My Five Favorite Books for Inspiration and Reference

books

I got rid of most of my stuff and hit the road. But what did I keep? And of what I kept, what did I use?

Books.

Books of are utmost importance to Adam and me. We sold more than $500 of books to Portland’s Powells Books. What I mean by that is, we traded in our books for over $500 in Powells’ gift cards in return (we sold a few $50 cards to altruistic bookworm friends, but kept most of it. As of today, they’re almost all spent. We like books.) Adam says that books were the hardest thing for him to get rid of. (Mine was clothes, but that’s another story.)

Besides clothes and bathroom stuff, our (my) box of books gets opened most regularly. This is mostly my problem, since I’ve failed to adopt reading on screens in place of paper books.

Specifically, I’ve got five favorite (paper!) books that I use regularly for reference and inspiration:

1. The Trail Guide to the Body, 5th edition

Omg, the best, most understandable, useful anatomy book EVER. Written for massage therapists, it teaches you about each bone & muscle in the body and exactly what they do.

Example, from p. 148 of the 5th edition (which I’ve thoughtfully linked you to above…)

When Do You Use Your Supinator?

  • Digging out a big scoop of ice cream.
  • Swirling the water in a bathtub.
  • Folding your clothes.

AND it teaches you how to palpate (feel) them through touch. It’s scientifically accurate. It’s a respected text book. It’s also very funny. I’m not kidding. It’s hilarious. I use it to understand both my and others’ various aches and pains, and to better understand how my muscles fit into my body and work together to advance my yoga asana practice.

See, sometimes I just need to understand before I can do. Adam can attest to this, as he’s still figuring out how to calmly answer all my questions before I let him carry on with his idea or plan. I’m sure this is quite frustrating for him. But I just need to get it, you know?

2. The New Mythic Tarot

I’ve learned a lot about Greek myths this way, and it’s how I learned to read Tarot in the first place. There are four suits of the Tarot deck, just like a regular deck of cards. Each suit has cards Ace through Ten. The suits are named Wands, Cups, Pentacles, and Swords.

The Mythic Tarot uses a different Greek Myth to illustrate and explain each suit.

The legend for Wands is Jason and the Argonauts’ adventure to reclaim the Golden Fleece. Cups is the love story of Psyche and Eros, Pentacles is Daedalus, the Athenian craftsman who built the Labyrinth; and Swords is Orestes and the curse of the House of Atreus.

Super fun to read, and for me even better because it gives me magic-like new perspective on my life. These characters and their challenges are human archetypes, meaning we can find ourselves in their stories and bullshit and identify with what they are going through. Dude, I’ve been there. I totally get it.”

3. The Pilates Body

Before yoga, there was Pilates. For me. Not historically. Yoga is way older than Pilates. Anyway.

This book has helped me take the Pilates mat series on the road, and I’ve used it almost daily. My lower back and knees will start to hurt after I stand for a while, like when we’re at a museum. But I’ve discovered that I have no pain when I’m regularly working on my posture & muscle coordination by doing Pilates. Often, my Pilates practice morphs into yoga, and then into meditation. All around good. Really important on days when I wish to stand.

4. Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation

Pronounced “Dow De Zhjing.” (Did I do that right? Ching like Zhjing like how you pronounce the jh’ part of JonBenet Ramsey.) It’s my source document for wisdom and inspiration.

Picture the yin yang, finding stillness in constant motion, center in constant change, embracing paradox (can you spot the examples of paradox in this very section?*) If you dig my perspective you’ll probably like the Tao. It’s short and sweet and available here for free. It’s not a casual read. Tune in. Like reading poetry.

5. I Ching, Brian Browne Walker translation

As an accompaniment to the Tao, especially. Another inspirational tool I use regularly to figure myself out. Spiritual thangs. Self-growth and knowledge, you know? I actively pursue this. The I Ching is fun because you get to throw coins and doodle, but you can also just read it and be inspired. It gives me lots to journal about. Again, it’s somewhat archetype-based (you like Carl Jung? Joseph Campbell? Ever heard of the “Hero’s Journey”?) However, The I Ching is definitely geared toward the so-called “spiritual path.” I think it’d be most relevant to you if the Tao Te Ching is something that resonates. Try either first. Take it or leave it, my friend. I’m all in.

 

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Navigating Times of Transition: The In-Between

img_6374

I keep thinking about posting something in this outdated blog, but I let the fact that I’ve got nothing to say get in my way. Perhaps I ought to succumb to the inspiration, nevertheless, and blather about whatever is going on in my life at the moment. And to be honest, that feels like very little.

Adam and I have been homebasing at my folk’s place on Rayburn Lake in the Pineywoods of southeast Texas since the beginning of October. We’ve spent the weekdays with them, and weekends traveling to various Texas towns visiting family and friends: Fort Worth, Galveston, Houston, Austin. It sort of feels like I’m 28 years old and my boyfriend and I just moved back in with my parents. Sort of, but not entirely.

If you’re not in the know, let me fill you in. Adam and I sold most of our stuff back in January this year (’16) and left Portland, Oregon armed with a CR-V and a popup camper named Suzanne. The camper wasn’t part of the plan, but by divine grace appeared at a sleazy used-car dealership in Salem, OR on our way out of town. Divine grace and last minute Craigslisting.

We’ve spent the last eight months traveling by camper around the perimeter of the United States and Canada, hitting upwards of thirteen National Parks in the centennial of their existence (divine accident, we had no idea),  becoming familiar with the vast expanse that is southern Canada, and honing our skills at being gracious guests of family, friends, and campgrounds along the way. We did spend two of the eight months subletting in Los Angeles so Adam could do some work, and now the month of October and pseudo-travel (compared to the rest of our year) in Texas.

We are pausing in Texas for so long because we are kind of stuck in the in-between…we’ve got a three week trip with Adam’s family to NYC in November, which meant we needed to purchase a flight a month back from some airport somewhere and therefore commit to a certain place at a certain time. And we arrived at that place, excited to see my parents, in the beginning of October. So here we are, in a town where the only place to get groceries is at what my parents call “The Mall” and what is actually a Dollar General or a Family Dollar or something. I really don’t know which, we seriously all just call it the mall. But, it’s beautiful here, and peaceful, and the environment and the people in it give both Adam and I lots of time to contemplate and prepare for our next move.

…Which is what?

We don’t know.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

1) Neither of us feel like we’re ready to settle down in the traditional sense. What I mean is, we don’t want to “move anywhere” and commit to being there for the foreseeable future.

2) It feels like we are done road tripping with Suzanne. Not that we will never camp again, just that we aren’t in the mood to continue driving thousands of miles a week and camping almost every night. We want a little more consistency than that. We want to get to know a place and the people in it.

3) We are ready to travel outside the United States. Specifically, off this continent (although South America could suffice…) But, we’ve got some fun and important events (weddings, reunions) coming up in the new year. I suppose this is always the case.

4) We want to work. The easiest way to work is to commit to being in one place. However, we want to be mobile. So we need to figure out how to pimp our wares while in motion, or while moving somewhat regularly.

5) I don’t know exactly what my wares are, except that they aren’t wares at all, they’re more-than-likely a service. I taught yoga, energy, & relaxation in group classes and workshops, worked with private clients one-on-one, and read Tarot cards back in Portland. (Three years ago I’d have been appalled if you told me I’d include Tarot reading as part of my career. I’m not a psychic. I’m intuitive, perceptive, and a cohesive story teller. Tarot cards are pictures that tell a story about the querent in that moment. More on that here. )

What I do know is this: Both Adam and I have lived our lives in a way that’s validated the philosophy that if we’re open to it and ask for it, it will absolutely come. This doesn’t mean we get to sit around and drool over Netflix until someone calls and offers us a million dollars. Not at all. We have to consistently do the things that feed our souls, work on our crafts, nourish our minds and spirits, stay active in our own passions, and interact with the world around us. We have to reach out and make it known we are open to new opportunities. We do research. We look at places to live, ways to work there, and cost of living. We talk to people in our networks. We communicate in words and in intentions with people and with the universe, on a tangible and on a spiritual level. But we don’t rush into anything because we feel as if we aren’t doing enough and that feels uncomfortable. We don’t force. As much as possible, we do our self-directed work, ask for opportunities, stay open to hearing something we would never have expected or known to ask for, and remain patient.

The in-between, see. Something is coming, but we aren’t there yet. Beyond our trip to NYC, something is coming. We must only make sure we stay fresh and alert, research and feel out what feels right/wrong/possible financially, and remain open to the whispers of opportunity that bring forth our next adventure.

None of this is terribly comfortable. Not knowing. Being in-between. Livin’ on a prayer.

 

 

 

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Do You Want to Know Yourself Better? Practice Open Awareness

Do You Want to Know Yourself Better? Practice Open Awareness

Over the past couple of years I’ve moved from being disgusted with myself to loving myself and from having no freaking clue what I was passionate about to knowing very clearly what it is I bring to the world to share.

The loving and the knowing go hand and hand.

The tool I’ve used to do both I call open awareness.

I’ve spent the last year practicing and developing open awareness, and I’m finally ready to share it with all of you.

Drum roll please….

What is Open Awareness?

Open awareness is being aware of the maximum amount of stuff going on inside and outside of you, without judgment. Open awareness is noticing your internal and external sensation all at once, without focusing on any one sensation over another. Let’s define sensation as both sense-driven (hear, see, touch, smell, taste) and consciousness-driven (thoughts, reactions, emotions, feelings).

Open awareness means being aware of everything, all at the same time.

If there was a spectrum, laser-focus would be on one end and open awareness would be on the other.

Open awareness takes practice.

To better understand, think of open awareness in terms of peripheral vision.

Even when you are focused on one point in front of you, you’ve still got a fuzzy visual field extending out to the sides of your face. If you’re walking down the street looking down at your cell phone, you’re still able to avoid running into anyone. How do you do this? Peripheral vision.

As an experiment, keep looking at your computer screen. Bring your hands beside your ears. Draw your hands straight forward from your ears to the computer screen, keeping them moving in parallel lines, like train tracks.

Notice when your hands enter your field of vision.

You’re not looking at them, but you see them. You aren’t focused on them, but they are making an impression. Your hands have become a part of your external, visual environment. They are peripheral to your focal point (the computer screen).

We see most clearly that which is our focal point and we see less clearly that which is peripheral to our focal point.

That is, when we look at things, we choose to prioritize one point of focus and consider that point to be most important. The periphery is all still there, but not of equal importance. Photographers – think depth of field.

Listen up. Open awareness has no focal point.

The idea is to hold everything, all the internal and external sensation mentioned above, in your “peripheral vision” all at once. That is, allow everything to be of equal importance in your visual environment. Prioritize everything the same. No focal point taking the lead, just…everything entering your eyes at once. Everything is equally peripheral and equally in focus.

Try this, again with your hands.

Bring your hands in front of you so you can see them both at one time; keep space between the hands. Gaze at your right hand only. Without changing your gaze, notice how the left hand shifts out of focus. Now switch the gaze to your left hand. Notice how the right hands shifts out of focus. Now try to gaze at both hands at once.

In order to see both hands at once, you probably looked somewhere between the hands. As compared to gazing at one hand only, looking at both hands at once brings them equally peripheral and equally in focus.  It’s like you’re at average focus on both hands.  You can continue the experiment by allowing everything in your field of vision to average out – equally in and out of focus.

How does peripheral vision relate to knowing and loving myself?

Hopefully you now understand this concept of making everything equally peripheral and equally in focus. You’ve begun with visually soaking in your environment without attaching to any one focal point. You did this by gazing between your hands and allowing both to be equally in focus. But, why does it matter? What use does this serve?

Think about it in terms of your life, the decisions you make. If you are laser-focused on one outcome, some specific expectation of yourself, you may find you bulldoze your way to that goal. With this tunnel vision you unconsciously block off the goings on around you, your peripheral environment, the fuzzy stuff around the edges of your goal.

Maybe the fuzzy stuff is relationships that begin to feel strained, but you’re not noticing. Maybe it’s opportunities in unusual places you pass by without ever recognizing. And maybe, once you’ve reached your goal, you realize it wasn’t what you wanted anyway!

This happened to me in my first career, bee-lining towards corporate success and financial wealth. I got there and was like “What the hell? I hate this. I absolutely hate this job and how I spend the vast majority of my time.” Whoda thunkit? Not me, not with my laser focus.

Practicing open awareness helped me notice my own butterfly effect.

I noticed more of the ways I was affecting people and things around me, and more of my own experience of my environment.

What I noticed surprised me at first. My laser-focused goal was set based on very incomplete data on myself.

Practicing open awareness doesn’t have to be once a day for 15 minutes while you meditate, although this is a useful habit in many ways and will up your awareness game rapidly. But, it is possible to practice open awareness all the time.

Concrete Guidance on Practicing Open Awareness:

From the moment you wake up, notice your body. Notice your head, shoulders, chest, arms, hands belly, hips, thighs, knees, calves, feet. As you drive to work, notice your emotions – are you chipper or running slow today? Are you getting easily annoyed with traffic? As you eat your breakfast, notice the texture and temperature of your food. Notice how rapidly or slowly you eat. As you open your email, notice your reactions – do you get happy to see an email from your favorite coworker and immediately pissy to see an email from your incompetent boss (even if it’s a rare moment of intelligence on his part)?

The trick here is to hold all of the things you notice in your “peripheral vision.” Do not allow what you notice to become your new focal point. Just keep noticing, more and more, as it comes.

When you notice your right knee hurts, just notice it. Don’t start weaving a story in your head as to why, and what this means, and how its going to mess up the rest of your day.

When you notice you’re running slow today, don’t immediately start weaving the story of how you’re probably tired because you’re getting sick but you can’t get sick because you’ve got to get on a plane tomorrow for a work meeting in Boston.

You see? When you weave the story, when you extrapolate what you’ve noticed, you become focused on that one thing at the expense of all the peripheral things, and you will notice less. You become distracted from the ongoing sensations.

Distraction from the sensation is part of what I call “judgment.”

Remember, open awareness is being aware of the maximum amount of stuff going on inside and outside of you, without judgment.

Judgment can mean going off on tangential assumptions about why it is you are experiencing what you have noticed. Judgment can mean feeling bad or less than or like a piece of shit because of something you’ve noticed.

The “without judgment” component of open awareness is absolutely necessary. Having no judgment helps us move forward into who we want to be, rather than dwell on the things we want to change about who we are right now.

Dwelling is not productive. Noticing is.

The game here, when you’re engaged in an open awareness practice, is simply noticing. Collecting data.

If you have any experience with statistics or data collection, you know you can’t go making assumptions after only one person has responded to your questionnaire. You’ve got to wait until an adequate sample size comes in for the data you are collecting to be of any use.

Collecting data on yourself is the same way – hold off on making a judgment! In fact, notice you have a tendency to make judgments! And then just move on.

Keep noticing yourself and noticing your context. No stories. Keep collecting data and have faith that your personal patterns will emerge to you in the form of insight. You will naturally come to learn about yourself and evolve in the direction you desire. I promise you.

How has the practice of open awareness impacted my life?

Open awareness helped me to develop compassion for myself, as I stopped worrying about  (and hating) who I was and started taking it in fully, without judgment. This, in turn, has helped me develop compassion for others. Compassion is hard to explain. Compassion is something you feel.

Open awareness facilitated an evolution towards the best me possible, buried out from under the layers and expectations and circumstances in my life. Open awareness ensures my evolution continues.

Through my own practice of open awareness, I have been able to find myself. Not a version of myself created from a set goal, a laser-focus point, from someone else’s dreams for me. Been there, done that, didn’t work.

Practicing open awareness has delivered me to my passion in an easeful and comfortable way, and it can do the same for you.

———

Stay tuned to insightinflux.com for a short, guided meditation that will help you develop a body-felt sense of the difference between a laser-pointed focus and a peripheral, broad focus. The meditation is designed to be quick and easy with maximum results.

More good news – I can teach you this.

If you feel ready to connect one-on-one and dive into open awareness with me in person in Portland, check out my private and group open awareness classes at this link.

Use the form below to send me a note:

[contact_form]

You can also text or call me at 503-893-9563.

Love!

Q

 

 

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

How to Achieve Your Goals of Being Rich

How to Achieve Your Goals of Being Rich

*actual photo from high school, read on to understand

Growing up I always had my eye on the future. I was born tired of everything, rushing through life to get where I was going, which was anywhere but here.

In high school I decided my life’s goal was to be rich. That’s it, just to make the most money possible. This past Christmas at home, I found a newspaper clipping from my senior year. My small-town newspaper had interviewed me and I told the journalist that after college I wanted to “buy a large corporation and be CEO.” What the hell was I thinking? ::sigh:: Teenagers…

I was so myopically focused on this goal to be rich that I selected a business major based on which degree made the most money coming out of college. It just happened to be finance, so that was that. I decided to major in finance, in money. Made perfect sense at the time.

Because of this laser-focus on my future riches, I ignored a few telltale signs that finance was gonna suck for me:

  1. I can’t for the life of me hold numbers in my head. Math doesn’t come easily. I don’t think in digits. I can’t even do simple addition in my head. I was given the choice between math and reading in 6th grade and I chose reading. This list goes on and on.
  2. My college finance classes were my least favorite, but I was making A’s, which was going to make me rich, so I paid no mind. The only books I kept from classes were from philosophy, urban studies, and communication. I got rid of my finance and accounting texts as soon as I finished my finals. Ick, get them AWAY from me.
  3. I hate following rules. I hate being inside boxes. I have an inherent distrust for authority and a real bad taste in my mouth about most existing systems. Corporations are all about systems. Cubicals are literally boxes one works within. Accounting (an important component to finance) is seriously all about rules. GEEZE.

Maybe I figured a job in finance would be different than an education in finance, and involve less numbers. Probably I just ignored the signs and anything else getting in my way of achieving my future goal.

Unfortunately for my soul but fortunately for my bank account, my laser-focused future goal worked out splendidly. I achieved it. I got the finance job managing millions and making a pretty penny for my young self. I was on a secure path towards corporate riches. Unfortunately, I was also on a sure path towards crazy. Only three years into my finance career and I about lost my soul and my mind.

If it’s not yet obvious, my laser-focused future goal totally failed in putting me on the right path, following my passion; the path that I am on now. Correct – teaching open awareness yoga and writing is not nearly as lucrative as corporate finance, and my past self would NEVER have gone for it. But, I am actually satisfied. I am so much happier!

How, pray tell, did I stumble upon this passionate, happy, satisfying path?

The answer: I spent a year practicing and developing what I call

OPEN AWARENESS.

Practicing open awareness has brought me to the point I am today, where I am working for myself and building my passion professionally. Practicing open awareness has also emerged as the foundation of all my personal growth: relationship and attachment issues, anxiety and depression management, and resetting my relationship with alcohol, to name a few.

Everything around me fits now. I am not exaggerating. I’m living the life. And, surprise surprise, it doesn’t require me to be rich.

Want to know more about this whole open awareness thing? Click around – blog post published and more interactive explanation coming soon.

Yay!

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

There’s More to Life than Facts: On Being Fully Present

 There’s More to Life than Facts: On Being Fully Present

I have a terrible memory, and to compensate for this I’ve spent years of my life stressed out, trying my hardest to memorize my experience. Ticking away my waking hours worried that the time would come where I would have to remember that one specific thing that I know I once knew but I cannot remember now!

How horrible will this be,” I thought, “having the solution on the tip of my tongue, but no farther!”

Because of the importance I attributed to remembering things, being asked to recall information was always a particularly anxiety-causing event for me. My mind would start spinning, cursing itself for its horrible memory. Thoughts, memories, the Rolodex of facts I had stored, spinning faster and faster into a chaotic jumble of disjointed information mixed in with creeping shame for not having a quick reply.

The only room left in my brain was for that little voice to whisper, “They are going to think you’re stupid. They probably already do. You can’t remember fast enough. Just give it up.”

And like a computer, maxed out on RAM, I would crash, admit defeat, blame my terrible memory, and pass the conversation on to the next person.

This obsession with memory not only impacted me as a contributor to conversation, it also affected my presence as a listener. As I talked with friends, I was working hard to memorize the contents of what they were sharing—the names of their family members, the dates of their upcoming vacation, their previous three boyfriends.

“They will think I’m not listening if I can’t remember these things. I want to be a good friend. I need to have the facts straight!”

Instead of really hearing what I was being told, listening to and learning about my friend, I would bullet point trivia in my head. And trivia is trivial. I was missing the big picture—in others’ lives, and in my own.

Until one day, while lying flat on my back on the ground after a particularly intense yoga practice, it dawned on me:

I didn’t have to memorize or even realize every muscle that contracted and released during my practice to receive the benefit of consciously using my body. I didn’t have to understand the step-by-step process of respiration to be nourished by my breath.

My body was absorbing my yoga practice whether my mind grasped on to that memory or not. Forgetting I practiced yoga last week didn’t change the fact that I did. The experience itself is cumulative!

By God, I didn’t have to memorize a damn thing! Life went on, whether I was keeping track of it or not! Holy shit, this is so FREEING!

Up until this moment, I overvalued memorizing details and undervalued being fully present in the moment. The conscious brain can only process one thought at a time. Often, I chose to focus on remembering the details rather than continue listening for more.

My shift into the Here and Now came for me with this realization: The simple act of listening, being present in the moment, was enough.

I didn’t have to waste space in my mind fretting about what I might forget. The mental effort I previously spent memorizing a few details could now be dedicated to registering the ever-expanding moment; insatiably slurping in more and more nuance instead of fixating on committing the most conspicuous details to memory.

I now have a new mantra: “It happened. It’s in there,” I say, as I point to my head. I don’t approach life like I’m studying for an exam anymore. I know that my experience is what shapes my perspective.

What I share with others in this life is based on my experience—what I know, hear, see, and feel. Knowing this helps me stay present in the moment, so that I can show up and share more fully, so that I can bring more value to this world.

It happened. It’s in there,” continues to have an incredible impact on my life. Since I have liberated myself from the minutia, I am able to approach people more open-mindedly and with less pre-conceived notion. My participation in conversation is more spontaneous, my insights more meaningful, my friendship more nourishing.

In short, I’m a more considerate listener and a more valuable human being than I once was. As for those things I spent so much time hoping to remember, they come out of my brain when they are needed. “It happened. It’s in there.

Since that moment in yoga when I stepped outside my hopeless reliance on memorized facts and into the depth of my real-time experience, I have been humbled to the infinity of the moment.

I approach no edge as I open my body and mind to the present, seeking out a complete experience of Here and Now. There is no end in sight. I broaden my senses to absorb more of the moment and the moment expands out forever.

And, as I consider where I am, inside this moment, I realize that this moment is the only place I’ll ever be. Finally, I find myself right where I’ve always been—firmly planted Here, right Now.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Meditation: It’s Not That Weird

Listen below to hear me talk about a meditative versus an analytical state of mind and what I get from meditation, anyway. For those of you more into reading than watching, the written version (slightly different) of this content is at the bottom of the post.

Thank you to my Aunt Tonya for asking me to talk about meditation. More specific meditation guidance to come!

Meditation: It’s Not That Weird (Written Version)

I don’t think much. I call what I do thinking, but it’s not so much putting strings of words together in my head to figure out a solution, rather, it’s sitting around not thinking until something comes to me.

If you were to ask me a question, I would sit there for a bit, totally empty in the head, until the words started coming out of my mouth. I can’t act worth a damn; if I try to plan out what I’m going to say, it comes out all wrong.

I’ve always been curious about the way other people exist in their heads, when there mouth isn’t moving and they aren’t distracted by brainless activity (watching cartoons, maybe? Nothing wrong with watching cartoons, I do it a lot. It’s useful because of the fact that it is mindless. It’s a break. We need breaks).

I’ve asked this question and realized that some people have more words in their mind than I do. Some people seem to be more natural meditators and others more natural analyzers. What category would you put yourself in?

All this to say, the fact that I don’t think in words basically means that I exist in a meditative state of mind. I’m just sort of empty in the head, oftentimes, but this is the key! This is the only way I know how to be creative.

The best insight, things that come out of me that sound wise or interesting or food for thought, come more from a space of silence in my mind than the tick tick ticking of analysis and logic.

 

Don’t get me wrong, lord knows I have to use the tick ticking all the time (writing and planning my blogs, for example), but the material I write and talk about – that comes from the meditation.

Even though I spend a lot of my time just meditating by default, I still set aside dedicated time to meditate daily.

Why?

Well, because my default-state meditation is inconsistent. It might be interrupted by a passing analysis, a new distraction, a sudden realization I’ve got something pressing to do. And because I’ve not yet mastered being “in the moment” 100% of the time, I succumb to my reactions and fall out of the meditative state.

Setting aside time to meditate, whether through my yoga practice and movement or by just sitting still for a while, helps me dig deeper into myself and truly make space for the creativity, the wisdom, the answers, to bubble up from within me and come into consciousness.

Or, who knows, these answers may come raining down from above. Whatever image resonates with you works, as your meditation answers might feel like they come from a different place than mine.

The only thing I know to be true is that your meditation answers will come, if you decide to meditate.

So, getting to the point: What is meditation?

Meditation is simply calming the fluctuations of the mind. 

 

There is no way you are going to force your thoughts to stop coming. You just sort of learn to ignore them until they quiet up for a time. It’s inevitable, as soon as I sit to meditate there are a thousand words in my head. It’s only with patience and practice I’m able to break through the word barrier and find the space I want to sit within (with no words in the mind) to allow the good stuff to bubble up.

Sometimes I sit to practice and I never get to the empty space. Sometimes I get there after only a few breaths. What I can say is that it gets easier with practice, as I’ve developed touchstones and tools that elicit the mind to calm more quickly.

So, stay tuned. I’ll continue the meditation conversation and introduce you to a couple types of meditation – mindfulness and concentration – to give those of you interested a kick start to your practice.

Really, you’re doing meditation right if you’re trying.

You’re doing it well if you keep trying.

Once you make it a habit, you won’t need me to tell you anything.

———

I would LOVE to hear your reflections on your thinking/mental state of being. Do you feel more empty or full of words? Does it change during different circumstances? When are you most empty and when are you most wordy? Use the comments, I’ll reply!

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Playlist: Get Melty and Sink In

Music. I like it.

Words I use to describe my taste in jams:

  • Melty
  • Sinky
  • Slow
  • Wub wub wub wub
  • Chill
  • Bassy
  • Baby makin
  • Beats, mayn

In the yin yoga class I teach, I get more requests for my playlist than anything else (other requests include, but are not limited to: hips, low back, ‘feeling shitty’, and ‘needing to relax’).

So, here you have it.

The Quinn Yin Collection

All the songs from my yin playlists that I could find on SoundCloud for you fine folks.

If you don’t know about SoundCloud and you like new music, remixes, and other awesome audio, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Five Reasons Why Video Blogging Sucks

Five Reasons Why Video Blogging Sucks

Guys.

I had no idea this video blogging thing was going to be more work than writing. I guess duh, though, right? At first I thought I’d be able to just orate into the video camera and out would pop a well organized video on life.

No. No, that’s not how it happens.

For the last post on Stress, Anxiety, & Relaxation, I recorded something like 60 minutes of unorganized commentary before I realized that I was still gonna have to write first, then practice, then record, and then edit! Chyea, it’s way more work. But hopefully you like the addition of my facial expressions and voice (?!?). If you don’t, let me know because I’ll go back to writing. And, my apologies for the choppiness of my edits. I’m new at this, obviously.

For you attention deficit readers out there (no offense, I’m one of you), enjoy the following numbered list of quippy copy. Buzzfeed, eat your heart out.

Five Reasons Why Video Blogging Sucks

  1. You are talking to yourself. Actually, worse, you are talking to your computer. Like it’s a live person who is interested in what you are saying.
  2. Since you’re commiserating with a piece of technology who gives zero feedback and even less of a shit, you have no idea if what you are saying is interesting in the first place.
  3. You then watch yourself, over and over, weird mannerisms and crooked mouths and snotty nose and all, editing out an absurd number of ums and suddenly aware of the lighting in and around your dwelling space.
  4. Here’s the capper. You then post this possibly uninteresting, probably only slightly sensical, definitely awkward video of YOURSELF on the INTERNET for THE WORLD to see.
  5. And finally…THE WORLD turns out to be between 27 and 100 people, as evidenced by the number of views on your YouTube Channel.

Le sigh. But I shall persevere.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Stress, Anxiety, & Relaxation: Impacts On Your Existence

Howdy Partners. Watch my video below to hear my experience and journey from a consistent state of mental and physical stress and anxiety to a state of relaxation, calmness, and ease. The changes in my whole world have been profound. You’ll hear me say it towards the 4:30 mark in the video, but it begs repeating.

In a state of stress and anxiety, I made lots of bad decisions for my future. 

In a state of relaxation, I have been able to stumble upon my passion, my life’s purpose.

And, by the way, I teach natural relaxation.

If you want to find out what it’s all about, find me in Portland. Check out my class schedule here: http://openawarenessyoga.com/classes

 

Psssssssst….hey, hey you. If you prefer reading content to watching it, read on below.

The Text Version of

Stress, Anxiety, & Relaxation: Impacts on Your Existence

Hi! It’s Quinn and today I’m going to talk about my experience and journey with stress and anxiety and the resulting reality shift in my life.

Let me start by saying: “stressed out” is my inborn, natural state of being, Just as an example, when I was three or four year old my parents took away my pacifier and my hair started falling out…from stress! In any case, this consistent anxiety was something I didn’t recognize in myself until the past year of my life. That is, I wouldn’t have self-identified as an anxious person (even if it was evident).

This unknown anxiety thing continues through the next 20 year of my life, culminating in outright panic towards the end of 2013, when I was gearing up to quit my corporate finance job and take my 20s retirement.

At the time, I thought that as soon as I quit my job, the stress and anxiety I was feeling would dissipate, just like that. I figured the reason I was feeling so stressed out was 100% because I hated my job, so quitting would mean I would feel better. Nope. I quit and a month later I was still stressed out. I wasn’t enjoying the time I had, instead I was worrying about what the hell to do next. And then it dawned on me.

Step 1: Baby girl, you need to learn how to relax.

I knew that if I didn’t relax, I would end up in another career that was so totally not right for me and in another life crisis in three years. I knew that if I was going to ever know what was right for me, I had to first relax. So that’s what I set out to do.

Truncating the story quite a bit, I began practicing meditation and the more subtle yogic practices. The state of relaxation came on slow, it wasn’t an explosion of calmness and ease (that wouldn’t make sense). It was more a creeping sensation of balance. And to be honest, at first it felt a little boring. I was used to my tension, to my short fuse, to my explosions. Things are a little less exciting without the drama, but trust me, they are so much better.

So, how did relaxation shift my reality?

Finding a state of easeful relaxation, in my body and in my mind, gave me a new relationship with time. My perception of “how much time I had” was radically altered as I evolved from stress-state to relaxed-state. When I was living in a state of stress and anxiety, I had this constant feeling I was being rushed. I always felt like I had to react immediately to any situation, any change in my environment, any opportunity or question. NO TIME TO THINK QUINN, ACT! ACT! I felt this way when making both big and small life decisions, which means, I was reacting from a state of tension and fear and feeling rushed as I made choices that shaped my world. Choices in my career, relationships, leisure activates – they all came from a place of reaction rather than thoughtful contemplation. The result – I shaped my environment from a place of stress, creating an environment of stress.

Fast forward through my past year of concentrated, focused relaxation practice, and I’ve reshaped my environment completely. In a state of relaxation, I’m able to respond (versus react) to career, relationship, and leisure life changes and opportunities. I now act as if I have all the time in the world to decide what is best for me. If the opportunity passes me by before I am ready to respond…well, then that wasn’t my opportunity anyway. And I’m not worried about it.

This wasn’t easy at first, but as I look at my day-to-day life now, I’m 100% pleased with how I spend my time and energy; the career I am building out through teaching, communicating, and connecting; the friendships I cultivate and the space that I keep for myself and for others.

And there is no way I could have shaped this reality without seeking out, pointedly, with vigor and dedication, a true state of relaxation. And now I consider this relaxed state the goal – not a job or nice things, or even “self actualization” (although it appears to be a side benefit).

I just want to remain relaxed. If the stress creeps in, I practice relaxing. I tell myself “I have all the time in the world” and I believe it. And when I am ready, I respond, and I shape my world just how I want it to be.

 

PS

Thanks to my dear friend Rach Face for the post inspiration. I love you!

 

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Vulnerability and Authenticity

Heyo Friends!

Watch below to hear me talk about my this whole idea of vulnerability and authenticity, how I’ve experienced these concepts, and how they relate.

From a personal standpoint, the most vulnerable I’ve felt in a long time was writing my recent post about the traumatic death of my beloved puppy girl, Olive. I cried while I wrote it and had to wait a week before I could read it again to edit it. I was no where near over the loss when I selected the photos and published the piece. It was fresh, it was raw, it was my real emotion and pain out there for the world to see (and the risk was…for the world to judge). What was the result of sharing that post?  I was given an enormous amount of love and support, inspired folks to share their stories of love and loss, and helped facilitate an extra puppy cuddle or two from grateful parents of healthy (and not so healthy) animals.

In short, being vulnerable facilitated human connection.

WOAH, that is powerful!!

And through the grief, I was able to find joy. Joy in that connection. And I know little Olive would have been super happy more people were loving and cuddling. It was sort of her thing.

Regarding authenticity – I’ve come up with an idea that seems to make sense:

Consistent vulnerability over time results in an authentic person.

Watch for more on vulnerability and authenticity in the video below.

Let me know what you think about this, your experiences with vulnerability, what “being authentic” means and looks like to you, whatever you’re inspired to share.

Truly, truly, I love you. Thanks for being here, thanks for supporting me, thanks for watching me figure things out, and thanks in advance for joining in the conversation (with me online or with anyone else). We’re all figuring these things out together. Words are words, experience is real. Do share.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn