of the exhilaration I feel as I go through life. I bet you will, too.”
And I find it fascinating that a shift between fear or excitement is just a breath away. Imagine being able to change your entire experience by simply controlling your breathing.
Why is this so? Let’s dive into these mechanisms and talk science. No worries I will keep it simple and clear. Our Central Nervous System (CNS) is very sophisticated differentiated into several sub-systems one of them is our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS is a control system that acts largely unconscious and regulates our heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. The ANS is further divided into two contrasting yet complementary systems:
For an analogy, one may think of the sympathetic division as the police responders and the parasympathetic division as the court system. The ANS and its subsidiaries are controlled by the hypothalamus. Why is this important…? As part of the brain, the hypothalamus connects the ANS with our hormone secreting system called the Endocrine System. Which hormones are secreted depends on the information it receives. The hypothalamus is responsible for our survival, maintaining our bodies temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep, circadian rhythm, moods, and sex drive.
What does all this have to do with the breath, Will? Oh yeah! and then there’s our breath.
Our Breath is something that we can learn to master and it use it for our betterment.
Take a ten DEEP breaths right now….yes, please do this and really feel it. These breath will felt your understanding. This is isn’t a thinking game it’s experiential. So experience it.
Where did you feel your breath inflate first? Was it your chest or your abdomen?
If you’re breathing into your chest, you are living in a state of “Flight or Flight” and functioning through the SMS activating the Acute Stress Response. The Acute Stress Response (aka “flight-or-flight response.”) is a physiological contraction of the body that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to our survival. ‘Perceived’ being the key word here. Our body when activated in this state is ready to fight or flee. (Check out the diagram to understand the anatomical shift.) This response is essential when we confront by a wild animal but unnecessary in a business meeting or speaking to a “loved” one.
When being “Stressed out” we become: dismissive (tunnel vision), defensive, aggressive, anxious (shaking), and are easily frustrated (anticipation).
What’s interesting is once we’ve had time to step away from this stressful event, to relax, and “take a breather”, isn’t it interesting how regretful we feel, at least I do, for treating someone that way. I typically end up in an apologetic conversation. Does this sound familiar? When we become more acquainted and practice mastery of our breath, our response to ourselves and the world changes dramatically.
Being mindful of our breath while deepening our inhales to our belly, then filling the rest of your torso with air and also slowing our exhales (aka diaphragmatic breathing) we expand into “Rest & Digest.” activating the PSNS.
When activated, the PSNS restores us to homeostasis. (Why do you suppose you feel so wonderful after a relaxing vacation or after a yoga class?).
The main hormones released in this state are serotonin, the happiness hormone and oxytocin, the cuddle hormone or the love hormone. These chemicals signal the brain, the heart and muscles telling them to release their defenses and “chill-out” providing you an opportunity to live more peaceful, bond with others, establish trust, sleep deeper/longer, puts you in a “good mood” and make more productive decisions. (Give me some of that!)
So what’s it going to be: would you rather live in a fearful “Police” state of mind reacting to the world as a constant threat to your survival OR learn to master your breathing choosing a exhilarating, rational and compassionate mediation through the “court system” of our soul considering all options and making an informed choice?
Tools for Transformation:
There are hundreds of mindful breath practices. I suggest starting slow. Give yourself just five minutes in the morning and the evening to Sit, become more aware as you slow down and deepen your breathing. In the beginning All you need to do is focus on listening to it, or live it’s rise-and-fall feelings creates in your body. Inhale and exhale. Work gently to slow and soften the experience without strain or stress.
As you become more comfortable sitting, this could be a traditional seat or just sitting with your back away from the chair, increase the time working up to 15 minutes or more. You can also practice this lying in bed at night, placing your hand below your naval and dropping your inhale into your hand (caution: after about three minutes, this will most likely put you to sleep. I’m serious 🙂 ) Here is A Simple Breath Practice that I recorded. Try it!
Yoga: Putting it into Action!
Yoga asana is ALL about breathing. Get yourselves to a practice or go more frequently if you already do. Throughout the practice, a good yoga teacher will help you become more aware and understand the power and the peace of your breath. Listen, try, let go of expectations, let go of what it looks like and keep showing up. This is why yoga is called a “practice” and not sport, because each time you show up is an opportunity to learn and play a bit more.
Got for it!! Happiness is just a breath away!
I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you have any questions or are in need of help when you get stuck, make a comment, shoot me an email. And again, thank you! for your time and feedback.
the state of being master; the power of command or control. Syn: ability, comprehension, dexterity, familiarity, genius, know-how, knowledge, proficiency, understanding, attainment, power, expertise Ant: clumsiness, ignorance, inability, incompetence, ineptness, misinterpretation, mistake, misunderstanding, failure
As I am sure you can tell, I’m all about finding ways to live up to and through my highest potential. A Mastery vs Performance Mindset and understanding this distinction has proven to be huge and has far reaching effects.
In Heidi Grant Halverson book “Succeed”, Heidi makes this distinction and their attributes very clear.
So, what is a Performance Mindset (PM) or as Heidi refers it as “Being Good.”? The essential nature of a performance minded person is to show that they are smart, talented, or how they outperform others. There is also an obsessive focus on achieving a particular outcome. External validation from a teacher (one of my pitfalls), boss or loved one is crucial. All of this striving to achieve is tied very closely to their self-worth.
I know what this is like, it still shows up in my yoga practice. Growing up an accomplished competitive athlete has my ego screaming “Look at me!”, “Look what I can do!” as it waits for recognition. This voice of validation drive me nuts but I acknowledge it, let it go, patiently come back to my intention and center with my breath. I’m confident this desire for validation will someday disappear completely.
So what happens if the Being Good folks fail to achieve their desired result? Research shows that most often they feel worthless, stupid, meaningless, and keep believing that “second place is the first loser.” And then what happens? All of this negative thinking leads to some form of depression which opens the self to all sorts of destructive behaviors and sabotage.
Many “performer” can be high achievers when they have a straight-forward unencumbered target. But as we know, life is nonlinear, it gets messy and obstacles arise constantly creating difficulty for the rigid Being Good. Being strictly goal orientation brings a narrow view, lacks flexibility and the critical thinking required to adapt, overcome and achieve.
“Edison failed 10,000 times before he made the electric light. Do not be discouraged if you fail a few times.” ~Napoleon Hill
“Mind matters most” ~S.N. Goenka
“There is no failure, it’s all just feedback.” ~Wm Schneider
This is where the master’s of life thrive. People of a Mastery Mentality or “Getting Better,” as Heidi calls this group, value self-improvement and enjoys the process of achievement instead of “performing”.
Becoming the most capable person is at Mastery’s core. Rather than feeling discouraged, playing the victim or looking to blame others when the going gets rough (PM attitude), the Getting Better get excited, greets an obstacle as an opportunity to acquire more knowledge while exploring and imploring helpful tools. Masters diligently get back to work and keep trying while thinking, “I will figure this out.” Due to their flexible attitude, Getter Better peeps often experience more satisfaction of their success and rarely do they make the mistake of giving up too soon.
Or how about a game? Have you ever heard of “Go” (proper name is ‘Weiqi’)? This 4000-year-old game is the eastern equivalent to chess. Unlike the rigidity of chess with its linear and limited play, Go is a game requiring flexibility with no dominant pieces and 6x as many positions as chess. A game of Go is won by “encircling” your opponent, thus eliminating them and the winner eventually dominates the entire board. With several factors at play all at once, Go requires a larger perspective and strategy. If you’re interested here’s how to play. I love this game and love the challenge. I can feel it exercising my brain each time I play.
Yoga: Bring “flexibility” into your practice.
Einstein says that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Many yoga practices offer Sun Salutation A & B in most western classes. Ask yourself, “can I discover something new this time through?” How is your connection to your breath? Maybe it’s time to try or fine-tune your jump forward or back? Or maybe slowing it down will offer new insight. I suggest working moment-to-moment and step away from the “same old” and open your mind to new possibilities.
So try it. Be the master and see how stepping away from the rigidity of Being Good and into the flow of Getting Better can open you to a world of new perspectives.