Permission to Be

Part 3 of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, is permission. Permission to create, permission to explore one’s own interests, permission to be. You exist, and because you exist you have the right to find the things in this life that ignite your joy and create the things, moments, and experiences that feed that joy. You do not need a permission slip from me or anyone else, but in this section of the book, and in this blog, you are given one.

 Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself.

Perhaps you are a lucky one that already has found the magical things in this life that give you joy. Great! Even still, it is always good practice for all of us, even for these lucky individual’s, to continue to explore and find new ways that we can find our joy. I find the first step to finding my own joy is quieting my monkey mind. (The term monkey mind is often used in yoga to refer to the rambunctious chattering and thinking of the mind, like a monkey jumping from branch to branch.) I use meditation, and better still is a daily practice of meditation. Try this practice with one of my spiritual teachers, Diksha McCord, from The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation.

After I’ve calmed my playful monkey mind down I like to fill it with positivity. This would be step two in exploring your joy. I do this through chanting(try this one) or through affirmation. This is how I personally use and teach affirmations:

  1. Affirmation for InspirationRepeat the affirmation LOUDLY. I find that this helps to silence any lingering mental chatter. Just like you would get the attention of a child, so too can you snag the
    attention of the mind.
  2. Repeat the affirmation in a normal speaking voice. This, I find, helps me to maintain my mind’s attention and draws the words a little deeper into my conciousness.
  3. Repeat the affirmation in a whisper. This step always feels like magic. Whispers are precious and it captivates my mind in the meaning of the affirmation.
  4. Close the eyes and lift the gaze as though looking at distant tree tops. Continue to repeat the affirmation silently to yourself and feel as though you are drawing the words inwards and upwards toward your lifted gaze.

Finally once the mind is calm and joyful I am ready for step three. I simply ask myself and my higher power, “What shall we do today?” I listen and wait in my peaceful stillness until something catches my fancy. Over the past week I have baked, danced, sunbathed, read books, took baths, and enjoyed a documentary. Some days I physically create something, like a yummy in the kitchen, a blog post, or capture a photograph, and other days I have simply found that my body wants to relax and rest.

As a living being you have divine permission to follow your bliss in difficult times and in smooth sailing. During these strange times I have found that I have a responsibility to myself to take time out everyday to further discover my joy practice. And to be totally honest, sometimes my joy practice is my yoga and meditation practice. dawgs Sometimes it’s a delicious bubble bath, and sometimes it’s a run with one of our daawgs. These long days with minimal responsibilities is a blessing for discovering my own joy practices.

This section of the book got me thinking about how important it is during this time to pursue our natural creative tendencies, but it is just as important to listen to what the body, mind, and spirit are craving. Most of us have had our lives completely changed in a short couple of weeks and that is stressful. Being away from your family and friends is stressful. Feeling consumed by worry and dread for yourself and the people around you is stressful. Feeling like you are stuck on house arrest is stressful. It doesn’t have to be.

…it is ultimately entirely up to you

Here’s a challenge for the days ahead. Spend 10 minutes a day sitting quietly with your attention drawn inwards. Once again, I recommend finding a meditation technique that speaks to you. At the conclusion of the ten minutes ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” Listen, listen, listen to your heart’s song, and do your best to be there for youTake sweet, gentle care of yourself in the coming days and weeks. Find ways to share your joy with others by creating something and sharing it. The internet is a blessed gift during this isolation period. Maybe you still have work and kiddos to see to and responsibilities up the wazoo. Take a breath. Take ten minutes just for you. You have permission and you have the responsibility to your own well-being to take care during this time and all times.

You already have permission to live your life however you choose. You already have permission to explore and find your joy practice. You already have permission to share that joy with the world however you see fit. Now is the time to make the space to explore your joy and make it a daily practice.

I hope these words find you well and that you feel encouraged and inspired to take some time for you.

With Divine Love,

Em<3

P.S.- Needing a boost of hope? Checkout this video from one of my favorite yoga instructors, Betsy Rippentrop, from Heartland Yoga in Iowa City, IA.

 

 

Finding Love on the Mat

It has been six months since I last taught yoga in a studio. I moved three hours north here in the great state of Iowa. It’s ten degrees colder, at least; it’s much more rural, and I moved here with only knowing ONE other person. His name is John and he has upturned my life in the best way. Some people thought I was crazy for moving, but my heart was sure. I could feel it’s confidence in my decision through every step of the way. I still feel that loving confidence. I know I am where I belong. That feeling that I have, that confidence, THAT is how I would describe love.

Love is a topic that meets us on the mat. Perhaps at home or maybe in a room filled with other people. I know on my mat I have had moments of pure self-love. Moments where I didn’t feel ashamed or not enough. I am not alone in this experience of self-acceptance. It happens when you’re 40 minutes in on a flow class or deep in the stillness of meditation. Love comes to us in other ways during the practice. I have felt Love for the people around me, sometimes strangers. Appreciating and accepting their existence, their significance, their power. In classes I teach I often have students use a mantra, or repeating phrase, during meditation. One of these mantras is “I am Love.”

Try it now, as you sit here. Close your eyes, lift your gaze just slightly, and breath smoothly and naturally. As you inhale repeat “I am” and as you exhale repeat “Love”. Inhale, “I am”. Exhale, “Love’. Continue this as long as you’d like.

This practice is powerful, because we are not focusing our attention on the things that we love and we are not focusing on the way that we love. We are focusing on the experience of Love itself. Love is confident in itself and so it gives us confidence in ourselves. You are enough. You are meant to be here. You have within you the power to love and be loved. You are Love. Through this practice we can identify with the strongest experience that creatures of this planet have: LOVE.

Happy Velentine’s Day.

Em<3