Time for a New Year! How to Effectively Transform from a Critical State to an Empowering State

What a perfect time for this post! It is 12/30/13 and many of us will be talking about resolutions. Much of the process surrounding coming up with resolutions is reflecting on what did & did not happen last year. Rather than staying in a critical state, use the misses & oops that come up in reflection as opportunities to empower you to move forward in your life.

During a recent opportunity to write for an incredible online community (be not he lookout, the article is coming soon! http://www.ournakedlife.com), I found myself digging in to much of the experiences that form what I call Operation Transformation. If you are new to AWA’s site & blog, Operation Transformation is lingo of my journey towards true transformation into a living out my ideal life. Which I know incorporate into personalized health coaching plans. My journey has been propelled by a handful of major life transitions and the time frame that captured these transitions serves as a sort of pool of thoughts to pull from.

Sometimes our greatest weakness leads us to our truest answer. After all, our weakness(es) are most certainly a part of our story. Some choose to try to cover these up while others mindlessly flaunt the oops. I think, “Why not use all of it to your advantage”? This sort of process of thought is a huge part of the Keely before, during, and after Operation Transformation. I am driven by the law of cause & effect. I believe that in order to effectively transition from a critical state to an empowering state one must be ready to face a few core issues:

Negative self-talk → SELF – LOVE

The easy part is defining self-love. The tough part is defining, accepting, and tearing down the wall(s) that gets in one’s way of truly loving all they are – inside & out. Usually the walls built are, negative, deprecating and harsh. Read on for tips on achieving self-love. WARNING – tears, laughter, and edginess may be a part of your process.

  1. QUIET THE MIND (yoga, swimming, running, lifting weights, meditate, dance, etc): putting consistent effort into training the mind to quiet down, especially in times of stress or heavy experiences. This is when the full-of-fear thoughts would kick in most. This is also when i needed them the least. GO FIGURE!
  2. FEED THE BODY WHAT IT NEEDS ALL THE TIME, AND WHAT IT WANTS SOME OF THE TIME. Get in touch with what your body likes to eat & digest. Know & enjoy the process of eating/feeding/preparing/digesting. Slow down and play with a ritual for eating meals. Maybe silent prayer or affirmation when sitting down. Or out loud prayer while holding hands. Find what works for you and cherish the ability to consume and nourish.
  3. EMBRACE YOUR QUIRKS/ISMS. This is tough tip for some, yet once accomplished the most fun! I always felt like I had to be this proper, kind person that knew what/when/how to say something. Or politely not say anything at all. Well this act only got me so far. Once I learned to let go and open up to the isms that so badly wanted/needed to come out, my life blossomed. AND, I learned I am pretty damn funny!
  4. SAY I LOVE YOU TO YOU FIRST. Sing a love song to yourself. Maybe even a lullaby to put your anxiety ridden mind to sleep at night. Sounds silly at first but what do you have to loose to just try it?!

With tough transformation comes → FORGIVENESS

Every divorce is different. From the very beginning of mine, no matter how painful, I saw the future clearly. I knew my ex would be a part of my daily life for at least 16 years (until our son was 18). With this, I knew we would need to discuss all sorts of things (to name a few-adolescent behavior, life choices, etc.) The only option was to forgive him AND myself. I played a part in the marriage and I played a part in the divorce. Many times during the first 2 years of our separation and then divorce, flashbacks would pop into my mind and that gave me the opportunity to reflect…on what I could have done differently; on what I felt and never voiced; on what neither of us may have had the courage to say, etc.

  1. CREATE A FORGIVENESS RITUAL. The act of forgiving is one of the most liberating experiences you can create for yourself. Forgiveness is transformative; it moves you from a state of judgement, guilt, confinement, and fear to one of acceptance and peace. When you can move to that gentle place, you reconnect with your true self and trade limitation and pain for contentment, freedom, and joy. The mind constantly evaluates and judges everything. Naturally, this narrows the range of experience. Many people are more critical of themselves than they are of others. You are more likely to resent or disapprove of something someone else does if you consider the behavior to be unacceptable in yourself. If you can learn to stop judging others, you will begin to stop judging yourself. As you expand your ability to accept and forgive yourself, you become gentler and more compassionate with those around you. You become more loving and understanding and less critical. To experience true forgiveness, you need to forgive yourself as well as others. It is a practice and must be given time. With this practice, ANY RELATIONSHIP CAN BE HEALED. It is a choice you make in each moment to be compassionate and understanding rather than holding on to resentment and pain. Everyone’s forgiveness ritual looks differently so create your own that suites your needs.

Man or Woman (women’s gut feelings are usually much stronger), one must tune in to their gut feelings → INTUITION

With reflection came conscientious recognition that my gut was & is always right. So its worth it to fine tune. Like an instrument.

  1. GUT FEELING or INTUITION or BELLY FIRE whatever you like to call it, GET IT BACK! Intuition is one of those things that is difficult to explain but universally understood. When you tell someone a story about listening to this gut feeling, they get it. Get back in touch with your intuition and vow to never quiet it again. This is personal. So embrace your way of listening AND ignoring and then vow to let the intuition serve as a guide ALWAYS. I can attest to the powers of this. Sticking with my gut has forever changed my life for the greater providing authenticity and self empowerment.

With grief comes → JOY

For the most of us, we know at the deepest level of our being how important it is to take time each day to relax and recharge. Even if only 20 mins. But let’s face it, we’re lucky if we can carve out 5 mins. Leading up to the days of my dad’s passing, some days I did this and some days I did not. It is tough. To find the time, the space, the resources, etc. Yet I did my best with what I had but with the lack of urge to ask for support and without that support, I turned to unhealthy habits to deal with emotions. It is crucial to find the best ways to truly take care of you. This has been the most difficult tip to clarify because we are all so unique. What feels like taking care of me, may be your worst nightmare and vice versa. Ask for support when we need it or find a health coach in your area and hire him or her! When we truly honor authenticity from within, we stop worrying about what others think and begin to think for ourselves. A couple ideas that stand out as universal ways to find joy in any situation:

  1. EMBRACE THE WORLD OF OPPOSITES. One of my favorite things to ponder. This world is most definitely, absolutely full of opposition. And we are trained to intensely feel the suffering and sorrow of these opposites. Birth/Death, Up/Down, Good/Bad, Fat/Skinny, Dark/Light, Left/Right, Black/White. Think about each one of these pairings and feel what happens as you sit with each one. Scary right!?!? Now the question is, “How do we embrace each one and come to peace with it all? This peace of mind is when some real JOY plays out in our lives.
  • What are you like in the car (traffic, road rage, etc)?
  • How does it feel to loose something or someone?
  • If you don’t get your way at work, does it change your mood for the rest of that day?
  • If you lost your job tomorrow, how would you react?
  • If family or a really good friend asks you to do something and you really don’t have the time, do you say that or say sure and regret it later?
  • What does your inner dialogue say when you look at yourself in the mirror? What does it say when you look at others?
  • It’s storm season here in FL, what happens if my house is demolished in a hurricane?

These questions seem tough and somewhat cruel right? Well we do not know what life will send our way, so why not approach from an unattached stance? This sort of inner digging is bound to reveal profound, transformative answers that will ultimately lead to true & lasting JOY. Try it. I dare you.


Sitting in Fierce Pose (aka Utkatasana)

Who doesn’t like the word FIERCE? Ok, ok so it may have a wild or aggressive undertone but I can’t help but relish in the power of embracing our ‘wild’ sides.

In physical yoga, this pose is seen as just that: POWERFUL, FIERCE. The buck doesn’t have to stop there. Lately, I have found this pose to offer permission to let loose. FREE YOURSELF TO BE YOURSELF. When teaching or breathing in this pose I like to tune in and see what feels right. Some moments it is necessary to sit still in the seated-ness. GROUND the feet to the earth while the arms reach above the head (palms may also be placed together in front of the heart for tight shoulders). DIG in to the ass by bending the legs and sitting the seat as if about to sit in one’s most favorite chair, all while allowing the upper body to be free and open. A beautiful time to flow within the presence of fierceness.

As I have mentioned in past posts, fierceness was not always my cup of tea. I found it loud when I was use to quiet. I found it threatening to those with a past or present not yet understood. Today I realize that is a bunch of BS. Our power is in our presence and the more we shy away from be-ing in the moment, the more we will shy away from the power that lies within each an every one of us. Personally, the more I shied away from honing in to my fierce presence, the more I stood in my own way. A demon that still baffles me. “How can fear of being powerful halt so many life experiences?” It is hard to explain but so easy to see. I was afraid to have opinions because of my own, possibly fierce, voice being heard!?!? Insane right!? This demon has required a lot of inflection, reflection and awareness. THANK GOODNESS FOR A PHYSICAL YOGA PRACTICE to help through this process of quieting the mind, tuning in, and building an awareness practice.

Try this. The next time you encounter a life experience that throws you through a loop and you feel afraid, powerless and insecure, sit your fine ass in a chair/fierce/utkatasana pose and see what sits at the seat of your being. Do you revel in having the time to be with yourself and practice stillness? Then stay still. Do you always have something to say but don’t? Then sway your hips and move the arms around, all while keeping the lower half of the body grounded. And do we dare mention the possibility of dropping the pose all together and having a dance party on the mat?? Play with the idea of opening up to a little move & groove. Or remain presently still in your powerful presence. However this pose comes, remember to stop posing and start living!


Pigeon Pose and the directions of depth

The other day in pigeon pose, a couple words repeated in this monkey mind. DEEP. DEPTH. 

When off the mat, I was compelled to write “Depth isn’t always downward. The depth of a projection outward. The depth of a hug & leaning in to someone or something. The depth of evolving spiritually. The depth of intention.” I was able to pull from this the many directions of depth. Once seen as only moving downward, you know…deep into the earth. Now seen as multi-dimensional. Depth isn’t always downward.

As I love to do, looking up the word depth in the dictionary it is found in a noun form to mean 1 of 2 things:

  1. The distance from the top or surface of something to its bottom.
  2. Distance from the nearest to the farthest point of something or from the front to the back.

Practicing poses on a mat (aka as Karma Yoga) continues to offer profound influences to my life. Deepening my desire to stop posing and start living! Deepening my vision of living out my ideal life. Don’t get me wrong, laying in pigeon pose is indeed not so comfortable at first. Which helps me remember that in life, experiences that are the most uncomfortable are usually the ones that propel us to make the deepest change or growth. So when life throws curves, fastballs or humps (whatev descriptive words you chose), remember there is a top with a bottom, a front with back and a rise with a fall. A nice reminder is that sometimes we have to get off our own backs. Ease into something that is deep and uncomfortable. And be kind to ourselves as we deal with what we find in it as well as when we come out of it.

So get deep into the funk that lies within this pose and see what offerings it has for you.

**This blog is not intended (not for the time being anyway) to teach or guide or strut yoga poses, which is why there are no photos of this pose included in the post. What my pigeon pose looks like is most likely not what yours looks like. However, if you are curious about the physical aspects of the pose, use your search engine and you will find a TON of varieties. Also, yogajournal.com is a great resource for more information on basic yoga poses. http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/2313

Corpse pose (Savasana) and the fullness it holds

4-15-10  In Savasana, I thought of dead people. The way their faces are relaxed & at rest. The form of the mouth as breath no longer moves through. And I laughed. The thought of death…being so beautiful. And I cried (somewhat common when practicing this pose). The celebration of life being so joyful.

This writing came out of me 7 months after the death of my father and 1 day after being at my first yoga training. Yet the experience is always with me. Finding my way through life experiences, aware of, yet not clinging to…

This pose is often found at the ending of a yoga class. However, it is also the pose that begins and ends each day. We lie down to rest. We wake up from rest. And yet resting is either so difficult for some to accept or so scary for some to think about that we hardly revel in the juiciness resting provides.

I was wondering what the heck to write about this week. So I step upon my mat, do a little physical work, and it comes to me while resting. As I re-read the above journal entry and experienced a nasty head cold that forced me to rest, the life experience presented itself the perfect blog topic.

The past year and a half continues to astonish me. The leaping, risking, communicating, gut-fine tuning, AND resting to name a few…the on-going gifts that are paving this journey for now. As a yoga teacher, I choose to end each class guiding others through a resting period. Presenting the opportunity to pay attention to what is arising (INSIGHT) and then letting go of attachment to arising thoughts, feelings, etc. (SURRENDER). AHA! So that the experience is always with us, try paying more attention to what is arising and then let that shit go! Sound difficult? Commit to trying it out. See what happens. Let me know by leaving a comment for this blog.

many versions of Savasana, yet the basics are:

  • lie in a neutral position, preferably back flat against floor, mat or carpet and legs extended long. IF BACK INJURY OR PAIN, bend knees and feet flat on floor, hip-distance apart or support the knees with a bolster, or stacked pillows/blankets.
  • working to dissipate the sense organs by softening the roof of the mouth, letting go of tension in jaw, relaxing eyebrows & skin of forehead, letting the eyes sink back to the back of the head
  • maintain neutral breathing
  • rest for at least 5 minutes
  • to come out of pose: with an exhale, gently roll onto either side, take a couple breaths, with another exhale, press hands into the floor and lift torso as the head gently follows

The beauty of the morning

Sure, morning is the time period from midnight to noon. Yet it is so much more than just time. It is a period of first development.

The beauty of the morning often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of living. Yet, if we look into the lives of great spiritual/wellness warriors, athletes, leaders, etc we see that a morning ritual is indeed a common thread. For example, Stephen King begins days with a cup of water or tea and a vitamin. When he’s ready to begin working, he sits in the same seat with papers arranged in the same manner. This level of consistency signals his being the he is ready to step into work mode. I’ve read that Benjamin Franklin awoke at 4am. Until 8am he spent this peaceful time taking care of him by bathing, eating and thinking of what he would accomplish in the gift of a day. Imagine us humans beginning each day wondering what we would accomplish each day!

Beauty… in the morning? You bet. Think about it. You woke up. That’s really the only way to start a day. Without the wake up, there would be no day to live. THERE IS SO MUCH BEAUTY IN THAT. I was 28 when I attended my first yoga training and when I began to understand the concept of being grateful to be alive…to be of life. Waking up and thinking “HEY! I woke up!” rather than “Shut that damn alarm off! SNOOZE! Wake up you have this, this and this to do. Hurry!”. It truly is the simple things that make a HUGE difference.

A new favorite spiritual/wellness warrior is Kris Carr aka CrazySexy everything. If you have not been witness to this inspirational being, you must check her out (the main site is http://www.kriscarr.com. this will lead you to many wonderful resources on living an authentically crazy, sexy and healthy life). Mrs. CrazySexy repeatedly shares how the importance in beginning each day with some sort of tuning in can transform a life to be more fine tuned. Her suggestions are of similar nature to mine. She recommends 20-30 mins of meditation, healing visualization/affirmations, journaling aka “freedom writing session”, doing sun salutations.

“When I start my day with a healing visualization, or a 20-minute meditation, some journaling (what I like to call a freedom writing session), a trip to soul college (reading one of my many books or listening to an uplifting talk), and/or some breath work – wow do my wings expand…”

The point being, how we start our days is very much a reflection of how the day plays out and comes to an end. About 6 years ago, my mornings were spent waking up slowly, hitting snooze MANY times. Rushing my toddler aged boy and I out the door. Running around, gathering the things we needed for the day, often forgetting at least one thing and having to run back in the house and back out, huffing and puffing. The energy I put off was of stress, frustration, and based in fear of being late. Having a child can be like holding a mirror to one’s reflection. While in moments of the morning scramble, I remember glancing at the brown-eyed, golden locked boy and seeing the me I never wanted to be. Unorganized, unmanaged, unfulfilled. Often times in the beginning of a yoga class, I find myself reminding the class to take control of the reigns and give themselves permission to hold back if need be or push harder than ever if needed. Yet a gentle reminder that nothing in yoga is mandatory, yet we won’t get anywhere by being lazy. Replace yoga with life and we get: Nothing in life is mandatory, yet we won’t get anywhere by being lazy.

A few examples of how A Wholesome Approach greets each a.m. (the below stand well alone or as combinations):

  • Room temperature or warm water with lemon upon awakening
  • Vedanta text and journaling
  • Salutations to the self, the day, the earth, the gifts, the challenges, etc. (YOGA)
  • Oil-pulling (something new I’ve started within the last month)
  • Cuddle time with Chloe girl (our beautifully sweet-natured golden doodle)
  • Sunrise walk alone or with Chloe (and sometimes stragglers 😉

So the key to transforming the days and nights from ordinary to extraordinary is to find what works for you. What inspires you to get up in the first place? Do you live to work? Or work to live? In what ways can you greet each day with thanks and begin taking care of you before tending to the duties of life? Try out a few things and test out what works well with your being. Looking forward to hearing all about it!