Mindful-Mojo for 2018

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New Years Resolutions 2018

Friends,

It's 2018, we made it!!

2017 was quite a year . . . (let me catch my breath)!

A few big events that stand out for me were: 

  • Moving to New York (that was a big one)
  • Co-raising a 2-year-old (that's an even bigger one)
  • Learning to be a yoga teacher in NYC and learning how to take my yoga online
  • Some incredible yoga retreats, including my San Francisco Yoga Tour, Dream & Write with Nan Seymour in Idaho.
  • Mentoring some incredible yoga teachers
  • Co-teaching a Restore Yoga Immersion
  • An incredible vacation to London
  • A wonderful trip to D.C.
  • Some great writing opportunities, including writing with Conscious Life News, regarded as one of the top 3 consciously-minded online journals on the web, as well as having my blog considered for the top 25 yoga blogs in the country by Thoroughly Reviewed. 

 

But that was so 2017 . . .

 


2018 is going to be really, really good for me, I can feel it, and I feel like 2018 is also going to be good for you, full of possibilities and opportunities. And with a little mindful-mojo, you and I can shape this year to be our best year yet.

There is immense power at the beginning of any year. There's energy to create and build, there's power of clarity and insight, and there's a determination to continue moving forward, driven by hope and the human spirit of growth and evolution.

Open your body, mind, and spirit to untold possibilities in 2018!

Like I mentioned last week in my message about The Cosmic Taco, there's untold power in simply knowing what you want, even if you're not sure how to get there.

A mentor once told me, "First, figure out what you want, then you'll figure out how you'll do it." Both understanding what you want and setting the intentions for possibilities in the new year takes practice.

So, I've created a special Yoga Nidra practice designed to help you sow the seeds of intention deep within in your mind and heart. Visualization is very effective for outcomes and performance because if you can see it, you can achieve it.

This recording will help you become very relaxed, while helping you to define what amazing things you want for yourself in this new year and then visualize what your life is going to look like when this thing happens.

Get ready to rock and roll because it's going to be good!

The meditation is about 31 minutes long, so plan on setting aside just a little bit of time take care of yourself in this way. 

I invite you to do it today. What are you doing right now? Can you give yourself the next 31 minutes to set in motion an incredible year?

Don't worry if you fall asleep, the part of you that I'm speaking to is still paying attention. Plus you can always do it again, refining your vision and intentions. 

I've made two versions, one with background music, and one without. I like the one with the music (a drone) in the background. It's light and nice. You can stream or download them by clicking the buttons below. 

Please share it with anyone you can think of. Consider practicing it regularly, maybe daily for a week or so, then at least once or twice a week after that. Come back to it regularly to keep your mind and heart honed to your forward motion of 2018. Then, tell me about it. I'd love to hear what happens as you do this practice. 

Speaking of what's to come, SOMETHING AWESOME THIS WAY COMES. In January, I'll be unveiling something that has everything to do with understanding and sourcing your gifts to be an extraordinary presence in this world. Stay tuned . . . 

Lastly, I love hearing from you! If you have literally 60 seconds, would you mind replying to this email and telling me two things:
1. Why do you practice yoga and or meditation?
2. What do you feel you need most in your life? 

Happy New Year! 
Tell me how the New Year Yoga Nidra goes

Namaste

 

Take Me To The River: Yoga Nidra Meets + River Writing Makes Dream and Write

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Yoga Nidra

I have a notebook full of words I will only read once.

It's dedicated to my River Writing practice. River Writing is a beautifully generative writing group that my good friend, Nan Seymour, hosts. She does so in intimate groups around a warm, wooden table, at her writing studio, in Salt Lake City.

I teach Yoga Nidra, a very relaxing form of guided meditation. Nan has been as profoundly affected by my Yoga Nidra as I have been by her River Writing. So we decided to combine the two practices and call it Dream and Write. 

The purpose is to create a writing practice of inviting words to flow, unobstructed from a river of inner-narrative. Paired together, this practice creates a unique mindfulness writing experience that taps profound Awareness for clarity and flow of writing. 

Over the past two years, Nan and Scott have offered several Dream and Write workshop, classes, and retreats. The intention of Dream and Write is to use mindfulness, poetry, and gentle encouragement to source the words that are within you in. We insist on a judgement-free, non-editing, and mutually supportive environment.

River Writing

Nan's true gift is creating a safe and inviting space to write. She nurtures a judgement-free environment, both from other writers but most especially from that harshest of critics, you.

She opens a session, sets the guidelines, and then reads a prompt to inspire or begin your writing ideas. Then, she starts a timer as asks you to write without stopping for 12 minutes. 

Yoga Nidra

Your job is to keep your pen moving across your paper the entire time without edits, whether you're gushing words or simply repeating, "I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write," just to keep the pen moving. And if ever you feel really stuck, there's a life-saving phrase you  can write, "What I really want to say is . . .," and magically the words start to flow again. More often than not, it's astounding what River Writing coaxes onto the page.

After the timer has rung, you're encouraged, but not forced, to read to the group what's on your page, without qualifiers, without apology. No one is allowed to offer any critique or praise to your work other than a simple, "Thank you." We are simple witnesses to ourselves and each other, something which is much more abiding than praise.

Through River Writing, I've written some incredibly profound words, words that I didn't know were inside of me. This process has also helped me to generate brilliant ideas for my work that have literally changed my career. I owe it to the genius of River Writing and Nan's  warmth and skill of facilitation.

 

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra

I'm passionate about Yoga Nidra because simply put, it's a revelation. It's also incredibly relaxing. I love it because through Yoga Nidra, I've learned more about myself and the Universe than any other practice.

Yoga Nidra is simple: You lie down, close your eyes, relax, and listen to me guide you toward acute Awareness,  of yourself and everything around you. That's it. It's actually quite a bit more sophisticated than it sounds but the results can't be quantified. I'm telling you, after the clarity you gain through Yoga Nidra, your whole life feels like it makes sense. After, you feel energized and alert, like you took a satisfying nap while learning the meaning of the Universe. I'm not over selling this.

But I'm rambling, what I really want to say is . . . Since the birth of Dream and Write, we have hosted a suite of workshops and two multi-day Dream and Write retreats and the results have been nothing less than beautiful and inspiring.

Sadly, I moved 2,600 miles away from Nan and that warm, wood writing table to NYC. But thanks to the internet, we are closer than we appear.

What I really want to say is it would be our honor to invite you to experience our first ever Virtual Dream and Write Workshop, happening in YOUR living room, on YOUR computer, smartphone, or tablet, on December 2nd 2017.

This will be a unique opportunity to gather with people all over the country and world to meditate, write, and share in real time. Every Dream and Write have been touching, inspiring, and affirming. I have every confidence that this will be likewise. And, because on this internet meeting space we'll only see your upper half, you don't even have to wear pants!

Also, get this: Nan discovered a truly brilliant and accomplished poet named Anders Carlson-Wee who agreed to join us as our poet-in-residence for our Dream and Write Retreat. Anders is a very gifted but down-to-earth poet who read several of his poems as prompts for our writing and taught us about poetry and its embodiment.

Well, Anders has also agreed to attend our Virtual Dream and Write Workshop to share with us some of his sublime poetry as fodder for our own creative juices to flow. Anders Carlson-Wee's poetry, from his own mouth, in real time. Damn, you can't get better than this! Run don't walk, friends. (Read his poem Dynamite)

Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, there are words or a stories inside of you that need to get out. This workshop is the opportunity to do free those words in a supportive and nurturing environment with kind and experienced facilitators.

Oh, did I mention it's fun?

Please join us for this truly unique workshop.

We only have 20 spots available.

When: Saturday, December 2nd 2017 from 12-3 pm ET, 11 am-2 pm CT, 10 am-1 pm MT, 9am-12pm PT. (There will be pee breaks)

Where: Your house, via the internet

Price: $57

Yoga Nidra
 
Yoga Nidra
 

Dynamite

Anders Carlson-Wee

Anders Carlson-Wee

by Anders Carlson-Wee

 

My brother hits me hard with a stick
so I whip a choke-chain

across his face. We’re playing
a game called Dynamite

where everything you throw
is a stick of dynamite,

unless it’s pine. Pine sticks
are rifles and pinecones are grenades,

but everything else is dynamite.
I run down the driveway

and back behind the garage
where we keep the leopard frogs

in buckets of water
with logs and rock islands.

When he comes around the corner
the blood is pouring

out of his nose and down his neck
and he has a hammer in his hand.

I pick up his favorite frog
and say If you come any closer

I’ll squeeze. He tells me I won’t.
He starts coming closer.

I say a hammer isn’t dynamite.
He reminds me that everything is dynamite.

 

“Dynamite” originally appeared in Ninth Letter

Magic Words for Happiness

Magic words for happiness

Throughout time there have been stories, myths, and legends where people merely have to utter some magic words, a spell, or mantra, and POOF! their desires manifest magically before their eyes.

Even if you don’t believe in “magic words,” I’ve discovered a real-life mantra which are magic words for unfettered happiness. Well, almost. Actually it’s even better than it sounds.

I don’t know how I discovered this mantra, perhaps it found me.
A few weeks ago, I was running around Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, pushing my snoozing two-year-old son in the jog stroller. The autumn temperature was beautiful and crisp, ideal for a run. The diffuse afternoon sunlight was filtering through the rice-paper sky of wispy clouds making the panoply of fall colors practically burst each tree into flames. My lungs were breathing deeply and effortlessly in sync with my footsteps making my head feel clear and my body feel alive.
 

Magic Words for Happiness

That’s when these magic words just popped out of my mouth: “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment!” I repeated it a few times, feeling ever more enthralled with each repetition.
A few days later, while at the playground watching my kid play with all the other kids, I stepped back and repeated that same magic phrase, “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment.”

Again, a week or so later,  I was taking an ordinary walk and not really feeling much of anything and decided to try the phrase again to see what would happen.  “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment.” Again, almost instantly a wave of happiness and contentment washed over me.

Then, I decided to really put this mantra to the test. A few days later, when I was feeling particularly crabby, and despite my own momentary cynicism about this mantra, I somehow found the fortitude to whip out these magic words, “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment,” even though suffering these tight, constricted feelings in my chest caused by crabbiness wasn’t what I wanted to be doing in this moment.

I’ll admit, crabbiness didn’t disappear instantly: I didn’t immediately start dancing and singing around the streets of Brooklyn, like the Maria von Trapp. But it did have a remarkable effect on me by pulling me into the present moment and my crabbiness did subside by substantial degrees. The presence this mantra gave me was to look objectively at the emotions in the moment as physical sensation and adopt the vantage point of observer rather than victim of the circumstances which led me to being crabby.

Cuz, I think this is the thing, here: the magic of this phrase is that it locks me into presence. It wakes me up from projecting to past or future and opens my eyes to HERE.
 

We stop blackmailing our happiness by insisting that we will only feel happy when the circumstances in our lives align to ways we think they ought to be.

When we take a good look at HERE, we realize that this moment is not only void of the stressors or worries that past and future want to impose on our minds, but most often, this practiced attention to the present helps us to see all the beauty that surrounds us at all moments, perfection which is often masked by momentary emotions that cloud our vision.

The Yoga Sutras point to a foundational pillar of our own evolution called Santosha, which means the practice of personal contentment. When we practice this mantra, we are practicing Santosha in a practical and real way.

Taking it one step deeper, ancient yoga wisdom also states that our most natural comportment is that of boundless equanimity, a joy that exists despite the events or circumstances of our lives. 
 
By dialing in to the perfection of this moment, we cultivate our own capacity for contentment. Soon, we train ourselves to experience this natural contentment as the underlying natural way of being, which is always present, despite events and circumstances.

Warning: Crabbiness, and all the other negative emotions will continue to surface. But with practiced presence, we cultivate Santosha, contentment, and these emotions will have less and less power to pull you away from presence. In fact, with practice we can use those negative emotions, and all temporary emotions, as a way of feeling into this moment and becoming more present.

This may be a lifelong practice to perfect. Just take it moment by moment.

I invite you to practice these magic words, “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment. ” Starting today, cultivate your own capacity for deep, lasting contentment and a happiness that isn’t dependent on events or circumstances.

I’ve recorded a Yoga Nidra (guided meditation) that feels amazing by cultivating this joy beyond events or circumstance. It takes about 30 minutes.
 


If you use social media maybe capture the moment with #thismoment

 

Join me for the yoga retreat of a lifetime along Souther Italy's Amalfi Coast, May 26-June2

Headaches Stink!

Do you ever get headaches? Do you get regular headaches and not even know why? Did you know that headaches can sometimes be the result of unconscious tension in your hips, back, neck and shoulders?

Don't hate me, but I'm the kind of guy who almost never gets headaches. Well, not unless there's something really wrong with me. So when I do get a headache, it's an automatic red flag and I pay close attention to what's going on with me. Even having a headache is an opportunity for mindfulness.

There are a bunch of reasons for headaches, like dehydration, sinus congestions, and viruses. But like I said, sometimes, headaches are caused by unconscious tension, especially if your headaches are chronic.

Here are a few of my favorite techniques to remedy a headache. I use these myself and teach them to my students. 

First, check in and listen. Try hearing your headache as a message from your body. Close your eyes and give yourself a few slow rounds of deep ujjayi breaths. This technique is often powerful enough to remedy a headache all by itself because of the ujjayi breath's ability to calm the nervous system. 

As your breathe, bring your attention directly to your headache and see what you can learn from it. Where exactly do you feel it? What is the quality of your headache. What are the emotions, thoughts, or sensations which correspond to your headache? If your headache were a message, what might it be? 

And then try these three yoga poses to see if they help your headache.

Quick info before you do any yoga poses: remember that you are aiming for quality over quantity. You don’t get better results by doing a pose more intensely. Keep your stretches at the quality of I call “comfortably intense.” Aim for duration and feeling a solid, sustained stretch rather than a quick fix.  And always with every yoga pose maintain your ujjayi breaths.


Pose #1

Eagle Arms.jpg

Eagle Arms: to stretch upper-trapezius, lateral deltoids, triceps

This posture stretches a few of the most pernicious muscles when it comes to tension headaches. The upper-traps, the big muscles right at the top of your shoulders which connect to your head, are particularly responsible for causing tension headaches. When these muscles get tight, they pull on the tension balance of your upper skeleton as well as the muscles in your neck and scalp resulting in headaches. These muscles, as well as the lateral deltoids and triceps, tighten if you are prone to doing repetitive actions with hands and arms such as typing on a keyboard, driving, or texting (hopefully not all at the same time. I LOVE this pose.

Try wrapping your arms and then lifting your elbows slightly above your shoulders. Do this with your deep ujjayi breaths flowing. I like to slowly turn my head side to side. Oh, and makesure you’re not clenching your jaw. Sometimes when I'm trying to release tension in my body, I clench because I'm pushing too hard and this is an unconscious tension response.

Try this pose for 10 breaths on each side.


Pose #2

side neck stretch.jpg

Side Neck Stretch: to stretch the scalenes and sternocleidomastoid (SCM)

Other muscles that sometimes contribute to headaches are the SCMs and the scalenes. These muscles run along the sides of your neck.

To stretch these muscles, put your left hand on your head and tilt your left ear toward your left shoulder. Reach your right arm toward the floor but several inches away from your hip so that your middle finger almost touches the floor but not quite. It's like you're trying to get your right jaw and right fingertips as far away from each other as possible.

Do your ujjayi breathing.

Visualize your breath moving down into your fingertips and releasing any tension that exists from your head to your fingers. I'll visualize my tension dripping out my fingers like drops of water and pooling onto the floor.

Again, don't clench your jaw.


Pose #3

Seated Twist: to stretch the paraspinal and piriformis

ardha matsyandrasana.jpg

Sometimes the pain you feel in your head originate from a place entirely different than your head, like your back or even your hips. The paraspinal muscles are the vertical  muscles that run along either side of your spine and the piriformis muscle run deep under your glutes and connect your legs to your sacrum. Again, when either of these muscles are tight, they add to an imbalance in the skeletal tension and can radiate tension into your head. Plus, since your spine houses our spinal chord, the primary conduit for information moving via the nerves to the brain, by gently twisting the spine, you wring out our nervous system. Twists are great to release tension!

Sit down and cross one leg, bent at the knee, over the other leg, also bent at the knee. Bring opposite elbow across opposite leg. Sit up tall with your spine erect and buttocks grounded firmly on the floor. If one of your buttocks lifts, try extending your bottom leg straight. As you initiate the posture, breath in deeply and sit tall. As you exhale, gently twist to a comfortable level. Hold each side for 10-15 long breaths.


If you get headaches, try first checking in, listening to your body, and doing a few rounds of ujjayi breath. Then bust out these three poses and see if they help. If you do them regularly, you'll most likely find that your headaches will come less frequently and will be less severe when they do.

And remember, sometimes your headache is trying to tell you something so practice listening. 

Do you get headaches? Use the comment section to tell me what you do to help remedy headaches?