Sometimes in life we end up discovering a path towards growth and transformation that we never imagined possible.
This is what happened to me with yoga.
I had practiced yoga before. But, something was different about both me and about my practice this time around.
So let me tell you a little story about how I am finding space to heal and grow through yoga because I think it’s something that a lot of other people could benefit from, too.
At the end of class several weeks ago, a teacher I love and admire spoke about consistency. She talked about how we needed to be consistent in showing up for ourselves, both on and off the mat.
That message really struck a chord in me and allowed me to see the different ways I was holding myself back from being consistent, especially with my yoga practice.
You see, it’s not that I haven’t “wanted” to show up. But, the experience has been uncomfortable for me. And, sometimes it has felt a little bit too raw.
In fact, the first time I took this teacher’s class, I realized I was out of my league. The women in that class were very talented and knew how to flow right through the moves. Meanwhile, due to disc problems and an injury, I sometimes struggled to stand with my hips even.
I didn’t go back to class for a while.
As a personal development and life transformations coach, I took the time to look into this deeper, realizing that my experience in class played right into my core wound problem – feelings of inadequacy. I worked on my own healing in this area for a while.
Weeks later, I made the first move towards directly facing down my fear of physical inadequacy and I returned to class. I committed to pushing myself just beyond my physical limits and then giving myself permission to allow myself to stop once I hit that point.
All was well. But, then, to my surprise, a much bigger problem occurred.
About 40 minutes into class I felt a strong wave of emotion rush over me. Unusually strong. I felt it coming and I couldn't do anything about it. I started crying and I couldn’t stop.
Needless to say, that was super uncomfortable and I didn’t go back to class again for another few weeks.
During the next couple of classes, I was able to “control” the tears. However, that deep need to cry was still there. At the same point in each class, there was this overwhelming urge to just lay down on the mat in child's pose and ball my eyes out.
One night after yoga was over and my kids were in bed, I had a late night coaching call with one of my spiritual healing coaches.
There was something about the combination of the yoga and that call that felt like it cracked me open.
I cried on the phone with my coach. I cried after. At 2am, when I am normally dead asleep, I was up crying. I cried the next morning. I cried texting my mom about it. I cried writing to my yoga teacher about it.
It was as thought that night cracked something open in me. Something that was so desperately wanting to be healed, but I kept refusing to let it be, continuously suppressing it and pushing it away.
My life coach (a different coach who has helped me in immeasurable ways heal from my previous relationship) gave me a closure assignment weeks ago. I hadn’t done it.
But, that night it just poured out. This was accompanied by a ton of healing tears, of course.
I have never felt the same since that moment. There is a certain lightness about me now that was not there previously.
And, it turns out that there is some science to my experience.
We actually store a ton of our emotional stresses in our hips. Certain positions in yoga are referred to as “hip openers” and when we open and release the tension and stress in our hips, these emotions can be released.
The transformational journey can be a very messy and emotional one. We all have additional layers to expose and most of us have wounds to heal.
But, it’s in the process of letting go, relasing, accepting, and allowing, that we can experience our biggest transformations.
As New York Times #1 Best-Selling author Gabby Bernstein says in her new book, The Universe Has Your Back, “When you think you've surrendered, surrender more.”
Since that night when I was “cracked” open, I have followed my yoga teacher’s words and I have made the commitment to be consistent and show up for class and show up for the healing work. I’m doing this for myself both on and off the mat.
How about you?
Feel free to send me an EMAIL or comment below and let me know how yoga has helped you heal on your transformational journey.
In Love & Light,
Ali Jencik is owner and president of Radiant Energy Wellness, LLC, where she serves as a personal development and life transformations coach. Her expertise is in empowering women to gain clarity, set intentions, face down fears, and build confidence so they can design the lifestyle of their dreams.
Her FREE download "Design The Lifestyle of Your Dreams" contains seven simple, proven, actionable coaching steps that show you how to design your dream lifestyle NOW. You can download it today by clicking on this link:
Last year I saw a cool idea on Pinterest. The subpar results of this idea were the focus of my first-ever blog post. (Click here if you missed it.)
Long story short, I made myself a beautiful mason jar and set out to fill it with wonderful memories. But, the year came to an end and that jar was pretty much empty.
Was it because I didn’t have any good times or good memories in 2015? No, far from it.
When it came down to it, deep down I knew that most of the memories I would place in that jar would at some point eventually be filled with regret due to who I was making those memories with. And, I thought that those memories would eventually fill me with sadness and be too much to look back on.
But this year, I vowed to fill that mason jar up with memories either way.
I started by sprucing the jar up a bit for 2016. I mean who doesn't love a little bit of glitter?! :)
As the months went by, I slacked off a lot. There were tons of things I could have written down and a bunch of items I could have placed in there, but I didn’t.
Despite this, when I hit the mid-way point of 2016, my mason jar was filled to the top.
Are there things I look back on with a tinge of sadness now? Yes, there sure are.
In fact, my intuition was 100% correct from the beginning. The person with whom I made a lot of those memories walked out, as I had long suspected she would.
And, while that was of course difficult and some of those memories feel more than a little tainted, they were a part of my past and I celebrated them – and so many other wonderful things – in that moment.
And, THAT is what life is all about. Making the most of each day, living in the present moment, and allowing yourself to play BIG regardless of what the end result might be.
Because the fact of the matter is that we never know. People walk out unexpectedly. Career trajectories can change in a fraction of a second. Relationships and friendships can fall apart. Our whole life can do a 180* overnight and we might not be able to do a damn thing about it.
So it’s up to us to soak up each moment. Make the best of each chance we get. And, fill those mason jars up to the top with good times and amazing memories.
We are now nearing the end of July. If you haven’t done it yet, I invite you to accept the Mason Jar Challenge. It's not too late to have an amazing 2016.
If you do it, let me know how it goes for you. I love hearing about both your triumphs and tribulations. Because we grow so much from both of them.
So here's to ending 2016 with overflowing mason jars. As one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band lyrics says, “Celebrate we will ‘cause life is short but sweet for certain.”
P.S.: If you're looking for some clear, effective, actionable coaching tips on how to start living your best life now, download my FREE resource guide where I outline 7 key steps to designing the lifestyle of your dreams.
Just click here to download your free copy!
Did you forget to "just breathe" this morning??
I don't know about you, but I can help pretty much anyone when they are in a crisis, unsure of what to do next, or are feeling super stressed out.
But, me? When I'm stressed? That can be a different story entirely!
Case in point: Feeling a little overwhelmed AND working through some really difficult emotions this morning, my five year old daughter asked me to open up her yogurt for her.
Well, not so much.
I got the scissors, held the yogurt, took a VERY deep breath and muttered to myself "It's okay. You've got this."
Wow. Very serious considering "this" was cutting the top off of a Disney-themed squeeze yogurt.
Thankfully, the ridiculousness of the situation actually made me laugh. I had gotten so wrapped up in my stress and the feelings I was sorting through that I had forgotten to just breathe all morning.
Of course, upon further analysis, I realized that the motion of cutting was incredibly symbolic. It was never about the yogurt, but rather about giving myself permission to breathe, experience the painful feelings, and then release them, cutting the emotional stranglehold they had on me.
Sometimes we just need to feel like we are allowed to feel these feelings and that we have permission to let them go and release them.
I took a deep breath and released them. Today, I hope you give yourself permission to do them same.
Today was one of those rare occasions when I got to sleep in. I went to bed early and managed to get 9 hours of sleep in my big, comfy bed. It felt amazing.
I enjoyed some of my favorite music and a hot cup of coffee on my screened porch, soaking in the view of the canal that I love so much in sunny 70* weather. Then, I set out on a long walk.
I am a runner. So by nature, when I set out on foot, I am gone for a long time and I cover a lot of ground. But, a few months ago, I discovered the beauty of the long walk. No hydration belt. No timer. No gear whatsoever.
I began to call these my “clarity walks” and I try to take at least one each week. On them, I listen to music that inspires and empowers me. I don’t take any calls. If there is a special message that I have been waiting to send or a song I really want to hear, I wait until I reach a bench halfway through my walk and I do it there.
I love these nature walks because I have so many “aha” moments. Ideas flow freely to me after I have been out on foot long enough and my mind is clear.
Currently, I am about halfway through reading Brené Brown’s ‘Rising Strong.’ (I already highly recommend it.) Through her book, I have truly been able to embrace my vulnerability and my rawness and it has challenged me to really examine and embrace my feelings. Even the “bad” ones.
Just last night there was a part that really stood out for me. Brené introduced the concept of “bouncing hurt” – the ego’s response to emotion. She states:
“It’s much easier to say, ‘I don’t give a damn,’ than it is to say, ‘I’m hurt.’ The ego likes blaming, finding fault, making excuses, inflicting payback, and lashing out, all of which are ultimate illusions for self-protection. The ego is also a fan of avoidance – assuring the offender that we’re fine, pretending that it doesn’t matter, that we’re impervious. We adopt a pose of indifference or stoicism, or we deflect with humor and cynicism. Whatever. Who cares?”
Ironically, I was only minutes into my walk and I was thinking about an emotionally charged situation that has been weighing heavily on my mind. I quickly became annoyed with myself for wasting so much of my time and energy on thinking about this situation, especially when I was supposed to be taking some “me time” and I literally angrily exclaimed out loud to myself “Whatever. Who cares!!!!!!!” And, then I gasped. I was so obviously bouncing hurt. I even used the EXACT words that Brené used in her example!
Hours later I read the story of the Buddha and the two arrows. If you are not familiar with it:
“The Buddha once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?” The student replied, “It is." The Buddha then asked, "If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?” The student replied again, “It is.” The Buddha then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.”
Physical pain is the first arrow. Mental or emotional pain is the second arrow. Through our thoughts, we tend to create more pain and self-suffering than is ever needed. But, the way to avoid the pain of the second arrow is to experience, acknowledge, and accept our feelings without reacting negatively or judgmentally to them.
Christine Kane also discusses the importance of *feeling* your feelings. She explains that too often we trick ourselves into believing that we are feeling our feelings, but we are actually *thinking* about our feelings. And, that’s not the same.
So with this synchronistic knowledge all coming together for me within the past 24 hours, I challenged myself to do something different. I decided that I was going to stop thinking about my feelings and finally allow myself to truly feel my feelings. I knew it was time. So I lit a healing reiki-charged candle, put on Dave Matthews Band, and began the process of feeling.
And guess what?? NOTHING. HAPPENED.
I had a million *thoughts* about this, of course. One of them was that I should definitely send my personal coach an email and let her know this process is not working for me and that I need to figure out what I am doing wrong. (Go figure – judgment about the process, too!)
Thankfully it struck me that I was STILL *thinking* about my feelings instead of just feeling them already. So I said out loud to myself, “I know what I am THINKING. But, what am I FEELING??? No more sentences. What are one word answers to this question?? No more vast psychological analysis. Just feelings.”
Next thing I knew I was straight up sobbing. (Last month I learned that when this happens, you just let the tears flow. It is more healing than anything I have ever experienced. Give it a try.)
And, with the tears, I found my words: Sadness. Hurt. Disappointment with myself. Disappointment and disillusion with someone else. Unsure. Vulnerable. Pained. Offended. Wronged. Dismayed. Bold. Confident.
That's a lot. No wonder the ego wanted to "bounce" all of that. This ended up being a truly valuable experience for me.
Remember, a lot of different “types” of feelings can coexist – vulnerable and bold, for instance. Give yourself the chance to experience them all. Really feel them. Don’t think about them. Don’t question them. Don’t analyze them. And, please don’t tell yourself you shouldn’t be feeling them at all. Because when you embrace and just sit with your feelings, there is no second arrow.
Let me know how this experience goes for you in the comments below or send me an email. (Just click the link.) I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Last year around this time – and after years and years of failed New Year's Resolutions – I finally found an idea I felt like I could get behind for the new year. A brand new tradition.
The idea was basically to take a big mason jar, decorate it, and then fill it throughout the year with all of my good experiences. This could be trinkets, concert wristbands, a little piece of paper where I wrote about something that happened, a picture. Anything really.
I fell in love with this idea immediately.
I went to Target and bought a big mason jar.
I went on Pinterest to learn how to color it. I dyed it purple.
I was so excited to fill this mason jar. I couldn’t wait!
And, then guess what happened?
It sat on my dresser for eight months. After I moved, it sat on my kitchen counter for the next four months.
This is what it looked like when I emptied it last night. My 2015.
My jar was as effective as my past New Year’s resolutions. How could that be?
I told this story to a good friend who knows about what kind of year I have had and she looked completely shocked.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to feel sorry for myself. I am not trying to collect pity because I had such a miserable year and my jar was empty.
In fact, that could not be further from the truth. I had the most epic year of my life. I had some of the coolest, most amazing experiences.
2015 was truly unreal for me.
But, this mason jar taught me even more about something I had discovered about myself in the middle of the year with the help of success coach Christine Kane’s UpLevel You program.
I finally had to face down a really big fear. It’s not one that is talked about often. In fact, we usually talk about its opposite – the fear of failure. But, it turned out I have a fear of success.
I have done a lot of research on it and it turns out that so do a lot of people! (More on that in another blog post.)
Perhaps Marianne Williamson might have said it best when she aptly stated:
“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 to be?“
My mason jar showed me that I still clung tightly to that fear of success. Of happiness. Of fulfillment. Even with all of the strides I had made throughout the year. Even though I teach my one-on-one clients to face down this fear. My inner saboteur still managed to do her thing!
Upon closer evaluation, I realized that I spent much of 2015 waiting for the other shoe to drop. When something went really good, I was always waiting for it to go wrong.
And, when something was going wrong, I sat there waiting for it to really go up in flames.
I was afraid that my jar of happy, awesome reminders would ultimately remind me of the things that eventually fell apart, the people who walked away, the things that disappeared, or something that in one way or another would end up leaving me feeling empty.
I didn’t want that kind of end of the year reminder.
I can state it now -- that is no way to live a life.
It produces anxiety. Depression. Confusion.
You don’t enjoy the moment or the day-to-day experiences because you are always ready to catastrophize and worry about what might go wrong next.
As Randy Armstrong said:
“Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.”
Not to mention basic law of attraction principles. After all, we are what we think and our thoughts attract our outcomes. So what exactly was I attracting there?
Needless to say, this was a very eye-opening experience for me.
I hope it will be for you, too.
Think about it for a minute: What negative things and beliefs are you holding on to? In what ways are you limiting yourself? Are you letting your fear of failure or your fear of success dictate your life? Are you dimming your light? Are you worrying about what *might* happen at the expense of what *is* happening?
I will never let this experience happen again. I am going to add some glitter to that mason jar and start over in 2016.
And, I plan on that jar being so full that I will need to empty it out and start again by mid-year.
I hope you’ll do the same.
New year. New me.