5 Key Benefits of Being Positive

sunshine-positive-lululemon-yogaOur hearts are like a safe in the energy bank of our bodies. We each have our own security personnel in the form of a personal energy field that protects us and determines how we feel, think and function. This energy field ensures the safety of our hearts. And since energy is everywhere and in everything we should learn how to make ongoing positive deposits into our happiness bank account.

I have studied the research on the beneficial effects of being positive and the negative affects of being negative. The research is clear. It really does pay to be positive and the benefits are numerous. The ancient yogis have been teaching this for thousands of years. Sutra 1.3 is translated as:

Yoga frees you from the drama, the tragedy, the saga your mind creates and allows you to experience your True Joyful Self…

We have a choice in being positive. For every minute we are angry, we lose sixty seconds of happiness. We must recognize as John Lembo says “Every waking moment we talk to ourselves about the things we experience. Our self-talk, the thoughts we communicate to ourselves, in turn control the way we feel and act.”  Therefore the first step is to be aware of your mental habits. So often we don’t even realize we habitually catastrophize and trigger the stress response as a result.

We have the power to consciously develop a habit of looking for the good. A habit where you can expect people to treat you in a positive way. Why? Because through the way we think and act we teach other people how to treat us in return.

Jen Gray Blackburn writes,  ‎”You will find life a whole lot easier if you can keep in mind that most people are just trying to do the best they can.”  As yogis, it is our responsibility to decrease suffering and instead promote positivity expressed as love and compassion. This in turn strengthens our personal experience of universal joy and happiness.

Here are 5 key benefits to inspire you to practice being positive.

5 Benefits of Being Positive:

  1. Stress Reduction: Positive thoughts counter the negative effects of stress. For example, you can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time. (Several Studies)
  2. Social Interaction: Positive people have more friends, which is a key factor of happiness. (Robert D. Putnam)
  3. Love: Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions whereas when the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages are more likely to end in divorce. (John Gottman)
  4. Performance at Work: Positive people are able to see the big picture, which helps them identify solutions, whereas negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems. (Barbara Fredrickson) Positive work environments outperform negative work environments. (Daniel Goleman) In the workplace positive people are more likely to receive greater support from their colleagues and as result receive pay raises and promotions more frequently. (Several Studies)
  5. Life Expectancy: Positive people live longer. (A Primer in Positive Psychology, Christopher Petersen, PhD)

Keep it positive!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Silvia

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Screen Shot Front Silvia CardEditor’s note: This is a guest post by Daily Cup of Yoga contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia. Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted! Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.

Silvia can be reached on the Web at www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com, or via email at silvia@alchemytours.com. Twitter: @alchemytours@inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.

Photo credit: lululemon on instagram

Happiness Starts with this Habit

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We are taught at a very young age that it is our right to pursue happiness—and most of us try a little bit of everything all in an effort to become happy. We try making a lot of money; we try this or that diet; we get into this or that relationship; we serve this or that charitable organization—it’s all about happiness. Try thinking of something you’ve done because you wanted to be unhappy—it’s impossible, right? The pursuit of happiness drives us to action.

So, we’re all after the same thing—happiness. Great. We’re all on a level playing field, and we’re all in this together. Teammates! But now we return to the original difficulty—we all want to be happy, but sometimes it’s tough to see how to get there. There can’t be a single path to happiness! It’s impossible, right?

Wrong. There is a very simple way that works across all cultural divides. It is called gratitude. When we appreciate the things that we have in our life, and the people who have helped us grow, we become happier. If we get into a habit of constantly regarding the positive things in our lives, then the habit becomes easier—you don’t have to listen for the bird’s song, you simply hear it. You don’t have to drive across town, you get to drive across town—and you take a new route, and you see a new person, and you become more curious, and you dream anew. When we get ourselves into habits of gratitude, rain doesn’t make things gray, it makes things sparkle.

LyubomirskyHappinessScience has recently begun to support the belief that gratitude can make us happy—where previously it was believed that there was a set point for happiness in each person, a limit coded into our DNA—now scientists believe that 40% of our happiness is influenced by intentional activities. 40% is a lot. You are in control. Be good to yourself by being grateful. Be good to others by thanking them for who they are, and what they do for you.

So if you’re reading this, and you want to be happy (that means you), let me recommend an intentional activity that will do wonders for you. Each week write one thank you note to someone who makes your life better. That’s one handwritten thank-you note per week. Not a text, not a Facebook post, but a heartfelt, handwritten thank-you note, which indicates to someone that you spent time and postage on them because they matter. It could be your best friend, your yoga instructor, your hair stylist—it could be anyone. Your relationships will become more meaningful, you will become happier, and so will everyone you touch. All it takes is a few minutes of mindful gratitude each week—remember, you are in control of 40% of your overall happiness, and remember that we are all in this together. So let’s start a habit, and let’s start a movement.

I’ve launched a campaign for this purpose—to help us build habits of gratitude. I am passionate about gratitude, and what it can do for us as a community—and I wanted it to be a beautiful and convenient habit in our lives. I thought tirelessly about how to do that—and the tools are finally ready. Gramr Gratitude Co. is live on Kickstarter—we’ve worked with the best designers and photographers in the country to create and deliver four new, gorgeous cards to your doorstep each month—one per week. If you join us you will become part of a community that believes that people matter, and that gratitude matters. Your happiness starts with this habit of intentional gratitude.

So, who are you grateful for? And what are you waiting for? Tell them.

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Self1 copy-1Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Matt Richardson, co-founder of Gramr Gratitude Co. and he is passionate believer in the power of gratitude. His work can be found on the Huffington Post, and his startup has been featured in TechCrunch among various other outlets. Join him in the gratitude movement and get in the habit of saying thanks once per week, by visiting www.gramr.us

When he is not writing thank-you notes he is hitchhiking, drinking coffee, or searching for storytellers.  Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or his website

Yoga = Both Truth and Dare

yogaI was recently thinking back to the game of truth or dare — a game we all played as kids. When you were little were you the kid who always chose truth? I, on the other hand, consistently chose dare. Excitement apart, truth tended to make me uneasy and afraid. In my mind truth and disappointment were one and the same. When I was in 11th grade I was afraid to tell my crush I was in love with him fearing rejection. For some of you the fear may lay in admitting that you wanted the lead role in a high school play, or that your feelings were hurt when you only got 2nd chair in the Symphony orchestra. The most important lesson I have taken away from this game over the years is how to be vulnerable and choose truth about the things that truly matter. Taking the dare was always the easy way out for me.

I would rather take my chances and eat a bug than let everyone know my truth and reveal my heart.

When applying this silly game to our adult life which would you choose, truth or dare? And more importantly why one over the other?

According to the Bhagavad Gita, “Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self.” In other words, yoga helps reveal the self to the self so that we wake up to our own truth. As John Donohue writes, “Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.” In essence what yoga is asking of us is to DARE TO TELL THE TRUTH. First to ourselves then to have the courage to accept the dare to be our most authentic selves out in the world.

Tapping into your own creative potential, fulfilling the purpose for understanding who you are, and why you are here is what yogis call “Sva-Dharma.”  This is translated to mean “self-duty.” I couldn’t think of a more daring thing to do. “Look to your own duty; do not tremble before it; nothing is better for a warrior; than a battle of sacred duty.” -Bhagavad Gita 2:31.

Yoga is both Truth and Dare. When we follow our true paths we are at peace with ourselves. The terrified teenager inside slowly silences and fades away. By daring to fulfill our duty we allow others to be themselves, which leads to a more harmonious world as a whole. This translates to a challenging and exciting practice on the mat as we try new poses, hold poses, or sustain a flowing sequence daring ourselves to learn more about who we are. Our yoga practice eventually becomes reflected in the way we live our lives.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
~ Harold Whitman

This year accept the dare and stay connected to your intentions for meeting the destiny for which you’ve been called to in this life. Follow your svadharma and go beyond your fears and self-limiting beliefs. Don’t hide behind work, which is the adult equivalent of eating a bug because you don’t want to face the truth.  Get on with living life on your terms! Find your passion, whatever it may be, become it, breathe it, live it, and hold it true until your biggest dreams manifest. ”Let no doubt into your dreams and intentions. The dreamers are the saviors of the world.” (Wayne Dyer). Be the peaceful warrior you are. Act as if your life depended on it, for it does.

Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia

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Screen Shot Front Silvia Card[Editor's note: This is a guest post by Daily Cup of Yoga contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia.  Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential.  Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted!  Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.

Silvia can be reached on the Web at www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com, or via email at silvia@alchemytours.com.  Twitter: @alchemytours@inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.]

Photo credit: Camillia Lee on Facebook

When Good Enough is Excellent

camillia lee-beach yoga

Sometimes good enough is excellent.  Despite what our high school principals would tell us.  Even though our leaders espouse magnificence.  Even though our leading self-help gurus often say otherwise.  There’s a lot of messaging out there about going beyond what’s good…to being great.  Outstanding.  Par excellence.  Blowing the roof off.

All of this is good…except when it isn’t.  Except when we look at what others are doing and think that’s what we need to do, too.  Good enough is good enough when pursuing excellence would mean pursuing the excellence of others.

Good enough is, in fact, excellent when it means we stop looking at what others are doing and start asking ourselves what it is we can do.  It’s excellent when it means we stop looking outside ourselves for the bar with which we measure our successes.

Nobody else walks in your shoes.  Nobody else lives your life, has your story, or knows what you know.  Nobody else has your combined talents, history, skills and expertise.  Nobody else has your particular shine.  Don’t be excellent if it means trying to fit yourself into someone else’s definition of the term.

In yoga, we talk about ahimsa: non-violence.  Also interpreted as compassion, it can encompass seeing ourselves in others, the unity between us all, and operating from a place of understanding and acceptance.  Turning that inward means applying these same values to ourselves.  How would living from a place of self-compassion look?  What role might understanding and acceptance play in the story of your future successes and how you got there?

There’s also the concept of the essential self and the social self—which from the yogic perspective links in with the soul or atman and the ego (the part of us that believes we are separate and defined by our differences).  The essential self is the part of us that knows what’s right for us, and makes choices based on that.  The social self is the part of us that is concerned about pleasing other people, and makes choices based on that.

Excellence isn’t excellent when it’s based on pleasing other people.  And good enough is, in fact, excellent, if it feels totally and completely right for us.

When Good Enough is Good Enough

When it means you’ll take the first step, knowing that no matter what the outcome, simply having taken the first step is enough.

When it means you’ll be stop comparing yourself to others and do it in the way that’s most right for you.

When it means you’ll stop ignoring what you need: rest, fun, a break from what’s standard.

When it means you’ll begin something you’d never otherwise had the guts to try.

We need both our soul and our ego, our essential self and our social self—and when we come from a place of ahimsa, we’ve got both sides of ourselves supported and unconditionally loved.

How would that impact your path to success?

Big love,
L

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Editor’s note: This is another totally awesome, soul-inspiring guest post from Lindsey Lewis, life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.

Photo credit: Camillia Lee

Happiness Rx: Practicing Yoga, Practicing Patience

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Happiness Rx: Practice patience & stay faithful to your commitments even if the progress isn’t as speedy or visible as desired. Bringing our best selves to the world requires deep dedication, patience, and persistent work.

How patient are you? Are you willing to wait for something that is important? Can you recognize and appreciate the fact that everything has its necessary gestation period?

James Arthur Ray of Harmonic Wealth put it best stating: “Everything has a gestation period, a time period that must pass before things will come into form. If you plant a carrot seed, it takes about seven weeks for the sprout to make its above-dirt entrance. Bamboo, which can grow up to thirteen feet in as little as one week, takes up to seven years to break through the surface of the ground. But for seven long years it looks like absolutely nothing’s happening. Now that takes some commitment.”

Yoga has without a doubt made me more patient. This isn’t to say that I don’t at times succumb to the pains of impatience and frustration as is part of the human condition, but I’ve definitely improved over the years. So what has changed? For one, I’ve become impatient with impatience (pun intended), and have lost all desire for the constant TUG-O-WAR with myself and others. Impatience serves to create anxiety and chaos in your life. Yoga serves to alleviate that anxiety by teaching patience, the antidote to impatience. Patience creates a feeling of centeredness amid the chaos regardless of others’ promises or actions. It’s a feeling of balance and compassion toward oneself. When I practice patience I feel liberated from the over-attachment to the result of anything I attempt. In fact, the yogic ideology teaches us that detaching from the outcome through patience will bring about peace of the mind.

Thus, rather than expecting to see an immediate result we must accept the fact that trying teaches us unconditional acceptance. It is the essence that heals us. Practicing patience is a lot like practicing unconditional self-love. The issues of the ego are removed when we practice patience. Our minds in turn are fed from the constant games of pushing and pulling, creating anxiety, distrust, stress, and imposing expectations.

Let’s take a lesson from the moon! Did you know that the moon’s trajectory follows the sun’s trajectory only six months after? This means that the full moon during the winter comes as high as the sun does during the summer. It also takes the moon a total of 18.6 YEARS TO FULFILL ONE COMPLETE ORBIT! I find this incredibly inspiring. If it takes the moon 18.6 years to complete one orbit cycle, the same should apply to our downward facing dog pose, or anything new we attempt for that matter. We must not quit after the first or any set number of tries, but rather practice patience and allow ourselves 18.6 years to refine a new venture.

Yoga is no quick fix, much like the cycle of the moon. It takes long hours of consistent practice with a lot of patience developed while trying and refining poses. Today, practice tapping into your potential for infinite patience. Yoga shouldn’t stress you out. There is no need to pressure ourselves to hyper achieve our poses. Practice patience and allow yourself at least 18.6 years of self-evolution on your mat.

Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia

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Screen Shot Front Silvia Card[Editor's note: This is a guest post by new contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia.  Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential.  Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted!  Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.

Silvia can be reached on the Web at www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com, or via email at silvia@alchemytours.com.  Twitter: @alchemytours, @inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.]

5 Ways to Master the Art of Doing without Doing

camillia lee rocks-beach-yogaWhat lights you up? What fuels your soul and fills your heart?

This is the art of doing without doing. Achieving without efforting. Receiving without feeling like you’re trying. This is the magic of Wu Wei—the art of “not doing”, or doing without doing. Tuned into the ebb and flow and cycles of the natural world, and able to respond to what arises.

Although confusing when we think of it in the context of our modern world, in action the art of doing without doing is simple. It’s simple. It’s not easy. This is because it’s counter to what so much dominant messaging and cultural mores and expectations communicate to us.

We get the message that successful, admirable members of society are always on the go. They’re making things happen, brokering deals, responding to emails day and night, getting up early and hardly sleeping. We’re told that these are the money-makers, the world-changers and the achievers. These are our models for life mastery.

But they don’t need to be. There’s a way to be yin—in the flow and receptive—that is just as effective as yang—pushing things ahead and taking action. In fact, in my experience, it’s even more effective.

I became an assistant magazine editor of three publications at 25 years old. At the time, it didn’t seem young or surprising. I’d spent the entire previous decade making myself make that happen. Work and my future dream gig came first, rest and taking care of myself came last. I pushed and pushed…and when I didn’t have anything left to push with I took sleeping pills. So that was fun.

I made it, and then I wondered, “Was it worth it? Is it worth it?” I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and sometimes couldn’t go a week without a panic attack. But I was damn good at my job. I had succeeded, right?

Flash forward to today, where—nearly a decade after I first stepped onto a yoga mat—I’m making more money, doing nothing that feels like ‘work’, and completely, totally lit up, on fire, and full-filled. And I’m learning, sometimes painfully and slowly, how to do it yin-style. I’m way more at ease, in the flow, and able to respond to what arises. Hello, greater-than-I-ever-imagined opportunities. Goodbye too much stress.

5 Ways to Master the Art of Doing without Doing

  1. Take action in a way that feels easy. You get to decide what to prioritize and what comes first on your to-do list. When you look at what you’ve decided to get done, what feels like the easiest, least stressful thing?
  2. Do what lights you up. Say ‘yes’ to opportunities that make your heart sing. Literally: what do you feel in your chest when you consider saying ‘yes’? Constriction—like you can’t breathe? Or expansion—like you are being deeply breathed?
  3. Listen to your Sat Guru. Sat = true. Guru = darkness to light; teacher. You have your own inner teacher within you, leading you out of the darkness of stress and overwhelm and into the light of your being. When something doesn’t feel right for you, listen. No matter what other people say.
  4. Let there be spaces in your togetherness. Got it all together? Still feel stressed and anxious? That’s your body telling you that even though your digital personal assistant has your entire day mapped out and organized and all together; it’s not solving the core of what’s causing you stress. You need space in your day and your life for the unexpected. You need space for your dharma and what you’re destined for to arise. Trust me, it will be more than you ever expected.
  5. When things are slower, be slower. When things speed up, don’t resist it. Go with the ebb and flow of your life and trust that the slow-times will pass, just like the times that feel too busy. Suddenly, you’re appreciating both polarities.

Suddenly, you’re not just yang; you’re yin, too.

And, as master yin yoga teacher Bernie Clark says, “Yin is in.”

Good luck! Big love,
L

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[Editor's note: This is another totally awesome, soul-inspiring guest post from Lindsey Lewis, life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.]

Photo credit: Camillia Lee

Read more about Yin Yoga:

Why Yoga is Dangerous for Your Mind

Camillia Lee - Spring Cherry Blossoms Yoga

[Enjoy another amazing guest post from Lindsey Lewis, life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter]

The thing about yoga is this: it’s about your soul. It’s about clearing the blocks to your ultimate freedom, joy and purpose. It’s about getting to a state of total knowing and complete release. And when we get there we release our mind.

What happens next is not just illuminating, it’s revolutionary.

Because inside our minds live our doubts, fears, insecurities, stressors and our roadblocks to our true selves. Inside our minds live the limiting beliefs that we hold firm to, that keep us held down. Inside our minds lives the belief that we are smaller, less capable, and less brilliant than we really are.

Inside our minds lives…sometimes, loads of crap.

Yoga is dangerous to those limiting beliefs that don’t serve us.

The mind is a beautiful thing. It’s an exquisite tool that empowers and powers our experience. It enables us to think rationally, to figure things out, and to find the solution.

But…our thoughts create our world. And if what we’re thinking isn’t serving us, or lifting us up, or showing us our truest, unlimited selves—than we can change that.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~Albert Einstein

Yoga gets us out of our head, and into our body.

It gets us feeling-thinking, not just thinking-thinking.

It taps us into the non-verbal part of our brain, which processes between eight to 11 million bits of information per second. Did you know the verbal part of our brain only processes about 40 bits of information per second? 40!

So all those fear-based thoughts…they’re not based on all the information. They’re not based on everything our non-verbal brain is processing. And, for most of us, they’re coming from an over-stimulated amygdala.

These little almond-shaped parts of our brain are stimulated by stress hormones, and when they are, the kind of take over our show. Fear-, anger-, and negativity-based thinking become our m.o. And the part of us that knows how to operate from a different place takes a backseat.

Yoga brings that part of us into the driver’s seat again. It gets us out of fears and stress and into our peace and strength.

Yoga brings our ultimate knowing—not just thought-based thinking—on board.

Yoga brings us our self.

3 Ways to Go Beyond Fear-Based Thinking

  1. Move your body—consciously. Whether it’s yoga, dancing, swimming or walking, if you do it mindfully, it’ll help you amp up your physical awareness and tap you into the non-verbal part of your brain.
  2. Notice your thoughts. Do they lift you up, light you up, ignite and fuel your life? If not, question their veracity. Byron Katie does it best: Is it true?
  3. Turn doubt into fuel. When you spot an “I can’t do this” thought, turn it into a question. “Can I do this?” “Yes.” List at least three reasons why. Studies show that providing evidence for an affirmative response to a question like that has a much more powerful impact than empty affirmations.

Good luck!

Big love,
L

[Photo: c/o Camillia Lee...you should check out the rest of her amazing yoga pics]

Why Freeing Your Mind Will Free Your Soul

free-your-mind-baptiste-lululemon(A guest post by Lindsey Lewis, freedom-seeker, yoga teacher, life coach at www.libreliving.com)

“Free your mind, and the rest will follow.”

Freedom-seekers unite. Yoga-lovers, body-lovers, mat meditators, dancers, divers, deep-soul seekers. We are all here for the very same reason. Moksha. Liberation. To be free.

Our soul craves it. Our mind fears it. Our hearts love it.

Free your mind.

It will lift you up, grow your wings, light your fire, and free your soul.

Ananda. Bliss. Being free from the shackles of fear. Free from the doubts, the limitations, and the belief that we are anything but infinitely power-full. Full of power. The power of the universe; it’s within you.

It is your soul. Our soul exists beyond our mind, beyond our fears, our doubts, our limitations and the belief that we are anything but infinitely powerful. Our soul knows. Your soul knows your power. And it is calling you to free yourself from anything that makes you act smaller than you really are.

You are called to live your brightest, biggest life. You are called to shine.

Let the doubts go. Drop your hands away from the bars in front of your face so you can see that you were holding them there all along. Step back. Shake it off. Dance. Laugh. Do yoga. Jump in the ocean with your clothes on. Jump in the ocean with your clothes off.

Be the change you want to see in the world; and see your world start to change. Embody your truth. Embody your light. Taste enlightenment. Embody your soul.

Go from living from a place of fear to living from a place of love. Move towards anything that lights you up, makes you feel lighter, stronger, deeply happy. Move away from anything that makes you feel weighed down, tensed up, and weak. You’ve got the power.

Disbelieve all thoughts that cause you to feel afraid, to doubt your brilliance. Choose to fuel your faith—in yourself. You’re only as strong as you think you are.

We create our world. Maya. The illusion of ultimate, concrete reality. There is no such thing. We create our world with our mind. We get what we expect.

So go beyond. Go with awe. Go with reverence. Be free.

“We are the world, we are the maya, and we are the immortal self.” Swami Maheshanda Saraswati

Much love,
L

The Giving Tree: 20 Days of Giving

(This is a guest post by Lindsey Lewis, yoga teacher, life coach and founder of www.libreliving.com)

It’s a funny thing about giving. Even though my life is about being of service, even though everything I do to create a living and a life I love stems from helping other people do the same…I still (STILL!) get all caught up in focusing on getting what I want. To name a few: I want to change the world, reach the world, be free and in love with the world and help others do the same. How does this all play out? I want to continue to build up my coaching practice and my yoga teaching—and can you already feel yourself getting a little more tense as you read that? Me too.

Self-Realization

Focusing on what we want doesn’t do us any good. This is NOT to say that we don’t dream or create or manifest. We just approach it in a different way. WIFT. That stands for ‘What’s in it for them?’ In all honesty this concept was a radical introduction in my life—totally new to me and foreign and hard to understand. I’d spent nearly all my late teens to early adult-hood focusing on what I wanted, on my dreams, on setting goals for myself and racing towards them, slicing through anything that got in the way. I was determined, dammit, and nothin’ was gonna stop me.

That worked for small goals: things like getting my first ‘real’ job, ascending up the job-ladder, and bringing major projects to completion. But bigger goals—things like, oh, wanting to help people transform the world, be free, be strong, be healthy and happy and LIBERATED? Not so much.

Yoga = liberty

It means freedom from the constraints of thought- and small self-induced guilt, anxiety, stress, worry, and separation from ultimate peace and joy. And living yoga means living from that place of unity. So ‘What’s in it for me?’ gets transformed into ‘What’s in it for us?’ And I noticed I was starting to sink into more emphasis on ‘What’s in it for me?’ right about the same time a friend of mine talked about spending the evening of the full moon getting all intentional about what she’d do as it started to wane. And then, totally unconscious of the poetry of it all, a gift floated into my head: 20 Days of Giving.

20 Days of Giving

Inspired by Shel Silverstein’s book, The Giving Tree. I’m going to give something every day. Something tangible: like clothing, or food, or money. Something less tangible: a hug, a smile, a seat on the bus, or my spot in the grocery store line.

December 5 to 25. One thing a day.

Want to join me?

It’s no big thing. Just something small.
It’s a huge thing. It could change your/the world.
If you dig this, will you help spread the word?

Facebook post: I’m joining the #20daysofgiving Challenge. Wanna join me? http://libreliving.com/coaching/20-days-of-giving/
Twitter: I’m joining the #20daysofgiving Challenge. Wanna join me? http://libreliving.com/coaching/20-days-of-giving/

Much love,

L

 

Living Yoga: From Fear to Love

If you wish you could feel as empowered, as strong, and as free from fear off your yoga mat as you do on it, this is for you. If you walk down the street or sit in your office or hang out with people and find yourself wishing you could feel less, well, less, this is for you. If you wonder how some people seem to walk through life full of confidence, radiating joy and vibrancy, and wish you could—this is for you.

I woke up one morning, after a dedicated yoga practice of a few months or so—combined with some total health revamping—to a completely bizarre sensation I couldn’t ever remember experiencing before. Ever. It was peace. It was getting out of bed without the feeling of someone’s hands around my throat. It was sitting at my desk in my office and feeling near total calm when a colleague asked me for something or the phone rang. It was walking home from the produce store, in a state of flow and grace—aware of the feeling of my feet connecting to the ground and the breath in my chest. I looked around at all the people around me and thought to myself, “My gawd! Do other people actually feel like this ALL the TIME! Is THIS possible for more than a fleeting moment?”

It was peace; it was a state of no-fear. But it was more than that. It was love. And I don’t mean the romantic kind. I mean the big love, the deeper love, the all-encompassing love that goes far beyond our physical self and exists in and around all of us. I mean that love. (‘Cause as the universe and my best girlfriends are well-aware, I’m no expert in the other kind.) I mean the kind of love that lifts you up from within, that soothes your mind and your cells and your soul.

This is yoga. This is living yoga. This is taking the practice and benefits and bliss of being on our mat OFF our mat. Out into the world. Into our lives. This is unity. Ok, Lindsey, sounds good, sounds grandiose, and just how exactly do we do that?

Oh, there are SO many ways! So many ways. Here are a few:

1. Love your ego. There’s a lot of talk in yoga classes about meeting experiences with equanimity—so that no matter what you are doing or experiencing you are neither self-congratulatory of self-flagellating. This is about going beyond our ego—the part of us we all have, that identifies our being with a limited sense of who we are, and gets all caught up in glory or despair. It’s a beautiful wonderful thing to be able to go beyond that part to the love and peace that exists around it and within us. BUT, we cannot get there, absolutely cannot get there, if we don’t also offer love and compassion to our ego. How we treat one part of ourself is how we treat our whole self. So as you become aware of the self-congratulatory or self-flagellating thoughts while you’re on your mat, don’t disparage them, or get angry with them. Offer them love and kindness. And then let them be on their way.

2. Breathe. Fear and anxiety and stress are all dependent on an imbalanced nervous system. Our sympathetic nervous system pumps stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into our blood stream and our parasympathetic nervous system—the ‘rest and digest’ system—takes a backseat. Study after study has shown that when we deepen our breath, particularly our exhales, we decrease the stress response and increase the rest and digest response. From this place, fear ducks away and love slides into place.

3.Get really mindful. To back away from the fear-based thinking, give your mind something totally innocuous and peace-inducing to think about. Give it something else to be mindful of: the feeling of your feet in your shoes, the sounds around you—or one in particular, the vision in front of you—or a certain lovely aspect of it. Dive into peace. And once you are there, you’re on the path to love.

4. Watch your thoughts. You know how when you’re in meditation, you often watch your thoughts so you can watch them go by, instead of getting caught up in them? The more we do this on our mat, the more we can do this off our mat. And those fear-based thoughts that don’t serve you? You get to choose whether or not to believe them, or give them any attention whatsoever.

5.Mantra. Om Mani Padme Hum is a beautiful mantra, and one I absolutely love. Mantra sadhana teacher Thomas Ashley-Farrand says this about it: “In the Tibetan tradition, it’s used more than any other mantra. It means: The jewel of consciousness has reached the heart’s lotus. When heart and mind are united, anything is possible.”

From fear to love—anything is possible!

Much love,
Lindsey

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[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by liberated living life coach and yoga teacher Lindsey Lewis, founder of www.libreliving.com.]

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