The Art of Slowing Down

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a concept. one I’ve actually written about before. “Chronic rushing.” Making a conscious shift toward stillness; slowing down. 

I am making an effort to CONSCIOUSLY slow down. Mindfully moving towards stillness in a society that charges ahead at full steam will create waves in your sense of calm. It’s subtle. Not stopping necessarily…just shifting. Shifting in the direction of stillness, steadiness. What I find can be felt through this gravitational pull towards steadiness is ease. Even amidst the chaos. Consciously slow down.

Think about it…when we’re really moving slowly it’s often as a byproduct of something outside of our control or something negative. Not always, but often. Traffic, illness, sleep deprivation, sadness, these all slow us down. Why not make it a part of our regular, sentient practice. 

Imagine…slowing down even when perhaps the calmest of exteriors aren’t present. Extending the same kindness and ease when busy and rushing as one would when free and breezy. I think of this often on my drive to work, or heck, even walking in and out of crowded places when I’m rushing. When I have a day off and I’m out and about I let everyone go ahead of me. I smile blissfully (and probably goofily) as the 90-something lady in line in front of me at the grocery store writes a check for ten minutes. I care not how many red lights I hit. Crowds and delays are of practically no bother…

But flash to mid-week, rush hour traffic and timed breaks? BOOM. It’s like flipping a switch. Suddenly people are in my way, making me late, screwing me over…you name it. Suddenly everything’s flipped on its ars and it’s me against the not-so-open road. 

Sound familiar?

I’ve been making a mindful effort lately to behave as I would in a realm where time is not an issue. To not mentally curse the people flying off the freeway and cutting me off, making me miss the light when I’m already running late to work in the morning. To realize that I, not they, was the one who decided to spend an extra ten minutes ogling my email or braiding my hair rather than getting out the door on time. Or making peace with the fact that I cannot control traffic, no matter how early I leave, and sometimes I’m just going to be late. Luckily there’s no one waiting on an operating table so, if I am indeed a bit late, the world will keep on spinning.

Chronic rushing is an epidemic. 

I spent the other day musing over the concept of time. What would life be like if we didn’t operate according to hands on a clock? What a revolutionary idea. It reminds me of a story I once heard about two men, one a Wester reporter and the other a Native American elder. They were spending the day together, the reporter interviewing the elder. About midday the elder asked the reporter, Are you hungry? The reporter checked his watch. Only you Westerners, the elder man spoke, sagacious and curious, check the time to answer whether or not you want food or sleep. 

Profound, right? I think of that all the time. I’ve written pretty in depth about this idea already. Using our internal clock to make decisions about our lives and feelings, to the extent we’re able. In modern society it’s only feasible to a certain extent, and I get that. I suppose this is just a call to action, of sorts, in terms of reconnecting with one’s intuitive rhythms.

We reconnect with our intuitive rhythms by slowing down.

I’m not necessarily even saying do less. I’m just saying do what you do more slowly. Even a little more slowly. It will cultivate patience. I want to cultivate more patience and, therefore, kindness towards myself and others in my day-to-day life. Whether I’m rushing to work or enjoying a free and breezy day off. I want to be secure in the reality that time is going to tick on by whether or not I stress about it, and life is about so much more than what any numbers of any kind could represent.

So the next time you find yourself rushing, think of this. I will too. Take a full, deep, diaphragm breath. Find a moment of stillness…and then bottle that stillness, and carry it with you. Infuse movement with the essence stillness, and find peace in every moment.

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Elephants and Energetics

Two nights ago I dreamt of an elephant. I was in charge of her, she was on my watch. We were in the downtown plaza of my hometown, an outdoor grassy square, when she moved out into the street. I was helpless to stop her. She was an elephant, for goodness sake, and I just a small human being!

The elephant danced magestically, swinging her trunk. I scurried after her, worried but not crying out. As I followed her path I came to a building, she’d disappeared into it, her trunk visible behind the high balcony. Suddenly, as dreams do, my elephant was fierce. What was outside and on my watch was now suddenly a lion, one with a big, bushy mane, absolutely beautiful in her feline grace. She was fearful and gentle. I called out to her, suddenly very worried, she couldn’t care for herself and I was in charge. I had to get to her! As I cried out, the fierce creature inside the courtyard reached over and grabbed the lion by her mane, pulling her up over the balcony to be devoured. I screamed out, guttural cries, NOOOOO! On my watch! My elephant, my lion, my sacred space, that was in my hands to protect!

Off the top of my head I can say this: we passed into Leo on the 23rd, astrologically speaking, and elephants symbolize strength, power, wisdom. Ganesh is the remover of obstacles. What could the lion represent? She was fearful, gentle, too gentle to protect herself. She never even lifted her gaze when she was grabbed by the mane. Unsuspecting. Apprehensive. Perhaps the dream signifies the removal of these traits, traits that I interpret as obstacles.

Yesterday I pulled out my Dreamer’s Dictionary to further investigate. Alas, the elephant does bode good omens, as I’d intuitively known. The lion is, according to my book, said to be “a symbol of social distinction and/or business leadership.”

Business leadership. Ding, ding, ding. I’ve been ruminating a lot lately on the manifestation of my dream career. A beautiful hybrid of writing, nutrition, yoga and Ayurveda, all captured beneath the umbrella of “holistic wellness.” That is my passion. That is what I’m here to live, breathe and share.

I have a little statue of Ganesh on my desk. I also have a small, handcrafted bowl made by my friend and fellow yogini Meaghan. It’s an exquisite piece of pottery with the Om symbol stamped into it. Periodically, when faced with a staggering obstacle looming over me, I write down in active language the resolution of said obstacle and fold it up tiny, placing it into the cup. I place Ganesh in front of it. The first two obstacles I placed into my cup were removed from my life. One of them I cannot even remember…I’ve been that absolved of the struggle. The third shred of paper I just placed into my cup this past week and, with Ganesh standing guard, I know now to just trust the process, and walk away.

Trust the process. Words spoken from teachers to Tribe. Words that I carry with me. Words that resonate in the depths of my soul, traveling up, up, up. Words that ignite each chakra, my energy centers, reverberating in the truth that I speak each day and infusing the intuition on which I am learning to rely.

I am more in touch with my energy centers now that I ever have been. The nucleus of my being runs on the fuel of a holistically lived life, a dedicated yoga practice, the influx of love that I am blessed to receive each day from the cherished human beings I share my life with. Today, for instance, was a huge day. I began the morning with my practice, a vigorous flow at the studio, followed by a strenuous and long hike with my cousin whom I rarely have the opportunity to spend such quality time with. Later I taught a yoga class. Straight after that I zipped over a town for a sunset photo shoot. It was a magical day. It was also, however, a day of outpouring energy.

I feel it now, in my being, after the day I had. I feel the delicious and yet debilitating aftershock of such a deluge. Physical energy in my yoga practice, social and physical energy on the hike, holistic energy in teaching, spiritual and emotional energy in modeling…such different modalities and yet all springing from one divine source.

Our energy reservoir is not bottomless. My energy feels depleted this evening, but in a way that leaves me exhilarated, alive, liberated. I know I will dedicate my intention tomorrow to expanding my energy, reestablishing myself in my center, building back up the vibrational energy that fuels my passionate existence.

Perhaps that is yet another way to interpret my dream…seeing the elephant as the world and the lion as energetics. Predator and prey. Hungering, vulturous chaos and sacred, essential life force. It is our responsibility to protect and preserve our vitality, our prana, our life force. In letting the energy flit around anxiously, fearfully, ungrounded, insecure, one risks one’s energy center being depleted in one fell swoop by the ever-changing tides. Sucked up by the elephants thirsty trunk. Too much vata and easily comes unanchored.

I feel deeply in tune with my energies, my dreams, my purpose here on earth…I feel like my interpretation of this last vivid dream is warm, getting close to the core of it…but I could be full of . Whatever the dream meant, all that matters is this resonance it has in my spirit. The “aha” moment it gives me. I could be spot on or way off and that really doesn’t matter. You could be reading this thinking I’m a total eccentric or maybe a smidgen genius and that really doesn’t matter either. All that really matters is how our own interpretations of all that occurs inside our own little Universes and how it makes us feel.

Connecting to the feeling of it all, of life; the taste, sound, touch and scent of it, the palpable vulnerability and beauty in it…that is what matters. Experiencing our dreams, relationships, thoughts, meals, asanas, devastations, celebrations, grand discoveries, moments of delusion…experiencing them uniquely and fully is what really matters.

So whatever the meaning of my elephant dream, whatever the state of energetics, tonight I am at peace with the process. I am content in knowing I trust it, that I fully experience the beautiful little idiosyncrasies of my life, and that I relish in my quirky attempts at dream interpretation. Because if I don’t take a stab at it, how will I ever enjoy the fruits of imagination? Because I thrive in the harnessing of intuition. Because the creative spark of self-observation is alive in me, both in my waking and sleeping state.

Because even if I’m completely wrong, that’s okay. I was never trying to be right.

 

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Lovebursts

Good Morning Lovebursts!

 

I’m sharing a message I received from a few cherished wellness colleagues into my very own inbox this past week. Evidently Gmail has changed their settings and are now filtering emails into separate tabs for us. I’d wondered why I could see so many more emails on my iPhone than when I came home and checked them on my laptop! Luckily, Christine Hassler sent me an email this past week from which I’m sharing a screen shot:

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This is a screen shot of my own inbox after I unchecked everything but primary:

 

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Make sure to save changes after all is clicked and done 🙂

 

 

It is an absolute honor to share my writing with you all and a privilege to appear in your inbox. I am so thankful to you for subscribing to my blog and for helping me spread the message of holistic wellness, light and love. Because, truly, what else is there in life?

Abundance and gratitude to you all!

 

Radiate love. You are vibrational energy. 

 

 

 

Holistic Recipe Corner

Because I can’t not share something so divine, so heavenly, so sinfully epic. Even though it’s out of context. Even though it’s past my bedtime. Because I love y’all.

Maca Chocolate Sauce

  • 1 heaping tsp Maca
  • 2 tbsp cacao 
  • 1 tsp raw vanilla bean powder or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp stevia or raw honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Optional 1 tbsp mesquite powder
  • Optional 2 tsp cacao nibs
  • Almond milk (add until desired consistency, either thick and gooey to drizzle or thinner and more pourable)
  • Sprinkle of pink himalayan sea salt

Enjoy poured or drizzled over health dessert recipes such as my superfood ganache, almond butter oat pudding or banana “ice cream.”

Cheers to your holistic wellness!

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Pictured is my almond butter oat pudding with organic blueberries and cherries. It is smothered in my superfood chocolate sauce and then topped with bee pollen and goji berries.

 

 

Wanderlust

I just returned home from the most incredible five days of my life. Wanderlust Festival in Squaw Valley, CA. I arrived Wednesday with my Tribe, armed with hula hoops, yoga clothes, healthy eats and hiking boots, ready to make a temporary home in a loft in the village with nine other amazing human beings. What commenced was a long weekend of vibrational, life changing, magical bonding experiences.

The last line of my freewill astrology horoscope this week says, “The astrological omens say that now is a perfect moment to intensify your love for the natural world. I urge you to meditate on how crucial it is to nurture your interconnectedness with all of life, not just the civilized part.” How apt. The days I spent in the mountains allowed me to do just that. My interconnectedness is immensely nurtured. I’m deeply entrenched in the vibrations of life, civilized and uncivilized. My heart and soul are dripping with the energy of being high in the mountains, surrounded by like minded, uplifting beings, nourishing with fresh air, embraced by the rhythms of Mother Nature, sacred and raw.

I had the blessing of taking classes with some seriously profound teachers. I hooped with the kickass Shakti Sunfire, chanted and saluted the fiery sun with Shiva Rea, hiked the mountains with fellow yogis and yoginis, discovered waterfalls, experienced a spectacular moon practice with Rod Stryker (epically life changing, I can’t wait for the opportunity to study with him), spiced up my practice and met my role model Kathryn Budig, and Kula’d with Schuyler Grant. I Om’d with yogis from all over the world, danced until my body ached and made friends I will cherish for the rest of my life. I ran around in gypsy clothing, sparkling in bhindis, baring skin and moving my hips. I fell in love with the festival. I volunteered, laughed, sipped in fresh mountain air into the depths of my lungs and took in views that left me breathless. I cracked open my heart, inspiration came pouring in, and I became one with the divine pulse of the universe. 

Wanderlust, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is a yoga festival held nationwide. The closest festival to the Bay Area is held in Tahoe, CA in the serene Squaw Valley. If you’ve never been, I strongly urge you to go. http://wanderlustfestival.com

As I reflected today on my trip, I found myself wondering, what is the precise meaning of wanderlust anyway? “A strong desire to travel” is the definition offered by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

A strong desire to travel.

I have a strong desire to travel. It equals my desire to have a sacred and safe space to call home. I crave short spurts of divine adventure, infusing my return home with inspiration, clarity, purpose; I even said today, on the phone with my mom, that this experience at Wanderlust gave me “a new lease on life.” I came back that affected. And I’d left for the trip feeling inspired! 

Tonight is the full moon. It’s beautiful. Its energy is palpable. I went out into the street and stood beneath the brightly lit sky. Only a sliver of her fullness was visible, murky clouds lingering in front of her rich, fertile shape. She lit them up. They were sparkly and whimsical, shrouding the brilliant gleam of her. 

So much happening in perfect rhythm. Today I went to yoga. Yes, I returned from a yoga festival and went straight to yoga. As I was driving, something compelled me to check the electronic schedule once more. There was a sub. My heart sunk. I was momentarily overwhelmed with “this was not how it was supposed to go” frustration. Immediately I realized, being a yoga teacher myself who subs classes, I’d never want to be received that way. I took a breath. I shook off my urge to remain attached to my last experience of this substitute, a class that’d left me wanting, and said to myself, “Everything is happening as it should. The Universe has a divine intention for today.”

Everything is happening as it should. The Universe has a divine intention for today. 

That is the mantra I’m carrying into this week. Into the rest of my life. I will vary it as need be. But I can always trust, everything is happening as it should be. The Universe has a divine intention for ME.

My intention for Wanderlust was to break out of my comfort zone whilst remaining true to myself. I didn’t anticipate how deeply I would remain true to this intention. How fully I would live it out. My offering was the confident passion of my truth, who I am, sharing the abundance of enthusiasm I have for my greatest passions. I lived that out too. The intention I set of who I wanted to be while there was a deeply passionate, honest, dedicated yogini, teacher, student, healer, seeker, and goddess.

My holistic intention was successful in coming to life. My heart and spirit are at ease. Infused with passion, anchored in purpose, alive in truth. I am abundantly grateful. Forever seeking my true north. Forever a wanderlust.

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Photo by Ali Kaukas courtesty of https://www.facebook.com/Wanderlust?ref=br_tf

Don’t Be a Juice Box

I’ll never boast a “holier than thou” persona. I’m not. I’m no better than anyone else. That being said, I’m going to share an embarrassing (but AWESOME!) confession. A little episode that occurred for me a year ago. Here goes . . .

I was experiencing a really unpleasant human interaction. I think I may have been at work. In my own head I started to call the person a (pardon my French) “douchebag.” Instead of thinking “douchebag,” however, my mind inserted the word “juice box.” So, in the midst of my irritation, the Universe decided to fiddle inside my brain and make me think, “What a juice box.” Needless to say it left me smiling rather than frowning.

That’s not all . . .

It’s been about a year or so since that happened. The best part? It continues to happen from time to time. I actively practice adhering to Sutra 1.33 on a daily basis. This says, “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retrains its undisturbed calmness.” That being said, I work towards not name calling or profanity slinging in the temple of my mind each time I grow agitated. I practice Sutra 2.33, which highlights pratipaksha bhavanam, and says, “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavanam.” 

Again, I’m human. So when I’m a little less than stellar at adhering to Sutras 1.33 and 2.33, the dreaded “dbag” word sometimes finds its way into my internal monologue. Woopsies. What’s not a woopsies, though, is the fact that the Universe (or my own subconscious, if I might give it credit) periodically plops “juice box” into said monologue in place of its dirtier counterpart. 

How. Amazing. Is. That?

It happens completely without intention and it never fails to make me smile, grin even, like a fool. I always laugh under my breath which, when dealing with a negative person, usually either lightens the mood or makes them think I’m laughing at them which does not lighten the mood. Regardless, there it is.

Juice box. 

The word will never have quite the same meaning to me. It now represents the mind’s ability to turn a negative into a positive…completely unconsciously. It’s possible. So if we can do it unconsciously, we can also do it consciously. We can retrain our minds to think positive thoughts rather than negative thoughts. We’re human, so our positive train of thought won’t be chugging along uninterrupted 100% of the time (and it yours is, write me, tell me your secrets!), but it’s a step in the right direction. The “dbag” still word occasionally slips into my mental stream, but I find at least two out of three times my brain involuntarily says “juice box,” without even missing a beat. I don’t know how it started, but I don’t question it. It’s a beautiful thing.

So how does one go about retraining one’s internal monologue consciously? I don’t have an answer to that. I do, however, have Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a dedicated yoga practice and a passion for holistic wellness (which fully entails a clear, clean and controlled mental process). I also have the intention to always seek truth. Highest truth. And then to share that truth with all of you. 

I may not have the answer to creating a blip free mindset, but I believe there are a few key steps we can take in censoring the negativity.

  • Mantra: even if it’s one word, I find mantra to be incredibly empowering. I have been known throughout my life to write mantras on my whiteboard, post them on pos-its, scribble them on my mirror, type them into my phone, tape them to my steering wheel…I place mantra, whatever is most powerful to me that day, month, year, in a spot where I know I’ll repeatedly see it. Once I’ve become desensitized to the wording, or the mantra has served its purpose for me, or simply a new and fresh one is delivered to me by the Universe, I rewrite/post/scribble/type/tape those words. Mantra is powerful. It doesn’t have to be a famous quote or a yogic mantra, it can simply be one word. It can be a name. A phrase. A lyric. Something that instantly, or over time, evokes meaning, positivity and light in your spirit.
  • Kindness Toward Ourselves: we’re human. That’s enough. That’s a mantra in and of itself, for me at least! I’m human. It’s not a cop-out nor is it an excuse. It’s merely a fact. I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be, nor should I really want to be. I will succumb to negative thoughts sometimes and, rather than seeing this as a failure, I will see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to notice that I have a choice. I can choose positive or negative. It’s also an opportunity to be grateful that I succumb to negative thoughts “sometimes” and not “all the time.” A significant distinction. 
  • Practice: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your ability to enlist pratipaksha bhavanam. Practice. That’s all we can do. Practice. The more we practice positive thought, the more unconscious it becomes. The more naturally it kicks into gear involuntarily. Practice.

Most importantly, in the quest towards a clear and positive state of mind, is the reminder that compassion, understanding and kindness are cyclical. Just as one ought to treat others as one would like to be treated, one must also treat oneself the way one would like to be treated. In simpler terms…don’t be a juice box toward others, and don’t be a juice box toward yourself 🙂

 

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I’m Not Afraid of Death Anymore, and I Have Yoga to Thank

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but the other day I was driving to work and I thought to myself, “I could die right now and be completely and utterly happy.”

I realize that sounds wildly morbid, especially coming from someone to whom the “D” word (death) is spoken in a hushed, “Don’t say it too loud or it might happen” tone. I’ve always been terrified of death. Until now, I guess.

I’m not saying I’m no longer afraid of it. There’s so much life for me still to live, so much I still want. I’m far more afraid of the ones I love dying. But the truth is, morbid or not, you never know how long you have in this beautiful life before the lights go out.

This past Sunday I worked a 15-hour day, with an early morning the following day. I couldn’t help but feel eager and anxious for Tuesday, when I would finally be free of work. Then it hit me again. I could die tomorrow. I could die tonight. How tragic would it be if I died yearning for Tuesday? If I died not living fully, completely and dedicatedly here in this Sunday?

I remembered my state of fullness that drive to work just a few days before. I was so happy then, and nothing had changed but my physical circumstances. I simply needed to shift my state of mind.

We are powerful, incredible beings living in fragile, impermanent little bodies. Life has a fleeting and transient nature, but our minds and spirits operate as if they’ll go on forever. We have a sense of awareness that feels untouchable. The greatest gift myyoga practice has given me is the sense of comfort I’m beginning to feel in this body. Holistic comfort. Comfort in knowing the physical body is not my identity, that it will change, that it will die one day. Comfort in knowing that, while horrific and tragic things happen in the world every day, and that sadness will come and go in my life, I have this thread of awareness to keep me bound. I’m safe in my Higher Consciousness because there’s so much more to life and living and who we are than these bodies and the experiences we have in them.

I’m not religious, but I’m deeply spiritual. The guidance of my teachers and my yoga practice has given me a safe space to live within my own mind and body. I may have found open hips and a strong core through my asana practice, but my true yoga practice has led me to discover something invaluable: safety.

I’ve established a safe space in which to live fully in each moment, with every ounce of me, infusing each day with passion and purpose (assuming I stay in my practice and catch myself when I fall victim to monotony, yearning for a new day). We will all die one day. My friend recently posted an image and a quote that rung so true to this concept I’ve been chewing on. It was a beautiful pairing of quotes. Mary Oliver and Buddha.

“Tell me,” Mary Oliver says, “what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Below the text was an image of infinity, sky and land, stars shooting and light bursting. Across it were the words of the Buddha, “The trouble is, you think you have time.”

We are here on this divine planet for a short burst of time. We are meteors of human life. We don’t have the time to waste working jobs we loathe, surrounded by people who drag us down, doing activities that stifle our souls. We must live now. Live now fully. Chase what it is you’re passionate about, make the sacrifices necessary to do so, because you don’t know if you have tomorrow.

This is your one wild, unruly, divine and precious life. What is it you plan to do with it?

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As seen on MindBodyGreen

Photo credit: Peter Guinosso