love

062 | Feng Shui to Attract Love and Abundance with Patricia Lohan

 
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It was so fun to sit down with Patricia Lohan to learn about how we can design our home to manifest that which we desire. 

Patricia Lohan has taken courageous leaps in her life, following her dreams of moving to Bali and helping female entrepreneurs activate success through creating powerful environments that surround them.  

I hope you enjoy her wisdom on this week's latest episode...

In this episode we discussed:

  • How and why Patricia became interested in Feng Shui
  • What is Feng Shui? and how you can use your environment to optimize your life's potential
  • Feng Shui for attracting love & how Patricia called in her husband through Feng Shui
  • How to avoid a "money lock" on your home and welcome more abundance and prosperity
  • The road less traveled, getting unstuck, meditation & the healing path
  • How you can ensure your workspace is in alignment with what we’re trying to achieve
"What starts to happen with Feng Shui is that the house starts to support you to really access the parts of you that you haven't,  and give them a chance to flourish and grow." 

Stay in Touch with Patricia:


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Patricia a natural intuitive healer & inspirer uncovered her gifts when she left her role in management and followed her passion for yoga, moving to India to train to become a yoga teacher.  Through yoga she awakened her interest in more Holistic Practices that included certification as a Reiki Master, Feng Shui Practitioner, Trainer in Sacred Sound Healing with Tibetan & Crystal Bowls and Body Mind Balancing Practitioner. Patricia founded the Parashakti School of Sacred Sound, Energy and Feng Shui and maintained a private practice in Dublin up until recently, offering her custom integrated healing system. Patricia now spends her time creating online programs and communities for women across the globe to access their inner power and subsequently create the life of their dreams. She holds an Honors Degree in Business and Marketing.

 

029 | God, Love, Sobriety & Finding Your Voice with Adriana Rizzolo

 

Have you ever gone on a trip to come back feeling like everything in your life just feels messy? I just came back from a trip to Kauai last week where I got to see dear friend Adriana Rizzolo, the featured guest on our podcast today.

Even though my inbox has been full, and I am bursting with so many creative ideas that it's hard to know where to start, I'm learning to love the mess. To love everything that's arising. To be okay with everything just as it is.

And this is something I love about Adriana - she carries herself with so much love and respect, no matter what the circumstances. 

In the episode Adriana shares about some pretty difficult hardships she's faced, including her story of healing from addiction and what happened when she lost everything she owned when her car was stolen.

So today, i invite you to breathe a little deeper, trust in the unfolding and love yourself (and your life exactly as it is) even if it sometimes all feels like a big mess...

In this episode you'll learn:

  • Adriana's story of addiction and sobriety and what role yoga and meditation played in her healing journey
  • How losing all her belongings and having her car stolen ended up as a divine intervention
  • Tips Adriana has for women who are finding their voice 
  • The role kirtan and chanting has played in her life
  • Adriana's thoughts on facing fears and stepping into a more loving and courageous life

“Often what I find underneath my fear is a genuine desire, and that’s okay.” 

With love, 
Meredith


Adriana is an intuitive healer, yoga and meditation teacher, kirtan and voice guide, spiritual mentor, reiki master, hair stylist, writer and creative wild woman. Her passion is in helping others connect to the wild sacredness of their bodies, tender hearts, pelvic wisdom, authentic voices, and to their immense healing power of love. She helps others find their unique fire and build a strong connection to Spirit. She supports specifically in healing addiction and anxiety. She has studies extensively in India and with David Harshada Wagner and Living Meditation. She loves to nurture community, intimacy and connection to Spirit in a fun, powerful and practical way. Adriana trains individuals and leads sacred circles in New York City , Los Angeles and everywhere online. To find out more visit www.adrianarizzolo.com or on instagram @artofloving

 

Honoring 5 Years with 5 Tips to Thrive in Love & Relationships

 

Five years ago I reconnected with a man I once felt divine love with.  It was at Amma’s ashram in San Ramon, California.  It was just months after I returned from India and was finding my footing living in the Bay Area again.  I went to Amma’s that night, excited to re-immerse myself in the energy of India. 

I had spent the last year and a half in a deep inner transformation, becoming a yoga teacher, attending meditation retreats, visiting spiritual teachers across India, and learning powerful lessons from another experience of love in my life.  When my previous relationship ended, I realized I was okay, having found a deep love within and for myself through my spiritual inquiry.  

I showed up at Amma’s, to pay my respects for all I had learned and to pray for this new phase of my life.  I happened to walk up to the temple at just the exact moment Amma was about to arrive.  Everyone around me was dressed in white, praying and waiting in silence.  

In a moment, a white car pulled up and the door opened for Amma.  She walked through the entrance smiling and waving at people as she walked inside.  Just as she passed, I locked eyes with a familiar face on the other side of the aisle.  

It was a man I had met a year and a half before, before I went to India, before I had become a yoga teacher, before I had done this deep inner work.  His name was Michael.

I met him when I was first living in San Francisco when my housemate, a musician, invited me to join a music-walking tour he was a part of through the Marin Headlands and up to Point Reyes.  The musicians had planned an acoustic folk show for every night along the way and were going to hike on the Pacific Coast Trail and camp between shows.  All the musicians met at the Golden Gate Bridge, where I first met Michael.

But back to that moment at Amma’s, I immediately recognized him and remembered the love I had felt for him long before, standing above the Pacific ocean on the Golden Gate Bridge.  That moment of recognition quickly dissolved as Amma began to speak, guiding the group through a meditation.  Afterwards, I went over to Michael and gave him a hug. 

“You were the first person to tell me about Amma,” he said.  “I spontaneously said yes to an invitation to come here this evening…”

It’s been five years since that night and Michael and I are still together. This past year in particular has brought about huge transformation within myself and within my relationship, so I wanted to honor this milestone by sharing a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the past five years of falling deeper in love…

1. Be Honest and Transparent

Honesty establishes trust. 

I remember attempting to string together lies when I was younger, and it just never ever panned out the way I wanted it to.  I quickly learned honesty was the only answer, and that even if honesty was sometimes hard, I could always find a way to be honest at the same time as being compassionate and loving.

Honesty is about speaking the truth when you are asked, and transparency takes honesty a step further.  Transparency is when you speak the truth even when you are not asked.  Imagine something comes up that involves you and your partner, and you are holding on to feelings or emotions...

Transparency is when you speak up right away and get to the heart of the matter rather than holding it in and keeping it to yourself.

In order to be transparent we need to feel safe.  We need to create a space of non-judgement for our partner and ask that they hold that space for us as well.

An example where Michael and I have found ourselves to be more transparent in the last year, is if one of us feels attraction with someone else.  In the past it felt scary to speak of it, it felt like it needed to be some big secret we could never tell the other, but now, we just name it.  We allow there to be non-judgement.  We bring humor to it.  We remind each other we are human, and we are safe with each other and our experience is completely valid.  

We have even supported each other to explore those attractions, and spend time with the person we feel attraction with.  What I have found in those instances is that attraction does not necessarily need to go in a sexual direction.  Oftentimes there is an attraction when we have medicine and lessons to learn through spending time with that person.  Giving myself permission to explore those attractions has only deepened the love I have for my partner.

I realize now that there is nothing I could share with Michael that would cause me to lose love. 

Finding that sense of security and trust has been so healing.  Holding that space for him has deepened my ability to love unconditionally and provide a space of healing for him as well.

2. Communicate

You know how sometimes you can just tell your partner is upset about something but they are being all quiet about it?  You ask what’s going on, but they just shrug it off as nothing?  You then begin to feel distance, wondering if you did something wrong, unsure of how to re-establish a space of love and connection again?

I’m going to teach you the exercise that has literally saved my relationship, countless times in this exact situation.  It’s called Acknowledgment and Request.  I first learned about it in the book Kindred Spirit by Matthew and Terces Engelhart (some of you may know them as the founders of Cafe Gratitude).

Simply ask, “Is there anything you want to be acknowledged for?”  Allow your partner to speak, and do the best you can to be present and aware in your listening.  When he or she finishes ask, “Is there anything else?” 

Keep asking, “Is there anything else,” while intently listening and doing the best you can to remember each thing.  Now, it’s also important not to react or reply to what your partner is saying.  Simply give them the space to speak and have the floor.  When he or she is complete, lovingly repeat back each and every thing that was said, acknowledging him or her for it. 

When that is complete ask, “Do you have any requests?” Do the same thing - asking, if there is anything else after each request.  When the requests are complete, repeat back each one, sharing that you would like to honor those requests to your best ability.  

Sometimes it makes sense for both partners to have the floor to be acknowledged, and sometimes it makes sense for just one of us. 

Every time I have used this exercise, it has felt like we are starting fresh again with a clean slate.  it has allowed us to create a container of safety and honesty to let go of all the stories and illusions we may have been carrying and fully see each other with love again.  It has helped us to fully let go of and forgive, without the need to hold on to past upsets.  

To have a more in-depth, step by step guide of how this process it works, read my article here.

3. Create Layers of Support

A year ago I had a rude wake up call when my partner was away for two weeks and I realized how much I had been relying on him for support in my life.  

One of my friends Kevin shared, "If you're only relying on one person in your life, it's like you're standing on top of a flagpole.  That's a lot of pressure on one person, especially if his or her life is calling him or her to be elsewhere." 

I imagined myself standing on top of a flagpole, shaky and worried of falling.

He continued, "However, if you become like a spider, with many legs supporting you, it's okay if one of them takes a break.  You still have seven other legs to lean on." 

When you are supported in all directions, your weight is evenly distributed.  It is so much healthier.

I think it's really easy to get swept up in relying on just one person for our emotional, physical and mental needs. However, when we create more structures of support through friendships, therapy, coaching, healers, and especially in community, we can really thrive.

Over the past year, I brought awareness to becoming the spider and creating layers of support so my weight would always be easily distributed.  

This year, when my partner went away for the same retreat for two weeks, I felt infinitely supported. 

My days were full with connection and love.  I realized how much I had transformed over the past year, and how my ability to receive support created a deeper sense of freedom and independence within the relationship.

4. Find Intimacy Outside the Relationship

Are you finding intimacy with yourself?

Do you find intimacy in your friendships? 

Or do you wait to experience intimacy solely in one relationship?

It’s a lot of pressure to expect to receive all the love and intimacy we want in our lives through just one person.  This past year I’ve looked at where I am giving and receiving intimacy in my life and have experimented with deepening intimacy outside of my relationship.

The first place I looked was with myself.  I found when I could experience a deeper sense of intimacy with myself, it always improved the relationship.  This is where my practices of self-love came in - taking long bubble baths, massaging fine oils into my skin, repeating loving affirmations while I brush my teeth, keeping up with my yoga practice and making a delicious and healthy meals for myself, even if I’m eating alone… (For more self-love & self-care tips download my 4-day self-care reset here)

I also began to bring intimacy into my friendships.  I brought gifts.  I asked deeper and more intimate questions.  I shared loving touch, essential oils, sometimes brought flowers or chocolate.  

Finding intimacy outside of the relationship this past year for both of us has deepened the intimacy within our relationship.  

When I am feeling filled up, I am able to be so much more generous and offer that love to my partner.  However, if I show up depleted and expect my partner to give me that feeling of wholeness, it’s just not going to work.

Love is so much about generosity and our ability to give, and it takes us showing up as our best selves in the relationship, not just expecting the relationship to give that to us.

5. Share Appreciation, Everyday

After reading the book, Calling in the One by Katherine Woodward Thomas, I decided to try out one of her exercises of writing a letter to God, or the Universe.  

The idea goes that you write about all your challenges in a letter to God and sign it, “Sincerely, your name.”  Then turn the page and begin a new letter, this time from God to you.  

I tried out this exercise once when I was feeling some challenge in the area of relationship, and one of the things “God” or really, my higher self wrote back to me was to share what I appreciated about Michael with him every day.  

The task immediately took me out of a feeling of lack and brought light to all that was wonderful about this person in my life. 

I don’t think our minds are naturally looking for all the good in our lives and what we appreciate.  It just took a bit of awareness and training in order to switch my mindset around to see and appreciate the people in my life, and really, everything in my life.  

If you are looking to create or call in a thriving relationship, I highly recommend checking out Katherine's book, Calling in the One.

Bonus Tip:  Lead by Example

After speaking with my friend Luna Love about how she attracted the love of her life into her world, I felt inspired to add one more bonus tip for you all.  This is especially helpful for those of you ready to call in partnership in your life, but it also works if you are already in relationship.

Write a list of everything you want in your ideal partnership, and what you’d like your ideal partner to be like.  Then look at that list and ask yourself, “Am I embodying every one of these qualities?” 

Relationships are powerful mirrors, and often what we want to see more of in ourselves is what we say we want to see in our partners. 

However, we can take the pressure off our partner to be someone else by simply becoming that ideal partner we want to attract.  That is when we inspire change in those around us and call in the kind of people we want to be surrounded by.

People don’t change because someone wants them to. People change because they are inspired to...

For more on this topic, check out my other post, 6 Secrets to A Fulfilling Love Life.

 

018 | Love & Magic: A Book Reading with Meredith Rom

 

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Have you ever found that it's in the moments that you are totally happy and content with yourself, at peace with exactly who you are and what you have in your life, that you begin to manifest your desires?

Today I'm sharing one of the more fun and playful readings from my book,  Synchronicity. 

I was sitting in a chai shop having just arrived in a new town when a man walked in wearing all white with red puja dust on his third eye.  

I almost instantly fell in love with him... In this story you'll hear how I met Shankara, one of the main characters in the book.  You'll also hear more about the holy mountain of stillness and light, Mount Arunachala in the town of Tiruvannamalai, India.

To pre-order your copy of Synchronicity,  follow the kickstarter campaign here.  Specials thanks to the Crowdfunding Consultants at StartMotionMEDIA for helping me fundraise!

With love, 
Meredith

 

015 | Heartbreak, Visions, & My First Big Leap: A Book Reading with Meredith Rom

 
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I believe we all have the power to transform our greatest moments of pain and suffering into our greatest moments of awakening.

But I know from personal experience it is so hard to see the light when it feels like the world is crumbling beneath our feet.

Today I want to share with you one of my more difficult moments in the first reading of my book, Synchronicity, on the Rising Women Leaders podcast.

I take you back to over six years ago where I found myself sobbing on the floor after going through  total heartbreak (something that I know so many of us are familiar with).

I share about the challenges and hardships I faced that eventually led me into my greatest moments of awakening...the moments where I began to live beyond my fears and follow my intuition first across the country and then to the other side of the world to India.

This book is a story of finding forgiveness, of transformation, of healing and ultimately of finding love within.

I  look back and see my hardships as profound gifts.  It was these moments that prompted my greatest awakening, and I hold them in my heart with gratitude.

But today I wanted to share with you where I was and what my life was like before I found the inner peace I speak of now.

If you feel called to hold the book in your hands and read the whole story of transformation, I invite you to  watch the kickstarter video and contribute to the campaign.  

Supporters have a chance to receive an early signed copy of the book, coaching sessions for women on a heroine's quest, a self-care gift box, and 40 day meditation practice, among many other rewards.  Check them all out right here!

I hope you enjoy this  podcast and opportunity to learn more about my story. 

Stay tuned for more podcast episodes and sneak previews of the book coming soon...

With love, 
Meredith

 

Last week on tour...and music for you!

 
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A few days ago I shared a story about forgiveness, and how key that was for me when I went through a difficult breakup four years ago. The strength I gained from that experience pushed me forward to find true forgiveness, freedom, independence, and love within myself.

As I let go, and focused on my dreams and visions, new love entered my life.

I have always seen relationships as a beautiful mirror - showing us what we need to see in ourselves.  For me, that reflection happened when I met a musician, Michael.

Music was always something I loved, but growing up, didn't always feel I could excel in myself.  I thought you were either born with a natural talent to sing and play instruments, or not.

But when Michael and I started dating, he consistently encouraged me to sing with him and use my voice.  I usually shied away from it, but last year, something shifted.  

I bought a harmonium and began learning to play mantras.  I brought the harmonium into my daily meditation practice, and alone in my room, began to sing.

I gave myself permission for it to not be perfect, and after a few short weeks, I was amazed to see the transformation and confidence I gained in my voice.

With Michael's guidance and encouragement, I began to share with friends, and accompanied him at performances.

When Michael and I planned our Vision & Voice tour, I expected to teach yoga, and only occasionally accompany him with the harmonium at our performances, however, that quickly shifted.

We've been on the road for four weeks now, through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and the California coast - and are on the last few days of our tour.  

We have events in Monterey, Santa Cruz, Mill Valley, Berkeley and Sebastopol this week.  (details below)

I know not all of you are able to make it to our events on the west coast, so I wanted to share a couple songs from one of our live performances in Ojai this week.

~ You can listen here. ~ With love, Meredith

Upcoming Events:

May 21: Monterey / Pacific Grove, CA, Kundalini Yoga + Kirtan, Chautauqua Hall  May 23: Santa Cruz, CA, Yoga with Live Music + Kirtan Divinitree Westside May 24: Mill Valley, CA, Homecoming KIrtan Celebration, Redwoods Retreat House May 25: Berkeley, CA, Singing Workshop, House Event May 29: Sebastopol, CA, Yoga with Live Music, The dhyana Center May 30: Sebastopol, CA, Homecoming Celebration Kirtan, The Root Collective

 

6 Practical Insights on Happiness From the Road

 
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It's been six days on the road now - Michael and I have led four workshops together and already driven through five states. I feel myself sinking into more comfort as a teacher and a singer, gaining confidence in my own vision and voice as I teach others. Something both Michael and I have noticed since we left is that we are both really happy. There's a deep joy in our hearts as we travel from city to city. It made me wonder, "What's different now than before?"

I broke it down to what I think are six essential insights on happiness, and practical action steps you can take to find more happiness right now.

1. Seek out Community

We've been surrounded by loving, likeminded friends on every step of the journey. In each city on this trip we are being hosted by friends or friends of friends. We've had meaningful connections every step of the way. It's been different than my normal day-to-day working at home in my cottage, because I am actively seeking out and visiting my community.

Connection is an essential human need, and I can see, even as an introvert I have a large capacity for face time with people I love. It can be easy to get lost in my own world, connecting with others through the phone and the internet, but facetime with old and new friends is so key in continuing a feeling of happiness in my days.

2. Do a Random Act of Kindness

Before leaving San Francisco, Michael and I participated in the "Happiness Course" through The Art of Living. Our assignment one day was to do three random acts of kindness. It totally shifted my state of mind from thinking about myself to wondering how I could make someone else's day better. I asked, "Where can I find a homeless person to give money to?, "Where can I actively comment and engage on other people's blogs and social media?"  and "Who can I tell that I really appreciate them?"

One of the other students came back one day to say, "I bought the person behind me in line breakfast and he said, 'I just moved from the East coast and heard about things like this happening in Berkeley, but didn't believe it really would!'"

While on the road, we are being mindful of where we can be more generous and kind. From picking up the bill with a friend, to giving someone one of Michael's CD's who didn't expect it, every act of kindness has brought so much joy to my heart.

Often we wait to be generous when we have more, or forget to be kind. What simple act could you do today to make someone else's day better? Then do it, and notice how this makes you feel afterward.

 
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3. Look out for the magic

When you take steps outside of your comfort zone, especially while travelling, you begin to notice the magic that is all around you.

On my birthday this year, I pulled a card from my animal medicine tarot deck with the question, "What is my animal totem for the year?" It was the owl. Owl sees everything, even in the dark and is often the medicine of sorcerers and witches, those drawn to magical practices. The tarot deck said, "Pay attention to the signals and omens, owl will bring you messages through dreams and meditation."

For the last three nights, staying in the homes of three different people, there was a picture of an owl in the room.

Synchronicity is everywhere if you are on the lookout for it. Try using the affirmation, "I am awake to coincidences. I see them as messages from God."

When a synchronicity happens in my life, I immediately feel connected to the divine. I have more trust in the world around me and am able to let go of fears and sink into the joy of being guided.

4. Share your gifts

Knowing that I have workshops set up in every city I visit on this trip makes me so happy. To be in the act of service, and sharing our gifts is so satisfying. When I remember this trip isn't all about me, but that there are actually people we are here to help, I feel like I have a place in the bigger picture.

I've seen several people in tears during our workshops, touched by the music, and the space to open their voice and connect to avision for their lives and the world. We are offering an experience for others to connect to their heart by using our gifts and talents. We find that afterwards, no matter how many people showed up, we are so happy knowing we have done what we felt called to share.

5. Do what you love

Practicing yoga, teaching yoga, singing, being in the flow and visiting friends is essential to my happiness. When you give yourself permission to do what you love, everything else becomes more joyful.

When you priortize what makes you feel good, what makes you truly happy, life becomes a celebration.

What do you love? What makes you come alive? Is it the yoga class? A walk in nature? A tea date with a girlfriend? Go take action and do it.

6. Meditate

No matter how beautiful a place you find yourself in, if you don't feel good in your body and mind, it doesn't really matter.Focus within first. When you make your internal space a beautiful sanctuary, your surroundings will begin to reflect that.

When you soften around the edges, create more spaciousness and compassion within yourself, you meet difficulties that arise in life with fresh eyes. You can handle whatever comes your way.

Michael and I have meditated together every morning on this trip. We encourage each other in our practices because we know if we find love within ourselves first, we will be more kind and loving to each other.

When you take the time to process your own emotions, to be devoted to yourself, and connect to a larger vision, every action in your day becomes more clear. Intuition heightens and you know what steps to take next.

SO what will you work on to bring more happiness in your life? Will it be an act of kindness, sharing your gifts, or seeking out community? Whatever it is, I hope you take action on it right away. If you want to be held accountable, make a comment below to let me know what you'll be working on.

Our next event is a kirtan singing workshop in Boulder, CO on Wednesday April 29. Next week I'll be writing from New Mexico and Arizona as we continue our travels...

Find me on instagram @meredithrom to follow the journey day by day, as I'm posting about photos with stories from the road.

With love, Meredith

Creating magic in the redwoods

 
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A few days after the New Year, I got together with mystical artist and photographer Jasmine Amara in the redwoods of Occidental for a portrait session. I first met Jasmine before she joined my group coaching program, "Let go, Vision Transform."   Jasmine knew she was passionate about dreams, water, and photography, but didn't fully believe she could support herself through those passions.

Over the course of the six-month program, she came up with an exciting idea for a photography exhibit.  With some encouragement from me and the women in the group, she began taking photos for her series "Dreaming Awake" creating lucid imagery through double exposures.  When I first saw the images I acknowledged her for how unique and powerful they were.

Over the months that followed, Jasmine began to create a business for herself doing what she loved.  When she announced her offering of Visionary Portraits, I was inspired to participate.

Leading up to my portrait session, she asked me a series of questions..  One of those questions was, "What is your deepest desire?"  

I sat with that question for a few days, and eventually wrote this piece, (Which I sent to you a few weeks ago.)   It was about the feminine rising, women stepping up to take supreme care of themselves, to face their fears, and develop the courage to take care of the world.

Before our session, she asked me to read my deepest desire.  She created a sacred space with flowers, dreamcatchers, and sipping chocolate (ceremonial cacao from her travels in Guatemala).

Being witnessed in sharing my deepest desires in such a sacred and intimate space was a powerful experience.

Then, she took these photos.

 
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Images by Jasmine Amara Photography

To have this moment captured through photography was invaluable. When I saw the beauty and magic we created in the photographs, I was in awe.

After seeing the images I thought, "If Jasmine had never taken the steps to believe in her art, these images wouldn't even exist!"  

So today, I invite you to look through the images, and to ask yourself, "What gifts am I hiding from the world?  How could I be of higher service to others through my gifts and talents?"

It's time to honor whatever hidden creative potential lies inside of you, ready to rise to the surface.  Do you know what it is?  I'd love to hear in the comments.

Love, Meredith

P.S.  My next free teleclass series is filling up.  I'd love to share my latest insights with you, over the phone, or through the recordings. Find Your Glow As a Feminine Leader:Just sign up here.

30 ways to heal a broken heart

 
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In the last few weeks, I have been meeting more and more people going through a break-up.

Many of my yoga students and close friends of mine have been letting go of their relationships.  With the recent autumn equinox, I've seen it is a cosmic time of letting go.

An astrologer once told me a break-up happens when you are no longer able to fulfill your purpose while in the relationship.  If somehow the relationship has been preventing you from living as your most true and authentic self, the planets align to end it.

A break-up creates the space for you to fulfill your sacred contract with life.  {tweet it}

There is something comforting to know that as difficult as it is to go through it, that there is something so much greater on the other side:  Living as your highest self.

I've been thinking back to my own break-ups, and what has gotten me through those difficult times.  I remember those were the hardest times for me to take care of myself, but that was actually what helped me through it the most.

So, whether or not you are letting go of something or someone in your life, I created this list of 30 ways to take care of yourself as a reminder to come back to basics, and the small daily actions to remember the love you can have for and with yourself.

30 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Now

  • Use essential oils, I have a diffuser in my house and it changes my whole state when the room smells like wild orange or lavender
  • Make your bed luxurious and comfortable – buy nice sheets, pillows, plants, and a nice mattress
  • Meditate for the love of it, not because you have to, but because you want to.  This means doing what is enjoyable to you - try pranayama, writing, saying affirmations, or drinking warm tea while you sit down in silence.
  • Keep crystals around your house to surround yourself with beauty
  • Do a tarot reading
  • Do yoga – this is an obvious one, but so many of us avoid yoga because we don't want to feel the difficult emotions we are going through.  However, feeling them is the way we can move through them.  Try a few yoga poses at home to ease back into it.
  • Turn off technology by 8 pm.  Create space to ease into sleep.
  • Make a vision board
  • Ask a girlfriend to hang out.  Take initiative with your friends.  Tell them what you're going through.
  • Invest in yourself.  Take that new yoga class, or get the massage you've been putting off.
  • Buy a box of raspberries.  Raspberries for me, feel like the most luxurious purchase.  It is expensive compared to other fruit at 5 or 6 dollars a box, but ultimately 6 dollars for a luxurious afternoon eating raspberries is worth it.
  • Buy flowers for yourself, for no reason.
  • Drink your favorite tea.
  • Use a hot water bottle.  This is a great comfort item, to have something warm with you in bed, and is also good for cramps.
  • Journal.  Try "morning pages" from The Artist’s Way.  Write three pages each morning on anything - just let it all out on the paper.
  • Give yourself a pedicure.  Wash your feet in the sink.  Put on nice lotion and paint your nails.
  • Take an Epsom salt bath.  This relaxes and soothes the muscles while removing toxins from the skin.
  • Be generous.  Take a girlfriend out for tea or make dinner for someone.  Giving takes the mind away from ourselves to come into a space of giving back.
  • Be creative.  Make a card, a collage, or a drawing.
  • Rub body butter over your body while reading the affirmations.  Try the affirmation, "I am healing my past easily and naturally now."
  • Buy something fun and new, and this doesn’t have to be expensive.  I was in Mexico last year and I bought a couple $1 woven bracelets.  They were bright and beautiful and brought me so much joy.  When I went home, I gave them to 6 friends.
  • Declutter your life.  Let go of the things you don't need.  Sell and give away things you don’t use.
  • Keep your home tidy and clean.
  • Surround yourself with plants.
  • Learn something new.  (Try picking up a new instrument and taking lessons!)
  • Write a list of your strengths.  Then ask other people what they think your strengths are.
  • Write a list of things your grateful for.
  • SING.
  • DANCE.
  • Create a new vision for yourself – write it down and read it every day.

PS.  Tonight I am back to teaching Yin Yoga at the dhyana Center in Sebastopol at 7:45 pm.  Tonight's theme is "Release Fear, Cultivate Wisdom."  If you would like to join us, click here for details.  

 

The # 1 block of miracles in your life

 
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Stress!

When you are stressed out, you miss out on powerful opportunities to bring you exactly what you need.  {tweet it}

I recently read a book by Deepak Chopra where he shared:

"Stress is a form of anxiety.  If you're stressed, then you can't even begin to think about synchronicity.  Synchronicity is a means of getting in touch with God.  It's a path to meaning and purpose in your life.  It's a means of having the experience of love and compassion.  It's a means of connecting to the nonlocal intelligence of the universe.  If my attention is on situations that generate stress, then it is difficult to access synchronicity.  To do so effectively you have to have an attitude of surrender to the universal domain, which is much grander than anything you could imagine.  Surrender requires a leap of faith, a jump into the unknown...and if you take this leap of faith you will be richly rewarded."  ~Deepak Chopra

Think about it - songs, books, and breakthrough ideas do not come through us when we are in a state of anxiety and stress.

We need to create the space for these miracles to occur in our lives.

I receive all my best intuition and creative ideas when I create the space to just BE.

So when I start to feel overwhelmed, here are my go to steps to drop the stress:

1.  Move your body - Wisdom lives in your BODY not your mind.  Get out for a run, go to yoga class, or dance!

2.  Get a good night's rest - turn off the cell phones and computers early, make yourself a hot cup of tea, read a book and go to bed!

3. Be creative - Here are some images of my most recent creative ventures inspired by the retreat I went to last weekend.  Try making a collage, an earth mandala, make a painting or sing a song.

 
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When we lessen the chatter of our mind we create space for creativity, intuition and insight.

If you're local,  and feel like life is pulling you in different directions, I invite you to my Yin & Harmonium Yoga Series starting on Monday September 22.

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September_04__2014_at_0139PM

Each class will be a deeply nourishing and relaxing yoga practice to release stress and open to new insights about your life.

Take a moment to slow down, breathe, and try to incorporate the above steps to let go of stress in your life.  Because only when we create the space to let ourselves rest, do we open up to receive miracles...

Much love,

Meredith

An Interview with songstress Ayla Nereo

 
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Today I'm excited to share an interview with the singer/songwriter Ayla Nereo.  She’s another one of those courageous women I see out there sharing her gifts and inspiring those around her.

I first discovered Ayla’s music on a mixed CD my friend gave me when I lived in a little one room cabin in Berkeley. I would listen to the songs on repeat as I decorated my room and imagined what would happen in my life. 

It was a magical time.  I had just taught my very first yoga class and was just opening up to the idea of what was possible when I faced my fears, and I was about to reconnect with a boy I had once met a year and a half earlier.  (a boy who later became my current boyfriend).

As I listened to the music, I imagined Ayla as a famous musician traveling the world, someone I would probably never meet in person.  Then one day, my friend who gave me the CD said, “Ayla is playing a show at my house.  Do you want to come?”

I replied, “What?  Really?  She’s coming to Berkeley? To your house? Of course I want to come!”

I was so excited to see her sing in person.  

The same day as the concert, I had my very first date with that whimsical boy, Michael.  When I told him I was going to Ayla’s show that night he said, “Oh, me too!  She’s a good friend of mine, we went to college together and I went on tour with her last summer.  You’re going to love it, I’m so glad we can be there together.”

That night, not only did I get to sit next to Michael, but Ayla invited him to play a song before her set.  I watched as the man I was starting to fall in love with stood up to sing in front of the crowd. 

It was beautiful, and I thought of how brave he was.  Then Ayla took the stage, turned on her projector, and literal fireworks started going off on the screen behind her as she sang, “It’s Okay,” ~ my favorite song of hers at the time.

Michael came back to sit down next to me, put his hand on mine, and smiled. 

“What magic!”  I thought.

It has been so beautiful to watch Ayla’s career unfold over the last three years since that house concert in Berkeley 2011.   I have watched her consistently show up again and again to her craft and her calling. 

I remember hearing her stories of how sometimes only one or two people would show up to hear her play when she first started touring.  Now, she travels to festivals across the country, singing to crowds of hundreds, even thousands of loyal fans. 

Watching her consistently stand up and share her gifts has been an inspiration for me to stand up and share my own.  

The music was with me as I taught my first yoga class, as I fell in love and as I started to believe in myself.

I’m so grateful to know her, and to share with you her insights on the courage, trust, and action it takes to consistently show up and live your dreams.

 
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How would you describe your latest music?

Each album is an evolution of my evolution.  My latest music is an expression of that evolution, another phase, just another way the music is showing up.  It’s a little feistier, a little more fire and also more direct.  It feels like that’s what is needed in the world right now, and I am becoming more direct in how I communicate because of that.

Where does your music take you now?

It’s taking me to festivals, bigger venues, new groups of people, more diverse groups of people, and people I would say represent the masses.  At the same time, the music is asking more of me.  It’s asking me to become a clearer vehicle, especially when I perform.  The more I listen, then the farther the music takes me. 

It asks for a strong integrity in me, and lets me know if my ego gets in the way.  I have to continuously check what my relationship to the music and the world is - if I am feeling self-important about the music and wanting it to serve me or if I’m remembering that I am serving it.  It’s that difference.

When you think back to the first songs you wrote, what first prompted you to share them?

It was definitely called out of me.  The songs trickled in and I was so incredibly shy about sharing them.  At first I shared timidly around campfires at the house I lived in.  Someone would ask me to play another song and I would write another song and timidly have two friends come hear it and they would tell other people and then they would ask me to play it. 

Even the first few years of making music, it was never something I would volunteer.  I was not the person in the room to say, “I have a song to share!”  And that was part of what made me choose to make music as my career, it always felt like it was wanted.  People were asking for it, and I felt it was my responsibility to respond.  Maybe this all would have happened anyway, but I really give a lot of credit to those people in that first house where the first songs came in, because they were the ones asking me to share.  I’m grateful for that.

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above, a photo I took of Ayla and David for their duo project, Wildlight

What fears have you encountered and how have you faced them?

I think the biggest fear I have experienced is self-doubt.  I also encountered the fear of being seen, the fear of being a powerful woman, and the fear of not being liked, or the fear of people not liking the music, or not liking me, or the way I am giving it. 

To a big degree, with so many years of creating and sharing the music, those fears are not there anymore, but there are times they creep in, so it really takes practice.  A really simple way of undoing the fear is with prayer.

“May I step out of the way, May I receive what wants to come through, May I stand in gratitude that I get to do this.” 

So much of working through the fear is just showing up on stage and being with it,  show after show after show after show.  And then being humbled by it and learning something from it and applying it at the next show. Then doing that over and over for years...  Like anything else, practice.

What was it like playing your first concert?

My first concert was thrilling and terrifying.  

I definitely stepped up to it in stages.  I started around a campfire, then a few songs to friends at dinner parties, then my first official show was at Stanford, where I went to college.  I just remember being kind of awkward and super nervous, and yet all my friends were there, cheering me on and supporting me so much and calling in people’s attention because I didn’t have the presence of holding attention yet as an artist.  And so, they really helped do that, hollering and clapping and getting the whole crowd into it, and it ended up being really fun.  Support was a key piece. 

What is performing like for you now?

It’s so different.  I’d say I used to get nervous with butterflies, even to the point where at one time I decided I didn’t want to be a performing artist because it was too nerve-wracking.  I even said, “I will probably never tour.”  And really, through practice, I learned performance is all about vibration. 

I learned the vibration I stand in when I perform the song is literally the vibration the song would go out on.

If I am worried about what other people think or caught up in this or that fear, then that’s the vibration the music comes out on.  If I’m really grateful, happy, intentional, and surrendered, then that’s the vibration the music comes out on.

Now I don’t get nervous, it’s more about remembering what I am there to do, it is not about me, and when I remind myself that, the show is better.  If I treat it like it’s me, Ayla getting up on stage sharing with everyone, it’s a lot of pressure to try and create the best outcome for everyone from one human being.

If I let all of that go, and just remind myself that I’m not trying to do anything here, I’m just trying to receive as well as possible, then the best possible outcome that I can’t even create or conceive of by myself happens. 

What does courage mean to you?

There’s a quote I remember reading once, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but rather the directing of one’s attention to something else.” It’s not about battling fear or winning over fear, but it’s tending to what is important.  When that attention is so strong and direct, there is not room for fear.

We show our courage when the attention of what we do want is stronger than the fear of what we don’t want.  {tweet it}

How do you think vulnerability fits in?

I see vulnerability as a form of courage because it’s a form of transparency and really showing ourselves.  It’s opening ourselves to others, it’s a softening, and a letting in.  I think vulnerability has been one of the ways I have began to understand courage, power, and strength.  Vulnerability is the feminine power.  It’s the ability to receive, and there’s a grace in that.

It’s definitely been one of the more humbling and beautiful teachers in my work, especially in performance, showing up in front of people on stage and letting myself be vulnerable. To not create an appearance of who I am and how I want people to see me as, but rather just show up in the beautiful simplicity of this human being, who I am.  When I can really do that, it is incredibly empowering.  When I embrace vulnerability, I feel my strongest.

What advice do you have to someone who has a dream but is stuck, afraid or doesn’t know how to take the next step?

I would say trust life.  But first, make your prayer really, really clear.  As clear as you can make it in this moment.  Ask yourself, "What do I really want?  What is my passion? and What do I desire above all else? " And, not just the external things, (and actually it’s probably best to leave those up to spirit to decide), but the internal state of what you want to experience.  I ask myself, "How do I want to feel everyday waking up?  Do I want to feel really grateful?  Really in love with my life? Am I so grateful that I have the best possible life I could have? "  

Those are the things that I pray for and ask for.  The external will create the best possible outcome to make me feel that way.  So make those prayers really, really clear and then trust that every single thing that follows is helping that prayer, even if it appears like it is taking too long, or is not a blessing.  Trust, and clarify the prayer. 

The other big piece is to move towards it in any way you possibly can.  If you want to meet the universe halfway, then you have to go halfway, and often, it’s a lot farther than you think.  If you want to sing music to people, then you need to start singing music to people and organize your own house concert.  Ask someone if you can play music at their party, or if you want to teach workshops, just start teaching to friends.  

It’s about how you are showing the universe you are committed, you really want it, and you are going to do whatever you can in this moment to move towards it. 

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What projects are you currently working on?

My latest album, Hollow Bone just came out.  There is currently a remix album being made, and I’m doing a remix contest for it. 

I’m also working on a collaboration with The Polish Ambassador and Mr. Lif, a hip hop MC and the three of us are doing a whole album together.  We’re doing a Fall tour, around the whole country, and we’re in the midst of doing a launch for that.  We are integrating permaculture and calling it “A Permaculture Action Tour.”   We have a team of people working with us that are helping us connect in to local groups in each city we go to.  On every Sunday of the tour we are going to build or plant a garden and do hands on work to benefit that community directly.  We are doing an IndieGogo to bring that permaculture team on the road with us.  There’s so much that needs to happen in the world, so we are trying to light people up, spark curiosity, interest and action with permaculture and sustainability. 

What do you consider the most important part of the work you do?

The most important part of the work I do, is what I don’t do.  It’s the things I can’t take credit for.  It’s the way that life or spirit or soul, this higher good of all beings that can come through each of us, that feels like the most important part.  If I said anything else right now, it wouldn’t be true.

If there was one thing you’d want every person to learn from your music, what would that be?

To learn how to love themselves and accept themselves completely and have their love so filled up that it extends to every human, animal and living thing on this planet.  More love.

To read about more courageous women leaders, click here

5 Steps I took to face my fear of teaching yoga

 
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I remember being terrified to teach my final class on the last day of my yoga teacher training.

I sat in the corner doing pranayama while my fellow teacher trainees gathered up their courage to teach.

Ever since my first yoga class, I felt inspired by my teachers, powerfully leading their class through the sequences. The thought of becoming a yoga teacher myself was terrifying, but I also had a little bit of excitement when I imagined it.

Up until my teacher training, my biggest fear was using my voice.

When it came time to give a presentation in middle school or high school, I had trouble finding my breath. I realized it was my body’s way of protecting me from the possible embarrassment of speaking up. However, by college I saw how this fear was holding me back in all areas of my life.

After four years of dedicating myself to my yoga practice, my curiosity and excitement about teaching grew, so I packed up my bags and went to Mexico for my first teacher training, ready to face my fear.

The supportive people in my training helped me begin to unlock the fear, but when my turn came to get up in front of the room to teach, I was shaking.

Fortunately, this time was different. The deep breathing practices I had learned in the training helped me find my breath, and I stood knowing everyone in the room wanted me to succeed. As I began to speak, I surprised myself with how much I knew and how poised I felt in the seat of the teacher. I discovered a new side of myself I didn’t know was there before.

Eleanor Roosevelt says, “The very next thing you need to be doing is what terrifies you the most.”

Over the years, I’ve taken this to heart and learned that when I feel fear (and a little bit of excitement), life is presenting me with an opportunity to grow.

I learned that we experience fear when we encounter an unfamiliar experience. When I faced my fear over and over again, it became easier each time.

Not only did it become easier, but it became enjoyable.

Unfortunately, after my training, my familiar fears crept in and I felt like I was right back where I started. I had a little bit of courage knowing I had done it before, so I decided the only way to get rid of my fear of teaching was to simply go out and do it, again and again.

I now teach five of my own classes each week. Facing this fear has prompted me to face other fears in my life, knowing I am fully capable.

I know how hard it can be to start out teaching, so I compiled this list to share the most important steps I took that helped me break through my initial fear. 

1. I Spoke the Fear

When I started telling people about my fear, it took away its power.

Before I started speaking about my fear, the fear was just in my mind, and I had no escape from it. However, when I started sharing with people about my fear of public speaking, I started finding solutions. I met other yoga teachers with similar fears when they were first starting to teach and I started feeling less alone.

It was so refreshing to get the fear out of my mind and into a conversation.

2. I Got Support

When I started speaking my fear, one friend recommended I see a voice teacher.

I liked the idea, so decided to take lessons. My teacher showed me how to use my breath lower in my diaphragm and taught me exercises to strengthen my voice.

After several years of teaching I began meeting other women who had completed a yoga teacher training but had not yet started teaching, so I created a program for new yoga teachers to openly share their fears, strengthen their voice and practice teaching. I called it the Young Women’s Yoga Sangha and started offering the program in the Bay Area. I saw that when these women talked about their fear, they were intimately supported by each other, and that support gave them the courage to face it.

When I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my goals and dreams, my mind started telling me, “I’m not good enough, I don’t know enough, I can’t do this…” and almost convinced me not to do it.

Having a consistent supportive people in my life encouraging me, made the next steps so much easier.

3. I Celebrated My Successes

I did not go out and face my biggest fear right away; I started small.

I taught my family and a couple close friends. I then felt ready to face the fear in front of strangers after having those key positive experiences first.

Every time I took a step to face my fear, I celebrated my success and reminded myself of those successes every time I felt afraid to move forward.

4. I Let Go of My Story 

Before having a regular teaching schedule, my story was, “I can’t do this, I have never been good at talking in front of groups, and therefore I will never will be good at it.”

This was not even true! Just saying it out loud felt crazy. It was a story my mind made up to keep me “playing small.”

When we live in our story, we tend to procrastinate. We’ll be on Facebook, check our email again and again, or distract ourselves with food, alcohol, sex or anything else we can use to avoid taking action.

So how did I get out of my story?

First, I recognized that there was a story, then I wrote it down until it had no meaning anymore. I saw the words, and what it really was, a story.

Marilena Minucci says, “Your story can hold you hostage or it can set you free. You get to choose.”

Make a choice to write a new story, and remind yourself of that story every time you see your old story play out. Be held accountable, speak the story, and write the story as much as you need to see all it is is a story, and then let it go.

In the book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown talks about cultivating the bravery to just be in the arena. Being in the arena shows you are living in alignment with your values.

No matter what the outcome is, you are daring greatly and living your truth of courage.

When I faced my fear, connected to what I value and wrote a new story, I learned that whatever the outcome was, I was setting an example and becoming an inspiration just by taking action.

5. I Connected to My Bigger Picture and Vision for Myself and For the World 

The biggest step I took to face my fear was ask, “Why is it important for me to face this fear?” and “Why is it important for me to make this next step?”

When I asked “Why?” I saw that the purpose of teaching was actually more important than my fear.

It became painful not to share the knowledge I had learned. I saw it wasn’t about me anymore.

If I wanted to create a more conscious and compassionate world, I needed to face the fear.

If I wanted to help people live without pain in their body, I needed to face the fear.

If I wanted more people to rest and love themselves first, I needed to face the fear.

When I approached my fear from this place of service to myself, and all the people who could benefit from my teaching, it became much easier to feel the fear and do it anyway.

{Published on elephant journal}

 

Why it's so important to have a VISION

 
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Last week on the spring equinox I invited my students to create a vision.  Everyone took time to write and consciously imagine their higher selves, their bigger world vision, and their purpose in that vision.

So why is it so important to have a vision?

For the last three years I have asked myself again and again, "Why am I here?" and "What is my larger life purpose?" I've come back to these questions over and over, and in doing so, have developed a business that supports both my life, but also my larger vision for the world.

Having a vision creates clarity and clarity creates power. {Tweet it}

Five years is going to roll around whether you want it to or not, so why not consciously design it?

Having a vision doesn't mean you have to stick to it.  It just means you know where you're going.  

If you're setting out on a road trip to Florida, it's good to know your destination.  That doesn't mean you might not change course and have a pit stop in New York along the way, but at least you are headed in the general right direction.

The problem is, sometimes we don't exactly know what we want.  I remember the pain of not knowing my purpose, not having a vision for my life or the world.  I even remember sitting on the top of a mountain in Mexico on a vision quest at my yoga teacher training asking again and again, "Why am I here?" and still not knowing the answer.  It can be hard to not know and not have community or a guide to lead you on your path.

That's why I created a 6-month group program for women, Let go, Vision, Transform.  If you're feeling stuck, looking for a new direction, ready to discover your vision, face your fears and strengthen your voice, I invite you to apply to this elite online phone based program beginning at the end of May.

I am gathering a small group of women to support each other and open to the vision for their life and the world. I will lead a series of calls on health, self-care and nutrition so each woman can start feeling energized, naturally beautiful and confident to start owning her dreams.  We will then shift focus to finding fulfillment through career, personal finances, and relationships.  After focusing on ourselves, we will open to a larger vision for the world.  I will have two private coaching calls with each woman to develop her vision, and on the last 40 days I will teach a manifestation practice for each woman to turn that vision into reality.  This will be a very close bonding experience where each woman will be fully supported to grow by leaps and bounds.

Over the last three years I've done the work to discover my vision, face my fears, and strengthen my voice to make an impact.  Now I am hear to help you to make yours.

Love, Meredith

 

Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.

 
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"Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learned here. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts. Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life."

~Marianne Williamson

What if our whole spiritual purpose was to unlearn all the fear in our lives?  Fear is not something we were born with.  When we were children we were full of love, curiosity and joy.  The world was an enchanting place full of mystery.

So what happened over those years as we grew older?  We learned fear.  Our conditioning from society showed us there was much to  be afraid of.

In the book, The Mists of Avalon there is an enchanted island surrounded by thick mists.  The only way the mists would part and a ship could find the island was if the people on the ship believed the island was there.

This is symbolic in our lives as well: there is enchantment and sacredness in each day, but we won't be able to see it unless we believe it is there.  The miracles won't happen unless we believe they exist.  There is a whole mystery of the universe at work, but sometimes we are living too much in our fear to realize it~

 

 

6 secrets to a fulfilling love life

 
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This month I am celebrating love.

With Valentine’s Day and my two-year anniversary in February, I am reflecting on what makes me feel fulfilled in my relationship.

Is it the dinner dates? Is it when he takes out the trash and I don’t even have to ask? Those things definitely bring happiness, but unfortunately, it doesn’t last forever. I’ve found fulfillment is something much deeper than fleeting happiness.

Fulfillment is about knowing what I want, believing I am worth it, loving myself utterly and completely before someone else even enters the picture and having the courage to own my vision and live my dreams.

I created this list to share the big lessons I have learned about true fulfillment when it comes to love:

1. I Learned to Love Myself First

Women are natural nurturers. We love to give. However, we need to nurture ourselves first so we don’t get burnt out. By loving ourselves first, we can be more present and have more energy to give to those we love.

The days I do my meditation and yoga practice, go for a run, take a long shower (or on a good day, a bath) and rub my favorite homemade cacao body butter over my body, are the days I literally emanate beauty. Those are the days my partner notices my shift in energy and showers me with love. Those are the days I live with ease and grace, I radiate positivity, and attract exactly what I need in my life.

When we take care of ourselves and love ourselves first, we align with the love of the universe and attract more love into our life.

2. I Figured Out What I Was Looking For, Then I Believed in it

I was longing for love for months before I reunited with my current partner. I was healing from heartbreak, and despite my grief, I knew I would be with a man who also longed for the commitment and the spiritual growth I was seeking.

As a New Year resolution, I wrote out what I wanted and believed it was possible. “I see myself in a loving, committed relationship with an attractive, ambitious, and spiritual man. He is someone who nurtures and supports me, while giving me freedom to grow my wings.”

Just one month later, magically, at Amma’s devi bhava celebration, I found myself reunited with a man I had met (and adored) years earlier. After a year of traveling, it just so happened we were living in the same city again.

So often we yearn for love, but when it comes to specifics, we don’t know the first thing we are looking for. I learned to first figure out the “what,” then imagined the feeling and qualities of that person surrounding me.

3. I Listened to My Intuition

This is key to honoring ourselves, being in the right place at the right time, and deepening a connection with a person you are already with. I followed my intuition to leave a relationship that was not honoring me, and six months later was with that attractive, ambitious and spiritual man who adored me.

So many times I learned to honor my soul’s wisdom, listen to the dreams in my sleep and that little voice that knew what choices to make. By creating space in my life for meditation and yogic practices that strengthened my intuition, I created work for myself that honors my heart, and found a relationship that honors my worth.

4. I Learned to Ask For What I Want

When we know how we want to be loved, we have to ask for it! I have a friend who wanted to receive beautifully written cards from her beloved. All she wanted for her anniversary or birthday was a hand written card or notes from him around the house. As every special holiday or anniversary came and passed, there was no card, and no notes, and she was left disappointed. However, she never told her partner she wanted a card or a note!

We can’t expect the people we love to know exactly what we want. When we ask for what we want, we empower others to fulfill our request.

On my anniversary this month I woke up and knew exactly what I wanted: a vegan banana pancake breakfast served in bed with a serenade from my partner. He was happy to fulfill my request and it was an unforgettable way to start the day. Over the years, it has become less scary for me to ask for exactly what I want, and I’ve realized it is an essential step to living my dreams.

5. I Learned to Lead By Example

This is so key to not just having a fulfilling love life, but to having a fulfilling life. When I first started living with my partner and was unemployed, I wanted my partner to earn more money and take care of me financially. Then I realized my desires for my partner were a reflection of what I wanted for myself. I wanted to make more money and find fulfilling work, but I was putting it on him to do it for me. I saw it would be a lot better use of my time to focus on myself, rather than trying to change my partner.

When we want our partner to change, we can see it as a reflection of something we want to change in ourselves. People don’t change because someone wants them to. People change because they are inspired to.

I took charge of my finances, started school, and in addition to teaching yoga, took on clients as a health coach. The funny thing is, as I focused on my business, and myself my partner started making more money as well.

We think the problem is outside of ourselves, when in reality there is always a next step we can take in our own life right now, to bring us closer to what we want. By owning our desires, we can watch our money (and our love life) prosper.

6. I Learned to Initiate Communication

Whenever I came to a spot where I could tell my partner was upset, but did not want to talk, I learned how to initiate communication.

I used the exercise “Acknowledgment and Request” from Terces and Matthew Engelhart, founders of Café Gratitude. It can be used not only in love relationships, but also in work relationships, family relationships, and friendships.

Simply ask: “Do you have anything you want to be acknowledged for?”

Your partner may be thrown off for a minute, but be patient, and listen intently. When your partner responds, ask, “Is there anything else?”

Continue asking, “Is there anything else?” until your partner has nothing else they would like to be acknowledged for. Repeat back and acknowledge your partner for everything he or she brought up.

When you finish ask, “Now, do you have any requests?”

Listen to each of the requests and then repeat back each one, saying you will do your very best to honor them.

This simple exercise has opened the doors of communication for my relationship so many times.

It’s too easy to forget to acknowledge the person I love and appreciate most in my life. Being acknowledged is kind of like hearing “I love you.” We need to hear it more than once to maintain a constant level of connection and appreciation.

I’ve learned love isn’t something I can force. However, I can focus on my own fulfillment, my heart, and myself. I’ve learned love will find me there.

This article was also published on Elephant Journal !

 

The Three Faces of God

 
yoga and meditation-God-sally kempton

Over the holidays I went to a talk with spiritual teacher Sally Kempton.   She shared with us her insights on "The Three Faces of God."  There are different forms the divine can take, and throughout our life we may shift our perspective on how we see the divine.

1.  The Physical World 

Have you ever been immersed in the presence of nature and been overcome with the feeling of divine presence?  When you look out at the vast expanse of the ocean, or sit in an old growth forest, everything stops and you are totally present.  The physical world is an overpowering presence, that reminds us of our place in the world.  It inspires awe, is a place where we can experience our true nature and the mystery of the divine through a physical manifestation.

2.  The Other 

When I grew up, as many Americans did, I believed in a God outside of myself.  A being somewhere up in the clouds, most likely a wizard with a long white beard and a purple hat, overseeing everything and everyone.  I prayed at night to this God and believed if I was good I would be blessed with the things I wanted in life.

In Eastern thought, bhakti yogis believe in the divine as their Guru.  The Guru is considered to be an enlightened being, and the simple presence of the divine being would help you burn your past karmas.  I was fascinated by the idea of the guru since I was a child, (maybe because my parents' friends told me Sai Baba was like a modern day genie) and traveled to India to visit some of these gurus and see for myself.

When I was at Amma's ashram in Kerala, I learned that it wasn't simply the presence that would help the disciples spiritually progress, but the act of devotion itself.  To drop the ego and bow in devotion to the other is what actually brings you closer to God.

3.  The Nondual Presence - Yourself

The third face of God is seeing this divine presence in yourself.  Everything around you is divine, and you are not separate from it.  As individual beings, we cling to the transitory reflections and perceive ourselves as disconnected from the divine within, however the nondual tantric philosophy states:

 "One grand, illustrious path of revelation and returning to our own divinity is yoga.  Yoga is the scientific art of remembering our true nature." - John Friend

This is the face of the God that has resonated with me the most this year.  From my studies of Anusara Yoga, I have learned:

  • Everything is supreme consciousness
  • Each of us is essentially good
  • We enhance a student’s pose by reminding them of their true goodness and innate beauty
  • We embrace our limitations and difficulties of the body/mind to open to our own boundless nature
  • We embrace the material world, we need our challenges to progress and transform
  • We are co-creators with nature, which makes life full with creative freedom, exciting and inspiring.
See which face of God resonates with you in your life now.  How has that changed since your childhood?  We are always learning and growing, and have incredible freedom to choose how we live our lives, and who and what we believe in.  May your yoga practice help you see the divine in yourself, in nature, and all beings.  Namaste.
 

The Golden Gates of Fearlessness

 
courage-san francisco-fearless-yoga

A photo of me from three years ago in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, the first month I lived in San Francisco

"Fear can only exist in the absence of our own action."

Imagine something you've always wanted to do, but were afraid to...

Fear is a powerful emotion.  It prevents us from doing so many new things.

However, if we are willing to take a risk just once, and face our fear, the next time around is so much easier.  Facing our fear just once makes us more fearless...

Fear is just unfamiliarity.  It arises when we haven't done something before and can't possibly imagine ourselves doing it.  But, fear can only exist when we are not taking action towards it.  It's our choice whether we will continue to live in a life surrounded by fear.

Last week I was faced with one of my familiar fears - driving a long distance on a highway, by myself.  My friend was having a baby shower in the city, on the other side of the golden gate bridge, and no one else could drive me.  I had never done this before and just thinking about it made me afraid.

Growing up, my mother discouraged me from driving on highways.  I thought she was just looking out for me, but I realized, it was a phobia she had and never wanted to face herself.  Over the years, her fear instilled itself in me, I developed the same phobia, and avoided highways at all costs.

Recently, I realized this fear was only holding me back.  I moved from the urban centers of Berkeley and San Francisco to Petaluma, where I needed to rely on highways almost everyday.  It was a fear I could no longer avoid.

I've taken small steps to face the fear in the last few months, and started driving down to Mill Valley by myself once a month to visit a friend. I came clean with my fear to my partner - and he showed up with a lot of compassion.  Sharing the fear, and facing it one little step at a time was, I realized, the only way through it.

But when it came to driving to San Francisco - the fear arose again within me.  Driving over such a big bridge and navigating the city for the first time seemed daunting.  But, I didn't want to let my fear hold me back from seeing my friend.

 I decided to do it anyway.

The ride down was scary for sure - I felt my adrenaline, and I even called my partner to navigate me through the streets of San Francisco when I was feeling insecure.

But I did navigate the streets, I did find a parking spot, and I did make it to the party.  I noticed walking back to my car what an air of FEARLESSNESS was within me.  I faced the fear, and felt invincible because of it.

Just facing the fear once, made driving home so much easier.  I felt confident and at ease.  

As I approached the golden gate bridge, the sun was setting, my tunes were playing, and I felt so accomplished.

I think life is all about facing fears.  It makes us feel alive.  Our adrenaline starts going, our mind becomes focused, and we are totally present.  

Crossing over the golden gate last week helped me see how capable I really am.  I can rely on myself. I passed through those golden gates of fearlessness.

 

The single most important tool I use in my relationship

 
Relationships-exercise-personal growth

Today I wanted to share an exercise that has been the single most useful tool in my relationship:  Acknowledgment and Request.  This exercise comes from the book Kindred Spirit, by Matthew and Terces Engelhart, the founders of Cafe Gratitude.

My boyfriend and I have used it in times where one person was upset (or maybe both are), frustrated, or not talking.  You know how sometimes you get upset or angry, but it's almost impossible to put into words to try and explain it to your significant other?  That's when this exercise really shines.

Here's how it works.  Decide who will be person A and person B.

Person A:  Is there anything you'd like to be acknowledged for?

Person B:  Yes I'd like to be acknowledged for ....(some examples: for doing the dishes last night, for working so hard, for always being the person to plan ahead, for picking up the kids, etc)

Person A:  (Listens) Is there anything else?

B:  Yes....(go on and list EVERYTHING you want to be acknowledged for.  Get it all out!)

Person A's job here is to listen attentively, with no interruptions or judgements. 

A: Anything else?

Repeat until there is nothing else Person B would like to be acknowledged for.  When Person B says:

B:  Okay, I think that's it.  It feels good to get it out.

Now it is person A's turn to acknowledge B for all the things he said.

A:  I'd like to acknowledge you for... (and name everything person b said. If A forgets something, it's fine for B to remind them)

This is where person B begins to feel relief, gets to feel seen, and listened to.  By this point, person B may be moved to tears and/or feel a weight lifted off of their shoulders.  Now A will ask:

A:  Do you have any requests?

B:  Yes, I request....(examples: that you help more around the house, that you help me make dinner on the nights I get home late, that you continue to love me unconditionally, that you support my choices, etc)

A:  Anything else?

B:  Okay, I think that's it.

A:  Well, I'd like to honor your request to....(Repeat back everything B just said)

Then switch roles.

When I suggest my clients try this exercise, half the time they try it and it does WONDERS.   Half the time they say, "My partner would never do something like this."  

A lot of emotions and resentment can add up if you've been with one person for many years.  I see this exercise as a way to start fresh with a clean the slate.  So even if it feels WAY out of your comfort zone, why not try it?  What do you have to lose?  Let me know how it goes!

Love, Meredith

 

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

 
Courage-buddhism-no regrets

I took a yoga class with one of my favorite Bay Area teachers this Sunday, Kimber Simpkins.   Her theme this class delved into darkness, in order to find more light.  She told us about an article she had read, about a woman in Australia in Hospice care who wrote a book called, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.

She read each of them aloud to us before the class, and reminded us throughout.  Read them through, and ask yourself, do I fit into these?  How can I make a positive change in that area of my life?

From the blog inspirationandchai.com:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard. 

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

You can read the inspiration for this article here