Releasing Our Attachments: Part 2

We've made it.

We have taken a stroll through the SOAR framework to give you a better understanding of just how powerful it can be to observe and accept what is and to start to release your attachments.

If you missed any of the last five videos, you can find them in my blog stream below.

Today, we explore the second part of the final stage of releasing our attachments as we look at what non-attachment is (again, not what you might think) and how we can practice more of it in our lives. 

This video offers a great visual for you to carry with you that you won't want to miss!

"By opening your heart to all of life—but clinging to none of it—you are participating in life fully." ~ Gay Hendricks

I appreciate you taking time to watch these videos and learn a bit more about my process and how I have gone from "never enough" to "always okay."

It is an ongoing practice that I continue to this day (and expect to for the rest of my life). If you are interested in taking this practice a step further, I invite you to take a look at my virtual course, Being Good with Being You, that is based on this SOAR framework. I would be honored to continue to be a part of your journey.

And, if you have enjoyed these videos and would like to receive more from me like this, be sure to sign up for my inspirational updates

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 ...

Learning to Accept What Is: Part 2

And, we're back.

This whole idea of acceptance and accepting what is can be a real doozy. We started talking about it in the last video which you can watch here if you haven't already.

In today's video, we take a look at the second part of learning to accept what is. There are a lot of misconceptions of what it means to accept what is and in this video we explore how it's not just rolling over or giving up. 

So, what is it then? Watch the video to find out!

Acceptance does not lead to apathy; acceptance leads to peace.

We have now looked at the first two stages of the SOAR framework and will take a look at the final stage—releasing our attachments—in the next video.

See you then!

Learning to Accept What Is: Part 1

Acceptance. The word alone can bring up a bunch of resistance for most of us. 

Many of us have a bad taste in our mouths when we think of "accepting what is"—at least I did when I first started down this path.

Now, I feel quite differently about it, and maybe you do, too.

Either way, in today's video we explore the first part of this stage of learning to accept what is. Much like what we learned in the first two videos which you can find here and here, we will start with awareness.

Watch today's video to learn more about what it really means to accept what is and the first step to practicing it more often.

“Whenever you are not honoring the present moment by allowing it to be, you are creating drama.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Once you watch the video, I'd love to hear from you what the most difficult thing is for you when it comes to accepting what is. 

This continues to evolve for me as I imagine it does for you.

I'll see you in the next video where we explore the second part of this stage and answer the question, "So how exactly do I accept what is without just rolling over and giving up?" 

Becoming the Observer: Part 2

And, we're back. 

Welcome to the second video in the 6-part video series that outlines the process I learned, practiced, and teach on how to go from "never enough" to "always okay." 

If you missed the first video, you can watch it here.

In today's video, we are going to explore the second part of becoming the observer which helps us to answer the question: "So, now that I know what my judgments are, how do I practice more non-judgmental awareness?"

Great question.

Watch today's video to learn more about what this means and just how to do it.

“Ask yourself if you are judging the moment or outcome as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and challenge yourself to accept it ‘as is’—neither good nor bad, right nor wrong—we never know the purpose of a moment until the moment has passed.” ~ Gay Hendricks

I'm curious how it goes for you. Once you watch the video, let me know in the comments below or over on my Facebook page!

See you in the next video where we will explore the second stage to the SOAR framework and learn how to accept what is. You won't want to miss this one!

Becoming the Observer: Part 1

During the month of April, I wanted to share the process that serves as my foundational framework for everything I have learned, practice, and teach. I was inspired to create this framework, which I call SOAR—Simply Observer, Accept, and Release—nearly two years ago while floating in my brother's pool in Florida. Not a bad place to be struck by the Divine! Of course, I didn't realize it then, but that spark of inspiration has guided everything I do and create for many years.

In this 6-part video series, I share an overview of what this process is and how to put it into practice in your own life. 

The first stage of the process is to simply observe and we start by doing this with our judgments. During this first stage, we are learning to move out of judgment and into more non-judgmental awareness. While it may seem like a simple concept, it takes time and practice—but that's okay, because it's being on the path that is important, not "getting somewhere." 

Watch this video to learn more about the first part to becoming the observer and learn a simple practice you can take with you into your daily life.

"A judgment is harmless if you immediately recognize it as such and don't completely believe in it anymore. Then, gradually, awareness dissolves the judgmental mind." - Eckhart Tolle

What judgments can you recognize as such so they no longer have the same power over you as they once did?

Next up: becoming the observer, part 2! This is where we start to answer the question, "so, how do I practice more non-judgmental awareness?" 

See you then!

 

How to Take Action While Accepting What Is

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I can remember it as if it were yesterday.

My face scrunched up that just screamed “judgment” all over it. I sat in my studio apartment and asked myself, “Now how can I possibly keep moving forward if I settle for accepting what is? Isn’t that just being passive? Won’t I become even more apathetic than I already am sometimes?"

These questions came fast and furious across my mind’s eye.

All I desired was to be at peace and to learn some common principles to experiencing joy and, yet, these questions seemed relentless. I figured there was no hope.

Well, luckily for me, I didn’t give up. I lived in the questions. I continued to inquire and seek answers from my own experience and based on the experiences of others.

Recently, in my Being Good with Being You program, these questions came up again from some of my participants so I figured it was time to share what I’ve learned with a wider audience.

In today’s blog, I share what exactly I learned when it came to resolving these questions and how I came to terms with no longer believing that being at peace is mutually exclusive from taking action.

If you’re anything like me and have found yourself asking one (or all) of these questions at least once, I invite you to read today’s blog and see for yourself how these two desires can live in harmony.

Here are a few of the questions that cropped up for me and for those I’ve been working with along with what I’ve discovered about each.

Isn’t observing really passive?

When we first start becoming a non-judgmental observer (the first step to truly loving what we have and experiencing peace in each moment), it can feel as if we aren’t doing much of anything. And sometimes we even wonder if we will ever take any form of action if we are simply observing.

My perspective (and experience that backs this up) is that observing is quite active. It is a conscientious action made in each moment.

It is by bringing awareness to something that we can shift it. Simply by bringing awareness to something changes it immediately. For instance, when we watch our breath or notice our walk or observe a performance or are observed at work, it changes that thing simply by being observed.

The knowledge of observation changes things and bringing awareness to our thoughts, feelings, or situation can have the exact same effect.

When we are aware in a non-judgmental way, we start to explore our creative possibilities along with our limitations. This isn’t a passive practice. When we are aware of ourselves without placing judgment on ourselves, we can maneuver more flexibly through life.

Don’t we need judgment to propel us forward and motivate us to improve?

This is also a super common belief and one that I definitely had and still catch myself noticing every once in a while.

When we are in judgment, what we do comes from a place of fear or hate. No good can come from that place, no matter how much action is taking place.

When we are in awareness, acceptance, and deep gratitude, what we do comes from a place of love. And, any forward movement we make from this place is in service of those involved.

Thing is, we don’t need to live in judgment to choose a life that is joyful, healthy, and in service to others.

When we are in pure awareness and acceptance, it becomes so much clearer what we want to pursue or how we want to serve, or how we desire to treat our bodies and those around us.

I finally realized that I don’t need judgment to eat better or get more sleep or pursue my passions. I now practice observing what is happening, accepting what is, and then make a decision in each moment that would serve me most.

How can we accept what is and not get lazy or apathetic?

This is a big one. I totally get this. I resisted accepting what is for quite some time. This manifested itself as stress, bi-polar outbursts, and experiencing life as a series of extreme highs and lows.

It was almost as if my ego was saying, “If I accept what is, how will I ever be happy?” or “If I accept what is, how will I ever get anything done?"

Now, I invite you to take a moment and really ponder these questions and ask yourself, is this true? Is it true that by accepting this moment, you won’t do anything? Is it true that happiness only comes by avoiding or resisting this moment?

When we accept what is, we are creating distance from our ego and living in alignment with the reality of the moment. We are honoring the present and seeing things for how they truly are, not how we wish they were.

Acceptance involves acknowledgment of the situation/person/feeling/etc. Acceptance isn’t a “stuffing down” of the situation or ignoring it.

Acceptance does not lead to apathy; acceptance leads to aligned and adaptive action. {Tweet that!}

Just because I accept that I lost my job doesn’t mean I don’t take action and find more work. Just because I accept that I got into a car accident doesn’t mean I don’t take action and fix my car.

Once I accepted that I have a tendency to be perfectionistic, I was able to be more mindful of those moments and choose to respond differently, if necessary. The acceptance didn’t keep me stuck as a perfectionist—actually, quite the opposite thing happened. By accepting those qualities of mine, I was able to get to a place of being less identified with them and see them for what they are non-judgmentally and then make new choices in each moment by responding to what is rather than reacting based on my egoic patterns.

As Eckhart Tolle says, “Egoic patterns, even long-standing ones, sometimes dissolve almost miraculously when you don’t oppose them internally."

Acceptance is the crux from which everything else flows. Once we begin to accept what is, we can let go of the suffering and anything that is no longer serving us, and we can take action in a more clear and aligned way.

Now it's your turn! Let us know how you’ve learned to practice both acceptance and action simultaneously. Leave your thoughts in the comments below this blog.

If you happen to know someone who could benefit from hearing these ideas and feeling more at ease about practicing acceptance and still taking action, please share this with them.

With endless appreciation,

P.S. If you’re curious how to practice acceptance and action at the same time, go ahead and grab a complimentary, no-pressure consultation with me where we can see if my Ready to SOAR coaching program is a good fit for you.

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 Breaking up with My Ego

Have you ever been in that situation when it came time to “have the talk” or DTR (Define the Relationship)?

I’ve had it a few times in my life. It’s not a comfy thing for me to do. But in each situation, I’m glad I did. It helped me get clearer on who I am and what I want and how this other person plays into that (or not).

A couple of years ago, I realized that I needed to have this conversation with someone who I had known for a very long time and who had been with me through thick and thin — my ego.

And I can tell you, it’s not easy. But having a clearer understanding of our dynamic has made my life so much easier.

We all have an ego.

And our ego has played an important role since a very young age. It  helped protect us from this big, bad world when we were at a place in our development when we needed it most.

And like with any relationship, there comes a time when we need to take a closer look at it.
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We get to a point when we realize the ego no longer serves us.

So how do we let the ego down easy and reclaim our relationship with our self?

Recognize its individuality.

The ego loves to talk. A lot. The first place we can notice our ego is in our thoughts. And by the very nature of observation, when we can observe our thoughts (our ego) then we can be confident that we are separate from it.

When we recognize that we are not our ego, the conversation gets a whole lot easier.

Give it some love.

The ego just wants to be seen and heard. It wants to be acknowledged. So go ahead and give it what it wants. Say “thank you for sharing” when it butts in and gives advice on how to respond to that text message or comments on that woman’s attitude.

The ego isn’t trying to be a jerk — it just doesn’t know any better.

Next time the ego interferes, give it a wink and a smile.

Learn what matters to it most.

The ego gets its sense of self by identifying with all sorts of things — thoughts, labels, roles, material possessions. Remember, it is trying to protect us and is doing the best job it can to make sure we are okay. So it latches on to anything it thinks will make life better. Sadly, it doesn’t know that we are already okay. Take note of what it identifies with most — the car, the role as leader, the label of “shy,” the thought “I could never do that."

Trying to force the ego to let go of attachments is impossible — but as awareness grows, the attachments will begin to drop away because we start to notice that we are separate from all these things.

Get to know its patterns.

The ego uses some incredible strategies to help us out in situations that seem scary or uncomfortable. Maybe the ego withdraws each time it finds itself feeling attacked. Or perhaps the ego puffs up its chest and yells at someone who confronts it.

Take note of these tendencies — they are just a way for the ego to help make sure we feel okay.

The next time the ego wants to crack a joke in a stressful situation, don’t say anything and notice what happens. I can pretty much guarantee that you will still be standing and completely unharmed.

Once we understand that we are okay without the ego’s help, then we are stepping into our truly awakened self.

Now the ego is pretty tenacious. (Some women wish more men were this way.) And just because we have this conversation once doesn’t mean it’s going to go away.

Having an ego is a part of life. Redefining the relationship with the ego is enlightenment. {Tweet That!}

What is one pattern you observe your ego doing in moments of stress or conflict? Share in the comments below and serve as an inspiration of self-observation to others.

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."

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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 Ways to Live a More Fearless Existence

Ah, fear.

That sickening feeling of not knowing what could happen. The paralysis of the body and mind. That which keeps us from exploring the unknown or living a fuller existence. We all experience this very primal sensation. It is a biological firing of nerves and adrenaline we experience when our fight-or-flight goes off. Then, we get in our heads and label it “fear.” We allow this fear to limit us, make decisions for us and, more often than not, add an extreme amount of stress to our lives.

The good news? We don’t have to turn this biological sensation into anything more than an awareness to what is happening in the present moment. We can all live a more fearless existence by keeping a few things in mind.

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Part of being present is to remain non-judgmentally aware of one's mind, body and life situation without attaching to any specific outcome. This can prove quite challenging when entering unchartered waters.

This year has been full of entering the unknown for me. First, I decided to quit my day job without any "plan B." Then, I recently attended a development program in a different state from where I live and, while there, decided to return one week later to take another 10-week training program. This felt quite uncomfortable. I was relocating temporarily with very little time to plan or even think about what I was getting myself into.

I can definitely say that many times during this year I have experienced a sensation that I label as “fear."

So, how do I practice presence in the face of all of this uncertainty and discomfort?

First of all, sometimes I don’t. But, I have noticed a significant increase in my ability to live with the discomfort and the fear. It helps me in these moments to keep a few things in mind.

Remember that fear is not reality-based.

The sensation we often label as “fear” is more often than not a lack of information. We then find ourselves feeling anxious about what might or might not happen in the future which keeps us out of reality. Everything happens in the present moment — nothing happens in the past or future.

"The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.”

It’s helpful to take the time to shift our focus to remain open and take in as much information as possible in each moment instead of worrying about the non-reality of the future.

Ask: What’s the worst thing that can happen?

"The reason why you don’t put your hand in the fire is not because of fear, it’s because you know that you’ll get burned. You don’t need fear to avoid unnecessary danger — just a minimum of intelligence and common sense.” - Eckhart Tolle

When we are faced with something that we are unfamiliar with or do not know which way to go, we can ask ourselves, “what is the worst thing that can happen?” This helps ground us and bring us back to the reality of the situation and not get caught up in the endless scenarios of the mind.

Sometimes we may even be surprised that the worst thing isn’t really that bad after all.

Move through the fear.

Courage is not about doing something with the absence of fear but rather moving through it. Sometimes we experience a sensation in our bodies when we do not have enough information or a similar experience to draw upon from our past. But this is just a bodily sensation.

Moving through the fear means that we experience the physical sensation without labeling it or creating additional emotions or stressful thoughts around it. As Eckhart Tolle says, “You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection — you cannot cope with the future."

When we let fear drive our decision-making, we are putting our life in the hands of a non-reality based emotion that restricts us rather than expands us.

We limit ourselves when we allow our fears to go beyond the initial reaction. This can happen a lot when we are going to make decisions. And when we make fear-based decisions, we are saying “no” to life rather than “yes” to possibilities.

How do you let fear limit you? What are other ways you practice presence in the face of fear? 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.

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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.

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 ...

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.

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.

The Present Driven Life

Thousands of inspirational books have been written to help people realize their “true potential” or find meaning in life. While the concept behind this is intended to encourage and uplift, I have started to notice that this thinking can actually be quite stressful and lead to a lot of self-doubt and depression. When we get lost in the idea of our goals or the results or even our own potential, we lose sight of the action itself taking place in this moment.

What if the purpose of your life is simply to be fully present in whatever it is you are doing right now and have a willingness to enjoy and learn from the life happening to you?

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Many times in my adult life I have asked myself if I am living up to my “true potential.” This happened again recently as I found myself once more shifting gears and changing careers. I found that as I questioned my potential and whether or not I was fulfilling it, I felt stress and angst about life. Then I listened to a Byron Katie podcast and heard something that changed my life. She reminded me that by being 100% present no matter what I am doing — whether it’s washing the dishes, listening to a friend, or teaching a class — I was “reaching my full potential.” I let out a huge sigh of relief.

It seems like many of us struggle at times with this idea of finding a life’s purpose or knowing if we are realizing our full potential. I would like to share a few thoughts from Eckhart Tolle and Michael A. Singer that helped me shift my perspective and feel less stress and anxiety about trying to figure it all out.

  • “It’s not what you’re doing; it’s how much of you is doing it.”
  • “Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents. This implies that you also completely accept what is, because you cannot give your full attention to something and at the same time resist it.”
  • “There may be things to be attained or acquired.…Yet on a deeper level you are already complete, and when you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.”
  • “When you are free of ‘becoming’ as a psychological need, neither your happiness nor your sense of self depends on the outcome, and so there is freedom from fear.”
  • “Life itself is your career, and your interaction with life is your most meaningful relationship.”
  • “Don’t waste a moment of life trying to make other things happen; appreciate the moments you are given.”
  • “What actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it.” 

When we believe we are living a life without meaning or feel anxious when we do not know what our purpose is supposed to be, we can get into a spiral of negativity. But when we make a choice to be present and accept what is, we can begin to fully experience the life we have and, by doing so, lead a “meaningful” life.

I encourage you to take 20 minutes to listen to “I’m Not Living Up to My Full Potential” with Byron Katie for additional perspective on this topic.

What is one thing you have done recently and did the best job you could in that moment? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.

 

A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Overuse

Have you ever found yourself rehashing a conversation you had with someone? Have you ever spent hours wondering if you should say something to a certain person or what might happen if you do? Have you ever spun for days on all of the possible outcomes or scenarios of a specific situation?

As humans, we have evolved this amazing tool called the “mind” and along with it the ability to hypothesize and create stories. This served us very well on the savannah, say, when we saw tracks in the dirt. This desire and ability to figure out where the track leads and what might lie at the end of it probably saved our life. Unfortunately, most of the stories we now create in our minds not only DON’T save our life, they can be quite harmful to our overall health and well-being.

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One of my favorite past-times is to play the “what if” game. Even those of us who are self-aware and seeking peace in our lives can get trapped in this cycle. A certain amount of questioning and analysis can be useful and is the very thing that got me to where I am today. However, as Eckhart Tolle says, “Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering and of continuous conflict within and without, but also the end of the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking.”

In my experience, we tend to over-analyze things in the hope that we “figure out” what it means or the “right thing” to do. The thing is, we cannot predict the future no matter how good we are at hypothesizing. And, "If you really want to know your mind, the body will always give you a truthful reflection, so look at the emotion, or rather feel it in your body.” (Tolle) 

So, why not end the incessant thinking and instead remain present and create space with our awareness? Here are a few things you might try:

Become aware of any feeling in your body. Sometimes that is all the data we need to make a decision.
Create space by observing your thoughts, not judging them, and breathe. For more information on this, read The Untethered Soul
Ask yourself “who would I be without this thought?” Byron Katie has some helpful tools as part of “The Work” which teaches us how to inquire our thoughts.

We cannot know for sure what the outcome will be no matter how much we analyze it. We cannot change what we have done no matter how much we think about it. All we can do is be in this moment; create space by bringing awareness to our bodies, thoughts, and feelings (where thoughts and bodies meet); and make choices in the moment that have integrity for ourselves and those around us.

What tools have you found successful to “power off” the mind? 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?

To accept or not to accept ...

Ever fret over what you should do tonight? Ever wish you hadn’t sent that text message? Ever think you should have gone on that trip? Ever spent hours’ worth of energy making a choice and then hours’ worth of energy afterwards regretting it? I find myself today struggling with this very thing. While I do my best to fully accept my current situation and my reality each and every day, I still struggle with this concept sometimes.

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One of my current goals is to do a better job listening to my feelings and trusting myself when I have a “gut” instinct about something. Recently, I made a decision not to go on a trip with someone after noticing that I was having some anxiety about the trip. When I tuned into that feeling and sat with it for a couple of days, I came to the conclusion that, in that moment, it was best for me not to go. And at the time, I felt at peace about my decision. It reminded me of something I read in The Power of Now where Eckhart Tolle says, “let [your decision] come not from reaction but from insight, from a clear realization of what is right or not right for you at that moment."

A few days later, I find myself dwelling on the choice I made and doubting if I made the “right” choice. This doubting is my current source of suffering and I am being reminded of the importance to surrender myself on a regular basis to accept the decisions I make about my life.

When we resist our reality — which includes the choices we make — we are suffering. Psychology Today’s article on “The Power of Acceptance” explores this very thing and explains how by resisting something ensuresImage that it will have a more negative effect, whereas accepting something will neutralize it if not transform unpleasant feelings or experiences. Now, of course, there are certain things in life we shouldn’t accept, but I am talking about the majority of things that make up our life situation, whether it be the decision we made to send a certain text message, live in a certain city, stay home on a Friday night, have a certain job, need to go grocery shopping for the dinner we want to make, raise a child, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Tolle reminds us that there are only three options for a given situation: remove yourself from it (if that is an option), change it (if that is an option), or accept it wholly (which is always an option). It is quite refreshing to realize I only have three choices - and that full acceptance is always an option.

Once a decision has been made, to continue to expend energy on whether or not that was the “right” decision resists “what is” and causes suffering. “When you accept what is — every moment — is the best. That is enlightenment.” (Tolle)

Life is a constant choice between acceptance of or resistance to the moment. And, I have found that the experience of life is filled with more ease and joy as more decisions and experiences are accepted for “what they are” and less energy is exerted doubting and resisting. As Tolle says, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously  transform your whole life."

And, when I find myself slipping away from acceptance — which happens since I am still human — that is the moment it is crucial to be compassionate with myself and remember that I do the best I can in each and every moment. Acceptance and compassion are two very powerful tools towards living a more joyful existence.

Take it from me as someone who has spent most of her life resisting the reality of her situation — everything from the shape of my nose, the crookedness of my teeth, being single, being in a relationship, deciding to do something and later wishing I hadn’t — to accept things “as is” is one of the best things someone can do to improve their experience of life.

What decision have you made recently that deserves your full acceptance? Does your present moment contain something that needs your full acceptance as if you had chosen it for yourself?