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Success isn't about fame or fortune. Success is only measured by happiness, awareness, and love.
(Drop the mic. Walk off stage)
How do YOU measure success?
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Success isn't about fame or fortune. Success is only measured by happiness, awareness, and love.
(Drop the mic. Walk off stage)
How do YOU measure success?
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Can I get real for a sec?
I freak out sometimes.
People often assume that because I teach yoga I never get stressed. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. NYC has been great, it's been fun, and it's caused me to stretch and grow in ways I didn't know imaginable. But sometimes it feels like this town is kicking my ass.
Fortunately, I've got some tools.
I've taught Yoga for Anxiety courses, not because I never get stressed, but because sometimes I freak out too and sometimes I use the tools yoga has taught me to help me manage stress. Don't get me wrong, I don't pretend to always have the answer for stress. Despite my experience with meditation, breathing techniques, and stress-relieving yoga poses, sometimes I still find myself self-medicating with Ben and Jerry's.
Here's what I do when I get stressed and I'd love to hear what helps you when you get stressed.
First, I take a bunch of fat sighs out my mouth, mostly when I'm driving or alone and can really let it fly without turning heads. I try to make it as dramatic as possible. I think this helps. This is a natural tension releasing technique that a lot of mammals use. Also, I'll try to relax my jaw and notice whether my stress lessens even by doing just a couple of sighs. Sometimes when I’m really worked up, I'll sigh for 5 minutes or so.
Next, I'll practice ujjayi breath, whisper breath. A lot of you know this but it's the breathing you use during yoga practice where you breathe in and out of your nostrils and put a little whisper in the back of your throat, elongating your breaths. It really helps. This form of breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of your flight or flight nervous response. Try it, it's a miracle for stress.
Often when I feel stress, I will also do something physically active, like go to a yoga class, put on my running shoes and hit a trail, or even just take a 10 minute walk around the block, even if I don't have the time to do so. It's incredible how my perception changes when I get outside or at least get moving for a bit.
Wallace Stevens once wrote, "Sometimes the truth depends upon a walk around the lake."
Yoga explores the relationship between mind and body. If my body can relax, maybe my mind can follow. Putting some endorphins in my body and some oxygen in my brain is a great way to make me feel good and clear my mind.
Next, I'll actually look the bull straight into the eyes and see my stress for what it is. I'll try a meditation technique where I try to adopt the role as the observer rather than the one who is oppressed by stress. The other day, I felt like I was feeling a lot of stress and caught myself trying to avoid it or pretend it wasn't there. I had a few minutes to meditate and instead of mentally escaping it, I decided to look at it straight on. I closed my eyes and noticed how my body felt in response to the stress. I observed the images in my mind and emotions in my heart and thoughts in my brain, everything associated with this stress and tried to just observe it rather than fix it.
As I looked inside, this feeling inside me felt like a cold, metal vice along my chest. The more I looked at it, and just observed it, the more I realized that what I was feeling was more like protective armor than oppressive stress. It suddenly felt less like worry and more like my call to action to both do something about what was worrying me as well as practice self care.
Through my meditation, my observation, I was able to see this feeling for what it was instead of trying to avoid it and worry about the monster I felt was breathing down my neck.
Overall, I'm doing wonderful in NYC. These stress relieving techniques certainly help when ever I feel less than wonderful. I
can assure you I'll continue to use these techniques throughout my life. Maybe you can use some of these techniques if you find yourself freaking out. Try to do some breathing techniques, come to a yoga class, or try to meditate.
Of all these aforementioned techniques, I realize, too, that the only thing yoga class does not incorporate is the Ben and Jerry's therapy. Maybe after class we should go and get some ice cream and talk about our problems.
What are the tools that help you work with stress?
I've built an entire learning module complete with stress relieving Yoga Nidra practice, breathing exercises, discussions, and additional recourses. It's built like my online courses. This is free awesome and totally free.
Let me know how it goes!
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A few months ago, I was thrilled to receive an email from a friend and longtime student, Courtney Carver. She was in New York promoting her new book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More. She wanted to reach out to her NYC signing event because she said that I had played a significant role in the evolution of the book.
See, almost 15 years ago when I was living in Salt Lake City, I got a phone call from Courtney. She was interested in private yoga sessions because she needed help finding balance in her life. She was crazy-stressed, working a poisonous and impossibly demanding job, and felt maxed out in every facet of her life.
Her abrupt wake up call for a lifestyle change came when after repeated visits to the doctor to answer some nagging questions about why she just felt so “off,” she was diagnosed with MS. And from the moment of her diagnosis she was determined to make some drastic changes to her life.
Courtney and I started meeting for private yoga sessions at 5am a few times a week because that was the only time either of us could meet and it was important enough to make it work. Together, we developed a yoga program to support her “getting her life back,” as she put it, by energizing her body, freeing her mind, and healing her heart.
We didn’t have a lot of time and her MS dictated that each practice be distilled to its essence. It couldn’t be too hot or too intense, nor too cool or too easy. We calibrated each yoga practice using the foundational principles of sukham and sthiram, the balancing principle of ease and effort. As a result, Courtney didn’t get exhausted or sluggish during our yoga practices. By eliminating the excess and practicing balance, we created a sustainable, personal yoga practice that eventually produced magical results. Her health and vitality began to return, her mind felt clear, and she felt as though some deep healing was happening in her heart.
Of course at the time I didn’t know that I was involved in the beginning of something extraordinary. This notion of eliminating excess and practicing balance soon stretched beyond her mat into the practice of her life. Courtney knew she needed to simplify her life to heal her body, mind, and heart and to find her real purpose for the world. But soon she discovered that simplifying her life was her purpose for the world.
Courtney eventually began a movement called Be More with Less. It’s message: simplify, simplify, simplify and discover how you come alive when you free yourself of the shackles of stress, the burden of an overly-demanding lifestyle, and the heaviness of owning too much stuff. Her movement took off and, all the while practicing balance, she has built an enormous audience with social media platforms, speaking engagements, a robust blog, podcasts, and most importantly her brilliant, new, and successful book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More. Have you heard of her Project 333? That's Courtney. Project 333 was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine. Yeah, she's big time.
The Be More with Less message mirrors something I believe, practice, and teach which is that mastery is about getting more by doing less. By learning and using yoga and mindfulness techniques of connecting body, mind, and spirit with movement, mindfulness, and breath, you avail yourself of a quality of being that is optimal to a point that is almost unimaginable. This quality of being is your birthright, the way your life is supposed to feel and comes not as the product of effort but only as the product of balance.
Though MS is supposed to be degenerative, Courtney says that she feels more alive now than she did before she was diagnosed with MS. Finding balance was the crucial lesson that helped Courtney “get her life back,” one that she would eventually share with hundreds of thousands of people across the world. And while I know that my role in her courageous and inspiring story was relatively small, I’m nonetheless very proud to have played it.
I’m not sure how many books she signed before her NYC book signing event, but you can be sure that I was the first in line at the NYC signing to proudly get an autograph.
This story has many themes. Finding balance for optimization and healing is one. Another theme is about sharing your gifts to create massive benefit for the world as well as deep, satisfying work for yourself.
I recently created an online yoga and meditation course called Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift. It’s an engaging journey about finding deep personal satisfaction and generously serving the world by sourcing your heart to discover your purpose. I loved building it and in the process my heart grew exponentially. It’s been wonderfully successful and I’m eager to run it again. The next course begins in one week on April 23.
By creating the Be More with Less movement several years ago, Courtney found her heart’s gift for the world and is bravely sharing it and actively making the world a better place. My heart’s gift for the world is sharing yoga and meditation so that people like Courtney can go out into the world and share the gifts that they are destined to share.
What is your gift that you need to share with the world?
I invite you to join me on this heart-felt journey of self discovery.
This is cool . . .
Courtney and I have teamed up to offer a joint giveaway. This giveaway is going to make you smile. I've teamed up with Courtney to help you know your heart. We'll be choosing two winners (one from a comment on this Instagram post and one from a comment on Courtney's post) by random drawing on April 18th to win membership to my online course, Sourcing Your Heart's Gift (including yoga, meditation, and a journey straight to your heart and a signed copy of her new book #SoulfulSimplicity. Learn more about my course with this link. If you’d like to win, follow these 4 simple steps.
1. Like this post.
2. Comment with something that fills your heart.
3. Tag a friend who would like this book for an extra chance to win.
4. Head over to @bemorewithless and enter to win on her post (same image)
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I've had the great pleasure of leading mindfulness and yoga retreats at Wild Heart Horse Sanctuary, a sanctuary that houses rescues wild mustangs in Park City, Utah. Sonya Richins is a wonderful woman with an enormous heart and limitless energy to devote to saving these beautiful animals. At the sanctuary, we experience "horse medicine" which teaches us volumes about ourselves in relationship to these majestic animals.
Typically, we begin our day with some yoga and meditation and explore some of the mystical qualities of these beautiful animals. We then do an exercise where we simply observe the horses and journal about what we noticed.
In simple observation, it is clear to see which horse is the diva, which one the protector, which one is aloof, etc. It's incredible how easy it is to relate to the personality of the horses.
Perhaps one of the most profound experiences for me is always the opportunity to simply be present with the animals. We practice holding our own ground and approaching these mustangs neither aggressively or in a creeping manner. Sonya taught us to be in relationship with these horses rather than assert ourselves upon them.
I remember during one retreat when it was my turn to approach the lead stallion, Kokepelli. I noticed him slightly back away so I paused and also took a step back. I waited and watched. After a few moments Kokepelli lifted his head toward me and looked at me. I took a few confident but calm steps toward him and he didn't move but remained calm as if he expected me. A few more steps and Kokepelli seemed eager for me to approach him. After several minutes, we were standing with our foreheads together, me scratching behind his ears. We were two parts of one bigger thing, man and horse. I could feel an enormous trust between us, a bond that still exists today.
There is a wonderful poem by Mary Oliver called Wild Geese that starts:
You do not have to be good
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
Love what it loves
This reminds me that we are animals. It reminds me that we need to learn to work and heal our bodies, minds, and spirits on our their terms through invitation and not aggression or willpower.
We must listen to our bodies and create a relationship with it and wait for it to tell us how to take the next step. If we listen, we will eventually stand in complete connection with this physical part of our being, just like you can connect with any other animal. Learn to trust it. It will trust you.
I invite you to learn to trust the animal of your body this week.
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This post won't make sense unless you read pt. 1 so go back and read the previous post and then come back to read this one.
(Grand Theft Auto)
When my truck, Nina, was literally stolen from out of my hands, being very nearly killed in the process, it gave me a lot of time for reflection if only for the simple fact that it takes longer to walk places instead of drive. And despite being "mindfully pissed off" about the whole thing, I also had time to reflect on the many family members, friends, and acquaintances who had stepped up to help me, whether that was to loan me their car, offer to take me somewhere, or simply share space, laugh, and swap stories.
After telling the yoga community about getting my truck stolen, many people said that they would also like to have a 1" sticker on the back of their car because it reminded them of the Wendell Berry poem that states that the greatest journey we will ever travel is the journey of 1" "by which we arrive at the ground at our feet and learn to be at home."
I made more stickers and sold them to anyone who wanted them for $5. If I could only sell a couple thousand of those stickers, I could buy myself a nice reliable car and enjoy the metaphor of the ground at my feet rather than the cold, hard truth of it.
One woman, Penny, who bought a sticker also gave me a bag of Four Barrel coffee, the brand of coffee the sell at The Rose Establishment, (the coffee shop I went to directly after getting my truck stolen) and attached a note to it that said, "Because anyone who just got their ride stolen deserves a good cup of coffee." I was touched that she'd not only remembered my story but would also go out of her way to give me such a special, and heart-felt gift. Plus, it was damn fine coffee.
My friend Nan let me drive her car for a few days.
My dad is awesome. He's retired and during my transportation crisis he allowed me to borrow his car for a few weeks.
Then, my good friends Christy and Brian called me and said that they owned two cars and were looking to get rid of one, the one parked in an auto-cocoon in the driveway which needed some repairs on the clutch. It was a 2001 Subaru Forester. We agreed that we'd tow it to my trusty mechanic, Peak Performance, and if the repairs weren't too extensive, I could pay for the repairs and $500 for the car. Fortunately, the repairs were only $300 and so for $800, I scored a car that ran better than my previous ride.
She's had low miles, clean interior, AC, cruise control—the whole bit. Getting that car felt like a big win. My dad also helped me get the Subaru to the shop and even sat with me at the DMV while I registered it (I know, right?). Then we went the Red Iguana for Mexican food, because everyone who just got a new ride deserves "killer Mexican food."
I had wheels again! And as I rolled down the street, I was overcome with the generosity of my friends and family.
I brought the Subaru home and parked her in the driveway and what really made the experience complete is when I put another 1" sticker on the back. Then, she really felt like part of the family.
Then, just two day after I started rolling around in my sweet, sweet Forester, I received a phone call from the police department informing me that they had found my truck! They asked me if I could come right then and pick it up. It wasn't far away, stashed in the parking lot of an apartment complex about 5 miles away.
I told the SLCPD that I was literally about 5 minutes from jumping in and teaching my Thursday morning 10:15 am Restore Yoga class and that there was no way I could come right then, but that I'd be free in about an hour and a half. They informed me that they had called the fingerprinting team who needed to dust the truck before they could release it to me anyway and that if I called back as soon as I was done with my class, there was a possibility that I'd avoid having to pay tow and impound fees.
See, in order to protect my vehicle from whomever stole it, the police have to tow it from where they found it and impound it so Truck Thief can't come and move it somewhere else. The down side is that this isn't a service the city offers for free. I'm the one who has to pay for tow and impound, usually runs around $200.
So, as I'm teaching my Restore Yoga class, questions like, "What kind of shape is my Nina in? What did they take and does it even run?" were swimming through my head and making it difficult to concentrate. After class, I wasted no time calling the police department and told them that I was on my way. They informed me that they had already called the tow truck but if I got to Nina before the tow truck did, I could avoid her from getting hoisted away.
I was off and soon learned just how speedy my new Subaru could be as I broke a few land speed records to get there. Just as I showed up, the tow truck operator was at that moment hoisting Nina onto the back of his truck. She looked frightened and battered but generally ok. I approached him and explained the situation. He told me flatly that he'd been given orders by the cops to tow my truck and that nothing but the OK from the cops could stop him from taking it. I tried fruitlessly to explain and even tried calling the officer to have him explain the situation but my phone at the time was in its palliative care stage of its life. Like many in this state, was about to go to cell phone heaven and the battery just wasn't working well. Every time I connected to the SLCPD my phone decided to spontaneously power down and preventing me from getting the OK not to tow my car. So, exacerbated, I told the guy, "Fine, tow it and I'll meet you at the impound yard so I can talk to your boss."
I zipped over to the impound yard, a lovely place that looked like a parking lot for zombies. I entered the make-shift office, a long narrow room with dirty carpet, a couch that looked like it had been towed from off on the side of the road, and an obscenely large television blaring loud day-time TV commercials.
Behind the desk sat someone who upon first sight clearly displayed a super power—apathy. I pled my case to Apathyman. I told him that I didn't want to have to pay $200 to impound and tow my car when the police said I didn't have to pay. He began using his super power immediately and mumbled something about being powerless, other than his obvious super power for Apathy, of course. Defiantly, I asked to talk to his boss. Apathyman gave me a number to call to Bossman, who must have taught Apathyman everything he knew. He only said, "Let me make a phone call." Five seconds later the phone in the office where I was standing rang. It was Bossman talking again to Apathyman. In mere seconds, Apathyman hung up the phone and informed me that they were going to impound my car. To see them work together was almost inspiring, they were like the Stokton to Malone duo of shittiness.
To add insult to injury, Apathyman also told me that I couldn't just pay the fee and roll away. I didn't even know if my car rolled. He told me that in order to get my truck back, I'd need to go to the DMV to get an impound release form then bring it back to the impound yard, pay the fee and then I could take the car. It's easier to adopt a baby from Russia than it is to get your car outta hock.
I left my truck at the impound yard and rolled away fuming mad. I had another yoga class to teach and I wondered how I was going to try to teach being centered when things were so crazy in my own head.
I made arrangements with my good friend John to pick me up after my class. We went to the DMV and then back to the Zombie Parking Lot and the House of Hopelessness, home of Apathy Man, to get my truck back. We spend all afternoon running around and attending to the minutia. Finally, I'd retrieved the necessary forms, paid the fees, and Apathyman reluctantly gave me back the keys to my truck.
Just then it dawned on me that I hadn't even seen the inside of my truck. I wasn't sure what they'd stolen, what condition it was in, or if the truck would even start. So with reticence, I approached Nina. As I opened the door, I saw the front console was torn up a bit, the result of stealing my car stereo that wasn't working anyway. I think there's a special pawn shop for car stereos that don't work, very valuable in certain markets. Truck Thief had ransacked everything leaving it a total mess. I opened the shell and looked in the bed and saw that they had stolen my and my wife's yoga mats, cuz even truck thieves need to get centered and loosen up the muscles that tighten up during dramatic heists. I hoped that one day I would see him in class reevaluating the direction of his life.
Then it dawned on me—something important was missing. More important than my stereo, more important than my yoga mat. Oh, no! Where was Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer! She wasn't on the dash! They kidnapped her, NOOOOOOOOO, those bastards!
Feeling broken hearted, abused, and completely frustrated, I tried my best to put my dashboard back together the best I could. Then I sat in the seat and put the key in the ignition and prayed she would start. Can you fuel a car on anger and despair?
Even before she was stolen, Nina sounded pretty hard thanks to her rusted out muffler and non-existent tail pipe. To my great surprise she did fire up however, now she sounded more like Howlin' Wolf than Nina Simome. But at least she ran.
I rolled out of the Zombie Parking Lot and waved a thank you to my friend John who sped away. I drove straight to my trusty mechanic, Peak Performance. They kindly looked Nina over and informed me that she was basically fine but that Truck Thief had stolen the catalytic converter, part of the exhaust system, because there is some precious metals in there, like palladium, the same stuff my wedding ring is made of. I would have to get that fixed if I wanted to drive the Truck. I drove directly to the muffler shop and asked them to please hook me up with another catalytic converter and while you were at it, fix the tailpipe, all of which was going to cost me around another $450.
I took the bus home feeling sorry for myself after such an emotional and harrying day. But as I was walking home from the bus stop I couldn't help but think of all the people who had helped me out. I thought of everyone who had wished me well and offered condolences and an understanding moment of bewilderment after seeing my ride stolen. I thought of Nan who loaned me her car for a few days, and my dad, who let me tool around in his truck for almost two weeks. I thought of Brian and Christy who gave me a screaming deal on a new ride. I thought of how nice it was to ride my bike places. I thought of how nice, accommodating and professional, Peak Performance had been to have fixed my new ride and advise me on my old one. I thought of John who helped me out by running me all over town, who had shown up on my door steep the day Nina had been stolen asking if there were anything he could do, like run errands or just offer a listening ear. I thought of the cops who'd found it and who despite everything really had an air of generosity in their tone. All of that. My pity party didn't last long in the face of all that generosity and good will.
So, the next day, I rode my bike a few miles to pick up my truck from the muffler shop. I put my bike in the back of Nina and drove away, quieter than ever I can remember her sounding, feeling like this truck hadn't run that well and sounded that good in several years. And even though I knew it would add to the rust, I decided to go against protocol to give Nina a wash. I took her to a car wash and spent the better part of an hour cleaning her inside and out. I wanted to get the kidnaped feeling scrubbed off of her. It was a little traumatizing to see my fingerprints still smeared on the dirty window on the driver-side from where I'd tried to hold on as the guy was literally stealing my truck from my own hands. You see, I caught him in the act but not fast enough to stop him from bolting off and almost running me over in the process. I reassembled the dash, the result of ripping off my stereo. Then, other than the hole where my stereo used to be, everything was back to normal. Better than normal, really.
And then to my immense surprise and pleasure as I was vacuuming under the seat, guess who was hiding? Yes, Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer! From what I can deduce, sometime during her kidnapping, she used all her hula-power strength to unstick herself from the dash and jumped down to hide under the seat to wait for the storm of car thieving to pass. I picked her up, brushed the dust off of her blue plastic grass skirt and placed her redemptively back on the center stage of the dash.
As I dove away from the carwash, without a song on the radio (without a radio), just the satisfaction of a clean car and my Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer swaying to the smooth purr of a well-exhausted engine, I felt that everything was right in the world. Watching Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer's happy dance reminded me that somehow, every moment is an opportunity for celebration.
Whoever stole my truck, my stereo, my catalytic converter, and my yoga mats also gave me something in return. Something very small but unspeakably valuable. Resting in the seat next to the dismantled dash and various trash, was a blue rubber bracelet honoring the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombing. Fascinating, right? This bracelet is a symbol of people coming together in the time of such tragedy and horror.
And that's exactly what this bracelet did for me. This bracelet reminded me that despite any tragedy or fiasco, ranging from a bombing to getting your ride stolen, human beings have an amazing power to come together and to show up, love, and support to one another in the face of hardship. I roll more smoothly and with more ease after all this truck stealing business.
For a few years, I kept that blue bracelet in the hole in the dashboard where my stereo used to be. I rarely think of the guy who stole from me but often think of those who gave to me, so generously and lovingly from their hearts at a time of trouble. That bracelet reminds me how good people can be.
Despite everything, getting my car stolen has shown me that yes, there are some careless, rude, and probably desperate people who might steal your ride simply for the low-hanging fruit of its parts and almost worthless stuff inside, but that there are dozens more people who will freely give of their love, help, and support quicker than you can say "hotwire my ride." This experience of getting my truck stolen has reinforced my faith in people more than tarnished it. And even though the whole thing experience me around $1500, I'm the richer for it. I'm rich in the form of friendships, love, and support. I'm rich in the mere experience. The story itself makes me rich.
It's my prayer that as we practice yoga and meditation, we look inside and see is a being filled with love and light. May we understand our own brightness and then spend our energy shining our light into the dark corners of the world. My invitation to you is to choose some way to shine your light to others today. Send a text and let someone know you're thinking about them. Offer to help someone out on the side of the road. Understand your light and use it to brighten everything around you. Maybe this good will is what really makes Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer move. Not jazz organ.
The way to steal someone's heart is by giving your own.
Who knows, maybe one day while teaching a yoga class, I'll recognize my yoga mat under someone else's feet. I'll know that the person on that mat is on their way to finding the light that is within them, regardless if they stole a ride to get there. We are all on this journey together, though some of us tend to take the long and hard road to get there.
Namaste, everyone, including you, Truck Thief. I honor the light that shines inside of me and shines inside of you . . . somewhere. Thank you for ripping off my ride to show me the meaning of generosity, love, and kindness.
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Ever feel like life is all some absurd cartoon? Let me fill you in. This story is how my truck got stolen and how it helped me be more mindful.
See, I used to drive a wonderful old truck ('93 Nissan) which was very generously given to me in February 2006 when crisis came to visit for a winter. Different story, different day.
My truck's name was Nina cuz she was red and sultry like Nina Simone and sounded like she'd been smoking without a filter and drinking gasoline her entire life. Over the years, I'd put a little money into her to keep her running, but largely she was a wonderfully reliable part of my life.
Nina was a great old lady. She was missing a tailpipe, her radio was broken, sun visors missing, driver's side mirror broken, and one of the windows on her shell was shattered, but she started up almost every time. It was a stark moment when I realized that the exterior had reached such a point of dereliction that washing her would only harm her more.
I had a constant companion riding shotgun in this rusty ride. Affixed to the dash was Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer. Over the years I'd learned that we share a love for jazz organ music. I know this because that's when did her best dancing. I mean she REALLY got into it. I'd often car-dance along with her but I couldn't compare to the sweet moves of Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer.
Another fun feature of my ride was the sticker on the back window which read 1". You know those stickers people post on the back of their cars that simply say 26.2? They are bragging rights for those who have trod the distance of a marathon. Well, I made a sticker in the same style that simply read 1". And yes, in a hyper-masculine world of lift kits and truck nuts it takes someone very secure in his manhood to roll around town with a 1" sticker on the back of his truck.
The sticker is a references to one of my favorite poems by Wendell Berry called "A Spiritual Journey."
"A Spiritual Journey"
And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet,
and learn to be at home.
To me, this poem reminds me that the greatest journey I will ever travel or the greatest place I might ever hope to arrive is the distance of 1", to the ground at my own feet, the awareness of my True Self, the real, Divine me, and to feel at home in my own heart, and to know whatever lives there.
So, in August of 2014 my wife and I were living in Salt Lake City. We'd only been married for a few months and already we had been through tremendous highs and lows. Literally one week prior to getting married, I'd closed the doors on the two yoga studios I owned, both of which had been limping along for years. But getting married was bliss and we'd just come home from our honeymoon to Greece and Spain where we lay on the beach, ate pastries with abandon, and fell deeper in love with each other.
Before getting married, I had been under enormous stress and now, back from our honeymoon, I was eager to move forward in my life with more bliss, happiness and stability.
Not long after coming home from our honeymoon, Seneca's car, received a terminal diagnosis from the auto shop and we decided to sell it—I posted it online and it sold in 14 minutes for cash. So, for a few weeks were sharing my truck. Sharing a car made getting around a little tricky but we managed. Compared to the stress I'd already had that summer, the stress of sharing a car was nothing.
One Saturday we decided to drive my truck down to the Farmers Market. We parked and walked the few blocks over to buy our produce.
On our way back, we returned to the place I'd parked my truck and it wasn't there. Instead, it was parked about 100 feet away in a different spot. Confused, I started to think through the possibilities: Had I left the truck out of gear? Maybe it started to roll and someone had kindly parked it on flat ground for me? Was I parked illegally and law enforcement had moved it? Was there a free valet service at the Farmers Market? I hadn't given anybody my keys.
None of these options made sense and as I got closer to my truck I saw someone milling about it and it dawned on me what was happening—someone was stealing my truck at that moment!
I broke into a dead sprint toward my truck and the Truck Thief. Truck Thief saw that his heist's owner was bearing down toward him and panicked. He immediately jumped into the cab and started the engine. I saw that he had parked in front of a large concrete barrier and couldn't move forward and I soon arrived arrived to the back of the truck before he could back up preventing him from getting away. I began to scream at him to stop stealing my truck.
At that moment, Truck Thief and I had the exact same thought: There's no way to steal this truck with someone standing behind it. Truck Thief soon thought of a different option, one I had not considered up to that point, which was to run over the lesser of the two obstacles blocking his way (read the crazy dude standing with his hands on the back, screaming). Without a hesitation, Truck Thief threw Nina into reverse and floored it. Fortunately the tires we pretty bald, giving me a warning screech and a half of a second delay to jumped out of the way.
As the truck whizzed past me, I did the first thing that came to mind which was to grab onto the half-rolled window on the driver's side and proceeded to run with him as he was backing at an incredible speed. I don't know what I was hoping for with that desperate action. I'm a yoga teacher and I know that with enough core strength you can do anything. Perhaps I thought that if I could just lift the car up, immobilizing all four wheels, I could hold it there until the cops came. For a brief second we were our faces were mere inches apart. And though I was so close, I honestly can't say what his face looked like because it wildly distorted with a look that said, "Holy shit! That dude's running next to me and holding onto the window while I'm stealing his ride!"
He then popped the truck into gear and shot off, ripping my hands from the window and tearing out of the parking lot then down the road like a fugitive, leaving me standing there like an idiot—but an idiot who didn't get ran over. Seneca stood 50 feet away and watched the entire event transpire in complete horror.
After it was all done, we stood there staring at each other with a look like, "Well, that just happened." It was over in 10 seconds or less.
We called the police. They filed a report.
Then we walked a half block to one of Salt Lake City's best coffee shops, The Rose Establishment, to have some coffee and wait for someone to come and give us a ride. While waiting for our ride, I posted on social media, "Because when someone has just stolen your truck, you deserve a really nice cup of coffee." While waiting for the baristas to make our brew, it dawned on me that in a matter of two weeks, we had gone from having two cars, to one, to none. And while we don't mind walking, it feels differently when you gotta walk cuz someone ripped off your ride.
Here's where this get's a little deep. This might sound out there but, even while my truck was being stolen and then directly after, I felt a strange sense of grand awareness about the whole thing. Even while it was happening, I could see that in the big picture, what's true is that getting your truck stolen really isn't that big a deal. In fact, in some ways it feels completely absurd, like I'm staring in my own cartoon, as my friend Nan puts it. I'm sure I'd feel differently if the guy had ran over me.
Yet with the very same awareness that getting your truck stolen is ultimately inconsequential, came the realization that what is also true is that my smaller self has real and intense feelings about getting my truck stolen. Despite my intermittent "grand awareness," the stoic and bland "it-is-what-it-is" mindset doesn't cut it with me. Not entirely. "What it is" sucks! And to deny that is to deny the part of me that despite not having the grand awareness, still exists, at least to some degree.
Yoga and meditation has taught me not to deny my feelings but rather to drink them in and thereby use them to illuminate the True Self, tools for practicing being aware.
Awareness of the True Self is actually about freedom. The freedom , for example, is to be absolutely present with emotions, not to deny them. So with that in mind, I felt free to choose to be mindfully pissed off and honored my primal need to shout loudly through my clenched teeth every four letter word I know . . . besides love . . . and hope . . . and nice.
I wonder if Truck Thief was thinking to himself, "I'm very mindfully pinching this dude's ride. Vrrr-Ommmmmm."?
As I saw my truck reseed into the distance, my 1" sticker reminded me that the crucial step along the journey toward the True Self is to be at home in my heart and to learn to be comfortable with everything as just it is. This spiritual journey of 1", like Wendell Berry says, is "arduous, humbling and joyful by which I arrive at the ground at my feel and learn to be at home." And at that moment I was forced into learning this lesson which lay at my feet because for the unforeseeable future, I would be walking.
May our practice, whether on or off the mat, be to strive to always experience this "arduous, humbling and joyful" journey of the human experience to the fullest, and use the events which befall us as tools to become ever more aware of our True Self. Be the small self of emotions and the True Self with the grand perspective. Practice this and be responsible and kind to other people.
Sometimes this life really does feel like some wild Sponge Bob Square Pants episode that the Divine is Netflixing alone on some late night while drinking a beer and eating some non-GMO corn chips and salsa.
In the big picture getting my truck stolen wasn't very important. I actually enjoyed riding my bike for a while, burning off some of the pastries I ate while on my honeymoon, and simultaneously burning off some of the anger resulting from getting my ride pinched.
I'm sure Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer never danced for Truck Thief as wildly as she did for me.
And while I pedaled around Salt Lake City, I hoped that Truck Thief would return my truck with a full tank of gas.
3 hours of relaxing Guided Meditations for Sleep Plus Much More.
Guided Meditations for Sleep is an complete system designed to promote deep, nourishing, and peaceful sleep. It incorporates body, mind, and spirit to calm the nervous system, quiet the mind, and relax the body, essential conditions for good sleep. In addition to the extraordinarily relaxing guided meditations, you'll also receive, calming music, pre-sleep breathing practices, yoga postures, checklists, and general guidelines, as well as other empowering information about how to sleep well. This is a digital download with 13 files total. While you can download it on your phone, it works best to download it on your computer or laptop.
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by Mary Oliver
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
but he's restless-
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.
So, it's over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he's done all he can.
I don't know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds-
which he has summoned
from the north-
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent-
thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent-
that has turned itself
I read this poem and imagine this Spirit-Bird wrestling with its ideas in the tops of the trees manifesting as the brilliant winter storms we sometimes experience in winter.
I think of this Spirit-Bird as something large and definitive, a creator or director, or maybe simply a grand observer, who puffs and blows the turbulence we all sense in the storms of the sky, and the storms of our lives. I imagine this Spirit-Bird as blustery at times, yes, but also as a being who ultimately touches me with Divine love, a real touch, by sending gentle, delicate, and cold kisses floating through the air in the form of snowflakes, landing silently on my face and shoulders and eyes.
Like Mary Oliver says, I don't know the name of this bird. But I can feel it whatever it is. Sometimes, it stops me in my tracks along this tempestuous journey of life, ankle-deep in dark and cold, my brow furrowed and mind brimming with business, and lifts my gaze for a moment to watch its dazzling spectacle of fat, silent flakes filter through the streetlight or moonlight.
The beauty of it all!
I don't know the name of this bird, but I can feel its breath move through me in yoga. It makes my body move and sway, undulate and reach. It arrests my busy mind and opens my eyes.
Come out of the cold, both physically and spiritually, and warm up with a yoga practice. Watch as The Spirit-Bird, or whatever name you give it, slowly unfolds its ideas and gives you divine kisses through breath and movement. Then you'll feel it too outside in the form of snow or rain or cold, anything, but nevertheless touches everything around you.
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Once, just before beginning a yoga class, I asked if anyone had any requests for poses. One woman raised her hand and timidly asked, “I don’t have a pose to request but . . . um . . . why is that guy standing on a baby?” pointing to the five-foot statue of the Shiva Nataraj, the Royal Dancer, on the altar of our studio.
I replied that the statue represents the dance between us and the cosmos as we uncover the secrets of our hearts to evolve into our highest beings.
Shiva represents the creator of the universe. He has many arms to depict his many tasks and invitations as we experience our own personal evolution. He is the god-amalgam of consciousness and movement, of order and chaos. He is grinning as his hair is literally on fire, riding the wave of chaos in the universe.
In his first hand, he is holding a drum, creating a vibration which is the heartbeat for the entire universe. In his second hand, he is displaying the abhaya mudra, the compassionate and sacred gesture that holds and sustains us on our path. With his third hand, he is holding a flame suggesting that we don’t get too comfortable with things because as soon as he creates it, he will also destroy it.
It’s his last arm which is truly the most provocative. His last arm conceals his heart. He creates you, builds up and tells you you’re wonderful, only to scorch you to ash when you least expect. When you’re at your lowest point, hoping for a little help from the big guy, he covers his heart in a gesture that says, “I’m not going to give this sacred heart away for free, you must earn your way back to your new life. And by the way, you can never go back to where you were. You’re coming back but better, stronger, and wiser.”
Now, why is that Shiva standing on a baby, again? It’s actually not a baby but an impish being called the Apasmara who represents the ignorant or unrealized version of ourselves. Shiva is literally taking a stand for your higher, most divine self. He’s squelching the old version of you and with his other leg, his only remaining limb, inviting you back into the dance of birth, growth, sustaining, destruction, and rebirth, but on a new and more enlightened level the likes of which you couldn’t not imagine in your old way of being. That’s why he had to burn the old you to a crisp.
The statue depicts Shiva looking compassionately but directly straight into your eyes with a fierce imperative that says, “This is your destiny to discover the mysteries of your heart and grow into what I know you to be. Come and join the dance!”
Perhaps this statue represents an invitation to you to join the dance and step up to the next stage of your own evolution. Perhaps there is something inside of you that is sensing or needing a change. Are you embarking on a new stage of life? Are looking to make a bold move in your career or your relationship? Would you like to discover or reignite the flame of your calling in life, your heart’s gift to the world, and learn how to boldly share it? Sharing your heart’s gift to the world is your ultimate life’s work.
This is your invitation, just like the statue. I’m asking you to step up, connect to your heart, and courageously make your next bold move. It’s not easy. There’s work involved but I’m here to help.
I invite you to join me for my next online course, Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift, your guide to help you to do the work necessary for your next evolution. This work will come in the form of Yoga Nidra (guided meditation), yoga, breathing practices, journaling, and more.
Join the dance. This course starts today. There’s no better time than now to step up.
You’ll love these modules:
Week 1: Uncover or Rediscover the Mystery of Your Heart: Walking your Dharma
In this module, we will begin the process of discovering or rediscovering the terrain of your heart. We will lay the foundation for personal optimization with the introduction of simple but powerful daily breathing and mindfulness exercises. We will discuss and experience ourselves as the universal origin of all things, or Source, and feel that kernel of Source which resides in our hearts. How does your heart answer these questions: What is your life’s path, how do you begin to find it, and what does it look like to follow it? We also will explore the notion of Dharma, or your life’s pathway.
Week 2: Sourcing your Heart to Truly Know Thyself
In this module, we will follow the yoga process of self-discovery as outlined by the Yoga Sutras. How does the heat of transformation lead us to self-knowledge and ultimately letting go of control over the process? What does it mean to be at one with all things and how does that help us to know ourselves and our heart’s gift for the world? We will model our self-inquiry after Socrates and his journey to seek wisdom and ultimately “know thyself.” In this module we will seek out the wise, prophetic Oracle that lives within our hearts.
Week 3: Breathing Life into Your Gift
In this module we will practice using our prana (life-force energy) to move into the realm of the extraordinary. We will breathe onto embers of our hearts with “Heart’s Breath” to stoke our heart’s boldness. We will also explore what it means to live forward with your heart’s gift for the world with some wild visualizations coupled with practical planning about sharing our heart’s gift to the world. What do you do when you find yourself in a rut, and how can your favorite childhood book help you remember your purpose? As you learn to go with the flow, you’ll begin to notice everyday how life seems to be going your way and supporting you as you share your heart’s gift with the world.
Week 4: Braveheart: Sourcing and Leveraging Fear to Blast Forward
In this module, we will examine fear as a driving force for good, one that will move us forward along our path instead of causing us to retreat. We will reexamine the notion of fear and understand it’s true message as one of attention and action rather than retreat and hide. We will see fear for what it is, a messenger and an invitation to experience our True Self. When grounded in our identity as Source, fear becomes almost fun. In this module we will be inspired in the face of fear and walk away with empowering and simply tools to harness and leverage our fear to go out and kick ass!
Week 5: Ultimate Success
What does it mean to succeed? Success isn’t necessarily about financial or social status. It’s about the satisfaction of sharting your heart’s gift with the world. In this module we will begin to set up the metrics for success which you will be able to track everyday to recognize success every day. You’ll create your own success with small mile markers which turn into vast journeys. You’ll notice how every day you are moving through life grounded in the satisfaction of real and lasting success. Your confidence will rise and you will glow with success each day, a quality that will be contagious to those around you.
Week 6: Time to Jump: Sharing Your Gift with the World, Stay the Course, and Unimaginable Possibilities
Now that we are familiar with our heart’s gift for the world, know how to laugh in the face of fear, and understand what success looks and feels like, we will do some exciting visualizations, some practical journaling, and some powerful action to share it. This module will prepare us like never before to move boldly into the world, ready to share our heart’s gift. In this module we will learn the spirit of Joe Polish’s quote, “The world gives to givers and takes from takers.” This will be an exciting moment!
This is an online course with modules being released each week for 6 weeks. In it you’ll find:
A weekly live Yoga Nidra session where you will join students from all over the world. This will be followed by a group discussion where we can share our journey together
A profound weekly recorded Yoga Nidra practice exploring the theme of each module
A daily optimization practice, including a short daily meditation, breathing exercise, and mantra designed to help you start your day at your best
Weekly instruction about the theme and process for the week
A weekly journaling exercise to hear yourself speak the unfiltered wisdom of your heart
Calls to action to apply the heart wisdom unearthed through each module
Supporting materials including affirmations, quotes, articles, videos, podcasts, and interviews
You can also do this course at your own pace. All of the material will be available to review when you’re ready. You can move as fast or as slowly through the content as you’d like. Even the live sessions will be recorded so you can review those later if you have to miss a session. And I offer a no questions asked, money-back guarantee if the course doesn’t meet your expectations.
The world needs your gifts. Please join me.
As soon as you register, you’ll receive a welcome email and the instructions to access the course material.
I’m so excited about this and I’d love you to join me. Remember, today is the last day you can register. Join the dance!
Will you do a quick courage exercise with me?
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What is your biggest dream? Is it to be an actor, to write a NYT bestseller, or to run an ultra marathon? What is it? Give yourself a second to visualize how incredible it will feel to succeed at this dream, and do so by involving all of your senses. Allow the excitement which surrounds that dream to surface in your heart.
After a minute or two, ask yourself what perceived limitations seem to stand in your way between where you are now in relation to that dream and where you dream to be. And while there might be a hundred practical reasons why it’s not “reasonable” to reach for your dream, I ask you to get real and ask yourself about how much of that perceived limitation simply comes from good old fear.
How often is fear getting in the way of you having the kind of life you want to live?
Now, close your eyes for a few seconds and give yourself a few deep breaths into your heart. Connect to your heart by remembering something that you love, maybe your biggest dream, and bring to mind again the excitement you feel when you imagine your biggest dream. Now you are connected to your heart and from this place, re-examine your fears with a full heart. Any new insights?
This is courage.
the ability to do something that frightens one.
Courage comes from the French word for heart, Coeur. It literally means full of heart. Courage isn’t the opposite of fear but rather is the action of putting fear in its proper place. Some may argue that fear is good, it keeps us alive. I say that fear merely keeps us safe. We must learn to walk through the flames of our fears, with full courage, toward that which makes us truly alive.
Living courageously, from your heart, gives you a relationship with your world that is beyond fear, a presence and perspective that can hold life’s losses and joys, struggles and possibilities, understanding that life’s joy is bigger than merely ease and comfort.
Caroline Paul is a NYT Best Seller and was one of the first women ever to serve in the San Francisco Fire Department. She was on an elite team that performed very dangerous rescues. Caroline is expert at acting courageously in the face of fear and speaks about doing so in one of her books, The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure. Paul says that courage can be taught, that it’s okay to have fear, but that despite fear you must take action. She encourages a practice called micro-bravery, which is doing small courageous acts regularly to build your courage muscles. After all, your heart is a muscle.
Fear is an excellent tool to help you be present. To use fear as a tool, instead of pushing it away, lean into it. Notice how your body feels fear and ask fear what it’s really trying telling you. With this presence, you’ll begin to notice the other emotions that often coexist alongside fear when taking important action in your life. Emotions like excitement and anticipation sometimes have the same physiological effect but are very different than fear. Don’t let fear squash these other emotions, but put it in the back of the line of emotions, instead of the front where it often it is used to being.
Speaking of fear, I’m deathly afraid of bungee jumping. The mere thought of it makes my stomach churn and adrenaline begin to pump through my body. That’s a fear which simply keeps me safe. While there may be some sort of small value in “conquering” that fear by going out and jumping off a bridge with rubber bands strapped to my ankles, I believe that there is really no benefit to humanity or myself for doing so and therefore will most likely go to my grave having never bungee jumped.
I have a greater fear, however, involving what I’m doing right here—teaching and writing about yoga and mindfulness. It’s scary to expose myself (my spirit, my thoughts feelings, and fears) by stepping up in front of a room to lead a class or push send on an email to thousands of people. Each time I send an email, I’m afraid that it will be riddled with typos and that people will learn my dark secret that I can’t spell my way out of a paper bag.
The reason teaching and writing about yoga causes me fear is because it’s one of my greatest dreams and my heart’s gift to the world to share yoga and meditation with people to make the world a better place. I’m afraid of not reaching my potential or failing in my job. I think it's a very big deal and I take it very seriously. But, I look at those fears squarely in the face and practice courage by continuing to step in front of the room to teach and sitting down to write and publish. Often times, I hover over the publish or send button wondering why I do it. Then with courage, I push send, close my laptop, and walk away knowing I just made one small, brave step. I practice this courage regularly because I believe that what I do matters, both to me and to the world. I still have fear around teaching and writing but I’ve also built up my courage greatly and push those fears to the back and bring excitement and possibility of connecting to people to the front. Plus, the more you do it, the more confidence you have about it.
The world doesn’t care if I bungee jump. I yield to that fear and it keeps me safe. However, the world does care if I connect people to their best selves through yoga and meditation so I walk past that fear in the hope to possibly make a difference in people’s lives and therefore I experience courage which make feel truly alive.
What is one small, courageous step you could take today that will push you toward your dream? You don’t have to register for an ultra marathon today but maybe you could go buy some shoes and begin walking.
Or perhaps that small, courageous step might be to register for my next course: Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift. It’s an online yoga and meditation course that helps you live an extraordinary life from your heart. The world needs your gifts. Dive deep into your heart to discover and develop your purpose and courageously share them with the world.
Registration ends next Monday, February 12th!
If you've ever been moved by any of my emails, would you mind please forwarding this onto some friends who could use this message or post it on social media? It helps me enormously.
6 weeks February 12—March 26
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Do you remember learning about William Wordsworth in your high school English class? He was a big deal among the British Romantic poets, lived late 18th/early 19th century, was Britain’s poet laureate for a spell, and was the kind of poet that other poets write poems about. (By the way, in case you were wondering, this is what an English major ends up doing for a living—teaching yoga, writing about it ad nauseam, and making endless references to poetry and poets and how they are all basically pointing to the same thing—presence.)
So, as a child, Wordsworth and his siblings were basically orphaned. Though relatives became reluctant guardians, from an early age William had enormous pressure on him to choose a respectable career which would enable him to move out and support himself and his sister, Dorothy. William was incredibly close to Dorothy, who was of a social class that simply wouldn’t allow her to work.
His guardians expected William to become a vicar for the Church of England, a respectable career, but one for which Wordsworth had no love. William’s love was poetry, but to his guardians, poetry was the career-equivalent of homelessness.
As a young man, one early-summer’s morning, Wordsworth was walking across the meadows and heathlands toward his home at Hawkshead, no doubt burdened by the tension between following his passion of poetry and taking a job doing what others expected him to do.
As he walked, the sun began to rise and light up his senses with a splendor of the majestic landscape, also brightening and dissolving his dark and heavy worries. Soon, he was brimming with joy, drunk with the dawning light on the meadows, the dew and vapors on the heath, and a vision of the “sea laughing at a distance.” He speaks to this magical moment in perhaps his finest and most enduring poem, Prelude, in which he says,
Ah! need I say, dear Friend! that to the brim
My heart was full . . .
And then, with his heart brimming, with his senses thrumming, the dawning light of the morning began to work a miracle on his heart by illuminating it to the sure and deep knowing of its gift for the world as a poet. It’s as if God, the Cosmos, or Creation—whatever—spoke and made promises to him that he must follow poetry, must offer it as a gift to the world, and that it would all work out.
Check it out. In the same poem he says,
. . . I made no vows, but vows
Were then made for me; bond unknown to me
Was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,
A dedicated Spirit. On I walked
In thankful blessedness, which yet survives.
And from that moment forward, with such clarity, joy, and peace in his heart, Wiliam never doubted his purpose again.
And speaking of the Church, with this sure knowledge of his heart’s gift to the world as a poet, Wordsworth felt he would be sinning greatly against an even higher power than the Church if he didn’t honor the vow which was so clearly made to his heart.
Spoiler: being a poet worked out great for Wordsworth. Actually, more than great because Wordsworth devoted himself to poetry and set up a house for himself and his sister where they could immerse themselves in the craft of poetry. Dorothy was also a poet and this setup gave her the freedom to write. William and Dorothy were a poetry tour de force as they lived a life of all things poetry. They would discuss, analyze, and workshop poems and upon completion, Dorothy would pen them in her immaculate handwriting.
Perhaps most importantly to William, his sister Dorothy was his purest love, his North Star, and his muse. If he would have relented to a career in the Church, he would have been exiled from his two loves, Dorothy and poetry.
Ultimately, my point here is that with presence you too can hear (or have heard) the vows that the world is making to your heart about your gift to the world. It may not be as public or as grandiose as William Wordsworth’s but regardless, is nonetheless just as important, the world needs it just as much, and it is your own private marriage to the world.
I always say that poets are yogis with a pen, or yogis are poets with poses. In both disciplines, one comes to know themselves, their True Nature, by practicing regular and abiding presence. Whether poet or plumber, it takes a fierce presence in conversation with that thing that is larger than all of us, but to which all play an integral part, in order to do any good work in this world.
This week, I invite you to practice listening. Go to a yoga class. Sit and meditate. Go on a walk and leave your phone at home. Open up to creation by drinking in your senses, a profound and delicious way of practicing presence. Listen and hear the world speak to your heart. Allow your heart to speak to your mind.
I also invite you to join me for my next Yoga Nidra course: Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift, a supportive practice that regularly takes you deep inside to hear and develop your heart’s gift for the world.
This is the last week to register!
February 12–March 25 2018
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It’s your life’s deepest work to discover, unlock, and share your heart’s gift with the world. And to know it requires a deep and regular turning inward, to learn to know your heart through regular practices like yoga and meditation.
Yoga and meditation are perfect mediums to help you reveal your heart’s gift because they simply reveal what already exists inside of you. These practices help you to come to know your True Self, and when you are aligned with this infinite part of you, the part that is tapped into your Universal blueprint, your purpose, your gift becomes clear to your conscious mind and so does the invitation to share it with the world.
As you begin to tap into your heart through meditation and yoga, you begin to hear it whisper its purpose. That message becomes clearer and clearer the more you listen. But it takes time and dedicated work to arrive. Likewise it takes work and inspiration to learn how to give this gift to the world. But when you abandon yourself to the work of discovering and offering your heart’s gift to the world, you’ll be amazed at what starts to align and proliferate in your life.
In part, this alignment happens because you’ve suddenly started swimming in tandem with the current of your life’s purpose, rather than against it. That’s not to say there won’t be obstacles in the way. It simply means that when obstacles do arrive, you’ll know that they are the ones that were meant for you and that will give you the courage and insight to surmount them.
Enter your email address to receive one of the most relaxing and profound methods of meditating I've ever experienced. This will help you to regularly listen to your heart. Then, I'll send you some of my best practices for meditation. Regular meditation will begin to uncover the jewel of your heart and teach you things about yourself you didn't know, namely it will refine or define your heart's gift for the world and will help you to learn how to share it with the world.
Please join me for my next online Yoga Nidra, yoga, and optimization course beginning on February 12 2018
February 12- March 25 2018
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What is the meaning of life? Specifically, what is the meaning of YOUR life?
What if Vincent Van Gogh were a Real Estate Agent, Rather Than a Painter?
What is a heart’s gift? It’s that thing a person was put on Earth to share and by so doing makes it a better, more-evolved, and more beautiful place.
Your heart’s gift is the thing that only you can offer the world, in the way that only you can offer it. Your heart’s gift can be public or private, subtle or grandiose, but it is what you were meant to share.
Can you imagine a world where everyone shared their heart’s gift?
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12 hours before the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would deliver his iconic I Have a Dream speech, he still didn't know what he was going to say. But on that historical day, August 28th 1963, Dr. King lead the march, and on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivered one of the most important speeches in American history.
In his speech, Dr. King references the opening lines of Shakespeare's Richard III's when he said, "This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn. . ." portending the change of season in America's social climate.
But toward the end of his speech, something miraculous happened. The famous gospel singer Mahalia Jackson was nearby and used her commanding voice to shout, "Tell them about the dream, Martin."
At that point Dr. King stopped delivering his prepared speech. He stood powerfully and began preaching to the quarter of a million people in attendance on the lawn of the memorial, and prophetically to the millions and millions of people who have since heard his words, punctuating each point with "I Have a Dream."
According to U.S Representative John Lewis who also spoke that day, "Dr. King had the power, the ability, and the capacity to transform those steps on the Lincoln Memorial into a monumental area that will forever be recognized. . . he educated, he inspired, he informed not just the people there, but people throughout America and unborn generations." more than 50 years later, we are those generations.
Part of the power of Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech was his important references. In it, Dr. King references not only Shakespeare, the Bible, gospel spirituals, political and religious leaders, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitution, but also Dr. King's speech and entire social message was a strong, tacit reference to the principle of non-violent revolution for the sake of making lasting social change. This principle of non-violence was championed by the social revolution led by Mahatma Gandhi who referenced the ancient Yoga Sutras. In Sanskrit the word Ahimsa means non-violence. The Yoga Sutras state that in order to become one's highest self, one must embrace the seminal principle of non-violence which is truly the gateway of unconditional love.
In fact, Dr. King was so inspired by Gandhi that in 1959 he visited Gandhi's birthplace in Gujarat, India. This visit left a profound impression of the concept of non-violent civil disobedience and further strengthened Dr. King's commitment toward America's struggle for human rights. And just like in India, it was a non-violent revolution that drove lasting change in America's social attitudes.
In his speech, Dr. King also references transformational heat. In the Yoga Sutras, Tapas is defined as the heat necessary for transformation, like pottery fired in a kiln. Yoga means union. In yoga, we practice implementing this transformational heat to bind body, mind, and heart in our own person to work toward our highest self. With this proverbial heat, we then direct and bind the larger body of our family, our community, our nation, and our world in the spirit of its highest self. Growing pains are evidence of Tapas. Certainly there were growing pains in the Human Rights Movement. This heat was Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. It was The Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. It was The March on Washington in 1963. It was Bloody Sunday in 1965. The heat that causes change can be necessarily uncomfortable, sometimes outright painful. Dr. King was on the burning tip of the spear of social transformation, a searing heat that would eventually take his life. But because of the heat of this social movement, The March on Washington and the I Have a Dream speech were two events that helped signal America's transformation of becoming a greater nation. That speech marked and catalyzed significant growth in this country. We are still growing.
Transformation starts with an individual. Gandhi said,
"If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.... We need not wait to see what others do."
How are we willing to step into that heat of personal transformation? Are we willing to personally grow to ensure a strong body, bright mind, and open heart and grow into our highest potential? Are we willing to stand up for an injustice? And how do we make that change both as an individual and as a nation that allows all parts to grow stronger rather than being cut or compromised? Surely this is a difficult task. To ensure mutual growth, we change while practicing non-violence, Ahimsa. Like Gandhi and Dr. King discovered, Ahimsa is both the personal and global non-violent revolution that makes lasting change. Whether it's internal change like greater mindfulness or a more healthy body or external political or social change like gun control, same-sex marriage, political partisanship, undocumented immigrants, or anything else, the question is how can we instigate a change that invites all parts to grow in the process?
We've grown as a nation since 1963 but we still have much more to do to honor all the beings who live here. It is because of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. that we have a strong foothold on freedom, a firm platform where we can step into America's future and truly become the nation that our forefathers like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy and leaders like Dr. King believed we could be, one where people dare to dream. We can't go back and we can never unlearn what we've learned.
We can move forward. We can grow individually and as a nation by referencing the past. We can reference both the failures of social inequality, and the inspiration of the I Have a Dream speech, as mile markers that will direct us toward protecting the freedoms that make us all grow closer to actualizing our highest potential, individually and as a nation.
And we can use the principles of non-violence (Ahimsa) through understanding the principle of heat necessary for transformation (Tapas) to help us in this practice. We can practice moving toward a future where, like Dr. King says, children of all races (and I believe given current social and political issues he would include people of all sexual orientation, documented and undocumented immigrants, gun lovers and gun haters, Republican and Democrats etc.) could all hold hands and with exuberance shout the refrain, "Free at last! free at last! thank God almighty, we are free at last!"
Join me this week as we continue Dr. Kings legacy by practicing transformation through non-violence and growing individually as the first step to continuing our growth as a nation.
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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:
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
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2017 is making its final bows while some of us are throwing roses and others are throwing rotten tomatoes. And some of us are putting in our orders for our Cosmic Tacos. Stay with me . . .
Regardless of what you’re throwing as 2017 leaves the stage, it’s an important time to start thinking about 2018. Intentions and vision for what's to come really make a powerful difference for the direction of our lives. During the last week of the year, this is the time to quiet and clear our minds and get really clear about what we want.
Several years ago, I had to leave the place I was living and find a new place. I was dragging my feet, procrastinating and just couldn’t find anything I wanted or liked or would work for me. It dawned on me that I wasn’t even really sure what I was looking for, what I really wanted. So, I sat down, and literally in 2 minutes, I listed about 15 things on a piece of paper that I wanted in a new place to live, down to the amenities, price, location, and even the era of design and construction for the building.
The. Next. Day. I found the exact place I’d envisioned which met every single one of the criteria I was hoping for. It taught me that it really pays to know what you’re looking for. I told this story to a friend who said jokingly that I have such a way with fate that if I ordered a taco to the Universe and held out my hand, one would magically drop from the cosmos.
An idea was born: The Cosmic Taco. Essentially, the gist is that the Universe doesn’t know what you want on you taco unless you put in your order, so go ahead and get specific.
Here’s your homework:
Spend the next week, just clearing your mind. Do a some meditation, take some yoga classes, listen to some Yoga Nidra. Then on or before December 31st, sit down and put in you order for your Cosmic Taco. In other words, how do you want your life to look? Be very specific. Like one of my mentors says, shoot for the stars but keep one foot grounded in reality. Do it. What do you want your relationships to look like, your finances, your drives and goals? Just putting it out there will start a new world of magic to begin to open up to you. I promise.
Then, on January 1, start to do whatever goals you set for yourself. You’ll be surprised at how easy this all comes, especially if you’ve spent the time to open yourself to mindfulness through meditation and yoga. When your highest self is driving, you find that everything flows with the Universe much easier. Essentially they are one and the same.
I’d love to hear how it goes. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or help on this.
Happy end of 2017, my friends.
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As we stand on the edge of darkness and look over to the immense gulf below, as we look up toward the elevated mountains, what confirms the majesty of this moment in our hearts is not merely its beauty but more specifically our own vulnerability. As we see our own insignificance against the backdrop of such immensity, we are humbled and awestruck.
So in this vulnerability, we stand on the edge and cling to each other in that fierce heat and embrace of profound love. We hold tight, not knowing any other way, like two moths beating their wings furiously at the screen door, looking for the light and warmth beyond the threshold. This is our hope and our faith.
The snow, and ice, and the deep abyss of dark may come, and bring it on because, HERE WE ARE, standing on this edge of darkness, willing to take anything that this enormous, loving universe can throw at us. And by God, we will stand here all day and all night, this furiously long night, with death below us and heaven above us, and we will be here when the morning light creeps over that horizon, still clutching each other tightly.
We will be here on this edge. We will be here with this one heart, not just beating but pounding. We will be here, still bleeding from this long night. And we will be here, weeping with joy at the divine privilege of standing on the edge of heaven and hell and earth combined, in the majesty of these mountains, in the wonder of this wind, at the hope of heaven for we have tasted heaven in this fierce embrace.
Happy Solstice, everyone.
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Sometimes, getting to sleep is a process, one that involves a conscious winding down and changing of energy from waking to sleeping. One excellent way to wind down is by doing a few gentle yoga poses for sleep which take any frenetic or awake energy and helps change that to relaxing and sleep energy.
These yoga postures promote grounding, calming, and drawing inward. As with every pose, listen carefully to your body and never stretch beyond what feels comfortable. The goal of these poses is not to become flexible per se, but rather to flip the energy in your muscles from tension, which nags your nervous system and can prevent you from sleep, to a sleep-conducive feeling of ease, lightness, and vitality.
Hold each pose for at least 10 breaths (or 10 breaths per side) using ujjayi breathing (whisper breath). Aim to inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. Refer to the Pre-Sleep Breathing Exercises to learn more about ujjayi breath and the importance of the 5 to 8 ratio of inhale to exhale. You may also watch my friend, Matt explain it here. Regular, deep breath, combined with visualizing your breath moving into your lower-back, pelvis, and legs, will decrease the energy moving to the awakening, upper chakras (energy centers), and will instead help you to become grounded and rooted in the lower chakras.
This posture draws body, mind, and spirit inward to prepare for sleep while releasing tension in legs and back that can radiate into emotional or mental tension.
If you are tight in your hamstrings, feel free to bend your extended leg (the one receiving the stretch). Visualize your breath and energy moving into the area you are stretching and if you are feeling a sharp pull behind your knee or high in you butt (the attachments of this muscle), bend your extended knee.
This posture also draws body, mind, and spirit inward to prepare for sleep by releasing tension both in the legs and the lower back. This pose evokes a personal solace, retiring, and quietness. It’s nice to close your eyes in this posture and direct your breath and energy to move into your low-back and legs. Bend your knees if you need to.
This is one of my favorite poses. This grounding posture relaxes and supports your back by lying flat while stretching some of the muscles that largely contribute to tight hips and lower-back, including the Piriformis muscle, deep under your glutes in your butt.
This pose is excellent for wringing out tension from the nervous system as well as the deep and superficial muscles in the back. Italso gives a gentle twist to the abdomen, helping digestion and releasing the Serotonin (feel good chemical) which is activated by your gut.
It’s important to ground both shoulder blades, even if you need to put a pillow between your knees or under your bottom leg.
This relaxing pose passively stretches the inner-thigh muscles (adductors) and grounds your energy for good sleep. Be certain to support both knees with cushions. You may choose not to lie on a cushion if it makes your lower-back hurt.
Join me for the retreat of a lifetime Along Italy's Amalfi Coast May 26-June 2 2018. Spots are limited!
I'd love to hear from you about what helps YOU to fall asleep. Are there any poses you love that help you to fall asleep?
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I’ve been teaching yoga and meditation for more than 15 years and one of the needs I hear most from my students is the need for better sleep. I hear that need literally by the many snores in savasana. So many of you have asked me to put something like this together and I'm so happy to tell you that finally, it's here!
As a culture that values productivity above almost everything else, the one things we seem to sacrifice most is our need for good sleep.
I don't have to tell you that good sleep promotes wellness in body, mind, and spirit, and helps you to be alert, productive, and fulfill your purpose for being on the planet. So much is riding on your ability for good sleep, so let’s learn how to do it well.
This week, I've shared with you the ways that meditation helps us to quiet our minds to get that good sleep we really need. Now, the theory is over and it's time to put this into action.
I've incorporated my 15+ years of experience teaching meditation and yoga, and I've put a lot of time and energy, into creating Guided Meditations for Sleep™. My intention with this product is to help people be at their best because they have learned the yoga of how to get really, really, solid sleep.
Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is a complete system designed to promote deep, nourishing, and peaceful sleep. It incorporates body, mind, and spirit to relax the nervous system, still the body, and quiet the mind, to train yourself to get excellent sleep. It also gives you productive ways to help you get back to sleep in case you're someone who wakes up a lot during the night.
Check out everything contained in Guided Meditations for Sleep:
Check out what people are saying about Guided Meditations for Sleep™:
"Best sleep I've had in weeks!"~ Nan
"Scott's calming voice helped me to first focus, then relax and meditate. The next thing I knew I woke up, having drifted off." ~Chris
"Your voice was perfect. It was calm, relaxing and inviting me to relax and get myself ready for sleep. When I finished the tape I immediately fell asleep. When I woke up I felt like I had experienced a deep sleep." ~Carol
"These relaxation visualizations really work! I can sleep much better now." ~Steve
"Scott has the ability to nurture and empower at once, connecting you with your own heart to find that which you need the most. Scott is a humble loving guide." ~Marit
And for everyone who buys Guided Meditations for Sleep™ this weekend, I'm including a bonus recording of original music, the profoundly relaxing Clarinet Lullaby with Ocean Soundscape (30 minutes.) You're going to love this!
You might find other recordings out there that use meditation to help you sleep but nothing is as effective, extensive, and enjoyable as Guided Meditations for Sleep™. In fact, you’ll most likely never know what is in the last several minutes of each recording because you won’t be able to stay awake.
Plus, Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is a digital download so you will get it even faster than Amazon Prime! You'll be able to download it immediately and use it tonight for an incredible night's sleep!
I want to make this affordable so I'm only charging,
Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is second only to hiring me to personally come and tuck you in...now there's an idea.
I absolutely loved putting this together and I hope you love it too. I really wanted to spend the time and effort to make this great because I understand how important it is and wanted to give it my best.
So, you can buy a different guided meditation CD online for $15, or go to iTunes and download something for cheap. Hell, you can even go to YouTube and watch a video for free. But what I've created, I feel, is something special which is hugely valuable and I designed it with YOU in mind. You'll have this in your digital library for years to come.
There's so much content here that I think you'll agree that is well worth the price.
Plus, I stand behind my work so if you're not completely satisfied with it, I'll refund your money, no questions.
You're going to want to check out these samples (click below) and buy Guided Meditations for Sleep™ today.
Remember that if you buy it this weekend, you'll get the mellifluous sounds of Clarinet Lullaby with Ocean Soundscape (30 minutes).
Namaste and nighty-night,
You'll love the visualizations, the detailed and easy-to-follow pre-sleep breathing practices and yoga poses, as well as essential sleep information to cultivate your stellar sleep habits. This is so much more than just a recording.
This system even guides you through the process of creating your optimal sleeping environment, then you slip into bed and listen to me lull you to sleep. It's so nice!
One thing I've learned in my many years of teaching is that everyone has a beautiful life to live and that everyone's pathway to wholeness is different. Nobody knows what you need better than you. So I've built Guided Meditations for Sleep™ to work with all kinds of brains: the analytical, visual, musical, instructional, etc. Surely there's something in here for you.
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Many of you responded to my last blog post about sleep and said,
"It's not falling asleep, but staying asleep is my problem."
For many people, falling asleep isn’t the problem, but it’s staying asleep. And what to do about it?
James Findley, Ph.D., CBSM, clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania says that sleep is cyclical and that we come in and out of sleep regularly. However, when we have an awakening (and not the zen kind we are searching for in our yoga and meditation practice), and can’t get back to bed for 30 minutes or more and it happens 3 times a week or more, then there’s most likely a deeper problem.
Some potential causes for waking up could be the following:
Sleep Apnea. Perhaps you’re not getting enough air as you sleep, causing you to wake up. If you sleep with someone else, they might be better at noticing if this is the case. CPAP machines restore this in a jiff.
Indigestion. Maybe you’re eating too much before bed or the wrong kinds of food for your stomach and it’s not allowing you to rest.
Active Bladder. Unfortunately, as you age, getting up in the night to use the bathroom becomes more frequent. Also, some medications for high blood pressure can act as diuretics and can make you need to get up and use the bathroom. It’s nice to hydrate before bed but notice how much you’re drinking if nocturnal bathroom visits become too frequent.
Environment. Dr. Findley (above) recommends you make your bedroom into a sleep cave, similar to what I describe in an exciting new product which launches on Friday, in a section called Pre-Sleep General Guidelines. Perhaps use an eye mask, blackout shades, and turn your alarm clock away from your face.
Noise. If you’re very sensitive to noise, what works better than trying to soundproof your bedroom is to listen to white noise. Through a process called habituation your brain stops listening to noise when it’s a repetitive and consistent noise. Nature sounds are irregular and don’t work as well as white noise.
Alcohol. Alcohol disrupts sleep and doesn’t allow you to pass through all the stages of sleep. You spend more time in Deep Sleep and less in R. E. M. and disrupts sleep in this stage.
Caffeine. Caffeine disturbs sleep, specifically your ability to access the deeper stages of sleep, R.E.M and Deep Sleep, the stages where your mind and body rest and repair. Even if you feel you’re relatively unaffected by caffeine, especially in your ability to fall asleep, caffeine can stay in your system for up to 48 hours and might be inhibiting you from getting the really good sleep.
Stress. Dr. Findley emphasizes this as a big factor for disrupted sleep. In part, this is why Guided Meditations for Sleep is so effective because it not only helps you get to sleep but perhaps more importantly trains you to weed out stress and arrive and peaceful and prolonged sleep.
First of all, don’t stress about it and make it worse. I discuss this deeper in the Pre-Sleep General Guidelines in what's coming on Friday, (hold tight). Try listening to a guided meditations or lead yourself through the Countdown Meditation I mentioned in my last post.
If after 30 minutes you’re still awake, don’t stay in bed. Get up and go to a different room to do the Pre-Sleep Yoga Postures and Pre-Sleep Breathing Techniques (wait for it, wait for it). This could also be a good opportunity to do the Sanctuary Practice (you guessed it). Also, reading is helpful.
Avoid technology. It’s very stimulating for many reasons but mostly because of the blue light which most devices emit which makes your brain think that it’s daytime and ready to get up.
We spend a third of our entire life sleeping. The difference between good sleep, mediocre sleep, or no sleep can be a game changer for your fulfillment of the waking two-thirds of life. Much is riding on our ability for and quality of sleep so let’s learn how to do it well.
I’ve been teaching yoga and meditation for more than 15 years and one of the things I hear most from my students is the need for better sleep. I hear that need literally by the many snores in savasana.
As a culture that values productivity above almost everything else, the one thing we seem to sacrifice most is our need for good sleep. Therefore, we are chronically under rested. Better sleep means a better life. It promotes wellness in body, mind, and spirit, and helps you to be alert, productive, and fulfill your purpose for being on the planet.
I'm so excited for what I'll be unveiling on Friday. It's going to revolutionize the way you sleep. Stay tuned . . .
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Does this sound familiar . . .
It’s the end of a very long day, you’re dead tired, and you want nothing more than to lay your head on your pillow and to drift off to a deep, relaxing, sleep.
But no sooner do you close your eyes than an arrant worry or thought bounces into your head, and then another, and another, until before you know it, you are lying in bed, with your mind lit up like a Christmas tree, wide awake. Despite your exhaustion, there’s no sleep in sight and your initial worries become compounded by anxiety over how you are going to function tomorrow without any sleep.
If you struggle with sleep, you’re not alone. The National Sleep Foundation says that 45% of Americans report decreased daily function due to insufficient or poor quality sleep. A 2013 Gallup Report said that 2 in 5 Americans have chronic sleep problems. And if a chronic lack of sleep isn’t bad enough, according to statistics from Harvard Medical School, lack of good or sufficient sleep also inhibits learning and memory, and contributes to a host of other serious health problems.
One of the largest reasons for sleeplessness is an overactive mind. And before you get a prescription to knock yourself out, perhaps try addressing the cause and learn to quiet your mind with a few simple yet effective meditation techniques, one of which I'll show you today.
“Why do I need meditation?”
Meditation helps you sleep for one simple reason: presence. Often times, we can’t sleep because our brains are rehearsing the past or future. Our species has survived, in part, because we are hardwired to anticipate threats before going to bed, historically a time when humans have been most vulnerable.
But if during your brain’s nightly safety-check, a thought or worry lingers, your brain starts processing it as if it were an actual threat because our brains aren’t actually that good at knowing the difference between perceived and actual reality, like when we our body responds to a nightmare or an intense movie. Similarly, with the scene of our thoughts about past or future playing in our mind, our body responds by sending adrenaline throughout the system and before we know it, a thought about tomorrow’s board meeting has caused our muscles and minds to become revved up and ready to act when we should be sleeping.
Knowing that our brains don’t distinguish well between the perceived and actual reality, we can leverage that function for our benefit. But more about that later. . .
“Ok, I’m getting stressed just thinking about it. How does meditation help?”
Through meditation, your mind escapes the trappings of the past and future and sees that there is no present threat, giving your body and mind the all-systems-clear for sleep. You may have an important board meeting in the morning, but with the gentle focus of meditation, your mind simply rests in the here and now. So rather than inadvertently stewing in the anxiety of what tomorrow might hold, you choose to rest in the peace of what is present at this moment, perhaps the enveloping quiet and dark of your bedroom or the sensation of your body relaxing into bed. Meditation is as simple as being here rather than there.
“Easier said than done. Besides, who has the time? Oh, and how do I meditate, by the way?”
Well, meditation is easier than you may think and doesn't need to take a long time. Here's a very simple and effective meditation practice that you can use to focus your mind and create the conditions for deep, nourishing, and peaceful sleep.
The Night Time Countdown Meditation
1. Prepare for bed and do everything you need to prior to going to sleep.
2. Brain dump. Before you climb into bed, set a timer for 5 minutes and on a notepad, write down all of the immediate things you have on your mind. Don’t let this go beyond 5 minutes lest this devolves into a fuel-for-worry fest.
3. Lie down, close your eyes and commit to a comfortable position. Relax your nervous system with one long sigh. Then spend a minute noticing your breath.
4. In your mind, start counting your breaths backward from 100. As you exhale, think, "100." As you inhale, think, "99." Exhale, "98," and so on. If you lose your count due to other thoughts, start over and if you get to zero start over.
5. If you lose your count because you’re falling asleep, let go and enjoy the ride. Mission accomplished! We’ll see you in the morning, Sunshine. Don’t be surprised if you have to go a few times all the way through before you fall asleep. Most often, you’ll fall asleep during the first go.
By practicing this simple meditation technique, you can help your mind be more present to stay out of the past and future and create the conditions for deep, nourishing and peaceful sleep. The Countdown Meditation systematically powers down your brain by allowing it to focus on something singular and simple, like counting. Counting backward helps engage the mind just enough to help it from wandering but not enough to make it excited.
Do you ever have problems getting to sleep? I'd love to hear from you about what you struggle with and what has helped you. Try this technique and tell me how it goes.
There's so much more great information I want to share with you on this essential topic. Stay tuned for some more incredible solutions for great sleep coming very soon!
Namaste, and nighty-night.