Category: empowerment


Running Around the Block: The Small Choices that Change Your Life

For over two decades, I self-identified as a runner. No matter the weather, my emotional state, my schedule, I fit a run into my day. On average I was running 6-8 miles a day. Sometime around graduate school, also known as my thirties, I discovered power yoga. Running, which was causing knee problems anyway, left my life. I still think about running and every once in a while I lace up my shoes and go for a run. Always, I love the sound of my feet hitting the earth, the way sweat beads up, my rhythmic breathing and then something happens. Either my knees start to hurt or I start to hurt because I went too far too fast. I get discouraged because I can no longer run like I used to. No matter if it has been a decade since I ran regularly. And then I put my shoes away for the next few months.

This is how most people attempt life. Many people jump into a sport, a profession, a class, a hobby with all the best intentions but unable to see results soon enough, fast enough, they give up. I am guilty of this. Are you?

“What you do ON the mat, you do OFF the mat.”

In yoga, there is a saying “what you do on the mat, you do off the mat.” If you daydream, distract yourself, fidget, tense up, berate yourself, judge others, compare yourself to others, push too hard, leave for the bathroom during an uncomfortable pose, you are distracting yourself in your day-to-day life. As a result you are not experiencing your life at the optimal frequency. To live at your optimal frequency is to raise your level of energy. People who have low energy are less likely to have the drive to forge meaningful relationships, engage their partners mentally/emotionally/sexually, are less likely to take care of their bodies, and work consistently to make their dreams a reality. Why? Because manifesting desire into reality takes conscious work. It takes obsession, it takes a constant drive, it takes shutting the door on toxic people and naysayers. To turn your vision into reality takes persistence, dedication, an unstoppable confidence, and the hardest thing of all: overcoming your own doubts and limiting beliefs. We all have them.

Recently, I started running 10 minutes a day. Only 10 minutes! But I do it every day. When I don’t want to run, I remind myself I am only running around the block. I CAN run for 10 minutes. I don’t feel any pressure. I put on my shoes, run around the block, come home. I feel great! Maybe I will increase my time and my mileage. Maybe I won’t. That doesn’t concern me. What does, is that I am doing it.

Your Everyday Actions

Everyday rituals create your life. Do you choose to watch TV instead of read that book or work on that book you have been wanting to write? Do you roll over in bed or do you get up and meditate? Your choices make your life. You do not need to make big changes or big actions to make a difference in the quality of your life. Start doing the little actions towards your big dreams and I promise, your energy will change. You will feel empowered, alive, motivated, and good. This may not happen right away. Stick with it and it will.

The Stories We Tell: How Our Subconscious Thoughts Guide Our Actions

kubera-mudraMost likely you have heard that your thoughts have power. Often your thoughts live in the past or the future – rarely do they reside in the present. The past is full of your successes, your failures, your rejections, your hurts, and your joys. While the future is your dreams, the past is full of your life lessons. Yet, not everything we think or say is aligned with our highest self. What happens when the stories we tell ourselves limit us?

All of us can relate to and understand fear. Whether you are walking down a dark alley or about to hit send on a job proposal, the fear is real – and there is a perceived threat to your survival. Of course, walking down a dark alley makes more sense that you would be afraid for your safety. Yet, all fear is trying to keep you safe and secure. Any change to your present circumstances is going to be altering and slightly jarring – even if it is a positive change. For example, a new job will require a new routine, a set of new rules.

According to Dr. Athena Staik, thoughts “create inner standards that spark neurochemical dynamic processes, which selectively govern your choices and actions with precision.” The more you ruminate on a thought the more you dig neural pathways to return to the same thought pattern over and over. For example, the more you drive the same course to work every day the more familiar and habitual it becomes, the more you tune out during the drive and yet you arrive to your destination. Like your thoughts the more you continue to think the same way, the more you arrive at the same place.

Your Subconscious at Work

These mental impressions live in the subconscious and contribute to your suffering and your joy. In her article, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World, Jennifer Read Hawthorne says the average person thinks approximately 60,000 thoughts a day, 95%- 98% of those thoughts are the same, and 80% of those thoughts are negative. The subconscious is self-perpetuating – always feeding into itself like the hamster running on a wheel getting exhausted yet going nowhere. The more unaware you are to what is occurring in your subconscious mind, the more you are sitting in the backseat of your life.

The subconscious mind is what influences your actions and feelings – and yet, how aware of what your subconscious is doing? To change your life is to change the stories you tell yourself. This is must come at a conscious level.

Tools to Change Thought Patterns


Becoming aware of your bodily sensations is the doorway to presence. Only when you are grounded in the present will you be aware of how you think and talk to yourself. Physical exercise such as yoga and  tai chi are great ways to ground into your body. So is meditation and conscious breathing (paying mindful attention to your inhale and your exhale).

As you go about your day, stop and ask yourself:

  1. How rested am I?
  2. Am I rested for the task at hand? Do I need to step away?
  3. Am I hydrated? Am I hungry? Do I need to go to the bathroom? Am I taking care of my basic needs?
  4. Do I need to move my body?
  5. Do I need some fresh air on my face?

A mantra is a mind tool that calms down the “thinking brain,” the neocortex, by giving it a singular tunnel to travel through rather than letting it scattered into the past, future, likes, and aversions.

Repeating an affirmation is a great way to replace your negative self-talk with positive reinforcement.


As you notice your thoughts and how they affect you, you may also begin to notice what particular activities trigger negative self-talk. Notice if when you are social media if you subconsciously criticizing or comparing yourself to others. Do you binge watch television shows at night and then berate yourself in the morning for not being able to get up early to meditate? Notice what activities create more anxiety and depreciating thoughts and begin to reduce those activities. Be sure to congratulate yourself for every step to take to change your actions and your thoughts


Once you become more present with yourself and familiar with coming into the present moment, you will start to hear (and feel) your obsessive thinking. Rather than pushing negative thoughts away, rename them. For example, if you find yourself perceiving a co-workers success as a threat to your own self-worth rather than fixate on their success (and your lack of success) rename these thoughts as “My Motivation” or “My Inspiration.” Redirect the thoughts into the positive.




Hawthorne, Jennifer Read (2014). Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World. Http://, 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Marsh, Sarahjoy (2015). Hunger, Hope, and Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food. Boston & London: Shambala. Print

Staik, A. (2016). The Neuroscience of Changing Toxic Thinking Patterns (1 of 2). Psych Central. Web. 19 Sept 2016.

As in Handstand, As in Life

One_hand_handstandThe other day I was in a yoga class. We were to get a partner for inversion work. I have always wanted to do an inversion and, as long as I can remember, I have always been afraid of them. Several years ago, learning yoga asana I decided I would finally master them. After months of dedicated discipline, I became proficient in sirasana, or headstead. I am off/on with my pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) and my adho mukha vrksasana (handstand) still completely alludes me. But I try a handstand almost every day – with a wall. I am getting a lot better and know it is time for me to move away from the wall but that scares me. Like mashed potatoes, the wall is so comforting.

Well…in this particular yoga class the teacher asked us to pair up and assist each other in our inversions. In essence this student was to be my wall. I was to lift up into handstand and trust that a stranger would support me. I had been practicing handstands a lot lately and was becoming more confident with my ability to control my kick up. With the best intentions to conquer my fear and take my learning to a new level I went for it. My partner made an observation: I go up strong, wobble, and immediately come down.

Go Up Strong. Then Wobble.

I digested this information: I go up strong and then wobble. I wobble and I come down. Tried it. Too scary. Can’t do it. Done. I felt like this summed up my entire learning and growing process. I go in to a situation strong and confidant, hit a moment of uncertainty, get scared, and come back to my starting place. What would happen if I embraced the unknown?

In everything we do there will always be the place where we don’t know what is next. A limbo state in which we teeter and must  learn to find our balance in a new, and sometimes seemingly precarious, way. We may even fall.  Often falling is an inevitable part of finding your balance. When you fall you have learned new information – where you need to slow down, how you need to engage, etc. I can’t help but think trying and falling is better than return to back to the same starting place.

Transformation Begins in the Discomfort

It is important to get familiar with discomfort. Transformation begins in the realm of discomfort. Putting ourselves out into the world, into unfamiliar situations, only helps us grow. Everything is always changing. There is a continuous process of creation, growth, and dissolution. When you move into this cycle, there is a natural and rhythm and flow you will experience. This does not mean your life is easy but rather you are able to ride the ebbs and flows recognizing your strengths and the gifts acquired by every situation propelling you forward on your path. You will move with an  innate sense of confidence that will radiate into all that you do.

When you fight this inevitable cycle of change you expend unnecessary energy in a direction you have no real desire to go often leaving you feel exhausted, low self-esteem, jealous of others’ success, despondent feelings, and an overall sense that you are not living up to your true potential. This is also a cycle that will feed itself: you know you can do better, get motivated, take a step forward, meet resistance, step back, make excuses, and have more doubt about yourself. To avoid this downward spiral that will leave you burnt-out or worse stagnant, you must be willing to go into the unknown, let yourself wobble, trust unexpected opportunities, and find your balance in new situations.

I still cannot do a handstand. It still terrifies me. Yet, I am trying them in the middle of my hallway more. I am moving away from the wall to get familiar with the air around my legs. I am taking my focus to my fingers, to my arms, to me core, to my legs. I am re-engaging with all parts of me – not only feeding the fear. I am lifting up and, someday soon, I will balance on my own.  Where are you willing to lift up?