How to make 2018 the most badass yet

As a cup-is-always-half-full, silver-lining, eternal-optimist type of gal, the phrase NEW YEAR, NEW YOU makes me cringe.  

As much as I love the idea of a New Year, New You, from an Eastern Medicine perspective, it’s misleading and impossible.   It implies you haven’t been YOU all this time in 2015, 2016, 2017…and poof, all of a sudden 2018, here I am, new and improved.  You don’t just wake up one morning a new person. While that might have worked for Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, that is not reality and we all know that.  Yes, you may wake one morning with a new attitude; but a new attitude is not a new you.  A new attitude is the same YOU with a new attitude.  

But let’s stay optimistic here and focus on the motivating intention of making 2018 you the person you know you want to be, dream of being, the “real you” inside, without all the BS.  How you doing with that?  I hope you’re doing awesome, staying motivated, and committed more than ever to make 2018 your year.  However, if your New Year’s resolution is slowly falling to the “well maybe next year” priority list, keep reading.  You’re not alone for many reasons.  Below, I’ll share my 5 reasons why I don’t like this impossible phrase, but I’ll also share 5 ways to mentally prepare yourself if you truly are ready to make 2018 the biggest, the brightest, the most badass year yet.

So here are the reasons the NEW YEAR NEW YOU is misleading and makes me want to shake my computer every time I read it:

  1. A NEW YOU DOESN’T EXIST.  It’s an illusion.  You have always been you.  In yoga lingo, we call this your “True Nature.” Most of us are just out of touch or disconnected with our “True Nature.”  And to reconnect with that True Nature–what I believe the saying “New You” is trying to get at–doesn’t just happen when the clock hits midnight, or when you lose weight, or when you can do a handstand, or make your clothes look like you jumped straight out of Pinterest.  
  2. STARTING A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION IN JANUARY IS OUT OF ALIGNMENT WITH THE RHYTHMS OF NATURE.  And yes, no matter which way you look at it, you are part of nature.  January in the Northern Hemisphere is the dead of winter.  In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the middle of summer.  Neither of those times are conducive to truly making and sticking to a plan.  Winter is all about self-care, slowing down, and reflection.  Summer is about playing, partying, firing up your life, and shining brightly.  Hard to follow-through with new plans when everything about you is wanting to hibernate (north) or play and have fun (south). Truly, the best time to set a resolution or new year plan would be in SPRINGTIME!   If you want to stay in touch for my Integrated Yoga and Eastern Medicine Springtime workshop (online and in-person), make sure to sign-up for my Instragram feed and newsletter.
  3. NEW YEAR, NEW YOU MARKETING ASKS YOU TO THINK OF YOURSELF AS LESS THAN WHOLE.  In some way, you are broken and you need to be fixed.  This type of messaging is fear-based.  Sadly, it works.  For the majority of people, it’s easier to believe “there’s something wrong with me” or “I’m not good enough” so therefore, I need to buy this product or that program to make myself new.  Again, your inner-YOU is not broken, it’s totally enough, and doesn’t need fixing.  Your inner-YOU may be covered by years of bad habits, trauma, unfavorable experiences, and lack of self-care but all that, all those layers are not YOU.  The real you, under all that, is still there and is waiting for you to uncover, rediscover, and love it like you do your phone and gadgets.  
  4. MOST PEOPLE WANT A QUICK FIX.  Most people don’t want to take responsibility for their own life. [sigh] Most people want a quick fix, someone to tell them what to do, how to do it, and what it should feel like.  Truth is, only YOU know if it’s working for YOU!  Life is not like a yoga class.  You don’t just show up, listen to a teacher, totally trust them 100%, feel good, and say “I’m fixed.”  If it were that easy, every yoga teacher would be out of work.  Life is not a quick fix.  It’s a journey.
  5. PEOPLE DON’T MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY.  Most people don’t want to do the work it takes to uncover their True Nature.  Uncovering the layers of bullshit, drama, habits, guilts, fear, beliefs is exhausting…but also exhilarating.  You do the work because the work is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your family, your community, and the global family.  Living in your True Nature is the most important work you can do in this life.  

So maybe you’re like, but yeah, yeah, that isssss me.  Everything above.  Yes, that’s where I am.  I’m ready for all that.  I want to do the work.  I’m tired of hiding.  I know there is a me inside just waiting to be uncovered from all the dust that has slowly built up.  If this is you, AWESOME! Amazing!  Get it. 2018 is your year!  Don’t let any amount of my realism get in your way.  Here is a reality check for truly taking on this New Year, New You mindset, so when February 1 rolls around, you’re still motivated and when January 1 rolls around next year you can look back and think, “wowwwww, that was quite a year.  I DO feel like a new me, a version of me that’s more ME than ever before.

  1. STAY COMMITTED.  MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY.  Ask yourself daily, “Do I really want to uncover the real ME that has always been inside?” Meaning, do you really want to do the work: physical, mental, emotional, digging up the past, learning new habits while ditching old ones, making new relationships, letting go of patterns and people who no longer align with who you are?  You know, really doing the work to uncover the layers of what you believe, why you believe it, and ready to think, act, create, and grow based on who YOU are, not what someone told you to be?
  2. DON’T GET ATTACHED TO THE UPS AND DOWNS.  It’s not all golden rays of sunshine and happy Care Bear clouds.  The process, the journey (not the destination), the work (possibly the most important work you’ll ever be a part of), is a rollercoaster.  This rollercoaster is what most people jump off of at some point thinking, wtf, this is not what I thought it would be like.  But really, what did you think it was going to be like?  Be ready for life to feel like it got turned upside down, shaken, kicked, and rattled…but believe me–IT IS WORTH IT.  YOU ARE WORTH IT!  Also be ready for some really high times too.  Like some of the most elated, unforgettable feelings of freedom, bliss, love, relaxation to name a few. Don’t get attached to these either.  Life is always up and down, like rollercoasters or waves.  What goes up, must come down, and luckily it will go up again–as long as we don’t get attached to these ups and downs.
  3. FIND SUPPORT.  Ask for help and seek support from friends and professionals in areas you find challenging.  For years I tried to do this “life journey business” on my own.  I barely talked to anyone about it.  I used my mat, my journal, and my escapism (literally to the middle of the Pacific) to try and figure it all out myself.  It was about 5-6 years into this path that I really truly realized, I didn’t have to do this on my own, there were a LOT of other people who shared similar experiences and it was actually not as scary, frientening, and tough when I reached out and allowed my life to be surrounded by people, friends, and health care providers who I TRUSTED with my stories, experiences, and body.  With this said…
  4. BE WILLING TO CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIORS.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.  Be open to trying new modalities.  Ask friends and other mentors if they have personal recommendations for supportive health care providers.  Thinking outside the box might mean changing your Primary Care provider, or consider seeing a Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Physical Therapist, Private yoga classes, Reiki healer, Sound therapy, Homeopathy.  With this said…
  5. YOU’RE WORTH IT! Your health, your physical, mental, emotional, health and wellness, are priceless.  Just because your insurance doesn’t cover it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the types of treatment or support you need.  You may have to pay out of pocket to get what works for you.  Sometimes this requires creative money planning and a re-evaluation of financial priorities.  You might find excuses not to pay out of pocket because you don’t believe you are “worth it.”  Believe me, YOU ARE!  Without you, no amount of money or success in your life matters.  Your physical and mental presence is the most priceless asset you have.

New You really means a new attitude and commitment to finding time every day to peel back the layers of all the bullshit, drama, and habits that limit your ability see, think, feel clear, and to heal the parts that feel broken or out of alignment.  It requires taking “me” time every day (some days more than others) to do the work. So, I don’t mean to burst your New Year Resolution bubble if you’ve been flying high on the global energy created by the changing of a year, but I do hope you find more truth and lasting motivation for your New Year mindset.  

From my heart to yours…Aloha & Namaste

 

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Metta “Loving Kindness” Meditation

This week on my YouTube channel Yoga with Haunani I shared the Metta Meditation, also known as the Loving Kindness Meditation.  While I do not know the whole history of this meditation, I do know it works.  I can’t even remember who I learned it from or where I was when this meditation practice was taught to me.  All I know is that it stuck with me and I have been using it for several years.  This was my go-to meditation practice when I taught yoga to Marines and Sailors at the Naval Hospital.  One of my favorite memories of sharing this meditation is having a very young Marine who was clearly upset before class, finish this meditation, open his eyes and say out loud as he was gently nodding his head, “damn, that really worked.”

In many ways this meditation practice is really a blessing.  You bless yourself, another, your community or family, and then all beings everywhere.  It’s a simple practice, easy to follow, and effective. I’m writing the words out in this blog so you can follow along or print it out as needed until you have it memorized.

When repeating the phrases you can say it out loud, whisper, or repeat them silently to yourself.  A longer version of this meditation is to say the four lines out loud, then repeat at a whisper, and then silently to yourself.  Each time you say a line, take a moment to breathe in the statement and just witness what arises.

Prepping for the meditation:

  • Print a copy of the Metta Meditation.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit for this meditation
  • Remove yourself from distractions (i.e. phones, computers, electronics)
  • Connect with your breath
  • Give yourself permission to let go of your day, or your plans, to just focus on the practice

The first round of the meditation is directed at yourself.  This comes back to the idea that you must take care of yourself before you can truly care for another.  Or, you must love yourself before you can truly love another.  The first round is for you to reconnect with your heart.

MAY I BE HAPPY.
MAY I BE WELL.
MAY I BE SAFE.
MAY I BE PEACEFUL AND AT EASE.

The second round is dedicated to another.  At first, I recommend you choose someone who you are grateful for, who cares for you, is a mentor, or is an inspiration in your life. With them in mind and in your heart, repeat:

MAY YOU BE HAPPY.
MAY YOU BE WELL.
MAY YOU BE SAFE.
MAY YOU BE PEACEFUL AND AT EASE.

Remember to give yourself time to breathe in each statement.

The third round is dedicated to your family (blood or soul), your community, or a group of people you entrust.  Keeping them in mind, repeat:

MAY WE ALL BE HAPPY.
MAY WE ALL BE WELL.
MAY WE ALL BE SAFE.
MAY WE ALL BE PEACEFUL AND AT EASE.

The final round is dedicated to all beings everywhere.  You might imagine the World, a sea of people, or a symbol or concept that weaves us all together.  Keeping this in mind, repeat:

MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE WELL.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE SAFE.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE PEACEFUL AND AT EASE.

Take time at the end of the practice to sit and be mindful.  Notice how you feel at the end of the practice compared to at the beginning.

When you become familiar with this practice you can also use it as a powerful healing tool.  In the second and third rounds, you can bring to mind someone or group of people who has hurt you, made you angry, frustrated, or upset.  By keeping that person or group in mind, you can rebuild a sense of oneness or connection between the frayed or fraying relationship.  Using the Metta meditation in this way may help to soften the hard edges of emotions and feelings you once had toward that person or group of people.

As in all meditation practices, allow yourself to be present and witness what arises. Try to avoid judging your thoughts or having expectations of how you’re suppose to feel or be during and after this practice. The Metta Meditation is powerful in that it allows the heart’s true nature to arise and release what it has been harboring at the conscious and unconscious levels.

Be kind to yourself and just allow this words to help you reconnect with yourself, someone you love, your community, and the World.

My wish for the World

Many of you know I meditate, practice yoga, and think about the World and situations slightly different than the average gal.  Right when we moved to Bahrain, in fact the same week we moved here, there was a slew of suicide bombings and mass shootings.  Reading the news was depressing, sad, frustrating, and for me, motivating.  Motivating because it made me really sit and meditate more, dig deep into my own fears, pray, send out more love, contemplate life, and question why we are all here together at this time.

Eventually, the big move, suicide bombings, missing my family, friends, and dogs, and trying to find a new home got to me and I lost it.  I just downright lost it.  Balling.  Crying.  And so sad for the World we live in.  Why?  How?  WTF? Can’t we all just get along?  I know it sounds so cliche but I know I was sobbing those words out loud.  Through years of a committed yoga sadhana practice, I now know when I start to feel like the external (environment, situation, reactions) is affecting my internal peace, it’s time for a little reflection exercise*.  With puffy eyes and little sob to my breath, I got paper and pen and wrote at the top “What I wish for the World.”  Then, I wrote.

I want people to wake up. To take responsibility for their life and footprint on this planet in this infinitesimal amount of time we are here. To realize they do make a difference and every action, word, though creates a ripple. To take responsibility for their physical health. Mental health. Emotional health. Spiritual health. To not fear but live. To stand tall in their physical body and be able to say in the mirror, “I love you.” To not get attached to the thoughts and monkey mind. To see others and other situations as a reflection of themselves. To not be beat down by challenge but to rise up and see it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and become wiser. To be okay with not knowing. To be okay with stillness. To love more than hate. To be aware. To stand up for your beliefs while being flexible enough to learn new things and change your beliefs. To create more smiles than frowns. To leave a place in a better mood than when you arrived. To not take anything for granted. To thank God for everything in your life. To let go of what people told you to think and believe and to think and believe for yourself. To share your passions with the World. To apologize when needed but to not give up your personal power. That’s it. My wish for the World.

I was so mad and angry when I first started writing but by the end I felt like I had gotten something out.  My breath had calmed down and I felt more at peace.

Recently, while I was unpacking and settling into our new villa, I found this piece of paper.  I read it again.  I was both embarrassed and totally inspired.  Embarrassed because it reads as if I have this all figured out myself, which I don’t.  Inspired because it sounds like a calling from within, a call to action to step up my own game as a member of this human tribe and to really live this way too.  By theory, I totally 100% believe in everything I wrote.  In action, life is not always 100% of what I believe.  So, when I read this, I feel inspired to make my actions align with my beliefs.

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So why share this?  Because if you look at the external–the news, world politics, race relations–it’s easy to point the finger, to get upset, and feel helpless.  But remember, when you point the finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.  It’s also the 15th anniversary memorial of 9/11.  For many people, this day represents a turning point in perspective.  The ripple affects of September 11, 2001 are still felt worldwide.  Indeed, it’s a day of reflection.   There are many ways to reflect.  I’m not biased to one way or another.  I do believe it’s beneficial for people to do self-reflection often though.  So if you’ve never done this type of self-reflection exercise, I encourage you to do it.  It is powerful.  Get a piece of paper, write “What I wish for the World” and just start writing without judgement or holding back.  Put it aside for a few hours or weeks.  Then read it and see how what you wrote reflects your own current life.  Are the theories and daily actions aligned?  In this reflection, hopefully you will glean insight into how your external environment and internal beliefs are aligned or not.  Some of you may even be inspired to be your own change you wish to see in the World.

Life is messy and confusing sometimes.  It can seem like life can be happening to us and we have no control.  However, it’s an even playing field when it comes to how we respond to life.  We all have the same chance to live in accordance with how and what you truly believe.  What’s your wish for the World?

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Quote by Courtney A. Walsh

*In yoga, the personal practices toward uncovering one’s true nature, self inquiry (svadhyaya) is a very powerful tool for releasing anything that disturbs the mind, especially feelings of fear, frustration, worry, jealousy, hate, and attachment to name a few.  The practice of self inquiry and self reflection have been very powerful tools in my own life and have played a major role in my own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing.

Gift Yourself this Holiday Season

Whether you like it or not it’s the time of giving.  Giving gifts, giving your time to family, shopping, traffic, going to obligatory work functions, holiday parties and giving your immune system an extra test with travel.  Unfortunately, if we’re not careful and give of yourself too much you end up sick, stressed out, overwhelmed or the Scrooge.

Gift Yourself ImageThat’s why I’m dedicating this article to all of you who need permission to gift yourself this holiday season.  Sometimes we just need permission to do the things we know we ought to do.

As a stress reduction specialist (I’ve been using this term more and more since someone told me this is one of my specialties), I find that when people don’t take care of themselves during the year, the holidays become overwhelming, tiring and stressful.  In a time when there is much to celebrate, many people focus on the obligations rather than the attitude of gratitude or truly gifting another from the heart.  Furthermore, when it’s time to receive a gift from someone, people don’t know how to truly appreciate this act because we’re burnt out, feeling unworthy or again, being Scrooge.

There is a quote that I live by, “learn to love yourself before you can truly love another.”   This same psychology can also be used when it comes to gifting.  Learn to gift yourself before you truly give to others.  Easier said than done.  Learning how to gift yourself is learning how to appreciate and find gratitude for your own life and authentic self.  Learning how to gift yourself also teaches you how to receive.  Yes, RECEIVE.  Gifting is an act of moving energy from yourself outward.  When you gift yourself, you practice receiving, or moving energy from the external to the internal.  Receiving is just as important as giving but in a culture that is focused on the external objects to make us happy, many of us have forgotten how to receive with an open heart. I’m encouraging you this holiday season to gift yourself by taking care of yourself and doing things that you find indulgent but are actually very simple.  Watch your thoughts when you decide to gift yourself and notice how you receive.  Also notice how you give.  The holidays are such a beautiful time of the year for celebration and fun, take care of yourself and learn the balance of giving and receiving to truly optimize this special time of the year.

Top ten gifts to give yourself this holiday season:

Breathe! Take 5-10 releasing breathes in the car, in the shower, bathroom stall, really ANYWHERE.  How to: Take a nice deep slow breath in through the nose.  Hold the breath for 1-2 seconds and gather up any emotions or stress.  Then exhale, breathe out, with a sigh or the sound of ‘haaaa.’  Repeat as necessary.  Caution: you can cause lightheaded.  Please do not overdo.  5-10 breaths is plenty!

Mooooove your body.  Remember to move and stretch during your travels.  If you’re driving, during your rest stops walk around the parking lot, do some push ups on a bench or some squats in the parking lot.  Yes, people will look at you but again, by taking care of yourself (and having fun doing so) gives permission for all the other achy travelers to move too.  If you’re flying, remember to flex your legs, ankles and glutes/buttocks regularly.  When you’re waiting in lines try to balance on one leg.  Maybe even jog or speed walk to your next gate, not because you’re about to miss your flight but because you’ll feel better once you get there.

Foot massage.  Did you know there are millions of nerve endings that send signals through your whole body when you massage your feet. Foot reflexology is based on this principle.  How to:  Sit on the floor a comfy chair, cross one of your legs and begin massaging the heck out of your foot, ankle and calf.  Better yet, get a friend or loved one to do it for  you!  If you don’t have a foot or hate feet, keep reading to check out another gift you can give yourself.

Self Oil Massage.  That’s right, oil yourself up.  Use a natural oil like coconut oil, sesame oil (not toasted, it should look golden), olive oil or jojoba oil. gently warm the oil in a double boiler, coffee warmer or on the stove.  Be careful not to burn yourself or overheat the oil.  If the oil begins to smoke, start over.  With your warm, body temperature oil, begin by applying some to the scalp.  Then cover the body making circles at joints and long sweeping motions on limbs and torso.  Let the oil sit for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy your favorite cup of tea (gift yourself #4) and then take a hot shower without soap to wash the oils off.  This is an ancient healing secret from the East.  It is a therapy to create balance of the body and all the tissues.  If you go to a spa and get this done you’ll be dishing out $150-$350.  Yes, gift yourself!

Hand massage.  Like the foot, did you know there are millions of nerve endings that send signals through the whole body when you massage your hands?!  Massage each hand for 10 minutes.  Better yet, have a friend or loved one massage it for you.  Kids are great at giving hand massages and very healing and intuitive by nature.

Indulge in your FAVORITE cup of tea or coffee.  Not sure about you, but I tend to buy tea in bulk, not a high-end tea but something I know will GET THE JOB DONE.  My husband who is a coffee drinker tends to do the same.  HOWEVER, why not give yourself permission to go out and buy your all time favorite tea or coffee for the holidays?  Sipping on it while you get a foot massage or after you’ve given yourself a full body massage will feel like you’re the Queen or King of the neighborhood.  Which I’m sure you already are 😉

Sleep in as long as you want.  Arrange with your partner, spouse or family to give you one morning where you can sleep in as long as you want.  Some of you already do, so don’t choose this as a gift to yourself.  Others of you, including myself, have pets or kids to take care of.  Sleep is so incredibly important to reducing stress from the body and mind.  When we don’t give ourselves permission to get sleep until we naturally wake up, we are adding more stress to our lives.

Do one thing you LOVE to do.  Novel idea, right?!  In the clinic, I like to give my clients homework assignments between sessions.  The most often “prescribed” homework is asking a client to do something they absolutely LOVE to do but never do anymore.  One lady in New York loved walking around looking at the old architecture and taking photos.  She hadn’t done this in over 10 years even though she walked everywhere and lived on the upper east side, an amazing area for her passion.  Another lady just wanted time to sit with her cat in her lap, turn off all the gadgets and watch the world walk by.  Another man wanted to continue to write on a screen play he began 18 years earlier.  By giving themselves permission, each of these people did what they LOVED!  You should have seen the smiles on their faces during our next session.  TRY IT, that’s why you LOVE IT!

Buy yourself a gift.  In the Business and Money section of the Times this week, there is an article New Holiday Tradition: Buying Yourself a Gift.  While I’m attempting to keep the gift yourself idea focused on health and wellness, I have to admit there is something incredibly satisfying and healing when you buy yourself a gift for no reason.  A REAL GIFT that is, not something for the house, your pet or work.  A gift is something you’d probably never buy for yourself because of the thirty reasons of why you could use something else…for the house, pet or kids.  It doesn’t have to be something huge, lavish or expensive.  Maybe it’s hand lotion, a favorite candle or a hard-cover book.  Imagine that, a real book?!

Write or express your dreams, goals and aspirations for 2013.  This is not the same as a New Year Resolution.  This is about giving yourself permission to dream and dream big.  Not only learn from the past and decide to move forward with all the wisdom you’ve gained but maybe in this process learn something new about yourself.  Attempt to get out of the usual things you dream or think about and go wild.  Questions to ask yourself: If money weren’t an issue, I’d__________.  If I had all the time in the world, I’d_____ or may day would ____________.  When I look back at this time next year, I want to feel __________ or be able to say, I did ______________.  I want to learn about _____ in 2013.  The biggest lessons of life have come from ___________________.  I’ll use this knowledge in 2013 to _____________.

Choose an Attitude of Gratitude.  The holidays are the perfect time to point out who’s glass is half-empty and whose glass if half-full.  Unfortunately, the half-empty mentality is much easier to follow and fall into its unforgiving jaws.  IF however, you are a half-full or overly full mentality type, keep it up this holiday, even around friends and family.  You may get picked on, you may even be asked the most silly questions like why or how can you be so happy,  but more importantly you give others permission to live this way as well.  I can’t think of a better gift…and it’s free!  Remember, even the smallest and most simplest things can turn our world around.

Caution:  If you feel silly gifting yourself, you’re not alone.  More importantly, you’re probably doing it right.  Don’t worry what others think, just have fun.  After all, the holidays are a time for having fun and being silly! 

Gratitude as an Act of Devotion

When the hustle and bustle of the holiday season grabs you by the arm, neck, throat, or well, you know what, rather than fight back, smile at it this year and say “Thank you.”

Huh? Thank you???

Yep, “Thank You!” with a big smile of course.

With this week being Thanksgiving we are constantly being reminded to be grateful. I love it! A week where everyone is practicing and engaging in yoga. Alright, I have to admit, I tend to view my life in terms of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, the five elements, the eight limbs of yoga or Vedic wisdom. That’s just how I see things.

http://haunanichong.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/gratitude-sunset.jpgIshvara Pranidhana is a sanskrit term used and practiced a lot in yoga. It means “Devotion to Supreme God.” It’s one of the Niyamas, or personal observances, outlined in the Yoga Sutras by Pantanjali. If the word “God” freaks you out, like it did me for many decades, use a term that does resonate with you like “Love,” “the Universe,” “Divine,” “Nature” or “All Things.” One of the easiest ways to practice Ishvara Pranidhana is by feeling, being, and acknowledging gratitude in your life. When we truly feel and share our gratitude internally and externally, magic happens all around–improved energy, better sleep, people treat us better, random acts of kindness come out of nowhere (and really, they aren’t so random). Don’t believe me?

My mom just shared a story with me the other day. She travels a lot for work and got stuck on the east coast due to a broken airplane part. Her flight to San Francisco was delayed for 48 hours. While the majority of the people were kicking and screaming over the situation, she decided to take another approach. She surrendered to the situation and decided to take the perspective that “everybody is trying to fix the situation (flight mechanics, customer service representatives, etc). I should be grateful for all these people working to get me home safely.” While others were shouting and yelling at the ticket agents, she decided to smile and let them know she was thankful for their hard work. Just by expressing her sincere gratitude, not getting upset or blaming the people who were trying to help her get home sooner, she was rerouted and given a first class seat for no extra fee. Presto! A random gift based in gratitude.

Granted, I’m an optimist, but I know my life runs much more smoothly when I’m not fighting myself, the urge to be somewhere else (even if it’s in a long line at the store) or needing something else. I’ve learned through the years that if I ditch the December Downers, self-pity parties and let the Frantic Shopper or Family Drama Queen take a vacation, my life is so much richer and easy.

http://haunanichong.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/holiday-dinner-smiles.jpgThis holiday season, feel the feeling of gratitude and find gratitude in all aspects of your life (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual). You can express gratitude inwardly and silently or outwardly through gestures and words. Express your gratitude outwardly by smiling to yourself for no reason, smiling at strangers, listening to a friend, sibling, or person on the street who always tries to start a conversation with you. Inwardly, practice gratitude through how you perceive yourself, your state of mind as you move through the airport, cash register, and sitting with family. Most importantly, share your gratitude to the Universe, or Divine, by saying “thank you” and truly feel this gratitude in every cell of your being. When we acknowledge all the gifts and blessings in our life the Universe responds with “You’re welcome.” Don’t be surprised if “You’re welcome” is an unexpected gift you’ve been patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for.

What “yoga is” to me.

At some point during my studies in Yoga, Oriental Medicine, Hawaiian Healing and Ayurveda a teacher once shared with me, “Until you can see Love in all things, until you can Love all people, you’re not ready to practice this medicine.”  I remember being floored, my gut turned inside out (at the time, not good for my IBS, which I’m happy to share is completely healed through Natural Medicine), my dreams dashed for a second, but my heart was racing and the internal me was shouting “Yes, Yes, Yes!”  This was a moment in time when I realized I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Of all the modalities I have studied, in my own heart I consider them all a form and practice of Yoga.  Yoga, in the more general sense of “unification of the present,” is a path to seeing, feeling, hearing, observing and being connected to all things.

In an attempt to bring more clarity to what this means for me in a practical sense, I want to share what yoga is to me.

Yoga is…

Uniting the body, mind, emotions and spirit with the breath of all life.

A breath of life that eventually shows its identity of all things to be LOVE.

Feeling the breath of life breath you.

Where challenges become opportunities to grow and expand our boundaries, and deepen our relationship and understanding of God, of Love.

Hearing the sound of your own heart’s song in the stillness of your mind, and then living in accordance to your authentic heart song, without inhibition.

Choosing Love first.

Forgiving.

Seeing Transformation as a Way of Life.

Recognizing the interconnectedness of ALL life, including your self and choosing to live in HARMONY, in BALANCE, and with RESPECT for all things.

LOVING yourself, recognizing that before you can truly Love another, you must first begin to Love yourself.

The art of remembering, returning to your own Heart Light and refusing to let others tell you otherwise.

Yoga is YOU…You were born from yoga, born into yoga, and will die in yoga.  Yoga is your, his, her, my true nature.  The stillness of the mind simply reminds us of our true nature and our true nature is experienced in Yoga.

Computer Age or Human Age?

Another blog I wrote on February 15, 2008.  It seems just as relevant now as before, except technology has advanced to the nth degree.  May you find some “aha” moments nonetheless.

Ancient Wisdom reminds us, “what we see on the outside is a direct mirror reflection of the inside.

I sat on a Friday night, tonight, February 15, 2008, thinking about this concept.

As a yogi, I find myself in deep contemplation often.  Where most of my peers in their late 20’s are off drinking at a bar, dancing, or getting ready for the night at 8:30 pm, I’m already preparing for bed.  I’d rather wake early to the sound of silence then stay out late in the sound of chaos.  Back to the point, so here I am Friday night reflecting on how the outside world is TRULY a direct reflection of the inside world of us, each human being.

I began to marvel at how wonderful the Internet and E-mail system has become.  How amazingly fast and efficient it is.  Click click click and I have a whole dissertation sent across the globe.  Click Click Click and I have music produced by a friend in France playing on my computer.  WOW!

Continuing to read Jeffrey Armstrong’s newest book Karma, The Ancient Science of Cause and Effect it became so clear and obvious to me how the Computer Age is truly a direct reflection in EVERY WAY of the current Human Age.

The Internet, or inner-net, of energy frequencies and bundles of energy and information streaming through space and time, from our home computers and from our computers we call bodies.  Information sent from one place to another, communicating long distances from brain to foot, foot to brain in milliseconds.  The Internet, aka “the Web”, is a direct reflection of the internal web within us.  The web of energy channels, nadis, (72,000 in all), acupressure meridians, energy points like satellites or signal receivers, vortexes of swirling energy that concentrate energy into particular areas.  The Web is our web.  We can take this one step further to extend our computer based Internet Web to that of the Web of Consciousness of All That Is.  The omnipresent Web of Consciousness that knows All and is available to anyone who chooses to tap into its frequencies…sound familiar to computer talk?

In October of 2005 I took a Healing course called Total Body Modification.  Although I never became a proficient practitioner of it, mostly because it was like learning HTML Coding (something I didn’t want to invest my energy into at the time), I definitely understood and believed the profound healing impact it had on the human bodies (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual).  Not only because it made sense to me but also because I could feel and experience the healing that took place when it was done on me.  Throughout this training the body was continually being compared to a computer.  Our physical body was the hard drive, the brain the internal processor, the heart the software, conductors and silicon connectors our energy channels.  It made perfect sense in a not so traditional way.  I got it.  How simple I thought, if a person can understand computers and their workings, they can understand the human body.  If they can take apart and put a computer back together, they could probably be an incredible healer.  Of course, in the back of my mind this gave me hope that my computer engineer brother who has been calling me his “hippy sister who’s gone woo-wooo” might come around to “get” me when he heard this correlation.  Like I said, after that weekend training, I used TBM on a few people while the language and protocols were fresh in my mind.  But after awhile, like learning a foreign language, I didn’t use it and I began to lose the language.

But a major lesson was learned and a new paradigm of looking at the human body and its healing capabilities understood.  Here, two years later on this beautiful Friday night I began to understand TBM in a deeper light, with greater appreciation.

If we continue to look at our external world as a direct reflection of our inner-world, we can also understand more of our human evolution in the past ten to twenty years.  Most importantly how quickly we are evolving as a species, consciously and unconsciously.  Consciously it is very easy to see how quickly technology, especially the computer industry, has evolved.  It was just ten years ago that the Internet had entered the public school systems.  Twenty years ago, I remember our school opened its first computer lab.  Dot matrix screens with green or orange print, dot matrix printers, and the only game available was Frogger or Oregon Trail.  The Internet wasn’t even an everyday word until I was in high school.  Even then, most home computers were on dial-up modems.  Remember when it would take 5-10 minutes for your computer to warm-up and dial-in?

Today, we are seeing faster, smaller, more powerful computers every month.  Not only is the hardware advancing but the software is becoming more complicated, more user friendly, and the diversity of programs is unthinkable as to ten years ago.  Computer viruses are becoming more prevalent, harder to track and able to destroy more information than ever before.  Sound familiar?  Our bodies are two upgrading, adapting, taking on more energy and changes than every before.  And like the Apple vs. IBM debate as to “stick with what I know computer” and not try the new one, we fight ourselves and deny change even if the other “sounds just as good.”  Internally struggling to stay with the comfort zone of what I “know,” refusing to even consider changing to another computer or different lifestyle.  In the process creating more stress or denying the inevitable change, becoming attached to something that is being outdated, thus our software systems begin to show signs of wear and tear…cancer, hypertension, migraine headaches, repetitive injuries.  We are definitely in a mirroring stage of existence.

While viruses become more and more ramped, at the same time the anti-virus programs, firewalls, computers that filter Junk and pop-ups are also growing at an astounding rate to keep up with the “negative” aspects of computers.  As a “healer” I can see a direct reflection of the number of Healers who have come out of their closet to step into their role as a healer in the past five to ten years.  Different modalities, creative, intuitive, channeled, and integrative methods of healing the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual body spring up every week.  They all work, and like anti-virus software, are becoming more and more powerful against the unforeseen virus.  Becoming more preventative in nature rather than curative.

Another direct reflection of the Computer World as our own is the ongoing struggle between choosing to stick with our old computer systems that we grew up with or adapting new systems that are unknown but sound more reliable, efficient, and virus proof.  Where some people take the leap of faith of buying a new computer and totally different computing system without even thinking twice, typically the switch from IBM to Apple (a more virus preventative computer), there are those who still hold on with a strong hold to what they know because they don’t want to have to go through learning something new or changing what already “works” for them.  Again, does this sound familiar to our conscious evolving (or not evolving) groups of society?  Some people quickly adapting to change while there are those who refuse to think outside the old paradigm box of what makes them comfortable.  A critical difference, once again reflected in our growing computer world, is that we can’t deny the change any longer.  It’s happening whether we want it to or not.

Consciously we can see, even in our economic market, that computers, their workings, software, and components are changing faster than ever.  Our bodies, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual bodies are ALSO changing faster than ever.  At an unconscious level, the computer industry may think they are working to keep up with developing technology, but perhaps technology is attempting to keep up with changing and evolving human consciousness?  My altruism holds faith in the later.  They are one and the same, a direct reflection of each other.

At this critical, burgeoning time of human consciousness, we can choose to hold on and refuse to change to a new hardware, operating system, processor, and software because we fear change, the unknown and we’ve become to complacent and comfortable to learn something new thereby inducing stress, virus, and other conditions or dis-eases of our computing systems.  Or we can take a step towards the unknown, go with the flow of change and ask for an upgraded operating system, processor, and software that keep us up to date with the ever expanding possibilities thereby reducing undue stress and dis-ease in the body.  How do you want to live?  It’s up to you.

Going back to where this whole article began, if the outside world is a direct reflection of our inside world, what else can we learn about ourselves as evolving spirits on planet earth if we look outside?  Are you destroying yourself like our environment?  How much pollution and carbon emissions are you filling your body with or are you choosing new ways of living that reduce these chemical toxins?  Are you choosing to live and support spraying your food with toxic chemicals and pesticides the same way you spray your internal organs with pharmaceuticals and drugs?  Are you recycling because it makes you look good from the outside and it’s the fad thing to do, the way you try to do the new fad diet or health conscious trip because it makes you look like you care form the outside?  How do you really feel on the inside?  What steps are you truly living because you believe in it versus the things you do because it makes you look good?

Remember our outer world is a direct reflection of our inner-world.  I challenge you to look at the outside life in this manner and than reflect on your inner-self.  See a resemblance?  If not, it was fun to consider this point of view and to write this article.  You read this far, which means something caught your attention and I thank you for your precious time.  For those who have read this article and truly “get it” I thank you too for your time.  May our ever-changing world continue to inspire us to “Be the change we wish to see in the World.”

Aloha & Namaste