Sunday, 22 December 2019

The first Yama - Ahimsa

Yoga is much more than what it has been reduced to here in the West. Usually when we hear the word 'yoga', most people think of the physical postures or asanas. Yoga is thought of as a form of exercise,
ways to bend the body, and the more bendy the body is, the "better" at yoga one is.  In reality, the asanas are a very small part of yoga as yoga traditionally is a spiritual path of self-transformation, a process to connect to divine Truth.  So, if you've connected with yoga through the asana or pose practice and have found that it's created more changes for you than just physical benefits like feeling more calm, connected and aware...then read on to learn about how to start the lifestyle practice of yoga.  Making it more than just an hour class a few times a week to a way living life.

One way of connecting to the greater benefits of yoga is through the ethical practices of yoga or Yamas and Niyamas.  These practices are listed in Patanjali Yoga Sutras, which is a "how to" guide that was compiled prior to 400 CE and is typically the yogic text that is referred to most often in modern yoga teacher training. These practices are a guide to a way of interacting with the world in a more loving, responsible and compassionate manner.  They guide one to questioning the fear-based mindset that our minds tend to default to and recondition our reactions to be more love-based.

The first Yama, or restraint, is Ahimsa. Himsa, literally means "to kill" and the 'a' makes it opposite,  non-killing.  So, Ahimsa can mean non-killing or less literally, non-violence or non-injure.  Most times when we think if non-violence, we think of the physical world, for example to not hit or strike someone. This is only part of Ahimsa.

Since yoga is a spiritual path, non-violence goes much deeper into the emotional and spiritual realms.  It means "entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word, or deed. Non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth, and hand."  

The practice of Ahimsa is about refraining from not only words and thoughts of harm towards other beings but also ourselves.  Of course, this can be a hard thing to do, which is why it is a practice.  So, how to practice Ahimsa?

I come back to the saying that 'one can only love others as much as one loves themselves.' I believe the heart of this practice begins within, with working on catching the negative thoughts and beliefs that we say to ourselves all throughout each day. We are our own worst enemy.  This is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, a yoga scripture and one that is well known in the Hindu tradition.  "A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. (Bhagavad-gita 6.5)"  It is not another person that is our true enemy but the way we think of ourselves and limit ourselves.  "I'm not ___ enough," "I don't deserve___," comparing ourselves to others, thinking we are failures, and lots of self-doubt and self-judgement. 

So how do we change this and lift ourselves out of this falseness and violence that we do to ourselves everyday?  Here are a few practices to start with:

1. Self-compassion.  We are human, we will make mistakes and it is actually a place to learn, not a place to beat ourselves up.  We come from a long line of conditioning to these negative beliefs. Most likely our parents felt they weren't good enough or something was wrong with them, even though they were not conscious of it.  And their parents thought this about themselves, and their parents...on and on.  Again, the Yoga Sutras were written down before 400CE! Our human minds have a long history of this pattern.  So, when you are aware of negative self-talk, celebrate it because you caught it and can now consciously decide what thought you want to go with.  Beating yourself up only perpetuates the negativity.

2. Awareness.  We can't change anything we aren't aware of, so start noticing your thoughts.  When an emotion comes up ask yourself, "what thought is fueling this?"  When you have a reaction to a situation or a person, ask yourself, "why, where is this coming from?"  Own the reaction so you can become aware of the thoughts and beliefs that fuel it. 

Let's take an example of this with driving. We've all experienced someone cutting us off, which is annoying in the least and frightening at worst.  Let's look at our reaction. Most likely there's anger and with that comes cussing, yelling, and maybe the urge to speed up to confront the person who cut us off.  Before we let this take over, let's pause and breathe.  First, have you ever cut someone else off? I know I have. I feel horrible and if I could I'd apologize but in a car you can't.  Second, what does continuing with anger do?  Does it solve anything, change the situation?  No, it may cause us to escalate the situation and it ends up sticking with us for minutes and maybe much longer afterwards. It ends up harming us far more than the event.  Third, what is underneath anger?  Most likely either an expectation that it should never happen, even though it just did. Or with fear, thinking about the worst case scenarios of a crash getting hurt or even killed.  So, we can keep going with these reactions or we can choose something else that helps to start calm the body and mind, and allows us to move from the event rather than getting stuck in it.

Maybe after owning 'I've done this in the past and not on purpose,' we can start to think that most likely that person did not purposely do that to us. They just realized they were in the wrong lane to exit the freeway or there is an emergency they are trying to get to or they were on their cell phone and not fully even aware of driving.  Most likely, the best thing to do is to slow down a bit ourselves, breathe, hope they and everyone else gets to where they are going safely, and it is a reminder to us that driving can be dangerous if we aren't fully present and aware.  For me, these thoughts help me to let go of anger, calm fear and my body reaction, and be present where I'm at and with what I'm doing.

Again, awareness is the first step of creating change, going from Himsa to Ahimsa.

3. Gratitude. Gratitude is one of the easiest ways to connect with a more loving and abundant mind state.  I use this all the time with my reactions to my husband. When he does a behavior that gets under my skin or I'm already creating a story of how he will react or not do something I asked, I now pause and remind myself of all the wonderful things he does, what makes him a loving human being, and why I'm grateful he's in my life.  It has really helped me meet my resentments and enjoy our time together.

Towards myself, when my mind starts to get stuck in worrying...and it loves to do that...reminding myself what I'm grateful for, what is going well, and what the facts of a situation are, my mind expands from the limits that worrying creates, and I feel empowered and okay where I'm at. It also reminds me of what I can and can't control, as worrying, for me, is about trying to control the future, which I can not control.

These are just a few of the many practices out there to be non-violent or non-injurious to ourselves and, in turn, to others.  Can you IMAGINE what our world would be like if all of us practiced this?! So, start with yourself as that's all you can change and have control over.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Reflections on Joy

Earlier this week, after a meditation group, I was filled with joy in getting to see and receive hugs from a number of people I haven't seen in a bit that were coming in for the next yoga class.  I felt like I was floating. In thinking about this feeling of joy, I reflect, "what really is this joy?' 

When doing a quick search on joy and religions, joy is used interchangeably with happiness. To me, these two words, happy and joy, feel different. Happy is use used so often in regular, daily language, i.e. to wish one a "happy" holiday, 'happy birthday,' I'm 'happy, not sad or angry.'  It's another word for positive and feels more surface or generic since it's used so much.

Joy, on the other hand, feels like openness, love, connection.  It happens when I connect with people,
animals, nature.  It happens when I'm in the present moment, really enJOYing  what is happening right now.  It happens when I notice the small details of life. It leads to gratitude and abundance.

With each person I saw in that morning a few days ago, I felt I was seeing and feeling each person and their beautiful, divine self.  I did just come out of a 30 minute meditation, so I was already practicing being in the moment, which may have allowed me to connect with each person more fully, rather than thinking of what I was going to do next and rushing.

One of my favorite memories of joy was many years ago when I worked a summer job in college at a Montessori preschool.  It was the end of a day and I was out on the playground with several 4 year olds who were riding around on tricycles. One of them made a joke to me as he rode by and erupted in pure laughter at the joke, throwing his head back.  I can still hear his laughter. Every time I think about this moment, even now, my heart fills and I cannot hold back from smiling and laughing myself. A moment filled with joy!

I believe that a true part of experiencing joy is being present, fully aware of the experience, not distracted with mind either in the past or future.  Joy is bordering on bliss, which to me is connection with the divine, God, Holy Spirit, or whatever word you may choose.  It is an indication that I am right here, right now.

In this month, which many religions practice connecting and celebrating God and Spirit, it's no wonder that JOY is spoken about in song and scripture as this is a time many people consciously spend being in connection with each other, in spiritual practices/rituals, and enJOYing time just to rest and do nothing.

How do you connect with joy? How do you define joy?  How can we all keep connecting with joy throughout the year?

Friday, 18 October 2019

The Gift of Gratitude

Last night I watched a couple of episodes of "Modern Love," a new Amazon Prime series inspired by essays from a New York Times column with the same title.  I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my long-time partner.  I wrote him a text that let him know my gratitude for him.

In relationships, we tend to focus on what another person hasn't done or could change. This cultivates resentment and separateness.  We do this with our jobs, about ourselves and so many other aspects of life.  This is a focus on lack.  And when we focus on lack, we miss all the abundance we have in our lives. 

Gratitude is a practice of abundance.  It doesn't take long and when practiced regularly it has many mental health and physical health benefits. When we can connect with gratitude, it opens us wide to connect in a more compassionate loving way with the world around us and ourselves. 

Since November is upon us and there's one day that we already focus on thanks and gratitude, I propose expanding this for the whole month.  Consciously take a moment to connect with 1-3 things you are grateful for each day...maybe making it about one person, one thing about yourself, and one thing in the world...making sure to connect with why. 

Even feel free to expand it by texting or messaging that person for the day to let them know personally that you are grateful for them. Allow that energy of gratitude to grow!

Need help?  Try this gratitude meditation to get the juices flowing.  You deserve to connect with the abundance in your life!

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Peaceful Mind State Comes From Within

Peaceful is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as "free from disturbance; tranquil" and "not involving war or violence."

I've been on the path of transforming my mind to a more peaceful state through a daily practice of yoga, which for me is at minimum sitting in silence or meditation for 20-30 minutes and up to a two hour practice that includes physical postures (asana), breath work (pranayama) and meditation.  It's been a process to get where I'm at, with many starts and stops and changes in what a daily practice is for me, but ultimately over the past seven years of a more serious dedicated practice, I can see the movement to a more consistent peaceful mind state.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras define yoga as the practice to eliminate fluctuations of the mind (not flexibility and strength of the body which the western world has defined yoga as), which reflects the first definition of peaceful from above.  One thing I've learned on this path is that a peaceful mind state is a reflection of what is going on within myself, not what is going on around me in the external environment.  I can be peaceful when there is chaos outside of me and I can have a racing mind when it's calm outside of me.

Going with the second part of the definition of peaceful from above, the first Yama represents it, which is Ahimsa. Himsa means to kill or violence and A added to the front of a word in Sanskrit means 'opposite' or 'not.'  So Ahimsa means 'not to kill' or 'non-violence.'  So many times we think about non-violence as something we do towards others, but more importantly it is a practice to do with ourselves.  The more non-violent or loving we are to ourselves, the more that will radiate from us in our interactions with others. This Yama is such a great place to start broadening the practice of yoga from a 'class' and 'mat' practice to a lifestyle practice.  Where are you violent towards yourself in daily life in actions, words and thoughts?  Where can you start to be more loving towards yourself and treat yourself like you would a best friend? What are you doing to 'kill' your true spirit or voice?

I have come to realize when I'm having more 'negative' emotions, such as feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, resentful, it's usually a sign that I'm in a more fearful mind state.  It's a red flag for me to stop, go inward and reflect what is going on within me to create this and take action to be more loving and compassionate towards myself. It's amazing how something as simple as changing my perception from what I don't have to what I do have immediately changes my mind state. Try it!

A peaceful mind state is a process, a practice, and requires patience.  Go to for upcoming workshops and courses on how to implement inward practices of yoga into your daily life to move towards a more peaceful mind state.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Although I love the season of summer with warmer days, nature in the full swing of life, watching my flowers grow (the hollyhocks out front are about 9 feet tall this year!), and long days, I find myself wearing down from going all the time, trying to fit it all in. This year, more than ever, my meditation practice has helped me start the day off in a more grounded state of mind. It's helped me to keep in perspective the to dos and work on letting go of outcomes more readily to just go with the flow.  When I've had moments of overwhelm, taking time to just practice single-minded focus, reminds my mind to be in a more simple state, focusing on one thing and letting the rest go.

My sadhana (spiritual daily practice) has helped me to go from just practicing in the morning to bringing in that practice throughout the day and this is where the really magic happens.  I've had days in a row where I have to keep focus on where I'm at and then going to the next thing and do the same.  My mind has moments of 'freak outs' where it's overwhelmed by all the details. With coming back to single-minded focus, I get my mind to come back to what is going on now and letting go of the rest until it's time to transition.  It's helped to keep the anxiety at bay more and allowed me to enjoy and be present with what I am doing.  It's starts with being on the mat/cushion and then radiates out to daily living.

I must admit that my meditation practice of single-minded focus has been a process and will continue to be.  It's been a process of committing and re-committing.  Those excuses of why it's not going to
happen today like being too tried and "it'll happen later," or being on vacation and things getting in the way, or "too sick, it's okay if I skip a day," etc. In the end I let those excuses win out.  I'm a person that will follow through if I commit to someone else, so when I committed to my practice daily to my teacher it was amazing how all those excuses just lost their power.  I've practiced Dharana, or single-minded focus daily since.  What is your ultimate motivator?

I haven't regretted at all.  It has helped me ground back during the chaos of life and summer.  A big tip is this: Find your minimum practice.  I know it's easy to get attached to the idea of what a practice is, which can keep us from doing it every day.  Ultimately, my practice is about two hours, which includes asana (poses), pranayama (breathing techniques) and dharana (single-minded focus).  Life does get in the way sometimes and it's better to do a minimum practice rather than no practice at all because it does add up.  My minimum practice at this point is 20 minutes of meditation or dharana.  There are no excuses not to find 20 minutes for me in my day.  Sometimes it turns into, more time than I 'thought' I had.

It then translates to my daily life of being aware of the excuses and putting them in their place, one at a time.

Find that minimum practice...YOU DESERVE IT!  Yes, you ARE that important.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Grateful for Awareness

If you have worked with me as a client, group member, or co-worker, you will know that 'awareness' is at the forefront of my mind. It is the first step in conscious change. It can be a mind-blowing explosion and quick, it can be a subtle process like cleaning a really dirty mirror, or it can be a 'huh, interesting.'  However awareness manifests, it is the beginning of empowerment to do something different.  I say beginning with emphasis because our mind can get confused with labeling it as an end.

When we identify awareness as an end, when change doesn't just happen right away, the mind may start to beat it's self up.  "I should know better.  Why do I keep doing this?"  When we become aware of a pattern, it's the beginning of the process to start changing it.

I've had several of those BIG 'ah ha' moments over my life.  One happened when we lived in India, about eight years ago and was the catalyst to deepening my yoga practice.  I have had seasonal depression for quite some time in the winter.  I would feel low, self-doubt and low motivation.  My worst bout of it was in graduate school and I did seek professional help for the first time, which was helpful in taking steps with assertive communication rather than holding things in.

Fast forward five years to India.  My mother and her partner were visiting us and I had put together all of our travel plans, going to some places that were on my bucket list to see.  We were in Hampi, which is in Southern India and a fascinating place both visually and historically.  I had been wanting to go there for a number of years after seeing Chris Sharma's climbing video documenting his time rock climbing there. 

Despite this, I noticed I was being grumpy and irritated with my husband though there was nothing specific to warrant feeling this way.  I was mad at myself for being so mean to him. It thought, "What is this?! I'm in India, halfway across the world from 'home' and it's here again?! It's not even dark and cold out!"  It was that moment and really looking at it a couple months later at my first yoga teacher training with my guru, that a light switch went on.  "This depression is ME.  It's how I'm viewing things.  My expectations, the 'shoulds,' and my perceptions." 

This newfound awareness was a big step in my process of gaining more control over my mind, emotions and reactions.  I'm am definitely still on the path of self-transformation with this awareness and a long way to go...though I've come a long way. The practices of yoga, more so Pranayama (breath work), Dharana and Dhyana (meditation), questioning and being curious about my thoughts and beliefs, have done so much to land me where I am today.

I've gone from someone who is an addicted planner with every moment planned out months in advanced and a chronic mover having moved 20 times in my adult life before the age of 40! (The thought of living in one place for longer than a year terrified me until I lived in India, the same flat for two years...Wow!) To now having more weekends that aren't plan than are, actually buying a house that I've lived in for four years with no plan to move, and in all of it just feeling soooo much more content.  Don't get me wrong, some of these patterns show up in other places, more subtly but because I'm aware, I can meet them and make more conscious choices.

This would not have happened, I'm pretty sure, without my yoga practice, the yoga teachers I've had along the way, my guru, and my personal commitment to holding myself accountable for my actions, thoughts and emotions.

Thank you Awareness!!

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Even hummingbirds take time to pause

I looked out of my back window where we put up a hummingbird feeder this year and I saw a hummingbird sitting on the feeder.  It was the first time I had ever seen a hummingbird at rest!  Even hummingbirds take time to rest and pause!

There are so many examples of pausing all around us.  The thing is, we need to pause in order to notice them.  Now that it's summer, the heat of the day is the time when so many insects, birds, animals take pause and rest.  My husband and I were reminded this past weekend why we like to get outside in the morning and then relax in the afternoon in the summer as we sweated buckets in the heat of the day while hiking a favorite trail.

The more subtle practices of yoga like pranayama and meditation are a perfect way to give time to pause and just notice what is going on with ourselves.  There is a natural pause at the top of the inhale, then again at the bottom of the exhale that can only be noticed when we are sitting still. 

Taking time to pause, whether a few minutes during the day or for multiple days of silence...or even
just turning off the phone for a few hours, does wonders to calm our nervous system, slow down, and enjoy the present moment. It helps to help us discern what really is important and what can be let go. It is in the pause where true learning and reflection happen.

Work in pause breaks each day to take care of your body, mind, and spirit. You deserve it!  Whatever is on the 'To Do' list can wait.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

We all deserve healthy boundaries

One of the topics I come back to for myself and I work on often with people is boundary setting.  Most of us grew up in families where healthy boundaries weren't taught, not because our parents did it consciously but because they were also never taught healthy boundaries.  It's hard to teach something we aren't aware of and don't have knowledge of.  So, now as adults, it is up for us to unlearn what hasn't been working well and relearn boundaries that feel better.

Setting boundaries is about learning to say "no" and learning to say "yes" when appropriate.  When thinking about boundaries, it's going to be individual preference, they may change over time, and all of us may be a little different, so an important part is taking time to go inward and check-in where you are at.  My favorite analogy here is thinking about the safety talk on airplanes.  What is said to do if the oxygen masks are released?  "Put your mask on first and then help children and others."  Why?  Because if you are helping others before, you may run out of oxygen yourself.  When checking in with ourselves, we need to make sure we are in a space to help others...if not, we need to say "no."

There are so many different types of boundaries in this world from what we do with our day, how we interact with others, our bodies, our values...

Here are some general tips that can be applied to most situations:

1. Saying "no" is an area that many of us struggle with. If you feel overwhelmed, taken advantage of, feel like you're the only one doing things, constantly tired from doing too much, you most likely need to say "no" more.

What keeps us from saying "no?"  It could come from growing up and what we were taught.  Like 'being nice.' Like helping others is an important value.  Possibly there's the belief of 'not good enough' so doing a lot is a way to prove your worth.  Sometimes feeling's what you 'should do.'

The most important part is learning to set a boundary with ourselves first.  We have to start practicing putting ourselves and our well being as a priority.  Think of all the things you may already do to take care of yourself like exercise, eating well, getting good sleep, taking vacation.  If you find yourself throwing these things out of the window first to accommodate others, it's time to say 'No, I'm not compromising these things anymore' to yourself.  These are the things that keep us able to help out and fulfill our roles effectively.  If we let them go, usually we suffer, and that is not okay.

PRACTICE: Choose one area of self-care that you will not compromise for the next week.  I guarantee there will be some difficult emotions like guilt that come up, but do it despite that feeling and notice how you feel and are functioning by the end of the week.

If another person is reactive when you say, 'no,' let them know you have to do your own self-care and not doing it will put you in a place that's not healthy.  If they still protest, let them.  You aren't responsible for another person's reaction and making them feel better...especially if it makes you worse off.

2. Saying 'yes' is necessary when we are becoming too rigid with our 'nos.'  Are you feeling isolated, not enjoying life or activities you once did, are you feeling overwhelmed with the 'have tos' and not doing enough of the 'want tos?'  Then you may need to practice saying 'yes' to social, fun activities. 
Saying 'yes' to self-care and relaxation time.

PRACTICE: Say 'yes' to a fun activity this week to just enjoy and be around others in a fun setting.

(Note: usually saying 'no' and saying 'yes' happen at the same time.  Saying 'no' to working past 5:00pm so you can say 'yes' to that free summer concert).

3. Sometimes it's not about setting boundaries, it's about letting go of them.  Sometimes our own boundaries create stress that's unnecessary. Food can be a good example of this.  Eating healthy at home is much easier than eating out or at another person's home.  If part of eating healthy is not eating any processed foods and sticking to this religiously may cause you to miss out on some events because you're stressed about the food. Take a break!!  Every once in a while, go out to eat or enjoy
social time at a friend's house and allow yourself to let go of this intention for that meal.  It will be okay and the benefits of being social may far out weigh one meal where you may have processed food.  Remember, if we are too rigid and causing stress reactions in our bodies, whatever "healthy" thing we are doing is no longer healthy.

PRACTICE: Notice an area where you have a tendency to be rigid and striving to obtain perfection. Allow yourself to let go of it and enjoy a moment.  (Example: Certain rules at home for your children and letting some of these rules go if you are on vacation).

4. Communication is a big part of setting boundaries.  There are four basic ways we communicate: Aggressive, Passive, Passive-aggressive, and Assertive.  The first three tend to have flavors of control, manipulation, and a lot of times don't feel good afterwards. Practicing more assertive communication can be more effective, help feel better because you've been respectful to yourself and to others, and a lot of times end up with less 'side-effects' like resentment and guilt.  Being assertive means you are directly responding (not reacting) to a challenge/ conflict, working on understanding the other person while also stating how you feel, and working towards a compromise that takes both people's needs into account.

An example to understand different types of communication: Going out to eat, you order a burger and ask that they withhold a sauce on that burger.  The burger is brought with the sauce on it. 

- Aggressive: (yelling) "What the hell!  I said no sauce.  You are so incompetent!  I want to see your manager!"
- Passive: Looks at the burger, doesn't say anything and doesn't enjoy the meal.  Another person encourages this person to let the server know and this person says, "No, I don't want to be a bother. It's not that important."
- Passive-Aggressive: Same as passive and then bad mouths the restaurant to all their friends.
- Assertive: Getting the attention of the server states, "Excuse me.  I ordered the burger without sauce and it came with it.  I'd like a burger without the sauce."

PRACTICE: "I" statements can be a great tool in assertive communication.  Here's a template to try:

"I feel __________, when _________.  I hope (or need) ___________. "

The first 'blank' is an emotion (not 'like' or 'that').  The second 'blank' is a being specific and concise about the situation the may have created the emotions.  The third 'blank' is letting the other person know what could be done differently or what you will do differently in the future.

Example: "I felt annoyed after I asked you to put the dishes away, you agreed, and then a hour later it was not done.  I hope that when you agree to something you'll follow through and if you don't agree, let's talk about it."

My encouragement is to choose one of these areas to practice and go with it, notice what happens!  Remember, it takes time and practice to learn how to set healthy boundaries and it will get easier!

Friday, 3 May 2019

Two month reflection

I've been back from my Meditation course in India for two months and wanted to take some time to reflect on my process these past two months.  The first week back, I had a clear intention of not taking on anything extra, allowing my time to recoup from travel and jet lag.  My mind was calm and relaxed. It was wonderful!!

After that first week, I dove into the to do list of planning for upcoming workshops, networking, and taking on additional tasks at my part-time job.  It has felt like a whirlwind with a buzzing mind.  I've stayed focus on my daily Sadhana (spiritual practice), which I do in the morning, and practiced meeting charges of emotions and negative self-talk head on.  I think I had expectations that doing these things would create calm and peace immediately. Instead, the reality of how busy my mind truly is has exploded into awareness. In reflection, the question of 'what is my definition of calm and peace' comes up for me.

When I pause to reflect on this questions, the word 'control' comes up.  This word is something I've been noticing more and more and the levels it influences my life.  I've notice in little ways, throughout the day, how I work on trying to control the external world to feel more safe and secure...only it actually brings me more stress and exhaustion.  For example, expectations I have when I plan schedule for how a day is going to go or scheduling to meet with people individually.  Inevitably, I'd say well over half the time, my plan of a schedule changes.  When this happens, I can be thrown into a whirlwind of mind racing madness because my expectations of the plan have changed.  At times I'm aware of it happening in the moment, at other times I'm not aware of it until afterwards. Either way, finding time to be with the emotions and thoughts the changes bring up is essential for me to move from trying to control to having peace with it.  More and more I can do this process in the moment.  I guess that's one piece of it...time.  Some of the time there's space to be with it, to move through it.  Some times there's not because I have to be involved in other tasks.  The positive is I've learned to compartmentalize the emotional and thought reactions so they don't consume me and I come back to them as soon as there is space to really be with them and allow them to move through.

My definition of calm and peace has changed from an external focus to an internal focus. The external world is going to happen. It's how I meet the external situations I have no control over that creates calm and peace.  Calm and peace are a state of mind, not a state of my environment.  The old belief that things outside of me create calm and peace, like a schedule running smoothly, plans panning out how I want them to, or others feeling calm, I've come to realize creates more stress and worry. But, man, does that old belief like to try to keep hanging on...keep itself relevant despite its untruth, try to stay in control.  I'm laughing because this is the third time TODAY, I've had an image of a wrestling match going on inside of me the past six weeks with this old belief system trying to stay in control.

Calm and peace would look more like accepting this resistance as normal and a normal part of the process of becoming more calm and peaceful.   It's accepting the process of change within myself, allowing it, knowing it's to be expected that there will be a struggle at times, and that it is important to keep up the practice of pausing and grounding back to what is present, more in reality, and expand to see the whole rather then just a part.  This change takes time and requires patience!

Taking moments, like this one, to pause and reflect helps to clear out the whirlwind and find a calm. More than ever, I am reminded of the vital importance of slowing down, taking time to go inward and be present within.  My process is definitely focused on finding the balance of being in the external world to function in my roles and enjoy life, while also coming back to the internal world to just be.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Part Two: The Exhale

And moving to the next part of the breath...the Exhale.

For me, this has been where my practice with the breath has focused.  I'm a great inhaler: on the go, full of ideas, and ready to jump in.  I have struggled in balancing it with the exhale, which is the releasing, the discernment of what I want to let in and what I don't, just being and receiving, no need to do.  With my yoga practice, using pranayama that emphasizes a longer exhale has done wonders for my mind state and my ability to be more present.  When I'm aware that I'm holding in the inhale, I focus on long exhales and it grounds me and brings me back to the now.  I make better choices for myself and take much better care of how I spend my time.  It's a work in progress and I get reminders all the time to come back to the exhale, which I'm forever grateful.

What about you?  Do you let yourself be in the exhale?

Here are two breath practices that help with being in the exhale:

1. The first I mentioned above. Just simply start practicing lengthening your exhalation.  Start by breathing in and out of the nose (this activates the parasympathetic nervous system to calm us), do a few normal breaths and then start to inhale for 3 or 4 counts and exhale for 5 to 6.  Use abdominal breathing so you are using your whole respiratory system.  Over time, move towards a 1:2 ratio for the inhale and exhale.  For example, if I inhale for three, I would exhale for six.  In only a few breaths, you'll feel everything slowing down.  Here's a YouTube Video on this practice.

2. The other breath technique that is helpful in slowing down the breath is called Ujjayi Breath or Ocean-Sounding Breath. Think Darth Vader breathing.  Think about fogging up a mirror with your breath.  Hold your hand up, palm facing you.  Pretending your palm is a mirror, breath as you would to fog it up, a slight constriction in the throat.   Then closing the mouth do the same thing with that slight constriction in the throat while breathing.  You should be able to hear your breath, almost like the sound of the ocean.  It helps to control and slow down the breath, especially the exhale. Notice how you feel after doing five breaths like this.

The wonderful thing about the exhale is that you can focus on it at any moment!  No one has to know that you are even doing it. Yogis have known for a long time that the breath is the other side of the coin with the mind.  If the mind is fluctuation, controlling the breath helps to settle the mind.  If the mind is unsettled, you can bet the breath is also unsettled.  Control the breath, control the mind.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Part One: The Inhale

The breath is the bridge between the mind and body. If our mind is racing, our breath is usually short and shallow.  If our mind is relaxed, our breath is usually slow and more into the belly.  By working with the breath, we can change the mind state.

I want to focus on looking at the meaning of the inhale in our lives and in another blog I will focus on the exhale.

When I think of the inhale, I think of the SO HUM mantra and meditation.  SO is said in the
 mind when inhaling and means 'That.' So when we inhale, we are inviting our attention to fully by on all that is permanent, which is divine, love, God, the infinite.  This mantra is the essence of the goal on the path of yoga, to realize 'I am the infinite'. The inhale invites us to go inward.

There are so many ways of using this amazing world around us, though impermanent, to help us find meanings for the inhalation. Looking at the sun, the inhalation might represent the sunrise, the beginning of moving from dark to light, moving into seeing with awareness, inviting the new day which is there for us to learn from, an experience giver.  

The changes of season.  In moving from the hibernation and pause of winter, spring is that 'breath of fresh air,' drawing in the changes that are bringing new life and renewal, movement.  This just made me think of one of the last scenes in the movie, "Gravity," when Sandra Bullock's character has reentered earth's gravity, plunging into the water and then after escaping her pod she surges up, breaking out of the water's surface with a full breath of renewal, desire to live, reborn.

The inhalation, when thinking of movement or activity, is the drawing in before the release of energy out.  In that moment, one can visualize the outcome desired with the movement to prep the body to move towards a goal.  I think of being out rock climbing.  When I'm about to move through a more challenging section, I breath in to create focus of where I want to go, then I exhale (usually more forcefully) with the action.  

So, inhalation can also be synonymous with focus and concentration (though for this to fully be realized, the exhale must also come).  The breath in draws us inward towards clarity before the action happens to realize the clarity. 

In this spring season, take a moment to fully be in the inhalation, drawing life inwards.  Notice what is going on when you draw the breath in more fully or forcefully and what analogy comes to you in the first half of the breath? Enjoy this gift of the inhalation.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Reflections from my Meditation Facilitator Training Course

In this week back from India, going through so many delays with traveling back home, weather conditions, and jet lag, I've be surprised how I've been able to stay relatively more calm and even.  The past few weeks in India at the meditation course have been helpful in opening my eyes to a deeper level of yoga and the role meditation (and going inward) plays in steadying the mind. Here are three general reflections for myself from the time with my guru, Prasad Rangnekar:

1) The amount of value placed on thinking and ideas keeps the mind unsteady.

Our western culture places a lot of value on thoughts and ideas.  On one hand, this is what fuels the entrepreneurial spirit and has led the way to amazing innovations. On the other hand, it also has led to our avoidance of being able to be with emotions which keeps us stuck, devaluing intuition and being judgmental about experiences outside the world of thought.

For me, I am amazed at all the wonderful ideas that come from my much of the time, so quickly, and it can be very distracting.  When I sit down to be still and quiet, practice meditation, my mind takes this as, "Sweet!  We've got space and she's going to hear us!" It's off to the races.  Over the years I have gone from getting swept up with these story lines and before I know it I've lived months in my mind within 10-15 minutes to slowly accepting what my mind comes up with when my intention is to meditate isn't important. At all.

My practice at this point is having a zero tolerance to thoughts and ideas when I sit down to meditate, when I'm driving or doing activities that don't require specific thoughts, or when I'm focused on something specific.  Yep, that really is the majority of the time.  It's the practice of vairagya or detachment.

My mind's reaction to this is, "what if you miss something big!  An idea that could change the world?!"  Well, at this point, I firmly believe that it's not going to be a thought that changes my world, it will be the absence of thought.  My work towards self-transformation isn't external, so I'm not looking to make a ton of money or get rich quick or retire early.  It's internal and it's about finding peace within.  So, those thoughts really aren't going to do much for me.

Don't get me wrong, I still need to think to be in the world, do my work, enjoy life, it's just I'm working towards not placing value on them as they aren't permanent, so not worth getting attached to.  I've got my work cut out for me because I've spent a lot of time attaching to thoughts (many of them worries) and it's a hard habit to break.  But, I'm committed and looking forward to seeing what results from this zero tolerance practice.

2) I'm already safe and secure.

In the grand scheme of things, I've had it pretty good in this life.  I was born into a household that was financially secure with parents who loved me and wanted me.  My parents divorcing when I was in college was the first big loss in my life.  I didn't have an severe physical, emotional, or sexual trauma.

The thing is, I still struggle with feeling safe and secure.  My mind's tendency is towards worrying and trying to control life. These thought habits, over time, have taken their toll on my body.  The magnitude of the mind/ body system's specific role in keeping us safe is amazing to me.  There's really not a whole lot that separates us from other animals...unless we learn how to override the survival part of the brain.  The majority of the time I'm doing okay and I'm safe.  Yet, the mind keeps focusing on lack and looking for where I may not be safe rather than relaxing in the abundance of safety that I have.

I really was hoping I was "advanced" and had no muladhara (root) chakra issues, but the reality is otherwise.  And accepting this is also getting rid of a belief I've had that my 'success' as a yogi depends on where I'm at in rising up the chakras. Really, being a true yogi is accepting where I'm at right now and doing practices that meet me there.  It's so much more empowering and is actually less stressful!!  (I paused right then and noticed I was clenching my jaw...and now it's relaxed.  My thoughts for this blog post were coming to quickly and wanting to get it 'just right.' Ha)!

One of my new mantras is "I'm safe and secure" whenever I start to feel tension happening in my body along with some long exhalations. It relaxes me immediately.

3) Any negativity in my life is completely my doing.

I've been working with the phrase, "I'm 100% responsible for my life" since my first yoga teacher training in 2012.  It has helped me significantly in reducing blame towards others and situations so I can take responsibility and work on my own part in things.

There has been deepening in this from course.  I started to talk with my guru about some of the same things that have caused me stressed for years, which he's patiently listened to, and his response this time was, "why do you always complain about these things?"  He said a few more things after that I don't remember.  That word, 'complain,' really hit me hard.  My first response was, "I don't complain! That's not me!  You've got it all wrong!"  I knew my reaction to it meant there was definitely something there.

I sat with this for the rest of the course and then in coming home, I watched my reactions more closely to the people and situations I just struggle to let go of.  Guess what, it's all me.  It's all my perception, expectations, mood, and habits.  Here's one example:

I worked late one night, so in the morning I talked with my husband about making dinner, even pulled out a recipe and some ingredients for him.  I got home at 8pm and the oven was just finishing heating up to cook.  The side was made, but we didn't eat for another 30 minutes.  I felt anger and resentment boil up.  "He doesn't have good time management!  Doesn't he realize what a long day I had while he went skiing?  Why can't he think about me!"

Luckily, I've had enough practice to know to keep my mouth shut and question my reactions.  The expectations I uncovered was that dinner would be ready to eat right when I got home, he would feel sympathy for me that I worked while he had the day off to ski, and since I gave some directions, all would be done exactly how I would do it.  Ha!!!  Wow, those are some high expectations for perfection.

Instead, after calming down and getting to a more neutral mind state, I thanked him for making dinner, let go of getting to bed before 9pm, slowed down myself and took time to do the dishes without anger, but focusing on what I was grateful for with my husband, with the good dinner, and with my job.  I went to bed in a more peaceful place and I can now write about this with humor.

Yep, the negativity is all mine.  And I'!  Again, a no tolerance policy with negativity is how I plan to keep facing these moments to let go of them and so they keep happening less and less.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Meditation as a way of life

Many years ago, when I heard the word 'meditation' I would think of being able to sit still for hours with an empty mind in a state of bliss.  With this expectation I was doomed to come to the conclusion "I can't do this" and "there must be something wrong with me."  Working with my teacher, Prasad Rangnekar, I have changed this perception and with my practice have come to realize that meditation isn't just sitting still, it's a practice to use throughout my day.

In both Patajali's Yoga Sutras (YS) and the Bhagavad Gita (BG), understanding the practices described have helped me be more compassionate towards myself in my own meditation practice and let go of the 'shoulds' and expectations.  I enjoy going inward, being in silence, and becoming more still. Meditation is a process, not an end point, and it takes time.

In the Yoga Sutras (III-1), meditation is part of an eight-fold practice to rid limitations of the mind in order to self-transform and connect with the true Self.  The 'doing' part of meditation is called Dharana or single-minded focus/ concentration.  The purpose of the mind is to think, so the first task is to teach the mind how to stay focused on one thing for a period of time instead of the mind jumping around from past to future, from topic to topic.  This is the practice.  Doing this practice regularly (daily), slowly helps to focus the mind and other meditative states happen.  A good analogy is sleep.  We don't 'do' sleep, sleep happens.  The 'doing' of sleep are the tasks of preparation like cleaning the body, getting into sleep clothing, getting comfortable in bed, maybe doing some calming things...then we wake up as sleep eventually happened.

There are many ways to practice dharana, which both the YS (I-35 to I-40 and II-45) and BG state, with no emphasis on what is the 'best.'  It is more about doing the practice (sadhana) daily and sticking with one focus of concentration that works best for you.  Practice, practice, practice.

Chapter 6 of the BG is dedicated to the meditation practice which shows just how important for self-transformation meditation is and that it does work (and has for thousands of years).  I have been studying this chapter during my times of silence over the past few years, each time gaining something new and inspirational.  The discovery that every day life is the field for practice was an insight I had from one of these study and reflective periods.  I was aware that when I wasn't focused on something specific, like listening to one of my clients, focused on a task, involved in exercise, that my mind constantly bounced around.  One of my main practices for concentration has been japa or repetition of a mantra.  I use it constantly through out my day.  When I first wake up, when I'm in the shower, when I'm doing my sadhana, when I'm driving, when I'm bored, when I'm goes on and on.  Doing this has helped to calm and focus my mind throughout the day.

Throughout the BG, Krishna (the divine and teacher) shares over and over that the steadfast mind, the mind that remains equal in whatever happens or to whomever, and the mind that is under control creates peace and tranquility.  After reading this over and over, it finally dawned on me that what I had been doing with my japa practice was not only working on letting go of negative, untrue statements, but it was also a practice of dharana or concentration.  I was practicing meditation through the day.  It still makes me giddy to think that every time I bring my concentration back to a focus point, I'm helping my mind prepare for other stages of meditation.

One of my favorite practices of this comes when I'm feeling tired and don't want to complete a task.  Whenever this happens, it's a sign that I need to focus back on the task so it's done and them I'm free of it.  No need to remember to finish it later, one less thing to THINK about.  It's also a great practice for self-discipline.

The true transformational aspect of practicing meditation goes beyond the 30 minutes or so of sitting in silence. It's when practicing single-minded focus throughout the day to help settle the mind, where the power of meditation starts to unfold.  Make meditation a lifestyle habit!

Friday, 1 February 2019

The Importance of Commitment on the Spiritual Path

Man, is life full of distractions.  I'm reminded of this constantly with my cell phone.  There's something that pops up in my mind and I get on my phone to Google the question, when I notice I have some new emails. I stop to look at those and there's an interesting article I start to read.  A text message pops up and I jump over to it and start chatting.  When I'm done, I put down my phone and it dawns on me I never did look up the question which was the reason I picked up my phone in the first place.  This is just one example of the many distractions in our world and technology, at least for me, has exponentially increased the distraction rate.

Distractions are the obstacles for being able to go inward, sit still, and connect with what is truth.  This is exactly why meditation is a challenge and why practice and commitment to practice is essential. 

Sadhana is the Sanskrit work for daily spiritual practice.  It takes commitment and re-commitment when you do get distracted, which is definitely going to happen.  Commitment is a practice of intention that has to happen daily, even multiple times a day.

When I think of 12-Step programs like AA, NA, Al-anon, the phrases they use over and over are all about helping to commit, re-commit, re-commit, and re-commit.  "Take it one day at a time" means focusing on a lifelong goal can be so overwhelming and hard to grasp, leaving the door open for the mind to distract and go elsewhere, namely relapse back into old patterns that aren't helping us. Many people I have worked with who are overcoming addictions have daily practices to help them recommit to sobriety for that day.  It's much easier to commit to doing something different for a day than for a lifetime.

I like the word 'intention' for the purpose of commitment because, at least for me, it allows the reality that I'm not going to be perfect and that's okay.  I can learn when I falter through distraction and come back to an intention. For example, I used the saying, "I'm 100% responsible for my life" for one year as my intention.  I was not perfect in this at all, but each day I came back to it and I could learn from the times I did blame instead of take responsibility. Then I'd recommit to this intention.  Eventually, it's helped me pause and recognize more and more what is going on inside me when the urge to blame comes up so I can meet it and consciously choose a different path.  This practice alone has helped me immensely on a life intention of living a more peaceful and content life.  It's a practice I continue to use and commit to daily.

From the Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical practices of yoga, one Niyama is focused on the importance of commitment and intentions: Tapas or Self-Discipline.  Tapas literally means "heat." In relation to a spiritual path, it is the self-discipline of staying in the present with life challenges or 'the heat of life,' to burn away our limitations and impurities in order to become closer to the Divine, to Truth.  Deborah Adele, in her book, "The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice," she writes, "Tapas is the day to day choice to burn non-supportive habits of the body and mind,
choosing to forsake momentary pleasures for future rewards."  This takes commitment and re-commitment.

One other obstacle to keeping commitments comes back to perfectionist thinking, all or nothing thinking, or black and white thinking.  Either we are good or bad, successful or unsuccessful.  This thinking keeps us stuck in old patterns because when we make mistakes, which I guarantee you will do as you are human, we think, "That's it, it's over."  When really this is an opportunity to learn, dust yourself off, recommit and get back on the path of your intention.  Think about learning to walk.  If a child quit after one try, where would it be?  A child tries again and again, starting from just learning to roll over, then to crawl, then to pulling itself up and finally working on taking steps.  It takes, on average, 11 months to do this, with constant, daily practice.

Remind yourself of this when you are trying to change habits. Especially since you not only have to learn a new habit but unlearn an old one.  Be compassionate to yourself!

I'm saying all of this to come back to why committing to a daily Sadhana is so important.  Figure out what this looks like for you and the dive in!  Be prepared to falter, to be distracted and have to recommit.  This is all the normal process of changing and growing. Eventually you will be doing it without much effort because being in this practice is to enjoyable and will be living it!

Friday, 25 January 2019

Applying Ground Hog Day to How You Treat Yourself

I was thinking about February and Groundhogs Day popped into my head as it's February 1st...then I remembered Bill Murray's Movie, "Groundhog Day," I started to think about the patterns that I have worked on over the years.  To me, the concept of the movie is in line with Eisenstein's definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  We have all fallen into this behavior.  One area I find the most people do this is in self-talk, especially when we make mistakes.


Most of us, when we are supporting our loved ones, friends, even co-workers or just acquaintances,  would never meet their sufferings with phrases like, "Are you kidding me?! You are so stupid! What the hell. You can't do anything right!"  Yet, we say these things and many more like them to ourselves often, sometimes on a daily basis.  Part of it is the mind's way protecting us from potential pain and suffering externally, even though it creates internal pain and suffering.  Part of it is cultural upbringing that states if we work hard enough we are guaranteed safety and security, so if we fail or make a mistake we are just not good enough. Another is for those of us who have grown up with the Disney Fairy Tale ending that again, blames ourselves if we can't just find that one person who will make us complete and worthy.  All of it is complete BS and not true!

Think to yourself why you would not say these things to others who are in pain or suffering. Seriously.  Take a moment and write down 3-5 reasons.

Now, coming back to yourself, why is okay for you to say these things to yourself?  Why are you different than the 7 billion other people on this planet who experience pain and suffering? It isn't okay to treat ourselves this way.  And, you aren't alone in this.  We all do this and yet it is harmful to us physically, emotionally, and energetically. 

Masuro Emoto has done studies on this with water molecules, looking at the effects of different words on the water molecules. We are made up of 60-70% water, it's something to pause and consider. Check out this video summarizing some of his research.

The words that we say to ourselves actually change the structure of water in our bodies.  They also affect our physical strength.  They affect how we interact with the world around us.  If we believe we aren't worthy or good enough, our actions will be much different than if we believe we deserve love and compassion and are good enough as we are.

The GOOD NEWS is that words and beliefs change.  They aren't the truth.  They aren't facts.  Which means with practice and effort we CAN CHANGE the negative self-talk and beliefs.  There are many ways of doing this. Here are a few to start with:

  • Start a Gratitude Journal and each day write 5 things you are grateful for and why.
  • Cultivate self-awareness, after all if we aren't aware of the negative self-talk we can't change it.  Here is a practice to start awareness of breath and body sensations.  Any practice of meditation or breathing practice helps with cultivating self-awareness. Insight Timer is an amazing app and it's free.
  • Do a self-compassion meditation! has a number of them available under the "practice" tab.  Here's one I like.
  • Develop a firm policy for yourself that you will no longer tolerate negative self-talk.  Then any time you catch this happening, you will stop and challenge that thought and come up with a more realistic statement.  For example, if you catch the thought, "You are so stupid!"  Ask is this 100% true? (No). How are you feeling right now and what happened?  What are the facts? (Maybe the situation is that you gave someone a second chance and then, again, they flaked out on you.  One fact is you value giving people a second chance.  Unfortunately, this person did the same behavior.  The behavior isn't about you, it's on them.  Recognize it's okay to give people second chances and to let them know your expectations and what message their behavior sends.  Then you get to choose if you try it again or decide not to). What is a more realistic statement?  Maybe, "I don't have control over others.  Their behavior is a reflection of them, not of me.  I want to give people second chances and it doesn't mean they will change. This has nothing to do with my intelligence."

The sky is the limit with this.  The key is to do something different!  Don't get stuck in Groundhogs Day, doing the same thing over and over and over.  Negative self-talk doesn't work!  It just makes things worse. So do it differently!  It takes time, effort and practice. I guarantee if you keep at it, it will change.  

Send YOURSELF love this February!

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Health and Well-being is a Process Not an End Point

I've mentioned in the past that a health area I've been dealing with consistently over the past year now is sudden hearing loss and tinnitus.  It effects my right ear, actually started about almost five years ago, with major changes happening in September 2017 that have led to wearing a hearing aid. (Thank goodness I live in a time where this is available and I have had support in obtaining a hearing aid, which is quite expensive.  I am grateful and remind myself of this often).  The process has involved facing a lot of fear that includes how I make money...listening to people...and managing the challenge of the effort it takes daily to hear and process sounds.  It can be exhausting. 

This past October, with a head cold, all of the sudden I had hearing loss and tinnitus in my left ear.  I knew that this started with the cold and most likely would clear up (whereas I do not know the reason for the right ear issues happening).  The hearing and tinnitus fluctuated daily, which also made me feel positive about it eventually clearing.  Fast forward to December and still I was having issues.  I went to my audiologist and testing showed that, yes, there had been loss of hearing, though not loss of comprehension from the nerve.  She too saw this as positive and hopefully not permanent. She recommended I go to the ENT for steroid treatment.

"Steroids."  I could feel my whole body tighten.  I've taken many courses of Prednizone over the past year with no help and just feeling awful from them: anxious and racing mind, restless, constipated, issues with sleep and when finishing them taking a good two weeks or longer to recover. I did some biofeedback that revealed my body's number one rejection to what was tested was steroids, so most likely when taking them my body was rejecting them.  Every part of my being said, "no."

The struggle has been how to be true to myself and trying to work with doctors that don't have the answers or the time to help find alternatives that go against taking a pill, while also not wanting to burn bridges of avenues for support and resources. I decided I would go to the ENT and voice my concerns.  I was first started on an OTC allergy nasal spray, which I was willing to try, and nothing changed with it.  Then I was recommended to try Sudafed for a couple of days and if that didn't work, Prednizone, the steroid. I agonized over these options and finally decided since this was a different onset for the hearing and tinnitus and no nerve damage, I would try it.

On the second day of a nine day course, it changed.  My left ear hearing improved and the tinnitus stopped.  The next day the same and the next.  In the mean time, my mind went on hyper drive.  The positive was I knew it was the medication and continued to use all my tools and practices for calming the nervous system.  I didn't experience the significant constipation as usual and I wasn't as stressed about having some nights I really didn't sleep.  I just slowed down and took care of myself. 

On the seventh day, with a reduced dose, during a stressful day at work (or my perception with my intensified nervous system), my left ear started to feel clogged again and the tinnitus returned.  It continued.  I write this on my last day of the Prednizone, after processing many feelings and thoughts around this experience.

I am glad I decided to take the Prednizone.  I went into it knowing what I was getting into and what I needed to do to take care of myself.  And it helped for a moment, though it was not lasting.  I know that I'm not willing to keep taking this medication because of the side effects.  I'm not willing to subject myself to those to manage my left ear. It has made me plant myself more firmly into continuing the process of lifestyle changes to increase my immunity and gut health, create a life that is conducive to calming the nervous system and increase overall enjoyment, and continue with my yoga sadhana (daily spiritual practice). 

I feel in my body that the hearing loss and tinnitus is reflective of lifestyle choices over the year, environmental factors and biological factors.  Some I have no control over, some I do.  It will be a continued path of experimentation and learning.

The teaching part of the hearing loss for me has been about the process of an unlearning of our American cultural belief (and a human tenancy) that there is a quick fix, a magic pill and if we could find it we'd live happily ever after. This is not the case.  When I fixate on trying to find a guarantee or the quick fix, I increase my stress level, blame myself, compare myself to others, get consumed on trying to find an outcome and miss enjoying life.

Creating lasting change in health and well-being is not a point or a finish line.  It is living life.  We are born into these human bodies that are guaranteed to change whether we like it or not.  We can fight against it and be miserable, exacerbating negativity in mind in body, or we can accept it, take responsibility and steadily make changes to our lifestyle habits and beliefs.  IT TAKES TIME, it's a continuous process and patience is essential.

Be kind to yourself in this process, find support systems that uplift you and trust yourself.