Social Media Challenge for 2019 - update

My Social Media Challenge for 2019 - Retrain the Relationship

It has been an interesting month playing with my new habits and relationship with social media. I am determined to find the balance where I utilize social media for connection. I want social media to feel like a service and a support, not a hindrance or an addiction.

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What is this about?

If you read my last social media post, you know that I am exploring my habits and finding ways to set boundaries and support myself into a healthier relationship - specifically with instagram. SO what have I done? I delete the instagram app right after I use it. I only install it if I have something purposeful and intentional to share, and then I must connect with at least one person before I delete it again. This prevents me from scrolling aimlessly or thinking throughout the day about the perfect picture or what I could say about anything happening throughout the day.

One of the most fascinating - and frightening - realizations is that when my mind wanders, it often wanders into a visual of scrolling through instagram! I recall pictures and posts that I have seen in the past. Hilarious and scary all at once. I also have noticed that I often still pause when something is striking and I think about the perfect angle for the picture or a caption that would go with it. Basically, my mind is trained for instagram.

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On the Bright Side

On the bright side, I am noticing a huge shift in my energy all ready. By letting go of the possibility to post or scroll or upload pictures throughout my day, I am left with ample space to focus on real-time connection and soak up each moment with more presence. I am noticing that I am being more thoughtful and strategic with what I want to post and when, and that is opening my mind to pay attention to my other streams of connecting and advertising my business (programs, coaching, workshops and events). For now, I am very happy with this new boundary.

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What’s Next?

Heading into February, I am committed to continue on this track, plus - the next step - I am creating a consistent weekly schedule for my social media that will allow me even more space as I get into a rhythm and template to follow rather than making things up as I go.

Let’s Connect

I would love to hear from any of you about what schedule or template or rhythm you follow with your social media connections and advertising. What works for you? What have you tried? What are you noticing in your own relationship with social media? How does that make you feel?

Anything we do can be overdone or underdone. I invite you to truly check in with yourself and ask, is social media serving me or am I serving it?

Keep up the self-inquiry and self-love my friends. xoxox




There is NO EGO

For more than a decade, I have referred to the ego, thought about the ego, looked for my own ego and pointed out various of my attributes as ego. All I can say now is that that process of self-inquiry served me for a time, but it no longer serves me. I am here to suggest that we pause and take in the possibility of removing the ego from our vocabulary.

In a Nutshell

For those interested in the bottom line, here it comes! The path I took to get there is explored after that.

We are complex. In fact, too complex for the outdated and short-sighted concept of an ego. What serves you at one point will not serve you forever. This post is my journey from important insights brought about by my ego-inquiry and how I outgrew the boundaries and restrictions the ego imposes. Perhaps you are someone who uses the term ‘ego’ in your self-observations and judgments of others, and I hope you will read through and open up to the possibility that there is a better way to understand who we truly are.

Where it all started

Over the past year I have been consistently hitting a roadblock in my ego inquiry. How do I make it fit into my ever-increasing and ever-expanding understanding of the conscious and subconscious and the greater mind and body as a whole? I found myself trying to jam the ego into other models of how the brain works that I have found to be helpful, and couldn’t make it fit.

It hadn’t occurred to me to remove the ego from my vernacular, and why would it? I am surrounded by people in the yoga and “personal development” community who - teachers, leaders and students alike - refer to the ego on a daily basis.

While in Palm Springs for New Years, in deep philosophical conversation on the relationship between consciousness and subconscious with my dad, I mentioned my struggle with defining the ego clearly and how to make it fit into my developing coaching structures. Without hesitation, my dad responded with something like: “the ego was debunked by science decades ago. Most people who continue to use the term don’t understand that; and don’t use ‘ego’ as Freud did in any event. You are hearing a cultural echo.”

Mind-blown! In an instant I felt a massive shift; a release, as I opened to a possibility that I had not considered until then. I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders and a calm feeling of truth rung deep within me. It just made so much sense. I mentioned this “new” contemplation and realization to a past client and she remarked that she actually brought this up in one of our sessions a couple of years ago and I didn’t seem open to exploring it. We both equated my resistance to the fact that at that time I was in the process of publishing my book and couldn’t hold space for that unraveling in the midst of sharing my story and my ego-contemplation with the world. I found that to be fascinating! Here I am now, ready to dig in and remove some beliefs that no longer serve me.


Retrain your EGO?

I had gone from perceiving my ego as the impulse to sabotage, compare, judge or put others down as a way to make myself feel more “right” or better-than. I had seen it as being deflated when I was hard on myself or in struggle around my own self-worth. I saw it as something that takes over when I have the urge to be boastful in any “look at me” kind of way. It was a successful point of inquiry as it supported me in cultivating the pause; that choice-point moment between impulsive reaction and deliberate response. I saw it fitting in the structure of the mind as a venn diagram; an overlap between subconscious and conscious, because it housed strong impulsive feelings, as well as manifesting in self-talk.

A balanced EGO?

I then began contemplating what a healthy and balanced ego looks like. Nothing is all bad or all good, and shaming the ego as the uncontrollable animal or over-protective body-guard within us did not leave room for growth. As the ego is described, it seemed to be necessary for our human experience, which means it is not to be killed off or destroyed, but rather it was in need of a tune-up and a shift in relationship.

And so along that route I went for a while, contemplating a healthy and balanced ego. But what does that look like? What does that mean? A healthy and balanced ego, I thought, could be a state where impulse for indulgent desire or instant gratification no longer ran the show. Perhaps a relationship with self that is so grounded and loving that the “ego” still rattled with desire yet also got on board with higher levels of living and being. For example, I thought, an ego could feel rewarded and satisfied when impulse and compulsions quieted and a clear path towards good-choices became the yellow brick road. This line of thinking felt like a worthwhile pursuit for a while.

Too complex for the EGO

However, I ran into problems with referring to the ego as if it is a character within us, separate from all other characters we tend to notice. What started as a simple way to be with and retrain my impulsive reactions, became the roadblock in understanding how to practice my way into balance in my mind and body.

So, consider the idea of letting go of “the ego” as an entity to be feared, shamed, or retrained in our system. Our subconscious generates our self-protection impulse. This aspect of our basic life functioning, evolved to make us feels good around whatever promotes survival and reproduction, and to shy away from anything that could potentially get in the way of the same things.

Our subconscious system works like a recording device, holding on to “life-lessons” in the form of memory that has dissolved into instinct, which keep us alive and make us attractive mates and social companions. This system is often misguided because what serves you at one point in time is not necessarily what is best or what will serve you in the future, and we are all subject to many cognitive biases.

Ideally, our conscious mind will learn about our subconscious blind spots, so that it can help us pause, and create space between reaction and response, so that our subconscious can develop new and more functional instincts. This happens as we continue to slow down, pay attention, and behave in new ways. Shaky, tentative, new thoughts and actions – imagine Bambi learning to walk - eventually stabilize into smooth, powerful behaviors as new neural pathways form that are consistent with our expanding consciousness. In this way, as we become more self-aware and better understand how the world around us works, our brains literally change and we become new beings. I believe that the many powerful religious and cultural representations of personal rebirth refer to nothing more, or less, than this real miracle of self-renewal.

One of the things that I find most fascinating about this process starts with the observation that what served to protect us at the age of 4 is not what will necessarily be in our best interest at age 40. However, until the tedious brain re-wiring project I just described has played out to a successful conclusion, our subconscious will continue to urge us to do what we’ve always done regardless of your conscious mind knowing better.

Try on a New Perspective

So it’s not EGO that urges us to be boastful. This is a deeply ingrained impulse connected to our need to be seen and positively acknowledged, as while our brains evolved, this was essential to our survival and propagation. And it is not your deflated EGO that pulls us into cowering or holding back from opportunity. Rather, this is our subconscious system that has either dipped into hypoarousal or has built a habit of holding back. It’s all habit. It’s all programming.

There is no ego. There is no fragmented version of us that fits the ego mold. Scientific research that became possible long after Freud did his work has made it clear that we are far more complex than Freud’s ego based model of how our minds work. It is fair to say that brains work like small social groups, in which a network of vastly different characters argue, debate and cajole each other to behave as they wish the group (metaphorically, the individual within which this is occurring) to behave. Our genes, history and beliefs all show up in these characters - the judge; the critic; the child; the saboteur; the victim; the prostitute; the fear mongerer; the calm sage; the believer in magic; the bully – to name a few of the possibilities.

Conclusion

So what? Why does this matter? My hope is that you will use this as an opportunity to slow down and check in with how you use the concept of the EGO to understand your - and others - behavior. Without blaming the ego or shaming the ego, we are left with a possibility to see what is habit, what is fear, and what subconscious character is taking the wheel. Perhaps it will support you in pausing and looking at where you are lacking nourishment rather than falling into shame or frustration. When we are nourished and grounded, we have the space and energy to show up as we truly desire, rather than being steered towards habit or the various actions our subconscious has learned as protecting and prolonging our survival. It’s all habit, and with awareness, effort and surrender, we can change what no longer serves us. Happy trail blazing ;).

Mindfulness and Meditation

”Most of our conscious brain is dedicated to focusing on the outside world: getting along with others and making plans for the future. However, that does not help us manage ourselves. Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside ourselves” -The Body Keeps the Score

I have noticed a lack of clarity in describing the difference between mindfulness and meditation, especially because I have heard them combined as Mindful Meditation - which I didn’t realize was confusing until I tried to describe what it is and how it is different than traditional meditation. This blog post serves as an exploration to define the boundaries of both and what it means when you combine Mindfulness and Meditation together.

Mindfulness:

"Just let yourself feel what you feel in the present moment, without fearing it, without making it mean something about your worth or value, without making it wrong, and witness the peace appear. "Daniel Siegal

Mindfulness is a practice of bringing compassionate attention to experiences, movements, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment. Mindfulness is the antidote to our human tendency to get lost in doing, stuck in auto-pilot, which directs us towards an unsatisfying cycle of needing more of everything and anything to feel good. Mindfulness is waking up and taking the steering wheel with our loving attention. We can practice mindfulness by maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings bodily sensations and surrounding environment. Any routine activity can be made into a mindful practice if you bring your full attention to it. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Get into your body and into your experience.  Observe without judgement. Notice your patterns of thought and action without falling into shame or the illusion that you “should” be somewhere or someone that you are not.

“When we are not taken over by our thoughts and feelings, we can become clearer in our internal world as well as more receptive to the inner world of another" Daniel Siegal

Meditation:

“Consciousness has the ability to do what is called “focus”...The essence of consciousness is awareness, and awareness has the ability to become more aware of one thing and less aware of something else” Micheal Singer

It is my understanding that meditation is what comes after the practice of mindfulness. You get to a point where you have trained your mind to focus, and to be able to stay with sensation and notice thoughts without jumping into reaction. It is from this sense of control, a sense of separation from emotions and the human desires and aversions, that we are able to access a deep peace and contentment that is an outcome of meditation. Meditation connects us with our expansiveness. It is a state of acceptance and flow, where our thoughts become distant and we are enveloped with stillness and, eventually, silence.

"Just let yourself feel what you feel in the present moment, without fearing it, without making it mean something about your worth or value, without making it wrong, and witness the peace appear. "Daniel Siegal

Mindful Meditation:

Is this term even necessary in our vernacular? To meditate is already a mindful practice, as it takes focus and the light of your awareness shining on the object of your meditation; whether that be your breath, a mantra, or any other curiosity or healing focus you have.

For me, an even more clear path here is developing the practice described as Mindful Embodiment. A process of being with sensation, tracking it, witnessing it rise and fall, while holding loving space in your body and limiting distraction and conserving energy by being still and focusing your gaze inwards.

If you are new to the world of mindfulness and meditation, start with some mindfulness practices. Develop your ability to focus. Shift into 30 seconds of meditation per day, with a focus on breath and noticing what it feels like as your Nervous System calms and your mind expands. A slow build, with consistent effort, and you will soon have a new habit that will support you mental health, your physical health, and give you access to the depths of who you are.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this inquiry, and any insights or resources that have served your own curiosity on this topic.

Bye for now xo

What you can expect from me this year

Here we are, a couple days into 2019 and full of possibility. I have spent the past few days in Palm Springs with my dad and step-mom, and their two lovely friends. It has been an opportunity for me to slow down, engage in thoughtful, fun, and intelligent conversation, and ultimately, spend quality time with my dad.

When I was an athlete in my teens, my dad and I spent countless hours together on road-trips and in the gym, prepping and debriefing games and practices, and diving deep into philosophy, psychology and anything else he was curious about and learning. I cherished that time with him. And now, 15 years later, we have had that quality time again, meaning just him and I for a full day or two, getting into the 2.0 version of those same conversations. It has been extremely beneficial for me to have such a strong and insightful sounding board to hear my ideas and inquiries and add his vast knowledge into the mix.

On our road trip to Joshua Tree yesterday, one of the projects I brought to him in discussion was my blogging, and how I want to set that up to ensure it is quality and impactful - for me and whoever decides to read along. This segwayed into my current inquiry around social media, and how - similar to food - balanced and purposeful creation and consumption is an important part of the healthy equation. As I am so aware of my own seemingly addictive relationship to my Instagram app, I do not want to keep that journey to myself and blindly add to the problem that I have heard so many voice about.

In fact, I am on the hunt right now for some kind of “parental control” app that I can use to block myself from getting on social media platforms at certain times in the day. On several occasions, I have set the goal with boundaries and parameters to limit my time mindlessly scrolling, yet, within a few days, am back to the same habit of tapping on that app as soon as I have a moment of stillness.

For me, social media can be an amazing platform for connection and inspiration, and it can also be a tool of distraction and disconnection. I want more of the first and less of the latter. How about you?

So, this is what you can expect from me this year, a series of blog posts detailing my journey of retraining my relationship with social media. And I would love to have you join me in this exploration. I want to hear what works for you! I want to hear where you struggle the most in this disconnected yet vastly over-connected world. Each month I will have a new topic to tackle, as I share what I have been doing and practicing, and invite you to reflect, play and practice, and share your learnings as well.

Let’s get social media in it’s place, an amazing tool of connection.

Step #1: BOUNDARIES

In the human brain, we have a brilliant capacity to think and discern beyond the impulsive reactions of our habits and animalisitic brain. But that animal part of our brain is 1 million times stronger than the part of the brain that makes us human. This is exactly why we can set goals and tell ourselves what is important and needed, yet in the moment we continue to choose what we have declared we no longer want. We need to set up parental control for our brains.

So here is what I am doing to practice.

First of all, as I previously mentioned, I will find an app that supports me in this. An app that literally blocks me from tapping mindlessly and scrolling through unnecessarily.

Second, I know it does not serve me to read through long posts on social media that give me a hit of happy chemicals but then disappear as I continue scrolling without contemplation or reflection. So I intend to lead by example and only post 3-4 times a week with short, succinct and meaningful notes. For those who want more, they can head to my website, join my newsletter, or reach out for one on one connection. Social media is no longer where I will be investing my time and energy as my main source of marketing.

Third, anytime I am on social media, I will comment/connect with at least one person. If I am scrolling through, it is with the purpose of real connection, which means, I reach out and make sure my community knows I see them and love them.

That feels like a great place to start this journey. I would love to hear your ideas and what comes up for you. Let’s keep this conversation going. xoxox

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Reflect and Manifest

Here we are. The end of 2018 creeping towards us, and another opportunity to reflect, learn, and grow. I have found myself feeling a little scattered these past few days. The fun and distractions of the holiday season coupled with my excitement and planning for the many big projects for 2019, has left me feeling a bit ungrounded. What I have learned about this feeling and state of being is that when I slow down and make sure that I am tying up loose ends and putting things to bed that are no longer needed, suddenly I have the space and energy I need for moving upwards and onwards. Not only that, but the simple act of taking time to edit/adjust your perspective to see your learnings and insights, and direct your attention towards what you truly desire, gets your whole mind and body on-board with what you want to create. Law of Attraction is not magic, it is neuroscience. Your awareness or attention is nourishment; it grows whatever it focuses on, whether it’s the weeds or the flowers. Let’s acknowledge and learn from the weeds, and spend time and attention nourishing and growing the flowers. So that is what we will do together, because it feels a lot more fun when you are not alone in the process.

happy + healthy + connected

Pull out a pen and paper, or start a new word doc and let’s get crafting and manifesting!



What did your experiences in 2018 teach you? What lessons have you landed on?

2018 was a big year of studentship, healing, and trusting. I completed my 300 hr yoga TT, a Yoga Life Coaching course, Yoga Nidra training, I started teaching more variety of fitness classes, and my book Be The Change reached it’s one year anniversary of publication with just under 1000 copies out in the world! There was also a lot of mental health struggles in the close circle of family and friends around me, and I became even more motivated to be a force of mental health strength training in this world. This is the year that I officially overcame my eating disorder tendencies, as the final piece of the puzzle the VOICE IN MY HEAD, changed. I released the final bits of trauma from my past and can now reflect on my life with neutrality, no longer riddled with emotional charges.

My beautiful soulful friend  Sanja Avramovic

My beautiful soulful friend Sanja Avramovic



This year brought me closer to spirit. I can now read books that talk about GOD without cringing or crossing out the word with the replacement “universal consciousness.” I am deeply enthralled by my spiritual practices and have learned the power of stillness and softness. My word for this year was UNFOLD. It was a constant reminder to be in the practice of surrender. This intention brought me into many amazing experiences that opened my mind and body in ways I had never experienced before. I was more willing to be uncomfortable. I was ready to face the darkness and meet it with light.

My meditation practice deepened, and I recommitted to a sleep routine to ensure I was giving my body what it needs to live a long and bountiful life. I now have a depth of understanding around Morning Routines, and the many tools that can be utilized to start the day with connection and purpose. I am more motivated than ever to stay the course of this inner-work and am in love with the experiences this life is affording me.


What are you curious to learn more about in 2019?

For me, I am increasingly more fascinated with mindful embodiment and FASCIA! I have been exploring more ways of working with trauma in our bodies, and I know there is a lot in the fascial system to learn from. I have my eye on some workshops by Christine Wushke.

simplify + minimalism + peace

I also want to continue reading, writing and experiencing Nature and Mother Earth in general. Whether that takes me on hikes or serves as a simple reminder to step outside in the morning rather than stay in doors until I have to leave, the more fresh air and expansive earth and sky I witness, the better. More natural health remedies, nutrition and mindful eating. And lastly, marketing and business development. I have applied for the ATB program for entrepreneurs. Fingers crossed I get in ;)

Lastly, I have been in the practice of minimalism, in many ways, this year. I challenged myself to not buy any clothing for one year, and while I did end up buying a couple essentials (winter boots and jacket), I am proud to say that I have kept this pretty steady since March 23. This has also prompted some more curiosity around the “dream home” that I have had in mind for many years. I am starting to realize that this “dream” was planted in my mind at a young age because of what I made it mean and saw others idolizing around me. To me, the dream home was a sign of success and freedom. It was this shiny, new material item that I never questioned as something that I didn’t actually need or want. This year I have become more aware in what I actually want, and more STUFF is not on that list. So I am curious to continue exploring what I am actually working towards and to let go of any stress or worry about money because I have what I need to survive and live and travel, and this dream home I thought I wanted is slipping out of my mind and creating more space for what truly matters to me.  



Goals and aspirations.

Shout it from the rooftops and you’re more likely to make it happen!

Alright, here is where the magic happens. I am calling in the power of everyone on the path of self-actualization, expansive consciousness, and the deepening of mental health strength training, to join me in this work and hold me accountable in whatever way serves you as well.

This is the year for my business to truly take off! I am running my first group coaching program and have every intention to record and automate the program so that it can be archived and offered to absolutely anyone at anytime, whenever they want to get started. The module themes and content are aligned with how to be physically and mentally FIT for your unique contribution in the world, and I am thrilled to be in a position to deliver and facilitate this program.

team work + group coaching + stronger together

To continue my own growth and development while working as a leader, I will enroll myself in at least 3 programs/workshops this year.

I am also officially starting book #2! This has been the goal for a while, but I didn’t want to rush the process. I am now ready and am so excited to share the next phase of my development and inquiry.

flow + arrow

I am working with my wonderful friend and collaborator Lucy Dunne on our project Flow + Arrow, and we will be hosting 3-4 day long or weekend long retreats this year. Our first one is February 9 and we would LOVE to have you join us! These day long/weekend long retreats are the start of a big vision we have together, and my goal this year is to create amazing experiences that will have a substantial impact on those who attend.

I am also taking on a bigger role with Evolve Retreat Co. and BOLD Athlete, and I want to support these two companies to become the best they can be.

I am excited to be partnering up with GoodPin, and will be choosing one of my fitness classes each month to be a Charity Class. Giving back to the community and supporting the energy of charitable giving is very important to me. GoodPin is an amazing local company that makes that easy! Once a month I will donate $50 to one lucky person in attendance at my class, so that they can go onto goodpin and choose a charity to donate to.

2019 is going to be huge and I know that taking care of myself and my connections with others is going to be vital.


What’s it going to take? What is your daily commitment(s)?

In my book Be The Change, near the end, I talk about The Goal Setter Mindset. This was a big transformation in my thinking about goals, and it continues to shift as I grow and evolve. Basically, rather than obsessing about your goals or getting overwhelmed by how big they feel or far off they seem, it is best to focus on the daily steps that add up to huge change.

Now that you have some clarity in what you want to learn, create, focus on, and accomplish this year, what does that look like on a daily basis?

For me, I will stick with the template of the Goal Setter Mindset, but will change the focus or perspective of each step to serve who and where I am now.

  1. Connect: First thing in the morning, get grounded to mother earth, open to father sky, and connect with breath. Check-in with current state and energy, and discern what flavor of morning routine would serve where I am and what kind of day I have ahead of me.

connect + grounded


2. Learn: Read a few pages from a book I am working through, or re-read sections of books I have transcribed into files on my laptop, or ask and answer high quality questions to learn from my own insights and information regurgitation

learn + grow

3. Let Go: Be in the practice of creating space and tuning into neutrality. Inspired by Paul Selig’s work; repeat...“I am here. I am here. I am here. I am free. I am free. I am free.”

celebrate + let go + freedom


4. Grow: Get uncomfortable. Practice inversions, chin ups, arm balances and the splits. Get my toughest task done right away. Choose a theme that can serve those who show up for my public classes that embodies the work I am deeply curious about and inspired by. Commit to ten minutes a day of writing/working on my book!

be the change

5. Reflect: Every night, take a few minutes to check-in and discern what I need to come back to balance. Put pen to paper and organize thoughts and actions so that my mind is clear and ready for rest.

reflect + nightly routine


I would love to hear what you come up with and how these reflection questions served your own process of reflecting on 2018 and setting yourself up for 2019. We are stronger together ;)

Here is the link to my website with my workshops for 2019 so far. Let’s connect!

Upcoming Workshops

xoxox Marin

Flow and Arrow

Head to www.flowandarrow.ca to get access to some amazing new content and community events coming in 2019!

Here is our first blog post on that website:

Welcome to Flow & Arrow, your one-stop shop for physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. We know that the concepts and conversations around “mental health,” “vulnerability,” “mindfulness,” “balance,” and “personal development” have all been over-played, pushed and preached all over the place, and generally have become “buzz-words” in the commercialized self-help and happiness industry. That being said, the personal development industry is so successful because it speaks to a basic need so many of us have become intrigued and entrapped by. We are here to bring depth, connection and rebuild relationships with these vital practices in the journey towards health and wellness.

The feeling of “lack” and the struggle to find “balance” and “meaning” in our day to day lives, is an epidemic that is sending us in search of support and self-discovery. And it can be a daunting task as it takes an investment of time and money, while the results are uncertain and there are many different paths we can choose. We have been through this in our own unique ways, and have come out the other side with a passion to guide others in their journey towards wholeness. Flow & Arrow is our passion project to simplify the process for YOU while maintaining the growth trajectory we are each committed to in our own lives.

To understand the philosophy and process of Flow & Arrow, first, you need to know what you are working with. So, what do you need to know about your machine?

We evolved with a complex and wise mind and body. However, in the beginning of life, this complex system was set up to alert us to physical danger so that our reactive mindbody system could protect itself, adapt, learn, and store the lessons to influence reactions in the future. We still have this wise and magical system, but because the physical threats aren’t as frequent, it is now the psychological threats that take centre stage.

The result, for many of us, is an over-active, over-reactive, over-analytical, monkey-mind that can “know” how and why change is necessary, yet stay stuck as it is still controlled by the animalistic, powerful and impulsive system all animals share. For example, we can “know” we want to be calm, we can “know” we want to be compassionate and patient, and we can “know” what we need or should be doing for our health and wellness, yet we still don’t do it. There is a missing link between knowing and actually doing. We have developed habits that keep us on the surface level rather than exploring and knowing the depths of who we are. Some of us were taught that “feelings aren’t facts” or that “emotions are to be shunted or avoided” in order to be appropriate and easy to be around. We have lost touch with the many wise systems of our body, and too much emphasis has been placed on the thinking mind. We have become over-thinking heads detached from the wisdom of our bodies. The afflictions of a busy mind is the precursor to feelings of lack, anxiety, depression, crippling fear, self-doubt, self-loathing, lethargy, and any other diseases of the mind and body.

“We now experience the daily need to defend our self concepts rather than our bodies...Our major struggles end up being with our own inner fears, insecurities, and destructive behavior patterns, and not with outside forces...Because we have developed this hypersensitive pyshce, we constantly use our energies to close around it and protect ourselves. But this process only hides the problem” Micheal Singer.

There are three pieces to explore now….What is Flow, What is Arrow, and what is Flow & Arrow?

Flow

This is the softer side to life. Flow represents our ability to adapt, shift, and be in co-creation with our environment from a mindset of receptivity, allowing, and openness. It is stepping into the moment with your whole being; receptive, alterable, in communication with the forces inside and outside the body and mind. It is the sense of acceptance, compassion, and respect for the fragility of our in-flux existence. Flow is the result of a deep trust in yourself while maintaining a reverence for how much you do not control. It is the state where your body heals itself, your breath moves rhythmically and powerfully with ease, and your intuition and will-power can be heard and felt, as it guides you to empowered action. We practice FLOW by understanding the true depth and definition of the concept rather than the theory or the empty word. Also, with guided meditations, yoga nidra, yoga, mindfulness techniques, and an ongoing conversation in self-love, acceptance, patience, trust, and your personal form of spirituality.

Arrow

This is the fire, the determination, the grit, and the motivation for impact. Arrow represents the importance of action, hard work, and a strong sense of direction. Through unpacking and repacking our definition of discipline, we will discover the sense of freedom that arrives when we learn to stay with what is uncomfortable. Arrow will take us into goal setting, the pursuit of our deepest desires, and the dedication to our heart’s purpose and passion, as we create a roadmap to follow. We will practice the art of ARROW with physical fitness, goals, implementing daily routine, and conversations on nutrition and nourishment.

Flow & Arrow

What is Flow and Arrow? It is the pathway to overcoming the afflictions of a “busy mind” by rebuilding the relationship between your head and your heart. Together, flow and arrow represents the true dance of balance. The yin and the yang. The effort and the surrender. The expansion and the contraction. With flow and arrow, we discover the secret to sustainable growth as we find our edges and take calculated steps outside our comfort zone while knowing we have a place to recover, refuel, and learn before we expand again. This partnership of opposites is what allows us to be in pursuit of our deepest dreams and desires along with the patience and acceptance of who and where we currently are. It is the pathway to your unique balance, as we honor the vitality of fire and fuel yet also embrace the calming nature of earth and physical presence. With flow and arrow, we learn to live fully in the present moment, aware of your internal impulses yet so grounded that you can choose mindful and deliberate thoughts and actions that serve the direction you desire.

With flow and arrow you will learn how to put yourself first in a “self-full” way, as you fill the most important cup, YOURS. You will experience that heartfelt change is possible for everyone. You can retrain, reparent, reintegrate the relationship with yourself, surrounded by a supportive community of like minded people. No longer stuck in the pattern of “all or nothing,” flow and arrow teaches you how to ride the wave of emotion and sensation, to stay embodied and support yourself with high quality thoughts and actions, so that you can see the translation from “ready to do the work” to a tangible and clear path of action.

Your demanding job and full life is not in the way of your balance - your thinking mind is! Once you learn how to do the inner work, you will watch the world around you change. Welcome to Flow & Arrow.













Window of Tolerance

“Your body is welcoming you home". Read those words, close your eyes, and feel into the sensations that arise. What do you feel? What do you notice?

In the yoga nidra training I was in last week (School of Sankalpa), almost everyday, I heard our wise facilitators say, “the subconscious is always in the present.” This phrase has stuck with me. I keep coming back to it. I have been deeply engaged with the studies on the conscious and subconscious for several years. I have found huge growth by contemplating the complexity of the human system and have taken time to understand how this mind and body works. I hadn’t yet heard that phrase though - “the subconscious is always in the present.”

I had an aha moment a few days ago. The subconscious system doesn’t “learn.” It is a storage system, a recording device, and simply executes from the stimuli it is fed from moment to moment. While the conscious mind isn’t bound by time; it can be fully present, yet it can also wander, and often does. While the conscious mind can wander, and we can be aware of the wandering mind, the subconscious does not discern between reality and fiction, past or present. It simply reacts to what it is fed and feels. The subconscious system is fed stimuli from various directions, and it reacts to protect and prolong survival.

For example, while watching a scary movie, as I was last night for my Halloween celebration, as I jump or squirm or hide my eyes, my conscious mind knows I am watching a movie, but my subconscious mind simply reacts in the moment and is present to stimuli it is fed through my various senses. The subconscious reacts as if that monster is in the room, and gets your system ready to fight, flight or fucking freeze up like a fainting goat.

Our subconscious mind is at the helm approximately 95% of the time. We need to understand how this system works, especially because of its massive influence and power over our daily lives. We are being affected every moment by what has happened in the past, yet the subconscious reacts as if it is all happening right now in the present. We get a cocktail of sensations, emotions, and thoughts that can become really confusing when we get lost in the hamster wheel of reactions. Rather, imagine what’s possible when you detach from the reactive and impulsive subconscious mind and develop a deeper relationship with your pure awareness and consciousness?

The Window of Tolerance is a term and tool introduced by Daniel Siegal in his amazing book, Mindsight. We see the nature of our animal mind to avoid what is uncomfortable and push or pull us towards instant gratification, which can lead us to numb out, to get distracted, or to try to make meaning out of all the uncertainty in life. When we know this system, we can sense into it as we get activated (hyperaroused) or lethargic and depleted (hyoparoused), and rather than act out from that state, we can soften, open, and become receptive as we acknowledge the subconscious workings of the mind while honoring the wisdom of breath and surrender.

From there we can hold space for our emotions. We can be with sensations as they arise like a wave and move to their completion; giving us access to the depths of our being rather than always acting out from the surface of simple pleasure or displeasure.

From being in this practice for several months now, I have witnessed my habits and patterns change drastically. I am no longer uncomfortable in my own body. I no longer sit in judgement or dis-ease and force my mind into positivity. I am living from a depth and connection to the many layers of who I am rather than simply being on the surface of the physical body and its aesthetics. I can feel when I get uncomfortable and now stay open to receive the wave and allow it to move, bringing me in touch with my intuition and pure state of consciousness on a daily basis. I no longer fear my emotions or get confused in my feelings. the house of my being is lit up, the windows are open, the doors are unlocked, and the air of breath and joy of music flows freely without restraint or fear.

I am so inspired to be in this work and to guide and teach others how to get back into the wisdom of their body. The process is simple, not easy. And I promise, it is worth it. Get curious and open yourself up, your body is waiting to welcome you home.

xoxo

CHAKRA POP

We are made of energy. Each cell in your body is vibrating with energy, and we are attracting, dispelling, and blocking certain things in life based on our individual and unique energetic fields. There is a vast world of communication and reactions happening beneath your conscious awareness, and we are fueled and compelled to act constantly by this world. To become a more congruent, whole, and integrated person, we must experience things that allow new, healthier, more efficient linkages to be cultivated in our brain; away from the pathways that do not serve who we are, and more strength and resolve to create new pathways that do serve us. Long before modern technology and science, ancient cultures honored this energy by labeling seven main centers in the human body that housed everything that it is to be human. They called these, the Chakras.

In the ancient language sanskrit, Chakra translates to ‘wheel,’ which alludes to the spinning nature of this energy, and the importance of all seven chakra centers moving/spinning, communicating, and flowing in a balanced manner. When one center is blocked or in excess is spinning too quickly, we are out of balance and our health suffers in mind, body and spirit. This system gives us something tangible to look at when we notice these imbalances, and offers many different practices, both physical and mental, to get to know ourselves better and create balance in our body and life.

Chakra Pop is a yoga class that I have created to offer such an experience. It is an opportunity to feel the energy of each chakra, aligned with music, movements, breath, and words that will connect, cleanse and strengthen each chakra. Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a complete novice, my goal with this class is to share the amazing philosophy that makes yoga what it is while providing a lived experience to support the shifts you desire in your life.

If you are brand new to yoga or yoga philosophy, here is a brief introduction to your Chakra system….

The FIRST chakra - Root Chakra (Muladhara - in sanskrit)

The literal translation of Muladhara means “root support.” This chakras role is to connect all of you and your energy with the Earth, aka Grounding. This is the home of safety, needs for basic survival, which includes financial and emotional security. Anything that promotes survival and generates a sense of “home frequency” is in the realm of the root chakra. And it is the most important area to check in with first, because until you tune into a sense of safety, and support the exploration of a solid foundation, nothing else matters. You will constantly be distracted and pulled towards finding safety until that sense of grounding sets in. Once you are stable, safe, and connected, you get access to your other levels of being.

The SECOND Chakra - Sacral Chakra (Svadhishana)

The translation from sanskrit means, “the place of the self.” This chakra is the wheel of creative energy and your identity as a human being within the realm of emotion, pleasure, sensuality, and your ability to adapt and flow from one moment or experience to the next without attachment or craving. Your health and vitality is deeply effected by your sacral chakra, as the intensity of emotion and addiction can create major imbalances, while a healthy relationship to sex, pleasure, flow, and emotion can be the grounds for a life full of joy and vitality.

The THIRD Chakra - Solar Plexus (Manipura)

Translated it means “lustrous gem.” This is the home of confidence (aka a healthy ego), personal power, fire and passion. A strong connection and balance in this chakra allows you to be a person of action, as you trust your self and trust the process, and are not one to be stopped by fear or self-doubt. The gut is known as a secondary brain in our body because of the intricate and complex hormones and communication systems that reside there. A healthy gut provides energy and power, while an unhealthy gut becomes an energy drainer.

The FOURTH chakra - Heart Chakra (Anahata)

The translation from sanskrit means “unhurt.” This is the home of love, compassion, and a balance between the bottom three and top three chakras. This center also represents the important balance between giving and receiving. There is immense power for health and healing in this chakra. Your heart has oxytocin receptors that literally heals past wounds and traumas when in balance. Give the people in your life permission to break your heart and trust that being open and full of compassion is the only “armor” you need.

The FIFTH Chakra - Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)

The translation from sanskrit: “very pure.” This chakra is your expression of your personal truths. Your ability to fill the space with your presence and your voice. A balanced and open throat chakra provides the clarity and ease of communication, as you trust your voice and speak non-violently, as well as patiently listen with generosity. Through conscious communication, you continually update your belief system to align with your highest-self, and you know your words vibrate with healing energy and will inspire the ears they land on.

The SIXTH chakra - Third Eye Chakra (Ajna)

From sanskrit, the translation is: “beyond wisdom.” This chakra offers wisdom that is beyond the five senses and the material world. Often explained as the “seat of the witness,” this center represents one’s ability to step off the emotional roller coaster of the ego and see the space to pause for a response rather than go with auto-pilot’s reaction. When we learn to observe ourselves, notice and witness without judgement, but rather, with curiosity and a desire for a deeper knowing, we get access to the wisdom of the third eye. The actual location of this chakra center resides in the pinecone shaped gland, called the Pineal. This gland has light receptors, which is responsible for helping you feel awake in the daytime and sleepy at night.

The SEVENTH Chakra - Crown Chakra (Sahaswara)

From sanskrit to english, this chakra means “thousand petaled.” This is the home of pure universal consciousness. While this center is where our own consciousness resides, it is also the gateway to everything above that is unseen. It can feel like bliss, or as if you are everything and nothing all at once. Being in alignment with the bottom 6 chakras will support you exponentially in experiencing the energy that is beyond the physical or beyond your own individual. It is in this chakra that the sentence, “I AM” is full and complete as it is. Beyond labels, beyond stories and limitations, this chakra connects you to the limitless and the formless.

Now that you have a familiarity with the chakra system, which one stands out to you? These provide a map for you to get to know your mind-body connection, and give you access to a cleansing and strengthening with avenues from within and from outside your body. What you need now is not going to be what you need later. This is a constant process in flux, as you tune into the subtleties of the chakra system, and skillfully learn how to assess, connect, cleanse and heal yourself on a daily basis. One step in that direction….join me at Chakra Pop (Tuesday’s 4:45pm at Liv yoga + wellness).

See you there ;)

Self-Worth

I have had some major awakenings and unraveling’s in the past few months. This summer has been a time of facing my deepest wounds and finally having the tools and space to process and reintegrate some things that have been too scary to meet in the past. The major thorn or wound that I have been peeling away the layers of has been around body image and self-worth. A complex unraveling as I have witnessed my attachments and stories rise to the surface each time I have been face to face with a very real accusation or opportunity to rewrite my thought process around how my body looks and what that means for my self-worth. I have realized that any attachment to self-worth in the realm of the ideal shape of my body is setting myself up for a very bumpy ride. One moment my stomach may be flat and I feel great and empowered, and the next it swells up and then I am face to face with this pull towards hiding and not standing as tall in my power. WTF? This has happened enough now that I can see the dysfunction. I can see the exhausting roller coaster I have been riding for most of my life, and I finally have been able to call bull shit on it.

Even when/if others make hurtful comments about the shape of my body, or any woman’s body, I can now see that that comes from their own dysfunction, wounds, and naivety from social conditioning and life experience. And my reactions to what others say (or to what I say), is showing me my own stories, assumptions, and wounds. I can see how others’ remarks and beliefs rule their life and causes suffering for them, and I do not have to take their opinions as fact or truth. I can see my shape for what it is, and choose to love every inch regardless of its current state.

My body is magic. Even when it swells, or hurts, it is pure magic and I want to bow down and honor this vehicle every single day. I still have goals that include my physical body, and I would love to have rippling abs and feel and be stronger, but I know that I will not be a happier or a more deserving person because of the shape of my body. I am more than this physical body. I am a mind, an energy, a force, a guide, and am constantly in flux. I am happy and deserving now. Working to be my best always, and loving the journey more than the ideal destination. Even the “destination” is not fixed or static, it will also flow and change and continue moving.

As I step more fully into this realization, I feel a deep sense of calm and a “home frequency” that feels supportive and inclusive. It fires me up with inspiration and motivation to share and encourage others to stay the course of their personal development work, because the bounty that continues to flow in makes life so enjoyable - even when it’s a struggle.

Disassociation from the inner-critic and the selfish push and pull of the ego does not happen through ego contemplation. I experienced the sneakiness and slippery nature of the ego when I tried to cognitively joust with it’s impulses and over-rule it with mindset and re-direction. The ego will always win if you are just trying to out-think it. Instead you must go through the back door; an embodied mindfulness, with compassionate connection, slowly increasing your resiliency to stay with what is uncomfortable and ride the wave towards wisdom and insight. It’s the simplest and most profound experience I have had yet along this yogic journey.

So I leave you with this: each interaction you have with yourself and with others is a seed you plant. And which seeds you choose to actively nourish will become your superpower. Take some time to get real with how you are spending your time, with who are you conversing with, what topics and inquiries are you engaging in, and what do you truly want?? What you do daily matters more than what you do once and a while. Take yourself seriously by actively creating the support system that will catapult you in the direction you desire. There is a way to healing and overcoming and strengthening and radical pleasure in your day to day life.

Just keep in mind, there’s going to be some resistance and struggle as you re-direct your energy from the well-worn path of your current habits and states, just as there are inconveniences, more traffic, detours, noise, and a lot of work during road construction. The new intersection or roadway being built is simply a small struggle compared to the convenience and beauty of the heartfelt upgrade. It’s time to level up.

Reach out if you would like support in your journey. I would be honored to guide you through the embodied mindfulness experience.

xoxox

HOW to devote your EGO to something bigger than you

Almost ten years ago I went through ego dissolution. It was an existential crisis, as my perspective shifted in an instant, from being the center of the universe to suddenly feeling like a bug that could be squished and forgotten any moment. It was terrifying and painful. I shook uncontrollably for hours and didn't leave my apartment for three days. Death was all around me and I didn't have the tools or the understanding of how to deal with this reality. A veil was lifted and there was no turning back. 

It was years later that I realized that that existential crisis was my ego losing its shit. Not ego death, because I am still here and I still have a sense of identity. Ego Dissolution is a process of losing the perceived boundaries that create separation between you and everything else. It can come from drug-induced experiences, meditation, deep self-inquiry work, and existential crises (to name a few). 

My existential crisis was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Over time, as I healed from the trauma of that awakening, I began to feel more alive and more mindful on a daily basis. There was less judgement, less pettiness, less fear-riddled decision making, less holding back overall. I learned to think about death every day as a beautiful reminder of the fragility of life and my passion to live each day like it's my last. It is difficult to be restrained by the immature and short-sighted musings of the ego when I contemplate the unavoidable end of life that is coming for us all.

It is easy to get bombarded with information and to allow ourselves to get quite melancholy and apathetic about the human condition. However, sadness does not heal others' sadness. Anger is not the remedy for dissolving anger. Being absorbed by the struggles around us does not help carry the weight others are carrying. And, avoiding the hurt or leaving the struggles of the world solely in the hands of others' isn't doing much good either. So what is one to do??

This has been a big topic of my own reflection and self-inquiry lately. Is it egotistical to think that I can have a positive impact on the world? Is it irresponsible to set out with the mission to spread health and happiness when there are millions of people who can only focus on finding food and shelter day after day? I have realized that my own healing and self-discovery creates a ripple effect around me. As I learn and grow, my potential for impact expands. While I cannot directly impact everyone, I know I can impact many, who then can impact many, who also can impact many. In order for us each to step into the potential of our best-self state, we need to understand our ego, and how we can use it's immense power and flexibility to cultivate a revolution of love, longevity, and life-affirming pleasure. 

What is the ego?

First of all, the ego is difficult to define because it is a unique expression for each one of us; it is not just one specific thing.

  • A person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance (i.e. can result in an inflated or deflated ego)
  • The "I-maker"; i.e. the separation between what is YOU and what is ME
  • "The ego is like a pair of scissors that turns your interactions into judgments where you (overtly or secretly) compare yourself to others...Anything that feeds a sense of self-importance, either because you feel like a victim or better than others, comes from ego." Yol Swan
  • "The ego is an identity of our own construction, and identity which is false. If we take all the beliefs of what we are - beliefs about our personality, talents, and abilities - we have the structure of our ego" Gary Van Warmerdam
  • The ego feeds on pleasure and creates disturbances to avoid discomfort

 

How to retrain your ego and devote it to something bigger than you?

While it is obvious that you are a unique individual, there is also truth in the statement that "we are all one." There is a unifying energy that we are all a part of; a collective consciousness and rhythm that all of life flows within. We all share in struggles, in comparisons, in the cycle of life and death, and this earth is home to us all. When we can cultivate that healthy sense of individuality while also attuning to the peace that comes along with ONE-NESS, we tap into a power beyond measure. This is how we devote our ego to something bigger than seeking that next high, or achieving that next selfish goal, or being acknowledged for that thing you did. your ego wants to feel good, and you can train it to pursue the high of supporting others, the positive buzz from learning something new, and the joy of celebrating others' successes. While it may begin with a focus on delayed gratification while you have the urge for instant gratification, over time your mind and body learn that it feels really good to make healthy choices, to connect and encourage others, and to be a part of something bigger than you. Even in my case, I have trained my mind and body to feel good as I contemplate life and death. 

It is the busy-ness of our thinking mind that pulls us away from being full and content with the moment as it is. Here are four steps for you to practice your way into dissolving the unhealthy habits of your ego and developing strength in the healthy aspects of your ego....

1. Don't just do something for the sake of doing something. Slow down, do less, sit there and direct your attention inwards. Notice where your mind goes and practice just watching and witnessing rather than engaging or getting busy to distract yourself. 

"The less active your mind, the easier it is to discern what's true and what's illusion - that is, what comes from intuitive wisdom and what may be disguised as understanding but is really motivated by ego" - Yol Swan.

 

2. Meditate. Everything you need is already inside of you, behind your mind-chatter. You can achieve a sense of confidence without it's clingy-cousin Arrogance. 

"The paradox is that the more you work toward dissolving your ego, the more empowered your sense of self emerges, as your need to 'belong' or compare to others diminishes" - Yol Swan

 

3. Pleasure is your birth-right. Anything you can do, you can overdo or underdo. So engage in pleasure in the name of love, connection, and nourishment, and remember that while we need water to survive, even water can kill if we get too much. 

Practice Intimacy without attachment, and Satisfaction without "What's next?"

 

4. Learn, forgive, and practice compassion. We are all doing the best that we can with the information, energy, and capacity that we have. 

"The self discipline and self awareness required to achieve a higher perception of life and spiritual growth means the dissolution of ego. The key is to maintain that focus and presence of mind in ordinary life and pierce through the coloring of the mind that wants you to remain stuck in the false self images and illusions you get attached to - especially the 'spiritual' ones" Yol Swan. 

Practice humility without insecurity, and contentment without comparison. How about you versus you-yesterday rather than You versus anyone else. 

 

Most importantly, the dissolving of the unhealthy habits of the ego is a process and will not happen over night. Choose to fall in love with practice, and you will fall in love with life ;)

I leave you with this......

“... what is said about the ego becomes food for it self. The ego is self justifying to the bitter end… The ego is a concept and yet it is real… It is like quicksand; no matter what we do or which way we move, we sink deeper. If we do nothing, we’ll also sink deeper… we must do something, and yet there’s nothing we can do… In living with this, try to find the ego, try to see it, face-to-face. Don’t try to know something about it, try to find it… Know that whatever you find, behind that is more you go, feeling proud and taking credit for having found something. Be especially careful of discovering egolessness, because that is ego and drag… Continue to struggle, don’t give up, and no there is nothing you can do. Whatever you find, know that the ego has found it. Whatever is not found, the ego has not found it. Be careful also when you hear that one perfectly exquisite and definitive explanation and remedy. The ego says it, the ego here’s that, ego knows it. The ego smiles and self satisfaction. Don’t give up. If you do, it is the ego that gives up. If you don’t it is the ego that doesn’t. Just try to see it, face-to-face. Be committed to this, even though it is the egos commitment.“  - Robert Rabbin

<3

How and Why to meditate

My relationship with meditation has many chapters at this point. It has been on my mind for over a decade. First as something I was told to do by doctors to help with my mental health. And while I agreed and understood it to be an important thing to do, I didn't do it. 

I began to read countless numbers of self-help books and noticed a common denominator in the messaging was meditation. I learned there are many different ways to engage in meditation and decided it was something I needed to give a good try. 

I started with a 30 day challenge, as I thought I needed the accountability, motivation, and sense of fun that comes with a short stint of a daily challenge. I set my aim on 10 minutes a day, as it seemed like a low number and an easy target. The first few days went great. I would sit out on my balcony, enjoying the fresh air. My back would ache after a couple of minutes, but I was determined. A solid five days of meditation and I felt great! And then, I missed the sixth day, and then the seventh day, and the eighth day. Suddenly ten minutes felt like a huge barrier and I lost my steam. 

No problem though. I celebrated my few days of success and went back to the drawing board. I had learned a beautiful lesson in writing my book Be The Change. I set the bar low by stating I would write for ten minutes a day, and that made it possible for me to commit every day to at least ten minutes. So perhaps, I thought, I needed to set the bar lower for my meditation goal. I landed on 30 seconds a day. I knew I would always meditate if it was just a mere 30 seconds. So off I went once again. This time, it worked. Two solid months of 30 second meditations. The beauty that came from this was that I learned to crave the feeling meditation afforded me. And while I would start each day with 30 seconds of meditation, it soon trickled in throughout my day. I had a few moments in my car before a meeting; meditate for 30 seconds. I am out walking and falling in live with the rhythm of nature; sit down and meditate for 30 seconds. I am feeling anxious and wound up for no apparent reason; drop what I am doing and meditate for 30 seconds. Honestly, I felt POWERFUL! I felt like I had more control in my mind and body then ever before. 

After two months of this beautiful practice, I decided it was time to increase my goal and would now meditate for 6 minutes each morning. I did that for one week, and then fell for the allure of the bigger-better game. I increased my goal to ten minutes for that week ahead. I managed to get in two meditations. And then, for some reason, I increased my goal to 20 minutes, and completely stopped meditating all together. Interesting ;). 

The battle within me amped up. I noticed my mood and energy levels began to fluctuate a lot more. I noticed my need for control in my food, body image, and surroundings elevated. My mind slowly downsized from feeling in tune with the expansive flow of life and collective consciousness, back down to being consumed by surface level disturbances. I had touched the jewel of a daily meditation practice, and then found myself back in the prison of my own body and mind. Interesting experience indeed. 

Since then, my meditation practice has been inconsistent at best. I have reverted back to my 30 second commitment, and am in the practice of embracing where I am and relearning the art of making meditation a daily habit. Part of my process is to write about it. Writing is my favorite integrative exercise, as I land on exactly the reminders and the pathway I need to feel supported and accountable to the things I desire in life. 

What I hear from many people in their own struggle with meditation is a lack of understanding of how to engage in it as a practice. Like most things we know are important in life, we can easily land on the WHY, yet it is the HOW that we get tripped up on. 

Why is meditation a worth while pursuit?

  • It trains your mind to find the calm in the storm
  • It pushes the "reset" button
  • It builds your relationship with your Witness state (behind your mindchatter)
  • It strengthens your ability to PAUSE after your impulsive Reactions so you have space and awareness to choose a thoughtful Response and deliberate direction
  • It supports your expansive, heart-warming, compassionate filled, and fuel-inducing perspective that everything is connected

Let's talk the HOW....

First of all, if you have dabbled in meditation and have uttered the words "I just can't get my mind to calm down, meditation doesn't work for me." Guess what? If you tried to meditate, then you did meditate! You do not need to have a quiet mind in order to have had a successful meditation experience. You noticed your mind wouldn't calm down? That's meditation. Noticing. Awareness. Observation. 

Yes of course meditation feels better when you experience a moment - or more - of quiet, and expansive space, and it takes time to build that muscle. 

If you are intrigued and would like to practice, here are some steps to follow....

1. Create a comfortable space

Whether you sit, lay down, stand proudly in alignment, or move slowly and mindfully, the first step is creating a sense of safety and comfort so that your mind has a chance of finding the calm depths within. 

2. Posture matters

Sit up tall. Take a few moments to assess your posture and ensure you have lots of space for full breaths. Slouched posture not only triggers your fight or flight response, it also prevents full breaths, and can be the cause of aches and pains, which will pull you from your experience. Sit against a wall or on a chair as you build you postural muscles. 

3. Breath

Your breath is the gateway to your inner-environment. Full long breaths that invite in presence as you allow your breath to become the most interesting thing inside of you. Notice your breath as if you have never noticed it before. This supports your ability to get out of your thinking mind, and into feeling your body. Imagine your diaphragm as a balloon, and feel your front, sides, and back inflate with each inhale, and then surrender to the moment as it is with each exhale. Breathe in a way that in intentional, but not aggressive. 

4. Choose a focus with you inner gaze

With your eyes closed, focus your gaze at the backs of your eye-lids. And then imagine your head is a bus, and while at first it is as though you are in the front seat, staring directly out the windshield, allow yourself to take a few steps back to the backseat. Still able to see everything as before, but also the ability to see the space in between you and your thoughts, your emotions, and your reactions. 

5. Choose a focus with a mantra

I do not always engage in mantra, and I find it to be quite supportive in times when my mind feels more erratic or I am aware of a negative loop in my mind that needs to be rewired. Repetition is a convincing argument. And I am better able to stay in the moment and on purpose when I have a short phrase or one empowering word that I am focused on as my anchor. 

6. Visualization

Another tool I opt to use is the power of visualization. I imagine myself floating beneath the ocean's surface or above the clouds in the sky. I imagine my body is growing and expanding, touching everything around me and becoming connected to everything in the universe. I will also at times visualize my day and how I want to feel and show up from moment to moment. Planting seeds in my psyche in terms of my chosen energy and direction, making it more likely that I will remember these powerful feelings and intentions as I go about my day.

7. Space in between things

In the end, my goal with meditation is to feel aligned with the space in between things. The expansive space in between my thoughts, my breath, my emotional pendulum swing. This supports me in finding my status quo, my baseline, my higher-purpose and reservoir of energy as I know there is a lot I cannot control in life, and the best way to navigate is to improvise in the moment with an open heart and open mind. And every time I start my day aligned with that expansive space in between things, I am quick to notice when my thoughts hone in on something that does not serve me. I am able to step back into expansiveness with one deep mindful breath, and back into the flow of life, as the imperfectly perfect bountiful experience that it is. 

 

Most importantly, keep in mind that this is a practice. As I shared in my own story and relationship with meditation, it has been a bumpy road, and that is okay! We learn by doing. We learn by trying things on and reflecting on what works and what doesn't. And what works for me will not necessarily be the jewels and nuggets of wisdom you need. Use my experience as a platform to start, and then get into your own pursuit of trial and error. When you fall in love with practice, you fall in love with life.

xoxo Marin

 

Learning from my shadows.....again

I received a heartfelt message from a soon-to-be friend on instagram a couple of days ago. This friend opened up about her struggle with weight, divorce, motivation, and the desire to develop a better self talk habit through daily journal writing yet a resistance to it in the form of lacking a deeper understanding of the purpose and the HOW.

Quite honestly, this message came to me at the perfect time, because I also needed the reminder. For me to stop and do a little bit of reflection and digging in to find the answer I could share and inspire for another, was the healing I needed at the time too. 

My response to her is threaded throughout the paragraphs below, however, I wanted to take some time to write it out in a way that speaks to me and speaks to anyone else who reads these words. 

The purpose of daily writing is to rewire your thought patterns. It’s not about writing the negative or the positive stuff - it’s about choosing thoughts that create space for you to be who and where you are now, which then provides you with the energy and motivation for action. It's hard to make progress or find contentment when consumed by what you don't like in yourself or what you lack. There are so many other things to think about, and there are many perspectives to try on that allows you to be honest with where you lack yet in a way that provides compassion and inspiration.

Definitely be honest about where you’re at and what you’re noticing, and then shift into how you are embracing it, what you’re learning from it, and what you’ll do to practice this shift in perspective. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves and practice our way into letting go, forgiving, accepting, and setting up action steps to move onward.

Most importantly, it’s okay to not feel okay. It’s okay to struggle and to feel as though you are retreating into yourself. It's okay to have habits and patterns that get in your way. We all do! The main difference in those who are still productive and perhaps even happy or content in their struggle, is their perspective. I try really hard to remind myself daily to embrace my imperfections, love my shadows, learn from my missteps, and just keep trying! It certainly feels better when you are engaging in life in a disciplined and internally directed way. And it feels better when you get the sleep you need and the nourishment you require.

We are human, we are imperfect, and we can be content with discontentment because it means you are alive and you have the opportunity to shift as soon as you’re ready or are forced to make a change due to life circumstances. Either way, you’ll do it eventually, and I’m right here with you. 

Every morning I wake up and look at my body in the mirror, and too often my mood is determined by the shape I see. How much did I eat yesterday? How much did I move yesterday? How did I treat myself yesterday? It becomes completely ego-centric when I allow my morning trajectory to be determined by my mind's judgment of my body's current state. There is so much more to me than the shell of my body. I have depth, and I am grateful for the opportunity this life and this body affords me. I want to step into each day with love and compassion in my heart as I embrace my shape and make healthy and mindful decisions moment to moment because that is how I navigate life with the fuel I need. 

I struggled with body image, severe depression and eating disorders for many many years. I wrote a book about my journey and my overcoming. And still, I am not immune to this very real human condition of self-doubt and depression. I struggle to stay motivated to engage with life. Sometimes I want to just sleep, and it feels difficult and consuming to engage with other people. I experience anxiety and worry that I’m not interesting. I judge myself harshly and become consumed mentally when I overeat. 

Yet, I know that being thin is not what makes me happier. It’s the pursuit of health and longevity that will invite in happiness. It’s the act of getting sweaty or taking time to meditate that brings about good feelings - at any size. I started this morning with a simple and short meditation - as I sat on a stool facing out the balcony window to take in the light and the buzz of the wind and the few cars on the road. I reminded myself - don't just do something, sit there. I noticed my mind wander to a few situations in the recent past that irked me, that disturbed me, and I can see now that there are a few things I am carrying around with me that are contributing to my low state. So often there is something real in life that has bothered me, and instead of dealing with it, I try to just let it go, yet the low vibration feeling stays with me and manifests in other ways. Our brain likes order and meaning, so it will attach to anything as a way to explain the low vibration feelings that are present. 

Focusing on needing to be thinner to be happy is just attaching to something tangible as a reason for your feelings of lack. To heal the hurt of your relationships that need mending or dissolving, and to reclaim your life with passion and purpose, you need to change the glasses that you perceive your life through. Retraining your self talk patterns is a great place to practice.

I call it being pragmatically optimistic. When I’m writing to rewire my thoughts, I start with what I notice I am feeling. I then ask myself questions about what else could be contributing, and what are some other perspectives to try on, and what’s something I can do today to learn, grow and let go. The process of asking and answering high quality questions is where the shift awaits! So, the questions I am sitting with today, and I invite you to do so as well....

  • What is one thing I can do today to mend the hurt from a past conversation or relationship that seems to be nagging on my psyche?
  • What is my self-loving and compassionate mantra to land on and repeat when I find myself engaging in a habit or pattern today that I am committed to shifting or removing from my life?
  • What am I giving myself permission to feel today?

To close, I have a beautiful quote to share from Angi Fletcher. She is a model, mother, and vulnerable advocate for body image and self-love practices. I stumbled across this and felt immediately hugged by her words. Enjoy ;) 

"There are seasons for everything. Happiness doesn't come in a body shape; health and vitality does; having more energy does; being able to move easier does; not being as depressed does. But all these things comes from what you put in your body and what thoughts you choose to believe, not just in the shape or size of your body. When I was in my thinnest body measurement wise, I was also at my thinnest capacity for love, patience, strength, adventure and happiness. Your body is your body. It is changeable, moldable, flexible and more capable than you can imagine. But it is just a shell. You are in control of your mind and what you put into your body to either make it a machine or a prison" Angi Fletcher

With acceptance and peace, space is created to shift

I have been deeply engaged and curious about a hazardous pattern I am noticing in myself. I know it is vital to take time to relax and restore my energy in between bouts of effort, intensity and growth. Yet, when I gift myself a day to relax, in comes the self-talk around being lazy, being not enough, followed by irrational fear-riddled self-talk about my lack of discipline and potential to get fat if I eat one more snack. It also pulls me away from connection, and I step out of integrity as I become the person who bails on plans and chooses to stew in loneliness and dis-ease. I find it a lot easier to not pay attention to my ego when it is inflated - or at least to not be as effected. The deflated ego rides along with pain and suffering and darkness, a much heavier cocktail to swim through.

I am face to face with this pattern every time my schedule opens up and I have space for some much need R & R. I don't want to keep myself busy out of fear of what my idle mind concocts. And I know that the more I run from something, the stronger the impulse becomes. I want to enjoy my down-time and embrace the spaciousness in my schedule when I have it.

I have two weeks off in July around my birthday, and as a gift to myself, I am taking some time now to contemplate what I have learned in this process of noticing, what I need to be aware of and what I need to practice, in order to step into spaciousness whole-heartedly, and even to give my deflated ego some space to have its pity-party but then move on. 

First of all, it's okay to struggle. And it's perfectly okay to find yourself in a pattern that is not serving you. Celebrate your awareness! Celebrate your healthy and able mind that just noticed something that carries immense possibility for growth. There will always be something that needs time and attention, so the point is not to attain perfection but to stay in the practice of noticing, accepting, creating space, and shifting in your chosen direction. I am not upset about this pattern I am observing in myself. I find it to be fascinating. What an interesting reaction to such a life-affirming practice of restoring and regenerating energy. And I know that my own suffering can be shifted into compassion in one breath. There is always a way to expand your perspective and see the light and dark at the same time - neither one being better or worse than the other - just different aspects of the human experience. I am neither the dark nor the light, I am the space that holds it all. 

Like most things, as Micheal Singer reminds us, "the problem is not the problem, it is your relationship to the problem that is the problem."

With that in mind, how is my relationship to self-care/relaxing getting in my way? 

I feed off of the feeling of progress. I absolutely LOVE being in the creative process and seeing my hard work manifest into action or results for myself and for others. While I do need to honor my downtime, there is opportunity for me to shift my relationship and actions in my self-care so that I actually feel recovered and energized from my downtime. 

I am a believer in a strong beginning and a strong ending, while allowing the middle to be flexible, adaptable and focused on finding the flow. As I gear down in July, here are the steps I will (re)invite into my day to ensure that I am honoring my self-care and not finding the need to recover from my days off.

# 1: start my day with movement that sparks some fire (fire breath, arm movements connected to breath, a walk around the block, etc.)

# 2: 30 seconds - 6 minutes of meditation (connect with the space between thoughts and breath, outdoors whenever possible) 

# 3: Pen to paper (set a timer for 10 minutes, get my creative juices flowing by free-writing or working on a project)

#4: In the evening, engage in another 30 seconds - 6 minutes meditation (give myself permission to feel whatever I am feeling, giving it space to be released as I open back up to the moment)

I know that if I follow through on these simple daily steps, I will cultivate the energy I desire. I am excited to step into the 32nd year of my life knowing that I am a bit wiser, stronger, and braver than the year before. Always growing. Always learning. Always practicing my love for life. 

Compassion requires that we get in touch with what hurts. It’s the pain, the suffering itself, that invites compassion to manifest. The intelligence of compassion brings forward a kindness that is not trying to get rid of suffering. This goes counter to the ego’s wishes. Ego only wants to be protected from pain. Compassion opens to pain.

When compassion is present, our defensiveness can relax. When our defenses are down, we can look objectively at our situations and see the true origins of our suffering. Then we can intervene skillfully to address the real causes and not just the symptoms. SO another aspect of compassion is the capacity to be with suffering as a means of coming to, and experiencing, more truth and greater freedom.

- From the Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski

 

Make today a good one ;)

Marin McCue

xoxox

30 day challenge

Today marks the one month approach to my 32nd birthday! It has been a big year and I want to step into July with some structure and playfulness. I have created a 30 day challenge that will support you in understanding the ancient wisdom in yoga philosophy called the Yamas and Niyamas. These are principles, concepts, and tools to practice that all lead to a deeper connection with life and with yourself. I have found so much joy and growth in contemplating these concepts, and I am excited to share them with you!

This 30 day challenge will be one that incorporates a bit of reading and learning, which will accompany and assist your own unique desire for growth. It will also involve some movement - yoga and body weight fitness - as well as time in nature. The commitment is 10 minutes a day, and you can engage more or less as you wish.

Please reach out if you have questions or would like to register. The investment is $30 and all you need is a notebook and pen to get started! 

I hope to hear from you ;) marinmccue@gmail.com

Mindfulness Practice

We have everything we need to live full and happy lives. When you understand how your "machine" works, it is a whole lot easier to navigate. Your body is smart. It has to be in order to live this life, to function with the ongoing chaos inside and outside your own physical boundaries, and to continue growing from infancy until you unfold into death's grasp.

Your brain wants to heal you. It’s main job is to keep you alive. But one of the fucked up ways that it does that is to be on the lookout for danger at all times, and it is overly sensitive to little things that could potentially be dangerous. Like an unmet glance, an unmet expectation, and something as simple as déjà vu that reminds you of something that was uncomfortable in your past. We are triggered 50 to 300 times a day to feel as though we are unsafe, and in that state digestion stops, healing stops, and we lose access to higher levels of thinking. A little bit of stress is good for you but too much of anything is no longer a good thing. This is why mindfulness is so important. With mindfulness we become aware of how we are feeling and what we are thinking about. From this awareness we are able to calm down and redirect our mind towards what we want more of rather than focusing on what we do not have or where we lack.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is mono tasking. It is fully investing in this present moment as it is, even when it is terribly uncomfortable. With practice we start to realize that we are not just our emotions or our thoughts or our body or our actions. We are all of those things and none of those things. If you can witness something then you are more than the thing you are witnessing. When we develop a stronger relationship with the witness we are no longer attached to the emotional pendulum swing of our day and rather find a calm and steady state where we are witnessing our emotions and able to efficiently calm ourselves down so we can be problem solver’s rather than sitting in the energy of the problem.

The goal is not to protect ourselves perfectly because then you will not grow and you will not build the resilience, through experiential learning, that you need. Let yourself be imperfect. Let yourself be messy. Embrace yourself as a work in progress and a masterpiece right now as you are. A non-dualistic approach to life and growth that allows you to love and accept who and where you are right now while still striving and working towards your goals and your ideal future. It is when we embrace the space between where we are now and where we desire to be that we get access to a reservoir of high-quality energy and tap into the magical flow of life.

Allow every day to be a new adventure and experience, and trust that you can navigate with a clear mind and open heart by taking time each morning to ground yourself, to notice where your mind is going and how you are feeling in your body, and then create action steps and reminders that will serve who and where you are now and where you desire to be. An intimate relationship and conversation and connection with yourself in order to honour the balance between remaining unattached to the moment and fully invested in what the moment has to offer. 

Mental Health Awareness Week

2018 came in with a bang and I am reminded this week (being Mental Health Awareness Week) that I have not taken time yet to slow down and do a solid reflection and self-inquiry session with myself. This is my process of tending to my own mental health and ensuring I am listening to my body and noticing the patterns that are arising - to send more energy to what is working and redirect where I am feeling stuck or stagnant. 2018 has been one big project after another, at least a couple of events each month, and a roster full with clients, and while I am in awe of the growth and momentum that I have cultivated, I still need to remind myself to slow down, reflect, and edit my direction mindfully. 

I was fighting off a cold last week (I think I won) and to me that is a clear sign that my body needs and wants some time to feel where I am and engage in more gentle movements and self-care. My meditation habit has been slipping more occasionally, and every time I recommit to that simple five minutes of stillness, breath and presence in the morning, I notice a huge difference in my energy all day long (truth be told: I meditated for two minutes this morning and I felt amazing about that). So, to truly honor the signals I am getting and my desire to lead by example, here I am...reflecting, asking and answering high-quality questions, and recommitting to the course that will serve the sustainable growth I desire to flow through. 

What's the reminder I need today?

  • Take in quiet and peaceful moments as often as I can. Sit in gratitude and enjoy exactly who and where I am right now.

 

What would I tell/remind a client if they were in my position right now?

  • Your body wants to heal you. It’s main job is to keep you alive. But one of the fucked up ways that it does that is that it is on lookout for danger at all times and it is overly sensitive to little things that could potentially be dangerous. Like an unmet glance, and unmet expectation, and something as simple as déjà vu that reminds you of something that was uncomfortable in your past. We are triggered 50 to 300 times a day to feel as though we are unsafe and in that state digestion stops, healing stops, and we lose access to higher levels of thinking. Little bit of stress is good for you but too much of anything is no longer a good thing. This is why mindfulness is so important. With Mindfulness we become aware of how we are feeling and what we are thinking about. From this awareness we are able to calm him down and redirect her mind towards what we want more of rather than focusing on what we do not have or where we lack. Continue calming your system down by recommitting to your morning meditation. That simple few minutes in the morning primes your system for the rest of your day!

 

What is Mindfulness?

  • Mindfulness is mono tasking. It is fully investing in this present moment as it is, even when it is terribly uncomfortable. With practice we start to realize that we are not just our emotions or our thoughts or our body or our actions. We are all of those things and none of those things. If you can witness something and you are more than the thing you are witnessing. When we develop a stronger relationship with the witness we are no longer attached to the emotional pendulum swing of our day and rather find a calm and steady state where we are witnessing our emotions and able to efficiently calm her self down so we can be problem solver’s rather than sitting in the energy of the problem. The goal is not to protect ourselves perfectly because then you will not grow and you will not build the resilience through experiential learning that you need. Let yourself be imperfect. Let yourself be messy. Embrace yourself as a work in progress and a masterpiece right now as you are. A non-dualistic approach to life and growth that allows you to love and except who and where you are right now will still striving and working towards your goals and your ideal future. It is when we embrace the space between where we are now and where we desire to be that we get access to a reservoir of high-quality energy And tap into the magical flow of life.

 

What are my priorities this week?

  • Be mindful of my tendency to overexert myself when I am already feeling low on fuel. Choose more gentle movements, and when I am creating my own workouts, commit to 20-30 minutes rather than a full hour. Bring more diversity into my diet and slow down my eating process by being mindful with each bite. Connect with the people in my life who are creating and loving life and feed off their energy as we create together and celebrate struggles and successes. Take time each night to reflect on my day with high quality questions, and organize my to-dos for tomorrow. And, block off at least one full afternoon to just be and allow myself to engage with whatever feels appropriate and nourishing at that time.

 

I am committed this week to getting back into a rhythm of writing and pursuing my balance and contentment by being in conversation and creation around mental health awareness. So I will be posting on my blog a few times this week, and sharing more of my journey (struggles and successes) through the many platforms I am grateful to have at this point in my life. 

I am here for you if you need someone to chat with or if you want more direction in how to be in the practice of tending to your own mental health. We are stronger together. Bye for now xoxox

 

Shari's Berries

I have connected with the lovely creative power behind Shari's Berrie's  and am happy to feature one of the heart-warming blog posts that can be found on her website. I wanted to help spread her good vibes and get to know the person behind the message. Below is a link to the blog post being referred to, as well as a Q & A to learn more about who and why Shari's Berries exists. Enjoy ;)

 

Shari’s Berries has compiled 15 of these ideas into a shareable infographic that serves as a perfect guide on how to cheer up a friend. The benefits of helping others go both ways - a great byproduct of selflessness is self-fulfillment. Be the person that your friend needs, your presence and intentions mean a lot more to them than you realize.  

We all have days that are less than ideal, but sometimes things happen that seem to have such an adverse effect on our day. Seeing someone that you care about be upset is almost worse than being upset ourselves, because we lack control over the situation.

But you do have the power to make a positive impact on someone else’s day. The first step is just being there for this person, listening to them and sharing your positive energy. When talking it out isn't enough, there are a variety of ways to get your friend out of their rut and turn their day around.

 

1. What is your elevator pitch behind what you do?

I love to create content and music that has a positive impact on people.

 

2. Where do you live? What are three random facts about you?

I live in San Diego. I love sports, but have torn my ACL twice playing soccer. I am thinking about getting a sommelier accreditation. I love traveling and studied abroad last summer in Italy, ciao!

 

3. What is a practice that you are in daily?

I practice self-awareness- I try to practice meditation and exercise every day.

 

4. What has been a big learning you’ve landed on in the past three months?

That you can’t wait for someone to give you an opportunity you have to cultivate them yourself.

 

5. What is your website, instagram, Twitter, and/or any other form of connection with you?

SharisBerries

;)

Building a business and brand....my way

I started dope(a)me three years ago, in February of 2015. Wow! Three years. In some ways it feels like barely any time has past and in other ways it feels like I have packed ten years of experience into three. I learn from slowing down and reflecting, so here I am...slowing down...reflecting. Through asking and answering some high quality questions (a couple of my own and the rest from friends on social media), I hope to land on some insight and inspiration that you and I can share in. Here we go ;)

 

How did I start? What was helpful for generating momentum?

With just a budding desire in my heart, and my mind focused on grit and passion for growth, I feel like I started the momentum by just speaking it out loud. I made my goals public. I was chatting with friends about my dreams and sharing my aspirations with anyone who would listen. I asked questions about what people wanted or were interested in and practiced sharing my ideas and offering coaching and support to anyone who was inclined to open up. I knew that if I spoke it out loud enough I would feel more accountable to actually do the damn thing. Through conversations and brainstorming I slowly became more clear in where I wanted to start. I figured that it made sense to find multiple streams of income to ensure that I was giving myself the space and exposure to practice my way into making this a reality. I can't speak enough about the importance of EXPOSURE! So many of the opportunities I have had have been the result of random encounters due to saying Yes to speaking engagements, trying new things, going to parties, attending workshops, meeting strangers, and sharing my ideas openly with friends who then keep me in mind as they meet new people. 

It was such a funny feeling to spend so much time thinking, planning and creating something and then realize that no one else is thinking about it and everyone else has a brain full of their own stuff to focus on. Infusing my ideas, workshops and offers of support into other people's lives in a way that draws attention and gets a buy-in is a long process. It takes time to not only plant that seed but stay with it long enough that the seed grows into something that others see value in - while also being mindful of not bombarding people with "LOOK AT ME!" I for sure overstepped boundaries, pushed too hard, became obnoxious, or had moments of victim-hood in this process. And it was from those painful, and at times, embarrassing moments that I learned exactly where those boundaries are and how to be more gracious and patient with my message, and with myself.

 

What was my vision when I started this business?

I had written out an ideal schedule that became my goal. A certain number of spin classes, yoga classes, 10 one on one clients that I would work with for three months at a time (i.e. as one graduates from my program, another client would step in), and one big event at least every two months. In my mind, if I could create that then I would be set. A clean and simple structure that would pay the bills and keep me invested in the things that I love.

I had other goals for the future of my business that included running wellness retreats, creating an online program/community of clients, and travelling North America to speak at events and host workshops for teams and businesses. And I planned to go back to school for a leadership degree as a five year goal. 

 

What did it actually look like when I started?

A few months in I was working with four clients and was shocked by how much time and energy that took. My plan of working with ten clients at a time, at least for now, no longer looked ideal or feasible. I had hosted several events and none of them pulled in a lot of people or revenue. I was teaching spin and yoga, and that was my only consistent pay cheque. To say I had moments of doubt would be an understatement. I wanted this to work so badly but I was also painfully aware of how much work I was putting in and how little money I was getting in return. So again, the practice was in the daily reminder that "this is supposed to take time." And sustainable growth is about the slow build with persistence. I was learning so much on a daily basis and was forced to be in my own personal development work because I had others depending on me. There was so much good, but there were definitely many days of self-doubt and floundering. I had to ground myself daily with these key reminders so that I wouldn't get lost in the tunnel of fear and doubt. 

 

How much time did I spend on a daily/weekly basis at the beginning vs. now?

I definitely had way more free time in the beginning than I do now ;). I think I had to be more disciplined because it was easy to not do anything all day and not have anyone there to notice or care. The workload looked very different back then as well. A lot of my time three years ago was spent reading, drawing out diagrams and playing with different exercises or tools that could be "homework" for potential/future clients. I would create 30 day challenges and send them to friends to try out. I came up with one idea after another and would just launch it out into the world to see how it lands. Anytime I came up with homework or new routines to try, I would put myself through the work and take notes on what I noticed and what could be shifted. Kind of like I was in experimentation mode and everything I created I would try on myself first. While the time consumption was very similar then as it is now, back then it felt a little more forced and I felt a lot more rejection and struggle. I now feel like I have been around the block a few times so I am not surprised by struggles, and I am not set back by failures, and I bounce back a lot quicker after missteps. I have also found and sustained an awesome core group of other entrepreneurs who I get so much inspiration and energy from. 

Around one year in of my business I was working and teaching 6-7 days a week and it was not super efficient. One of the big shifts I made was to re-look at my schedule every 6 months (ish) to assess where I could be working smarter, rather than harder. While I have way more responsibility, clients and projects on the go now, I have learned how to balance my schedule and honor my down time so that I can be very efficient in my work. 

 

How to balance making money now versus what will make money in the long run?

Such a good question!! There were two points of time in the first two years of my business that I almost took on a role at a large business just to get the stability of a pay cheque. But I also wasn't willing to compromise everything for the sake of a new job. In both situations, once it was made clear that I was expected to put in 40+ hours of work and there was no wiggle room in that, I just couldn't do it. I didn't want to give up on my dream entirely, and I didn't want to work myself into the grave, and I felt a lot of pressure from myself and my hubby to be "successful" now. 

It was through several difficult conversations (with myself and my husband), trying on new ideas, playing with possible jobs, then re-stating that I am not ready to give up and I need the support, space and time to make this happen. I had to fight for this several times. I had to make peace with a limited budget and the potential of debt in exchange for my passion and happiness. Being a budding entrepreneur and enjoying the work I was doing was actually making it so I was spending less money in general. I no longer have a shopping impulse to get a quick hit of joy in my otherwise unhappy existence. In fact, I recently made a commitment to not buy any clothing for a full year. 

The more I talked about my finance struggles and fears with others the more I heard this to be one of the most common struggles - no surprise there. And when I heard other peoples stories and what they were doing to creatively make it work, I was inspired to keep pushing. I was constantly on the lookout for a side job that I could fit into my schedule without sacrificing what I truly wanted. Because of this, I began to branch out and express my desire and ability in group facilitation, small business leadership and culture consulting. I spread my reach by writing articles for several other businesses, I wrote my book, I collaborated with as many people as I could, and I attended events, workshops, and networking opportunities to keep myself surrounded by the energy and inspiration I needed. I aimed to spread myself. I imagined myself in a tug boat, throwing out 100 fishing poles with the trust that at least a few of them will bring in some fish. And over time, I would figure out which fishing poles to discard and which to pay more attention to. This was the mental model that landed me in the direction of mental health advocate, leadership and culture consultant, mindset coach, author, and group facilitator, along with a much more creative and flexible approach to coaching within the dope(a)me discipline. 

 

What has surprised me about running a business?

Honestly, my confidence was a slow build and I had to be in the work of coaching myself and seeking out other coaches and moral support on a regular basis. I surrounded myself with people who were doing things I was inspired to do, and living in ways I am inspired to live. It was through these invaluable connections that I tapped into the momentum I needed. I couldn't have done it on my own, or maybe I could have, but it definitely would not have been as fun, supportive, and joyful. 

 

What have been the three best exercises or questions to keep me focused and mindful of my brand/business/image?

  • Daily writing/drawing out ideas /flow charts/diagrams
  • Repetition
  • Movement/connection/yoga/meditation

 

What are some common questions on my mind daily?

  • What would compassion do?
  • (not a question, but a daily positive affirmation) Let go, allow
  • What would be fun?
  • What can I let go of? 
  • What needs to shift?
  • What's the most important thing right now?
  • What am I learning?

 

What keeps me motivated?

  • a variety of good food
  • a desire and love of feeling freedom
  • seeing and feeling progress in myself and those around me
  • nature
  • fun
  • sweat

 

What have I learned that I was not expecting to learn?

I didn't really know what to expect at all in this entrepreneur life. I truly have been making it up as I go along and just following the "fishing rods" that seem to be pulling in the fish. I have learned that running a business feels a lot like tending and caring for a living organism. While I can be balanced, clear and empowered one day, the very next day I can be overtaken with struggle, overwhelm and self-doubt. While I would not have it any other way, it is a daily effort and I need to be creative and thinking about what's next. Even when things are flowing and growing and working well, I am still putting in time and effort to play with what I could do better, and where I can be more efficient, and what gaps I am noticing in my ability or energy, and what I need or want to implement, learn and launch three to six months from now. I do feel like I am riding the wave now, but still it takes a lot of mindfulness and awareness to stay on the wave and cultivate the strength and wisdom to get back up each time I fall or lose my way.

Also, a point that my husband likes to mention often....five years ago he asked me if I would ever become a yoga teacher, and I responded with a "definitely not." ;). At the time I was convinced that I loved being a student and I had no interest in becoming a teacher. I began to toy with the idea once I landed on the decision to start a business and knew I needed to get more creative with other ways to make an income and nurture my inner-self. And it wasn't until I had a very open and fun conversation with Alice Hong about yoga that I decided she was someone I wanted to learn from and spend more time with. It was because of that connection that I dove in, and I am so so so grateful that I did. 

 

What would make my life so much easier but I continue to not do it?

I am a morning person. I am one of those people that when I wake up in the morning I am excited and eager to get into my day. And, this is not the case when I go to bed late (past 12pm). I know my natural and most powerful rhythm is found when I go to bed at an earlier time and allow myself to wake up early and refreshed. And my husband is a night owl. It is not always easy for me to go to bed when he is so fun and I want to hang out with him. Some nights I stay up way too late because of that and then I have to put in way more effort to get myself into my peak state the next day. I have gotten a lot better with my discipline in this area but it is still something I have to be mindful of daily. 

Also, I know I would benefit  from engaging in more radical self-care. Not just relaxing and sitting around, but the more radical and efficient and soul-fuelling activities like going to a float tank, engaging yin yoga, practicing yoga nidra, more meditation (self-led and classes), taking time to draw beautiful baths, taking naps, going for massages, etc. These are the activities I continually remind myself that I need more of in my life.  

 

What are the sacrifices?

What comes to mind here is that I have had to become more realistic in what lifestyle I can expect for now. For example, I have had a dream of owning a home for a long time. To have more space, to decorate, to make a home my own. And, this is not possible for me right now. It was a hard pill to swallow when I said to my husband "I want to buy a house so badly" and he responded "well you need to be making a lot more money in order for us to do that." I realized that a house is not the most important thing to me and I would rather live in a small (cut cute and cozy) apartment that allows me the space and freedom to build a career that lights me up inside and outside. When it comes down to it, I would much rather be living my dream all day every day and be fed and sheltered in a minimalist way. The more I live my passion, the less "stuff" I feel like I need. Simple actually feels best. And I am so grateful for everything that I do have. 

 

Thanks for sending in your amazing questions and for being a part of my slowing down to reflect and learn. I feel grounded, clear and excited for a creative weekend ahead, and I hope you do to.

If you have any more questions in this realm, or anything else you are curious about, please send me a message! I would love to hear from you. 

And check out my workshops scheduled to jump in on some of the fun and expansive opportunities coming up!

Bye for now xoxox 

 

"I deserve to be heard"

The first time I heard the mantra "I deserve to be heard" was several years ago when I was introduced to the Chakra system. The throat chakra is one of seven main energetic centers in our being, and it is the home of expression, non-violent communication and generous listening. The reminder we receive when in contemplation of the throat chakra is that we each have a unique contribution and a unique perception of reality. It takes conscious communication to bridge the gaps between our-self and the other, to create and foster our boundaries, and to speak our truth, to ourselves and to others.

In a yoga teacher training a few weeks ago, I was invited to repeat "I deserve to be heard" while in a guided meditation. While this was not my first time repeating these words, there was something different in the experience this time. This was the first time that it truly landed. Tears formed in my eyes. A wave of love, peace, acceptance and power washed over me. It was like I had one hand tied behind my back unknowingly and someone just gave me permission and the tools to untie myself. It was an extremely cathartic experience.

As I have sat with this for a few weeks now, I am getting more clear on what makes this mantra so powerful. First of all, mantras are an amazing way to shift your self-talk patterns efficiently. 95% of what you say today you also said yesterday. We are creatures of habit. When you bring in new thoughts, and repeat empowering words or phrases (i.e. mantras), you feed your brain new energy and are more likely to repeat these words and phrases later on. Your words cast spells, and overtime, you will believe whatever you say about yourself. With any great power comes responsibility. Mantras are only one piece of the holistic puzzle of self development. We need to be face to face with what makes us uncomfortable and continue harnessing our awareness of our own patterns and habits that are not serving who we desire to be. From this awareness, we can edit as we go, shift our patterns and habits with self-talk, reminders, support and accountability. 

Every voice deserves to be heard. This doesn't mean you deserve to be heard more than others. It also doesn't mean you have the right to talk over others or that what you say is more true than what others say. It simply means, you have a voice and you deserve to use it and be heard. That's it, simple. This is not projecting a rule of any kind, it is offering up a tool for your inquiry and discernment. 

For me, what was so powerful was that I had been struggling with my ability to effectively communicate with my husband. My monkey mind can jump in wild directions, and sometimes I will begin sharing something without context or back-story to bridge the gap between his perception of reality, our physical environment, and where my mind has gone. In fact, this becomes a point of conflict for us as he pushes back on my share with questions like "what are you talking about? why are you telling me this?" Rather than keeping calm and walking back through the process of how I got from A to Z, I had a pattern of feeling sad that I wasn't understood, hurt that he wasn't more curious about what I had to share, and upset that I was creating a limiting belief and story that my husband is not someone I can share my raw and unfiltered thoughts or ideas with. 

I am not one to get stuck and allow limiting beliefs to take over, so I chose to get curious and inquisitive with myself to get more clear on this pattern and what shifts I could make to grow through this obstacle. 

When I repeated, "I deserve to be heard" in my mind, I realized that I had been holding on to a belief that I share too much and that I need to keep things to myself until they are polished and ready to be delivered efficiently and profoundly. While there is some truth in that, it is also not complex enough to embody the full truth. It is not a hard and fast rule that I want to abide by. I love the freedom of speech! I love that my mind is creative and thoughtful and that I can come up with wild ideas and put them into action. My goal is not to stifle my voice, it is to become more deliberate in how I communicate and to share more context so that the conversation is co-created rather than me talking at my husband (or anyone else). 

Like most things in life, too much of anything is no longer a good thing. And rather than swinging from one extreme to the other (i.e. from over-sharing to not sharing at all), I wanted to find the healthy balance. For me, "I deserve to be heard" is now the reminder I need to repeat daily to honor my voice and contribution. It reminds me to slow down and think through what I want to share so that I honor the power and influence I can have. It reminds me to allow unfiltered and raw conversations to flow, and not be too caught up in thinking that everything needs to be manicured and polished. Sometimes yes it does, and other times, raw and unfiltered is exactly what is needed. Each moment is a new opportunity and I strive to be present and engaged with what the moment calls for, and to do that, I need to remind myself that "I deserve to be heard."

And guess what?? So do you!

Why a Five Day Evolve Retreat is right for you

Why a Five-Day Retreat? Five reasons why we at Evolve follow a five-day format for our retreats:

1. Habits dig deep and we want to ensure you have enough time to move from your path of least resistance (i.e. your old habits) into a new direction that serves you well (i.e. your new healthy habits). Rather than being inspired for a couple days and then go back home to status quo, we are more interested in life-long sustainable shifts that will change your perspective and motivate you to keep doing the work.

2. We have a lot to share and we believe in the integral importance of balance. We could bombard you over two or three days with more information than your brain can handle, instead, we choose to spread the inspiration over five days so that it is a comfortable progression that will leave you fueled, nourished, rested, rejuvenated and motivated to keep your progress going at home.

3. Happiness in life is not achieved simply with insight. You need time to practice, integrate and have conversations that will support your development. In The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, he says,

“The level of happiness you actually experience [H] is determined by your biological set point [S] plus the conditions of your life [i.e., loving relationships, as well as having and pursuing the right goals, in order to create states of flow and engagement) [C], plus the voluntary activities [V] that you do.

H = S + C + V.”

We want to support you in all pieces of this happiness equation. We are complex beautiful beings and we must give ourselves the space and time needed to understand the layers that make us who we are.

4. We believe in experiential learning. Whether it is a hands-on cooking lesson or a nutritional tutorial before we sit down for a meal, a workshop about sleep, meditation, mindful eating, or goal setting, a group fitness class or a one on one session with one of our many experts on staff, we want to make sure you get access to everything we have to offer. A five-day immersion will ensure that you do not feel rushed to meet your needs and you do not miss out on any of the amazing benefits we offer.

5. We know from experience that momentum can feel nearly impossible to start, but once it is in motion, it is nearly impossible to stop. We have a five-day outline that will spark momentum into healthy and mindful living. We want to make sure that when you head home you feel motivated, clear and supported to continue the momentum you cultivated. The real work begins once you are back at home, and we are excited for you to put these tools to good use!