Reflections Pt 1

There are 30 days left in the year.
30 days left to choose joy over hate.
30 days left to choose forgiveness over spite.
30 days left to choose courage over cowardice.
This year I said would be the year of courage moment. I was courageous. I was brave. I did things I had been too afraid to do for the past few years. My intention to act, think, and feel from a place of courage also means that I must reflect courageously on what has transpired these past 335 days. It’s lead me to one overarching idea: The home I am looking for needs to be me.

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Forgiveness. Can you imagine?

Forgiveness, as I learned it was not about freeing the heart of the wronged person; it is about punishing the offender by making them perform an action so as to make them worthy of forgiveness. Part of living inside of shame and guilt based systems, like antiquated systems of control, means this inability to truly forgive. From the psychological perspective, the mindset and the action of forgiveness has much more to do with the healing of the forgiver. Forgiveness is the thing we do to help us move on. It is the thing necessary to release the hurt and pain, the spite, the need for vengeance or to “balance the scales”. While this season is traditionally about giving thanks, expressing gratitude, offering charity, perhaps the action filled with the most kindness, the one we should focus on now more than ever, is the ability to forgive. 

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(Over) Exposed

In my experience, one of three paths reveals itself during times of heighten stress: action, inaction, or defeat. Inaction, which I think is far more common, is the assessment that all of the elements that contribute to stress are so overwhelming, it is impossible to make a choice in either direction. It’s the freeze. Whether it’s tackling that massive to-do list or it’s one situation in particular that is causing you distress, the freeze happens because dealing with it head-on feels too hard but giving up is not an option. In this case, one technique I’ve been trying recently is the a version of what psychologist call exposure therapy, namely systematic desensitization. What I’ve done for myself is taken these concepts and implemented them in ways that make sense to my life.

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Taking on Stress with Gratitude

Last week we talked about what stress is. This week we start to learn strategies for taking it on and using stress to help us grow instead of allowing it to derail us. Strategy One is probably the kindest way in. It requires the least amount of discomfort. It’s Gratitude. Gratitude is now this big buzz word in the wellness community, which like all things in the wellness boom, has its pros and cons. What does it mean to actually embody a lifestyle of gratitude though? Gratitude also does not mean ignoring that things get challenging or that there are moments, sometimes large spans of time in life, that are truly distressing. This would be simply ignoring the reality of the world we live in. Things get hard. People can be mean. Life circumstances may change and leave you feeling utterly unstable. In our modern lives, gratitude means embracing the stressors and instead of deciding that they are a threat, treating them as challenges from which we can learn and grow.

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Stress 101

Stress takes many forms but it is easiest to take the idea of stress learn it from the physiological perspective and translate it into the emotional and psychological perspective. Essentially, let’s look at the body and then see how those same concepts apply to the mind. This week, we’ll get a baseline definition for stress so that we can explore how to turn stress into our platform for growth. 

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Be the Bridge

Do you ever look at your relationships, whether personal or professional, and see yourself as a gateway the other person or group was passing through? Emily and I were talking the other day about what it means to be a gateway person. I often find that teachers are gateway humans because that is our gift. The thing we are best at is elevating people to the next level, giving others the space to expand and evolve and change and grow. More recently, I’ve noticed and intimately felt this experience of being a bridge. There is some sort of deep knowing in people who are bridges that the role they play in other people’s lives will always be temporary, perhaps explosive and impactful, but not permanent. Today, we delve into fully inhabiting the power of being a bridge.

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In the yoga practice, ahimsa is one of the five Yamas, or moral vows. We tend to think of nonviolence and how it relates to beings outside of the self: eat plants not animals. Don’t hurt other people. Be kind and compassionate in thought, word, and action. This basic social contract is incredibly important in creating a world in which all beings can thrive. But what about ahimsa in relationship to the self? It’s hard to take the concept of ahimsa and turn it reflexively back on the self especially when so much of the harm we do to ourselves we rationalize as beneficial. “If I just push hard enough, it will be worth it.” Let’s unpack the three main categories of violence towards the self and how we can practice ahimsa to create a better relationship with our very own souls.

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What I Wish I Would Have Known

Like with all things you do for the first time, there have been a ton of learning opportunities. Failing has been the best teacher in compassion and empathy. I am a perfectionist my nature. So, doing things wrong irks me at the deepest level. The learning curve has been steep. Almost everyday is filled with things I don’t know, lots of mistakes, some sort of failing. I have learned so much about myself and the ways in which I can grow as a person from the consistency of new experiences. And while that’s all well and good, there are a few things I didn’t anticipate. In the hopes of smoothing out the already complicated transition of moving to a new city, I give you all the things I wish I had known before I made the jump across the country

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