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

cancel your cable TV.

TV Commercials are my downfall. Advertising firms should be proud– every time a commercial comes on, I am immediately sucked in: slack-jawed, eyes glued, ears tuned in to the Very Exciting! Limited Time! Opportunity to spend money!

Canceling cable TV was a game changer. A conscious choice to reduce my mental clutter by limiting TV and its addicting commercials (and wearying newscasts) helped me commit to saucha.

Saucha, as introduced in the previous two posts, means clarity and self-care. It is not a directive to condemn anything as ‘dirty’ or ‘impure.’ It is simply the practice of reducing mental and physical clutter so that your mind is clear and focused.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with TV, but omygosh who can focus after watching  neon flashing signs and political rivalry and New Cars! and all the incredible cleaning product demos that are like MAGIC?

Cancelling cable TV was one extremely effective way to reduce mental clutter and practice saucha. And, four years later, I’m happier for it.

What is yours?

Culling your Facebook feed? Turning down the radio? Deleting your Twitter app? Limiting social media to once a day? Taking a walk? Practicing yoga outside?

This article series examined 3 aspects of saucha: keeping the house tidy, making loving food choices, and reducing mental turbulence. I’d like to hear your stories: what actions are you taking to promote clarity, self-care and self-love?

What small “one-minute action” will you take to reduce mental turbulence and increase health and happiness?

Happy Cancelling,

-lisa

saucha: is eating this cinnamon roll an action of self-care?

I absolutely love cinnamon rolls. My mom’s are the best because they are covered in homemade caramel sauce and walnuts. McLain’s Bakery wins a close second and third place goes to Happy Valley Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, California. (Where I have the privilege to teach at the Awakened Heart Spiritual Development Retreat this weekend!  And I will undoubtedly eat WAY too many cinnamon rolls.)

As I introduced in my previous post, the study of the niyama saucha, invites us to continually ask the question: “Is this an action of self-care?”  

Traditionally, saucha translates as ‘cleanliness or purity.’ That may sound restrictive at first, but I believe saucha is actually about indulging in quality self-care. Saucha is meant to help us cultivate self-care by examining what we are actually putting in and on our bodies to then make conscious, loving decisions.

For example: a huge cinnamon roll slathered in decadent, tantalizing icing? Um, probably not the cleanest lunch choice. I probably won’t feel super energized and self-loving after scarfing it down. But an herbal-cinnamon hot tea and a nooner yoga class? Yes, thank you very much, I would feel very well cared-for after indulging in that choice.

I practice saucha not as a list of things I shouldn’t do (that sounds like a morality issue and makes my inner rebel want to rebel) but as a list of things I CAN DO to show my body, mind and Spirit greater tenderness and self-care. I CAN decide to avoid dairy to keep my skin glowing and my allergies under control. I CAN decide to use only paraben-free and fragrance-free products to keep my hormones balanced. I CAN decide to eat a kale salad to keep my energy up. I CAN decide to keep my office, my yoga studio and my yoga mat clean to keep me feeling healthy, energized and focused.

Again, I choose these actions not because they are inherently ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts,’ but because they invite me into greater self-care and tenderness.

As you move throughout your day, challenge yourself to pause, take a breath and ask: “Is this an action of self-care?” then proceed with tenderness.

Happy Self-Care Day,

-lisa

satya: self-care and self-talk.

When it comes to self-care, chugging organic juices and getting tons of physical activity is the easy part for me. What’s most challenging (and perhaps more important) is listening skillfully and responding honestly to my self-talk. More important than massages, pedicures and all the other self-care rituals I absolutely adore is the practice of satya: truthfulness, integrity and sincerity in my own internal narrative. 

(We started talking about satya, the second yama of the yoga philosophy, in the previous two posts: satya: say no to junk e-mail and so you don’t eat meat?)

Practicing satya means that I listen to my self-talk with honesty and a healthy does of skepticism. For example:

I can’t EVER seem to make it anywhere on time, it just takes me FOREVER to get out of the house and I ALWAYS feel so unorganized.” Um, False. What’s true is this: some mornings, I’m really distracted and I spend time putting away dishes instead of getting organized to leave the house.

or

“I’m ALWAYS SO TIRED and NEVER have enough energy to be a good dog mom or good boss or good wife.” Again, False. What’s true is this: some evenings I’m really tired because I’m lucky enough to have a job that is physically active and I already walked Russell Clive three miles that day.

or

I’m ALWAYS missing important texts and e-mails; the teachers who work for me probably all think I’m a slacker.”  Double False. What’s true is this: it’s good for me to have a “no-phone day” where I’m focused on being with my family and actually, no one hates working at Westport Yoga because our community is so welcoming and our yoga classes are amazing!

or

“I CAN’T afford that. There’s just no way. And I’m NEVER going to be able to.” Possibly true, but mostly false. Some things (i.e. a new Subaru Crosstrek and daily acupuncture sessions) are just way out of my budget. But purchases are always a choice; choosing how to spend resources can be empowering. Saying “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t” only plants seeds of frustration in my mind (and wallet).

or the last one, which is the kicker. And something I hear ALL. THE. TIME. (Not exaggerating.)

“I am SO BUSY, so overwhelmed, and I’m ALWAYS working… I just don’t have the time to do yoga or meditate.” False. Here’s what’s true: time is something I choose how to spend. And if I want to opt out of an activity because I don’t think it’s the best use of my time, then that is honest and a practice of satya. Opting out of an activity is different than lying to myself with, “I’m so busy; I can’t,” The true story is that I have the same minutes as everyone else in the day and I get to choose how to spend those minutes.

The practice of satya requires that I practice sincerity and honesty in how I talk to myself as a way of caring for myself mentally and emotionally. It asks me to listen to my self-talk with understanding and then respond with compassion as a way of self-care (remember the first yama: ahimsa.) It’s really important!

How do you practice satya in your self-talk? What limiting self-beliefs are you listening to that just aren’t true? How can you practice a self-care by listening with both understanding and skepticism?

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?

HI pic

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:

self care (2)

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!)

self care picture for site

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!

IMG_3073

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

-lisa