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

The In’s and Out’s of Setting Goals

It’s the start of a new year, and I really wanted to write a post about goal setting, because I love goal setting…and goal getting…and goal planning and…pretty much all of it. But I couldn’t write the post.

Believe me, I tried. I started. I stopped. I wrote and rewrote…but I could.not.write.the.damn.post.

And I think it’s because it’s not really resonating with me this year, because as much as I love goal setting, and as I already mentioned, I especially love goal-getting, it’s not what I’m going for this year. I’ve got so much on my plate, and so much to care for and nurture already, that all I really want to do is focus on what I’ve got going on right now. In this moment.

Because I really believe that it’s about going in; not out.

Goals are always so far out there for me. And it’s fun to go after them; to chase after the dream and maybe even catch up to one once in a while. But I wonder what’s happening right here while I’ve got my sights set on something out there? I think sometimes I might be missing out on all the good stuff happening right under my nose.

So that’s what it’s all about for me this year. It’s about sinking into the stuff I’ve got going on right in this moment. These words. And next, it might be about savoring the glass of wine that’s sitting next to me. And then it might be about bath time with my sweet baby boy. And then next, then next, then next….who knows? But I can tell you one thing: I want to be there. All the way there. Not just half-assed with my head in the clouds thinking about tomorrow’s plans or yesterday’s conversation, or all the big goals I’m lining up for the future.

My goal this year is to see how far I can sink into NOW.

I guess I could say it’s about depth not breadth; dropping in, not out; experiencing the big things and the little things and the every thing’s in between. It’s about living in the only space that’s real.

Of course, I’ll keep a little bit of the dream cast out around me, and as I hold my awareness steady right here in this moment, maybe, just maybe, that dream will rise up from inside of it. Because there’s one thing I’m sure of: the only way any goal is achieved or any dream realized, is right through the middle of NOW; so that’s where I’ll be waiting.

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A Note to Parents: Because You’re Worth It

I totally get it. I know that you are busy. I know that it’s pushing it to get a luxurious ten minute shower, let alone pursue your passion, but let me put a little spin on the matter:

When it comes to your children, what you do is way more important than what you say.

You can tell your kids all day long how important it is to love themselves, follow their passion, and pursue their dreams, but if they don’t see you doing it, then all that talk is well….just talk. And I know that it’s hard to justify pursuing your passion when you’re trying to help your kids pursue theirs, but what if you looked at it in a new way? Instead of seeing it as time you take away, what if you see it as something  you give?

What if you do it for them?

Take time for yourself for them.
Follow your dream for them.
Accomplish your goals for them.

And what if that’s not the way you were taught? What if your own parents put everything aside and dropped off their passions for the sake of yours?

Do it for them, too.
And for their parents, and theirs.

Being a parent isn’t about cutting out the essence of you. You’re still creative, smart, passionate and beautiful, and you have unique ways of expressing those gifts. You don’t have to choose being a parent over self-expression; you can have both.

Start small if you have to.

Daydream everyday; like it’s your job.
Instead of doing dishes, do yoga.
Work on your novel while the kiddo’s take swim class.
Pull out the paints for them and for you.
Drop ‘em off at dance, and then go dancing.

Whatever feeds you, will feed them also.

You know why?

Because the commitment you make to yourself will show them how important it is to commit to themselves. And because your drive, your desire, and your passion for what you love, will show them how to love and nurture their own unique gifts and talents.

Fill your cup, so they know what it looks like to fill their own.

Do it for them.
And do it for you.

Because they’re worth it, and so are you.

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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

Write your own manifesto: Here’s how

First of all; just in case you aren’t quite sure about what a manifesto is, let me tell you.

It’s a statement about what’s important to you. It can be a personal statement just for you; it can be for your family, or it can be about the work that you’re putting out into the world.

And it’s kind of a big deal because it helps you get clear about your beliefs and what you want to attract into your life. Words carry a lot of power—especially words backed up by feeling. So when you write your manifesto, you’re making a statement about why you’re here, what’s important, and what you want to create out of your life.

There aren’t really any rules when it comes to writing your own manifesto, but I do have one helpful suggestion: Write from your heart, not from your head.

Your heart is the space in you that really knows who you are and what’s most important, so if you can tune into that space, you’ll tap into the feeling of your manifesto, which is where all the power is. In fact, the feeling of it is more important than the words and phrases you select. And here’s why: because feeling attracts feeling. Ever heard of the law of attraction? Well, a manifesto can be like a beacon of light, attracting the reality you seek. So if you want your busy family to all come together once in a while, write, “We are connected,” even if you’re not quite connected yet. Every time you read that phrase, the feeling will be there, and that feeling will attract the reality that supports it.

I know that for some, expressing yourself through writing may not come easy, so here are a few tips to get you out of the headspace and into the heart space:

1. Stream of consciousness writing. All you gotta do here is write. Sit and write whatever comes to your mind for a full 5-10 minutes. No, it probably won’t be meaningful or poetic, and yes it might be a full 5-10 minutes of writing about how you have absolutely nothing to write about. That’s okay. Because the point of stream of consciousness writing is to peel off the outer layer of nonsense thought so you can sink into the good stuff. So write about yesterday’s conversation; what you’re having for dinner later; or the fact that the bottom of your foot itches….you get the point. Just write.

2. Tune into the feeling you want to convey in your manifesto. Do you want it to inspire? Evoke love? Peace? Joy? Maybe you want it to be silly and light. Generate the feeling you want to convey. Use your imagination to call it up, or read through some other examples (scroll down) to get a feel for what you’re looking for.

3. Now, start a few sentences with I believe…, I feel…, or I am…. See where those sentences take you. Write as many ‘belief’ statements as you like, then sort through and select the ones that really stand out. And as you write, notice how you feel. The ones that make you feel something are the power words and phrases; use those. Or, if you’d like to get started with a script, hop over to this super helpful post by Alexandra Franzen…she’ll help get you started with some creative writing prompts.

4. Or, state a few truths that you know for sure: “Smile every day,” “Go to bed happy,” “Rise with the sun…” Don’t doubt that you’ve got some wise words to share. If it helps, imagine that you’re telling this to your eight-year-old self. As the wise person that you are, what would you like to share with a younger version of you?

5. Steer clear of words that place the action of your manifesto in the future. Words such as someday…, or I will…, those words will always reflect some time other than now. Write as if whatever you want is already happening, even if it isn’t yet.

6. Write it again and again. This will help free up any anxiety about ‘getting it right’. Just start writing. The first five drafts might be throwaways, and that’s fine. Great work usually starts with a few rough drafts.

7. Once you’ve nailed it; put it somewhere visible to you. Frame it up for your home, or if it’s personal, put it somewhere for your eyes only—hang it in your closet, or tuck it into your wallet where you see it every day. The key is to use it as a reminder of what matters most, so that every time you see it, you feel that sense of peace or love or joy that came through the practice of writing it.

8. Let go of any notions about how it ‘should’ be. This is yours, so whatever you write will be a perfect reflection of your unique creative expression and personal manifestation.

I love being inspired by other people, so I’ve posted a few examples of some of my favorites. I’d also love to be inspired by you. If you have a manifesto you’d like to share—whether it’s one line, or a whole page—I’d love to see it. You can post it in the comments below, or better yet, post it on Instagram or Facebook to inspire all of your friends; just be sure to tag me so I can see it: @emilyperry.yoga (on Instagram) or post it on the Make It Manifest Facebook page.

Also, I’ve recorded a segment on this topic for KSL Studio 5. You can watch the segment right over here. Enjoy!

And for inspiration to get you started on writing your manifesto, here are a few of my favorites, or hop over to my about page to read mine.

The-Holstee-Manifesto

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Begin Anywhere Manifesto: Bruce Mau

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Focus Manifesto: Leo Babauta

Playing the Edge

Every time I teach, I experience fear.
Every time I share my work: fear.
Every time I say how I feel; start something new; end something old—there is fear.

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fear heightens your senses; makes you alert; gives you a pulse you can feel. It brings your awareness into the present moment like nothing else can. The key is to get to know your fear.

Is it survival fear? Truly life and death?

Act. Now.

Is it imagined fear? Unreal outcomes and scenarios living in your head?

Let it go.

Is it expansive fear? Does it stretch, challenge, and help you grow into your power?

Listen up.

Breathe into it. Pause. Breathe again. Move forward, then slightly retreat; forward again; slight retreat. Real growth moves in waves. Play on the edge of your fear—not too much, not too little—just enough to keep expanding.

Step into a new role.
Say how you feel.
Share your work.
Change your course.
Walk away.
Say no.
Say yes.
Ask for help.
Birth.
Death.
Life.

All evoke expansive fear.

And that’s good because expansive fear teeters on the edge of love.

It’s the gateway to something big. The dark before the dawn; the first breath; the last push; the beginning, the end, and the middle.

It’s finally letting yourself be who you are.

If you’re uncomfortable, it’s because you’ve outgrown the space you’re in, and it’s time to expand. Don’t shy away from that type of fear, because it is what teaches you about your own brilliance, strength, dedication and love. It teaches you about you.

Take a tiny step or a giant leap.
Either way, play the edge.

You just might fall in love.

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Photo: Alisa Kozlova

For the poetic version of this piece, hop over to www.emilyparkinsonperry.com

And please come see me on Instagram

with gratitude,

e.