I decided many years ago to wake up everyday and expect a miracle to happen. When we worry about things we draw them to us. When people spin out of control in a car, there will be a wall and they will surely hit the wall because that is where their eyes go. Where your attention goes, energy flow. What you focus on, you create. Worrying is praying for something you don’t want. Expect a miracle. Focus on wonder and awe. Every breathe you take is a miracle as there are millions of tiny miracles that had to happen to bring you to this moment.
Five Simple Things You Can Do TODAY
Get a good sleep Research shows that sleep heals the body. Haven’t you ever had a sore throat and gone to bed for 10 hours and feel as good as new upon waking? Most people are sleep deprived. Get your rest!! Exercise, even just 30 minutes of brisk walking Find something you love to do. Whether it is hot yoga, hiking, biking or taking a brisk walk, all it takes is 30 minutes a day to get the physical activity that your body needs. Our bodies do so much for us. They are our best friend. What other friend would still be with you after all the abuse you have put it through? Our bodies were made for movement and not to be sedentary. Move your body! Eat your veggies Even excess protein turns to acid in your body as do carbs. Veggies are your best choice. We happen to live in a country where we can get pretty much any vegetable from anywhere in the world at any given time of the year. That is incredible. Take advantage of it!! Maintain your ideal weight If you do the above, you will maintain your ideal weight. Watch that five extra pounds that creeps on each year, do the math! Forgive and let go of emotional pain This seems to be hard for most people. Why do we hold on to so much emotional pain? If you want to know why your body is the way it is, look at your mind ten years ago and if you want to know what your body will look like in ten years, look at your mind today. That pretty much says it all. The past is past, leave it there. In the six years that my sweet husband and I have been together we have had very few squabbles, silly things that last just a few minutes. We have not been angry at one another for longer then five minutes, ever. I wish that for everyone, I really do. If I ever bring up something from the past with Satya or if he even hears me on the phone talking with a girlfriend about a problem earlier that day, he says, that is in the past, why do you want to keep talking about it? Meditation has helped me with letting go. When I meditate, I don’t sweat the small stuff. Do you want to know how you can get yourself to be more disciplined to meditate? Somehow you need to value meditation more then you do now. Most of us are type A doers and to sit quietly for 30 minutes seems insane to the average busy person. Here now is a list of documented benefits of meditation as presented by the TM Organization who have been studying meditation for over 50 years.
1. Since meditators get sick 50% less then non meditators, and meditation enhances cardio vascular health, you are taking responsibility for your well being when you meditate.
2. I believe that changing the world does start with changing ourselves. Until there is no anger, fear, jealousy, addiction, spite or tension within us, then we cannot expect our politicians and leaders to be free of those demons either. Meditators show a decrease in anxiety, depression and stress, developing a happy, peaceful individual.
3. Meditation raises performance in the workplace by expanding creativity.
4. Meditators are smarter, studies show better communication between the prefrontal cortex and different areas of the brain developing total brain function.
There is a great book called Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping that is amazing. Just when you think you have done all of your forgiving, another layer of the onion peels away.
Treat yourself kind during this holiday season. A few years ago I decided to be present with my family instead of falling into my usual roles. It made a huge difference in my interactions and I still practice this every holiday. We fall into our habitual roles with our family and sometimes we become people who we haven’t been in years…but family brings out the best in us right? …not so much.
What is the first rule when the plane is going down? Put your oxygen mask on first, right? I hope there are no planes going down in your life but I do know that life is very intense and crazy busy for most people. This is 2012 people, and it is not going to slow down any time soon! Instead of focusing on your endless to do list, how about asking yourself, why am I here? What do I really want? Then once you figure out what you want, you can create the steps to get what you want. My guess is the steps to get what you want will have very little to do with your day to day to do list. I could be wrong but that is my guess….
Be kind to yourself this holiday season. Take a break from your family when you need it. Even ten minutes here and there can make all the difference in your sanity.
Lastly, live with the attitude of gratitude. It is an instant anti depressant, to be grateful for your breath, your clothes, your family,
Then why do people keep searching everywhere else but inside?
Being a Yoga Teacher and Life Coach allows me to glimpse into my students/clients lives. I get to hear about the misery inside, the pain that I hear about is all too familiar to me. I have been content for several years now and so it is an abrupt reminder when I hear of the struggle within, that really is the human condition. Deepak Chopra says that “all sickness, is home sickness.” The biggest killer in America is heart disease and Deepak says it is because human beings are homesick, they are heartsick and feel separate from God, or from one another.
When I first started dating Satya I remember he use to joke about the space that Americans want and need. I realized after spending a lot of time in India, that we are incredibly spoiled and live lives of luxury that people in countries such as India can only dream of. On Oprah’s OWN channel she travels to India and visits Indian families of different classes. She visits the slums and goes into a tiny home about 6 feet square where a family of 4 resides. This is normal in India. Even a wealthy family that has 2000 sq feet of space will live there with three and sometimes four generations of a family of 15 to 20 members!
We have created so much space between each other in North America that everyone is on prozac because they feel lonely and depressed. Human beings need connection and love, it is a basic human need. Some people need more of it then others but it crosses all languages and boarders and is a basic human need.
Most people no matter where they come from or how confident and successful they may seem, have some sense of unhappiness, unease or unworthiness. Actually, all human beings down deep either feel unworthy or unloved just because of the fact that we are human and rely on other humans for survival for the first fifteen years of their lives! So what do we do about it? Instead of trying to busy ourselves to cover it up, why not look at it, admit it and then dance with it. This may sound like a cliche if you don’t practice it but I truly believe that ‘what you resists persists and what you look at, disappears.’ All we have to do is shine the light of our awareness on this feeling of unworthiness and accept it. Dance with it and don’t try to run from it. Just accept that this feeling will always be there, somewhere deep inside, but if you just acknowledge it, then it won’t try to take over your life. It is when we try to squash those feelings or even fix them, that they grow. Is this making sense?
The only place where peace lies is deep within. But how do you find it? Well, that is what we specialize in at the Ivy House. I know how to find it only because I was tormented for many years with discontent, unease and restlessness…sound familiar? Or perhaps it is just a quiet gnawing within that something is not quite right. Or maybe you feel fine but you keep jumping from one relationship to another, or one job to another, or you keep renovating your home. Whatever unrest that you experience, it is the universe talking to you because we don’t make changes when we are happy, we just don’t. We don’t look for creative answers or sign up for a retreat or workshop or college course unless something is incomplete within us.
No matter what your back ground or belief system we can help find what works best for you to find your inner peace. And that looks different for everyone. It just so happens that meditation and yoga worked for me but it may not for you. But I will tell you one thing. You do have to get quiet. Somehow, someway, you must get still and listen to the quiet sounds of the universe. Because God’s language is like the fragrance of a rose, or the sound of the wind in the trees, you must listen in order to hear. You must quiet your crazy mind, to hear the sounds of silence.
Sometimes not getting your dreams, gives you your DESTINY
I moved to Nashville in 1988 with dreams of being a Country Music Star, now 25 years later, I am living the most magical life! Sometimes not achieving our dreams, helps us uncover our destiny. This is what happened to me. Let’s face it, our lives never turn out the way we think they will, not at all! How could we possibly know the twists and turns that happen as we navigate this crazy adventure. I mean, I don’t even know year to year where I will be, let alone plan out the next 20 years! Is that just me, or your life too?
If I had held onto my dreams of becoming a country music star, the dreams of my childhood, wow, what pain that would have caused. But when I started meditating at 27 years of age, I realized that my reasons for singing were all ego. I wanted the security of big money fast, I wanted people to like me and to be noticed. After meditating and doing yoga for a few years, those dreams faded and new ones emerged. Dreams of making the world a better place, goals of present moment awareness and inner peace and spreading that around. Being flexible and seeing my evolving world in a new way, helped me to accept my new life, an unexpected life and yet if you met me today, you would think “how could she be any different!”
Yet I have found over the years that the more I surrender into what is in my life, the more gratitude I have for what I have, the more I focus on the good, the better my life gets. It is kind of like going on a diet. If you focus on all of the things that you can’t eat, wow, the pain! But if you just focus on all of the thousands of things that you CAN eat, you are fine. Isn’t that just as in life? But you can’t teach people how to think positive. I know that I am blessed with a positive mind, that is for sure. I was born with rose colored glasses and an enthusiasm for life, yet I also have cultivated that and nurtured it and built upon it.
I remember writing my father a letter a few years ago. My Dad is the opposite of me. He has always believed that if there was a GOD that he must be playing a joke on him. I mean, my Dad has had an amazing and wonderful life and yet he focuses on all of the negative and so now that is what he remembers. So I wrote him a letter to show him the different ways he could look at his life and also my life too. I showed him how if I looked at my own life in a glass half full manner that I could get totally depressed…and it was depressing writing about it. What you think about, you bring about. I don’t recommend that experiment at all. Yet it was a learning lesson. My life can look amazing if I am an optimist and incredibly depressing if I focus on the negative or just look at it through the eyes of the material world.
All of us have this option. You can look at the past week, day even the last hour in your life the same way. You either look back at your life with a positive outlook with lessons learned (btw, someone once said that a learning experience is what happens when you don’t get what you want) or you look at it like GOD is playing a joke. I prefer the later.
Every thought you think, you have a choice as to the meaning?
When you are at the grocery store and they are out of your favorite item, are you disappointed? Not affected? Do you try something different or do you talk to the manager and request your item be re-stocked? You see, you create a meaning even when you shop. Each and every thought that you think, you create a meaning. Furthermore it is your choice as to the meaning.
I have a friend who 9 times out of 10 when she travels, her flights get delayed, cancelled and re-routed. Now what would your meaning be if that were you? The biggest difference in my thinking after all these years is that simply put, my cup is half full. I accept everything that comes my way. My meanings are positive. When diversity arises my thinking is that there are no accidents, everything has a purpose and happens for a reason. I may sound cliche but that is how I think. Yes, my glasses are rose colored that is for sure! My mind does not go to, God is punishing me, not even a possibility for me. What is your go to meaning?
My husband is a master at acceptance of what IS and I have gotten much better at it over the years. It has taken diligence of what is going into my brain. Garbage in, garbage out. For the past 20 years I do my best to only listen to positive music, movies and books.
So whether it is a delayed flight, no caramel ice cream at the store, a health issue, an injury both emotional and physical, flat tire, anything, I accept and I find the positive meaning. Things don’t ever happen to me but for me. See the difference? Nothing ever, ever happens to me. But my life is constantly happening for me.
Think about it. If we don’t accept, we are fighting the entire forces of the universe of what is happening in the moment. That is a very large force to fight against : ) One of my favorite books on this subject is Byron Katie’s Loving What Is.
That does not mean you don’t get to change it or fix it in the next moment. Sometimes when I talk about accepting the moment, people tend to think that I am saying not to do anything to change it.
That is the furthest thing from what I am saying.
I wrote about forgiveness last month and I had a comment from someone about the HURT involved. What about the hurt? The hurt is a choice. If someone says something to you, it is your choice as to what it means to you. For example if someone you love and respect a great deal tells you that you need to work on your communication skills, most likely you will accept and even appreciate their opinion. But if that exact same comment is made by a co-worker that you don’t care for, are you offended? Do you dislike that person even more and perhaps now you would also carry a grudge?
You see what I am talking about? The meanings that YOU are creating rule your life. Creating positive and powerful meanings is the key to being happy. I am available to help people through private one on one coaching. I have been studying with Tony Robbins for over a year now and I love the course and his techniques so much. This newsletter topic is one of my Tony aha’s.
The best example I can think of to help you understand the power and choice you have over the meaning of your thoughts, situations and your life is Viktor Frankl’s classic ‘Man’s Search For Meaning,’ Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.
You don’t have to forget, but you must forgive.
Who gets hurt when you don’t forgive? Only you. The person you are angry at, has moved on years ago. Yet, when we are finally ready to forgive and move on, does it mean you forget what happened? No, we learn and move on, we remember, but we forgive. The only real mistakes in life are the ones we make twice! I love that my sweet husband starts every one of his cooking classes with “all cooking is a mistake!” He claims that every dish we eat was the result of someone’s flop or ‘mistake’ in the kitchen. Satya does not like perfectionism, not at all. He thinks it is one of America’s biggest down falls and I am starting to agree with him. Perfectionism takes so much darn energy. Perfectionism is about control which in another newsletter topic all together. So back to forgiveness. Have you ever known someone be it a family member, friend or co-worker whom you had a great relationship with for several years, then one day you have a falling out? I mean, they really ticked you off. Now the question is: Did you forgive or did you hold a grudge and let them fall away from your life? Think of just one person where this has happened, just one where for years you had a great relationship, then one day, you had a fight, and now they are no longer in your life. How does it feel when you think of them? Does it still give you a twinge of anger or resentment, hurt? Or even non attachment, like I don’t care…yeah, right! I implore you to consider calling that person for coffee and a conversation. Forgiveness is freedom. I know this sounds crazy because I have been ticked off at a few people myself. Yes, I admit it, it has happened more then once! I have forgiven my friend, my co-worker, my family member…all of them. I recommend a book called ‘Non-Violent Communication’ by Marshall Rosenberg. If you follow the 3 steps to working through a mis-communication, it makes it all so much easier. Sometimes we just don’t have the tools or the even the words. As human beings we feel literally hundreds and even thousands of emotions but in the English language, we only have words for about 20 or 30 of them readily available on the tip of our tongue. How limiting is that?! You might be surprised to know that the hardest part of the road to forgiveness was for myself. I remember driving down the road on a quiet Sunday morning in San Diego on my way to sing at church. They had asked me to sing a chant and so I decided to write it on the way. I just started singing ‘I forgive you, I forgive ME, the light has come, the light has come, the light has come. I remember thinking oh, I have forgiven everyone and then tears started streaming down my face…apparently not. So this forgiveness chant has been a signature song and high light of many musical evenings. Have you forgiven yourself? I don’t have much unfinished business in my life now. I also don’t have control over what someone else thinks of me or if they have forgiven me or not. But honestly, I don’t care. What someone says and thinks about you tells you more about them, then it does about you. People are a little wacky right now. Life is crazy, people are stressed, emotions are high. Be gentle with your co-worker, your friend, family and most importantly, yourself.
We all know that story of the tortoise and the hair. While researching for this newsletter I found out that there is some version of The Tortoise and The Hare in most cultures around the world. My husband Satya in his infinite wisdom tells me to either go slowly or drink water for just about everything you can think of…and the crazy thing is that it works, every time! The Veda’s are ancient writings known to be 5,000 years old but many experts even go so far as to say they are 25,000 years old. They were an ancient, wise, nomadic people known as the Vedic Society. Much of what we know about math and science today was written about in the Veda’s thousands of years ago. Veda is a Sanskrit word meaning knowledge or wisdom. Ayurveda is a health system that comes out of the Veda’s. Hinduism is the oldest religion on the earth and also comes out of the Veda’s. The Veda’s were an oral tradition for thousands of years and included the secrets of the universe including why we are here! About 5,000 years ago they finally started writing down all of the Veda’s in an ancient Sanskrit writing and it was eventually translated into books, some of which are called The Upanishads. There are over 200 Upanishads written and they are recognized in the literary world and by scholars as being one of the top 200 influential writings on earth. I am writing about this because my Indian/Hindu husband Satya has been very much influenced by the Veda’s because of being raised a Brahman in India. The Veda’s say ‘if you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.’ That is pretty much what Satya says when he sees me spinning or confused or rushing…Lord knows never rush around an Indian, they don’t understand rushing at all. Do you understand anything else other then rushing? Every time I return from India, I transform and grow. This time I learned the importance of doing one thing at a time and to go slowly, slowly. We say everything twice in India just to make sure we get it! The first thing that I noticed in India this trip was that I could only be there doing what had to be done in India. Sounds pretty simple right? Wrong. I had coaching clients who needed to connect with me and I just could not wrap my mind around their sessions. Now fortunately the universe took care of everything and my clients were all completely fine on their own for 5 weeks and in fact each one of them was ready to go it alone for awhile after weekly sessions with me for the past three or four months. When I mentioned this on the phone to my friend Colleen, the fact that I could only be in India, doing India related things and be present there, she replied that there is nothing wrong with doing ONE THING AT A TIME. Now Colleen is a surgeon and so that makes sense for her. But wow, did that hit home all of a sudden for me, I got it. Seems logical right? But when is the last time YOU did one thing at a time. I mean when was the last time you chopped vegetables without having the tv on? When was the last time you drove without talking on the phone or listening to the radio? When was the last time you took a shower and thought of nothing but the water running down your naked body? I mean, how many things do we miss in the moment by mulit tasking? Today I was at the bank. I went inside to say hi to my banker since I had been in India for 5 weeks. Do you know your banker? Okay, that is another newsletter altogether, but what I noticed as I stood in line at the teller was the people in the drive through. They were ALL on the phone as they pulled up to the LIVE teller. The teller could have been a machine for all they cared. It really struck me, especially after coming back from India where there are NO drive through banks! I have a theory called the pizza theory. When you order a pizza and you are starving, it seems like an hour before the pizza arrives just 20 minutes later. When you answer the door you can smell the delicious pizza even as you hand over the money to the delivery guy. Then you rush over to the table to open the box and grab the first delectable bite. If you don’t burn your mouth on the first bite, it is the most amazing thing you have ever put in your mouth. Each bite the pizza tastes less and less amazing and by the 3rd piece it tastes kind of bad almost (although I did have a friend who once said that cold pizza was like sex, even when it’s bad, it’s pretty damn good!). So why doesn’t the pizza taste as good by the time you eat the second and third piece? You are not full yet because your stomach does not get full that fast. It is your mind. Your mind was thinking about nothing but the pizza the first or maybe second bite. By the time you get to the second and third piece, you are surfing the tv or computer, talking to your spouse or kids, your mind is no longer present and you are once again multi tasking. So the mantra this weekend is go slowly, slowly, (yes, add the extra slowly). There is a Buddhist mindfulness practice that I give to some of my students to try to tame their mind. You talk to yourself and tell yourself as you do things to help keep your mind in the present moment. I am getting into my car, I am starting the ignition, I am grabbing the stick shift and putting the car into first gear, I am pulling out of my driveway. I am driving down my street, my hands are on the steering wheel and it feels cold. My seat is also cold….and so on. Be as detailed as possible to keep your mind in the present. Take a break from multi tasking and living in your head for just one day on the weekend. Your children do it really well, the little ones do anyway. We are teaching the bigger ones how to multi task by having them do multiple activities after school. But again, that is another newsletter. Here’s to being present. The present is a gift and that is why it is called a PRESENT. Give yourself the gift of presence by slowing down and being present for the ones you love. It will change your life!
Join us for a few hours or a weekend!
The Ivy House is a Center for Balanced Living. A modern day Ashram. We are here to support people from all backgrounds through meditation, yoga, healthy energizing food, sustainable and green living and much more! Stay in residence or just come for the day. I have always believed that the way you bring in the new year reflects the rest of your year. You have to agree that there is a lot of energy around New Years Eve. For the past 20 years I do my best to utilize that energy in the best way that I can. My favorite thing to do is the chant, meditate and do yoga and so that is how I like to bring in the new year. I figured out that I have probably been a part of almost 100 retreats over the past twenty years. I have hosted more then 20 retreats around the world and after many requests to host one in the USA, I am pleased to announce that we are introducing the Ivy House to Nashville by holding our first annual 4 day New Years Retreat. A yoga/meditation retreat is not like a weekend at a spa but more like a monastic experience of letting go and going inward. It is contemplative, not just an escape for a few days where you return the same old you, but an immersion where you change at the deepest level old patterns and habits. The astronauts learned that they had to repeat an action 1000 times before it became automatic. They practiced screwing bolts under water 1000X in order for their hands to do it automatically in space in case their brain wasn’t working fully. What things have you done 1000X so that you can do them without using your brain? Driving, washing dishes, talking, making love…all the things you have done for years without thinking right? Now there is a place for mindlessness and that is yoga and meditation. Or how about you use that 1000X for something that is special like learning an instrument? The yoga that I teach is not a work out but a work in. We already know how to pay attention to the crazy world outside of ourselves as most people are surviving in frenetic numbness. Do you know on a plane when they are giving the instructions about the oxygen mask, how they always instruct you to put yours on first? Well, that is what doing a retreat is like. It is like putting the oxygen mask on first and then helping others. Even if you have never done yoga, this retreat is great. The yoga that I teach even a beginner who is limited in movement can do. I love introducing people to yoga who may be otherwise intimidated by yoga. On the other hand I also love introducing my style of slow deep hip and root opening yoga to long time yoga devotees. Yoga is for every body, not just the cover of the yoga journal, but for every age and every body. No matter what you decide to do on New Years Eve, I hope you do it with intention and awareness. Even if you are drinking spirits of another kind, drink with intention, be aware of everything while you take each sip. Awareness happens in this moment only. Anytime you think, oh I will get to that mindfulness and enlightenment after the kids grow up or after the next quarter at work, you are putting off the most essential part of being human. Your birth right is to be happy. But true happiness comes from within. At the Ivy House we teach people simple tools that they can take home to their day to day lives to help go inward on a daily basis.
What does your life say?
How we live our life speaks about who we are at our core. What is your answer to the rocking chair question? You know, when you are 98 years old and sitting on your porch in a rocking chair and you look back on your life. Do you have any regrets? Would you change anything? More time with family and less working? Those kinds of questions. After I closed down my yoga studio over ten years ago, financially and emotionally bankrupt, I realized that life is not about goals and accomplishments but living day to day. How we live our lives speaks volumes about who we are. One of my favorite sayings is that ‘you can move a mountain, but it must be one stone at a time.’ So you can live the life you choose at any given time but it happens by living each day with rituals and habits that create the life we choose. The question is how do we motivate ourselves to change these deep patterns of the old stuck rituals that create the life we don’t want anymore? There are a few techniques that I use in my Coaching practice. Simply visualize yourself one month, one year, ten years and even thirty years from now living the life you are leading now. If nothing changes where will you be? How will your life affect your body? Your family and partner? Your job? Then turn it around and visualize the life you will have if you do make the changes that you have been meaning to make. Where will you be one month, ten years and even thirty years from now? How will that affect your body? Then if that is not enough to make you shift, create a consequence, something you have to do if you don’t starting moving that stone each day. An example would be 3 hours of volunteer work for every day that goes by that you don’t create rituals and habits for positive change. We are human beings and a part of nature. If we don’t grow, we die. You can’t change your life over night, but you can do it over a year. A lot can happen in a year. Isn’t the life we lead, our living legacy? Have a beautiful day. Live each day in gratitude and every moment in awareness.
Our values shape our lives. We all have values and then we have rules for how to experience these values. When a person becomes stuck in life it is typically because something is serving them, their stuckness is feeding them more then the thought of being unstuck. So we must find something in life that we value more then the values of being stuck or depressed or running the same patterns. Fill in the blank as to what works for you. Make a list of what you value: love, loyalty, compassion, health, charity, growth or whatever yours are. Then ask yourself what has to happen in order for you to experience or feel each of these. Because we all have rules for our values. What has to happen for one person to experience peace is very different then another person. Each of us has different rules for love. What has to happen in order for you to feel love? These can be challenging questions to ask yourself and the answers can be fuzzy. But just keep asking and you may be very surprised at what you might find. Mediocrity is self-inflicted, genius is self-bestowed. If you want to get unstuck in life, it is up to you, and only you! If you want to stay where you are in life, keep doing what you have been doing. Or make a change and ask yourself some questions. In India we call it self inquiry. I feel very blessed to have found some fast tracks in my life. For me I would rather take a lear jet then a broken down bus to learn my lessons and for spiritual growth. My first jet was Deepak Chopra and Primordial Sound Meditation, second was Svaroopa yoga and now the big third is the Coaching training that I am taking with the man who coined the phrase Life Coach, Tony Robbins! This seems to be a very natural progression along my path since I have been helping people for so many years with their spiritual growth and happiness. If you want to check out what I am learning in the Tony Robbins coaching training you can check out some free training videos. If you or someone you know has any problems with depression this is a powerful series. Tony Robbins makes these videos available for free every once in awhile. You can also just do a search on youtube for Tony Robbins and find some very interesting lectures. My favorite his Tony’s talk at the Ted Talks conference a few years back. I am happy to share these links as these are tools that have helped me.