One of my mentors says, "excuses are self abuses."
When I find myself repeating behaviors that I want to change, I have to look at my self talk and ask myself, am I making excuses for this behavior? For example, if I'm consistently late to a class that I attend regularly, and I feel frustrated and embarrassed about walking in late time and time again - what am I telling myself? My dog took too long on his walk, the traffic was snarky as the kids were getting out of school, I tried to fit one more task in before I left. The reality is, I just didn't leave early enough! Period. I didn't give myself enough time to arrive early ensuring that I would be on time for class. Making excuses won't help me shift my behavior and won't help me shift the narrative about myself. Instead, I can say "I give myself plenty of time to arrive for class, I prefer to arrive early and give myself time to settle in before class begins." And I can get up 5 or 10 minutes earlier to give me the additional space I need to arrive on time. This way I can arrive unhurried and relaxed, ready to enjoy my class.
Don't make excuses for your behavior. You are worth more than that.
What do you find repeating over and over in your head through out the day? How do those affirmations make you feel? If you are in a negative space, feeling anxious, angry, depressed, hopeless, lost - take a moment to consider what you are telling yourself, what thoughts are spinning around in your mind. Once you have identified the thoughts, know that you CAN change them.
Start with one - let's say you hate the cold weather. All day long from the moment you get up you find yourself dreading the cold, the wet, the snow. You wake up dreading leaving your house and feeling cold waiting for the bus or for your car to warm up. Perhaps you find that you are cold all day and find that as soon as you get to work you are already steeling yourself for the cold when it's time to go home. What's an alternative? Perhaps think about the seasons and how having the cold allows us to appreciate the warmth. On a sunny day, feel appreciation and gratitude for the sun. On a gloomy day, feel appreciation and gratitude for the clouds - hey, you don't need to wear your sunnies today! As you dress, wear layers, feel gratitude for your clothing, your favorite sweater, that you have a warm coat, gloves, hat and scarf. As you find your mind shifting to thoughts about the cold, STOP IT. And find something to be grateful for, it can be the smallest thing. Now your mantra is "I'm grateful" "I'm appreciative" "I embrace the cold and the change of seasons." Make the effort every day to shift your thoughts to your mantra. With practice it becomes easier and you can make it a game to apply this in any area in your life.
This year, I am actively working to shift my mindset around money. As with any new habit, it takes daily action, but with mindset shift, it also takes sharply attuning my mind to notice old thoughts/habits/responses that I am leaving behind so I can replace them with the new thoughts and what I desire to attract into my life. It's like a game - catching old though and punting it away, grabbing new thought and taking off with it straight into the end zone (I can't help the football reference, I live in a football household). As I was reflecting on this in my morning meditation I thought of the quote by Henry Ford: "Whether you think you can, or think you can't - you're right."
If you are creating new habits this year, just keep at it, be diligent, remain curious, have fun and make it a game, it will create loads of positive feelings which will only magnify.
As I have been working on my communication in earnest over the last several months, I'm finding having an open conversation with someone close to me is never as scary as I make it out to be in my mind. In fact, what I'm finding is having those conversations opens me up to new possibilities that I hadn't conceived of in my own little internal world. While I could feel ashamed or disappointed with myself that I wasn't more open earlier - the opportunities I have missed out on! - instead I feel grateful of where I am today. That I can share and have an open heart as I listen. That I have a whole new appreciation for deep communication. That I can be vulnerable. That I can share. I can ask for, and receive help. These are qualities I bow to, feel grateful for and embrace whole heartedly.
This year, we are offering a Conscious Communication course at my yoga center, Urban Yoga Chicago. While communication is both sharing and listening. Conscious Communication also involves silence and deep listening or suni-ai. As I have been talking about these concepts with others I have been thinking more about deep listening, as it relates to myself and others.
I view my morning meditation as an exercise in deeply listening to my soul and its longing. To my emotional and spiritual state of being. To what needs to be drawn forward from within me to be digested, processed, comforted and healed. To gain neutrality so that I can discern right action.
In my training as a social worker, I learned to listen actively - what do I need to remember, what questions to ask, what can the client reflect on, what needs to be clarified? It’s a multitasking kind of listening where I’m trying to think a few steps ahead. I almost wrote that I was present in that, but how could I be if I was thinking a few steps ahead?! 😳
As a teacher, I hold space. I listen with my heart. But I also find myself thinking as I listen - about what I could say, what I could offer, a question to clarify what is being said.
But what is deep listening?
This weekend, I heard Brené Brown quote Harriet Lerner, “If only we listened with the same passion that we feel about being heard.” Brené shared that she had been practicing listening in this way and found that when it was time for her to respond to the person talking, she had to pause and think about what she wanted to say because she hadn’t been formulating while listening.
Listening with passion. Being fully present with someone. Creating space within a dialogue. That sounds like deep listening, suni-ai. For me, it all comes together in that quote.
And gives me a fresh way to practice deep listening.
For more about Conscious Communication, please visit Urban Yoga Chicago and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or wish to explore this further.
If you are making a transition to plant based eating or a vegan lifestyle, take it easy on yourself. You are going to make mistakes, it's part of the learning process. It's more about your intentions than anything else. At its core, veganism is a compassionate lifestyle, but we can also be very hard on ourselves and each other. It's great when you have community who make similar lifestyle choices as you, but for me it's not realistic, or desirable to surround myself with only those who make the same choices as me (that just sounds boring!).
I came to this lifestyle in my own way and I recognized that there was little someone else could say or show me until I was ready. Give your friends and family the opportunity to find their own way in their own time. Sending graphic images or encouraging them to watch vegan movies or documentaries may just push them away. Instead you can make your choices, remain social, go out together and do all the things you did before you stopped eating animals.
"No one else can limit you. If you want to limit yourself, you can. Otherwise the entire resources of the Universe are yours to use." Yogi Bhajan
Know what you want and go get it. It's all available for you. Be limitless, be boundless, be radiantly you.
I enjoy helping others and being of service is important to me. But it feels good to receive help too. Yesterday, a friend offered to help me and I happily accepted and felt quite relieved in the process. It was refreshing to not have to ask and to receive. I felt supported. And I think she felt good too.
I have a tendency to do too much. Going into this weekend, I consciously decided to not over commit myself. In fact, I have committed to very little - other than myself. But I'm realizing that in an effort to create space this weekend, I have packed my days leading up to it! Yesterday, I was on the move all day - from 5am until almost 10pm. And it was a fantastic day! I loved everything I did and when I was driving home after teaching, I was flying high. I was so excited to get home and just relax for a bit. Well guess what? When I'm doing too much, I often make mistakes, am careless and don't pay attention.
When I got home, it was pretty darn cold. Parking was challenging last night so I drove around for a bit looking for a spot. Finally, I found one. I parked, turned off the car and instinctually turned off the lights. But then I remembered we usually leave them on auto mode and they shut off automatically. So I turned the dial, jumped out of the car and ran home. Like I said, it was COLD.
I had to move my car at 6am this morning due to some roadwork being done. I went out early and tried to unlock the car, the remote wasn't working. That was strange, but I thought maybe it's the cold? Haha, nope. I opened the car and turned the key. Nothing. The battery was dead. I didn't put the lights on auto last night, I turned them on and left them!
This was not the start to my day I was planning for. But as these situations do, it forced me to slow down and just sit. After asking for help, I realized people are in a rush to get to work or kids to school so I called road side assistance. I remained in the car since I was now in a tow zone and did my meditations in the cold car. Talk about a wake up call and reminder to be fully present and mindful in my actions. As I prepare for another full day, I commit to being mindful and doing my best. And I'll definitely make sure the lights are turned off when I park the car this evening.
"Service creates permanent love and friendship. Self-discipline creates grace. And the neutral mind creates wisdom. These are the rules of life." Yogi Bhajan
This quote perfectly sums up my yoga/meditation/life practice.
I am an animal loving-Vegan runner, I practice and teach Kundalini Yoga and I love to cook and eat flavorful plant-based food.