Releasing Our Attachments: Part 1

So, now that we've looked at how to observe more non-judgmentally and start to accept what is without believing that means we need to just give up or stop trying, it's time to put all this practice to use as we enter the third stage of going from "never enough" to "always okay." 

Today, we start looking at the first part of releasing our attachments. In this video, I'll teach you the simplest and most powerful to start releasing anything you might be attached to—it's almost so simple it's silly.

But, I can attest that it works. Once I started putting this into practice, my clinging to outcomes and beliefs and expectations and thinking things would always stay the same loosened dramatically, and I experienced more freedom and lightness in my life.

If you're curious what this simple practice is, watch today's video.

"'I am the awareness that is aware that there is attachment.' That's the beginning of the transformation of consciousness." ~ Eckhart Tolle

Just one more video to go where we will explore part two of releasing our attachments and what this might look like in your life.

Until next time ...

A Recipe for a Soulful Year

In the last few Thoughtful Thursday’s, I shared a bit about how important setting intentions are for me and how they have made such a tremendous difference in my life.

I like to think that I’m not the only one who's not always into the whole resolution thing or maybe even worried if you set yourself a goal and don’t achieve it, you’ll be left feeling disappointed or not good enough when December 31 rolls around.

So I found a new way to go about this whole new year’s approach which has left me feeling excited and wonderfully surprised at the end of each year.

In today’s video, you’ll learn the 3 intentions I revealed for 2016, how I see them guiding me this year, and how you can go about setting your own soulful intentions that will guide and support you for the next 365 days.

"Setting intentions is a great alternative to start off a new year already feeling whole and complete.” {Tweet that!}

If you want to go through the process and set your own soulful intentions, I invite you to watch my Setting Soulful Intentions seminar.

Now it's your turn! I’d love to hear from you.

Do you have any intentions for 2016 and, if so, how did you go about setting them?

Leave a comment below and let me know!

xo

P.S. If one of your intentions this year has anything to do with accepting yourself for who you are or releasing your self-judgments, expectations, and attachments, then I encourage you to learn more about my online course, Being Good with Being You. Registration is open!

What to Do When Someone (Who Isn't a Disney Princess) Says, “Let it Go"

“Let it go! Let it go!!"

Not just the lyrics to any current 5-8 year old girl’s favorite Disney song. This is also a mantra of sorts for most adults. 

The intention is all good, but sometimes the phrase itself can seem dismissive, flippant, or full-on aggravating.

I know for me, when someone says, “Just let it go,” I want to punch them in the face.

Okay. No, not really. That’s not at all my style. But you get my point. It can seem WAY easier said than done.

So, what does “let go” really mean and how do we go about doing it?

The question of learning to let go came up as a response to my survey and is a very common question as we are on this journey of awareness and awakening. (If you are curious to which survey I’m referencing, check it out here.)

In this video, I share my perspective on what “letting go” means to me and just how to go about doing it in a way that keeps most punching unnecessary. (Watch the video if you want to know why I didn’t say “all!”)

By redefining what “letting go” means we can redefine our relationship and experience with it. {Tweet that!}

Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite thing to do when you feel the need to "let it go?"

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.

So many of us hear the phrase "let it go" so often—yet how many of us actually practice this in a way that is healthy and supports our expansion into deeper awareness? Please pass this along to anyone who rolls their eyes at or feels disenchanted when they hear "Let it go!" or who might benefit from learning just how to experience less frustration and more ease.

With gratitude ...

PS If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up here to receive my dirty little secrets to loving the life I have AND be the first to find out about an exciting announcement I’ll be making soon! 

How to Have Your Ego and Beat It, Too

A recurring thought of mine as I’ve been on this journey and started my own business has been: “How do I operate from a place with no ego while building a business centered around letting go of ego?"

First of all, for those of you asking yourselves, “What in the world is she talking about? What is this ‘ego’ she keeps referring to?”

Much of how I think about the ego and what I mean when I talk about the ego is based on Eckhart Tolle’s definition of ego: "Ego is the unobserved mind that runs your life when you are not present as the witnessing consciousness, the watcher."

Read More

What I've Learned from the Playground

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who took time to read my announcement and complete my super-short survey! Your responses were fantastic and I look forward to addressing them in the coming weeks. Who knows, your question might even be the next topic for Thoughtful Thursday!

(If you're curious about what I’m talking about, check this out.)

Now, on to this week’s Thoughtful Thursday.

I’ve never been much of a scientist. Or a cook for that matter. The whole idea of experimenting with things has often left me with butterflies in my belly.

I had this belief that I had one shot to get something “right.” So not only would I put pressure on myself to do things perfectly right out of the gate, I also wouldn’t allow myself the freedom to try something else if it didn’t work.

This has either resulted in me not doing anything at all (out of fear that I won’t succeed the first time) or continuing to do something that just isn’t working (because that’s the way I started doing it, so that’s the way I keep doing it).

Can you relate?

I most recently noticed this coming up for me in how I was creating my Thoughtful Thursdays, so I took a spoonful of my own medicine and added a bit more play to this week's video.

If you’re anything like me and find you either take yourself a little too seriously or aren’t even willing to try something in the first place for fear of “making a mistake,” then check out this week’s video.

In this video, I’m going to share a couple of the greatest things I’ve learned from watching kids on the playground and how we can apply this to our grown-up worlds.

Imagine if someone told a chef there is only one way to cook an egg. They’d laugh (or something worse)!

So it is with life. There are many ways to whip up the experience we want so long as we are willing to play and experiment with the ingredients until we get the taste we desire.

It is up to us to create the dish we desire by experimenting with the ingredients of life. {Tweet this!}

Now I want to hear from you. What is your favorite way to keep the play and experimentation alive in your life?

Hop on over to the blog to share your comments below this video and get ideas from others.

Life isn’t about getting it “right” the first time around (or the second or third or fourth). As I heard someone very wise once say, "Life is a playground.” So please pass this along to anyone in your life who you think might benefit from being reminded to keep the play alive and experience more joy in life!

With gratitude ...

PS If you like these reminders and want to stay up-to-date on the exciting announcement I mentioned at the beginning, be sure to sign up here! I’d love to include you in my updates. 

What I've Learned about Contradictions

The other day I found myself reading something that completely contradicted something else I had read just a few weeks earlier. And I noticed that I started to feel almost indignant.

Which one am I supposed to believe? How can I learn from two opposing viewpoints?!

Then, I heard this voice in my head say, "Wait a minute, Amanda.

What if it's not about which one is "right" and which one is "wrong" but rather what is the lesson here for me to take away?"

If you're anything like me you might sometimes find it difficult or even frustrating to hear opposing or paradoxical statements—especially as we are learning how to expand ourselves into our highest version of ourselves.

In this video, I'm going to share with you how when we are aware enough to receive, it's less about what one person or authority says on a matter and more about what message we are meant to learn from these seemingly contradictory claims.

It's not "either/or;" it's "both/and what's the lesson I'm meant to learn in this moment?" {Tweet that!}

Now, I'd love to hear from you.

What lesson have you recently learned when you came up against something that at first seemed either paradoxical or downright contradictory?

I'd love to see what lessons you have learned so please take a moment and share with us in the comments below this post. What you share might be just the lesson someone else needs to learn today.

As we continue to expand into our awareness and start to put our parts back together to recreate the whole, sometimes we can get derailed by seemingly contradictory claims instead of remaining in our awareness and growth. So please pass this along to anyone in your life who you think might benefit from being reminded of how we can learn from these contradictions in order to have more of the life we want!

If you want more support in learning to listen to that part of you who is tired of getting derailed by contradictions and who knows the lesson to be learned, I invite you to sign up for one of my complimentary discovery sessions and sign up to receive more tips, tricks, and insights directly to your inbox.

P.S. I'm getting giddy with excitement to tell you more about a program I will be launching soon that helps people learn how to become more aware of their own goodness and begin to SOAR! (And if you are just dying to find out what it means to "SOAR" be sure to sign up and find out when I reveal it to the world!)

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

The Only “What If” Question We Ever Need to Ask Again

I cannot count how many times I wonder things like, “what if this happens” or “what if that happens” and “oh my god, but what if…?!” These questions and focusing on the future are not nearly as helpful as I want them to be. Instead of getting answers and feeling better about things, I often end up with more questions and feeling a lot worse.

So … I’ve decided that I’m going to do my best to refrain from asking any “what if” question EXCEPT for the only one that actually helps me experience more peace, ease and flow in my life. One that actually provides me with more answers and feeling better than before I asked it.

Wanna know what the one “what if” question is ….?

i-believe-i-think1

WHAT IF IT ISN’T TRUE?

I imagine many of us have stories that we tell ourselves on a daily (if not hourly) basis that limit us or hold us back. These stories usually aren’t fairytales or even awesomely powerful “I can do it” stories.

They are more often than not stories that tell us how we aren’t good enough or why things don’t work out for us or why we could never do this or that.

It is these stories that make up our belief system — about ourselves and about the world around us.

And it is our beliefs that beget our actions and behaviors. So … if we want to change a behavior, the first place to look is at the stories we tell ourselves and what beliefs we carry.

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

If we want to start moving the needle in the direction towards global sanity, we need to start by looking within at the beliefs we each hold that are driving the same ol’ behavior over and over again.

Here are a few suggestions on how to start this process.

Acknowledge that a story and belief even exist.

Before we can change anything, we must first admit it exists. We need to admit that the beliefs we hold to be absolute truth are just based on stories that we have been telling ourselves for as long as we can remember. And while these stories are based on our personal experiences or the experiences others have shared with us, they are still our creative interpretation of reality which started to form our view of ourselves and the world. Before we can do anything else, we need to take the first step (albeit possibly the hardest) and say, “This is a story I keep telling myself."

Question the belief.

Now that we have acknowledged that our beliefs are nothing more than stories we made up and reinforced time and time again, we can begin to question them. We can start to ask ourselves, “what if this isn’t true?” Another way to do this is to question what other possibilities exist? And one of my favorite ways to reframe our beliefs is to ask “who would I be without this story?” This helps us take more responsibility in how we are behaving based on the story or thought we choose to believe. The more often we can put ourselves in the driver’s seat and make powerful, conscious choices on what we believe and how we act, the more often we will experience peace, ease and flow in the world.

Replace your stories with new ones.

Once we start shifting our perspective and see that there are other stories that are equally as valid and probably even serve us better, then we can start to form new beliefs. This can be done by establishing some positive habits and rituals like gratitude, affirmations, setting soulful intentions and focusing on that which we want to bring more of into our lives.

The great thing about stories is that they can be rewritten.

I get it — we like our stories. We think they are who we are. They are comfortable and we know them all by heart!

But when they hold us back and limit us from being our best authentic self, then it is time to get out the red pen and start making some edits. It might even mean scrapping the whole story altogether and starting over from scratch.

What is one story you keep telling yourself over and over again that you are willing to acknowledge, question and possibly even replace? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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.

How to Move from Comparison to Self-Acceptance

A friend and I were chatting the other day and she mentioned that she felt discouraged about her yoga practice because she had been comparing herself to how often I was going. I giggled when she said this because I had just that morning felt discouraged when I couldn’t get myself out of bed thinking how she always gets up early and accomplishes so much in the morning. It was so funny to me that both of us saw the other as being better or doing more when in reality we both are amazing and wonderful in our own, unique way.

Have you ever gone on Facebook or Instagram and thought to yourself, “everyone’s life seems so happy and amazing … why isn’t mine like that all the time?"

When we compare ourselves to others, we deny all the beautiful, authentic qualities we possess and think that who we are in this moment is not good enough.

So how do we move from comparison to self-acceptance?

self-acceptance_OMTimes-750x400

The practice of mindfulness is about celebrating and cultivating our authentic self in each and every moment. By practicing a few simple techniques, we create more space and opportunity to feel compassion, acceptance and love the person we are in this moment.

When we are about to compare ourselves with others, it is a great opportunity to check in and try a few simple things.

    • Take a moment or two and observe what is going on inside. Is there a feeling or a thought? Just check in with non-judgmental awareness and allow the feeling or thought to exist.
    • Gently remind yourself that every time we look at someone else as being more or having more, someone is most likely saying the same thing about us. This can help us experience more compassion for ourself and for others.
    • Shift the thought from "what others have or do" to “what do I have or do” and celebrate who you are even if in that particular moment there is doubt or anger or fear or frustration. Allow yourself to be reminded of the things you do well.

Especially with social media, it can seem nearly impossible to avoid comparing ourselves with others. It is something I struggle with on an ongoing basis. But, the more often I practice mindfulness, the more often I am aware of when I start to go down that path and how to navigate back out and into my beautiful, amazing, unique self.

When we accept and celebrate who we are in each moment, we experience so much more peace and joy in our lives. Of course, this won’t happen overnight and is an ongoing practice — but each time we remind ourselves to check in and have more self-love, it gets a little bit easier.

What are three wonderful, unique qualities you can celebrate today? 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 once again been published on elephant journal! This is a really important step for spreading the message of having more peace and joy in life. I invite each of you—my supportive readers—to take a moment to check out my latest article, Soulful Intentions for the New Yearif you didn't get a chance to read it last week.

self-love

The first moments of a New Year present opportunity to set aside some time to come up with our intentions for the year ahead.

Resolutions are the more common as we approach the first of the year. However, these firm decisions do not seem to support a mindful existence as well as an intention, which allows for the ebb and flow that life most certainly will bring.

As we embark on a new year—another 365 days of possibility—I want do so in an intentional way, creating a guide from which to make mindful, soulful decisions in each and every moment. Decisions that support and uphold the life I desire. [click the link to read more]

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 ...

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.

Being Mindful Doesn't Mean Not Making Mistakes

Have you ever gotten frustrated with yourself for not being as calm and centered as you would like to be? I have. Quite a bit.

I often forget that mindfulness is not just another thing to “get right." Somehow I get it in my head that just because I practice presence that means I will always behave in a mindful way. That I can “master” mindfulness. No pressure or anything.

But Eckart Tolle reminds us that as soon as we notice we are not being present, we are present. That is the whole point.

Mindfulness is an ongoing, lifelong exercise in reminding ourselves to be in the present moment. This will happen over and over and over again.

And the more often I can remind myself that my mind is focused more in the past or future and not on what is happening in the moment, the more I strengthen my mindfulness muscle.

Head in Hands

As a recovering perfectionist and over-achiever, I really want to “master” mindfulness. I somehow think that once I “figure it all out” I will always act in a mindful way. No stress, no resistance, no attachment, pure bliss, above being human.

Well, that’s not how it works.

I am human — even the Dalai Lama "makes mistakes" and is a lifelong student of mindfulness. Just because I have learned how to be more aware and experience a higher level of consciousness than I did, say, two years ago does not mean that I still don’t make mistakes.

Being mindful is not about being perfect. Being mindful is about being in each moment as often as possible, showing compassion to myself and others as often as possible, and fully experiencing my life situation as it is as often as possible.

For some of us, it might be helpful to be reminded that we are not superwomen and supermen. Though it can be easy to think that sometimes.

The path to enlightenment has twists and turns and roots and rocks and many stumbling blocks along the way. It’s not about avoiding the pitfalls; it’s about staying on the path in spite of them.

When we choose to practice presence, this does not mean we aren’t still human and make mistakes. If you find yourself forgetting that you are an imperfect human like the rest of us while on your path to more peace and ease in your life, gently remind yourself of these things:

All you can do is do your best.

And remember that “best” is not “perfect.” Imagine if each of us were more mindful just 10% more of the time. It doesn’t have to be 100% (and in reality won’t be) to make a positive difference.

Be compassionate.

Love yourself for being bold enough to try. Being mindful isn’t always comfortable. Failure is not an indicator of a lack of ability — it is a reminder of where our current limitations are and an opportunity to grow.

Pick yourself up and try again.

When you catch yourself judging or resisting or attaching to what is (or was or might be), give yourself a little grace for even noticing this (that’s already a huge step!) and then try again.

We can all strive to be more mindful in our lives while accepting that we are merely human. Mindfulness does not have an end date of completion. There is no certificate or title to achieve. This means we get to work on it each and every day for the rest of our lives. And the mistakes we make along the way are simply opportunities to learn more about ourselves and continue to grow.

How have you noticed yourself trying to “master” personal growth? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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.

3 Dangerous Myths We Live By

How many times have you heard one of these before? 

“You haven’t lived until you've…!” 

“Happiness is the key to life.”

“Live up to your full potential.”

While these are often said with the best intentions to inspire, encourage and uplift, they judge reality and place unrealistic expectations on people.

What if I told you there was another way to find the “key” to living a full life?

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I’ll be honest; I bought these "truths" hook, line and sinker for many years. Then I became familiar with a different perspective — all we have is this moment. And, by doing my best to live in each moment fully, I no longer need to chase after these falsities to live a full life.

So, what’s the “key”?

Be present in each moment. And, dispel the myths we keep telling ourselves.

Let's take a closer look at each of these myths and explore another perspective that is less harmful and more empowering. 

"You haven't lived until you've..."

For starters, this statement insinuates that someone currently alive is somehow not "living.” How can that be? Each time we take a breath we are living, right?

It also seems to insinuate that my living isn't as “worthy" as someone else's simply because I have not done something. And, well, that's just plain silly.

I prefer to accept the life experience I have than to compare myself to others or think that somehow my life isn't worthwhile because I haven't climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

How about a new phrase? "You haven't lived until you’ve become aware of and accepted each and every moment as it is.” Still a little dictatorial — and a little wordy, I know — but hopefully you get the point.

Happiness is the key to life.

While I have nothing against happiness and creating more of it, I worry that an over emphasis on one emotion can set us up for disappointment.

Happiness — like sadness and anger — is a part of being alive. And, while it’s great to cultivate more moments of happiness in life, at the end of the day, no matter how hard we try we won't rid ourselves of the other emotions.

I prefer to be at peace with whatever emotion or situation presents itself in the moment — by observing, accepting and expanding what is — than strive to always be happy (which is impossible).

New phrase? "Peace is the key to life."

Live up to your full potential.

Again, not intentionally negative, but potentially depression-inducing to believe that if I don't get that promotion or become the next Oprah or have two kids and a white-picket fence then I'm not living up to my full potential.

How in the world are we to measure our full potential? “Potential" is something yet to occur so we will never know just how big — or small — it can be. So, to strive to fulfill our capacity to become or do something in the future is, well, quite insane.

I'd much prefer to live up to my "full potential" in each moment by being 100% present in whatever I am doing whether that is listening to a friend, doing the dishes, giving a presentation, reading a book or saving a life.

Strive to do this each day of your life, and you can confidently say that you are "living up to your full potential."

Okay, so you might be thinking, “Can't this chick just relax and not take everything so seriously?!”

Well, no. I can't.

It is getting clearer and clearer to me how much unnecessary suffering we cause on a daily basis. And, much of this comes from our beliefs that our lives aren't "good enough," that we aren't "happy enough" or we haven't achieved everything we "should have."

The silver lining?

We can all live full, peaceful lives by dispelling these myths and replacing them with living in the moment and accepting what is.

What other myths might be harming our experience of life? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.

Moving from "Binges" to "Daily Doses" of Presence

Someone asked me the other day, “how do I recreate the energy and peace I feel after some sort of intense spiritual retreat or workshop each and every day?” This got me thinking about the simple (albeit not always easy) things I try to practice on a regular basis to bring about a more constant experience of ease and joy. While binging on spiritual or philosophical experiences or concepts can be fun, helpful and sometimes even necessary, it is important and possible for all of us to experience daily doses of presence by practicing a few simple techniques. Image I have been reading self-help books since I was in high school. As I read each one I was inspired and energized about my new possibilities and potential to experience life in a new way. And then a few days, weeks or months after I put the book back on the shelf, I returned to my old habits, ways of thinking, and struggled to maintain that “spiritual high” throughout my day-to-day existence.

Then, I learned a few concepts and practical tips that helped me experience this new way of life on a regular basis. After being asked that question the other day, I wanted to share with others the things I have found that work.

Being at peace, letting go, and experiencing ease and joy on a daily basis is really just as simple as making a choice. There are many great tools and workshops out there that help you understand why you feel the way you feel, why you experience things the way you experience them, and still it all comes down to releasing your hold on your past and choosing in each and every moment to be present — it's that simple.

Eckhart Tolle reminds us that the “how” is more important than the “what.” One of my biggest “ah ha” moments came after reading this and realizing that to live in the present does not mean we have to do crazy, amazing things — or even anything different than what we’re doing this very moment. It's all about HOW we do WHAT we do. Presence actually gives us the "ok" to enjoy the simple things (the “what") by accepting each and every moment and not feel pressure to CHANGE the moment (the “how”).

Now, this isn’t always easy for me to do and for those of us new to this concept, it may not sound that simple. So, here is a list of the things I try and practice on a daily basis, most of which comes from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of NowOnce I decided to accept these concepts and apply them, I couldn’t believe the shift that took place and the steady drip of ease and joy in my life.

  • Stay connected with your body as often as possible. Tolle says, “You cannot be in your body without being intensely present in the Now.” Paying attention to your body and your feelings does not mean you have to focus on or over-think them. It simply means that you can observe them, feel them, and accept them as they are.
  • Practice conscious breathing (which helps get you in touch with your body). “Become aware of your breathing. Feel the air flowing in and out of your body.… All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life — as opposed to imaginary mind projections — is this moment." (Tolle)
  • "Flood" your body with consciousness (before falling asleep and when waking up). Bring attention to different parts of your body in a relaxed state.
  • Listen to the silence. Don’t force it, just pay attention to the silence between words, sounds and thoughts.
  • Practice mindfulness. Experience something as simple as eating an orange or looking at a flower in a state of complete alertness and as if for the first time.
  • Be grateful. Take time to express gratitude for even the simple things in life.
  • Accept, accept, accept. Ask yourself: Am I resisting this moment? Am I judging this moment? Am I attached to this moment?

While I still plan to read more books and attend inspirational workshops, I am practicing ways to bring a more steady stream of presence into my life. My goal is to bring presence to the masses through choice — and choice alone — on a daily basis. We tend to get bogged down in the "why" and the "what” — but it's really all about the “how." HOW do I show up in this moment? HOW do I choose to react/respond/feel in this moment? HOW can I be at peace with this moment? By asking these questions and practicing a few of these techniques throughout the day, we can all experience daily doses of ease and joy that last long after we finish the book or return back to our daily routines.

What is something you do on a regular basis to experience a daily dose of joy or peace in your life?