Tolerable Discomfort

In the physical practice of yoga, you might have heard the instruction “lean into the discomfort.” It is a simple, yet powerful suggestion that explores our capacity to test our limits.

The idea is, if we can tolerate being uncomfortable physically, then emotional and psychological discomfort will be more bearable.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. You see, my eight year old foster daughter's mother died after a 10 month battle with cancer. She was 34.

The families story is sad, tragic even. But my foster daughter has been in my home for more than 3 years. She has healed from PTSD, among other things. She is a happy and loving member of our family.

And my sweet, happy girl lost her mother. For the sake of this story, we'll call my foster daughter “A”.

The day before traveling to Florida to attend the funeral, A's therapist suggested that I help her stay within “tolerable discomfort”.

So this became my mantra.

When we arrived at the funeral home and were confronted with family she did not recognize (but they recognized her), she demanded to leave.

Then my mantra became a question.

What is tolerable discomfort?

When asked to participate in a traditional Chinese ceremony, my foster daughter clung to my arm and hid behind me, whimpering and whining.

What is tolerable discomfort?

When asked to enter the room and bow at her mother's open casket, she stood wide-eyed and demanded to know why her mother looked so different, again, asking to leave and pulling me out the door.

What is tolerable discomfort?

When asked to observe the burial ceremony, she again demanded to leave. This time with volume. This time in a dramatic expression of raw anger and grief and sadness and frustration.

From the front seat of the car (where we watched the burial), she screamed at me for “making her go to the funeral”. She kicked the console and yelled some more. She buried her head in her hands and cried. Hard.

I sat silently with my hand on her belly and I held the space for her grief.

Because what is tolerable when your mother dies?

What ends up being intolerable, in the long run, is not feeling the feelings.

A was given the opportunity to feel her feelings. All of them.

She was not protected from her grief, because her grief was valid.

She was not told to calm her anger or lower her voice.

She was not allowed to leave.

(Nobody wants to be at funerals, I assured her. Nobody.)

She was asked to have the experience, whatever that was for her.

To look it in the eye, and be uncomfortable, to be sad, mad, frustrated and whatever else.

Because only when we truly experience what life is offering RIGHT NOW can we feel true joy and happiness.

I wish that for her with all my heart.

 

The Faces of Fear

When children learn mindfulness in the school setting, one of the practices that they learn is something called “friendly wishes”. It is similar to a Buddhist Meta meditation – but for kids. It could go something like this: “I wish all my friends are happy. I wish my friends have a great day. I wish my friends have all their dreams come true!” Meditations like this are meant to help students learn compassion.

When we learn this as children, children grow up to be compassionate adults. Compassionate adults are more inclined towards the spirit of inclusion rather than exclusion.

Inclusion vs. exclusion. It's a big topic in the world. We have presidential candidates wanting to build walls. People wanting to keep other people out of bathrooms. And now, Britain voting to leave the EU...why? A few reasons but mostly because they wanted to control their borders and the flow of immigrants into the country.

You could look at all of this and be sad and scared for the world.

Or.

You could look at this and see the uncomfortable and rapidly changing consciousness of the planet.

Think about transformation. Personal transformation is messy. Fear is usually the dominant experience. Fear that we have done the wrong thing. Fear that we are heading in the wrong direction. Fear that we have missed some big opportunity. Fear that we aren't good enough. Fear has many faces.

One of it's faces is exclusion. And we are seeing now, on a global level, fear. Fear coming to the surface and showing it's ugly face of racism and bigotry and ignorance. Fear, maybe changing policy for a little while just to show, once and for all, that is not the road to peace and prosperity for all.

I believe that we are purging our world of fear. Whether this takes 20 years or 200 years, I have no idea. But its coming to the surface to experience and release as not useful.

When I teach yoga to Lily's class, a group of 20 5 year old's, I am reminded that children naturally gravitate towards inclusion. They LOVE friendly wishes. And the more we can cultivate this in our children now – the greater the probability of generation of adults who are grounded in compassion and love. Who don't see race or color or gender. Just humanity. Just love.

Then the magic unfolds. Then the experience of prosperity and equality and peace spreads through the world. It will happen. But we have to plant the seeds now. With our children.

Live in peace. Teach peace.

May all beings be happy. All beings. Whether big or small. Near or far. Seen or unseen. May all beings be happy. May all beings be well. May all beings be free.

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. However, unlike Alexander from the children's book I'm stealing the phrase from, nothing really went wrong.

In fact, everything was fine.

Except in my head. In my head, things were a freaking disaster.

(And by the way, for those of you with competitive and high achieving natures, don't look at Gwyneth Paltrow's Instagram account when you are feeling confused about your next steps. It's the portal to misery.)

In fact, when you are feeling confused about your next steps – close the computer, turn off the phone and do not, I repeat, DO NOT go on social media.

Because on social media – everyone is super successful, they have very well behaved and perfectly clean children, their coaching business is earning $20,000+ a month (while they work part time!!), they have perfect lives filled with happiness and joy and free time to take vacations on the beach and take pictures of their feet and post them on Facebook.

My reality is different.

  • I gained back 5 of the 17lbs I recently lost.

  • There are mice in my kitchen. 

  • I yelled at my kids two mornings in a row (probably more).

  • They yelled back at me and gave me the stink eye.

  • I have more dirty clothes than clean clothes.

  • My children's room looks like a hurricane hit it.

  • So does my room.

  • There is toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror that has been there for three days.

  • The girl's summer camp costs almost as much as going to DisneyWorld twice in one year – which is why we haven't gone to DisneyWorld at all.

And when I shared an idea with one of my entrepreneur sisters about a coaching program I was thinking of offering; she suggested I check out a well known coach's site, as she did something similar.

I did and there she was, looking perfectly perfect standing with Oprah.

So yesterday I took two (yes two) 2 hour naps. And I cried. A lot.

We all have days like this but we never talk about them, do we?

I'm here to tell you that I teach the power of gratitude. I teach about slowing down and Being more than Doing. I teach following joy rather than following money.

I'm here to tell you I got sucked down the rabbit hole of comparison and not-enoughism and I kicked my own ass for an entire day.

I felt like shit for no real reason other than I was comparing my real life to illusions.

I was in my mind and my mind was telling me all the things I SHOULD be doing to achieve these “illusions”. My mind was comparing my inner world to other's outer world.  

Even though I knew all that it STILL overwhelmed me. It exhausted me. Freaked me the F*&k out.

And then my Soul said STOP.

My Soul said to me:

This is the time for silence and learning to listen. You need to hear. You cannot hear from this constant state of doing. Your impulse to DO is driven your material desires and the illusion of lack.

Wow. My impulse to do is driven by my material desires and the illusion that I lack. Ya know, the Soul doesn't mince words. The Soul doesn't pussyfoot around. The Soul tells it like it is.

I stepped out of doing for the sake of creativity and joy. I became results oriented. Goal oriented. (That is how my mind operates and it is effort to change that pattern even though I'm aware of it.)

And when I was focused on results, it became very easy for me to compare my results (or lack thereof) with others. My achievements compared to others. My successes. My life. It is a rabbit hole because I've got that over-achieving-not good-enough-until-I'm-Oprah problem.

And this problem is draining. It drains me of faith and inspiration. It tries to convince me I'm not good enough and gets my mind to generate all these thoughts that both create the problem and attempt to solve the problem.  

So I get caught up in the swirl of thoughts and I do not lean on my Soul.

I forget that inspiration for my next step always stems from silence. From receiving rather than trying to force doors open.

I talk about this and teach this a lot because it is a lesson that I myself work on every single day.

Clarity comes from silence. From relaxing and receiving.

The biggest irony of my life is that I'm a yoga and spiritual teacher who has a really hard time relaxing.

And giving herself a break.

So silence for me is key. Softening into what is, especially when I find myself envious of what isn't.

And, i'm told, taking a nap is a good thing. I'm going to do that more.

Love and Fear

I give a lot of attention to my personal mindset. My mindset dictates my experience in life and I want to have a good experience – so keeping my mind in check is a priority.

I've realized that there are two energies that steer my mindset. Love and fear.

Being in the energy of love is being in flow of life. We trust that everything is as it should be. We see the beauty in every situation.

When things are going smoothly – it is easy to approach the day in a space of love and trust. I mean, when things are going smoothly, whats not to love?

What happens when things don't go smoothly? When we don't get what we want when we want it? When things are hard?

In those times fear likes to get in the driver's seat and take control.

Fear is the absence of love. It shows us lack and limitation. It shows us all the things that can go wrong.

When fear is in the drivers seat of generating thoughts – our thoughts are those of lack and potential disasters. Our thoughts are anxious and negative.

And that does not lead to a good experience of life.

But what do we do? Shit happens. Not everything goes smoothy all the time because sometimes life is messy.

When things get messy I take that as an opportunity to double down on love and trust. I mean double down because it takes effort and attention. And surrender.

Case in point: We are trying to buy a house. It is a big deal for our family and we have been looking for a while. In the beginning of March we found the PERFECT house. Perfect in every single way. We fell in love, made an offer and the offer was accepted. We shook on it.

And 30 days later we still have no contract. We are unsure if the deal will happen. And while I'm sure we will find out one way or another soon – the few days of not knowing are stressful.

And fear is telling me to call the guy off the hook. Fear is telling me to FIND OUT RIGHT NOW WHAT IS GOING ON. Fear is telling me not to be patient. Fear is telling me how its all going to go wrong and I'm not getting my dream house. Fear tells me I'll never get my dream house.  Fear tells me I will forever have to share one bathroom with three daughters.

Fear is such a freaking bitch.

I'm experiencing with fear right now as I write this. I'm breathing into it, softening my shoulders and feeling it. Getting out of my head because my thoughts are not helpful (and they aren't true) and feeling it. Feeling the discomfort of my nervous belly. Feeling the tightness of my head and eyes. Feeling the shortness of my breath and the constriction of my heart.

Feeling it. The fear. Because if I deny fear she just gets louder. If I let her move through me she moves on. And then LOVE fills the space.

When love is in the space I have gratitude for everything I have right now. My beautiful, messy apartment that I gave birth to my daughter in. Our new puppy who we adopted from a rescue and are now realizing that she is probably half mastiff. My loving gorgeous husband whose priority is to make his family happy. My beautiful girls who bring joy and drama to me every day. My many, many friends who are always just a phone call or a glass of wine away. There is so much to be grateful for.

So it becomes a shift in what I focus on. Just writing that brief paragraph my breath got longer, my belly calmed and my heart softened.

Love pervades our being; fear is like an outer shell that can feel hard to penetrate. Gratitude is the force that dissolves that shell and lets Love shine.

So today – while I sit in in my unknowing about this house. I'll feel that fear if she shows up but I'll focus my mind on all the things I have to be grateful for.

And I'll let love take over.

 

Savoring Life and the Gift of Sisterhood

 So you may have noticed, if you read this blog, I am woman entrepreneur. I wasn't always. I used to be a corporate girl. Finance and operations. But then with all the yoga I was doing I started to ask myself “what am I doing with my time?, what do I really want to contribute to this world”. I was so idealistic! I wanted to create a yoga studio with really affordable classes, jobs for teaches and healers, and a living for myself.

What I learned is that it was really, freaking hard. You know what else I learned? That running your own business brings up your STUFF. Have issues with self-worth? Gotta deal with that. Issues with perfectionism and control – totally gotta look at that. Issues with money and valuing yourself? Yeah- got to look at that too. Over time, the act of running my business became, and still is, fertile ground for my personal and spiritual growth. Once I figured that out – it was like the heaven's opened up for me. (in a good way.). Opportunities, people and ideas came flooding into my life that made the process of running the studio more easeful.

One of those was Savor the Success. An amazing community of high-caliber women who support one another in business and in life. I applied to be in a Savor Circle – which is an accountability and support circle (its lonely being an entrepreneur!). I have met amazing friends -that I know will be friends for life. And whats better – i've gotten better at business. Better at balancing business and my family. Better at taking care of myself and following my own advice. I've been a member for two years and I can honestly say it dramatically changed my experience with my business. PLUS I'm having fun with this amazing sisterhood of movers and shakers.

Why am I writing a blog about this? Because I KNOW there are self-employed and entrepreneur women in MindBodySoul Yoga Community. I want to know you and I want to support you. And I would love to introduce you to this Savor Community that has been such a blessing in my life.

Sound interesting to you?

Here’s a quick 101 on the powerhouse Savor Circles program:

  • Up to 6 women are matched according to business chemistry-- they hold each other accountable to achieve 90-Day Visions
  • Weekly accountability via virtual Monday and Friday check-ins with inspirational and motivational messages by Savor lifestyle brand founder Angela Jia Kim
  • Two mastermind calls per month with your Circle, your Board of Trusted Advisors -- PLUS 2 laser-focused partner calls per month
  • Each Circle is led by a President like me, who is an experienced Success Circle member and is mentored by Angela in the Presidents’ Circle (you can apply to become a President once you’ve been in Circles at least 2 rounds)

The next round begins Monday, February 2nd!

These Savor sisters will become your friends, connectors, accountability partners and collaborators, for life. Seriously, it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. As a President, I get to invite other amazing women into Circles. If you decide to apply to Savor Circles through my partner link, please make sure to introduce yourself to me so I can help you by making introductions or answering any questions!

Full disclosure: as a Savor President, I do receive a commission, which I use for my Savor Life fund--a fund specifically designed for self-care-- if you enroll through my link and are accepted into a Circle. Yes, I get paid to mastermind, to learn, to connect… and if you’re interested in learning how you can, too, just get in touch with me at alyssasnow@mindbodysoulyoga.com.

Either way - reach out.  I love supporting women - with spiritual growth, business, growth, personal growth.  All of it.  Let us uplift each other and have a great time doing it.