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!

Definition Matters

Most of us have been through heartbreak, loss, disappointment and pain. It’s very unlikely everything has turned out the way you thought it would or wish it had. Some people deal with more heartbreak and loss than others.

Regardless of what you’ve been through, you do yourself no favors if you define yourself as a victim of your experiences. You are a survivor. The minute you shift your mindset in that way, you gain some power over how you’re going to rise up in the face of whatever has happened. You start to focus on your resilience instead of your rage. If you can’t change the situation, if you can’t go back and rewrite history, then the best thing you can do is shift the way you’re thinking about it.

I don’t say this lightly, there are some losses in life that are so gutting, rage is an appropriate response. You just don’t want to get stuck on the mountain of your rage shaking your fist at the sky or pointing your finger at other people. There’s no power in that. At a certain point you want to hike off that mountain and find a path where you can move forward, one step at a time, one moment at a time, one breath at a time. The world awaits you but it does not wait for you.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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

 

3 Ways to Forgive Yourself and Stop Dwelling on the Past

glassofregretIf you’re human, (and I assume there are no zebras reading this post), then you can probably look in your rearview mirror and spot some choices you wish you could make over again, and differently. The truth is, most of us do the best we can as we go along, and that means most of us will probably fall short from time to time. Life does not unfold in a linear fashion, we do not get to hit the “pause button” until we’re ready, sometimes we think we’re ready for something only to find out we are wildly unprepared or had an unrealistic idea of what we were getting into in the first place. Also, sometimes we’re coming out of abuse or neglect, a dysfunctional family system, a crazy culture that expects us to edit out our difficult feelings, or we’ve developed coping mechanisms along the way that don’t serve our highest good at all. We may have stories we tell ourselves that are not true, ideas about other people that are based on our own misperceptions or lessons we learned that we have to unlearn, or a whole host of other difficulties that come along with being human. It’s an interesting and incredible gig, but no one would argue that it’s easy! You can lose a lot of time dwelling on the past, obsessing over decisions you cannot unmake, or feeling regret that won’t serve you or anyone else.

Here are three things you can do to lift the weight of regret from your shoulders, stop dwelling on the past, and free yourself of the burden of shame.

1. Embrace your fallibility and join the human race.

Welcome to the party, sport. We have all screwed up, some of us in big ways, some of us in smaller ways, but there is not a person on this planet over thirty who doesn’t have some questionable choices in his or her past. We learn as we go, and sometimes we hurt people because we are too young to know what we want, or too confused, or we wanted it then, but five years later we felt the soul being crushed out of us. If you feel badly about some of your past actions, please recognize this is because you have a kind, gentle heart. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t even be thinking about this stuff. If you have a warm and gentle heart, you are not an a$$hole, and that is fabulous. Please take a moment right now, place your hand over your heart, close your eyes, take a deep breath and say out loud in a firm voice, “I forgive myself for being human.”

TIP: If you’re at work, say it in a firm voice inside your head, but say it enough times that you feel it. If you exhale out some tears or other emotions, that’s great.

2. You are not Atlas.

Your work here does not involve carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. If other people won’t or can’t forgive you, that is on them, that’s a weight they’re choosing to carry, and an obstacle to their own freedom; at a certain point, you have to forgive yourself. Having said that, it never hurts to communicate clearly. If there’s something you feel you need to say to someone to make things right, go ahead and say it. Think carefully about your motivation, and how this might be for the other party. If you think you might disrupt someone’s life, or his or her tenuous grip on being okay, if you think the other person might still be healing from heartbreak, then it might be best to write a letter you never send.

TIP: It’s incredibly powerful to get things down on paper and out of your head, so don’t hesitate to put your thoughts in black and white. When you’re done, you can determine whether this is a missive that was just for you, or for you and them.

3. Be present.

It’s good and important work to know yourself, and that means it makes sense to examine the choices, decisions and behavior you regret, but you serve no one by marinating in that sad sauce. Once you’ve looked at your part in any story, owned what you can of it, apologized when necessary or appropriate, then there comes a time when you need to close the book on that story. Your life is not happening behind you, any more than it’s happening in front of you. The mind loves to hurtle back into the past, or careen forward into the future, but all that does is rob us of the present. Of course your memories and experiences are part of the fabric that makes you, you, and of course that makes them part of the tapestry that is your present, but how can you do a journey with your back to the road? That’s not a great way to navigate, or open to things as they are now, but it’s an excellent way to crash into feelings, things or people who are trying to get your attention in this moment.

Everything is in a constant state of flux, and if you keep looking back over your shoulder, you are trying to stop time and stop the current. Maybe your mistakes will help you travel through your present-day waters with more ease, strength and insight. Perhaps recognizing the bumps in the road will help you avoid repeating mistakes, so you can, at the very least, make better mistakes as you go. Your breath is an excellent anchor-point. When you become aware of your inhales and exhales, you’re directing your mind to focus on something that’s happening right here, right now. This is an excellent way to catch yourself when the mind wants to head in a downward spiral, when you notice obsessive thinking, or when you recognize you’ve already examined a situation to the degree that it’s productive.

“Svadhyaya” means “self-study”, and it’s one of the Niyamas. We want to understand ourselves and know what’s motivating our choices and actions, but we also want to embrace the reality that we’re continually evolving. Don’t allow yourself to continue to set your compass toward something behind you, because you’re failing to integrate your own metamorphosis. That’s not something you want to miss!

Sending you love and a hug,

Ally Hamilton

intro-seated-meditation

Consider the Source

You-become-what-youSometimes we invent stories out of our insecurity and the breezes going by. Maybe we haven’t heard back from someone and we start to obsess. Did we say, do, or write something inadvertently offensive? Have we been misunderstood? Has the person decided they don’t like us, after all? Did we embarrass ourselves, and if so, can we ‘save it”?

Maybe we start to second-guess ourselves, or tell stories in our heads about how we always blow stuff. If you doubt yourself, you’ll need validation from somewhere, right? Maybe you doubt your talent, or your ability to give whatever you’ve got, or whether you’re really, truly, actually lovable. If you suffer from those doubts, any rejection can bring up deep fear and anxiety.

Usually when we’re obsessing, it’s because we’re triggered. Something in the current interaction is tapping something old and unhealed. So if you’re going to spend your energy on anything, figuring out the source of your pain, doubt, shame, fear, insecurity, or tendency to chase people is really the best way to go. Because then, at least, you’re dealing with something real. Something you can get your hands around, something that exists within you, and not some amorphous upsetting thing that exists “out there”, that’s really just a projection.

When did these feelings first emerge, and around whom? What happened to make you feel you might be the kind of person easily ignored, discarded, disrespected or unwanted? If the people who were meant to love, protect, nurture and cherish you didn’t have the tools to do those things well, that’s a reflection on them. It can be a compassionate reflection, because a lot of people are ill-prepared for the task of loving all the way, and timing is a huge factor. Maybe they were hurt or made to feel invisible, themselves. So much of the time, people are just repeating and perpetuating what they know. But if you weren’t loved the way you deserved to be when you arrived here on this planet, you may find it surprisingly difficult to learn how to love yourself.

That’s really the work. We never know what’s driving other people. Maybe you’re being ignored because your email didn’t go through, or because the person has decided they don’t like you, or because they’re on vacation, or because their mother called to ask them why they aren’t married even though they’re thirty-five, and they just aren’t talking to anyone this week. All I’m saying is, deal with what’s real. Don’t guess at things and fill in the blanks as though life is some huge game of mad-libs.

The story to look at is always the story of your participation. What’s within you? What are you bringing to the party? How are you spending your time, your days, your energy? Upon what are you placing importance? Choose wisely. You’re going to be with yourself for this whole ride, so you might as well know who you are. Sending you love and wishing you peace, Ally Hamilton

Worry Too Much?

Do you ever “boil yourself”? Obsess over a conversation that’s behind you that didn’t go the way you wanted it to? Or worry endlessly about situations that might or might not come to pass in the future? When we look back at a set of circumstances around which we feel unsettled, sad or disappointed, it’s so tempting to try to rewrite history in our minds. If only I’d said this instead of that. If only this person had wanted X and not Y. If only I’d stayed home instead of going out. Thoughts create a chemical reaction in the body. There’s not a lot of difference in the way the nervous system responds to events we’re concocting in our minds, versus those challenging interactions or circumstances that are actually happening.

I think we get fixated when we’re feeling vulnerable or depleted in some way. When we’re tired, or overwhelmed, or feeling hurt. Those seem to be the times the mind latches onto something painful or unsettling, whether it’s real or imagined. So there we are folding the laundry, except we’re not. We’re in some imaginary conversation about something that hasn’t happened and might not ever happen. We’ve conjured our worst-case scenario, and we let our minds run wild. So we’re folding that t-shirt, but our shoulders are up around our ears and our breath is shallow and our brow is furrowed and maybe our jaw is clenching. If you work hard enough at it, you might even raise your blood pressure or get an adrenaline rush. Meanwhile, you’ve missed the chance to practice a little Zen and the Art of Folding Laundry. Maybe you missed hearing your kids laughing in the other room. Or you didn’t see how the sun was setting right outside your door.

Left unchecked, the mind tends to head into the past or the future, but it’s sad because there’s no potential left in the past. I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for examining and understanding in what ways your past might be affecting your present. I’m simply saying there’s not much point in using up too much of today looking backward and trying to do it differently. It already unfolded the way it did. When we race into the future, we often do that with anxiety. Playing out our worst fears, thinking about what we’ll say or do, making ourselves literally sick with worry. There is no predicting the future and most people spend way too much time upsetting themselves over things that never come to pass, anyway.

There’s a real power in being able to pick up the mind and bring it back to this moment. Back to this t-shirt or sunset or laughter in the other room. Your breath is a great tool for that. Your inhales and exhales happen in the now. You can use them to arrive in the moment and open to it. Life is full of pain sometimes. You don’t have to create it in your mind. It’s also full of joy. But you can miss it if you’re somewhere else. Sending you love, and the hope that you’ll experience a little zen and the art of breathing.

Ally Hamilton

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