"...Change is to think GREATER than your environment, GREATER than your conditions and circumstances in your life."
- Dr. Joe Dispenza
When you woke up this morning, were you just going about your routine, doing the same thing, letting your external environment dictate what you were doing? Were you sleepwalking through life OR were you consciously aware, in the present moment, and in control of every movement and every thought?
Being present is not easy and it takes practice. We've been so conditioned in society to focus our attention outwardly, on a million different things, on what we "should" have, what we "should" do, etc. With all of this buzzing around in our minds, no wonder it's so hard for us to listen to what's really going on inside.
Yoga and meditation are two tools that can help you practice being more present in your daily life. It can help you get past the analytical mind that is constantly making you worried and stressed.
Once you're able to practice being more present, you'll be able to calm your mind. Once you can calm your mind and look within, you will be able to "think greater than your environment, greater than your condition and circumstances in life." You'll have more clarity on what your heart really desires and what its dreaming of. You can then allow yourself to actually FEEL what it would be like to accomplish this dream. Once you're able to truly envision the positive change in your life (maybe its your intention for more love, for more happiness, etc.) than your physical body will actually start BELIEVING that its in that experience. You will start to think and act in a new way. And while this is happening, neurological and chemical change is occurring in your mind and body. You are actually changing the fabric of you. You're rewiring your brain and your DNA. (Here's a TED video on this topic.)
The road to changing your state of being can be uncomfortable for most people, so they go back to their old ways and never allow themselves the opportunity to live a more fulfilling life. You have to really want it. And it takes practice, repetition and dedication.
But there's proof that it works! And more and more people are curing themselves of illnesses and changing their life for the better each day. I personally think this is fascinating. And with more people awakening, we can be in a better position to help change the world. I wish you well on your journey to change and reach out to me anytime if I can help and support you in any way.
This morning, I was with one of my lovely clients and we focused on "ekagrata" in our practice.
Our session inspired me to share this word and what it means to yoga and to our lives.
Ekagrata is a sanskrit word meaning "one-pointedness". It is the intent pursuit of one object, with close and undisturbed attention.
Today, as we are stimulated with multiple devices (from our phones, to our computers, and now to our watches!) we find ourselves running in circles in this hectic pace of life. We have so much going on at once with a hundred things on our to do list. It just seems to never end...
...Until we are able to take a deep breath and practice ekagrata.
Getting on our mat and practicing yoga is an opportunity to relearn how to just do one thing at a time and be present. Whether it's focusing on engaging your leg muscles or making sure your arms are straight or simply focusing on your breath, all we have to do is one thing, in that moment, with focus and commitment.
As we practice ekagrata more and more on our mat, we then start to bring this practice into our daily lives. This focus, this commitment to be present, starts to transform our mind. It gives us clarity. It gives us space. Ekagrata is like a mental cleansing, making us feel more alive and awake.
Each time you practice being present, each time you train your mind, you become more mindful. Things become more clear. You react to situations from a calm place of clarity, confidence, and truth. You begin to fully experience life and see the beauty around you.
So when life starts to get busy and you feel overwhelmed, remember that you don't have to do everything all at once. Focus on one thing. Ekagrata. And the universe will support you when you're ready to move on to the next thing.
We all walk different paths. We're on our own journey. But what many of us have in common is that we tend to look outside for answers. We seek approval. We seek a better job title. We seek more money. We seek more possessions. We seek a better body. We seek to be smarter. We seek outside for more, more, more.
It's tough because society teaches us to want more and we can be easily influenced. This happens. It's ok. We're only human.
What we easily forget is that we already have everything we need. We are exactly where we're supposed to be. True joy is within. We just have to clear "clutter" from our body and mind (thoughts, negative energy, etc)... and the answers we seek we will find within. But we have to practice "surrendering and trusting". (Personally, these 2 words have been my mantra for the past few months.)
Brandon West recently wrote this article called, "I Surrender to the Infinite that is Within Me" and he expands on the idea of true joy coming from within:
"True joy is achieved not in the acquisition of things, but in the state of being what we are, and living our bliss, our calling. So many of us are constantly using our words and our thoughts to fight; to argue, to prove ourselves, our worth, our superiority, our correctness, the validity of our existence, in one way or another (or rather, in any way that we can). We are always trying to be someone, achieve, win, earn something, and we are always moving towards more, trying to be someone better, someone different from who we are now. But is that really the way?
Aren’t you tired of always striving but never arriving? Moving at 1000 miles an hour, but never getting anywhere? I am, for it is exhausting, not to mention frustrating. Even when we learn, sometimes we are always trying to learn more, more knowledge, amassing knowledge, and degrees, and credentials – proof of our erudition. Yet what does any of that really mean? Moreover, what does it prove? Nothing.
All that you have to do is surrender. When you are weary of fighting, of searching, of striving to be more, or to be better, or to realize your goals, just surrender. And disengage those impulses to fight, to validate yourself, to uphold your self-image, and to strive, and simply just be, in complete and utter silence. And you will have arrived. Right where you needed to be and right on time, blossoming into the fullness of your existence."
So take time today to turn your attention inward. Getting on your yoga mat is a great place to start. Move your body, be present with your breath and clear out any energy blockages. Then find stillness and practice surrounding and trusting the flow of life. It takes courage and strength. But you will feel more at ease, free and happy. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
I woke up the other day feeling a little cloudy and a little lost. Even in my morning meditation, I felt like I couldn't sit still and I couldn't get my mind to stop jumping around. I was feeling all out of sorts and I wasn't sure why. I finally took a deep breath and internalized these feelings I was having. I observed each emotion with compassion and then slowly, with each breath, tried to let these negative feelings go.
When days like this come around, isn't it so easy to surrender to a bad day? (Bring on the ice-cream and sad songs!) It's so easy to let feelings get to you and to be grumpy the entire day! (grumpy emoticon here) For many of us, it is much harder to turn it around and think positively.
One thing that I've been practicing when I feel like I've woken up on the wrong side of the bed, is to do ONE thing that brings me happiness. ONE thing that brings me bliss. ONE thing that I'm passionate about. Just ONE thing without looking beyond this one particular day. I focus all of my intentions on this one single act that helps me live my life with passion, creativity, and bliss... and things start to turn around.
If you can accomplish this ONE thing that brings you joy, you've already done something great for the day. This doesn't mean that you sit around and do nothing all day. It means you go about your day, doing what you need to do, but you don't let things get to you. You focus your energy on this ONE thing that brings you joy. Let your heart choose what this single act will be. Whether it is going for a run, doing yoga, making dinner with a friend, playing with your dog, volunteering, or simply watching the sunset... whatever it is, focus your energy on this singular act that brings you happiness. By doing this, you subconsciously practice being positive, being grateful, having patience and compassion for where you are in life right now.
As you cultivate a singular daily practice in your life, this energy becomes part of something bigger - a profound, long term personal transformation. Each time you concentrate on what makes you happy, this force accumulates and your soul's intentions begin to work through you, manifesting your dreams, desires and sacred life purpose.
We all have bad days, but it doesn't need to consume us. We have a choice. We have control. We can turn things around and feel happier and lighter inside. This is just one tool you can use to help you bring more sunshine into your day. Try it next time.
What things do you do to turn a bad day into a good day? Please feel free to share!
This weekend, my spiritual coach hosted a one-day retreat in Minneapolis around the topic of walking your sacred life's purpose. It was a great day (but exhausting in a good way!) full of life lessons, emotions, and holding questions.
Often times at the beginning of class, you'll hear yoga teachers say, "take a moment to set an intention for your practice today". Have you ever wondered - what does that mean? If so, I'm sure you're not alone.
Having an intention could mean different things to different people, and that's ok. But I read an article recently from MindBodyGreen that explains the meaning of intentions and how we can use intentions to live more authentic and fulfilling lives. Here's a snippet from the article:
"Intentions are the fuel to manifesting your goals and visions. An intention will help create more clarity in your life, especially when the seed is planted right before you start your meditation.
Setting an intention is like drawing a map of where you wish to go — it becomes the driving force of your higher consciousness. Without an intention there is no map, and you're just driving down a road with no destination in mind.
That said, an intention cannot be forced. It's a seed that you have to sow and then let reap on its own. You can't set an intention that you don't believe in. If it's done forcefully, the purpose of the intention is ruined."
So next time you're in class and your teacher asks you to set an intention, take a moment to really listen to heart - how do you want to live? how do you want to feel? what do you want to do? where do you want to go? Don't force it or think about what you "should" do. Find stillness and really listen. Set an intention that you believe in.
It is the start of a new year. You can manifest all that you want in your life by starting with one simple intention. Plant this seed and soon you can watch it grow.
As Deepak Chopra once said, "Intentions are the starting point of every dream."
Happy dreaming yogis.
Join us at Howells & Hood featuring Metropolitan Brewing for an hour of yoga and then 1 free pint of craft beer! Makes for a perfect Saturday.
Korinne is one of my hardest working students. I know her hectic job is exhausting, but she always finds time and energy for yoga. I've been working with Korinne twice a week consistently since March and I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of how far she's come. Her alignment in downward facing dog is spot on. She's more focused and balanced. She's consciously moving with her breadth and becoming more in-tune with her body. Hard work does pay off! :) Rock on sister! You're an inspiration to all of us!
An interview with Korinne Ward:
AW: What is one major thing you’ve learned since you’ve been practicing yoga consistently the past couple of months?
KW: By practicing yoga, I have learned that taking time for myself a couple hours a week is important. Most people, including myself, run such fast paced life styles. The two hours a week I practice yoga is time for myself and it allows me to reflect. It has been eye opening to see how important this is for me.
AW: How does yoga benefit you?
KW: Yoga has benefitted me in so many ways. I now have a stronger connection to my inner self confidence. I used to always quit things after 2-4 weeks because I thought it was either too hard or I didn't have enough time. Yoga is the first thing I have stuck with in a long time. I am now seeing the results and its only been 2 months. I can’t wait to see where I am a year from now.
AW: Tell us about one yoga pose that you want to conquer.
KW: I have struggled with wheel pose since I began practicing. On my last session I finally got up and it felt so rewarding! I know I might not see the benefits in the way my clothes fit immediately, but its proof that I'm building muscle strength, which feels amazing.
AW: If you could give one advice to a new yogi, what would it be?
KW: My advice for any new yogi is to not to be afraid of the meditation portion of the practice. Before yoga, I never took even 15 minutes to sit in silence and listen to my mind, body, and soul. Now, by doing this, I have discovered so many eye opening things about myself. I highly recommend it to everyone.
AW: Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?
KW: Yoga can be pricier than a normal gym membership, but I feel the benefits for the mind and body are amazing. Yoga is the best investment I have made in myself in a long time. I recommend it to anyone who has an extremely hectic lifestyle.