5 Ways to Find Balance & Bliss in Daily Life

pexels-photo-133372.jpeg

Our past does not have to define or confine us. We have the power to choose, now, in this moment, to say YES or NO or MAYBE. We have the power to affect our present and future, yet the wisdom to know that there are many things outside the realm of our control.

Finding our balance is lifelong work. If we were perfectly balanced all the time, that wouldn’t be much fun, would it? We wouldn’t appreciate the times when we find balance because there would be nothing to compare it to, no growth, just a stagnant, too-easy, status-quo balance.

Here are some wonderful ways to cultivate more balance and wellness into our daily lives:

1) When you wake up every day, repeat this Shantideva verse three times (Pema Chodron swears by it):

Just as all the Buddhas of the past
Embraced the awakened attitude of mind,
And in the precepts of the bodhisattvas
Step by step abode and trained,
Just so, and for the benefit of beings,
I will also have this attitude of mind,
And in those precepts, step by step,
I will abide and train myself.

Bodhisattvas are human beings who strive to benefit all beings (including themselves) and choose to stay in the human realm helping inspire everyone to achieve enlightenment. The precepts include a long list of things to avoid (killing, stealing, etc.), the Buddhist version of the ten commandments. What it all boils down to is cultivating openness, honesty, compassion, loving kindness and equanimity. 

2) Be in touch with reality. Remember the simple truths of life: everything changes; be kind and grateful as much as possible; eat things and consume ideas that are wholesome, nourishing, and in alignment with nature.

3) Be in touch with your breath, taking time each day for some yoga and meditation practice, and always cultivating loving relationships with self, family, friends and ultimately all beings and things.

4) Choose to slow down, shed toxicity and be patient. Awareness of how our minds and bodies and hearts work is the first step. Acceptance is the next. And, simultaneously, striving to improve, to be more disciplined yet more spontaneous, more natural and open. I know it’s paradoxical to be content with how things are in this moment and to set goals and achieve them. Life is full of paradox!

Thanks for reading! May this article be of benefit. Please pass it along to someone who could use it, if so inspired!
Advertisements

Boundless Gratitude

20171122_070046.jpg

Thank you for this sage.

Thank you for this moment.

Thank you for this life.

Thank you for the birdsong.

Thank you for the lake.

Thank you for this breath.

Thank you for the sky.

Thank you for the volcanoes.

Thank you for the flowers, fruits and food.

Thank you for love, and the moon.

Thank you for friendship and family.

Thank you for yoga.

Thank you for music, art, being, gratitude.

Thank you for seeing and looking, listening and hearing.

Thank you for the trees.

Thank you for the cats and dogs.

Thank you for all the animals.

Thank you for the ocean and all the water.

Thank you for the world and the universe and stars.

Thank you for my body.

Thank you for my mind,

Thank you for my soul.

Thank you for my heart.

Collected Writings 2010-2017

51hV0yux+mLMoving abroad eight years ago was a rebirth for me.

The choice to uproot from my home country, the United States of America, and plant new seeds in my host country, Guatemala, suddenly changed my whole life and lifestyle.

I was bestowed with the best gift of all: time. I used my newfound abundance of this magical time and mental space to focus on my personal yoga and meditation practice—and to hone my writing skills. I started this very blog on WordPress in early 2010. In October of that year, I crossed my fingers and submitted my very first article for publication on Elephant Journal. (I’m so grateful that they accepted it and hundreds more since!)

Over the years, I’ve maintained my passion for yoga and writing, though of course both practices have fluctuated over time and with the influence of life, work, partnership, parenthood and all the little moments that make up our days.

I’m delighted to present my latest e-book offering: The Best of Yoga Freedom. These collected blog posts and essays from the past seven years deal with everything from developing and deepening spiritual practice to stories of shame and sexual healing to heart advice on long-term partnerships and healthy, simple lifestyle choices. If you’re new to this site, this is an ideal place to begin.

The book is available on Amazon/Kindle. If you would be interested in reading and writing a review, please connect with me and I will gladly send you a free copy.

Thank you for reading!

{Get your copy of The Best of Yoga Freedom}

What to do with all this outrage?

This level of outrage is unsustainable.

Perhaps like you, I am feeling utterly outraged far too often these days.

According to Deepak Chopra:

“In any situation of maximum stress, a person’s coping skills are severely tested. Stress is maximized whenever three elements are present: repetition, unpredictability, and loss of control. Repetition is supplied by Trump’s constant presence on all media. Unpredictability is at an all-time high, thanks to his policy flip-flops and neck-wrenching mood swings. Loss of control has been mandated by the right wing’s take-no-prisoners, make-no-compromises stance.”

Merely reading the news—the “fake media,” as Trump calls it—feels overwhelmingly exhausting and emotionally draining. Thus, I turn away from the media (social or otherwise) for a bit. Taking a digital detox each Sunday has become one of my strategies for sanity. It’s sometimes tough to find the balance between burying my head in the sand and reading obsessively about my home country’s politics.

Lately, people have started comparing the USA to Nicaragua and other “banana republics.” I live in Guatemala and the government here is plenty corrupt (thanks in large part to the CIA’s intervention in the mid-1950s, the effects of which still echo in Guatemalan society today), yet my day-to-day life is good and gratifying. I am thankful to be able to turn away from the news and play with my little girl, take a walk in nature (a.k.a. our neighborhood), and meditate over a cup of warm hibiscus tea.

Still, the outrageous outrage returns every other day or so with more news of further shenanigans, overt corruption, and intentional deception from our greedy, lying, reality-star-in-chief.

Pussy. Politics. Patriarchy. Power. Paradigm.

These P-words are punctuating my frustration with the system and society as it is. It was hard enough for me to believe that anyone would actually vote for Trump, and it’s harder still to fathom that large swaths of American citizens and Republican party leaders still support his atrociousness.

According to the liberal media, impeachment is imminent—after the mid-term elections in 2018 when Democrats will surely take back the majority of the House and Senate. Can we really wait that long? Eighteen more months when it’s only been four months so far of nonstop absurdity, harmful policy making, and blatant disrespect for the Constitution? Please, no!

Keep reading

Where is the Middle Way?

 

What we have here is a lack of union.

Extremes have become ultra polarized to the point of absurdity
The polar ice caps melting can’t be denied
Science isn’t a matter of belief
humanity is KILLING OUR MOTHER EARTH

The government isn’t meant to be a two-party system and politics shouldn’t be what is has become: corporation ruled corrupt GREED

Martin Luther King, Jr said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” YET WE MUST CHOOSE LOVE OVER HATE

This is a dangerous time. Watch your step. Mind the gap. But, please. KEEP WORKING FOR THE GOOD

Are you on the edge? The left or the right? Can you see outside your narrow, conditioned point of view? No. TAKE A GIANT LEAP BACK

Be moderate. Take the Middle Path: ever the goal, ever the practice. Discovery of balance, presence, awareness. I must choose love over hate. I must recognize both goddess and god and remember that all of live is simply energy moving within and without us and all beings, whether we call it divine or buddhanature or the holyspirit, or not

This is a potent time. GIVE LOVE. BE LOVE. BREATHE LOVE.

Yoga is for Every Body.

{Deep bow of gratitude to elephant journal. Original post here.}

Own it.

Own your shape, your color, your size.
Own your feminine side and your masculine side.
Own your curves and your rough edges.
Own your shadow and shine your light.
There is no such thing as too big or too small.
There is no too much this or too little that.

It is what it is.

Our bodies are temples.
And we don’t need anything but a body to practice yoga.
Yoga can be practiced anywhere, anytime, all the time.
We don’t need to be anything to do yoga.
Yoga shows us that our ego is sacred.

Yoga is daily life, no stone left unturned.
It’s how we breathe.
It’s in our posture: the way we stand, walk, talk, eat, dream, relate.
It’s in the way we love.

Yoga is this moment, right here, right now.
Yoga is awareness, acceptance and the sacred union between truth and balance.
Yoga gives us the energy to serve others and share love, kindness and compassion with all beings, without exception.

Yoga is not dogmatic or bound to a single lineage or guru.
Yoga has no physical or spiritual prerequisites and requires no fancy clothing, props or accessories.
Yoga is the connection to our breath, our bodies, our minds.
Yoga cultivates gratitude for this life, this breath, these teachings, this chance to be here and love and grow and let go.

We don’t need to be any certain way to practice yoga: not flexible, not strong, not balanced, not thin, not young and lithe. Not anything!

It’s a lifelong practice.

Perhaps You Need a Little Feminist Poetry

flowerpetals

Women, liberals, reasonable people. Our collective heart is broken. When we look at the world, the nation and our society as a whole, it is obviously broken. What can be done?

How can we take action at the personal, family and neighborhood levels in order to cultivate awareness, compassion, understanding, and ultimately, peace?

I don’t know. Maybe poetry. Poetry so good, it can make us tear up when we read it aloud.

Poetry, as in beautiful, terrible, intense, calming beads of words strung together that somehow make sense of life.

Poetry, as in yoga—as in love.

Last week, the day after the Trump inauguration, which I chose not to watch or read about, I began day one of giving my first week-long retreat ever. I’ve led or co-facilitated lots of weekend retreats over the past six years, all of which have been wonderful and three days long. This one was eight days. We dove deep within.

In the safe space created by our intimate circle of brave women, we practiced heart-mindfulness, asana, breathing and looking at our lives—at Life—, through the lens of the chakras. And we read poetry. Mostly, I read to them while they were in a yin pose or savasana.

I read Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver and Sandra Cisneros. Their words welled up in me and stirred emotion, awe, gratitude, solidarity.

Women, powerful women, soul sisters: por favor, read these poems aloud in their entirety. Often. Some of my favorite excerpts follow. Viva la revolucion!

Keep reading

 

This I Believe.

I believe in peace, love and goodness.

I believe in trees and bodies of water.

I believe in sunrise and sunset.

I believe in full moon and new moon.

I believe in green trees, vast blue sky, blue water and the brown earth,

the white light and the darkness.

I believe in the orange fire and the red embers.

In this, in nature, in you, in me, in we, I believe.