accountability

new year motto

Like many of you, I like to choose a word of the year. Something to use as a filter for decisions, a guiding idea, a reminder. I choose a word that brings a felt-sense of something I want more of in my life.

2018 seems to be a multi-word year, warranting the power of a full-on phrase.

I'm a big fan of mantras or mottos -- often attention grabbing and outcome-oriented, they can get right to the heart of the thing.

I've been sharing some of these in class, and like a catchphrase, folks have reported finding them helpful. In that spirit, I thought I'd share a few I'm considering this year.

 

You already have an A
This comes from the book The Art of Possibility (highly recommend). 

The book outlines 12 practices for reshaping one's world. Giving an A is the first practice and is the one that stuck with me most persistently.

This could loosely be thought of as giving the benefit of the doubt or seeing someone else's perspective. But it's bigger than those things, too.

It's acknowledging that our story, our version, isn't the only one or even the right one. It invites us to get out of our own small world and consider that there's more to the picture.

And even if we can't do that, we can leave room for the possibility that the other person is coming from integrity and the best of intentions.

It's important to give yourself an A as well: I did the best I could with what I had.

 

What you think of me is none of my business
This is a phrase that I learned many years ago from a southern female preacher on a cassette tape recording of her sermon. I still hear it in the Southern drawl of a strong woman.

As I remember it, the sermon was about living in alignment with one's higher beliefs and letting go of the preoccupation with mortal distraction and need for approval. When one is right with God (or her Self), she needn't be concerned with what others think.

Passionately, the preacher repeated over and over, "I take dominion." The recording was full of gospel music and Amens. I wore that tape out.

 

I am increasing my tolerance for _____________ (my two go-to's are "other people's disappointment" and "discomfort")
The original phrase, "I am increasing my tolerance for other people's disappointment" came from a therapist who was helping me not be such a good girl. I mean, being good is fine, but not at the cost of your own life.

It was a phrase I would repeat to myself in situations that involved family or marriage or step-parenting or business. So pretty much all the time.

And it was incredibly helpful to hear, and later experience, that I can disappoint someone and we will all live through it. Chances are it won't even matter next week.

Reconditioning my tolerance was so helpful I started using it with other things -- to increase my tolerance for discomfort or uncertainty. In some situations, it might make sense to swap "tolerance" for something like "capacity." Try it!

 

Who am I absent other people's feedback?
A lot of my writing and personal work this past year has been devoted to strengthening my Sense of Self. Here again I've been challenging and questioning old patterns and beliefs, especially those related to other people's opinions.  

Similar to What you think of me..., this one has reaches in to social media, looking for signs and nudges that come from within, developing my trust in myself and it calls on continued Yoga practice to slough and shed all the guck that can get stuck or in the way.

 

If you don't take extraordinary care of yourself, who will?
A friend from New York sent this question when I was in Nepal, struggling with health issues and wanting to go home. It felt like this great mix of empowerment, kindness and responsibility. So I brought it home.

 

Reading over these, most seem to be a similar version of the same thing. Clearly there's a pattern in what I'm working on this year! 

How about you? What are you working on? What word describes the feeling or value you'd like more of in your life? What phrase sums up your approach? Share in the comments below or feel free to email anytime -- love to keep the conversation going.

Wishing you wellness of body, mind and heart as we move into the seasons ahead.

Michelle

 

yoga philosophy for today

You know the phrase, "You get better at what you practice?"

The follow up to this truth is the real wisdom: "So be careful what you practice."

The spiritual path is hard work, and sometimes it's lonely. 

But we do it because we want to grow and learn and evolve as human beings. We want practical support for the things life throws our way.

We do it together because we need each other's support, encouragement and celebration.

It's essential to have a group and time we can discuss these topics and share stories with people of various ages, backgrounds and life experience. By sharing, we are reminded that we are not alone.

When I put out a feeler to gauge interest in a philosophy "work group," many of you responded!

Topics and texts will vary and we'll do short series style so that it fits into your regular life. This will also be a remote format, using a group video conference, so you can be anywhere and participate. And the sessions will be recorded so you can make up or watch again.

elephants

New Year Philosophy

For our first Yoga Philosophy for Today workgroup, we will explore Yoga Sutra 2.1. The Yoga Sutras are 196 aphorisms compiled by a man named Patanjali around 400 CE. It has become a main text in today's yoga world, with practical yet powerful guidelines for personal growth.

Sutra 2.1 tapah svadhyaya ishvara-pranidhana kriya-yogah

Especially relevant at the start of the year where our best intentions can create rigidity and pressure -- maybe we let things slide over the holidays due to overwhelm, and then we hit new year's eve and resolve to end all bad habits. Forever.

The Yoga approach is a little different. According to sutra 2.1, it goes like this: 

Commit your attention and action, increase your knowledge and understanding through this awareness, and then surrender.

Specifically...

Commit — Show up with your attention every day, whether it's on the mat, the cushion, in your relationships, to yourself, in the moment. This is discipline. It's the action behind intention. It's also love (courtesy of Mary Oliver, If you love something, you pay attention to it).

Awareness is learning from the information you get, it's honesty and realism, it's reflecting on yourself (your Self). 

Surrender (which can be a loaded word, so you might try yield or release) is letting go of the fruits of your actions. Doing the work (committing attention, action and awareness), then setting it free. Surrender is drenched in compassion.

The cocktail of these three qualities is the practice of Yoga.
It takes effort.
It is not linear. 
It's simple but not easy.
And it is never ever "done."

Awareness, action, surrender.

roses

Series Details

This series is for you if you:

  • love philosophy
  • want practical guidance that relates to today's issues
  • struggle at the beginning of the year
  • desire more support and community in your practice
  • are a serious/curious student of yoga and want to learn more
  • are a teacher and want a deeper understanding of yoga philosophy

This is a three-part online series meeting once a month for three months to explore the brilliant trifecta sutra 2.1 offers.

We will use an online video "classroom," so internet connection and a web-accessible device are required.

We will be able to see each other, interact and ask questions. Like being together, but you can be in your pajamas.

In this series, you will receive:

  • relatable handouts and readings
  • homework - reflection and writing prompts
  • a general overview of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • ideas on how to work with each aspect of sutra 2.1
  • another layer of understanding about philosophy (it takes time to integrate these principles)
  • the foundation for a lifelong practice grounded in compassion
  • email support in between calls

Classroom sessions will include:

  • guided exercises and discussions
  • clear and practical interpretations -- philosophy does not have to be complicated!
  • community with like-minded people
  • practicality -- instantly useable principles
  • fun -- it has to be!

Meeting Dates:

February 25, 1-2:30 pm
March 25, 1-2:30 pm
April 22, 1-2:30 pm

Price: $55

Register here.

Come Together

Sharing ideas, lending a hand, offering silent support -- these are the things I've seen over and over that make a difference, make us feel less alone and give strength in the moments of hardship.

Yoga philosophy can be practical, relevant and instantly usable. Join me in discovering more about the Yoga Sutras and the wisdom of sutra 2.1 -- commitment, awareness, surrender.