A Few Ways to Make Self Isolation Work For You- Being At Home During the Coronavirus COVID-19

After a week of two of freaking out and moving from that to acceptance, I think a healthy next step is to look at what good can come of being isolated and at home. I know that for some this means a total loss of income and for other this means a total loss of cherished routines, connection, space from children and partners, and so much more. Yes, there is often much loss going on right now. But there can and should be some good things that can come from this.

I think you can look at the next 30 days (Virginia just implemented a 30 day lock down so I’m going to use that as an example). I’ve personally be social distancing for nearly two weeks already so this will be about 7 weeks of social distancing. Gulp.

#1 – Stop feeding your mind with scenarios of doom, virus statistics, and negative input without also consciously feeding it an equal amount of uplifting and positive input to help you maintain your mental health.

Of course you’re going to want to stay connected to what’s going on. But if you spend an hour on FB or Insta and an hour researching the daily statistics, then you’ll also need to spend two hours on positive input. That’s four hours a day which is nearly impossible so cut out the time you’re spending researching the doom and gloom and on social media. Instead, cut it down to one hour and then spend one hour a day on the positive angle. I suggest spending a half hour a day listening to Brooke Castillo’s podcasts where she’s helping put what’s happening into perspective through describing what the brain does in times of danger and stress and ways to reframe the problem. Highly recommend! Then find another 30 minutes of uplifting content, from Marie Forleo to Martha Beck to sitting in meditation and quieting your mind.

You can also plug into the Mystery and the Divine for 30 minutes or longer using the techniques I wrote about in this post. All of it will help your mind from going all flight or fight on you.

#2 – Set up a goal for the next 30 days that you want to accomplish.

For me, I’ve decided that because I can no longer head out and do my daily yoga, I will use this next 30 days to build up my home practice.

I’ll be honest in that, although I’ve spent years practicing yoga, I don’t actually have any of the pose sequences memorized. I just rely on my teachers to guide me and keep me moving. But now, I’m going to learn a 90 minute sequence by heart so that I can have the sequences memorized when I return to group classes when this ends. I’ll start with surya namaskara A, then B, then C (the sun salutations), then some balancing poses, some stretching poses and end with shivasana.

I love balancing half moon and wounded deer poses so I’ll be sure those and some of my faves and my least faves are included.

I have some old injuries and I’m going to add in some strengthening routines so I can strengthen and stretch my core muscles, including my core, my psoas, my hip flexors. A recent visit to a physical therapist revealed that I haven’t been engaging my transverse abdonminis muscle (TVA) so I’m going to slow down with my yoga and exercise routines to ensure I’m engaging my TVA.

I’m also going to prioritize ensuring healthy eating habits because I know that I have a tendency to eat out of stress and boredom. So even if I don’t lose any weight over the next month, I can at least not gain weight.

#3- Notice What Habits and Mindsets You Have That No Longer Serve You

So I’ve begun to dig into the positives that can be revealed by this time of slowing down. I see how much I’ve rushed around in my life trying to get the kids here, this shopping done there, and meet self-imposed deadlines. And none of it was required. I see that even when this is over I can slow down and let some of the busy-ness go.

What have you noticed about your life that you can see changing?

Yes, this quarantine can have some positive outcomes too, (besides the health one).

Hugs to us all.

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Cocreating with the Universe – a Better Way to Manifest Your Dream Life- Part 2

This is the 2nd of two posts on how to Manifest your Dream Life. Here is Part 1.

My amazing daily walk to yoga in Penestanan. Walking along the subak system.
Walking to Yoga in Bali

In my previous post, I wrote about how to better manifest your dream life by adding on the following caveat- I intend ________ or something like it, for my highest good and the highest good of all.

I continue with examples of how I able to manifest specific circumstances in my life- and those that I intend with the caveat “or something like it, for my highest good and the highest good of all” land much better in my life, more aligned with my deepest intention and path.

Example #4: Twenty + years ago, I was working for a firm that did international development in developing countries for the US government. I was keen to keep following up on my passion for traveling, after having spent a year of undergrad in Paris and a 2.5 years in Benin in West Africa with the Peace Corps. And I got what I intended through this job and I started traveling extensively for my job on trips ranging from a few weeks to several months, mostly in West and Southern Africa- like Mali, Botswana, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe, and in Haiti and also -oddly- in Nepal. Plus many others trips and multiple trips back to these countries.

I then started to notice a pattern. Whenever I made plans for a vacation, mainly to visit my brother in Indiana or my parents in California, or to run a marathon or a long bike ride for which I trained, I all of a sudden had an urgent business trip and I couldn’t run the marathon or go on vacation.

I then decided to test my hypothesis. When I needed some additional money to buy something, I decided to try to “get” additional money through traveling for work and saving my per diem. Lodging was spend to get (you only get what the cost of the hotel was) but you get a set amount per day and most places I was traveling, I also got a post diff/hazard pay type lift in per diem because living conditions were considered so difficult/hazardous. But as a recently returned Peace Corps volunteer, living in a hotel anywhere in the world was not a hardship for me.

In testing this hypothesis, I wrote or called my parents or brother and made plans to visit, like researching flights and prices. I truly intended to take the trip. I told no one and I didn’t ask for the time off. And within a few days, I’d get the call from work that some trip was in the offing for the exact dates of my proposed vacation. So I traveled, saved my per diem to the extent possible, and paid off my credit card or bought the whatever. I did this many many times and it literally never failed. I truly had to intend the vacation or the effort , like the Marine Corps Marathon or a long century bike ride, and boom, another trip was in the offing and the vacation or the effort had to be cancelled.

I don’t actually know why this happened. I wonder now if it was to create some space in my life from the attachments here in the US or if it was simply to awaken me to the Mystery. I don’t have to know why. I just love that it happens this way.

This experience of calling in the Mystery helped cement my understanding that there was more in play in the world than science and the logical mind could explain. And I loved it.

Example #5- For a few years, I had it as one of my intention to live by the beach in a foreign country. Each year for several months, I would visualize living on the beach in a foreign country, living my best life. I would see myself walking along the beach, enjoying the sunshine and feeling content and grateful. And then I would release into back into the Unmanifest and go about my life. I intended it but I had no idea how to swing such a big change for my family. I just affirmed my intention each year. And in 2018, our child care, while awesome, was part time and my partner traveled for work often and I had several nights a week by myself, trying to put the twins down. I started to feel overwhelmed, overworked, and sad.

I thought that may an au pair could be the answer- full time and live in so I’d get a lot of help. But then I found out that we’d have to buy a car for her use, which made hiring an au pair expensive and not feasible. I was getting cranky and sad about how isolating my stay at home mom of twins life was becoming. The twins didn’t want any friends and they didn’t want me to chat with other Moms at the playground. I was starting to despair a bit.

My partner asked me why we didn’t just head to Bali and see if we could make a go of it there, using all the money we were spending on our part-time nanny on a new life there. I brought up the details and the cost of an au pair and gave him several ideas of how we could swing the au pair and he’d respond to my strategies, always ending the conversation with “I still think we should go to Bali”. We kept up this dialogue for several weeks but it seemed crazy and I kept trying to go the safe and normal route. And then a light bulb came on. What was the problem with trying it? Why was I resisting this? It’s everything I wanted! In short order, we bought one way tickets for our family and rented houses via Airbnb for two months and headed out in January of the following year. We ended up staying in Bali for 9 months and then headed to France for over 2 months. We were gone from the US for just shy of a year. It was everything I had hoped for and it taught me a lot about how to best travel with my kids, how strong and capable I really am, and what I didn’t want, like how much we moved from place to place. What a magical year. Again, what a gift!

Manifesting is actually pretty easy. Intend it to happen. Write it out to help you shape what you really intend. Visualize it with 3-D clarity and feelings. Feel the feeling of having it or embodying the intention (it’s a subtle hit of emotion that you’re really intending it- kinda a like chills on your scalp or a frisson of tension in your belly) Then release it back to the Universe to allow the Divine to move it from the Unmanifested to the Manifested. And remember to intend with ease and that your intention is brought to you for your highest good and the highest good of all.

What is your experience with Manifestation? I’d love to hear all the amazing, jaw dropping examples of the Mystery moving through your lives.

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Yoga in Bali and the Joy of Sticking with Something

Ganesha in the garden with koi pond

2nd class at the Yoga Barn, with Malika

I arrived in Ubud, Bali on Jan 14, 2019. I don’t know exactly when but it was just a few days later that I started practicing at the Yoga Barn

Yoga Barn class upstairs with Ganesha

My first class at the Yoga Barn with Chris Fox

. The Yoga Barn is one of the most popular yoga studios in Bali, if not THE most popular. The morning classes are normally completely packed with up to 65 students in a class. The check in process can be quite impersonal but I kept coming day after day, 6 days a week most weeks. The staff became more friendly and I got to know the teachers. Some I immediately clicked with and some were quite off putting for me but there are so many classes that it’s easy to keep trying new teachers or stick with your faves. Lots of other students became familiar too and it started to feel like an easy to support routine.

Yoga studio beautifully set up

Yoga during my 2nd trip to Nusa Lembongan

I was so amazed and thrilled those first several weeks at the global reach of all of the teachers; Swedish/American, Jamaican, Spanish, German, Venezuelan, Japanese, Balinese, Canadian, and American. I worked hard to understand their accents and learned to love their varying emphases about breath, movement, rigorous adherence to yoga dogma or listening to your own body.

At first, I was terribly out of shape.  I was tight with weak muscles and hadn’t been serous about my yoga in months. I have a pelvic injury from carrying the twins (called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) that I was ignoring for the past 4+ years. It caused me so much pain but it’s hard to not walk a lot with twin toddlers. So I ignored the pain and as a result, my hip and abs got incredibly weak but I was able to manage most days.  But yoga helps with the pain and tightness so I knew the yoga would help me strengthen and heal my hips, pelvis, and abs.. The first few moths of yoga were so hard. I was 50 years old and I was trying to get my body back in shape. It was so hard. Did I mention it was so hard? Sometimes, I thought I would pass out from trying to keep up with flipping my dog and transitioning to plan and doing my umpteenth chaturanga.

Mt. Agung

Mt. Agung on the way to yoga from Nusa Lembongan

Sometimes all I focused on was how much less flexible and strong I was compared to where I had been years before. And I sometimes I focused on my progress. I pushed myself so hard when I focused on the gap between where I had been and where I was. But that wasn’t healing my hips. Instead I realized I needed to just accept that I have an actual injury. My pelvis is hurt. I have tight and weak muscles as a result. And when I accepted what is, I stopped pushing past the pain and have started to strengthen the muscles. I’ve seen tremendous progress since I slowed down to speed up.

What I see now, 6 months into a consistent and rigorous yoga practice is how casual I have been about my practice in the past. I would reach a certain level and then allow a trip or something else pull me away from my practice. My practice was not a priority for me and my progress was slow, as a result. I see now that it takes time and consistency to become a better yogini.  And by time, that means it might take years to get to where I want to be.  I still can’t do a bind. I can’t jump back into plank or forward into a standing forward fold.  I can’t do any inversion except shoulder stand. But how you do anything is how you do everything. I’d get to a certain level of mastery and back off.

Now, I’m so close to my first bind. So close. At first I wasn’t trying to do a bind. I just kept doing the full expression of the pose at a more basic level and then one day I tried to do a bind and I could feel how close my hands were. It inspired me. Now I try to bind whenever I’m in certain poses, like in Parsvakonasana.

I’m also practicing jumping through and jumping back. It’s fun to try it. I also decided to practice headstands by doing figure Ls on the wall to work up to a handstand. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was so much easier than it had been months ago. I’m practicing with dolphin pose to work up to Pincha Mayurasana.  It’s exciting to do something so new.  And to see

Yoga studio beautifully set up

Yoga during my 2nd trip to Nusa Lembongan

progress. It might take me a year or 5. But I’m willing to give the time. What a sense of accomplishment to finally experience a different level in my yoga poses. I can feel my psoas and QL muscles tighten and give and maybe one day they won’t be so tight.

And something has clicked in me about yoking breath to movement. One breath, one movement. It just wasn’t important to me in my practice in the US.  Another serious work in progress is staying present while on the mat. Now I also dedicate my practice to staying present so I can practice and stay present on my own mat without worrying how well (or worse) others are doing theirs.

Ganesha outside the yoga shala from my second trip to Nusa Lembongan

Ganesha at the yoga shala

And again really, that old adage is so spot on, so beautifully accurate: how you do anything is how you everything. And at the start of my 2019 renewed yoga practice, I was rushing through my poses, breathing hard, totally trying to keep up with my teachers and fellow yogis rather than feeling my way through my own routine.

Now that I’ve stuck with a very regular and committed yoga practice, yes, I’m stronger, more flexible, and able to remember the yoga routines without as many cues from the teacher.

More importantly, now I see that my breathwork is so critical to a focused and loving yoga practice, that my transitions are as important as my poses,

Yoga on Nusa Lembongan

Yoga wherever I go

and keeping my focus on what’s happening on my own mat is far more helpful in becoming a “better” yogini, and a better person.

Recently, as I was noticing that my transitions are so much flowing and I’m almost- so close- to achieving a bind -MY FIRST- and my focus was on my breath. No matter where my family travels, where I can practice my yoga is an important part of the planning process. Yoga is incredibly important to me now and by making it a priority, others see how important it is to me and expect me to take the time to practice my yoga. It’s no longer a negotiation.

I’m so grateful. It feels so much more loving to practice this way. And I’m such a better yogini!

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