90 seconds.

Did you know it takes 90 seconds for you to process the emotional onslaught of a strong emotion? Strong emotions are, well, really overwhelming, and probably unavoidable. These are the emotions that hit you like a giant tsunami and leave wreckage in their wake.

These uncomfortable emotions manifest from a surge of hormones let loose by the limbic system that turn the sympathetic nervous system on high. This ancient part of our brain is responsible for emotions, making memories and reacting to instinct.  img_4437

Particularly strong emotions feel like they will last FOREVER– anger, fear, anxiety, frustration– they don’t just feel like a passing storm, they feel like they may drown you.

But guess what? Your body deals with the physical hormonal imbalance of the strong emotion, washing it away into residual memory in 90 seconds.  

90 seconds.

This gives a whole new power to the act of sitting, breathing through our emotions.

If I can manage to stay with my breath for 90 seconds, then the emotion will subside. Sure, just like a stormy sea, another wave may roll up on me in a few minutes. But that wave will resolve itself too, in a mere 90 seconds.

Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön, author of When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult writes this:

“The problem is that we have so little tolerance for uncomfortable feelings. You try everything to escape them, but if, somehow, you could stay present and touch the rawness of the experience, then you can learn something. Connect with the physical sensation in your body. It always feels really bad; it’s usually a tightening in the throat or the heart or the solar plexus. Stay with that and say to yourself, ‘Millions of people all over the world have this kind of discomfort, fear – you don’t even have to call it anything – this feeling of not wanting things to be this way. This is my link with humanity.’ Just connect with the idea that this moment is a shared experience all over the world.”

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“Just connect with the idea that this moment is a shared experience all over the world.” -P.C.

I published my Ocean Breathing for Strong Emotions in spring 2016, and received amazing feedback. Please read it here: “thoughts like a calm ocean.”

This time around I’ve got something special for you: your very own Guided Meditation Audio Track. Anytime you experience a particularly strong and uncomfortable emotion (I definitely had a few of these times while I was planning for my wedding this year!) remember: you only have to manage to swim for 90 seconds. Sit, breathe, imagine yourself floating in the center of the calm ocean. You can swim your way out.

Ocean Meditation

            1.  Dive in: Watch your thoughts come and go.  Do not control or manipulate.  Do not change or rush.  Notice that the thoughts are like waves.  They arise out of the ocean of consciousness and then dissolve right back to where they came from.  They were never separate.

2.    Get Wet:  If there is one wave that is particularly strong, big, or threatening, do not turn your back on it. Allow the wave to wash over you.  Even if the wave crashes on you, as if the emotion is particularly strong, stay with it.  Do not swim away.  Let the wave crash and the water droplets re-join the ocean.

            3.  Float:  Whenever new thoughts arise, like waves raised by the wind, watch them dissolve back into the ocean.  Allow yourself to float in the center of your experience.  Eventually, your thoughts will be like a calm ocean.

When you feel ready to integrate back into your daily life, do so slowly and mindfully. Take a few minutes to vacation from worrying and then float through your day.

Happy Floating,

Much love-

lisa

gratitude 2016.

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I originally published this Full Gratitude meditation on my site three years ago. Since then, dozens of you have written me to tell me its profound impact on your daily life, on your family life, and on your ability to share in gratitude during the holiday season. To say it boldly, it may be the most profound article I have ever shared.

Recently I was completing an application to attend a leadership conference and this question was asked:

“Where can you bring more gratitude into your life?”

My first thought: everywhere.

But that’s a cop-out answer on any application, so I had to think of something specific. I’m always grateful for my job: bringing light and yoga into this world.  I’m always thankful for my students: they continue to receive my teaching with open hearts.  I’m always thankful for Russell Clive: my very best friend. And this year, I’m especially grateful for my family.  I’m grateful for my parents and sisters who helped me marry the love of my life and I’m grateful to my husband’s family for bringing me into theirs. I’m so grateful to be alive in a time when peace is possible, when reconciliation is more important than ever before, and when communities are banding together to support Love and equality.  In fact, I might say  that only reasonable response to being alive is Gratitude.

*  *  * 

I’d like you to practice this Gratitude Meditation to uncover a deeper present moment awareness.

Read each sentence aloud, mindfully.  Take a deep breath after you read it.  Pause. Feel it.

gratitude meditation.

“I live in gratitude.

Every day that I awaken and breathe, I am grateful.

Every day that I think a thought and feel my heart stirring, I am grateful.

Every day that I am upright and whole, I am grateful.

Every day that a creative idea becomes solid matter, I am grateful.

Every day that I face that thing of which I am most afraid, I am grateful.

Every day that I am given awareness of the smallest of beauties, I am grateful.

Every day that I am enlightened, given insight, have an epiphany, I am grateful.

Every day that I exercise compassion, understanding, and patience, I am grateful.

Every day that I encounter another living creature and engage, I am grateful.

Every day that I am hugged, kissed, and loved, I am grateful.

Every day that I laugh, I am grateful.

Every day that my family is healthy and happy, I am grateful.

Every day that my friends do well in the world, I am grateful.

Every day that I change someone’s life….. or that someone changes mine, I am grateful.

Every day that love is evident in my life, I am grateful.

Every day that I act out of anger, or from a place of frustration or a broken heart, I am grateful because each affliction offers an opportunity to learn about myself and my fellow man.

Every day that brings me a challenge and tests my spirit, I am grateful.

Every day that I am humbled by a mistake, I am grateful.

Every day that I am faced with seemingly unbearable odds, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and my spirit that is strengthened by these things.

Every day that I try, I am grateful.

Every day that I try AGAIN, I am grateful.

Every day that I can have some time to myself for quiet and reflection, I am grateful.

For every day that is NEW, I am grateful.  For every blessing, surprise, breath, song, word, hope, reason, and heart, I am grateful.

For this moment and for so many more, I give thanks, with a grateful heart.”

 

in gratitude,

-lisa

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a yogi’s the guide to election 2016.

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A yogi’s the guide to election 2016.

Like many of you, I was shocked and saddened by the unnecessary hostility, intense fear-mongering and unethical campaigning of the 2016 Presidential election. I was even more shocked and saddened by the outcome of the presidential election. I was lucky: I was in a yoga studio for 5 hours straight on Wednesday morning so I had more than enough time to process my many emotions in a caring, compassionate and safe space. I stealthily avoided checking social media because I refused to contribute to a panic, fear, and anxiety over the outcome of this vote. For days I held a safe space for yogi’s and friends to grieve in my classes. Together we cried, vented, questioned, meditated, prayed. In my adulthood I’ve been oddly quiet about my political leanings because I believe that aligning myself with one ‘camp’ is a form of division and hostility. However, I believe I must share the wisdom I’ve gleaned over the past week. I cannot stay quiet about lessons to be learned from this divisive election season which arise from the depth of Yoga’s wise tradition.
Please consider these 3 steps as response to the 2016 election season.
A yogi’s the guide to election 2016.
Number 1: Practice Ahimsa. The world is not made up of “us and them.”  Although human beings look different from each other, we are all made up of the same Inner Light of awareness and consciousness called purusha. Because we are all manifestations of the same Divine Light and the same Consciousness, any act of divisiveness, anger or hostility toward someone else is also against yourself. As a yogi, the bedrock of every single choice you make and every single word you speak should be ahimsa (non-harming). This is non-negotiable.  

There will always be people in the world who disagree with you. They have the right to an opinion. It is also your right to have an opinion. However, it is not ahimsa to impose ideas and ideologies upon another person with acts of emotional or physical violence and anger. The two seminal texts of Yoga remind us that human beings are united in creation and connected in spirit, despite outward differences.

From the Yoga Sutras Chapter 1, verse 16:

Self-realization [is when] there is indifference to the primordial nature of desire, as everything and everyone is experienced as one’s own True Self.”  (trans. Mukunda Stiles)

From Chapter 6, verse 29 of the Bhagavad Gita:

“Touched in this way by God, this yogi sees unity and the True Self (Divinity) everywhere, in every creature, in all creation.”

In response to the 2016 election, ahimsa requires you to venture into the unknown territory of speaking compassionately to persons across party lines, listening without anger, and treating every person as their True Self. It also requires you to share your support for regarding policies that promote peace and non-violence on both street and systematic levels.  Please do so relentlessly.

Number 2: Relieve inner suffering.
Yes, after the results of the Presidential campaign were announced, many of us felt terrified, frustrated, insecure, heartbroken, and angry. But each of us has the responsibility to address and heal our own suffering before it seeps out and expands in our communities. When we let seeds of hatred and fear would grow rampantly in our own psyche, these debilitating emotions grow more rooted in our communities. Yoga teaches us to weed out the crazy distracting thoughts that are the root of these anxieties through dharana (concentration) and meditation.
Every single moment, you have one choice: love or fear? I implore you to choose love over fear. By doing so, you strengthen your True Self and your connection to the Divine. You strengthen your community and you uphold the worth of all sentient beings.
From the Yoga Sutras Chapter 2 verse 10: “When these primal causes of suffering exist in subtle, yet potential form, they are to be reduced, then overcome by the process of turning inward and returning to their true source: the True Self.”
From the Chapter 2 verse 25 of the Bhagavad Gita: “The cessation of your present pain and sorrow will depend on how well you overcome your ignorance of your True Self that lives within you.”
In response to the rampant anger and fear resulting from election 2016, it is your responsibility to relieve your own inner suffering through meditation and turning inward and so that you can be compassionate towards others who are suffering.
Number 3: Take action. 
It may remain a disheartening fact that our two party American political system seems to be broken and ineffective. However, your vote and your voice still count. Along with the presidency, America’s communities also elect congressional leaders. At the state level and at the national level, we have the ear of our elected leaders. It is our responsibility to stay vigilant to the activities in our state congressional houses which will pass laws that actually do affect our every day lives. It is our responsibility to write letters, make phone calls, and sign petitions in support of the things that we care about. If you care about getting guns off the street and making our neighborhoods safer for children, please call your representatives telling them so. If you care about wealth discrepancy and the suffering caused by inequality and poverty, please stay vigilant about financial bills that govern state budgets. If you care about human rights, equality, the inherent worth of all persons, then you need to be telling your Senators how we can welcome refugees and relieve the suffering of people on the margins of society. Can you change the world with one letter? I don’t know. But the point is this: you still have a voice and you should be using it.  
From the Chapter 3 verse 39 of the Bhagavad Gita: 

“This is the path of selfless, God-dedicated action. By making this your path, you can live a spiritual life and yet stay fully active in the world. You can remain a [woman or] man of action, achieving your very best, and yet not be caught by the worldly.”

In response to the 2016 election, please heed the fervent pinnacle message of the Bhagavad Gita: “Do your work in accordance with the principles of ahimsa and peace, and let go of results.”

Remember: everything is possible. Millions of human beings are right now awakening to an uplifting of spiritual consciousness.

Thank you for listening to the wisdom of the yoga tradition. Thank you for being open to a worldview that is completely inclusive. If you seek further guidance, I suggest the following thought leaders for inspiration on how to be a Sacred Activist:

Andrew Harvey, Institute for Sacred Activism

Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation

Happy Moving Foreward. 

-lisa

mark your calendars (and a SALE!)

Hey you guys- I know this time of year gets busy (fast!) which is why I need you to add a few events to your 2016 Holiday Calendars today.

I’m hosting 1 donation yoga class, 1 SALE on private yoga lessons, and 1 workshop this fall. You don’t want to miss any of them, trust me.

The Gratitude Flow on November 23rd is my favorite class of the year. The night before Thanksgiving, we meet to practice yoga by candlelight and share in my Guided Gratitude Meditation.  It is always a magical experience which opens our hearts to give and receive deep gratitude.  All donations benefit The Rose Brooks Center, which helps women and children re-build their lives after leaving abusive households.

Also, my Introduction to Meditation workshop is back– I host this twice a year at Westport Yoga KC and it always sells out. Learning to meditate with a teacher takes all the guess-work out of it… and you go home with a manual that guides you through starting your own home practice.  One registration fee includes all three sessions (sign up below.)

And lastly, I’m making holiday shopping easy for you this year: through December 20, you can purchase 3 Private Sessions as a gift. All the details are below; it’s an awesome deal!  Use the contact form on my website to request an invoice or email me: ash.lisamarie@gmail.com.  Happy Early holidays!

upcoming events and workshops

upcoming events.

Gratitude Flow

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Wednesday November 23, 2016 @ Westport Yoga KC, 6:00 pm

This annual class will open your heart and body to experience true Gratitude.  Our special Candlelight Flow will end with a deep savasana and Gratitude Meditation with Lisa Ash Drackert. All levels welcome. Cash donations are accepted for the Rose Brooks Center.

2016 Holiday Sale on private lessons.

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The perfect gift for the yogi (or aspiring yogi) in your life. For a limited time only, you can purchase a set of 3 Private Yoga lessons with Lisa Ash Drackert as a holiday gift for only $185.  (Normally priced at $225)

The fine print: Lessons must be purchased as a gift. All sessions must be used by July 1, 2017. Clients must be in good physical health and must complete all required paperwork, adhering to Lisa’s private-client-policies. Holiday Sale valid November 7, 2016- December 20, 2016.  Limit: TWO packages per person.

Please purchase by contacting Lisa and she will send you an invoice.

workshops.

Introduction to Meditation for Stress Relief

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Sundays December 4, 11, and 18, 2016.  2:00- 4:00 pm @ Westport Yoga 

4304 Bell Street, Fl. 2 KC, MO 64111

This 3-part series is a perfect introduction to Meditation. We will explore the modern-day benefits of meditation and how you can integrate the practice into your life for stress relief and greater awareness.

In each session, Lisa Ash Drackert will teach Meditation techniques which cultivate attention, deepen focus, and embrace stillness. You’ll have the opportunity to practice meditation in an encouraging group setting and engage in conversation with classmates. The course includes a take-home manual for future reference and suggestions on how to successfully plan your at-home meditation practice.

One registration includes all three sessions.

(Limit 18 students. Please note, there are no refunds for this workshop.)

See it all here:

https://lisaashyoga.com/teaching-schedule/upcoming-events-and-workshops/

write an acknowledgments page.

I was surprised when the first page of the book was the Acknowledgements section. Usually Acknowledgements are saved until the end. But right at the beginning, on the very first page of The Happiness Advantage, was the author’s Acknowledgments.

Shawn Achor, Harvard positive psychology researcher, begins The Happiness Advantage, a book about the “seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success” with a list of people he’s grateful to. The first sentence of the book is this: “This section has been the most fun part of writing this book. I am humbled and excited knowing that every word in this book has been shaped by the people in my life.”

I wrongly assumed the most fun part of writing the book would have been sharing ten years of research, hundreds of stories of successfully re-training CEO’s in twelve countries to become happier, and the seven principles of unlocking the secrets to success in the workplace. Something was up. I read the acknowledgment section expecting hilarity, inside jokes, and mention of puppies. But it was just a really nice list of Thank You’s to really nice people.

At the end of the Acknowledgement section, Achor writes this: “If you have never written an acknowledgement page, try taking an afternoon to do it. I have just found that you cannot help but be happy and humbled being reminded that we are loved and that we do nothing alone.”

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“…we cannot help but be happy and humbled being reminded that we are loved.”- S. Achor

Let me read that to you again, dear reader,  “…we cannot help but be happy and humbled being reminded that we are loved.”

In August, we held “Teacher Appreciation Week” at Westport Yoga. I put out a gift bag with each teacher’s name on it and asked our Members to write a quick ‘Thank You’ to a teacher who made a difference in their life. My goal was to encourage Westport Yoga teachers by helping them build stronger personal relationships with their students. (Achor’s Principle #7 for happiness and success is ‘Social Investment.’  You really should read his book.)

I wanted to the teachers to feel meaningful, appreciated, and supported. Surprisingly, the writers of the Thank You notes may have found more meaning in the task than the recipients.  As the teachers’ bags filled with notes of gratitude, students came to me saying “Thank you so much for that opportunity, it meant so much to me to write a Thank You. I don’t usually take the time to do that. It felt amazing!”

My dear reader, acknowledging the people who are influential in our lives is such a meaningful practice. When we take the time to say ‘Thank You’ to the friends, family and co-workers who are the very fabric of our daily lives, we realize how interconnected we really are.

My challenge to you is to write an Acknowledgements Page today. Kick-start November, the month of the year when Gratitude is expected and celebrated.

Set a timer for 30 minutes. In those 30 minutes, write/ type/ voice-to-text a list of Thank You’s. Acknowledge Major Players who support you and teachers who motivate you. Acknowledge your family members who take care of your home, kids who bring you joy, baristas who make your coffee, authors who write books you love, mail carriers who deliver your mail.  Acknowledge as many people as you can in thirty minutes and remind yourself that you do nothing alone.

Happy Acknowledging,

-lisa

Here are some more articles to get you geared up for November as a month-long-Gratitude-fest and Thanksgiving (the second best holiday of the year, if you ask me.)

Re-Defining Gratitude (originally published in 2013)

Full Gratitude Meditation (originally published in 2014)

Why Gratitude is the Only Reasonable Response to Life (originally published in 2015)

Why You Should Write Down your Blessings (originally published in 2015)