It’s​ ok to not be ok

STRESS

Stress is something I have been working a lot with lately. The secret is that just because you know tools to manage stress (or even teach them) does not mean you are immune to experiencing this feeling of heavy anxiety and overwhelm!  Stress happens to all of us, and especially in our global political environmental state. We are all experiencing the impact of uncertain and even scary times. How do we manage?
Last night I sat down and had a little cry. It was a relief to let down my guard of resisting the feeling of stress, anxiety and overwhelm and just feel it. Offering compassion to myself with a hand over the heart and then extending it out with relief. It’s ok to sometimes not be ok. Compassion sometimes is a better response than trying to fix it.

Stress management tip for you today: practice TONGLEN. This is a simple practice of feeling and sending out healing with your breath. You could practice this FREE guided meditation in a seated forward bend and breath deeply. Remember that you are not alone, and that you are worthy of your love and care. From my heart to yours.

XO

  

Mindful New Years Reflections – What You Notice Begins to Grow

mindful new years reflections

The New Year marks a New Beginning, a time for Mindful New Years Reflections

This is a great time for mindful new years’ reflections on where we are, where we have been, and where we are going. While setting aspirations for the New Year can inspire us to be the best version of ourselves, it can be easy to get stuck on feeling never good enough, and disappointed when we do not reach our goals.

The Buddha said that what we notice begins to GROW.

So instead of noting our failures of 2019 consider making a list of new years validations! This is a shortlist of your accomplishments. These are mindful new years’ reflections.

Make a note of all the ways in which you have triumphed, transcended, withstood or survived the past year.

Notice the ways, however small or large you have lived and loved well.

mindful new years reflections

Make a point to highlight the occasions when you held to your truth, set boundaries, and make new choices. Remember the times you got back up after difficulties or failures. Honor those that have supported you, believed in you, and loved you along the way.

Trust that this goodness will grow in 2020 the more you show up in little ways. While the little ways we are kind and courageous might not look like much, together we build something significant.

Click here to see some of the programs I am offering in the New Year. I hope you are making your own mindful new years reflections, and I sincerely hope to see you in class, or online!

Here’s to your continued growth in this new decade!

xo Stephanie

Like this post? Pin it for later 

What is Yin Yoga?

What is Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga is not a self-improvement project. So, what is Yin Yoga?

Our Yin Yoga practice is a time where we practice being mindful.

To be mindful simply means being where we are, exactly as we are, in the most minimal and uncomplicated way.

Mindfulness is not a state of mind we are trying to achieve, but rather an ability to host all states – whether they are joyful, restless, anxious or apathetic.

Yin is where we have time to integrate all the aspects of our fragmented selves:

the undigested experiences,

the tight places of our body,

and the dark corners of our hearts.

While we may aspire towards a calmer mind and a more flexible body, we cannot grow these ambitions if we don’t start where we are and take time to honor each part of ourselves which needs care and attention.

So, what is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga is the act of mindfulness. It is the act of bringing more clarity and freedom into your life.

My next Yin training coming up at the end of January will focus on seeing our experience through a beginner’s mind- as this is the very essence of mindfulness.

This first module (Level 1) of the 70-hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training program will provide you with the foundations to teach a yin yoga class with confidence and a thorough understanding of the physical body and mindfulness meditation. To further extend your studies, I also offer a Level 2 Yin Yoga Teacher Training.

We will be covering the basics of mindfulness meditation, and Chinese energy medicine as concepts to help heal our body, heart, and mind.

While we will cover how to sequence and teach a yin class, my programs are experiential.

This means that the training is open to anyone who simply wants to learn more about the practice of Mindfulness.

In our time together, we will talk about how to cultivate this quality of curiosity in our practice and how that attitude can open to many possibilities.

XO Stephanie

Like this post? Pin it for later 

Autumn Mindfulness Meditation on the Lungs

Autumn Mindfulness Meditation

I’ve recorded an Autumn Mindfulness Meditation on Listening to the Wisdom of the Lungs. This is an interesting topic related to Chinese Medicine and the changes in seasons, I hope you enjoy it.

In Chinese Energy medicine, every organ in our body has its own spirit, its own wisdom. The wisdom of our organs in inherited from the earth: her elements, her seasons, her sacred rhythms.

Autumn is the season of the lung.

The air is cool the leaves are brown and crispy.

The birds fly south, and the bears prepare for sleep.

Fall reminds us of the constant change and flow that life is. Like the exhale breath, the season is descending. While it can seem sad, death is beautiful because it gives space for something new. It would be impossible to only inhale without the exhale – death supports life, just as life supports death.

The ancient Taoists suggests that our lungs are not only vital for our respiration, our skin health, and immunity, but our capacity to flow with the changes in life. They remind us that everything is in flux, continually coming into birth and falling into death.

In this lung season, ask: What am I ready to let go of?

Where can I flow a bit more with whatever is happening right now in my life?

Because the lungs are the only organ that can operate consciously and unconsciously they make an excellent object of mindfulness meditation.

Please enjoy this free Autumn Mindfulness Meditation on Listening to the Wisdom of the Lungs.

Autumn Mindfulness Meditation

Life is a constant exchange

Flowing loss and gifts

Like the season’s shifts

Dead leaves and flowers

Petals blow in the wind we breathe

Open fingers are better than closed fists.

If you enjoyed this, feel free to listen to my Check-In Meditation here.

xo Stephanie

Like this post? Pin it for later 

Autumn Mindfulness Meditation

Why Silent Retreat is a Good Idea

There are countless yoga vacations on the market right now that offer a variety of activities such as surfing, dancing, hiking, wine drinking and socializing. While these vacations can be fun, silent retreat offers something different. I would be lying to you if I said that silent retreat is “fun”, but I have found through personal experience is that silent retreat can be incredibly transformational.

What does being silent mean? 

Depending on the retreat, being silent means that you do not speak to others, nor communicate in non-verbal ways through eye contact of body language. Usually, there are periods set aside for formal teaching instructions, in which the facilitator will guide you through practices. All cell phones, computers and tablets are turned off, long periods of reading and writing are discouraged. It is just you, nature, and your practice. 

This sounds awful. Why would I do this?  

TO REST
 
On Silent retreat, we are given FULL permission to take off all of the hats we wear in our daily life and step out of the various roles we play in our career or family. We are given the space to rest the language centers of our brain and let the energy drop down from the head into the body. Turning off our computers, cellphones, and tablets can be incredibly restorative for our entire nervous system.


TO REFLECT:
 
Within this restful space, we have the opportunity to honestly look at our neurosis! The intention behind this is not to be judgmental, but to see clearly what thoughts, words, and actions we can let go of in order to bring about a more lasting sense of wellbeing. Awareness in itself is curative. Just seeing how our thoughts run our life is the first step in making an inner shift.

Secodnly, when we are on silent retreat we take an aerial view of our life and given the chance to reflect on where our energy is going. We have time to listen deeply into our heart on what matters most. Does my life align with what I value? Am I living a life I am proud of? People report after returning from a retreat that they feel inspired to shift a major or minor aspect of thier life. It could be as small as taking the time to have a bubble bath once a week, or as large as a carreer change.

To Relate: 

In my first ever silent retreat, one of my teachers said: “silent retreat is about relationships”. When I heard this, it was confusing to me. How can being alone in silence improve our relationships? 

The fact is, we are always in relationship– and perhaps the most important relationship we are in, is the relationship to ourselves. It is through time spent in silence that I have learned how to be my own best friend. I have established an inner resiliency and reliance that I wouldn’t trade for any yoga vacation. I have also learned how to relate more intimately with each moment regardless of how boring or painful it is. I understand through my retreat practice that my wellbeing depends less upon circumstances, but more upon how I relate to them.

We get so busy chasing pleasant experiences that silent retreat can seem counterintuitive. While vacation memories fade, I argue that time spent on silent retreat can offer a lasting shift in how we live this precious human life.

Below is one of my Favourite Poems by Pabelo Neruda, called Keeping Quiet:

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Transience and meaning

During a question and answer period of a lecture, the late Zen Master, Suzuki Roshi was asked “ Suzuki, I have been listening to your lectures for years, and I just don’t understand. Could you just please just put it in a nutshell? Can you reduce Buddhism into one phrase?”

Suzuki Roshi laughed and responded: “everything changes”. Then he asked for another question.

Anicca, or impermanence, is one of the principal teachings of Buddhism. The Irish Poet, Author, and priest, John O’donohue, uses the world transience to speak about this teachingThe etymology of the word means, “to pass through without staying”. I prefer the word transience because it acknowledges life as a process; and that even though everything in life is impermanent, we cannot deny the fact that life does indeed touch us. Below is a beautiful excerpt from his book Anam Cara:

 

Transience is the force of time which makes a ghost of every experience. There was never a dawn, regardless of how beautiful or promising, that did not not grow into noontime. There was never a noon that did not fall into afternoon. There was never an afternoon that did not fade towards evening. There never was a day which did not get buried in the graveyard of the night. In this way transience makes a ghost out of everything that happens to us.

 

All of our time disappears on us. This is an incredible fact. You are so knitted into a day. You are within it; the day is as close as your skin. It is around your eyes; it is inside your mind. The day moves you, often it can weigh you down; or again it can raise you up. Yet the amazing fact is: this day vanishes. When you look behind you, you do not see your past standing there in a series of day shapes. You cannot wander back through the gallery of your past. Your days have disappeared silently and for ever. Your future time has not arrived yet. The only ground of time is the present moment.

 

While this may seem like a somber topic to reflect on, acknowledging the truth of transience helps us to:

1) let go

When we contemplate the changing nature of reality it helps us relax into the flow of life. Trying to hold tightly onto something that is continually changing is like trying to hold onto a moving rope- what happens when we hold onto a moving rope? We get rope burn! We suffer less when we let go. We suffer less if we can learn to dance with life, rather than trying to hold onto it or place it neatly into a small box. If we truly understanding the changing nature of reality, it begins to make more sense to live a life of an open palm, rather than a closed fist.

2) become more present

If we truly acknowledge that everything is subject to change and that life is transient, would we not be called more into paying attention? Would we not bring more attention to the time we have with our loved ones, and enjoying our life, both in its profundity and in its mundane routines? Life is precious because we are passing through it. What quality of attention would you bring to this moment, if you knew this was the last of its kind?

3) Live a life of meaning

Validating the transient nature of things also encourages us to reflect on what matters. Just because life is transient, does not mean we don’t bring our full attention and care to the preciousness of our time. As the Japanese poet Issa says:

 

This dewdrop world

is but a dewdrop world,

and yet

 

Life is transient “and yet” it does not mean we don’t care. It does not mean we don’t show up fully for our life and create something beautiful, help others, or share our unique gifts to the world.

Perhaps asking yourself this week: How do I pass through this world with meaning? What brings me meaning?

Below is a simple guided meditation exploring the transient nature of things. May your passing through be beautiful. May your understanding of transience awaken the most full and meaningful life.

Xo

Steph