shining soul fitness

shine from the inside out


April 2016

Free Yourself

The other day, I was walking through a store picking up a few items and, as usual, I had on my yoga clothes as it was a day that I taught.  As I strolled down an isle with my carrying basket on my arm, a lady gave me what I perceived to be a “nasty” or judgmental look.  My first reaction (in my head) was “Excuse me?!”  I could feel my face scrunching up as I walked past and thought, “Who are you to judge me??”  And then after I took a few more steps, I thought, “I have no idea what that lady has gone through today.  She may not have even been looking at me.  Maybe she was envious.  Maybe she was daydreaming.  Maybe what I saw as judgment toward me has nothing to do with me.”  Then, I was able to send peaceful thoughts her way and hope that she had a good remainder of her day.

In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz shares ancient Toltec wisdom about the agreements that we make with ourselves that shape our reality and our lives.  The second agreement is ‘Don’t take anything Personally’.  He states that no matter what someone else says, does, or thinks, it has nothing to do with you.  Don’t take ANYTHING personally.  Other people are functioning from their own individualized form of reality, not yours, and everything they do is about them.  They are dealing with their own stuff in their own way. And you may just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In talking with the patients at work about this, one patient had a great view of not taking things personally.  He stated that he tries to see the viewpoint that if he weren’t standing there hearing or experiencing whatever it is from the other person, someone else would be.  That it isn’t about him, it is just that he is on the receiving end of what the other person is working through.

Ruiz goes on to state that taking things personally is a selfish act in that you are making the assumption that “everything is about me”.  Frequently, patients express that they are very worried about what other people think of them.  I just reply, “They aren’t thinking about you…they are worried about what you are thinking about them.”  No one is thinking about you near as much as you think they are.  (And that’s a good thing!)  They are all just trying to get through their own stuff.  What other people think about you is none of your business.

Not taking anything personally isn’t an easy thing to do- we are basically trained into it as we are growing up.  But with practice, it gets easier…at least it happens a little more quickly.  I seem to go through the defensive, angry, hurt cycle before I reach the realization that it has nothing to do with me.  So, it’s a process.  Your process may look a little different, but chances are that you have one.

When I find that my feelings are hurt and I start to get defensive, I have to check myself and remind myself that the other person is working something out in their own life.  It has nothing to do with me and reminding myself of this helps me to slip out of the Inner Victim role and to recover my own power over how I feel.

When we take things other people do, say, or think, personally, we give them power over how we feel.  We are handing over all control and stepping right into that Inner Victim role.  We are making the choice in that moment to stop taking responsibility for our own lives.  We can be free from all of this if we just practice this agreement and stop taking things personally.


We have to trust ourselves rather than trust others to tell us how to feel about ourselves, our day, our lives.  We can only control ourselves and our reactions and when we are hurt because someone else doesn’t fulfill our exact need or expectations, it is unfair to both of us.

Try making this agreement with yourself to stop taking things personally.  Feel the freedom that comes from letting go of making other people’s stuff about you.  For the weekend, try to just start to notice when you are taking things personally.  When we can start to notice and acknowledge it, then we can work to change it.

And you know I will be working on it with you.

You working on freeing you and I will work on freeing me.

Talk again soon,



We’re not in Kansas anymore

When I feel stressed, scared, and out of control, my first instinct is to run as fast and as far as I can.  To drop everything and get the hell out of there so as to prevent major damage being done.  This rarely means that I physically run away.  But, I am a pro at emotionally checking out.  I totally shut down my heart and I turn to my brain to lead the way.  I turn off the sweet, vulnerable, defenseless side of me.

I will analyze, learn what I can about the situation, step back, and become factual and brainy.  I basically turn into the Tin Man.  This doesn’t help the problem in the long run.  It adds to the pile of crap that will have to be sorted and cleaned up later on.

Tin Man Heart

Doing this really isn’t even effective at making me feel better- it is a protective mechanism and an attempt to distract myself from the possibility of things going totally awry and out of my control resulting in my getting hurt.  But, the emotions tend to leak through occasionally and I still feel all of the stuff I am trying to protect myself against, having to rearrange and reinforce my defenses along the way.  It’s pretty exhausting.

This has been a challenging year for me.  And I have noticed that I have dug myself deeper and deeper into my intellectual addiction, which means that I have created more distance between myself and any connection with others.  I have a habit of becoming “too busy” to connect and my brain tells me in a calm and reassuring voice that what I am doing is healthy and will help me in the long run.

But, today, I attended a Heart Opening workshop at a local yoga studio.  I set the intention to be fully present and to be open to opening.  I took notes and followed the cues and learned about the alignment that could help me to anatomically open the front of my body more.  And in the  middle of the workshop, I had an overwhelmingly clear understanding that I need to turn off my brain and let my heart take the lead.

Love was pouring out of me and all I could see was that when I turn to my brain and stop leading with love and connection, that I am missing out on so much; that later, down the road when this time is gone, I am going to wish that I had done it so differently.  My  heart told me to relax and that the possibility of getting hurt is ok, because I can heal.  That all I am protecting myself from is love.  That looking back later and wishing I had let others in and that I had been present in these moments would do nothing but make me grow even colder, angrier, and more disconnected.

So, my intention is to be open.  To trust my heart to take the lead.  To be hurt, but to be fully alive in the moment.  It’s really scary and I know that I won’t do it perfectly, but I have to try.  Doing the same thing over and over is only getting me the same lesson and the same results again and again.  Maybe this is the lesson I am supposed to learn.  I hope so, but if not, I will try to be open to trying again.

I feel like I went to Oz today and I am leaving with a brand new heart.  Wish me luck in learning to trust it.

Talk again soon,



Each one, teach one

A coworker asked me yesterday if there were many “levels” to yoga.  I told her that I have been practicing for 16 years and I am a beginner.  (She really is a beginner, so maybe that wasn’t the most motivating thing I could have said…)  But, some days, it certainly feels that I am.

I think of yoga a lot like I think of life.  It’s a practice.  And I don’t really think there is an end to the practice until there is an end to my time in this life.

I take my role as a teacher very seriously.  When I was young, I wanted to be a school teacher.  I would ask to be taken to the teacher supply store, create handouts for my make believe students, and fill out grade books.  I later decided that school teacher wasn’t what I wanted to be, but letting go of being a teacher never happened.  I teach people in the yoga world and I teach people in the counseling world.  And part of taking my role as a teacher seriously is taking my role as a student very seriously as well.

I have been teaching yoga for 13 years and I have 500 hours of yoga education.  However, this year, I decided to train in a different style of yoga and I am earning my 200 RYT certification in Kundalini.  And, man, am I a beginner.  As a yoga instructor, it has been a wonderful reminder of what it is like to walk in to a yoga class and have no idea what to expect.  I have had to follow the lead of others and allow myself to not know; to be open to the moment and to be vulnerable.

When I introduce myself to someone and tell them that I am a licensed counselor, I frequently get the response that represents, in some way, that I should have all of the answers to living life with no problems.  I have patients who are shocked when I tell them that I can teach them all of the skills that I do because I have to use them in my own life.

Yogi Bhajan said, “If you want to master something, teach it, but never teach anything you haven’t practiced on your own first.”

When I am leading a yoga teacher training, I tell my students that the best learning experience as a teacher is to continue to be a student.  To be a great teacher, you must continue to learn, to grow, to practice introspection, and to have your own practice as well. Experiencing it in your own body is the way to know how to lead others there.  And this applies in yoga, in counseling, and in life.

Bruce Lee

There are so many opportunities to learn every day.  I learn from my patients, I learn from my dogs, I learn from my own reactions, I learn from my yoga.  If we approach our lives with the open mind to learn more about ourselves and how to be fully engaged in our lives, then we can live more authentically from our true selves.

According to Brant Cortright, author of The Neurogenesis Diet and Lifestyle, “Learning new things increases neurogenesis”. Neurogenesis is the birth of new brain cells and we want to do all we can to help this process along so as to have healthy brains as long as possible.  When it comes to the brain, we truly have a ‘use it or lose it’ situation. Cortright also states that “becoming a lifelong learner is what it’s all about. The brain is stimulated by engagement…and when we disengage, we sag.” (I like this guy!) 

My theory is that if I am an eternal student of life, then I can be an eternal teacher as well, passing on my own experiences to others.  And they may or may not be helpful, but my intention is to help.  And something that I have to remind myself of is that I don’t have to know “everything” to be able to help others; the intention to share from a place of love is way more important.

I am trying to figure out how to make it every day just like everyone else.  I have a lot to offer to others and you do too.  You have unique qualities, experiences, views, and knowledge that can help others.  And when you help others, you help yourself.  It all circles back around in a lovely flow.

We can all learn from each other and teach each other. This is how we connect and grow stronger together. We must open ourselves to be teachable and to be open to new views. I believe that this is a way to a healthier society for us all. 

This week, open yourself to learning something every day. And then pay it forward, teaching others. You know I will be excitedly learning right next to you. 

Talk again soon,




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