Archive for the ‘vision boards’ Category

Keep Rolling (sutra 1.13)

Effort toward steadiness is practice.  sutra 1.13

I get this sutra when it comes to asana practice.  I get this sutra when it comes to mountain biking, running and tackling my vision board/goals.  What I hadn’t quite applied it to until now is my writing.  In order for my blogging to be consistent, my journaling needs to be consistent.  Daily — just a like a daily asana practice.

The Yoga Sutras weren’t shared thousands of years ago in reference to writing or mountain biking but here’s the awesome thing about the sutras…many of them can be applied to anything in your life -not just to yoga asana, meditation and samadhi (enlightenment).

I was lucky to get to NYC this past Wednesday for my monthly dose of yoga with Dharma Mittra.  In typical Dharma fashion while we were all getting up into forearm balance, he reminded me “you must have angry determination“.  The key to success in a yoga pose is repetition (another Dharma-ism).  And really the key to many things in life is steady effort, repetition, “angry determination” or simply, practice!

Of course, it’s easier said than done and along the way you (me, all of us) will fumble and tumble a lot.  In fact, I find my writing is sometimes ugly, dry and empty but the more often I put the pen to paper, the easier it gets.  As Albert Einstein said “I think and think for months, for years.  99 times the conclusion is false.  The 100th time I am right.”  So as often as I unroll my yoga mat, I will now be rolling my pen on paper.  This means daily.  This means living sutra 1.13 in more ways than one.

A total side note:  If you live in the Washington, DC vicinity and have never practiced with Dharma Mittra, it is an easy day trip.  Hit me up if you want details.  He will propel your yoga practice & dedication to life.

Suffering is Optional

The title of this post Suffering is Optional is inspired from a phrase I almost incorporated on my 2012 vision board.  As usual my board is filled with athletic challenges to encourage me to run & mountain bike more; new challenges like learning to actually do my own bike maintenance; and cook “mo ‘betta” vegetarian meals my husband will LOVE!  Of course another section of my board inspires me to live a stronger yoga life.  When I say “stronger” I mean more daily home yoga asana time & philosophy study, taking more time for meditation & pranayama as well as just write, write, write more & more.

By now in my new age journey, (since 1994 at least) I should be able to quote who first stated “suffering is optional”.  My guess is the Buddha gets first dibs on it though the point is the same regardless of who stated it or how.  All I know is through a strong yoga practice, I’ve personally realized suffering is optional.

At every moment in our lives we have a choice:  be happy or suffer.  Of course, sometimes its not that black and white.  Yet I believe (and I’ve experienced) even in the grey moments/situations we have the authority within to decide to either be “p*ssed off” about it or “let it go”.  It’s not always this easy in every situation but its nice to know in advance we have options.

The point is just as I was about to tape the statement Suffering is Optional on my 2012 vision board I realized “I already live this; I just need to breathe and remind myself every now and again”.

Vision Board Comes to Life

As some of you know I spent a few days last week at a meditation/writing retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, CO.  It was a serene three days of meditating and writing, without cell/internet/tv/radio service and 600 acres of land to explore at my leisure.

One of the unexpected highlights of my trip was spending time outside, in and around The Great Stupa.  I had read about it online prior to my trip but the online pics paled in comparison to seeing it live with my own eyes.  Nestled up in the mountains, about a 15 minute walk from where I slept each night, it is a spectacular sight from the outside in the midst of what seems like nowhere.  Even more stunning is the interior.  I spent a good 30 minutes inside each day meditating in this magnificent space in the presence of a 20′ gold Buddha statue.

On my second day there, I was getting up from my quiet time with the Buddha and a voice from behind asked if I would remain seated just a few more minutes.  Of course, I listened and complied.  Marvin Ross, an international photographer, was setting up shop.  After a few additional minutes of sitting, I was free to get up.

little me inside The Great Stupa

A couple days later, Marv kindly emailed me the shot.  It is beautiful and I think you’ll agree.  It is way more captivating than I expected.

Even more fascinating is it is almost a match of the central image on my 2011 Vision Board.  It’s as if when I selected the Buddha pic for my VB (a page I randomly ripped out of a magazine), and added the words “are you listening” that I was predicting something like The Stupa shot would happen.

Is it coincidence?

Was I simply in the right place at the right time?

Or did the energy from my Vision Board travel with me?

I wonder but continue to believe the universe works in mysterious & supportive ways.

What’s Your 2011 Focus?

A month ago I shared with you all my vision board (VB) project and my initial reservations about doing it.  Well, I’m here to report I’m pleasantly shocked by its magic.  It has only been a month and I’ve already had an amazing experience in connecting with that $1.50 piece of bright blue cardboard.

One of my shout out phrases on that board is “get focused”.  I recalled it today as I was driving by the bookstore and thought about stopping to browse.  Then I said to myself “stay focused”.  This concept/power phrase I have on my VB also came up recently as I was reading A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.  She writes “We get in life that which we focus on.  Focus on the light brings us into the  light.”  This really resonated with me given my VB.

Need some focus and don’t have a VB?  The power of focus can still be yours.  As I recently suggested to students in a corporate yoga class I taught, bring to mind just one of your goals/intentions for 2011.  How can you incorporate it into your yoga practice right here, right now — or just every day life?  For example, maybe your goal is to be more artistic this year — pick up painting again or sculpting/pottery for the first time — then practice also being creative on your yoga mat and in other areas of your life.  Creative expression doesn’t have to be limited to something that can only be done on the weekends or periodically (when you have time).

If your intention is to cook new recipes or garden/grow your own herbs & veggies, then insert the practice of patience into your life as often as possible, i.e. while sitting in traffic or standing in line for your morning cup of Starbucks.  Or maybe your intention is to begin networking more (for professional reasons) or simply reconnect with long lost friends.  If so, practice connecting with yourself by taking time to focus on your breath periodically throughout the day.  Even better, step outside for a long walk, breathe to your hearts content and connect to yourself with nature surrounding you on all sides.  A deep connection with others requires a deeper connection with ourselves.

Find a way to turn your goals/intentions into small daily rituals (see my last post).  Pick a quality from just one resolution/aspiration that you want to cultivate and bring it to life daily.  Focus on your intentions/goals and they become reality.

Toss out the idea that you “don’t have time”.  It’s an excuse.  Maybe you can’t touch your paint brush or open the new cookbook until May.  At the very least figure out how to experience the qualities of your resolution(s) by finding & focusing on them in other areas of your life, even the most mundane.

Step Out of Your Routine

“Step Out of Your Routine” is one of the affirmations beaming from my vision board.  And it’s fitting given the last couple of weeks has been nothing but routine, particularly my yoga practice while I was on the road.

Up until last Tuesday, I was on holiday travel for about 1.5 weeks.  In order to continue with my daily yoga practice, I had to settle for practicing on plushy carpet.  If you’re a yogi, you know carpet is not ideal particularly for a practice that is mostly standing & arm balancing poses that are best supported by a hard surface.

For the last 8+ years, I’ve fully known in advance of travel the carpet circumstances will exist.  I take my travel yoga mat anyway to DE, KY, LA and wherever else and just do my best.  Yet as I move through my vinyasa practice, trying to simply stay focused on my breath, there is always this underlying thought of “I wish I had a harder surface to practice on”.

So a few days before New Years Eve while in KY at my in-laws – don’t worry we spent 12/31 and beyond in New Orleans 🙂 – I unrolled my mat and  jumped into downward facing dog to kick off my morning practice.  Immediately my mind went right to chatting with the carpet.  Then something shifted.  Suddenly I realized that my practice that day/moment doesn’t have to be like it is at home.  At the same time, my vision board and the “step out of your routine” phrase popped into my head.

Again there was a shift.  I started to live my yoga in that moment.  Simply, I woke up to what could be possible in that moment if I just surrendered to my circumstances vs. resist (which I’ve been doing with the carpet for 8 years).  I started to explore down dog by playing with as many variations that my body & breath led me into.  I practiced Sun Salutations from sitting in dandasana.  Then I stretched fully on my back (horizontal tadasana as I’ll call it) and explored Sun Salutations from there.   I worked in the moment with what I was given rather than forcing my routine into the now.  The result of stepping out of my routine (in this case, dropping a mental fixation), I had an extremely creative and refreshing asana practice – physically, mentally and spiritually.

To conclude, I leave you with a quote I seem to keep stumbling upon:  You cannot do yoga.  Yoga is your natural state.  What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state. – Sharon Gannon

Visions Dancing in My Head

A couple of weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night unable to fall back to sleep.  Instead of sugar plums and my holiday to do list cluttering my head, anxiety/thoughts swirled in my mind about the vision board for 2011 I was scheduled to do.  I had a date on my calendar to spend an afternoon with my dear friend/yoga teacher Ursula discussing our goals for 2011 and creating our vision boards.  Side note:  if you’re in the VA/DC area, visit Ursula’s studio Inner Power Yoga – it’s a beautiful space.

Why I couldn’t sleep that particular night, who knows!  Was it the thought of sharing my goals with someone else?  I haven’t really had to do that since having my own business.  Was it the notions of having to be “creative” for this project and living with a huge board on display in my home office/yoga studio space for a year? Or, was it the idea that I would possibly be wasting a precious afternoon just before Christmas to do a silly school kid project (as my husband referred to it).

I admit last year I considered doing a vision board but quickly nixed it thinking it would be a waste of time.  Why spend an afternoon ripping, arranging & taping pics out of magazines on a big piece of cardboard when I could simply type up my goals and refer to them daily just as easily.  Then I began to think…365 days is a lot of time to accomplish a few lofty goals, right?  Yet as the years fly by, I realize more and more how precious time is.  How we opt to spend our time is key to our ultimate happiness.  So shouldn’t my thought process & the time I spend goal planning/visioning be just as precious?  Does the tone/environment in which we outline goals set the foundation for what’s ahead?  Given everything is connected in some way, I’m starting to think goal planning with a girlfriend sets a solid and positive foundation.

In my pre-yoga teacher life (corporate marketing world), I tended to structure my typed-out goals around what others thought would be best for me and my career.  And just a couple of years ago, I created rigid goals that supported my business, abellaYoga, and not so much my heart.  I am a firm believer goals should be made to provide some direction and stimulation in our lives.  Though I also now believe goals should be flexible and reflective of what truly speaks to our hearts.  If we handcuff ourselves to written words we wrote 3 months ago, for example, we may miss a grander opportunity for growth by being limited to the goal.  Or worse, often we reach the goal and then simply forget about it as we delve into tackling the next one.  Maybe there was more to the goal then just checking it off the list.  A year is full of unknown possibilities so be flexible and open to what each moment presents.   So yes, commit to goals that challenge your spirit as well as create a smile in your heart but be open to venturing beyond the goal.

This brings me back to my vision board.  If you’ve never done one, do it!  It is way more powerful and inspirational than writing down a list of goals.  By looking daily at the board, a collage of inspirational words & pics related to my goals, I create a vision in my mind of me achieving the goals.  It’s also so simple to mentally refer to which I have already done a few times this past week.  At the same time, I am finding myself meeting 2011 goals already without really having to think about doing them.  It’s as if the visuals have been planted in my subconscious and they’ve started to naturally extend into my daily life.  Lastly, I’ve realized a vision board provides the flexibility the written word can’t.  Pictures invoke more than just the specific goal.  They allow the mind to shift thinking around and beyond the goal in a more creative way.  I know I’m not doing a good job explaining this but I’m thinking maybe this really can’t be explained.  As with yoga, a vision board is a personal experience.  It’s a personal tool to support my personal growth in the year ahead.