Sometimes when I am in yoga and I am trying a difficult pose, I have found a unique technique that somehow gets me to keep my balance. I discovered this technique a few years ago when I was going through some challenging times and I found that if I brought to mind someone whom I knew would support me in my endeavors, I was able to get through it.
At the same time, I find that if I start to think of someone who perhaps doesn't have my best intentions in mind and/or I may not have a long-term future with, I find that I lose the energy to persevere and/or fall out of the pose. I have applied it to my yoga practice and my life, and I am amazed at how by changing my mindset, it quickly pulls me together.
Here are two recent examples:
Not Supporting Me: This week I was grappling with a relationship and was unsure of where it was headed with the guy that I have been dating for the last few months. I noticed that every time I got into a deep balancing pose and made the conscious decision to think about him, I fell out of the pose (lost my balance). I tried it a few times and also with poses that I have mastered quite easily in the past. Each time it was the same. It started me thinking, "Did I not feel supported? Was he distracting me from my true self? Was I feeling stretched (literally)?" A few days later, we had another large argument and this was the one that broke the camels back. We broke up. It hurts, but somehow I think my subconscious was trying to tell me that it wasn't a relationship I needed days and weeks before.
Supporting Me: Throughout my 30+ years of practicing yoga, there are one or two poses that I am truly itching to master, but I haven't yet been able to. This month, I decided to focus on one and see if I could do it. This morning, I tried out my "Difficult Pose" technique, as I call it now, and thought of someone whom I believe supported me, but truly was not 100% (coincidentally another ex-boyfriend, but one where we have remained good friends). With a quick shift in mindset as I thought of his presence, I quickly went up into the pose without hesitation. Wow. I have tried this pose for years where I am balancing my whole body on the ball of one foot is a seated/squatting position and I never could do it, but today, my mind was quickly taking me there.
|Pose I Am Mastering Performed By An Instructor From www.karmakidsyoga.com|
Many people who run marathons say that the challenge is never physical, but mental. Our bodies can handle very difficult situations, but it is just up to the mind to make it happen, or not.
It is with these thoughts that I encourage you to try out this "Difficult Pose" technique. If there is a situation where you are unsure if you are going to be able to handle it, think of someone who you believe supports you and watch yourself reach for otherwise thought unbelievable goals.
I was speaking to a colleague the other day and we both said we work in the wellness industry, but later it dawned on me that the term is quite vague. Then, when I ate pizza for lunch later in the day, I wondered, is this the wellness that I had in mind?
|Maggie and I having lunch|
Very quickly I realized that it is. I eat pizza about 3-4 times a year and I went for it after my long morning of a challenging yoga class. Thus, wellness to me is everything in moderation and tuning in to my true self.
A few days later, the same colleague asked me about my personal eating habits. As I started to describe my personal rule of thumb that I got from a nutritionist I admire (it's called the PC, or Protein Carb Combo), I realized and described my style as probably the way my grandmother ate. I don't follow any fad diets and I try, despite the occasional pizza, to eat quite simply. For example, I eat a lot of eggs for protein, but stay away from any heavy sauces. I eat lots of vegetables, but try to sauté them in a pan to keep as much of the vitamins and minerals that often get seeped out by boiling or overcooking them.
Lastly, I think wellness incorporates relationships that include open communication and an optimistic mindset. Wellness is a synonym for balance, in my mind and sociability. If I feel a friendship is not fair or someone is not communicating, I try to improve the situation. Just today, I felt like something was off, so I decided to reach out and ask for some honest feedback.
As for an optimistic outlook, I like to follow my yoga teacher, Steve Ross, when he says, "Everyone is inherently happy, but our true self is shadowed and concealed by the layers of worry that, through habit, become our daily thoughts." If I remain happy, then I am in tune with my true self and this is the whole point of focusing on this term called wellness, to which I dedicate my life.
My mom and I have always been friends. Actually, we have spent more time as friends during my lifetime than as a traditional mother and daughter. I grew up living with my dad in the suburbs Monday to Friday and then my dad would drive me in to see my mom on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on Friday nights to stay the weekend.
Because it was the weekend and Mom wasn't in charge of sending me off to school or making me do homework, we could play. My mom was now in charge of making the most fun dinner reservation we could find, ensuring we got to the gym on time for yoga class, and setting up appointments to see our friends, who were always fellow models with her in the fashion industry. The memory that sticks out in my head the most is when she turned the orange peel inside out during desert at a Chinese restaurant and put little slits in the top and the bottom to make fake teeth. Thus, it felt strange to call her Mom, I often felt, because she was more like just one of the girls.
Then, as I grew older, something shifted. She started to worry about me. She wanted to make sure I was eating right, living in proper conditions, and had the right clothes on my back. I don't think I ever gave cause to worry because with an engineering degree and an MBA, I am able to look after myself, but I think something shifted in her. Perhaps she wanted to make up for those years and/or finally felt like she was in a position to be in a provider role. She finally got remarried when I was 25 and since then, I certainly feel like she earns the title Mom.
|Mom and I having lunch|
Recently, she came out to visit me in California from Florida and we just had the best time. Somehow the combination of a strong friendship combined with a mother/daughter connection has put our relationship right on target. I can't explain exactly what it is, but whenever we communicate, we see eye-to-eye and it has made me aware that I truly enjoy our relationship like no other. I look forward to her calls or emails in order to find out the latest and to update her on what has happened here recently. While she was out here, we worked on putting my apartment together, which she loves to do since her passion is interior design, and since then we have been able to catch up daily on the last tasks. It has given us something to work productively on together and since then it has blossomed into a trust and deeper friendship than we even had before.
It is with these thoughts as Mothers' Day approaches that I feel so grateful for having a mother whom I can not only call a relative, but also call my best friend. I know for a fact that she values our relationship like no other and for this I also feel so fortunate. Sometimes relationships need time to develop their sweetness, and although growing up with her was very sweet, I am happy to report that today seems even sweeter.
Last week I wrote about letters that I had received during a retreat from close friends and family providing feedback about my qualities, the person I am, my growth, and how I impact others' lives.
The purpose of my blog was to say that I think we should more often take these opportunities to write to our loved ones with this type of feedback since it means so much and also makes us reflect on where our lives would be if these important people weren't in them. This week, I decided to write one of these letters and although there are a many people to whom I could address them, I decided to write one to my little dog because dogs can provide good examples of how we sometimes take people for granted.
Everyday you consistently tell me how much you love me and I just wanted to let you know that I love you too. Here is how:
Qualities: Everyday you are joyful and live perfectly in the moment. You know how to be quiet when we're supposed to, like when we're working at home, and then you know how to be energetic and playful when we go for walks and run into friends or potential friends on the street.
Person That You Are: I love the way you roll over onto your back for someone to rub your tummy just when you sense that person would be willing and would love to do so. I notice that you know not to do this if our new friend is perhaps not interested. Without a miss, you bring a smile to so many people's faces just by being you.
Your Growth: We have been together over a year now, and I have seen you mature and feel more confident in whom you are. You have learned how to handle the take-off and landing of airplanes without a shiver or a nervous shake. Between being my companion on a recent trip to Ecuador and spending almost two months between New York and Washington, D.C., I have seen you adjust to new environments without a second thought.
How You Impact Others' Lives: Everyday when I come home or reunite with you after an adult (human) meeting, you are there to brighten my spirits and make me smile. Without a miss, you were there to remind me to be in the moment, enjoy where I am right now, and feel that there are joyful things despite the roller coaster of life.
Many hugs and tummy rubs, Maggie Moo.
Recently I participated in a local women's retreat where one of the components was to receive letters from close friends and family that included reflections on my qualities, the person I am, my growth, and how I may have impacted their lives.
I have participated in this type of activity before and I knew it would be touching. What came as a surprise is that I got unexpected letters from people and promises for future letters from people who weren't aware that they could contribute. It is with these thoughts that I think we should write such letters more often and even to people that we might not expect.
To give you some examples for inspiration, first, I got a letter from my oldest girlfriend from when I was a child. We have continued to be close ever since we met when she was 3 and I was 2, but we typically don't connect on this level nor did I have any idea she knew of my retreat. In her letter, she wrote:
"Ingrid is my 'sister.' Although we aren't close geographically, I know I can count on her for friendship, support, understanding, and to listen without judgment. She is someone I look up to as courageous and someone who follows her heart - whether it's in her work, friendships, or love life".
|Nicole and I in Paris in 2009|
Next, I got a letter from my uncle with whom I communicate almost every week when he edits this blog and he has obviously known me for a very long time, but again, we hardly ever have reason to have an exchange like this. This is what he wrote:
"You are sunshine, a forest glade full of chirping birds, you are a sylvan mountain lake. See, all the good things you remind us of, and you are far from done".
Obviously, I couldn't help the tears spilling down my cheeks when I read these and the other letters in my packet.
Lastly, as we were ending the weekend, I ran into a previous boyfriend who had also participated in the retreat, but in the men's version. He knew of the activity of the letters, and said that if he had known, he would have most certainly sent me one. Since we hadn't ended our relationship on the greatest terms and have yet to completely resolve it, this is certainly a letter I would like to see! I will make sure I get it from him.
I feel so grateful for all the kind words and I am making my list of all the people I would like to send a letter to. Is there someone who I feel I don't tell enough how much I value them in my life? Maybe next week I will include it in this blog as further inspiration....
Last Friday I was exhausted, but for an unexplainable reason. I had been getting enough rest, eating decently well, and getting a good amount of exercise. I am typically not a person who takes naps, but felt like I needed one.
I started to look around at my routine and realized that I had spent a few days working alone from my house and seeing primarily just my little dog. I then started to think about what personality questionnaires have told me about my strengths and my natural skills. The first thing that always jumps out is the fact that I get my energy from being around other people. Although I appreciate my solitary time, I consistently come up as a strong extrovert.
On this Friday afternoon, I decided that perhaps I should get up from my nap and see some people in order to make myself feel better. Ironically, I was supposed to attend a retreat that evening, but the idea of getting out of bed was the last thing I wanted to do.
Somehow I gathered some strength to get into the shower and made it there. When I entered that room of eighty plus people, I knew the personality questionnaires were 100% on target. All of a sudden, my inner power and true personality were turned on like a light switch. I started chatting and found this amazing joy within myself. The words I spoke seemed to flow from a source I didn't know and came with an excitement for whatever I wanted to talk about. I also found it interesting that I didn't know one person in the room, but that didn't matter. It was just being in someone else's presence that got my juices flowing again.
|Here I am with a retreat group|
It is with these thoughts that I recommend tuning into one's own strengths when things are not going right and/or we are not feeling like ourselves. My dad has been a career-coach his entire life, which enabled me to start taking these personality tests from a young age. For this I am grateful because I knew where I needed to get going and find my groove again.
This week I found out some disappointing news about a project that I was pitching with a friend of mine when we heard that we weren't selected. It was very competitive and we weren't the perfect fit, so perhaps I should have expected it. Still, I was bummed that we didn't get it since I was really looking forward to the experience.
Before I got the news, I was busy celebrating my one-year anniversary of life with my little dog. Over the weekend, she and I spent additional quality time together where I took her on extra long walks and she and I shared undivided attention. During this time, I realized, like many people with dogs, that she is often perhaps disappointed with certain events, but doesn't let it bother her for more than a few minutes.
|My dog, Maggie.|
For example, if it were up to her, we would be out walking most hours of the day and only stop to fuel up at the nearest station for food and water. Unfortunately, this isn't possible every day, but when she doesn't get these things, she pouts for a minute or two and then she quickly puts it behind her.
When another opportunity comes up for a walk, she jumps right at it. She doesn't think at all about all the walks she might have missed or dwell on opportunities past. She dusts herself off and jumps into the next endeavor with just as much energy as she had for any previous walk.
is with these observations that I am going to emulate Maggie this week.
I am not going to dwell on opportunities lost. I am going to jump into
the next project with as much energy as I had for the one we just missed
because there are just as many experiences awaiting me as there were
for the last. It is also with these thoughts that I "wag my tail" with delight at what is yet to come.