I know some of you reading this are ready with your pen and paper, eager to capture your New Year's resolutions for 2018.
And I know that some of you might feel a bit more cynical about resolutions.
I thought that this morning I would share my take on resolutions.
First, it's important to know that I think of myself as someone who always seeks the middle path. I can always see both sides of an issue and I really like to get information from different perspectives to form my own opinion of something. As such, I'm not a black/white either/or type of person. As one of my yoga teachers would say, I'm more of a both/and. I think that some of the concerns or frustrations that people have with resolutions (e.g. that they don't stick, that they're just for show) are valid. I also think that the start of a new year has a great energy to it that makes self-reflection particularly powerful. Here are some of my thoughts on resolutions. I hope they help you decide how you want to invest your energy in 2018.
1. Goals work
I believe in magic and mysticism. I also love science and research. I believe the two can coexist. Yes, I do feel that there is an energy that pulses on the first day of the year. I can feel it in my body and it's something I want to harness. I also know that there's a TON of research that has proven that goal-setting works.
This is one of the best books that I read in 2017. It shares copious amount of research showing that people who set goals are happier and more satisfied. When I hear people say that they don't make resolutions because they never work, that seems like self-defeating, circular reasoning to me. Set goals. Set good goals (specific and measurable). Go after them each day.
2. Make goal getting a daily practice
Here's the thing that I think holds people back. They set goals for their year but they don't integrate those big-picture goals into their daily lives.
Buy a planner today if you don't already have one. Write your 2018 goals in your planner. Spend time at the start of each month looking over your goals. What can you do this month to accomplish them? Then, each Sunday night, look over your plans for the week. Schedule time throughout your week for activities that align with your goals. Finally, take five minutes each morning to look over your plan for the day.
I also like to spend time "taking my inventory" at night as I fall asleep. In a loving, non-judgmental way, I reflect on my day. What went well? What might I have done differently? What can I do better tomorrow? I say my prayers and then fall asleep. This simple practice holds me accountable for my own behavior, the only thing in life that I can really control. But again, I want to emphasize that I approach this with self-love. Beating myself up is old news. Negative thinking shuts down the very parts of my brain that help me to stay motivated and it messes up my energy. I have learned to set goals and to reflect on my behavior without being cruel to myself.
3. Focus on Building the New
You might have noticed that I'm using the word goals instead of resolutions. To me, a resolution is something that we resolve to not do anymore. In other words, we focus on a negative habit that we want to stop. In my experience, trying to stop a negative habit is one of the most self-defeating things we can do in life. It doesn't work. I have some experience in this department, believe me. Whenever I've tried to quit something (cigarettes, Diet Coke, alcohol, people, social media) it only seems to grow stronger in my life.
What's the secret then? I've learned through experience that when I build new, positive, more life-affirming habits, rather than trying to stop the bad habits, that the new habits eventually take over and the bad ones naturally fall away on their own. I noticed this a lot when I started to regularly practice yoga. As I developed this amazing way to manage my stress, the old habits that I used to use to manage stress were no longer needed. Eventually, they decreased in my life until they were gone.
There's some science behind this, if you're interested.
The Talent Code was one of the last books that I read in 2017 and it blew my mind but also seemed incredibly obvious at the same time. The book is about how talent is created and along with that, how habits form. Basically, the more that we do something, the more those pathways get built in our brains. For example, I had a Diet Coke pathway for nearly three decades of my life. I drank about three sodas each day. That pathway was wicked strong, as we say in Massachusetts. Trying to break it was futile. Once pathways are created and wrapped with myelin (I won't get into detail on that, just read the book, but myelin is a super cool brain chemical type thing), we can't unbreak them. However, we can lay new pathways and strengthen those.
I tried for years to break my Diet Coke pathway. That sucker was strong. What finally got me off Diet Coke? Practicing yoga on a daily basis, which laid a new pathway that was mindful of my body and what I put into it. One day that new pathway was stronger than the old one, just like that. It has been the same with alcohol in my life. I used to use it as a form of stress relief, something I think a lot of people are doing because people are so stressed out. I've been sober, alcohol-free, whatever you want to call it, for over a year. I don't miss it AT ALL. I literally never want a drink. I feel so much healthier, am less bloated, and I love waking up each morning feeling completely clear-headed. I also estimate that I've saved over a thousand dollars from not drinking.
Science shows that focusing on breaking bad habits doesn't work. Instead, focus on creating some new pathways in 2018.
Wishing you an amazing year filled with love and laughter!
-Karen, version 2018
Titles are hard y'all. This post was originally going to be called Biography Book Club. But here's the thing: technically a biography is the story of someone's life written by another person. An autobiography is written by the person themselves, but it tends to cover their entire life. A memoir is a more focused, personal, and intimate story, often around a compelling and specific time period. But Biography Book Club sounds so good and has such nice alliteration...alas, I'm still struggling with what to call this endeavor. Maybe you can help.
Here's the plan. I read a fantastic book this year called Creating Your Best Life.
I'm not going to dive too deep into this book in this blog post because I'm planning a post about it for the new year. It's about goal-setting and goal-getting. But I do want to mention one of its specific recommendations: reading the stories of successful people who we'd like to emulate in our own lives.
As soon as I read that, I set that as a goal for myself. In 2018, I want to read at least one memoir or autobiography each month. I want to read stories written by women in their own words. I want to explore diverse authors and read about people who've overcome hardships to live their best lives in service of the greater good.
I read a ton, as you probably know, but I don't read a lot of memoirs. I think this will be good for me to step outside of my comfort zone and to learn from amazing women about how they set goals, achieved their dreams, and dealt with the inevitable difficulties in life.
I had big plans, as I always do, for creating this online book club. These plans have become simplified over the past couple of months. This isn't going to be anything formal. I'm going to post about these books on Instagram and share what I learned from reading them.
If you'd like to join along by reading the same books, awesome. If you'd like to choose different memoirs to read, that's great too. If you just want to read my reviews and learning experiences, perfect. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
Without further ado, here are some of my selections for "A Memoir Each Month" also known as "Biography Book Club" also known as something else that might come to me one night over the next couple of weeks. Seriously, I need a good hashtag. Any ideas?
I bet you can count. Yes, there are only eleven books in this picture. I still need one more to get to twelve, so I'm also seeking recommendations for another memoir.
I love pictures of books so much.
So this is it, I'm throwing this out there in case you want to ask for a memoir as a gift this holiday season or spend your gift cards on one of these babies. I hope you'll consider joining me in this endeavor in January.
You can find me @KarenRayCosta on Instagram.
I'm excited about this. I've realized over the past few years that a lot of women struggle to find their voice and speak their truth. When I see or hear women discovering that courage and putting their stories out into the world, whether it's on a grand scale or not, I'm truly moved. It's a beautiful thing. I think that every time a woman speaks her truth, an angel gets its wings.
The holiday season definitely churns up questions of faith in my life. I'll admit it; I can get caught up in the commercial side of the holidays. I have an eight-year-old at home and the whole Santa thing is a lot of fun. He's a good kid, works really hard, never gets into trouble (knock on wood) so it's easy to spoil him a bit. I'm increasingly aware that with each year that passes there's a greater chance that the magic of Santa will pass.
But I do also try to reign that part of the holiday season in a bit. I try to think about the meaning behind the gifts and not running myself into the ground. This year I'm really focusing on taking things one day at a time and not rushing through this time of year in an attempt to get to the big day or to get through some of the uncomfortable feelings that arise around holiday expectations.
One of the ways that I do that is to take time to reflect on what my faith means to me. First, I guess I should clarify that I don't identify with a specific religion. I was raised Presbyterian and I don't regularly attend church. When I do go to church, I go to our local Catholic church because my husband and son are both Catholic. I like it there. There's a great energy and I only hear positive messages about love, social justice, and peace. I also practice yoga daily, and by practice, I don't only mean the physical postures, though they are a part of it. For me, my yoga practice is about noticing my thoughts, striving to be my best self, bring kind to myself and others, and lots of daily behaviors that add up to a happy life. One of my teachers defines yoga as the science of how to live a happy life and I think that makes a lot of sense. I don't think of yoga as a religion, but it is definitely a part of my faith.
I also connect my faith to the natural world and its cycles. I spend some time each morning drinking my coffee and writing a list of all the things that I'm grateful for in my life. I do this every day. It's amazing how your perspective starts to shift when you focus on loving what is instead of striving for what isn't. As neuroscientists say, we wire what we fire. I am spending a lot of time firing my gratitude neurons and I can feel them getting stronger. When I make my list, I look out over our backyard and I watch the sky wake up. It reminds me of how small I am which paradoxically makes me feel very big. It's hard to describe that feeling but I guess you'll know it when you feel it. Today I'm looking out my window at snow, a reminder that we are leaving the fall season behind and moving closer to winter.
The seasons are definitely a part of my faith. They remind me that there's a logic behind all of this mystery. A couple of months ago I watched the trees die. Now they're all bare and I can see the squirrels finalizing their preparations. It's hunkering down time for the natural world which reminds me that I can do the same. Winter is a time to be cozy, to read books, to play board games, and to really focus on how lucky I am to have a warm home and loving family.
I've heard people define faith as believing in things that you can't see. That definition implies that all of the good stuff is invisible. I disagree. For me, faith is about noticing the miracles and gifts that surround me all the time. It's learning to tune my eyes in to all of the synchronicities and beauty. It's all right there in front of us if we choose to see it. Nothing is hidden, it's just a matter of adjusting our gaze.
Bad news abounds. But I remind myself that there's so much good in the world too. It might not make the news or blow up my Twitter feed, but it's there for the taking, if I choose to seek it out.
This holiday season, I'm hoping to keep my eyes tuned toward the good. Wishing you the same.
In today's guided meditation, you will use the concept of biofeedback to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
In biofeedback, people are attached to heart rate monitors that are super sensitive. As they breath in and out, they watch a screen that displays their heart rate. Guess what? When you inhale, your heart rate speeds up. When you exhale, it slows down. This is with no effort on your part.
Our bodies have these fantastic systems called the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. They are part of the autonomic nervous system (a.k.a. automatic) that acts without our conscious will. We don't have to make ourselves digest food. When we sense a threat or feel fear, we don't make our heart beat faster. Those things happen naturally on their own. Our bodies are wicked smart.
What's really cool is that once you notice these energies of the inhale and exhale breath, you can start to use the exhale breath to become more and more relaxed. Just by noticing the exhale, you can start to sort of sink into that calm space and let it bring you more deeply into a state of relaxation.
While biofeedback operates under the process of attaching people to a heart rate monitor so they can see the proof of this on a screen in front of them, in today's guided meditation, we'll become our own heart monitors.
Need help finding your expression of easy seated pose? Click here for tips and then click below to get started with the meditation. Namaste friends.
Listen to Biofeedback Meditation on Spreaker.
Today I want to share with you some of my favorite things. Perhaps you'll find a gift for one of your loved ones on my list.
My favorite tea right now is this Yogi Lemon Ginger. Full disclosure, the first time I drank this I could barely get it down. It's strong y'all. Start by letting it steep for only a minute or two. Now, I can't get through the day without it. I like a lot of the Yogi brand teas and each tea bag also comes with a lovely little note from the universe. My other favorite type of tea is Organic India Tulsi tea. Tulsi is a great stress-reliever.
2. Composition Books
I am constantly writing. I've tried fancy notebooks and journals in the past but for some reason the energy just doesn't flow as well. My current favorite are old-school composition notebooks. Getting someone a big stack of these will keep them in paper for a long time to come. I try to pay no more than one dollar for them.
3. Books, Books, & More Books
It's no secret that I love books. When you give a book as a gift, you are giving someone an experience, not just a bunch of pages filled with words. I tend to have one non-fiction and one fiction book going at the same time. For me, fiction is just a savior in my life. It's a healthy break from reality. I'm so grateful for brilliant authors who create these pieces of art for us to disappear into. Here are some of the novels that I've read this year that I really loved:
4. Fitness Tracker
My last recommendation is a fitness tracker. I did a lot of research because I was looking for one that would track steps AND one that included a heart rate monitor. I ended up buying the Polar A300. I've been wearing it everyday for about a week and I love it. It took a little getting used to in terms of learning the different functions and buttons but now it's completely intuitive. I use the heart rate monitor when I do strength training, yoga, and walking. Seeing how each impacts my heart rate has helped me to stay in a safe space while also developing a ton of body awareness which is always a good thing. The watch band comes in different colors if you're into that thing.
5. Big Yoga Bolster
I love all of my yoga props (blocks, blankets, and strap) and use them constantly. I hate to play favorites but I have to say that my favorite prop is my big bolster. I feel like purchasing this signified my commitment to my restorative practice. You can get these for around $20 each from Wal-Mart or Target if you're willing to get a less popular color. Here's a pic of how I most often use the big bolster, under my knees in savasana. This is awesome for people who have lower back pain.
Those are some of my favorite things that support my health and wellness. Wishing you sane shopping and gift-giving this holiday season! Namaste friends.
I recently started a gratitude practice. Each morning, I pull out one of my beloved composition books that I purchased for only fifty cents each and I write down my "Daily Gratitudes." The inspiration for this practice came from two places.
First, I started Gabby Bernstein's May Cause Miracles book and work in September. It helped me to realize how powerful my thoughts are. I can choose to use that power for negativity of positivity.
Next, I have been following a woman on Instagram named Tammi Salas. Tammi is an amazing person and artist. She creates her own daily gratitudes and uses color and drawings to make the most amazing pieces. I'd been creeping on her posts for weeks and finally I let go of the idea that I had to make my lists look like hers. I just started writing.
Here are some pictures of my recent lists.
This morning I woke up with a headache and in the past I could've definitely gotten caught up in that story. Today, I tried a few alternative tricks, waited a bit, took some Tylenol, and made my list of daily gratitudes. This practice helps me to shift my mindset to focusing on what is good and to break free of negativity.
Loving and noticing what is good is tough for many of us because we get so busy and addicted to negative mindsets. But the real challenge is to love what's not so good, at least not on the surface or at first glance. This practice has helped me to be grateful for the challenges too.
Truth? Every "bad" thing in my life has helped me to grow. I might not love it when it's happening, but I can look back and see the gifts. I'm trying to be more open about experiencing that kind of gratitude for difficult situations as they happen, in real-time. I'm a work in progress.
How can you start your own gratitude practice? Find a notebook. The cheaper the better, in my opinion. Set aside ten minutes each morning and start your list. I challenge myself to always fill the page. Sometimes I write the same things (the morning sky makes a lot of appearances on my list, as does coffee) but I also reflect on what's going on in my life in that moment or what's on the horizon. Over time, I've noticed that the energy of gratitude stays with me throughout the day because of the seeds I've planed in the morning.
I knew this practice was working for me when I found myself not having to think about it. I just instinctively reach for the notebook each morning.
I hope you'll consider starting your own gratitude practice this fall. Namaste friends. -Karen
If you've been to one of my yoga classes, you know that I almost always end the class with a reading. A few weeks ago, I realized that I'm always hunting down a great reading and thought, "Why don't I write something myself?" This poem was born of that. You can read more about the Koshas here.
My body was my first home.
I honor my body.
My breath gives me life.
I honor my breath.
My mind can create something from nothing.
I honor my mind.
My intuition connects my mind and my heart.
I honor my intuition.
My heart allows me to feel joy and bliss.
I honor my heart.
Namaste friends. May it be of benefit.
A couple of months ago, on my 38th birthday, I started reading and working through the book May Cause Miracles, by Gabby Bernstein.
I've read Gabby's Spirit Junkie previously and I follow her on social media. I knew that a lot of her teaching is based on A Course in Miracles and I've been feeling pulled to study ACIM, so I figured this book would be a good place to start. I also love basically anything that Holly Whitaker of Hip Sobriety does and says, and MCM is one of her recommended resources.
I got started on September 24th and pulled out one of my many composition books. I am basically obsessed with having a big pile of composition books in my office that I can pull out and dedicate to any idea or project. I tried being a Moleskine journal type person but I can't pronounce it and paying that much for a journal goes against everything that my Depression-era grandmother taught me.
Something that I wasn't expecting is that MCM is set up almost like a daily reader or workbook. When I read through the introduction, Gabby explained the model for how to complete the book. I would start each week on Sunday and go for six weeks, reading one day at a time. Each day consists of a morning and an evening practice that take between five to fifteen minutes. Here's a peek at Day 42 which I completed yesterday, WOOT WOOT.
Real talk: one of the biggest things I'm working on in my life right now is learning how to not follow every idea that I get, prioritizing my goals, and finishing what I start. I am finally confronting that my idea-generation is both a blessing and a curse. On the first day of MCM, when I looked ahead at six weeks of daily activities, I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish it. I started anyway.
I forgot to do my evening activities once and I didn't feel well on another night. In the past, I would've beat myself up about that, made myself feel like crap, and quit to avoid "screwing up" again. But I'm working on those kind of behaviors so instead I just completed those missed activities the next morning. It's important to know that this book is digestible and accessible. I think that is very intentional on Gabby's part. For example, most mornings you'll take a few deep breaths, read a paragraph about the day's lesson, and then sit in silence for one minute of reflection. Yes, I said ONE MINUTE. A lot of people avoid meditation and inner work because they think they have to meditate for a ton of time. Gabby reminds us that all we need is a moment of stillness to begin this work.
Evening activities include things like writing letters, journaling, and meditations. This is my one concern with the book. It was a bit confusing and difficult to access the guided meditations which readers are told are on the MCM meditation album. I wasn't sure which meditation to do on which day and I couldn't find all of the meditations. I don't know what happened there and it's unfortunate because this is such a fantastic book and experience. That being said, the old me might've let that frustration derail me. But guess what? I can't control the access to the guided meditations, so I just dealt with it as best I could. If I couldn't find the meditation for that day, I'd do a different one or just sit in silence and breathe for five minutes. In the end, it wasn't that big of a deal and I wouldn't let it stop you from using this book.
Did MCM cause miracles in my life? Absolutely. First, it helped me to commit to and finish a 42-day practice. Second, it got me back in the habit of meditating, if only for a minute each day. I experienced a traumatic brain injury this summer that I'm still recovering from and I had fallen away from my meditation practice during that time. Starting back up at a minute was perfect for me.
The big shifts came from the core teachings in the book, built on ACIM, which helped me to see that I have been living in a fear-based existence. When I read the introduction, it hit me. Fear is my primary addiction. Gabby provides daily mantras for most days and when I found myself thinking negative or fearful thoughts, I would replace them with my mantra. I would immediately feel my heart rate slow down and a sense of peace come over me. I did a lot of work around my ego, forgiveness, and gratitude. Over the course of these seven weeks, I started a daily gratitude practice. Each morning, I write down everything that I'm grateful for in my life. Learning to love what is shifts my energy completely. Rather than focusing on what I don't have or what I want, which creates a sense of lack and surrounds me with negative energy, I am developing an abundance mindset built on the foundation of gratitude. Of course, I have a special composition book for my daily gratitudes.
Another thing I've done is to place some of my favorite mantras where I can see them, right on our bathroom mirror.
MCM definitely takes effort, work, and dedication, but for me, it's been a very humbling, inspiring, and informative experience. If you feel stuck in any area of your life and are open to shifting your mindset completely, I wholeheartedly recommend taking the first step on this journey.
I have a copy of ACIM waiting in the wings. It includes 365 days of lessons! I'm giving myself a bit of time off to consider when I'll start that journey.
Have you read May Cause Miracles or ACIM? What did you think? In what ways have they impacted your life?
Ever feel a little bit confused by the differences between meditation, savasana, yoga nidra, restorative yoga, and sleep?
You aren't alone! In today's post, I'm going to break it down so that even Joey could understand. Let's get started.
First, don't let worrying about whether you are doing any of these practices "right" stop you from enjoying them. While there are definitely differences between each of them, don't worry if they start to overlap with each other, because they will. It's okay. Keep practicing, engage in some self-study to learn more, and attend classes when possible to deepen your practice. But again, I see people applying the achievement mentality to yoga and it doesn't work that way. No gold medals are given out for savasana. Just explore and enjoy.
I thought about pulling in a lot of quotes from the world's greatest meditation experts here, people like Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, etc. Instead, I'm going to stick with my own, straightforward explanations. For me, meditation is the practice of becoming aware of my thoughts. In order to do this, I sit, close my eyes, and turn inward. Then, I watch my thoughts.
This witness mentality is what makes meditation unique. Rather than being inside of the thoughts, "What should I make for dinner? I have to fold my laundry. My foot hurts," I watch the thoughts begin and end. One visual that I like to offer students is to imagine that you are standing still, watching a leaf blow past you in the wind. You might also envision a river flowing by you or a balloon floating into the sky. The thoughts come, and then rather than attaching to them and getting carried away, we watch them leave.
Meditation is typically practiced in a seated position and savasana is practiced lying down, although some bodies need to make different choices for comfort. Many schools of thought believe that having the spine upright in meditation is a way to "power up" the energy body. Old school yogis would sit in lotus pose so that if they dozed off while meditating for hours, they wouldn't fall over. That's great for them, but I usually sit cross-legged with lots of props to support me (blanket under butt, blocks under knees).
Another difference is that when in savasana, we are practicing rest. We are allowing our bodies to just melt into the mat. In meditation, we are a bit more intentional. We want to be comfortable so that our body doesn't distract us, but rest is not our primary focus. Awareness is.
2. Savasana (corpse pose)
Savasana translates as corpse pose, although many Western teachers and students prefer rest pose, which feels a little less morbid. What this means for me is that I surrender in savasana. I don't worry about my breath or my thoughts or my body. I just let go. Your work is done. There is nothing for you to do here.
Savasana is typically practiced at the end of an asana (mat-based postures) session. However, I would encourage you to consider making savasana its very own practice. In this busy, modern world of ours, spending five-minutes in savasana each day can be very powerful.
One common question about savasana regards falling asleep. It is common for students to doze off here. Is that okay?
Of course. If you fall asleep in savasana it simply means that your body needs sleep. But sleep and savasana aren't the same thing. Savasana is about surrender. You are awake but at rest. Learning how to be awake and at rest is incredibly important for stress relief and wellness.
If you fall asleep in savasana once in a while, good news, you are a human being. If you always fall asleep in savasana, you are likely experiencing some sleep issues that you could investigate more deeply. Healthy sleep hygiene is very important.
3. Yoga nidra
Now we're really going to test Joey's brain! Enter yoga nidra. What is yoga nidra? It is yogic sleep. Cool huh?
In yoga nidra, a teacher leads his or her students through a very specific script that says things like, "Feel your left toe. Release your left toe." You are often asked in yoga nidra class to set a sankalpa, or a promise to yourself, and to call upon a deep desire that you have. It is believed that you can enter a state in between consciousness and unconsciousness where those desires can be manifested.
You know that feeling you have when you are about to fall asleep and you have weird thoughts, like your brain is just freestyling and attaching random ideas together? Some might call this dozing. You are in between awake and asleep. That's where yoga nidra takes you with the intention of keeping you there for a set amount of time. It is believed that in that middle space, your brain can do some pretty tremendous and magical things.
Scripts in yoga nidra classes are very specific and you will listen to your teacher's voice for most of the class. You can also find yoga nidra scripts online.
Yoga nidra is very similar to restorative yoga in that you will likely be in a reclined and supported position. However, in a restorative class, most of the class is held in silence with very little external stimulation. In a yoga nidra class, the teacher is speaking and guiding you through the script the entire time.
4. restorative yoga
Restorative yoga involves the practice of using props to create complete support for your body. In a restorative class, you'll typically move through only about four or five poses and you'll use bolsters, blocks, and blankets. Once in a pose, you'll stay there for about five or ten minutes, just being. This activates your relaxation response so that you can find a state of calm. Restorative yoga is wonderful for stress relief and healing.
The same concepts around savasana apply here, and savasana is absolutely a restorative pose. However, there are many restorative poses other than savasana. Legs up the wall is another example of a restorative pose.
While the focus in restorative poses is on letting go and finding that still space inside of you where you can soften and surrender, these poses also work on the body too. For example, in a restorative backbend, you are completely supported but you are also gently opening the spine.
Just as in savasana, you might doze off in a restorative class, but ideally, you will stay awake. Learning how to be awake and relaxed is very important.
Does it seem silly that I'm describing sleep? I'm not so sure. When I hear people talk about sleep, it seems like many of us have forgotten what it is. Sleep is the time when our bodies and minds recharge. Sleep restores us. Scientists are doing all sorts of interesting research about what happens when we sleep, but they seem to all agree that the brain is busy taking care of important business while we are at rest. If your sleep isn't restoring you on most nights, consider doing some research on sleep hygiene. Personally, if I don't sleep well, everything else is so much harder. I value my sleep.
In the previous four practices listed, remember that ideally you aren't falling asleep. If you doze off once in a while, no big deal. If you are consistently exhausted every time you stop running around and doing things, you're body is trying to tell you something (that it's completely exhausted) and it's time to take a look at your nighttime sleep.
Fun fact: as part of my recovery from a mild traumatic brain injury, my concussion specialist had a lot of strategies for me, but she really emphasized that a full night of sleep was the most important thing. I believe this is true for people recovering from injuries and illnesses, but also for all of us experiencing daily stress.
Still have questions? Ask away!
Thanks for reading. I hope this helped to answer some of your questions. Namaste friends, Karen
This week I'm reflecting on the work of Donna Farhi in Bringing Yoga to Life. You can read previous posts here:
Day 1: Box of Monsters
Day 2: Relationships
Day 3: Sitting Quietly
Day 4: Pandora's Box
Today is the last day of Donna Farhi week and I just want to take a moment to thank the people who've read my posts, but most of all, to thank Donna for her decades of dedication to the yoga field.
Today's quote and reflection is about dharma. I feel like I came out of the womb saying, "Universe, what's my purpose in life?" so I'm really excited to chew on this.
"How do we know whether a path or action is our dharma? Our dharma is almost always the option we choose last because it is the most challenging."
One of the things this makes me think about is the work of Sue Frederick and Dan Millman around life purpose. I've studied both of their teachings and they say very similar things: the stuff we are here to learn is going to challenge us. If it came easily on day one, we wouldn't need to learn it.
Our natural tendencies seem like the path to follow right? For example, my tendency is toward a lack of structure. When I follow my tendencies, dishes pile up and laundry goes undone. Things get messy. That's my tendency, but the thing is, I don't feel good when I follow it. It feels natural when I'm doing it but in the long-run, it doesn't serve me.
When I build structure and routines in my life, it is hard. Those things don't come naturally to me, but when I push myself a bit to keep things in order, I feel better. When my external environment is clear, it helps me feel clear inside.
Another example for me is around sleep. My tendency is to stay up too late being all weird and creative and to get up at the last possible minute in the morning after hitting snooze. But again, I don't really feel good about myself or life when I do that. Lately, I've been putting my phone on the other side of the room and waking up at 6:15 in the morning without hitting snooze. This doesn't come easily to me, but when I do it, I feel really good about myself and it starts my day on the right foot.
Our dharma is our purpose. That doesn't only apply to a career. This is so important! I work as a career intuitive coach and I'm here to tell you that finding the "right" career is a myth. Yes, there are some fields that you are much better suited to than others. But in general, you can serve your purpose in any number of different careers. What's more important is the attitude and mindset that you bring to your career. And FYI-your career won't fix you. If you have broken space inside of yourself that need to be dealt with, the only thing that will fix them is doing hard self-reflection that needs to be done. I notice more and more that people place all manner of pressure onto a career. They're miserable, and they believe it's because of their job, when really, it's because they are resisting looking inside of themselves. Careers, in short, are easy scapegoats.
Take a look at dharma from a bigger perspective. Are you taking care of yourself? Your body? Your mind? Your spirit? To me, this is the first place where we can start to live our dharma.
I just love this quote though, because it reminds me that I'm not behind schedule, you know? None of us are. We're right on time.
I'm curious how others define dharma and if this idea of arriving at your dharma last makes sense to you? It's certainly true for me.
Thanks for reading. Namaste friends. Have a great weekend.