…Living In A Snow Globe


If you didn’t catch last week’s blog on this beautiful topic of Radical Acceptance, please find it HERE!

 

                    image by Steve Rosenfield, What I Be Project

As I continue reading Tara Brach’s book, Radical Acceptance, it’s as if she’s writing about my life.  It’s as if she knows my little secrets around fear, shame, doubt and . . . oooooooh . . . self-hatred but those words feel SO harsh that it twinges my heart.  Let me soften it – in an effort to be kinder to myself, practice Ahimsa (the first of the five Yamas meaning non-injuring or compassion) – and instead I’ll say that I’ve been operating for a very long time from a place lacking in true self-compassion.

In our external lives, we can drone on going through the motions of getting up and doing the thing we do, then doing the other thing we do and then the other thing just like the day before, coming home night after night to repeat all the things and then heading for bed, only to wake up and do it all over again.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

I know from personal experience how this can happen.  It starts innocently and then suddenly you realize it’s been happening for nearly 13 years or maybe more.  This is exactly what went down for me in my corporate life until it started to feel as though if I didn’t regain control of the proverbial steering wheel, I’d crash and ultimately die.  It sounds dramatic, but I WAS indeed on a crash course that felt terribly bleak!

It reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray, playing Phil Connors, is stuck in the same place and time with the same day and its redundant circumstances repeating over and over and over.  As he moves through the story, he continues with his old behaviors and his same old methods for thinking and avoiding his pain. Until he seems to realize that in order to get through this he must accept what is happening, find whatever meaning around his circumstances that he can, ultimately align with some new purpose, even find the blessings in what felt like curses, and THEN through this chain of events, great CHANGE occurs.

Beginning to observe our experiences moment-to-moment,
becoming aware through mindfulness and then, bridging the gap with compassion —
THIS is what I’m workin’ on right now!How’s it going, you ask?
Well…have you ever felt like you were living in a snow globe?  There are days when everything feels calm and settled in it’s place.  The sun is shining, things are clear.  Then, it’s as if someone or something grabs ahold and gives the world a big ol’ shake.  Everything is up in the air!  That’s a little how it feels right now.  And, that’s how it felt when I started listening to my heart and left the corporate world for what turned out to be a career in yoga.  The particles are floating around everywhere.   Energy has been stirred up and there’s a sense of something new and BIG on the horizon.
I keep asking myself…what would it be like to love and accept myself completely?

On a quest to incorporate the principles of Radical Acceptance into my life, I honestly can’t believe how often I catch myself thinking about: others approval, how inadequate I feel, how others are better or worse, how I did something and now he or she doesn’t really like me anymore, how unready I am for a particular task or event…and, if I just do this one thing I’ll be more appreciated, I’ll be smarter, better prepared, more “perfect” in some way!  It’s silly when I see the words unfolding on this screen.  I feel a strong pull to edit the words so I don’t sound pathetic – oh there it is again, the inner critic.  But, the truth is, I can be my own worst enemy.  Becoming aware of these patterns EXCITES THE HELL OUT OF ME!!!

Why?  Because as Tara Brach says, “perhaps, the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible yet we can pass our years trapped in the same beliefs and patterns, entangled in the trance of unworthiness.”

The first step is recognition.  Going to the root, seeing what is there, accepting THAT for what it is, allowing space and then nourishing.

Remember THIS from the first blog post on the topic?

R – recognize what is happening

A – allow life to be just as it is

I  – investigate the inner experience

N – NOURISH YOURSELF

In Tara’s book, she illustrates this tragedy of being trapped through the story of Mohini the white tiger who is confined for a period of time to a 12 X 12 cage.  Once released into a much larger and more beautiful enclosure with trees, waterfalls, space to roam, rather than bounding around in joy, Mohini goes directly to find another small 12 X 12 space to spend the rest of her days.

We are bound by what we perceive and by our formed beliefs…but only until we begin to question them.

What is REAL?

 

Another movie comes to mind, The Truman show.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-see!  Truman Burbank is born into an actual reality television show where the creator’s manufacture his entire life.  He basically lives in giant bubble duplicating the outside world.  He grew up there, he was “fed” all of his experiences and was never exposed to the outside world.  His reality was completely shaped by what he was allowed to see.  It isn’t until he begins to question his life as it is, it isn’t until his heart begins to pull him in new directions that everything shifts.

So, what is Radical Acceptance? 

According to Tara Brach:

Here’s What Radical Acceptance IS

Radical acceptance is when we begin working on the inner process of accepting our moment-to-moment experiences.

Radical Acceptance means bringing a clear, kind attention to our capacities and limitations without giving our fear-based stories the power to shut down our lives.

Radical Acceptance also means acknowledging another important truth: the endless creativity and possibility that exist in living. By accepting the truth of change, accepting that we don’t know how our lives will unfold, we open ourselves to hope so that we can move forward with vitality and will.

Tara describes what she means by “radical” which is derived from the Latin word “radix.”
Radical Acceptance allows us to return to the root of who we are.  It enables us to get to the root or source of our being.

Here’s What Radical Acceptance IS NOT

Radical Acceptance does not mean giving up.  It is not resignation.  Acceptance can be misconstrued as an excuse for continuing to foster bad habits: “It’s just the way I am” or “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Be mindful as the word “accept” can infer approving of something or agreeing with someone. Radical acceptance does not mean you are agreeing to a situation or action. It means you are acknowledging that the event happened and it is real. You are acknowledging the reality of the situation.

Radical Acceptance does not mean defining ourselves by our limitations. It is not an excuse for withdrawal.

Radical Acceptance is not self-indulgence.  It doesn’t mean that each time we want wine we crack open a bottle and down it.  Rather, we bring mindfulness and compassion to the craving and possibly even tension that we feel when we want something.

I love the image of two wings to remind us to be mindful and to be compassionate in the process of Radical Acceptance.The wing of clear seeing or mindfulness allows us to observe what is happening from moment-to-moment.

The wing of compassion invites us to respond gently to what we are seeing.

To summarize Tara, feeling what we feel without judging ourselves for having the feeling or being driven to act on it.  Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us and accepting what we see with an open, loving, kind heart.

So, despite the snow globe tousled feeling that arises with change, since beginning this journey and cultivating a greater awareness here I’ve felt the spaciousness of acceptance.  For me, moving from resisting the truth of what I experience, moving from trying to push away the emotions because they seem “wrong” — the fears I feel, the shame, the self-doubt, the insecurities — if I instead recognize, observe and accept these feelings as they are and hold a moment to even feel compassion for their presence, not only do I sense them losing their power, but I feel viscerally expansive.  I feel a greater sense of control.  I feel empowered.

It’s so good to feel the feels and even embrace them.

“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time. When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”
― Mark Nepo

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Oooooooh, there’s so much more I want to share here but I’m tabling some stuff for another post so this doesn’t become “TL;DR” or too long; didn’t read!

But, before we move on to the meditation, I’d like to point out a few things…

In the eight-fold path of Yoga, Ahimsa is one of the Yamas or observances meaning non-harming, non-violence, compassion.

Satya, the second of the Yamas translates to truthfulness in one’s thought, speech and action.

The Niyama of Svadhyaya is translated to mean self-study, self-discovery or as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali express, to“Study thy self, discover the divine” II.44).

Each of these concepts are so powerfully woven in to all of this work around Radical Acceptance.  Being kind and compassionate starts with ourselves.  Being outwardly truthful cannot exist if we are inwardly hiding the truths of our being.  And, then how would Svadhyaya ever even come to be if we could not dig in, understand AND admit the truth of our own feelings – the feelings we are both proud AND not-so-proud of?

We must observe the truth.
We must accept what is real with deep compassion and love.
We must come to understand ourselves and ultimately reconnect with our truest, divine nature.

I believe this is the path to a peaceful heart.

We are all capable of learning Radical Acceptance.  

We are all capable of loving ourselves and others without holding back.

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EXERCISE:
Please take a moment to do this Guided Meditation.

I pulled it directly from pages 46 – 48 of Radical Acceptance.

Guided Meditation:  The Practice of Vipassana (Mindfulness)

The Buddhist practice for developing mindfulness is called vipassana, which means “to see clearly” or “insight” in Pali, the language of the Buddha.  What follows is a simple introduction to this practice.  You might tape it or have someone read it to you until it becomes familiar.

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Find a sitting position that allows you to be alert – spine erect but not rigid – and also relaxed.  Close your eyes and rest your hands in an easy, effortless way.  Allow your awareness to scan through your body and wherever possible, soften and release obvious areas of physical tension.

Because we so easily get lost in thoughts, vipassana begins with attention to the breath.  Using the breath as a primary anchor of mindfulness helps quiet the mind so that you can be awake to the changing stream of life that moves through you.

Take a few very full breaths, and then allow your breath ot be natural.  Notice where you most easily detect the breath.  You might feel it as it flows in and out of your nose; you might feel the touch of the breath around your nostrils or on your upper lip; or perhaps you feel the movement of your chest or the rising and falling of your abdomen.  Bring your attention to the sensations of breathing in one of these areas, perhaps wherever you feel those most distinctly.

There is no need to control the breath, to grasp or fixate on it.  There is no “right” way of breathing.  With a relaxed awareness discover what the breath is really like as a changing experience of sensations.
You will find that the mind naturally drifts off in thoughts.  Thoughts are not the enemy, and you do not need to clear your mind of thoughts.  Rather, you are developing the capacity to recognize when thoughts are happening without getting lost in the story line.  When you become aware of thinking, you might use a soft and friendly mental note: “Thinking, thinking.”  Then, without any judgment, gently return to the immediacy of the breath.  Let the breath be home base, a place of full presence.  While you might notice other experiences – the sounds of passing cars, feelings of being warm or cool, sensations of hunger – they can be in the background without drawing you away.

If any particular sensations become strong and call your attention, allow those sensations, instead of the breath, to become the primary subject of mindfulness.  You might feel heat or chills, tingling, aching, twisting, stabbing, vibrating.  With a soft, open awareness just feel the sensations as they are.  Are they pleasant or unpleasant?  As you fully attend to them, do they become more intense or dissipate?  Notice how they change.  When the sensations are no longer a strong experience, return to mindfulness of breathing.  Or if the sensations are so unpleasant that you are unable to regard them with any balance or equanimity, feel free to rest your attention again in the breath.

In a similar way, you can bring mindfulness to strong emotions – fear, sadness, happiness, excitement, grief.  Meet each experience with a kind and clear presence, neither clinging to nor resisting what is happening.  What does this emotion feel like as sensations in your body?  Where do you feel it most strongly?  Is it static or moving?  How big is it?  Are your thoughts agitated and vivid?  Are they repetitive and dull?  Does your mind feel contracted or open?  As you pay attention, notice how the emotion changes.  Does it become more intense or weaken?  Does it change into a different state?  Anger to grief?  Happiness to peace?  When the emotion is no longer compelling, turn your attention back to the breath.  If the emotion feels overwhelming for you, or if you are confused about where to place your attention, relax and come home to your breath.

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The particular sensations, emotions or thoughts that arise when we practice mindfulness are not so important.  It is our willingness to become still and pay attention to our experience, whatever it may be, that plants the seeds of Radical Acceptance.  With time we develop the capacity to relate to our passing experience, whether in meditation or daily life, with deep clarity and kindness.

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It’s time for radical acceptance, y’all…join me.

In my meditation this morning (which didn’t last long due to some percolating emotions!), I started by silently breathing in the word “so” and then breathing out the word “hum.”

It’s a mantra meditation that we used often in India, and I find it so calming and heart-centering.

Inhale “so,” exhale “hum.”

The simple words meaning, “I am that.”

And then, came the tears.

I talk a lot in my yoga classes about remembering who we are underneath all our stories of perceived imperfection, not-enoughness, plus an overall feeling of not being at home in our bodies and how we can use yoga to find our way HOME.

I talk about how we are not broken or missing any pieces and how yoga offers us tools to live more harmoniously.  We are not lacking.  We are whole beings.

In order to create a statue, a sculptor merely removes all the stone that is not the statue; nothing is added to the stone.  Likewise, the practice of yoga is not about adding anything to the individual.”
–Judith Hanson Lasater

It’s about recognizing the beauty of what is already THERE.

I often cite my personal favorite of the yoga sutras of Patanjali (Ch 1, Ver 2 + 3):

     Yoga citta vritti nirodhah
Yoga is the resolution of the agitations of the mind.

Tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam
Then the seer abides in its own nature.

Why do I love this sutra SO much?  Honestly, it gives me HOPE.  Because, what I talk about in my classes, I also need to HEAR and be reminded of again and again and again.

These words comfort me, allow me to feel that I am not alone and remind me that I have powerful tools to draw from.  I’m comforted knowing that through the practices of yoga I can calm the wild fluctuations of my chattery mind and work to remember that I am good, that I am LOVE, that I am not broken, flawed or deficient in any way and that I belong here.

‘Cause I forget.  I forget this.
ALL.  THE.  TIME. 
Since I was little, I’ve had this feeling that there was something wrong with me, that I was different.  And, it wasn’t just while I was sporting the Dorothy Hamill cut!
 
I’ve even declared feeling at times like a square peg in a round hole universe.  Perhaps these feelings are the result of events in my childhood.  Perhaps it’s our culture, what our society tell us.  Perhaps the emotions have been genetically passed on to me or gifted through some generational trauma.  Thankyouverymuch.

Perhaps the origin doesn’t even matter!

What feels like it matters the MOST right now is that I’m ready for a massive shift.

 
I’m 47 years old.

I’m tired of the repeated stories that don’t serve the greater good; the ones that keep me from loving fully, from stepping into epic greatness, from having profound compassion for myself and everyone I encounter.
I realize that the work begins at acceptance.

And, I’m ready for Radical Acceptance.

So…..

I’m going on a journey and I challenge you to join me. 

Over the summer, I will be walking chapter by chapter through Radical Acceptance, an incredible and empowering book by Tara Brach.  We’ll talk about it here, we’ll journal, do the guided meditations and exercises and work to break the “trance!”
What is the TRANCE?  

In chapter one, Tara calls it the Trance of Unworthiness.  We all have our own solidified stories of what’s wrong with us.  We all have fears:  fear of failure, fear of being perceived as stupid, as boring, as selfish or insecure, of not being fit enough or attractive enough.  Somehow in our culture, we learn that we are not valuable or worthy or acceptable.

Being in this trance leads to addictive behaviors like working a ton, eating too much or too little, drinking too much or over-exercising.  We find ways to avoid and numb.  We try to protect ourselves by hiding because if we reveal too much, “they” might not like us.  We hold back, we try to “manage” everything in our lives.  We plan, anticipate, worry.  We feel differently from others and this creates even greater separation.  Then, this perpetuates more fear.  Then, this leaves us feeling alienated. Then, we’re alone.  And, all of this moves us further and further away from feeling at HOME in ourselves!

It’s a vicious cycle and I’m ready to explore something NEW.  Are you?

So, how do we awaken?  

Let’s simply start by heightening our awareness around when the “unworthy” thoughts are happening.

In her work, Tara often uses an acronym — RAIN:

R – recognize what is happening

 A – allow life to be just as it is

I – investigate the inner experience

N – NOURISH YOURSELF

So, let’s just try to notice when the inner critic rears it’s head!  Notice the next time you are triggered with emotion, the next time you feel that you have moved into the space of judging, justifying, over-eating or drinking, RECOGNIZE when you’re not liking yourself so much.

PAUSE.  Know that it’s happening.  Simply notice.  Be the observer of the experience.  Take a moment to feel into the emotion that is present in an open and non-judgmental way.

Then, ALLOW.  It’s as if you simply say “yes” to it.  It’s ok, even if you don’t like the feeling.  Allow it to have a place to live for a moment.  Soften the mental resistance around it.  This is what’s here and I accept it.  Give it space and be in the pause.

Then, INVESTIGATE.
Ask yourself:
– What’s really going on?
– Where do I feel it?
– What am I believing?
– Why do I feel the way I do?
– What do I really need right now?

Then, NOURISH yourself. Surrender into love.  How would you respond if it was your best friend going through the same experience?  Respond with that kind of compassion and understanding.  Lean in to yourself with that kind of love and empathy.

This last piece is as important as any one of the above steps!  Why?  Because it’s where you LOCK it in!

Take the time post-RAIN to observe how you feel.  Let it all marinate.  Allow the subsequent feelings to be reinforced and not just passed over.

Even just the simple statement of “yes” versus “no” can feel incredibly liberating.  Walking through these steps I’ve experienced feelings of expansiveness, spaciousness and it’s as though there’s been a shift in my overall identity.  Perhaps touching on my true essence as a human being.  Be with exactly what you feel post-RAIN.

EXERCISE:
Please take a moment to do this Guided Reflection.  I pulled this directly from pages 22 & 23 Radical Acceptance.  Consider journaling…journaling helps me soooo much to extract thoughts, emotions, and to move through ideas.  Plus, it gives me something to refer back to, to reinforce the work I’m doing.

Now, ask yourself the below questions honestly.  Some will resonate, some may not.  Just flow through and feel them.

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Recognizing the beliefs and fears that sustain the trance of unworthiness is the beginning of freedom.  You might find it useful to pause for a few minutes to consider the parts of yourself that you habitually reject and push away.

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Do I accept my body as it is?  
Do I blame myself when I get sick?
Do I feel I am not attractive enough?
Am I dissatisfied with how my hair looks?
Am I embarrassed about how my face and body are aging?
Do I judge myself for being too heavy? Underweight? Not physically fit?
Do I accept my mind as it is?
Do I judge myself for not being intelligent enough? Humorous? Interesting?
Am I critical of myself for having obsessive thoughts? For having a repetitive, boring mind?
Am I ashamed of myself for having bad thoughts – mean, judgmental or lusty thoughts?
Do I consider myself a bad meditator because my mind is so busy?
Do I accept my emotions and moods as they are?  
Is it okay for me to cry?  To feel insecure and vulnerable?
Do I condemn myself for getting depressed?
Am I ashamed of feeling jealous?
Am I critical of myself for being impatient? Irritable? Intolerant?
Do I feel that my anger or anxiety is a sign that I am not progressing on the spiritual path?
Do I feel I’m a bad person because of ways I behave?
Do I hate myself when I act in a self-centered or hurtful way?
Am I ashamed of my outbursts of anger?
Do I feel disgusted with myself when I eat compulsively? When I drink too much alcohol?
Do I feel that because I’m selfish and often do not put others first, I’m not spiritually evolved?
Do I feel as if I am always falling short in how I relate to my family and friends?
Do I feel something is wrong with me because I am not capable of intimacy? Am I down on myself for not accomplishing enough—for not standing out or being special in my work?
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Often we perceive the trance most clearly by recognizing how we want others to see us – and what we don’t want them to see.  Bring to mind someone you’ve spent time with recently – someone you like and respect but don’t know well.

What do you most want this person to see about you (e.g., that you are loving, generous, attractive)?

What do you NOT want this person to perceive about you (e.g., that you are selfish, insecure, jealous)?

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As you go through your day, pause occasionally to ask yourself,
“This moment, do I accept myself just as I am?”
Without judging yourself, simply become aware of how you are relating to your body, emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
As the trance of unworthiness becomes conscious, it begins to lose its power over our lives.

___________

My final words for today on the Trance of Unworthiness…

It exists in all of us.
It’s here in all the pieces of my shame
That now I find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
In an all-embracing mind that sees me. . . .  —Rainer Maria Rilke

For some of us, the “voices” might be a little louder and more nagging than for others but we all have room for growth, for expansion and for developing a greater capacity for love.

As I’ve been observing my own repeated thoughts more and more — YOU GUYS!!! — it’s crazy to me how often I find myself deep in the Trance of Unworthiness!  I knew I had some fears and doubts but it’s surprising how often I’m really hard on myself, how challenging it can be to see my own value.  And this just reinforces that it’s time to rewire some wires!  Creating new ways of thinking, shifting the lens through which we see the world is challenging but powerful work.  For me, it’s time…I’m committing to feeling all the feels and dropping in to accepting what is REAL in every given moment that I possibly can.

It’s time to loosen the grip of the Trance of Unworthiness.

It’s time for Radical Acceptance.

‘Cause, I am that.  “So hum.”

And, so are you.

I would love to have this be an interactive experience.  Write to me!  Let me know what you think of the exercises.  Let me know how you’re doing.  Let’s join forces on Radical Acceptance and remember the loving, compassionate beings that we ARE.

#yogaunites

Thank you for joining me on this JOURNEY!

Oh and one last thing on…

Spiritual Fitness

If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches & pains,
If you can resist complaining & boring people with your troubles,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism & blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies & deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs…

Then you are probably a dog.

-Unknown

Can you feel THAT? Trust your guts and GO.

The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.
– Dan Stevens

I always think of this time of year as having such a sense of balance,
feeling the pulse of nature spilling into my psyche.

As Spring turns to Summer and the days and nights are of equal length, we come out of the darkness and chill of winter into an emerging state – the expansiveness of Spring.  We organically tip toe through waves of cool, then warm, then dry, then showers, under a sky that fills with rainbows…one step at a time toward the brightness and exuberance of Summer.

Today is the Summer Solstice.

It is the longest day of the year.

And, this day happens every single year.
Every year we reach a turning point and the days stop lengthening and begin shortening.

It’s deeply familiar and notably unique every year.

The personality is similar but the circumstances quite different.

For me, today feels quite different I’m not exactly sure why but I trust my intuition deeply.

As a yoga teacher for the last decade – I suppose “by definition” and certain standards I don’t tend to be super “woo-woo”, but I DO connect profoundly with energy and the cyclical essences of nature.

Today, feels like a significant turning point.
And, personally I’m going to leverage that.

You see, I believe that what we intend becomes.  What we believe to be mighty, we make mighty.
Today feels kind of MIGHTY.

What if we harnessed the energy when we sensed it’s power, gathered our dream-filled intentions and pushed them out into the universe?  What if we did that today?  I’m gonna.  Join me if you’d like.

I started a cleanse of sorts about a week ago.  I’m off sugar, I’m off cheese, I’m off the 2nd love of my life, WINE (my hubby, Michael, holds STRONG in 1st place there!)…anyway, so…I feel focused. I feel clear. I feel intentional. I’m observing patterns and behaviors closely.

I know I could choose to keep things the same.  It’s comfy.  But, what if I didn’t?  What new something might be born?  And you, what if you contemplated moving in a slightly new direction?  Or hell, turn the shit upside down if you’re ready.
But what if?

In an effort to be present, mindful and in a space of awareness on this special day…

Let’s connect with what is familiar and common.

While you do this, ask yourself:

What continues to show up in my life year over year and how is this serving me?
Do I want to see this habit, behavior, relationship, emotion – whatever it is – again next Summer Solstice?

Trust what you hear and simply let it marinate.
Do your best to circumvent judgment.
Do your best to soften any harsh internal dialogue.

Just observe with what is there.  Perhaps journal.

This is simply a practice of becoming aware, of becoming AWAKE.

“An awakened imagination works with a purpose. It creates and conserves the desirable, and transforms or destroys the undesirable.”
― Neville Goddard

Today, let’s also celebrate what feels new and curious.

While you do this, ask yourself:

What sensations do I feel in my body?
What feels burgeoning and is clearly trying to BECOME?

What is my life trying to do through me? 

And, what do I want to invite in RIGHT NOW?

Do your best to just allow.  Perhaps journal on what percolates…

Consider…what is asking to be released?
What is taking up space and ENERGY in YOU that is preventing something ELSE from growing?

What is searching for space, air, nourishment but is currently choked out by the old?

WHAT IF YOU PROVIDED A HEALTHY PLACE FOR THIS “SOMETHING” TO TAKE LIFE?

Today will be the longest day of our calendar year.
It is the Summer Solstice.
It is the day of the full moon.
It is a Strawberry Moon.
It is also just June 20th and you get to make it whatever you DESIRE.

Every day is a gift and some just have a little more significance than others…if you choose to believe.

What will you make of YOUR day?

“As the sun knows; even the sky is not the limit…”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

Have an OPINION

I’ve felt a bit ashamed of this over the years. 

A self-proclaimed “gray area girl” with a perceived lack of conviction around various topics.  I feel one way, then I hear argument for the other side and easily find myself swayed toward an understanding of that viewpoint.

 

This quote-unquote inability to take a stance, to offer hard-and-fast opinion, to BE black and white has often felt like a personal flaw, as I grew up surrounded by the powerful opinions of my dad, my brother and others in my family.  Strong and unapologetic debates were ever-present in our home (they still surround family gatherings!).  And, I felt a bit like a square peg with my soft-center viewpoints and meet-in-the-middle ideas.

I can easily slide my feet into the shoes of another and feel how differently they FIT.  They’re different but I can get them on my feet.

What am I saying?

We are so different.

We are so the same.

For some reason, TODAY, I see the gifts in ALL of this.

I have the ability to align myself with how and why YOU may have come to believe as you believe.  And, I can often deeply align with how and why you FEEL the way you do as a result.  I quickly relate to the fact that if MY circumstances were different, I too might have a strongly opposing view to my own current opinion (if that can possibly make sense!).  Myopinion is simply an assumption based on my gathered information.

I hold onto my thoughts and opinions out of empathy and understanding for our overall human differences.  It is also out of respect and recognition of the TRUTH – that our paths have been profoundly unique and the lens that I see life through will never be the same lens that you are looking through.  So, it is an organic element in MY WAY OF BEING . . . it is natural for me to pause, to cultivate empathy, and to conjure understanding around how you might have a completely opposite viewpoint to mine based on the realities of your life, based on your unique journey.

I see the gift of the pause.  I see the gift of holding my judgment.  I honor the gift of compassion for another’s journey, the gift of being able to tenderly feel the both sides of the coin.

So, what do I KNOW to be true in this moment?

I KNOW THIS. . .


“It is not our differences that divide us.  It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.”
~Audre Lorde

THIS, I will take a solid stand on.

This I BELIEVE wholeheartedly.

What else do I believe wholeheartedly (since I’m on a roll)?

Well, I must tie it all in with how this relates to YOGA for me.
And, here’s TWO PRIMARY REASONS I BELIEVE WHOLEHEARTEDLY IN THE POWER OF YOGA:

1.  The goal of yoga is yoga.  Period.

So what does this mean in the simplest of terms?

Yoga MEANS to unite.

The goal of YOGA is to UNITE.  PERIOD.

Amen to that.

AND . . .

2.  Yoga seeks to calm the busyness of our minds offering the ability to re-connect with our true essence.

Our true essence is LOVE.

Ok.  I’m on board with that. 

Unite and BE LOVE. 

These are profound and universal truths to me.  

So, rather than looking for what makes us different and allowing this to create divide –  to allow this to be what makes us wrong – what if we accept what makes us different and ponder how these beautiful differences can be brought forth to enhance our world?  What if we leaned in, broke down barriers, softened our fear of rejection, of loss, of not being enough and instead saw the differences as the gifts that they are?  Pieces to the universal puzzle.

United we stand. Divided we fall.

When we accept and embrace our differences we return to being more understanding, more compassionate beings.

We ARE LOVE.

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”
~Sri Chinmoy

Change is in the air…

Spring recently folded right into a smokin’ hot summer!

Mercury moved out of retrograde. Thank God!
Honestly, I don’t even really understand this whole phenomenon but, when things go haywire Mercury is usually to blame!

The 4th group of Elevate Yoga Trainings teachers graduated on May 17th.  It was once again a joy-filled, heart-centered, life-changing experience.
Take a few minutes to watch this VIDEO created by Cassie Goodluck!  Hear from the recent grads…

Working with yoga teachers to overcome fears, to challenge self-limiting beliefs, to inspire action, develop skills and build confidence is truly a passion of mine that continues to flourish.  And, since joining forces with my husband to focus our energies in this realm…well, let’s just say we are CHARGED with inspiration, excitement, ideas & projects!!!!!!

Here’s where my changes come in…

I’m taking a break from teaching public classes.  Soon, I will relinquish my weekly studio classes so that I can focus more on the projects that have Michael and me FIRED UP!

What’s to come from us…

Elevate Your Yoga Business Workshops, Programs & Retreats

VIP Coaching

Weekly Podcast Interviews with Successful Yoga Entrepreneurs

What to continue to expect from me on the yoga-front:

Elevate Yoga Trainings Winter 2016

“Pop-Up” Yoga classes at my beautiful Studio Define – Stay-tuned!

Adventure Yoga Retreats

Corporate Yoga Classes

Progressive Workshops

Private Group Events

Community Celebrations + Collaborations!

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Change can be both exciting and scary, so I’ll find a little comfort in Rumi right now!

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.”  – Rumi


Deep Gratitude…
I feel so blessed to be a part of YoYoYogi’s incredible team of teachers.  This weekend I was at a party with Alex and Terri Cole and could barely hold back the tears when considering NOT teaching in that space. But, I will be there practicing fo’ sho’!
I have a couple more weeks of classes so please come see me!

I feel the same way about Yoga Pearl!  Karen Pride, Beth Harp, the teachers, the staff and the students are incredible. It’s a beautiful community.  At this point it’s lookin’ like I’ll continue to be at Yoga Pearl through July.


Thank you so much for reading and for being a huge part of our lives.

More community fun below!

Big love,

Jill & Michael

#biglove  #elevate  #buildcommunity

Two Wolves

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Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

The dark voices can be deafening.

It’s easy to find our cracks.  The stories of our brokenness are so much louder than the stories of our brilliance.  Our own worst critics, we talk to ourselves in ways we would never dare speak to our greatest enemies.

I recently returned from the Lululemon Ambassador Summit in Whistler, BC.  The experience was, amongst many things, a series of Integrated Leadership Workshops.  The most profound of these workshops, was the one that discussed the inner critic in all of us.

A group of 35 men and women from all walks of life were asked to go deep, to access that raw space that is in each of us to conjure up some of our most damaging thoughts of ourselves.

We were asked to consider the stories we hear when we are challenged to step out of our comfort zone.  We were asked to feel into our self-doubts and limiting beliefs.

All we had was a circle of people in an empty room, one piece of paper and a pen.  We were then asked to write down what came up for us.

“Go ahead and note exactly the thoughts that surfaced for you, then crumple that up and toss it in the garbage can in the middle of the room.”

Pen hit paper for all of us.   Tears were already flowing around the room.

And, then one by one we crumpled up the ugly paper and tossed it emphatically in the garbage.

It felt cathartic.  And, I had visions of a celebratory bonfire later.

At that point, the group leader went to the center of the room and explained what was about to happen.

“I’m going to reach into this garbage can and pull out one of these pieces of paper then read it out loud.  The one who wrote it will simply come into the circle, pick up the next one, read it out loud…and so it will go.”

Oh.  My.  God.

We have to publicly own this stuff?

As each paper was read, there was a pause and then ownership.

  • You will never amount to anything.
  • You don’t deserve to be here.
  • You are stupid.
  • You will never be successful.
  • Who do you think you are trying to accomplish these goals that are so much bigger than you.
  • You are not capable or worthy.
  • You will never be loved.
  • You are not worthy of carrying a child.
  • You are fat.
  • You never graduated college.  You will never have an impact.
  • You are simply not enough.

Here I was, surrounded by 130 game-changers:  elite athletes, diverse teachers, inspiring entrepreneurs and community leaders from around the world.  Each one of us was selected to represent our regions and yet MANY of us could not understand what WE were doing there.  There went the voices, “It must be a mistake.  I’m not worthy of this.”

Honestly, I’ve spent the past decade with my two wolves vehemently battling each other.  Teaching yoga is scary.  There’s not someone else’s company or product to hide behind.  It’s just you.  All that you are made up of becomes your product, your brand, your trademark, your company, whatever you want to call it.  But, it’s your passion, your life experiences, what you care most deeply about that you are out there sharing with others.  THAT is scary.  That gets my evil wolves howling.

Everyday I get up and step forward and I say “yes” in spite of the stories, in spite of fears.  Because when I feed the evil wolf, it might feel safer in the moment but in the end I feel defeated and empty.

And, when I feed the good wolf, I KNOW I make a difference in the world.  I’m in the flow, I feel energized and inspired to DO MORE.

Both wolves are hungry and vying to be fed.

Which wolf will you feed? 

 

Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do…

Living Yoga’s 5th Annual Yogathon is officially kicking off NOW!

But, fundraising efforts have already begun. And, Team ELEVATE is leading the charge (at the moment!) having raised $1,620. The Muddy Lotuses are in close second with a total raised of $1,390. And, our amazing team member, my dear friend and Living Yoga board member, Kelly Blunt, is the top individual fundraiser! Goooooo, Kelly!

PLEASE join our efforts by donating or by JOINING OUR TEAM. We would love to have you raising money right along side us and it’s so easy to join. We are currently 15 strong!

Please keep reading…this is really important work.

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I’m honored to have been chosen as an ambassador for this year’s Yogathon. If you are not familiar with Living Yoga and how the organization truly changes lives, please take a few short moments of your day to watch this video about Crystal.

I am deeply moved by the impact Living Yoga has on the lives of people like Crystal and also my friend Troy Mitchell who I got to know through fundraising efforts over the past couple of years. Troy’s story is so powerful and he recently shared that he is now “finally” a senior in college, studying criminology at Portland State University. Living Yoga offers reform through yoga.

This amazing non-profit has two main sources for raising money in order to maintain their efforts teaching yoga as a tool for personal change in prisons+drug and alcohol centers. The Yogathon is one of them. For the month of April, I am dedicating my practice to POTENTIAL. I’m dedicating my practice to HOPE. I’m dedicating my practice to the fact that we are not our pasts…that we are powerful  beyond measure and when we come together, when we unite and support each other, when we FEEL that others believe in us, we are empowered to believe in ourselves and can then DO ANYTHING we set our minds to.

All of the classes I teach in April, all of the classes I take in April will hold this dedication and intention.

I invite you to join us in any way that you can…holding the above intention with me, donating on my behalf to Living Yoga, OR JOIN OUR team, “Team ELEVATE” to raise money WITH US! Last year our Team Elevate raised nearly $4300 and came in a close second place for funds raised during the Yogathon. We hope to blow that number out of the water this year!

Once more, here’s the link to donate:

And lastly, I’m very excited to be guiding the final Yogathon class accompanied by live music at the closing ceremonies this year in my 2nd home, studio Define. I hope to see you there on May 2nd! More details will follow.

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In deep gratitude,

#practicewithpurpose

Tell me your story…

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone-we find it with another.”

-Thomas Merton

I truly love community.

I cherish being a part of a collective.

I especially love creating ways we can come together.

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Why is this so important to me?

Because I know what it’s like to feel alone.

I’ve experienced it. Not the good kind of alone. Not the chosen quiet, the personal time for reflection and introspection-kind of alone. The desperate kind. When you actually need others and you don’t believe there is anyone there for you. When ALL others feel inaccessible. The dark and scary-kind of alone.

I’ve felt it many times in my life.

Like when we moved to a new city, which we did often as I grew up.

New schools.

Unfamiliar faces and places, even smells.

Existing ways of doing things that were different from my own.

It should have become a familiar experience but it never really did.

Each move was pretty terrifying for this shy little girl. Not being a part of things. Being and outsider. Being new. Being different. Being noticed. Even stared at. Yikes. To me, these were all very bad!

One of our moves in particular truly stands out. At about nine years old, we relocated to Montreal, Canada. My older brother Jeff, and I were enrolled in an all-French speaking school. I remember being on the playground (which, mind you, was a solid sheet of ice the kids were playing hockey on- quite a sight for this California girl to witness) and with this particular move, not only was I the new kid, I was from a-whole-nother country and I didn’t speak the language. A giant group of scary lookin’ kids approached me on the playground (in hindsight, they were probably coming to say hello) but they were simply terrifying to me and when I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, I just burst into tears right there on the ice. I felt crazy-alone.

And, they just thought I was crazy!

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I’ve experienced that sense of being alone in other ways, too.

It was the early 2000’s, I lived in San Francisco and had worked in the corporate world since the early 90’s. From the depths of my soul, I could sense something shifting greatly. Things that used to matter, meant nothing…money, my “stuff”, my title, my Blackberry. I was beginning to wake up and realize I’d been living someone else’s life, climbing a corporate ladder I could give a shit about, and I’d been going through the motions to create a life that was killing me emotionally, physically, spiritually. Acknowledging that I’d spent a significant portion of my life building my home on quicksand was a frightening process. The community I’d felt a part of for sooo long no loner felt like my own. I was depressed. I had no sense of purpose. And, I felt very alone.

Why am I sharing these stories?

Because they are a part of what makes me-me. They are where I move from, live from, teach from, love from. And, we all have stories. The ones that feel big, the ones that feel smaller but all that form us. We are the sum of our parts. All of the parts are powerful. When we share them, we give others permission to do the same and we truly connect with one another.

I would not choose to change a single thing about my path, my family, my up-brining, the various places I’ve lived, all of the people I’ve encountered along the way. I wouldn’t alter my career, my choices, the dark times, the bright times, as they’ve all landed me right here. Now. And, the collective of my life’s experiences give me all of my perspective and purpose.

I’ve been talking about it a lot in my classes lately. We are either falling into the flow, the universal current, or we are swimming feverishly against it. The times that we swim feverishly upstream, our challenging times, provide us with profound lessons.

Specifically, they’ve prepared me for how to serve more honestly, powerfully, empathetically and purposefully.

I know I can’t give other feelings…and I can’t make you feel anything in particular.

What I can do is hold space and intention around my deep desires to cultivate profound connections with others through community, my offerings, my classes, events, retreats and especially when it come to other yoga teachers through Elevate Yoga Trainings™.

I can hold space and intention for this…

I want you to feel accepted.

I want you to feel supported.

I want you to feel loved.

I want you to feel understood. Seen. Heard.

I want you to feel safe.

I want you to have a home built on a solid foundation.

I want you to know that you are a part of something bigger.

I want you to connect deeply with your purpose, your passions and to soften the fears and self-doubt that get in the way.

I want us to serve, to heal, to be fully alive and to be present with the darkness and the light.

I want all of these things. I want this for each of us.

It’s from this place that I believe we can move mountains. When we feel safe, when we believe in ourselves, and we know others believe in us, all things are possible.

This is what Elevate Yoga Trainings™ was born from. And, I can’t wait to get started again in March. We have only five spots left for this transformative program. Come and discover your truest voice, learn to tell your story honestly, teach from your soul, find your purpose and connect deeply with your students. Be a part of something big.

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I truly love community.

I cherish being a part of a collective. I especially love creating ways we can come together.

Why is this so important to me?

Because I want you to know you are not alone.

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#buildcommunity #yogaunites #elevateyogatrainings

2014, you blew my heart wide open…

” What lies behind us and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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photo credit: Amy Rollo

2014. You blew my heart wide open.

Some of what our community experience together…

With one delicious yoga class in Portland, on behalf on Renal Cell Carcinoma research and Kick Cancer’s Asana, we raised $650 to contribute to a nationwide number of over $12,000. Thank you to everyone who came, participated and donated…thank you, Mehdi Farjami for playing beautiful music.

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In addition, our Elevate Yoga Trainings Team raised $4,255 on behalf of Living Yoga via their annual Yogathon. And, we came in second for our overall fundraising efforts!

GOOOOO Team Elevate!

I was honored to co-teach the Yogathon kick-off at Yoga Pearl with my friend, Rocky Heron.

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2014 was FULL of so many amazing collaborations, creations and good times on the mat!

Elevate Yoga Trainings graduated a third group of awesome yoga teachers. And, during the program we participated in the powerful What I Be Project with Steve Rosenfield. You can read more about my very personal experience here.

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Then… we were off to the Northwest Yoga Conference in Seattle.

Life-long connections were made that weekend and I can’t wait for this year’s conference in March.

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I am forever grateful for the sweetness of these two lovelies, Kendall Hassemer and Shea Donaldson for being my roommates, my dear friends and my partners in crime at the conference.

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Rolling into summer…

On July 5th, with Rara Avis, we kicked off the season of Yoga Rocks the Park guiding upwards of 200 yogis in Laurelhurst Park to his beautiful live tunes. Gratitude to Rara for sharing his artistry and also for his peaceful, loving presence. I’m looking forward to being reunited with Rara at Inspire Truth, New Year’s Day.

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Next up? Let’s BREAK A WORLD RECORD!

On July 11th, in collaboration with the World Domination Summit and Yoga Rocks the Park, we strategized and planned how to pull off breaking the world record for the longest yoga chain.

The Great Namaste!

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WE DID IT.

With the amazing vision and brilliant team work we gathered over 1,000 awesome humans together in Pioneer Courthouse Square- 808 mats fit in the square (and on the stage!) to make up the sum total and official head count. We blew the world record for the longest yoga chain out of the water. Once set with 696 people, we rocked it out with 808 people and 5 successive poses. I got to lead the charge with one of my best friends, Jen Johnson and a bunch of om-azing participants and rockin’ volunteers.

Here’s a cool 30 second video of the event created by Oliver Asis.

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And, the WDS fun continued…

On July 12th, with the summit in full swing, we recreated Yoga Rocks the Park in the Portland park blocks and I got to teach yoga to the rockin’ beats of DJ Drez. More dreams coming true…

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Just three days after the amazingness of WDS wound down, we were on a plane headed for Wanderlust Tahoe! There were five workshops: Balancing the Four Winds of Change, Talkin’ About a Revolution, High Voltage Vinyasa, Yo-Ma and Anahata Bliss…all collaborations with amazing artists including Kevin Paris, Philip Steir, DJ HyFi, Jeff Liffman & Friends and the incredibly talented //HANNAH//.

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There was a HUGE Portland contingency in Tahoe which made it feel like HOME!

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Photo credit: Kari Baker-Pollard

Reflecting…

Working in financial services industry for the first 13 years of my career truly hightlights the beauty of what I get to do now. The perspective and contrast leaves me feeling so incredibly humbled, grateful to be doing work that I love, work that connects me deeply with others, work that gives back + builds community, work that leaves me with beautiful memories, work that is about being healthy, happy and at peace.

It has been a decade since my transition from corporate work to HEART work.

And, 2014 was a very big year.

It had it all.

It was a year of beauty and births.

A year of pain and losses.

A year of saying yes in the face of fear.

A year of tremendous growth.

A year of truly loving.

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A year of truly living.

Thank you for being a part of the journey.

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There continue to be so many wonderful opportunities to celebrate life together in the new year. Please check out upcoming 2015 community events.

Much love from us! We wish you a healthy, happy 2015!

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Jill & Molly

Love…

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 My beautiful teacher and also my student.

My patient and also my healer.

My soul-momma and also my soul-sister.

My dear friend and my truest inspiration.

Full of heart.

Full of soul.

Full of love.

Full of life.

We will all miss you so much, Frederique.

I will be forever grateful for every moment shared with you.

Love, light, peace…until we meet again.

RIP, Frederique Berteau-Pavy

NAMASTE