Lead Your Life

Awake, Aligned, and Grounded In Truth

After the final NO comes a YES April 17, 2018

So many of us talk in the language of constraint; feeling confined to the outcomes of decisions made in a more guarded heart, fearful mind, and less awake spirit.  We arrive at 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years old, and we contemplate, “what’s possible given my reality?”  And then we stall because this question is like dragging all of our baggage, story, and past decisions into a field, stacking them upon one another, and then trying to see the meadow of possibility on the other side.

Our reality is a compilation of who we were in our yesterdays.  And yes – bricks and mortar, commitments, pets, and debt are real parts of this moment and cannot be simply dissolved to create space for path forward.  But could we ask this question:  What’s possible given my passion and capability?  If this answer differs from the above, please discontinue beating yourself up for stalling and instead compassionately soften to yourself and say; “I see you and I am with you as we align with what’s coming versus what has been.”

While grateful for the beauty of our lives, we might find ourselves in a chapter where what we’ve created feels like a shoe too small or a sweater too itchy.  Within us is the calling of our spirit; it is our life’s longing, a desire to impact our world.

We cannot change that clarity around or magnetic drawing to happened AFTER we made all these sticky, hard to untangle life choices, and thus, there is no reason to berate.  We are where we are now.

Be still and sit in inquiry:  What is the calling of my spirit?   Whatever it is, clear or not, trust it.  It is a seed in some stage of germination that wants our attention, nurturing hand, and invitation to emerge.

This “calling” is your truth.  Resist the urge to judge it against someone else’ or think it should be grander than it appears.  It may be a world stage or the privacy of your kitchen.  Allow it to emerge:  Listen deeply to it.

What is your impact?  What is your great work?

Build, sew, write, create, lead, cook, calculate, speak, invent, protect, teach, heal, fix, gather. Whatever it is, embrace it fully as this is how we embrace ourselves fully.  The glory isn’t in the outcome of what you do, it is in doing what brings you alive.

“And after the final no comes a lasting yes.”  

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What is 40% of 70,000? April 11, 2018

70,000 * 40% = The majority of your waking hours

  • 70,000 thoughts a day (average human being)
  • 40%: conscious time spent in habitual behavior / thought.

Math Wizards:  Assuming we spend 1 second / thought, how much time daily do we spend playing the tapes of habitual thoughts?

Kudos!  A gold star for anyone who concluded ALMOST 10 HOURS.

Bonus Question:  If you sleep 8 hours, what % of our waking hours are spent living in the past (which is the birthing center of habit)?  That’s right – 62.5%

What I’ve grappled with, tried to defy, and earnestly studied is STOPPING THE MIND.  And I’m here to report, sadly, that for the typical human being, this is not possible.  Slowing the mind?  Creating space between thoughts?  Tapping into quietness of mind?  With much disciplined practice.  Stopping the mind?  This defies the higher order purpose of our brain.

Now, back to the power of the habit or samsara.  Samasara is the subconscious adhesion to repetition of cycles.  Often we consider habits to be negative; however, we all have habits that serve us well  (ie:  brushing our teeth).

And thank goodness for habits!  Otherwise, every moment would be a decision between a mountain of choices.  Should I brush my teeth with my rotary brush or my manual?  Maybe I should use my finger?  I wonder if I should use wintergreen or cinnamon?  Flouride or no flouride?  Warm water or cool?  Should I rinse before or after I brush?  90 seconds or 2 minutes?  Holy Tax The Brain Moly.

If our mind is going to think and we are naturally bent towards habit, what if we could shift our habit?  Instead of investing time and energy on the impossible, perhaps we could simply redeploy that energy to creating space in our minds, replacing negative internal chatter with positive, & use an intention of love and light as our focus.

What if you replaced the tape “I’m not smart enough” with “I am uniquely capable of living the life I envision for myself,”  or “I’m stressed because there aren’t enough hours in the day” with “I am committed to using my time and thus my life in the most purposeful way.”  What if we replaced numbering our neurosis with counting our blessings and listing our grievances with celebrating both the dark and the light?

Far fetched?  It doesn’t sound as ridiculous as allowing our thoughts to overrun our life and how we see ourselves without intervention.  We are willing to spend time on instagram and ruminations of the past – why not assume it natural to spend time on letting go of stories that limit our joy?

Imagine if you could use those ten hours positively & impactfully.  What would shift in your life?

 

 

The journey home September 8, 2017

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meditate

It is part of our human experience to lose our center; sometimes just a small step out of line & other times long, slow fades away from our truth.

From a place of curiosity, scan just today.  Can you see moments of light, dark, loss of presence, grasping, illusion?

Now breathe.  Breathe out your judgement of it, breathe out calling it good or bad, and breathe out your mind’s desire to want this to reinforce your story.

Now connect.  Follow your breath up and down the center of your body.  Follow your breath to the nucleus of your heart.  Give yourself permission to feel exactly as you feel and forgive yourself for the habit of self-judgement.  Be strong enough to treat yourself gently & with kindness.

Now decide.  In this moment, who am I?  For me?  For others?  For the world?

And be that, be you fully, just be.  It is from this space that we create positive change and live a life in love and light.

The beautiful thing about being human is we can gently take hold of opportunity even if we squandered it in the last moment.  We can teach ourselves to reside in a place of joy and participate fully in a world that is sometimes dark, sometimes overwhelming, and sometimes not what we visioned.

Each of us possess passions, places we are called to make a difference, take a stand, and set an example.  Imagine if we all took a breath, honored our truth, believed in ourselves, and then got busy manifesting our passion.   Choose Well!

Namaste.

 

Life laughs at the leashes we tether June 14, 2017

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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.

 

 

Be careful what you claim June 2, 2016

Yesterday, a lovely woman said to me, “My anxiety is very bad right now.”

Seems harmless enough, yes?  And anxiety (or fear or depression or any other feeling that drains your energy) is not bad.  There is no shame in a racing heart or heaviness of mood.  In fact, if we believe that the world moves in harmonized order, we accept that day is followed by night and winter follows summer & fall.  If we believe that the universe modulates itself; gently flowing across a continuum of expressions, we can trust that our own emotional continuum is as natural as the movement of the planets.

Darkness in our life is a great teacher; giving us the sacred opportunity to turn inward to quiet space & deep knowing so that we may see again the magnificence of what we cannot intellectualize.  So that we may, perhaps even because we’ve run out of options, trust the divine.

One of my favorite teachings is this:  “Suffering happens when we make the impermanent permanent.”

In the moment, we experience life.  We feel sadness, joy, impatience, peace.  And then that moment passes, and we are presented with a new moment in which we can be fully present or we can stay locked in the past.  When we stay locked, our bodies are alone in the present moment because our minds are still reliving what has already ended.

Thoughts are sticky.   It takes intention to clear our minds of what was to make room for what is.  Negative emotions are even stickier.  They love to cling & grasp to your consciousness.  They can become so familiar that we develop a relationship with them; hence labeling something as “MY anxiety.”   And when we claim it as ours, it becomes part of us in a permanent, deeply integrated way.

See the difference between:  “I am currently feeling sad” versus “My depression is rearing its head.”  I believe we should welcome a full rainbow of emotions; learning from each one, feeling life deeply, and being willing to honor the light and the dark.  This is wholehearted living.  Just stay awake to what you identify as part of your DNA.  Let the impermanent be impermanent & celebrate the natural ebb and flow of your life.

 

 

Me So Stupid April 3, 2016

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I have played around with meditation for years, but quite honestly, the word “dabbling” is just barely an honest assessment of my commitment to the practice.

Don’t get me wrong; I am fascinated by this age-old habit.  I read EVERYTHING under the sun on the topic, I attended trainings, I listened to podcasts, I espoused its benefits, I had even TAUGHT meditation.  But actually meditating  on a daily basis?  Well….

Until about 2 years ago.

What happened?  I had the profound realization that stress makes you stupid.  I have always nurtured an intimate, behind closed doors relationship with stress.  Don’t we all?  We work so hard to make it look pretty on the outside, but the inside feels like a pressure cooker, a precariously balanced stack of plates, a juggling act with bowling balls and knives.  Welcome to modern-day living.  In fact, we’ve become so desensitized to stress that many of us wear it like a badge of honor.

Gut check on that:  If you’ve found yourself droning on about your endless task list to a friend or bragging about your Herculean feat of getting 3 kids to different practices while finishing a work assignment and planning a meal – you may be a stress addict.

Hello.  My name is Laura.  And I am an adrenaline junkie.  There.  It’s said.

Stress has taken a fairly big toll on my life; most notably my health.  9 years ago, my body nearly shut down, and had it not been for the loving guidance of my doctor & support of my family, I would have suffered much more.  Maybe thick-headed, but that was not enough for me to step into a daily practice of meditation.  I toyed with it, practiced haphazardly, meditated for months on end and then matched it with months OFF end.

Until 2 years ago when I realized that stress made me stupid.  I have high value for critical thinking, creative problem solving, & articulate communication.  These are “success virtues” in my book, and it took realizing that stress compromised my critical thinking, stymied my creativity, and chopped up my communication before I decided to get serious about meditation.  Health impairment I can live with.  Stupidity?  No way.  (Subject of another blog).

Here’s the simple truth:  meditation is the fastest route to less stress.  Period.  Those of us who think we can’t sit still, can’t calm down, can’t relax enough to meditate are the PERFECT CANDIDATES for this easy but quite messy practice.  All you have to do is sit, close your eyes, and follow your breath.  Witness yourself in stillness.  Stay in the discomfort.  Breathe.  Breathe Again.  10 Minutes:  voila!

Do I meditate every day?  NO!  Even now, I find a day (and sometimes days) slide by without intentional effort on my part.  Be gentle with yourself but disciplined.  Try it for 60 days @ 10 minutes a day.  (I promise you – you can carve out 10 minutes).  Meditation doesn’t take time – it creates time.  It creates a calmer mind, a warmer heart, and a more open and reception you.  You are worth it!

 

 

Off The Mat & Into Life July 26, 2011

In yoga, we start our practice by stilling our minds & bringing our breath into our awareness & control.  We connect our bodies with our minds and spirit.  We set an intention for our practice.  We do this to prepare ourselves for our time on the mat.  We go into our practice engaged & proactive – ready to accept the challenge from a place of best intention.  

I tell my yoga students that yoga is practice for life.  That our mats are an analogy for our day.  Each day affords us the opportunity to enter engaged, prepared, and aware or to simply show up, pants on fire 5 minutes late hoping for the best.  But to quote someone smarter than me, “Hope is not a strategy.”  

Look at your day.  How often do you skid into the next meeting, still breathless from the last?  Arrive for a discussion in which there is no agenda & for which you have not prepared?  Enter into a conflict from a place of irritation versus connection?  How often do you launch into the morning with a loose plan and spend the day fighting the fires that show up at your door and inbox?

What would change if you spent 90 seconds before a meeting centering your mind by taking 3 deep, grounding breaths, and setting an intention?  What if you asked yourself before every task:  “What is the greatest result I want to achieve right now?”  This practice of setting an intention is powerful.

Our attention follows our intention.  And if we don’t consciously set an intention, we will default to whatever whim our emotions are on.  We will repeat old patterns and thus, never breakthrough.  In our relationships, we will repeat the same disagreements, feel the same old emotions, and  rerun the same scripts. 

Developing a habit of setting an intention from a place of belief & calm leads to transformation.  Big breakthroughs do not come from old ways of doing things.  They come from setting new expectations and creating clarity around what we know is possible.  Even if we haven’t yet experienced it.