why i quit working.

playI decided to quit working. I’m a high-achieving, diligent, motivated, no-nonsense entrepreneur, but I decided to quit working. Instead, I play. And engage in exorbitant amounts of nonsense.

This is my hilarious mouse pad, because (of course) I have something that reminds me to be:dwight

a Determined Worker, Intense Good Worker, Hard Worker and Terrific every day.

But, dear reader, sometimes working too much equals a life where fatigue outweighs fun. So of course, I love this mouse pad from my all-time favorite show The Office because it reminds me to laugh, to be ridiculous, and to be engaged in outrageous nonsense.

In order to maximize my happiness, I have completely quit working. I’m playing with a new motto that shifts my paradigm away from ‘work hard and succeed’ toward ‘play hard and pursue happiness.’  (Can you picture the cheesy bumper sticker with a thumbs-up emoji smiling face? Someone design this, please.)

Since I started this experiment of exchanging work with play, I feel younger, I feel more present, I feel more alive, and I feel free. This freedom motivates me to play harder, smarter and with greater passion. This freedom actually makes me WANT to go to work… I mean, go to play. And sometimes I show up for work twenty minutes early because I can’t wait to get there and engage in the important play of meditation and movement and community.

Try this experiment for yourself. Exchange the word ‘play’ for the word ‘work’ in your daily language and notice what happens in your body.  Do you feel fatigued or exuberant? Annoyed or excited? Lethargic or energetic?

Something like… “I have to leave home now, so I can get to play on time. Today when I’m playing I’ll play hard to finish my play.  After I play, I’ve got a play event with co-players and then I’ll be home to play in the yard before we go on a walk.”  (This is me, describing to my Russell Clive why I’m leaving him home alone. He usually rolls his eyes at his overbearing mother and asks for the iPad to be left out so he can watch YouTube. Teenagers…)

I know it sounds slightly ridiculous, but doesn’t it also sound slightly fun? Doesn’t it also sound like all of the self-imposed stress regarding ‘work‘ might not be as overwhelming as once thought?  Doesn’t it also sound like you might start your day smiling?

Alan Watts, the master of mindful living for maximum happiness, says it almost as eloquently as Dwight Shrute:

“This is the real secret in life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now.  And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”  

So I want you to play. I want you to organize your day around play. I want you to play on your yoga mat and have fun. I want you to play with your family, your friends, your life. I want you to play your hardest, with your entire passionate self.

To play and be fully engaged in order to learn everything about this moment, because it’s the only time it will exist. I want you to laugh uncontrollably and look stress in the eye and say, ‘You, sir, are ridiculous. I don’t have time for you, I’m going to play.’

Happy Playing,

-lisa

how yoga helps us love ourselves. #MeditationThoughtMondays

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Real-talk confession (read: moderately judgmental but totally honest statement): I cringe when I hear anyone equate ‘taking a yoga class’ to ‘going to the gym.’  Something along the lines of, ‘Oh, I’m not going to pay for a yoga class because I already have an unlimited gym membership and I work out there all the time.’

I mean, I’m glad you’re moving.  Sitting is the new smoking, so please, run and bike and walk and jump around on boxes and over tires and in front of swinging kettle-balls-of-death during your gym-rat time as much as you want.  But please, don’t equate that workout to yoga. 

Yoga is not an exercise routine, it is a path to finding freedom from self-inflicted frustration and a path to uncovering your heart’s desire.  It is a science that requires deep introspection and examination of all the mental patterns which generate your daily reality and create the lens through which you see and understand the world.  It is a path to understanding yourself, your habits, your behaviors and learning to love yourself through that understanding.

“Understanding is love’s other name.  If you don’t understand, you can’t love.”  -Thich Nhat Hanh

Through yoga, I’ve learned to understand and love myself despite my tendencies to be self-judgmental, anxious and worrisome.  I’ve learned to understand and love myself even when I’m not perfect and feel inadequate.  I’ve learned to understand how I automatically respond to guilt, shame, and fear, and love myself into being more vulnerable and forgiving.  It was a lot of work.  It required commitment, daily practice, and trust in my Teachers.

The meaning of yoga is ‘to become whole’.  We only become whole when we are truly capable of understanding.  Understanding how we came into this world, why we are here, what life is for, and how we can love ourselves.  Then, we get to love others with abandon… and that’s the fun part!

I challenge you to understand yourself better.  I challenge you to move into becoming whole and by learning to love yourself.

Meditation Challenge:

  1. Set your timer for 10 minutes and have a journal and a pen nearby.
  2. Find a comfortable seated position
  3. Speak your intention aloud. Ask: “How can I love myself more fully?”
  4. Sit quietly and listen. When the timer goes off, write down whatever you are thinking.
  5. Repeat for ten days. At the end of ten days, review what you have written in your journal.  Make a new habit, a new thought pattern, and start loving yourself more… immediately!

Happy Understanding,

-lisa

why are you drawn to yoga?

still small voice, drawn to yoga

My friend Katie (remember her inspirational Earth Day Meditation?) recently reached out to me and asked me: ‘Why are young people drawn to yoga?’  Seemingly easy to answer, right?

She quickly followed with this question: ‘What is it about yoga that quenches their yearning for spiritual practice outside of the institutional religious practices?‘  Slightly less innocuous, but actually, still easy to answer: it’s the same response.

In writing my response to Katie to help her plan conversations at a spiritual retreat, I uncovered a profound clarity that reinvigorated my passion for what I teach. Maybe a one-hour yoga class seems like no big deal (remember that post! ha!) but, you know… it is a big deal.  Students are drawn to their yoga practice because they are looking for a spiritual practice that asks instead of demanding, that brings relief instead of inciting anxiety, and that encourages seeking instead of blind faith.

I thought you may be interested in my answers. It’s not a sermon, you can click away and leave any time you want to; but I hope you read through it all and then ask yourself the same question: why are you drawn to practice yoga?

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“The yearning that attracts students into the yoga practice room is to experience relief.  

In a world increasingly instantaneous, students are accustomed to immediate feedback, results, and reactions. In a world increasingly chaotic, students are continuously assaulted with a barrage of new sights, images, sounds, and demands for their attention. Yoga asks; it does not demand.  Yoga asks the question, “What if all of this went quiet?  What listening would remain?”  The feedback is immediate; the experience of moving into Divine Silence and listening to the innate Wisdom of the Soul offers powerful and immediate relief.  

Yoga teaches that suffering results from the illusory thought that we are alienated from the Divine.  As a yoga and meditation teacher, I see students approach yoga who are yearning to leave behind a fragmented, stressed-out, anxious existence and remember their wholeness. They don’t want someone else to Save them.  They want to be empowered to approach their suffering with peace of mind, with a healthy body, and with an emboldened Spirit. They want to remember what it feels like to be at Peace.  

As a minister, yoga appeals to me because it is spans time, history and faith tradition.  Every single person is welcome and invited; every person can be taught to practice yoga.  My students are 9 months old and 79 years old.  My students are non-verbal autistic children and school principals with Multiple Sclerosis.  My students are single gay men and married professionals mothering 4 children.  My students are healing wounds from years of abuse and my students are offering care as hospice nurses.  My students trust yoga because it does not ask them to suspend belief in the world they live in, it asks them to find Divine in the world they navigate.

As a mystic, yoga appeals to me because I want to be as close to God as possible. Meditation is a practice that anyone can learn and anyone can hone. Meditation offers us what nothing else can: it offers us insight into the inner workings of our mind and our spirit and asks us to be patient with ourselves as we learn to love ourselves again.  Meditation is what Rumi talked about when he said, “I have been a seeker and still am. But I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.”

As an intellectual, yoga appeals to me because it is a science.  The path of yoga, or ‘union’ is dependent on personal experimentation and experience.  If a practice works for you, then stick with it.  If a practice doesn’t speak to you, try it a different way.  This approach makes sense to rational minds and iPhone users who have the world’s knowledge at their fingertips. Yoga philosophy is a framework for whole and healthy living that is inspired by thousands of years of collective wisdom.  This framework is simple and straightforward: practice non-harming of all sentient beings, meditate on the Divine, hold every single breath and every single movement as sacred, and you will experience profound relief, peace, and wholeness.  

If you ask my definition of yoga, it will not be textbook.  It will be the answer of the minister, mystic, intellectual, and seeker.  I will say: “Yoga is listening to the small sacred space between my inhale and my exhale where the Divine resides and learning to fill that space with my movement until only the Divine Remains.”  You, of course, will have your own answer.  And that’s what most of us are looking for: a space to ask our own questions and find our own answers.  

still small voice, drawn to yoga

Ask yourself the question: ‘why am I drawn to the practice of yoga?’ and see what answers show up.  Please share with me, I may pass them on to my friend, Katie. :)

Happy Answering,

-lisa

 

 

what are you afraid of? #MeditationThoughtMondays

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uncovering your Inner Light takes a little work, but in the end… you smile more :)

I am afraid of a LOT of things. And here’s the kicker: they may be fairly innocuous things. If I were to make a T-chart (I am an elementary school teacher at heart, after all) the list of items on the “Not Afraid” side would perhaps appear more daring and dangerous than the list of items on the “Terrifying” side. For prosperity sake:

Not afraid of: falling off the side of a mountain (it’s that’s how I go, I’ll be proud of my death-by-adventure), traveling to unsafe exotic locales, having my car stolen, starting a new career, spiders.

Terrified of: going to the Doctor, driving in the fast lane, attending crowded sporting events, having uncomfortable conversations, blood-sucking ticks (I don’t think there exists any other type of tick, but ‘blood-sucking’ reaffirms their awfulness).

That’s just the beginning of the list. (I’m also a little afraid of frostbite, snakes in lake water and having my identity stolen.)

But the thing I’m most afraid of? Never doing ANYTHING fun or daring or epic because I’m afraid. Letting fear ‘win’ over courage and passion and excitement and wonder? Unacceptable. 

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look at all the fun you miss if you are too afraid to adventure!

I had a really tough beginning to spring this year. Illness, exhaustion, emotional distress and insecurity were my companions for a few months. There were days when fear and anxiety were the loudest voices I heard. There were weeks when I stayed in bed with headaches and body aches and I felt ill-equipped to handle even small tasks like eating breakfast or walking Russell Clive, much less repair professional relationships, teach willing Souls, move forward in my career and also plan a wedding. Let me tell you: I was really fun to live with.

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he’s not afraid of lake water, or a crabby mama

For a few weeks, I let fear win. And oh god, did it gloat. Fear infiltrated my meditation time and my (coveted) sleep time and freaking wreaked havoc. I was a hot mess. Actually…I wasn’t hot. At one point, my face was an allergy punching bag and my eyes were swollen shut (thank God for the makers of Benadryl and the good people at CVS) and what business did I have pretending to be a courageous, confident, spontaneously joyful yoga teacher? 

Well, I did have business.  I still do. And it is my business to be courageous, inspiring and real. Because we all encounter fear, we all experience suffering (thank goodness suffering is temporary, remember this post?) and we all feel like life’s punching bag every once in a while. So I made it my business to find a meditation that worked that helped me re-claim my courage, my light, and my confidence.  It’s short, it’s simple, it’s illuminating.  It worked for me, and it will work for you.

This is an abridged version of a guided meditation I found by Heather Waxman on the app Insight Timer.  If you download the app, you can listen to her talk you through this five minute meditation. You can also follow the script below. I sincerely hope that you feel its power in uncovering your Inner Light.

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“Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.” -G.S.

“Own Your Light” Meditation for developing confidence and courage

“Sit in a comfortable position with palms facing upward and establish a steady pace of breath.  Inhale and exhale easily.  Imagine yourself covered by a big shell, like an egg shell.  See is covering you and surrounding you.

As you look at that shell, imagine that it begins to crack.  And as it cracks, rays of sunlight begin to pour through the cracks.  The rays of light extend out from your body and peek through the cracks in the shell.  This is your light.  The shells represent the ways you’ve been blocking it.  The cracks represent your willingness to see things differently.  Your willingness to look at your shadows and your willingness to own your light.

See the shell as it peels away and you are left surrounding in light.  See yourself shining and glowing with courage.  With every inhalation see yourself owning that light that is yours.  On your exhale, give that light to someone who needs it.  As you inhale, receive.  As you exhale, extend it to someone who needs it.

Inhale: “I own my light.”

Exhale: “I share and extend my light with others.”

The dark journey is not the way of the Universe.  Walk in your light and choose light.  The Great Light always surrounds you and extends out from you.  You are created of light and in light.

Finish your visualization with three deep inhales and three deep exhales.”

Happy Uncovering.

-lisa

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Own your light.

 

self-care and six dollar juices.

self care picture for site

Here are some life-skills I learned in school: how to make garlic toast, how not to make garlic toast, how to put out an electrical fire, how to call for help in an emergency, and how to take care of someone hurt in an accident.  Here’s a skill I didn’t learn in school: how to take care of myself.   

The concept of “self-care” is trending right now; for good reason. Most of us (and probably all of you who are reading this right now) have attained a level of proficiency in meeting our basic needs of food, water, shelter and Google Fiber.  But most of us are nowhere near proficient in meeting our emotional and spiritual needs. 

Civic organizations provide a structure to engage generously with our community at large, but sometimes the act of giving leaves us feeling depleted. And spiritual communities take care of each other; but a vast majority of millennials and yuppies (no malice intended, I’ve adopted this label wholeheartedly) aren’t actively participating in faith organizations at this time in our lives, so: who’s taking care of us?

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a moment of self-care: yoga and nature! my two favorite things.

My overarching New Year’s Goal (remember this article about Big Dreams?) was to practice better self-care. Just because I look young and fit, doesn’t mean that I’m ‘on point’ when it comes to self-care. One of my biggest challenges is developing habits and sticking to them.  My work days are long and I’m racing to get to sleep after teaching so I can wake up early again the next morning; my self-care bedtime routine is sporadic at best. So, vitamins? Yea, I take them… I think. Herbal supplements? Definitely.  At least, I took them last month.  Revitalizing skin cream (I am getting older, after all)  For sure I use that, when I remember to.  Brushing my hair? Cutting my fingernails? I can do that in the car on my way to work.

These might seem like trivial, inconsequential examples, but it’s the intention behind the action of self-care that matters. What matters is that I’m channeling energy into caring, loving, life-affirming interactions with my body.  When it comes to self-care, we only get one human body. Which is why I’m a proponent of practicing yoga gently, of sitting in meditation daily, and of setting micro-intentions throughout our day.

This Instagram infographic caught my eye and reminded me just how multi-faceted the concept of self-care really is:

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It doesn’t feature “Treat Yo’ Self” (read: expensive) spa days, six dollar juices, or shopping sprees.  (Although, yes, you should get a massage. Everyone should get massages!)  It highlights intangible gifts we can give ourselves:

Presence, support, awareness, prioritizing, adjusting environment, mindfulness, and slowing down.

Just being there for ourselves and using a little mindfulness to prioritize what’s really important in life is an act of self-care. Adjusting our environment to be more life-affirming is an act of self-care. Saying no to extra events, even if they sound like exciting opportunities, is an act of self-care. Saying yes to slowing down is an act of self-care.  Setting boundaries with supervisors and co-workers is an act of self-care.  Becoming aware of our negative self-talk and mindfully choosing positive thoughts is an act of self-care.

This year has been emotionally arduous for me, to say the least. (Remember the old maxim: if you pray for patience then God will give you something to be patient about? That’s kinda how I felt.)  I confronted my deep-seated fear of failure with the “New Dog Debacle” (remember Sir Kevin-barks-a-lot?) but ultimately decided to choose self-care and found the Little One a new home.

I encountered incredible resistance at work, which triggered insecurities about my self-worth but ultimately found courage to stand up for myself and speak my truth. I learned to prioritize my vocational aspirations and choose more time for myself and my family, as opposed to feeling like I needed to work every single day of the week (I mean my studios have incredible teachers on staff and you, dear reader, can practice at home; you love me, but you don’t need me). And I took a brave step forward in healing by addressing some chronic health concerns. (Believe me, if you spent your childhood in doctor’s offices like I did, the mere act of calling to make an appointment requires herculean effort.) Oh, and I figured out a 2:00 pm routine for taking my vitamins and supplements that hasn’t failed me yet.  (I still show up to work without my hair brushed, but whatever: your hair doesn’t look too primped at 6 am classes, either!)

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So, why I am sharing all of this super personal info with you?  (Besides the fact that I’m honest to a fault? Thanks, Mom!)  I want YOU to broaden your understanding of Self-Care.  I want the concept of self-care to be separated from ‘indulgence’ and be seen as a skill worth learning, pursuing and perfecting.  I want self-care to be so ingrained in your daily routine that you feel present, supported, aware, mindful and courageous on a daily basis.  I don’t want you to feel guilty for putting yourself, your emotional health, and your mental well-being as the top priority in your life.

Tell me, how are you going to practice Self-Care today?  Tomorrow? Next week?  What new habit are you going to set that will only make your life more wonderful?

I can’t wait to hear about it!

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a moment of self-care: take time to stop and look at the beauty around you

-lisa