"He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe." ~ Marcus Ganhi
To live in harmony is much like the melody of your favorite music. How sweet it is to turn on the radio and listen to your favorite song. A certain set of chords resonate within your heart and tug on memories, emotion and evoke either a sense of calm, melancholy or excitement.
Harmony is the inner cadence of contentment we feel when the melody of life is in tune. When somehow we're able to strike the right chord at the perfect moment. To balance work, family and personal obligations is a daily challenge amidst an already challenging world.
Just as in music, the pause between the notes is just as important as the notes. The pause provides an accent and an appreciation for the surrounding notes. So it is with our lives...
Usually, when the distractions of daily life deplete our energy, the thing we eliminate is the thing we need the most – quiet, reflective time – time to dream, time to think, time to contemplate what's working and what's not so that we can make changes for the better.
On the gratitude journey, we are traveling together. We begin to learn how to pause and pause often. As we invite more gratitude, simplicity and order into our lives, harmony emerges. We learn to balance demands with pleasure, moments of solitude with moments of companionship, work and play, activity and rest, the inner goddess with the outer warrior.
Begin today by slowing down and pausing for a sweet breath. Take a moment to notice the breath and observe. Are you filling the diaphragm completely and emptying fully?
Just be with the breath that is your vital life force. And return to your breath throughout the day. Listen to the music that soothes and inspires your soul. And while you listen, pause to consider how all the individual notes flow together harmoniously to give expression to the entire piece.
So shall it be with your life.
With harmony as your guide, trust that your everyday moments will soon begin to resonate in a rhapsody of fulfillment.
Pause and enjoy the melody within...
"The heart of man is very much like the sea. It has its storms, it has its tides, and in its' depths, it has its pearls too." ~ Vincent Van Gogh
I will always remember a message my father shared with me. He said, "Your life will change every five years." I was quite young to be digesting such a profound thought. Nevertheless, it stuck.
As I became an adult woman, I began to reflect on my life in terms of decades, and I understood what my father meant.
Though change happens constantly, we are often too busy to see it. Yet, it is always happening. It is a beautiful gift to reflect, savor sweet memories, let some go, acknowledge past mistakes and learn from them.
Life is made up of many cycles
How thoughtfully and carefully we treat each cycle makes up a rhythm to our life. I have found it very reassuring to understand the cycle or season I am in and trust in the process.
With this in mind, I'd like to share some thoughts inspired by the sea.
When a ship is at sea, it can sail through smooth, calm waters. We find ourselves floating with ease and delight.
Often, the weather changes quickly, and the seas become stormy, making it difficult to see the horizon.
We are each the captain of our ship, navigating both mentally and instinctively. When the seas are calm, we move with ease. When they are rough, it requires strength, skill and endurance. As the captain, it is important to realize the waves will continue to change and show up unexpectedly.
In calm seas, you can see ever so clearly, the skies above and deeply beneath the surface. When I think of calm seas, I think of carefree summer days soaking up the sun and riding the endless stream of glistening waves.
What are some of the ways waves may show up in your life when the seas are calm?
Life flows like a gentle wave, and you are in the flow. Everything is smooth sailing, and life is good!
When the seas are stormy, I feel overwhelmed, anxious, not in my power.
You may feel in over your head like you're drowning in work, a sinking feeling. It's just one wave after another. You may see and feel the chaos and suffering in the world. Stormy seas are churning, cold and rough, making it difficult to see clearly.
What do stormy seas look like for you? And how do you navigate them and take care of yourself at the same time?
How do we navigate through these changing seas? Let's practice:
Ocean waves are influenced by the moon's gravitational pull, wind and weather. Like the waves, we are shaped by outside forces and are directly influenced by our surrounding energy.
As the captain, you are poised to navigate many seasons of weather.
Remember, the seas will soon be calm.
~Thank you, Dad, for the subtle ways you shared your wisdom~
"Nothing in life is to be feared, only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." ~ Marie Curie
How do you face your fears and your fear of failure?
We were not taught to face our fears, let alone deal with them. So we go through life with a fear of the unknown, all the what-ifs and doubts that come along with it.
If we look up failure in the dictionary, it says: "an event that does not accomplish its intended purpose."
How threatening does that sound? Not very, right? Well, that's all it is. For most of us, failure isn't about not achieving a specific goal rather how others view us in the process.
And so what do we do?
We play it safe. We don't move from our comfort zone.
There's only one thing worse than "I failed," and that's "I am a failure." "I am" are two of our vocabulary's most powerful words. "I am" becomes a mantra for what we believe. By responding to our fears in this way, we are setting ourselves up for missed opportunities and endless possibilities. Many of us struggle with perfection syndrome – whether we do it right or not at all. Again, another missed opportunity.
We find ourselves living in a time of great uncertainty. What is the underlying theme? I would say fear, wouldn't you? Let's embrace the possibility of breaking free of limited thinking and trust that with every breakdown, there comes a breakthrough.
We can see it as a rich part of our learning process that sets us on a new path, one of self-discovery and shared community. When we release our fear of the unknown, we invite the magic of "not knowing." We trust the gift of intuition and judgment.
When we eliminate feelings of inadequacy, a new level of freedom opens up. And in freedom, we find our power and true happiness.
The next time you experience fear, identify it and locate the fear in your body. Do you feel tightness in your chest? A tingling in your head? A pounding heart?
Once you've located the fear, give it a name. What we ignore only grows bigger. What we are willing to face shrinks.
Doubt your fears, and they vanish. Feel your fears, and they fade.
Understand that fear is a survival mechanism and can be used to your advantage, as long as you don't let it run the show. Focus on the breath. There are many simple, effective breath techniques for calming, centering, and grounding. Visualization and imagery are also powerful tools in building self-confidence. When we have a growth mindset, we will also learn from the experiences.
Bottom line, accept that you will fail. We all do at one time or another.
It's how we learn and walk through it that matters most!
On the journey to seek connection, Yoga offers us a chance to look both inward and expand outward all in one breath, from one shape to the next breath. Each focused breath is returning us to the present moment where all of life is happening. Yoga offers us the tools to be fully present for ourselves and one another.
Through our practice, we explore ways of integrating the breath into daily living and create a connection with the mind, body and spirit. It is said that the answers lie within – but in order to listen, we must first become still and quiet enough to hear them. Taking time out each day to dis-connect is vital to our health and well-being, especially in the information overload we live in.
"To quiet the mind, all things are possible."
You may be thinking, "I don't have the time," or "I can't sit still."
Well, my friends, you can't afford not to take time out for yourself.
6 TIPS FOR LIVING A BALANCED LIFE
Each day a new beginning, a fresh start. It's your book, how do you choose to open it?
The ancient wisdom of mindfulness helps us make positive changes in our brains and our lives.
A recent study of people of all ages, backgrounds and gender responded across the board with "feeling not good enough," "I'm not living my life right," and with tremendous self-judgment and shame.
Shame is universal, and something everyone has felt at some point in their lives. Worse, we think if we beat ourselves up, we'll somehow improve.
Yet, shame doesn't work. It never works. It can't work.
When we feel shame, the brain's growth learning part shuts down and triggers a cascade of cortisol and other hormones. We want to avoid it and hide the parts that most need our attention.
As a Yoga teacher, I deeply believe in transformation, yet you cannot achieve transformation without mindfulness.
So let's break it down...
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is to be fully present in the moment. Yet, constantly the mind wanders. It's not so easy. A recent Harvard study showed the mind wanders 47% of the time. That is nearly half of our lives that we are missing. We're not here! Part of mindfulness is simply learning to train the mind in how to be here, where we already are.
Where do we begin, and how do we arrive here fully?
Through our breath. Focus on full breaths in and out without judgment. When the mind wanders, simply return to the breath in and out of the belly. What you practice grows stronger. If you are frustrated, annoyed or impatient, and you focus on those feelings, that is what you will create more of.
Repeated experiences shape our brains. We can actually sculpt and strengthen our synaptic connections based on our repeated practice. Mindfulness strengthens the immune system, decreases stress and cortisol. It helps us sleep and feel better. When you look at meditators' brains, the areas related to attention, learning, and compassion grow bigger and stronger.
What we practice grows stronger.
Meditate with judgment - you are growing judgment.
Practice with kind attention, and you will experience kindness for yourself and others.
Kindness bathes us with dopamine, turning on the brain's learning centers and giving us the courage to see the things we don't want to see and the resources we need for lasting change.
Mindfulness isn't just about paying attention. It's about how we pay attention with kindness, like loving arms that welcome everything –even the messy, imperfect parts of ourselves. We're practicing all the time, moment by moment. Not just when we're meditating on the mat. We're growing something in every moment. So, the questions really become, "What do you want to grow?" "What do you want to practice?" I'd love to hear.
True and lasting transformation requires Kind Attention!