Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Mantra: When You Want Something...

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it."  - Paulo Coelho (This is both good and bad)
With all the bad habits that I've learned
How many times have you looked at someone and wondered what their secret was- to getting in shape (and staying in shape), career success, life success? Success of any kind?

What if I told you there was finally an answer? A clear, concise, easy to understand method that outlines exactly why some people are able to achieve things while others can't. A method that anyone can employ to reach their own goals.

Well, there is.

In what I can only describe as a life changing, fascinating, seriously-you-need-to-read-it book - The Power of Habit -researchers, scientists, and experts in the field help you understand how habits are so much more than just habits.

Every day, almost every single thing you do within that day is a habit. You may think you're making new choices, but you're not. The way you get dressed, how you brush your teeth, how you drive your car, whether or not you walk past the donuts in the office without grabbing one, and if you make it to the gym or not - all of these are habits. Habits are something the brain has created because it can't continually process new data without overloading. Therefore, it creates and stores habits so you can carry out thousands of actions without having to stop and think about them, which allows your brain to save energy for any new information it has to process.

Fascinating, yes? Hold on to your hats, because it gets better.

The reason you can't lose weight, always date the same wrong people for you, and stay continually in debt is all thanks to deeply rooted habits you've been accumulating all these years. The same can be said for anyone who pays their bills on time, works out five days a week, and keeps their house in a perfect state of cleanliness. If you want to change your bad habits into good ones, you have to understand how they work. Habits have 4 specifics areas:

- The trigger (what makes you do what you do)
- The routine (the things you do)
- The reward (the drive behind the action)
- The craving (the underlying thing you want)

By targeting the trigger, developing a new routine that you also crave, and by keeping the reward, you can build new habits. I don't want to sugarcoat this. Habit changing requires work, dedication through repeated actions to form the new habit, and patience. However, the knowledge this books gives you will support you through the process. Plus, now you know the "secret" of how people achieve what they achieve. That alone is HUGE and should help you feel that much more empowered to take control of your life.

It's important to note that you can't actually get rid of habits- they're ingrained in your brain. What you can do, what you already have done countless times without realizing it, is establish new habits that override the old ones. This can be both good and bad. You can just as easily overwrite a good habit as you can a bad one. Did you used to have a dedicated workout schedule that "somehow" turned into a dedicated TV watching schedule instead? This is why awareness of your habits and the thing that triggers them is crucial to your success. This is also what I mean about how wanting something can be both good and bad.

I recently saw a documentary on The (Dis)Honesty Project. In it, you learn about the incredibly fascinating research of lying: why we lie, what causes us to become more ethical or less, and how constant and frequent reminders of ethics and morals are important. I won't delve too deep into this, but research shows that once you start with one lie, it gets easier and easier to continue lying. This is what fascinates me in particular when you put it into context with habits.

Your first lie had a trigger, which led to what you said, which led to a reward (you got away with it), which established a craving. That's how easy it is to slip into terrible habits, terrible ways. That's how easy it is. Period.

Arm yourself with information. Raise your awareness. Give yourself the gift of change where it is needed most in your life. Avoid the pitfalls of negative actions that lead to negative habits. You can build a better you. We all can. We just never knew where to start or how to effectively create change.

Now we do.

No more excuses.


I highly, highly, HIGHLY suggest you read this book: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I then highly, highly, HIGHLY suggest you learn as much as you possible can about The (Dis)Honesty Project. Start by watching the documentary and then spend a considerable amount of time on their site.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Curious

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Forgotten Fortress


                                                                 I don’t want to know
                                                                 Where you’re going when you go,
                                                                 When you leave me here alone-
                                                                 I don’t want to know.

                                                                When the door slams shut
                                                                And your shadow fades away,
                                                                When your memory leaves my mind
                                                                And I’m all alone to pray,
                                                                When the words are broken down
                                                                And there’s nothing more to say-
                                                                Then I start to wonder
                                                                Where you go to everyday.

Monday, June 22, 2015

In the World of Wellness: Four Senses Yoga

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" in those ways and also as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you. Being more informed = better decisions for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Find a new perspective with Four Senses Yoga
The other day I went to a rather unusual yoga class called Four Senses Yoga. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I went in with an open mind. I have to admit I was significantly surprised when I realized our teacher, Cindy, was blind and that her plan was to make us "blind" as well. How exactly would we do this? Wouldn't we all fall over and hit each other in the faces with our swooping arm motions and warriors poses? If nothing else, I thought to myself, this will be an interesting class.

I got far more than interesting, though. I got a new perspective.

Each person in class was instructed to back their yoga mats up to the wall and spread out a bit. This ensured none of the aforementioned hitting or falling over would occur. Then, Cindy gave each of us a blindfold to put over our eyes, thus creating equality among the class while establishing a true four senses experience. To complete the setting she added a few key sounds. Throughout the room, the sound of rain emerged, partnered with a rain stick that each of us were to play with for a bit before passing it on to the next person.

All of this together gave us several key components: The rain not only forced our sense of hearing to expand, as we had to hear both it and her instructions, but it also helped bring a sense of calm to the room. The rain stick expanded our sense of touch, and because we were all blindfolded communication was our only method of passing the stick to one another, thus making us truly contemplate the best method by which to address each other.

The hour long session encompassed sitting postures, a few warriors poses, chair pose, and several other simple stretches. "Simple" normally, of course. Slightly more complicated when you can't see anything.

It was one of the best experiences of my whole yoga life.

The first thing I experienced was the feeling of fear. I've contemplated what it would be like to loose my sight or speech or hearing, and while I'd prefer to never lose any of those, losing my sight is by far the most terrifying of them all for me. However, because this was nothing more than an experience, gratitude was the next feeling that swept over me. A sincere and deep thankfulness for the ability to use all of my senses.

What came next is my favorite part. It's the reason I'm writing about this today. The reason I hope all of you find a way to give yourself this same experience.

The next thing I felt was release.

When you can't see anyone, and in this case, when no one can see you either, your entire perspective on life changes.

It no longer matters what you look like. In turn, it also doesn't matter what other people look like. If you're fat or thin or hairy or wrinkly- none of that matters. Judgement of one another based on looks- gone. Comparisons of how well your yoga pose is or how you physically rank compared to someone else vanishes. Nothing - not your hair or makeup or even your clothes - matters.

If your butt looks funny in this pose or if your stomach is sticking out in that pose, who cares? No one can see you. You can't even see you. All you care about is how you feel. Instead of wondering if these yoga pants make you look fat, you instead wonder if your body feels good. You begin to experience something along the lines of euphoria for simply having a body that can do the things you're doing with it.

For once, truly, without having to force your brain to shut down these thoughts that plague our society, you can just let them go. For one hour you are free. This is something else you realize- how much time in life is wasted on the overinflated value we put on looks. On judgement. On comparing ourselves through image, lifestyle, so on and so forth.

If only we could bottle this beautiful experience of not caring about genuinely stupid things. Imagine how much better each and every person in the world would feel. How much happier we could be when we're not held back by thought patterns that run a muck in our minds.

Being blind vs. blindfolded is obviously incredibly different. Due to that, I'm sure life perspectives are different as well. I am sincerely grateful to Cindy for giving me this gift and for sharing her everyday experience with me in the best way possible. I have an enormous amount of respect for her and the amazing lessons she's teaching.

I hope one day the whole word will be able to let go of the pressure we put on ourselves for all of the wrong reasons. I hope that in the place of valuing youth over age, looks over personality, quality of clothes over quality of character, we find ourselves living in a world that values kindness, compassion, and acts of good work. I hope one day we build a better world because we have become better people.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Let Me Change

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Mother Nature's Mirror

Let Me Change

Let me change.
Let the mirrors fall away,
From the reflection that I see,
The one that keeps destroying me.

Let the mirrors fall away.

Let me be.
Let the light get through to me,
Let the gloomy feeling fade,
Let the shadows slip away.

Let the light get through to me.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Mantra: When We Care Too Much

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it." - Buffy Summers
Sometimes I get frustrated with myself because I'm not as tough or smart or bad-ass as I want to be. I get mad at myself because I think I should be better at, well, life. I hate the moments when I fall short of being the person I want to be. The moments when I'm not calm and collected in a tough situation, when I forget to look past the bad to the good, when I am ultimately oh-so human.

Even though I know I'm not perfect (and never will be) I still expect myself to be...better. Better than I am. I expect myself to never fall short in kindness or patience or love, yet I do. I expect of myself things that are impossible, in many ways. I want to remember every lesson I learned in my years of education and employ those skills when things get rough, yet hindsight is still the best teacher I have. I want to help create a world where we all win, where we all root for each other, yet sometimes I still catch myself being judgmental or comparing myself to others. This in particular, I've learned, comes from moments when my own self-confidence is faltering.

I hate that I have a past that isn't perfect and spotless and void of mistakes. I question what value I add to the world with things even as small and simple as this post. Sometimes, like today, I feel like giving up writing altogether because how can I, someone who is so very human and full of her own faults, write about anything at all worth reading? How can caring this much do any good when caring this much can be painful? I suppose I could attempt to not care at all, but that would be worse- that would be a lie.

What I've found in all of these moments, in all of the hard times of living a life, is that it's better in the long run to be honest about these very things that make me imperfect and flawed. Through being honest and open about my shortcomings I become stronger and better.

It might feel easier, at first, to pretend that everything is fine, everything is perfect, that you don't care- but it's actually the opposite. It's actually quite harder. To protect yourself with a wall of stories that are built on a foundation of forgery is nothing more than living in a self-made prison, fearfully waiting for the inevitable day when the wall will fall down.

Own who you are - all the good and bad and human-ness of you. This is how you live a life of caring too much. This is how you give yourself to the world, knowing it will never break you down because there is nothing to break down. It can take nothing from you because you have taken ownership of yourself.

No one can take from you what you have already given.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Oh, Busy World...

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Black Lace

Oh, Busy World...


Friday, June 5, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: No One But Me

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Hey Baby
Society 6

No One But Me

If nothing and no one
(And no one but me),
Can guide me and find me
And set myself free,
If all of my worries
And all of my doubts
Would just go away
I would figure me out.