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.
What do you focus on?
What is in your mind every day, day in and day out? The latest statistics show that we have 85,000 thoughts in a day and 95% of those are the same thoughts we had yesterday! What you think about, you bring about. Just take a look at people you know. Doesn’t your best friends life reflect what is in his or her head? How about your parents? Can you see where they are at is a reflection of their beliefs, limitations and dreams? I have been studying with Tony Robbins this past year for my Coaching Certification. Tony was in Hawaii doing an Emotional Mastery Retreat on September 11, 2001. There were over 2,000 people from 30 different countries asleep in their beds while on the east coast two planes had hit the World Trade Centers. Tony considered canceling the Workshop and then realized this is what emotional mastery is all about. The entire day was recorded on video and it is a part of my studies. Here are a few highlights. What Tony helped people to realize is that we do our emotions. Our emotions don’t just happen to us. We do anger, we do guilt, we do regret, we do depression, we do sadness and we do rage. Out of 6,000 emotions available to express in the English language, most of us utilize less then 12. When tragedy strikes we ‘do’ the same emotions that we do on any other day. I remember being stuck on a rooftop during the tsunami of 2005 in South India. I was scared and I worried about my family and how worried they would be about me. This is what I do in life. My thoughts go to what my family would think when I make decisions. Wow, I am 48 years old, how crazy is that! Back to Tony: He had those 2,000 people break down into groups of 8 and they started to talk about their feelings. Some were angry, some sad, the caregivers were comforting and some were just stunned. But what Tony helped them realize was they this was the way they always respond in any situation. The ones who were angry are angry people and typically respond with anger to all their life situations. Guilty people got guilty and so on. Do you know somebody who no matter what is happening in their life they find a way to be ticked off? How about someone who no matter what, they are happy and excited day to day? What is your go to response in life? Regret, caution, guilt, sadness, cheerful, relaxed, joy, disgust, trust, jealousy, zeal, agony, dismay, longing, envy, shame? Wikipedia has a great list of emotions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emotions Being emotionally fit is a huge part of my training to be a coach. Our thoughts have a ginormous impact on our lives and when they are backed by emotions that clinches the deal. So as we become emotionally fit and we become aware of our thoughts then we begin to have more control over the direction of our lives. Here is an awesome link to Tony Robbins blog to a song that is just wonderful and about what we think about, we bring about: http://tonyrobbinstraining.com/date/2009/02/