Happy Friday and thank you

*This is an edited post from January 2018. I spent my day being in the flow of what felt right. So this post on gratitude is appropriate.*

I often sit in the morning drinking my coffee while I watch the sunrise, along with my cat (Willy) who watches and seems to love it too. Or maybe he is just watching for the neighborhood dogs, I am not sure.

We have a really well-positioned large window in the living room. This photo does not do it justice, but the flaming orange, red, purple and pink colors make me breathless with wonder.

sunrise-jan-19-2018.jpg

It is these intense moments of gratitude when I feel myself losing the need to worry, and coming back to the present, where I have all I need in this moment. Such a simple concept, and yet we are drawn away from the present so often. It can be hard to live right here and now. So many distractions and enticements can take us away from the simplest joys.

Our habits of mind, well-practiced and reinforced, have not placed value on being, just breathing and sensing. But that is okay, it is still possible to learn and practice this new skill. The practice of mindful gratitude, focusing awareness on our breath or just watching the thoughts come and go, is a foundation for joy.

Last night during yin yoga class I noticed my tendency to escape into my mind when I was in a more challenging pose. But I kept bringing myself back, breathing into some slight discomfort but allowing myself to stay with the sensations. This is good practice for sitting with difficult emotions as well.

Life will never be 100% positive, and that is okay. To be fully human is to feel good sometimes and bad other times. The range of emotion is a gift to us as humans, and the less we fight and resist the harder emotions, the more joy we can access. It is okay to feel sad and to grieve losses. It is necessary and good, and allows empathy for others.

Joy comes at moments when we are able to notice all the good within us and around us. It can also be practiced, and cultivated with thoughts of compassion and love. Saying thank you to the universe, to the spirit, to a family member, or to whatever moves us, helps us to access that joy more readily. Thank you, friends. I hope you enjoy your weekend.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Be the wordless person in the world for a moment

I borrowed the above title from a line in a guided meditation and I wish I could remember which one so I can properly attribute it. Nonetheless, it reminds me that building more space into my weekly time for reflection and writing my own work is more challenging than I thought. I am seldom the wordless person. I have lots of words. And I share them freely.

new journal - be bold
My brand new journal, given to me as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.

When you write your “morning pages” in your journal, you are the only one who can give yourself praise for getting your work done. Social media and the clicks and likes can be an addictive little “hit” for affirmation. As a writer, I write every day no matter what. It is like oxygen for me. But I am susceptible to that buzz that comes from others receiving the work well.

I am comforted to know that there is brain chemistry and neurobiology behind this, of course. Those clicks and likes produce a little hit of dopamine in your brain, and because we are social creatures, approval is important to us at a primal level. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is very natural. Please have some compassion for yourself if you worry sometimes about what other people think. Being part of a tribe or pack was how the mammals of today survived.

As a person who loves words, and who loves the ease of publishing that blogs can offer, it is even harder for me to be the “wordless” person. I joke to my husband that this blog is my little soapbox, so that I can express my ideas freely without subjecting him to all of my opinions. 😉  So he is grateful that it exists.

Some days, I am better off going into observer mode rather than writing publicly. It reminds me of meditation, noticing what is going on in my body, and in my mind, while not attaching to it. Emotions come and go, as thoughts do. Ideas float through and sometimes I want to grab a pen. But I sit, and allow things to flow through. My ego-ic mind can be quite impressed with my thoughts sometimes. But my higher self, the watcher, just observes and allows. No thought is better than another, they just are.

Is it challenging to be the wordless person? Heck yeah, more than I ever realized.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Releasing and integrating

On New Year’s Day this past week I attended a 2-hour yoga workshop in which I had the opportunity to reflect a bit on the past year. After some journal writing and reflection, we did a yoga practice and then finished with a meditation practice.

I enjoyed the opportunity to “digest” a bit of the past year, to celebrate it and to consider my strengths, or any limiting beliefs. In the final meditation the word/concept “integrate/integration” kept emerging for me, and variations on that word: integrity, integral, etc. I started thinking about the root of that word (think of integer) which is to make whole.

what do you need to release

That seems appropriate, since this past year felt in many ways like a dismantling and releasing of what was no longer serving me. Then on Sunday I had another impulse to de-clutter, and to organize in my office (not something that comes naturally to me) so I followed it.

I allowed myself some time and space to consider the objects and books I have collected. What is that path of curiosity telling me? Which things can I can release? I have tried following the Kon Mari approach to do this all in one big project (which can take up to 6 months, she writes). But I have found I follow more of a spiral or cyclical path when it comes to releasing things. And that is just fine.

Releasing is necessary because we hold onto so much that we no longer need. This can be physical stuff, but more often it is out-dated stories we tell ourselves. I find that is the more “sticky” of our stuff. It is easy to give bags of unused and unneeded things to Goodwill. But how often do we enter into our deep consciousness to see what is floating around in there, and question if we want to keep it there? 

When I did a coaching series with Elizabeth Dickinson this past fall, she was able to identify a few of the beliefs (or stories) I had carried about money that did not match my current reality. What an amazing gift, to release an old story that was holding me back. At one point, that story may have had a purpose. But it was at least a decade out-of-date. So I started trying on a different story, reinforcing a new belief that serves me better.

What is it you may need to release in order to thrive in your life? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

A yoga evangelist gets serious

I have made a big decision about what I will do for self-development this year, and I am excited to commit to it. Y’all know I am a big fan of yoga. I practice typically 4-6 times a week for an hour or more each session.

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YogaNorth link

Yoga and meditation have changed my brain. These practices have transformed the way I experience my life. They have helped me live with more intention, get grounded in my own body, and helped me manage my mind and my emotions. Though I still have an active (and what I call “playful”) mind, it is far less scattered and anxious than it used to be. For that I am intensely grateful.

The 200-hour yoga teacher training involves seven monthly 3-day weekend all-day sessions over a period of 6 months starting in March. Taking this study to a deeper level with Yoga North after many years of consistent practice is exactly right for me now.

I am designing a leadership training program for women that will involve meditation and/or yoga as core practices. I really cannot overstate the benefit in terms of self-awareness, self-compassion, intuition and wisdom about our bodies and minds.

The application is going in today. I am committed!

Is there anything you have been considering that you are getting serious about in 2019? 

Happy last day of 2018! Hope the next year brings you love and great new adventures!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Pivot and the power of voice

Hi friends,

I kept my word and took a couple days off writing recently. Well, I managed Saturday and Monday. Apparently I cannot resist writing *something* like a haiku on the weekends, even when I was determined to take a break. There really is something to a daily habit that is kind of irresistible.

Yesterday I shared a post from a favorite blogger, and I think I will do that a bit more during the holiday season. I am trying to get organized to keep that information and schedule it out in advance, which is fortunately easy to do on the “old” WordPress editor to which I managed to down-grade.

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Jenny Blake – from her site. I hope she will forgive me for cribbing the picture since I am promoting her book and podcast.

Lately I have been binge-listening to a podcast show that I really enjoy, called the Pivot Podcast by Jenny Blake. I actually discovered the book while I was in an AirBnB in October, and it felt like the perfect read for my business transition. When I realized Jenny had a podcast, I also checked it out. She introduced me to Penny Pierce, who wrote The Intuitive Way, which is also precious wisdom.

I have been musing on why I cannot get enough of Jenny. I realize it is partly her voice, and the sincerity and openness with which she approaches her craft. Most of her shows are interviews of authors, but a few are solo riffs. She is a public speaker and does keynote addresses, so obviously she has practiced. But I find it easier to connect with authors who are willing to risk the relatively more “vulnerable” practice of using their voices as well as their written words. Also, she is about a decade younger than me, and the wisdom beyond her years amazes me.

It makes me consider whether I want to experiment with such a medium someday, even though I know there’s a crowded media market. It is interesting how podcasts are democratizing a “radio” market, somewhat like blogs democratized the written media market.

I typically like to listen while I’m in my car running errands. I’m a fan public radio and I support my local station each month. But with the news the way it is, I stopped listening daily after Trump was elected. I just couldn’t absorb it all the time. I switched to podcasts so I could “curate” my listening experience a bit more. This post reminded me to update my Audiophiles page. If you are traveling for the holidays and looking for some audio companionship on your journey, check it out. Cheers!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

My problem with transcendence

I recently wrote an article for a client on “meditation 101”. It was fun to write, given my study of the topic and my practice for the past 2.5+ years. It was posted at the client website, sadly without a byline. But it is all good practice and part of my writing portfolio, so to speak.

I wanted to reflect on a principle that I think is a misconception about meditation, at least in my experience. People often assume that you must do something to “transcend” the body, when in reality the goal for me is to get grounded in the body. I seek to come back to my body not to transcend or escape it in any way.

Photo credit link – my article without the byline

Most of my days are spent “in my head” and outside my body. I recently realized that my body contains a tremendous amount of wisdom and intuition that my over-active brain conveniently “skips” much of the time. When I come back to my home, the body itself, I access what my soul is trying to tell me. It is through understanding the subtle emotional language of the body that our truths can be revealed to us. 

A lot of the men and the male teachers of meditation that have instructed me have encouraged us to “transcend” the body, and go to some ethereal destination. Perhaps this works for them, and I will not disparage their efforts.

We are built with this mammalian architecture that is incredibly subtle and wise. We ignore it at our peril. Women have been “escaping” and transcending their bodies for millennia due to patriarchy, cultural norms and many other reasons. It is time we stopped taking that advice, and stepped into full ownership and joy in our bodies. That’s where the magic happens. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com