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

 

Talk less, listen more; think less, be more—Monday check-in Nov. 14, 2016

This week I will focus on my writing and what lives deep in my heart. As I continue to have a loss of words to speak to what so many are talking about, yesterday (Sunday) I was reflecting and thinking of the coming week. In my reflection I heard clearly heard the following: talk less, listen more; think less, be more! For me it is clear that the impact I need to have on the world starts with me. I can talk all day about how a daily mediation practice is good for us all, but if I am not doing it why waste the effort of talking? Or I can lecture to my kid about whatever the life lesson is from the previous tough parenting moment (whether it be morning routine or sibling fighting etc), but what are my words worth if my actions are not what I expect of my kiddos?

Sunday I felt a deep awareness of this message that that struck a cord in my heart. What will have more impact on my beautiful daughter's heart and light—my words or my actions? The answer to that is obvious. My actions as mom and thoughtful words are what support my children and reflect my love to them; these actions reflect to my daughter (and son) my belief and trust in her (him). For example, when I express my parenting frustration in angry words or a simple, yet powerful look of frustration, it is becomes immediate to me the impact on my daughter’s heart and and sometimes even her belief in herself. And that is obviously not the goal and is hard to realize that these moments even exist as a mama. But I will say that I often hope and hang onto my ability to love them so hard. That I know is a constant. 

For me parenting is hard, especially the ability to stay calm, keep perspective and not be so reactive. Despite this daily challenge as a mama for me I know the powerful impact I can have on my daughter and son. This knowledge gives me great passion to live by these words that came to me: talk less, listen more; think less, be more. Thus, I promise to continue to strive to share my love and belief in my daughter (and son) through my listening and my being. My actions will make the biggest impact along with the words that I selectively choose. I think this aha-moment for me on Sunday allowed me to give myself a little break in the timing of my varied "priorities" this week and focus on being the best mama I could be. And let me tell you this wasn't as pretty as a it sounds. I have been stern, and yelled and definitely gave a look or too or said their name with the sound of disappointment already this week (and it's only Tuesday). And that is the reality of parenting. However, I have also not allowed intense parenting moments to spiral into a battle and have found myself looking into their eyes more and listening a bit more. I have stopped my crabbiness or frustration a heck of a lot quicker and tried to see their sides with love and space. Also, I know as a mom, I could work on my skill set of using my filter. This is not a strength of mine, but listening more and talking less could help encourage and hone in this oh-so-needed skill in my parenting and my life in general. :) 

As I continue to reflect on the past week, I find myself at a loss for words as to how to express all that is going in the world around me. There are many people who have articulated a lot in the last few days and used their gift of communication and community to help support many by sharing and creating love, peace and safety. I am grateful for the words and wisdom of others—thank you for those that share your gift and bring us all together.

In this time of uncertainty in our hearts and the country we live in right now I know how important our words and actions can be. We all have experienced the power and hurt of words (more some than others) in our lives (note: I am being vague on purpose here because the details are not the point). In my perspective it is clear that actions can heal. True actions of compassion and selflessness can heal. Because of this understanding I figured now is the best time to invest in me taking action of love and positivity in my life in hopes that it will spill into the rest of my life and those I come in contact with. 

So my friends, based on yesterday’s small parenting moment I couldn’t help but look within a bit more on how critical this is for me to live now in my life as a mom, but it is vital that that I reflect this in ALL that I do in my life. I can, and will and must reflect the light that I know I can be. I must listen more and be more. And if there is a moment of frustration or exhaustion or whatever the hell it is, I will ride the wave with grace, brush myself off and stand up again by focusing on what I stand for.

I stand for love, faith, confidence and surrender. I stand for being YOU all the time and listening to your heart. I stand for uniting together and being the best that you can be. How can I expect this to be my outer world before it is an actuality in my inner world? If I cannot start with being kind to me on the inside with my words and actions how can I expect this to filter into my parenting, my marriage, my teaching, my family, friends and work? 

What does starting with me look like? It might be obvious but again, I come back to my daily practices: getting my ass to bed, honoring my light by doing my daily yoga practice, nourishing myself with food and drink, choosing wisely the things I read and spend my time on, creating connection, having fun and more! When you start to think about what you talk about, do you actually put it into action? My answer to that is sometimes. My meditation is the perfect example. I often find excuses for not doing it even when I know it serves me in so many ways and not only impacts me so profoundly, but it also impacts my family/friends, students and more. I am a better me. This week it is all about showing up and walking the walk.

What if I took it a bit further? How can I talk less and listen more as a wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister, teacher, neighbor and more? How can I think less and analyze less in my mind and simply stand confident in who I am, what I stand for and how much I have actually done on a given day? When I think of the mind spinning I know I have things I spend time thinking about that are versions of me being hard on myself and don't serve me or others. This is something I can choose to do or choose not to do. For example, I always fall short of what I feel like I need to do or accomplish (in a day, week or month). This blog is a great example of that; I drafted this post on Sunday and have finally had a moment on Tuesday to make edits and add photos. And with the rest of you, my list goes on. I am trying to do a lot, but maybe the best I can and the progress forward is just enough.

Furthermore, no matter the check boxes completed on my list what should matter more is am I living each day and moment as me? Am I cultivating and surrounding myself with choices that will make my light shine brighter? This is a question that I will keep coming back to because the one thing I can control is how I take care of me (including how I react to life). I am the one that can control how I love me and talk to me. And this will, without a doubt, show up in how I parent and how am in all that I do in this world.

My deep hope is that that taking care of me first by listening more and being more will spill into my kids and into the world. It is my deep hope that I can look within each day and continue to choose things that serve me so that I can be the best version of me. And instead of worry if I have expressed myself in the right way in this post I will simply think less about it. I know these words are from my heart and what I will be focusing on this week. The power and wisdom I learn from parenting is profound and I am grateful for that. I am grateful that today I showed up and shared my passion and hopes.

Will you join me this week in taking action in doing what you know will brighten your light? For me it is talk less and listen more; think less and be more. What will serve you? I know you have this wisdom and I know when we take care of us and shine, we can stick together, united with love and peace.

Thank you for reading and for being YOU; shine bright!

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin 

You are you and I am me; we are exactly how we are meant to be!
— Kristin Gourde

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!

Happiness and LOVE NOW – not once “x” is complete

I have been quiet. I have been contemplating. I have been pausing. I have been trying to get on top of life. You know those moments of life when you think..."I'm going to kick butt at this and then I am going to feel great!" Or the idea of when I just do fill-in-the blank I will be happy or things will seem easy. Well, for me, it is time to let go of that. I am ready to let go of expectations of thinking the feelings of accomplishing “x” is going to make it all feel great. My heart is saying it is time to feel and choose to live and enjoy the now. Life as it is: the messy, the pretty, and everything in between.

a peaceful morning view - my walks help me to remember to live and love!

a peaceful morning view - my walks help me to remember to live and love!

What do I am mean? Let me share a little personal story to make it clearer. As I mention on my about page, I had a huge life shift when I was laid off and went from busy corporate-world mama to...I-am-going-for-this dream-deep-in-my heart mama. At the time it was not super logical and still really doesn’t make perfect sense. I have experience that would allow me to create bigger savings, more vacations, and maybe even a few more sitters. How is this career going to work as a yoga teacher, wellness instructor, and writer? I am not quite sure and I am okay with it. It could perhaps be a mix of both someday and I however it shakes out I am okay with it. The reality is that I actually prayed to be laid off. I still remember the meeting where we were given a heads up that lay-offs were coming. I looked up to the sky and said a silent prayer, “let it be me.” I had been told my job was safe, but I hoped that it would happen to me. And it did. Be careful what you ask for. I knew I needed the nudge from the universe to take a leap and had I not listened to the voice to become certified in fitness and complete yoga training I can guarantee I would not be writing right now (or teaching).

I decided to start with getting my personal training certification and then yoga training for group fitness. I selected yoga because I LOVED the way it made me feel and I thought it would be the hardest to teach. Little did I know my yoga training would change the trajectory of my life. It was so much more than leaving being able to teach yoga. My faith in life, others, and myself has deepened greatly because of my practice. I will elaborate on this in a future post!

My reality now is that I am just at the beginning. The beginning of a different path with "more tools in my toolbox!" This was my ultimate goal. Do I have clarity on exactly where I am headed? Not a chance. What I can tell you is this: I have had glimpses of life feeling more effortless in life and inspiring others in my teaching, glimpses of my ability to have more patience with the kiddos, glimpses of moving past my food issues and into healthy and present-moment eating and glimpses of tapping into my intuition in all aspects of my life. I feel connected with my soul’s purpose because of the work I have done with my teachers. I have had moments where I don't think about food and moments when the extra pounds that have accumulated in the last year and a half start to feel like they are melting away. I believe this is not because I am doing anything special, but being PRESENT RIGHT NOW (yup, all caps are necessary). And when my focus shifts from trying so flippin hard in life (waiting until I have lost the weight as an example)…to my breath, my passions, self-care, and to listening to my intuition vs. what I should do…subtle changes happen with my choices and thought.

Where am I going with this? Let's get a little deeper into the heart of my extra weight and eating stuff. After having my second child I lost most of the baby weight and was feeling pretty decent. Then I got sick with giardia for three weeks (a parasite), and lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t eat much and was miserable. After finally healing from this parasite a big trigger happened: I was afraid of gaining weight. Yes, that little voice inside subtly had me attempting to try not to eat. And little by little I lost connection with me and slowly gained a little bit of weight that added up over time. I realized last spring I needed some help (with my food stuff and gut healing) and the last year I have been digging in hard.

Fast-forward to my recent work—I have been strongly encouraged to love me exactly how I am. Enough said. As humans we are constantly changing and the best thing we can do is accept and love us exactly as we are. I know I am not alone in this journey in a world of constant self-improvement. Let’s just say I take it body part by body part and that seems a lot easier. When I truly look at each body part individually, it feels f’ing amazing to realize how much my body does. It isn’t always easy, but it is a critical part of MY healing journey. I have my amazing coach, Laura Burkey for encouraging me and supporting me in this regard.

I want to add that I think there is a balance between loving yourself and wanting to make positive changes in your life. I think you can have both. In fact, to someone that is struggling with his/her body I believe it is important to validate their concerns and desires because if you aren't comfortable in your body and want to feel better, then by ALL means you deserve to feel better!!! So my friends, that is my current dance—a balance of loving me today AND finding ways to feel better! I have some hormonal things I have been working through as well so I know it is complicated, but just telling me to love me as I am, in my own experience, is not enough but definitely a critical link.

I caveat this all to say that these struggles are true to me and how I feel and are more unrelated to the scale than it sounds. To elaborate, I know in all of my heart that if I truly take care of my body as I know I can and I stay the same exact size/shape/weight I would feel differently about myself than I do today. I would imagine I would feel more confident and rock my body exactly as it is with feelings of strength and pride. However, my current challenge isn’t the weight but my knowledge of how I have not always respected my body with the kindness in the last year plus. Examples: not enough sleep, too many dips in the peanut butter jar, trying not to eat, or not being present and eating so much I am full (like thanksgiving-style full), or trying too hard to make a plan to do better, or eating food that I know makes my body feel super sick, trying to be perfect, or forgetting gratitude of so many amazing things because I will be able to feel these things once I "lose the weight." These examples have, in the last year + have been my realities. It has been a series of moments of me not being present in the NOW with food and more. It has been a perfect storm and the magic and power of my thoughts. I was afraid I would gain weight and I did. Wow, that is powerful, right?

Unfortunately, these moments have included disordered eating along the way. Often I experience a lack of being in my body and disconnecting to the purpose of food. Using food as a way of controlling, yet losing…Every. Single. Time.  I am happy to report I am the farthest from these disordered-eating patterns than I have been in a long time. I know in my heart that I will be able to 100% heal and that keeps me going. I am so very grateful to be able to share that and feel that.

However, I want to share a little more of the power of the mind with you. About a week and a half ago I decided I was going to choose to love me now AND choose nourishing everything: whole foods, sleep, long walks, intervals, more yoga practice inspired by a recent training, and more. And guess what? I started to energetically and physically start shifting. Even my hubby noticed. I was kinder to the kids, more present in the moment and my body was physically changing. When I noticed the shift too I was excited!

This awareness was great and fun and inspiring...until that little voice came in stealing the show. Yup, I heard subtly, "good job, now keep it and up and eat less..you can do this!" Insert shutting off my connection to the present moment and what is good for me. I am sure that was the critical link to those four or five days of progress.

The past five days I have unraveled my presence and been grazing often; at the same time trying to eat small meals. This lack of allowing myself to eat and listen has created this intense sense of control again. This attempt shifts my brain to think "oh, F, we might not get food again!" So I start to think about food ALL the time! Did I eat too much, can I eat again, will this make me sick, did I get enough veggies, water? Etc. etc.

Oh my goodness! A small voice and thought can shift me from actually living and feeling amazing to thinking way too much about it all. Thus, my aha-moment two days ago is that I am doing this to myself. I need to make a conscious choice to not allow that little voice to rule my choices but to know I can be empowered with my food, sleep, movement, thought, feelings and action. When I put my energy into other things AND nourish myself with yummy food, connection with people, writing, laughing, sleeping, meditating and more, everything falls into place. Food isn’t at the center and that feels SO good.

I share all of this because attempting to control my food and weight so that I can be happy once I figure it all out has been the wrong approach for me. The right approach for me is LOVE now. Breath now. Kindness now. Stopping the mind from spinning now. Gratitude today! I need to continue to create situations that allow me to thrive and make healthy decisions most of the time. This is the best approach for me and helps me enjoy my amazing and blessed life.

And finally, practicing every day. Making my practice (sadhana) my priority in my waking moments. This means gratitude for my amazing life, stopping my mind from spinning (do you see a theme), finding confidence, owning my soul’s light so that I can see and enjoy the radiance of others. All of that is a CHOICE. And for those that know me, making my meditation a non-negotiable in my self-care, because my life is better because of it. I plan to elaborate more on the positive impact of mediation for me soon because it has changed my life.

My hope for sharing is simply this: may you realize the power of your mind. May you know that you can find happiness and peace and love in TODAY and in your journey wherever you are. You can be empowered to choose to your thoughts, actions and feelings. And the more you find these amazing things that you already are, the more you will continue to shine even brighter!

 LOVE, YOU, NOW!

 In love, light, and gratitude,

 Kristin

Admittedly, the world and the people in it are not always just; yet the more you blame factors outside yourself—your parents, genetics, “enemies,” taxes, God, conservatives or liberals, the people who betrayed or took advantage of you, your boss, bad drivers, the subway system, the overcommercialization of Christmas or anything else—the more you dilute your power and weaken your ability to shape the life toward which your soul is intent on guiding you.
— Rod Stryker, The Four Desires