You Are Already More Than Enough

You are already more than enough.  You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone or even to yourself. Just your being is enough.

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Do you believe these statements?  I think the majority of us feel as though we are not good enough and we need to do something amazing to prove to the world and to ourselves that we are okay.

I see this all the time in the yoga studio.  Students won’t take the modification of a pose or rest in child’s pose because they are trying to prove something to themselves or to those around them.  Where does workaholism come from?  From the ego that’s where.  From a place of not good enough.  If I work hard enough, then I will be okay.  If I rest, I am a lazy bum.

On some level I think that the feeling of not being enough is pretty universal.  I definitely experience this.  This is part of the reason I love telling people that I have a doctorate and I ran a marathon.  Both of those things only 1% of the general population are able to do.  If I can do what only 1% of the population can do, then I must be pretty special.  I came to this realization this week that this feeling of not being enough still has an impact on me even though I have been aware of it for awhile.  It seems that once you become aware of your ego (feelings of not good enough) they usually take on another form until we wake up to what is happening.  For example, my not good enough has often manifested as me trying to be better than other people.  However, the more aware I have become to this pattern, the less it impacts me.  But this week I realized that my ego is currently manifesting itself in this need to heal the world.  Yup…I feel like I am responsible for people’s personal transformation.  It is basically my ego’s way of saying I am not okay if I am not helping you.

Once we awaken to our ego and become more aware, those patterns will have less of an impact on us.  However, the ego does not die.  It often chooses a different form.  People pleasing is one of the ego’s favorite forms.  Once you start to become aware, you have just embarked on a journey of self-discovery that has no end point and no destination.  Once you think you have a handle of your ego, it will transform into something else.  Keep waking up to your ego and you will see that the truth is you are already more than enough.

You Gotta Suck Before You Can Shine

There is a saying in our yoga world, “You gotta suck before you can shine.”  It basically gives you permission to makes mistakes and be messy when you are first learning something.  Isn’t it ridiculous that we expect to be perfect when we do something for the first time?  I don’t know about you but I want to do it right and do it good from the very beginning.  When did that happen?  I remember being a kid and not worrying how I did things…I just did them.  I did not evaluate how well I did them either.  At some point in our lives, we learn that making mistakes and being messy is a bad thing and something we should try to avoid.  Isn’t making mistakes part of the learning process?  How would we learn if we never did anything wrong?

I will give you an example from yoga.  When you first learn to jump back from crow pose, people often belly flop.  It is just part of the learning process.  You belly flop so that you can learn how to better access your core in order to jump your legs back.  If you think about it…it isn’t even a mistake to belly flop.  It’s just part of the learning process.  Ah, so maybe we have just been calling it a mistake or messy when it is really just learning.  How many times do you have to fall down when you are learning to walk or to ride a bike?  Several times because all of it is part of the learning process.  By falling we learn what muscles we need to engage more so we can walk and bike ride without falling.

In yoga teacher trainings, this shows up a lot.  New teachers want to be flawless and teach like their mentors do.  However, teaching yoga is a process just like learning to walk, riding a bike and jumping back from crow.  We want to arrive at the destination without ever taking the journey.  The journey is where the beauty lies.   So I often say you have to suck before you will shine.  Embrace the messiness, the mistakes, the learning process because all of that is what allows us to shine so brightly.

 

Greatest Lesson from My Teachers

Why is it that we have expectations of our teachers and mentors?  It seems that sometimes we put them on a pedestal and expect them to be more than human.  Perhaps it is because we see them as better than us and when they falter, we are shocked that they are actually just like us.  I have experienced this a few times in the yoga world.  There have only been a couple of teachers that I would call my mentors over the last ten years of practicing and last five years of teaching yoga.  I called them my teachers because I felt blessed to have been taught and led by them.  They have all inspired me to be great.

It is odd because I have never been the type of person who sought out a mentor.  But for some reason on this yogic path I have sought out mentors.  Perhaps because I have learned more from these teachers than any book has ever been able to teach me.  Additionally, yoga is all about union.  By actually connecting with my teachers, sharing who I am, my fears, stories, greatness and everything in between with them, has allowed for deep connections.  It is interesting because I have found that over the years I have sought out their approval and validation of me as a fellow teacher.  I sought their approval because I saw them as better than me.  If they thought I was good enough, then I must be.  Don’t we all do that?  It starts with our parents, our first real teachers, and it continues on through our schooling and perhaps in mentoring relationships.  Again, it goes back to the ego and the universal story of not being good enough.  If we felt fine just as we were, we would not seek out this validation.

My recent awakening was that our teachers are human beings just like us.  They falter and judge just like the rest of us and that is okay because they are us (no better, no worse).  It is easy to fall into “Oh I thought they were different or special.”  Why?  They are just like us.  I think we have to have expectations so that when they don’t live up to our expectations, it is a learning opportunity for us.  It is an opportunity to see that we are all the same, no one greater than the next, no one more special than the next.  It also teaches us that we don’t need validation or approval from anyone because we are all on the same level.

I never thought I would say this but…I want to thank all my teachers who have not lived up to my expectations because you have taught me the greatest lesson of all…we are all spiritual beings on a human journey with many flaws.  I am sure that as a teacher to many I will also have the opportunity of teaching this lesson to some of my fellow students.  But hopefully not too many ;)

Shedding their Skins

Yesterday was the completion of my yoga studio’s second 200-hour Teacher Training Program.  These programs are amazing and I am inspired every time I lead one of them. Yoga, in part, is about becoming more authentic, more connected to our Higher Beings, the divine part of ourselves.  It is a transformative journey that leads us closer and closer to God, other people, and ourselves.  You often hear a common quote in the yoga world, “Transformation In Progress.”  Yoga peels away the layers that keep you from being your most authentic self and this is an ongoing process.  Teacher Training allows us to go deeper into this journey of self-discovery and transformation.

The teacher training process always reminds me of a snake shedding its skin.  In the Native American culture, the snake is a symbol of transformation and healing.  The shedding of the skin is seen as a death and rebirth.  It sheds its skin as it outgrows the old.  It is also said that, as the skin begins to shed, the snake’s eyes begin to clear as if they will see the world anew.  This is my experience with teacher training.  When students start the process of teacher training, they come in with their life’s perspective based on their upbringing and past experiences.  They have deep-seeded beliefs about who they are and what they are and are not capable of.  Teacher training allows them to stop and look at their belief systems and evaluate how they serve or do not serve them.  It gives them the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones by dropping what they know and completely emptying out.  This is where transformation begins, with self-inquiry.  People start to question their thoughts, feelings and beliefs instead of believing that it is all the Truth.  As they start of outgrow their old way of being, they start to see the world in a different way.

When a snake sheds its skin, the animal is vulnerable for a period of time.  Vulnerability is inevitable in transformation.  In teacher training, students start to get real with themselves and others and that can be incredibly vulnerable.  Through vulnerability we can experience true connection.  As the teacher trainees start to shift their perspective of themselves, others and the world and become more open and vulnerable, they start to shed their old way of being and start living from a place of authenticity and possibility.  Old scripts, like “I am not good enough” and “I am alone,” are no longer automatic beliefs.  They shed the self-doubts and live from their Higher Being.  Teacher training is the beginning of an incredible journey of self-discovery and a lifetime of shedding the skins that no longer serve.

I am blessed to be on this amazing journey.  Every time I witness someone shed their skin, it inspires me to keep shedding what no longer serves me.

 

Intentions for 2014

With it being January 1, 2014, I, like everybody else, is filled with hope for new possibilities. In yoga we are taught to set intentions for what it is we want.  So of course, I began to think about what intentions I wanted to set for the new year and decided to share them with you.

In 2014, I choose to step into my Power and Greatness.  I truly want to do this so that I can inspire others to do the same.  This year has been a huge test of faith for me and I am grateful for each and every experience that occurred.  After the accident at the studio happened in October, I have become more aware of how I am (like everyone of you are) here on this Earth for a reason and my work is not yet complete.  I always thought I was meant to be a guide of some sort that is why I became a psychologist.  I wanted to help people transform and create their lives.  After finding that yoga was the vehicle I was meant to do this from, I created my life so that I could begin doing that.  Since opening the studio, it has become more clear to me that my “Zone of Genius” (Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap) is writing, coaching and leading teacher training programs.  I think I needed to move away from psychotherapy completely and immerse myself in yoga for a while.  Now I believe that I am ready to bring the two together to create something Big.  That was the original concept of the Yoga Shrink- adjunct mental health treatment using the 8 limbs of yoga.

So in 2014, I plan to bring the Yoga Shrink out in a big way to the world.  I plan to teach, lecture, and publish as much information about Yoga for Optimal Mental Health.  In terms of my work in coaching and teacher training programs, I am committed to helping people see what is getting in the way of their Greatness.  I set the intention to live Big so that everyone around me can live Big.  All of this I do in the name of Service- Service to Others.

What is your intention for 2014?  Write, Say It, Let It Be Known and then Do It!

The Gold Thread in the Cocoon

Over the past two weeks, I have been watching caterpillars transform into butterflies.  A student of mine shared a number of caterpillars with me, and it has really been an amazing experience.  They came as caterpillars, spent most of the time in their cocoons, and emerged as butterflies.  What has been most fascinating to me is the time spent in the cocoon.  These cocoons are so small; it is no wonder the caterpillar can even live in such closed quarters.  Although most of the cocoon looks as if it were dead, as the caterpillar transforms you can observe a gold thread through the cocoon.  Soon after, it emerges a completely transformed creature with the ability to fly.

Having spent a couple of weeks with these amazing creatures, have opened my eyes to a number of miracles that occur during transformation.  In the yoga that I teach, I often speak about personal transformation.  Lately, my focus has been about stepping into Greatness.  I believe that we are all Higher Beings on a human journey and are innately Great.  We have become accustomed to mediocrity because that is comfortable and that is what we know.  Oftentimes, when we step into Greatness, we must let go of our old ways of being that limited us (i.e., people pleasing, thoughts of not being good enough).  I think that is what the cocoon is for.  The cocoon symbolizes going within, a time to reflect, and perhaps a time of letting go of what no longer serves.  The cocoon looks dead for a reason.  There is a dying process that occurs when we step into a new way of being.  We let go and put to rest those behaviors, thoughts and feelings that no longer serve us so our Greatness can emerge.  Even in the darkest times, there is always a glimmer of hope, just like the gold thread on the cocoon.  Things may appear dark and desolate especially in times of significant transformation but the gold thread in the cocoon reminds us of the Greatness that is always within us.  When we are finally able to give up our old ways, who knows what we are capable of.  Think about it..what was once an ugly caterpillar that crawls on the earth is now a radiant, butterfly that has the ability to fly.

Although it may seem as though you are dying when in the midst of transformation, it is important to remember the teachings of the caterpillar: Go within and take the time you need to let go of what no longer serves you.  Even when everything looks dark and dead, the Greatness is always there, you just may not be able to see it.  Be open to your new way of being.  Explore what is possible now.

If a caterpillar can become a butterfly, what Greatness is awaiting You?

 

 

Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’  Actually, who are you not be be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles

This is one of my favorite quotes.  I have it typed up on a little piece of paper that I keep in my purse all the time.  I often look at it.  This weekend was a perfect example of how my fear of being powerful continues to show up time and time again.  This past Saturday, I spent 11 hours at the studio, teaching, coaching, running workshops etc… It was an amazing day.  I truly felt as though I was standing in my power and doing the work I was meant to do.  I was connected to my higher being and to my yoga community.

As I was driving to the studio on Sunday morning, I was lit up.  I was looking at the ocean and the sky as I was driving.  I felt protected and connected to God and the entire universe.  It is actually kind of funny, I was literally tearing up as I was driving because I was so struck by the beauty that surrounded me.  As I was practicing yoga that morning, all of a sudden, I had a sharp pain in my hip and then I could not move.  I had shooting pains running down the front and back of my right leg.  It was awful- I was in excruciating pain for the entire day.  I had to lay down, ice my back and hip on and off all day.

If you have read any of my earlier posts, you are familiar with the concept of Upper Limiting (from Gay Hendricks).  It is basically how we unconsciously sabotage ourselves after we have been very happy or very successful.  I think that the concept of upper limiting and the quote from Marianne Williamson are getting at the same idea.  When we step into a place of power and success, it is frightening for most of us because most of us believe we are not worthy of such happiness and success.  It is not aligned with what we believe about ourselves so we (consciously or unconsciously) do something so we are aligned with the belief that we are not enough.  For example, an injury and/or illness allows us to focus on what is not working about ourselves.  When I am injured or sick, all I can do is focus on what is wrong and how to make it better.  During those times, I am not aligned with being powerful beyond measure.

During meditation this morning, I came to the realization that the reason I fear success and happiness is that I don’t want to experience it and then lose it.  Whoa!!  Instead of being present and totally experiencing the moment, I am concerned about losing the good feeling.  The funny thing is when we are present- we gain or lose nothing- it just is what it is.  Once I became aware of that thought, I was able to see it for what it was, an illusion. What are your fears/illusions about being happy and/or successful?  Once you are aware of the illusion, freedom then comes from choosing Truth.  The Truth is that we are powerful beyond measure and when we step into that place, we allow everyone around us to step into that place too!

Namaste.

 

 

 

A Glimpse of Truth

Last week while I was in the middle of a yoga practice in my studio (tree pose to be exact), a car crashed through the glass wall and drove through the studio and through the opposite wall.  There were 9 people in the class including my husband who was teaching. The driver was an elderly woman who had an injured foot and arm.  She was unable to stop the vehicle once she hit the accelerator.  No one was seriously hurt.  It was a total miracle that no one was injured.  Students got some cuts from broken glass but overall everyone was relatively okay.  EMS were shocked that there were no severe injuries.  My husband often says that he believes in God, angels, and miracles.  Many of us feel that is why we are still here.

My own experience was life-altering.  The way the car entered the room, myself and a young girl behind me were in the car’s direct path.  I am not sure what happened once the car entered the studio because everything slowed down. It was as if life was happening in slow motion.  Once I saw the car and was on the hood of the car, I had a sense that we or at least I was about to die.  I remember thinking “Oh, we are dying.  We are passing over.”  I have to say that I was not scared at all.  It actually felt like a lot of ease, letting go, surrendering to what was.  I felt completely free and protected.  I literally let my body go and I was lifted up and over the car.  I believe it was God.

I have been doing the Course in Miracles all this year.  The Course talks about how this world is all an illusion and made up by us and that Truth is Love and that is all there is.  I have to say that in those few seconds where I let go and truly surrendered, I experienced Love.  I experienced no sense of my body or of time; I felt totally complete and worthy.  It was the most incredible glimpse of Truth.  I believe that I was able to step out of the illusion called life for a few seconds and witness what is possible when we live in Truth.

Days later when I was discussing this whole “Ah Ha” with one of my closest friends, we realized how this sense of Joy/Love/Truth is available to us all the time but we choose to value other things.  We value our work, relationships, children, and other worldly things.  If we made Love the ultimate priority, we would be capable of living in the space that I experienced for those few moments.

I believe that Friday night was a blessing.  I was able to witness and experience the Truth (Love).  Make love a priority right now and see what is possible!

When Did We Stop Playing?

The other day I set the intention to Play More and Work Less.  I put sticky notes all over my condo saying “I will play more & work less.”  I did this because I noticed the pattern that I work the majority of the time.  When I was a psychologist, I often over-scheduled myself. Now that I am a yoga studio owner, I am doing the same thing; if I am not teaching yoga, then I am working on the business.  So wherever you go…there you are.  The way you are in one situation is the way you are in every situation.  So workaholic is my identity!  Once I realized this, I started to ask myself what this identity served.  When I work a lot, it feeds my ego.  I feel important and indispensable.  I often take on the martyr role.  Working a lot basically helps me feel as though I am good enough.

But when did this happen?  I remember being a child and playing in the flower garden, talking to the rocks and the flowers, pretending I was in a castle and the garden around me was a moat.  I remember playing with friends and making mud pies until the sun went down.  I don’t remember Christen, the child, being a workaholic.  I just remember being present and joyful.

Have you ever played with a child?  Recently, I was visiting with my niece, who is three-years-old.  We basically played for 2 days straight.  I was shocked at how present I was for those 2 days.  I wasn’t thinking about work or anything other than the game we were playing.  I experienced so much joy for those 2 days.  Joy is available to us all the time especially if we can just be present to what is.

So when did we stop playing?  I think it was when we learned about responsibilities in school.  Remember being praised for getting good grades, being quiet, raising your hand to speak etc… We were being schooled in how to be responsible adults.  But were we ever reinforced for being in the present moment or for playing with full-on passion?  Why not?  We were reinforced for being responsible.  Now I am not saying that responsibility is not an important personality characteristic.  All I am saying is why was there little to no value placed on our playfulness and silliness or on being present and joyful.

So now what?  I have started to praise myself for taking time off, for playing, for being present and joyful.  I notice when I am feeding my ego with my workaholic identity.  All we can do is notice what is happening.  Once you are aware then you can choose to continue to feed your ego or be present and joyful.  I have started to praise people for when they are playful and stopped praising people for being responsible adults.  Maybe if we do this enough we can create a whole new value system, one that is based on presence, playfulness, and joy.  Now that is a world I would love to live in.  So what are you doing reading this… Get out and Play!

The Shame Game

Shame is a fascinating emotion.  You’ve heard it called, “The Shame Game.”  Ever wonder why it is such a game?  Because it is so much fun?  Not.  Shame feels awful and it keeps us entrenched in the miserable feelings.  I see shame and guilt, for that matter, as the ego’s game.  It is the ego’s way of keeping itself alive.  The only way the ego stays alive is by us focusing on it.  Shame is a great way for us to focus on the ego and all the lies we tell ourselves.  Shame comes about when we feel we have done something wrong, something unforgiving.  If we believe that there are no mistakes and that we are all just practicing life, then shame would not exist.  Shame can only exist because we believe in mistakes and failures.  If those words “mistakes” and “failures” did not exist, how would we interpret experiences that led to a different outcome.  Maybe just as that!

The Shame Game is all about feeling bad about something we did and thus, feeling bad about ourselves.  The old scripts of “I’m not good enough” and “I’m always wrong” start playing over and over again in our minds.  When we start to feel bad about ourselves, we project those feelings onto people around us.  We believe that they are going to see us as failures and thus, not love us and eventually, leave us.  So instead of them leaving us, we leave them by isolating ourselves deeper into our shame.  Once the shame game starts, it’s challenging to stop it.  It feeds on itself and can be a very vicious cycle creating a lot of turmoil in our lives.

I have started to explore ways to stop the shame game.  One way to stop it is to let go of the concept of mistake/failure.  When you hear yourself saying that you made a mistake or are a failure, ask yourself if that is an absolute truth or an interpretation.  Shame is only an interpretation so it can not survive among the facts.  The other way to stop the shame game is to speak your truth/shame to others.  Instead of holding it in and giving more energy to the secretive, bad thing you think you did, speak your truth and be free of it.  You will find that speaking your truth and your experiences will offer you a sense of freedom because they will no longer consume you.  They will be gone.  Lastly, when you are no longer hiding in shame, you will experience a deeper sense of connection.

When you choose to stop the shame game, you are choosing love over fear.