Open to Grace

17In Yoga Teacher Training, we are taught that opening up to grace is an integral part of our practice.  It’s that moment in a yoga class where your teacher is instructing you to settle into the space around you, let go of thoughts, worries and to-do lists that might be sabotaging your relaxation, and let yourself become present and aware so that you can receive your yoga practice.  In a dimly lit studio, sprawled out on your mat, with no disturbances other than the gentle sound of you and your neighbors breathing, soft music playing in the background of your thoughts, this can be a relatively easy and safe space to do just that…to completely let go.  After all, that’s why you are there in the first place, right?  What happens, though, when you’re not on your mat?  Opening to grace feels a lot more difficult to do when you are in the throes of your day to day activities, children arguing in the background, a pile of bills arriving in the mail, stacks of paperwork to get through at the office, a lawn to mow, and the mountain of laundry spilling out of your clothes hamper staring at you every time you enter your room.  However, these are the times when opening to grace is absolutely the most important.

Grace is defined by dictionary.com as “simple elegance or refinement of movement”, but to me, it is so much more than that.  It is a willingness to surrender to the truth that we are each going through exactly the things that will help us to become the best versions of ourselves, even (especially) in the moments where it feels completely the opposite.  It is the ability to find strength in our struggles and to participate fully and completely in all aspects of our lives, good, bad, scary, exciting, or otherwise.  It is the knowledge that our perception of what is happening in our lives is so much more important than the situations themselves, because the situations are impermanent.  It is the power to stand strong through the storms, holding firm to the knowledge that calmer waters are ahead of us and that there is an important lesson for our soul within each and every moment.  How amazing would it feel to bring the same peace, calm and quiet that you find on your mat, or out in nature, or in your bath (or whatever it is that you do to connect to this space) into the daily situations that are a natural part of life?  Well, you can, which is pretty good news.

Take a minute to inventory what’s going on in your life that’s stressing you out or causing worry or fear.  Write it all down.  Read it back to yourself without any judgement.  Instead, maybe you can find a little curiosity.  What is your soul trying to help you to learn by these difficult situations?  For most of us, our difficulties often become repeating patterns, causing us to feel like something is wrong with us or that we are just destined to always have this particular issue in our lives, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  These moments that challenge us are opportunities for us to get know ourselves better.  For example, if you are somebody who is constantly struggling financially and worried about how to pay the bills, this might be your soul telling you that your job is not in alignment with what you really want.  It may also be an indication that you have some limiting beliefs around money that need to be acknowledged and explored so that prosperous energy feels welcome to flow into your life.  If you find yourself struggling with relationship after relationship, perhaps it is your soul trying to urge you to look in a different place, or to learn to love yourself first so that you can openly receive true love back.  Maybe it is an indication that you subconsciously don’t feel worthy of love and so you are inadvertently pushing it away.

Remember, we attract the energy that we put out…like attracts like.  Therefore, it’s not what we WISH we believed or what we WANT to believe, but the actual beliefs stored deep, down within us, that are shaping our realities.  It can be scary to dig down and unearth them, but consider for a moment, a diamond.  My dear friend and colleague, Amy Lombardo, put this in such great perspective for me.  Diamonds are formed way down in the Earth’s mantle (about 100 miles deep), and start as chunks of coal.  It takes a tremendous amount of heat and pressure to create this sparkly gem, but once the work has occurred, the diamond is pushed to the surface naturally for all to enjoy.  Your thoughts are like these diamonds.  YOU have that same sparkly gem deep within in you, just waiting to be exposed to the heat so that it can emerge and shine brightly out to the world.  When you can accept that knowledge and open to grace, knowing that you have a deep well of untapped potential within you and the power to change your reality, the world opens back to you.  Your sparkly gems are naturally pushed to the surface and the Universe responds by shining back.

Where in this very moment can you open yourself to grace?  Where can you replace fear with curiosity, and hopefully learn something about yourself through the process?  Start right now.  The more that you practice this the easier it becomes.  Opening to grace is not something that needs to be confined to your yoga mat.  It is accessible in each and every moment to help you come back to center, find your calm and elevate yourself towards all of the possibility just waiting to be discovered within you!

If you need some help unearthing your spark, please visit my website HERE to learn more about transitional life coaching and my 12-week program, Ascend to New Heights.

 

Outside the Box: The Power of Pushing Beyond Your Comfort Zone

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The safety net of our comfort zone is a powerful place.  Oftentimes, we don’t have the slightest clue of the influence it has over us until we are put in a situation that threatens to breach its protective barrier.  When we come to this place, we are given an opportunity to connect to choice.  We can stay within the confines of the familiar or we can move beyond it.  What might happen when we trade in feelings of ease and convenience to step into the vast unknown?  Here’s a story of what happened to me.

I am, by nature, a bit of a recluse.  I have a loving husband and children, two giant dogs, 80 millions books, a big jet tub, a vegetable garden I like to work in, a backyard full of flowers, a fire pit, and wind chimes.  In my estimation of things, there’s not much more that I could need or want.  Although this is incredible in so many ways, it also has a tendency to impede upon the greater wants and needs of my soul, which craves human connection, spiritual awareness, and community, just like everybody else.  I have come to acknowledge that it has been my fear of being judged that has had a tendency in the past to keep me stuck in a holding pattern of routine.

A couple years ago, my routine was challenged by an incredible friend of mine, Chrissy. One morning, during our daily workout, she boldly suggested (and by suggested I actually mean demanded) that I move beyond my comfort zone and sign up to take a yoga teacher training.  This suggestion was so out of the realm of normal to me that I’m pretty sure I actually laughed out loud and told her she was batshit crazy, to which she only insisted further that it was something I should definitely do.  I left our encounter that day intrigued, curious, and completely 100 percent sure that I would never do it.  Imagine my surprise then, when a month later I found myself signing up to take said training, heart pounding, head screaming a million reasons why I shouldn’t be doing it, every fiber of my being assuring me that this was NOT for me.  Yet, for some reason I did it anyway.

I went through the training with no hopes or expectations that I would ever become a teacher.  The thought of actually taking the knowledge I had gained and standing in front of a class of people to put it to the test literally paralyzed me with fear.  I had a wonderful experience and I was content with knowing that and moving back into the confines of my normal life.  Two days prior to my graduation, I was approached by the studio manager with an offer to teach one of their classes.  I found the verbal agreement shooting out of my mouth way before my head even had a blink to consider the implications.  All of a sudden, I was a teacher.  Fuck.  How the hell was I going to pull this off?  I was sick to my stomach the entire week before my first scheduled class.  I spent every single day freaking out, and yet, when the day finally came, I again stepped beyond my comfort zone and did what had to be done.

I have continued to step further and further beyond my comfort zone at every opportunity since that fateful day working out with my best bud.  Most of the time that initial step still evokes the same physical response of disbelief, nausea, anxiety and terror, but what I have found is that the more I do it, the less these responses linger.   I have begun to ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and what I find is that typically the worst thing isn’t all that bad.  It’s certainly not as bad as remaining stagnant in a life that doesn’t fulfill the needs of my soul.  I have found a community of loving, creative, positive individuals who help me when I face those initial reactions…who push me to take that extra step.  I have found a career and passion that I love, both teaching yoga and life coaching.  I have found more time to spend with my family and to write (my other passion).  I have found a sense of peace and balance within me.  And to think…it all started with fear of the unknown and taking that first step outside my comfort zone.  Weird.

So take a look at your life.  Where are you boxing yourself in?  Where are you ignoring that quiet voice within you that yearns to have/be/do/experience more?  What might open up for you if you were to listen to that voice and step beyond the confines of your comfort zone?  There’s nothing worse than that feeling that there is something you are supposed to be doing and the knowledge that you are not doing it.  It brings you completely out of resonance with your truth, causing anxiety, worry, fear and discomfort.  How amazing would it feel to move back into alignment?  You CAN do it!  Now it’s just a matter of making the choice of whether or not you WILL.

To learn more about my life coaching programs please visit my WEBSITE or follow me on FACEBOOK.

 

Ripping Off the Band-aid

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Jim Morrison…you’ve got to love him.  Not only was he excruciatingly gorgeous with a voice and stage presence that could melt the polar ice caps, but he said some pretty brilliant shit as well.  We may never know if it was the many hits of acid speaking or if it really was his Indian spirit guide, but whatever the source of his words, they were undeniably insightful and still hold impact and validity today.  How many times have you caught yourself gripped in the ruthless hands of fear?

We live in a society that is largely ruled by fear.  From the time that we are born we are conditioned to be afraid of things.  Some of it is necessary to our survival, such as not touching the stove or sticking a fork in the electrical socket, but many of the other things that we are taught to be afraid of can thwart our growth in so many ways.  We are taught largely to listen to others which causes fear of our own inner voice.  We are taught to follow the norms of society which can lead us to fear the decision to carve out our own authentic paths and follow our dreams.  We are taught to compare ourselves to others, which births the fear of never being enough within ourselves.  We are taught to fear being without material possessions, which causes feelings of greed within us.  We are taught to fear the things/people/places which we do not fully understand, which can prevent us from educating ourselves about the different cultures, religions, races, sexual orientations and physical landscapes that surround us in this amazingly diverse world.  In short, our fear begins to shape us from our initial breaths on this Earth and continues to shape shift as we experience the world.  But what if we could change that?  What if we could look closely at our fears…stare them straight in the face, stand up boldly and move bravely into them?  What is the worst that would actually happen?

Take a moment to think back on all of the things you have been afraid of in your life and write them down.  We’re going to use them in a minute.  Yeah, I know, it’s a big list, right?  When I think back on my fears what I notice is a progression.  When I was in my early 20’s I had been through some terrible relationships (I mean like surrrrrrrrrrriously, abusively bad) and I swore I was done dating.  Then I met Josh.  I was terrified of him because I knew I really liked him.  Then he asked me to marry him and I became afraid of that.  What if it didn’t work out?  Then we got married and decided to get pregnant…new biggest fear as my belly expanded and my whole world threatened to change.  Eight and a half months pregnant, we found our first home, closing ten days prior to the birth of our son…#freakingout.  Here comes Jacob…motherhood became the thing I feared the most because I had no idea how to do it.  Then Josh lost his job.  New mortgage, new baby, no job…does it get more terrifying?  I swore we were doomed…until Josh decided to start his own business (which of course scared the crap out of us both as well).  Suddenly, another baby was on the way.  Jocelyn was born and I quit my job to stay at home with them…this became the scariest decision of my life, but I did it anyway.  This progression continued on and on, presenting me with new fears along the way, until finally one day, I realized that it wasn’t the situations themselves that were terrifying me, but my reaction to them.  I started to look back at this long laundry list of fear I had been carrying around with me and realized that as each new fear had arisen and I had moved through it, the fear for that particular event had dissipated and morphed into a new fear.  It dawned on me that there will always be things to be afraid of, but it is up to me whether or not I let the fear have control.  I have a choice in each situation to square up against my fear and challenge it, and so do you.

I am happy to report that moving through my personal fear has led me to a 10-year (this July) marriage to my best friend and the most amazing guy I know, 2 kick-ass little kids who challenge me to grow, expand and be a better person each day, a beautiful home that is my sanctuary, my husband and I each owning our own business and the fortitude to keep moving through fear as it shows up.  That’s important to acknowledge by the way…I still get afraid.  All the time actually.  Life isn’t always sunshine and butterflies.  My husband and I argue, my kids can act like little shits, my home needs repairs and our businesses fluctuate through good and bad times (and the bad times can be REALLY scary), but we keep on keeping on anyway, moving forward with the knowledge that this too shall pass and that we can look our fears in the face and move on anyway.

So where does fear show up for you?  Go back to your list.  If you didn’t write it, do it now.  Take a close look at all of these places that fear has popped up in your life from as early as you can think of.  First off, see if you notice any patterns.  Are your fears largely based around one particular area?  Money?  Relationships? Your Career?  Self-esteem?  Now, notice any of these situations where you faced your fear and moved forward anyway?  What was the outcome?  If you haven’t had the opportunity to face any of these fears, guess what today is?  That’s right, your opportunity.  You don’t have to dive in headfirst, but think of a way that you can start to move into your fear slowly.  If your fear is primarily surrounding relationships, maybe today is the day you finally make that online dating profile (don’t worry…you don’t have to go live until tomorrow).  If your self-esteem is taking the hit, maybe today is the day to buy the dress you’ve always wanted, even though your head screams that you’re not feminine enough to pull it off.  Tomorrow, rock it.  Each day take baby steps to move into your fear.  You will likely find that the further you go, the less powerful it becomes.

Interested in life coaching with me? Visit my website HERE, or join me on FACEBOOK to keep up with classes and events I have coming up.  Learn about my 12-week coaching program, “Ascend to New Heights” by watching THIS VIDEO INTERVIEW

 

Gratitude is an extremely powerful emotion.  Sure, we all have days where things might feel a little bleak, but can you feel what you need to feel, and then focus on all of the other things you have to be grateful for?  There is always something…clean water, a roof over your head, good food on your table, a great friendship, a good book, a rainstorm, sunshine, the fact that you woke up this morning to the opportunities that today brings.  No matter how small or insignificant it may seem, find that one thing that can make your heart smile and your head remember that every little thing is gonna be alright.  Namaste.

Take On Your Tuesday!

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It sounds so simple, and yet we spend so much time forgetting to do it.  We hold our breath when we are fearful, excited, anxious, surprised, intimidated, shocked, angry or striving.  Relax into the emotion, whatever it is.  Let it wash over you and through you. Breathe into it, breathe it out.   Inhale, expand.  Exhale, release.  Repeat.  Merge emotion into breath and learn to love them both, for without one, you cannot truly access the other.