Glow from It or Grow from It

You can experience life as though it’s happening to you or for you and either way you set yourself up to feel like there is some quid pro quo, like you can tilt the odds in your favor if you’re a good person or you can manifest the reality you want if you try hard enough. You can tell yourself rejection is protection and everything has meaning and has been set up to teach you something. When painful things happen you can experience them as karma or as punishment for something you did or didn’t do. You can decide that everything that’s happening is happening for your growth.

The thing is, the earth was spinning long before you or I got here. The ocean existed before we showed up, the waves were rolling in, the waves were rolling out. The sun rose and set. The storms came and passed. The earth will keep spinning long after we’re gone. The chances that everything has been set up for any one of us are pretty small. That doesn’t mean we don’t matter or we don’t have the power to have a positive and lasting effect on the world around us, it just means that it might be a much kinder and gentler ride if you exchange the thought that “everything happens for a reason” to simply “everything happens” and it’s up to me to take from it what I will and to endeavor to be the best human being I can be while I’m here.

Whatever situations you face, whether we’re talking about a relationship or a job or anything else, you’re either going to glow from it – meaning it’s going to light you up and inspire you, or you’re going to grow from it. You do not have to do the mental gymnastics to put everything in your “thank you” column. When painful things happen, when you experience loss, grief, betrayal, or an unwanted twist in the plot, you can bet that you will grow. You may not have wanted the opportunity to grow in that particular way, you might wish with all your heart that you didn’t know what you now know, but we don’t get to choose what’s going to happen. The earth is spinning. We are here and my feeling is this is an extraordinary thing, just to be here with each other. Just to wake up each day.

Glow or grow in love,

Ally Hamilton Hewitt

If the posts are helpful, I also have books!

And you can join me for yoga classes and entire courses here.

Your Relationship with Failure

We’re all going to try and fail at some things. If you’re like most people, you’ll try and fail a LOT and hopefully every time you fail, you’ll learn and grow and strengthen and also figure out how invested you are. How determined. How much it means to you, whatever “it” is you’re trying to do.

Failure is a topic that resonates with most people pretty instantly. You have some kind of relationship with failure, some feeling about it, whether you feel like a failure in certain areas of your life or you want nothing to do with the idea at all. As if failure might be contagious. Some people who are wildly successful by society’s standards still feel like a failure. Some people who are failures by society’s standards feel utterly fulfilled.

Sometimes we “should” on ourselves and compare and contrast our experiences with those of our peers and end up feeling pretty awful. It can be a lot easier to focus on what we haven’t done, or what we haven’t done well, than to pay attention to all the things we have done and all the things that are flowing.

You might find you spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror wishing you could turn the car around and go back a decade or two to do things differently.

Whatever the case, your relationship with failure is going to depend on your definition of success. So maybe consider your definition of success and look at your life through that lens. Do you have love? Meaningful connections? Pursuits that light you up? If you’re struggling to keep a roof over your head you won’t have time for questions like these right now, but otherwise these are good things to consider.

This is also what we’ll be talking about during the Friday Family Meeting on the Yogis Anonymous Practice Page. If this topic resonates with you, join me Friday at 11:15am PST! It’s free to join, we talk about a different topic each week and how to apply the practice of yoga to the topic at hand. Then I lead a live guided meditation. I’d love to see you!

Much love to all ❤️
Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here!

Feel Your Feelings, Don’t Drown in Them!

There’s a difference between feeling your feelings (essential) and drowning in them. There’s a difference between spiritual bypassing or toxic positivity and working with your nervous system to create a calm environment and bring yourself back to center when you’re dealing with big feelings.

Today I did a lot of both. I felt a lot of big feelings – grief, emotional exhaustion, and some of the frustration that comes from the less glamorous parts of owning a small business, and I did a lot of working with my nervous system to stay centered. I’m of no use to anyone including myself if I’m a puddle of sadness on the floor. So I felt all my feelings and I was compassionate with myself but I also did some things to create more peace, comfort and ease.

In practical terms that consisted of 15 minutes of insight meditation and an hour of yoga practice that included a lot of pranayama. Not just ujjayi breathing but also breath-of-fire to get energized and alternate nostril breathing to come into balance. It looked like a slow flow with a lot of long holds and deep stretching. It looked like getting in sweats after without a bra, true story. It looked like working at my own pace, not rushing and not getting everything done.

Some days are harder than others. If you’re having some tough days right now, you aren’t alone. Just do your best to tune in, practice kindness and patience as much as possible, and whenever you can, give yourself some understanding. If you’re looking for a few things to try, alternate nostril breathing is wonderful when you feel like you’re spinning. Feeling your feet on the floor or your butt in the chair or the weight of your hands in your lap, or finding one color in your environment to focus on – all those things are really grounding. 4-7-8 breathing is easy to do anywhere, even whilst driving. And community is everything. If you need help, come find me on the site. I’m there with an unbelievable team of teachers and a global community of yogis and it helps so much.

Whatever you do, take care of YOU. We only get one of you after all ✨

Sending love to anyone who might need it,

Ally Hamilton 

Yes and No

We are living through such strange and tender times. There is no right way to feel, there’s just however you feel from moment-to-moment on any given day, and the amount of patience, humor and grace you’re able to offer yourself (and others). One of the best things we can do is figure out what we’re saying YES to, and what we’re saying NO to. Everyone is struggling with something most of the time, pandemic or not. Read that again if you need to. No matter how stunning, smart, funny, kind or successful a person may seem to be from the outside, you have no idea what’s happening inside unless you’re very close friends or family, or they tell you. The most gorgeous person in your orbit could have grown up in the most abusive household and struggle every day to feel worthy or unbroken.

I know people who look like they’re killing it on social media, but inwardly and in their day-to-day life they feel like they’re not enough. Or maybe their life is falling apart but they’re keeping it together on the outside. I remember when I was going through my divorce and my kids were tiny. My son was four and my daughter was 18 months old and still nursing, and I owned a business with my soon-to-be ex husband and the only thing I could focus on was making sure my kids were okay and trying to take care of the yoga community that had sprung up around the studio and online. There were many, many days I sobbed in my car on my way to teach, but I always got it together before I walked into the studio, always did my best to show up for the people who’d driven and hunted for a parking spot or ridden their bikes to come practice with me, always tried to have an ear to lend to anyone who needed it. I didn’t always succeed at all that, but I always tried. And a lot of the time my soon-to-be ex husband was the one greeting people and checking in my class. From the outside, I have no doubt it looked very Modern Family, but from inside the experience, there were many chapters that were gutting. That isn’t the stuff you post on social media, though, because it’s deeply personal and it isn’t just your story to tell. I share this with you in case you feel deeply insecure a lot of the time, or you fall into the trap of comparing and contrasting. Just assume everyone has pain they’re dealing with on some level, because you’ll never go wrong if you move through the world with kindness.

Things feel particularly painful and raw out there right now. Some people are thrilled and relieved we are coming out of the strangest sci-fi year any of us has ever lived through, and others are anxious and scared we’re opening too fast, or they feel the pace of the world starting to infringe on the slower pace they’ve adopted. Many people are a combination of all those feelings, every day. We have people exhausted, heartbroken and enraged over systemic racism and continual fear of what might happen next, wondering if things are ever really going to change. We have people working tirelessly for that change in the face of massive polarization, and often a true lack of understanding.  None of it is easy, so at the very least, could we have some compassion for ourselves and each other? Could we recognize on a good day, most of us are struggling with some legitimate fear and insecurity, and also some totally absurd and meaningless mind-stuff – and behave accordingly?

Lately I’ve been feeling more and more that the root of all anxiety is fear of death. That because we don’t often talk about the reality of how fragile it is to be human, how mind-bending it is that we don’t know how long we have or how long anyone else has and that we don’t know for sure what happens after this, we’re in a constant state of knowing all this and also not wanting to know all this. It’s like the root of an anxiety tree in your mind, whose branches grow in different directions. It’s there, and you know it’s there, but maybe if you Netflix-binge enough you can forget about it. I mean, you can’t do anything about the parameters, right? So why dwell on it? I really think when we don’t grapple with the temporary nature of our being, we don’t live with the gusto and abandon that opens us to joy, and those branches can start to overgrow the system and block out the sun. We don’t have to agree about what we’re doing here or what happens next, but I believe we do ourselves a real disservice when we don’t face those questions head on, and figure out what makes sense to us. Then we can get on with the business of living with some peace of mind, true excitement and gratitude for the days we have.

Because the parameters of being human are tough, and they are, you can expect that many people are going to struggle. Hurt people hurt people as the saying goes. You will be hurt, and you will also do the hurting along the way. Hopefully at a certain point – maybe even today – you realize life is short and painful and amazing and glorious and full of loss and hope and dreams and if you’re very lucky, tons and tons of love and laughter. Hugs. Deep feeling. Grief because you love with your whole heart and losing people is devastating. Sand between your toes and the ocean – the ocean with its waves and currents and salt and sea air all around you, seagulls flying over head. The feeling when you scrape your knee and someone tends to it, cleans it for you, puts a bandaid on your scrape and gives you a kiss. Sings you to sleep at night. Gives you reason to believe that people are, at heart, really, really good.

But if you’re going to live fully, and if you’re going to find peace, there are two essential things: what you say yes to, and what you say no to. If life is precious, and I hope we can agree on that, then our job is to show up for it and give everything we’ve got to this dance while we’re here. There are going to be people who can’t be kind, can’t feel empathy, can’t respect your boundaries, can’t be counted on to treat you with love and respect. You may have people like this in your life. I would say the best course of action is to forgive everyone you can, but to realize when we forgive people, we don’t have to have them over for dinner. We don’t have to have them in our lives. We don’t have to call and say, “I forgive you.” And forgiving doesn’t mean we’re saying whatever happened is okay. It just means we are removing that fish-hook of pain from our hearts, we are reserving our finite energy and attention for other things, we are recognizing that whatever has happened is probably a result of this person’s pain, and we are not going to keep our pain and heartache alive by feeding it. There’s what you say yes to, and there’s what you say no to, and both are equally important for your well-being. If your body is your home, and your peace of mind resides within your body, imagine you can open or close the door to people and situations…and choose wisely!

 

Sending you tons of love,

Ally Hamilton Hewitt

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here, and my yoga classes and courses here. For private coaching, please email me: ally@yogisanonymous.com

 

 

Feel Your Feelings

Just a little reminder! Not every feeling or thought is desirable or welcome, but the more you try to push a feeling down or reject it, the more it will stick around! What we resist, persists.

Try instead to be curious about your feelings, like they’re guests arriving for tea. Invite them in, sit down, and explore! If you’re feeling envious (such an uncomfortable feeling!) don’t shame yourself! Sit down with your envy and figure out what’s at the root of it. Are you feeling “less than”? Did you get stuck in the comparing and contrasting trap? Are you shoulding on yourself? Where is the envy showing up in your body? How is it affecting your breathing or the way you’re holding yourself? What’s the quality of your inner dialogue around the feeling? Are you berating yourself or practicing compassion? That’s just one example!

All our feelings are an invitation to get to know ourselves more deeply and to cultivate friendliness toward our very human ups and downs. Feelings pass, after all. This is one way to develop more compassion for ourselves and others.

Next time you have an uncomfortable thought or feeling, pause, breathe, and have some tea with it! Chances are, once that feeling has been acknowledged and understood, it will move on and get carried away by the wind!

Sending love and hugs to all,

Ally Hamilton Hewitt

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here!

How to Free Yourself and Forgive

Not one of us makes it through this life (or even most days) without making mistakes, occasionally saying or doing something thoughtless, taking people and things for granted when they’re truly gifts in our lives, or showing up as our best selves in every moment. Hopefully in those instances when we are all-too-human, we catch ourselves quickly, apologize from the heart when needed, and try to make better and different mistakes moving forward. If we are fortunate and wise, we both receive and extend forgiveness as a necessary means to have real intimacy with people and get through this life with open and fulfilling relationships to celebrate. There’s no intimacy without communication and forgiveness. That is not what this post is about.

This post is about people who seemingly lack empathy about how their behavior might affect those around them. People who might have lied to you, betrayed you, disrespected you or abused you emotionally or physically with little to no understanding of why their actions upset you, and no tools to offer a meaningful apology. Maybe you have people like this in your life, people who stampede over your boundaries and look at you like you’re nuts when you get upset. You might even have people very close to you who were “supposed to” look out for you, nurture you and protect you, who “should have” cherished you and received you as the miracle you are, but were completely unable to do so. I put supposed to and should have in quotes because while we might have certain expectations based on societal norms, there’s no guarantee what we expect is going to sync with what someone is able to do. How do you forgive that, and what does it mean to try?

Forgiveness does not mean you have to decide that anything and everything someone may have done is okay, or even tolerable. It does not mean you have to pick up the phone and call the person. It definitely does not mean you have to have this person in your life. It simply means if you spend a lot of time looking back over your shoulder and blaming past events or other people for your current unhappiness, you are keeping these old events alive by dwelling on them, renting space in your head to someone who has hurt you. Where our attention goes, our energy flows. So it’s good to consider how much energy you’re spending on things that have already occurred and can’t be changed or rewritten.

If you have examined your past, your patterns, the things that have happened along the way that may have shaped your worldview and your feelings about other people, if you have gleaned all the information you can from a situation, then there’s no potential left there. There’s no kernel of anything that’s going to suddenly help you find your freedom from all of it. The truth is, we show up in people’s lives whenever we show up. Sometimes they’re ready to meet us with open hearts and lots of love, and sometimes they are deeply struggling or hurt, angry or bitter or totally unprepared to receive the love we’re offering. Re-read that if you need to, because you will notice none of that has a thing to do with you. It’s not about you, it’s about the other person. This is even true if we’re talking about our parents, and perhaps most especially true there. It is so hard not to take it personally if your own mother or father didn’t love you, for example, or didn’t love you in a way that felt like love to you. What could feel more personal than that? Of course it’s understandable to feel like there must be something broken in you if your own parents can’t love you, but there’s something broken in them, not you. Do you know how many people I’ve worked with over the years grappling with that? Me neither, because I’ve lost count.

When someone lies to you, they’re disrespecting themselves first. At that particular moment in time, they are dishonest people and they know that about themselves. It’s not a good feeling to know you are a liar, or that you’re breaking your commitments. Good people make really bad decisions sometimes out of desperation, or because they find themselves in a soul-crushing situation and can’t see a decent way out. It happens all day, every day. It’s easy to sit in judgement of other people and think you would never do what they’re doing, but the truth is, if you had that person’s life and her experiences, you’d be doing exactly what she’s doing.

Hopefully we can all let the little things roll off. We can be big enough to forgive people for thoughtless moments and loving enough to easily accept heartfelt apologies for small offenses. When we’re talking about the larger things – betrayal, emotional abuse or neglect over long periods of time, a basic lack of empathy or understanding or ability to consistently show up with respect and kindness – the essential thing is to recognize it isn’t personal. When someone cuts you off on the freeway, it isn’t about you, this is how they drive all day long, and they’re going to cut off a whole bunch of people after you. Same with the above. It isn’t personal when someone lacks the tools to recognize truly hurtful behavior, this is a reflection of something lacking in the other person, not you. It can’t be easy to go through life being unable to have real intimacy with anyone. If possible, forgive people who’ve let you down. You don’t have to invite them over for dinner, just clear out the space they’re taking up in your mind, and try to wish them some healing and peace if you can.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton Hewitt

If the posts are helpful, please find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here!

Stay in Your Own Lane

It is so easy and so human to get twisted up with this idea, but the more you can stay in your own lane, the better. Any time I find myself thinking I know what someone else ought to feel, say or do, I realize I’m avoiding my own work. I have yet to meet another human being who has their own stuff so dialed in, they’re in a position to start weighing in on anyone else’s behavior, choices or way of being.

But it’s so appealing, isn’t it? Don’t we love to think we have all the answers when we stand on the sidelines of someone else’s life? If only they would do this (insert your opinion here), everything would get better for them! A lot of the time, our tendency to want to manage another person’s path is coming out of love. We want to help someone avoid pain or steer around a pothole we can see in the road that they don’t seem to see coming. It’s natural to find it excruciating to watch someone we love suffer, but sometimes we all need to struggle in order to strengthen. I know there have been times in my own life during the gnarlier moments of my healing process when I knew full well I was getting on a train that was going to crash into a brick wall, but I didn’t have the strength yet to not get on the train. We learn the lessons when we’re ready, and not a moment sooner. No one else can do that work for us, and even if you drag someone off the train, the minute you turn your back, they’re gonna jump back on unless they are ready to choose a different road themselves. See also: you can’t save anyone. This is particularly tough to swallow if we’re talking about our children or our partners, but there are times when the most loving thing we can do is just be there to listen, to help pick up the pieces, to offer our hugs and our hearts and our belief in them.

Have you ever tried to manage someone’s reaction to something you desperately need to say or do for your own well-being, sanity, or ability to survive? Maybe you’ve swallowed your own feelings to avoid hurting someone else? That’s also not staying in your own lane. I have found that most people want to be dealing with the truth, even if it’s heartbreaking. Most people would choose dignity and respect over pity or avoidance. That doesn’t mean compassion and sensitivity aren’t key when you need to share something you know is painful or disappointing with someone you care for, but most people would rather have full-on love instead of half-measures. And everyone deserves full-on love.

When I find myself trying to manage another person’s path, I remind myself I don’t drive the big bus with the LIFE license plate, I drive a tiny little car with the Ally license plate. That’s the car I get to drive, and even then it isn’t easy. That alone is plenty of work, especially if I want to show up in the world with compassion, patience, empathy, understanding and a sense of humor. And I do want to do that! Even if I stay focused on that work, I still don’t control the road ahead of me. I still might find myself in a falling rock zone, or a sudden storm, I still might get blown off the road by a tornado I failed to see on the horizon, or I might get a flat or my AC might break on a really hot day. All I get to work on is how I respond to whatever happens. I get to check my oil, make sure my tires have enough air, clean my windshield, pick a speed that’s safe for me and other travelers on the road, use my turn signals, pay attention to the signs, use a map or find my own way…but I don’t control the rest (and neither do you).

Sending you lots of love on the windy road,

Ally Hamilton Hewitt

If the posts are helpful you can find my books here, or you can come practice the art of opening to everything (yoga) with me here!