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Ma~Maste

/ MAH – məs – tay /

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Soul

Grounding Affirmation for the Holidays

Positive affirmations are an incredible way to keep our thoughts in check and to empower ourselves to lead happier, healthier lives.

In short, we think first, and then we feel.  Our thoughts have an amazing ability to dictate our feelings toward ourselves and our circumstances.  By repeating these affirmations, whether out loud or mentally, we speak a truth into our lives that will eventually become reality.  When we choose to think positively, we release the low-level thoughts and energies that are blocking us from receiving what we desire and what we deserve, and we begin to allow miracles into our lives.

Following is one of my favorite affirmations for finding a sense of grounding and balance.  I love to speak it and share it this time of year, when things have a tendency to get a little chaotic.  Join me by confidently speaking these positive words into your life today!  And don’t hesitate to repeat often!

I am present within myself.

I can center myself with the ease of my breath.

I feel grounded, confident, worthy, and whole.

Candlelight Christmas Yoga

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“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”  -Isaiah 9:6-7

Candlelight Christmas yoga was so magical last night.  We practiced at Sunset Hills Baptist Church, together in the candlelight, listening to some holiday favorites, and meditating on Scripture about the birth of Jesus, our Savior and King.  Because this time of year has a tendency to distract us from the true meaning of Christmas, we focused on grounding, being fully conscious and present in each moment, so that we can turn our attention to what is most important, to the greatest gift of all.  What a beautiful time spent with a beautiful group of people.  I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do what I do!

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.  Your roots will grow down into God’s love and make you strong.”  -Ephesians 3:17

 

 

 

 

‘Tis the Season to Be

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“In a world full of doing, doing, doing, it’s important to take a moment to just breathe, to just be.”  -Unknown

Oh, the holidays.  Chilly nights, twinkling lights, peppermint delights, and Santa Claus sight…ings.  What’s not to love!  Friends and family come together to feast, give, and enjoy one another’s company.  For many, it truly is a magical time filled with love and laughter.

But with the constant hustle and bustle that comes with the holiday season, we are prone to getting overwhelmed, frustrated, and downright depleted.  There are presents to buy and wrap, work projects to finish up, holiday parties and school programs to attend, travel plans to make and take…the to-do list is never-ending.  I won’t tell you to “slow down,” as this may sound to you utterly preposterous.  And I would tend to agree.  However, there are many things we can do to enjoy the season without becoming victim to it.  If we can keep these tips in mind, we can start to shift our mindset from “doing” to “being” and can therefore experience all the beauty that the holidays have to offer.

  1. Remember the true reason for the season.  The presents and parties and goings-on can become a major distraction to this.  Remind yourself that these little celebrations are all in the name of a tiny baby born in a manger in Bethlehem…Jesus, sent to save the souls of man.  This is the greatest gift of all.
  2. Practice gratitude.  When you wake up in the morning, smile.  Take five deep breath cycles, mentally naming one thing you are grateful for with each exhale.  Carry the appreciation you create through this exercise with you throughout your day, maybe giving the exercise a try before bed as well!
  3. Befriend your body.  Give it lots of water, healthy food, sleep, and exercise.  BREATHE.  Your body will repay you in the kindest way, I promise.  Tune in and pay attention when your body tells you it needs rest.  If you can learn to really listen, your body will always tell you what it needs and what it doesn’t.
  4. Learn to say ‘No.”  Please believe me when I say, it is ok if you do not RSVP ‘yes’ to all those invitations.  Sometimes we need to prioritize our schedules so that we can create more time for doing, well, nothing.  Check in with your body and ask yourself, “Which of these do I really want to do and which can I live without?”  And then follow through!
  5. Cultivate mindfulness.  Be present in every moment, noticing how you feel, without placing any judgments or expectations on yourself or on the outcome of the situation.  Note that this is not synonymous with enjoying every moment, because let’s face it…do we really enjoy those shopping mall crowds or when that strand of lights goes kaput?  No.  However, we can still practice awareness and appreciation during these times, and it you look hard enough you may just find a little glimmer of light when it seems as though there is nothing but darkness.  Namaste.

 

 

 

 

Fighting Fear

Let’s make that “Punching Fear in the Face.”  UGH!  For as long as I can remember, fear has run my life.  It has crippled my thoughts and challenged my dreams.  I am 33 years old as I write this, and only now am I learning to understand the significance of fear in my own life and how it has affected me to this day.  I tell you this because of one simple fact.  I know I’m not alone.

Fear is part of the human condition.  It’s a big, scary world in which we live, and we are not always equipped with the proper tools to navigate life’s ins and outs.  However, there are tools that we can use to deal with this issue of fear, and it is my passion to share them with you as I discover them on my own personal journey to happiness and freedom.  By learning to utilize these tools, we can learn to turn our fear into love, creating a life of joy and abundance.  And by doing this, we can then share our experiences with others, serving as a beacon of light to those in need of something more.

As part of my learning process, I am reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s book May Cause Miracles.  The book teaches that a miracle is simply a “shift in perspective from fear to love.”  It provides daily lessons, affirmations, and homework assignments, all geared towards living a life of love.  It is so rich in content that I was led to share this with you after just Day 1, which is all about “witnessing your fear.”  Basically, you have to feel it to heal it.  Not easy, huh??!

The moral of the story is this:  You Do Not Have to Live in Fear.  Take the steps.  Do the work.  Be the hero of your own story.  Manifest a life of love, power, and positivity.  Start yesterday.  It will be worth it.

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Learning Through Loss

Yesterday evening we celebrated the life and legacy of a friend gone way too soon.  He certainly left a lasting impression on thousands of people in this town, as evidenced by the turnout and by the stories people told.  He had a way of making everyone feel loved and important.  This was his gift.  He was everyone’s biggest cheerleader and, although he may have had a lot of women around him at most times (hehe), I don’t believe he ever had one single enemy.

I thought it quite fitting that in the guided journal I try to write in every morning, yesterday’s focus was on loss.  I was prompted to think of something I recently lost and to provide two positive insights I gained from this experience.  I’ll be brief, but I just wanted to share my thoughts.

“When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” ~Dalai Lama

  1.  Through this loss, I was reminded of the idea of impermanence.  As spoken by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “Change is the only constant in life.”  Nothing lasts forever, including life itself.  I was reminded that we must live in the present moment and live to the absolute fullest.  We can’t put things off until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.  Impermanence is difficult to deal with, but if we can come to peace with it, we can live much happier, present lives.
  2. I was so moved by hearing the stories of this friend that it literally just made me want to be a better person.  I began to wonder about the stories people would tell of me.  What would my legacy be?  His legacy is one of love, kindness, generosity, honesty, and the list goes on and on.  I want to model this in my own life and do more for others.  I want to make people feel special just as he made me feel.  Something that to him came so naturally, but to me?  Well, there’s plenty room for improvement.  And that is my intention moving forward.

Loss is never easy, especially when it comes to the loss of a loved one.  We may never understand why these things happen, but I don’t think that we are meant to.  At least not in this realm.  All we can do is to focus on the lessons learned and hope to use it for the greater good here on Earth.  So that’s what I will do.

 

 

Hone Your Happiness

Perhaps one of the most profound, yet seemingly obvious, life lessons I have learned is that happiness takes work.  For years, I thought that I was owed happiness by somebody or something.  That if I did what I was supposed to do and was a fairly decent person that the universe would somehow automatically reward me with this great sense of fulfillment and well being.  That, however, is not the case.  Instead, what I got was a big fat case of depression and a yearning desire for inner peace that, at the time, seemed so far away.

Fast forward to today.  I have developed a much stronger relationship with God.  I have cultivated a daily yoga practice.  I have instituted a meditation practice.  I take time to focus on gratitude.  I have learned to see the beauty in life’s smallest moments.  I know that achievements, money, and success don’t result in happiness, but rather that the mindset of having everything I need within me at any given moment is what will see me through.  I have learned that thoughts create feelings.  Intentions create reality.  What we focus on is what we create.  And I now know that in any given moment, I have the power to determine my response.  I can choose fear, or I can choose happiness.

I have also learned that only through this kind of true happiness can I be a vessel of love for others.  There is nothing of much value I can be for anyone else until I am a whole person myself.  By giving myself permission to fully live in each moment and to experience the happiness waiting right outside my door, I can then be fully present for others.  And to me, this connection is what life is all about.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not perfect by any means, and I still get sad.  I get down.  I don’t always feel like stepping onto my mat or seeing the good in someone who has done me wrong.  I am human.  And in fact, it is perfectly healthy (and necessary) to allow ourselves to feel these negative feelings.  Thank goodness!  Only through this can we come to terms with our true feelings and begin to heal and to move forward.

I wanted to leave you with THIS ARTICLE that I read today.  It has some really great, practical ways for cultivating a happiness practice.  I call it a practice intentionally because that’s exactly what it is.  Just like any other practice we may have, happiness takes lots of effort and is measured in progress, not perfection.  It is my hope that what I have learned can serve as a learning experience for you too.  And that you may also be able to hone your own inner happiness, no matter what your circumstances may be.  Namaste.

 

 

 

 

New Years Intentions

“A day without intention is a day wasted.” ~Richard Branson

 

Well, it’s that time of year again.  You know what I’m talking about…resolution time (cue the horror movie music here).  It’s the time when we all vow to do better and be better.  Whether that means working out more, eating a healthier diet, saving money, etc…we’ve all set resolutions when the new year rolls around.  Of course, the problem with this is that most of us don’t stick with them.  And for this reason, I propose setting intentions instead.  Let me explain.

resolution:  ‘a firm decision to do or not to do something’

                                  intention:  ‘a thing intended; an aim, or plan’

You see, while we mean well with our resolutions, they often leave us feeling like failures when we don’t see them through.  Resolutions offer a “my way or the highway” approach to success.  If we fail, it’s all over.  We may as well just give up and wait for next year to roll around so we can try again.  (No pressure or anything!)  Generally, we apply negative connotations to resolutions because we don’t actually want to do them.  And we are so focused on the outcome that we forget about the beautiful journey of getting there.  And that is where we miss out on life.

Intentions, on the other hand, give us a guide by which to meet our goals.  They focus more on the progress, not the outcome.  If you know me, you know that one of my favorite sayings is “progress, not perfection.”  This is for a reason!  We are human, people.  Nobody is perfect.  But we can do the best we can.  And we can live our lives in a way that perfectly honors our own bodies, minds, and souls.  Intentions allow us to embrace the process and to experience life in the way it was meant to be experienced.

That said, I encourage you to set some intentions.  And when you do so, think of them in a ‘forever’ sense, not just for 2017.  Why would we want to limit all the goodness to just one year?!  Start by meditating on areas of your life that you would like to improve and then jot down steps to get yourself closer to your objective.  Make them fun, small, practical, and attainable.  Place sticky notes around the house to remind you of these steps.  Create a vision board if that would be helpful to you.  Be sure to reward yourself with each step closer.  And above all, enjoy the ride.

The Mindful Child

Put simply, mindfulness is an awareness of the present.  It is a focus on what is happening around us and within us at this very moment, in short because this moment is all we have.  Not surprisingly, living a more mindful lifestyle comes with benefits galore-physical, mental, emotional, social.  And it just so happens to be an amazing practice to teach our children.  By doing so we can help them learn to become more self-aware, recognizing and understanding their thoughts and feelings and identifying how their emotions are reflected in their behavior.  Impulse control, reduced stress and anxiety, and an enhanced ability to focus and pay attention are just some of the additional positive changes that this practice can bring.

Unfortunately, mindfulness education is not the norm in the U.S., nor does it necessarily come easy to every parent.  I’m certainly still learning myself how I can be more mindful, in addition to teaching my kids this important life skill.  Because I think it is so important, however, I’ve come up with a  few ideas to share with you on how to effectively communicate to your children this idea of mindfulness.

  • First and foremost, establish and embrace your own mindfulness practice and be the example you want your kids to emulate. Meditation is an excellent way to get started.  If you are new to meditation, there is a plethora of information on the Internet that can point you in the right direction.  In addition, there are guided meditation apps available, one of my favorites being Headspace.  But even simpler, another way to instill mindfulness in your own life is to turn everyday tasks into opportunities to practice living in the moment.   Whether you are working behind a desk, running on the treadmill, cooking dinner, washing the dishes, driving the kids to school….make these moments matter. Be present and feel all the sensations that go along with performing these tasks.  Accept and embrace your current situation for what it is, good or bad, and chuck the personal judgments at the door.  Learn to control your reactions to certain circumstances, making a point to act with intention and compassion in everything you do.  Simpler yet, be fully present for your kids.  Put down your phone and give them the attention they crave and deserve. (I know, easier said than done!)
  • Teach your children to BREATHE.  Give them this tool to aid in shifting negative energy into positive energy.  A couple nights ago, my 4 year old daughter was fighting bedtime with a vengeance.  And trust me when I say, the girl knows how to throw a tantrum.  After a while of leaving her alone with her behavior, I heard her call down the stairs to me, amidst dramatic cries…”Mommy, come breathe with me, come breathe with me.”  I went upstairs and sat with her, and we took deep breaths together until she was calm.  We began teaching our kids this concept about a year ago, and this was a very magical moment for me.  🙂
  • Go on nature walks, encouraging your children to engage their 5 senses along the way.  Help them recognize the sights, sounds, feels, smells, and tastes of the experience.  Allow a couple minutes to just sit quietly and observe.  It’s amazing how much information they will perceive.
  • Give thanks.  Making gratitude a daily priority is an amazing way to help your children grow more mindful.  For my family, this usually happens at bedtime.  Each night before our prayers, we take the time to identify what we are thankful for, and then we thank God for these blessings.
  • Provide opportunities for creativity.  Children love to get artsy and crafty.  Allow them ample time to create through drawing, coloring, painting, writing, cooking, singing, playing instruments, etc.   This will teach your children to use their minds in ways they otherwise wouldn’t and to become more in touch with their own unique personalities.

I was recently watching an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday (my FAV!), during which mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn  said, “We are not being educated on how to be, only how to accomplish.” So true this is, and I’m all about shifting that mentality.  Let’s teach our children that while accomplishments and success and hard work matter (of course they matter!), they are not the be-all, end-all.  Let’s teach our children to be present in each moment and to fully embrace this thing called life before life passes them by.

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Why Yoga?

To be honest with you, I don’t really know how it started.  I had dabbled in classes here and there in the past, but it had never stuck, even though I loved the times I did practice.  Then one day last year I woke up with an urge to get back on my mat.  A craving almost.  I went from doing no yoga to doing an hour a day, at least, usually more.  I couldn’t get enough.  I think it was a divergence of where I was in my life personally, the desire for quiet and stillness, the hope of reconnecting with my authentic self, and straight up divine intervention after praying for some sort of direction in my life.  Whatever the reason, I fell in love, and I fell hard.

When people ask me about my practice, I find myself repeating the following truths regarding why I value it so deeply.  First, I love the stillness…the meditation aspect.  In those few moments that I am on my mat, I am able to focus on nothing but my breath, my movement, my body and how all of this truly feels.  The rest of the world slips away, and I am left with ME…and it’s actually not as scary as it sounds!  Second, I love the breathing aspect.  When else do I get to just breathe?!  Deep breathing is so beneficial to overall health, and yoga gives me the opportunity to not only fill my body with the oxygen it needs and deserves, but also to breathe in life and love and happiness and to breathe out everything that does not serve me.  Third, I love the fact that yoga is about “progress, not perfection,” which happens to be a fantastic analogy for life.  You do you, and you don’t worry about what others around you are doing or thinking about what you’re doing.  And finally, it just feels so dang good.  I’ve always had back issues, much of which are kept in check by an amazing chiropractor. However, yoga certainly helps with this, along with developing full-body strength, flexibility and balance.

Most importantly, I’ve realized the incredible power in being true to myself and not being afraid to share my truth with the world.  I’ve received so many words of encouragement from friends and strangers alike.  I’ve been able to inspire others, and I’ve learned that there is so much more to this practice than what happens on the mat.  The asanas are important, but it doesn’t end there.  It’s about the connections, the community, the fact that I’m able to reach out and help someone else find their path, whatever that might be.  It’s about what happens OFF the mat.

There is so much more to say, and I will say it as this little blog project progresses, but I’m so thankful you are following my journey.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds, but for now I am living for the moment.  And my prayer is that you are too.  Namaste.

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