inspiration.

Sometimes it's good to remember that inspiration comes with preparation. When I have no inspiration, if I push myself to at least set up my space- whether that means setting up my easel and putting everything into place and mixing paint, or making tea and getting a notebook and my laptop ready for writing - the simple act of setting up my space creates the right mood for inspiration to come join me where I am.

Sometimes you just have to start. Light a candle. Make it special. Dress a certain way to prepare yourself for it. Put on music that inspires you. 

When I was younger, if I so much as painted  my nails I would get struck with ideas for a new painting. If I tried to do homework, simply holding a pen or pencil made me want to sketch. But I think as we get older and we get more responsibilities, we become less inspired because it feels like there isn't enough time for creativity. Of course that's not true. Creativity fuels you. Creating can give you energy to do everything else you do with just a  little bit more joy. 

Let inspiration hit you. And if it doesn't, seek it out. Create space for it. Tell the universe " I'm ready". And let inspiration meet you where you are  

 

sacral chakra & creativity

I've been wanting to write a blog about each of the chakras for a long time now, but not anything formal or even informative.  I just wanted to write the first thing that comes to mind about each. What I've written below actually wrote itself yesterday. It's about creativity. Which is exactly what I think about when I think about the second chakra. 

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But first, a little about the second chakra.

The second chakra is the sacral chakra, or svadisthana. The element of the sacral chakra is water.

Flow. Movement. Emotion.

Amorgos Island, Greece  

Amorgos Island, Greece  

Imbalances here can show up as bottling emotions, or being overly emotional, intimacy issues, repressed sexuality, or issues with addiction. It can also show up as writer's block, loss of creativity, or a loss of authenticity

My svadisthana mantra is "Creativity flows through me like water." And some days it's, "I feel, I'm in touch with my emotions, I'm in touch with my sensuality."

So below is what I wrote yesterday about living a creative life. I felt like it was appropriate to share along with this. Hope you dig. :)

Writing can me to tears.

Reading about writers writing gives me butterflies. It's something that I know is mine. I can feel it in my blood. It rushes through my veins like words rush onto a page. 

I feel this way about teaching yoga. Sometimes I feel this way about painting too. 

You don't have to stick to one calling. You can have all the callings you care to. I nourish my inner creator every time I step on a yoga mat, every time I pick up a paint brush, every time I write.

Sometimes I feel like I don't do it enough but the truth is, I just do it when I feel inspired. And sometimes that's five times in one day and other times it's five times in one year. 

The reason I'm writing this is because it asked to be written. But also because I want you to know that you have permission to create whatever your heart desires. 

You have permission to become anyone or anything that you choose. You do not have to stick to the path you're on.  As human beings we are truly blessed with the ability to create. And we do it every day. We create style when we get dressed. We create culinary art when we cook. We create so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

 And that inner artist in you is begging to be recognized. Just to be acknowledged. Then maybe inspiration will flow to you too. And if it doesn't, just play. There is nothing wrong with making art that isn't "good", whatever that means. It's the process that counts, the journey if you will. The act of making the thing, not the thing itself that is important. 

This is our gift. 

To create. To be inspired. To play. To connect with our divine. Our inner creator. 

This is the magic that exists within each and every one of us. 

Whether you choose to accept the gift, or not is your choice.

This is a public promise to myself that I will write when I feel inspired. That I will paint when I need colour. I will move when my body asks me to move. I will live creatively, because it's the only way I can. This is my soul pledge. 

This is a formal invitation to join the movement. There is enough room for all of us. There is enough inspiration to go around for everyone. Will you come create with us? 

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how to let go: say goodbye to stress in seven days.

More and more people every day are experiencing stress. In fact I am constantly seeing articles online about the rise of stress related illness, and about the number of people who report feeling stressed at work or overwhelmed.

So what's causing this trend? And how do we start to reverse it? 

The top three common sources of stress are money, work, and family responsibilities in that order. These are all real things that we have to deal with to be a functioning part of this world. Neither money nor work can actually be avoided, and I'd be willing to bet the same people who say that their family responsibilities are a source of stress still love their families and wouldn't want to avoid them.

So if we can't avoid stress, what's the solution?

This is not the part where I prescribe a cure all or say some magic words and render you stress-free. Sorry.

This is the part where I offer you a solution that works - but it takes a little effort on your part. Consider this a seven day stress relieving challenge. 

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Day One: Where is your time going?

Do some soul searching. When was the last time that you felt truly free? It probably wasn't the other day when you got stuck in your Facebook news feed for 25 minutes when you meant to just go in and send one message. 

Maybe that was me. Oops. But maybe you've done the exact same thing. Or maybe you've spent six hours of your day binge watching Netflix. Recognize where your time is going. Ten minutes here and there, or a few hours a day may not seem like a lot right now but trust me the time adds up. This time is basically stolen from you.

Most people also don't feel particularly fulfilled after scrolling for half an hour or watching an entire season of something in a week. Usually once you finish that season, it's just like, what's next? 

Do you know what two things rarely seem to go together? Stress and fulfillment. More on that later.

For day one, your task is to recognize where your time is going. Be radically honest with yourself. Take notes all day. Write down every time you open social media and how long you spend on it. Write down what shows you watched and how long you sat in front of a screen - this gets fun when you time how long each commercial is and find out how much time you're being fed advertisements. 

Ideally you'll keep this time diary for the entire seven days. But getting one full day in will at least give you an idea of where your time goes. 

Day Two: What can you let go of?

Now that you have an idea of what is sucking up your time, it's time to make some decisions.

If you realize that over the course of one day, you spent an accumulated two hours of your time on the Facebook app, it may be time to delete the app. I'm not saying delete your account, just make it less easily accessible. Instead, give yourself 25 minutes at the end of the day to go through your news feed on your laptop or computer. Set a timer & stick to it. 

Let go of the things that steal your moments. 

The moments that make up your day are the moments that make up your life. Do you want to spend it scrolling? 

Release the things that aren't bringing you bliss to create space for happiness to grow. 

Day Three: What are you grateful for?

Create a gratitude practice. 

One really simple way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal by your bed and write in it morning and night. In the morning, write down three things that you feel grateful for. And at night, write down three things that you are grateful for that happened that day. 

Now I've already suggested that you keep a time diary for the week so if you're like, dude, I hate writing why are you making me write every day? Then another sweet way to practice gratitude is to do a daily gratitude meditation. 

You can totally find guided gratitude meditations on the Mindbliss app, or on YouTube, or any site that has meditation videos. One of my favourite gratitude meditations actually comes from the Tim Ferriss podcast. This meditation with Tony Robbins is super short, 11 minutes total. It's an excerpt from their full podcast. The full episode is amazing if you're into listening to podcasts, but if not just do the short meditation piece.

Eventually gratitude becomes a habit. It is literally a muscle that you build up. Once that muscle is strong, you'll begin to feel gratitude spontaneously throughout the day. Maybe you'll feel grateful every time you feel the warm sun on your skin, or every time you see a flower. These are moments of beauty. Look at you, getting those moments back!

Day Four: What jewels are you hiding?

This is where we get into fulfillment. Each and every one of us has something that lights our soul up. I love this quote from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, "The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them." 

Today you're going on a treasure hunt.

Think back to the last time that you felt truly, blissfully, free. Maybe it was last month, maybe it was in childhood. We are all creative creatures. What was it that as a child you loved to do? Maybe you danced, or played sports, or ice skated, or made crafty things. Maybe you loved to tell elaborate stories, or sing, or color.

I was in love with art. I loved to sew Barbie clothes and draw and write poems. Now I know that as an adult I need to write and paint and make things to fulfill my inner creator. This is a non-negotiable. And when I neglect these needs, my inner creator turns into one of those hangry beasts from the Snickers commercials. Not cute.

Do you know what happens when you don't eat for a long time? At first there are regular signs of hunger like the stomach growling. But after some time those signs subside. It becomes a dull ache. Something that you learn to live with, to cope with. It becomes background noise. (Until eventually it becomes literally all you can think about)

Your jewels, your talents, your creative needs have always been there. But because the body doesn't physically need for you to create to survive, those needs become background noise. A dull ache, a feeling of emptiness. Something missing. 

Stress & fulfillment cannot co-exist. 

Find out what it is that would fulfill you. Maybe your jewel is listening to people. Beautiful, go volunteer at an elderly home and listen to the stories of their youth. Maybe your jewel is dancing. Beautiful, take a dance class once a week or make it a habit to go dancing once a week. Maybe your jewel is yoga. Beautiful, do it #everydamnday.

Make these things a priority. 

Day Five: What moves you?

What literally moves you? Movement is medicine. I've said it a thousand times and I'll say it another million. Movement is medicine

Your body is built to move. It is not built for this world that we've created. It is built to climb, to run, to crawl, to dance. Your body should move in every way, every day.

But not everyone has time for that. So make it a point to move in some way every day. And make it a point to change the way that you move as often as you can. 

Exercise releases endorphins. Simple. It relieves stress. But when we're stressed we don't think that we have time to exercise. When in reality, it would ease our suffering. 

Often the thing that you resist is the thing that you need most. 

If you are already a regular yoga practitioner, then change up your routine. If you're a dedicated Barkan method practitioner, then switch to a Budokon class instead. Just try something different - even Pilates or a bootcamp class. Nothing good grows from stagnation.

Overall, the most important thing here is to move. 

Day Six: Where is your mind?

Come back to the moment. 

When you're stressed, your mind is not here. Your mind is probably trying to juggle all of the things on your plate and spinning in a vortex of repeating negative thoughts and worries.

So come back. 

When you are at home or at work there is nothing stressful actually happening. You won't be eaten by a dinosaur. You won't be chased by a bear. It's all good. The problem is that it doesn't feel good in the mind. And your entire experience happens within the mind.

Try sitting or lying down and taking a slow scan of your body. Notice exactly how your body feels in this moment, starting from the bottoms of the feet and moving your way up to the scalp. Notice each and every muscle, every joint, notice the sensation of clothing on your skin, notice the surface that you're sitting or lying down on, notice the sensation of hunger or fullness in the belly. Get completely plugged in to your body. 

And breathe.

Bring your awareness to your breath. Breathe deeply. Even if it's only for five minutes. Coming back to the moment will significantly reduce, if not eradicate your stress. 

Do this every time you feel stressed. Every day if you have to. Until it becomes a reflex. 

Do not let stress steal your moments. Live in the here & now.

Day Seven: Who's in charge?

Who's in charge? You? Or your thoughts? How do you take back control?

Medicate. 

Just kidding. Meditate. 

Become the observer.  

Meditation helps you to train your brain to observe your thoughts, rather than attach to them.  So when your head starts spinning with stressful thoughts, instead of getting caught up in them you observe them and let them pass. 

Start a meditation practice. Start small, just five minutes a day. After five days, move up to six. And then add another minute every day until you make your way up to whatever amount of time you can set aside. Maybe that's 20 minutes once a day, or maybe that's an hour in the morning and an hour before bed.  

I use the Mindbliss app for guided meditation, but you can meditate on your breath as well. They have meditation journeys that you can do which usually start as shorter amounts of time and gradually add a little time. Find one for stress relief! 

Ananda Yoga Shala - where we'll be practicing on my  Greece retreat!

Ananda Yoga Shala - where we'll be practicing on my Greece retreat!

It's time to break free from stress. Say goodbye!

I hope these stress relief lifestyle changes work for you! We will be going into all of these and more on my yoga retreat Awakening in Amorgos this August 19-26th! Pay your deposit by May 15th to save $200 off! Come ready to find true transformation and learn habits that you can take with you back home to lead a healthier, happier, stress-free life! I hope to see you on the island!

together as ONE.

Today we got some harrowing news. My first reaction was fear and sadness. I felt betrayed by my country. But this isn't about me. This is about all of us together. Those who voted for Trump voted out of fear. Many Trump supporters may be racist, or sexist, or xenophobic but I guarantee not all are. It's not okay to just group them all into one basket, we all have our reasons. Many of these people have experienced economic hardship and they don't know what to do. They look to him for change because they are afraid. I can't pretend to understand it fully and I certainly don't support it but I do see where it comes from. I'm afraid too. Afraid for what the future will look like. It's as though we took two steps (terms) forward, and now we're taking ten steps back. How many more steps backward will we blindly take before falling off the edge? 

We have to remain hopeful. We have to believe in love and keep our faith in humanity. It's hard to see the light, but we have to trust the process and trust that the universe has our back. Maybe it's time for a total revolution? Who knows? 

As a woman, a Latina, first generation immigrant, and a sexual assault survivor, I took this news pretty hard. My grandparents left Cuba as political refugees with my infant mother. They left the country before it turned to total communism. Many people supported Castro when he was first coming into power. They were led to believe that they would have democracy. He was very persuasive at first. I believe many people are swayed by Trump in the same way. Hitler captivated people who were afraid as well. These leaders spoke to their fears and their blind patriotism. I believe Trump is speaking to that same part of people. I'm not saying he's going to become a totalitarian leader or start another genocide, I'm only saying that he's used similar tactics. 

Trump is just a symptom of that fear. We have to treat the root cause. What are we collectively afraid of? And what is the remedy? The only cure I know for fear is love. Unconditional, boundless love. The political party system separates us. Countries separate us. Religion separates us. We need to come together as a global community. 

A few years ago  I  was in Barcelona in this park called Parc de la Ciutadella.  I was climbing around and playing on this cool art installation that I thought was probably meant to be climbed on since it was in a park. This homeless woman was nearby making these giant bubbles, like human sized ones using two sticks with a string tied between them. She came over and yelled, "See, now you're breaking the law!" She told me how ridiculous it was that I could be fined for climbing on this structure. I think she was also probably trying to warn me a bit assuming I didn't realize I could get fined. We started talking about everything from politics to religion to how countries divide us. My friend asked her what nationality she was, she sounded British but we weren't sure. She got very animated and exclaimed, "I'm Globish!"

I loved that answer. And honestly that's all we all are. What country we comes from means nothing in the end. This Universe is vast and ever expanding. We are one global community, whether we act like it or not. I believe we will come together and I believe that the future is brighter than it appears right now. 

Today I am imagining a better world. I'm imagining a world where we come together as one... "Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace."

 

 

Christiania, the free town in Copenhagen. 

Christiania, the free town in Copenhagen. 

stop building that wall.

What would it take for you to strip down your walls and just be you? Totally uninhibited. Authentic. You. 

At one point none of us had these boundaries and barriers around us. Children are born wild, carefree, and totally uninhibited. It's only as we grow older that we learn insecurities. How many years has it taken for you to build that fort around your heart? How may years did it take for you to install a filter between mind and mouth? Some forts and filters are good, no doubt. I'm talking about those filters that stop you from speaking the truth from your heart. The ones that make you stop chasing your dreams and settle for the logical choice. How many years will it take for you to knock them back down? 

Think back. Way back. Back to the very first time someone you loved hurt you. That day that you experienced your very first heart break was the day you laid down your first brick. And each time you experienced suffering, you laid down another. Each time you felt rejected, you laid down another. And each time you avoided pain by not speaking your mind or following your heart, you laid down another brick. Some of us are expert builders and we hide behind cold stone forts. We forget that inside that fort lives in our inner sunshine children, our innocence. 

When did we stop being wild? Trade your security for the rush of spontaneity. Just once. Do something for you - something absolutely ridiculous. Something that lights you up inside. Go explore. Travel. Go skydiving. Make art with every once of your soul. Take a trust fall. And know that the Universe will catch you. 

just a thought.

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Thought:

On the news I heard a woman say that holiday spending was forecasted to go up this year to an average of over $600 per person. She talked about it as if this is a good thing. A sign of the economy's health.

All I heard was hearts crying out for love, and hands reaching for plastic.

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transform.

Today someone asked me about hot yoga. He didn't see how it could be meditative or spiritual. Thought it was just exercise.

This is what I told him - We live a life of comfort. We are constantly changing the temperature in our cars and homes to be more comfortable, we listen to the music we like, watch whatever we want, even our social media/news source is tailored to be more interesting to us. We rarely experience discomfort, and when we do we usually run from it or change our surroundings. Hot yoga is not comfortable. First of all, it's hot. And when you're moving and getting sweat in your eyes, or trying to hold a balancing posture but there's sweat running down your face, all the while being reminded to stay aware of the breath - this allows you to experience discomfort. Learning to be present through it, I feel, can be truly transformative.

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for the next seven generations.

Live with the intention to leave the world better than how you found it...for the next seven generations.  

There is a beautiful Iroquois law that states,  "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine." 

This is The Great Law of the Iroquois. Everything you do, everything you create, everything you say - you must first consider the effect that it will have on the seventh generation. This law asks you to look about 140 years or more into the future. Look at everything you do...the car you drive, the food you eat, the materials you buy, the way you treat people... and weigh the effects of your choices. Always keeping in mind what it will mean, not only for you and your children, but for the children who are not even a thought yet.

I wish this law had been a universal law for the past 140 years. If we all lived with the next seven generations in mind, would climate change be an issue?

Many of us are good, kind people. Yet we make choices without getting all of the information first and without considering how it will affect even just the next generation. We consume things that destroy rainforests but we do it blindly. Even though we're aware of how awful industrial factory farms are for the environment, we consume. This blind consumption doesn't make us bad people, but it does make us selfish. What if we cared enough about the welfare of those who haven't been born yet to make ALL of our deliberations carefully and with them in mind? What if we truly wanted the best for our grandchildren's grandchildren, and their's after that? 

The truth is, we are responsible for the state of the planet for generations to come. Once we accept this responsibility and choose to honestly do our best I believe we'll take our time and think things through. Maybe the age of convenience will die. Maybe our grocery shopping trips will take longer because we would check the ingredients to make sure we weren't buying anything with palm oil or any other ingredient that could be destructive to the environment. Maybe we would pay closer attention to politics and the state of the world, in hopes that the next seven generations could enjoy peace in their lifetimes. Maybe we'll look ahead. Maybe, just maybe, our thoughts will create a better future for these children who won't exist until long after we are gone. 

 "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. " - Greek Proverb