"“When you rest, you catch your breath and it holds you up, like water wings…”
~ anne lamott
Keeping Up Our Self-Care
We’re Worth It!
How are you today?
How are you?
Have you taken a moment to pause? To check in?
This is the time in the summer season when I begin losing track of days. And, I have to be super conscious to build in moments of relaxation and rest.
Here’s something I am really beginning to understand. If I don’t have solid infrastructure in place that supports my relaxation and rest? I’m apt to let all that goodness slip away into busyness.
Summer in Saugatuck means there’s always another art opening, an outdoor show, an opportunity to get together with friends, etc. And, I love it! I’m super grateful to live in a place where people come for vacation. It delights me to support my friends in their creative endeavors. I’m never going to say “no” to an opportunity to sail or swim.
But, when you are one of the people not on vacation? Things can feel a little different.
I certainly don’t want to just “show up for work.” Every time I teach a class, I understand it is a privilege. No matter where I am leading a class, I view it as sacred space. Whether I am with my long-time, regular yogis (thank you! 🙏🏽), or I am meeting someone on the mat for the very first time (thank you! 🙏🏽), I want everyone to have an enriching experience in their brain, body, and being.
So, my own self-care is even more important when I am busy.
Here are some ways I make sure to keep up (and maybe even double down) on active self care:
Both of these examples are part of my well-developed infrastructure of self-care, and while they serve me well, they aren’t enough. That’s why putting something on the schedule in advance of my busyness? Saves me from letting my self-care slip away.
Got a self-care tip or routine you want to share?
Drop me a line, or send me a text, so you can help me and others! 🥰
“In the dew of little things
the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
~ KAHLIL GIBRAN
Softening Into Life
Standing Firmly In Our Foundation
How’s your start of summer?
I have to admit. Mine has been kind of strange. More than one thing has gone a bit sideways, and the unexpected can be challenging. Historically, having to continuously shift, and pivot, can really get my mind jumbled and my body out of sorts. Feeling caught off guard, or unprepared, is something I hope to avoid.
And yet, that’s the flow of life sometimes. We have ideas, and plans, and commitments . . . and then life happens. We are asked to adapt.
For these past several weeks, I’ve been trying to soften into that space of adaptation rather than resist, or tighten up against it. I’ve been picturing a river. I want myself to to flow freely rather than create my own giant boulders as unnecessary obstacles to move around.
And guess what? It’s working!
Moments to rest, to breathe, to connect with my body (my physical, mental, emotional, and energy body) are essential.
I often say in my classes, “The pause is as important as the pose.” Turns out, these moments of pause make all the difference when it comes to adaptation. More specifically, they make all the difference in my ability to care for myself AND connect with others. 🏽
Truth? Each time I have had to pivot, something unexpected and wonderful has emerged. I am deeply moved by the kindness and support from my neighbors. On short notice, they have helped me with Javi. And more than once, I have been surprised with food delivered right to my door! This neighborhood knows how to cook and bake. 🎉
The huge gift? Unexpectedly having my niece, Moira, with me for two nights. Our conversations, our time together, is something I will always cherish.
Last week I wrote to you about taking off my cloak. I feel that today’s musings are related . . . softening into life while standing firmly in my own foundation:
These are some of the ways I practice deep self care, and deep self care helps me show up as my best self for others.
Here’s to loving ourselves and one another!
~ m ♥️
“We crave that deep place within that cannot be touched by the ups and downs of life, but rather just IS – connected and whole.”
~ KATIE RUBINSTEIN
Getting Into The Muck
Building That Jar Of Trust
How’s your start of summer?
Last week I wrote about working on an intention over the long term. I told you that I was going to commit to releasing myself from judgment. Judgment of others. Judgment of self.
Since putting my awareness there, I realized something. Yes, judgment gets in the way, trips me up, and interferes with my highest, best self. I will continue my intention to be aware of, and release, judgment.
And, I realize there’s something even further down in the roots worth digging into.
Here’s the thing. I haven’t unearthed the right word for what I really want to let go of.
It resembles insecurity. It feels a little like anxiety. And, it goes on like a comfortable cloak. This covering provides a thin (or thick . . . depending!) layer of separation that is challenging to shed. Honestly? It’s with me way too much of the time.
While I do think this cloak has served me well at certain times in my life, I’m ready to hang it up. (At least most of the time.) Why? Because I no longer need its protection.
My years of daily yoga practice have changed me. While I will always be a work in progress, I now have a strong connection to my emotional self. I honor the entire spectrum of who I am. This may sound super simple for some of you (I hope so!) but I assure you . . . these things did not come readily for me.
It’s one thing to do this for myself and within myself. And quite another to find the comfort (the confidence? the clarity?) to be fully myself around others.
I have lots of thoughts about the “why” behind all of this, but I’m more interested in the “what’s next?”
As always, I use my practice to guide me. Time in stillness, connecting to my breath, is where I begin. I’m at the initial stages of this gentle internal investigation; here’s what I’ve gleaned so far:
Here’s to each of us lighting it up and leading with love,
“To heal you have to get to the root of the wound
and kiss it all the way up.”
~ Rupi Kaur
Digging At the Roots
Ready for Release
Wow! Thanks to ALL who came out last Friday for the Gratitude Gathering at “The Hook.” One of my dear friends texted me afterwards and said, “Michelle, that place is MAGIC!”
Yep. It is. Everything about that night was truly special, and I can’t wait to collaborate with Harvey & Teresa for future offerings.
Of course, my friends, you will be the first to know about additional opportunities to join me in all kinds of magical places! Next up? Summer Solstice Yoga & Sound on Oval Beach with me and Teresa Van Eyk: Wednesday, June 21 @ 7 P. You can register here.
Last week I encouraged you to join me in using the Shift & Lift technique as we move in the world. Truth? I have been giving it daily effort, and I LOVE how effective and impactful it is.
As I pattern my brain, my body, and my being to find heart coherence, and extend heart energy to others, I feel more in flow. And, I have greater stores of energy in which to meet the moment.
Thank goodness! Because with Mike traveling Italy and Greece for the next couple of weeks, Javi and I need all the extra sweetness we can offer ourselves. 🐶♥️😉
As we approach Summer Solstice, I have been gifting myself additional space to investigate within. Last week I told you about a decision I had to make that caused me some pain. For me, this grief and pain has created opportunities to dig into the roots. This digging has not been entirely pleasant, but it has been both instructive and helpful.
At my very first 200-hour yoga teacher training at the Himalayan Institute, my primary teacher, Kia Miller, was talking about setting an intention for every meditation or practice she did. As we all discussed the concept of intention setting, Kia said, “I’ve been working with the same intention for three years.”
Whoa! Every day, for three years, on the same intention?! At that time, I couldn’t imagine what would take SO much commitment and dedication in order to realize?!
She explained her intention is to release herself from judgment. ALL judgment. Judgment of others. Judgment of herself.
Well, yes. Seems that might take a minute to figure out. 😳
All these years later I feel ready to join in on this effort. Because, as I examine the roots of some of my own suffering, underneath it all I find a common thread. And darned if that thread isn’t judgment.
It’s amazing how QUICK judgment is! It’s as if it POPS IN, cuts right to the front of the line, before anything else can even surface. And, judgment is CLEVER! It wears all sorts of creative costumes. It’s an incredible chameleon, camouflaging itself as a multitude of other emotions.
We are such visual creatures. Using our eyes to quickly assess, so often our quick assessments lead to rapid fire judgments. And, the incessant chatter of our brains seems tireless. Oftentimes the inexhaustible stream is jam packed with witty, quick, harsh criticisms of others AND of ourselves. Ugh!
Even if we don’t say those thoughts aloud, we had the thought. What if instead of judgment, we could experience kindness and connection as our first response? WOW!
So, there you have it. Another layer for my breath by breath practice: releasing myself from judgment. Maybe three years from now I’ll be able to fill you in on how it’s going. 🥰
With love and light,
~ m ♥️
P.S. Have you spent an extended amount of time working on an intention? If so, what was it and how did it go? Drop me a line or shoot me a text.
Yep! That’s me . . . bottom right, bright pink, on a temple walk in India
“As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others – what and whom we can work with, and how – becomes wider.”
~ Pema Chödrön
Motivation for change
Hi yogi friends!
Last week I wrote to you about Heart Coherence plus the “Shift & Lift” technique. If you missed it, or got too busy to read the whole thing and want to re-visit, you can click here.
For those of you who are joining me in this effort, I’m super curious: how’s it going?
I’ll be honest. I’m really capable of dropping in when I am on my mat. But, I don’t always remember to utilize this powerful tool while in conversation, or when I am feeling stressed or impatient.
Today I propose we unite our efforts. Let’s use this heart coherence technique while our eyes are wide open. While we are moving in the world. While we are upset. Or struggling. Or anxious. Or tense.
I’m hoping this practice is like all other things we commit to. Once we turn our heart coherence shift into a habit and experience its benefits, then we will come into this heart space more readily, no matter the surrounding circumstances.
For me? Integration really is the key to lasting transformation. I can’t do something once, or for a week, and expect it to create true change. As we are approaching Summer Solstice, I am giving extra space for the changes, the growth, I desire.
Personally, there’s something in my life right now that I’m really investigating. It’s been lurking underneath the surface for years, but a recent decision I had to make brought it into the foreground.
Truth? The decision brought up grief, anger, and pain. And, that’s serving as my motivation, my inspiration, and my commitment for true, lasting change. I don't really want to be in the position I was in this week, making that kind of decision, ever again.
While the pathway into this change I desire remains unclear, I do hope my commitment to change helps lead me there.
And, I am committed to doing all of this with soft eyes. Yes, you read that correctly. I want my internal investigation, my gaze inward, to be soft . . . full of compassion.
So, let’s support one another. And our pathways forward, full of light and love.
Once again, here’s how we Shift and Lift . . . let’s DO THIS!
So grateful for you,
~ m ♥️
📷: the fabulous Kevin Toukoumidis @ dSPACE Studio
“I would love to live like a river flows,
carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”
~ John O’Donohue
How To Practice Heart Coherence:
Shift and Lift
Thank you. Last week’s newsletter about “closure” was challenging to write, and I’m so glad I went there. What you shared with me as a result? Wow. I am grateful for every follow up conversation, and I appreciate your courage to connect.
So many of you spoke about a song, a smell, a seemingly innocuous moment that brings in a wave of unexpected pain. The kind that almost takes you out at the knees.
It seems that grief hiding in plain sight is quite universal. I see this as another good reason why we should be kind to our fellow travelers. You just never know what is happening for the person behind you in the checkout line, and kindness always goes a long way.
As temperatures increase, and construction begins, and more and more people make their way to the beaches and the lakeshore . . . this is a wonderful moment to pause and fortify our own toolkit. Because, let’s be honest; most days we are not simply floating around on flamingos. 😉
Today, I want to talk about Heart Coherence. It’s an exciting time to be a yogi because modern medicine, and smart scientists, are providing us with so much data about our bodies and our well-being.
Most of us understand the feeling of being in flow . . . where everything moves a little more easily. We feel calm, present, and connected. Turns out, when we have these feelings, a graph of our heartbeats would look like a beautiful sine wave curve. Gently moving up and down in a gorgeous, symmetrical pattern.
Conversely, when we are agitated, stressed, frustrated, or impatient? Our heart graph would look completely different. Jagged. Irregular. All out of sorts.
Our heart rhythm has huge impact on our emotional flexibility, our social connectedness, and our cognitive functionality.
And, guess what? We can learn to regulate our own heart rate variability. That’s right! We can practice bringing ourselves into coherence. We can learn how to shift into that beautiful place of flow.
Even better? It’s free, it takes only a few minutes, and every single one of us can do it. Simple as 1. 2. 3.
I learned the “Shift and Lift” technique from Rollin McCraty, PhD, at the HeartMath Institute.
The HeartMath Institute has been “developing reliable, scientifically validated tools that help people reduce and avoid stress while experiencing increased peace, satisfaction and self-security” since 1991. I’m super thankful for the work they do.
For this technique, you can sit, and find stillness, and close your eyes.
But, that’s not necessary. Your eyes can be open. You can use this while in conversation, or in a meeting, or whenever things are going a little sideways or getting a little tense.
Please join me; it’s time to Shift and Lift:
Remember, this can be used when tension is building. Or frustration. Or impatience.
This technique is effective in business, relationships, family . . . it can even be done in advance. I find that fascinating, and I can’t wait to put it into practice. You can send out heart energy to the upcoming meetings and interactions that you know will be happening in your day. You can consciously seed this type of raised vibration.
Here’s to having a heart coherent day, everyday.
~ m ♥️