Your Beautiful, Messy, Crazy Life

The blog post you’re reading now, is not the first draft. Not even close. The first draft of what I’m writing now could hardly be recognizable as the same post that I started with. Usually when I write, I start with rambling. I write down anything that comes to mind until something pops up that interests me enough to direct my focus toward it. Then I start with jumbled words and sentences that squish together haphazardly to form an idea or a story, or whatever it decides it wants to be. Then I write and re-write, and hopefully out of the sculpting process, I’ll come up with something that is decent enough to share—but even then, I never know if it’s ‘complete’ because it’s always changing form.

Sometimes, on very rare occasions, an idea will pop into my head, and I’ll scramble to write it down as quickly as I can, and when I do, it is complete. It’s five minutes of magic. But like I said, that is very rare, and if it happened like that all the time, then I probably wouldn’t value the beauty and ease of it as much as I do.

Creativity usually takes time. It’s good, then bad, then hopefully good again…it’s messy and crazy and beautiful as it stops and starts and ebbs and flows, and as a conduit for creativity, all you can do is play along and enjoy the ride.

Your life is one big, ever-expanding, expression of beautiful, crazy, messy, creativity. You are creating all.the.time. You create this moment, and the next, and the next. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but usually it’s always good again as it stops and starts, and ebbs and flows. You are a conduit for the ever-expansive expression of the Universe, so essentially, you’re playing with God. Or Buddha. Or Energy. Or Spirit. Or Goddess. Or whatever you want to call ‘IT’.

And it’s not a game of winners and losers. It’s a game of playing make-believe. A game of creating solution and dissolution. Stops and starts. Ups and downs. Twists and turns. There can’t be any winners or loser’s because there is no end to it all.

Think back to the darkest day of your life. The day you thought you couldn’t go on; in fact, perhaps you didn’t even want to go on.

What happened?

You went on.

And things got better.

And then, probably, things got bad again, and then better, then bad, and on and on it goes…

There’s no beginning or end; it’s all just creative flow.

This moment in your life is not the first draft of your masterpiece, and it’s certainly not the last. You’re somewhere in the middle of the creative process, and when it’s good, perhaps you share a little bit of that juicy goodness with others, and when it’s not so good, you keep sculpting. Or maybe you just crash and burn for a while as you catch your breath and get back on your feet.

And sometimes, on rare occasions or maybe not-so-rare occasions, you’ll be hit with a spark of insight or a shift of perspective, and you’ll experience five minutes of magic. And in that moment, you’ll remember who you really are.

And you’ll remember that you are not lost, because you’re right here,
playing a beautiful, messy, crazy game called life.

And it is perfect as is.

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Dear friends: Please join me this Saturday, February 27th from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. for a couple of hours of discussion, yoga, meditation and introspection on building a foundation for creating a life you love. Get all the details here.

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 Wonderful Things

A few weeks ago, I posted a follow up piece to ‘The Wonderful Things’ titled ‘The Single Most Important Thing I Do For My Kids Each Day’ (you can read it here.) This post is the original, which some of my readers have requested I re-post. This post was actually written a couple of years ago, but it is still something we do in my home every night. My kids are almost teenagers now, and they love it just as much.

I have recently started a new addition to our bedtime ritual. As I tuck each of my boys in at night, I share something wonderful that I had observed about them during the day. My boys call it ‘The Wonderful Things’. It has quickly become a much anticipated part of bedtime, and it is regularly talked about during the day as they wonder what behaviors will make it into the prestigious category of ‘The Wonderful Things’. I started it as a way for me to let them know that I appreciate their efforts. I believe that growing up is hard work and that the daily rituals that have become habitual and natural to me as an adult are still being learned and practiced at their stage in life.

What I did not expect is the enormous shift in their behavior. The moment they knew that I was paying attention, they started to pay attention. I started receiving more random hugs and offers to help. There is less resistance toward picking up dishes, brushing teeth, cleaning rooms, etc. I find it interesting to observe how the simple act of conscious awareness helps us to make the choices that reflect how we want to carry ourselves in the world.

I must admit, this new ritual takes real effort in observation, and as I am learning to be more aware of their behavior, I’m beginning to become more aware of mine. I quickly realized that I never take time to look at ‘The Wonderful Things’ about me. I’m very quick to notice the things that I do that are not wonderful, and in fact, those ‘not wonderful things’ stick with me for a very long time and shape the way I view myself.

My practice of observing the beauty and grace in my children has now evolved into seeing the beauty and grace in my husband, family, friends, nature, music, and even myself. And just like the shift that is happening in my children, I’m feeling a shift, too. The more aware I am of my own wonderful things, the more I want to express it. One of my favorite quotes is by Genpo Roshi, which states, “God, Goddess, Koan, mantra, anger, fear, hope, faith…I become that on which I’m concentrating.” I’m beginning to see how much truth there is in that quote.

I challenge my readers to take a day or a week, or a lifetime to shift your awareness. Make an effort to see only the wonderful things about yourself, your family, your friends, your children and your life. I promise you that what you will find is a different world entirely.

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The Skin You’re In

The relationship I developed with my body as a young girl was confusing and tumultuous at best; appalling and shameful at worst. It all started out well enough. I didn’t even consider gender or body image or definitions of ‘good or bad’ when it came to my own form until I was about eight years old, and then one day, I looked down at my bare thighs spread wide against the seat of the car and gasped at how…big they looked. I vowed never to allow my thighs to rest against the seat like that again; instead, I would delicately sit with my thighs elevated above the seat just enough so the flesh could hang off my bones, and maintain the slim appearance that I considered acceptable. I have no idea why I considered slim to be more acceptable. Maybe I had fallen victim to the media that surrounded me; maybe I had overheard negative remarks at school; maybe it’s because I didn’t want to take up so much space….who knows how it started. It just did.

This skin I’m living in has been through a lot, and it’s likely that the skin you’re living in has been through a lot, too.

It has likely been stretched, pulled, belittled, reprimanded, ridiculed, covered, shamed, ashamed, disregarded, used, abused…sometimes perhaps by others, sometimes perhaps by you.

And yet…it survives, thrives, rejoices, celebrates, dances, moves, holds, beholds, and most importantly, loves.

And I don’t know why we, as a society don’t talk about the beautiful parts of ourselves, as if it is shameful to even admit that you’re okay with how you look and okay with who you are, but I hope that the conversation might change—that we might not only talk about being okay with who we are as individuals, but to celebrate acceptance, innate beauty and the unique differences that make you, you.

Even as I write, I find a bit of hesitation to admit it—but I can finally say that I love the skin I’m in.

I love the bumps, lumps, lines and wrinkles.
I love the parts that change and the parts that stay the same.
I love that my hands look like my Grandmother’s and my nose looks like my Dad’s.
I love that there is an old photo of my Mother that could be me.
I love that there is herstory and history in my bones; and that I carry the stardust of my ancestors beneath my skin.

I love that I can finally look in the mirror and smile instead of scowl at what I see.

This love did not come through external influences;
There have been no dramatic changes to the shape of my body;
or outside sources declaring my worth and beauty;
I didn’t suddenly get prettier or thinner or stronger….
No, this love did not come through outside influences;

This love came from within.

It came because I was tired of wasting energy on not liking the skin I’m in.

It came through quiet moments of early meditation; sitting in the dark; squaring off with my demons; and discovering that inner truth and peace were never lost; they’ve been here all along, just waiting to be seen.

It came through hours upon hours of focused movement: updog, downdog, forward bend, repeat….movement that would peel away the layers of armor that held me from myself. This movement—sometimes slow and sweet, and sometimes difficult and strong—shook it off, bit by bit, breath by breath. It made me soft enough to feel and strong enough to grow.

It came through constant introspection; policing my own mind; noticing the cruel words; the loud voice; the demeaning demands; sorting out the truth from lies; questioning their validation, and ultimately finding the discipline to drop the things that kept me small and weak…

It came through looking in the mirror, and instead of focusing on my flaws; I declared my own beauty to myself, even when it felt awkward, strange and uncomfortable. I said it anyway; I spoke kind words until it felt real; until it felt true; until it became real and became true.

It came through miles and miles of running that helped to flush out stuck emotions; to process; to breathe deep enough to pull it from the darkest depths, and free it out to dissolve with the heat of my breath as it mingled with the crisp morning air.

It came through writing—sloppy, incoherent, rambling—a dumping ground of words and ideas that had to be released; cleaning out the wounds so they could heal.

It came through cleansing tears.
It came through clearing the air.
It came through forgiveness.
It came through trust.
It came through faith.
It came through each and every moment of my life that begged me to stop resisting and start loving.

It came.

And just because I’ve made peace with myself, doesn’t mean I can stop working at it; the work for acceptance is ongoing—up and down, in and out, with constant reminders and practice, practice, practice.

But the return for my dedication toward acceptance is that I can love and celebrate my body for the beautiful instrument that it is.

I live free.
I share.
I give.
I create.
I love.

Finally, finally,

I am no longer weighed down.
I am no longer ashamed;
I’m not ashamed of my body, and I’m not ashamed to love it, either.
I am no longer holding my thighs above the seat so that my flesh can hang from my bones to maintain a slim appearance.

Finally, finally,

I am in love with the skin I’m in.

And my hope is that you will be, too. That you’ll start with wherever you are by accepting this moment with all of its flaws and all of its imperfections and unknown mysteries and realize that all of that is perfect, too.

That you are perfect.

And that realizing the truth about yourself isn’t about searching somewhere else. It’s about releasing the barriers that hold you back from recognizing your own beautiful image in the mirror.

I hope you’ll fall in love with the skin you’re in;

as it is, right now.

Because, it’s time.

Finally, finally.

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Practice Peace

I’m never quite sure what to do with the emotion that rises after these violent attacks on innocent people. I don’t know how to help or how to grieve or how to return to normal life without feeling guilty for still having a normal life.

Another senseless act of violence. Another set of emotions. Another set of fear. Another set of grief for those affected.

Another reminder to love.

To love the people that are easy to love and also those who aren’t.

And most importantly, a reminder to love the person who’s the hardest to love.

You.

There is very little I can do to stop the violent attacks that are happening in the world, but what about the violent attacks that are happening close to home—the violent attacks that are happening in your own body, expressed through your own thoughts and your own behaviors? I’d like to think that I’m not violent toward myself, but when I look closely at the dialogue I choose or the way I react to behaviors that don’t suit me, sometimes it can look like a war-zone. I’m not sure that I can go around wishing for world peace, when there isn’t peace right here, within myself.

There isn’t much I can do to prevent violent attacks on innocent people, but there is a lot I can do to stop the violent attacks that are happening within myself.

To allow diversity. Different emotions. Different thoughts. Different moods. Different behaviors. And to accept each one as unique and special and exquisitely beautiful as it builds a colorful array of variation and rich culture within myself.

To accept. The light, the dark, the deep, the shallow. To accept these varying aspects of myself, and recognize that even the things that seem imperfect lend themselves to cast perfect shadows in order to allow the light parts to shine even brighter.

To release. Release anger, release fear, release hurt, release resentment. And not just to release it, but to transform it into something that will enrich my life. To learn from these things; to alchemize my emotions into something beautiful: from sorrow to compassion; anger to activism; envy to inspiration; and fear to love.

To love. Not just to love the parts that are easy, but to love the parts that aren’t easy. The parts that scare me, trouble me, annoy, or irritate me. There is something there, beneath them, and the only way to find the gift is to love through the shadow that engulfs it.

To learn. And if, despite my best efforts, an attack still occurs, I’ll learn from it. How did it happen? What led to it? Where was I not paying attention? When did I stop listening? How can I get in front of the assault; in front of the build up; in front of the mindless cruelty toward myself?

Practice peace. Peace isn’t a onetime deal. Self-love isn’t graduation. Acceptance doesn’t show up and then stay without being entertained. It’s ongoing. It’s practice. It’s patience. It’s trying again and again and again.

World peace starts with inner peace.

Will you try?

Maggie-Lochtenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Maggie Lochtenberg

The Single Most Important Thing I Do For My Kids Each Day

If you’ve got kids, I know you’re busy, and I don’t want to add one.more.thing to the long list of things you already do for them each day. However, this one simple thing that I do seemed to take on a life of its own and turned into something that not only improves my kids’ lives, but mine as well.

Every night when I tuck my kids in bed, I tell them ‘the wonderful things’ that I noticed them doing that day. It’s usually nothing big—it’s helping me take in the groceries or doing homework without being asked—what’s big is the message behind it; the message that I see them. I recognize what they’re doing, and I appreciate it.

When I started this a couple of years ago, I wasn’t expecting anything; I just wanted to make sure that I focused on the good things they were doing, because, ahem, I admit, that sometimes I was way too quick to notice the not-so-good things, and I didn’t want that to be the main source of attention they were receiving from me.

‘The wonderful things’ quickly became the highlight of our bedtime routine, but it wasn’t forgotten the next morning—they thought about it all day, and worked on ways to add to the list.

If you decide to do this, don’t be discouraged if you can’t find three wonderful things (I tried to go for just one wonderful thing, but they insist on three), and I’ll be honest; sometimes I can’t think of anything. Sometimes the day is so busy that I just haven’t had the time to notice specific behaviors.

If I can’t think of anything, I make it light and fun; I laugh about it or make up something silly. Or, I apologize for not noticing and ask them to tell me something wonderful that they did that day. The important thing is that there is dialogue around their achievements and that the focus is on the good stuff, not the bad.

If they’ve had a particularly hard day and the behavior has been, well…less than angelic…then we talk about how they handled it; we talk about how they let it go or if they learned anything from it. Sometimes the wonderful thing is that they are talking about it with me in that moment.

The most important thing is that you shift your focus away from the negative and place it on the positive, because whatever you focus on becomes bigger. And when you make it a point to talk about it, you’re holding yourself accountable for your awareness. The very best part is that your kids will take ownership of their behavior because they know that they’ll be recognized for it, and that is worth every second of one.more.thing to do for your kids.

xo,

Emily

PS: I wrote about ‘The Wonderful Things’ when I first came up with the idea a couple of years ago…if you’d like to read about it, you can check it out here.

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Indescribable Moments of Perfection

I breathe in, and before I breathe out completely, the moment has ended.

It is another end to another long day.

I have fed, cleaned, changed, cared for, failed, endured, triumphed, loved, enjoyed, denied, resisted, began and ended, again and again and again…

Together we sink into the wide, deep chair that sits next to his crib. His scent intoxicates and hits me like a memory—he smells like heaven.

The moment we settle, I pull him close. Both arms engulf his tiny frame as I pull him against my heart and we fit like two hands holding.

He nuzzles his downy hair beneath my chin and I breathe the longest breath I can contain, because I know, that by the time that breath expels from my body, the moment will be over.

He loves holding his own space already.

He pushes away and sprawls out wide like a puppy waiting for a tummy rub. We enjoy the last few moments of another day together this way.

These are the moments worth living for—the indescribable moments of perfection;

A lover’s kiss.
Morning light.
The scent of rain.
Waves crashing.

These are the moments that remind you that you are loved.

Words can’t quite grasp it; and really, they don’t have to—because you already know. You may not be able to explain it or define it, or even remember the details of whatever it is, or was, or will be. But you know it when you’re in it. You know it when you smell it, see it, hear it, taste it, touch it, and breathe it in like a melody you’ve been in love with all your life. And it’s because of these moments that you keep trying, failing, loving, regretting, fighting, forgiving, winning, laughing, crying and everything above, below, and in between.

It is a glimpse of Grace.
…a slice of light.
…a sliver of recognition.
It is the grandest of all things caught in the quiet; the small; and the tender.

It is the remembering.

The indescribable moments of perfection in your life are the reminders of where you’ve been, where you’re going, and the opportunity to experience it here. Right here. Right now.

Don’t wait for it to come to you.

Call it up in every moment.

Fight for it. Live for it. Breathe for it. Love for it.

This is your life, and within it, is everything. Everything you can imagine, and so much more.

Look inside and draw it close.

Search for the indescribable moments of perfection in the tiniest moments and smallest spaces; in open vistas and grand adventures. Call it up and let the magic of the moment sparkle and shine from your eyes as a reminder to others to search for what belongs to them also.

And when you find it, take it all in, like a long, lost lover;

One inhale.
One exhale.
One more reason to love.

And be grateful.

perfectmoments

Do What You Love and the World Will Love You Back

A few years ago, my husband and I joined some friends for a ski weekend at a resort nestled in a small community. At the end of the day, we gathered in the lodge for good food, good beer and live music. The mood was mellow as we enjoyed the satisfying fatigue that comes after a full day of skiing. The band consisted of a few local folks who likely traded their time playing music for dinner and a beer. It was an eclectic group of middle-aged men dressed in flannel shirts and work boots, and one unassuming woman. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name…) As they took their place in the corner of the room, guests continued to talk among themselves.

As the band began to play, the energy of the room shifted. The tiny clusters of conversation that scattered around the room all stopped to listen. As the members synced up with one another, their energy enveloped the entire room and we couldn’t help but be drawn in.

And then this incredible, powerful, woman stepped up to the mic. This woman, who moments before could have disappeared into the shadows, stood with so much presence that even the pause of silence before she cleared her voice demanded full attention.

She began to sing.

Raw. Radiant. Robust.

I was hooked.

The energy of this woman and this band continued to light up the room, and every person was dancing, moving, grooving, and enjoying the power that comes from a group of people who share what they love to do with others.

And that is the key. They were in love with what they were doing. In love with the music. In love with the performance. In love with each other and each of us. That kind of passion and joy is what draws people in. As an audience, we couldn’t help but be in love with them, too. It doesn’t matter if you’re sharing your gifts with 3 people or 30,000 people…It’s about going all in with whatever lights you up, and not being afraid to show your enthusiasm for it.

Whatever you ache for, excites you, brings you pleasure, lights you up, and opens your heart is your thing. That’s your gift; it’s the thing that you are here to express and share with the rest of us. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or fits in with the norms of society. If you love it, that’s the only sign you need.

And what if you’ve never discovered passion like that?

Keep searching, because it’s there.

Sometimes we deny ourselves pleasure for so long that it begins to atrophy, and we’re not even sure what we want or enjoy anymore. If that’s the case, you’ve just got to start working out those pleasure centers of your body—just like building a muscle, you can build up your relationship to pleasure. Start by indulging in the little things that bring you joy. What would you like to do now? Do whatever small thing is possible at the moment. Maybe you want to eat ice cream for breakfast, or go for a drive just because it feels good to get away. Maybe you want to watch a cheesy movie, or doodle on a scratch pad. Whatever it is; do it like it’s the most important thing in the world—because when you meet it in the moment—it is.

Place pleasure at the center of your day. It doesn’t mean you have to skip out on all of your obligations, just shift your perspective to recognize that your joy and pleasure is critical. It is what leads you to the gifts you have to bring to the world.

And once you’ve found something you love; go all in.

Step through all the fear, all the doubt, all the insecurity and excuses and reasons why it doesn’t make any sense…and share it with the world, because that is when you draw people in and give them the gift of you.

Step into what you love.

Share what you love.

Be what you love.

And the world will love you back.

mandala2This beautiful Sun Lotus Mandala is a wood carving created by my talented friend, Mike Langenheim. Check out more of his work at www.michaellangenheim.com

How to Meditate Without Driving Yourself Crazy

There is no doubt that a regular meditation practice can change your life. It teaches you to tune in and understand yourself in ways you never thought possible. It strengthens your inner resolve to become a conscious observer of whatever comes up—both internally and externally—and opens up an unlimited source of inner space and peace.

It seems simple enough—just sit and breathe—but there’s this unruly, free-spirited influence called the mind—and it loves attention. When we try to ignore it, it just seems to get louder. Sometimes it helps to have a bit of direction, so here are a few tips to help make it more do-able:

  • You can practice anywhere, anytime, for any duration. And you don’t have to sit still. The important thing is that you’re comfortable, so if sitting in a pretzel position on the floor isn’t your thing, try a different position. And if sitting still makes you feel crazy, try a moving meditation instead. There are no rules, so be creative in your approach.
  • It’s important to recognize who’s in charge. I know it might feel like your thoughts are running the show, but truly, it’s the other way around—you have the power to control your thoughts—and meditation is a great way to get them organized and under control. Take a moment to observe your thoughts; if you’re observing them, then you can see that they are separate from ‘you’ as an observer. When you recognize the distinction, you can determine which thoughts you choose to keep and which ones you want to release. Furthermore, when you separate yourself from your thoughts, you’ll see that you can meditate on the essence of you that contains your thoughts, rather than be swept away by them. You can still meditate while there is some thought activity still going on—you’re just not getting wrapped up in whatever story is playing out.
  • Your mind loves to be busy, so give it something to do. Select a mantra (a word, phrase, or sound repeated to aid in concentration), or you can simply count from 1-10 over and over again. Using the counting method, the idea is to start back at one again when you notice that your thoughts have started to drift. (When I first started to practice meditation, I never made it past four). You’ll notice that in the beginning it’s hard to get the mind to stick to one thing—it’s sort of a free spirit—but meditation is about disciplining the mind so that you can use it as a tool, rather than the other way around. It’s just like anything else; it takes time and practice to develop strength and discipline—so keep trying.
  • It might help to think of your thoughts as creative little sparks of imagination, (sort of like little kids). Without direction, they dance and bounce all over the place, but once they gain a bit of focus, the possibilities are endless. So be kind and patient as you work with your thoughts. Politely ask them to settle down; give them some direction, and keep working on it. You may have to redirect your focus 30 times in two minutes—that’s okay! That’s why it’s called a practice, and it does get easier.
  • Another thing to keep in mind as you start a meditation practice is that you don’t have to try to figure anything out, or try to seek peace, because inner peace and wisdom is your natural state. All meditation does is help you slip into that natural state, which is sort of hiding beneath the static noise of the mind. As you practice, you’ll open up more and more space and you’ll realize that the peace you crave has truly, always been there.
  • One of my favorite methods is to just let it be. Rather than allow your mind to take center stage, simply allow it to remain, but turn the volume of it WAY down, so that it’s like a soft murmuring of noise far off in the distance somewhere. Then place your direct focus on your breath, your body, a mantra, or whatever you choose as an anchor point.
  • And, if in spite of all your efforts it still isn’t working out, simply try again later. Next time, maybe try a different time of day or a different approach. Whatever you do, try again.

The important thing to remember about meditation is that it is a practice and it does get easier. Let go of what type of experience you think you should be having or how it should feel—because if you get stuck on an idea of how it should be, the experience might make you feel even crazier than before you started.

And stick with it. Even if it feels like nothing is happening during the time that you actually spend meditating, it is having an influence on the rest of your life. Your intention to simply be present with yourself sends a powerful energetic vibration to the Universe, letting it know that you’re ready to expand your consciousness. Give yourself permission to experience whatever comes up and accept that your process is perfect in whatever way it manifests for you.

To help get you started, I’ve added an audio recording of a brief 3-minute guided meditation. I hope it helps. You can listen to that right here:

 

Also, I spoke about this topic on  KSL Studio 5 recently. You can watch the clip right here. I hope it helps.

I’m sending loads of love your way; happy meditating!

e.

Meditate

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.

LifeMasterpiece

Photo: Anna Ristuccia