Art of Living - Work Life Integration

Four Key Lessons along the Journey to Work-Life Integration

By Jennifer H.G. Connelly
September 20, 2018

Art of Living - Work Life Integration

 

An eternal student, I have intense curiosity about this life, about my purpose, about what I find to be truly meaningful. 10 years ago, after the birth of my 3rd child, I began a journey of deep inquiry about work life balance and discovered the empowering gift of integration. Integration brings with it the idea of inherent wholeness, a sense of deep interconnectedness, and both the art and science of living well in relationship with self and others.

 

Here are 4 lessons that I continue to practice. From this place, I am tapping into the wisdom of living an integrated life.

 

1 – Open Heart/Mind to Learning

I often carry around a rainbow-colored backpack that my daughter gave me as a reminder of my commitment to ongoing learning. From the place of student, I open my heart and mind to new teachers, to new methodologies, to new training, and to the works of the many souls who have passionately committed themselves to going deeper and discovering what is unknown to them. I delight in the questions, in the discovery, in the Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind of it all. And from that place, I feel a sense of wholeness and interconnectedness to myself and those around me. The spirit of this led me to yoga teacher training, to Birkman Method certification, to coaching certification with Newfield Network and Tiara International. I delight in sharing, with others and my clients, the jewels I’ve learned along the way to see what resonates with them.

 

2 – Elicit the Support of Mentors and Loved Ones

I learned, sometimes through failure and disappointment, that I do not need to go through this journey alone. At times when I fell down or lost hope, what was instrumental in lifting me out of the fog of uncertainty was the compassion, love and wisdom of my support network and my mentors along the way. What I discovered is that it is not a one-sided conversation but a mutual sharing of love and understanding that is exchanged when I spend time with them and reveal my vulnerable heart. This interconnected web of people in my life helps me feel deeply loved and connected to something much larger than myself.

 

3 – Shift from Limiting to an Empowering Mindset

I experienced a huge breakthrough in working with a coach on a limiting mindset of “this is too hard.” From our discussion, I was able to shift the observer within myself to create a new, empowering mindset on completing a project with ease and wonder. When I tap into the place within myself of ease and wonder, life flows without the obstruction of my limiting beliefs. My empowering mindset helped me find new language and create the mantras: I am trusting. I am at ease. I am in the flow. That feeling of flow is a perfect way to describe living an integrated life – no matter what comes my way.

 

4 – Commit to Ongoing Self-Care

For me, I have found the nourishing qualities of self-care to be essential to living in the flow state of integration. Through trial and error, I have found that a weekly mix of the following shapes my self-care regimen.

 
  • Stillness, meditation, mindful breathing, forest bathing, going on a retreat
  • Laughter, silliness, playfulness, lightheartedness, singing and chanting
  • Creative expression in journaling, painting, vision boarding, coloring and dancing
  • Yoga and Pilates practice with a community of fellow students
  • Time spent being truly present to my loved ones and with a grateful heart
 

How is work life integration unfolding in your life? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?

 

Life a more fulfilling life. Understand your unique qualities as a leader, as a communicator, and as a woman. Jennifer H.G. Connelly hosts the Work-Life Integration Retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 2-4.

 

Jennifer H.G. Connelly
Possessing a unique blend of corporate, public affairs and nonprofit management experience, Jennifer serves as Principal of her own consultancy and CEO of Triple W Forum. As a leadership coach, yoga and mindfulness teacher, and Birkman Method consultant, she leads retreats, workshops, and provides team and one-to-one leadership development coaching both in the US and internationally.

 

This article is reposed with permission from the author.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

 
TAGS: integration , Jennifer Connelly , wellness , wisdom , work
Stress Relief

Definitions and Causes of Stress: Relief Results from Understanding

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
September 9, 2018

Stress Relief

 

There’s a beautiful human being inside everyone. What makes one different is the stress that covers the beauty.  When the stress is gone, we become our original selves. In this article, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks on the 5 things we need to know about stress.

 

5 things we need to know about stress

The Definition of Stress

Too much to do, too little time, and no energy – that’s what the definition of stress is. When you want to do too much and you have neither energy nor time, you get stressed.

 

Challenges and Confidence

Secondly, remember you have faced many challenges in the past and you have overcome them all. So, have this confidence that you can handle this challenge as well.

 

The Importance of Life Itself

Then you must also know that there’s nothing more important in life than life itself. If you are alive, then everything else is. If you are alive, then there is business. If you are alive, so are your relationships. If you are alive, then there is fame or whatever you wish for. Don’t put life at risk to get these other things. You must give more importance to life itself.

 

Happiness

Why do you do anything that you do? It’s because you want to be happy. And if you achieve something at the cost of happiness, it’s worth nothing at all. You achieved what you wanted but lost happiness, so that achievement is null and void. So you must keep this in mind.

 

Karma is Real

Things happen through a different law in the universe. You might have noticed that you are very good to people and still there are people who suddenly become your enemies. Your friends become your enemies. And the opposite happens–someone for whom you have not done any big favor helps you when you really need it. So friendship or animosity happens through some special law of the universe, and it’s called karma.

 

When your times are good, your worst enemy behaves as a friend; when your times are bad, then your best friend behaves like an enemy. So, understand things from a bigger dimension.

 

This post first appeared on artofliving.org.

 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian and spiritual leader, an ambassador of peace and human values. Through his life and work, Sri Sri has inspired millions around the world with a vision of a stress-free, violence-free world.  He has founded courses that provide techniques and tools to live a deeper, more joyous life and he has established nonprofit organizations that recognize a common human identity above the boundaries of race, nationality, and religion.

   

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Sri Sri , sri sri ravi shankar , stress , wisdom
Nature, Dance, and Meditation - Art of Living Retreat Center

In House: Nature, Dance, and Meditation

By Jon Turk
August 23, 2018

Nature, Dance, and Meditation - Art of Living Retreat Center

In my life, I’ve done some very long expeditions into the wilderness, some lasting several months. What I’ve learned is that when you spend time in silence, in vulnerability, and in connection with nature, what happens is that these useless thoughts that you have are just thrown out. You’re left with a cleaner mind.

 

I want everyone to experience that peace of mind, so for a long time, I’d been trying to find a way to help others reach that state. But you can’t compress a three-month experience into three hour class. You can certainly help somebody with the techniques of meditation, but you can’t “teach” someone to meditate in a weekend. It doesn’t work that way. It takes commitment and dedication. No matter what I did, I couldn’t design a methodology that had that kind of impact.

 

Then, something amazing happened to me. I was presented with an opportunity to become a storyteller with a modern dance company headed by Jody Weber.

 

Dance and ecstasy

We spent a couple of years performing one of my stories, The Raven’s Gift. It energized our audiences in an incredible way. I realized that this was because we’d compressed around five years of exploring Siberia into one very ecstatic movement. Dance reaches a form of ecstasy that speech just doesn’t.

 

It was a wow moment. Instead of taking people into the wilderness and trying to compress this experience, we could create ecstasy in storytelling through dance. Dance could be the meditation.

 

Many, many animals dance. If you’ve ever seen a polar bear sliding down an ice or snow field and just having a bang of a good time, that bear is actually dancing. Dance is so much deeper than speech. It’s a medium that journeys your brain into ecstasy.

 

Healing through dance

Everybody gets broken in life. You break your bones. You break your spirit. People break. It’s inevitable. So we have to learn how to heal, and one of the ways we can do this is through dance.

 

Jody and I visited a youth detention facility to teach. It’s beautiful spring day and we’re in this gray building with bars in the window. People are walking around with guns, and the warden says to us, “You have one hour to give these child criminals a bit of hope.” We hadn’t practiced anything in preparation for this, but we begin anyway.

 

The dancers we’d brought with us get up and say, “Okay, we’re going to dance the dance of flowing water. Water flows. You can’t stop water. It doesn’t get interrupted, so we’re going to be the way.” The dancers started dancing, and I’m thinking “Oh boy, these kids are not gonna buy this.” Well, let me tell you. By the end of the hour, we had every single one of those hardened, sometimes violent, child criminals up and dancing. At the end of the hour, tears were just streaming from my eyes. We were dancing our ways not necessarily out of physical prisons, but personal ones, and that was very powerful for everyone involved.

 

Forgetting our mythologies

People are the only animals that think about things that don’t exist, so we make up stories. These stories take up a lot of brainpower. Nature takes those extraneous thoughts and just sucks them out like a sponge. That’s why we experience such peace in nature. That’s why we connect with cats and dogs–they talk to us, but in that deeper language. This is what music is. Dance, animals, a snowstorm, a sunny day in the desert–all take these mythologies that we build out of us and turn us back into something more peaceful. And that’s something incredibly powerful.

 

Jon Turk earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1971 and was nominated by National Geographic as one of the Top Ten Adventurers of the Year in 2012. Between these bookends, Jon wrote the first environmental science textbook in North America, while simultaneously pursuing extreme adventure: he has kayaked around Cape Horn and across the North Pacific, circumnavigated Ellesmere Island, and made first climbing ascents and ski descents on remote mountains all over the world. Between 1999 and 2005, Jon learned Koryak wisdom from Moolynaut, one of the last of the old time Siberian shamans. Jon has written four popular books on his adventures and the Conscious Revolution that will carry humanity into the 21st century with hope, sustainability, and compassion.

 

Join Jon Turk and Jody Weber at the Art of Living Retreat Center from October 5th to 7th, 2018, for their retreat, Techniques of Joyful Meditation. 

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: dance , meditation , mythology , nature , storytelling , wellness , wisdom
The Wisdom of Tai Chi - Art of Living Retreat Center

In House: David-Dorian Ross on the Wisdom of Tai Chi

By David-Dorian Ross
August 11, 2018

The Wisdom of Tai Chi - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

This past May, the Art of Living Retreat Center hosted David-Dorian Ross for Power, Freedom, and Flow, a weekend of connection and transformation through the practices of Tai Chi, yoga, guided mediation, and QiGong. Here, he shares his journey with Tai Chi, and how this gentle, holistic practice can change your life too. 

 

Tai Chi is a teacher

I’ve been teaching Tai Chi for about 40 years, and I continue to benefit from it every day–not just what it teaches me about health and longevity, but what it teaches me about about daily life too; about relating to other people, dealing with problems, and most of all, about my relationship with myself.

 

What is Taijifit?

Taijifit is how I give back. I started Taijifit as a part of an ongoing exploration of different methods to share Tai Chi with a wider audience.

 

One of the things that really amazed me was the sharp decline of Tai Chi practitioners after a short period of time. A lot of people are interested in it, but very few stick with it. A lot of teachers tell me how they’ll start with 25 people in their class, and it dwindles over time to two or three. But rather than thinking there was something wrong with the students or teachers, I began to look at the methodology used to teach Tai Chi. How do we keep people engaged long enough for them to really taste the magic of this wonderful practice?

 

Taijifit is a format that meets people where they are. We use beautiful, contemporary music, and focus on learning long, complex routines of movements. In fact, we could do a hundred days of Tai Chi and never use the same routine twice. Every session is different and special, and yet still focused on the central characteristic of Tai Chi — something we call “flow”– which is the connecting energy that binds the body, mind, and spirit together.

 

Tapping into our authentic nature

One of the things that we all want to find is a way to tap into our authentic nature. Our own original, innocent, pure spirit. In our philosophy, we believe that you’re born with this and that it’s inherent within you, but that as we age and become adults, sometimes we stray away from this flow.

 

We have lifestyles that perpetuate separation from our flow. When you wake up in the morning, you’re close to your authentic self, but then you brush your teeth, take your shower, and get dressed, and then all of a sudden you’re in work mode, and you’ve got to put on a different face. After work, you go to the gym and put on a different face there, and then you go home and you have a different face there, too. We even have different costumes and speech patterns within the confines of different social environments. This interruption is the opposite of flow.

 

Learning to reintegrate flow

Just like a stream that hits a dam, your energy, your spirit, and your authentic personhood stops at these different junctions. But what if that wasn’t true? What if you could feel comfortable and unselfconscious while being exactly the same person who got out of bed in the morning? The same person at church, at the bowling alley, at the dinner table? That’s true authenticity. That’s tapping into your true nature.

 

So how do you do that? Well, the first thing to learn to recognize is when you’re interrupting that flow of life. This interruption happens so fast and is so habitual that we don’t recognize when we’re in it. That’s what Tai Chi teaches us. Tai Chi makes this concept physical and observable, so that you can tell when your flow is interrupted. You can sense, feel, and measure the stopping and starting of flow.

 

Tai Chi is an active meditation. The way that we think most often is that we judge, and assess, and analyze constantly. It’s a process that keeps us from being in the moment. Movement, on the other hand, happens in the now and brings you to the now.

 

Tai Chi and aging

Tai Chi is great for the aging process and for helping people retain flexibility in motion. Aging is just a description of the process of what happens when our bodies don’t regenerate. When our bodies fail to keep up with the ravages of the environment, most prominently gravity, which is working on us all the time. It’s just natural to our existence on this planet.

 

One of the reasons why the body sometimes fails to keep up with those environmental problems is that it’s out of balance. A body that is in harmony, that is balanced and in equilibrium, has the best chance of using its inherent nature to heal itself. The body that is out of balance, on the other hand, is less able to keep up with environmental ravages.

 

When we’re observing the aging process, what we’re really observing is a body-out-of-balance who’s struggling to keep up with the inevitable. What Tai Chi does is train you–it continuously brings you back into a balanced and harmonious state. The postures are based upon the physics of equilibrium so that even the martial aspect, the fighting aspect of Tai Chi, is about finding harmony.

 

A practice of love

The thing is, Tai Chi has the reputation of being boring. People are afraid they don’t have the balance, that they’re going to fall or look silly or feel self-conscious. But with Taijifit, we inject a little fun back into it. We create a community in which we work very hard. We create all kinds of conversations and events and environments in which we know that there will be no judgement. In which we know that there’s only love.

 

A philosophy and physical practice together

Tai Chi literally changed my life. I’ve got terrible genes in my family–emphysema, COPD, cancer, heart disease–and I’m so obnoxiously healthy it’s not even funny. Of course, I’m not immune to social pressures and the gravity of the world’s current situation, but Tai Chi is my guiding path, a philosophy and physical practice blended together. My work is my spiritual practice. There is nothing higher for me than getting up and doing it every morning. That is my prayer. That is my meditation.

 

Grandmaster David-Dorian Ross has introduced more students to Tai Chi than any other teacher in America. Master Ross has written, produced and starred in more than 150 educational dvds and television programs. He is the founder and CEO of TaijiFit, the creator of the TaijiFit mind-body exercise program, and is the director of the first online Tai Chi academy. Trained in China by championship martial arts coaches, Master Ross has had an illustrious career in competitive Tai Chi, winning eight U.S. gold medals, a world silver medal and two world bronze medals —the highest awards ever given to an American for international Tai Chi performance.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

 
TAGS: holistic wellness , meditation , tai chi , wellness , wisdom
Suffering - Art of Living Retreat Center

Supposed To: My Day of Suffering

By Heather Bilotta
August 11, 2018

Suffering - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

“We suffer because we are projecting the myth of permanence upon a situation that is actually conditioned, selfless, and constantly changing. Everything is interrelated and interdependent. There is nothing substantial and separate that we can lean upon. Samsara, ‘the cycle of suffering,’ is a direct result of our desire for permanence.”
From “The Myth of Permanence” by Sakyong Mipham

 

How you create suffering

I don’t know about you but when I read philosophy I can have a hard time grasping the concepts in a meaningful, how does this apply to day to day life, kind of way. In other words, I’m always curious about how I can LIVE an idea not just think it. For instance, take the topic of suffering. Sure, in my head, I’ve been bouncing around the idea for a while now… we can’t control the world around us yet most humans try… this habit creates suffering. When we walk around with a lot of expectations about how the present moment and its inhabitants should be, we are contributing to our pain rather than easing it. Today my understanding of how I create my own suffering hit home in a new way. I create suffering… I do that every day, for many minutes of the day.

 

The lie of “supposed to”

For this New England girl, it all starts with the phrase “supposed to.” As in today I was supposed to get a lot of work done on my computer; as in my internet was supposed to be working properly. As in I was supposed to be done by my afternoon full of clients so tonight I could rest with my family. See, none of the things on my list are guaranteed to work, and yet it didn’t stop my mind from grasping at the thought that everything should go according to my plan. The truth is that nothing is fixed and yet every day I rely on things to go MY WAY and when they don’t I repeat the refrain SUPPOSED TO and then I suffer.

 

A concept comes to life

As you read above I had a big list of things I wanted to accomplish today…when the writing was on the wall that my internet was too slow for some tasks due to the weather, I decided to go to the drugstore across the street for some new earbuds while a file was uploading to my computer.

 

I approached the crosswalk at a dangerous intersection and heard my internal grumbling “I hate these people… they are driving too fast… this is a crazy intersection… what are they thinking? They are supposed to drive carefully through here… they are supposed to stop for pedestrians….” I stopped my thinking and reviewed that phrase supposed to. As I finished my walk to the drugstore I realized that I had been torturing myself all day with that phrase. Suddenly I could connect personally to the Buddhist concept of suffering. I had my real-life scenario of how I was reacting to the day as an example of the concept.

 

Desire is suffering

As I watched my mind grasping at how today should be to fit my rigid view of reality, I recognized that I was contributing to my own frustration and experience of having a crappy day. You you can’t totally stop pain. It’s impossible. Pain is part of life and being human. I couldn’t stop the ice from falling from the sky, but I could stop lamenting spring. I could make a choice to re-route my course of action rather than bang my head against the wall. I made my predicament worse by refusing to accept life as is. My desire for a different reality was making me feel terrible! So how to live it differently?

 

Acceptance is the key

I can’t make my internet work. I can’t stop the rain. I can’t force my computer to move faster. What I can do is let myself see what’s happening and respond to it with flexibility rather than with an iron grasp on having my way. I lost an hour of work today because I kept waiting for the internet to speed up. Rather than accept the one bar of cell service my phone was showing me I kept waiting for it to get better. This is what contributed to my frustration. Had I really taken in what I was seeing, I could have taken my walk to the drugstore sooner, maybe even scrapped the project completely for today. When I finally accepted what was happening and shifted to a new plan I felt better!

 

Freedom from suffering

And that’s how I wrote this blog rather than doing the 10 other things I had on my Monday to-do list. I accepted my fate and recognized that this story might be a way for others to consider how they contribute to their own suffering… and could help us all take a step into shifting away from trying to control things and into meeting the day, each other, and ourselves as is.

 

Blessings to you on your journey towards freedom from suffering!

 

Heather Bilotta is a passionate believer in the healing power of self-expression and the importance of connection to community. Her Shake Your Soul®, Kripalu YogaDance, Kripalu R&R classes, one-one SomaSoul® and Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra® healing sessions are infused with heart and creativity and are an opportunity to bring light and acceptance to your whole, unfiltered self. She truly provides a supportive no-judgment zone. Heather teaches at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Cranwell Golf Resort, and beyond. She is continuing her studies in Body-Centered, Subtle Energy Healing in the Professional Training Program at Hartford Family Institute.

Join Heather at the Art of Living Retreat Center from September 28th to 30th, 2018, for Move. Feel. Heal., a SomaSoul® Somatic Therapy retreat to help you unwind, slow down, and soothe your nervous system.

 

This article first appeared on heatherbe.com. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: advice , Buddhism , Heather Bilotta , real life , suffering , wisdom
Bringing Joy into the Body - Art of Living Retreat Center

Exploring Wisdom: Bringing Joy into the Body

By Jody Weber
August 9, 2018

Bringing Joy into the Body - Art of Living Retreat Center

Dance has always been a part of my life. After years of rigorous training, I became a performer in New York City, Washington D.C., and later Boston. For the past 26 years, I’ve also been a choreographer making dances that ask questions about our fundamental relationship with ourselves, and with our beautiful blue planet.

 

Our deep connection with nature

Science has always played a role in my inquiry, and science is now catching up with the power of interconnectivity through works like The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. Both of these books have influenced my most recent work, Her Sylvan Ascent, and profoundly engage our understanding of our relationship with nature and the deeply connected structures that maintain balanced ecosystems.

 

The powerful wisdom of the body

How can we deepen our own connections? How can we find paths to our own inner wisdom to guide choices that are in balance with our own joyous spirit? As a dancer, I believe that the answer includes our full selves. I understand the powerful wisdom of the body and how it can teach us to be in alignment, and I share my upcoming retreat cohost Jon’s profound love of what the natural world can say in response — if we are willing to listen.

 

Communion with the natural world

My path has included work with Alberto Villoldo, whose mentorship has helped me develop a more comprehensive understanding of the way that intuition, meditation, and creativity can be enhanced through physical practice and communion with the natural world. Through this work, I am able to bring the tools of shamanic practice to the workshop, united with movement practices that will open our hearts and help each of us establish a relationship between our physical bodies and the energetic world.

 

Techniques of Joyful Meditation

It was synchronicity that brought Jon and I together many years ago, and I am thrilled to share this weekend with him — and with you. Jon’s marvelous tales from his extraordinary life illuminate a magical world, and I know it will be a special time for all of us. I hope you will join us at the Art of Living Retreat Center in October for Techniques of Joyful Meditation. 

 

Dr. Jody Weber has had a beautiful, fulfilling thirty-year career as a choreographer, teacher, and dance historian working in academia, traveling with her professional company, and working with communities across the nation. She is also a trained shamanic practitioner through the Andean Lineage. As a graduate of Alberto Villoldo’s Light Body School, she is thrilled to offer ancient practices to help clients clear their energy fields, balance their physical bodies, and pursue their life’s work.

     

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: body , creativity , dance , meditation , nature , shaman , wisdom
Bozo on the Bus - Art of Living

In House: Rachel Fleischman on being Bozos on the Bus

By Rachel Fleischman
August 6, 2018

Bozo on the Bus - Art of Living

 

We’re all bozos on the bus,
So we might as well sit back
And enjoy the ride
-Wavy Gravy

 

Like many women in the 21st century, I feel like I need eight arms, like a Hindu goddess, to keep up with myself.

 

I’m a body-oriented psychotherapist, workshop facilitator, yoga student, wife, friend, daughter, ninja flea market shopper. I try to have my shirt buttoned and my skirt ironed up before I sit with a client to give her the best of myself.

 

Bozos on the bus

But in my private life, like you, I am also human: I get mad at my husband, I worry that my friends don’t like me, and almost weekly I wonder if I should get a butt lift like Kim Kardashian.

Elizabeth Lesser, friend and author of the book Broken Open, tells us, “I believe that we’re all bozos on the bus, contrary to the self-assured image we work so hard to present to each other on a daily basis. We are all half-baked experiments—mistake prone beings, born without an instruction book into a complex world.”

   

This is what I sometimes feel like in my darker moments: a bozo camouflaged under decorative diplomas, excellent training and a loving demeanor. I show my best self, hoping people don’t see my vulnerabilities, insecurities and fears. But as a psychotherapist, I know that as we navigate through the landscapes of life, we are called to integrate our shadow parts, our rage, terror, jealousy and other difficult emotions.

Another bozo dance

The other night I led a Dance Your Bliss workshop while hurting from a conflict with a close friend. Our fight had triggered my deepest fear, Am I unlovable? I walked into the workshop I was leading and put on the music for my students. As the sound of African drums filled the room, I began to feel strength and power moving though my hips. In fact, I felt more grounded and alive than I had in months. Instead of a weight dragging me down, my grief and fear had become fuel that I could use for the dance.

I went to bed that night easy in the realization that what has happened between my friend and myself was just a bozo dance that we would be able to set right. In the past, I would have obsessed about the incident, worried about it like a dog with a bone until it festered and oozed, and it would have taken months to clear up.

Invite your pain to dance with you

But I’ve learned a few things. For one, I accepted that I was in the grip of my dark emotions. I didn’t try to put them aside when I went out on the dance floor. Instead I invited the pain to dance with me and through me until it danced itself away.

In the Tibetan tradition, this is called taking tea with your demons. We don’t deny our humanness; instead, we embrace it and then we are free to accept its gifts. I believe that so many of us have a narrative of ourselves that is far less than who we really are.

I want to offer you a loving challenge: can you take your bozo to tea and laugh together at your perfectly human imperfections?

 

Rachel Fleischman, CSW, REAT, helps people move out of their heads and into their bodies to heal. A seasoned psychotherapist, educator, speaker and writer, she is the founder of the Dance Your Bliss™ healing system and the Being Bliss meditation CDs. Rachel has pioneered the combination of psychology with movement, neuroscience, expressive-arts and spirituality.

 

Are you ready for an exuberant, deeply restorative, and life-changing experience? Join Rachel for the Dance Your Bliss™ retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center from October 19th to October 21st.

This article first appeared on Elephant Journal. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: dance , emotions , friendship , in house , learning , pain , Rachel Fleischman , wisdom
Natural Rhythm - Art of Living Retreat Center

Celebrating the Ebb Tide of your Natural Rhythms

By Martha Beck
August 4, 2018

Natural Rhythm - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

You are an ocean. You’re about 60 percent plain water, with an admixture of chemicals that approximate the sea in which your most ancient ancestors evolved. Also like the sea, you are tidal. You ebb and flow. Your heart and lungs continuously contract and expand.

 

Your circadian rhythms alternate between alertness and sleepiness. You also have ultradian rhythms, multiple physical systems that ebb and flow within each day. Ultradian rhythms control things like your hormonal levels, heat regulation, appetite, and nostril dilation. (Yes! Nostril dilation!)

 

Rediscovering your natural rhythm

Unfortunately, you’ve had your natural rhythms disrupted by a culture that praises you for working continuously, and makes you embarrassed or ashamed of the need to rest. But in high performing roles, from musical performance to office work, human beings function best in bursts that max out at 90 minutes. These work periods are interspersed with at least 20-minute periods of R&R (I myself find that 70 minutes on, 30 minutes off, is the best way to get things done).

 

Pay attention

Here’s my challenge for this month: Try tuning into your innate rhythms, allowing ebbs as well as flows, and see what happens. When you settle into work, or play with your children, or clean the house, set a timer for an hour.

 

Before you start, rate your energy level from 1-10, with 1 being “I am so close to dead I can see Grandma beckoning from heaven,” and 10 being “I am on crack and plan to take over the universe.” Work with full attention until the timer rings, then check your energy levels again. If you feel like resting, even a little, do it.

 

Lie down. Wrap yourself in a soft blanket. Read a book. Close your eyes and feel yourself descend into an ultradian peace. After 30 minutes, check your energy again. If you feel like working, set the timer and dive in again. If you don’t, rest a bit longer, then re-check. All day, follow your own rhythm.

 

Finding the pace that works for you

Just paying attention to this will tune you into your own best working pace. If you can keep yourself from comparing your rhythms with others, or insisting on mechanical consistency, or panicking about everything that’s still left to be done (dear, there will always be infinite things left undone) you’ll eventually find yourself working more powerfully and resting more deliciously.

 

Celebrate the resting times

Just to reinforce the importance of ebb, as well as flow, let’s celebrate the resting times. Curl up and rest, cuddled up, eyes closed, nostrils dilated out to here, and trust that when you stop fighting the pull of the tide, the ocean in you will bring everything you need.

 

This article first appeared on marthabeck.com, and is reposted with permission from the author. 

 

Martha Beck, photo by Rich LaburnDr. Martha Beck is a life coach and the New York Times best-selling author of these popular resources for finding your life purpose: Finding Your Own North Star, Steering by Starlight, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, The Joy Diet, and more. She’s also the author of the bestselling memoirs Expecting Adam and Leaving the Saints. Beck’s latest book, Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening, is her first foray into fiction and is the first installment of her Bewilderment Chronicles series.

 

Join Martha at the Art of Living Retreat Center from September 28th-30th for Navigating the Storm, a retreat designed to give you powerful tools to navigate uncharted territory in your life.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: balance , martha beck , Rest , rhythms , wisdom , work

Exploring Wisdom: Slow Down and Be Here Now

By Rachel Fleischman
July 26, 2018

 
Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present. -Babatunde Olatunji

Studies have shown that Americans are more miserable now than ever. With the challenges that we face economically, it can feel as though we are just hanging on by a thread. This is not so. We all underestimate our need to slow down. If we are not careful, we live as if our schedules are our lives. At the end of the day, we haven’t necessarily been present to our own experience. Mary Pipher, psychologist, says “I have never seen people as rushed and distracted as we are now. We have become a nation of multitaskers.”

 

The habit of rushing

I am incredibly fortunate to work with my counseling clients. Seeing such a rich and intimate side of people has helped me identify what elements are essential to slowing down and being here now. I feel incredibly privileged to have such a profound connection with people. However the occasions when we genuinely need to rush are really a lot less frequent than we convince ourselves. The simple truth is that rushing has become a habit for many of us. And it has a negative effect on our mental, spiritual and physical health.

 

Happiness, the body, and the brain

Scientists have studied emotions and their effect on cognition and brain function. When we are in good spirits, our cognitive repertoire is broadened. That means we are more able to problem solve, complete tasks and fulfill goals (Seligman M. E. P., 1991). Happiness has even been proven to increase pain tolerance. Negative emotion narrows our thought-action repertoire; tasks not only seem more arduous, they actually are.

 

When you are rushing the body literally is in panic mode. The physical systems feel as if they are constantly being stressed to meet imaginary deadlines. An occasional shot of adrenaline might be good for you but a continuous stream of it will wear down the body and its immune system. You will tend to get sick more often, feel more fatigued, enervated and listless.

 

When you are rushing mentally, your mind is always ‘on’. Thoughts of things you need to get done and things you have not yet gotten done keep streaming through your mind making you feel out of sorts and unaccomplished. You may even feel panicked and have trouble sleeping and relaxing.

 

One experience at a time

We need to become aware of our daily habits and thoughts. Most of the time when we are rushing, we do not even realize it because it is such an automatic response. By slowing down, and sticking to one experience at a time, we are able to experience more joy. We need to learn to do one thing at a time.

 

Mary Pipher, psychologist, and author of bestselling Reviving Ophelia, says “one of the reasons pets are so popular is that when we are with them, we share their pleasure in being here now. Pets do not live in clock time, and they allow us to rest from chronological time. We join them in older, animal rhythms.” (Seeking Peace, 2009)

 

I have dished up a list of some things you can do today to easily slow down, enjoy one activity at a time, and live with more joy. Get ready to Be Here, Now.

 

Slow your attention

Slowing down helps give our full-attention to what we are doing. Like full-attention Zen, slowing down can put us in the zone, or what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow (“Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”). Try walking more slowly. Pause before responding to questions. Speak more slowly.

Practice meditating

The first years of the twenty-first century have brought about new and surprising findings about how Buddhist contemplative training can affect the brain. The findings include unprecedented levels of brain activation in certain regions of the brain during meditation, evidence that meditation affects brain areas associated with to positive emotions, as well as strong evidence the brain can be changed through prolonged and disciplined mental training. (J. Davidson, et al., Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation, Psychosomatic medicine 65.4 (2003): 564-70.)

Initiate a slowing-down contest

Fnd a friend and email each other some joyful things that you do each day. Your entry can include the simplest of joys; baking, watching a sunset, reading to a child

Check out The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Many folks have found this ground-breaking book very helpful in goal setting and connecting with their creative genius. I believe that we all our geniuses. We just need the time and space to let our amazing selves shine.

 

Keep a gratitude journal

Keep a gratitude journal. This is my absolute favorite new pastime. I love it especially when I am sulking in a moment of gloom and doom. I go to my gratitude journal and put in all the things that happened that I am grateful for, like having a seat on the bus, or getting a card in the mail, or enjoying a lovely meal. (nothing is too small). Start your gratitude journal today, and you will notice that you will attract more good things into your world.

 

Check out these smell-the-roses sites

Slow Down Now

43 Things

Mindful Eating

Slow Food

End the day slowly

Having an evening ritual is a balm to the nervous system. Before you go to sleep make sure that there is nothing stressful going on. Dimming the lights several hours before bedtime relaxes the mind, and intensifies the output of tryptophan, the sleep-inducing hormone. It’s very hard to enjoy a good-night’s sleep after watching the news. Find a slowness ritual that works for you; reading a book, talking to your partner or a friend, drawing, or journaling.

 

Play in nature

This is a lovely way to help you slow down. To enjoy nature you have to be patient. Go to the beach, look at the sea and listen to the waves. Visit the countyside, look at the greenery, and listen to the birds chirping on the trees. Admire the blooming flowers in your garden and study the snail crawling on the ground. These are some of the delightful things that you can do to take it easy.

 

Plant something

Nourishing, feeding, and harvesting a plant can lower blood pressure, strengthen the heart and increase the production of serotonin, the happy chemical. And flowers are beautiful.

 

Have faith

Studies have shown that spirituality affects health. In a study of 1,700 older adults, those attending church were half as likely to have elevated levels of IL-6 (hormones associated with increased incidence of disease)

Men, for the sake of getting a living, forget to live. -Margaret Fuller.

Rachel Fleischman, CSW, REAT, helps people move out of their heads and into their bodies to heal. A seasoned psychotherapist, educator, speaker and writer, she is the founder of the Dance Your Bliss™ healing system and the Being Bliss meditation CDs. Rachel has pioneered the combination of psychology with movement, neuroscience, expressive-arts and spirituality.

 

Are you ready for an exuberant, deeply restorative, and life-changing experience? Join Rachel for the Dance Your Bliss™ retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center from October 19th to October 21st.

This article first appeared on DancingYourBliss.com. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: exploring wisdom , mindfulness , Rachel Fleischman , slow down , wisdom
Opening the Heart - Art of Living Retreat Center

The Practice: Opening the Heart with Yoga

By Val Spies
July 23, 2018

Opening the Heart - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

The study of yoga is so vast, with a rich global history dating back thousands of years. But when you look at the history, writing, and teachings covering it, the one thing we can all connect to, regardless of time or place, is the feeling of the heart.

 

When you really get down to it, yoga opens the heart and provides us a pathway leading to connection with the universal self. We all yearn for this, and we find something of this purification in yoga–a purification that moves us away from distractions and cravings and moves us into the openness of the heart. The heart radiates when we are able to reach that space.

 

Uniting the body, mind, and heart

In asana practice, you start to learn about the intelligence of the body, the intelligence of the mind, and the intelligence of the heart. The goal of yoga is to unite these intelligences, because that unification is where we find ease, peacefulness, and balance.

 

For many years of my life, I was a corporate manager. I experienced what we all experience, which is a constant persuasion to shut down around the heart. We’re not asked to make our decisions from the heart. We’re outright prompted to make decisions from greed, to not be honest or truthful. To grasp for things and to always want more than what we have, and to achieve that by any means possible. We follow this greed and unkindness and become distracted and unsatisfied. We start to shut down and close in on the radiance of our hearts.

 

When my students come into my class, I see that wall. But even a simple asana practice opens the heart back up and begins to heal you. That’s what’s so beautiful about yoga, that opening up of the heart, just like a lotus flower blossoming.

 

The lotus of the heart

As the Chandogya Upanishad says, the space within the lotus of the heart is the same as the great infinite space beyond. Both heaven and earth are contained in that inner space, and both fire and air, sun and moon, lightning and stars.

 

Sri Sri also says in his teachings that bliss cannot be understood, and is extremely difficult to achieve. That all we seek is the Divine union with the Source, and that everything else in the world distracts us from that goal. There are so many unexplainable, incomprehensible ways of not coming home.

 

Everything that we do in yoga is preparing us for meditation. Meditation is the ultimate practice that will take you into more peacefulness. The more we practice yoga and meditation, the more it becomes like the background music of our life, and we’re able to tap into it whenever we need it.

 

Space to explore

Yoga is actually very practical and accessible. There are so many different pathways that are available to everyone. We’re all looking for the same thing. We’re all yearning for that feeling of peacefulness and open heartedness where we’re not afraid to give and receive love, or to be authentic and genuine.

 

It’s important to give yourself space to explore yoga. Sometimes it really does take going up to a beautiful place like the Art of Living Retreat Center to recenter yourself, be present in the moment, and explore your path. To take a break from distractions and technology and spend time in nature. And then when you go home, you have something really beautiful to take with you that you can weave throughout your life. It’s just not the same as struggling to do a meditation for 20 minutes every day. It really gives you a good baseline to build upon.

 

Finding your Dharma

It’s so worth it to step away and move into a space where you can start to seek out your Dharma, your purpose in life. So many of those experiences come to you through nature, which is something we of course have in abundance at the Retreat Center. Nature is one of our most wonderful teachers. Joining the yoga practice at sunrise, and then eating such nourishing food, really everything that is offered at the Center comes together to create a more purified environment for you to really feel the expressions of the heart, to let that space be more radiant for you.

 

Val Spies, E-RYT500, is the owner and director of the Lotus Pond Center for Yoga and Health, originating in 2003. She has been guiding yoga retreats for 12 years and is the lead teacher the Lotus Pond Teacher Training Programs. Together with Melissa Carroll, their expertise is in teaching yoga combined with dynamic, heartfelt sessions on yoga philosophy and creative guidance in retreat immersions.

 

Join Val Spies and Melissa Carroll at the Art of Living Retreat Center from September 28th – October 4th for her retreat, Yoga and Creative Writing. 

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

 
TAGS: asana , heart , holistic wellness , Val Spies , wisdom , yoga

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