FEAR

FEAR.

It’s the reason we prevent ourselves from living out our greatest joy.

But what is it that we really fear?

Failure?

No.

Embarrassment?

No.

Our own light?

YES.

For so long, I’ve denied myself my own inner light— always valuing the opinions and expectations of others before my own, not pursing a goal because of what someone else might think of me, constantly worrying that I am not ready or I don’t have all I need.

So why are we so afraid of our own light?

If we choose the path of living out our greatest potential, it means doing things we’ve never done before. And believing things we’ve never believed before.

Especially about ourselves.

But, if we want to make a difference, if we want to serve, if we want to give and receive love openly, we have to believe we’re worthy. We have to believe we’re powerful. We have to believe we have what it takes!

And we do have what it takes.

But the mind often tells a different story.

And when this happens, we suffer and suffer because we continually listen to that inner chatter that tells us we can’t be or do something. We make up all sorts of excuses and stories as to why the life we want to live won’t work. And then sometimes, we even go as far as believing these stories!

In Sanskrit, this is called living out Maya, or illusion. Living things that were born in our minds out of fear.

So I urge you to get out of your head.

Get quiet and listen to the whispers of the heart.

And then, follow that whisper.

Because you are enough. You have all that you need. And the world needs your light.

This is me extending my hand to you. You no longer need to be afraid.

All you have to do is take a step forward.

Will you do it?

The choice is all yours.

SHINE ON

 

XX,

Mary

 

 

Stop Spinning: Get Grounded

When we’re too action oriented, we tend to get stuck in the mind. We get so wrapped up in our to-do lists and all of the other things going on inside of our heads, that we lose sight of what’s important. When we live in a state of mental stress, the body goes into fight or flight mode, which then kicks the nervous system into overdrive. And if this state persists for a prolonged period of time, physical conditions may arise— breakouts, anxiety, hair loss, depression, etc.

And here’s the kicker about living in a state of mental stress: you thought your way there, but there’s no thinking your way out. When life has you spinning, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get grounded; to return awareness to the physical body.

Put your feet on the Earth.

THE CURE

  1. Get your feet on the Earth. Your bare naked feet. This practice is known as “Earthing,” and before you write if off as hippy-dippy, there is science to back it up. The Journal of Environmental Public Health says:

    “It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The Earth’s negative charges can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems which may be important for setting the biological clock, regulating circadian rhythms, and balancing cortisol levels.”

    2. Tune into your 5 senses. Look around. What do you see? Now, tune into sound. What do you hear? Bring your awareness to your whole body. What do you feel? What are you smelling? What are you tasting? By tuning into your 5 senses, you are bringing awareness back to what is happening in the present moment. This is a powerful practice that takes less than 2 minutes and can be done anywhere at anytime.

    3. Hold onto an object from the Earth. A seashell, a rock, your favorite crystal. Look at it in your hands and simply observe yourself holding the object. Feel its weight, flip it over in your hands, touch its surface. Tangible practices get you out of the mind, because when you’re feeling, you’re not thinking anymore.

    4. Breathe Deeply.  The body is so intelligent that it sustains the flow of breath all day long without conscious awareness. But, by tuning into the breath, you can use it as a tool for release, purification, increasing energy, and coming back to the present moment. Begin with three deep inhales and exhales and continue for as long as you need.

    5. Sit in stillness (advanced). If you haven’t stopped moving in a while, you’ll find that this practice gets uncomfortable quickly. Do what you can to take a step back and observe the inner chatter of the mind without judgement. If you find yourself getting frustrated, don’t stop, remain seated and allow all of that mental “noise” to surface and move out. Eventually your mind will tire as you let all of the stories, and things to do. Tip: Breathing through it will help with purifying the mind.

Sometimes all we need is 5 minutes of grounding to regain balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Other times, we need an entire day to recharge and rebalance. These practices are meant to be done for as long as you need. If a practice doesn’t help you in 5 minutes, consider giving yourself 5 more, and then maybe 5 more after that.

Happy grounding!

Namaste,

Mary

Why you should do your YTT in India


If you’ve ever contemplated doing a yoga teacher training, consider this your call to action. And definitely consider heading to India. Here’s why:

You will learn the true essence of yoga

Yoga in the West is typically watered down, focusing almost exclusively on the physical aspect of yoga. The physical practice, better known as asana, is only one of the eight limbs of yoga and is not yoga in its own right. In training in India, you will be exposed to and expected to practice the other seven limbs. These include: discipline, moral observances, breath control, withdrawal of the senses, concentration, meditation and union of the self and the Divine. Obviously a month is not long enough to become a master on subjects that have been thousands of years in the making, but at the very least, you will leave with an introduction of what they are.

It will cost less than getting certified at home

Yoga Teacher Trainings in the U.S. cost upwards of $3,000. My program in India cost $1,500. In addition to the course, that cost covered my month’s accommodation, three meals a day, and one weekly excursion. Add in $1,000 for a roundtrip flight and it’s still less than getting certified at home.

There won’t be any outside distractions

You’re going to be pretty disconnected from the rest of the world. Unless you have an international data plan (which costs short of a million dollars a month), your cellphone is going to be nothing more than camera to take photos of the cows in the road and a calculator to convert rupees to dollars. And while my school and a few cafes accommodated us Westerners with free wifi, connectivity was usually poor. At the school, I would be lucky to get two minutes of FaceTime in before the wifi would stop working for the day. Refreshing social media and news apps also got pretty frustrating, so it didn’t take long before I would give up and put my phone away. However, I considered the bad wifi to be a blessing. My interest in scrolling through Instagram abated and I didn’t feel so bombarded by the bad news circulating the media. Because of this, I found it easier to concentrate on the course, myself, and the present moment.

You’ll make friends from around the globe

Like every other abroad program I’ve participated in, I thought I was going to be surrounded by Americans. But to my surprise, there were only four of us out of 40 students. There were a few Germans, some Argentinians, a Brazilian from Australia, an Australian from Brazil, one from India and so on. On the first day, we all swapped our reasons for coming to India and I was struck by how similar all of our stories were. Though our cultures, religions and backgrounds differ, we all felt captivated by yoga and pulled to India. I promise you that after making friends with such likeminded and incredible people from all around, the world will seem a lot smaller and infinitely more comfortable.

It will change you from the moment you step off the plane

India is vibrant and full of life. And all of this life is out in the open for you to experience— the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is India:

You walk into a shop and almost immediately fall into a deep conversation with the shopkeeper about the value of honesty. Outside that same shop, you find a beggar with a single arm and no shirt, sitting upright against the wall, clutching his prayer beads and waiting for someone to throw money in his cup. And around the corner, someone is burning a pile of garbage despite the extreme heat. Behind you, a cow stands in the middle of the road, blocking traffic and provoking drivers to slam those damn high pitched horns. But it’s okay because the bells of the ashram ring, signaling a call to prayer.

In my opinion, there is nowhere better to apply your yogic knowledge than a place that stimulates your mind and colors your thoughts. A place that both drains and revives you of your energy. A place that is going to flip your perspective on society, humanity, and life itself.

Namaste,

Mary

XX

 

To London, India & Beyond!

BIG NEWS! I’ve decided to pack up my love for yoga and take it with me all the way to India to become a certified yoga instructor.

My journey to India and ultimately to my Self begins on March 1st (though you could argue it began 22 years ago, but no need to get all esoteric and spiritual on you quite yet).

My sister, Brittany, and I are set to fly to London, where we will no doubt enjoy a few days’ worth of tea and crumpets with some art and museums sprinkled in between (and by art and museums, I mostly mean bakeries and pubs). From there, Britt will fly back to the States and I will journey on to “The Yoga Capital of the World,” otherwise known as Rishikesh, India.

While in Rishikesh, I will be attending a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Course. For a month, I will be living by the regimented schedule of ashram life, which begins at 5:30 AM with morning tea followed by yoga, pranayama (the study of breath), anatomy, more tea, philosophy, more yoga, and you guessed it, meditation.

This will be an entirely new experience for me as I have never been to India, nor have I ever willingly committed myself to anything that would require me to wake up at the ungodly hour of 5 AM. But, I couldn’t be more excited. I am so unbelievably grateful for my path and I encourage each and every one of you to follow your passions because they will certainly take you to some amazing places!

Namaste.

Meditations for the snow

With snow comes peace and stillness. Serenity and comfort. Wonder and magic. When the clouds clear and the sun makes its debut for the first time after the snow falls, the sky seems brighter by contrast, the trees no longer look so dull, and the reflection of sunlight on the snow creates a glimmering effect. It’s just so… enchanting!

The transformation of the outside world from a dreary gray to a luminous wonderland is nature providing us with a new beginning, a blank slate, a fresh start. And the best thing to do when this happens is to set intentions with some mindfulness meditation.

Manifest your dreams

When the earth is covered in a blanket of white, everything appears to be clean and simple, making it easy to concentrate. Get quiet, think about what it is you want and use the snow as a canvas to project your ideas and desires on to. Spend some quality time with your old friend, imagination. Give life to your dreams and your dreams will become your life.

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” –Albert Einstein

Connect with the stillness of your surroundings

Life slows down when it snows. Stores close, highways and roads are abandoned and people shut themselves up inside. There are virtually no distractions; the outside world is calm and still. Get out there and be one with the silence. Even if your life is cluttered with chaos, it’s impossible not to feel more at peace in such a serene space. This is because silence brings upon a sense of clarity. It helps purify your mind of head trash and allows you to focus on what really matters—the truth.

“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” -Rumi

Let It All Out

Dance around your backyard. Laugh and scream and allow all of the things you’ve been silencing to be heard. Release any negative energy you’ve been holding onto. In doing so, you create space for new opportunities and ways of thinking. Don’t be afraid to get loud—it’s not like anyone else is around.

“Some things need to be let go before other things can be let in.” –Marianne Williamson

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Then, go inside and have a hot cup of tea because it’s cold and you deserve it!

Namaste,

Mary

XX

Have a bad ass 2017

You can continue to have the same boring list of resolutions you’ve had for the past 5 + years (eat heathier, exercise more, blah blah blah) or you can get real. Below is a list of attainable and slightly unconventional resolutions to have a bad ass 2017:

Make more mistakes 

Yes, for real. A lot of resolutions have a base in striving for perfection. People want to lose weight to attain the “perfect body,” be a better partner to cultivate the “perfect relationship,” and ultimately create the “perfect life.” But, the truth is, there is nothing human about perfection. Let yourself make mistakes, little ones and big ones. Take action in spite of fear because some of the most valuable life lessons come from screwing up. Put yourself out there. Mistakes are essential to personal growth.

Drop expectations

Expectations tend to cloud our perception of reality. Expectations say “this is how things should be” and when you view your life through the lens of expectation you will never be satisfied in the present moment. Let things be as they are. You may not be able to control the situation, but you can always control your attitude.

Climb that mountain

If there is something you really want to do, then do it. Because really the only other alternative is not doing it. Just remember to be bold, stay focused, and take the next best step. You’ll reach the top whenever you’re meant to get there.

Reinvent yourself often

You reserve the right to be whoever you want, whenever you want. If at some point this year, you wake up with some burning desire to learn Portuguese or move to Australia to become a professional bungee jumper, don’t ignore it. Make it happen. Everything is first born as an idea.

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

By expressing gratitude, you open yourself up to the powers of positivity. Gratitude brings upon an awareness of all the good in life and eventually, you will begin to see more good without actually looking for it. Choose to practice gratitude however you want. Recite the things you are thankful for while you’re sitting in traffic, or make a mental list before you fall asleep. It doesn’t matter, it’s your practice.

Just be YOU

You’re already a bad ass. You’ve survived 2016 and all of the years before that. Stay true to yourself and your passions and you’re destined to have a kick ass 2017!


Namaste,

Mary

XX

My Journey to the mat

I kind of, sort of fell into yoga by accident.

My yoga journey began last fall when one of my friends was telling me about her gig as the tabata instructor at the campus fitness center. She was explaining to me what the job entailed when I said something that surprised me.

“Yeah, someday I want to be a yoga instructor.”

The words had just flowed right out of my mouth.

You do??? I thought. Since when?

My response had merely been a reflex. I wasn’t even thinking when it happened. Something had just compelled me to say it. Aside from a few beginner classes in high school, I didn’t have much experience with yoga. Yet, there I was confessing some innate desire to teach it. But I felt like I had put my foot in my mouth. I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks because I really didn’t know what to say next. I couldn’t offer anything else to the conversation, so I quickly changed the subject and silently challenged myself to go to a class soon.

A few weeks passed and I hadn’t forgotten entirely about the whole ordeal, but I hadn’t quite pursued it either. Until, my friend, Emily, asked if my roommates and I were interested in going to Yoga In The Park, a free weekly series offered by one of the local studios. With finals looming, we needed a distraction from studying so we agreed to go. I didn’t even have a mat, just a beach towel, but in the soft grass, it was enough. It was a slow practice that matched the pace of the setting sun. I left feeling light and rejuvenated.

When I returned home for winter break, I vowed to dedicate my time off to doing yoga. My best friend, Jena, and I found a local studio that offered student discounts. Both of us were unfamiliar with the different styles of yoga so we blindly wandered into a hot power flow class. It was a disaster from the start. We exchanged confused glances when we realized the instructor was not there to demonstrate the moves for us. And we grew even more confused when she started using the Sanskrit terms in her monologue. I spent the entire 75 minutes wishing for it to be over. I felt woozy from the heat and weak from holding myself up.  After that first class, Jena and I rolled up our mats and walked to the car in silence. Once both of the vehicle doors were closed, she looked at me and in full seriousness said, “I will NEVER do that again.” I immediately burst into laughter.

Despite her claim, we decided to give it another go. It still sucked. But around my fourth or fifth class, something happened. My body was stronger — I could move through chaturanga without collapsing! And, I didn’t feel the need to succumb to childs pose so often. I was finally able to focus on the act of doing yoga, rather than the pain or the passing time. I was really starting to enjoy it.

When I arrived back to Tampa for my second semester, I was determined to keep up with my practice. As fate would have it, there was a lovely studio in walking distance from my dorm. I committed myself to a three-month unlimited package and went as often as I could. Sometimes twice a day.  Eventually, it became a part of my routine. Now, yoga is so deeply integrated into my daily life that it is a part of who I am. It’s like yoga is embedded into my DNA. Corny, but true.

I can’t go a day without stretching my body or mind in some capacity. I can’t eat certain foods without noticing the effects they have on my body. And, I can’t even go to sleep without first expressing gratitude.

Yoga has brought upon a sense of awareness that I didn’t have prior to starting my practice. From being more mindful, I started to see patterns in my life. I noticed there was a direct correlation between my attitude and how I perceived certain experiences. I learned there is beauty in letting go and there is power in positivity. Simply put, yoga changed the way that I live and I am beyond grateful for that.

Namaste,

Mary

XX.