Five spiritual practices that help you be your best self

The Five Yamas

Lessons from the yoga mat

The Yamas are one of the spiritual practices I learned about in yoga. The Yamas, when practiced with intention, add to your groundedness and balance, allowing you to live in peace, good health and harmony with yourself and your world.

5-yamas

I talk about spiritual neuroscience a lot

Spiritual neuroscience teaches how negative behaviors became habits by repetition, which is the good and the not-so-easy-to-take news. The good news: Once you start repeating intentionally positive behaviors, you can actually create new patterns and habits that will eventually replace the old. The other news: It’s challenging to let go of the things you put in place to protect yourself early in your life, and to take on what can feel really uncomfortable when you start. Remembering the good news will it easier for you to make each effort willingly — one thought, one word, one action at a time. It will pay off. I’m living proof. (You can read other articles I’ve written about neuroscience here, here, and here.)

I like to look at spiritual practices for transforming consciousness through many different lenses.

I recently learned about the five Yamas (and their sister practices the Niyamas, which I’ll come back to in another post, if you find this one useful), in a yoga class, of course. The Yamas are described as universal, and outer-oriented, in the teachings. But what I really like is applying each principle from the inside out. How am I treating myself? First I look at my relationship to myself, and when that is in balance, then I can apply the same principles to my family, friends, community, clients, colleagues — in ever-expanding ripples, to my world.

Let’s look at these spiritual practices as the gentle and powerful internal shift-makers they can be

  • Ahimsa — compassion, doing no harm. Remember that your own sovereign, sacred, essential self is the same one you honor in the people you love and serve. When you say “Namaste” at the end a yoga class, recognize the internal Divine in yourself first. When a client wants to do forgiveness work, I tell her to begin by first seeing herself at peaceful and content, to visualize herself as healed and forgiven before she extends that same prayer outward.
  • Satya — truthfulness. How do you describe yourself to yourself? How do you talk to yourself? When you are harsh, and judgmental, you are thinking and speaking from fear, resignation, disappointment, and bitterness. Start by changing the way you talk to and about yourself. Cut yourself the same slack you freely give a loved one. Be your own loved one. Try this: imagine putting your arm around yourself with love and compassion. Then speak the real truth, the one that reminds you that you are a child of the Divine.
  • Asteya — non-stealing. More than just about the tangible, we can look even deeper. What old feelings of deprivation and entitlement drive you to be out of balance in your relationship with yourself and with your world? Are you demanding more time from friends, loved ones, and teachers than you really need? Reclaim your balance with gratitude and generosity. Express gratitude, daily, and give of your time, your treasure, and your talents. Stretch yourself: share a little more gratitude and give a little more of what you have than you think you possibly could; that little bit more is a powerful healing.
  • Bramacharya — moderating the senses, lack of excess. What keeps you from standing in your sovereignty? One place to look is at your excesses. Are you living in balance, or are you manifesting addictive behaviors so much that you can’t feel the ground under your feet? Start here: Choose your media wisely: what you read, what you watch. Make intentional choices about what you eat, and about the people in your life. Moderation opens the way to a more mindful and balanced life.
  • Aparigraha — absence of greed. When we enjoy what we have with equanimity, without grasping too tightly, we are manifesting this quality. How is your balance here? Do you take the same care of others’ possessions as you do your own? Do you hold on so tightly that you lose the ability to release what no longer serves you? Are you trying to get others to love you so you can feel better about yourself? If you tend to hold on too tightly, step back and let go a little. If you are afraid to show up and claim what’s yours, take a slightly firmer grip. Find your balance.

So, beautiful, what do you think? How are you folding these spiritual practices into your own life? Let me know in the comments. Blessed be!

Posted on October 25th, 2014. Posted in these categories: neuroscience, spirituality, transformation, Yoga. No Comments

What do you choose to remember?

New Moon Solar Eclipse in Scorpio

What is remembered, lives. What do you choose to remember?

New Moon Eclipse. What is remembered, lives.

New Moon Solar Eclipse

Thursday, October 23
0º25′ Scorpio
2:57 pm Pacific
5:57 pm Eastern

We’re entering a sacred time of the year…

…when we honor our ancestors, when the veils between the worlds are thinnest, when we get to make powerful choices

This is a very meaningful time of the year for me, always has been. What kid doesn’t have a special love for her birthday time? My love for this season has seasoned over time. It’s no longer about birthday celebrations, although I love my birth date — my birthday falls on Day of the Dead (November 2nd), a day I just love. In my spiritual tradition, we say that the end of October, Samhain and Scorpio season, is one of the two times in the year when the veils between the worlds thin, making it possible to connect with and honor our ancestors in a deep way.

ancestor altarI keep an ancestors altar, with photos and figurines that represent my beloved dead. I choose to honor those who have gone before me, and everything they taught me, the behaviors they modeled, good and bad. I choose to honor every bit of my Scorpio nature all the time, and with an extra dollop of awareness during this season. Scorpio — transform or don’t. Transform or die.

This week is full of invitation and a reminder to everyone (natal Scorpio or not) to look at the choices you’re making and where there’s still stuckness, to choose to make changes for the better.

But wait, there’s more!

Posted on October 18th, 2014. Posted in these categories: choose to remember, New Moon. 8 Comments

Pssst! Wanna know a few WordPress secrets?

Secrets that are guaranteed to make your life easier and your website more secure?

Welcome to the first in an occasional series about WordPress, blogging, email marketing and other things geeky.

Many of my clients, readers, and colleagues — the Magnolias West tribe — are doing their online businesses and blogs on a WordPress site. And since I’m passionate about all things geeky, I’m going to share some of the awesome WordPress secrets I have learned and continue to learn — there’s a lot to know! I teach this information one-on-one and in Facebook groups all the time; and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with you. None of the links in today’s post are affiliate links; I’m simply sharing the tools I know about, use and love.

All the solutions I suggest can, beloved, be implemented by you, or by your awesome web-savvy virtual assistant (VA), or [ahem] you could call me; I can help. If you have questions about any of this stuff, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you understand.

Rock your WordPress

Today we’ll look at secrets in these three areas: backups, updates and how to find out what you need to know

Backups

Servers are unstable (they’re just computers), and just because you’re paying for hosting doesn’t mean your site is protected enough by your host to recover everything if your site crashes. Your site is self-hosted, right? Which means its url is yourawesomebusinessname.com, not wordpress.com/yourawesomebusinessname. (If you haven’t made this change yet to a self-hosted site, please do — you get a lot more functionality, and you have a more professional domain name), and if you need help doing this, please get in touch with me.) Many of us, me included, buy cheap shared web hosting when we’re starting out, and servers can go down. Just like that. Often. So you need to have a backup scheme in place.

Consider this scenario: Your site is on cheapsocheaphost.com and boom! — they go down. For days. How empowered would you feel if you could find a better host (more uptime, managed hosting), and in a matter of a couple of hours have your last backup (less than a week old) to the new host, change the settings so that the interwebs see your new site, and move on! The way you do this is to have a backup plugin that automagically backs up your entire site every week (because you told it to do so), keeps a copy on your web host, and to cover your butt in a most elegant way, makes a copy to another cloud independent of your host (also because you told it to do so) — I send my copy each week to my Dropbox. The two most popular backup plugins these days are Backup Buddy (annual fee, which I use) and Back WP Up (free and fee versions available). Please, get one and set it up.

Updates and compatibility But wait, there’s more!

Posted on October 11th, 2014. Posted in these categories: blogging, business, WordPress. 8 Comments

In the shadow, discover what you are meant to create and manifest

Full Moon Lunar Eclipse

Wednesday, 10/8/14
15º05′ Aries
3:51 am Pacific
6:51 am Eastern

Aries calls us to begin, to create, to manifest our dreams and visions

It’s Eclipse season!

We’re in a month that may bring lots of changes and opening with back-to-back Eclipses — the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse this week and then a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Scorpio on the 23rd.

Aries is the first sign of the astrological year. Aries initiates, which often may feel more like a kick in the pants than a gentle invitation. Either way, or somewhere in between, step into the opening, and ask yourself: What are you being called to begin, to create, to manifest?

Lunar Eclipse in Aries

Spend some time in discernment during this eclipse.

You may be able to see this Eclipse in your area. Even if you can’t see the Eclipse with your eyes, you can make the most of its energy by allowing its shadow to bring out what’s been hiding in the dark recesses of your heart. Set aside some time in the darkness, as close to the Eclipse as possible, and ask:

  • What’s next for me?
  • What am I meant to create?
  • What am I meant to manifest?

In the quiet, in the darkness, you may get surprising answers. Stay open. Stay open. Trust the invitation to begin. And begin, beloved, begin!

What are you being called to create? Share in the comments, let’s be excited together!!

How are you enjoying this episode of Mercury retrograde in Libra and Scorpio?

Libra and Scorpio have lots to do with how we connect with others and express ourselves. Are you noticing that some relationships need extra care, or even that you feel called to back away from some relationships that are no longer working? I’ve just let my long-time web developer go, which was very hard; we’ve worked together for eight years. But I know that I deserve to work with a partner who’s enthusiastic about my vision. My clients deserve for me to have the best team I can. Stand in your truth, speak from your heart, begin and end difficult conversations with loving acknowledgement.

I have also had some of the usual Merc Rx techno-glitches to deal with, and a spate of things just not going as planned.

Gentle reminders to add ease to the Mercury retrograde (ends October 25th):

  • Back up your data. And back up your backups! I run automatic backups of my files, plus I have cloud backup, and a third weekly bootable backup. And that’s just for my hard drive. I have automatic weekly backups for my WordPress website, plus my host backs up the data automatically as well.
  • Do you have a new client? Yay you! Congratulations! Triple-check everything before signing the agreement.
  • Expect things to change. Check traffic, arrival and departure times just one more time.

What else? What do you do to ensure ease and spaciousness during a Mercury retrograde? I’d love to know! Please talk to me in the comments.

Posted on October 4th, 2014. Posted in these categories: creativity, Full Moon. 8 Comments

Dealing with what is — the wisdom that comes from endurance

“When the waves close over me, I dive down to fish for pearls.” — Masha Kaleko

I’m beginning to think that wisdom is the result of finding out what you can endure.

I’ve endured a lot in my life, I’ve grown, I’ve tasted a bit of wisdom and a whole lot of acceptance.

And then this year happened. Talk about endurance.

Critical illness. Hospitalizations. Surrendering to what is, letting go of my business, accepting what I was given. The s-l-o-o-o-o-w recovery. Getting back into life.

thistooshallpass

I’ve been through some tough stuff before, and I probably will again, right?

And I’ve noticed that the big crises, and the little ones, and all the ones in between, have much in common.

When I can move through each of these tough moments in life, and see them as the healing opportunities they are, I can let go of seeing what’s happening as loss and something to fear, and start seeing each moment as a gift. Yes, it’s possible.

“Sometimes I go around pitying myself while all the time I am carried by the wind across the sky.” — Traditional Ojibwe

But wait, there’s more!

Posted on September 27th, 2014. Posted in these categories: acceptance, endurance, generosity, gratitude, healing, wisdom. 8 Comments

On the balance point — New Moon in Libra

New Moon in Libra

Tuesday, 9/23/14
1º08′ Libra
11:14 pm Pacific
2:14 am Eastern 9/24

First, the turning point

On Monday, Pluto, the planet that opens us to both our most intense creations as well as destructions, the planet that represents our own individual underworlds and inner worlds — as well as those of our collective society — will turn direct in Capricorn. It’s been the case since November of 2013 that Pluto has been hanging about in Capricorn between 10º and 13º, first direct, then retrograde, then direct again. Pluto will finally move out of this station in January of next year. There may be some challenging — if not excruciating — changes and challenges coming at you, especially if you have any cardinal signs — Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn — in your own chart between 10º and 13º.

The balance pointGet balanced. Stay balanced. Find your balance point.

Just a few hours after Pluto turns direct on Monday, the Sun will enter Libra, and we will be in that place of balance, that place of equal darkness and light that comes twice a year — the Equinox. Accept the invitation to stand in the stillness of this moment in the balance point, and if you feel called to do so, spend some time journaling what comes up for you when you look at the questions in the giraffe image.

The Sun in Libra invites you to pause, reconsider, and recalibrate your own inner and outer balance. Look back at the wheel of the year. What did you start six months ago at the last Equinox? What are you harvesting (in the Northern hemisphere) or starting (in the Southern)? What do you need to clear, refine, change in order to start your journey into the next season in balance?

The Libra Dark Moon on Tuesday

This is the first New Moon in Autumn. It’s the first of the ancient New Years that have been celebrated for centuries (the others are Samhain, Yule, and of course our modern calendar New Year). The one connected to the September New Moon is Rosh Hashanah, which falls each year on the day after the New Moon after the Equinox.

A suggested Dark Moon ritual

On the 22nd (if you can, or the day before or after), after dark, set a bowl or a jar outside. Make it a bowl you love, and place some water in it. Place a clean crystal or stone that calls to you in the bowl, if you have one. You’re gonna drink this water, so if you want to keep it as clean as you can, put a cloth over the top of the bowl and secure it with a rubber band.

After the bowl has been charging outside for a day, and absorbing the Dark Moon energy, spend some time in sacred space looking at what you wrote in your journal in response to the questions in the image above. What are the key themes? Write whatever comes to you on a piece of paper and place that paper under the bowl. Let that bowl soak up the darkness for another day or two. On or before Friday the 26th, pour the water into a glass and drink it, bringing your intentions to your center. Ritually dispose of the paper. You can burn it, or tear it up and roll it into seeds and bury them.

What did the questions above bring up for you? What other themes come to you in this Equinox / New Moon week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Posted on September 20th, 2014. Posted in these categories: astrology, balance, equinox, New Moon. 12 Comments

Sharing your true essence, in your own true voice

I took my own advice yesterday and got a Thai hot herb massage

I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m harder on myself than I ever suggest my clients and loved ones be on themselves.

I was working yesterday, and had the whole afternoon blocked off to complete the materials for my new VIP Deep Dive Virtual Retreat (coming soon, I’m so excited!!), and then to write this article. When I stood up to stretch I could feel just how bad my shoulder and neck pain had gotten. Even though it was burning, I had been trying to ignore it for hours. I knew I could have sat down with my back massager and given my aching parts some love. I could have rolled it out. But that truth-telling inner voice, my true essence, had a better idea. Thai massage

I clearly heard my inner voice reminding me of the Thai massage place I had learned about the week before. I called, they had an opening, and I got my stuff together and headed out.

I know that my job is to teach what I have learned

And sometimes the best way I can do that is to take the radical act of being really kind to myself. Even though I have So.Much.To.Do! Even though I lost so much time to illness over the summer, and am still healing, on many levels. Even though it’s challenging for me to let go of working, of doing, and to relax into being. Sometimes the best teaching I can offer looks a lot like relaxing, slowing down, and letting my true essence be healed, made whole, so it — that beautiful true essence inside me — can shine through in the right way, at the right time, for the right people.

But wait, there’s more!

Posted on September 13th, 2014. Posted in these categories: blogging, business, find your own voice, true essence. 14 Comments