erica jago

011 | 4 Keys to Feminine Leadership with Meredith Rom

 

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A few months ago I sat down to be interviewed by Luna Love, the host of the  Ladies Who Lead Podcast.  I had a great time sharing about my personal story of how I came to do the work I am doing today.  

I talked with Luna about growing up in New York, what inspired me to take a leap to move to California after college, become a yoga teacher, travel to India and eventually start my own business.  

I decided to share this interview on the  Rising Women Leaders Podcast  so you can hear about  my  "4 Keys to Feminine Leadership"  as well as the women who have inspired me most over recent years.

"When you share your fear, it starts to lose its charge."

Here's what else you'll find in this  episode:

  • My personal process of how I execute my creative ideas
  • How I let go of "distractions" of alcohol, sugar, and busy-ness in my life to listen to my body's wisdom and needs 
  • How I moved from a fear of self-expression and being seen to becoming a yoga teacher and entrepreneur
  • My dark night of the soul  - how I knew I reached my breaking point where I needed to make a big shift in my life 
  • How I discovered yoga  and met my first spiritual teacher, Amma

"If I feel fear, but even just a little bit of excitement, I know that's a good sign for me to walk closer to it..."

  • How I handle my inner critic voice and limiting beliefs
  • Practices to listen to your body wisdom, face your fears, and create layers of support in your life 
  • The story of what happened when I shared my first song on the harmonium 
  • How I call  upon a higher power to manifest my desires
  • The women who have inspired me the most in business and life
  • A sneak preview of details about the book  I've been writing for the last year about my travels in India

Did you enjoy this episode?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Love, 
Meredith

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The Power of Ritual

 
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Last September I sat in a yurt near Yosemite sitting at an altar in each of the four directions with the question, "How do I fully express myself? I was at Erica Jago's EARTH retreat where Erica had just taught us a powerful exercise from the Native American tradition about how to use the 4 directions to gain more clarity in our lives.

Through the exercise, I answered questions like, "What was I like as a child?"  "What am I grateful for?" "What wisdom have I gained?" "What brings me joy?" and "What are the new possibilities for my life?"  I drew a card from the tarot for each direction, sat, wrote, and meditated on these questions.

The whole process took about an hour, and afterwards I left with a map of exactly what I needed to do over the next year to fully express myself.

I knew I needed to sing, dance, write, and speak in front of large groups.  However, I had so much fear even just thinking about it.  Erica then placed an empty glass jar in the center of the room and said, "Now, write your fears on a piece of paper and place them in the jar.  On the Full moon we are going to burn them."

Through the exercise, I discovered I needed to meet monthly with other women on the full or new moons as a space to be vulnerable so that I could gather strength and courage.  I knew I needed to join the public speaking group I was avoiding because it would give me the space to practice, and I knew I needed to start singing, dancing and playing kirtan in front of others.

On the Full moon, Erica held a powerful ritual.  Each person shared the art they had created over the week, the insights they had gained and released their fears, and their art in the fire.

One by one, we shared the insights we had gained over the weekend - what we were releasing and what we were stepping into.

I had my harmonium with me, and I knew it was time to play it in front of the group.  I openly shared my fears and blocks I have had around self-expression.  As I did, tears streamed down my face as I imagined the little girl inside myself who had been closed down for so long.

Then, I sang the mantra, Aad Guray Nameh, The Mangala Charan, a mantra to help us all overcome self-doubt and create a protective field of light.

Everyone sang with me.

In that moment I was witnessed in releasing a deep rooted fear, and for the first time, was fully witnessed in sharing my singing voice.  That moment carried so much power and healing.

A ritual is a space to be witnessed in your truth and supported by your sisters.  It is a space to honor the rites of passage in your life.

Rituals infuse magic, intention and sacredness into our daily lives.  A ritual can turn a mundane act done without awareness into a sacred act with clarity and purpose.  Slowing down to say a blessing before a meal changes the experience.  Meditation, singing, or lighting a candle imbues a moment of peace and serenity into a busy day.

Ritual can also be this healing space where women come together to honor a specific purpose.   These rituals may honor transitions, letting go, grieving, the lunar cycle or the change of seasons. 

Participating in ritual has been one of the most healing ways to mark a big transition in my life.  Ritual has provided a space for me to be fully seen, acknowledged and supported.  After participating in ritual, I feel more confident and courageous to share myself with the world.

I had no idea the kind of transformation that would take place over the next year.  I went home, with a map in my hands, knowing exactly what I needed to do to fully express myself.

Without that ritual, I don't know if I would have had the courage to go on my first teaching and singing tour, to join a public speaking group, deliver toasts and speeches, dance without self-consciousness, and devote myself to writing and art.

Ritual helped me release my fears and feel supported in taking action towards my dreams.  It was a way to mark a new beginning and enter into a new way of living.

 
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I am excited to participate in Erica's EARTH retreat again this September, and this time, I will also be sharing as a teacher.

I'll be teaching two workshops - one an intuitive goddess collage art session to connect to your archetypes and another a vision & voice offering to open to your life's dreams and visions as we sing with the harmonium.

I know this year is going to be another intimate and sacred community.  I'd love to share this experience with you, so if you feel called, click here for the full retreat details.

Now I'd love to hear:

What rites of passage have you gone through that you would like to honor?  

What fears are you ready to release and what new beginning are you stepping into?  Share with us in the comments.

I encourage you to create your own ritual, or join us at EARTH this Fall to create one with us there.

With love, Meredith

An Interview with Erica Jago

 
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I had an insight a few weeks ago to share the teachings of the women who have inspired me.

These women have been fearlessly sharing their gifts and their talents with the world.  In doing so, they have inspired me to face my fears and live up to my own greatness.

This is the first in a series of interviews entitled: Courageous Women Leaders.  The women I will be interviewing over the coming months have touched my life.  Now, my intention for these interviews is to inspire YOU to face your fears and live up to your own greatness in the world.

Today, I'm sharing an interview with Erica Jago: a fabulous yoga teacher, innovative graphic designer and co-author of my favorite yoga resource book, Art of Attention.

 
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I remember when I first read the story of how Art of Attention came to be, I cried.  Erica vulnerably reached out to Elena Brower for guidance during a difficult time in her life, and over the following months, the Art of Attention was born.

What brought tears to my eyes was how Erica reached out to Elena in need, and Elena listened.  Erica shared her vision for her life with Elena, and by the time I was reading it, it had all come true.

Their story reminded me:  

There is still magic in this world.  We can ALL dream, and let ourselves dream BIG. {tweet it} 

Almost one year ago, with some hesitation, I vulnerably emailed Erica to share my gratitude for her work, how her story touched me, and what my own vision for myself and the world was.  Now, I see that vision coming true, and a friendship has unfolded through the process.

I met Erica in person at her yoga class at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum's exhibit, Yoga: The Art of Transformation, and watched with awe as Erica addressed over 100 yogis with grace and poise.  That moment has inspired me again and again to live each day with courage...

How would you define yourself as a teacher? What I look for first in my students is, what are they attracted to? What turns them on? Then we create beautiful rituals around how we communicate those desires to the world through our spirituality, our creativity, our art. The classroom to me is really about fearless expression and when I teach retreats we go deep into the removing those boundaries that inhibit our inner artist. Yes, everyone is creative - even the accountants and engineers!

Where does your teaching take you now? Currently, I am creating great healing programs for and with talented souls, aka retreats, and I’m incorporating more dance into my workshops. I guess all the transformational festivals I’ve attended over the past four years has turned me into a dancing, dub step and reggae goddess :)

What first prompted you to share your teachings?

My artwork started to reveal a step-by-step process on how to design group sequences, class experiences and even emotional ceremonies. I saw that other teachers and practitioners could benefit from this deeply intuitive methodology  because I was witnessing my own healing though the sharing of my art.

What fear(s) have you encountered and how have you faced them?

Public speaking was and still is a fear of mine but I regularly attend Toastmaster meetings for years and just kept signing up for gigs that put me in front of an audience. You just have to rehearse and take one small step at a time; the rest unfolds naturally. Also, jumping into the ocean daily is great for releasing stagnation and paralyses from the body. 

What was it like teaching your first yoga class?

I wanted to run out of the room! I only stayed because their eyes were closed and because I had my entire sequence illustrated in front of me. The planning and preparing for class is what drew me back. It ensured a sense of clarity for me, even before I stepped into the classroom because I had already contemplated it, practiced it and experienced it first hand.   

What is teaching like for you now?

When I look back at all the recorded teachings from past years, I have a deeper understanding of what I was going through and how it needed to be seen.I still illustrate all of my sequences before bringing them into the classroom because it means I’ve fully embodied the language of those truths. The themes I choose come from a deep desire to master a concept more fully and I love working the cycles of the Full and New Moons to set intentions and to bring meaning into the postures. 

What does courage mean to you? 

Courage reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. The bravery it took the Lion to exercise the muscle of the heart. How to say the words that needed to be said, how to step up and be the light and how to take those leaps of faith. 

How do you think vulnerability fits into the role of a successful teacher and leader? 

When I sit in front of the classroom I become a mirror for all those who attend. After class they project so much love onto me because that is what they found in meditation or they project judgement onto me because that is what was revealed. I can’t take it personally and all I can do is keep showing up and listening more and more because they are me and I am them. 

What advice do you have for my readers who have a dream but are stuck or afraid to take the next steps to make them happen?

The world needs you and your artistic gifts. Seriously! No one else can do what you do and that is what you tell yourself next time you think your art sucks.

By sharing your art, you come into direct contact with your healing and your purpose.

What is your current spiritual/meditation/yoga practice like?

My own practice has been around the purification of the voice. Mantra meditations carry a healing energy within them that works like medicine for our soul. All through the day I am working with sound vibrations through chanting or playing my ukulele. My favorite mantra right now is the Mangala Charan : Aad Guray Nameh, Jugaad Guray Nameh, Sat Guray Nameh, Siri Guroo Dayvay Nameh. This mantra clears doubt and opens us up to guidance and protection with a magnetic field of protective light. Download the song Expand from the Heart Center by Jai Jagdeesh.

What projects are you currently working on?

September 5-9th I’m holding a five day / four night yoga, creativity and cleansing EARTH retreat, 20 mins outside Yosemite National Park. On this retreat I’m encouraging you to seek many mirrors, to look under the rocks, to speak to the trees and to be the one who listens. Every person, practice, meal, mantra and outing we encounter will offer some speck of knowledge that you can take home with you. It is not too late to sign up, email me for more information.

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What do you consider the most important part of the work you do? Reminding people of their beauty. Wake up! Don’t forget! We are fortunate! We are blessed! Remember? We have it really freak’n good.

If there was one thing you would want every student to learn from your teaching, what would that be? Stay present. Let go of the poor me, the what if, the woulda, coulda, shoulda and stay in the happy joyful present room. Meet me there.

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----------------- I will be joining Erica at her Earth retreat this September.  With her attention to detail, yoga style of vinyasa and kundalini yoga, and love of the Earth and of ritual, I know it is going to be amazing.  Erica lives in Hawaii and does not come to teach in California often - so if you are interested in joining, inquire today