Looking within

One of my all time favorite books is the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. As luck would have it, the book club that I am in chose this book as October’s selection.

One of the quotes from the book really stood out to me and was actually used as a discussion point:

“This is the essential difference between a spiritual minded person and a worldly person. Worldly means that you think the solution to your inner problem is the world outside. You think that if you change things outside, you’ll be okay. But nobody has ever truly become okay by changing things outside. There’s always the next problem. The only real solution is to take the seat of witness consciousness and completely change your frame of reference within.”

So how does one do that?

How can I change my internal reference of the outside world and myself?

I think we always look to change things on the outside because its safe. Its far easier to walk away from an uncomfortable situation or to blame someone else rather than accepting that the answer to the solution could be as close to my own heart.

There is definitely a time and a place to walk away from an unpleasant situation. If you are dealing with an abusive spouse, a dead end job or a friend that is sucking the life out of you.

But I think when we get in the habit of always walking away, closing ourselves off or changing our external situations, we never allow ourselves to truly look our own ego and fear in the eye.

Its easy to blame others for the way we feel.

We point the finger at others rather than actually taking a moment to look inward and ask ourselves why we feel the way we do. How can we quiet the voices (fear and ego) in our minds and take our focus inward and evaluate what can be changed on the inside in order to view things differently on the inside?

Can we talk about the ego for a second? It acts just like a child. The more attention you give it, the more it wants to come out and play and the harder you try to ignore it, the louder and more annoying it gets. Its a real piece of work.

In order to change our frame of reference within, we must not allow the ego to take control. Ill be the first to say that my ego wants to rear its ugly little head every waking moment of my day. My meditation and yoga practice helps keep it at bay, but its still a constant struggle to completely ignore its incessant chatter.

Although our ego is a normal part of the human condition, we have to be able to live a life that isn’t completely ruled by the actions it demands of us. We have to be able to say “I see you, I hear you, I know what you are trying to do and now its time for you to shut the hell up as I have no use for you.”  Obviously, that is much easier said than done but you get the point. Its a constant battle to fight our ego, but one we must be willing to fight every single day.

When we can shut the ego up, and connect to who we are on the inside, we can find peace within ourselves and we no longer need to change things on the outside. Our perception of the world is influenced by the truth we have found on the inside. We no longer feel the need to blame others or run from situations that are sticky or uncomfortable. We can stand tall in our truth and know that just as the world is not perfect, neither are we. And we can find comfort in knowing that sometimes, its just as easy as quieting our minds for a few moments and connecting to our breaths to find that connection to ourselves.

Connecting to ourselves is pretty powerful stuff. I invite you to spend some time doing whatever it might be that allows you to find this place within. For me, its meditation, yoga, journaling, sweating it out and deep conversations with friends over a bottle of wine. Whatever it is for you, open up space within to grow and expand and the next time a situation arises that leaves you wanting to quickly blame others or run in the other direction, ask yourself “what can I learn about myself from the experience?” Its a game changer, friends. Just try it.

Release the Grip

the other day i was taking a yoga class taught by a dear friend. she had us start in fish pose where you lie down on your back and place a block between your shoulder blades. she invited us to close our eyes, allow our bodies to relax and take a couple of deep breaths. in that moment i realized just how much tension i was carrying in my body. holy moly. i took a deep inhale and the minute i exhaled, everything started to soften and my body completely released its grip that it was holding onto so tight.

i started noticing the same thing in my daily activities. i realized that i am always so wound up and my body carries so much tension. but, the minute that i acknowledge it and allow the breath to completely flow through my body, i can fully allow my muscles to relax.

like most people, I’ve had an extra amount of stress lately. instead of dealing with my stress, i typically allow it to continue to bottle up inside of me to the point where my body starts to revolt against me. this is not good for me and it’s definitely not good for those around me. i can be quite a pill when i am stressed out.

getting clear on why i was stressed out and making the necessary changes to correct that has been huge. i know i need plenty of “me” time to release, recharge and reconnect. this includes: yoga, running, getting a good sweat, reading, journaling, binge watching Netflix, and most importantly, meditation.

finding time for myself is not always easy but i know its critical to my overall well-being. if i am to release the death grip that my body carries, i have to make decompressing time a top priority.

what about you? take a moment to check in with your self. are you carrying around unnecessary tension? is your body begging and pleading to release its grip? if so, what are your stress relievers and how can you make that a top priority today?

What I’m Digging: July 

It’s the dog days of summer and while the heat is slowly starting to bring me down, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on the things that bring me joy.
These are the things I’m currently digging:

Matcha tea. I picked up some amazingly yummy matcha while in Crested Butte and its rocking my world. I drink it every morning and it starts my day off right. We also have a really great place in OKC, T An Urban Teahouse, and their iced matcha is like hitting the jackpot. It’s like nectar straight from the gods. Oh and don’t even get me started on matcha lattes. It’s goodness like you wouldn’t believe.

My pink moleskine and my Desire Map planner. These are with me at all times. Seriously, I never leave home without them. Every morning as I’m drinking my matcha, I spend some time planning my day and journaling. This helps me to stay focused on things that need to get done while keeping myself inspired and connected to what matters most to me.

Time alone. Since our time in Colorado, when I had hours to myself every single day to do anything and everything I wanted, I have realized how important it is for me to spend time alone. It’s the perfect opportunity for me to find peace and joy while recharging my batteries. The older I get the more sacred I find this time and the more it becomes a priority. I’ve even started blocking out time on my calendar that’s just for me.

Podcasts. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. I listen to podcasts a good chunk of the day. My current favorites are Being Boss, Wellness Wonderland and Over the Moon. These are not only entertaining, but they are inspiring as well. I keep my moleskine nearby and will occasionally take notes, especially when I hear anything from Gabrielle Bernstein or Danielle Laporte. These have been known to get me through some pretty rough days at my full time gig.

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I read this book on my kindle and I loved it so much that I bought a paperback copy so I could read it again and write notes in it. I’m a sucker for a physical book and you better believe I highlight, stick post-its, and scribble notes up and down that thing. This book has lit me on fire. At times I feel like she wrote this book specifically for me. Every word jumps out of the pages directly into the depths of my soul. When I find a book I love that inspires and moves me, it stays on rotation and gets reread at least once a year. This is definitely one of those. In case you were wondering what the others were: The Untethered Soul, Desire Map, A Return to Love, FireStarter Sessions and The Alchemist. I’m a big reader. Books are my jam.

What’s currently bringing you joy?

lessons learned from the mountains

I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago and like I typically do when I go away for an extended time, I used the time away as an opportunity to reflect. My husband spent most of the day riding his mountain bike which left a lot of time for me to be alone. Spending some time soaking up the sweet mountain air in Crested Butte with little to no phone/internet service (which proved to be a blessing) was the perfect opportunity for me to disconnect, recharge, reflect and come to some pretty important realizations.

1. I hate social media.  Not having much internet service allowed for a much needed digital detox. I was able to post things but not able to go through my news feed and I must say, damn it was nice. Any time I get on Facebook it typically sucks me in for an extended amount of time and more often than not leaves me feeling worse than I did before I opened it up. Whether it brings up feelings of comparison, judgement, self doubt, jealousy, fomo (fear of missing out), or whatever, I never feel positive feelings or accomplished. I usually just feel mind sucked and like I wasted my time. What I realized was no social media means more time to connect with myself and others and gives me time to find other ways to feel inspired through books, journaling, going for long walks, spending time with friends etc. I’ve eliminated social media from my phone and iPad and only check it once every couple of days. This makes for a much happier, more present Lindsey.

2. My journal is a necessity.  I’ve typically got a shit storm going on in my head from the time I wake up until I pass out at night. Without my journal and having that space to release all the junk my brain has the death grip on, I would go crazy. Like, Girl, Interrupted crazy. I am obsessed with my journals and although the words written in them don’t mean much to others, they are incredibly valuable to me. I love looking back and reading old journals and watching how much I’ve grown and evolved over the years. Sometimes, I tear pages out and rip them up and one day I plan to destroy them all, but for now they are super important.  I wrote in my journal A LOT while we were on vacation and it helped me work through some stuff that was weighing heavy on my heart. My journal=my free psychiatrist.

3. Friends come and go. And that’s ok.  As we get older our paths start to go in different directions. We get married, have babies, work steady jobs (some of us), spend more time as a family, etc. Our time becomes more and more precious and it’s harder to stay in touch with those that we aren’t as emotionally connected to. As our priorities change, so do our friendships. We hold on to the ones we love the most as life draws us away from the relationships that require more work. And that’s ok. I believe that people come in and out of our lives at different times for very specific reasons.

4. There’s no such thing as balance.  This one is huge! I’ve struggled for a quite a long time trying to find “balance” in my life. After reading FireStarter sessions by my badass girl crush Danielle Laporte, I’ve come to understand that balance doesn’t exist. We are constantly striving for more and more and the more we chase that elusive thing called balance, the more we derail our plans for success. If we are able somehow to find balance in our lives, just like anything else, it’s only temporary. Once I was able to let go of the idea that things had to be a certain way in my life, things were able to run much more smoothly.   Again, this makes for a much happier Lindsey.

5. Nothing anyone else does is my business.  Everyone is marching to the beat of their own drum and living life based on their journey. Not mine. Sometimes putting myself in others shoes is necessary in order to understand why they do certain things, but in the end it’s not my place to pass any judgements. We all have our own ideas about how to live life and while we may not all agree, we have to find compassion and kindness and remember that we are all doing the best we can. It’s far easier to extend love towards one another than to allow resentment or judgement to take over. Choose Love. Its pretty amazing stuff.

Simplicity

//Simplicity//

This has been one of my mantras for 2015. Just keep it simple.

Admittedly, Ive spent a lot of time (and money) purchasing things that only gave me a temporary amount of happiness and inevitably ended up crammed in a drawer, lost in a pile or left somewhere in my house to collect dust.

My husband introduced my to a concept called hedonic adaptation. To sum it up, it simply means: We all have a level of happiness that we maintain on a regular basis. Its how we spend a great deal of our time as we go about our daily activities. But then, we see something new and shiny (a brand new car, a house, boat, fancy electronic device, jewelry, etc) and we (falsely) think if we purchase that item, it will significantly increase our level of happiness. And, in fact, it will. But, only for a short time. Once the new wears off we are back to the same level of happiness that we were at pre-purchase of that “had to have”, “life changing” item.

Here’s an example for you:

You go to your favorite clothing store and you a see a pair of shoes that you absolutely must have. You know you shouldn’t spend the money but you think to yourself, “These shoes are awesome and I’ve just got to have them.” So, you do it. You bite the bullet and fork over the dough thinking that these shoes are going to change your life. So you rock your new shoes and you are loving them (and all the compliments you get while wearing them) but then, they start to get a little dirty and they just aren’t as fun anymore that the new has worn off and they eventually end up in your closet, forgotten about.

Yep. I would be lying if I said that never happened to me (which is why I have more yoga pants than I care to admit).

The point is, we don’t need possessions to bring us happiness. Those don’t stand the test of time anyways.  We don’t need our belongings to define who we are. We are incredible people that have so much to give and we don’t need be judged by what kind of house we live in, car we drive or clothes we wear.

Once I got clear on what it was I wanted, I realized that I would much rather collect experiences, not meaningless objects that eventually get thrown out or donated. Its amazing how little money I spend now that I understand that I don’t need possessions to make me happy. I’ve actually found more happiness watching my bank account grow than I did when I was constantly buying things that didn’t even matter to me.

I want simplicity. I want belly laughs and happy tears. I want to explore. I want unforgettable adventures with friends and family. I don’t want to be tied down by all of my possessions and I dang sure don’t want to spend my days working in order to “keep up with the Joneses” or have the latest and greatest product on the market. I wouldn’t be able to keep up anyways.

Don’t let what you own define who you are or determine your happiness. Find freedom in knowing that less truly is so much more.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius

Just chill out. 

I’ve made meditation a part of my daily routine for quite a few years now. It’s something that is very important to me and one thing that I try not to sacrifice. Of course, I’m only human and I’ve gone through times in the past where I fell short of my daily meditation goal. At times it’s been days and even months between each one.

 When I went to Florida for my Yoga Medicine training, Tiffany Cruikshank reignited that spark and inspired me to reconnect with my practice. In our training we would have daily meditations that would last 20-30 minutes. The first couple of times we did this I had a really hard time turning it all off and being in the moment. But once I allowed myself to surrender and to just be in the moment, I was able to relax and find stillness and peace. 

I forgot just how much I loved my practice and how incredibly important it is for me to just sit down and shut up for a bit. Other than when I’m sleeping, meditation is the only other time when I can turn off that little voice inside my head. The one with the constant dialogue. The one that never wants to shut up and at times can drive me close to insanity. As I’ve continued with this practice I’ve noticed some amazing side effects:

Mental Clarity

Calmness 

The ability to observe without feeling inclined to react

Greater awareness of my thoughts, actions, responses

The ability to make decisions based on how it will truly make me feel. 

Increased attention span.

Better sleep at night. 

Deeper connection to myself. 

More love and acceptance of myself and others. 

I can’t say enough about just how incredible a regular meditation practice is for your mind, body and soul. 

Here are some steps to establish a practice of your own. Remember, this should be tailored to what works for you. Play around with it and see what you think. 

1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted. This really can be anywhere. Anywhere in the world. I have a room in my house that I’ve dedicated as my space to chill out. I prefer to light candles and sometimes diffuse oils or burn an incense but it really is your preference. 

2. Come into a comfortable posture that you can be still in. This can be seated, lying down or you might even use some yoga props or blankets to prop yourself up. I prefer seated with my legs crossed and my hands resting in my lap. Some people advise against lying down as you might end up falling asleep, but my thoughts are if you are relaxed enough to fall asleep, great. The point of this is to chill out and quiet the mind. If you fall asleep, clearly you needed it. But again, all of this is personal preference. 

3. Set a timer. I advise this especially as you are first getting into the routine of meditating. There are many different smartphone apps you can use. I really like Insight Timer. It’s free and very user friendly. Plus, if you’re a type A personality, you can track your practice. If you’re not interested in an app, simply use the timer function on your phone or just a kitchen timer works great too. If you are using your phone, be sure to switch it over to airplane mode so you don’t get distracted. I would recommend starting at 5 mins and increasing your time from there. Trust me, starting out, 5 mins feels like a long time to be still and quiet! 

4. Relax and Breathe. Once you are set up and you are comfortable, close your eyes. Draw your awareness inward. Start to notice the breath. Observe as it moves through the body. There are many different ways you can meditate. I encourage you to find what resonates with you. I really like to either count my breath or I repeat a mantra. One that is special and that I can connect with. This doesn’t have to be anything super complex. 

Some examples are: 

I breathe in love, I breathe out fear

I am love, I am light

I am strong, I am open

I am enough, I am enough 

Make this your own. That’s the only way you will stick with it. And if you notice that your mind starts to wander (and it will, trust me) draw the focus back to the breath. Every single time. Don’t get frustrated. Just observe the thoughts and allow them to go just as quickly as they come. And start small. This practice takes a lot of dedication and love. If you allow yourself to get upset or frustrated then you’ve lost the point of this. It’s about relaxing the body and stilling the mind. Finding just a nugget of peace in our very busy lives. Recognize how truly fortunate you are to have the opportunity to spend just a few moments in silence for self reflection and self love and appreciation. You might even get a journal and keep track of your practice and the things that come up mentally and emotionally for you. Have fun with this! Explore! 

Just enjoy the journey. Don’t focus so much on the destination. 

Namaste. 

 

The core of

your true self.

let go of all

the pretending

and the becoming

you’ve done just

to belong. Curl up

with your rawness

and come home.

you don’t have to

find yourself;

you just have to

let yourself in.

-d antionette foy

Being enough 

As long as I can remember I have struggled with feelings of being an outsider and never feeling like I am good enough. I was 12 when my parents divorced and I remember feeling very alone and inadequate among my group of friends. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up so I never got to wear name brand clothing (unless they were hand-me-downs), go on extravagant vacations or had the luxuries that my other friends had. We moved around a lot and I often times felt very embarrassed about where I was living and didn’t want my friends coming over. High school and junior high are rough times for most teenagers and looking back I realize that this is when I became incredibly shy. I think it has to do with all the negative emotions around feeling like an outsider and being worried about what others might think or say about me.

I struggled with this for many years. It was always about not being enough. In my eyes I was never enough no matter what I did.

I beat myself up a lot about this and found myself starting to settle in certain areas of my life instead of fighting what I truly wanted.

When I started practicing yoga, I began to realize that I don’t have to fit anyone’s definition of what is enough. Being enough of anything is something that comes from deep within me. I noticed that these feelings of inadequacy started to disappear as I found myself starting to appreciate and accept who I am. I began to connect to my truth and to the reality that all I can do is be the best version of me that I can be. To get up every morning, be kind to myself and others and to be grateful for the many blessings in my life. To recognize that I don’t have to fit anyone’s ideals of whom I should be. To just be myself. And that truly is enough.

Nothing else matters beyond that.

When I start to stray from this belief and those feelings start to creep back in, I close my eyes, connect to my breath and repeat the mantra “I am enough” until I am able to allow those negative emotions to release their grip from me.

At the end of the day we are all just fighting to survive in this big, bad world and as long as we can extend love and kindness to ourselves and others, we are doing enough and we can find peace in knowing that we are enough.  

 

 

A Race Between My Body and My Mind

Yesterday I competed on a team at the March in Okarche duathlon put on by our local triathlon club, TRIOKC. It consisted of a 5k run, 16-mile bike ride and finished off with another 5k run. I did the runs and my friend, Vanessa, did the cycling. I’ve done this particular race many times before; although it’s been a few years since the last time I competed in it. I’ve done the race enough times that I know the run course by heart. I could practically run it with my eyes closed. Every turn, every mile marker, every tiny little hill (although the course is pretty much flat). I really had no expectations going into the race, I was just looking to have a good time and see how much I could push myself.

Once the race started I began running and immediately my brain decided to run as well. Normally anytime I run I like to listen to hip hop music. Very loud hip-hop music. Its what motivates me to move my body. In a duathlon, you are not allowed to wear headphones; therefore, you have to create your own soundtrack. So, as we begin to run (without Jay Z blaring in my ear) my brain is going full throttle. Like it’s trying to out sprint me. It keeps trying to convince me to quit running. It continues to remind me how painful it is to go hard and that if I would just stop and quit the pain would go away. The harder I push my body, the louder that voice in my head gets telling me to quit.

I begin to realize that this is the part where yoga really starts to happen. Yoga isn’t just getting on a mat and moving our body into different postures. In fact, most of yoga happens off our mats. For me, yoga is about finding a connection to my breath. To focus on that connection while tuning everything else out and finding some peace and freedom from my own mind. To shut off that voice inside my head telling me to quit when I know I am stronger than that. In my classes I always tell my students that they are so much stronger than they will ever give themselves credit for and I realized that I needed to take some of my own advice. I truly believe that our mind will make us quit long before our body ever will. So, I dug deep. I shut that voice up and I pushed. As I came around to the transition area to hand the timing chip off to my teammate I looked down at my Garmin and discovered that I pushed myself hard enough to set a PR (personal record). I couldn’t believe it. But I wasn’t just stoked for my time, I was stoked that I was able to find that place within myself to tune out all the negativity that my mind was throwing at me. To be able to still my mind long enough to push myself as hard as I could without giving up.

Once I was able to find that connection, my second run went a lot smoother. I didn’t have that voice anymore telling me to quit. I just continued to push. Step by step. Breath by breath. It turned out being one of the best races I’ve done and I had an absolute blast. We ended up taking 2nd in the female relay division and 4th overall. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to doing many more of these in the future. I realize that I have control over my thoughts. They don’t control me. And it’s a pretty amazing feeling knowing that I can push myself father than my thoughts allow me to go.

My teammate and I before our race.

My teammate and I before our race.

2nd place in the female division!! And 4th overall! I was worn out.

2nd place in the female division!! And 4th overall! I was worn out.

to reach satisfaction in all
desire it’s possession in nothing,
to come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge in nothing,
to come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing,
to arrive at all,
desire to be nothing.
-St. John of the Cross

translation: want it with all your heart. but don’t get attached to it.

excerpt from The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte