Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dealing with Work Anxiety and Stress

I have an upcoming work challenge that I will be facing. It involves being in an uncomfortable environment (a trade show), surrounded by individuals (associates of the company at which I work part-time) that I have reason to believe do not really like me, and expected to do work that is beyond my scope of understanding.

For some, this type of situation may be a welcomed opportunity for growth...a nice shakeup to the mundane, ordinary routine.

Up until last night, for me, it's been a source of anxiety and distress. I have been thinking of ways to "get out of it."  I have been playing over and over in my mind all of the dreadful experiences that I expect I would experience.

Then, I took a deep breath. I acknowledged that the way I have been approaching this situation is not in alignment with my belief that the Universe supports us. It is not in alignment with the truth that I am blessed, and that opportunity presents itself to me so that I can learn, grow, and conquer any feelings of fear or inferiority. Life constantly unfolds before all of us with chances to learn, grow, and increase in love.

This beautiful image is from Stephanie Ryan Art

I took a few deep breaths. I asked myself how I could rephrase the situation in a way that is in alignment with who I am and who I want to could I rephrase this situation in a way that EMPOWERS me, rather than leaves me feeling like a helpless victim of circumstances that overwhelm me?

This came to mind:

"I can do it. Even if it makes me uncomfortable, I can do it in a way that honors God and makes him smile." - Sulilo 

Upon that acknowledgment, I felt SUCH a sense of relief. Something else that came to mind...A Christian friend once pointed out a scripture from her bible regarding the challenges of working with difficult people (and work in general). It is also in alignment with this:

"...Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah)..." - Colossians 3: 23-24

Wow. So, my new plan - rather than envisioning the situation going wrong? I am envisioning it going RIGHT. I am imagining all the ways I may be of service in the situation. I am imagining all of the people with whom I will speak kindly, offer warm eye contact, and to whom I will truly lend a listening ear. I will be helpful, kind, and humble.

As I engage in my yoga practice over the next month leading up to the event, I will remind myself that every opportunity is a chance to be a beacon of light - to make someone's day, and to help bring EASE to our own lives and to the lives of those around us.

I'm now (almost) looking forward to the opportunity. :)

Where are you experiencing a challenge? How can you rephrase the entire situation so that you acknowledge that Life supports you - that you are not a helpless victim of circumstance, and that YOU have the power to create a blessed experience for yourself and those around you?


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Animal Cruelty: May All Beings Be Free From Suffering

I was caught off-guard last night by a commercial that came on tv about animal cruelty. I knew from the second that I saw the cute, scuffed up, beady eyed poodle looking at me from the screen, that I should have changed the channel so that I wouldn't be upset.  But, I couldn't turn away. I wanted to watch and see the commercial end on a hopeful note - with an update of some sort, insuring me that that this kind, precious little being was now doing well. 

Unfortunately, the commercial just went on to show one abused or neglected dog or cat after another. Especially heartbreaking was a Pomeranian dog that was in a cage. He looked so sad. The caption read: "Will I EVER get out of this cage?"

That's when I lost it. I burst into tears. I thought of all of the innocent, loving animals that are in such conditions. I thought about how some animals bear the brunt of humans' anger and psychosis. I wept for them.

Although I'm not surprised that this commercial tugged on my heart strings, I was taken aback by the intensity of the reaction that I had. Part of it was an overwhelming sense of sorrow that I could not personally help/save each animal that I hear about.

Part of it was an overwhelming grief of knowing that such suffering exists at the hands of my fellow human beings. And most of it was because I felt powerless in that moment, wondering if there is anything I can really do to positively impact change.

Today, the Buddha's Metta Sutta, the Sutra of Loving Kindness, came to mind.

Here is the portion of the Metta Sutta that came to mind:

May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be, whether moving or standing still, without exception, whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,
Whether seen or unseen, whether living near or far,
Born or unborn; may all beings be happy.
Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.
Just as a mother would guard her child, her only child, with her own life, even so let me cultivate a boundless mind for all beings in the world.

Let me cultivate a boundless love for all beings in the world, above, below, and across, unhindered, without ill will or enmity.

Standing, walking, seated, or lying down, free from torpor, let me as far as possible fix my attention on this recollection. This, they say, is the divine life right here.

I may not be able to insure, on my own, that all animals are loved and properly treated, but I can help animals in need whenever it is in my power to do so. I can bring awareness to this very important issue, and I can recite the Metta Sutta, from my heart, in hopes that the vibration of love will increase on this planet - especially toward the vulnerable, who need our protection and kindness.

Are you also moved by something that can or has overwhelmed you? What CAN you do to make a difference? How you can be the change you wish to see?

Sulilo ♥

Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Be Happy on Mondays

Tell some people to have a "Happy Monday," and they may look at you as if you told them that it was raining bricks. Perhaps you are one of these people?  I often am.

This week, though, I realized I had a LOT to be grateful for. I woke up this Monday morning, and I thought about how our water heater has been broken since Saturday night (no hot showers...heating up water on the stove to wash up and to do dishes).  We're lucky that a repair person will be out today to fix the water heater, and we'll be back to "normal" by this afternoon.

But, as I lay in bed this morning, I thought about the many little things that I take for granted on a regular basis, and how truly amazing each things is. I became very grateful, and continued to rattle off my gratitude list. 

It was a great way to start a Monday morning. I noticed I was smiling as I was still in bed, under the warm covers, making a positive, pleasant transition from weekend mode to Monday morning. This was an unusual surprise.

I highly recommend reciting a Monday morning gratitude list before you even get out of bed. You can think about it in your head, or of you prefer, keep a pen and paper nearby so you can start writing when you wake up.

You can start with what many of us take for granted, such as a warm bed in a safe home (sadly, many people in our own community lack even these right now), running water, hot water, food in the refrigerator, electricity, family, friends, and pets, our health...

Then, we move on to luxuries...

A membership to the local gym or yoga center, a car, a Job, spare money to buy that Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks, access to the internet or cable so that we can connect with the world that way...

See? We get so caught up in momentary emotions and discomfort that we sometimes lose sight of how immensely blessed and fortune we truly are. 

Monday mornings are a great way to remind ourselves of just how many reasons we have to be happy.

What are you grateful for? How can you bless yourself and others on this Marvelous Monday?


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Yoga When You're Sick (aka Under the Weather Yoga)

This past week, I got slammed with a cold.  I don't usually catch them, and when I do, I'm unfortunately quite a baby about it. I wonder if I will ever get better. I wonder what things I can do to support my body in healing as quickly as possible.

In addition to the various supplements suggested by friends (I just went with some vitamin C in large quantities), I drank TONS of water, decaffeinated tea, and fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.  My appetite was pretty low, but I managed to eat some soup and other light, nourishing foods. I read that it's natural for our appetite to decrease when we have a cold, because our body needs to use its energy to fight off the foreign bug - digestion of big meals is not its top priority during such times.

Photo Courtesy of this site

I longed to do some type of yoga practice, but with the various symptoms I was experiencing, I was hesitant. It was then that I decided to practice the yoga of acceptance.

I had been whining about having a cold, feeling miserable, and I realized that no amount of complaining or self pity was going to help me feel any better, any sooner.

I then practiced the yoga of meditation. I found it difficult to sit in a quiet state, especially when the trickle would turn into a full blown cough-fest, so I put on some guided hypnosis and guided meditation CDs, and this helped me to still my mind and relax my body.

I practiced the yoga of being present by making tea.  I made it, held the warm mug in my hands, allowed the steam to go up my nose and in my mouth, and I sipped on it, all snuggled up in a blanket.

Image Courtesy of Peaceful Mind

I practiced the yoga of relaxation with aromatherapy, by using some Yardley of London Lavender Soap in a warmy, steamy shower. 

I'm feeling a lot better. I'm at the tail end of the cold. It's leaving a lot faster than I imagined. Hopefully, in a few days, I'll be back to doing my physical yoga asana practice again.

What are you doing to support your immune system? What ways do you amp up the self-care if you feel under the weather? 

How might you practice yoga off of the mat?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Miracle Yoga Pose (Anxiety) Viparita Karani: Legs Up The Wall

Do you ever experience anxiety or panic attacks? Unfortunately, I do.  During a recent bout, I took my yoga teacher's recommendation and practiced Viparita Karani: Legs Up The Wall pose.  One of the therapeutic applications of this inversion is to calm your nervous system, making it quite helpful when you are experiencing anxiety.

My experience: It helped substantially.

Here is what the position looks like:

Photo Courtesy of Michael Venera

The yogi's pelvis is elevated. I've seen and done this pose done without elevation as well. I have found the elevated option to be more comfortable.

While practicing this pose, I put on one of my favorite new tracks, "He Ma Durga" by Donna De Lory.


This track is quite soothing. It's repetitive chant will having you feeling blissful and less anxious in no time.

Please check with your doctor or holistic health practitioner before engaging in any new physical activity - there are some contraindications for this pose.  This is not intended to be medical advice or to diagnose or treat any ailment. Just one Yogi to another. ♥

Here is some more information on this miracle pose: Yoga Journal - Legs Up The Wall

Are there any yoga poses that you find helpful when you are experiencing physical or emotional discomfort?

What do YOU do for self-care?


Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Shoulder Experiment - Tight, tense shoulders

Earlier in the week, our Yoga teacher must have said a dozen times, in different ways, "Let your shoulders relax," as she paced the studio floor and gave us instructions on some gentle, flowing postures.

I felt as if it was just for me, since EVERY time she said:

Let your shoulders melt.
Let your shoulders be heavy.
Let your shoulders relax...

I found mine had crept back up so high that I could have very well worn them as earrings!

Photo Courtesy of Lifestyle for Health

Repeatedly, the tension in my shoulders reappeared, and repeatedly, I was stunned to find that, yet again, I had tensed up, unaware.

The experience really made me think. I made a commitment to, over the next few days, randomly notice my shoulders through out the day and give myself the same, gentle reminders:

Let your shoulders melt.
Let your shoulders be heavy.
Let your shoulders relax...

At first, every time I brought my shoulders into my awareness, I noticed that they were tight, tense, and that my posture was affected.

Today was the first time that I really noticed that they have been staying down...a little less tense.

I also noticed that no one (including me) told me to "put your shoulders down." Rather, there was a compassionate allowing of "Let your shoulders..."

My body and mind seem to be responding well to this.

What are you experiencing in your body that could use some more attention and compassion?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"For fast-acting relief, try S L O W I N G down."

My Hatha Yoga teacher gave us a quote today from comedienne Lily Tomlin:

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."

This tickled many of us, because in our fast-paced culture, it is first nature for most to want to get there and get there quickly, even at the cost of our own sanity.

Our teacher gave some examples:

  • If you hurry, you might drop something.
  • If you rush to the parking space nearest the Target entrance, you could get into an altercation.

The examples that came to my head, personally are:

  • If you hurry, you might make a mistake/error.
  • If you hurry, you won't enjoy this moment.

An example of how to embrace slowing down was also given by our teacher. She shared that the other day, in the crazy holiday-packed parking lot of Target, she found and parked in the spot farthest away from the entrance and chose to enjoy the walk to and from the store.  I like that one. I sometimes practice this as well. (Just be sure to be mindful of where you parked! ☺)

Photo Courtesy of Scott Olson

I decided to adopt this practice for myself for the rest of the week and see how it goes. Tomorrow, aside from work, I am going to take my time cleaning the house, instead of rushing through it just to "get it done." I am going to stay in the moment, enjoying the process of it.

I'll practice gratitude for each object I dust. If it's time to get rid of certain items, I will make a donation bag and a bag for things that are ready to be thrown away.

I will wash each dish in gratitude for the food that was on it that now nourishes my cells.

I will clean the bathroom in thanks that we live in a country that has clean, running water, and that I can shower, brush my teeth, and use a flushing toilet everyday (something that is truly a luxury if you ask folks in third world countries.)

As I wash, dry, fold, hang, and iron laundry, I will thank God that I am blessed enough to have clothes to keep me warm and make me feel good about myself.

Photo Courtesy of Dukkha Girl

Instead of rushing through the tasks mindlessly or completely  distracted, I am going to S L O W down and immerse myself in them.  Maybe this way, I won't be all out of breath and exhausted when I'm done. (Not to mention, I might avoid tripping over the vacuum a couple of times.)

Maybe I'll enjoy the different state that bringing slowness to this activity will bring.

How can you slow down in your life?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

What I learned from Rachel Crow on The X-Factor

While I am by no means a die hard fan of the talent show, "The X-Factor," I did begin to tune in as the number of contestants started to dwindle and some true stars began to emerge.  One of those stars is a 13-year old girl named Rachel Crow.

Photo courtesy of

For weeks, Rachel impressed, amazed, and touched the hearts of beings worldwide. The pint-sized singer's presence and voice emit an energy that have made many wonder if she is an old soul - perhaps a reincarnated diva from a more soulful era.

Her vocals seem effortless and are often delivered in perfection and confidence.

When Rachel faced elimination on last week's show, she competed against another contestant, and the judges took a vote.

With four judges total, two voted that Rachel's competitor be sent home, one voted for her to be eliminated, and the final judge - who held Rachel's fate in the competition in her hands, "refused" to vote, causing the competition to come to a deadlock. It was now up to America to decide. 

The judge who opted for the gridlock cried and looked incredibly uncomfortable and awkward as she announced that though she didn't want to do it, she was voting to send Rachel home so that the score would be even: 2 votes for her, and 2 votes for her competitor.

Young Rachel said to the judge, "Don't cry. I'm fine either way."

But she wasn't.

The show's host opened a card and revealed that the contestant with the lowest number of votes and who was going to be eliminated from the competition in that moment, was Rachel Crow.

Rachel had been staring straight ahead. Her eyes widened, and she fell to the floor, inconsolably wailing.  The judge who sent the competition to a gridlock by voting that Rachel be sent home began to shake, cry, and also become inconsolable.

Photo of Rachel Crowe on The X-Factor courtesy of

What did I learn from this whole ordeal?

1.) Speak your TRUTH.

The Judge...

The judge said that she didn't really want to have to say that she was sending Rachel home - that she just wanted to even the score so that America's votes could determine who would move on in the competition. She didn't seem willing to take responsibility for a choice, but anyone watching knew that she, indeed, was making a choice.

Judging from the judge's reaction, she was not expecting Rachel to be sent home. 

We need to speak our truth. If we don't really want to say something, let's not say it. Let's act from intention. If the judge did not want to Rachel to be sent home, as difficult as it may have been for her to send the other contestant home, in order to walk in integrity, I believe that's was really what she probably needed to do. Some might argue that the judge's entire ordeal was a strategic move to eliminate the most talented contestant so that the her own protégé  would have a better chance at winning, but we may never know this.


Rachel told the deadlocking judge that she shouldn't cry and that she would be fine with whatever outcome occurred. Judging from Rachel's reaction when she learned that she would be going home that night, this wasn't true either. If we want something bad, let's be honest about it. Let's advocate for ourselves in a respectful way that conveys our passion and determination while respecting others. It's OK to really, really want something, and it's ok to express that. It's also ok to express when and if we will not be okay with something.

Rachel is still very young, and none of what I am saying is meant to criticize her or the judge. These are simply my own internal assessments and lessons that my heart has received.

2.) Never Assume.

Never assume that we know what others have decided, or that we've won, or that we are invincible. Never assume that your actions will not have an effect on others around you and create a ripple effect. Positive or negative, they always do.

What did you learn from witnessing this experience?


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Living Our Yoga: Clarifying our Intentions & Listening to Our Intuition

This morning, I mentioned to some friends that I hoped to have some "blog worthy" experiences today. In fact, I did receive what I invited, but not as I expected.

This led me to remember that when we have a hope, wish, or intention to put before the Universe, it is important to be specific. 

My opportunity manifested as me feeling ill earlier.  My plan had been to take a nice 8 mile walk, but I began to feel extremely fatigued and spacey. I felt like "something" was not right.

On a gut level, I knew why I felt so off: I have been neglecting to properly hydrate with lots of water and have been drinking diet soda throughout the day for at least a week now.

On a cellular level, I became aware that the drained physical feeling I was having could be remedied by some fresh air, movement, and above all, hydration with pure water.

Photo Courtesy of Live Earth

I sat down in the park and took some deep cleansing breaths. I practiced Pranayama / Ujjayi breathing and let out some big belly sighs.

I then took out a couple of bottles of water. I sipped one slowly, and then I began to walk. I didn't push myself. I took time to stop and look at the seagulls and other creatures. I stopped to look at the different trees, and I slowed down when other walkers passed me with their cute little dogs. 

All in all, I ended up walking about 5 miles before I was ready to wrap it up and drink some more water.

I can not tell you how much better I felt having listened to these messages. On a physical level, I feel much more alert and do not feel fatigued or spacey. On an emotional level, the anxiety that initially accompanied the symptoms stood with me for about the first 15 minutes or so of my walk, but as I began to trust that all was well and that my body's homeostasis and equilibrium were coming into order, (and I began engaging with the world around me through my senses), it dissipated. 

On a spiritual level, I felt and feel very good. When we learn to keep our eyes and ears open for what our body and mind are trying to tell us, we invite opportunities for continued growth and healing.

Photo Courtesy of Lady Ngo's World

Why have I been drinking so much soda? Aside from the fact that I unfortunately like its taste, I think I may have a touch of the winter blues, and somehow, I thought the caffeine was giving me an extra boost. It may have done so initially, but the buildup of aspartame in my system and the soda's apparent inability to properly hydrate ultimately appear to have caused fatigue and anxiety in the long run.

I plan to begin cutting back on this substance. 

Although the events that happened today are not exactly what I had in mind, I am thankful for the insights and opportunities that they provided.

What did your experiences today teach you?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Can You Practice Yoga AND Love Jesus?

It really depends on who you ask. In my opinion, as a person who practices yoga on a regular basis, the answer is yes. 

While I do not define myself as belonging to any one religion, but rather as a "spiritual" being having a human experience, I think that there is much to learn from many of the world's great religions, spiritual beliefs, practices, and cultures. While I do believe in and love Jesus, I also believe in, love, and respect other great ascended masters, such as the Buddha. 

If you are strong in who you are and what you believe, your faith, principles, and values will not be shaken no matter what other cultures or experiences you choose to investigate or participate in. Yoga is an individual journey - a very personal experience.

Sure, you experience the benefit of congregating with other beings who may be coming to class for a myriad of reasons (physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination of these), but when you are on the mat, going through the asanas and movements and laying down to rest in savasana, that's all you. That's you and your connection to your higher power, if you have one that you identify with. That is your own personal story and experience. 

Some folks have asked me about the chanting that some teachers include in their yoga classes (I've experienced this especially in Kripalu and Hatha Flow classes). They say it makes them feel uncomfortable because they don't understand to whom or why they are chanting, and some feel that doing so may be in conflict with their own personal spiritual beliefs.

Photo Courtesy of ChristianYogaMagazine
One of my teachers put it this way, "We are about to chant, and you are welcome to accept the invitation...or not." 

Yoga is an ancient practice that is thousands of years old and is most often traced back to Hindu origin. While you may not identify with this or even wish to, perhaps you can stand in awe of how many people have been helped by the practice over time. 

If, for any reason, chanting makes you feel uncomfortable, don't force yourself to do it or allow it to be a stumbling block to your practice. Simply sit still, meditate, and pray...practices that are encouraged by most positive world religions.

From the Christian bible:
"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalms 46:10) 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Your Choice, Your Practice

Earlier this week, we had a substitute teacher in my Hatha Yoga class. I felt a mixture of apprehension and curiosity when I walked into the room and saw someone else standing in my teacher's place.

The apprehension was partly because I have come to know, generally, what to expect in my class in terms of intensity and rhythm. I really enjoy my teacher's spirit and non-judgmental, gentle teaching style.

The curiosity came as the thought: "I wonder what my mind, body, and spirit will experience today in class. Sometimes it's nice to break up routines."

I ended up thoroughly enjoying the class. Our substitute, of course, had her own style. We did some chanting at the beginning and end of class.

She also said, on a number of occasions, (especially before chaturanga), "Your choice, your practice."

Photo courtesy of ProlificLiving

What she meant, in that moment, was: "Here's a suggested sequence of poses for you to do now. If it feels like too much, you can back off and rest. If it doesn't feel like enough, kick it up a notch. Your choice, your practice."

Our teacher was teaching us to listen to and respect where we were in that moment. She was teaching us not to force anything and that respecting where we are at physically, emotionally, and spiritually is a GOOD thing.

I love when lessons from the yoga mat translate nicely into the world off of the mat (as they so often do).

All day today, when I felt tension arise or feelings of discomfort in any form (tense shoulders, irritable mood), I thought, "What am I choosing right now? My choice, my practice."

Our life is our practice, and every moment, we have the ability to choose what is best for us on all levels.

I choose ease.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Back Up and Running

I've decided to open up my heart and blog again. Welcome back into my world.  I look forward to sharing with you and learning from each other.