I was recently asked to consider the question, “Who are you?”
I thought, “Damn, that’s a loaded question.” And a real good journal prompt, so I took the pen to paper…
My immediate reaction was to associate who I am with what I do, so I thought, “I’m a yoga teacher, web designer… blah blah, etc.” But that’s not who I am. That’s what I do.
So I sat with it for a few more moments and eventually words started appearing on the page before me…
I am simply a human on this journey called life trying to figure it all out and share my experience as I go. As a passionate yoga teacher, web designer, artist, and lover of humanity, I desire to help others find happiness through becoming fully present with life. To reconnect with the wisdom of our bodies, step into our power, and create a joyful life doing what we love.
When we are connected to our body we become present with life. Life happens through us – starting with our breath, our bodies are this incredible vehicle for the miracle of Life.
The question is, how curious, loving, and open can we be to this wisdom in our guts and our hearts? Is it possible that this can fully guide us into living the fullest expression of our lives possible?
The answer is a big, fat, juicy YES.
How? We have to train ourselves to be present with life. It doesn’t happen automatically – we are conditioned otherwise. We live mostly in our heads, in the past and in the future. We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us how to live, how to love, how to look, eat, speak, and be.
The truth is, happiness and joy are not in any of those things. They exist in the small moments happening right now.
I like to think of life as a collection of moments. Why is it that we remember certain things? Isn’t it interesting how specific moments stand out to us? We may even recall sounds, smells, tiny little details of these events. Why? Because we were fully present in those moments.
THE UNIVERSE WANTS US TO BE PRESENT WITH LIFE. It wants us to be happy and feel that joy deep in our core.
So, with our awareness bouncing all over the place 24/7, how are we supposed to be present?
The key is to be connected to your body. In yoga we speak of prana, which in Hindu philosophy represents our vital life force energy. This flows through us at all times and we connect to it using our breath – we refer to breathwork in yoga as pranayama – control of our vital life force energy.
We have to train our awareness by shifting the way we pay attention. This is a practice. You have to look at your awareness like a muscle. Just like you would strengthen any other muscle, you have to strengthen your awareness muscle. The stronger your ability to shift your awareness is, the easier it is to be present with life.
HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE that we choose everyday. It is a practice.
Everything starts in your mind. Start paying attention to the effect your thoughts are having on your physiology. For example, a stressful thought comes in… Your heart rate increases… you feel a tightness in your chest, maybe your palms get sweaty. Your stress level rises and your body starts to prepare for battle (fight or flight!). But wait, is this truly a life-threatening situation? Usually the answer is NO.
We live in a world where we are in a constant state of stress most of the time, always prepared for battle. Our sympathetic nervous systems are on OVERLOAD. We need some parasympathetic tone to bring balance. We have to wire in new reactivity patterns in order for anything to change.
MEDITATION & YOGA
Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation have been proven scientifically to actually change the structure of the brain, specifically the middle prefrontal cortex – which houses our ability to relax, calm down, and actually assess whether something should require us to gear up for battle.
When you sit and meditate or practice yoga you simply place your attention on breath or body sensation. When your awareness is on those things you have no room to place any awareness on busy thought or be caught up in the story of your life (which is all in your mind and is the cause of stress). In these moments are you are fully connect to prana, your life force energy… you bring yourself to the present moment.
This is a practice. And it’s not always pretty. Uncomfortable feelings and emotions arise, and we have to be courageous enough to allow ourselves to feel them.
There is nothing more powerful than connecting to the wisdom of your body. Your heart and belly have just as many neural pathways as your brain! YOUR BODY is the most readily available tool to practice mindful awareness and, in turn, experience the joy of life happening right in front of you.
So, breathe and move your body today. Engage all of your senses with whatever you are doing. Be loving and compassionate with yourself when you catch yourself stuck in your head or in the story of your life. It’s ok.
Make the choice to be present with life. With all the little moments. The highs, the lows. Love it all. Embrace exactly where you are at in your process because it’s exactly where you are supposed to be.
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