Surprising Life Lessons from Puzzles

Surprising Life Lessons from Puzzles

Lately, after dinner, we’ve been working on a jigsaw puzzle. In addition to fostering easy, comfortable togetherness, the practice of “puzzling” has taught me three valuable life skills. 1) It’s a good idea to begin by building the border or foundation. 2) What you’re looking for doesn’t always look like you expected it to look. 3) Sometimes you must stop focusing on the image you’re trying to create and soften your gaze to look only at the shape of the pieces you have in order to see where they fit.

Five Ways to Practice Resilience.

Five Ways to Practice Resilience.

Resilience is a powerful quality in a crisis. Here are 5 science-backed ways to practice resilience on your yoga mat so you feel more resilient in life. 1) Change the narrative. 2) Face your fears. 3) Practice self-compassion. 4) Meditate. 5) Cultivate forgiveness.

Emotions are Contagious

Emotions are Contagious.

We humans are social creatures. Our nervous systems are actually designed to pick up on and imitate the emotions of others. We actually leak emotions to one another! In times like this one as we (all of us, around the world) navigate this pandemic, we are feeling the impact of this “emotional leaking” more than ever. Each of can practice being mindful of the emotions we share as we engage with the world around us by making sure the things we say are True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind. This level of awareness will help each of us to stay in the moment, which is the only place we can find some peace and calm. More importantly, when we’re feeling calm (or at least calmer), we will “leak” a little of that sense of calm to the world around us.

What Is Contemplation Anyway?

What Is Contemplation Anyway?

What are we contemplating or looking at when we practice yoga? We are looking at ourselves. As we move our body into the many odd shapes of yoga postures, we are teaching our minds to hold still so that we can look inward. Over time and with practice, we begin to see clearly our thoughts, our habits, our preferences, our fears, our joys, our worries and our hopes.

Do You Have a Hard Time Figuring Out What You Want?

Is It Hard for You to Decide What You Want?

If you struggle with small choices such as “Do I want a salad or a sandwich for lunch?”, it is likely that you struggle even more with life's big decisions. Religious and spiritual disciplines teach that connecting with the desires of our hearts is key to understanding our “call” or “purpose in life” or even what makes us special and unique. Learning to tune into what we really want rather than what we think we should want helps us, in the end, to make the best choice of all - to be happy.

Difference is What We All Have in Common

Difference is What We All Have in Common.

Yoga has made me certain that the differences I discover between myself and others can be life-giving. Each time I’m struggling to find something in common with someone else is a moment that could be filled with growth and mutual learning if I can stay open and curious about the differences between us.

Shut Up for Just a Second

Shut Up for Just a Second.

A contemplative practice such as yoga provides quiet, respite from the stream of thoughts created by our mind by teaching us two skills. The first is the power to notice our thoughts. This awareness, in turn, gives us the power to disengage from them. In the quiet of my practice, it often seems as if my thoughts are bubbling away at the far away surface of my awareness while I’m peacefully resting in a deeper place where my thoughts are not at all important. This space from my mental chatter is, in essence, me shutting up and allowing myself to be loved.

Don't Forget Why You Practice Yoga

Don’t Forget Why You Practice Yoga.

It is surprisingly easy to forget that yoga postures are a means to an end. Please read that again. And again. All the jumping around we do on our yoga mats is not yoga. It’s a part of yoga. (In another essay, I’ll get into the nitty gritty of how tiny a part of the practice it is. I’ve got solid arguments that it’s somewhere between 1/7th and 3/196th.) The postures are a tool that yoga offers us to help us better experience the gift of our life. They are a tool that yoga offers us to help us live more like the people we yearn to be.

Slow down. You May be Moving Too Fast.

Slow down. You May be Moving Too Fast.

Do you feel hurried all the time? Do you sprint through your days? I used to be a fast person (a fast walker, fast talker, fast eater, fast worker ...). Yoga has changed me. I'm now a little slower because I've learned how to immerse myself into my experiences each step along the way. It turns out that slower is a very nice way to be.