Tag Archives: thrive

Intent of the Day: Thrive

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Just make it through the day. Just make it through the day. Just make it through the day.

It’s a sad mantra but a lot of times, it’s the only thing getting us through. We live in an age where everything is coming at us so fast. We are reachable 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We’re already behind when we wake up in the morning. So is something other than survival mode even possible? What is the secret of people who look like they’re always either coming or going from a beach vacation? Today our intent is to learn what it means to thrive instead of just surviving.

You too? Here are 3 resources to help: Continue reading

The Inspiration of Arianna Huffington and “Thrive”

Arianna HuffingtonArianna Huffington is at the top of my list of women who intrigue me and whom I truly admire. Having met and heard her speak many times, I am always impressed by how articulate and smart she is. (Her relationship with my father, Deepak Chopra, dates back decades to when my dad saw her mother as a patient. Both Arianna and her sister, Agape, have become family friends who we see at various events.)

HuffingtonPost was the inspiration behind the original Intentblog – I loved the idea of bringing together real voices on a platform to explore and share big ideas. I truly cheered watching HuffingtonPost become such an incredible success story, because it was entrepreneurial, original, and a venture launched by a woman! Her name on lists like Time’s 100 Most Influential People and her face on the cover of magazines was so well deserved. And every time I met Arianna at book parties she hosted or at conferences where she spoke, I found her to be authentically interested in sharing ideas and expanding the global conversation.

But in her book, Thrive, Arianna admits that while many of us who have observed her years saw the success, she was suffering in other ways. Lack of sleep, exhaustion stress from 18 hour days, seven days a week, led her to actually fall one day and break her cheekbone and get a nasty gash on her eye. And, she was forced to ask herself questions like, “Was this what success looked like? Was this the life I wanted?”

In her book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom and Wonder, Arianna explores what it means to lead a good life. She explains how we need to go beyond defining success merely in terms of money and power – that the third metric consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.

When I read Arianna’s book, I had many a-ha moments. In fact some of the themes like meditation, noticing coincidences, and trusting your intuition are action steps I am writing about in my upcoming book. I loved her stories about her family, as well as tapping into her heritage and the lessons learned from Greek mythology and great philosophers of our time. There is a lot of research in the book, as well as resources on how to meditate, as well as a great list of apps to help you work more efficiently and without distractions!

One big take away for me was the importance of sleep, and how as a culture, we boast about our lack of sleep when on every measure for success, good sleep seems to be a critical factor. Since hearing about the importance of sleep in Arianna’s talks and the book, I have become very strict as a mom of making sure my girls get enough sleep every night. She references a study in Science that calculates that an extra hour of sleep can do more for daily happiness that a $60,000 raise. I have also followed her tips on de-connecting from the electronic devices. Who knew it would be so hard to go to sleep without my Iphone next to me!?

What I love about the book though is that Arianna goes beyond wellbeing, and includes cherishing wisdom, celebrating wonder, and giving as the other pillars for a life well lived. She writes in the epilogue, “I wanted to share my own personal journey, how I learned the hard way to step back from being so caught up in my busy life that life’s mystery would pass me by. But it was also important to me to make it clear that this was not just one woman’s journey. There’s a collective longing to stop living in the shallows, to stop hurting our health and our relationships by striving so relentlessly after success as the world defines it – and instead tap in to the riches, joy, and amazing possibilities that our lives embody.”

Arianna’s call to live with intent and joy is inspiring, and one I hope many people, of all generations, will embrace so we strive to live fuller, more meaningful lives.

Grow Beyond Your Self-Imposed Limitations and Thrive!

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By Jay Forte

Walking through the neighborhood the other day, a dog came running off the front porch and ran right to the edge of the property. He stopped obviously aware of some special force field that marked his perimeter. I could see the sign for the invisible fence – that signal that is sent out to help dogs know their boundaries.

This got me thinking. We each have an “invisible fence” – we call it our limits. We know when we get close to the limits because something emotional, painful, fearful or otherwise intense and emotional surfaces. We then treat that feeling as a limit – a place we stay away from. But little do we know that if we push past that spot, we would see that it creates an entirely new area for us to be part of – larger, grander and greater than we ever knew existed because we have been limited by our invisible fence.

So what creates our fences? It is our life experiences – the events, conversations, school, traditions and beliefs that have created who we are at this exact moment. But none of these have to be true – they are just what we think are true. Like the dog with the collar that is afraid of the potential for shock, we stay away from things that we think, based on our assumptions, interpretations or limiting beliefs, will hurt or scare us.

What if instead we saw our world without fences – invisible or otherwise? What if we were to start to see that we have unlimited potential instead of being limited?

I truly believe we have the ability to be extraordinary in some things in life – things that we have previously told ourselves we shouldn’t even try, shouldn’t expect, or won’t succeed at. We are each gifted with unique talents, strengths and passions that allow us to be amazing at some things. To discover our areas of greatness, we must walk to our “fences” to see that there is no charge, no hurt – just some fear; in most cases we simply had a story about how it would be.

I was told how anxiety-provoking public speaking is. In fact, the story we tell ourselves is that we fear speaking in front of others more than death. So we perpetuate the “fence” – speaking is frightening. I truly felt that through all my years in school until I had to speak to my class. I loved it. It was easy for me. I understand that for some people it may be difficult but how do we know if we are afraid to approach our fences – our limits – and see whether they are true or imagined? Most of our fences we can move past – we just need to muster the courage to try.

A full and great life is about moving past our fences – our self-imposed limits. We start life with few if any fears; we then learn them as we move though life. Instead of trying things and pushing our limits, we learn to clearly define our limits, and once established, not challenge them. It may show as being raised in one particular faith and being afraid to quest for greater wisdom by investigating others. Or, that we are told that our tradition is to celebrate a holiday in a particular way, and we continue it year after year without ever trying something new. Or, we work in jobs that we don’t really like but are afraid to try our own business or work in roles that we are passionate about. We build fences to protect ourselves from the unknown. And the result is they limit how great our lives can be.

What a joy it is to run free in life – to be able to go in all directions – to try things out, examine life, and see what amplifies our spirits. Thirty-five percent of Americans openly admit that they never live their potential; they have built the fences that keep their lives small. They don’t run free. They worry. They fear. They think that coloring in the lines and living within the fences is the way to do life. That is actually more of a formula to miss out on life.

Just for today, challenge your fences. Most of them are imaginary. And instead of seeing fear, see your life without fences – without limitations – living your potential – changing your world. Then, with courage, inspire others to move past their fences.

A Modern Yoga Philosophy for an Awakened Heart and an Embodied Mind

AHEMI recently read Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind (A.H.E.M.) by Julian Walker. It’s an expanded version of the manual Walker and Hala Khouri use in their yoga teacher training by the same name.

Having just recently finished yoga teacher training myself and keen to learn more about leading people through an experience of yoga and not just yoga poses, I knew this book was for me. While an understanding of anatomy and alignment are foundational cornerstones for teaching yoga safely, I wanted to learn about the sometimes intangible and energetic experience we can tap into through our yoga practice.

Having felt this in my own body through yoga, I wanted to know how to make this accessible to my students. I was particularly interested in how to weave the holistic form of therapy known as somatic psychology into a yoga class. Yoga by its very nature connects, honors and respects the mind, body, and spirit. Balancing this mind-body-spirit approach with the fascinating and respected field of neuroscience was sure to be a powerful combination.

A.H.E.M. almost seems to come to life, with its asana and pranayama practices sprinkled throughout, as well as the introspective questions and suggested writing practices. It felt like I was stepping into the book more than just reading it. As I read and practiced the movements or contemplated the questions from both the perspective of a teacher and a student, I could feel an inner shift happen.

A.H.E.M. spells out a modern yoga philosophy that is not bound by the yoga sutras while staying true to the heart of yoga. The mind, body, and spirit are all players in this approach to modern yoga, and all are honored and embraced.

In the exchange below Walker answers a few of my questions on his background, experience, and unique approach to yoga.

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Monique: Julian, how long have you been teaching yoga and what experience do you have in the fields of neuroscience, neurobiology, and somatic psychology?

Julian: I have been teaching yoga since 1993. I came to the USA alone as an immigrant/refugee when I was 19 from South Africa and have largely educated myself whilst initially working minimum wage jobs. I have been fascinated with finding ways to understand and experience the relationships between spirituality, psychology, and science both in my own process and practice and in the work I have created to share with my students and bodywork clients over the years.

My initial deep yoga training (5 years as a student and 11 years teaching at her school) was with Ana Forrest, who has pioneered work in yoga and psychology. I went to a massage school called the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing, and have studied with various mentors along the way. Mostly I have studied the history and theory of body-based psychology as well as the burgeoning field of neuroscience through extensive reading and immersing myself in lectures online.

392244_326277700735072_451275225_n-194x300Monique: I found your section on the chakras especially interesting. You refer to them as “embodied and psychological experiences that most likely have their basis in our neurobiology.” For those of us unfamiliar with neurobiology, can you expand briefly on how mind­-body energy might have its roots in the nervous system?

Julian: Ah, great question! I think an elegant way to describe my theory here is that subjective experience – consciousness and our feeling of energy – are all expressions of our biology. For example, when we feel scared we know that there is adrenaline and cortisol coursing through our bodies, our heart rate is elevated and blood is rushing into our large fight-or-flight muscles.

Likewise, when in deep states of meditation there is a correlation between the quieting down of brain areas that track the boundaries of our bodies and location in time and space on the one hand, and a beautiful experiential sense of being at one with all things as we rest in the eternal void, on the other.

I became fascinated with how the chakras correlate with key nerve plexi (bundles of nerves that branch off the spinal cord to communicate with muscles, organs and glands) and with how we experience life through our bodies. For me, the chakras are a kind of map of how the mind lives in the body; and the nervous system (as well as the endocrine system, which secretes our powerful hormones and neurotransmitters) is a key component of this.

What if the chakras are a heightened awareness of our capacity to experience the neuro-endocrine system from the inside? What if our lived emotional experience is a whole body phenomenon involving the brain, nervous system and musculature?

Monique: Throughout A.H.E.M. you refer to both “mindfulness” and “embodiment.” I’ve seen the two placed into separate categories, and I wonder if you can comment on whether you see them as separate processes or if they can coexist and/or contribute to each other?

Julian: When I talk about embodiment, I am referring to a sense of being really aware of our bodies. Feeling grounded, empowered and in touch with our emotions and sensations, are all aspects of body awareness. We come to this awareness of the body via mindful attention. In essence, it is a brain function we can train ourselves to access more deeply. If our mindfulness does not include embodiment, then we feel like a floating head! Ungrounded, disempowered, out of touch. If our embodiment does not include mindfulness we can be reactive, impulsive or negatively self-indulgent.

With yoga, we can use mindfulness to facilitate a more integrated sense of being alive in our bodies and in touch with our emotional and intuitive wisdom

Monique: In another of your published writings you say, in reference to modern yoga, “We get to define what yoga means for us in the 21st century. This is Enlightenment 2.0.” Where do you see A.H.E.M. fitting into the dynamic picture of modern yoga as it continues to evolve?

Julian: Looking at the history of yoga, it has always been in a dynamic process of evolution. Always influencing and being influenced by the various cultures with which it has come into contact. Yoga is deeply concerned with psychology, science and ethics, and our human understanding of these fields keeps evolving. For me, any field of knowledge, practice and inquiry has to be open to the progress of human understanding.

We maintain yoga as a living tradition that serves our current needs and reflects our current knowledge when we keep it open. I see yoga more as a methodology, a mode of inquiry, than as a dogmatic belief system set in stone. For me, whatever is really true about what yoga is and what yoga does for human beings can only be more deeply revealed by looking at it through the lens of science, philosophy and psychology. It is an exciting process!

My book is the culmination of 20 years reflecting on the relationships between ancient and modern, spiritual and psychological, experiential and scientific. It is an expression of what I have found and how I teach and offers teachers and students a modern and integrated way to think about and experience yoga. I hope it can be of service.

Photo credit: Julian Walker

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