Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

Are you lying your way to success? July 25, 2017

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They say there are no coincidences, and thus my ears perk up when I encounter the convergence of two ideas.

I stumbled across a study showing that people who demonstrate higher degrees of self-deception are more successful in the world.  Participants were asked a series of embarrassing questions written to reveal the dark side within us.   Those who lied reported being happier and feeling more successful in their pursuits.  This went beyond how they felt as they also earned more in their respective roles.

This study converged with a Buddhist principle I studied on self-compassion without self-deception.  The belief that if we drench honesty in compassion, we might live a more authentic, loving life.  Pema Chodron said “the definition of self confidence is self gentleness.”

If this is true, what do we make of the first study?  Have we, as a society, become so inept at self-compassion that self-deception is required to carve a happy productive life?  Have we replaced radical acceptance with deceit as a survival skill?

What if we could accept with compassion the whole truth of who we are without self-loathing?  What if we were amused by our flaws and forgiving of our failures?  What if we met weakness with a heart of curiosity versus a mindset of judgement?   Could this impact our joy?  Our authenticity? Our results?  And what if it had only one impact:  self love.  Would that be enough?

 

Unending rain July 11, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 11:24 am
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rainy day

I’ve always marveled at our nature mirrors our life.  Rainy days are the perfect illustration.   Sometimes life seems so sunny & bright with all the pieces aligned & in flow. Our energy boundless & our ideas as expansive as the blue sky.

And sometimes it pours.   It’s in those moments when it’s gloomily overcast & it would the sun is never again coming out that we have a choice.  We can wallow in the darkness & tell ourselves woe is me stories or we can practice patient strength.  With a deep breath & a lift of our heart, we can radiate the joy and possibility that appears cloud covered; digging deep to ride the ebb and flow of what is external to us.

And even then, sometimes the rain just keeps coming.   A dreary moment becomes a dreary season, and still the choice stands in front of us.  Will we see the beauty?  Will we see the gift of the rain?  Will we honor natural cycles in our life without being a victim to them? Will we believe in the possibility of tomorrow’s rising sun and parting clouds?  Choose to bask.

 

Yep… I’m going there. You coming? June 27, 2017

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As a yoga instructor, I have frequently fielded the question of yoga & religion.  If you do a quick sweep of the internet, you’ll find all sorts of fabulous mythology, editorials, and “thou shalt” commands.

So for a moment, I invite you to lay aside the opinions of others and be in inquiry with your own wisdom:  What best support you on your path?

Could this wildly popular practice of yoga amplify my life?   Could it support me  in manifesting my beliefs in positive action while not judging the beliefs of others?  The world definitely needs more of you living your most beautiful life while simultaneously honoring others doing the same.

Yoga has no dog in the religion fight.   It is simply a series of habits intended to support you as your highest self.

The 8 tenets of yoga call us to practice habits of physical poses (asana), breathwork, treating others & ourselves with care, diciplining ourselves against distraction, and creating focused quiet in our life.   The intention is to calm our mind so that we may experience communion with what truly is our life’s inspiration.  For some, this is a life following Christ.  For some, this is a life steeped in loving kindness towards all.

John Shore said this brilliantly when asked if yoga competes with Christianity :

Yoga is a means of exercising one’s body, with the overall intention of clearing and calming one’s mind, so that one might then experience a natural elevation of consciousness. You are a Christian, meaning that you are, by definition, seeking Christ consciousness; you want to contain within yourself as much of the spiritual essence of Christ as possible. Using yoga to help you do that is like using a car to help you get somewhere you want to go. That’s what a car is for. That’s what a car does.  Like a car, yoga doesn’t care where you want to go; it only wants to help you get there. It is a means, not an end. A Muslim doing yoga will draw closer to Allah, a Jew to Yahweh, a Christian to Christ, an atheist to a heightened sense of oneness with all. Anyone seeking an elevated, peaceful, more centered mindset can use yoga to get it. That’s what yoga is for. That’s what yoga does.”

If someone suggests to you that yoga interferes with your faith or worse, derails it, ask them if they have ever sustained a yoga practice.  My experience is that this practice draws you closer with, touches you more deeply to, and expands the moments of connection to your Source.

And the whip cream on top?  You’ll feel better.  You’ll act better.  You’ll learn to step off the wheel of stress and into peaceful, joyful waters.  That’s fabulous for you.  That’s inspirational to the world.  That’s pleasing to your Creator.

 

What is the sweet spot? June 26, 2017

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middle path

One of the basic tenets of Buddhism is the idea of walking the middle path in our life. Life is not entirely this or that, all action and no rest, total elation without sadness.  Wholehearted living calls us to find the sweet spot of harmony; the ebb and flow of the middle path.

The same is true as we think about allowing our life to unfold and take shape.  A life without   intention dilutes our impact; our days a whim or hope.  A life without dreaming and space is an over-engineered structure too heavy and complex for freedom and flexibility to survive.

Can we find the sweet spot; both allowing and willing, creating and surrendering, leading and following, architecting & dreaming?

When you find your mind planning, strategizing, and structuring the future, remind yourself to embrace flow and grace & to be totally present in this moment.  That’s where the magic lives, yes?  It is right now that we create, cultivate, and celebrate.   In this moment, take a deep breath and let that breath go.  As we slow our breath, we slow our experience of time.

Take a moment and consider where you are living at the outer edge of your continuum; creating an imbalance.  Shift towards the middle path, & sink into the sweet spot of both creating and being created.

 

Get off the “keep going” wagon June 20, 2017

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divine spark

When we lose our connection with what lights us up or we discover our actions misaligned with our intention, it’s time for a self-audit pause.    That sounds easy, but it is in these moments that our mind screams “Keep Going.”

Here’s a simple method to self-audit:

  • Get quiet: create time to sit with your breath; landing the inhale on your heart  and releasing thought with the exhale.
  • Connect: this can be prayer, loving kindness practice, or just heart-centered breathing.
  • Believe:  Your spirit is the house of your divine spark (aka: higher purpose), and your inner wisdom knows this spark intimately.  Beyond words, you hold the truth of your purpose.  Trust it.
  • Gut Check: Not sure?  Ask yourself this simple question:  “If my life aligned with my divine spark 80% of the time, I would lay my head down at night and say, ‘Yes!  This is inspired living for me.’”
  • Drop it: What is contrary in your life?  It takes a bit of courage to let the rest of it drop away, but it is so worth it.
  • Move with purpose: As you leave the space of audit and back into action of daily life, stay awake.  Make the shift.

Be committed to your own path.  We have only this one precious life.

 

Safety Is Sexy June 19, 2017

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The Safety Golden Rule of Yoga:  Foster a practice that leaves you feeling better at the end of practice than the beginning.  

The Art of Alignment

Other guidelines for a happy, safe experience:

  • You are the master of your body and experience, and thus, you are your best teacher.  Follow your wisdom.  
    • Know your body. Honoring your limitations is a sign of maturity in your practice. Remember, they are only limitations today!
    • Use your breath as a barometer: Is it rhythmic and deep? If not, soften your practice or rest in child’s pose.  
    • Discern between pain and discomfort.  Pain (sharp, shooting, tingling, throbbing) is never ok; however, discomfort is an incredible opportunity to cultivate peace in the midst of challenge.  
    • Slay the comparison beast.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing – love what you can do today, and aspire to what’s possible for you!
  • Practice safe alignment
    • Before extending into a pose, engage your core & move intentionally into the shape.
    • Protect your spine by engaging the abdominals and neutralizing your pelvis.  
    • Never laterally twist or lock your knee.   
    • Stack your joints.
    • Root down through the body part touching the earth before opening the pose.
    • Your feet matter.  Lift your arches while pressing of the feet down.
    • Engage the shoulders by sliding the blades back and down.
    • Micro-bend or soften the joints.  It’s subtle but it protects the join while strengthening the muscles.  
  • Food & Drink:
    • Practice should happen on a digested belly.  We suggest waiting 2 hours after eating a meal and 1 hour after a snack.   
    • Hydrate moderately 30 minutes before & during practice, and generously post practice.
 

Life laughs at leashes that tether June 15, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 4:27 pm

Laugh Out Loud At Yourself

We are in the midst of a relocation, and our moving company was supposed to arrive on Thursday of last week.  I handled the reschedule to Monday like a pro; especially given I had been sleeping on an air mattress for a week.

Friday evening arrives, and I begin my much anticipated weekend meditation training; the perfect way to spend my birthday.  As I drove home Friday after our evening session, blissed out and committed to noble silence, I noticed a flurry of messages on my phone.

The movers were now arriving the following day at 8AM.  Good Golly.  Forced to cancel my meditation weekend as my husband was still in Ohio, I spent my weekend  sorting, stacking, unpacking, folding, moving, placing, donating…. you get the point.

I had a moment of meltdown in which I left a desperate voicemail for my husband that never again in our life would we move with one person on the receiving end.  A twinge of bitterness sunk in as he was enjoying a golf trip with friends, and I found myself grousing around in a “woe is me,” and “why am I always on the work end of the stick?”

And then it struck me.  Yoga.  This is where our practice begins; off our mat when the temperature dial turns up.

These moments are a fabulous reminder that life laughs at the leashes we try to put on it.  Control is an illusion, and the real trick is to stay connected with flow and peace even when the waters are choppy and unpredictable.