Setting your intention. The day-to-day intensity of running a business can really take its toll. It’s pretty easy to let encounters and situations snowball into swirling storms in your mind. When these things pile up they can seem insurmountable and in broad strokes this can leave you burnt out, stressed out, or even freaked out.
I am finding that it’s important to remember that each moment, each encounter, each situation is an opportunity to practice choice. Instead of painting my story with broad strokes, I can focus on the situation at hand and choose who I show up as.
To give you an example, I am in the process of launching a new business. I have a new business partner. This is unique, as I never had an equal partner or the caliber of team that I have now when starting a new venture. We are getting to learn each other’s styles and so there are some learning curves. I was feeling a little stressed about an upcoming meeting. I was worried that we weren’t totally on the same page, that I might have frustrated him and saw some things that I thought would work better too. I felt those thoughts start swirling in my head. They were about how I would or should approach it, should I say this or that, should I be worried at all? Those thoughts never go anywhere good; it is your busy mind leading you down a rabbit hole.
So, I got out for a run to clear my head and I realized that I had a choice. I could choose who I wanted to be, who I wanted to show up as. That it didn’t matter who I was yesterday, or how I didn’t quite do it right the day before, I got a whole other opportunity to show up as my highest self. And then I thought about that. And do you know what I chose to show up as? Love. I guess that sounds weird to show up as ‘love’ at a business meeting. But that is what I did. Happiness, kindness, openhearted and opened minded. From a place of not making anyone wrong (including myself), to ask questions to clarify and listen and show up with the intention of being the change I seek in the world. The result – a really positive and productive meeting! Nothing earth shattering, just as nothing earth shattering had happened to cause the reeling in my mind. But really positive.
Trust me, this is a practice, a work in progress! But today the adage – ‘you eat an elephant one bite at a time’ came true. I think I will make it a focus for the next 30 days to show up to everything I do with the intention of love.
As I finalize preparations for the Manifest workshop this Saturday. I am sitting deep with a quote for Nisargadatta Maharaj, “you will get what you need, when you stop asking for what you don’t need.” He speaks of this in terms of our consistent search to find on the outside what we need to fill voids in our life rather than looking within. That beneath the busy mind, we are already whole.
For me, this also links to intuitive energy work. Our body holds energy of past experiences and that energy attracts it’s like. So if we hold abandonment, we attract abandonment. Like attracts like. If we can clear what holds us back, we can create space. Then search within for the feeling and experience we would like to attract and fill ourselves up with that feeling. What we seek, already present in our wholeness, will create the life experience we want.
Still a few days to register for Manifest | Yoga & Intuitive Energy Workshop this Saturday @BlueBanyanyoga in Philadelphia.
The frontal lobe, the prefontal cortex, is a differentiator of the homo sapiens from the homo habilis. It’s a wonderful tool and has been key to our evolution. It keeps us on track, allows us to plan and propels our forward momentum in life. But this part of the brain is also the seat of our judgment, self-judgment. It is the little voice in our head that never turns off, that voice that makes decisions and not choices. This, of course, is the experiential and not the scientific explanation.
In the West, we most often self-identify with this voice. We see ourselves as the body and the mind rather than understanding the impermanence of the body and recognizing the essence of our soul as the self. We mistake what is outer for what is inner, and what is inner as outer. Maybe, if you have practiced Mindful Meditation, you may be familiar with the direction to “be the witness” of your thoughts. You are guided to sit, without judgment, without control of the thoughts that arise as the bystander.
There are many ways to get past this thinking mind. I just read the book Stealing Fire, which analyzes the industry, desire and methods of reaching ecstasis, or “flow states.” People find many ways to get beyond the thinking mind to higher fields of living. Beyond yoga and mindfulness meditation, there are extreme sports, collective consciousness events like Burning Man, and of course, psychedelics.
In yoga we say that you use the physical and energetic body, through asana and pranayama so you can clear the mind, to reach the divine –the divine within each and every one of us. We work through the layers, fields of living to reach true consciousness. We go inward. We recognize what is inner and separate what is outer.
The Koshas, which were outlined in the ancient text, the Upanishads, explain these fields of living. Imagine the Koshas, or sheaths, as layers that move inward to the core. While we describe them individually, they are all experienced as one.
The Anamaya Kosha, or the physical body, is the outer sheath. The next layer is the Pranamaya Kosha, the vital or energetic body. Your prana is your life force; it rides into the body on the breath and travels through energy channels. It enables us to live. In yoga we practice pranayama, or breath work, to engage this field of living. These practices help clear the mind.
Then there is the thinking mind, the Manomaya Kosha. This is the processor and sensory experience. While we say “mind,” it really includes the entire nervous system. While necessary and important, the problem with the thinking mind is that it has its own agenda. When it receives good, clear direction from the upper mind, and from the true self things go well. Because it is the seat of sensory perception, which can create fluctuation or noise in the mind, it can get off track from the core mission. As the loudest voice in the room, it is often mistaken for the self and often is left to control.
If we can get past the thinking mind, we reach the Vjnamaya Kosha. This is the seat of wisdom, of intellect. In fact, it is where the “ah-ha!” moment and the intellect come from, both of which are interconnected to the body and other fields of living.
Beyond the mind, is Anandamaya Kosha, the meditative state, the state of bliss. This field of living operates completely differently than the mind; it is where you find ecstasis, or flow. Where intuition lives. Babies live here before the other fields are developed – or more scientifically, before other parts of the brain are developed. Children visit this place of the time in creative play. As we see by the steep rise in Mindfulness Meditation, extreme sports and other activities, more and more seekers are finding ways to reach Anandamaya Kosha. There is a sense of wholeness, of connectedness to others. It exists independent of reason and is beyond understanding. It is where the ego and the thinking mind – and even sense of the body – are left behind.
Beyond these fields of living is Atman, which can’t be described with words but is called true consciousness, purusa, the true Self.
The first step, in lieu of the extremes, is to recognize the thinking mind for what it is, then to get past the thinking mind. Find a way to connect to and work in the Vjnamaya kosha, the upper mind and tap into the Anandaymaya kosha.
As I take steps on this journey, I hope to be able to help open the door to this process in the Manifest | Yoga and Intuitive Energy workshop I am hosting on May 13th, from 1-3 pm, at Blue Banyan Yoga. Click here to register.
What’s the first thing someone says when you are upset? Just breathe. While in the West very little is said about the breath, it is the foundation of life. Without breath, there is no life.
In yogic philosophy, we talk about Prana, our life force, our vitality. It travels into the body on the breath. And that life force flows through thousands of energy channels within the body called the nadis. Three main energy channels, called the Ida, Pingala and Shushumna, ride along the spine, crisscrossing at each chakra. At the same time, many of these energy channels flow through the fascia of the body. In physiology, the flow of Prana through the body is called “The Long Tide” and is considered primary respiration. This tide can be gauged by the flow, or tide, of the Craniosacral fluid that disseminates from the brain.
Regardless of how you are most comfortable approaching it, there is no life without breath. In practicing Pranayama – meaning the discipline of Prana – we are increasing our vitality and energy, reducing stress, and cleansing the body. Too, breath practice helps show the connection between consciousness and energy.
Returning your focus to your breath, throughout the day as well as in practice can have tremendous benefits to your well-being. The focused intention on the breath calms the thinking mind and in connecting through a fundamental field of living, we are creating space by shifting the energy of the body.
In March, I began a 30-Day journey to find more joy in my life. Each day I sought out one thing was joyful. It ranged from noticing something beautiful, to sharing a special moment with someone I cared about and everything in between. And it definitely changed my life.
It was both incredible and challenging. There were days that felt like joy was inside me and all around me. Then there were days I had to muster up the ability to find and create it. In the end, it changed the way I look at the world, and it changed how I feel.
What have I learned about Joy?
- There’s lots of joy to be found, if you’re looking for it. Finding joy is a mindset, a lens to view the world through.
- Joy and positivity are self-propagating. Having a commitment to finding and sharing joy brings more positivity and lightness to your life. It then multiplies.
- Practicing joy on a daily basis brings mindfulness. To truly seek to find and share joy you need to be present in the moment.
- Joy is a practice, not a destination. Like love, you need to commit to choosing it and then practice it every day. Joy is not a permanent state – it’s not something that will be a constant, and it shouldn’t be. We are gifted with the capacity to feel a wide range of emotions, all to be honored and enjoyed, even the hard ones.
- You experience joy. Action is required. To find and share joy, you need to engage in life, notice the little things and the big ones. Take steps to seek it, to see it, to share it.
- There are multiple levels of joy.
- There are quick joyful bursts, like seeing a beautiful flower, watching a baby goat jump around or seeing others share a heartfelt moment.
- There is big joy. Seeing the one you love smile, watching your child’s first step, reconnecting with your best friend.
- There is also deep joy, the kind that is felt through pure heartfelt connection. This joy, found in moments of pure love with your partner, family or friends, is soulful.
- Being the recipient of joy is a great gift. Whether it’s someone else’s good news, kind words, or time, being open to receiving it and acknowledging it bring heartfelt connection.
- There is immense joy in doing and giving to others. In yoga this is selfless giving or seva.
- Joy is most powerful when it is shared with someone. It creates heartfelt connection.
- When you share joy, you can make someone’s day or change someone’s life.
Sound is the doorway to everything. Through our voice, we fundamentally connect as humans. Sound is powerfully linked to emotion. Everything has a vibration, whether it is audible to us or not. This vibration shifts energy, emotion and thought.
The practice of sound in yoga, through mantra, too, has an energetic affect. The energy of devotional chanting of mantras is a way to shift your energy, to clear the mind, to create space. Mantra translates to: tool for the thinking mind. Repetition of mantra with music enables you to draw into the sound and causes your mind to still. This stillness prepares us for meditation, for receiving. And in its resonance, we feel the beauty of the silence.
Most commonly heard mantras are Bhakti, or devotional. Bhakti is the essence of being openhearted, of charity. This sensibility of love and receptivity is a way into manifesting. The love you give attracts the love you seek.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve had to create something out of nothing on many occasions. Sometimes it was a whole business, sometimes making payroll for the week, sometimes a deal and sometimes a dream. I’ve tackled creation from many different angles over the years. It’s taught me quite a lot.
I’ve learned that while creating in my life can be uncomfortable, it is also rewarding, regardless of the outcome. I’ve learned the power and sheer force of my will. I have learned that in spite of repeatedly being told “no,” even in the face of insurmountable odds, anything really is possible. But it can come at great physical, emotional and financial cost.
Trying to create something out of nothing in this way – trying to use my will to force the possible to fruition – is what I thought “manifesting” was. Then I learned what it really meant to manifest: to welcome in the experience, the feeling, the energy of what I inherently desired and intuited in my life. I learned how to have forward momentum without force, without total control. Throughout my life, I had made changes in seemingly spontaneous, small ways; however, at the end of 2013, when I exited the business I had built, I did so from my core, with both inherent intuition and conscious knowledge.
I knew it was time to exit that business – and that I would have to stand tall with a lot of integrity in order to navigate investors and finances and maintain my reputation. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do next, but I knew what I liked and what I didn’t like doing. For the first time, I was clear about the life experience I wanted to have in that process. I wasn’t focused on what I wanted “to do.” I had been pushing a freight train up a hill for a long time, and this time, I wanted to go to the train station with my bags packed and get on the right train, moving in the right direction. I wanted to feel empowered, help build brands, have freedom and a career that could be balanced with a relationship and family. And that is what occurred.
I couldn’t have predicted the path, but I stood resolute about what I wanted. I turned down opportunities that didn’t align with my dream. I navigated the uncertainty of how I would support myself. In the end, I wound up in a great post, doing what I wanted and feeling the way I wanted to feel. That transition was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.
I had been exploring Eastern philosophy, primarily through the practice and study of yoga, along with bits and pieces of the Vedas, Buddhism, and Eastern healing practices, among other things. I had also explored my mind through Landmark Forum, therapy, and coaching. I picked up pieces of knowledge that resonated wherever I found them. This began to shift my ground, my presence, my belief system and gave me a different capacity to ride the tide of uncertainty. It helped make this manifestation possible.
Having completed Yoga Teacher Training and beginning to further my study of both Jnana yoga and intuitive energy reading, I understand more of how this manifestation came about within me. My hope is to help others open up and tap into what resides within them to live more empowered, authentic lives.
I hope you can join me on May 13, 2017 from 1-3p.m. at Blue Banyan Yoga for a Manifestation | Yoga and intuitive energy workshop.
Looking to make changes or start something new in your life?
Struggling with feeling blocked or what direction to take?
Use the practices of yoga, guided meditation and mantra to create transformation in your life with this healing and playful workshop. Shift the energy in your body by tapping into your intuition, creating space for and welcoming in the change you seek. Learn tools to take with you to continue this work in your everyday life. This workshop is suitable for anyone seeking to realize their own true potential. The yoga practice will be accessible to all levels.
I’ve completed the first week on my 30-day journey to find joy. I’ve shared memories with someone I love, met more of my neighbors, shared compliments and kindness, had fun and have been mindful of my world.
The process of focusing on Joy on a daily basis has begun to shift my thoughts. I am seeking things that are joyful. Looking
for, noticing things that are good, like the sound of the birds chirping about on an unseasonably warm morning walk. I am focusing on what is good. With all of the intensity of what is going on in the world, this is a dose of antigen. But, it’s still work. I can say, that while I often like to see and share fun and joyful things, I didn’t necessarily do it for a deeper value or purpose. It’s still not a habit, but the discipline of seeking it feels like it is aligning with the greater goodness and happiness I am working toward in my life.
So, three more weeks to go! This week, I’m going to seek opportunities to show and acknowledge gratitude, practice mindfulness and choose Joy!
Every human, every creature, every organization, every network has both masculine and feminine energies. The masculine energy is represented in efficiency and strategy; the feminine energy manifests as nurturing and intuition. Today, that energy is out of balance for us – as individuals and as a culture.
Judy Wicks introduced me to this concept. A Local Living Economies and sustainability pioneer, Wicks talks about balancing masculine and feminine energy within the food system. She tells a story of a Philadelphia organic farmer who theorized that on a farm, it’s essential to have a balance of masculine and feminine energy. If you have too much masculine energy, you will have an efficient business but terrible crops. If you have too much feminine energy, you will have beautiful tomatoes, but you will soon go out of business.
Wicks translates this notion in her work as an activist against global farming: We know the exact amount of water, light and space we need to provide to a chicken so it will yield the biggest eggs and the most meat on its bones. However, toward this end, we are putting antibiotics into our food system. We are treating the animals inhumanely, keeping them in tight dark spaces, breeding them to yield more meat. As a result, their chests grow so big they are unable to stand up. With cows and pigs, the specifics are different, but the outcome of suffering is the same.
Medicine is not much different, as I have observed through friends and colleagues. Everything is disjointed, and very little is focused on the patient as a person. Hospitals are about efficiency and earnings. Take, for example, Radiology. Diagnostic radiology is a separate practice from interventional radiology. There is no holistic practice. On the diagnostic side, trained physicians sit in dark rooms, exclusively reading scans all day. They are held accountable for reading a certain number of scans daily, but they are not supported to give quality readings to save patients. Interventional radiologists, on the other hand, wear protective lead body coverings and are responsible for the surgical side of radiology. They are performing procedures not necessarily with a deep connection to the patient’s case, but based solely on a scan read by another doctor. Furthermore, doctors are so fearful of litigation that they are ordering scans that may be unnecessary, potentially increasing a patient’s cancer risk. Medicine is not balanced in efficiency and nurturing.
As a woman in business, I feel the imbalance in my personal work. To succeed, I need to use masculine energy – be strategic, be efficient. But it’s a double-edged sword. When I summon my masculine energy, I am judged differently. If I am too straight-forward, too efficient and strategic, I am judged as being a b–ch. If I demonstrate nurturing, I am too soft, not strong enough. This isn’t exclusive to women either. While being straightforward and tough may be acceptable and expected for men, it is hard to sustain. Competition, fear of showing vulnerability and the expectation of constant strength are tough dynamics to navigate and not inherently natural. We are walking a precarious tightrope, watching each step in environments where people are so afraid to make mistakes they spend more time engaged in “CYA” than in pushing the ball forward.
Things aren’t working. This imbalance of masculine and feminine is evident throughout our culture and in business.
So how do we balance masculine and feminine energy, not only within ourselves but also in transition organizations, networks and cultures?
For the individual
- Mindfulness. Use it to really feel within the body, to tap into your intuition. In business we may have called it gut instinct. Instead of only relying on instinct to recognize the best deal or sense weakness, begin the practice of relying on that instinct, that intuition to relate to others, to feel out what might be best for business.
- Make the “we” more important than the “me.” Put others and the whole first.
- Change the conversation. Use empathy and develop understanding of the whole of a person.
- Practice getting out of your strategic mind and using your intuition. Practice vulnerability. Practice empathy. Practice a balanced focus on nurturing and efficiency. Be the change you seek.
For the organization
- Sustainable industries are already working to address this, though they frame it differently. There is a focus on People, Planet and Profit. Nurturing and efficiency. B-Lab or Social Venture Network are great resources.
- Make vulnerability culturally acceptable. Allow people to let their guard down. Allow people to share fears and feelings and balance them with their drive for efficiency.
- Be a leader who inspires. Someone who puts the success and well- being of the team ahead of your own.
So, Day #1? What does finding joy even mean? What makes me joyful? Well, talking or connecting with other people does. So today I decided to share a memory. My boyfriend and I spent a few weeks in Western Australia and I will never forget my first glimpse of the Indian Ocean at City Beach in Perth. I had to share it with him. He took me there because it was near where he lived 20 years ago. Sharing our memories of the trip brought a very sweet moment of connection for us!
I am starting a 30-day journey to find joy. Life is intense. There’s ever mounting responsibility and obligation. I’ve spent years exploring yoga and eastern philosophy to balance out the grind of western business and cultural demands. But now, with everything going on in the country and world it seems even harder to feel grounded let alone find joy every day.
So, how do you find joy? Who knows? But hopefully I will find out. What I am clear of is that it feels like it needs a practice, to become a way of life, like any of the good things – love, hope….
Please join me on this exploration as I seek to find something every day for 30 days that brings to joy to my life.
In my work, the word brand is thrown around a lot. It’s almost an obsession. Everyone wants one — or thinks they need one. The world’s greatest brands seem to wield an immense amount of power. But a brand isn’t something you get or obtain. You can’t simply buy it and it’s never owned; it’s shared. It is something your customers and employees take ownership of as a shared philosophy. It’s your mirror, the part of your business where they see their own reflection. A brand is a daily commitment and practice like choosing love or joy.
What exactly is a brand? Your brand is the soul of your business, why you do what you do. It is your story, your culture and your relationships. Your brand is what your customers relate to, why they choose you and why they recommend you. It encompasses the values and principles that your business is built on, defining what you do and how you do it. Meaningful brands distill their “why” into a transformative experience.
Nothing explains this better than Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, a great tool that I have used for several years now within my brand positioning methodology. In it, he shares his concept the Golden Circle: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Knowing what a brand is is great, but creating one or restoring integrity to one is another story.
When I help established companies or start-ups define and position their brand, it’s like being a curator. We start by clearly and concisely defining their Why, their core belief, or helping them clarify that belief — building consensus on how it is translated. Maybe it is through a story, the culture or a market differentiator. Finally, from this they can determine what to do, or determine if what they do makes sense based on their why and how.
I was asked to write about one of my biggest business successes/lessons for a speaking engagement recently….
So often as a leader I am asked to speak about accomplishments and successes. I am fortunate that there have been many, but it’s much more interesting to me to talk about what didn’t work: the “F” word – “Failure.”
To be a leader, especially to be an entrepreneur, you have to live full-out. There is no half-way about it. You have to take risks, face fears and face failure.
Many of us go through life afraid to fail. As a young entrepreneur, it seemed a fate worse than death. Inevitably, you will fail at something, likely many things. Sometimes you fail at the little things and sometimes they are big things.
But I assure you, if you dare to lead, dare to follow your passion, you will at some point fail. And it’s a beautiful thing. There have been many times that I have stood on the precipice of epic failure. Each and every time I persevered, I found a way through. It wasn’t always easy. But, if you can get over the agony, the upset, the anxiety, the fear — if you can get over your ego — you can find your greatness in failure.
Here are some things I know to be true about failure:
Failure is just a change of plans: Things simply don’t ever go as planned. It’s not unique to me or to you. What you write in a business plan is not how it is going to happen. You have to stand clear in your principles and integrity but remain agile and adaptable. When things don’t work the way you expected, take the high road, face what’s hard and change course to achieve your objectives.
Failure is possibility: When you stand on the precipice of epic failure, there is just as much of a chance of success. That’s the nature of a precipice. So in the moment, if you act from a place of authenticity, if you do what’s right and don’t get attached to the outcome you create possibility. And if you were to fail, there will be learning in that. What you learn from that failure ultimately makes it possible to be successful.
Failure creates opportunity: There is great opportunity in failure. So often our definition of success is directly linked to an expected outcome. Our self-judgment is based on this achievement — on something external. If you can shift away from the outcome and measure your success in terms of who you show up as in every situation, it can open up opportunities for personal growth. You can develop relationships that last through hard times, and in keeping things in perspective and keeping your eye on what matters most, you may achieve your ultimate goal.
When I started my fashion business, I wanted to be great. I used to identify my greatness by achieving the ultimate in success — positive reviews in the best fashion magazines, a high valuation for my business. When that wasn’t enough, it transitioned to having a positive impact on the community and the environment. As I grew with my business, that also changed. If you can begin to judge yourself on your integrity in every situation — and I don’t just mean the definition of integrity that is about being honest and fair, but the full definition that says integrity is the state of being whole or complete — greatness is reached by always acting with integrity
To feel authentic, to feel good about yourself, like you did the right thing — there is a matter of being “complete” with something. It’s doing everything that you could or should do to honor yourself and others in any situation, keeping relationships, facing what’s hard and knowing that there is a way to maintain your values and self-worth through difficult situations.
Your failures will be what helps you along that road to success.
Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on failure, what it taught you and how you worked through it.
Business, life, and yoga. My intersection. Ever the student, desiring to learn and grow in this life, I am intent on exploring what’s possible here on this blog. Seasoned in my career, I have seen measurable success with all of the ups, downs and turnarounds that come with. I’m interested in; the dynamics of western business and new ways to approach it; authentic and transformational leadership; yoga and eastern philosophies; inspiring others; and the layers and levels of the human experience.
Why start blogging now? I’m at a transition point. Not a pivotal job change – but a personal transition point. I grew up in business. Our family farm, my mom’s growth through retail – countless hours as a kid and tween folding kids clothes on the retail floor at Sears waiting for my mom to finish work. Despite a degree and career in creative industries, I have always had an innate aptitude for business. Some people inherit heirlooms, I was handed down an uncontrollable ability to work hard and a can-do anything attitude. Or, should I say, will do everything (myself if I need to). I get things done. I make things happen. I can create something out of nothing. Said to be a sheer force of nature. In this Western world, it’s a noble thing. It has served me well for many years if you gauge the incredible experiences and advancement in my career but what came with it was exhaustion, lack of a balance in life and relationships, and feeling unfulfilled.
After nearly 20 years as a practitioner, in 2016 I completed a yoga teacher-training program that had a significant Eastern Philosophy component. It, as I had hoped, spurred a transformation in my emotional, physical and mental being that is leading to shifts in the way I choose to live my life and who I show up as in life and in business. And a new journey begins.
I invite you on the journey of exploring how we can transform the way we work and live to feel more fulfilled.