Circling Together in Sisterhood Svadhyana Niyama

Sunday, October 23, 2016

 

This is our calling.

It’s a calling that guides us further on the yogic path. It’s a calling to circle up with one another in the practice of Svadhyana, Self contemplation and exploration.

It’s through reflection of one another that we can become aware of our own Divine true nature. Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘You are what you eat’? It’s true! Everything in this material plane has a ripple effect that reaches far beyond our individual self. Therefore, we are what we choose to do, we are the company we choose to keep, we are what we read, what we watch, and what we listen to. It all has a huge influence on our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well being.

Svadhyana incorporates a lot of solo Self reflection, but equally important is changing our lifestyle so that we can fully create the space for the practice of Svadhyana to thrive. This is where an intentional yogic sisterhood can be invited into our lives to step into the process of Svadhyana. Circling up and discussing sacred texts, listening to teachings, and reflecting together will assist in dissolving the illusion of separateness and see the truth of interconnectedness. When we chose to become immersed in the teachings of yoga, then we become those teachings. We can live it, walk it, breath it, and embody it.

It is through seeing Divinity reflected in our sisters, that we can see the Divinity we reflect into this community and look inwards. We are each an individual pearl on a connected strand of billions of pearls, living our own lives, yet part of a whole complex consciousness.

There are many ways to bring Svadhyana practice into your life. You can do any of the below on your own or with community:

 

  1. Study sacred text and/or books that inspire your path. Bhagavad Gita, Vedas, Yoga Sutras, Awakening Shakti, Shakti Women, etc.
  2. Making a list of mentors, teachers, and other inspiring figures who exemplify the way you want to live and the qualities they embody.
  3. Create sacred space in your home.
  4. Watch YouTube videos and listen to podcast of teachings.
  5. Listen to conscious music or find a kirtan meetup group.
  6. Find pictures of the goddesses and hang them up in your room.
  7. Chant holy names to invoke the Goddess. Here are some to try out:

 

Om Dum Durgayei Namaha,Om and Salutations to that feminine energy which protects from all manner of negative influences.

Om Mata Om Kali, Durga Devi Namo Namaha, Bow unto the Divine Mother and Her many feminine aspects.

 

Enjoy the journey with an open and gentle heart.

 

A Guide to Dhyana: Yoga Meditation

Saturday, October 22, 2016

 

Our thoughts are in a continuous flow of one thing after another like a constant flowing and changing river. This is what makes meditation frustrating at times. Our minds don’t stop! However, meditation is not about stopping mind, but observing the mind as an outsider so that we can better understand our emotions, reactions, and patterns. We observe so that we don’t get caught up in the false storyline that is created out of future anxieties and hopes, or past regrets. It is a practice of presence with what is. In yoga, this is called dhyana.

Dhyana means meditation, or fixing one’s gaze on a single object or image. Dhyana is part of the eight limbs of yoga that reigns in the mind to transcend self absorbtion. With practice, this can create discernment, and nurture an easeful state of existence.

The best part about dhyana… it can be practiced anywhere!

Let’s begin with the sky.

The sky represents the infinite expansiveness that our mind are capable of. Find a cozy place with a view of the sky overhead. Preferably on a cloudy day or during sunset. You can lay on your back or sit cross legged looking out at the horizon.

Begin noticing your breath. How are you breathing? Is your breath open and free? Is it contracted and shallow? Are you breathing with your chest? Breathing with your belly?

Now, ask yourself “How am I feeling?” Notice how your emotions affect your breath. With that awareness, regulate the flow of your breath from the belly, mid belly, to upper chest, gently. Find the ease in the breath and allow your emotion to follow.

With this ease, allow your gaze to be unfocused as you look to the sky. Be aware of the clouds, but do not get lost in their shapes. Notice them drift away without attachment. Feel the space in between you and the sky. Feel the air. Notice it’s temperature or smell. Let that drift away as well. Notice and let go. Continue this pattern as new things arise in your awareness. See it for what it is and then allow it to move on.

Just as we practice in observing the changing sky without attachment , we can also observe our changing thoughts without attachment. See the thought for what it is, see the storyline that has been created, breath, allow that to go, and come back to the present moment.

Dhyana=Breath=Presence

 


How To Deeply Release Through Breathwork

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

 

“The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.” B.K.S. Iyengar

Imagine walking into a home. You attempt to open the front door but you can hardly squeeze through because there’s something behind it. You manage to get through only to trip over various objects that crowd the floor. There are dirty moldy dishes on the coffee table, and the room is clouded with a terrible musty odor. The curtains are dusty and cover the windows making the room dark and cavern-like. How does this make you feel?

This is not very different than how we tend to treat our own bodies. We may hold onto old patterns and emotions that block our openness to the outside Divine light from entering. We keep stale breath and energy within our bodies that cause dis-ease and toxins to build up. Our inner mind and body may be covered in dust and ‘mold’ of reoccurring negative patterns.How we keep our space, internal and external, and what we put into our bodies, physically and energetically, matters. This is saucha, purification or cleanliness. Through purification comes clarity in mind, body, and Spirit. Saucha is the practice of clearing out the dust and removing what is necessary so that there is space for more pureness to enter.


There are many ways to put saucha into practice. Keeping a clean and clear home space is crucial for mentally clarity and is quite simple. Keeping a clean diet and paying attention to ingredients helps the body cleanse impurities. That means noticing how you feel after you specific foods or drinks. Are you actually hungry when you eat? Does your body feel energized or tired? Are you gasy? Do you have a headache? These are all things related to food and worth paying attention to. If certain foods or beverages cause discomfort, then do your best to refrain from putting them into your beautiful body.

Breath work is also a form of purification. We tend to breathe only with our upper lungs and ignore the lower belly and mid lungs. Next time you begin savasana focus first on your belly. Rest your hands between your pelvis and naval region and breath into that space. Feel your lower belly rise and fall. Imagine the breath you are sending is like a river current moving through blockages and obstacles, eventually clearing those obstacles to allow more flow. Take that vision with you as you move your awareness to your mid belly/lower lung area. Stay here for a few breathes and move upward to your upper lungs. Now, imagine a continuous stream flowing from lower belly, mid belly, to the upper lungs. Invite the current of breathe to remove blockages.

This same breath is used throughout your asana practice in any pose. The breath is crucial to clear away the inner dust and allow more space for purified clarity and awareness. Breath is life force, prana. It is the yoking of mind, body, and movement.

Surrender into the breath, the clear space, and set the intention to clear those blockages that keep you from embodying your full potential.

4 Powerful Videos of Modern Day Goddesses

Monday, October 17, 2016

 

Have you ever had one of those nights where you’re searching the internet world looking for something that will move you emotionally and mentally? These five videos feature a variety of women representing goddess energy as they move along their heart’s path in creating change. They each touch on the beauty that is both bliss and heartache, the light and the darkness, and they embody in their own way, the balance of the masculine and feminine.

1. Sara Kay,  weaves her gentle beautiful words of creativity representing the energy of the goddess Saraswati in her TED Talk poem, ‘If I Should Have a Daughter.’ Her potent delivery of grace warms the heart.

“When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away. You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.”

2. The fierce, modern day Kali, Marianne Williamson, delivers her speech about women and religion at the Parliament of World Religions. Her words of wisdom and strength bring the women and men in the crowds to a standing ovation. After watching this video you’ll be fired up to enthusiastically continue your heart’s path.

“Every woman here who is a healer is a priestess. Every woman here who is a teacher or educator is a priestess...A Divine goddess is not just beautiful, she’s fierce.”

3. Another representation of a modern day Kali, Rha Goddess, delivers her voice in the importance of building a strong community of young, empowered girls. Her speech, ‘Who’s Got Next,’ was delivered at a Bioneers conference. We have the opportunity to teach our young girls what it means to be empowered and create healthy boundaries so they can stand up confidently as the next leaders.

“The next wave of women in power, where we are building the next feminine, soul centered, social political movement, one voice at a time...Next wave women know that we are responsible for ourselves, and our universal family. And the responsibility begins with honoring who we really are, and bringing what we have been called to bring.”

4. Brene Brown delivers her TED Talk on inviting more vulnerability into our lives. She is Lakshmi, bringing awareness that in vulnerability comes an abundance of authentic connections and expansive potential. Deep transformation and healing begins first with being vulnerable.

“Connection as a result of authenticity. They let go of who they thought they should be for who they are…They fully embraced vulnerability. They believe that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.”

7 Ways Yoga can Inspire the Feminine Connection with Nature

Sunday, October 16, 2016

 

 

 

"No matter by which culture a woman is influenced, she understands the words wild and woman, intuitively. When a woman hears those words, an old, old memory is stirred and brought back to life. The memory is of our absolute, undeniable, and irrevocable kinship with the wild feminine." Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The feminine is strongly connected to the natural cycles of nature; the tides, the moon and sun, the stars, and Mother earth. Due to urban living and the hustle of life, we often forget this fact. When we practice yoga outside we are in unity with the plants, the trees, the people around us, and in unity with the flow of the universal consciousness that is always taking place. Yoga in nature allows us to perceive nature as a living and conscious organism.

Here are a few ways to connect your yoga practice with nature. Remember, nature is always there, regardless if you’re in a city park, your back porch, or deep in the woods.

  1. Practice being present. Disconnect from your iphone and earbuds. Listen to the sounds around you. The wind rustling tree leaves, river stream flowing, birds singing, branches crackling somewhere in the distance.
  2. Pause often. Go for a walk, stop and breath. Begin taking five deep breaths in stillness. Focus on opening your heart as you expand your awareness.
  3. If possible, go barefoot. Feel the earth, the pebbles, moist earth, the warm sand. This is a healing and grounding practice, even if you’re standing in one place with direct contact to the earth.
  4. Root to rise. Set a solid foundation for tree pose. Reach your arms up and pretend you are the branches. If it’s windy, allow your branches to sway and dance.
  5. Lay down in savasana. The back of your heart space is in contact with Mother earth’s gentle, loving vibrations. Allow yourself to sink into Her. Allow everything to fall away and invite healing to flow up from the roots and into your heart.
  6. Begin to track your menstrual cycles along with the movements of the moon. Observe your emotions based on what is happening in the night sky. This is a beautiful way to intimately know your body and how it is influenced by nature.
  7. Meet a plant, flower, or tree. Notice a plant, flower, or tree that catches your attention. Meditate with it while noticing what bees or animals are attracted to it and observe how it changes with the seasons. Take time to research the it. Does it have healing benefits? Where is it most common?

And lastly,

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another”. Mahatma Gandhi

 


 


 

 

Trusting Stillness in the Rhythm of the Waves

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We live in a society that values the phrases work hard, try hard, do more.

Push further.

Here’s another option-

Surrender.

What does that word bring up for you?

We are often taught that surrender means to give up, to be the loser of the challenge, or to be weak. In yoga however, surrendering is the most empowered thing you can choose to do. It’s the strength and wisdom in knowing that you can surrender into the resistance, the pain, the joy, the love, knowing that it will move you further on your path. Surrender is not giving up, it’s diving in with full trust that you will be directed exactly where you need to be.

In sanskrit, this is called Ishvara Pranidhana, one of the last of the yoga sutras and part of the niyamas from the eight limbs of yoga. Ishvara Pranidhana is the ultimate surrender to God, Source, Universe, Oneness, or whatever your preferred definition.

The first step to embody surrender into everyday life is to practice on the mat. Asana is constant surrendering to sensation if you allow it to be. Start with Child's Pose. Stay in Child's Pose. Breath here for at least five minutes. You may feel impatient and restless here. Child's Pose goes against the need to 'do more.' This is the ultimate surrender to stay put while feeling resistance. Breath deeper and focus on the area behind your heart center. Invite that area to expand with each inhale and exhale. Move your awareness to your sacrum and invite that same expansion here. Imagine each micro muscle loosening deeper. Now, with your forehead to the ground, gently roll your forehead side to side, softly massaging the space in between your eyebrows. Imagine that space glowing in a spacious white light. Breath.

Surrender is like the ocean. It is vast, has mysterious depth, it dances with the wind rather than resisting, it’s in constant flow and constant change without hesitation. The waves are in a place of opening and closing, lifting and crashing with the willingness to again, open.

Surrendering won’t always be easy. It will come with resistance and reflect back to you your habitual patterns in escaping tension. That’s where the practice begins. What can be practiced on the mat, can then be practiced off the mat.

Surrender and trust in the Divine plan of your life path.

You are exactly where you need to be.

Guru Purnima - A Day to Thank Your Teachers

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Today is Guru Purnima, one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar. Celebrated on the first full moon (Purnima) after the solstice, it is traditionally a time to pay respects to those who help to guide you on your path and to express your gratitude for how they have impacted your life.

For many of us, the word guru can often conjure up images of robe clad spiritual leaders of sometimes-questionable intentions but another way of looking at it is to understand that anyone that has taught or guided you can be seen as a guru.  These gurus can come in many forms. Professors, yoga instructors, mentors, mothers, fathers, friends and even those that we have a hard time with.

Some believe that in addition to teacher or master, the word guru refers to anyone or anything that brings you from darkness to light. This comes from the claim that the etymological roots 'gu' means darkness and 'ru' means light or dispeller of darkness.

While this is a beautiful idea that I am not quite ready to give up just yet, it is also interesting to note that a more accurate understanding of Sanskrit reveals that guru actually is an adjective meaning heavy. The word comes from the Sanskrit root "gru" literally meaning heavy or weighty. In this case it is in the sense of “heavy with knowledge or spiritual wisdom”.  

In India, this day not only has great importance for academics and scholars who use it as an opportunity to thank their teachers, but it also has religious and spiritual significance as well.  Many Hindus celebrate the day in honor of the great sage Vyasa, who is believed to be born on this day. Buddhists celebrate it in honor of the lord Buddha who gave his first sermon on this day and in the yogic tradition, the day is recognized as the occasion when Shiva became the Adi Guru or first Guru, as he began the transmission of yoga.

No matter what your background or belief system is, this can be a day to honor the people who have helped you to open your mind and heart and to celebrate the potential that we all have to evolve beyond perceived limitations and find true happiness and deep peace in this life.

One of the aspects I love most about Guru Purnima is that in addition to honoring your external teachers, it is also about recognizing and celebrating the guru within.

It’s a powerful time to a time to re-kindle your personal practices and dive deeper into yoga and meditation. Turning inward in this way, will strengthen your capacity to listen to the magnificent wisdom that is already within you.

When you stay connected with your inner teacher, you will open up the doorway to more clarity and direction in your life. You will have access to a deep strength, even in the midst of challenge and be led by an infinite source of light, even in times of darkness.

I invite you to take the time today to reach out to some of the people who have touched your life and say thank you.  And don't forget about the wise teacher inside of you... she might be the one who needs to hear it the most!

 

Simple Practice Sequence for Summer Solstice

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) are a great way to begin any yoga practice and are a part of most yoga traditions. They are a beautiful way to greet the sun on any ordinary day, but during the summer solstice, this sequence has even greater meaning.

The series of poses can be seen as symbolic of the flow between the seasons. For example, Uttanasana (Forward Fold) is a pose of turning inward like we are doing during the darker, colder months of the year and in Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) we reach up and expand as we do in the spring and summer.

As you practice Sun Salutations, it is important to allow your breath to lead the way. Each inhale and each exhale will take you in and out of the poses and create a feeling of mindful fluidity. Exaggerate your awareness of the expansive, opening poses and the contractive curled in poses to feel the dance between the dark and light, and the play of the seasons.

1.Mountain (Tadasana): Stand with your feet about a shoulder's width apart, with hands palm to palm at heart center. Take a few deep breaths here to settle in.

2.Extended Mountain (Utthita Tadasana): On an inhale, slowly raise your arms out to the side and up over head. Stay grounded through your feet as you reach upwards.

3.Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana): On an exhale, bend forward from the waist, stay long through your torso and reach your hands toward the floor. If you feel even a hint of strain, bend your knees to lessen the intensity.

4.Half Standing Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana): Inhale and lift your torso as high as you need to so that you find the natural curves of your spine. Lengthen from the crown of your head to the top of your tail. Roll your shoulder back and open your heart.

5.Plank: Exhale and extend your legs back into a pushup like position.

6.Low Plank (Chatturanga Dandasana): Exhale and lower yourself into a pushup in the down position. Keep your body in as much of straight line as possible. Feel free to make this transition with the knees on the floor.

7.Cobra or Upward Dog (Bhujangasana or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana): On an inhale, bring your neck, head and chest up while leaving your legs on the ground. Only come as high as you can using the strength of your back and not your hands. In Upward Dog, rise up on the arms fully, so only your hands and feet are on the ground.

8.Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):Bring your head down and raise your hips into the air on an exhale. Your body will be in an inverted V position. Hold for 5 breaths.

9.At the bottom of your next breath, step or hop your feet to the front of your mat.

10.Inhale, Repeat Half Standing Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana)

11.Exhale, Repeat Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Sun Salutations can be done several times as a practice on their own or as a warm up to a more comprehensive asana practice. Repeat 1-10 times.


25 Inspiring Quotes for Summer Solstice

Monday, June 20, 2016

 

I love summer! So much fullness and beauty. Each day seems to hold the promise of a fresh start.  Of abundance and hope. To celebrate the start of summer, I am sharing some of my favorite summertime quotes. Enjoy!

1.  Each solstice is a domain of experience unto itself. At the summer solstice, all is green and growing, potential coming into being, the miracle of manifestation painted large on the canvas of awareness. ~Gary Zuka

2.  I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer — its dust and lowering skies. ~Toni Morrison

3.  Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare, and left the flushed print in a poppy there. ~Francis Thompson

4.  Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly. ~Pablo Neruda

5.  Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds. ~Regina Brett

6.  Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~Russell Baker

7.  The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing. ~Dan Simmons

8.  Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out. ~Deb Caletti

 

9.  Tears of joy are like the summer raindrops pierced by sunbeams. ~Horsea Ballou

10.  Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen

11.  A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows. ~St. Francis of Assisi

12.  Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun. ~Kahlil Gibran

13.  Then followed that beautiful season... Summer.... Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

14.  When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome. ~WilmaRudolph

15.  The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world's joy. ~Henry Ward Beecher

16.  I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips. ~Violette Leduc

17.  What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. ~Gertrude Jekyll

18.  In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams


19. Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time. ~John Lubbock

20.  The luxury of all summer's sweet sensation is to be found when one lies at length in the warm, fragrant grass, soaked with sunshine, aware of regions of blossoming clover and of a high heaven filled with the hum of innumerous bees. ~Harriet E. Prescott,

21.  I am Summer, come to lure you away from your computer... come dance on my fresh grass, dig your toes into my beaches. ~Oriana Green

22.  Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
 ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



23.  I drifted into a summer-nap under the hot shade of July, serenaded by a cicadae lullaby, to drowsy-warm dreams of distant thunder. ~Terri Guillemets

24.  Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world. ~Ada Louise Huxtable

25.  Both the Winter and the Summer Solstices are expressions of love. They show us the opposition of light and dark, expansion and contraction, that characterize our experiences in the Earth school so that we can recognize our options as we move through our lives. ~Gary Zukav

 

10 Simple Ways to Take the High Road

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

 

Sometimes, no matter how good a person you are, no matter how much you live with integrity and intention, you may still find yourself in a situation where someone treats you badly and there is a lot of negativity coming your way.

Recently I had my heart broken by some people who I loved and trusted. They seemed to get so stuck in their way of seeing things that my experience no longer mattered. I felt so unseen, vulnerable and powerless. At first all I could do was cry. I stayed in bed for an entire day choking on my tears and suffering the crushing pain in my chest.

I watched as conflicting impulses paraded through my awareness. One moment I could find gratitude for the gifts of the whole messy situation and the next I would curl up in fear and frustration. I questioned what I could have possibly done to deserve being treated this way. Feeling how much was out of my control, I fantasized about everything from filing lawsuits to moving away. Yet, tempted as I was, I resisted the urge to put on my fighting gloves and make things worse. I knew there had to be a high road somewhere and I was committed to finding it. I also knew that, for me, biting my tongue, being inauthentic and forcing a smile on my face wasn’t going to cut it.

Unable to sleep that night, I lay awake and wrestled with my options. I wanted to handle this gracefully, but I also wanted to be real. Finally, I knew, I just had to let go. I gave up trying to figure everything out and I surrendered.

By some grace (which is still a mystery to me), I woke up the next morning with great clarity and a deep knowing. As the soft light of the new day began to wash over me, I was filled with deep compassion; both for myself and for those had been treating me so unkindly. It was as if I could simultaneously hold the tender complexities of our shared humanity while seeing the bigger picture. Ironically, the experience that had taken me head first into darkness, opened me to invincible light.

10 Ways to Take the High Road When Life Gets Messy

1. Feel your feelings fully. Chances are pretty good that if there is a lot of negativity coming your way, you’re going to feel a wide array of emotions in a short amount of time. Let’s face it, negativity hurts. At first, diving into your feelings may seem counterintuitive. How can going deeper into anger, fear and grief possibly make things any better? For starters, it keeps us from spiritually bypassing. If we try to jump too quickly to forgiveness, and to seeing the big picture, there is a good chance the feelings we skip over will eat away at us. Eventually they may slip out unskillfully and do more damage. The only true way to find freedom and get to the other side of emotions is to go right into them. To be clear, I am not talking about indulging or wallowing. It’s about opening to what’s alive each moment and letting it flow through. When we resist emotions, we get stuck. The energy behind the emotion gets blocked and in addition to making us feel horrible, it

drains our vitality. On the other hand, when we stay present to the sensations of each emotion, we unlock potent life energy. Each emotion can be an opening, a yogic opportunity, if we let it. I always find that things flow through much more quickly when I don’t resist them.

2. Stay in the moment. Nothing can stick in presence. When you feel wronged by something in the past, remember that it is not still happening. Often times we simply replay painful moments over and over again in our awareness and we only end up feeling worse. Practicing mindfulness and taking things one breath at a time can help us to let go of the past and embrace new possibilities.

3. Be the witness/observer. Don’t exclusively identify with what is happening to you. Even as dramatic events may play out around you, you can be the observer and avoid getting caught up in things. Metaphorically, it is like going from being a passenger on the train to sitting in the station watching the trains go by. You can still feel your feelings—you can still take the right action—but you remain open to all possibilities and not attached to any one outcome.

4. Take responsibility for the part you played. It can be so tempting to want to blame others, especially when you feel clearly wronged. The problem with blame is that now you’re really giving all of your power away. If you can own whatever small part you may have played in creating this disharmony, you can get out of a victim mentality. Know that if you had enough power to create it, then you have enough power to change how it affects you going forward.

5. Put your energy on what you want. Be aware of the fires you’re feeding. Are you fanning the flames of your fears and doubts? Are your words and actions adding more negativity to the situation? Or can you keep turning your attention towards the eventual outcome you desire? What we put our attention on grows, so you might as well direct your energy where you want it.

6. Ask yourself the question: do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? When we fight to prove our position, no matter how justified we may feel, it often takes a toll on our wellbeing. If we can instead focus on maintaining our inner equilibrium and know that it is not up to us to police the universe, then something inside us can relax. When I had a hard time completely setting down my point of view, I found it really useful to agree to disagree. I reminded myself that it’s perfectly normal for different people to experience the exact same situation in very different ways. When I stopped trying to make them wrong, I started to tap into a peace that was unshakeable, regardless of the external circumstances.

7. Remember that what others think of you is none of your business. One of my biggest concerns when all this negativity started coming my way was how I was going to be perceived both professionally and personally by my community. I wanted to share my side of the story so that nobody got the wrong idea. It was not easy but I had to keep telling myself that even when they knew my side of the story, there would still be some people who would get the wrong idea. There is simply no way to control how people are going to perceive us. I had to learn to trust that those closest to me, those who really matter, already knew me well enough to assume the best. My suspicions were confirmed when tons of emails, phone calls and text messages came flooding in from people who had heard rumors about what happened and knew there must be more to the story. This proved to me that consistently showing up with integrity and love in my interactions, overtime, has a greater impact than any stories told about me from another source. Ultimately, I am realizing that even had things not unfolded that way, my only choice is to stay aligned with the truth in my own heart.

8. Enjoy the burn. If you’re truly on the path of awakening, there will be times when the ego gets challenged. When things get heated and you start to feel your former sense of self dissolving, remember that nothing essential can burn. As things fall away, trust that what’s leaving you are the things that block you from greater love, freedom and joy. It’s relatively easy to remain centered when things are going well but, when challenges arise, there is a real opportunity to grow. We can choose to relate to the burn as a purification process that is ultimately going to serve our heart’s awakening and bring greater depth to our practice.

9. Trust in the greater unfolding. Sometimes it’s so hard to see why things are happening the way they are until we get a little distance from them. There have been so many times my life where I have been confused and nothing seems to make sense, but then when I look back years later it’s so obvious why everything needed to happen exactly the way it did. The key is to relax into the unknown and trust that someday it will all be clear. Besides, sometimes the most challenging things we have to face are the ones that cook us into our exact flavor of humanity. They are part of what makes each of us unique.

10. Practice forgiveness. If you can, try to find it in your heart to forgive those who hurt you. Try to remember that they are doing the best they can or they wouldn’t be doing it. When we hold onto things, it rarely makes a difference to them and only harms us. I love the quote: “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It is an amazing practice to not let anything, or anyone, close your heart or cast a shadow over your light.

My hope is that those of you who have also felt frustrated and wronged by situations in your life will remember that while we can’t control the outer world, we can choose how we react to it. I know that taking the high road isn’t always easy, but in the long run, I’m guessing, we’ll be glad we did!

 

Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.

-Joseph Campbell

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