Living our practice 

I had a teacher a few years back who changed my practice drastically and completely altered the way I live my life (on and off my mat). She was one of those teachers who always taught exactly what I needed. Like she could read my mind (or my body). Her classes always left me wanting more and it was her who convinced me to take the leap and attend teacher training. One thing she taught us that I will always carry with me is that we must “live the practice”. She inspired us to put skin and bones on the intentions we set for our physical practice and to carry that with us as we roll up our mats and go out into the world as we live our lives. 

This is the hard part.

It’s easy to set an intention for a brief time when we are completely focused on one thing. In a yoga class setting we are taught to be mindful and focused and we are constantly drawn back to the breath and our reason for being on our mats (through the guidance and encouragement of an instructor). But what about when we leave the studio? What happens when we are no longer dressed in our cute little lululemon pants, surrounded by like-minded people moving and breathing together as one collective unit with someone telling us what to do? What happens when we are thick in the shit of living our lives? Where we have to deal with stress, deadlines, media stories that impact us on a deep emotional level, conflict, etc.

This is where 99% of our practice actually occurs. You see, the postures, or asanas, we do in a 60, 75, 90-minute yoga class are just a small fraction of our practice. We do the asanas and meditation practices to quiet and calm the mind in order to operate from a space of consciousness and openness. This expands our ability to respond to situations internally and externally rather than react to them. So that when someone does something that we don’t necessarily agree with or perhaps makes us angry, we can look at them as if we were looking in the mirror at a reflection of ourselves. It helps us to extend love and compassion to those who challenge us, question us and those who really push our buttons.
So what does it mean to “live the practice”? What is the practice of yoga all about?

It’s being intentional and doing things with love, compassion and acceptance.

It’s extending kindness towards others and to ourselves.

To stop for a brief moment to really focus on our breath whether it’s while driving our car or in the middle of a long run.

Waking up each morning and committing to being the best version of ourselves we can possibly be.

Making a conscious decision to live our lives from a place of peace and harmony with ourselves and with others.

To commit to not causing harm. To not steal or take more than our share. To release judgements and comparisons.

To find a mind, body and soul connection so that we can significantly increase our quality of life.

 
When we commit to the practice on and off our mats, and truly put in the work, we become motivated by our internal awareness rather than our external distractions.

You don’t ever even have to step foot on a mat to have a yoga practice. In fact, you are more than likely already doing yoga now, you just don’t realize it. You can tap into the practice when you are shopping for groceries, sitting at your desk at work or even when you are having a heated conversation with someone and you stop for two seconds and realize that what you thought you were going to say might actually not be the right to say.

To me, doing yoga (on or off the mat) is really just about being a good person. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be super deep and spiritual. It’s just about extending lovingkindness as much as possible. And nobody is perfect. I would be lying if I said I never spoke badly about someone or engaged in gossip. I have my fair share of issues that I have to work on but I know that at the end of the day I am doing the best I can. I am always striving to better myself. And that’s the point. Just working toward living a live where you can look yourself in the mirror and say “I am enough and so is everybody else”. Choosing love rather than fear or hate. And always being a light for someone else.

Love and devotion 

I received Danielle Laporte’s daily truthbomb this morning in my inbox. It read: “Spiritual practice won’t make you super human. But it will help you fall in love with your humanity.”

  
That got me to thinking about this whole spiritual practice business. I live in Oklahoma, which if you don’t know, is right smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt. If you speak of anything spiritual, it better be Baptist and have to do with going to church on Sunday mornings. Anything else is hogwash and frowned upon. However, I was not raised in the church and I’ve never read the Bible (I’ve read parts, but definitely not in its entirety).

My spiritual practice didn’t start until I was in my early 20s and I began doing yoga. After falling in love with the physical part of the practice, I wanted to learn everything there was to learn about the spiritual side of yoga. I started reading tons of books, went to lectures, watched documentaries, and completely immersed myself in as much as I possible could.

Ever since I was a young girl I have always prayed to God. However, I was never really sure what that God looked like or the extent of what “God” embodied. I just prayed. Once I started learning more and more about different kinds of Gods and the various religions, I realized that I didn’t really connect with any spiritual box that people try to fit themselves into. I’m not Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Methodist or any other category. I’m just me. I’m understanding more and more that my spiritual practice doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s idea/expectation. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s so crazy how defensive people get about this whole thing. I mean, wars have been fought on the matter. Seriously people, are we missing the point here or what?

I pray, meditate and I even pull Angel Cards every single morning. That is my ritual. I wake up in the mornings and make a cup of tea, pull my daily angel card, sit and meditate for about 10 minutes and finish up with my prayers. I do this every single morning. From there I pray all throughout the day. My prayers are in the form of exercise (whether I’m on a trail run or sweating it out in a Barre3 class), journaling, practicing yoga, driving down the road, sitting on the couch watching a movie or drinking wine with friends. My prayers come in all shapes and sizes and to me they are a form of self-love.

Spiritual practice doesn’t have to fit any mold or idea because it’s personal to how I connect with God. And some days, God is a She. Some days I feel God and others I don’t. Some days I use the word God and others it’s Spirit, Source or Love. And it’s all good. Its devotion and that is the key. Being committed to the practice and remaining open to what it brings into my life. And I’ll be honest, most days I am just praying for love. Love over fear, greed, judgments, comparisons, negativity, hate, etc. To see love. To feel love. To be love. To give love. Just love. Because in the end, love is the ultimate spiritual practice and we could all use a little more of it in our lives.

Choose love. Be love.

xo

Melott

Feeling the love

I was recently listening to a podcast with Brene Brown and she made a comment that stopped me in my tracks. “We cannot give anything to others that we don’t already have.” It literally gave me goosebumps and has been on repeat in my mind since then.

We cannot give anything to others that we don’t already have.

I’m talking love, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, and the list goes on and on……

We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

I’ve been marinating on this and how it applies to my life. Am I giving myself the amount of love that I give to others?

The more I thought about it and when I decided to be completely honest with myself, I realized the answer to that question was no.  I don’t give myself near enough love. I spend so much time up in my head always striving to be my best that I don’t give myself permission to just chill out and be myself. To fully accept myself as I am. I have my good days and its a work in progress but I realized that if I’m not loving myself as much as I am capable, then I must be holding back on the amount of love I give to others.

I have to crack my heart open and be completely willing to put myself first. To be selfish and to shower myself with massive amounts of love. To really feel what that love feels like deep within my soul so that I can give that same amount of love to every single person I meet. Full hearted. Without holding anything back. Because I deserve the same amount of love that I would give someone else.

Be who you want

For what its worth: Its never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit; stop whenever you want. You can change or you can stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Birthday intentions 

I’m turning 32 today. Another year older means more wrinkles and gray hairs but it also means so many more experiences. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life and a huge part of that is that I’m more connected to myself than I’ve ever been.  I’ve found confidence and peace within myself that I didn’t even know existed. My heart is so full that sometimes I feel like it might burst. I have incredible friends that mean the world to me as well as the support from my family in every thing I do. Not to mention a husband who truly is my best friend in the entire world. He always has my back and pushes me to be the best version of myself every single day. Without him, I don’t know where I would be. 

One thing I’ve learned in the past year is that as much as I can receive love from others, I’m even more capable of giving the same love back, if not more. I can love with my whole heart and not have to hold anything back. 

My intentions for the next year are to do everything with an open mind and a full heart. 

To have more patience and compassion not just with others but myself as well.

To stay grounded and connected to my truth and march to the beat of my own drum without worrying about what others will think of me. 

To remember that we are all on our own journey and doing exactly what it is we are supposed to do, walking our own paths in our lives. Judgements I place on others only take away pieces of my own happiness.

 And at the end of the day, regardless of the highs and the lows, I can always come back to the place deep within my soul and know that everything is going to be okay. 

My favorite quote of all time is by Jack Kerouac: “Be in love with your life, every minute of it.” And that is how I intend to love each day. 

  

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

Bliss Jammin’ 

  

My two most absolute favorite books in the entire world are The Desire Map and Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte. If you’ve never heard of Danielle, your world is about to change. Drastically. Or at least mine did the minute I picked up my copy of The Desire Map. 

Let’s rewind to about a year and a half ago. I had just become a lululemon athletica ambassador and was fairly new to teaching yoga. (Why on earth lululemon wanted me, I have no clue!). I sat down with some of their employees as well as the other ambassadors and we did a visions and goals exercise. I had never really taken a step back to look at what my future goals were. In fact, I didn’t even have a clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. At first I was stressed out about being vulnerable enough to write my goals on paper for others to see. 

I thought to myself, “Crap! I’m going to be held accountable here. What if I don’t succeed?”

Long story short, I started to do a lot of fun daydreaming about what my future could look like. I eventually wrote out my 1, 5 and 10 year goals for lululemon to display in their store with all the others employees. I kept all my goals pretty low key. It was almost as if I was scared to dream too big. I stayed conservative. Cookie cutter. Boring. 

At that time, a good friend introduced me to Danielle and her books and since I was already pretty giddy about the vision and goals stuff I had just done, I decided to dive right into the books. The Desire Map is all about setting goals based on how you want to feel. You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing the feeling that you hope achieving that goal will give you. Danielle’s words are incredible powerful and motivating and she really gives you that swift kick in the butt that everyone needs to push them past where they want to be. That kind of uncomfortable, holy crap, this could actually happen place that we don’t allow ourselves to step into very often. 

The book leads you through a pretty indepth exercise of determining how you want to feel in multiple areas of your life: 

  • livelihood & lifestyle
  • body & wellness
  • creativity & learning 
  • relationships & society 
  • essence & spirituality

You come to learn what your core desired feelings (CDFs) are and then you can use those to determine what actions you need to take (i.e. goals/intentions) in order to feel exactly the way you want to feel. 

I learned my CDFs are:

  • Open to receive
  • Ignited 
  • Balanced
  • Confident
  • Abundant bliss
  • Connected 

And once I got clear on exactly how I wanted to feel I could set intentions for the future in order to ensure that 1,5,10,20,50 years from now, I will feel exactly the way I want to feel. This was a HUGE game changer for me. It completely shifted my thinking. Pre Desire Map, I was just writing down things that sounded good. Some were things I felt I needed to do in order to make others happy or some of the goals just sounded like they might be fun. But a chunk of them were not aligned with my core desired feelings, at all. 

I have since read the Desire Map and Fire Starter Sessions three times and am constantly inspired by the words in each book. I have crossed off multiple goals in the past 18 months and each time I do, the fire just burns deeper and deeper. There is something incredibly rewarding to look back at goals or intentions you have set for yourself and be able to say “done!”. Cross it off the list, move on to the next big thing and keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop pursuing what it is that lights you up. That thing that gives you butterflies in your belly. The ideas that keep you up at night because you are so damn excited to share them with the world. Do it! What is stopping you? I can tell you that the only thing getting in your way, is you. You can do anything that you set out to do. Guaranteed. 

Set some time for yourself to think about how you truly want to feel. Light a candle, pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on some groovy music and get to know yourself and your CDFs. Once you determine what these are (I would suggest to just pick a few) marinate on them for a while. Days. Weeks. Months. Meditate on them. Write in your journal about them. Put them on post it notes around your computer or on your bathroom mirror. Look at them every day. Multiple times a day. Once you’ve determined that these feelings are completely aligned with how you want to feel with all your heart, you can start to determine what you need to accomplish (aka your goals) in order to meet your CDFs head on. So dream. Dream as big as possible. Make a plan and live each day getting one step closer to being completely aligned with your core desired feelings. Ride that incredible wave of bliss. This is your story. You get to decide how it’s written. 

Whenever you start guiding yourself by caring about how you feel, you
start guiding yourself back into your Stream of Source Energy, and that’s
where your clarity is; that’s where your joy is; that’s where your flexibility
is; that’s where your balance is; that’s where your good ideas come from.
That’s where all the good stuff is accessed from.
—Abraham-Hicks

To fail or not to fail

I recently read somewhere that only 8% of people who set New Years Resolutions actually have success. Which means that everyone else is a failure.

Failure. Such an ugly word, right? I used to think so but now I am kind of in love with it.

I remember when I was growing up, failure was something that we were taught to never let happen. We were to always be the best at everything we did. Our parents and teachers always led us to believe that our mission is life was to make good grades, go to college, meet our soul mate, get a great job, have kids, etc. etc. etc. In that order, just like that, with everything being perfect. There is no room for failure anywhere in that plan.

But, life happens. And so does failure. Sometimes more often that not. Life is not always sunshine and roses. That’s the reality of the human condition. And trust me, I have had my fair share of failures in my short 31 years here. I’ll admit, there are few that I am not proud of but, there are some that have truly taught me so much and I have used those experiences to evolve into the person I am today.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” ~ JK Rowling

Failure can be driven by many different circumstances. Far too often we are the ones setting ourselves up for our own failures. We place an extraordinary amount of pressure on ourselves to reach our goals or live a lifestyle that is not in alignment with who we really are.

Once we can be real about the ideas and plans we have for ourselves and how we truly, realistically, want to our lives we can avoid so many of these inevitable failures.

Back to my original point. I am kind of in love with failing. Why? Well, how are we ever to learn anything about ourselves if we never experience it? How are we to know the truth about who we really are if we never allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to allow failure to happen? Failure can be harsh. It can hurt not just on the surface but that hurt that goes deep into your bones and settles in for an extended stay. It can feel like your heart has been ripped out. It can be gut wrenching, soul sucking, pain. But when we are open to what we can learn from our failures and commit to stay connected to our truth, our failures will begin to minimize in size and occurrence.

So, you’ve failed. What now?

Ask yourself why you failed. Evaluate the situation. Get clear on what happened. Who were you in the situation? Were you fully present giving it your all or were you only half committed? What changes need to be made to prevent you from failing again? Is this something that you are truly ready to commit to? If so, make a new plan, a realistic one, and recommit. Brush the dirt off your knees and make this goal your bitch. Just because we fall doesn’t mean we cant get back up and finish the race. Take what you have learned from your experience and apply it toward your goals.

Make a commit to remain open. You might fail again. And again. And again. That’s the beautiful thing about life. We are not defined by our failures but by the person we become because of them. Never let any experience occur, good or bad, without taking something from it. 

Continue to Grow. Expand. Evolve.

Fall Into a Reset

Ahhhh, November. I have missed you terribly. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. The turning of the leaves, cooler temperatures, scarfs and boots, hot teas and lattes, sitting around the fire, cuddling on the couch under a mountain of blankets, it all makes me giddy with excitement just thinking about it. One thing I really look forward to every year is the time change, the end of daylight savings. I think that setting our clocks back and shorter days is nature’s way of forcing us to slow down and take more time to ourselves.

With the holidays right around the corner, my intention this month is to truly slow way down. To spend more time laying on the couch cuddled up with a good book instead of lacing up my running shoes and pounding the pavement, to cook more meals instead of going out and to go to bed earlier and give myself more rest. I intend to say “no” more often than I say “yes” to plans with others. Most importantly, I plan to take care of myself by hitting the pause button and completely resetting.

We are all extremely busy these days. We live in a fast paced society and we are constantly putting pressure on ourselves to do more and more. It seems that our to-do lists are getting longer and our calendars are filing up quickly. However, you will be of no use to anyone if you don’t stop what you are doing and spend some time relaxing your mind and body. If you notice that you feel guilty about taking time for yourself, then you probably need it much more than you realize. You shouldn’t have a single bit of guilt for carving out time to yourself. Your physical and mental health are more important than any errand, workout or social gathering.

Spend time meditating or take a restorative yoga class.

Read a book.

Drink a cup of tea next to the fireplace.

Start a journal.

Take a bubble bath.

Stay in your pajamas all day long watching movies on the couch.

Pour a glass of wine and light a bunch of candles. 

Listen to relaxing music and diffuse essential oils. (I recommend chamomile, lavender or frankincense.)

 DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO TO SLOW DOWN AND RECHARGE.

 RELAX, RESET, RENEW

Take care of yourself.