collect a reservoir of compassion.

“Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect and to be kind and affectionate with ourselves.” – Brene Brown

It’s surprising how quickly coin jars fill up. My Ironman and I occasionally drop spare change in a glass jar, which we joke is my tattoo fund, but we really end up emptying it for car washing and street parking the Adventure Van. Miraculously, it’s almost always full even though it collects coins one by one; it’s like drops of water filling a reservoir.

Compassion, too, is something we can collect and store up in our hearts little by little. It starts by learning to befriend ourselves, speak kindly to ourselves, forgive ourselves and eventually love ourselves. Every time we treat ourselves with loving-kindness, we create a well-spring of compassion from which we can draw from and extend to others.

Compassion is conscious awareness of suffering and a desire to relieve the suffering through an energetic response.

And anyone will tell you: it’s super hard to be compassionate towards other humans when you are tired, burnt-out, stressed-out and overall feeling gutted and empty.

So start with a few moments of self-love every day. Start by resting, breathing, eating well. Start collecting compassion one precious coin at a time. Begin filling a reservoir by choosing self-care (remember this post about the elements of self-care?) so that you can better love yourself and others.

Collect 6 minutes of compassion today by trying a Guided Meditation. Go buy a healthy snack. Take a walk in the sunshine. Write yourself a Positive Review. However you practice self-care, do it today.

Happy Collecting,

-lisa

self-care means NOT “pushing through.”

I saw a shocking post on Instagram the other day. A Yoga Teacher posted a gorgeous sunset-silhouette-yoga-pose picture and used her caption to complain about how run down and tired she was. Her head hurt, her tummy was upset, she felt weak. She then asked, “How do you push through?”

She was looking for affirmation to IGNORE every single signal her body was sending her… and yet somehow connecting this dissonance with yoga.

Oh girl, I thought. I DON’T “push through.” I take a nap.

 

I used to, like most of us, translate exhaustion as a status symbol and wear it like a badge of honor. But because of the refined awareness of my yoga practice and pratyahara, I now listen to what my body is telling me when it’s tired, grumpy, weak or upset. I try to respond completely and compassionately; I take a nap.

Yoga helps me listen to the information my body is giving me, (trying oh-so-diligently not to judge it— because the word “should” will be the death of me) so that I don’t “push through” to injury, exhaustion and irritation. Instead, I unabashedly practice self-care.

When napping just isn’t possible (hello, afternoon caffeine) I enjoy a quick 6 minute rejuvenation for my nervous system by listening to a Guided Meditation.

Here are my two favorite:

Breathing Mindfully

Body Scan for Relaxation

Still tired? Give your body a rest at my Restore and Meditate Classes taught weekly, Wednesdays at 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm at Westport Yoga KC.

Interested in learning more?

Join me for a 3 week course “Meditation for Stress Relief” Thursday mornings 9:00 am -11:00 am; September 13, 20 and 27, 2018

Register here.

Additional Audio Files for self-care found here: Guided Meditation.

Happy Not-Pushing-Through,

-lisa

3 ways to de-stress.

  1. Hold your breath. Your body is ultra-smart when it comes to detecting changes in the pH levels of your blood. Hold your breath, count to ten and then take a HUGE exhale. This triggers your chemoreceptors to tell your brain and your lungs that your body could benefit from more oxygen. Taking a  huge exhale sends the message that it’s safe to de-stress and get back on track after a stressful trigger.
  2. Laugh (really loudly). The 10th cranial nerve is the Vagus nerve; it innervates essential organs and communicates directly with the diaphragm, the major breathing muscle in the body. It’s no secret that deep breathing promotes stress reduction—but add some sound to that breath and your positive vibes double. The Vagus nerve also innervates the larynx, so laugh loudly (joyfully, not obnoxiously) and feel your stress melt away.
  3. Meditate. Meditation reduces stress by teaching your mind to uni-task, instead of being distracted and stressed by multi-tasking a million things. Just ten minutes of daily meditation has positive effects on your immune system, your focus and your stress-level.

Ready to learn more? Join Lisa in her next 3 week course:

Introduction to Meditation for Stress Relief.

Thursday mornings 9-11 am June 7, June 14 and June 21, 2018 at Westport Yoga KC.

Course Details and Registration Information found at: Westport Yoga KC.

Also check out these blog posts for more de-stressing ideas:

Stress Less

Quick Fix: Stress Free in 60 Seconds

Thoughts Like a Calm Ocean

See you in class– happy de-stressing.

every day a gift: santosha

My natural inclination is to hit the ground running the moment my alarm goes off. And sometimes, I have to– teaching 6 am yoga classes means arriving at Westport Yoga KC at an indecent hour. 

But what I really crave is A Slow Morning. A morning that I can unwrap slowly, deliberately, with care and attention.

Years ago I was inspired by this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh and have held it close to my heart since. He says,

Every twenty-four hours is a tremendous gift to us. So we should all learn to live in a way that makes joy possible.”  

I’ve found that if I unwrap my morning slowly, like a precious gift, the possibility for joy, fulfillment and contentment increases exponentially. If I cherish my first stretch, spend an extra moment cuddling with Russell Clive, meditate first thing and drink my coffee slowly (from a real mug, not a travel mug), I start my day feeling tremendous contentment. I am ready to receive whatever the day has to offer.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll be HAPPY! every single moment of the rest of the day. Santosha, or contentment, is a difficult attitude to maintain. Because, let’s face it: happiness doesn’t always present itself tied up with a pretty ribbon every day. Some days go terribly wrong (hello, influenza B) and I’m frustrated, stressed and suffering.

Santosha is a possibility when I relinquish my expectations and choose instead to be grateful that I even get to open the gift of the day, regardless of what’s under the wrapping.

One way I increase my possibility for santosha is starting every morning in meditation– setting my intention that I’ll be open to receive. Whatever the day brings, I strive to stay open, grateful and aware of the preciousness of this day.

I hope this audio guided meditation helps you open to the possibilities of joy and santosha today.

“Open to Receive”

Happy Opening,

-lisa

Every twenty-four hours is a tremendous gift to us. So we should all learn to live in a way that makes joy possible.”  -TNH

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

are you sometimes stressed? (me. to.)

Ok, so I understand that stress can make us stronger (hello Stress Wood and Biosphere 2) but I don’t actually know anyone who wakes up and says: “Bring on the stress! I want to endure and persevere today!” with a great big smile on their face.

I sure don’t. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and stressed just by the IDEA of being overwhelmed and stressed. The best way I have found to acknowledge, transmute and transform stress is meditation. Meditation has about a million psychological and physiological benefits: enhanced immune system, increased brain nueroplasticity and decreased sense of alienation and anxiety to name a few.

But my absolute favorite benefit is how it decreases our stress response. Something we all need. And it’s something we can all learn.

I love introducing Meditation as a technique to lower stress and increase hope, health and happiness. I shared a technique I call “60 second quick-fix” for stress on my blog last spring and have an extensive offering of free Guided Meditations here.

But my absolute favorite way is by teaching my 3 Week Course: Introduction to Meditation for Stress Relief. I teach it twice a year and it always sells out. This updated curriculum includes new research based on the MBSR technique, clinical trials and every day application of mindfulness. Please join me:

Introduction to Meditation for Stress Relief

Sundays December 3, 10 and 17, 2017  2 pm-4 pm

Investment:

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 to relieve stress.

In each session, I’ll teach Breathing Techniques, Concentration Techniques and 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. You will also learn ‘quick-fixes’ to trigger the relaxation response in your brain and body. The course includes a take-home manual for future reference and suggestions on how to successfully plan your at-home meditation practice.

(Limit 18 students; please note: there are no partial or full refunds for this event.)

 

waiting for something miraculous to happen.

I’m one of those people who experiences anxiety over events on my calendar which are scheduled months in the future. I say things like, “Well, after that workshop, things will slow down and I can really enjoy life again. I’ll have time to cook and take naps have coffee with friends and enjoy leisurely walks after that big event.” What a profound realization when one day I realized: why am I waiting for life to slow down in the future? Why don’t I just slow down life right now? Why don’t I just enjoy the little leisurely times in my day today, instead of waiting for them to show up in my calendar in the future?

And thus begin an intense commitment to spend 1 hour every afternoon in silence. Not in ‘anticipatory waiting tense’ silence. But in leisurely ‘I’m going to enjoy every single little gift of this moment’ silence. Because waiting for fulfillment or waiting for the clock to slow down or waiting for this big event to take place before I enjoy life again gets tiresome. And frankly, it feels silly. This is actually a very intense spiritual practice in discipline; because TV is so much more fun! Because it’s sometimes difficult to not pick up my phone and tune in to frenetic internet activity. Because being silent feels a lot like just waiting for something to happen. But it’s not. It’s witnessing that something.

I believe that the biggest and best miracle of each day is the miracle that we get to be alive this day. I believe that I was meant to live every moment fully awake, fully alive in grace, fully in love with this gift of being alive today. I’m not rushing into the next thing. I’m not rushing to get something done. I’m not rushing through my day. I’m witnessing the biggest and the best miracle unfold right in front of my eyes.

One of my favorite, miraculous techniques of tuning into this silence is called “Follow Your Bloodstream.” It is the ultimate practice in pratyahara a yogic practice in turning senses inward. Here’s my guided meditation, adapted from Martha Beck.

Also, you can find more Guided Meditations here.

How can you take a few extra minutes of silence today? How can you tune in to the miracle of being alive? How do those minutes change your perspective?

Happy Silence

-lisa

(please note: an edited version of this article also appears in Community of Christ Daily Bread.)

the most important yoga pose.

sitting

An organizer and lesson-planner at heart (and by degree) I try to be 110% prepared for each class I teach. My notes are illegible to anyone else– lots of arrows and stick figures and Sanskrit abbreviations– the usual. But lately, well.. my lesson planning book has been 110% BLANK.

It’s not like I haven’t been thinking about yoga all the time: I completely immersed myself for 5 days by studying with my teacher in Philadelphia and you know, that whole owning a yoga studio thing. But somehow last week, I found myself showing up at Westport Yoga KC with a blank lesson book. <awkwardly-embarrassed-grimace>

Here’s what you missed:

Me: Uhhhmmm… lis? Are you kidding me? What the heck are you teaching today? You don’t have a flow sequence and detailed lesson plan?!? What have you been doing all day?

Me:  Yeah, I know… don’t rub it in. I’ve been working all day.

Me: Great… but still?!? What are you going to teach today?

Me: Calm down, lady. I know Yoga. I know breath. I know meditation. I know how to connect with my Divine Light. That’s what I’m going to teach.

Because what I did I need to remember? YOGA is in the mind. It’s not in the super cool arm balances and super-amazingly-detailed sequence leading to a brilliant peak pose break through. Yoga doesn’t care how well I am prepared to teach some poses in a certain order. The poses are just some ways to PRACTICE my yoga, so that when I show up for life, sometimes unprepared, I still respond with compassion toward myself and toward others.

I’ve found repeatedly, that the most important yoga pose, of all time, is just sitting and getting prepared to approach all the chaos within myself with a sense of grace and compassion. The most important yoga pose is sitting still long enough to be present, to feel yoga.

It’s freaking difficult. It requires so much vulnerability. It requires so much forgiveness. It requires so much tenacity and so much courage. But, I promise you: it’s so worth it. Because you’ll learn to love the choas within and the choas without.

As Swami Rama reminds us:

Yoga teaches you what no one else can, how to love yourself.

If sitting still (quietly) is torture for you, try some of my Guided Audio Meditations (which I even listen to when my mind is going nuts!)

Here’s a good one: “Sat Nam”

And more can be found on my guided meditation page

Go sit outside… take a deep breath… get prepared.

seated

-lisa