You Are Everything

One of the most unexpected benefits of being a yoga teacher is that, over the past ten years of observing my students—observing their movement as they expand, contract, close, open, stretch and strengthen—I have fallen completely in love with the human body. And not just the physical form, but everything it contains—the beauty within—the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects as they are reflected in physical form.

It doesn’t matter how it moves or how it doesn’t move; it doesn’t matter if it is young or old; graceful or awkward; strong or weak; tight or open. It doesn’t matter what it can or cannot do, or how it compares to societal standards.

It is all perfection to me.

Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity to backpack into a secluded high mountain lake and have nothing else to do for an entire afternoon, except stare at that lake.

It was absolutely mesmerizing.

As I watched, the reflection danced between perfect clarity and distorted images; the water rippled and stilled; ebbed and flowed; and the colors in the sky mingled with shadows and light that displayed an exquisite array of colors—light and dark; dull and vibrant—every color you can imagine. It was like watching a light show on the water. It never stayed the same for more than a breath.

It reminded me of the human body.

Your body, and everything within it, is mesmerizing. Sometimes it reflects back perfect clarity and understanding; sometimes it distorts the reflection. It is movement and stillness, and sometimes both at the same time. Your body passes through moments of light and dark; dull or vibrant—every color you can imagine.

You are absolutely mesmerizing.

Have you ever stared in awe at a newborn baby? The delicate features; the light on their skin; the clarity in their eyes? Would you dare to look at yourself the same way, even if only for a moment?

Could you allow yourself to slip away from the barriers of your mind and the rigid ideas contained there so you can have a love affair with yourself?

To feel your skin, young or old, smooth or rough, and adore it either way?

To appreciate the features of your face—the way they’ve been passed on to you like sacred treasure, holding the history of your family and the generations before you?

To look into your own eyes and see what’s there—the love, the hurt, the pain, the strength, and the deep, deep knowing that you are so much more than what you see?

Could you slip away with yourself, if only for one solitary afternoon, or one deep breath?

Would you give yourself the gift of you?

I hope you’ll see what I see when I look at you.
I hope you’ll see that you are magic; that your body is perfect, in spite of perceived imperfections.
I hope you’ll see that your ‘flaws’ are not flaws at all; that they are what make you unique and special.
I hope you’ll see that you are always and forever changing; that this moment now is already gone.

One brief moment of love for yourself will heal you in ways you could never imagine.
One brief moment of love for yourself will show you the truth;
…that you are more than what you see.

That you are beauty.
Grace.
Light.
Courage.
Strength.
Hope.
Faith.
and
Love.
You are so. much. more. than what you see.

You are everything.

MountainLake

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.

FullSizeRender(1)

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?

observation4

Awareness can change your life big time. This is how.

Sometimes life is crazy. Emotions can knock you off your feet, relationships can derail you, and thoughts can be enough to drive you mad. When this happens, a little bit of space, a touch of freedom, or even just a slight shift of perspective can change everything.

You know that friend who offers you the space you need—the one who listens without judgment, gives you room to vent, and doesn’t try to fix anything—they’re just present for you?

Awareness is that friend. Imagine what it would be like if you could offer yourself the support, the freedom, the space and the acceptance you need when you’re just being you—no matter how you’re showing up.

Awareness is about pulling yourself out of the chaos for a moment to catch your breath, readjust your vision, and take a fresh look at the current situation. All you have to do to practice awareness is observe. No judgment, no strategizing, no agenda. Just observe. Look at your thoughts, feel your emotions, and pull yourself out of the situation, even if it’s only for one conscious breath. Taking the time to do this will give you a glance at the big picture, and when you can see the big picture, you’ll see that where you’re at is only temporary. That simple realization can help you savor the moment (if it’s a good one), or know that it will pass soon (if it’s not so pleasant). Either way, awareness buys you time so that your next move is a conscious one made with clarity and poise.

The only hard part about awareness is remembering to do it. The key is practice, practice, practice. Make awareness your new healthy habit. You can practice on anything, anytime—your daily commute, washing dishes, taking a shower—select something that you do every day and make a commitment to transform that activity into a dedicated practice of awareness.

As you’re going through the motions of whatever it is you’re doing, tune into all five senses; notice how you feel, observe what thoughts pop into your head, and pay attention your body’s reaction to those thoughts. Observe whether or not you can release the thoughts that aren’t serving you, or any tension that arises in the body as a result of them. In the beginning it may seem dull to pay such close attention to yourself or to mundane activities, but over time, you’ll realize that daily activities of life can be fascinating, but more importantly you’ll come to realize that YOU are fascinating, and truly, there is nothing more worthy of your attention then the study of you.

This post originally appeared on my first blog, www.emilyparkinsonperry.com on February 10, 2015.