With Strong Determination…

thichIn large part, our ability to be at peace requires our resolve and our discipline. I am not suggesting that’s all that’s required. There are things that happen in life that would bring anyone to his or her knees. I’m not a yogi who’s going to tell you that you can choose to be happy in every moment, because I believe that’s unrealistic and alienating for people who are suffering great loss. Grief is a healthy response to heartbreak, but short of tragedies that befall us in life, much of our suffering does, indeed, come from our thoughts.

A lot of the time, happiness is a choice. Of course we all want to be happy, we even addressed it as a given right in our Declaration of Independence, but often, in our pursuit, we get snagged on our attachment to a particular outcome, and we suffer if anything else should come to pass. Sometimes we spend a lot of energy worrying about things that never happen, and that’s time we won’t get back. Sometimes we boil ourselves replaying old situations as if we could rewrite them or turn back time. The trick is to catch yourself as fast as you can, and to be vigilant. The days are precious. The moments are precious. We really don’t want to lose too many of them traveling into our past and future, because life isn’t happening in either of those places.

Awareness is clearly part of the equation. If you know you have a tendency to “future-trip” and make yourself sick over all the things that “could” happen, or you recognize your predilection toward revisionist history, you want to be on the alert. That way if you’re driving somewhere, or folding your laundry, or washing the dishes, you can catch yourself if you start to spin, and bring yourself back to the present moment. In order to choose the thoughts and habits that strengthen you, you have to understand you have a choice. This is a huge gift of a consistent yoga and seated meditation practice. We train the mind to focus on what is happening right here, right now. We use the breath as an anchor point because it’s always happening in the present moment. If we pull out our meditation cushions, and sit up and become aware of our inhales and exhales, and somewhere along the way we notice the mind is drifting, we pick it up, and begin again. There’s always the potential to do that, on a cushion, or at your kitchen sink, or behind the wheel of your car.

There’s a Pali word, “Addithana”, and it means “resolve”, or, with “strong determination”. If you practice Vipassana (Insight) meditation, as I do, then you already know this word, because we use it to refer to those meditation sessions where we’ve decided we are not going to move. Maybe the back aches or the knees hurt after we’ve been sitting for a time, but we don’t move, we just observe sensation, and notice that it’s always changing. It might not be comfortable, but it’s interesting, and that practice truly mirrors life. Even if we do nothing, things are always in motion, things are always evolving and changing and shifting. Not all of those changes are wanted, but we don’t have control over that. We just have the opportunity to work on the way we respond. If we aren’t paying attention, we miss the shifts, and we lose the power to make a choice. We’re carried along, being pulled this way and that, up and down, victims of circumstance; that’s how the mind is wired, but you can rewire it.

The thing is, we can make all the plans in the world, and it’s fine to do that if it gives you a sense of direction. In fact, I would encourage anyone to live with intention. It’s a relief to uncover your particular gifts and set about the business of sharing them. That, in itself, is fulfilling, but I wouldn’t get too caught up in making longterm plans, because your plans are likely to change. This is true in big ways, and in small ways. When I go to teach a class, for example, I always have a plan. I think about what we’ve been working on, what we did in the prior class, what themes feel right, what parts of the body I’m targeting, potential peak poses, all of it. Then I walk into the room and look around and see who’s there, and whether or not my plan makes sense. Sometimes I know immediately I have to scrap it. Sometimes I modify as we go, based on the energy in the room, and a ton of other factors. Maybe there are three pregnant mamas in the room, and I’d planned a deep twisting class. I’m not going to follow that plan. Again, that’s just a tiny example, but it’s really true of everything in life. We set our course, we have our intentions, but we always have to factor in the unknown. The unexpected. The curve ball. The moment of inspiration. The shifting circumstances around us. The way everything can change in a split second. We always have to deal with what’s in front of us, and leave room to be surprised and amazed and grateful. Life is not obligated to bend to our will, and it probably won’t. Our best bet is to stay present, to develop a practice that keeps us in tune with our intuition, that leaves room for curiosity and non-attachment, and that teaches us not to waste time.

In order to have a great year, for example, I’d really focus on having great days. What can you do to nurture and strengthen yourself today? What can you do to support the people in your life today? What would bring you joy, right now? Is there a chance you could make someone else’s day by picking up the phone to catch up? Is there anything you could do, even for twenty minutes, that would make your life easier? Anything you’re allowing to pile up, that’s going to be much harder to deal with than it would if you just marked a small amount of time each day to tackle it? Maybe you could start the day by thinking of one thing or one person or one quality you possess that brings a smile to your face, and maybe you could end the day like that, too. I’m just saying, there’s so much potential to cultivate some beauty and some love, and if we do that every day, if we string together a bunch of days in which we feel alive and engaged and present, then we don’t waste time, we celebrate it, and those days turn into weeks and months, and really, I believe that’s how we have a happy week, month, year, decade, and so on; that’s how we live our lives in a way that feels good. That’s how I try to do it, anyway.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

You Don’t Have to Have Braids

emersonLast week, I took my daughter when I went to get my toenails painted, and they always do her nails, too. It’s a little ritual once in awhile, while her brother is in school, and I pick her up earlier from Kindergarten. As I was paying for my pedicure, I noticed that the woman who’d painted my daughter’s nails was now finishing a second braid in her hair. I went and stood next to her, and when she was done, we thanked her, and we left. We weren’t three feet out of the salon when my daughter looked up at me and said, “I didn’t want braids.” When I asked her why she didn’t just say that, she kind of shrugged her shoulders at me. My daughter is a firecracker at home. She has no problem telling any of us what she wants or does not want, in a strong, assertive way. Just ask her brother. But when she doesn’t know people, she can be shy and quiet. She’s also sensitive and caring. She’s a watcher. She asked me if she could take the braids out, and of course I told her she could.

When we got in the car, I told her it was really important that she understand that she gets to decide what happens to her own hair. Her own body. Her own nails, and that it’s okay to say, “No thank you, I don’t want braids.” I asked her to say it to me a few times, for practice. I asked her to say it a little more loudly each time. By the third or fourth time, she was yelling it out the window, laughing, and I was yelling it with her, “I don’t want braids!!” It’s so simple, right? But it’s not always so easy to say what we want, or do not want, or to ask for what we need. I will not stop working with my daughter on this, because it’s a big part of our self-esteem, understanding that we should value our feelings and act on our own behalf.

Sometimes we take care of other people at our own expense. We feel something inside, but we keep it inside because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or we tell ourselves it isn’t that big of a deal. If you make a habit out of that, you’re making a habit out of putting other people’s needs and wants ahead of your own. When we make sacrifices for those we love because it feels good, that’s one thing, but when we make it a way of life to always put other people’s feelings ahead of ours, we’re in trouble. It won’t be long before we can’t even identify what we’re feeling, let alone act on it.

There’s a difference between generosity, and care-taking or people pleasing. If you grew up feeling you needed to earn love, this may easily have followed you into your adult life. You may fear speaking up, or standing up for yourself, because you think if you do, love may be withdrawn, or people might not like you. Maybe it’s such an ingrained way of being, you don’t even realize you’re doing it. Do you say, “Sorry!” when someone bumps into you? I’m laughing, because I do that sometimes, and then, two seconds later, I’m like, “Why am I apologizing?” Am I saying, “I’m sorry you aren’t paying attention”? Or am I saying, “I’m sorry I’m taking up space”? That’s a pretty important distinction, right?

You don’t have to apologize for your feelings. You may not get everything you want or need, but it never hurts to ask. At least that way, you’ve communicated clearly, and that makes everything simpler. If a person doesn’t care about how you feel, you can then decide whether it’s a relationship you want to pursue, or one to which you want to be devoting time and energy, or not so much. If you speak up and a person cannot give you what you need or want, at least you both understand that. You aren’t left in the murky waters of wondering whether you’ve been misunderstood or disrespected or unseen.

Being accountable for how we feel and what’s happening within us is a gift we give ourselves, and everyone we encounter. There are enough mysteries in life. Even if you’re clear about how you feel in every given moment, you’re still going to be part of the mystery that’s happening around us, and you’re still going to surprise yourself by the things you sometimes want or think or dwell upon. Knowing yourself takes work and time, and so does knowing other people. Don’t ever be sorry for taking up space, and don’t ever get braids if you don’t want them. Say it with me if you need to, “I don’t want braids!!”

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton


ruizWe never know what’s motivating someone unless they tell us, and even then, people are not always honest. No one wants to say, “I’m making this decision because I’m scared and weak, and it’s the safer and easier thing to do.” I mean, seriously. Who wants to have to own that? Sometimes people make choices, and they don’t communicate about what’s driving them because they can’t face it themselves.

We’re human, and most of us long to understand, especially if things happen that are hurtful. Few things feel worse than being ignored. If we make ourselves vulnerable with someone, if we reach out in an effort to make sense of something, and are left in a vacuum to figure it out on our own, it adds insult to injury. We feel we aren’t even worth a response to someone who was, or is, important to us. There’s nothing kind or compassionate about leaving someone in a communication void, and let me be clear. I’m not talking about situations with people who are unbalanced or have a total lack of boundaries, or who refuse to accept what you’ve already said a million times. Sometimes you really have no choice but to draw a hard line. While I’m at it, let me also say that you can never be the one to help heal the heart of your inconsolable ex. Meeting for one more tea, taking one more walk, answering one more call, writing one last email…it just keeps the other party hanging on and hoping. Your intentions are probably good, but you can’t and won’t help anyone that way. If you’ve explained yourself, if you’ve communicated openly and honestly, and given the other party the chance to say whatever needs to be said, you’re both going to need some time and space. It’s hard to heal when we keep throwing salt in the wound. I’m not talking about those cases, though. I’m talking about times when we’ve been close to someone, and they make choices that are mind-boggling, unexpected, completely out of left field, and then they refuse to help us understand what’s happened.

This occurs with romantic relationships, it happens between family members, and it happens with friends. Sometimes there’s a willingness to talk, but it’s not coupled with the ability to be truthful. You can only do what you can do, after all. You can create a safe space. You can say that you just want to understand. You can invite the other party to open up and share with you, even if it isn’t pretty. You can reassure someone that there’s nothing they could say that would make you stop loving them, but you can’t force someone to accept your invitation to be intimate, because that’s what we’re talking about, here.

Sometimes people feel threatened or envious, and they can’t imagine saying that out loud, so instead they withdraw, or they lash out, or they act out. Friendships that were once thriving are lost, because we’ve decided some feelings are ugly or shameful. Can we really tell a friend we feel jealous or insecure? What’s funny, is that the more we’re able to be truthful, the less these emotions overpower us. When we repress something, we’re actually feeding it power. The more we push it down or reject it, the harder it comes back up. Most people would rather have an uncomfortable conversation than lose a friend, and some people might actually see bold-faced ownership of your feelings as an opportunity to deepen your bond. If you want someone to know you, you have to be willing to show yourself, even the parts that aren’t so pretty; especially those. If you internalize your confusion and pain about the choices being made by someone close to you, you also lose a chance to see what the friendship can sustain.

Also, let’s talk about rejection. Since we never know what’s motivating someone unless they tell us and they’re honest about it, it’s really inadvisable to assume it’s a reflection of anything lacking within you. If you’re in a romantic triangle with someone, if you have a friend who you wish would be so much more, and they choose the other party, of course that can feel like the other party must be better than you, but the reality is just that the other person is different than you, and maybe in ways that work better for your friend. Maybe you’re scary in some way. Maybe you demand a level of honesty and intimacy that feels too intense for them. Maybe the other person offers more stability, and your friend comes from a really unstable background. Maybe your friend doesn’t want a real partner, maybe they prefer to be the big personality. Maybe a million things.

The point is, try not to expend too much time or energy trying to understand what someone else is doing, or has done. The story to examine is always the story of our participation. What did we bring to the mix? Do we feel good about it? Did we show up the way we wanted to? Is there anything we can learn that will help us moving forward? Do we need to apologize to the other person, or to ourselves for anything we might have done or not done? Once you have those questions answered, move on and try to trust. I realize it isn’t always easy, but if a person is meant to be in your life, they’re going to find a way. If they can’t, you just need different things. Try to be at peace with that.

Sending you love and a hug,

Ally Hamilton

Speak Out

kuhnClear communication is so important when we’re looking for understanding, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes people don’t say what they feel out of fear that the truth will hurt, that there will be repercussions for themselves or others, or because they know if they say this particular thing, the ground underneath them is sure to shift. We resist change, but it’s the only thing we can count on, and it’s the only chance we have for connection when we’re feeling misunderstood, disrespected, or unheard. Of course, when you’re sharing something with someone, you want to express yourself with as much compassion as you can muster. Hopefully, when you go to share something with someone you love, you do that because you’re hoping to be closer, you’re hoping to be seen. 

In-person communication is always the best bet when you’re expressing something that’s emotional, sensitive in nature, or has a “charge” to it. So much can get lost in translation with emails and texts. If you can’t meet face-to-face, a phone call is your next best bet; at least you can hear the person’s voice, you can hear the tone, or their voice cracking, you can hear the frustration, and the pain underneath it. Words on a screen are impersonal, people get reckless with their fingertips; they write things they’d never say. A text is not a place to break up with someone, or to express rage or despair about anything, and neither is an email. If you’re frustrated or angry, go ahead and write it down if you need to get clear about the storm that’s raging in your mind, but don’t hit “send” until you’re in a calm state of mind. Words are powerful. Once you put them out there, you can’t take them back, and some things are so hurtful, they may be forgiven, but it’s unlikely they’ll be forgotten. This is true personally and globally–part of the pain so many people are in right now is a result of words that have been spoken and cannot be forgotten.

Manipulation is no way to go about getting what you want. If you want something, or you need something, ask for it. You may not get it, but take the mystery and agony out of things for yourself, and the people in your life. No one can read your mind, or mine. Being passive aggressive is also not a fabulous communication style. Expecting people to try to figure out what’s wrong or what you need makes it harder on everyone. If you’re angry, disappointed, scared, sad, hurt or confused, try saying that out loud.

When we’re angry, it’s almost always just a cover for our pain, or intense feeling of vulnerability. If we’re defensive, it’s because we feel attacked, even if that’s just our perception. Many people cannot receive anything but positive feedback. If you offer any kind of constructive input, that, too, might be received as an attack. Sometimes this happens with personality disorders like narcissism. Sometimes it happens because a person grew up in an abusive household, and an admission of error was met with incredible pain and punishment. You really don’t know what someone is dealing with unless they tell you, but you can work on the way you express yourself. You can work toward clear, truthful, compassionate communication. That’s really all you can do. As with everything, you can never control what someone else does.

There’s no hope for our personal relationships if we can’t speak clearly, and there’s no hope for healing rifts and divides with people we may not know, unless we can call it out when we see things that are not okay. Sometimes we have to speak up on behalf of someone else, and sometimes we need to act on our own behalf, but having no voice for either is no way to go through life.

Sometimes we keep quiet because we don’t want to have uncomfortable conversations, or we think we already know what the other person will say. Let me say this: If you have a long history with someone, and you know that sane, satisfying communication isn’t possible, then don’t bark up that tree. A lot of people are struggling with family members and close friends right now, who may have wildly different ideas about what we need in this world at the moment. It’s very painful when your entire ideology or life philosophy is rejected or ridiculed by those closest to you. Having said that, anyone who refuses to make an effort to understand your point of view is a person who is also struggling to understand what it means to love. Ridicule and disrespect have no place in that arena. You don’t have to agree with the people close to you all the time, but there needs to be some effort to grasp, to understand. Accept people where they are and how they are, or don’t have them in your life, or have them in your life, but create boundaries. In general, though, if you struggle with being assertive, work on it. Most people will really appreciate your honesty, if you’re kind; being truthful and mean is crappy, it’s not funny or brave or strong or tough. It’s crappy. So there’s that.

Maybe you grew up and no one ever asked you how you felt, or what you needed or wanted. Perhaps you’re still trying to figure that out. Maybe it doesn’t occur to you that how you feel is important and worth sharing. Maybe you feel invisible, or believe your worth lies in what you can do for other people. Those are all lies. Maybe you think it’s better for you to be in pain, and silent, than it is for you to express yourself, and disappoint someone else. What kind of relationship can possibly result? There’s no intimacy without honesty. Find your truth, and then find your voice. It really matters. If you struggle to say what’s real for you, get some help with it.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Own It

ownitIt’s easy to look around and blame external factors for our rage or unhappiness, for our boredom or dissatisfaction. (Please note: I am not talking about times we’re moving through grief, the loss of a person we don’t know how to live without, or the other huge heartbreaks we face in life, I’m talking about a day-to-day focus on what’s happening around us, instead of within us). It’s much harder to take a look at what’s happening within us, to take ownership of our lives and our feelings, and to make changes when necessary, but it’s also very liberating. When we give circumstances or other people the power to control how we feel in any given moment, on any given day, or for days and weeks at a time, we’re putting ourselves in such a weak position.

If someone cuts you off on the freeway, you don’t have to give them the power to raise your blood pressure. You don’t have to unroll your window, or shout expletives, or stick your traffic finger in the air. You don’t have to let it affect you at all. If it does, if you become enraged, that rage was boiling right underneath the surface. That’s something you had within you, and they just gave you an opportunity to unleash it, but that isn’t a healthy way to process your anger or frustration, or feelings of being disrespected.

If your friend gets a promotion and you can’t be happy for them because you want a promotion, that’s something to look at as well. Maybe you feel envious of your friend, or annoyed at his or her good fortune. Maybe you feel you deserve a break more, but now you’re allowing your friend’s good news to make you doubt yourself or loathe yourself or wonder why your life isn’t going along the way theirs is. You’ve allowed an external circumstance to rock your world and make you feel like crap, when in reality, your friend did not just get the last promotion known to humankind. Your friend did not just take up your space in the sun. You have an opportunity to take a look within. It feels terrible to resent the good news of someone else. It makes us feel small and ugly, when we are neither of those things.

We can use these triggers to know ourselves more deeply, and to point us in the direction of where we have healing to do, and then we can get to work. A great way to stay centered is to observe your breath. I know that sounds so simple, but it’s the quickest and most powerful way I know to bring yourself smack into the now.  When we’re obsessing or lamenting over what’s happening for other people that isn’t happening for us, or we’re raging about what this person is doing or not doing, when we point fingers at our partner for the state of our relationship, when we decide we’ll be happy when “things change”, we’re really lost at sea. We have no control over what life is going to put in our paths, nor do we have the power to determine what other people will do or say or want or need; our power lies in our ability to respond with grace and strength and curiosity to whatever it is that’s happening around us. I mean, we can work on that, anyway. The rest of it is not up to us.

Other people cannot make us feel anything, unless we allow them that access, and that goes for the good feelings, as well as the challenging ones. If we aren’t open to receiving love, for example, it doesn’t matter if our partner dances like a monkey, we aren’t going to be able to receive the gift, or dance along. A person cannot rob us of a peaceful afternoon by behaving badly, unless we allow ourselves to boil about it for hours on end. We always have the power to choose one thought over another, but that’s a skill that requires a lot of practice and determination.

Next time you find yourself spiraling and coming from a place of lack instead of abundance, fear instead of love, pause and breathe. Take a moment to come back to yourself. Feel your inhale, and feel your exhale, and place your hand on your heart if it helps, so you can feel it beating away in there for you, and then decide how you want to show up, how you want to respond. Becoming accountable for the energy we’re spreading is a super power worth working on.

Wishing you strength, love, and determination,

Ally Hamilton

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vitalstandardsOften, when we’re really close to a situation or another person, it’s hard to see clearly. Sometimes we have an unhealthy dynamic going with someone for years, as often happens with family members, romantic partners, people with whom we were once close, or even friends and colleagues. We might be able to step back from it from time to time and realize it’s just not good, that it isn’t serving our well-being or theirs to continue engaging this way; maybe we resolve to do things differently, and we might pull it off a few times, but then we slip back again, and find ourselves screaming, or frustrated or withdrawing or shutting down or slamming the door and we lose hours or days or weeks obsessing and replaying and participating in interactions that aren’t going to get us anywhere good.

You can only keep your side of the street clean; you cannot manage another person’s journey. People are where they are. They have the tools they have, they’ve been through whatever they’ve been through, and these things have shaped the way they think about life, move through the world, and treat other people, just like you, just like me. Nobody’s going to come along and convince you to look at things in another way, or to try communicating differently unless you feel a need for a change yourself.

Having said that, we are all in a constant state of flux, and there’s always the potential for shifting, but if you have a painful history with someone who’s emotionally or verbally abusive, who uses manipulation instead of honest communication, who points the finger at you over and over again but never, ever seems to be wrong, you probably need to think about why you’re participating in a relationship like that. Sometimes there’s no choice about having someone in your life–maybe it’s a parent, and the cost of distancing yourself feels greater than the cost of engagement, maybe it’s your sibling or your business partner. Maybe it’s your ex and there are children involved.

Even though there’s always the possibility of change, some people cling to their anger and their list of ways they’ve been wronged or disappointed no matter what you do. Sometimes a person just does not have a time-stamp on a thing, and the rage is boiling just below the surface. Every time some small thing happens, ten years of history is also unearthed, and you’re left stripped bare, wondering how your oversight about stopping for apples led to the apocalypse that just took place in your living room. There are a lot of people in the world who are unable to look at their own flaws and vulnerability, so their default setting is to make everyone else wrong or screwed up. When a person doesn’t want to look, you can’t make them see. You can exhaust yourself trying, but at a certain point you might ask yourself what is it you’re hoping to accomplish? Closure, forgiveness or acceptance may be something you have to give to yourself so you can move on and open to joy again.

A lot of the time we have our own doubts about ourselves and the mistakes we’ve made, we may feel regret or shame or guilt, and that can be so crushing. We want to be seen clearly and understood for who we are, to have at least some of our good points acknowledged, and it feels like such crap to be misjudged, or to have revisionist history thrown in our faces, when what we want is connection and peace, a way to move forward. No one has to be right. No one has to be victorious. How about a bridge, an attempt to meet somewhere along the way, some hope for clear seeing? You don’t have to agree with someone else’s feelings in order to hear them out and do your best to see things from their point of view. That’s usually all people want, is some reciprocity, some sense that the other person cares enough to try to see things another way.

If you must have someone in your life who just cannot seem to do that, it’s all about boundaries. If someone is verbally abusive, try communicating through writing for awhile if you have to communicate at all. It’s probably going to take time, but if you change what you’re doing, they’ll also have to change they way they approach you. Again and again, examine your own participation. That’s the story that matters as far as your inner peace, knowing yourself well, and understanding what it is that’s driving you. Taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Your job is to get right with yourself, to open to joy, to share your gifts, and to live your life.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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Make the Shift (Take the Challenge)

Wherever-you-go-thereWhen you feel the need to make a shift in your life, you really have to start by making a shift in your thinking. And in order to change something, you have to be able to see it clearly. Sometimes a way of being or thinking, or moving through the world has become so ingrained, we take it for granted. We assume this is “how things are”, and this is , “the way we are”, and that how we perceive things is accurate. Creating some space between yourself and your thoughts, so you can take a good look at them, is really the beginning of any change.

Our experiences shape us. We can only know what we know, after all. And sometimes what we know is based on lies. If you grew up in an unsafe environment, then what you “know” is that people can’t be trusted, and how you feel is irrelevant, and the best you can hope for is just to survive. If you’ve been betrayed, disappointed, neglected, abused, or made to feel that you have to earn love in order to be worthy of it, you have some serious unlearning to do. But if these beliefs are so much a part of you that you don’t even question them, it’s impossible to unstick yourself. You’re trying to work within a false paradigm that’s been built around the idea that you are not good enough, not strong enough, not lovable enough to have life look or feel any other way. So the first step toward liberation is simply to recognize that you have a perspective, and that your perspective may be really bent.

Also, for many people, the ideas that,” you are not your thoughts, and you are not your body”, are totally new. You do not have to believe everything you think, as the saying goes. You do not have to identify with, or act upon every feeling you have. Like anything living, feelings arise, peak and subside. They don’t go on and on interminably. But many people are so reactive, they feel something, and act out. There’s no space between the event of the feeling, and the response to it. There’s no room to be curious, to observe, to reflect, to consider, and then to act. Or to not act.

Creating space between your thoughts, and between your feelings and your responses to them, is a life-changer. Knowing yourself is at the heart of any spiritual practice, and it’s also the key to living your best life. How do we know people? We spend some quality time with them, yes? We observe them, we listen to them with an open heart and an open mind and a desire to examine what’s real for them, what’s true for them. We ask questions when we’re confused. We trust, we nurture, we embrace. This is how we get close to people. You are a person. If you want to know and understand yourself, you need to spend some quality time with you.

It’s good to think about looking at things in a different way, or to consider whether your thoughts are weakening you or strengthening you. But if you really feel the need to make a change, if you’re deeply unhappy, feeling stuck, frustrated, or paralyzed by fear or a lack of confidence or self-esteem, of course you’re going to have to get to work. You have to deal with your particular mind, your specific way of being, your personal way of moving through the world and interacting with other people. Your own history, belief systems, struggles with intimacy, or difficulty acting on your own behalf. If you feel cut off from your own intuition, if you’ve lost the thread, you have to find tools that work for you so you can start again. Until you exhale for the final time, it’s never too late to do that.

Your Homework

Above is a link to a class. Let’s say doing this class is your homework. There’s a three-minute talk about making a shift, a five-minute seated meditation, and a short yoga practice. It would be great if you had some paper and a pen handy. The meditation is designed to help you take a look at the current state of your mind, and the quality of the relationship you’re having with yourself. You’re not trying to change anything at this point, you’re just looking for a baseline. You want to observe your “default setting”. Doing this once won’t get you there. It’s meant to be done every day for a week, so you can see how things are with you in general, not just on one random day. The practice is designed to get you breathing, and beyond that, to breathe in a conscious way, so you engage your mind with something that’s happening in the now. You train your mind on the present moment. If you observe during your meditation that your mind is loud, redundant and obsessive, you use the breath, and the physical practice to quiet the storm. If you find that your inner dialogue is harsh and unforgiving, you use your practice to feed a loving voice. If you struggle with a pose, that’s wonderful. You get to see if you can face the challenge calmly, and with compassion for yourself. If you can’t, that’s what you work on all week. If you fall out of a pose, you see if you can practice falling calmly (Type A personalities and perfectionists, take note).

You have to work with your own inner dialogue, your own personality, your own tendencies. At a certain point, it can’t be conceptual anymore, you need the visceral, raw, personal experience. Meet me back here in a week for another class that will build on this one. If enough of you participate, we’ll turn this into a 30-day challenge to make a shift. There’s no winner, or rather, everyone wins. You can email me (ally@yogisanonymous.com) all week and let me know how you’re doing, and what challenges you’re facing. Please be patient, I will answer everyone. If you’re serious about healing, I really want to help. Sending you love, as always, Ally Hamilton #timetogetbusy #toolsforhealing #dothework #noexcuses #letsstarttheparty #lifeisgood

** New subscribers: get the first 10 days of your monthly subscription free ($15 billed monthly after trial) when you use coupon code MAKETHESHIFT. Go to https://www.yogisanonymous.com/members  and sign up for the monthly unlimited, and put in your code. Then you can get busy!!