One Way to Find Your Purpose

Have you ever wondered what your purpose is or how you can contribute to others in a meaningful way?

It’s taken me many years to recognize that my purpose and one way I can contribute to others has been right under my nose this entire time. 

Of course, I am a sucker for constant contemplation and examining just about everything that happens to me (so I just love this perspective that I share in this week’s video!).

In today’s video, I examine a few commonly held beliefs and add to it a dash of my own perspective to help point us in the direction of what our purpose is and how to find it.

If you’re anything like me and have found yourself wondering why you’re here and why you keep learning the same lessons over and over again, I invite you to watch today’s video where I offer up some ageless advice to help clarify this.

The question “what am I here for?” and “why does this keep happening to me?” may be more closely related than you first thought.

The more we see and learn from the lessons in each moment, the more we have to contribute to others. {Tweet that!}

In order to teach what we learn, we must first be willing to be a student. So, the next time you find yourself frustrated by a recurring situation or feeling, I invite you to pause, look for the lesson in it, see if it is similar to other lessons you are learning, and then consider how these lessons can inform your interactions with and contributions to others.

Now, I’d love to hear from you! What do you believe you are here to learn and, ultimately, share with others? Share your insights and reflections in the comments below so we can be witness to the incredibly unique gifts and purposes we each possess.

Do you know someone who could benefit from getting clearer on their purpose? If so, please pass this along to them. It is always much appreciated!

P.S. If this question of purpose or other thoughts of guilt or doubt ever creep up on you, be sure to reserve your spot for (or receive a recording of) my upcoming FREE teleclass on November 24! 

How to Handle Those Pesky Voices in Your Head

As a former actor, I’ve always enjoyed creating characters and learning who they are and what they have to say, and then getting to speak as if I were them.

Over the past few years, as I’ve worked with coaches, mentors, and done more self-discovery, I’ve been introduced to the different characters that play out their drama in my very own mind.

We all have these characters (or voices) that live inside our head and who try to be in constant dialogue with us (and each other). Many times these voices can really get the better of us.

Recently, I noticed that one of these voices of mine (my inner critic) started telling me that I’m not working hard enough and I’m starting to slip into an old pattern of giving up and not seeing something through to the end.

In the past, I would have either believed this voice hook, line, and sinker and gone into total panic or self-loathing, or I would have tried to stifle this voice and pretend it didn’t exist.

Now, after having learned a more effective tool based on my work with Michelle James (a Creative Emergence coach), I have an alternate approach to handling the voices in my head.

If you’re anything like me and sometimes have a hard time knowing what to do when that voice starts yammering on about this fear or that doubt or this concern or that judgment, be sure to watch today’s video where you’ll learn a new approach (and one that has helped many of my clients, too). 

Though they can be pesky, the voices in our head can offer us a lot of wisdom if we change how we interact with them. {Tweet that!}

The next time you hear those voices rattling on and find that simply observing them just isn’t doing the trick, give this tool a try and see if you feel a shift and notice the voice getting a little less pesky over time.

Now it’s your turn! What is your favorite tool for handling the voices in your head? Share in the comments below so we can all have a few more tools in our tool belt when it comes to engaging with our egos.

If you know anyone who could benefit from being free from the grips of the voices in their head and uncover the wisdom that lies within, please be sure to share this with them.

With love & gratitude,

P.S. If you desire to have someone serve as your guide as you experiment with this tool (and many others), go ahead and grab a complimentary session with me here.

Are You Taking a Vacation or a Suitcase Full of "Shoulds"?

Ah, summer vacation. 

Each year, I take a trip to northern Minnesota and spend a week at a lake cabin with my family.

Sometimes vacations stump me a little. Rather than feeling peaceful and relaxed, I feel conflicted and a little on edge.

This year, I mentioned something to my mother and she asked me a very insightful question that immediately helped me change the way I was viewing my time away.

Do you ever feel like your vacations are just another opportunity to “should” all over yourself or live up to yet another set of expectations?

In this video, I’m going to share with you the wise question my mother asked me and how it helped me go from conflicted to confident while on vacation. 

Just because we’re on vacation doesn’t mean we have to take a break from being true to ourselves. {Tweet that!}

Now it’s your turn! How do you stay true to yourself while taking time off?

Head on over to the blog or Facebook page to share your wisdom in the comments below this video. I would love to see what sort of conversation we can drum up.

So many of us look forward to what little vacation we usually take to begin with, yet how many of us actually spend that time without added pressure or expectations of what vacation “means”? Please pass this along to anyone you may know who could benefit from being reminded to stay true to themselves even when taking some much-needed time off.

With gratitude ...

PS If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up to receive my 10 dirty little secrets and be the first to hear about an exciting project I’m working on and excited to share with you soon!

Craving More Freedom? Then Check This Out

Have you ever pondered the question, “What is true freedom?"

Now, there are seemingly many kinds of “freedom” out there—financial, creative, time, sexual, etc.

The other day I was having a conversation with the amazing Tara Tag about what financial freedom means. And it dawned on me that financial freedom isn’t having a certain amount of money—it’s knowing that I am able to make a choice based on what’s true for me instead of what’s in my bank account.

I realized that it’s a perception thing—not necessarily reality. I have a choice. I mean, I literally have a choice to spend money on something or put it on a credit card or find a way to create more money or not.

Then I noticed how this is true in so many other areas of my life. In all of these, I have a choice and can, therefore, experience freedom in all of them in any moment.

If we want to be free, we need to acknowledge (and exercise) the choice we have in each moment. {Tweet that!}

In this video, I’m going to share with you just what freedom means to me and how we can go about experiencing more of it in our lives. 

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How to Get out of Overwhelm

As a world-class list-maker and scheduler, I know all too well just how to fill my calendar with to-do’s, appointments, and deadlines.

For a very long time I actually wasn’t sure if I could function without these things in place.

It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve tried something new. And, during one of my Masterclass calls this week with Jeannine Yoder it became really clear to me just how overwhelming the idea of all of these lists and deadlines are to me now.

I admit that I might have swung a little too far on the pendulum, and I don’t necessarily suggest that everyone rid their life of to-do lists and deadlines.

But I will say that the greatest thing I’ve learned from doing so is that I’m okay without these things and my days feel significantly less overwhelming.

If any of this resonates with you and you’re interested in experiencing less overwhelm in your life, then be sure to check out this week’s video.

In the video, I’m going to share with you some great advice I received on how to assess where we spend our time and develop a deeper sense of true productivity and power.

If you know anyone who tends to create lists or fill their calendar in order to feel productive or accomplished, then please share this with them so that they can learn one simple question to ask each day to stay out of overwhelm and in their truth.

I’m not suggesting that all list-making and deadlines are useless.

Sometimes the best thing we can do in the moment is make a list or move towards a deadline. And other times we use these things simply as a distraction to help us think we are being productive.

There’s an alternative to lists and deadlines to feel productive and empowered. {Tweet this!}

Now I want to hear from you. What are your favorite tips to stay out of overwhelm?

Hop on over to the blog to share your wisdom in the comments below this video! I absolutely love learning what works for others and your tip might be just the thing someone needs to hear today.

Life isn’t about filling our task list and calendar with things to keep us busy and feeling productive. So please pass this along to anyone who might benefit from learning how to stay out of overwhelm and instead focus on those things that matter most.

With gratitude ...

PS I’d love to include you in my updates on the program I’ll be launching later this summer, so be sure to sign up here if you haven’t already! As a gift, you’ll receive my dirty little secrets to loving the life I have.

Are You Tired of Experiencing the Same Challenges Over and Over Again?

Recently, I caught myself acting in a way that I am not extremely proud of. I got triggered by something that has triggered me many times before and I reacted in a way that I've reacted many times before.

Have you ever experienced that?

Well, here's what happened next. After this undesirable behavior occurred and when I later told my friend about what happened, I noticed that instead of beating myself up about it (as I have been known to do in the past), I was quite compassionate with myself and recognized it as something that happened and moved on.

This was huge for me!

It was one of the first times I recognized that it's okay that I get triggered or behave in ways that are less than ideal. I'm going to have bad days. 

What I'm learning is that it’s not about living a life without any challenges or stumbling blocks; it’s all about how we now respond to these challenges as they arise.

If you're anything like me and sometimes get frustrated with thinking you've "figured it out" and wonder why the same issue keeps tripping you up, then check out this video.

In this video, I'm going to explore why we experience the same challenges over and over again and how we can go from feeling frustrated to feeling free.

The sign of growth isn't being free of obstacles—it’s responding to them with more love, compassion, and resilience. {Tweet that!}

Now, I'd love to hear from you.

Do you ever find yourself frustrated when you encounter the same challenge because you thought you already had it “figured out”? Instead of focusing on the challenge, share with us how you now respond differently than you did before.

I'd love to see what you discover, so please take a moment and share in the comments' section below this post. What you share might be exactly what someone else needs to hear today.

Challenges are not going to disappear. Once we accept this, we can begin to notice how growth and evolution are indeed occurring. So please pass this along to anyone in your life who you think might benefit from being reminded of how we can experience more freedom and less frustration in order to truly love the life we have!

If you desire more support in experiencing less frustration and seeing where you are already expanding in your life, I invite you to sign up for one of my complimentary discovery sessions.

P.S. I'm getting giddy with excitement to make a big announcement which I don't want you to miss so be sure to sign up if you haven't already!

With gratitude...

How to Have Less Stress by Cleaning up Your Beliefs: Part 2

I have often been tormented by the questions: Do I keep it? Do I throw it out? What if I need it later? As I started cleaning up my beliefs the same way I clean out my closet, the same questions started to come up. Our beliefs, much like our closets, can easily get overtaken by years and years of ignoring the build up and not taking time to pause and question what is really going on.

If you've ever wondered how to start sifting through your beliefs and learn once and for all how to begin to turn them around, then this video is a must watch! You'll learn a simple tool to take charge over your beliefs once again and start making a little more space for the ones you really want.

Read More

Ever Wondered What It Would Be like to Give Yourself a Break?

For the past couple of weeks, I was in a real funk. I was in a state of malaise pretty much every day. And I felt frustrated with myself that I couldn’t figure out why. I over-analyzed it, worried about it, and tried to make it go away.

What I noticed?

The more I fought it, the more it persisted.

So I eventually tried something else—I let myself off the hook. I allowed myself to be in a funk. I gave myself what I needed in the moment.

Maybe you’ve been in a funk or given yourself a hard time for feeling a certain way before, too.

What I learned is that the greatest gift we can give ourselves during times like these is a break.

Read More

When Trying to Figure It out No Longer Works, Try Asking Different Questions

I’m not sure if it’s something that I ate or something going on in the stratosphere but I have been riddled with self-doubt and anxiety lately. And, for some reason, there seems to be a lot of this going around right now. I really wanted to try to solve this mystery and provide some answers to why this is happening and what I can do about it. In my process to do so and in preparation to share my findings with others, a couple of timely things occurred.

First, I happened to pick up a book (which I highly recommend anyone interested in this topic read immediately) that I read a couple of years ago and was reminded that I do not need to try and fix anything or even figure it out. As Michael Singer says in his book, “When a problem is disturbing you, don’t ask, ‘What should I do about it?’ Ask, ‘What part of me is being disturbed by this?’"

Secondly, I spoke with my father who shared some beautiful — and very vulnerable — wisdom with me. He said that possibly the greatest thing he has learned in his life is that he doesn’t have the answers — just lots of questions. And I think there is a lot to learn from this little gem.

These insights helped me shift away from trying to figure it out to asking different questions.

When we think we should have the answer or know what is going to happen, we simply create more stress and anxiety in our life. Which I’m pretty sure is the exact thing we are trying to escape by “knowing."

manMeditatingSunset

In those moments of anxiety, self-doubt and uncertainty it’s not about having the answer, it’s about asking different questions.

What’s going on inside right now?

Check in. Like Michael Singer says, notice what part is being disturbed. What is happening in the body? What is happening in the mind? What sensations do I notice? Simply observe. It is not about judging it or changing it. Just tuning in.

Who is it that notices this going on?

Ever wondered who it was that was observing all the various thoughts and sensations going on in the body? That is the observer. The consciousness. The true self.

My guided meditation today used a brilliant metaphor for the mind being the clear blue skies. Our thoughts and feelings are the passing clouds. And sometimes they are dark thunderclouds and it can seem difficult to think about anything else. But the clear blue skies are always there — just think about an airplane going above the clouds. And it is from these clear blue skies that we observe the thoughts and feelings. It is from these clear blue skies that we find our self. We are not the clouds below — our thoughts and feelings — we are that which observes.

Is anything wrong in this moment?

This one can be tricky because we sometimes like to think that certain feelings are “wrong” or that the thought that we are having is “wrong” but if we get really honest with ourselves and remember that no feeling or thought is neither wrong nor right — it just is — then we can more often than not answer this question with a resounding “no.”

Most times we can take comfort in the fact that we have our health and our safety. We are not in immediate danger. Just because we feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean something is wrong — it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. That is part of human existence.

Now, if you’re still wondering what to do when feeling a surge of self-doubt or anxiety, all I can say is that I don’t have the answer nor do I think I need to.

See what happens if instead of tasking our minds to trying to figure it out we simply observe what is going on, sit with the discomfort and ask who is it that notices all of this from those clear blue skies?

What one or two things can you start doing when experiencing feelings of self-doubt or anxiety? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear what resonates most with you!

3 Paths to Get What We Want — Which One Do You Choose?

A few months ago, I challenged myself to eliminate caffeine from my diet for 2 weeks. The 2 weeks turned into almost 2 months. Initially, I started exploring alternatives like herbal teas and even decaf espresso at times. Then, I started to notice how in my search to expand my possibilities and remove my need for something I actually started to institute a new limitation. All of sudden, I couldn’tdrink caffeine. I was afraid to drink it as it might reignite my addiction. This became its own limitation. Just another extreme. When I noticed this, I consciously ordered a cup of coffee. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as I used to, I appreciated the fact that I permitted myself to know what I do and do not want at any given time.

When we are about to do something or not do something it is because we are going for something we want in life — to relax, fit into our jeans or just feel better.

This may come in the form of making resolutions and choosing to restrict certain things from our lives. Or perhaps by indulging in anything and everything that we want.

Either way, these both limit us from making mindful, purposeful choices in each moment.

There is a third — and much more empowering — way to get what we want in life.

The Buddha once said that “a path of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification … was the path of wisdom."

When we are about to do something to get closer to what we want, there are three ways we typically come to this conclusion.

"I can’t, so I guess I won’t"

When I eliminated caffeine from my diet, I initially did so from a conscious place — choosing not to drink it mainly for health reasons. Then, it became an “I can’t so I guess I won’t” decision which was very limiting and no longer based on the few specific reasons I had originally identified.

When we make decisions based out of self-denial, we lose an opportunity to get to know ourselves and get really clear on why we choose not to do something. We also end up making decisions out of fear, judgment, resistance or attachment.

"I can, so of course I will "

Before I gave up caffeine for those few weeks, I had gotten into a habit of having one or two cups of coffee each morning not because I actually wanted it but because I could … and I always had. It had become just as limiting because I was no longer checking in and making a conscious decision to have it.

When we permit ourselves to indulge in whatever we want just because we can, we miss an opportunity to really check in and see if that is what we want in this moment. We become a slave to ourselves and lose a chance to actively guide our life in the direction we want it to go.

"I can, and I choose …"

… to do it or not. In either case, I empower myself to choose what serves me best in that moment. We can still choose not to do something, in which case it is done from a place of knowledge and acceptance of oneself and not out of fear, laziness or greed.

When we realize we can do something and choose not to, we demonstrate our strength and power in the world. When we realize we can do something and choose to do it, we honor ourselves and have a chance to practice acceptance and letting go.

Living at the extremes of life can ultimately be quite limiting. The joy comes when we live somewhere in the balance of it all.

Striving to live a life in moderation is more than saying “yes” to some things and “no” to others — it is about getting quiet and making mindful decisions in each moment that reflect and uphold our values and principles in the world.

That is how we can ultimately get what we want out of life.

Think of one thing you consistently deny yourself of or indulge in. Is that based in a value or principle and, if so, what is it? If not, think about what it would feel like to empower yourself to no longer live by this limitation and instead consciously choose in each moment what you want to do.

’Tis the Season to Unwrap Your Inner Wisdom

As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time for self-reflection and looking ahead — a time to acknowledge all of our accomplishments and any areas where we have more room to grow. So many of us spend a lot of time and energy looking outside of ourselves for permission or "the answer.” And there is benefit to doing this. There is a lot to learn from others and from the wealth of human experience.

However, sometimes this can go too far and beyond supporting ourselves to do and be what we want in the world.

If, like me, you find yourself more often than not seeking the advice or expertise of others, take some time to tap into that source of wisdom and experience that each and every one of us possess.

Each of us can find an infinite source of wisdom to make our dreams come true by looking within.

gift

For me, this year has been filled with taking time to discover, learn and grow and it has been an incredible journey. And with the help of many mentors and teachers, one of my greatest accomplishments was getting a clearer sense of who I am and what I want.

I learned (over and over again) that happiness is not found anywhere but within and that we possess all that we can ever imagine or desire.

It is time to put to use all of the amazing tools and lessons I have received over the past year.

As we look ahead at our goals and intentions, consider this: the main difference between people who are living out their goals and people who wish they were is those who are living them are doing it. It’s that simple.

They aren’t sitting around saying “I don’t possibly have what it takes” or “Others obviously know better than I do” or any other reason or excuse not to do it.

Now I’m not saying there is no value in learning from others. This is part of the process. However, sometimes this can become an excuse to hold back from offering one’s unique gifts and talents to the world.

We are all on a journey and continuously growing and learning and becoming more of an expert in whatever it is we do. But all of that requires doing the very thing we want to get better at.

After all, the best way to learn is by doing.

As we enter the New Year, it is a great time to think about where we held ourselves back this year and our intentions for the next. If there is something you have wanted to do but find yourself making excuses or putting it off, ask yourself:

“Do I currently have the skills or abilities?”

If the answer is no, find a class or work with a mentor or read a book that can help you with this. If the answer is yes (and be honest with yourself here), ask yourself:

“How can I tap into what I already possess and apply it towards reaching my goal?"

You may find that there are a number of things you can do right now by tapping into your inner wisdom and experience.

Remember that reaching out to others and receiving support is part of the process. Just be mindful that it is used to support that which we already possess and not because everyone else knows better.

We all have our own unique gifts and it is through the exchange of giving to and receiving these from others where we can build and accomplish beautiful things in this world.

Improving oneself is a lifelong journey and something I am extremely passionate about. And, it is good to remain aware that sometimes even this can become an excuse or hindrance if it keeps us from applying all that we have learned and relying on the wisdom within.

What is one thing you have been wanting to do but fear you don’t have enough knowledge or skill? What abilities or experience do you have that can move you towards this goal right now?

Join the conversation by commenting below or take some time to reflect on your own.

Presence Matters Has Been Published Again on Elephant Journal

I am excited to share that Presence Matters has once again been accepted to publish articles on elephant journal! This is a really important step for spreading the message of having peace and ease in life.

I invite each of you—my supportive readers—to take a moment to check out my latest article, Improve Your Relationships by Remembering These 3 Things.

Have you ever struggled with maintaining a centered sense of self whilst in an intimate relationship?

Maintaining this more enlightened state seems to get harder the closer we get to people.

In the hopes of making this a bit easier, I started to pay attention and discovered that we can all experience more conscious relationships by remembering three important things.

You can help out greatly by clicking this link and, if the article inspires or resonates with you, re-share it on your personal social media pages.

Thank you for seeking and spreading the art of improving the experience of life!

With gratitude ...

Improve Your Relationships by Remembering These 3 Things

Have you ever struggled with maintaining a centered sense of self whilst in an intimate relationship? Maintaining this more enlightened state seems to get harder the closer we get to people. Relationships offer a number of challenges including how they seem to make this whole “presence thing” more difficult.

In the hopes to make this a bit easier, I started to pay attention to when I felt further from my centered self and what seems to help put me back on the more mindful path.

Through this exploration, I discovered that we can all experience more conscious relationships by remembering three important things.

couple-cover-image-holding-hands

I’ve recently taken a lot of time to get to know myself and work on me. I began to notice that I am making some significant strides in terms of how I interact with myself, how I interact with my friends and how I move through the world as a more present, mindful human.

Then … I got into a romantic relationship.

This was my first serious relationship in two years. And, with my new sense of self, I started to think that maybe I had figured out this whole relationship thing after all.

Then it started to become obvious to me that the work I did with myself didn’t necessarily translate seamlessly to being with another person.

I was reminded that there are still deeper, darker areas I have yet to explore and work on in order to be more mindful and conscious when with another person and not simply moving through life alone.

Strive to be wrong

Going with the flow can come quite naturally to us. Humans are great at enduring change. We are highly adaptive. And, yet, have you noticed how ironclad fisted we can get about being “right”? It can cause so much unnecessary pain and suffering — specifically in close relationships. Not only can it harm the other person at the receiving end of our righteousness, it also hinders us from growing.

In order to learn and grow, we must be wrong. Think about it, if we know everything already then there is nothing left we can learn. If we are not learning, we cannot grow.

It is only when we release our hold on being “right” that we can truly be open and enjoy the beauty of a close relationship.

Take responsibility for our emotions

“He just makes me so mad.” “She ruined the whole evening.” “He really gets under my skin.”

When we say things like this we are immediately casting blame outside ourselves for how we feel and react in this world. Sometimes it might seem like the actions of others cause our reactions or feelings — but this is not the case. The actions of others do have effects in the world just as our actions have effects. However, our emotions and thoughts are purely the effect of our own causes.

The more we can take responsibility for our inner state of being and release the need to be responsible for someone else's, the easier and more peaceful life becomes.

Notice what the other person exposes in us

When we see something we like, it’s a projection of what we like within ourselves. When we think someone is angry, it’s a projection of what we know anger to look like based on how we react when we’re angry. When we allow ourselves to get irritated with something (or someone), it is because that thing reminds us of a trait we have and don’t like.

It is through this exposure that we can choose to either get angry and push people away or expect them to change, or we can use this as an opportunity to more deeply explore ourselves and better understand what it is we are uncomfortable having exposed.

It is by exploring the parts of ourselves that we don’t like — not changing others — that we can experience happier and healthier relationships with ourselves and with others.

When we are wiling to be wrong, take responsibility for our emotions and examine the dark corners of ourselves, we can experience empowering, sustainable relationships — whether they are with the stranger in the supermarket or with our lifelong partner.

What tips do you have for being more mindful in relationships? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Don't SHOULD All Over Yourself

How many times have you caught yourself saying, “I really should….”? This one small word has more power than we think — it causes stress, feeling “less than,” and places more importance on the outside world than on our internal needs and desires.

This one small word can also be used as a great excuse — excusing ourselves from not doing something we really don’t want to do and excusing ourselves from mustering up the motivation or courage to do the things we want to do.

Next time you find yourself "should-ing” all over yourself, take the time to honestly answer a couple of simple questions.

Head in Hands

Probably some of my most commonly used phrases are, “I really should go to yoga today” or “I should call my parents” or “I supposed I should do something different with my life.” It seems natural to say these words. They slip out of my mouth as if almost by magic. The word just sneaks its way into my vocabulary simply to taunt me.

When I find myself using “should” I have an immediate reaction that can range somewhere between self-loathing and complete self-denial.

As I became more aware of my self and what this one little word does to me, I started asking why I was even using it. And what might happen when I replaced that word with something else.

Here’s what I discovered. The word “should” typically does one of two things.

It either serves as a placeholder for doing something that I have absolutely no interest in doing and only feel an obligation to do based on something in the external world or an internal judgment.

Or it serves as a placeholder for doing something that I really want to do but am lacking the motivation or courage to commit.

Either way, this one little word causes unnecessary stress as it weighs us down and casts doubt on our desires and priorities.

Whether we use “should” as an excuse not to do something we don’t muster up the motivation to do or as a way to hold ourselves hostage to the obligations of others and unrealistic expectations of ourselves, we can all free ourselves by authentically answering these two questions and removing the word “should” from our vocabulary.

Is this something that I truly want to do and aligns with my values?

If yes, replace the “should” with a “want” or a “will” and make a commitment to do it. If no, continue to the next question.

Is it simply an unnecessary external or internal obligation that I have established?

If yes, free yourself from the obligation and remove this from your mental or physical to-do list.

Once we determine which bucket these “should’s” fall into, then it’s time to put systems or processes in place to make the “want’s” and “will’s” happen.

Instead of wasting energy “should-ing” all over ourselves, we can put that energy towards shaping our future through the choices we make in each moment without any of the unnecessary self-loathing or regret.

It is so empowering to know that we are in control of determining our values and actions. Ridding our vocabulary of the word “should” is one of the first steps to having a clearer sense of what we want and don’t want. And it creates space for having more energy to put into fulfilling our value-based commitments with ourselves.

What is one “should” you can either remove from your to-do list or change to a “will”? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.

Presence Matters Has Been Published Again on Elephant Journal

I am excited to share that Presence Matters has again been accepted to publish articles on elephant journal! This is a really important step for spreading the message of having peace and ease in life.

I invite each of you—my supportive readers—to take a moment to check out the article, Discover Unconditional Well Being in the Present.

You can help out greatly by clicking this link and, if the article inspires or resonates with you, re-share it on your personal social media pages.

Thank you for seeking and spreading the art of improving the experience of life!

With gratitude ...

3 Ways to Turn Your Yoga Practice Upside Down

For many people, yoga is more than just a physical activity. It is also a mental and spiritual experience — often described as being quite meditative. But if you’re anything like me — and many other people I see and hear in my yoga class — it sometimes doesn’t feel that way. Have you ever noticed that the much-desired zen experience feels more akin to frustration or defeat than to an enlightened state?

Well, the good news is that you can turn your yoga practice into a deeper, more enlightened experience by doing three simple things.yoga pose

I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for almost two years and it is amazing how it wasn’t until very recently when I realized that I could use these 90 minutes for more than just practicing the 26 postures and getting my body into shape. This was an amazing opportunity to strengthen my ability to be mindful and present.

As someone who loves to “get it right” and “be the best,” I struggled with turning my yoga practice into anything beyond pushing myself to be better, stronger, calmer and mentally beating myself up when I felt like I wasn’t living up to that.

Then I had a breakthrough. And I turned my yoga practice around 180 degrees by doing these 3 things.

Change the track I listen to in my head.

90 minutes is a long time to keep the mind from wandering off and getting lost in the top hits track of the day. My solution? First, I found when I focus deeply on the words the instructor is saying instead of boarding each thought train that raced through my mind, I remained more present. Secondly, I changed the track in my mind from saying things like, “this is so hard” or “I’m so hot” or “why can’t I hold this posture like I could yesterday?” to “I am here … in this moment … and in this moment … and in this moment” over and over again keeping my thoughts more constant and present and, therefore, being able to better listen to my body.

Change the mask I wear.

I can scowl and grunt and tighten up my face when the postures feel challenging or I can choose to keep my face relaxed and even squeeze out a smile during a challenging pose. By making this small shift, I allow myself to relax, breathe and stay present with my body in that moment. I also find that when I exert less energy on reacting to a difficult posture, I have more energy to give to that posture and it becomes easier.

Practice continuous compassion.

I remind myself that I am constantly changing and I am different each and every day. My practice today is going to be different than my practice two days ago. If I need to sit down or come out of a posture early today, that’s okay. And, if I can change the track in my head it is actually easier to hear what my body needs in each moment and then I can be compassionate with myself when my body needs something today that it might not have needed yesterday.

Whether you are an avid yogi or just a fan of staying limber, you can use your yoga practice to not only deepen your exercise of body and soul but also deepen your practice of living in the present. By doing so, your practice will enrich your life in more ways than you can imagine!

What do you do to make yoga a more meditative experience? Share your tips and tricks by leaving a comment.

Trouble Hearing What Your Body Has To Say? Try This on for Size

Hmm, I’m kinda hungry. I probably shouldn’t eat anything though—we might be going out later. Man, I’m tired … but I can’t go to bed now—it’s only 8pm!

It’s amazing how we can overcomplicate even the simplest things sometimes, like listening to our bodies. If you’re hungry, eat; if you’re full, stop; if you’re tired, sleep. Although, since most of us have gotten so out of touch with our bodies it can feel harder than it really is sometimes.

Would you like to listen to yourself more often?

Well, if you want to simplify your life in one small way, try taking these steps to listen to your body more often.

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I have always struggled being in touch with my body. My typical response to, “Are you hungry?” is, “Hmm, I’m not sure.”

This is how it’s been for as long as I can remember. Questioning if I was hungry or not, unsure if I wanted more to drink, forcing myself to stay awake even though I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Some of this was due to simply being out of touch with my body. Most of it was due to second-guessing myself, overanalyzing a situation or flat out refusing to listen to my body in the moment.

As I started practicing mindfulness, I became more aware of what was going on inside of me. Now, I continuously practice not only being aware but also listening to what my body has to say.

In this day in age when distraction is the norm, everyone has an opinion on something and justifications are protocol for living, it is no surprise that so many of us are out of touch.

Not only does being in touch simplify things, it is a healthier option.

Putting down my fork and not eating another bite when my body says it is full keeps me from overeating. Noticing when I’ve had enough to drink and not ordering another keeps me from feeling sick. Sleeping when my body says it is tired gives my body the time it needs to replenish and recharge.

To be in tune with your body, you must:

Be in the moment

If you are busy regretting what just happened or worrying about what might happen later, you are more likely to mistake what is going on inside your body or choose not to listen to it. Instead of worrying that your task list won’t get completed if you go to bed now, try listening to your body and see how much more energy and productivity you have the next day.

Avoid judging the sensation as right or wrong, good or bad

There is nothing wrong with being hungry or full or drunk or tired. These are important cues your body is giving you. Listen to them without judging them. Next time your mind starts to say, “I shouldn’t be hungry, I just ate” or “It’s such a waste to leave so much on my plate" or “if she’s getting another drink I suppose I should, too” listen to your body instead of your thoughts.

Release any expectations or attachment to something being a certain way 

Just because you are hoping to hear from someone about dinner plans doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead and eat something now. Just because you always stay drink-for-drink with your friend doesn’t mean you have to today. When we allow our expectations or attachments determine our actions, we are out of touch with our bodies and cause unnecessary stress—on our bodies and on our minds.

Imagine if we all were more in tune with our bodies. Just think what impact that could have on the struggles with obesity, alcoholism, eating disorders, chronic stress, lack of productivity, high rates of burn-out, heart disease—just to name a few.

Next time your body tries to tell you something, tune into that and tune out the thoughts that have up until now been calling all of the shots.

What is the biggest struggle you have in terms of listening to your body? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.

If You Read This Blog, Then ...

Recently, I explored a few myths that are dangerous to our well-being and practice of presence. Another one of these is the “if …, then …” mentality. If only I had more money, then I could relax.

If I wasn’t alone, then I could feel lovable.

If my neighbor wasn’t such a jerk, then I could find peace.

By placing our attention on achieving or gaining something in the future, we lose sight of the beauty and importance of the present moment. This constant reaching for a thing, feeling or experience beyond what is happening now causes unnecessary stress in our life and is completely ineffective.

Instead of deceiving yourself with the thought “if …, then …” try “now …, and ….”

We can all achieve our “then” when we replace our “ifs” with “now.”reaching for something brighter

For many years, I fooled myself into believing that if my partner was more affirming, then I would feel loved; or if I got the promotion, then I would feel valued; or if I found a new partner, then I would feel complete. Then I experienced that none of this is true.

My ability to feel loved, valued and complete have absolutely nothing to do with anything or anyone else—it has only to do with me and what I am thinking, believing and focusing on in this moment.

"But shouldn't I strive to improve things for myself in the future?" 

Well, actually, here are a few reasons why that doesn't work.

It keeps us from taking responsibility for our lives.

There are very few things we can control in life. One thing we can control is how we respond to each situation. It is up to us to see situations as stressful and limiting or peaceful and opportunistic. To seek peace or opportunity in only certain situations places the responsibility of our reaction to external factors. When we do this, we delegate the one thing in our life that we can control—our attitude.

Only 10% of our satisfaction with life is based on circumstances.

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research has found that approximately 50% of our satisfaction with life is predetermined by our genetics and only 10% is determined by our circumstances—which is not very much. This means whether I am rich or poor, single or married, in a job I love or not does not make much of a difference. This leaves 40% to intentional activity and choices we make. One of the key ways to intentionally increase your satisfaction is to live in the present moment.

We have evolved to get used to things.

Another finding of Lyubomirsky’s work looks at hedonic adaptation—the fact that humans adapt to joys and sorrows with time. So long as we strive for things outside of ourselves to bring us peace or joy, we will eventually get used to it and be right back at where we started, seeking something else to help us feel that way again, and thus the cycle begins.

Dan Gilbert discovered that we are not very good at predicting what we will like or not like in the future. This affective forecasting is another reason our “if…, then…” mentality is futile—we inevitably adapt to the things we think will be amazing, and we typically bounce back from the things we think will be terrible much more quickly.

When we have a sincere attitude of gratitude and stay present by releasing judgment, resistance and attachment then our level of satisfaction with our life situation no longer depends on circumstances beyond our control.

What is one “then” you can achieve by replacing your “if” with “now”? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.

Notice the Small Stuff - Lesson #5

Evolution is a process. Life is a journey, not a destination. Transformation takes time. As I continue growing, changing, learning, evolving, I find that sometimes I “fall short” and need to be reminded of the lessons I am trying to learn and strategies to move me forward. This week I am going to share one “lesson” a day that has recently come in handy for me and might serve as a helpful reminder for others.

Take a moment to notice the small things.

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When I find it hard to be in the moment or my thoughts get out of control or I just want to take a quick mental break, I find it is helpful to observe things around me. I take a moment to notice what I see, smell, feel, hear, taste. Often, I go through my day not stopping to notice the thousands of gifts and expressions of beauty that surround me. They may seem common or ordinary, and therefore I brush right over it. But pausing and being mindful of what I sense and observe, even for a brief second, can give my mind a break and allow me to live in this moment.

Take a moment right now to notice what is around you. What do you see, feel, hear, smell? Join the discussion by leaving a comment.

Limitless Beliefs - Lesson #4

Evolution is a process. Life is a journey, not a destination. Transformation takes time. As I continue growing, changing, learning, evolving, I find that sometimes I “fall short” and need to be reminded of the lessons I am trying to learn and strategies to move me forward. This week I am going to share one “lesson” a day that has recently come in handy for me and might serve as a helpful reminder for others.

Who would I be without that thought?

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There are countless times when I limit myself with my own beliefs. Instead of being true to myself in the moment, I find myself saying things like “I always go with the flow, so that wouldn’t bother me” or “I’m a person who really doesn’t like change - I need security and to feel comfortable.” When these sorts of thoughts cross my mind, I pause and ask myself gently, “Who would I be without that thought? How would I act if I didn’t believe it?” This helps me come back to being in the moment and respond in a very present and authentic way by not responding based on how I’ve done things in the past or how I think I should do something, but rather what feels right for me in that moment.

What limiting beliefs are you holding onto? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.