Discipline VS Permission: Part One

I recently came across an old voice memo I recorded years ago. In it was a short but powerful message I needed to hear. A message that contains several concepts I often forget again and again though they are quite important in the relationship with myself. I could hardly believe this wisdom was coming from me and it felt profoundly nourishing to listen to my own voice, my Truest Self, shining light on an age old battle between my mind and soul. As I was reflecting on this I felt compelled to share what’s come up. Here’s both the recording and transcription along with some additional musings I’ve turned into this blog series. 

What we need most is not discipline, rather permission. Permission to be who we are, to fully express ourselves in the world. If we have to force ourselves to do something, it is not in alignment with our true nature of divineness. We are not ready. We need more training; training in our own pain and our own suffering at times, but once we become present with that we will be healing through the true barriers to our freedom. It’s the process not the product that provides for us, that feeds our souls. It’s our becoming that is important.

This concept first showed up for me in yoga teacher training back in 2008. It wasn’t something our teacher talked about, but it come through my own direct experience which is actually what yoga promotes as our greatest source of wisdom. As students we were encouraged to do our daily practice (called sadhana) at home every morning between trainings. I had some resistance to this and found the more I judged myself for missing days, the more days I would miss. Guilt and shame began to build month to month as we returned to our weekend long retreats and were encouraged to report our “progress.” At some point I decided to simply let myself off the hook. I changed the mantra in my head from a stern “You need to do your practice!” to a compassionate, 

“You have permission NOT to practice.”

There was something so incredibly freeing in this. I felt a weight was lifted. I felt a new kind of self-love that I was not entirely familiar with yet in my life. Remarkably, at some point soon after I made this shift within, I developed a regular meditation and asana practice without struggle. I woke up with ease and floated to my mat to sit for twenty minutes at a time, something I found daunting before. Practicing postures became intuitive and exciting as my body was liberated from the “shoulds” in my mind. It was perplexing but I consciously released the thinking and trying to understand it and focused instead on simply enjoying what was happening. To this day I find this to be a key component to staying consistent with my practice (and happiness for that matter), 

I allow myself to be human rather than perfect. 

The magic of this type of permission over discipline is in the acceptance. Now there are many layers to this whole acceptance business but for the sake of simplicity, let’s break it down to two things here: embracing resistance and living in our wholeness. 

Embracing Resistance: Often, when we’re coming from the angle of discipline (especially the westernized variety), we’re fighting with ourselves and thereby inherently un-practicing the first teaching of yoga which is ahimsa or non-violence. We’re engaging the ego rather than healing it. Though we’re taught it’s a bad thing, resistance actually holds wisdom for us. It illuminates woundedness that makes it difficult to allow anything loving from ourselves or others. Unhealed wounds breed unworthiness. Instead of judging ourselves when we’re feeling resistant to acts of self-care such as our yoga practice, eating well or setting/holding boundaries in relationships, sit with the experience of it. Notice how it feels in your body, observe the thoughts that feed it. Don’t psychoanalyze, rather befriend resistance and allow it the time and space it needs to teach you whatever it is showing up to give. 

Living In Our Wholenss: You see a lot out there these days about worthiness and/or “enoughness.” Like so many things, the idea of this is cool and all but to embody it is a little more complicated. Additionally, the whole self-help movement is great but I see a down side to it in that the inherent message is you are not ok as you are. If we are constantly trying to change, we never have the chance to just be. It’s in the being that the magic happens. 

I see an example of this over and over again when I teach. One of the most challenging things for students to do is stand in five-pointed star pose (standing with wide legs, arms extended with a tall posture) taking up the space they inhabit. People share feeling awkward, guilty, ashamed, anxious even angry when encouraged to hang out there in their fullness. This is not surprising given that we’re conditioned through our patriarchal systems to fear our innate awesomeness, to play small, to make others feel good but dare not do so for ourselves. We fertilize these toxic seeds of faulty beliefs by constantly “working on ourselves.” Instead, live from the basic yogic tenant that there’s actually no separation between us and God (Source, Spirit, Light-whatever you want to call it). How then would you approach things that enhance that lovin’ feeling?

I’ll be back next blog with more on discipline and permission. Be sure you’re on my email list so you don’t miss it! Join HERE. Also feel free to share your thoughts and questions to add to the exploration of this topic. After all, we’re all learning together! Comment below or email me: [email protected]

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Happy for Hummus

Yes, hummus makes me happy along with a million other things in this beautiful life but we’ll just cover hummus in this blog. I never thought I’d be one to make it at home but I recently married another avid hummus eater and two of the four kids between us love the stuff too. We also get tons of amazing garlic and onions from our farm share and like to limit our plastic use as much as possible. I usually buy dried chickpeas in bulk but you can use canned ones just as well. If you do the dried (which are cheaper by the way) simply soak them overnight then boil till nice and soft. Here’s the rest of the ingredients of this delicious, healthy snack packed with protein, fiber, phytonutrients and flavor!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15oz can)
  • 1 small chopped white or yellow onion
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (fresh or roasted)
  • 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1/4-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Optional: Nutritional Yeast, cumin, diced jalapeños, roasted red pepper, avocado

Mix it all together in a food processor adding more oil and/or water to desired consistency. You may also play with the spices to your taste. Enjoy with crackers or veggies, add to wraps, salads, sandwiches or make some fresh tabouli to go with it. Check out my video for detailed guidance and a dash of fun.

 

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Equinox Blessing-free video!

It’s been a wild week for many of my clients; intense emotions, old patterns taking over, fear and doubt running rampant. I can’t say I’m surprised, this time of year can hit folks hard. There are powerful energetic shifts as we transition seasons. This can be felt to a lesser extent during the full moon phase each month but things really amp up during these quarterly events. One of my go to skills for bringing things back in balance is deepening into the Moon and Sun Salutations. Instead of flowing through breath to breath with each movement, I hang out and explore variations. Work with one of each or go back and forth between the two, just be sure to do equal amounts of each. I created this video practice to get you started. Take a few minutes to warm up and use props as you like. Practice on!

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Sassy Salsa

It’s that time of year when you can find my hubs and I camped out in the kitchen putting up tons of yummy tomatoes to get us through the winter. While were cooking and canning big batches of pasta sauce, cooked salsa and stewed tomatoes to dine on later, we also whip up fresh salsa to savor with our favorite Mexican meals. We also enjoy it as a simple snack with chips or to spice up our morning eggs. Head to your Farmer’s Market or favorite grocery store for some fresh summer tomatoes (and a few other key ingredients) to make this delicious side dish for yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Roma or garden tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped.
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves.
  • pinch of cumin 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

Simply mix your chopped veggies together, dash on the spices, and drizzle the lime juice over it all. Mix well and serve. You can also add 1/2 an avocado if you like! This keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days if it lasts that long;) Salsa on!

 

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Presto Pesto

Summer brings many wonderful things; sunshine, flowers, butterflies, good times and lots of fresh food. An easy thing to grow at home or find at your local Farmer’s Market is fresh basil. Packed with antioxidants and phenolics, this culinary herb is a rich source of vitamin K, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber. In this blog I show you how to turn a bunch of basil into a delicious sauce for pasta, sandwiches, soups and more. Basil is also:

  • anti-inflammaroty
  • antioxidant
  • cancer-fighter
  • analgesic (pain-reducer)
  • antipyretic (fever-reducer)
  • hepatoprotective (liver-protector)
  • immune booster

 

Pesto pairs basil with another fabulous food: garlic. Known for it’s cardio protective properties, immune boosting and more, garlic adds a beautiful bite to this recipe. Store your pesto in a Mason jar like in the pic above for up to 3 days in the fridge or freeze for longer storage. Click below to make some magic with me!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

 

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Gentle Life

Gentle Life

I lay by the water 
full of heartache
A child gone
her soul moved on

Confused
by my pain
Why is it this way?

A friend
A colleague
A Mother like no other

I can’t imagine her loss

There’s a pull to rise 
to speak her name
Speak to her
though it may be in vain

Serena,
I did not know you well on Earth
yet I was struck by your strength
your grace

I don’t know what to do
but I am open to your wisdom
your Truth                                                      

From the stillness
a few simple words emerge

Live a gentle life.

Dear Friends,

I write to you through tears. A friend of mine just lost her daughter. Serena had CF and we knew her life would be “limited” but this unfolded much sooner than expected. While I could present any number of other topics for this month’s post, this is what’s most present for me right now and my heart was called to share this sweet message from Serena. Of course I could keep writing about this concept and expound yoga’s teachings (God knows I love to go on and on…), it feels right to leave this light and simply say I love you.

Namaste,
Julie

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Investment Strategy

Ever notice how much time we spend thinking about things that cause us stress? It’s such a habit to let our attention drift to drama. To allow our mental energy to slip into the fear zone where it becomes comparison, judgement, doubt, pessimism, etc. Can you relate? I know I can! I have to call upon my yoga practice multiples times a day in a multitude of situations to help me stay in the love zone. Here I not only feel better but I’m more effective in every area of life. In this blog we explore the concept of awareness and how to direct it so we’re reaping the benefits of health, happiness and service in this crazy world.

Awareness is the greatest agent of change.

Eckhart Tolle

A couple weeks ago I met with a friend to discuss some concerns she had about a situation we’re both connected to. This friend is someone I have deep respect for and I was excited to catch up and process what was going on. Much to my dismay, the conversation was painful. The details don’t matter, but I was met with judgement and micro aggressions that were so incredibly uncharacteristic. As we walked and talked I became more aware of what this was triggering for me and the reactivity that wanted to take center stage. At the same time, I was also aware of who I know this person to truly be and an intuition that there was something more going on beyond the topic at hand. 

Drawing on my practice, I let myself breathe with the agitation I was feeling and directed my awareness to the truth within even though it was a more subtle sensation. Grounding into the moment through the five senses helped keep the discomfort from building into a compulsion to lash out. While we ended on a “good” note, things still felt unsettled as we parted. I tried to stay with the conflicting inner stirrings about the interaction with a focus on compassion towards myself and my friend.

The next morning in meditation, I realized my deeper emotion of hurt. I worked to feel through that and to stay connected to the love I know to be at the core of this relationship by practicing Loving Kindness Meditation. Early that afternoon she texted an apology for being “off” yesterday and shared that she was going through some other, unrelated things that affected our conversation. I felt a huge relief and was so glad I didn’t fall into past patterns of letting my pain take center stage and create conflict. This is just one example of how working with our awareness can decrease stress, progress our personal growth and enhance relationships. Had I not invested my awareness towards more that my agitation, I would have likely experienced a lose of friendship. 

a·ware·ness
əˈwernəs/
noun
  1. knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.
    “we need to raise public awareness of the issue”
    synonyms: consciousness, recognition, realization
    2. concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development.
    “a growing environmental awareness”

 The mind tends to focus on pain, on discomfort. It’s part of human nature to do so and it actually serves a purpose as far as basic survival goes. Problem is, this dynamic gets in the way in more complex scenarios like the one above, or say…POLITICS (lol). Think of stubbing your toe. A toe is one small part of the body but man can it take all of our awareness! The same is true for when we’re triggered, i.e.. when we are scared, hurt, angry, ashamed, etc. We want to know what’s going to happen next when we are in a vulnerable state and we want to know we are in control. Reality is, that’s not how life works. Acceptance of what is is another place to invest our awareness that gives us a big return of peace and empowerment. Here are some other places to focus your awareness to gain more grace and goodness in life.

Gratitude

Yes, I know this is obvious but I find most people can use the reminder (myself included).

Hope

hōp/

noun 

1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal

2. a feeling of trust.

Facts

All facts, not just the ones that align with your opinions, privilege or fear.

Abundance

Scarcity is an expression of fear and limits potential, yours and others.

Compassion

Find the common ground, the lessons, the grace.

All this is not to say to ignore what’s painful. Notice in my example above that I fully acknowledged my emotions. This step is imperative but be sure to also widen your lens to all the other aspects of your experience and the world as it is. Meditation is the best way to expand and direct awareness. Work your way up to twenty minutes a day for best results. I offer a new meditation every month in the Membership Area in addition to all the chakra meditations in the free Body Peace eCourse. Let me know how things are going in the comments below and stay connected (if you aren’t already) through my free monthly newsletter by signing up through the image to your left. Thanks for reading! Namaste.

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Glorious Granola

Crunch time! My ex-husband once called me a “granola-lovin’, tree-hugging hippie” as an insult. I took it as a compliment! In honor of Gary and the way yoga helps us feast upon the goodness in life, let’s make some delicious, nutrient-rich granola together. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2c flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp-1tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2c melted coconut oil
  • 1/2c maple syrup
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 mejool dates, pitted and chopped
  • optional additions: cocoa nibs, chopped nuts, other dried fruits, coconut flakes, etc. 

Instructions: See the video below to follow along with me.

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Fill a glass liquid measuring cup with coconut oil a bit over the 1/2c mark and start it melting on low heat on the stove top OR you can melt it in a small saucepan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine your dry ingredients which are the first four things listed above.
  3. Chop your dates and mix them into the dry ingredients evenly coating them with flour.
  4. Add in “optional additions” and mix together evenly.
  5. Once your coconut oil is melted, mix the maple syrup and vanilla extract in with it. Whisk liquids for 30 seconds then pour over the dry mixture and stir it all together till oats and additions are covered.
  6. Spread your wet granola on a large baking sheet in an even layer covering the whole pan. Bake for exactly 20 minutes.
  7. Remove granola from the oven and gently “stir” it around using a spatula and evenly spreading it out again.
  8. Bake for another 20 minutes then remove from the oven and let cool a bit before eating. Once fully cooled store in an air tight glass container to keep in super fresh and crunchy.

Enjoy your creation plain, with milk of your preference, in yogurt, smoothie bowls or with fruit. I’d love to hear how you like it and what variations you make. Also feel free to let me know what other recipes you’d like to see.

Happy Snaking!

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When Your Plans Implode

Have you ever noticed how life likes to change the game on you unexpectedly?

I just had one such experience that led me to pause and reflect on the old adage, “The best laid plans…” My daughter and I planned an epic trip from May 6-Aug. 2, the first few legs of which went really well. We started in Texas visiting friends and our horses then off to LA to see the city. From LA we drove south a couple of hours to visit another friend and more horses. From there, we headed to Hawaii for a summer of WWOOFING. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming. Basically, farmers host “WWOOFers” who come to learn and work in exchange for food and lodging. It’s a chance to immerse in conscious agriculture and different communities and to get to travel among other things. It’s something Elle and I have dreamed of doing and finally had the chance to get away for. 

Well…despite diligent planning and communication with our farm host, it was not what we were told it would be. The short of it is, unhealthy living conditions (mold, cockroaches, scorpions), unhealthy meals (and believe me, Elle and I are pretty easy to please in the food department), and incredibly rude “hosts.” In addition, the actual farm opportunities were nothing like what our host told us. It was very limited. 

My initial reaction was an old pattern one for me which was to minimize the situation, to abandon the truth of things as not to “be a problem.” This is common for those of us who have experience trauma, especially physical and emotional abuse. Though I’ve worked long and hard on my healing, those default survival patterns can still show up, especially in crisis situations. Elle helped me snap out of this. The next ego trip I went through was the classic, “What will people think?” I snapped myself out of that one real quick. 

It never matters what others think. Your truth is what matters. What’s best for you (that does not intentionally hurt others) is what matters. 

Once we shared our concerns and got out of there, I was able to start the process of “getting the lessons.” In the past, I would have had a really hard time moving on from something like this. I credit my spiritual journey, much of which has been the path of yoga, for helping me learn to shift from disappointment and frustration to growth and inspiration rather quickly. Here’s what I learned (or was reminded of) from this experience and a summary of my process for flowing through plot twists less suffering.

I learned/remembered:

  • GRATITUDE: I have an amazing life right here. I’ll admit I got a little caught up in the fantasy of “it’s better out there.” It usually isn’t and won’t be if you’re not fully appreciating what is already present in your life.
  • You always have what you need: If I want to learn farming, there are TONS of opportunities right here in my local community.
  • We are never in control: Sigh, can someone just tattoo this on my forehead please. I was so sure this would work out because I “did everything right.” I over communicated, I researched, I planned and planned but at the end of the day, we are co-creating with the Universe and what manifests is Divine even if our egos’ don’t think so or our minds’ can’t see the forest through the trees.

The process:

  1. Feel the truth of the situation: Plans are usually based on hopes and dreams and when they don’t work out there is a grief emerges. Admit that it sucks that things didn’t work out. Resist the urge to simply “look on the bright side” right away and instead let yourself express the sadness, anger, fear, etc.. Talk about it with loved ones. Journal it out and be sure to slow down and rest. It takes energy to process emotions and doing so brings clarity as to the next steps to take. Even though we were in paradise, Elle and I took the first couple days after leaving the farm to mainly hang out in the hotel.
  2. Handle any loose ends: I reported this incident to the WWOOF organization which will help this host improve and/or prevent anybody else from going through what we did. Depending on your situation, what needs to happen will vary. This may not be comfortable but is necessary for moving on.
  3. Embrace the coarse change: This will be easy to do if you completed step one. If you find it hard, return back to that first step and do the emotional work. Tap in to gratitude here too, it usually “could have been worse.” Also, when things don’t happen in our life, its probably means we don’t need that experience or it’s not the right time. Let go and let life lead.

The bottom line is, life is dynamic. It’s a play, Lila, is what it’s called in the yogic tradition. You can’t take it too seriously but you can trust there is love in the chaos and that you are whole of heart no matter what manifests. Enjoy the ride!

P.S. Is this your first time to my site? If so, welcome! And be sure to sign up for my email list for a free gift and monthly broadcasts. Also check out my Membership  for fresh classes and more every month. 

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Simple Sushi (no fish needed)

Are you a sushi fan?

It took me a long time to come around to this popular cuisine.

My main resistance was that I don’t do raw fish. Come to find, you don’t even need fish! That said, seafood is still an option if you do like it cooked. The pic to the right shows a “California Roll” which has cooked crab in it. My second barrier to trying this delicious treat was that it would not be satisfying. I expected I’d be hungry an hour later. I’ve discovered this not to be the case. Now that I tried sushi, it’s one of my favorite on-the-go meals because I can pick it up at most of my local grocery stores. Since I like it so much I decided to give it a try at home. Here’s the basics for making a simple veggie or California roll. From this recipe you can get creative and make your own sushi magic to match you appetite. 

Ingredients & Directions:

  • 1 cup dry sushi rice
  • 2 sheets nori (seaweed paper)
  • 1/2c shredded carrots
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced lengthwise in 1/c strips
  • 1/2 medium cucumber cut lengthwise in 1/2 in. strips
  • Optional: cooked crab (imitation is what I used here), pickled ginger, wasabi, soy sauce
  1. Cook the rice per package directions. Generally 1:2 ratio of rice to water. Boil water then add rice and reduce heat to medium. Cook covered for 20min. 
  2. While rice is cooking, slice carrots (or buy pre-cut as shown), cucumber and avocado. 
  3. Let rice cool enough to work with. You can buy a bamboo sushi roller thingy like I did but honestly, I found it unnecessary. Lay a piece of wax paper down or just work on a clean cutting board. Lay your nori sheet down and gently spread the rice with the back of a large spoon. Cover the paper evenly about 1/2 in. thick.
  4. Lay your ingredients lengthwise at one edge then gently roll it up. Cut with a serrated knife into bite size pieces as shown above. Serve right away or chill for 30min first. Stores well for 2 days.

I love mine with lots of ginger and wasabi. Play with adding different veggies like snap peas and peppers. Some people even add fruit! Bon Appetite! 

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