The universe is constantly moving through cycles. From the workings of our cells to the workings of the solar systems, cycles are everywhere. The beautiful thing about cycles is that they can help us create routine and mindfulness in our bodies, minds, world, and life. Cycles are a great tool to use to stay present, track growth, and even behaviour. We can use the magic of cycles in meditation, in our diet, in our year, etc. like little reminders for ourselves. In the video below, Andrea Kehler shares how she uses moon magic in her life.
When it comes to meditation, there really isn't anything that you need. You have your body, you have your mind...that is enough.
BUT.... it is extremely beneficial to create a sacred space in your home that you can dedicate to your meditation practice. This doesn't have to be an elaborate set-up or a large room, it can be any small space within your home that you can make your own (mine is a corner that is crammed in between a closet and the bathroom door).
There are several reasons why you should set aside a place for your meditation practice:
1. It’s a constant reminder: If you’re anything like me and you don't have a list created, an alarm set, or some sort of reminder... it’s not happening. Especially when you are at the beginning your meditation journey (or any journey for that matter). This is when we need CONSTANT reminders and what is a better reminder than seeing a space you have created and dedicated solely to the purpose of meditation.
2. The 80% rule: Studies have shown that your best chance of completing a goal or task, is to accomplish 80% of it before you actually have to do it. So, do 80% of the work ahead of time! Set up a yoga mat, cushion, or any other props that are going to allow you to sit or lay comfortably for an extending period of time. That way it is already waiting for you to start!
Just think, you get up in the morning and you want to meditate, but you have to get all of your props set up, a timer, etc. do you think you'll be likely to meditate? Probably not likely. OR imagine if you woke up in the morning & everything was just waiting there for you. Would you be more likely to sit and meditate? Much more likely!
Once we have invested some of our time into creating a meditation space, our brain will begin to think it was a waste of our time if we don’t use it. And thus, because we've done the majority of the work it makes more sense to complete the other 20% and just flipping meditate already!
3. Positive reinforcement: Typically when we adorn our sacred space, we choose things that ignite positive emotions within us. Motivational quotes, inspirational images, or portraits of admired people. My meditation area seems to have a certain aura about it. In all honesty, some days I post up on my cushion with a coffee and just sit; no formal meditation, just looking at the memories, momentous, inspirational message, and cultivating gratitude. Anything that creates a positive mindset is a form of meditation and a win in my books!
4. Others will respect your space: Distractions! Whether it be your kids, significant other, or roommates, once you have a designated area that you use for your practice the other people in your household will catch on! In my household my meditation area is open to the rest of the house. If my partner comes home and notices me in my spot he stays quiet (to the best of his ability). He'll take the dogs outside or do whatever he can to give me those few precious moments with myself. And if you do have kids, this is a great way to demonstrate the power of slowing down, and being with your thoughts.
TIPS for creating a Space
A great tip I was given when I began to create my meditation space was to incorporate the 5 senses: touch, sound, smell, sight and taste.
Touch – to ground you to the space
This one is fairly easy. Think props: a yoga mat, a meditation cushion, yoga blocks, bolsters/pillows, or blanket. Use anything that will bring you physical comfort and the ability to sit comfortably. Mala beads are great tools in mantra meditations. Rubbing each bead can be extremely soothing and grounding especially for those who tend to fidget.
Sound – for signaling
No meditation space would be complete without a singing bowl or bell (both of these can be used to clear the space, and set the tone for your meditation). Similarly, a timer can also be used to signal the beginning, middle or end of your meditation practice. You may wish to listen to guided meditations or relaxing music while you meditate so having a speaker/headphones near by is a great option.
Smell – trigger emotions, memories or to set the tone of your practice
Any or a combination of candles, incense or essential oils will work and can be tailored to your meditation.
1. If you are working on the root chakra, or completing a grounding meditation you can use patchouli, frankincense or sandalwood.
2. If you are practicing an affirmation meditation on the solar plexus chakra (self-confidence) you can use cedar wood, clove or cinnamon.
Sight – to inspire
This can literally be anything that creates a positive feeling or mindset. Statues, paintings, pictures, inspirational quotes, mantras, etc. As you can see from my picture below, I have a little of everything; Buddha statues, pictures to spark my happiest memories, sayings, and a mantra I created during a 6 week soul strategy course which is a great reminder to stay connected to myself and others (encourages me to continue my meditation practice).
The Possibilities are ENDLESS folks but the most important thing is to create a sacred space that you are going to want to come back to, day after day. Happy meditating!
Teaching meditation is like trying to teach someone to sleep, it’s impossible. It’s impossible because both of these states are so natural. We cycle through sleep daily and meditation throughout each day wether we are consciously aware of it or not. These things are already inside of us and they are personal, they vary from individual to individual. Although there are tools out there to assist with both of these states, at the end of the day it is about us and works for us as an awesome and unique individual bundle of conscious matter.
When it comes to sleep, we don’t put all that much thought into it. It just happens, it is part of our daily rhythm and not something we tend to think about all that much. We ALLOW for it to happen and it usually does. Of course we all have those days when sleep is sparse, sporadic, short, etc., but even when that happens, we trust that tomorrow will be better and we move into the next cycle paying no mind. We just do. It’s a natural state that we regulated when we were babies and now as adults it is there for us each night.
Meditation is becoming more and more popular and because of that two things have happened. First, the awareness of this amazing practice has exploded. Meditation truly heals us and in turn our world and the fact it is becoming such a buzz is literally THE BEST!! Meditation needs more awareness (like most things). But with this reward of expansion comes misconceptions. We seems to have lost the ease of meditation and the idea of allowing it to happen. We have idealized this state with an image of perfectionism and force rather than it's natural ease and flow.
When we can’t sleep, and we start trying to sleep, we all know it just gets harder. The same thing happens with meditation. With the practice of meditation growing in society, we seem to have idealized this natural state and put it into a box. We see meditation as this version of sitting cross legged in lotus entering into this metaphysical state of ascension. And don’t get me wrong this version of meditation is legitimate, but it doesn’t work for everyone the same way at least right off the bat. We can't force what our minds and bodies aren't ready for, it takes personalize practice just like going to the gym. Meditation is not cookie cutter.
Just as we had to learn to regulate our sleep, we need to learn to regulate our mediation. We have always been able to sleep, but our parents got us into the routine of sleep. We have always been able to meditation we just have to find a routine which will help us soak up the most benefits.
Keep it simple. Meditation is ANYTHING (key word: anything) that brings us presence in our lives. Anything that takes us away from thinking of the past and future or living in our depression or anxiety respectively is meditation. So for some, this may be the version of closing your eyes, sitting cross legged, breathing, and focusing the mind through mantra and intention. But for most of us, we aren’t able to start here, we can get there in time but we have to figure out what helps get us there first.
So maybe your meditation practice starts as walking your dog. Walking your dog is what brings you peace in the present moment. Your version of meditation may be listening to your favorite song and dancing because you forget your worries for just that moment. Maybe your access to bliss comes in the form of movement of any kind. It can truly be anything. Everyday things that we love that snap us into contentment is mediation and this is happening all day long, we just don’t notice because it’s so natural.
Literally… stop trying so hard. And stop trying to be perfect. Just allow it to happen for you and stop forcing this image you’ve created of what meditation ‘should be’ to happen for you. BECAUSE IT ALREADY IS!!! Your only job is start noticing. Notice what is already bringing you peace, notice what brings you santosha (contentment with who you are, where you are with no need to change), notice the little moments of pure bliss you already have. This is the practice. And the more you begin to notice the more it will happen, and the more it happens the more you can start to guide it and regulate it. We can’t control our thoughts or states of being, we can notice our thoughts and states of being, and as we learn to notice we can decide to bring ourselves out of the thoughts and states that don’t serve our better good.
Today, don’t try and meditate. Just try and notice all the moments, no matter how small they are, when you are already in the state of meditation. And just like sleep, persist. Trust enough that even when it's hard, to move into the next cycle with faith. Trust that it will come because it always does, never in the way we expect and always in the ways we are aware enough to see.
- Brit Kish
"It is better to follow your own essential responsibility, though imperfectly, than another's even if done well."
- The Bhagavad Gita
1. Make the decision!
This is the hardest part, which is why it takes up the majority of the “to do” list. Just decide to be present at your training! What you will realize, is the world will not completely collapse without you. Show up for you and your opportunity to learn. **PS. it’s a privilege to learn, not a right in certain parts of the world…**
The most difficult part of any decision, in my experience, is ACTUALLY deciding. The back and forth in our minds, taking time to consult with our trusted life advisors on their opinions, and the inevitable game of talking ourselves “into” and “out of” virtually every decision we’ve ever made. Extreme? Maybe! But this was my experience when I was considering yoga teacher training and making a massive lifestyle transition from banker to yogi! I know I’m not the only owner of this story, as pretty much every human that has expanded out of their comfort zone has felt this, but I think it’s worth highlighting. It seems to be a common precursor for epic life changing events. So the real question is, are we going to resist or surrender to the change?
2. Read daily
I recommend starting off with:
- The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Sogyal Rinpoche
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjoli – Edwin Bryant
- The Power of Breath – Swami Saradananda
- The Hatha Yoga Pradipika – BKS Iyengar
- Bhagavad Gita – Winthrop Sargeant
**If you don’t get through all of them prior to training don’t panic. The beauty of diving into these prior to your training, is you’ll be able to connect to the content shared in a deeper way.**
3. Figure out how to feed your body to optimize performance.
Essentially, clean up your diet. The more balanced you are in your fueling process, the more you will be able to discern what is happening emotionally throughout your training.
4. Practice asana daily!
It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be complicated, but at the very least, practice Sun Salutation A and/or Sun Salutation B. Self practice will quite literally change your entire day!
5. Practice asking questions (ps: this is a form of self discovery)!
That way you can enter your training with a grounded and healthy level of skepticism. Ultimately, if something isn’t making sense, or doesn’t feel right, GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED! Don’t be an “askhole” ((n) someone who asks pointless or obnoxious questions), but get clarification on everything! That is what teacher training is for. Also, if you are curious about something, it is likely that someone else is too.
6. Wake up early just for you!
Developing a self love practice starts with putting yourself first before everyone and everything else. This will help develop a deeply trusting, vibrant, and passionate relationship with ones’ self. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify with the reassuring voice that will carry you through the challenges of training. This will also help to cultivate a fundamental understanding of your own energy, and in turn, a sensitivity to other people’s boundaries and their energy.
7. Practice letting things go and going with the flow (“A” types, this is for you!).
There’s really no point in taking yourself too seriously or feeling like you need to be perfect. What is perfect anyways? Who decided on what “perfect” is? You’ll only steal the joy from the moment and the experience.
8. Step into your training with the assumption that you are going to take many and multiple.
We can only absorb at a certain pace/rate, depending on how much we are cleansing out at the same time. Your first 200 hours of training is meant to open up Pandora’s box of possibilities, not to provide you with every answer to every question you’ve ever had from the beginning of time.
- Brenna Bote
Who doesn’t love a good nervous breakdown… Want to experience one for yourself during your teacher training? Well it’s actually pretty simple, so without making it too complicated, I’ve made you a list based purely on what actually happened to me!
Don’t clean up your food consumption. Once you are in teacher training it’ll be so much easier to eat consciously because you won’t have as many distractions.
Don’t read any of the recommended book list ahead of time. Again, you’ll have WAY more time when you are in your teacher training.
Practice 1 - 3 times a week leading up to training, that way your body isn’t sore leading into your training.
Start all of the self care practices, at the same time, as your teacher training starts. It’ll just optimize the experience so much more! You’ve wanted to start them for years, so now’s the time!
If this speaks to you, here is a sneak peek of what to look forward to!!
The Week Before: I’ve been practicing yoga for a while now and have had the opportunity to reap its long list of benefits. Now is the time to take the next steps and dive deeper into this whole yoga thing! TEACHER TRAINING (Insert blissed out sigh). It’s going to be freaking incredible! I get to focus solely on myself for one whole month, no distractions! Just me and my body, some badass teachers (it shouldn’t take more than a month to learn to handstand right?), and hopefully some cool hippies! I swear, I’m gonna come outta this thing totally transformed! I’m gonna be ripped (cuz obvi I’m starting my healthy eating cleanse as soon as this training starts) and I’m gonna be zen AF (I wonder if I’ll still want to murder my colleagues anymore?). I know I’m just going to FEEL so much more grounded when I get home!
First 3 Days of Training: Wow I hurt in ALL THE RIGHT PLACES! This process is going to be absolutely INCREDIBLE! I DEFINITELY have work to do in my practice, but I’m not going to be hard on myself (like I usually am). Practice and all will come! Everything in its due time! I don’t really know why the teachers invited us to just “feel whatever we need to feel” and that if we need to cry to just let it happen. Why would I need to cry? Weird… I thought I had some pent up $h*t but I actually feel fine! Maybe this training is going to be a breeze! Also, all the humans in this training are INCREDIBLE (there’s people who are actually handstanding already!). It’s so inspiring! And all of my teachers just seem to “know” things….like things that they couldn’t possibly know about me. It’s a bit invasive, but I’m totally into the process! Show me your ways OB1! Also, I wasn’t planning on quitting my job, but now it really just doesn’t make sense to go back to it when I’m finished. It isn’t what I WANT to be doing and it certainly doesn’t encourage me to live in my light. So, I’ve made the conscious decision to quit! I need to just trust myself and go with the flow. After this month is up, I will be totally prepared to take the necessary steps towards my dream. I WILL TRANSFORM IN THIS MONTH! BRING IT ON! #magicalwand
The Halfway Point (Roughly): “Um….WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F&$#! Is this even safe for my body to be moving this much? It can’t be! Why is my heart beating in my shoulders…isn’t it supposed to be beating in my chest? WHY CAN I SEE MY HEART BEATING IN MY SHOULDERS?! If I have to eat another salad I’m going to light this effing salad bar on fire. I need a burger! With extra bacon….wait…can my bacon have extra bacon? I need fries and a milkshake too please…no wait…make that 2 milk shakes! I want to experience the bliss of a food coma again. Oh and a shot of tequila…wait…make that the whole bottle please so I can ACTUALLY sleep tonight (because really, how is a person supposed to make sense of their dreams? As of right now they are getting in the way of my SLEEP!). Also, I hate everyone…including my psychopathic teachers and their stupid positive attitudes and stupid faces and stupid sequencing. Thanx for making me HATE downward dog! PS – if you make me do wheel pose and make me hold it again, I’m going to dick punch you (yes you read that correctly – DICK PUNCH). Who in their right mind chooses to go through this…
3rd Week-ish: So there are lights at the end of some tunnels…kind of…I think? I’ve graduated from anger to sadness now. I don’t think I’ve cried this much in my entire life (for no actual reason other than I couldn’t hold it back). I don’t even know what set me off in the first place. Maybe it was everyone else crying that stimulated my tears. My teacher keeps saying I’m shedding samaskaras (the memories popping up would suggest she’s right). I’ve come to the conclusion that my entire being is a samaskara…this lifting and sifting process is going to take a while. I had all these plans to start ALL THE THINGS when I finish this training, and now, all I feel is this flip flop of anxiety and depression at how daunting the tasks are. It’s like all the fear and second guessing that I thought I’ve pushed through (I’ve clearly just pushed it down instead) is now charging right back up, full steam ahead. So now I’m playing with the idea of going back to work until I’ve figured myself out (but then my soul dies inside at the thought of it). At what point does the Zen come in? I could really use some Zen at the moment. It’s like my world is just crashing down around me, but everything in actuality is totally fine. At least I’m not the only one struggling emotionally. People seem to be experiencing their own forms of nervous breakdowns too. People are melting down about their assignments, upcoming final tests, practice teaching, ex’s, etc. There are ALL THE FLAVOURS OF CRAZY happening. So naturally, my mind is a judgmental playground right now. I want to say “grow a real problem, you’ve taken a million tests in your lifetime this far! You’ve got this!” and “aren’t you here to learn how to teach? Why are you freaking out about practicing teaching?” and “you haven’t been through a divorce? Cool for you, forget about your ex”. I’m not sure why I feel like my painful experiences have more merit than anyone else’s right now, so I’m keeping my mouth shut before it gets me into trouble. That said, the whole concept of “misery likes company” has never given me comfort up until now.
Apart from being a glass house of emotions, my body seems to be in some form of fugue state. It doesn’t seem to know how to be a body anymore. I can’t feel my hip flexors anymore (I think they’ve just given up on being a part of my body) and my shoulder stabilizers no longer stabilize anything (I’m pretty much a walking zombie). I can see the physical changes in my body but I’m too tired to really care. I’m not sure why I even cared about the cosmetic physicality of my body in the first place. If a person looks good but is in pain, then who the eff cares! I’d rather be roly poly oly. More chocolate and more ice cream is what the doctor is ordering.
Last few days: IT CAN’T BE OVER YET! I DON’T KNOW ALL THE THINGS! I’M NOT READY TO ACCEPT THAT I MAY NEVER SEE THESE HUMANS AGAIN! I DON’T KNOW HOW TO HAVE A SELF PRACTICE AND I DON’T KNOW IF I’M MOTIVATED ENOUGH! THIS EXPERIENCE WAS LITERALLY EARTH SHATTERING AND I’M NOT READY FOR IT TO BE OVER! I WAS JUST GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH THE DISCOMFORT! I’M NOT EVEN CLOSE TO FINDING FLOAT IN MY HANDSTAND! I DON’T EVEN KNOW IF I FOUND MYSELF YET! I NEED MORE TIME! I NEED TO LEARN MORE! I’M NOT READY TO BE A TEACHER! I NEED TO BE A BETTER STUDENT FIRST! I DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE A TEACHER AND A STUDENT AT THE SAME TIME! I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK! I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO CANADA! EVERYONE IS GOING TO EXPECT THIS EPIC, FLOATING, ZENNED OUT HUMAN! I AM NONE OF THE THINGS!
So I stayed in Thailand and did an additional 300 hours of training…
This is my story yogis. I was extremely underprepared for my first teacher training, but looking back on it, the first 200 hours needed to be exactly as it was. I had to hit physical and emotional walls to slow me down and pull me back to presence. There is nothing glorious about lifting and sifting, but the journey is essential for our liberation. The juice is DEFINITLY worth the squeeze yogis and I wouldn’t be the teacher, student, or person I am today without this experience.
Stay tuned for the “How to NOT HAVE a nervous breakdown during your teacher training”!
- Brenna Bote
“To work in a field as intimate as the human body, and to be trusted enough to be called teacher, is one of the greatest honours this world has to offer. It demands the highest level of respect and responsibility from a human being.” – Brenna Bote
I haven’t always understood the concept of ritual. I was and always will be a skeptic and when I thought about the word ritual, I immediately associated it with belief systems to which I didn’t adhere. I didn’t think ritual was relevant to my life. Then one day it clicked. I took a step back and realized ritual wasn’t at all what I thought it was and that many of the things I had participated in throughout my entire life were indeed that of practicing ritual. We all have rituals, mundane or obscure, they exists in everyone’s life. Brushing our teeth, showering, or celebrating a holiday are all ritualistic and are practices that have been around for a long time. We all do things whether it’s daily, weekly or yearly that we continue to do because they ignite something in us. Something as simple as cleaning our bodies for the day ahead, being regularly physically active, journaling or practicing meditation are all things we do because it makes us better in some sense, even if it’s just for ourselves.
Our subtle energetic being has a lot more in common with our physical being than we think. Just like our physical being benefits from ritual, so does our energetic being, but for some reason we struggle to look at them the same way. Our bodies are tangible, we eat certain ways to fuel our bodies and we do certain activities to make our bodies more able. We participate in rituals regularly to knowingly make our bodies healthier. These types of rituals are widely accepted in society and participating is encouraged by society because we know the benefits as proven by science. Ritual becomes harder to understand when we start to look past what is physical and tangible to what is energetic and unknown. The unknown is a fun place to play and incredibly scary simply because the things that happen in this place cannot always be perceived by our limited five senses. As intellectual beings, we don’t like things we cannot know for sure or things we don’t understand because we have to start trusting in ourselves and in our ideas which is usually the scariest part.
We are starting to see more and more scientific evidence for the benefits of meditation and this is exciting. We are starting to see that by working with our energetic, internal, intangible being that our physical being also benefits. What was once unknown in our perception is starting to become known and that is conscious evolution. As a lover of science and spirit, a teacher of the physical body and the subtle mind, this place of bringing the intangible into our tangible world is my happy place. This is why I celebrate the full moon.
The full moon is just another ritual. It is just another practice. It is another opportunity to strengthen our minds and subconscious in conjunction with our bodies. It is an opportunity to work past our desire for immediate results and realize what can be achieved in the long run. We don’t stop working out and eating well just because we don’t see physical changes right away, we know that over time we will change and become better so we keep going and we keep practicing. We must strengthen and develop our minds the same as we do our bodies. Motivation can difficult to sustain as results come slowly and will often never be visible to the outside world, but the changes can be more significant and longer lasting than physical changes. We start to change who we are at our core and as our subconscious mind adapts to the changes, eventually the body and conscious mind feel them. The mind-body connection works both ways and ritual for the mind and body help us bridge and connect that gap between the two. We start to feel the state of disconnect to ourselves and each other fade as we become self aware in both body and mind.
You don’t have to be a “moon child” or even believe in the energetic effects of the cosmos to love and practice ritual and ceremony with the full moon. Very similar to the concept of celebrating a new year, I look at this ritual like a reset button. I look at it as a space to focus on and celebrate growth. Once a month we get to take the opportunity to connect with ourselves, body and mind, to look back and to look forward at our lives. We get to the chance to review our lives in the moment and to review the things that benefit us and things that do not. We get to take the benefits with us and leave the things holding us back behind. Celebrating and connecting each month with ourselves just creates frequency in practicing self improvement and the full moon is simply a day we can ritualistically do this. We don’t go to the gym once a year and get in shape, we don’t make resolutions once a year and change our lives. We must do these things over and over and over again with discipline, dedication and consistency and trust in the bigger picture. We must love ourselves enough to want to be the best version of who we are no matter what and like anything, this takes practice. Practicing ritual that is true to you and to what you want in your life is a great habit to get into. Ritual can be, but doesn’t have to be traditional, it can be completely unique to you and that is beautiful. Bettering your life in any form is literally all any of us can do to improve the world we live in together.
The future is unknown so why not practice getting comfortable with that? Why not find unique ways to consistently better ourselves and to find new ways for others to benefit and grow? Why not try something different, something we don’t believe in, or something that has never been done before? As someone who absolutely loves science and tangible evidence, I’m not afraid to say that I think the future of evolution for us is going to be something we have never seen before. I believe the future of evolution for us is conscious evolution and that there are many avenues to explore. We need to disturb what has become normal and change our perceptions. We cannot limit ourselves with what we already have or progress will be impossible. We must look past what we know and into the unknown and that is liberating as fuck! Happy full moon and stay skeptical!
- Brittany Kish
The full moon in March, also known as the Worm Moon, is a time of rebirth. As the warm spring air begins to thaw the Earth, let's also start to reawaken our own feminine (yin) energies from within. The feminine energy that lives within all of us, manages our relationship with the self and all those we come in contact with. By becoming more connected to ones self, we inadvertently deepen the connection with our internal wisdom (or intuition); thus creating more meaningful relationships with the people and the world around us.
In this month's Full Moon Workshop, we will be focussing on cleansing the second and third chakras to aid in the manifestation of our feminine energies. The second chakra, also known as the sacral chakra or Svadhisthana, is located deep within the pelvic regions of the body. It is the centre of our emotions, creativity, pleasure, sensuality, intimacy and connection. When balanced, the energy within this chakra allows us to experience life in the present moment, as well as aids us in letting go of the past. The third chakra, also known as the solar plexus chakra or Manipura, is located between the naval and the solar plexus. It is the centre of our self-esteem, willpower, personality and ego. When balanced, the energy within this chakra allows us to transform inertia into action, thus allowing us to move forward in our lives with confidence and power.
Also in this month's workshop, we will be meditating with the Snow Quartz Crystal to even further our connection to our inner wisdom. This practice is designed to aid in the process of letting go of our limitations, thus allowing our second and third chakras to ignite.
"Your life is a sacred journey. It's about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul." - Caroline Adams
Peace, Love & Light,
“When you remove the dysfunction out of your life, growth is inevitable.” – Tim Goad
I heard those very words spoken at a leadership conference 7 years ago and felt immediately how they had impacted me. What I didn’t realize, is that they would become the foundation for some difficult decisions that were to come in my life.
I was well on my way to leading the life I had dreamt for myself. I was mentored by significant leaders, growing and developing on the daily, and all the while being irrevocably in love with my soon to be husband. As every fairy tale unfolds, we got married on a beautiful day, surrounded by our loved ones, and started our journey in the world together. It would be naïve to say that I was 100% prepared for the turbulent times to come, but one thing I did know, was that I was absolutely sure on the person I was to marry. Unfortunately, that certainty was not enough to carry us through the ups and downs of life.
A series of seemly small hiccups occurred along the way, as every normal relationship experiences. What I hadn’t realized at the time was that by not working through the small hiccups, since we’d convinced ourselves that our future was larger and brighter than our current situation, we wouldn’t last through the tests of time to experience the beauty life has to offer. It was the inability to confront conflicts, and communicate through them with honesty and vulnerability, which started the construction of unhealthy walls and boundaries. This should have been the first warning sign that we needed to slow down our fast paced life and get some counseling. Call it fear, ignorance, or just plain old immaturity, I pressed on hoping and praying that things would get better. Most can agree that by simply hoping, without putting real work boots on to make necessary changes, only results in empty good intentions.
As the years went by, I would look at the person in the mirror and recognized myself less and less. Where had the ambitious, independent, bubbly and compassionate person gone? The person who had constantly thrown herself into moments of impact so she could transform into the powerful being she was created to be. The person that looked like me and sounded like me had turned into an insecure and judgmental perfectionist. How did this happen? When a person sacrifices too much of them self, to appease another’s needs and desires, they become completely ungrounded and imbalanced. Taking on the unhealthy challenge to please a person who is unhappy with his or her own sense of self, will only result in exhaustion.
Then a miracle happened. My husband, the impenetrable onion, had finally opened up. In tears, he admitted to his shortcomings and failings as my partner. He had finally admitted to constructing the fears and insecurities that I had taken on as my own. A normal reaction to this extreme vulnerability (which was both new and very difficult for him) should have been immense relief followed by love and support. I, unfortunately, experienced the opposite. I felt betrayed, lied to, lead astray, and broken hearted. I had allowed myself to emotionally get to the point of no return. Given, I had some help getting there, but that does not excuse the fact that we all have 100% control over our emotional well being at all times. This difficult task must be practiced intentionally. To not allow the emotional burdens and insecurities of others affect us, especially those we love, can feel like an impossible task on a good day.
So here I was, at a cross road in my life. Shall I stay and rebuild or move on?
Coming to terms with the decision to remove the dysfunction, which was my relationship, out of my life, was the most excruciatingly painful situation I ever wish to endure. It was by no means the easier of my two choices, but the only one I felt I was left with. I had nothing left to contribute to the rebuilding process of our relationship. So what was the result of that difficult decision? Something I never could have hoped or prayed for. Every relationship in my life grew exponentially. The Universe conspired to show me that the world was still an oyster, ripe for the taking, and I still had that ambitious, independent, bubbly and compassionate person within me. I was surprised by how quickly I had morphed back into my true self. And with that, the days to come provided more love than any one person could experience. Even though I still had to cope with the loss of my marriage, I was left at the end of each day feeling more blessed and alive than I had in years. I was reintroduced to what true joy and peace could feel like and it transpired into all the projects I put my hands to.
The lesson in identifying warning signs in relationships has taught me to become proactive and intentional with the people I come in contact with. Leading first with love and acceptance of all circumstances has eliminated judgment from my life. I believe that to unconditionally love others takes unwavering confidence ones self. It takes acceptance and forgiveness of others, and more importantly forgiveness of ourselves to move forward from traumatic situations. To have the ability to separate ones self from a difficult situation to find clarity and reasoning, has the potential to save relationships from unnecessary fallouts.
Knowing now, what I wish I had known back then would have resulted in a very different fairy tale ending. I have grown to accept that my divorce was not necessary. Had appropriate action been taken early on, we would have withstood the tests of time. I would not, however, trade in the lessons learned through those difficult times for anything. They have provided a platform to help others through trying times in their relationships, foundations for building cultures in businesses, and more importantly, created a more whole hearted contributing person in the world (me!). I am ever so grateful for the obstacles I have been faced with, for they have provided a gateway to greater opportunities.
The search for a new niche all started when my professional dancing career ended. I was eager to find a replacement that worked multiple muscle groups simultaneously. I wanted to attain optimal results in the shortest amount of time, while completely avoiding the gym. My relationship with gym memberships has been a love/hate one at best, but at the core of my struggle, was a strong disbelief that I’d find something as fulfilling (and quite frankly would kick my ass) as dancing had. My experience in witnessing expired dancers revealed that I would end up relearning everything about my body through a lack luster gym routine. Then I stumbled upon Bikram Yoga. I was extremely excited to start since I had heard that the room was heated (great for injuries!) and that flexibility was an asset.
Now let’s fast forward to the first class.
Life Lesson #1 – Trying something new while entertaining a large ego results in a healthy dose of humility.
“Heated” was an understatement. Between the tickling sweat in every square inch of my comparatively “not so in shape anymore” body, the smell (almost like something or someone was rotting…it may have been me), and trying to follow the poses (since everyone got the yoga poses memo prior to class except me), yoga and I were not off to a great start. I was accustomed to annihilating first attempts at flexibility and strength routines, and now I was contemplating whether or not I’d even finish the 90 minutes. I had heard yoga was a spiritual experience and that part I agreed with. I was in “full on prayer mode” that I wouldn’t suffocate before I removed myself, vowing never to return again. Then, as fate would have it, something extraordinary happened during my escape. A rush of fresh air saturated my lungs and my entire body felt more cleansed and rejuvenated than ever before.
Life Lesson #2 – “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” should be practiced regularly.
Since I’d already paid for the unlimited first week, I figured I should give yoga a few more attempts before I completely threw in the towel. I decided to give it the old college try and attend a class daily for my eight day trial period. What was the result? I was confounded by how my injuries had improved in only one week. It was like opening Pandora’s Box of positive changes. My flexibility, lung capacity and strength had all noticeably increased. Not to mention the changes to my metabolism, hormones (or “horrormones” as I like to refer to them), and sleep patterns.
Life Lesson #3 – Acclimating to change takes approximately a week of consistency.
It’s hard to imagine that in one short week there was unequivocal proof that the lifestyle I was previously leading needed to change. I was thrilled by how quickly my overall wellness changed and was determined to continue on this new found path. It was herein that the challenge to have the best class started. I cleaned up my diet, adjusted my vitamin plan, and tried to drink my weight in water a day. I could dictate how balanced my day was based on the strength of my yoga classes.
Every aspect of how I lead my life has changed due to the integration of different yoga philosophies. In class, we are taught to draw awareness to the body, our thoughts, and our breath. This practice has served me in many areas, but specifically with regards to stress management (but that’s another story!). The culture of yoga has empowered me to practice vulnerability as I enter each class. Regardless of how my day unfolded, I have the power to set the intention as to how I want to feel after the class is completed. So if you are on the fence as to whether or not yoga is for you, let me assure you that you are not alone. My recommendation would be to lean on a friend who has a regular yoga practice. Have them assist you in doing a few poses at home so you may grow accustomed to the movement. Or you can do as I did and dive in head first! Either way, I am 100% convicted that yoga is for everyone. Who knew that by enduring a wretched primary yoga class that the studio would once again become my place of total peace and harmony.