Challenges are inevitable. Suffering is a choice.
This was the topic of a podcast I listened to recently. In it, Marie Forleo interviewed Krishnaji and Preethaji. Marie Forleo, if you’re not familiar, is an amazing entrepreneur, business and life coach. Krishnaji and Preethaji are the founders of an organization called O&O academy. So, in this interview, they talked about the difference between challenges and suffering. Life will always present you with challenges. But, suffering, they say, is a choice. Challenges are the actual situation. Suffering is your reaction to the situation. Suffering comes from your mind’s thoughts and the emotions that those thoughts evoke.
So, how can you move through life’s challenges without suffering? I’ll be upfront about this. It’s not easy. There’s the day to day challenges. Things like getting to work on time, getting your kids ready for school, or dealing with traffic. Then, there’s the bigger challenges that life throws at you. Things like the loss of a loved one, a new diagnosis, or a career change. It maybe that a completely enlightened person would be able to move through these situations without suffering. But, for the rest of us, I think it’s possible to at least minimize our suffering. To find some sort of peace and acceptance within those challenges. Possibly even find happiness and gratitude.
The first step is awareness. Recognize that you’re suffering. Acknowledge the suffering. Maybe even start a conversation with it. Your feelings are valid. They usually show up as a message. So, ask it: "Suffering, what are you hear to teach me? What’s the lesson I need to learn here?"
And then, sit still. Let the light enter those dark spaces. By asking those questions and being open to what arises, you’re letting the light in. The light of guidance and wisdom. It may be subtle as a little whisper from your inner voice. Or, it may be more obvious, like a blog post, book, or social media post that you stumble upon.
If you find it hard to sit still, then try journaling. I meditate daily, which helps me tune in. But, journaling is actually the way I most easily tune into these messages. So, if meditation seems impossible, try sitting down with a pen and paper. Write down these questions: "Suffering, what are you hear to teach me? What’s the lesson I need to learn here?"
Then, let your pen move. Free flow. Whatever comes out, let it be. And, then go back and read what you wrote. You might be surprised what you find. There may be a new perspective, a solution, or a lesson in what you wrote.
I’m interested to hear what you think of this idea of suffering being a choice. And, what you discover when you try out these practices! Leave a comment below to let me know!
"I could see peace instead of this."
This phrase has been coming to my mind a lot lately. I spent a good part of last year reading A Course In Miracles. I shared some of my reflections from those readings with you last summer. I made a video about this powerful statement, "I could see peace instead of this." And, I've found myself coming back to it a lot lately.
And so, I wanted to share that video with you again today. In it, I describe how you can use this phrase as a meditation.
1. Sit for a few minutes and watch your thoughts
2. If any disturbing thoughts arise, replace them with this statement. "I could see peace instead of this."
The more you practice this, the more reflexive it becomes. So that, even when you're not meditating, this tool is available to you. If a disturbing situation or conversation arises, your mind will shift more quickly towards peace. And, goodness, couldn't we all use more peace in our lives these days?
I hope this meditation helps you find a bit more peace within your own life. And, if so, let me know! I love hearing from you! So, be sure to leave a comment below letting me know your experience with this meditation!!
I was visiting one of my best friends last weekend. She's big into gardening and has a beautiful herb garden in her backyard. The last time I visited a month ago, she had just planted the herbs in container pots. When I returned this past weekend, I enjoyed seeing how the plants blossomed in the interim. I was especially drawn to the mint and lavender plants. And, I asked her, "Would you mind if I make a tea with these?"
So, I trimmed some of the mint leaves and sprigs of lavender. Warmed up some water, put in the fresh herbs, and some honey. Let me tell you, it was SO DELICIOUS! If you're able to get your hands on some fresh herbs this season, I highly recommend it!
Fresh herbs are a staple in Ayurvedic healing. Here's a sampling of all the things you can do with herbs:
-Add herbs to your cooking to amp up the nutritive and healing properties of your food.
-Crush herbs into powders and ingest them with carriers like honey or ghee.
-Make a paste out of herbs to apply topically to your skin.
-Steep the herbs in hot water for a yummy and healing tea.
Dr. David Frawley has this to say about herbs:
"Plants bring us the love, the nourishing power of the sun, which is the same energy of all the stars, of all light...They offer us not only their own nutritive value but the very light and love from the stars...They bring us the universal light so that we can enter the universal life."
Some of my favorite plants for the summer teas are lavender, mint, and rose. Cilantro is a great herb to add to your cooking. All of these plants have cooling properties and that's why they're perfect for the season!
Another one of my favorite things for the summer is to use essential oil aromotherapy. Going back to the lavender and rose that I mentioned earlier. Not only are these cooling, but they're also calming and grounding. How do I use them?
-Place a few drops mixed with water in an aromatherapy diffuser
-Place a few drops of lavender essential oil into sesame oil to rub on the soles of your feet before going to bed
-Use an essential oil blend to apply to trigger points of your body, like your wrists and temples. My current fave is Pratima's Pitta Essential Oil. It's a blend of Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, and Sandalwood. It's heavenly!!
I have a whole bunch of other Ayurveda tips for the summer that I've written about in prior years. So, if you're interested in learning more, check out those blogs here:
And, now I want to hear from you! Leave a comment, let me know if you try any of these tips and how they worked out for you. Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from these tips!
I did a Facebook Live last Friday with Dr. Kim D'Eramo. Dr. D'Eramo is a physician, bestselling author of The MindBody Toolkit, and founder of the American Institute of Mind-Body Medicine. We chatted about the body's innate ability to heal itself. It's amazing! If you listen to it, your body is constantly telling you what it needs. It can be hard to hear it's signals sometimes. Other times, you can hear it (or, rather feel it through pain, stress, or fatigue), but don't know what to do about it. In this video, Dr. D'Eramo guides you through a brief practice to get in touch with what your body is feeling. She calls the process the ABC technique for:
The idea is this - send love to all the parts of your body that need healing. Partner with your body, instead of fighting with it. Know that your body is your ally, not your enemy. And, know that everything that comes up in life, be it physical or emotional pain, is an invitation to awaken. Lean into it and you may discover something far greater than you ever could have imagined!
Sending you so much love,
*I recently listened to an episode called Mental Chatter on Dr. Errin Weisman's Doctor Me First Podcast. In it, she described modern coaching techniques to deal with negative mental chatter. As I listened, all I could think of was how similar this was to the yoga concept of Pratipaksha Bhavana. This was my inspiration to update my blog from September 2015 and share it with you here today.
“When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana.”
-Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II-33*
Your thoughts are powerful. Your thoughts are linked to your breath and emotions. For example, what happens to your breath when you think of something that makes you feel angry or upset? Generally, your breath quickens and becomes shallow. Your heart races and blood pressure rises. Your stress response kicks in. But, what if you had a technique to intercept this entire process? This technique is pratipaksha bhavana. Pratipaksha bhavana invites you to intercept disturbing thoughts at the outset. Instead of spiraling down a staircase of negative thoughts, introduce positive thoughts as soon as you can. You don't need to push away the negative thoughts. All you do is introduce positive thoughts, and then negative ones slip away on their own.
According to yoga, it's human nature to think negative thoughts. Modern science backs this up with something called "negativity bias." Negativity bias means that your brain keeps negative thoughts at the forefront as a survival mechanism. It's the way your mind thinks it's protecting you. Negativity bias was necessary in the hunter-gatherer days. You wanted to remember where you last saw the lion when you were out hunting, so as to avoid going back to that spot. It was a matter of life and death. These days, however, it's often not life or death thoughts that stay at the forefront of your mind. It may feel like life or death, but it's actually not. It may be rush hour traffic, an arguement with your spouse, or a disagreement at work. And so, you have this tool, pratipaksha bhavana, that you can use to intercept those negative thoughts.
Pratipaksha bhavana requires continuous effort and patience. But, with regular practice, pratipaksha bhavana becomes easier. Your negative thoughts can become a trigger to bring in positive ones. As you practice this, you may realize the role your thoughts play in maintaining your peace of mind. And then, you may find that you want to guard your thoughts with utmost effort. This becomes an act of self-care and love.
It can be helpful to practice pratipaksha bhavana daily. Set aside 5 minutes each day where you sit and observe your thoughts. When you notice a negative thought arise, repeat an affirmation such as "I am peace" or "I am love." Affirmations are great ways to introduce positive thoughts. You can think of one on your own, or use a favorite inspiring quote. It can be helpful to choose a short and simple affirmation. If you practice this for a few minutes daily, then it'll be more readily available to you in times of need.
So, give it a try and leave a comment letting me know any challenges or benefits you find!
*The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the one of the oldest texts on yoga practice