Being Dragged Kind of Sucks

Sometimes we’re so attached to an idea, it blinds us. Maybe we’re in love with someone, and we so want them to be in love with us, we deny the nagging feeling that it doesn’t seem to be the case. We think if we chase, or hang in there, or show up exactly the way we think this person wants us to, then it will work out, then we’ll “have” them. We start to try to fit into some kind of mold. We obsess and doubt and worry about everything, and we lose ourselves.

Attachment (“raga”) is one of the five “kleshas”, or obstacles that prevent us from experiencing oneness, that deep sense of being in the flow that Patanjali lays out in the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras. That, to me, is the real peace. The surrender, in the bravest sense, to what is, and the ability to open to it and join in it. Some of it is very painful, and not at all as we’d like it to be, and some of it is so piercingly beautiful, it takes your breath away. The work is to hold it all, embrace it all, even when you don’t understand, recognizing that you are not in control of circumstances, or other people, or the way the story will unfold. Letting go of your grip on things. That’s the good kind of “losing yourself.” What you get to work on is your response to what you’re given, your ability to return to love again and again, even if your heart is broken.

The other four obstacles are ignorance (“avidya”, a disconnection from what’s real, an inability to see things clearly), egoism (“asmita”, identification with our ideas about ourselves, our judgments and “shoulds”), aversion (“dvesha”, a rejection of, or desire to avoid those things that are unwanted, whether they be particular feelings, reality as it is unfolding, other people, a certain outcome, or a way of being), and fear of death (“abhinivesha”, the fear of loss, fear of the unknown, fear that we will leave important things unsaid or undone).

The yoga practice is about stripping away those obstacles. When we’re attached to a particular outcome, we close off the possibility for anything else. We stand there with our eyes shut tightly, gripping onto our vision of how we want things to be, and anything that doesn’t fit into our picture must be rejected or denied. When you reject reality, you leave yourself in a world of darkness, you become the architect of your own suffering. If you want to know which way to go, you have to open your eyes, because there’s nothing to follow but the truth; the truth of each moment, the truth of your particular situation, the truth that’s in your heart. When you start following those truths, you pave the way to experience the bigger truth of your connection to everything, your part in the flow.

When I started practicing yoga, I was a person who was trying to chase happiness. If I just do this or that, then I’ll be happy. “This” might be meeting the right person. “That” might be losing just a little more weight, or nine million other things that all had to do with external stuff. I had this idea that happiness was somewhere out in front of me, and that it would present itself if I just worked hard and made it to certain milestones. When you live your life that way, you begin to understand that’s all a lie. You hit the milestone, and it’s still not enough. Happiness is never outside of you. It’s inside. It’s not something you need to create, it’s something that’s already there, just waiting to be uncovered.

The stripping away process can be painful. It can sear you a little, or a lot. You may have to burn away all kinds of beliefs about yourself and other people, about the world and your part in it. The gift of yoga, if you practice long enough, is that it makes you hungry for the truth, whatever it is. Even if it’s painful. Even if you have to face a reality you’d do anything to avoid. When you’re in love with someone and they aren’t in love with you, somewhere deep down you know that, you feel it. That’s what makes you feel sick and doubtful and hooked in that awful way. You’re blinding yourself to reality. You’re cutting yourself off from your own intuition. So you might go through some pain, but eventually there’s a real liberation when you just open your hands and your heart and your mind to the truth, whatever it may be. The truth burning away in your heart. The acceptance of someone else’s truth, even if it means you must let go of some vision you had.

It’s a liberation because it’s exhausting to push down what you know. It’s like trying to hold back the waves of the ocean; it simply cannot be done. When you accept that, you can relax and swim, you can be in and of the flow, and then you can devote your energy to living each day fully, to loving each person in your life fully, to sharing your gifts freely, with abandon, to leaving nothing unsaid or undone, so that if it were your last day (and I hope you have countless days ahead of you), you could end it with the sense of having done all you could today, to live with your heart wide open.

Wishing that for you, and sending so much love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3

Don’t Pull the Hamstrings of Your Heart

Over the summer, my four year old daughter expressed an interest in ballet classes. I had mixed feelings about it. I started ballet when I was four, and I danced until I was sixteen. I have a lot of gratitude for the experience in many ways. Firstly, dancing got me out of my head and into my body, which I desperately needed. It taught me about discipline, perseverance and dedication. I worked my ass off and I loved it, but it also taught me some other things. When I went en pointe, I can’t explain what happened to my feet. I’d come home and unwrap them, and soak my bleeding toes, only to go back and do it all again the next day, and the next, and the one after that until my feet were raw. Eventually they toughened up, but in the meantime, I learned to override my body’s response to pain. Sometimes I’d dance for hours, even if I felt light-headed and weak and my feet were screaming at me. Eventually, when I was on the cusp of puberty, I learned that my body was something to fear. The older dancers in the company would warn us that we didn’t want to develop, and they never ate. I mean, truly, I never saw anyone eat anything. I saw a lot of cups of coffee, and a lot of cigarette smoking, and I grew to understand that being extremely thin was important. I learned that food was something to fear as well. So when my daughter asked to try ballet classes, all of that came up for me, because it took me years to unlearn a lot of that stuff.

Nonetheless, I thought we could find a class or a teacher where those things wouldn’t be an issue; not at four years old, anyway. As it turned out, we found a lovely teacher. Extremely sweet and kind, and my daughter loved it, so it became part of our weekly routine. I knew already that my girl has a very open spine and hips, because she does yoga with me, and I also knew her hamstrings were a little tight. I’ve always taught her to listen to her body and breathe. A few weeks ago in her class, the kids were doing a standing forward fold, just some stretching before class, and she had her knees bent. Her teacher told her to straighten her legs, and my daughter said it hurt when she did that. Her teacher said, “It’s good if it hurts, it means something is happening.” My stomach clenched, and before I could say anything, I saw her try to straighten her legs, and then stop. Her teacher had moved away from her at this point, and they moved onto something else. After class, when we got in the car I told her I was very proud of her for listening to her body. I said it was not good if something hurt, that that was her body’s way of telling her to stop, and that she should always listen when that happened, that her body is always her best teacher.

It might seem like a small thing, but I don’t believe it is. I think lots of people are taught to override their bodies, to push beyond their comfort level. This whole, “no pain, no gain” mentality can be very damaging. Having an adversarial relationship with your body, feeling that you have to force it to submit, or beat it into a shape that’s okay with you or society at large, is really waging a war within yourself. Your body is a pretty miraculous thing. It’s full of wisdom. It’s been with you from the beginning. It’s the house for your heart. It’s where you’re going to live for your entire life. When we start to ignore the messages from our bodies, we also start to cut ourselves off from our own intuition.

If you don’t back off from a forward fold when your hamstrings scream at you, if you force yourself to do anything that really doesn’t feel right, you’re also training yourself to ignore other messages your body sends, like the hairs standing up on the back of your neck when you’re in danger. Like the way your shoulders tighten or your jaw clenches, or your eyebrows furrow when you feel stressed or threatened. People live like that, and don’t realize how insidious it is. They’re tired, their body is begging for rest, and they feed it caffeine and sugar. They’re sad, angry, lonely or anxious, and they eat, even though they aren’t hungry, and don’t eat when they are. They’re in a relationship that looks good on paper, the mind says it should work, and they override that feeling in their gut. The whole time, they’re feeding this voice of, “not good enough.”

I’m all for hard work. I love the discipline and ritual of getting on my mat and sweating and breathing and moving. I love the rhythm of it, and the freedom and the peace of it, but when I started practicing, I brought my ballet head onto my mat with me. If I fell out of a pose I’d flush in shame and embarrassment. I pushed myself even when my body needed a break. I don’t mind telling you I practiced that way for a long, long time. I’d been practicing and teaching for years when I got pregnant with my son. I had hours and hours of yoga philosophy under my belt. I understood compassion and loving-kindness. I could talk about that, about meditation and breathing and feeding a loving voice all day long, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son that I truly started practicing those things for myself. I’d been doing Ashtanga yoga for years at this point, and I went to my mat one morning, the first time I’d practiced knowing I was pregnant, and I thought, “I have to be gentle, there’s someone in here counting on me.” Then I froze. It was like a curtain was pulled back, and the next thought I had was, “Wait. There’s always someone in here counting on me. Me.” I realized I had a lot of work to do.

That moment changed the way I practiced and it changed the way I taught. I can tell you that the more you work with your body, the more it opens. The more you force it or fight it, the more it resists. Have you ever had anyone scream at you to relax? It’s the same thing. When you work with your body, when you listen and respond with compassion, awareness and honesty, you begin to trust yourself. You open a line of communication, you strengthen that voice of intuition, and it’s there for you in every facet of your life. Discipline is wonderful and necessary in my opinion. If you want to be able to see things through, to put action behind your intentions, it’s a must. Taking your body for a spin and exploring your boundaries is awesome as long as it feels right. Feeding your body the food that will nourish it, getting enough rest, drinking enough water, all these become things you want to do to support your body which is housing your heart, your dreams, and your internal dialogue. Having a voice inside your head that tells you you suck is so painful. Believe me, I know. I had a voice like that in my head for years, but if you feed a loving voice when you’re on your mat, or in your spin class, or on your hike, or whatever it is that you do, that voice will strengthen. Having a voice inside your head that is kind and forgiving is a freaking life-changer. It’s such a relief.

My daughter loves her class and she wants to continue, and for now I’m okay with that. I told her teacher I don’t want my daughter doing things that hurt her, and if that was a problem, we wouldn’t come back. She assured me that was fine, even if inside she might think I’m one of those “crazy moms.” I don’t care. There’s something at stake much larger than my daughter’s hamstrings. It’s her sense of self. I’ll fight for hers if I have to, and I’ll fight for yours, too, if you practice with me. The truth is, eventually, you have to fight for your own, and I hope you do.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3

Love is Your Birthright

If you have trauma in your past, you are not defective, you are not “marked” for life, you have not been shut out of any chance at happiness; you’re just as worthy of love and joy as anyone else. You may look around and think you’re the only person with serious pain in your past, or in your present, but I can assure you that isn’t so. I get emails from people every day who’ve been through things that would break your heart in two, or who find themselves in situations they’re desperate to flee.

If the people who were meant to love you and protect you, to nurture you and support you, were not able to do that because of their own damage, that is not on you. It is not a reflection of your worthiness to receive love. You were worthy the millisecond you came into existence. The other day I was talking about time folding in on itself; moments overlapping each other, or continuing long after you’ve grown away from them. Here’s where that gets tricky: the “grown-up you” may easily grasp that some people are damaged, and that maybe your parents fall into that category, or did at the time you came on the scene, but a child doesn’t get that. Children have no choice. The situation is what it is, and a child in an abusive environment must figure out how to survive, how to appease, or how to be invisible. At a certain point, a child in that framework will seriously begin to doubt in her own lovableness. She’ll think it must be something within her that is just bad, or that love is conditional, and must be earned. A child in that kind of family has to question if there’s something defective about himself because the alternative doesn’t occur to a little person. A child simply does not have the frame of reference to understand that some people are carrying around so much pain, are so ill-equipped to take care of themselves, they’re in no condition to be responsible for anyone else. In general, the cycle of abuse is repeated, or the person who was hurt breaks the cycle and heads in the opposite direction. In other words, if you were abused, it’s very likely the person who inflicted pain upon you was also abused, but I know a lot of amazing parents who grew up in a war zone. You can come out of abuse and create something beautiful. Your past does not have to define your future (or your eventual parenting style should you have children) once you’re old enough to make your own moves.

If you question whether there’s something within you that is unworthy of love, allow me to say that’s not it; that’s not the problem. You are love. I genuinely believe that. We’re energetic beings and my belief is that the energy from which we arise is love. The problem is your doubt in yourself, because when you fail to recognize what a gift you are, what a miracle you are, and I do not use the word lightly, or in any cheesy kind of way, you just aren’t seeing clearly. I believe in accidents, I think some things are just random, but I do not believe in accidental people. You’ve had your experiences and they are unique to you. You’ve had your pain, the ways you were let down or neglected, the ways you’ve had your heart broken. People have come along who’ve broken you down more, and some have lifted you up. You have your memories and your stories and your internal dialogue. You have your dreams. You have your specific heart. No one could ever replace you. Not ever. To me, that’s an incredible and obvious miracle.

So you have that. You have you. Maybe you have a lot of healing to do to begin to understand what a gift that is. The great news is that healing is possible, you just have to find the path that works for you. I really think talking to a great therapist is essential, and I also think some physical expression is key. Whether it’s yoga or hiking or windsurfing, whether you get regular bodywork or you dance, I think there’s something powerful that happens when you tune into your breath and into your body. Your body is full of incredible wisdom, and sometimes it’s also holding on to so much pain. Old pain. Pain from when your shoulders were hitched up around your ears, or your arms were protecting your head, or you were cowering in a corner, terrified. Pain in your jaw from wanting to scream but knowing that would only make it worse. Pain in your heart because you weren’t being seen or loved. You really need to release that pain, because a lot of the stories are ancient and woven into your body, and they won’t strengthen you. There’s nothing good that comes from grasping them or feeding them or pushing them down into some deep place so that your only hope then, is to numb out.

I’ve had people apologize to me after class because they found themselves weeping in a hip opener, or thought they might start bawling in Savasana. You know what? Weep. Bawl. The job of a yoga teacher is to create a space where healing is likely to occur. A safe space. A person letting it out would indicate the teacher has done a good job. Feeling secure enough in someone’s class to fall apart is a beautiful way to say thank you. We are all human beings. Raw emotion is gorgeous. Everyone has pain. Some people have more than others, some people are more resilient than others, but everyone has pain. You let that stuff out so you can uncover the love. You may have been forced to bury it, you may be inclined to doubt that it’s there, but I guarantee if you find the ways that work for you to dig a little, you’re going to be amazed. Love is your birthright. No one can take it from you unless you let them.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3

Some Things Will Never Be Explained

When it comes to a mental tailspin, few things drive us there faster than the feelings of being misunderstood, rejected, excluded, judged, or absolutely invisible. Sometimes we feel this way at the hands of someone with whom we were once close–an ex, an old friend we thought we’d always know, a family member. Other times it can be someone we’ve just met– a new romantic interest, someone at work, or, occasionally, a complete stranger. Whatever the source, it never feels good, but the more we value the opinion of the person rejecting us in one way or another, the more we suffer.

Some things will never be explained. I feel like I should almost write that twice. There are relationships that will deteriorate suddenly and with no explanation, and the only closure you’ll get is your own acceptance of the situation. Things happen, and sometimes you’ll find you’re dealing with someone who simply cannot or will not communicate. I don’t think there are too many things worse than ignoring someone, but you cannot force a person to open up. They’ll show you the respect to do that, or they won’t, or maybe they truly can’t. There are people who just will not go there, and it could be because “there” seems a very scary and vulnerable place to head. If you’re dealing with a person attached to never rocking the boat, you may have to sail away and leave the mystery behind you.

This occurs in so many contexts. Close friends of mine used to see another couple every weekend. Their kids grew up together like brothers. There wasn’t even conversation about whether the families would see each other Saturdays, there was only talk of what the plan would be. They vacationed together, their kids went to school together, most afternoons the moms would rotate taking the kids home so the other could have some free time. One week it came to a halt. At first it seemed okay. The friends were just unusually busy that weekend, but then the afternoons weren’t working out, either, and another weekend came and went with vague excuses of tons of work, and the need to have some “family time.” My friends thought perhaps the other couple was having marital issues. They waited, confused, trying to be patient and sensitive, but weeks went by, with no straight answers, just lots of avoidance. Finally, they asked about what was happening directly, but were still met with nothing solid. So after months of wondering and worrying and questioning and obsessing, they gave up, even though the kids didn’t get it, and they were at a loss as to what to tell their son. Of course the mystery around it is the thing. It’s so hard to let go when you don’t understand.

Another friend received a letter letting him know his business partnership of almost a decade was ending, with no conversation and no kindness. When he went to talk to his partner, he was met with rage over something that had happened years ago, and his partner had held it in so long he exploded, said horrible things to all their mutual friends, and turned the whole thing over to lawyers, with gag orders and all kinds of moves that prevented honest, open communication. People leave room for forgiveness, or they do not, and it’s not like his partner lived in a glass house. We all make mistakes. People who lack compassion for others tend to have very little for themselves, and it’s sad, because righteousness doesn’t cuddle up very well at night.

People write to me about amazing first dates, when they’re absolutely certain they’ll be going out again, only to start to question themselves days later when there hasn’t been any contact. When you’re left in a vacuum and the other party won’t talk to you, it’s just natural to start to spin–to replay things in your mind, to wonder if you were misunderstood, to second-guess the things you said or did, or to start chasing, to see if you can fix your imagined mistakes.

Here’s what I want to say about all of it. Your opinion of yourself is the one that matters. You have to be you. You will find there are people who will see you and embrace you with all your flaws and all your beauty and all your pain. People who will not give up on you or throw you away, not ever. Stick with those people. Not everyone will be able to see you clearly, and not everyone will dig what they see, even if they are seeing clearly. It’s okay. It doesn’t feel good, but it really is okay. Try not to waste too much energy on people who won’t communicate with you, because there’s no potential there, and try not to give too much time to those people who won’t forgive you for being human and therefore fallible. There’s no potential there, either. People who misunderstand you or judge you or exclude you are also human and fallible. That’s how it is. Not everyone handles their pain well. A lot of it is not personal, although rejection surely feels personal. Keep your center. Remind yourself of who you are. If you screwed up and have owned it and apologized but have not received forgiveness, at a certain point you have to forgive yourself. You know who you are. You do the best you can with where you are and what you’ve got, and you put one foot in front of the other. As long as you’re doing your best to move from love, you won’t go too far astray, but don’t allow these unexplained mysteries to rob you of too much now. Now is precious, because it won’t come again. There’s so much love in the world, and it would be a shame to miss it because you’re boiling yourself. Shake yourself off and pick yourself up, and remind yourself, if you need to, that this business of being human is not easy. Send compassion to those around you, and send some to yourself, as well. Do your best to direct your energy forward. You never know what beauty is around the bend.

Sending you so much love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful you can find my books here <3

Live in Love

There’s not a single person you’ll encounter today who hasn’t had his or her heart broken, badly, except for young children (and sadly, not all children are exempt). No one would ask for pain. No one would wave it down and say, “Here, pick me! Cut me through to the core, go right for my jugular, so I can learn something, so I can understand despair, and open and soften and walk forward with more information about myself and other people.” And yet, that’s what pain does; it teaches us. Sometimes we would really give anything not to learn the lesson, but we don’t get to choose.

I’ve had all kinds of heartbreaks, some romantic, some not, and one that brought me to my knees. There are things any of us could look back on and say, “I’d give that one back if I could.” Time lessens the pain, but I’m with Rose Kennedy on this one, it doesn’t heal the wound. The wound becomes a scar, and the scar marks the searing place where you bled out any idea that you were in control, that your hopes or your prayers or your willing it to be so would make it so. I guess we all need to be humbled at some point, to grasp that the world is spinning and we are not controlling it. Sometimes I go sit by the ocean to feel reminded that I can no more control what’s coming than I can go out into the water and hold back the waves. You might as well just be awed by the whole thing. There’s beauty in recognizing your smallness, but also your vastness. You could curl up in a ball, or you could see that everyone is in this together. The stories may be different, but the feelings are universal. Your power in life lies in your response to what you’re given.

You have control over your outlook; that’s a tangible thing you can work on if you need to. I think the world is an incredible place, full of loving, beautiful people, and the kind of love, if you’re brave enough to pursue it, that will expand your heart so much you’ll wonder if it’s going to burst. I also know the world is a place where that same love I’m describing makes you vulnerable. It requires your participation, your willingness to go there, even though somewhere you understand that “there” could be ripped from you. Those are the choices, though. You live in love, or you live in fear of living in love. Funny, huh? But not the haha kind of funny.

When your heart is breaking, there’s no point trying to hold it together. You simply let it break. It won’t break and break and break into nothingness. It will break and open and the pain will be brutal and you may struggle with the simplest of things for awhile. Breathing in and breathing out. Finding the motivation to get out of bed, or eat, or shower. If you’re lucky, you’ll have at least one person who understands they can’t fix it for you or heal it, but they can make you a meal. They can sit with you, or read to you, or simply hold your hand. We need each other; we need to see each other and understand we could all use some kindness. You never know what someone is facing, whether they cried themselves to sleep last night, or just lost someone they loved. We can be so hard on ourselves, and so hard on each other. People seem so quick to lay on the horn or get up in arms about someone else’s mistakes. We all make them. We all face loss. We all know heartbreak and despair. If we didn’t know those things, we wouldn’t recognize joy, peace or the gratitude of those moments that make it all make sense. Move from love, and move toward love. Breathe in and breathe out. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Sending you a hug,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3

Forgiveness is an Embrace

Directing your energy is one of the most powerful ways you can decide to be happy, and often, it really is a decision. If you’re grieving, if there are things happening in your life right now that are so painful you question your ability to get through the day, this does not apply to you. Short of those knifing losses we face sometimes, the ability to choose one thought over another is like a super-power we too frequently forget we have.

It’s easy for the mind to latch onto ways we’ve been wronged, disappointed or mistreated. You can get snagged on thoughts like those and let them grow in your mind until they’re so big, thorny and uncomfortable, you feel you may burst or suffocate. We are human beings on a spinning planet with no real idea what will happen next. That’s not an easy gig, but I wouldn’t want to miss it. If you can embrace the vulnerability of this thing, your own exposure and lack of protection, you free up so much energy for the joy in life. When you let go of the pretense that you’re in control, that your carefully mapped out plans will all come to fruition exactly as you’ve envisioned, life becomes so much easier.

Some people want to be angry, to hold onto the pain and feed it and strengthen it. Maybe there’s a payoff. Maybe being angry like that excuses them from action and accountability, or maybe it protects them from being hurt by others. Maybe they get sympathy and that feels almost like love, or maybe it feels like home. Just because something is familiar to you doesn’t mean you have to curl up with it. You’ve made mistakes, I’ve made mistakes, everyone you pass today, no matter how shiny or perfect they may seem, has made mistakes. It’s part of the deal of being a human.

There are also people who don’t want to be angry, but aren’t sure how to stop, how to shift gears; the thing is to catch yourself. When you’re driving, or folding laundry, or taking a shower, to notice where the mind has gone, particularly if it’s taking you down a path of pain. The past is in the past. It’s absolutely worth examining so that you can glean the information you need to move on and make informed choices in the future, but sometimes something is so painful we obsess over it. Betrayal is like that. When you’re shocked because someone close to you has done something you never thought possible, it’s hard not to turn that experience around in your mind over and over again looking for clues, because things like that make you question everything. You wonder about your own judgment, the relationship, whether there was anything real there or if you were confused, other relationships in your life, your ability to discern what’s real from what isn’t. Betrayal is a tough one, as are breakups, the loss of a job, rejection, any of life’s tougher experinces. But the reality is, once you’ve looked at something carefully and learned all there is to learn from the experience, nothing productive comes from dwelling on it. It’s easier said than done, and time definitely helps remove the sting, but at a certain point you just have to pick your mind up and consciously turn it to something else.

When you boil it down, you can feed your fear, or you can feed your love. Feeding your love feels so much better. A huge step in that direction is simply to practice forgiveness. When you forgive people, it doesn’t mean you have to tell them, or have them in your life. It just means you’re committed to your own peace, and you hope they find some, too. It means you’re unhooking your story from their actions. Sometimes there is room for reconciliation, it’s case-by-case. Freeing your heart is the thing, and forgiving yourself, as well. You don’t want to walk around with a closed or hardened heart. We don’t get a lot of time. Even if you live a “long” life, it’s not a lot of time, so I wouldn’t waste too much of it looking back. Regrets are normal, but that’s also a form of looking at things with rose-colored glasses; if only I’d changed this one thing, then…and the truth is, you can’t ever change “just one thing”, if you go back and undo one decision, there are a million others connected to it. You’d have to unravel your whole life, and the truth is, you’d just be trading in one set of circumstances for another. Every single path has some pain, you can’t escape that.

The jagged edges of your life, the decisions you made in desperation and with longing, the unexpected joys, the surprises, it’s all part of your adventure. The whole thing isn’t going to be fabulous, some of it is going to be really heartbreaking; that’s called being human. The thing is to move toward joy, to grab it with both hands, to celebrate it when it shows up in your life, to try to create some for others, and to be kind. I wouldn’t use too much of your time pining for the past or worrying about the future, because whatever is behind you is behind you, and who knows what’s in front of you? I think I’d focus on how much love I could give today, that seems like the best plan to me.

Sending you some right now,

Ally Hamilton

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


Few things in life are as uncomfortable as having to face your own fears, limiting beliefs about yourself or others, deepest desires if you aren’t living them already, and places where you feel trapped or paralyzed. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations of our own making, and we realize the only way out is through the raw and rough terrain of our darkest places. This is generally a very good thing, shedding light on whatever we’ve pushed down that his risen back up to bite us in the a$$, but I don’t know anyone who enjoys it or finds it comfortable. No one heads there willingly, you go because you realize you must if you want to start co-creating your life. A Jim Morrison quote comes to mind, “We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.” Many people run, deny, or numb out when they come up against it. Sometimes this takes the form of extreme busyness, or all-consuming relationships, shopping, eating or not eating, drinking or drugging or sleeping all day. Holding back the truth or denying reality is exhausting. It’s painful and it’s also pointless. Eventually, if you want to be at peace, you’re going to have to turn and face yourself.

I get emails from people who are struggling all the time and most of them compound the pain by beating themselves up for it. “I know I need to stop doing this, but I can’t seem to help myself.” You stop when you’re ready to stop and not a moment sooner. If you aren’t ready, you’re going to keep hitting that brick wall for awhile. It gets worse before it gets better, because most people hit the wall through unconscious action for quite some time. When you start to realize what you’re doing but haven’t yet found the strength to stop yourself, it’s even more painful because you hit that wall without the blinders on. You watch it coming closer and closer until you get bashed in the face, and you wonder, “Why don’t I care about myself enough to jump off this horrible ride?” But you may need to play it out consciously a number of times before you find the power to make a different choice. “Stopping” isn’t some easy thing; it isn’t likely to happen right away just because you’re making an effort. If you’re trying to stop making habitual choices that end up hurting you, that means you’re trying to rewire your system and change like that doesn’t happen without great effort, determination, persistence, support, guidance, time, and a willingness to smash your face along the way without giving up.

Despair and frustration are not fabulous traveling companions when you’re working to create something beautiful. An inner voice that tells you you suck and you blew it again is not going to inspire you or strengthen you or motivate you to give it another go. That voice is more likely to make you want to pull a blanket over your head and call it a day. You’re looking for the death of one thing, and the birth of another. Old habits die hard, as the saying goes, but it’s never too late. If your way of being isn’t working, please don’t hate yourself for it. I mean, truly, welcome to the human race. Lots of people get stuck in the rage, blame, shame cycle, and it gets old and tired because living a life where you feel powerless really doesn’t seem like a great way to go. So you change things up, but by all means, get back-up, get yourself some help. That might be your yoga practice, it was for me. Also seated meditation, and therapy, and reading and writing and hiking and not feeding that inner voice of meanness that may have taken up residence in your head. What you need to strengthen yourself is personal, but that inner voice is the thing. If it’s nasty, starve it until it’s nothing more than a whisper, nothing more than vapors and feed a voice you want to hang out with. Little by little, the kind voice in your head will start coming out of your mouth, and informing your actions and your choices. Eventually, it will lovingly insist that you no longer bash your face into brick walls. In the meantime, go a little easier on yourself. This business of being human isn’t easy.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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