7 Steps to Happiness Boulevard.


Every yoga teacher has some story how their life started with some trauma, injury, life altering event... that led them to deepen their practice... then their life changed for the better.. and now they want to share it with you. Alright, always and never are dangerous words to throw around, but that's generally how it happens.


It's isn't unique and they aren't special. The 41 in 30/ 30 in 31 or whatever latest number your local yoga studio may be throwing out these days may seem like some fantastic marketing plow. But it's not. There's a whole scientific/spiritual connection between a consistent yoga practice and your brain chemistry.


It's just not that hard, it isn't... there's this fantastic exercise I used to do with my adjudicated kids... we'd draw a diverging road on a piece of paper. One end - happiness (home, job, family, love). Other end - despair (jail, drugs, death). We'd ask them to place themselves along the drawing... how far down were they near despair. Most of them identified with being really close to despair (they were stuck in a wilderness therapeutic program after all).


In that drawing, there were no simple steps, no short cuts to happiness. In life, it's exactly the same. We think just because we do yoga, we'd be more patient, calm, loving... your yoga teacher is after all, aren't they? I'm won't lie to you, the work is hard, and it's never ending. Never ending.


But it's achievable and when you get there... you'll do all the work to stay there.. because your life will seem brighter. It will change. You will be grateful you did it.

So,


Here are 7 simple steps to start walking backwards on your road, so you can make the right turn onto Happiness Boulevard.

1. Try catching yourself making a negative thought 5 times in a day, for a week. Our brains are hard wired from our childhood, magazine, and television influence to think negatively about ourself and others. Imagine your car stuck in the mud, you keep slamming the gas and the tire spins but goes nowhere. That's your brain.

2. At the end of the week, write down your top 5 negative thoughts. Think of it as a Billboard Chart.. what titles do you hear most in your head? “I'm fat, I'm lonely, She sucks, etc.” For each thought, write down a counter thought “I'm beautiful, I am surrounded by love, She smells nice, etc.”

3.The next week, as soon as you catch your top five playing in between your ears, say your counter thought. Just do it. Don't doubt it. You don't have to believe it either, just try it on – what's the worst that could happen?

4. Go to yoga 5 days in a row. It doesn't matter when, just try it... if that's too hard. Try going for 3 days in a row, see what happens.

5.  Do 5 nice things for someone else. It can be as simple as holding the door open for a stranger or giving your Mom 5 minutes of unconditional loving listening time, regardless of your history.

6. Stop one time during your day to smell a flower. Perhaps it's on your daily run, inside your office, in your garden. Make time once a day to take a deep inhale into a flower/plant and deep exhale it out. If you have allergies, bring tissues ;D



7. Just to psych people out... when someone compliments you and starts it with “I like your...” reply “I like you!” For example, “Susie, I like that shirt.” You: “Thanks! I like you.” Then, walk away. See what happens, it's so fun.

Tired of Temporary



I'm becoming the Queen of the two week relationship. 

 It's something right around day 14, like a two week curse. I have dated more in the last six months than the entirety of my life. I secretly hope that I'm burning past my karma.. but my grounded self secretly disagrees.

Some end with more grace and maturity than others. Some of them fellas seem to drop off the face of the Earth, some end with a sweet embrace and words of deep mutual respect. 

 Either way, I'm stuck in a two week rut.

Lately, the concept “the only thing constant in life is change” has been driving me crazy. Mostly because my romantic life is like a sick roller coaster of never ending change. I'm tired of change. I want to get past the initial phases. I want a partner, a deep lover. I want to get past the “your the greatest thing on Earth pedestal” phase.

I've begun to resent 'change'. In fact if 'Change' were a living thing, I kick it. Yeah.

Yet, it's the same thought that holds me together on the darkest of days. About a week ago, I received an official notification that the investigation into my assault was dismissed. This response wasn't a surprise to me. Most assault cases come back to a he said/she said blockage. Accusation isn't enough concrete evidence. I get it. I've come to a place of acceptance with it.

Yet my emotional response was devastating. I felt like my life immediately time travelled back to that horrific time and place. I had to learn to pick the pieces of myself back up again. Sigh. It's tiring. It doesn't really matter what kind of sad/traumatic experience you've had: divorce, lost love, lost family, friend, career. Falling apart is falling apart.

I tried using my yoga toolbox tools: breathe, go to yoga, meditate. 

 It only made things worse. I was slightly nervous that this time I had fallen too deep into the well.

So, I thought back to my two week curse – if a budding, sweet, innocent romance can go sour in a matter of days, maybe this will change.  It sure doesn't feel that way but I don't know.  I mean I don't meet guys going, oh we're probably gonna short circuit in a week or so. So, I don't know.

All I have to do is work through it and it too shall pass. And it did, slowly, but surely.

Will it come back? Maybe. But now I've got a new mantra to take with me into the dark days.

“The only thing constant in life, is change.”

And, as much as that occasionally sucks, maybe it can be a good thing too.   

Hold On.



We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? 
Actually, who are you not to be?” 
- Nelson Mandela


I wish there was more to say.
During the darkest hours
and the coldest nights

it is hard to believe

that there will be a dawn.

When we feel most alone, when we feel the most lost...

when we feel there is no hope.

Hold on.

There isn't much to say.
There isn't much to believe.
There isn't much any one can do.

Sure, there are moments we smile.
There are moments of joy, and we hold them, so tightly.

Hold on. Hold on.

For as sure as our Earth turns, as sure as the sun rises, so shall you.
For after every storm comes a moment of light, warmth, love.

The only thing certain in this life is that everything changes.
So hold on.

For better or worse.
Hold on because it will get better.

Surrender to your deepest fears, surrender to the pain in your heart, your chest, your soul.

It may never go away, but hold on, for it will pass.

There will new joys, new love, new light.

For every winter ends even in the coldest places on this Earth

The light brings life. Always.

So while you feel the most alone, hold on,
there are others out there holding on to the same thoughts as you.

In your darkest nights
you are the furthest from being alone.

We are holding onto you in our prayers, in our dreams, in our hearts.
So hold on.
Hold on as hard as you can until you see that light.
It is coming.  


5 Words That Will Change Your Life.



Freedom. Fun. Love and Belonging. Power. Survival.


Okay, so technically seven.

According to William Glasser, long time psychologist, these are the Five Basic Needs. He believes that every action you and everyone around you does it to essentially achieve one of these basic needs. He believes one or two of these drives every person's motivation.

See, I've got a blaring loud freedom need. However, almost as loud is my love and belonging need. This has been a consistent problem for me during my life because they seem to conflict. During my childhood, I constantly fought with my Dad who was trying to tell me what to do to be successful. I was never ridiculously rebellious because I was getting my love and belonging need at home.

When I think back to my extreme freedom need...I remember being nine years old and deciding I was going to run away from home. Perhaps a lil' too much 'Run away train, never coming back' on the radio. I stuffed up, five – yes five, garbage bags of stuffed animals and told my Dad I was leaving. I had enough of being told what to do.

As an adult, I have struggled to live in one place for over a year since I graduated college. I transferred Universities, studied abroad, and have traveled constantly. I actually had to make it a resolution to live in one place for over year. My freedom need has given me the courage to travel to off the beaten places, explore nooks and crannies of old city streets, and try numerous activities in my 27 years of living.

However, I yearn for love and belonging, I am most satisfied belonging to strong community of people who are like good friends. When I envision my future I see a family, a life long love, and a home by the beach. Yet, as soon as I find myself in a relationship I start to go crazy. What if I can't do whatever I want? Compromise? What? I need to do me.

"If you have found that you are less willing to take risks than most people, you have a high need for survival.  
The key to assessing the strength of your need for love and belonging is how much you are willing to give.
To assess the strength of your need for power, ask yourself if you always want to have your own way, to have the last word, to own people, and to be seen as right in most of what you do or say.
If you can’t stand the idea of following rules, conforming, or even staying in one place or with one group of people for very long, you have a high need for freedom.
If you enjoy learning and laugh a lot when you do, you have a high need for fun. 
He makes suggestions to help you figure out the strengths of these various needs in your own life. You get the idea? Of course, you could say that ALL of us have ALL of these needs. The point is to understand which of these resonate most strongly with you. Because that’ll be your prime motivator.” - http://heroesnotzombies.com/2008/03/25/william-glassers-five-basic-needs/ 
Awareness is the first step to change. To be aware of your strengths and faults is a great tool.

What's your prime motivator?



21 Days to Happiness:

Simple. Quick. User Friendly.


Shawn Anchor has a great video on the simplicity of how the brain accepts happiness.


http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html

  His Tips for Happiness done over 21 days:

1. Write three things your grateful for each day.
2. Send one letter of thanks, gratitude, or appreciation to someone a day.
3. Journaling about one positive thing each 24 hours.

 To all the naysayers. I know. I understand. I've been there. It isn't always your fault. It isn't always anyone's fault.

 There are definitely situations, personal or professional, that inhibit you from living your life to its fullest potential.

 Yet, Ralph Waldo Emerson has a great quote that states,
“Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen.”
It is only until you truly believe you deserve happiness, not then but now, that your external world will begin to reflect your inner manifestation. 

 Take a chance. Try the ideas above. Watch the video.

 I mean what's the worst that's going to happen?
 You will be exactly where you started.
 What's the best that will happen?
 You'll begin down the road to happiness. 

 That's a good gamble.

Spread the Love.

Hope is all around us!!

On my way to work I passed a road where someone had drawn hearts into every car!

A man and I stopped to take photos. Here's the convo. that followed:

Me, "Is one of these your car?"
Him, "Yeah, the one with two hearts."
Me, "Well, you are loved."
Him, "Yeah, this is great, let's pass it on!"

Pass on the love people. There's a strong spiritual shift happening. Keep loving!

Let Your Shi*t Fly

How Yoga Can Save Your Life.



When I signed up for the YogaHope facilitator training I was under the illusion I was going to spend 30 hours and five days of my life learning how to emotional heal women through teaching yoga.

Emotional Healing through the Art of Yoga. I deluded myself.

What we did was so much more.

YogaHope, founded by Suzanne Jones (a common EJ contributor), was created to facilitate access to yoga and meditation education specifically for women experiencing debilitating life transitions – those establishing independence from domestic violence, self-sufficiency from homelessness, recovery from drug addiction, or rehabilitation after mental illness.

Sue believes in order to teach the program you must first live the program.

So, there I was Day Three crying hysterically in my small group session about how my anger really hides my grief that my company chose to support my attacker over me, grief that my friends believed his lies over my truth, and grief that in order to live I had to give up the thing I loved most.

Sue believes yoga save lives. So, do I. After my attack, a daily yoga practice/addiction saved mine. Only I didn't know how or why until I met Sue.

The YogaHope philosophy heals trauma through recognizing your emotions, working through them on the mat, and learning to create emotional and mental space through a specialized intentional training.

If you get a chance to go through her trainings or watch them first hand at your facility: Your life will forever be changed.

Just in case you won't for one reason or another (no judgement, only love). Here's a lil' of what I've learned. My hope to you is that some part of it resonates.

1. Let yourself feel.

Cry, laugh, scream, yell, frown, smile. Just do it. As children, somewhere along the way, we're taught to behave. All this “appropriate” behavior has created some seriously dysfunctional adults. You were given tear ducts to release your joys & pains. You were given the gift of sound to express your soul through the power of your voice. You were given your body for a reason. There were no accidents in the formation of the human body. Use it.

2. Be okay with where you're at right now.

You're angry? Cool. There's a lotta stuff out there to be angry about. You're sad? Okay. There's some seriously depressed occurrences in the world we're living in. You're afraid? Awesome. You've found the base of what you need to learn. You're happy? Great! Ride that waves for as long as you can. Love yourself enough to accept where you're at right now. You don't punish yourself for a week for falling down after only 10 seconds in crow pose. Why would you punishing yourself for anything else?

3.There are people full of good intentions.

There are people out there who will agree to sit in a room with 32 other strangers, reach into the depths of their souls, pull up one of their most painful memories, and wave it like a gigantic lollipop. They will let their sh*t fly just to learn how to help other trauma survivors find a piece of their peace. There's a world of humble, loving souls who will hug you when you cry and hold your hand when you release your pain.

That's a YogaHope experience.

So, if you're out there looking for a little droplet of hope. My advice to you is: get to a yoga class.

More importantly, while you're there, make eye contact and say hello to someone in the class. 'Cause that person may be there looking for a lil' hope too.

To learn more about YogaHope... check out http://www.yogahope.org/

Everything has Its time.

The Reason For Every Success




It’s not enough
To know what you want.
You must believe
It’s obtainable.
Without faith
You have no reason for trying
And without trying
Nothing is accomplished.
Faith is the seed
From which dreams grow
And the reason
For every success.
Faith gets you started,
Keeps you going,
Makes giving up impossible
Making your dreams possible.
You can have everything going for you
And not succeed.
There is no substitute for faith
And no greater obstacle than fear.

You can have everything against you
And still succeed.
For every obstacle life lays before you,
Faith gives you wings
To fly above….

Faith begins the moment
You are willing
To take a chance,
And grows stronger
With every chance you take
And every effort you make.
Time changes everything
And everything has its time.
Do your part.
As surely as night
Turns into day,
When the time is right –
When it’s your time –
From the seed of faith
Your dream will blossom.

By Nancye Sims
http://nancyesims.com/