Full Circle

Long story short….

Ten years ago I discovered and fell in love with yoga.

At that time, I was inspired by a professor who was infusing yoga into her University philosophy courses, and I wanted to do something similar. I thought the only way to take part in offering yoga studies as a part of higher education was to become an established professor in a related field, and then offer it up in courses that I was already teaching.

So, I saved up my pennies, studied for the GRE, and just before the application deadline, I changed plans and decided to take my time and money to further my education as a yoga teacher. (At the time, I had been teaching yoga because I was asked to teach, had dabbled enough in training and workshops to do so, but had never considered teaching yoga as a ‘career path.’)

The reason for the shift? I attended a workshop for the school of yoga that I would eventually study with, and within minutes of hearing their opening invocation, I knew it by heart. I sang along with it like I’d been singing it for years; tears streaming down my face. The decision wasn’t easy. My mind had all kinds of excuses why yoga teacher training wasn’t the best idea, but in the end, my heart won out, and so I signed up and changed my path.

As I immersed myself into teaching, my dream of bringing yoga studies into higher education faded away, and for a while, I forgot all about it. I stepped into teaching opportunities in nearly every studio and gym in my community, but I was continually drawn back to my job as a yoga course instructor at USU. (which, by the way, is totally unglamorous with it’s cold gyms, lack of props, and Zumba music leaking through the walls…) In spite of it all, I loved it, and still do.

And then one day, something clicked. I felt an almost urgent need to propose a Yoga Studies and Teacher Training program to the University. I had dabbled with the idea of teaching teachers for years, but the hope that I could offer it at the University felt like an impossible dream. Yet, I couldn’t ignore the urgency I felt in proposing the idea to my department.

So I did.

I found out later, that within the same month or so, another woman, who is now my friend and colleague would propose the exact same thing, yet from a different angle and with a slightly different approach. Her contributions and ideas meshed perfectly with mine, and together we received the permission to conceptualize, design and implement the very first Yoga Studies and Teacher Training program at Utah State University, and one of the only programs like it in the United States.

The moral of my story?

The Universe has a crazy way of ensuring that your dreams become a reality, and even if you forget about what you want, the Universe will not only remind you, but if you’re listening closely, and courageous enough to follow through on what you feel inspired to do, it will tell you exactly what to do, and when.

It’s impossible to know how it’s going to happen, because that is left up to the mysterious dance of the Universe and all of her crazy ways, and in hindsight the way we arrive is always such an incredible journey full of twists and turns. But I’ve always been curious about gaining a little more control over my part in the process, and figuring out if there are things I can do to speed things up a bit.  So here are some things I’ve discovered over the last two or three years of actively participating in creating a life I love:

• You’ve got to listen. Get quiet everyday as often as you can, because the only way you’re going to know what to do next is to tune into the present moment as much as possible. It’s like you always have a part of you tuned in, just in case inspiration hits—because you just never know when it’s going to pop up.

• You’ve got to know HOW to listen. Messages from the Universe don’t exactly pop into your head as a thought all the time…it happens, but the mind can be tricky, and easily misunderstood. So rather than trying to decode the clutter of the mind, a more effective way is to feel. Feel your own energy. Do you feel at ease or anxious when you do x,y,z? Does a decision excite you or make you feel nervous? Is it good-for-you fear or get-the-hell-away type of fear? These are things you need to know about yourself, and the only way to know is to feel, feel, feel.

• Trust. This one is HUGE. If something comes up and mentally it sounds like a crazy idea, but you know in your heart it’s the right thing to do, then trust your heart. This one is also really, really HARD. Because other people might think you’re crazy, or you might think you’re crazy, but if you trust what’s coming through you, you will be rewarded, big time. Every time.

• Trust. (Part two). Trust that everything that happens to you is part of the path that will take you where you want to be. So that means that even all of the stuff that seems like it’s taking you in the complete opposite direction? It’s not. It’s teaching you exactly what you need to know, in order to be exactly where you need to be, in order to manifest your dream into reality.

• Break down what you really want. This is about letting go of rigid ideas. Focus more on how you want to feel, rather than what you want your dream to look like. I really wanted to see a yoga studies program start up in a Higher Education setting, but what I really wanted was to introduce yoga to a larger population. So I focused on that aspect, which ultimately led me to what I wanted.

• Do the work. If the Universe comes knocking on your door with an idea or opportunity, you better jump at the chance. Roll up your sleeves, put in the time, and SHOW UP.

I hope you have a bigger-than-life dream that you’ve cast somewhere out into the Universe, and I hope that you’re anchored to the moment as that dream unfolds within each and every breath. And I also hope that you will NOT give up on it; that even if you have to set it aside for a while, you’ll hold it in your heart, and all along the way, listen for its call to you, because it searches for you just as much as you search for it.

Now go find it.
It can’t wait to meet you.

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Photo: Mystic Mamma

P.S. The Yoga Studies and Teacher Training program begins Fall Semester 2016 at Utah State University. Enrollment opens April 11, 2016. More information will be available soon…in the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at eparkperry@gmail.com

Your Whole Life is a Masterpiece: Four Ways to Keep On Creating

No matter how you look at it, you’re an artist; a creator; a life and love maker. Whether you’re sculpting a solid relationship, a moment of beautiful self-expression, a crazy-happy lifestyle, or a body that feels like home—you are working on a masterpiece—your whole life is that masterpiece.

The beauty of creating a life you love is that it’s not a one-time event—it’s a whole-life event. It is crafted, refined, molded and transformed over and over again. And as you refine and re-define whatever it is you want to create, you’ll find yourself deeply in love with the process of it all.

However, there are a few steps that might help in those moments that make you feel like an outsider in your own life. You can think of them as the foundation for whatever you’re trying to create, no matter what your creation might look like or how many times it transforms. Whether you’re working on a relationship, your lifestyle, a healthy body, or creative self-expression, align yourself with these four key elements to help keep you in the creative flow as you create your masterpiece called life.

First: Know what you want.

This isn’t meant to be a concrete idea fixed in stone. Knowing what you want is about knowing how you want to feel. Once you’re clear about the feeling you want to embody, then you can create whatever you want around it. Some days, feeling loved is about being surrounded by friends and family, and other days, feeling loved will be about a quiet moment in nature. Either way, the feeling remains at the center of it all.

Second: Show up.

Nothing happens without you. That means you need to be consciously present for your life. Be alert, present, and aware of your head space and your heart space. Pull your awareness into the present moment as often as possible, and simply show up in that space. Furthermore, showing up means that you physically step up to the work: lace up your shoes; make the call; initiate the conversation; sit for meditation even if you can’t.stop.thinking. Just show up.

Third: Do the work.

Start. Something; anything; just start. And don’t be discouraged if the work isn’t your greatest. Usually, your very best work doesn’t appear right away. There’s a period of ‘flushing out’. This means that initially whatever you’re doing won’t be your greatest work—whether that means initiating a difficult conversation, or writing the first draft of your resume—just start working on it. The words will start to flow; the art will begin to take shape; your body will ease into the movement. Whatever it is you’re working on, allow space for the ‘awkward phase.’ It’s only temporary. Soon enough, you’ll find your stride and the action will begin to move through you with ease and grace. And when it starts to feel too easy, step into something new, and expand again.

Fourth: Let go of the outcome.

This part is important. Very important. You’ve got to let go of any attachments you have to the outcome. Trust that whatever happens is the very best scenario for the path that you’re walking. It might not look like the best scenario, and it may not feel so great when it doesn’t work out as you had hoped, but trust that you’re right where you need to be. I know this is hard, but it’s important for two reasons: One, because if you get hung up on wishing things were different, then you’ll end up wasting a lot of energy and losing momentum. And two, if you’re so laser-focused on how you think things should play out; you might overlook the real gift or opportunity. Your vision might be closed off to what’s waiting for you if you just expand your view.

Creating a life you love is always a work in progress, but having a foundation will keep you grounded and connected to what’s important. Know what you want, show up, do the work, and let go of the outcome. And if things don’t seem to be working out, trust in the process and stay true to yourself and what’s important to you. At one point, you’ll look back at this moment and realize that everything is as it should be and you’re right where you belong.

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Photo: Anna Ristuccia

Make An Observation

I’ll be honest: I want Make it Manifest to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. I want the blog to be inspiring and authentic; I want the Instagram photos to be beautiful, and the Facebook page to be something that makes you feel good as you scan through updates.

But the thing I want more than anything is to help you take action. I don’t want you to just read about creating a life that you love, I want you to actually do it.

So, this post and the few that follow will include a little exercise. It doesn’t take any time at all. You can even do the exercise as you go about your day. In fact, I encourage you to do the exercise as you go about your day, because that’s when the magic happens.

Today, we’re going to make an observation. This is all about looking at your situation without judgment. Seriously, NO judgment. Learning to observe without judgment takes practice. If it helps, you can think of yourself in two parts; there’s the ‘you’ that consists of your mind, your body, and your emotions moving through the events of your life, and there’s the ‘you’ that can observe it all. For today’s exercise, be the observer.

Ideally, observation is something that happens in every present moment, and I encourage you to work toward that. For now, let’s just focus on one area of your life where you can fine tune and sharpen your practice of awareness.

Life is very full and complex and there are many different parts and pieces of parts. So for now, I’ve narrowed things down into four categories that you could more or less cram all of those pieces into. They are:

Health: This includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Relationships: This is about the relationship with yourself and also the relationships you have with others.

Wealth: Everybody has their own definition of wealth, but it more or less includes your home, money, lifestyle, and the feeling of support and stability.

Self-Expression: This is what you put out into the world—your work, service, talents, hobbies and creative expression—any way you choose to express yourself—which may be something you share with others, or choose to keep to yourself.

(You’re welcome to move these around to your liking; add, rearrange or takeaway…I won’t mind).

These four parts of your life are all important, but some will be more significant than the others on any given day, so let’s just focus on which one of these areas speak to you today, right now. Pay close attention to the area that pops out, and also pay close attention to the area that you really want to ignore. (Your tendency to avoid one aspect could be a sign that it really needs some attention). If you want to get more specific, select one part within one of the four categories that you know needs some extra TLC. Narrow it down as much as you like. That will be your focus for the next few days.

Got one?

Okay. Now, don’t think about it; just tune in to how you feel about it. Heavy? Open? Agitated? Excited? Nervous? Quiet? Where can you feel it in your body? Your heart; your gut; your hands; Are they tense? Tight? Sick? Anxious?

Now, this is important: Is your mind spinning stories about it? Stories might sound like excuses, scenarios, limitations, blame…anything that labels your experience or takes you out of the present moment. If you’re spinning stories, you’ve slipped into the ‘you’ that lives in your body. Slip back into the ‘you’ that observes; catch those thoughts and kindly ask them to fade out for a while and make your awareness bigger so that you can observe the ‘you’ that is judging. Bring more of your attention to the part of you that is observing, until you are holding the entire experience in a space without judgment.

Return to feeling.

Take one full breath all the way to the top of an inhale; feel the pause just before the breath turns around to release. Exhale it all out; all the way to the bottom of the exhale and notice the pause again. Repeat if you like; slowly, consciously.

That’s all there is to making an observation; it’s just a process of seeing what’s there. It gives you a broader perspective and it helps to flush out the stories so that you can actually facilitate some positive change. Those stories that your mind is constantly spinning keep you stuck and small and barely breathing, and when your mind keeps you stuck, it’s pretty hard to find your way out. Observation gives you a grander view so you can see that you’re actually not stuck. In fact, you have so much space, your mind can’t possibly fill it up; the space is unlimited.

Keep in mind; awareness and observation doesn’t always make you feel better or change things. It’s just a different vantage point. So if you still feel anxious or irritated, that’s okay; just observe the irritation; observe the annoyance; observe whatever is there and have some compassion for yourself. Be extra kind and gentle with your inner dialogue. Take a moment to rest or breathe consciously. The simple act of observing offers so much, but it may take time before it starts to usher in a sense of peace and clarity.

It’s that easy. The hard part is remembering to do it. The beautiful thing is that your body acts as a constant reminder; sending you the message to stop, listen and observe. Every time you feel tired, anxious, achy, irritated, frustrated, angry, sad, or any other physical or emotional sensation that doesn’t feel so great, that’s your body telling you to check in, get clear, get focused and make space.

When it’s been a while since you’ve experienced the feeling of clarity and peace, you start to think that it’s normal to feel less than great, and when you think it’s normal to feel shitty…well, you stop recognizing the messages from your body as signs to stop and observe. When you practice observation, you’ll start to feel and recognize tiny glimpses of peace that will expand each time you practice. Those glimpses of peace are the real you—your true nature and the essence of who you are.

Eventually, with practice, you’ll flip things around; instead of living in unease with brief glimpses of peace, you’ll live in peace, with brief glimpses of unease—which, of course, will be the simple reminders to return to peace.

So for the next few days, practice observation. You can focus on one of the four areas mentioned earlier, or just observe the present moment. Notice when you don’t feel great and use it as a reminder to tune in. Get bigger than the feeling until it loses some of its power. See if you can return to peace.

And please, please, let me know if you’re confused or if you have any questions that come up. Furthermore, let me know if you have any suggestions, or share your experience. I want to learn from you, too.

You’re well on your way to creating a life that you love. It’s happening now. Can you feel it?

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