Real talk: How many times have you felt like a failure in the last 24 hours?
Those of you with kids... being (all at once) homeschool teachers, housewives/husbands, business people working from home, pet caretakers, responsible parents, the list goes on. How many times have you smacked your forehead today and thought: Ugh. I'm awful at this.
To my fellow business folk: When you look at your dwindling bank accounts, or hear back from an unrealistic landlord, or cup your forehead with your palm at your makeshift workspace in the kitchen surrounded by dirty dishes when you realize your entire business model isn't working. (This is the part where you drop a handful of choice expletives).
To the front-line healthcare workers out there, learning to fit new gear or retrofit gear when there aren't enough supplies. Having to make decisions about who gets a ventilator and who doesn't. Trying to comfort scared people when you're so stinking scared down to the tips of your toes. Fail. Fail. Fail.
We have got to reframe failure. And fast. Lives depend on it.
When I googled failure, the internet told me: Lack of success.
Lack of. Also known as "not having". Or missing out. Or incomplete. And when we're lacking the one thing our great nation touts as the most important trait we can claim as Americans (ahem: success)... how do we expect ourselves to feel in times like this?
That's the thing: Success is relative. And if failure is entirely dependent on success (or lack thereof), it stands to reason that if we reframe success, we reframe failure along with it.
Let's look to yoga: The entire purpose of life, according to yoga, is to self-realize. That is, experience our world through our lens of collective memories in order to help us learn about who (and what) we truly are. That's it! No fluff. No nonsense.
The purpose is not to "experience only good things that make us lots of money." It's not "experience only things that make us feel comfy cozy." Not even "experience things that bring out the best in us."
Just... experience. Without boundaries or expectations, for the sole purpose of discovering more about ourselves. When we define success as simply learning by doing, then we tint the lens through which we view all the aforementioned experiences. Our life — and the impact of this pandemic on what we thought life was — takes on a different quality.
For example, facing the reality that you won't be able to afford to have all 29 yoga teachers to teach their usual classes each week on Zoom because you weren’t prepared for a world economy shutdown; this is a lesson in compassion — for yourself as the risk taker in charge, and immense gratitude for the incredibly understanding, resilient people you've surrounded yourself with.
Or... teaching your kids algebra. While your reasoning may be wrong because you've forgotten everything you used to know from high school, your kids get to watch you step up to the plate of being something you weren't just 1 month ago... they learn determination. And you learn a little algebra as they start teaching you!
To our healthcare teams on the front lines: I can only imagine where your heads might be at. But with each passing decision you make (however gut-wrenching), you're learning on how to make more efficient decisions moving forward. You get better and better each time you act... even if the outcomes seem more gruesome. This movement toward efficiency is helping our nation learn how to deal with this virus — this is evolution in action.
As long as you're learning — wherever you're spending quarantine, you're on a path of evolution. So today, as you encounter yet another thing you would normally consider a failure, pause. Reframe the moment. See your opportunity to learn.
And if you still find that difficult to do, what about yoga? Why have you not joined us in a LIVE online yoga class yet? Did you know you can try it for free to see if you even like it? It's true: Use the promo code yogahiveonline for a 1-time 100% discount off a Drop-In Pass (with no mat rental!). This code is good through April 14th - 1 per person, please.
And if you really need to pull yourself out of a pit of self-sabatoge/misery/pity/you name it... consider being a part of our 21-day reset with yoga, meditation and inquiry called BeAbundant. Details are all below... and if you're someone who can't attend the meetings, we record everything so you can watch on your own time.
No more excuses. No more failure.
Cheers to learning, Mollie
After I arrived home to Alaska last week, it was the first time in a long time that I really felt myself settle. I realllly slowed down.
All my trips planned through July are cancelled. My cell phone hotspot wasn't working, so it wasn't worth it to be on the computer. I didn't have anywhere to drive, or food to buy because we're stocked. And without all the things that normally fill my schedule, I found the craziest thing: Space.
And although my mind still runs a million miles an hour, the content within has a different quality — backed by stillness instead of busy-ness. From the depth of my awareness (on a walk with the dogs), a thought popped into my head.
When we slow down, we can speed up.
Our mind has time to reset, to open up to new possibilities and new ways of thinking. And as I think about all those people on the front lines of this medical nightmare, I pray that everyone has enough time and space to breathe, reflect, and heal as we navigate this new path.
And then it occurred to me that I'm not alone. The media/government reinforces this fact every single minute.
We go through these things during pandemics. We go through these things without pandemics. Despite what we believe in the Facebook feeds, Instagram stories, and highlight reels we scroll through on social media, no one is exempt from the pains of life. And no one is exempt from the joys of life. And right now, no one is exempt from COVID-19. We are all human beings having a human experience, and we're all in this together, whether we like it or not.
The only difference is that now, we're all forced to slllllowwww down and actually see that, and feel that. And grieve that. And grow from this.
So when you hear the whisper to slow down... to pick up that book... to finish that project... to air-hug your neighbor from a 6 foot distance... to show up to the front lines in your scrubs to care for those who can't care for themselves... pause. Deep breath. You've got this.
And you are not alone.
Here are Yoga Hive, Blaine (owner of Yoga Hive Colorado and a master teacher for our EMYoga training this summer!) and I have planned a new 21-day program with completely new content to reinforce this fact.
We are proud to co-create and co-lead BeAbundant.
Using virtual group discussion, yoga and meditation practice, we will harness the power of yogic technology to let go of resistance, allow creativity to flow, and see our world as a chain of infinite possibilities over the course of 21-days, and 4 weekly meetings. You will walk away from this experience with new friends who are interested in growth, new habits focused on your wellbeing, and a game plan for how to move forward in your life. The world is not happening TO you. It’s happening for you.
This entire program will happen once weekly on Zoom starting Tuesday April 7th from 6:30-8pm MST. You will get a recorded weekly yoga/meditation practice to use daily during our program. Never used Zoom online video conferencing? No problem. We'll walk you through it step by step, and the software is free and easy! We will record all meetings, too... so if you can't make it live, you can still join in.
In a nutshell? We gotchu. The standalone 21-day program, which includes four meetings + a virtual manual and day-by-day program instructions + recordings from Zoom to access after the meeting time, is FREE for any autopay monthly unlimited members (reply here and I'll enroll you free of charge), and costs $44 for anyone else. If you want to make a one-time purchase for a month unlimited yoga + the BeAbundant program, you'll get all that for $108. Click here to enroll today!
It's time to rise up and dive deep during this time of cocooning, so that when it's time to emerge from this quarantine chrysalis and re-enter the world, you've got a game plan, a rock solid daily routine and mindset, and bold and beautiful butterfly wings to carry you as fast as you need to move.
Slow down. Speed up. BeAbundant.
Interested in seeing what online yoga is like before you commit? Try out a class -- on us. If you haven't attended online classes yet, you're welcome to use the promo code yogahiveonline for a 1-time 100% discount off a Drop-In Pass (with no mat rental!). This code is good through April 14th - 1 per person, please. Tell your friends — join us online this weekend to see what Yoga Hive is all about!
PS - If you don't have the means to pay but need BeAbundant in your life, please reply to this email and fill me in on your situation — I'm ready to help make this happen for as many community members as possible.
Let me put this into perspective: Earth is a tiny blue dot in a galaxy that is part of other universes and multiverses, to infinity... farther than we have ever been able to see with modern technology.
Also: We are but one human being on a planet of 7.53 billion people (give or take).
Also: Our individual cells are but one component of 37.2 trillion other cells that make up the human body.
Sometimes — in the midst of "social distancing" and "sheltering in place" and a handful of new buzzwords that we'll never forget — it's worth pulling back or zooming in for some perspective on what's going on in the world today, and within our own bodies. (And if you want to visualize this, watch this YouTube video.)
These times — just like so many times in history — will be a blip on the radar of our life. Of course, there are going to be businesses that don't survive, others that thrive, families devastated from losses, and others traumatized from experiences all over the world in light of the pandemic. My intention is not to belittle the gravity of today's situation, which inevitably varies from human to human.
For the vast majority of us, this could be a distant memory with varying small degrees of influence on our daily life down the road. Knowing that — and reminding myself of that — is a reminder that although my actions today could make massive waves for my future, I know time is passing just as fast as it ever did, and every day is a gift, just like they always were (and always will be). Every moment is an opportunity, and just because there's a pandemic doesn't mean opportunities cease to exist.
Nature is still on our side. She doesn't necessarily want to be comfortable, but she wants to grow and learn. As long as we're on the same page with her, we're going to get along just fine.
How do we get a place where we're comfortable with the pace of the world and confident in our every step with a mission to grow and learn? It comes down to letting go of an attachment to what "success" looks like. To what "bad" looks like.
And for our purposes here, letting go of the attachment to what "opportunity" looks like.
I remember this one activity at leadership camp where we were given the task of making a cup of tea, and we were given a bag filled with random supplies and 20 yes or no questions of our leader. As we whittled away the questions, and tried our best to use a bow-drill to start a fire (SO HARD), I remember toward the bitter end as we struggled to light a fire, someone came up with the idea we should ask our leader if she had any matches.
It was the ultimate testament to creatively using resources. We detached from the idea that we "have to use the bag of supplies we're given." We had already gotten pine needles from nature (no one said the tea had to taste good!), and we'd figured out the cup and heating situation. We just needed a spark. And the one person who had identified themselves as a guide, a teacher, a bystander... we realized was actually our greatest asset.
She handed over a match, we started a fire, made the tea... and FELT LIKE A MILLION BUCKS! We did it. I'll never forget that moment... and that lesson to look at my entire life as an opportunity has never left me.
The life of Yoga Hive Montana is testament to this same truth. Our history has prepared us for this moment, as we lean on a massive resource we're lucky enough to have: five studios around the country! Today we join hands with all five Yoga Hives to bring you a virtual class schedule with over 30 classes a week from teachers, many local friendly faces, some new ones. You'll be able to use your pass at Yoga Hive Montana to take LIVE virtual classes with teachers here in the Flathead, along with teachers at Yoga Hive Wisconsin and Yoga Hive Colorado. Click here to see the full lineup on the schedule.
We are grateful to lean on one another during this time to make sure Yoga Hive is around for the long haul. We know our creativity and agility — like any small business — is our greatest asset. So thank you for co-creating this new reality with us, and for meeting us on your mat!
Don't forget to share the zen — not the virus! We are offering a QUARANTINE SPECIAL (couldn't help it!). It's $44 for unlimited yoga for two weeks of online, LIVE classes with Yoga Hive using Zoom. Your cousins in Minnesota and your grandma in Arizona can buy this pass and join the fun. We walk you through the process here.
Don't have $44 but desperately need yoga? Or a CLUE about where your next paycheck will come from? Reply here with what you can pay. Your message goes straight to my inbox and will be completely confidential. We GOT YOU.
In light (and gratitude I never decided to make my own line of tea),
If we're not pulling our hair out because of quarantine this weekend, it's going to be because we're tired of the Virus-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named posts on social media... or we're figuring out how to grocery shop online... or we're so flipping overwhelmed about the fact our entire world flipped upside down in a matter of weeks/days/hours (circle whichever one applies to you).
And when we're pulling our hair out, our loved ones come to the rescue. They grab our shoulders, look us right in the eye, and shout: "GET A GRIP!"
Of course they have good intentions, but the words they choose are interesting. "Get a grip" ... hmm...
So we have a grip on something — for example's sake, let's use a specific brand of coffee creamer. Your favorite coffee creamer. Because it's your favorite, you're holding it tightly, planning your routine around it, expecting it each morning. Figuratively you're "gripping" it tightly enough that it stays in your possession. You've got decent control over it. You can move it, toss it, drop in, hug it. Whether the "thing" is coffee creamer, or five crayons, or a computer mouse because you hate your laptop trackpad, you've got a grip, you've got control, and you're good to go.
Or are you?
Consider the moment you approach the cooler at the grocery store, and you scan the shelves for that same friendly label you've come to know and love... and then, dang it. You notice they're out. First you question whether it's true: "Could it be? Are there REALLY no more or did they move it to a new cooler?" You scan, and pace, and then frantically grab an associate and ask WHERE IS THE VANILLA SOY CREAMER, PLEASE?!
The associate confirms they're out of stock, and mentions that there's been a shortage of that exact brand and flavor lately, and they don't know when to expect more in stock...it could be weeks... months... maybe August. When you check your phone, you notice Amazon isn't even doing shipments of it for two weeks, and apparently the price of one container of your coffee creamer costs $87?
So although you weren't physically holding that coffee creamer in your hand in the grocery store, figuratively speaking, you had a grip on it. You shaped your entire morning routine around it. It defined you! And so naturally it stands to reason when you hold tightly to something, you have that something to lose.
Let me say that one more time:
When we hold tightly to things in our life, we have things to lose.
So when we take this simple example and extrapolate it to the current climate of the world, it would seem nature is slapping us in the face with this simple truth... the tighter we grip to "the way life is," the more we have to loose when life changes.
Especially when it changes without our consent.
I was listening to an online meditation from a friend of mine on Facebook, and she spoke about this concept. I loved how she put it; When we're attached to things in our external environment, things outside of ourselves, and we create our life to be centralized around those things, we realize at some point that things outside of ourselves can be taken from us. Anything! Any one! At any time!
I think about the people in Tennessee recently who went through a wave of devastating tornados. Their houses just simply plucked off the foundations, swirled around and smashed down.
Demolished. In an instant.
Things like that — or our recent shake up with the world — can feel jarring, unfair, and life-altering. Maybe it's not the coffee creamer that puts us over the edge, but something more impactful like losing a consistent paycheck. We assume, either way, big or small... our life from here forward will just get worse.
But if we loosen our grip on "the way our world is" we can start to peek around the corner. We can start to allow creative energy to flow, we listen to the whisper of our heart, and we pivot. We get a glimpse of how our life could actually be BETTER down the road. Different — no doubt. But better. Ultimately, life is not happening to us. It's happening for us.
To see that glimmer and get out of your own pity party, I'll tell you this: The only way out, is in. Practice. Meditate. Yoga. Of course you need to exercise and get your blood pumping... but I'm talking about the practices that allow you to focus on the inside job. Especially today when there's no one around to care what you look like other than your family and your pets (quarantine perks?). It's important now, more than ever, to really sit with the uncomfortable and do the work.
And you guys, I'm speaking from my own depth of experience... not as someone who is above "needing the practice" anymore, but as someone who is diligently working on a daily basis to hold it all together. No one is exempt!
When we practice, we are cultivating a strong internal culture, and strong sense of ourself as a human being. And your commitment and dedication to your internal practice is something that can never be taken from you. No one can take meditation away. No one can take away your learning... your insights... your gut instinct.
It's the ultimate lifeline... GRIP YOUR HEART OUT, BABY!
And even with quarantines and closures, here at Yoga Hive, we've got you. We're completely running online, with some of your favorite teachers and more to come. Hear what Shayna had to say about her first online class with us...
"I wasn’t sure about yoga online. The thought of doing yoga over the web seemed like just too much... but I tried my first Yoga Hive class LIVE on Zoom today and it was not what I expected. It wasn't just another recorded yoga class. I could see and hear the friendly instructor the whole time. I could see other students in the class and say hello. I felt the love and energy, just like if we were all in the same room. It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend trying a Yoga Hive Live class online. I’ve learned that resistance can show you what you need the most." — Shayna
And if you're like Shayna, wondering if online yoga feels anything like the "real thing," we've created a whole explanation page on our website about what these online classes look and feel like. CLICK HERE. While we could never say this before, you now can bring your dogs... your kids... and your cats to yoga. Even your ferret, Paul. He can come, too.
On Monday, we will merge online yoga schedules for all five Yoga Hive studios around the country. You'll be able to use your pass at Yoga Hive Montana to take classes with teachers at Yoga Hive Wisconsin and Yoga Hive Colorado. Click here to see the current schedule and stay tuned over the weekend as we add more for Monday onward!
Oh yeah. That.
Well, to be honest, we could use some too... but we know that yoga is the most important factor here. So we are offering a QUARANTINE SPECIAL (couldn't help it!). It's $44 for unlimited yoga for two weeks of online, LIVE classes with Yoga Hive using Zoom. Your cousins in Missoula and your grandma in Rhode Island can even buy this pass and join the fun. Share the zen — not the virus!
Don't have $44 but desperately need yoga? Or a CLUE about where your next paycheck will come from? Reply here with what you can pay. Your message goes straight to my inbox and will be completely confidential. We GOT YOU.
In light (and openness to the possibility of enjoying a new coffee creamer in the future),
Funny how things change in the course of a week, isn’t it?
And by funny I really mean... life-altering, potentially fear-inducing, and funny-not-funny.
Now, more than ever, is the time to practice. As the first yoga sutra says, "Now, yoga begins."
The impact of this pandemic on small business promises to be massive across the country, and Yoga Hive is not exempt from this, not by a long shot. But one thing you can always count on from us (and one thing we’ve learned over the last four and a half years) is that we practice yoga like our life depends on it.
In honor of helping to make “social distancing” the catch phrase of our time, we've spent the last five days crafting a plan to support the sustainability of Yoga Hive, and support this community like never before. At the recommendation of Yoga Alliance, Yoga Hive’s physical locations in Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Kalispell are officially closed, effective immediately, for in-person group yoga classes until it’s safe to reopen.
Plus, we’re completely out of toilet paper! 😜
And... here's the fun part. Yoga Hive Montana is proud to offer a full online schedule of LIVE classes starting TODAY on Zoom Video Conferencing (full "how to" directions and FAQs below!)
As for the state of our world amidst a pandemic... as someone with so many family members, friends, and colleagues with chronic health conditions... I keep getting asked, “Is this for real?”
In short? Yes. It’s absolutely for real. Whether you're part of the "at risk population" or not, we're all part of the same ecosystem, and this thing moves in ways we can't always anticipate, Chlorox wipes or not.
It’s not something we need to resist, or fear, or turn a blind eye to. As yogis — I told you last week — we respond to the need of the moment. And right now, all over the USA, we are called to physically distance ourselves from others not for our own safety. I’ve been traveling through Alaska, Wisconsin, and now to Montana. I’ve seen the way communities are responding in so many places for the last month, I’ve watched my colleagues in Denver, Miami and beyond boldly take their studios completely online. We can’t sit back and wait for this to become small town Montana’s problem. The time is now, and this concerns everyone.
Deep. Breath. We have nothing to fear!
And yet… fear is there, isn’t it? If it’s not fear, then it’s some other emotion. Denial. Anger. Disappointment. Confusion.
So do we smother it down and deny we’re “having a moment”? No. In times like this, we practice yoga IN ORDER TO have emotions like this bubble to the surface. You heard me right: Yoga brings it all to the surface. That's the sneaky purpose of yoga when you really start practicing in earnest… to bubble things up so we can see them, acknowledge them, and delete them.
What seems sneaky at first becomes a technology we can use to free ourselves from unnecessary suffering.
And even with fear, or denial, or anger on board, those emotions don’t define us even though they might feel all-consuming. Emotions are like tools that give us an indication of what’s happening on the inside. If we recognize where we feel fear in our body (tight hips, clenched jaw, etc.) then we can recognize it and treat the body as it’s happening by doing breath work, meditation, and yoga. The emotion becomes a tool for self-healing.
This moment-to-moment awareness of our emotional state is called emotional intelligence.
As yogis, we remain vigilant, we tune into what’s happening on the inside through this emotional intelligence, and we practice like our lives depend on it.
And know for sure: Yoga Hive has you covered. You can count on:
Alaskans have a phrase for traveling to the lower 48... it's called “going to the outside.” And I never truly understood that phase quite like I did last week!
After spending the better part of the last few weeks off-the-grid in the Brooks Range prepping for our Far North Northern Lights + Yoga retreat, even returning to mainstream Alaska felt like stepping out of a dream into a harsh reality... it’s a world filled with ongoing news stories, scary updates, and a bit (ok, a mega dose) of mass hysteria.
All I could think was: Where the heck is all the toilet paper?!
In all seriousness, with everything going on from election sagas, to virus watch, to the economy, to toilet paper's disappearing act, I find it hard to pull away from the news sites and my daily news podcast. I find it hard to not worry about the future of... everything.
How do we stay up-to-date in the world without constantly diving into fear?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: It all comes down to the unknown, and our relationship with it. And our ability to ask ourselves realistically: What can I do right now?
In fact, this concept is so important that it's the basis of the FIRST yoga sutra — Yoga is now. This is the most important sutra, as they are to be practiced sequentially for maximum benefit!
So we avoid asking What does my future hold? Or How should I have done the past differently?
A yogi will ask: What is this moment asking of me right now?
Before heading up to Arctic Hive last week (which is our home and igloo above the Arctic Circle... the northernmost yoga studio in America!), Sean and I poured over weather forecasts and tried to prepare ourselves as best we could.
Needless to say, there were a lot of unknowns.
Our objective was to ready the property for this April’s retreat by breaking in spring access trails, hauling food and provisions, moving solar panels, shoveling massive amounts of snow from roofs and decks, and packing a dogsledding trail. From afar, we wondered what -30 daytime temps would feel like as we spent our entire days and parts of the evening outside doing physical work, trying not to sweat to avoid hypothermia. We wondered how much firewood we would go through, how long snow-boiling shifts would take to make ample water for our dogs, how to keep our snowmachine and truck oil warm to prevent freezing. We wondered if we had the right layers/boots/socks/gloves/hand warmers... you name it.
We wondered, we researched, and we prepped as best we could. That’s all we could do. That's what the moment was asking of us. And we knew if it weren't so logistically complicated, then surely the village of Wiseman would look quite different. Instead of the 12 souls that live there, year round, off the land (mostly all from the same family) would be more like 1200. Or 12,000.
Having prepared our hearts out, we drove north, 7 hours from Fairbanks into the heart of Alaska’s mighty arctic Brooks Range—the Himalayas of the Arctic. And despite the unknowns of winter, all we could do was walk through the fear of unknown.
A wise yogi named Scott taught me this idea of “walking through fear." I’ll never forget as he described his experience in the armed forces overseas, and how when it comes to fear, you have to face it, walk through it, and let go of the desire to turn around to get one last look at it. A difficult lesson learned for him, I’m sure... and one I didn’t take for granted, and use daily.
The more we step outside our comfort zone into a space of challenge (walking through our fear), the more we find ease in the unknown. The more we sign up for classes that make us a bit squeamish... the more we take trips to wild off grid places... the more we try that yoga pose that pushes our limit... each new experience adds up and prepares us to flex our “uncomfortable” muscles at the drop of a hat.
So days upon days and nights upon nights of working outside in temps that ranged from -25 to -47 degrees for hours in a remote and isolated wilderness? Yeah. It was mind-numbing cold.
Was it amazing to push through the intense moments and work side by side with my partner in one of the most incredible places in the world?
Yep. Totally worth it. Mission accomplished.
So whatever fear you’re facing at the moment — whether it’s a manageable stressor or it’s a big, hairy, esoteric fear of the unknown for our planet (or somewhere in between), take a step back and assure yourself: The future does not exist.
Say it again, put it on a post-it in shouty capitals, whatever you have to do: THE FUTURE DOES NOT EXIST.
Then ask yourself: What is the moment asking of me, right now?
From there, don’t wait. Prepare, and walk through it, resisting the urge to look in the review mirror.
You’ve got this!
And, maybe now you feel a pull to spend 5 magical days with us in April and disconnect from the rest of society when daytime temps are likely much more comfortable than -25 degrees... You’ll spend 5 days in and around the comfort of our warm igloo studio and staying in hand-harvested Alaskan log cabins, nourishing yourself and taking time to just... be. And thanks to all the chaos in the world, flights are pretty dang cheap to our launching point in Fairbanks... click here for all the details!
As for Yoga Hive Montana? In this moment, the world is asking everyone to keep clean — which, when you consider all the implications—isn’t a bad idea! We have already increased cleaning overall, and will continue to regularly deep clean the studios and props.
Here are a few things we’d love your help with!
Anyone feeling like a vacation right about now?
I know for me, every February I get to this same point. Winter is “go time” around here with camps, plus yoga, plus family time, plus (endless list of things) … and I know there’s always an end to the madness. But yet, when I’m in it, it’s hard to stay IN IT without thinking about when the madness is going to end. And once I’m thinking about “the end” then I’m no longer in the present.
And this is what the media and popular culture supports, right? Work hard, play hard. Work 80 hours a week so you can bank enough vacation time to spend 10 days on the beach somewhere finally “relaxing.”
But you and I both know what happens on day 6 of vacation. What are you most worried about?
THE END OF VACATION!
We literally go on vacation, enjoy a few days, and then get sad because the trip is almost over — which hangs around until we’re back home and back in the reality of our crazy life, waiting (yet again) for the next vacation. What a cycle!
This winter, I’ve been really trying to stay focused on the present, amidst the chaos. A great word for this is Equanimity — being like the eye of the hurricane. In moments of overload, I acknowledge the chaos, acknowledge my commitment to it (which is important because I feel so fortunate to do what I do for a living) … and yet, I ask myself, “What can I do right now to relax and refocus on the moment?” Often a few deep breaths (or ten) are involved.
Sometimes I sit myself down for a midday meditation, or just stand outside and feel the wind on my face.
And without a beach vacation in the midst of chaos, I’m able to cultivate those little moments of sacred relaxation. And then I write them down so I can remember my strategies, and remember what situations are especially triggering for me so I can learn to anticipate them in the future.
These moments are a lifeline — and these moments shape the mood of my life. Those moments are all a "beach" in their own way.
My teacher, Anand, often talks about this phenomenon. He said, “Get out of the waiting room of your life!” We’re spending days WAITING for vacation. WAITING to start working out. WAITING to “indulge” in self-care because we don’t have the time for anything except… waiting. We always have time to wait.
And when you run the math on about 30 days of vacation versus YOUR ENTIRE YEAR, why do we push for relaxing only 30 out of 365 days per year? That’s 8% relaxing. 92% intensity.
There has to be more balance, or something has to give... and it will. We can either be in control of that process and make time for mini-vacations all day long. Or we can wait until our body gives out… or our mind gives out… or our commitments give out.
I’m not sure about you, but I’d really like to be the one in control of that process :-) Which is why those little moments of pause make all the difference in the sustainability of our lifestyle!
Well, we made it through another holiday season — not to mention another DECADE of life on this planet.
High fives, all around!
As I was scrolling yesterday, everyone's "year in review" posts on social media got me thinking... before we close the door on 2019, lets cherry pick a snag from this past year and dig in. Because... why not?
Specifically: What's the one piece of feedback someone gave you in 2019 that really upset you... not because they're a jerk, or because they don't understand you. I'm talking about the feedback that you heard, reacted to harshly, and yet you know deep down... is right. This could have been at a holiday party, or it could have been 8 months ago. Really give it some thought.
You don't have to say it out loud. You don't have to tell anyone else or — gasp — admit it to the person that they were right. (Phew!) Just hold it in your mind, and bear with me...
Rather than go into emotion about the situation as it happened because that doesn't matter, let's pick this one piece of constructive criticism up and examine it from a neutral perspective.
First: If the truth will set us free, then why do we get so triggered sometimes when we hear it?
If you ask me? I think it's because the truth requires us to change. Change is our only constant — to me, it's the definition of life and the only true requirement of us as humans.
But the fact is: Change can be hard.
It's so much easier to stay the same! Sure, our health might suffer. Our relationships might suffer. Our quality of life might suffer.
But hey! It's easy! Remember Easy Street? There's a whole song about it... that's the path we should want to walk. Right?
It should be called Challenge Avenue, because that's life. Forever. And ever. Never-ending challenges. And only through the challenges do we start to become accustomed to the challenges, and over time, the challenges aren't challenges at all — they are, in fact, EASY because we've redefined them as such! The only true way to Easy Street is through Challenge Avenue. No shortcuts.
Sit with that for a minute.
So from a neutral perspective, can you examine this feedback, and resolve to do something about it in 2020 to move closer to your own truth? And before you make an excuse (or five), let this sink in:
If not now, when?
Second: Can you have gratitude for this person?
This part is important. For me, finding gratitude for someone who initially triggered me by saying out loud what I can't say myself helps me reframe the situation — and the feedback.
This person in my life is 100% my husband, Sean. Isn't it always the people closest to us? In moments when he gives me the hard feedback that no one else will give, I'm really working on seeing immediate gratitude for having someone like that in my life. If no one gave me any feedback on my life and the way I live it, I'd lack perspective. I'd be wearing permanent, unintended blinders. Sure, it doesn't matter what other people think... but through the eyes of the people we trust and respect are the gaps we may not see ourselves.
From that space of gratitude and a reframe on the feedback itself, doesn't everything feel a tiny bit better? Consider really digging into the big goals for 2020.
There's nothing like a good holiday party.
Getting together with people who create conversation by asking you the questions you hate being asked... over, and over, and over. Like the universe is beating you over the head with the topic that you LEAST want to talk about...
It doesn't matter what stage you're at in life, there's always those trigger questions that drive you crazy. On the outside? You're forcing a smile, nodding and giving superficial answers, meanwhile wishing you could go home, crawl under your covers and sleep for 12 hours. Holiday time is PRIME TIME for small talk like this.
Recently, a friend asked me how I deal with getting the "When are you having kids?" question constantly at holiday parties. I started to answer him, and then paused... I sat and really thought for a minute. I landed on this answer:
It totally depends on who I'm talking to!
And I'm not trying to cop out of the question. I really mean it — this is totally an opportunity to practice yoga off the mat. Each situation in which I get asked an awkward question requires something new of me. Each person is different, each moment is new.
So I ask myself (in my head): What is "the moment" asking of me?
Some people, I feel their genuine desire to try to connect (not realizing I don't want to be asked about my plans for having kids). I give a short answer and change the subject and spend time listening and laughing with them. I let it go because it doesn't matter.
Some people, I can tell they don't actually care what my answer is because they've made up their mind about me before I've answered. So I give a short answer, smile, and move on to talk to someone else. Then I let it go because it doesn't matter.
Other people, I realize that perhaps they have NO IDEA that there are more options that simply getting married, having babies, raising kids and retiring... even though that's a perfectly fine option too! So I explain that we've tried, it didn't pan out, so we keep buying dogs and are loving life being day-long parents to hundreds of kids with type 1 diabetes every year at Riding On Insulin camps. It works for us right now. And then after we close the conversation and move on, I let it go, because — you guessed it — it doesn't matter :-)
This is all we can do when we're living yoga — it's all we need to do. Ask ourselves: What is the moment asking of me?
From that space... that pause... we move through life with more ease and less frustration. And then at the end, we let go, we move on because at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. (Which is exactly what we're going to learn how to do in the 40-day Challenge this January.)
So mid-holiday 2-week extravaganza, lets all take a deep breath, yes?
If you would have told me even 2 years ago that I would someday have a daily 30-minute morning meditation practice, I would have laughed.
How would I ever find time for that?
Turns out, I didn’t find the time. I had to enroll myself into an immersive training in a super foreign country with no way out, where I had no choice but to maketime. And then it stuck!
That’s the thing about me… when it comes to personal development, I can read books, take notes, listen to podcasts, and get all the intuitive readings and astrology forecasts in the world. But in the end, it comes down to me, and what I’m willing to do for myself… and if we’re being honest here, I realllllllly need to be pushed out of my comfort zone to get it done.
I guess some would call me stubborn. Others might just call me human! And whether it’s meditation, or eating better, or (insert healthy habit you avoid) the question is:
Why is it so easy to avoid what we know is good for us?
With all this time I’ve spent in meditation, I’ve gotten a little perspective on this. My theory? Our mind is too full. We have a big ole’ case of “mindfulness” … and all we need is a little space.
Wait — did I just say mindfulness is the bad guy?
Hear me out: Mindfulness… meditation, same thing. Different word.
But the word mindfulness is sort of silly, isn’t it? Do we really want to be Mind Full? Personally, I prefer my mind half full. Or even a quarter full. And the truth is that 95% of the thoughts running through our mind are the SAME thoughts we had yesterday.
Let that sink in for a moment: 95% of the thoughts running through your head RIGHT NOW are the same exact thoughts you had yesterday. And most of those thoughts are subconscious thoughts — just running in the background with (or without) your permission. Those are the thoughts that keep us the same, day in and day out. Those are the thoughts that prevent us from easily taking a leap and doing something good for ourselves. Those are the thoughts keeping us from evolving into a brighter version of ourselves!
So this Mind-Full Conundrum… if we’re going to have a mind filled with something — even half filled with something, don’t we want to have a say on what it’s filled with?
If you’re interested in re-writing the stories that fill your head, then meditation might be a good fit. Specifically, Japa Meditation — using a mala necklace (108 beads strung together with knots in between to help you keep count) and a Sanskrit mantra that you say silently in your mind over and over, 108 times… and then repeat the mala, again and again… to start filling your mind with mantra instead of all the other unconscious thoughts.
Studies have shown that chanting in a non-native language not only helps with memory retention, but also improves brain health. Not to mention, you’re re-writing your subconscious programming and creating new neuropathways! And Sanskrit isn’t native to anyone — it’s a language specifically created to communicate yoga. Sanskrit words have powerful vibrations and resonance that cuts to our core, and thus, can have powerful effects on our psyche!
Japa Meditation is an incredible way to fill your mind with mantra so that you can disrupt the patterns of thought in your subconscious mind and start making positive changes in your life.
Me? I've just taken on a 40-day sadhana (practice) of my own. I'm committed to saying a particular mantra 19,000 times in 40 days. That's about 196 rounds on the mala, or 5 rounds on the mala per day for 40 days straight. WHEW! Day 4 just began, and I'm loving it.
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.