Meditation Monday #48 – Paradoxical Yoga

A short post for you today on Tapas….

In the Day 80 Reading Gates writes

The desire that is tapas comes from wanting…a place of lack…yet yoga is about detaching from the outcome (paraphrased p.106)

So, through the practice of yoga we become whole and fill the internal hole.

Sometimes, in my life, there is a disconnect between what I want and what I have…I am always faced with the question of

Can I get what I want or can I be content with what I have?

The answer still hasn’t come to me in all situations, so still I ask.

Desire, ask, believe, receive.

Stella Terrill Mann

 

Meditation Monday #47 – Will and Laughter

It’s Monday again! Did you have a great weekend? I did! We had our annual chili cookout on Saturday night. I squeezed in 46 Sun Salutations and a shower right before people started arriving. It was a wonderful night in which I learned a little something about making chili with dried beans…..don’t cook them with acidic ingredients until they’re soft….or else they’re never going to get soft! If you want my chili recipe you can go way back to here to find it.

But, enough about chili and parties and Sun Salutations for today….today I want to talk about Tapas some more.

Tapas is the will both to look at what we have lost and to see what we can reclaim. (p.106) Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates

So, I’m finally on the Day 79 reading because I have realized that I only have time, right now, for meditation once a week. This is part of my scheduling for my habits and my posting for the blog, so I am keeping things simple. I have looked at what worked in the past and what didn’t and I’m figuring out how to move forward in a more even mannered way.

While I’m constantly trying to move forward and plan ahead….I still need to acknowledge my past and all of the elements that have shaped me to this point. I still need to live in the present. That quote made me feel like a lot of the things on the blog have come together into one. My schedule, my need to meditate, my need to be active, my need to read and recenter myself, my need to write and get it out, and my need to be inspired.

My Word of the Day today is LAUGH. Why? Because laughing has healing powers. I plan to teach Laugh Yoga to the kids I have been teaching on Monday afternoons. They need some serious aspects of yoga, but they also need fun. Laughter is part of life and childhood and freedom! It’s happiness and sadness and anger and success and defeat all in one. The activity I’m most looking forward to doing with them today is to laugh a conversation with all of the emotions.

You should try it with a friend…..laugh the words you’d use to greet someone and laugh the words you’d talk with them about. Imagine that you’re nervous and excited and angry and happy and sad and hopeful and free and burdened. Explore your laugh as fake and genuine. Allow someone to make you laugh today. Laugh at someone or something, but not in a malicious way. Laugh as if no one is watching. And laugh to begin anew…

There were so many things that this quote from the reading made me think of….I could have written for days on this topic and in so many directions. The reading actually starts with a quote from Gloria Steinham about how the karma of her life circumstances have shaped where she is today. This immediately brought me to thoughts of the #MeToo movement that is in all discussions at the moment.

I don’t care to share my own stories of times I’ve felt like I was less because of my situation in life. Instead I choose to use my tapas to move on….to reclaim the life I have yet to live…to choose not to let external forces define me. I acknowledge the journey, I support those of you who have taken a similar path, I laugh to the future because it’s going to be a good one!

The Importance of Habits for Obligers

I hope that this Thursday HABITS UPDATE will become a regular thing in my life and for the blog. It’s necessary for me to have a regular posting schedule for my writing and for myself. And currently I’m undertaking the project of improving my habits.

Today I’m also linking up with Amanda at Running With Spoons as I have been doing on and off for the last couple of years. She does this great Think Out Loud Thursday round-up that always gives me new things to read. I’ve found a lot of great new blogs to follow through there and I’ve enjoyed having some of her readers stop by and comment from time to time. It gives me fresh eyes as to what people will click on and read.

But HABITS UPDATES are going to be strictly for me. A post that I need to write each week to keep myself accountable to the changes I am trying to make….serious changes in my fitness and scheduling. Habits are important for Obligers because we have this sense of duty in life….to serve. In yoga we talk about our duty in life as our Dharma and as a yogi, a mother, a wife, a teacher, etc….I serve a lot of other people.

Rubin wrote in Better Than Before (and recently on her blog) about Obliger Rebellion…..when those of us who live to serve reach our limit. This HABITS UPDATE will also make me accountable to myself and giving myself time to do what I want to do so that I don’t reach the point of Obliger Rebellion.

So, how am I doing so far?

Well, this week I’ve been pretty good about checking off things on my to-do list. I am using my planner on the regular and committing to doing the things that I put on there. I am committed to putting things on the list that I want to do as well as things I need to do and not prioritizing needs over wants all of the time. Some of my wants are also needs.

I want to run twice a week with T; but I also need to run to keep my body in good health, clear my mind, and socialize with another adult. I want to read and write on the blog. I want to have a clean house. I want to see my kids have fun at  t-ball. These wants all make me happy and happiness is something I really need in my life.

I also thrive on schedules. I am a planner and a finisher. I love to see things ticked off my list. I’m sure my students appreciate this too because it means that I’m taking care of things they need from me and planning classes that have a purpose. I’m sure that my kids appreciate that I don’t miss their events and that I make time for play dates. I’m sure that my husband appreciates that I have scheduled a time to shop and pay bills so that our house is mostly in order and we’re not always ordering out.

Scheduling is a big thing for me to be successful in my habits….it’s the reason that I’ve already ordered my new planner and have birthdates, anniversaries, and school schedules (through spring) in their….waiting to be used. But my new planner presents a few new challenges to me.

First is that there are only 7 spaces (if I squeeze) on each day. Currently I have 10 spaces for each day and often write double items on lines. This is a habit I want to break and hope that my new planner helps me to finally start saying NO to overbooking and over obligating myself.

The second “problem” is that I have to decide if I’m continuing my Word of the Day as a “daily” thing in this planner. There’s a perfect spot for me to write a word for the week, but not enough space for daily inclusion….it would take up one of my 7 lines. So, I have to decide about this habit. I haven’t been doing it for long enough for it to be noticed as absent in the near future, but by the time I hit January I would have had quite the streak of WOD that it might feel empty without it. One way I can trade off on this is to start doing a weekly word in November….things that I will consider as it comes closer (marathoner).

The thing I’m happiest about at this point with the habits is that I haven’t chosen drastic changes that set myself up for failure. I feel confident in keeping this going and I am looking forward to updating you again next week!

How does scheduling affect your ability to keep a habit?

Feeling Like Charlotte’s Web

One of the newest posts I plan to do on the blog each week is to share my Words of the Day and what they’re meaning to me. I randomly selected them and put them on days with no real plan in mind. Yesterday’s word was FOCUS and it helped me to get a lot of work done. Mondays are the day I can do that….no running dates and only one kid at home.

Charlotte’s Web was one of my favorite books growing up and my 6yo and I have already shared the joy of reading it together once. The idea of a rat finding inspiring words in the dump has always been my favorite part. Finding inspiration where others do not. I’m a quotes collector (as you may have guessed from posts on the blog) and they help me to put into simpler words the beauty that is around me in every day life. I love to write and hope that some day I have a great quote to share and pass on to my family.

Today’s word is STRENGTHEN. I love that that word fell on one of the days in which I am doing weight training. I have 40 Sun Salutations to do today, I am teaching Pilates to one of my classes, and I will film my WOW video on non-standing strength poses for tomorrow today. But to me STRENGTHEN is about more than my physical body. It’s about the practice of keeping my habits and my connections to others. Think “strengthening the bonds“.

How do you STRENGTHEN?

I’m still collecting words for the future dates….I’d love for you to share your favorite with me in the comments below!

Meditation Monday #46 – Trying

In the Day 78 reading Gates writes about being emboldened to try new things, but knowing that someone is there if we fail….someone to lean on and support us….like our yoga teachers.

I wonder, with all of the new things I’m trying to accomplish in my life with habits, can I be there for myself if I fail? In what ways can I pick myself up again? Do I embrace myself with an unconditional heart?

This is a topic I’ve written about before.

Saturday I didn’t do my Sun Salutations. I just kept putting them off all day until the day was over. I thought about getting out of bed and doing them, but I let myself not. Sunday I picked up where I left off and now I have 1 day to “make-up”. So far, my attempt to create habits and discipline….Tapas….in my life also means that I need to discipline myself to love myself despite my stumbles.

Can you?

Fave Reads Friday #11 – Better Than Before

This is by no means my last post on the subject of habits. I have found this topic of Gretchen Rubin’s much easier to embrace than the idea of a Happiness Project…..it probably has to do a lot with my personality.

She ends this book with a story of how her youngest daughter wrote a sequel to a novel that Rubin enjoys. She titled it Every Day Life in Utopia (also the last chapter title in Rubin’s book). This is my ideal as well. I want to live the life I want to live and to be happier and more efficient in it.

The last section of Better Than Before talks about Clarity, Identity, and Other People and brought up a lot of great questions for me. Like, Is a habit important because everyone else thinks it is or because I think it is? This was a hard one for me because, as a Fitness Professional, there’s a lot of things that I promote for others to do. Where does this information come from? The heads of my industry. But, I also tell people all of the time that they need to find what works for them….find clarity.

Also on the topic of clarity, can I choose to do something that’s right for me, but also meets the needs of others? Super hard for me to do because I’m an Obliger and this means that I always want to do what’s best for others before I worry about doing what’s best for me. It ties into identity in that I identify as a giver, a mother, a planner, an organizer, etc, etc, etc.

Rubin writes about finding clarity on both the habit (good or bad) and the problem with committing to it. What value does it serve? Values are a big part of identity as well. Three quotes from this section that solidify that sentiment:

Our habits reflect our identity. p. 242

We can build our habits only on the foundation of our own nature. p.257

No simple, universal solutions exist. p. 258

Values are a big thing for me…..I feel like fundamental values of who you are don’t change much over time, but the way that you express them may. For instance, I’ve always been a feminist….my whole life! I remember hating the word “chicks” because women are not little, yellow, fluffy birds. It rubbed me the wrong way for so long when I was a teenager. I wore a Rosie the Riveter t-shirt with pride. I thought that those were the definitions of being a feminist.

Today I take a different approach. I still feel that women are equal to men, but my view on how to create equality is different. From a yoga perspective I try to find inclusivity for all instead of “fighting” for women. I work hard at what I do, support efforts of change, and teach my children that no one group is inferior because they are that group. My value hasn’t changed, my habits have.

Phrasing is also a topic on clarity that Rubin writes about. Fit is a Feminist Issue wrote recently about the phrase “Let me see what you can do”. I have been looking for an opportunity to use that in my classes, but haven’t incorporated it yet. In defining the problem with commitment to a habit, the value of the habit, and the habit itself she considers the words chosen. In personal training we tell people to consider not just what is being said, but also how it is being said (body language, tone, and the care put into the words chosen). In trying to adopt or adapt a habit phrasing can make or break you just as not being specific can sink a SMART goal.

This all leads to more questions of identity….

…..make sure that my life reflects my values. p. 256

My eternal question (and one I will continue to revisit as a part of my yoga practice of Svadhyaya) is WHO AM I? How are others affecting me and my habits? How am I and my habits affecting others? This is a big one when it comes to my children. They are developing their identity based on the world around them just as I did mine. I remember my one uncle always referring to my family as “The Loud Family” and that has definitely carried over into my life today. But, how else do I define myself and how do those definitions affect my habits?

Going forward (and trying to keep with some of the habits I’m working on) I plan to blog on Thursdays about habits and how they’re working for me or working against me. I would greatly encourage you to pick up this book from the library or bookstore and give it a read. I would love (as an Obliger) for you to comment here or on any of the other HABITS posts and join me in this discussion of habit formation.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday for Meditation Monday!

Distractions

Do you use distractions properly? In her book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin suggests that distractions are a great strategy for staying on track with habit formation and maintenance. Wow! Was I educated in this section….

Things that distract me from finishing a task:

  • Kids
  • Friends
  • News
  • Internet
  • TV
  • Books
  • Other unfinished tasks
  • Work
  • Boredom
  • Family
  • Kids
  • Kids
  • Kids

But these are distractions and not a distraction strategy. A distraction strategy is meant to keep you from doing bad habits. Rubin gives herself a 15 minute rule….do something else for 15 minutes and usually that’s enough to forget what it was that was going to reinforce a bad habit.

Another distraction technique that she applies is to chew on stirring sticks instead of putting other things in her mouth (food, gum, coffee). I am not sure if I use distraction techniques at all. I’m definitely a fan of the Pomodoro Technique and I use it as often as I can, but I’m pretty sure that if something is a distraction….it’s a distraction from my good habits.

What are your distractions? Do they help or harm?

Word of the Day for Friday: LOVE!

And because it’s being posted on Saturday (see here) – Word of the Day for Saturday: KISS!

If; Then

Apparently I didn’t push “Publish” on this post yesterday, so here it is today. What I just sat down to write today will get schedule as a post for tomorrow. Back to regular “almost daily” posting on Monday.

In the latest section of Rubin’s Better Than Before book she talks about a strategy for improving good habits called “If; Then”. We use this same language in yoga, but in a much different way. In yoga we say that IF you feel a certain way in a pose; THEN adjust this way. Rubin’s suggestion is more along the lines of a planned strategy to avoid “failing” at your good habits. So, IF I can’t go outside to run today; THEN I will do a HITT workout instead.

Rubin also talks in this section about planned exceptions to the rule that don’t really break the rule. So, on Tuesday I did my first “weight training” day in a long time. And therefore, I chose (in advance) not to do sun salutations that day. Partly because I wasn’t sure how weight training was going to go and partly because I’m trying to stop putting things on my schedule when I fill each line. There’s no need for two things per line! (or so I’m currently telling myself….it’s not going so well) And partly because I’m not trying to streak with sun salutations, but rather slowly build the habit of doing them until I can complete my goal of 108 consecutive sun salutations. This didn’t make me feel guilty about skipping a day of sun salutations and then, yesterday I did them again right after my run.

Planned exceptions are not the same as spur of the moment exceptions. For example….yesterday I didn’t read in Rubin’s book nor post. This made me feel guilty and behind today. Today I have other things to do, like writing a different post on the material I was supposed to read on Wednesday. I really wish those two items were checked off in my calendar or that I had not put them on there anyway. But…..I started to rationalize this to myself using what Rubin calls a Loophole Excuse.

My word of the day for Wednesday was ENJOY! I spent the day trying to enjoy each thing I did…..including grocery shopping with a 4 year old! I tried to enjoy my run and our playdate at the park, bill paying, and eating. Then it was time to have an afternoon playdate and I enjoyed that too……so much so that I left myself without time to read and write. I was embracing my word of the day….that’s what I told myself…..but really I was making a spur of the moment loophole excuse to ditch something else that also gives me joy. Doing this also made me feel guilty the next day and not as “THANKFUL” (the WOD for Thursday) as I should have been.

Today I am thankful that I have another chance to check off my list. It’s not a fail nor a fall….just a stumble. IF I cannot complete my checklist one day; THEN I will try to pick up the slack the next day. IF I cannot “catch up” on my checklist; THEN I will make peace with what was left undone and move forward from there.One thing that was very painful to read was about Obligers and their ability to come up with loopholes….especially when the habit has no accountability to others. Yep, I’m an Obliger through and through! But, that doesn’t give me permission to use it as an excuse. Rubin comes up with 10 different loopholes that people create and a great deal of them are the excuses for why I haven’t yet applied for the full-time job posting that’s up right now……

How do you feel about unfinished work?

What excuses do you make?

How do those excuses make you feel?

Do you have “IF; THEN” strategies?

Thank you to Amanda for a place to share ideas!

Finding My Formula

My word of the day today is CELEBRATE!

Things I’m celebrating include my uncle’s birthday, continuing to be consistent in my “good habits”, and I took the little one out for a free ice cream cup because he earned it for having read 3 sets of BOB books. When they finish a book or book set I let them choose the “reward”. Last time it was chocolate almond milk and for the next set (he’s already half way through) he wants balloons. Not always food related.

I’m also just celebrating life. That’s what my word of the day reminded me to do. To just keep loving my life or change it if I don’t.

And that’s what this Habit Project is all about. I was working through a few of Rubin’s strategies and trying to decide what my best formula for being successful at my “Good” habits (the ones I want to have) will be. Here are the three areas I’ve been considering:

1.Abstinence vs. Moderation – I’d like to think that I’m a moderator…..but truthfully I think that I’m the type of person who needs to be all in or all out with most things. This has been particularly true when it comes to eating habits for me. I think I’ve gotten better about being an eating moderator now that I have decided that (for the most part) I don’t want to eat animal products. Last night we had tacos (it was t-ball night) and the kids chose black beans and cheese quesadillas with a side of refried beans. I had two tacos with black beans, refried beans, rice, lettuce, guac, and cilantro. I went back and forth about adding cheese and/or sour cream. I also wasn’t sure what to do about buying queso dip for the chips. That one was easier because they kids decided they wanted tomatillo salsa for chips and I didn’t want the queso just for me. I find it harder to abstain if others are not. I ended up with sour cream on my tacos, but would have been totally satisfied without it due to the creamy nature of the guac. I don’t know why I gave into it. I think I need to be an abstainer on my own in order to be a moderator with others.

2. Convenience – We all know that if something is easier to do, you’re more likely to do it. For me I sometimes post from my phone (even though they’re not pretty posts), but it means that the posting gets done. I answer emails from my phone now and my tablet. I have three devices that allow me to do “work”. They also all allow me to read blogs, check the news and the weather, and take/organize pictures of my children.

Remember the idea of “Spending Out” from Rubin’s first book? I read an article recently about people being happier who spend money on things like Uber rides, maids, and online grocery shopping.

Yes, You Can Buy Happiness — If You Spend Money to Save Time

Because, like the title suggests, it saves time. Convenience of equipment is what has kept me working out over the past 6 years that I haven’t had a gym at my ready. However, I haven’t been swimming or lifting weights (two things I’m adding back in this fall) regularly because of lack of access. I also haven’t done triathlons since before I was pregnant with my first son because of lack of equipment and money.

3. Inconvenience – Equally as important to stopping “Bad” habits is making them inconvenient. I’ve stopped buying cheese unless we need it for a meal with friends or on the nights that it’s “meat night”. I want to stop buying ice cream, eggs, and butter also, but I’m not the only one in the house. I’ve stopped buying as many snack foods and started baking our own muffins again. But food is not the only area in which I need to abstain and make things more inconvenient for me to get to them.

I’ve been talking a lot about being consistent. That I think is one of the first habits I want to cultivate. Second would be finishing things. Third would be decluttering. And fourth would have to be attitude changes. I am trying very hard in life to be a positive person…..hence the theme of the word of the day. I’ve always been a sucker for a quote or cat poster. But….. can you make bad attitudes less convenient?

Is attitude even a habit?

This is the question I’d love your input on the most!