extra grateful: a new 1:5 gratitude challenge.

Here’s a new Gratitude Challenge for you: 1:5. In the traditional 30 days of gratitude approach, our list often becomes stagnant, rote and trivial by the end of the month. We start listing things that are fun, fast and easy, instead of listing things that truly bring us back to our Highest Self and the practice of Gratitude.

So, a shift on an old theme: 1:5. Name ONE thing you are EXTRA grateful for and 5 people who make it possible. As we know, writing an acknowledgements page is good for the soul: in the end, we cannot take ANY of this stuff with us, but our relationships and the people we love leave an impression on our Soul.

For example:

This year I’m extra grateful to be the Owner and Curriculum Director of Westport Yoga KC. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worth it because I get to share generously the teachings of yoga and meditation with willing and beautiful Souls every day. I have 5 incredible teachers who teach at Westport Yoga KC and make my dream possible: Thank you Maris, Amie, Sedona, Jesse and Kelly. (Of course, it’s really my STUDENTS who make it possible… but I’m sticking with the above Fantastic 5.)

This year I’m extra grateful that I am HEALTHY! Severe allergies, sinus issues, skin rashes and energy imbalances seemed to be the norm for most of my life and this year I am HEALTHY! It’s feels like a miracle; a big shout out goes to my ‘health squad’: my nutritionist, my acupuncturist, my Yoga Medicine teacher and my best friend Russell Clive who gets me out on walks daily. (And also my Ironman who buys a vanload of vegetables every Monday at Costco so our crock-pot is continuously full of soup. (See.. limiting it to 5 people is actually a bit difficult…)

Name 5 specific things you are EXTRA grateful for and the 5 people who make it possible.

Take a minute to thank some of these people who make your life happier, healthier and more whole.

The practice of Gratitude is just that: it is something we practice. Gratitude is the key to living a wholehearted life; it is the key to living in the Present Moment and learning to see the Divine in all the little moments we tend to overlook.

A Guided Meditation during which we consciously name, reflect on and appreciate specific blessings in our life reminds us that the only reasonable response to being alive is that of Gratitude. As always, I’ll be teaching a Full Guided Gratitude Meditation at Westport Yoga KC this month.

Please check our website for current dates of Donation Yoga Classes supporting Rose Brooks Center, which helps women and children in Kansas City re-build sustainable lives after leaving unsafe households.

Westport Yoga KC

gratitude 2016.

gratitude balasana

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

lisa14

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

november-23-2016-gratitude-flow-pic

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

meditation-picture-dwcember-2016

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.”

2013-11-07 20.08.51

“…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)

 

 

why gratitude is the only reasonable response to life. #MeditationThoughtMondays

gratitude balasana

It’s November and Facebook is blowing up with ‘Thankful Lists.’ These lists say something like, “Today I’m thankful for my house, my family, my car, my bathtub and my Pumpkin Spice latte.”  My list usually includes my space heater and my warm socks.  2013-10-17 16.03.15

I love November because people start thinking about expressing gratitude for all of the conveniences in their lives and they smile a little bit more.

But gratitude deserves more attention than your 30-day Facebook List.  It deserves more attention than the ten minutes at the Thanksgiving table when your family members identify one thing they are grateful for before digging into fall roasted veggies.

In reality, gratitude is the only reasonable response to being alive.

Why? Because if you really think about it, being alive is practically a miracle.

Whether or not you pause to acknowledge it, a joyful, abundant, and healthy life is pouring itself upon you in each moment.  

This is one reason we practice finding and paying attention to the ‘Present Moment’ in yoga. And it’s the whole reason that yoga makes us happier. Michael Brown explains this in his book The Presence Process. He writes:

“What is Present Moment Awareness?

It is a State of Being in which we effortlessly integrate the authentic and Divine Presence that we are with each God-Given moment that we are in so that we are able to respond consciously to every experience we are having. 

By accomplishing this, our response is always the same: gratitude.” 

Meaning: if I’m aware that the moment I’m living is part of a joyful, abundant, and healthy life, then the ONLY reasonable response is gratitude. That’s all there is to it.

My challenge to you? It’s the same challenge I give at the end of every yoga class I teach:

Take a moment to the do the most important thing you will do all day: extend your deepest gratitude for this moment and for all of the many blessings which bring you joy in this life.”

What are your blessings?  What brings you joy?  What are you grateful for?

My GRATITUDE MEDITATION CHALLENGE uses my favorite Gratitude Meditation.  You can find it here.  Please join me in 60 seconds of Gratitude Meditation every day for 20 days. One minute, one thought, one day at a time. New to Meditation? Check out my tips for beginners: Learn to Meditate Your Way.”

-lisa

you have time. #MeditationThoughtMondays

you have time

Here are three things you NEED to do today:

1.  eat

2.  sleep

3.  smile

Anything else you accomplish today is just icing on the cake (or icing on the vegan pumpkin bar… like this recipe).

You have time.  Seriously.  Use it wisely.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who feels very overwhelmed and anxious– she always feels like she has to be doing, doing, doing, and she can still never “do” enough.  I feel that way too– working from home (expect when I am teaching classes) means that my down time is easily confused with work time.  My work hours begin at 5:30 am and end at 9:00 pm during the week AND I work every weekend. In addition, my profession is my passion.  How do I keep my sanity?  How do I keep myself from working ALL the time? This has been my biggest struggle the past year.  Out of necessity, I’ve spent much time and energy bringing balance back into my life, which was previously overwhelmed with obligations/ e-mails/ work/ exhaustion/ anxiety.

Here’s what works for me:

Firstly: I schedule daily Meditation Breaks.  (If you are new to meditating, check out this article.)  I meditate, or sit quietly, for five minutes before every yoga class I teach.  Most people aren’t afforded the luxury of being in a yoga studio three times a day, so my suggestion is that you schedule (literally: put it on your outlook calender) your daily 5 minutes of sitting still and breathing.  When five mindful minutes is a non-negotiable part of your schedule, you are more likely to stick to your routine.

Secondly: I use my iPhone as tool for mindfulness.  

Reminders

Every day, my phone reminds me to take a big breath.  It reminds me that my self-worth is not contingent on how much I work. And it reminds me to take note of the many blessings in my own life. (Find out why you should  write down your blessings.)  I schedule into my day short reminders that I am blessed to be alive.  I got the idea from Max Strom’s book There is No App for Happiness.  He writes:

“Many people schedule every part of their day–except its most important parts– time to cultivate their deepest beliefs and convictions.  Schedule time that inspires you to do more with your lifespan.”  -m. strom

I also organize my apps so that I’m not unconsciously wasting time.

time wastersMy Ironman laughs when he sees this heading for my app collection of Time Wasters, but I’m totally serious about it.  If you are going to spend idle time on social media, be conscious that you are doing it.  Don’t be that person who checks her Facebook 53 times a day and then complains that she doesn’t have time to take a walk and smell the roses.  Increase the quality of your time and your time increases.  Be conscious about how you spend your time.

Thirdly: I’m diligent about Airplane Mode.  Since I realized my morning alarm would still sound even if my phone is on Airplane Mode (yea… I’m not the most ‘tech saavy’ person you know…) my phone goes on Airplane mode the moment I walk in my front door after my evening yoga classes.  Why is this important?  I shouldn’t be checking my work e-mail at 9:00 pm!  My time is my time.  Blue light from electronics disrupts sleeping habits, so e-mails and texts can wait until the next morning.  Airplane mode.  It’s a seriously great habit.

you have timeI’m still negotiating an appropriate balance between ‘work time’ and ‘life time.’  But these three practices have been instrumental in alleviating my anxiety over ‘not doing enough’ or ‘not having enough time.’  They’ve also been instrumental in cultivating quality time with the people I love.  These people deserve my time and attention.  I still have many things to do.  I still work two jobs and teach 17 classes a week.  But, when my to-do list gets overwhelming, I take a short walk outside and find something beautiful to marvel. And I remind myself that there are really only three things I need to do today: eat, sleep, and smile.  When it’s put that simply, it’s easy to believe:  you have time.  

How do you find balance in your life?  What practices happen in your home that help your family find more time to be together? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Time-Saving.

-lisa

say thanks. #MeditationThoughtMondays

Every afternoon I look forward to checking my tiny blue mailbox for post.   I’m excited every time its hiding a card addressed to me (not a bill or a coupon encouraging me to buy more things I don’t need) and am even more excited when it is a note of gratitude.  Here are some of Thank You cards I’ve received this spring. Each one has brightened my day beyond belief.  Each card has been a surprise, each card has been purposeful, and each card has caused me to pause and contemplate by own gratitude.

Today, Say Thanks. When said with sincerity and integrity, a small expression of gratitude can change the world.  Or at least it can change the moment.Thanks

As I was healing my left shoulder/ rib / back the past few months, my yoga practice routine has been forced to change drastically. I could no longer maintain my Second Series Ashtanga Routine and then still teach all my classes because the fatigue was too great.  I could no longer go straight from practicing to teaching because I had to go home and ice my shoulder in between every class.  I could no longer rely on my two hour moving meditation every morning to ‘shake all the thoughts out of my head.’  I discovered the challenge of long, deep stretches and a personal restorative yoga practice. I discovered a new love for the anatomy of the shoulder girdle and rotator cuff as I delved into possibilities for yoga as shoulder physical therapy.  I discovered that I could still love myself even with an injured shoulder.  It was a long process full of tears, fears, and self-questioning.  And of course, it included letting go of my idea of ‘the perfect pose.’

Even in my times of greatest pain and frustration, I tried to remember that I could be grateful for the things my body COULD do, instead of focusing solely on the things that it COULDN’T do.  (Most people don’t do six hours of yoga a day… it turns out… so there was no use in comparing myself to anyone else.  But I still tried!)   I tried to be grateful that I even had a body.  

I started using the mantra “healing and gratitude” during my personal meditation sessions.  I tried to smile toward my shoulder, not scowl at its slow progress. I even went so far as to write my body a Thank You card.  The card was realistic: it recognized that my body could not perform backbends, chaturangas, twists, or any of the poses that I wrote on my 2015 “Resolve Board” at the moment, but it said “Thank You” for being a body that could breathe, walk, hug, and teach.  It was cheesy.  And really, really, wonderful.

Are you grateful for your body?  Have you told it so lately?  How can you say “Thank You” to yourself?  (Hint… a yin yoga class at Westport Yoga KC and a luxurious bath?  a healthy green smoothie?  a moment of sitting still? )  

Say Thanks today.  There’s someone in your life who deserves a little gratitude and it might be you.  Happy Healing,

-lisa

say thanks.  #MeditationThoughtMondays

full gratitude meditation: For this moment and for so many more, I give thanks, with a grateful heart.

Image

gratitude balasana

gratitude meditation.

Practice this Gratitude Meditation to uncover a deeper present moment awareness. Why?  Because the only reasonable response to being alive is Gratitude.

Read each sentence aloud, mindfully.  Take a deep breath after you read it.  Pause. Re-define your Gratitude.  Your whole life will change, I promise.

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 reality, I am grateful.

Every day that I face a fear, I am grateful.

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

Every day that I act out of anger, or from a place of frustration, I am grateful because each encounter offers me an opportunity to learn about myself.

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 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.”

 

Which sentence rings most true to you?  Today, where will you focus your gratitude?  Tell me about your Gratitude Challenge this month.  I can’t wait to hear about it!

Happy Gratitude,

-lisa