Body Check

If you’ve been coming to my class or have had a Wellness Assessment with me, you will have heard me asking for a Body Check.

Your body has a lot to say to you, and when it talks, we benefit A LOT by listening to it rather than by dismissing or complaining about it.

The Body Check is taking a moment to pay attention to what’s happening inside of you, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. You don’t have to look hard for it or make something up. You just need to pay attention to what’s calling out at the moment while you are listening. More often than not, your body is calling out, and you aren’t listening.

Here are some examples of what comes up for people when I say, “First thing in the morning when you wake up. Body Check.”

I’m not ready. I dread the day ahead of me.

I’m stuffed up and I can’t breathe.

I feel rested. The morning is the best part of my day.

I feel my lower back pain.

My neck hurts.

I don’t know. When my alarm rings, I jump out of bed and hit the shower and start my day.

In the Wellness Assessments, I ask for a body check at 4 different hours of the day. Regular body checks will give you insight into what’s working and what’s not if you use them for what they are– your guiding system. If you wake up dreading the day, your body is telling you to make a change (i.e. diet, bedtime routine, ruminating thoughts, actions) so that you may wake up feeling good again.

If you’ve been sitting at your laptop for too long, your body may start to feel stiff, and you might feel emotionally cramped. Your body might be telling you that you need to get up, stretch, and drink a glass of water, or get some fresh air. Ignoring these signs, especially over time, will cause the body to stop whispering and start screaming. Or it can go into hiding and it will take a lot more to figure out what’s wrong.

If you take these signs to simply mean that you are aging, or that today just isn’t going well for you, or to complain about the ache, or identify with them in a way that is self-deprecating, then you’ve essentially dismissed your body’s intelligence that is communicating to you that a shift is necessary to move back into wholeness. Its messages are revealing and they wake us up to do something about it. These messages are gifts guiding us towards continuous self-love and self-care. The longer we wait to listen, the more challenging, chronic, urgent and expensive the “prescriptions” for change becomes.

Body Checks require tuning in throughout the day, for as little as 15 seconds, and paying attention to what comes up. The rest will happen on its own, because the more you start paying attention, the better you will hear your body’s messages. The better you hear, the more likely you will listen. The more you listen, the more you begin to trust yourself. The more you trust yourself, the better you feel about yourself. There is a cost to not stopping and plowing through the day. Disconnect from the body happens, and choices become artificial and externally oriented. Tune in. Feed the intelligence that is your body. Feed your Soul.

Understanding each other is a no-fault zone

At some point in my adult life, I realized that I held the key to my own experiences. Others might impact them, but at the end of the day, my responses dictate my ultimate experience. 

Looking for who’s at fault when things don’t go our way is a complete waste of time and energy and only serves to separate us further from one another. Same with making a list of how the other person needs to change. Sharing that list with them almost guarantees war followed by hours, days, or years of frustration. Blaming ourselves is just as futile. This is different from taking responsibility for our own experiences. While blaming makes us stuck in the past and creates more of the same in the future, taking responsibility empowers us and changes our future.  

When I am frustrated with someone, I go through the following questions: 

  • What did I mean to convey by what I said? Did I straight talk, or did I go about it sideways? Was I sharing myself, or was I blaming or talking about someone else? 
  • How did the other person receive what I said? We can’t fault the other for receiving our message “incorrectly,” because we all receive things through our own filter. If we want to connect with others, we benefit from doing our best to meet them where they are, because they first need to feel understood. Expecting them to meet us where we are is expecting them to change first, which is fine if we don’t want to get anywhere. The question is, is our intention to be right or to do right? 
  • How have I enabled this situation? What have I allowed in the past? Is this another area where I didn’t set healthy boundaries for myself?
  • Am I digging my heels in deeper on this one, just to feel in control, to command respect? Is it really worth it and why? 
  • Is this my work? If it is, then being open to looking at things from a different lens and experiencing some discomfort around it could be the next lesson for me. If not, and this person is important to me, I can accept that this is their work and let them work through it. Meaning, I won’t try to fix it, nor will I beat myself up over it. By knowing this isn’t my work, I will treat the situation differently and more compassionately than I am now. I accept the person for where they are, just as I am sure that others are accepting me where I am.

This can be extra challenging if your hunger to be understood is strong. This is where the kundalini practice comes in. It expands capacity to understand and accept yourself well enough that you can bring that understanding back to others. Communication and understanding are a no-fault zone because we are each other’s mirror.

The key to understanding others is to understand yourself.  –Anonymous

Catching up to each other.

In our personal evolution, we are somewhere between the beginning of it and much further along. It is likely that, for most of us, the journey isn’t close to being over.

If you think back 1, 5, 10 years ago, where were you on that journey? Imagine if someone who was “ahead” of you in their journey judged your past self for being “behind” back then. They may still be judging you for being “behind” today if they “maintained their lead”.

Does their judgment, prodding and expectations that you catch up to where they are help you grow?

Probably not.

Would you want them to give you the space to do it in your own time, on your own terms, and in your own way?

Probably.

Before judging others for being “so far behind”, think about how you would want others to receive you as you are today. Think about letting others have their experiences in their own time and in their own way. In the meanwhile, consider living in your own evolution. Do what you need to do, and support others in where they are… because most likely, they are doing the best they can, just like you are doing the best that you can.

It’s everyone’s best chance at catching up to each other.

Day 3, 2019: what comes after NO?

At the end of the day, the reason that we do much of what we do is to feel good: fulfilled, purposeful, like we matter.

3 days into the New Year, are you in the same auto-pilot that you were in in 2018? Our desire for self-preservation can often cause us to stay in that mode because it’s perceivably no-risk, and changing our routine can feel exhausting and full of risk, and that would not feel good…

On the morning of January 1st, I asked my community to close their eyes and to catch the first thing that came up when I asked the question, what was unacceptable to you in the previous year? What was your NO? 

As babies turn into toddlers, they say NO – to our dismay – to test their boundaries and to find their sense of Self. It’s what leads to the YES– who are they then, if they aren’t their mom or dad?

Knowing what we don’t want, what we don’t want to be, what experiences we don’t want to have, what situations we don’t want to be in, is important. But staying there puts us in danger of growing cynical, disempowered, frustrated, bitter, and stuck in a cycle or unwanted experiences. Knowing our NOs are indeed critical for the next step, which is to ask, what do I want? How do I want to be? What experiences do I want to have? Our NOs open up opportunities to turn things around and better inform what we need to do to step into who we truly are.

Let your NOs be the prompters they are, helping you find your YES so that you may start paying attention to, and act according to, that which is most aligned with your Soul’s desires.

Fate & Destiny

Fate can be looked at as the way the wind blows. If you were on a sailboat, you might be moved according to its direction.  This is where you might say, “Well what could I do? I can’t help the wind.” Or, “How lucky was that??” Fate is the circumstances of your life (the wind) that your soul has chosen to experience in order to grow in this lifetime. 

Destiny is when you use the sail’s rudder in response to the wind to move in the direction you want to go. This is where you understand your own personal power as co-creator. Destiny is your life purpose, and it gives direction. From fate comes the experience, the growth, and the lessons that supports your destiny. 

Safe to be yourself

If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.

Brene Brown

It feels vulnerable to be your most honest self. Scary as it is, so is the above list. But one brings you closer to you, and closer to Joy, while the other takes you further away. 

Vulnerability is scary, but it’s also the source of your true power, because within it is the real you, and the real you is powerful by nature. 

Mool Mantra to strengthen your sense of Self. It has the vibration of empowerment and increased sense of security.

Ek Ong Kar, Sat Nam
Karta Purkh, Nirbao Nirvair
Akaal Moorat Ajoonee
Saibung Gurprasad Jap
Aad Such, Jugaad Such
Haibee Such, Nanak Hosee Bhee Such

The game-changing practice

In these 11 days leading up to Winter Solstice, our instructors are teaching Surya Kriya in their classes at Urban Yoga Chicago. Surya Kriya is a kundalini yoga set that cultivates the sun energy in you, so while the days get shorter, you may have increased ability to tap into the light within you, and feel hearty, energized, focused, clear, and happier. I encourage clients to practice this at home on the days they don’t come in, and in fact, some take it further and commit to doing this kriya for 40 consecutive days. 

According to the Kundalini Yoga tradition, it takes 40 days to create a habit, 90 days to confirm it, 120 days to make it who you are, and 1000 days to master it. The idea is to choose a kriya or meditation that works on the result you are looking for, and to do it for the appropriate amount of days. If you miss a day, you start over from Day 1.  

The truth is, it matters less which kriya or meditation you choose. The real benefit is in committing to the practice for those consecutive days. When you can commit and follow through with this no matter how crazy life gets, or no matter how bored, or how over the practice you are, it cultivates command, grit and caliber of Self within you. This commitment doesn’t come from the outside, but from inside of you: your highest Self.

Because this is self-directed and with no other perceived external reward (like money, promotion or even a high-five from your peers), it is especially effective in cultivating healthy boundaries and sharpening discernment with you as your own reference point. If you break your commitment, no one else has to know. It’s all you. It teaches self-care and nourishment from the angle of self-mastery rather than self-indulgence. And it’s a game changer.