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destination

First of all, I must apologize for the lateness in this post. But as you continue reading, I think you’ll get an idea of why it’s taken me so long to get this together.

Since my last post, so much has happened for me…especially internally! Probably the biggest thing that happened is that I finally, after 5 YEARS, completed the curriculum for my 500-hour yoga certification (RYT-500). I’m the type of person who doesn’t believe in slamming in training after training without taking the time to process it and figure out what it means to me, and how I will use it for myself and my students. Or at least, that’s how I approach the things that really matter to me…and yoga is such a huge part of my life! So I took my time and I don’t regret it for a minute.

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(Here I am in front of the Asheville Yoga Center after receiving my certificate…I thought standing in front of this quote was PERFECT!)

Throughout this program, I figured out pretty quickly that I had a passion for working with people in a therapeutic capacity. In my life, there are so many I know who have issues with anxiety, depression, stress, chronic illness, injury…so many people suffering who feel hopeless. And guess what? I’ve dealt with each and every one of these things myself, and yoga has been a huge part in helping me manage these things since 1999. So while I may not be an expert in every area, I truly do feel I know quite a lot, and I feel I can use what I have learned to help others live a more productive and healthy life.

So, I’m done with this wonderful program and I’m thinking, “What now? What do I do with all this in a way that is authentic to who I am?” Several have told me over the past few years that I’d be a really good life/health coach, as I have learned SO much not just about yoga, but about the four pillars of health (Sleep, Movement, Nutrition, Stress Management). I’ve done SO much research over the years, and have found so many useful resources that help me manage my chronic illness…because when I slack in one of the four areas, my symptoms flare and I am MISERABLE!

But ME? A health coach? How would that work, if I am still a work in progress? I mean, don’t I have to be perfect in every way if I’m to coach others to find their healthiest and happiest selves? Am I healthy enough to be a health coach?

After meditating on this for WEEKS (well, if I am being totally honest, I’ve been meditating on this for months), and after doing quite a bit of research and having some heart-to-heart conversations with trusted friends and family, I decided something. When I really thought about it, even though I’m not perfect and am still actively working towards finding my sweet spot, I am doing my best to eat real food, exercise, and surround myself with positivity. And from what I gather, that makes me already WAY ahead of the curve, and that makes me more than qualified to help others.

Ever since I came to this realization, things have been falling in my lap that basically let me know it’s time to stop thinking about it and take action. So much so that this week, I did the SECOND biggest thing to happen to me since my last post…I took a big leap and enrolled in an Integrative Wellness & Life Coach Certification program with Integrative Wellness Academy. I really like their program curriculum, and the best part about it is that I have to go through the whole process myself, which will allow me to really understand what I’ll be putting my future clients through. I’ve already started, and am loving the content. And I’ll be honest…completing the Client Intake Form (which is the first thing a client of mine would need to do) was SO hard! It made me really take a long, hard look at ALL areas of my life and analyze where things are good and where things are in need of some revamping. There were some questions that I wanted to answer in a way that made me look better, but in the end, I decided to be totally and brutally honest. Which was HARD! But also freeing. It felt great to let go of some stuff I’ve been holding on to, and I can’t wait to see how MY coach will help me along the way.

I’m so excited! Excited to learn something new. Excited to know that I’ll have even more tools to help others. Excited to figure out how I will merge what I’ll learn in this life coach program with yoga, so that I can offer something unique while being authentic to who I am.

Part of me is scared to be sharing this, because what if I fail? But then I thought about how many signs have been given to me by God, telling me this is the right thing to do. Because believe me…God knows how stubborn I am, so he knows he needs to bombard me before I’ll actually notice and listen!

However, I know I’ve already helped many  people over the years, because they’ve told me so. This is just one more way for to me to formalize it a bit more, and gain more confidence in my abilities and knowledge.

Also, by putting this out there in BlogLand, I am hoping my readers will hold me accountable. Maybe some of you might even be interested in working with me, allowing me to get some practice and some honest feedback. If this is something you’re interested in, please e-mail me at scyogagirl@gmail.com and let’s try and work out a plan.

Now, does this mean I’m going to quit my corporate job? Not at all. I enjoy my job, and I am making a difference there, so I have no plans to leave that. But this coaching/yoga thing is something I feel drawn to, and I definitely feel it’s part of my future, so I need to see this through and figure out how to work it in to my life. I love the quote above by Martin Buber, as it really sums up how I feel right now…my journey is definitely proving to me that there are destinations meant for me that I am not even aware of yet. And I sure plan on enjoying the journey and learning every step of the way.

Namaste,

Melanie

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“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~~ Carol Sobieski

This week has been bittersweet for me. On Wednesday, I taught my very last regular yoga class. I am “retired”, as they say. I’ve been teaching yoga regularly, each and every week, since November 2002. That’s almost 13 years!

My feelings about this are a mixed bag, if I am being completely honest. I think I’ve run the whole gamut of emotions over the past couple of weeks. I’ve experienced sadness, fear, anxiousness, relief and happiness over this decision. Yoga has been one of the biggest parts of my identity over these past 13 years…people call me the “yoga lady” at my full-time job and I constantly get people asking me for some sort of yoga-related help. Yoga is what I keep telling people I’m meant to do with my life, so how could I make this decision?

Well, to be perfectly frank, I’ve been thinking about this for MONTHS. Yes, you read that right. I don’t make rash decisions, especially not when it comes to something I feel is my path in life — and when I have become so attached to my students — so I thought long and hard about what to do. Some of my closest friends know about my struggles, and I am so very thankful for their many words of wisdom over these past months, as I’ve agonized over what to do.

My reasons for stepping away from teaching aren’t anything earth-shattering. But I can only ignore the signs from the Universe for so long before I finally have to listen, right?

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I’ve been dealing with Lyme Disease for years. Stress causes flare-ups of my symptoms, and I am not a person who handles stress well. I’ve got a stressful, full-time job in the Healthcare IT arena, I’ve got a husband and two daughters, two dogs (one of which just got diagnosed with her second mast cell tumor that is most likely cancerous, since her first one was), I’m working through the Toastmasters program, AND trying to teach yoga in the spaces in between.

My doctors — all of them — have been telling me for what feels like forever that I can’t do it all. That I need to rest more. That I need to take care of ME. Someone with my health issues has GOT to back off and recover. My best friends tell me the same things. So does my family. So does my massage therapist.

Well I heard what they told me, but secretly, I just kept trucking along. I pared back as much as I could (or at least, I thought I had). I mean, I gave up ALL of my classes except for one. I even got better at not responding “Yes” to every sub request sent my way. Yoga is part of who I am, part of my soul, so how could I give it up totally? Right???

Well, things have gotten more stressful as of late, as my youngest daughter made the competitive Cheer squad at her middle school. She will be practicing 4 days per week, and will have competitions to compete in. It’s funny, but as soon as I found out she made the team, I instantly — FINALLY — knew. I knew I had to give up teaching altogether so I can get well and be there for my daughter.

The Universe finally hit me over the head, and everything became clear. All these years, I’ve looked at all the other women around me who seem to be able to “do it all”. The women who seem to be able to have a full-time job, a beautiful family, a spectacular house, can somehow manage to teach yoga (or whatever other side passion they have), and exercise whenever they need to in order to look perfect. All these years, I’ve felt that I must do the same. Otherwise, I don’t stack up, right? If they can do it, then I should be able to as well. Isn’t that how it works?

But the day my daughter made the cheer squad, suddenly I just knew that I am not one of those women. Melanie Deal cannot do it all. My health is constantly reminding me of that, and on that day, I knew I finally had to listen.

My daughter is only young once. My oldest is already out of the house, as she just started her Sophomore year of college. She doesn’t need me in the same ways as she did when she lived at home. But my youngest daughter is still here and she needs me. She’s in 7th grade, so before I know it, she will be in college and won’t need me like she does now.

So you see, the decision is clear. I think I need this anyway, as I have been feeling for quite some time that the type of teaching I’d been doing wasn’t where my heart was anymore. My health struggles, though challenging and frustrating, have been rewarding at the same time. I’ve had lots of people reach out to me who are also dealing with health issues, and I think I’ve helped them in some way with what I’ve learned on my own journey. I am strongly being pulled towards working with “special needs” people, but haven’t had the time to explore it in great detail.

Well, now I have time on my hands to do that. Time to come up with a plan and figure out how to use my yoga in a new way. Preparing for a regular class each week left me with no time to really explore how to branch out. But now, I will have more time for me, which will allow me to meditate on how to move forward in the future.

Believe me, I am not going to do anything drastic anytime soon. I truly am going to take this time and work on getting better. I am going to take this time to spend more quality time with the people I love. I am going to take this time to work on doing the things that I love.

And then, when the time is right, a new journey will begin.

Namaste,

Melanie

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. ~~ Attributed to Hanoch McCarty

Several posts ago, I wrote about how I’ve dubbed myself the Happiness Advocate. I truly feel it’s my mission to help everyone, including myself, find happiness. We all deserve happiness, in my opinion. It’s our God-given right. He didn’t create us in His image with the intention for us to be miserable all the time, after all.

In my last post, I admitted I’ve been struggling with my own journey. I’ve gotten a lot better when I do the mirror exercise, though, and I am finding it easier not to pick myself apart in terms of what I see from a physical aspect.

But there is another area in my life where the struggle is worse than it’s been in a LONG time…my insecurity with being “good enough” in the things I do. Constantly feeling like I’m “less than” everyone else and feeling like I don’t measure up. I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles with this…am I?

NotGoodEnough
(My daughter, Morgan, graciously helping me out for this post)

Being noticed for what we do or make is something we all crave. It helps us feel affirmed, to know that we are of value and that we are significant. It’s not wrong to want this, but it can certainly make us feel very vulnerable at times…sometimes to the point of detriment. When we aren’t noticed, then sometimes we resort to comparing ourselves to others.

It’s not uncommon to compare ourselves to others…this is also part of human nature. The unhealthy part about it is when we start to talk ourselves into the notion that the people we are comparing ourselves to are better than us.

    She’s beautiful.
    He’s so amazing with calculations.
    She has a successful career.
    She’s a kick-ass yoga instructor.
    They have more money.
    She gets to stay at home with her kids.
Her house is so pristine…it’s like a museum!

If you’ve been following me for a bit, you know that low self-esteem is something I struggle with, and I thought I’d been very diligent as of late to address it in order to find my happiness. So why has the past month been so hard for me in this area? I seem to constantly be comparing myself to everyone around me, and I come away most of the time feeling like I am just not good enough at the things I do.

Last week, I really started to get frustrated with myself for doing this. I wondered, “WHY? Why have I been beating myself up these past few weeks? Why do I feel “less than” in every aspect of my life…as a professional, as a yoga teacher, as a wife, as a mother, and as a friend? WHY?”

So I took a self-imposed time out and meditated on it a bit. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the source of the problem.

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t done the things I need to do for myself. When I get super busy, I tend to just PUSH PUSH PUSH, like a well-oiled machine, focusing on the task at hand until it’s done. I’m such a perfectionist that I can’t stop comparing myself to how others are doing “it” better than I am, so then I get paranoid and start over, trying to be better than before. I drive myself crazy when I do this, but this is how I roll, apparently.

When I get this way, I forget to stop and take some “me” time. As I thought about it, I realized I didn’t remember the last time I’d meditated. And that I’d been very sporadic with my exercise habits. I’d been missing more yoga sessions than I cared to admit. No WONDER I’d been such a wreck and was acting really horrible to myself…again!

During my “time out”, I came to realize two things:

  1. I create these comparisons to others all by myself. No one told me I needed to be better at anything…I did that to myself. It’s ME who subscribes to the “he/she is better than me” mindset.
  2. I have the power to do something about it. It is MY reaction, MY brain…which means I control how I react.

As I meditated some more on it, I knew that I needed to get better at changing my thought patterns and habits. It’s not an overnight change, though. It takes a lot of hard work and practice, and self-forgiveness, to teach yourself to realize how awesome you truly are. So here’s how I plan to tackle this and get my life to a point where I can be happy with exactly who I am, and be comfortable that I am exactly who God intended me to be:

  1. Try new things. A change in routine can be a great way to give yourself a boost. For me, I decided to take golf lessons. My husband found me a nice set of used clubs for a great deal, and then I saw a Groupon ad for lessons at a good deal, so I figured this was a sign from above. I’ve had two lessons now, and I am really loving it. By no means am I the female version of Tiger Woods, but I am loving the way the club feels when it makes contact with the ball and goes (generally) in the direction I want it to. I love the way it feels to be outside on the green, soaking up the sun and feeling the nice breeze. And I like my teacher. He is kind and patient, and he tells me stories that make me laugh when he sees me getting frustrated…when I start laughing, he says, “Now that you’re loosened up from all the stress, try hitting the ball again…Even Tiger doesn’t hit a good shot every time.” And I usually find that I do much better once I let go of having to be perfect and just have fun with it.
  2. Take care of yourself. This means, for me, making sure I exercise regularly, meditate, get enough sleep and eat right. I’ve been doing really well lately with eating the right things and not letting my cravings win. I’ve also recently gotten back into my strength training…I’d forgotten how good it makes me feel to lift heavy things! And I have also picked back up with my yoga practice, as I had let my busy schedule get in the way too many times to count. Now I need to get dialed back in to my meditation practice and getting my sleep back on track. Baby steps and patience will get me there. I deserve to give myself the gift of health.
  3. Be honest. Know your triggers so that you can be aware. When they hit, you’ll be better able to figure out how to take yourself out of the situation before it becomes a problem. Be open with others and tell them how you feel…it’s so therapeutic to share with others. If you keep everything to yourself, it’ll eventually drive you mad. Many times, when you share your feelings with others, you find they totally get it…most of the time, people tell me, “OMG! I feel the same way sometimes! I am glad I’m not alone!” That makes me feel better instantly…to know I’m not all by myself when the poop hits the fan.
  4. Know your strengths. We all have them. Every. Single. One of us. For example, I have a good sense of humor and love making people laugh, and I also love to build people up. I also have a knack for making up silly lyrics to the tune of popular songs, which always makes my older daughter cringe a bit in embarrassment (tee hee hee)! When you can recognize your strengths — and embrace them and be proud of them — you’re less likely to pick yourself apart.
  5. Practice, practice, practice! Life happens and things won’t always be sunshine and roses, so don’t be so hard on yourself when you slip now and then. Practice not criticizing yourself at every opportunity by taking a deep breath and taking a moment to reflect before beating yourself up. Remind yourself of your strengths, that you are loved, that you are beautiful, there is no one else like you, and that you deserve happiness. The more you practice, the more you will be able to resist the urge to compare yourself to others.

At the end of the day, we need to remember that we are all different and we are all beautiful. I need to remember this and believe it for myself. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I know I can do it. Another strength of mine just so happens to be that I am stubborn! And right now, that is a very good thing!

Namaste,

Melanie

“Take it easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy.”

~~ The Eagles

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(This is where we stayed when we went to the Keys back in April…in this place, it’s impossible NOT to take it easy!)

We are in the tail end of summer at this point. Here in South Carolina, next week is the last week of summer break for my kids…where has the summer gone??? I don’t know about you all, but it’s been a bit challenging to keep myself balanced throughout this summer. I’ve been better this summer than in years past, but it was definitely not easy!

You see, summer is the time of year when the fire element dominates. If we can maintain our balance during this season, we can embody the inherent warmth of the season. But if we can’t, we open ourselves up to imbalances related to burnout. If you notice you are excessively angry or intense, excess sweating, digestive upsets, hives…these are just some of the signs that you’ve got an imbalance going on.

So if you notice an imbalance, what can you do? Well, for starters, RELAX! Seriously. Sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Make that several deep breaths.

Easier said than done, I know. It’s going to be tough for me the next two weeks, for sure. But my physical and emotional health depend on it, so I am working on my action plan now for how I am going to deal with the next few weeks. Here’s my plan:

  1. I’m going to continue finding positives around me every single day. What started as a 7-day challenge has now turned into a 21-day challenge. I am on day 16, so I am thinking that to get through the next couple of weeks, I need to extend some more. How about 30 days? Yeah. That sounds about right.
  2. Walking has proven to be very therapeutic for me. Since I can’t run or cycle right now, due to my failing adrenal system, walking has lifted me out of my depression. Running and cycling outside were my ways of helping me de-stress and get outside more. Since stopping, I’ve been very depressed, because it’s how I connected “live” with people, as I was always running or biking with a group. Well, I’ve been walking lately, and I love it, because it’s gotten me back outside. But I was still mostly walking by myself, and I was missing the connection with other people. So I’m now committed to meeting my good friend, Pam, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings before the sun comes up…this was the first week for us, and I have to say, it was just what I needed…I was SO much happier yesterday after she and I walked! I also agreed to be a pace leader for a walking group that is part of a larger running group I used to run with at the YMCA. I am super excited about getting the opportunity to lead a group, AND to get to know new people. WINNING!
  3. Get to bed on time! I’m normally a person who is in bed by 9:00 p.m., but this summer, I’ve been staying up until around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. But I am still getting up at my normal time of somewhere between 4:45 and 5:15 a.m. So I have definitely not been getting enough sleep and I can feel it…physically and mentally. I’ve been feeling run down since last week, and as of yesterday, I’ve been running a fever. OK, God! I get it…I need to go to bed earlier! This week I’ve been good so far…I was in bed by 8:00 p.m. on Monday, and by 9:00 p.m. last night. I need to keep it up.
  4. Exercise. Even when I am busy, I can surely squeeze in at least 15 minutes. And every little bit helps. Yoga and strength training are what I am focusing on right now.
  5. Meditate. I’ve been slack on this lately and I can feel how much I need it back. So tonight, before I hit the sack, I will make sure to get in at least 5 minutes, preferably 15. My goal is to commit to 30 minutes per day, but I may have to split that into two 15-minute sessions. Something is better than nothing, right?

That’s my list. I think 5 things is reasonable and achievable. I don’t want to make my action plan stressful, after all, do I? It’s like in the quote above…”Take it easy…don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy…lighten up while you still can…”

What about you? Are you finding that you’re having trouble right now with keeping things relaxed and chillaxed? If so, what are YOUR plans to get things back in balance? Share with me! I am always on the lookout for new ways of approaching things…I bet others are as well.

Namaste,

Melanie

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