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Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Prana Went Off

I'm exploring the five layers or sheaths known in yoga as Koshas and trying to apply them to my life. For the first couple of weeks, I centered mostly on what is known as the Annamaya Kosha, or the physical sheath... it's a lot about how we nourish our bodies with food and exercise.  But it cannot stand alone.

Our mental state, our energy, our insights, our contentment... it all plays a part.

For the third week, I focused more on the second kosha - Pranamaya.  This is our life force, the energy that holds all the physical form together and makes it work.  Without it, we would not exist physically.

Our physical self care is critical for our wellness.  We all know that eating healthy and moving our bodies is important for our health.  But it goes even deeper.  When I'm feeling low, I know that getting a shower helps raise my energy.  Washing my face helps.  And, I believe dressing up or wearing make-up is not necessarily wearing a mask.  It is self care if it helps raise you rather than hide you. It has an important role to play.  But like anything, if the focus is only on that, or if your identity relies on it, it is unbalanced.

Our Western medical system (and, frankly, our society) focuses on the physical.  But.... when this life force we call prana - our energy of existence - is out of whack, our physical self responds by going out of whack too.  So.... you just can't have one without the other.

Our prana is used as we move through life.  We need to replenish it.  Just like we eat to fuel ourselves.  We don't eat once... we eat regularly to replenish our bodies' needs.  Prana works the same way.

You can replenish your prana in many ways.... and you're probably doing some of this already:
  • sunlight - some yogis believe the sun is the ultimate source of prana
  • fresh whole foods
  • pranayama - breathwork
So, I had a few good days of feeling energetic and well, and my body was not quite so stiff.  And then, I had a day of feeling tired and stiff.  My energy was low.  This day grew into a few days.  I try not to allow these days to spiral out of control now... rather, I notice and do what I think might help shift things.  I started realizing that maybe my prana is out of whack and this was affecting my energy.

The day before I felt like this, I had limited sunshine and I ate kinda not great.  I also did not practice yoga nor pranayama that day, and my meditation was short.

I've decided to start practicing pranayama daily.  Just add it into my yoga and/or meditation routine. Pranayama, or breath control, can help raise or simmer your energy.  I did a couple of Facebook Live demonstrations last week.  You can view them here:

Kapalabhati Pranayama (This video is about 15 minutes and explains a bit about energy in general)
Sitali Pranayama (This video is about 5 minutes)

I'm still on my wellness adventure.  This week I am going on a 3 1/2 day Enlightenment Intensive, where I will be silent and contemplate, meditate, commune with nature, and experience about 40 dyads.  A dyad is two people in turn practicing mindful listening or answering one question for the entire 3 1/2 days - my question is 'Who Am I?'

I will let you know how it goes.  In the meantime, I'll be practicing my pranayama!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lentil Burgers Do Life

What kind of title is that?  Lentil Burgers Do Life.  Bear with me.

I have been on a bit of a personal wellness journey for the last.... seven years!  Lol!!  Sweet lord, it's been seven years since I left my job, traveled the world, had a baby, moved back home, got married, started a business, completed yoga teacher, coaching, and mindfulness training (and an HR professional designation), and struggled with my health much of that time.

Tired of 'struggling', I decided to be with whatever was present in a different way.

My husband will tell you it's a process :)

I just read back on a few blog posts and realized some things have changed quite a bit and some things have not.  Mostly, my mind has shifted and I have become much stronger mentally and emotionally.  My body is still pretty much falling apart.  Lol!  That said, I am grateful for what I CAN do and working on it all.

Anyway... I digress....

I decided to really commit to my wellness on a new level and share it with others.  Eeek!

In this decision I needed to be accountable.  But I did not want to join another group that just did not meet my 'holistic in nature' needs.  My needs are mental as much as they are physical. They are emotional and social.  They are spiritual.  I have never really been wholly satisfied with any group except yoga teacher training... which wasn't a 'support' group.  But it certainly served me well.

I decided to start my own group.  Take my destiny into my own hands.  Take control.  Even if nobody joined, I would post in that group about this adventure.  (You can join here: Tina's Journey Through the Koshas.  You can read more about what it's about in my last blog post: I have a Bathing Suit and I'm Going to Wear It.)

This group and my journey itself is humorous.  I find some things hilarious.  You may not.  Lol!  It is all me.  I'm not hiding anything or trying to be a certain way.  It's as authentic as you get.  I have had successes and challenges.  I've expressed them honestly.  The intention is not to give anything any more weight than the other... to proceed as is.... to accept what comes... to observe as it passes. That's not easy.  When my shoulder gave out after a yoga class, I was not happy. When I awoke exhausted one morning, I was frustrated that after all these years, I'm still experiencing fatigue. (*insert swear word*)  I share these things in my group.  And I share how I move through them.  It's not about perfection.  It's about real living.

And it lifts me.  I think it's because I allow it to be there... just like I talk about in my mindfulness & yoga classes.  What we resist persists.  I often resist my un-wellness.  I fight it.  I have fought it.  At times over the last several years, I have accepted it, and used it to fuel action.  But, I'm still learning.

So the group is about accepting where I am and still doing my best to be holistically healthy and well. As much as I need this for me, I do hope others are inspired to radically accept themselves too.

FINALLY I'm going to tell you about the lentil burgers!

The other day, I made lentil burgers as part of my commitment to cook more.  You can find the recipe here: Vegan Lentil Burgers.  This was a new recipe for me... supposed to take 25 minutes.

It took me 2 hours.

Thankfully, my six year old colored and played while I cooked, and messed up, and laughed and finally served lunch at 2:30 p.m.

I was pretty excited to make these burgers.  I had a bit of time.  I had started my day tired but took some actions to increase my energy so felt great.

I am a bit of a Julia Child rather than Martha Stewart in the kitchen.  Sometimes I really do love cooking.  I like the idea of cooking with reckless abandon.  But I have resisted cooking for YEARS. Ever since my oldest was a young child.  I resisted any type of domestication, actually.  I was a successful, educated, corporate woman and awesome single super mom.  I did not want to spend time in the kitchen.  I am woman, hear me roar!

Phew!  I have since shed many of those layers of identity :)  Maybe that's why I'm so exhausted - that's a lot of expectation.  Lol!  And I'm learning how to embrace cooking.... it has not happened quickly.

So... I get the recipe on my iPad and proceed to gather ingredients.  Naturally, I have music playing. For some reason, when I have Pinterest AND Spotify open on my iPad, one or both keep shutting down.  Grrrrr!  So I shut down the music.  And reopen Pinterest.  And proceed to gather the ingredients.

About 10 minutes has passed and I'm not even started.

I notice I have two bags and two bottles of curry.  So in my distraction, I decide to combine them.  Of course, I make a mess.  You know how curry is.

I return to the recipe.  I realize I have to blend some ingredients, but my blender never seems to work so well unless there is liquid.  My Nutri-bullet is better, but similar for recipes with this consistency. So I decide to haul out my food processor!  Yahoo!!  I have had this for only TWO YEARS!  And I have never used it.  My husband purchased it for me as a surprise because I kept saying how I absolutely NEEDED a food processor... two years later......

I get out all of the parts and realize I have no clue how to use it.

I go to You Tube.  Because You Tube has all the answers for everything.  This takes another 15 minutes or more since I have to find the RIGHT video... and I am missing parts and have to look for them.  In the end, I figure it all out.  Yipppeee!

Back to the recipe.... it calls for bread crumbs... I don't want to use bread crumbs so I decide to blend oats instead....

I have to get out yet another appliance.  I end up with oat flour... totally not the same consistency as bread crumbs.  But I use it anyway.

I carry on.... and when I get it all mixed up I'm struggling to get the mixture out of the food processor because the blade is in the way.  

I must have been at this for 3 minutes before I remembered the blade can be removed!

When the burgers were cooked, I used a pita and topped them with alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, and mustard sauce.  Voila!  The most delicious lentil burger.  It took only two hours.

I also substituted dates for raisins because I did not have enough raisins in the house.

My oldest said they taste like cookies.

Why is this about life?

Well, there are ups and downs, changes, unexpected challenges, solutions, and lessons.  And I had the choice to laugh through it or struggle through it.  In the end, I got the same result - sweet lentil burgers.

My journey has taught me to become aware of when I'm struggling... when I'm resisting... and ease up on it.  Perceived perfection is overrated.  The sweet life IS perfection.

Monday, July 3, 2017

I Have a Bathing Suit and I'm going to Wear It

This post is not a yoga philosophy lesson... but I want to share a little something first.

According to yoga tradition, we have five sheaths of more and more subtle energy bodies. They are called the koshas.  The five sheaths are:

Annamaya kosha - the physical body that is nourished with food; good health results when cared for

Pranamaya kosha - life force or life energy that has a physical form of air / breath; longevity results when cared for

Manomaya kosha - the mind / thought; understanding and control of this kosha eliminates fear

Vijnanamaya kosha - intellect / knowledge and five sensory organs; when there is awareness here, one frees herself of unhealthy thoughts and actions

Anandamaya kosha - bliss / truth; happiness and joy is experienced when cared for

I am not going to go into yoga philosophy.  I would like to be a little lighter for a while... in more ways than one.

I have decided to go on a kosha journey this summer and share it with you on Facebook: Tina's Journey Through the Koshas Summer 2017! Specifically, I'm focusing on my annamaya kosha - my physical body - but there will be mention of the others.  What the hell am I thinking?  I mean, really, why am I sharing this with you?  I've been failing in this area for about 4 years and 9 months... approximately.

In short.... my body is a mess.  I've tried a lot to un-mess it.  But... I fall down 7 times and get up 8.

I still don't know why I'm sharing it with you.  I'm a sucker for punishment???

Well, maybe I do.  I'm trying something different.  I've tried a lot of things to get back in shape.... I've done a lot of therapeutic things and I've joined groups and challenges.  None of these things have worked long-term to date (although I've had small successes and the people I've met along the way have been awesome).  So here I am.  Sharing all my woes and failures... and successes - sweet lord I hope I have some... with you.  It is probably not going to be pretty, but it will be real.

Part of this journey is to find truth... so this is not a time for covering up, right?  I may succeed.  And I may not.  I'm not making any promises.  But I promise to be honest about my experiences.

Let's begin.

OK... I'm going on a vacation in mid-August.  That gives me seven weeks to my goal.  A goal... I hadn't thought of that before writing.  I'm not sure I even want a goal.  I just want to feel good in my body... and my clothes.  OK.. that's my goal.  Because I will have a lot of photos on this vacation and I want to look at them in years to come and say, "I was pretty damn sexy when I was 47 years old! Not as sexy as 67, but not bad."

Goal - check.

I remember shopping for bikinis for Costa Rica a few years ago and I was like a fish out of water.  I didn't have a clue how to buy one.  I ended up buying six... sort of... I had all these tops and bottoms and some matched.... I ended up wearing only two... mostly under other clothing.  What is it with bikinis?  Hanging on a beach in a bikini is not my thing.  You know those photos that a bunch of people are standing on a beach in their bikinis with the gorgeous ocean behind them and soft sand surrounding their feet?  They all have their arms around each other and you can feel their carefree-ness and they are smiling and they look fabulous no matter what their body shape is and they are confident and sunkissed?  Yeah... that will probably never be me.... unless this little challenge I'm giving myself turns into some sort of lifelong passion.... which likely won't because I'm actually quite a private person... the idea of putting this particular journey out there is incredibly uncomfortable.... which is why it may be a huge success... or a huge flop!

Anyway, this time I need a full bathing suit - one that I don't have to pull up over my cleavage every three seconds.  Because.... I'm going swimming.  Low impact, full body, build your courage kind of activity.  I have never been OK wearing a bathing suit.  I do not take my kids swimming if I have to get in the pool.  This is such a huge deal for me that if all I do this whole summer is to be OK going swimming in a public pool with a bathing suit on, I have just overcome a lifelong fear and I'm ok with that.  Be prepared for crazy posts.  I think.  You may never actually see me in a bathing suit though. That would be a bit too much for seven weeks.

Bathing suit - check.

I'm ready to begin.  I'll be posting on Facebook: Tina's Journey Through the Koshas Summer 2017 to make it easier to follow me and hear your stories. I'm hoping to receive some motivation from you.... and maybe I'll inspire someone to start taking care of their koshas too.

Here goes......

Monday, June 19, 2017

And, now... BREATHE.....

Have you ever felt the weight of the world was on your shoulders but you just had to keep going for a little longer?  Just long enough to get this project finished.... or the event over.... or the kids finished school.... or... or... or.... And THEN you can relax.

Does it ever really end, though?  I mean, there is always something to be done.  At work.  With our kids.  In our lives.  In our businesses.  It doesn't end until it ends.

I have had a few months of 'busy'.  I try not to use that word and use the word 'full' instead.  It has a more positive perspective to me.  However, I have felt busy.  I am happy that I have a full business and life.  Yet, I have recently been saying... I'll slow down and be able to do *whatever* after May 28th - after my retreat was over.... then it became June 8th - after a big meeting I had planned... and then the date changed to the following week - after some other meetings and workshops.... and then it became after this weekend - after my daughter's birthday party... and now it's at the end of this week - when school is out.

But it isn't then.  I am not going to slow down to breathe at the end of something.  I am in business.  I am in life.  I am all in.

So I am breathing now.... I'm not waiting.

We put things off, don't we?  I know I do.  But taking moments to breathe, to slow down and smell the roses, so to speak, is essential.  Essential to our mental well-being.  Essential to our physical wellness.  Essential to our relationships.  Essential to our productivity.

This morning, as I walked my daughter to her school, almost late again (I've been getting later and later over the past couple of weeks), I did not rush her.  I told her to smell the grass.  To feel the warm air.  And then I told her that if she feels frustrated or sad throughout the day, she can remember that moment.  She was no later for school than if we were rushing and she was resisting - and we both felt better.

Don't wait to breathe.  Don't wait to take a moment with your child.  Don't wait to sit with your employee and ask what they need.  Don't wait to smell the summer air.  Breathe.  Now.  Yeah... Right now.  Pause.... then come back.

Remind yourself that THIS is your life.  Whatever is happening is part of it.  You can allow it or block it.  When you allow it, it flows.  When you block it or resist it, the pressure rises.  It is like a river.  The river flows over the rocks and plants and hills.  However, if a dam is built, the water will rise, and eventually, it will overflow if the dam is not removed.

Do not put up the dam... and if there is already one up, start tearing it down.  Allow each experience to be part of your life.  Breathe, take it in, absorb it, listen, allow it to flow... don't wait to breathe.... to take it in.... be part of what is in front of you.

This is not about escaping your life or your work.  This is about being fully present for it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Entrepreneur Smentrepreneur - The joys of being an entrepreneur?

Why would anyone want to be an entrepreneur?  It can bring high financial risk.  It means giving up a part of your life to work more (not always, but many times)... and not get paid.  It puts your reputation on the line.  It forces you to put your whole self out there and risk rejection.  The highs and lows can be extreme.  There is typically no training, per se.  There can be a lot of loneliness.  It is highly responsible and difficult to implement accountability systems.  It is easy to spin around in circles, working all day and all night and not going anywhere.

It is easy to get lost.  It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to experience depression and anxiety (See this article: The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship).

But entrepreneurs usually have a difficult time turning away from this pull towards running their own business.  Sometimes it begins with wanting to be your own boss... or wanting to put your skills to use because in your job they are under valued... or from burnout from working too much for someone else... or because you have an amazing idea.... or because you believe if you are working at something you truly love, you will be happier.

But the truth is, entrepreneurs are called.

There is something deep down that pulls us toward wanting to help.  To serve.  To create.  To solve problems for others.

My husband does not have that calling.  My Mom does not have that calling.  My Dad did.  I do.  Call us crazy, but we need to satisfy this calling somehow or we feel like there is a piece of us missing. Those that do not have the calling don't seem to 'get it'.

Entrepreneurship can be viewed with a slanted perspective.  We have to put our best face forward, which feels like a big lie when we are not making money or we are experiencing mental health challenges.  The general public may see an entrepreneur as successful, courageous... even wealthy. Yet, many are not any of those things, and the "faking it 'til you make it" attitude makes it difficult to talk about the real challenges.

Entrepreneurs experience higher levels of stress than employees, according to Gallup-Healthways WellBeing Index.  And it seems from research I have been conducting, that although entrepreneurs typically demonstrate traits of motivation, passion, and creativity, they are also more likely to have strong emotional states, which can lead to mental wellness challenges.

This makes sense to me.  I see my own emotions rise and fall to extremes, I have experienced curled up on the couch depression, and I can be too passionate about things I'm passionate about.  I have seen the same in other entrepreneurs.  However, through my mindfulness-based emotional intelligence practice, I have learned how to manage the emotions that go along with owning a business.  I've learned how to use my emotions to fuel action with compassion.  I'm far from perfect, and my business is still in the beginning stages of growth, but through my practice, I've learned acceptance, surrender, and peace with where I am.  I make the choices I need to make while also building my business.

I had months of loneliness when I felt completely unsupported.  I reached out in many different directions - to other business groups, other entrepreneurs, counsellors, coaches, wellness practitioners - but nothing worked at the time.  I needed mind fitness.

Thankfully, I had the skills to do this for myself.  I teach mind fitness through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and coaching.  Interestingly, I felt like a complete fraud during those years because I was not feeling very fit in the mind myself, so who was I to help others?  So I took a break from many of my programs and services.  I distanced myself from the business community.  And I took care of myself.

I healed.  Not everyone would be able to do this in the way I did.  I DID have support.  From my husband and oldest daughter.  They picked up a lot of slack during those years.  And I'm forever grateful for that.

Because I have gone through this process (along with other entrepreneurial experiences), I have a deeper understanding of what entrepreneurs go through on an emotional level.  Hence, I have designed a program called (Re)Create Your Vision for other entrepreneurs to feel supported, aligned, and to learn techniques that will help them manage their emotions and develop the mind fitness needed for entrepreneurship.

True, many entrepreneurs don't make it in business and have to return to a job - or start another business.  My business has warped and evolved over time, and I have shut down a past business. Maybe I will need to return to a job someday.  And I would if I had to in order to feed my children or pay the bills - or if it was the right opportunity at the time.  I've learned that what may seem like failure to some is actually a step towards greater success.  That said, I feel truly grateful to have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur right now.

Regardless of whether an entrepreneur will make it in the future or not, mind fitness is a requirement for a healthy entrepreneur and for the opportunity for success.  Businesses fail and shut down for all kinds of reasons.  When we have a solid foundation, we can handle the failures and challenges of business and move on from them in a healthy way.  When we do not have the mental and emotional fitness needed, failure can bring us down into a deep, dark hole.  Even when we do practice methods for perceiving failure in a more positive light, it can still shake us.

The good news is that there are tools available to help entrepreneurs find stability and mental wellness in order to accept the ups and downs and in betweens without them shaking us to the core. We CAN be healthy and run a business.  We CAN have a life outside work.

It takes practice.  It takes support.  It sometimes takes a shift in perception.  It takes a willingness to be open about the truth.

For more information about (Re)Create Your Vision or to register, connect with me at