Your inner guide (dhi): Are you listening?

You know the "gut feeling" that people talk about? Well, that gut feeling is a real thing. I am sure I could pull millions of studies of why this inner voice that we all have inside is for real. However, I am not the researcher but rather one that likes to do these experiments in my own life. I am sure I will find the right study at some point, but today I want to share a little bit about your inner guide and simple steps to begin to access it.

I was recently chatting with my sister about our internal guide or intuition and explaining that we all have intuition that comes from our soul. I explained that we all hear it differently. The three most common places to hear/feel/see your inner guide (dhi in sanskrit) are: your third eye (the point between the eyebrows), your heart center (the center of your chest) or your navel center. Each and every one of us are different for how and where we access our dhi. The trick and key to it all: practice! Essentially, the more that you start to ask your inner guide what it is that you might need on a given day or moment (or in regards to a specific question), the more that you will start to recognize how you might hear this. Sometimes you might see a color or a feeling or hear words. For some the words are in the sound of their own voice and others it is a different voice. And then, as mentioned above, the location is typically one of three places (third eye, heart center, navel center).

Are you listening to what is in your best interest? Are you making decisions based on intellect alone or are you giving yourself and your soul a chance in the conversation each day? I know that this skill is an ongoing skill that I continue to develop; the best way that I can get better at it is to practice. When are the best times to practice? When you are learning this skill of listening to your intuition, the ideal environment is when your mind is quiet. We often jump from one thing to the next and our minds follow. We have busy minds, often referred to as monkey minds. The most simple way to calm and quiet your mind is focusing on the breath. Of course, even seasoned practitioners would say that when your mind is quiet, that is when you can truly access your inner guide. As a newer student to this (in the last four years) I would say those are the most powerful times I have accessed it. And your soul will not lie. It knows what you need, hands down. 

I want to share with you a simple meditation on the breath, using the technique of pure breathing. My intention is that you have something you can try today (or right now) that will help you begin to tap into that place of knowing. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am studying online with Rod Stryker through his Vinyasa Krama online training. I have learned so much and look forward to training with him when he comes to Minneapolis next week! During my recent studies I did a meditation that included the process of pure breathing! It was awesome. This simple meditation below uses this technique to help facilitate the quieting of your mind. I will then give you the simple process to connect to your inner guide. I learned this technique in Rod Stryker's Four Desire's book, one that I reference and use many days of my life. Giving credit where credit is due, if you want further detail on meditation or accessing your dhi (and more) pick up your copy today (and to be clear I am not sponsored to say this, I just love it!)

Let's do the meditation now (or take a picture/bookmark and do this when you wake or before bed...or anytime that works). 

5-10 minute Meditation on the breath accessing your intuition (dhi)

1. Sit tall, with your spine tall. You can prop yourself up on a bolster, pillow or block. Or if using a chair, get your low back to the back of the chair, upper back off of the back of the chair, feet planted firmly into the ground. Spine is tall (think crown of the head is over the spine). 

2. Once you find a comfortable seat, close your eyes and have the intention to relax your entire body: relax your face, jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, internal organs, belly, hips, legs and feet. Relax everything.

3. Bring your awareness to your breath. The first minute, simply watch the body breathe. You are not forcing or guiding the breath, just bring your awareness to the body breathing (awareness at the navel center). 

4. Have the intention to smooth out the breath and begin to guide the breath. Slow down the breath and breathe in and out as smooth as you can, without pause at the top of inhale or the bottom of exhale. The breath is silent and the the intention is the to stay calm as you breathe in and out. 

5. Continue the steady and smooth breath from step four (pure breathing) for 3-5 more minutes. As you do so, relax the body and be aware of any sensations happening in the body. Notice the connection to the quality of the breath and the quality of the mind. If your awareness wanders go back to the breath and do this with as little exertion as possible. 

6. After the mind has settled, you can continue the breathe longer, or when you are ready, move to connect to your intuition. First, give gratitude for your life and body. Second, make it known that you are not attached to any answers that will be given. And finally, when your mind is quiet, ask the question that you would like an answer for. When you do so, the answer will come fast and quick. You might hear something or feel something or see something. Again, if you do not get an answer that is okay, go back the breath until you are ready again to ask the question. Note: In Rod's step-by-step process he explains that it is good to start with easy questions that you already know the answer to. This way you begin to build trust in yourself and your inner voice. (Example could be: "should I yell at my kids?"). The second tip is that you must act on the answers that you are given. The more you do this the more your inner voice will be accessible to you. I can attest to that. 

7. Once you have gotten an answer or are ready to move, on, give gratitude for the answer and moment and go back to watching your body breathe for a few rounds. When you are ready to come out, deepen your inhale and exhale, rub your hands together back and forth to create warmth, cover your eyes with your hands gently, blink your eyes open with your hands covering your eyes, lower your chin and open your eyes slowly as you connect to where you are physically, and transition back into your day. It might feel good to keep this in a journal and begin to build that trust with your inner guide. You might surprise surprised yourself as you start to observe. 

The above is how I started to access my own intuition and how I built trust to what my inner guide sounds like for me. Of course it is in the sound of my own voice, my husband would laugh at that because he knows I can be a bit talkative at times. Perhaps it is a small form of torture to hear my own voice as my guide or on a positive note, it might be a sneaky way for me to build trust in me, Kristin, and exactly who I am and where I am supposed to be. I think it is the latter in my own situation and for that I am grateful. 

Have I convinced you yet to try this short and powerful meditation? Have you ordered your Four Desires book yet? All of this is explained and so much more in his book. And the bottom line, you have access to this voice even when you are not in meditation or sitting quietly. In fact, the more you access it, the more that you hear it. 

Why did I choose to write about this today? I was on my way to the gym for a workout (hoping for a long sauna, stretching, shower) because I have had very little self care in the last month with both my boys (hubby and son) battling the influenza (the second round with my little man included lots of barfs). Yuck. It seemed logical that is what I needed. However, as I was driving away from school drop-off my inner voice said, "go home!" Darn it! I wanted that hot sauna, but somehow I knew I had to turn back home. I am not sure why, perhaps I know I have a lot to prepare for coming classes, workshop, etc. Maybe my intuition knew that since I am fighting a cold going to a gym wouldn't be the best answer for this moment. 

I will leave you with that. What are you doing to connect to your inner guide? Are you listening? And when you don't listen and then the next day you kick yourself, remind yourself that those moments of not listening are there to serve you and to help you listen. And when you do listen, stand tall and know you are doing what you KNOW is in your best interest. That my friends is a gift we all have and my hope is that we can all pause enough to start learning and connecting to it. The more we connect to our soul, the brighter we will be, because your soul will always know what you need to do (insert chills down my back). 

Thank you to all of my teachers, especially Yogarupa Rod Stryker, Tanya Boigenzahn (owner of Devanadi School of Yoga and Wellness) and Jessica Rosenberg. You all have inspired me to listen to my intuition and come to that place of knowing. 

Off I go to find a little quiet in my life so I know the order of my prepping and what is going to serve me best today. Please let me know if you have any questions or how it goes. I am sure some of you are seasoned at this practice as well and I love to know your stories and resources. 

We are in this together and the more we show up for ourselves the more we can shine and kick some butt together in this world. More to come on the yoga front. Thanks for reading. Have fun staying connected and listening!

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin

 

Pain of Not Practicing

In early August I found myself more anxious, negative and more. I began to inquire and become curious. After a little bit I quickly realized that my yoga practice, in particular my meditation practice, had become inconsistent. I was consumed by the busy schedules and long days of summer. Additionally, I was internally challenging meditation and its benefits to me on a subtle level. On an early afternoon in  August, I sat down at my computer and wrote a bit about how the pain of not practicing was too strong for me and I was ready to commit again. As I read through this again today before posting I cannot help but be reminded of how important sitting is for me each day. Note: if you don't have time to read the story, scroll down to the list at the bottom that shows my own personal experience of the pain vs. benefit for me when I am NOT practicing vs. when I AM practicing. It is powerful.

Written, Aug. 11, 2016 - The Pain of Not Practicing

Today I feel compelled to write; I want to share with you a little more of my story, specifically my yoga journey and the positive impact it has had on my life. The title of this post comes from a personal story that I have heard Rod Stryker talk about more than once. Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga and the author of The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom (which I often reference). In order to set the stage for my perspective of not practicing vs. practicing and the impact on my life I would like to provide additional background. 

In the article, "The Secret to Making Positive Life Changes" found in full at the Huffington Post here, Rod Stryker explains that making changes in life are hard for so many of us and "it's all about pain" he writes in the article. Rod explains, "In short, as long as you identify change as being more powerful than not changing, odds are that you won't change."  He says, "our desire to avoid pain is why we find it difficult to start or sustain a new habit or achieve our goals." 

In this article he tells the story of his earlier years of practicing and his discussion with his teacher about his practice. Rod Stryker says it best when he writes (find full article here):

Despite all the benefits it provided me, despite being aware of how much better my life was whenever i did it, I failed to do it consistently. Curious about how to overcome my resistance and convert my enthusiasm for it into a regular practice I approached my teacher.

“What do you feel like when you don’t do it,” he asked.

“Not so great,” I said. “I feel less clear, less inspired, less confident, less comfortable.”

“Great,” he said. “Keep that at the forefront of your mind. The more mindful you are of the pain of not doing it, the less likely you are to not practice.” I remember thinking, “That’s it? ‘Recall the pain of not doing it,’ that’s the secret to practicing regularly?” It took time, but I would eventually learn that my teacher had asked me to apply the critical element that determines practically all human behavior — the desire to avoid pain. Our desire to avoid pain is why we find it difficult to start or sustain a new habit or achieve our goals.

This story has stuck with me and is the biggest reason why I get on my mat and why I find a daily meditation practice. The pain of not practicing is significantly stronger than the challenge to actually practice. In recent personal reflections I am have realized that there is a powerful correlation to happiness when I am practicing versus my suffering when I am not practicing. 

As I have mentioned before, Rod Stryker's Four Desires book is my compass and has helped me remain calm and confident on good days and hard days, especially when I felt so sad and alone when my own issues were challenging me. My dharma code (purpose) was created from the exercises in this book and continues to serve me and keep me grounded in me. Your dharma code is meant to serve you in big and small challenges. I have personally felt the positive impact of a daily practice in my day-to-day experiences and healing of my heart as I climbed out of a very low time of my emotional and spiritual self when my disordered eating issues were very prevalent. 

I share this story and thought on change with you because it is one that has greatly impacted me—specifically in the way that I live my life and my perspective on the importance of a daily practice. However, in the last three months, my daily practice has been challenged by my mind telling me that I am too busy, and to try to see if I can tap into that inner teacher without quieting my mind. A part of me feels that this little blip of inconsistent practice is the rebel in me asking, "does this practice thing really make a difference?" After three months of real data from my own experiences, my conclusion: daily practice matters most definitely!  

What am I noticing without a consistent practice? I have listed below my key disturbances when I do NOT practice and the positive effect of when I DO practice. Again, as I read through this list I am inspired and encouraged to keep showing up for me each day because the positive effects are much more enjoyable; why would i want to suffer? Again, it is easy to see here that the pain of not practicing is definitely greater than the challenge to find the time to practice. 

Inconsistent Practice vs. Consistent practice:

1. Busy Mind (ALL over the place place) vs. Steady Mind

I have recently noticed that my mind is a lot more distracted and less one-pointed. For example, the last call that I had with my coach I used the metaphor of me on a track with ten lanes, and each lane is one of my competing priorities. What is a girl going to do? My head is spinning and I care about them ALL. How can I move forward with all of them? I know, make a spreadsheet? Or, how about work harder? Or better yet, let me get my post-it notes out because that always solves the problem. Fast forward one week later and I am realizing that my mind has not had the opportunity to be quiet every day for a while (mainly because I do my practice at night and I am so tired I fall asleep or create more anxiety by trying to stay awake just to meditate). This obviously needs to shift (and already has to the morning most days).

2. Anxiety/Fear vs. Faith

I have a lot more anxiety in the last couple months. I know I am not alone in this regard because of all that is happening in the world and in particular, in the United States with the intense political scene. However, from my point-of-view, feeling jumpy and worrying about every the little thing is starting to creep up. I go from normal thinking to the worst-case scenario in literally 5 seconds. I have to walk myself off the ledge by actually feeling what it feels like to know everything is okay. That technique has saved me—but I know that I can do more than that. I know that when I have a consistent practice, with the minimum of a daily meditation practice, the ease and faith in life become more effortless. That is something worth stopping this busy life for.

3. Anger vs. Peace an Love

When I am not practicing I feel angry fast. I am annoyed with my kids faster than normal and I am quick to yell and focus on the stuff that actually doesn't matter. Does it really matter if they pick up their pajamas or if we are late to school? Of course I want them to be responsible and I will have to figure out a calm and consistent approach to that issue, but getting angry by mumbling under my breath or simply expressing anger to the kiddos is not valuable to them or my physical body. It immediately puts me in the fight-or-flight stress response and that isn't good for anything, especially as I know my cortisol is low and I am battling hormones (more on that another day). I notice when I am meditating daily, I don't give as many shits about the small stuff. You know that book, Don't Sweat The Small Stuff? Someone should write a meditation version that says, When You Meditate You Won't Sweat the Small Stuff. :) 

4. Self-Doubt vs. Strong Intuition

When I meditate daily, I begin to trust my intuition and inner voice. Thus, when I am not meditating I have SO MUCH MORE DOUBT. I vacillate a lot more what to do next, the little things, or choice A or B. However, when I take the time to find quiet in my mind, my inner teacher and voice is much more present in my waking moments and non-meditative moments. Thus, I can make the choices that are in my highest good. I am fairly confident that this is the case because answers arrive so much quicker when I have been connecting to something higher than me. I trust in me, I trust in life and I trust in others.

5. Negativity vs. Gratitude

This one is pretty easy to explain, but comes with a recent story. When I wake up and/or have missed my meditation for a day or two, I find myself focusing on what sucks. You know what I am talking about—that buzz-killer negativity. For example, yesterday morning I woke up and within seconds of me sitting to meditation, my littlest one was up and I was on full-on mommy duty. I also knew I would not get a break all day/night because he was just getting over a fever and we would have another low-key day (translation – no gym drop-off or preschool that day). What happened for me was a quick shift of realizing what was in front of me and I immediately complained to my husband about what he didn’t do to help me that particular morning. Oh wait, did I forget all he does every day or the fact that I was complaining about things so small that would take me a total of ten minutes or the fact that he was about to leave to an important meeting within the hour? I could feel his energy shift (rightfully so because I was not being kind) and then realized, wow, that is a lot of negativity coming from one lady. I made the choice to fight back and find gratitude and grace in my day. My point here is this: When I have time to quiet my mind, set my intention for the day and feel the gratitude of life just by being, I can easily slip into living my gratitude. This positively effects my day and those I come in contact with. Yesterday, the first few hours felt like an uphill battle for me and I know now in reflection how important this time is for me and for the family that I oh so love.

Thus, as you can see, it doesn't make any sense to "do one more thing" without finding the time to sit on my butt and quiet my mind. One of my yoga teachers, often reminds me, "tush to the cush!" and rightfully so. My practice can be as short as 10 minutes to as long as 30 minutes. The longer I have been practicing, the longer I prefer to sit for 20-30 minutes and/or twice a day. However, it truly doesn't take long to tap into that place inside of you that is unchanging and ever present. When you quiet your mind, you can quickly tap into that part of you that has peace in your heart always and is connected to something higher than you. 

Because of this and because of how quick the benefit of practice is, I have committed to a 10-minute practice every day, simply to gain confidence in my ability to set aside time for my meditation. I can already see a difference and sometimes those ten minutes are the high of my day. The ten minutes give back greatly in the positive impact on my entire day and days to follow. I can immediately notice a difference when I begin to practice again and the cumulative effect of practicing days and weeks in a row can be felt. Not only do I notice it, but also my close friends and husband can tell a noticeable difference in me. My husband will sometimes hand me my bolster and ask me to "meditate." I think he gets it sometimes more than I do.

So with all of that, I ask you one question: Do you want a steady mind and more peace, love, and faith in your life? If you feel that even one of those areas in your inner world and life could be positively impacted, then I strongly encourage you to find even just a couple minutes to sit and quiet your mind or simply think about making that change in your future (I know we are all ready for change at a different pace).

Where can you find meditations? A lot of people have said they really like the MindSpace and the Headspace app for mediation and there are free meditations everywhere. If you are a beginner I would be mindful of what you select, knowing that the most accessible meditation for almost anyone is the meditation on the breath. I enjoy Rod Stryker's meditations from his Four Desires CD and I am sure there are many more available. Additionally, I plan to offer a free meditation in the coming month to make this simple meditation easily accessible to you. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have on resources and tell me how you are doing if you are trying something new, I would LOVE to hear!