Allowing

Today was a breakthrough day. When I arrived at yoga class, my teacher questioned me on what was going on with my handstand attempts (or lack thereof). I told him I don’t jump up when I feel something is off and I know it won’t go well. He gave me a look that said “why are you telling yourself that bullshit?” and I realized the real issue. My problem was believing I couldn’t. My problem was not allowing myself space to fail. By not allowing myself space to fail, I wasn’t allowing myself space to succeed.

Handstand for me is all about trusting the unknown, seeing things from a different perspective and confidence. I was raised not to trust “the world” and close people in my life proved themselves untrustworthy. I have taken responsibility for things that aren’t mine, held on to them tight and refused to let go. I have put myself down, believed I couldn’t, and bailed instead of continuing to show up and do my best. That caused tension and pain I am still processing out.

I have been going through a lot of changes in my life and allowing myself to feel my way through them. My emotions have always been intense. To manage them, I learned how to shut myself down, lock my feelings up tight, and pretend they weren’t there or be big, loud and stir the pot. One can put out a fire by depriving it of fuel or dousing it with so much lighter fluid it can’t burn. In the past, I felt more powerful, more in control, adding lighter fluid but it occasionally cost me my figurative eyebrows.

Today, I practiced feeling my feelings without them running my life. I got through my entire yoga practice even though I started with tears blocking my breath. I reminded myself my emotions are like the weather, I am the sky. I just kept breathing. An intuitive little fairy brought me tissues and I kept going. I have bailed on my practice for much less in the past but, today, I allowed ‘what is to be’ instead of forcing anything. I let myself feel while not allowing myself to quit.

I now aim to float somewhere between the two extremes of exploding or shutting down. There is a time for action and a time for inaction. There is a time to speak up and a time to be silent. There is a time to put myself as an individual first and there is time to care for myself while putting the good of others ahead of what I want. I am learning how to identify those times on a level I have never experienced before. I am giving myself space to try new things and see life from a different perspective.

I escaped from a shaming, toxic environment many years ago. I know what it’s like to have a guilt trip laid on so thick I feel like I can’t breathe. I also know the person laying on the shame is coming from a place of unworthiness and feeling threatened. That doesn’t make the behavior acceptable but it does provide an opportunity to practice compassion. True compassion. It’s easy to love people I like. It’s an entirely different matter to find a way to love someone who attempts to attack me on the most personal level and suck the life out of people I care about.

Feeling hatred sucks away my confidence. It stems from unresolved issues within me and feeds the false belief I am a victim of circumstance. I can find a way to justify my actions as much as someone with a diabolical, opposing view. I can also see how every single person I encounter, including the toxic ones, are reflections of me. The person opposite me is the flip side of my same coin.

I need to remember I am a force more powerful than my emotions. Feeling hate or fear in any given moment doesn’t define me. Love is stronger than hate or fear, always. I have the power to choose thoughts that nourish my soul, forgive, and free myself from anything that happened in the past. Life flows in cycles. Experiences repeat until I learn what I need to know. Today, my heart is filled with gratitude and I easily make changes that serve my highest good.

From my heart to yours,

Thank for reading

 

SIDE NOTES:

When I started writing, I thought this post was going to be about believing “I can’t”. Turns out I wrote about that 4 years ago! https://powerfrominside.com/2012/05/12/the-power-of-i-can-by/

If you are interested, here is a link to an article I liked about choosing nourishing thoughts http://thespiritscience.net/2016/06/24/this-native-american-story-of-the-two-wolves-will-change-your-life/

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Embrace the Unknown

It’s been said “life is a journey, not a destination”.  I am living that reality these days.  I am recognizing how focusing on the destination (end result), without appreciating the process, leads to heartache.  When I live in the moment with a spirit of gratitude, I experience peace amongst chaos.

I have been thinking about this blog post for several days and debated about how much to share.  I have a few special followers who sometimes believe I am talking about them even when I’m not.  Understanding the ripple effect of my words and actions, I have been taking care to be particularly mindful of what I write.  I would like my readers to take what they  like and leave the rest.  If it hurts or offends, I promise that was not my intention.

I write to grow myself and, in so doing, believe I give others permission to show up, be vulnerable, take chances and grow too!  If my words inspire anything other than growth, please let them be.  At the same time, for what it’s worth, I have learned the most from the things that were the most uncomfortable.

Talk about discomfort!  I process and integrate personal growth work quickly but I have been on some kind of uber-superhighway growth cycle the past couple of months.  It’s been quick and intense, even for me!  I have experienced both the highest elation of my life and the greatest heartache, sometimes within 24 hours!

It has come to my attention I have spent most of my life to this point either working to recreate good feelings or running away from uncomfortable ones (mostly running away).  Early on in my yoga practice, I recognized how much I avoid discomfort and have been practicing sitting with myself wherever that may be.  My practice has taught me all discomfort is temporary and sometimes the best thing to do is lean into it.  If I just keep showing up and practicing, focusing my energy on each breath and my physical center, everything else falls into place.

I remember when I couldn’t reach my hands straight above my head or touch my toes.  I can now put my chest on my knees at the end of my routine.  I didn’t get there by focusing on being able to put my chest on my knees (In fact, I didn’t think my body would ever do that!)… I got there by showing up, doing my best and letting go a little bit more every time.  I have learned that if I always avoid what’s uncomfortable, I plateau.  If go just a little past what I am used to, I improve a little bit at a time.  Almost every new pose has scared me and my first step is believing the pose is possible for me.

My yoga teacher says that ‘how you do one thing is how you do everything’.  I believe he’s right.  I have certainly seen the correlation between my practice and my life.  Most recently, it’s given me insight into the difference between integrity and control.

Integrity is a tenant of Adamantine, control is not.  Integrity brings stability.  Control brings tension.  I have confused the two in the past… Abounding in my illusion of ‘control’ but lacking integrity (oops).

Recently, I have taken a good, hard look at what I did to get my marriage to the place it’s in today.  I played a role… Lacking integrity, I lost touch with who I am and got caught up in the status of having a “good marriage”.  There were flags that all was not what I wanted it to be but I ignored them.  I held back my opinion on some little things when I could have just mentioned my preference in the beginning.  My husband did the same and here we are…

I consider myself a very loving person and I am for the most part.  However, I also have a shadow side when someone is ‘in the way’ of what I want.  By not getting what I want, I am learning how to be more compassionate and love unconditionally.  It’s not a challenge to love people who are how I like them… it is challenging to love fully when things aren’t going my way.  It’s uncomfortable… But I am learning how.

I have learned I can either be angry and hurt that good times had to end or I can rejoice and be grateful they happened.  The latter is much more joyful.  Gratitude always takes the edge off my suffering and puts my attitude in a better place.  I believe occasional pain is a mandatory part of human living but suffering is truly optional.  I choose my thoughts and my thoughts create my reality.

I am learning just because something feels good and I CAN do it, doesn’t mean it’s good for me.  That’s a BIG ONE!  Every since my father preached having “a quiet and mild spirit” is a virtue and pleaded with me to ‘get control of my emotions’, I have rebelled against anyone or anything I perceived as trying to control me.  By doing so, I made a lot of choices that were not in my best interest.  I lived life as if there were only two modes, being in control or being controlled.

I now see there is an ideal space in between I call ‘allowing with intention’.  It’s a place where I get clear on what I want and believe I deserve it.  If I can imagine it, I believe the universe can provide it and lots of things better!  It’s a place where I live in accordance with my highest truth (integrity) without trying to control anything outside of myself.  It’s a place where I decide what is important to me and don’t settle for anything less.  It’s a place where I embrace the unknown for the adventure of living!

 

From my heart to yours,

 

Thanks for reading

Reminders from Paramahansa Yogananda

Today, in my sacred space, I was moved to search for teachings from Paramahansa Yogananda.  I downloaded “The Law of Success” and started reading.  As I read, the following reminders flowed into me…

Aligning my will with the will of the source of life is the way I experience success.  In every failure, there is an opportunity to grow and heal.  There is no need for suffering.  Suffering is a flag that says “hey, something is off here”.  Answers appear when I go within and ask what is off with an open heart and mind.  The answers to every problem and solutions for every need are available at any moment.  The quicker I learn lessons, the less trouble I experience in life.  I give no energy to focusing on the trouble.  Instead, I spend my energy focusing on the lesson, the gift, within the situation.

It is important not to do things for selfish power or to be “special” because of what I can do.  That is a desire of the ego that distracts me from my spiritual quest. It is important for me to set aside time to connect with the source of life so I can attune my will to that source.

I have tasted the sweet fruitage of aligning myself with the unconditional love, goodness and power from the source of life.  I also know the tragedy, stress and suffering from pursing goals that “prove” something.  This duality is a gift in my life.  I can choose the former whenever I wish.  I choose it now.

This is freedom.

This is joy.

This is passion.

This is the gift of my life!

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

2014 Reflections

As I excitedly expressed gratitude for all the things I learned this past year, a new friend suggested I write about it. I write the following wearing my pajamas with my cat on my lap and dog at my feet with a full heart.

At this time a year ago, I was seriously considering going back to school. I feared how I would pay for it, how I would find the time to do homework, how hard it would be, how much I would have to read. Despite these fears, I registered for classes. I planned to train for a marathon and run 1000 miles as well.

Around the same time, a dear friend from high school suggested getting a group together to talk about our goals and hold each other accountable. It sounded like a smashing idea so I rented the room at Caribou Coffee on Ingersol in Des Moines, IA and sent out an invite. At the first meeting, sharing our stories, I knew it was going to be something WONDERFUL but I had no idea the level of connection that somewhat random group of souls would be able to achieve.

Meanwhile, my heart fell in love with a particularly special, lovely lady with an incredible soul. Our friendship started out somewhat stand offish as we each sniffed each other out, afraid to let anyone in too far. But during a sub zero run one day, we broke through that barrier and an immensely fulfilling connection ensued.

Classes started in February. I began in a project management cohort but after a few boring classes in, the 99U conference in New York and meeting an incredible kindred spirit with extensive project management experience, I realized I didn’t need a college course to teach me project management. I found the guts to pursue my real dream… Behavioral Science.

My Behavioral Science cohort is teaching me about myself, relationships and improving my leadership skills. The first few classes talked about how it’s important to own the ways that being a counselor meets your own needs. The material talked about needing to have a strong value system and not imposing my values on others. It talked about the need for self-care to avoid burnout and I started looking at my life differently.

Despite the joy that training with beloved friends for a marathon was giving me, it was adding more stress than it was relieving. While I was asking my higher power for answers on what to do next sometime in June, an invitation to consult with James Miller at Adamantine yoga showed up in my inbox. I met with James and decided to commit to a yoga practice.

I approached yoga like everything else in my life up until that point, full force, balls to the wall, intensity. James told me to just “show up”. Through my practice, I’m learning to see myself and the world completely differently. I’m releasing and processing years of pent up emotional energy stored in my body. I met myself on my mat. For the first time, I feel like I know who I am and what I’m here to do. It’s incredibly liberating! In addition, my practice has led to some unexpected connections with fellow practitioners who give me insight into different world views.

Sometime in October, I connected with a kindred spirit I’d been trying to get together with for over a year. It was a set of synchronizations that neither us could have planned for. Something bigger than us was at work, no doubt in my mind! She gave me the courage to start a women’s group and lent me the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read it. That book liberated me even further. It was like it took a sledgehammer to layers and layers of false beliefs that were weighing me down and let my light shine out from the depths of my inner being!

For example, I believed it was dangerous to know too much. I told myself I was not a reader. I told myself I wasn’t smart. I told myself I wasn’t enough and had to be more. I told myself that it was bad to have money so I spent it all. I held myself back in a million different ways…

This month, my husband and I started de-cluttering the house. With each unnecessary thing we take out, I feel a little bit lighter. I’ve always had a problem spending every penny I earned but I can make new choices now. Asking myself “Do you really need that?” wasn’t effective but I learned new questions that are effective for me: “How can you do without that?” and “Does that help get you what you want?”. Similar to weight loss, telling myself that I was too fat to eat that wasn’t nearly as helpful as asking “is it worth it?” and telling myself I’m worth being fit. I’m worth being rich and loved too!

This Christmas is something I feared one year ago. I couldn’t imagine how we would we be able to buy presents if I had to pay for school. Not only are there presents for my family to open later today but we have a new roof, a new sink, a dishwasher, a different car and some new pipes. Part of it was made possible by the lovely folks at Half Price Books who gave us a fair amount for unread books and unplayed CDs that were taking up space in our home. We have enough. Not too much, not too little, just enough. I can take comfort in that and stop worrying. This moment is another reminder that what I’m afraid of isn’t nearly as bad as the fear itself.

My catch phrase from 2014: Let go of expectations but be wide open to endless possibility!

As 2015 approaches, I am looking forward to nurturing the relationships established this year and being open to new ones! I’m ready to learn and take in what life has for me without limiting beliefs holding me back! I have established a set of spiritual practices that keep me centered and on track. I am incredibly grateful for all this year has been!

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

Trust, Love, Show Up, Repeat

My yoga practice is teaching me that I tend to distrust life. I have not trusted the natural flow of life events and the result is tension and pain. As I learn to surrender to what is naturally occurring, wonderful things happen. Progress gets made. Not because I fought something, forced it or thought a lot about it but simply because I showed up.

When trying to explain this transformation to my husband, I likened it to learning to float. If you thrash about, afraid of drowning, you can drown. If you are too stiff and rigid, you can drown. However, if you just relax…let your limbs hang and work with the water, it holds you up and you FLOAT. You have to float before you can learn to move in such a way to make progress.

The feeling of letting go is not comfortable for me but I am learning it is necessary to experience the peace I seek. So… I’m practicing learning to float in the water of life.

Guess what?!…it’s holding me up! I’m experiencing my emotions instead of getting consumed by them. I’m having fun AND getting my work done. Say what?! I didn’t even know that was possible.

I want to do more than just “not drown” in life. I want to float, swim, glide with ease. I want to fly. I’ve experienced it enough now, I know it’s possible. However, just like air or water, I can’t hold it in my hand. I can’t clutch it or grasp for it. I have to relax into it.

Trust. Love. Show up. Repeat.

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

Get Off the Roller Coaster

Three things in my life have caused me to feel like I was on an emotional roller coaster:
1) trying to make a relationship into something it isn’t
2) trying to control what I don’t have the power to influence
3) thinking that “bad” negates “good”, not understanding that both happen simultaneously

I am coming to a deeper understanding that there are positives and negatives to everything. My mom used to say “you have to decide what advantages you have to have and what disadvantages you can put up with”. My parents will celebrate 50 years together on September 5. I will not be at the celebration but my ex husband and my son are planning to be. My value system and my immediate family’s are not compatible to such a degree it is better if we stay out of each other’s presence as much as possible. My family used to put me on a roller coaster. They don’t anymore. I still grieve a relationship that never was and never will be but I’m coming to peace with it more and more all the time. I am grateful for my upbringing and concurrently grateful I don’t have to live under that oppression any longer.

My yoga instructor told me I did something wrong today. When I say it like that, it’s nothing. At the time, and for most of the day, it felt like something. The truth is, it was a movement that I didn’t understand and now I understand it better. When I expressed wanting to have better tools to understand what I was supposed to do, my teacher told me to work on relaxing and embrace the day for what it was. His message is one that I’ve received over and over again since I’ve started trying to achieve a better quality of existence. Patience? Ya, ya, ya, how long does that take and how do I do it right?

My current understanding of life, the universe and everything is that nothing is either all good or all bad. Believing this, keeps me on a level plane but sometimes I forget what I know. Admittedly, nothing feels quite as exciting as believing I have done something perfectly but nothing feels quite as terrible as believing I’ve done everything wrong. I consider it a fair trade off.

As I caught myself rehearsing my yoga error this morning over and over, I noted that I have never repeated something I’ve done well over and over like that. Things I do well feel good for about two seconds and then I dismiss them as chance, being lucky, being blessed for a moment. What would life be like if I instead rehearsed the positive and quickly dismissed the negative after I took a moment to reflect on if there was a lesson in it for me?

The week of my birth anniversary, I had some people give me some INCREDIBLE compliments. They said heartfelt things expressing appreciation for all that I am, all that I strive to be. I also had some people tell me hurtful things, publicly proclaiming I am a disappointment to my father and that I disregarded the sanctity of marriage by filing for divorce from my first husband. A few weeks later, the hurtful comments are still bouncing around my head and the compliments are a more distant memory. That doesn’t make much sense, does it?

A few people, who I do not aspire to be like, said a few hurtful things. That is all. Many more people I care about said loving, uplifting, wonderful things.

So, friends, I’m trying something new… I’m getting off the roller coaster again. I’m going to rehearse all the wonderful, kind things that beautiful people in my life have taken time to share with me because they are worth it! I am worth it!

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

It is possible…

In yoga, there is this concept of “practice”.  Not crossing a finish line or attaining merit but value gained from consistent practice.  Your own practice; your own body’s way. This concept of practice opens up a whole new world of possibilities because it’s not necessary to master something, only to set out to practice it.  Intention…

It is not necessary (or possible) to solve all the problems in the world.  By solving some problems, you may even get in the way of someone’s growth.  However, it IS POSSIBLE to set intentions.  It is possible to practice a certain frame of thought, feed peace, starve unrest, and take the next step in the direction you want to go.

It is not possible to change what other people do but it is possible to imagine people living healthy lives, making choices that are right for them and wishing good things to come into their lives.

I do not know why or how but I am here typing truth I have seen in my life now: good things have come to those to whom I have intended good things to come.  I did not do it, I know this, but yet I feel in some way I helped.  If nothing else, I let go of negative thoughts about their situation, freeing myself of that unnecessary burden.   I am unable to spend mental energy on everyone in the world but I do have people in my circle of influence I can practice loving unconditionally.  We all do.

What if we all did?  What’s the saying about 6 degrees of separation?  If we all thought about good things coming to 6-10 people, including ourselves, could we change the world?  I think so.  I have seen positive changes in my life when people are praying for me.  Even if I didn’t believe in how they were praying or who they were praying to, their prayers worked.

I find peace and joy by feeding peaceful and joyous thoughts.  It hurts my heart when people are unhappy, burdened by negativity and feeding helplessness.  I was taught that you shouldn’t be happy if other people are unhappy and it seems that there’s always someone who is unhappy.  That does not work for me so I’m practicing something else, a different way of thinking…

No matter what, there is someone in the world who has less and someone in the world who has more.  If not in material things, in something else (intelligence, physical ability, number of friends, health….).  It accomplishes nothing to compare oneself to someone else.  The only value in looking at what someone else says, has or does is to see yourself in them; see ways you can grow.

I am testifying before you now that you do not have to carry the burden of misery.  Unpleasantness happens but it’s over more quickly when it’s seen and accepted for what it is: a bump in the road, an opportunity for growth, a bookmark to remind you what you are grateful for…

I close with excerpts from Yoga Sutra 1.33 that resonated with me:

The first suggestion is that we cultivate friendship and happiness towards those who are happier than we are.  When we are fortunate enough to meet people who are consistently happy and content, we should seek out their friendship.  In this way we can learn from them and share their joy… We can become so busy wishing we were happy, that we lose the opportunity to share and learn from them…

The second suggestion is that we cultivate compassion for those who are unhappy.  All people, and all living beings, want to be happy.  When we are suffering, we are so grateful to others who offer any support – even just a friendly smile or a knowing glance…Even if the person is not someone you know, or if it is someone you don’t like…their suffering is keenly felt, and finding compassion in yourself pushes out hatred and opens a place of love…

The third suggestion of Yoga Sutra 1.33 is that we cultivate joy and gladness toward those who are virtuous…appreciating the virtuous actions of others and celebrating the good fortune of others.  Often times, it is easier to see the faults and shortcomings of others, and unfortunately, that causes our mental energy to become critical, divisive, and harsh.  When we see good in others, and celebrate their good intentions and actions…we feel a sense of unity with them, and a general sense of appreciation for others.  Also, when we see other people receiving good fortune – whether it’s a promotion, a new loving partner, a winning lottery ticket – we are often tempted to evaluate whether or not they deserve what they have received…If there has been some gross injustice, perhaps you will chose to take some action… but generally speaking, if we can celebrate with them and be glad for their good fortune, we will find ourselves feeling a sense of peace, rather than one of conflict.  Naturally enough, none of us is perfect, and we all appreciate it when others forgive us our shortcomings and look at our finer qualities instead.

Finally, the hardest of all, is the suggestion that we remain undisturbed by the errors of others…  In his speech “Loving Your Enemies,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talks about the difference between loving a person and liking a person… finding the ability to recognize the humanity in others, even if they have committed harsh or terrible actions.  We do this, not for their sake, but for our own sake – so that we do not fall into a cycle of unforgiving, impatient and vengeful behavior.  This doesn’t mean that we mustn’t act in the world; this is not an excuse for not getting involved in matters of justice and social progress.  However, when we are able to see the humanity in others, we keep ourselves centered – and we are able to act in the world from a place of calm and stability, rather than lashing out from an emotionally reactive and defensive position. And this is when we are most likely to be effective and to change people’s hearts and actions.

Namaste