over the moon

How I Fell in Love with My Meditation Practice

 
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Over my career as a yoga teacher I have spoken to many women who strive to keep up a home yoga or meditation practice, but quickly give it up when life gets busy. 

I used to constantly struggle with keeping up a morning practice and would feel guilty when I fell off track.  I tried numerous ways to keep up a practice, but had a hard time keeping it up and wondered, “Why is it so hard for me to keep a consistent connection to spirit?”

I know that when I am connected, and do take out that time in the morning to myself, I am so much more present, calm and compassionate throughout my day.  I know that’s when I rely less on others and am more in tune to my inner guide. 

When I connect to the love within myself, I am not constantly searching for it in my relationship or places outside of myself.

I’ve found more than anything else, when I made my meditation practice enjoyable, it became sustainable.

I knew I wasn’t going to wake up every morning to sit quietly and do something I dreaded.  I had to lure myself into my meditation practice.  I had to bring in the romance.

Gabby Bernstein says, “I made spirit my boyfriend.”  When she did that, everything else in her life began to flourish.  When we fall in love with spirit, we begin to attract and manifest what we want and need in our lives easily.

I know how hard it can be to keep up a daily meditation practice, so I wanted to share the top ways that helped me fall in love with spirit and keep my morning practice sustainable…

I learned to:

Shift from Discipline to Devotion

I used to live in a house where my roommates and I practiced silent meditation together for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening.  The practice became so disciplined that I began to avoid it altogether.  Even though I willingly created the rules, when I felt constricted, all I wanted to do was break them.

I eventually moved out of the house, and went months with no meditation practice.  My rebellious side wanted to take back control.  After awhile, I began to miss those solitary moments with my breath, but I knew I had to approach my practice in a different way.  I remembered something my yoga teacher had said about developing a home yoga practice, “No one is making you do it.  You’re doing it for yourself.  Think of it as a devotion, rather than a discipline.”

Shifting my perspective and realizing, no one was making my do it, but rather I was showing up in devotion to myself and to spirit changed everything.  I suddenly was able to show up to my meditation pillow, and my mat with ease.

Change it Up

When my practice was the same silent sitting everyday, I got bored and went back into avoidance.  I learned I needed to change it up once in awhile, even if it was a slight change to stay with it.  Some mornings my practice includes yoga, some mornings it is pranayama, and sometimes it is mostly silent meditation.  When I prioritized devotion over the structure, I was able to let go of the guilt and keep coming back to my meditation seat.

Call on an Archetype

I began connecting to archetypes in my meditation after reading Deepak Chopra’s book, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire.  I would imagine a heroine, chief or goddess I felt connected to and began to ask, “Please express yourself through me.”  Over many days of connecting to the powers and attributes of someone I looked up to, I began to embody the qualities myself.

Move and Breathe First

What many people often struggle with when meditating is a “busy mind.”  The Indian guru Osho says you need to get all the garbage out of the mind first before you can get anywhere in silent meditation.  The best ways I have found to “get the garbage out” is to breath and move my body.  That could mean going on a run first, putting on music and dancing or shaking, or doing breath of fire or other kundalini breath work before silently meditating.  When I exert myself first, then sit silently, the experience becomes so still, silent and peaceful.

Bring in the ROMANCE

When I began to think of my morning practice as a devotion, I began to think of all the ways I could make my practice more enjoyable.  I bought an essential oils diffuser to create beautiful aromas of Rose and Geranium into the space.  I sat on a heating pad to feel warm and comfortable, I began my practice with singing, and made my altar a gorgeous representation of my devotion.  Every day I felt so happy waking up to my practice because of how loving and romantic it became.  This is the art of falling in love with yourself.

Connect to a Vision

After learning about the law of attraction, I began to bring manifestation to my morning practice.  I wrote out, in the present tense what I wanted to create in my life and in the world.  I connected to how I wanted to wake up and feel everyday.  I connected to why I wanted what I wanted, and every morning, read this vision out loud.  Every morning then became not only a devotion to myself and to spirit, but a devotion to what I wanted in my life and for the world.

Set a Container (A   begin and end date)

In order to create a new healthy, habit, it helps to choose a set number of days to do your practice for.  Feel free to start small and say something like, “For the next seven days I am going to do this practice.”  Put a reminder in your calendar, an alert on your phone, or a note on your bedside table to stick to it.  Tell yourself, “If resistance comes up, I am going to just sit down and do the practice, only for these seven days.  If I still don’t want to do it after these seven days I don’t have to anymore.”  Chances are, you will be able to keep it going after the set amount of time you create.

I choose to do my practices in forty day increments.  Forty days is historically known as a sacred time period for enacting change.  It can clear old subconscious patterns, set up new positive patterns, and change your life for the better. At the end of every forty day cycle, I celebrate and reflect on what has changed in my life.

Get Others Involved

It helps to know there are other people out there meditating with you.  Try calling up a friend and creating an accountability partner.  I began a whole program based around creating a vision and meditating with other women for forty days because I wanted to create that accountability for myself and others.  The program grew to include women in five continents.  I began to see when I meditate, I am not just meditating for myself, but I am meditating for the visions of women all over the world.

Whether you are just starting a meditation practice, or you’re a seasoned meditator, try these tips when you sit down for your practice to fall in love with your own connection to spirit.

 

 

Seven Signs You're A Modern Day Priestess

 
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When I was growing up and heard the word "priestess," I thought of boring sermons at church, wearing clothes I didn't feel comfortable in and being forced to sit quietly when I wanted to play outside. I didn't know much about what it meant to be a priestess other than it was probably the female version of a "priest." As a playful young girl, the thought of becoming a female priest sounded pretty mundane.

Then one day, a friend wrote out my numerology. It was the number eleven, which also breaks down to two. In tarot, the eleven (or two) corresponds to the archetype of the High Priestess. She told me in ancient times, the priestess was known for having a heightened contact to other realms through intuition and dreams. The community would seek counsel from priestesses to know what actions to take in their lives.

I thought about my life and how I had always had a heightened sense of intuition; of being able to feel into a situation in order to make a decision. I thought of how friends were naturally drawn to me for guidance and consolation during difficult times.

Maybe I was a priestess after all.

Over a few months, I felt more and more connected to the archetype of the High Priestess and dove into books and articles on the topic. I began to see: the modern day priestess lives anything but a mundane life. Her life is rich in dreams, intuition, ritual, feminine leadership and a connection to the divine.

Here are seven signs there is a modern day priestess awakening within you:

Your Calling is to be of Service

To be a leader, you must first learn to serve. —Jennie Mira

The priestess is not a teacher or leader on a pedestal, but rather, she is of the highest service.  She is in service to her community and to her calling.  Being of service is not about placing anyone above or below, but rather creating a mutual relationship of respect between the priestess and the women she facilitates and serves.

Her work is to become a channel, a vessel to serve the highest good of the divine.  She must maintain a practice of self-care to be the most present and abundant in her ability to serve and become a channel.

Many women fantasize about a priestess wearing flowing robes, crowns and using magical tools, but in reality the priestess must be prepared "to be the last one in the rented hall, scraping candle wax droppings with a razor blade."  ~ Ruth Barrett

You are Highly Intuitive

The priestess uses practices such as writing, dancing, movement, meditation, self-care and alone time to hone her ability to listen to intuition. Our intuition is like a muscle that heightens when we pay attention to it. The more she can quiet the busyness of her mind, the more access she will have to the guidance of the divine and be able to step into the role of a channel to those in need.

You Seek Out Ritual in Your Daily 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 a 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 by my sisters. After participating in ritual, I feel more confident and courageous to share myself with the world.

Your Internal Clock is Synced with the Moon

In ancient times, women slept in tribes, often under the stars and the moon. Their menstrual cycles were in sync with each other and with the lunar cycles: bleeding at the new moon and ovulating at the full moon.

You may begin to be more in tune to the natural world and notice energy levels rise and fall. Going out to socialize will make more sense with the heightened energy of the full moon and slowing down to nest will feel perfect at the new moon. For a modern day priestess, creativity, energy levels and social needs begin to flow in tandem with the moon and tides.

You Are Highly Sensitive

A priestess can feel the energies of the room and has a heightened ability to feel other people's emotions. This can be difficult for highly sensitive women because the world may sometimes feel like "too much."

In my last program, one of the woman "came out" as an HSP (highly sensitive person) and nearly all the others spoke up to share how much they related to and supported her. As a highly sensitive person, you may feel alone in a world of extroverted and gregarious people, however we often forget that heightened sensitivity is a gift.  You can fuel your feelings and emotions into writing, singing, and listening with a deeper level of compassion for others.

You Have Prophetic Dreams

Have you ever dreamt something and realized it became your reality a week later? A priestess often turns to her dreams for guidance. Dreams are a powerful place to explore questions in your life and to connect to the desires of your subconscious self.

One practice I use often is re-entering dreams. When you are unsure of how to decipher the symbols or occurrences of a dream, close your eyes and imagine yourself back in the space. Then go to characters and objects one at a time and ask, "What do you have to show me?" You will probably be surprised with the answers your subconscious comes up with.

You Are Naturally Drawn to Holding Space

The twenty-first century priestess becomes the container who helps create sacred space wherein women can connect with the Goddess within. —Ruth Barrett

A priestess is a space-holder. She creates the space for others to show up as they are. Have you noticed that people turn to you to guide them through an experience? Holding space is not about planning or knowing what to do or say. It is about becoming present to the moment. All that is needed is to tune into the energy of the person or the group; to listen and ask for guidance within.

In the comments, I'd love to hear what a "priestess" means to you and how can you embody the priestess in your daily life?

 

Permission to Be Fearless

 
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Last month on the Winter Solstice, I was invited to sing in front of 150 people. I arrived, a little nervous, but confident in my offering. I sat with my harmonium, poised with a microphone near my mouth and my instrument. I welcomed the group into a meditation and began to sing, "Ong Namo Gurudev Namo."

I finished the song feeling proud. I did it, I thought. The moment I had been anticipating for weeks was over. I did it. The brief moment in time felt so surreal.

I realized that if I had been asked to sing in front of a group this size a year ago, I would have been terrified. Expressing myself through my voice, especially singing, has been one of life's biggest challenges and greatest gifts.

I remember struggling to introduce myself in front of a small group of people in high school and freaking out before presentations in college. I always felt like a deer in the headlights and struggled to find my breath and voice.

The fear of sharing my voice was actually what inspired me to become a yoga teacher. I remember admiring my teacher in New York, gracefully walking across the room while powerfully commanding the yogis from one pose to the next. Could I ever be like that? I thought.

I was introduced to the harmonium by another yoga teacher, Kimber Simpkins, who opened and closed every class singing with the harmonium. As I began to use my voice, I felt the vibration in my body and began to discover the sound inside me. As I watched her, confident and poised, I again asked, Could I ever be like that?

Soon after discovering Kimber's classes, I fell in love with a musician. Watching him sing so beautifully in front of a crowd brought out all the insecurities inside me.

Every time I went to watch him perform, I felt more nervous than he did. I realized this fear was telling me something: maybe it was time for me to share my voice. I then discovered this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:

"Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down."

I began to make small steps to face the fear. First, I started teaching yoga classes. Every time I stood in front of the room as a teacher, I became more confident in myself and my voice. Each step I took to face the fear gave me the courage to go further.

I remember the first time I sang in front of my boyfriend, terrified at what he would think. My fingers were shaking on the guitar. I had him close his eyes because I felt so exposed. It was uncomfortable, yes, but I survived, and in the end, I received praise. I felt proud of myself.

That sense of pride kept me going.

My boyfriend encouraged me to step out of my shell. One night, I asked if he would sing with me around the fire at a friend's house. I felt the nervousness arise as I held the guitar, but I sang anyway. It wasn't perfect, but again, I was praised.

A few months later, I was at a full moon ceremony to release fear. As each person spoke, I knew this was the step I needed to take again and again to develop my strength. In the ceremony, I shared the fears I carried around my voice and did the thing that scared me most: I sang with the harmonium in front of the entire group.

There I was, years later, embodying the teachers I had looked up to most.

Every time I faced my fear and shared my voice, a new door opened from the universe. Opportunities and invitations came, and my confidence grew.  Eventually, I was led to the sacred moment at the Winter Solstice to share my voice with more people than I ever had before.

Every step of the way, I was being prepared.

Every step of the way, I had to trust myself that I was ready...

Through that trust, I have seen the universe open doors for me that I am ready for. I see women all around me answering the call to rise up in their power, their divine femininity and their voice. I have answered the call and am now encouraging other women to feed the flames, discover their power and stand strong in their voices.

If you are out there and have ever felt afraid to speak up, afraid to sing, or afraid to share, know that you're not alone.  I've been there and I can tell you from my experience: when opportunity comes knocking, trust in it. The universe is only going to present you with opportunities you are ready for; you can say yes, even when there is fear.

Your voice is ready.

Deep down, you know it is.  All you have to do is say yes.