Suzanne Norman

Enlightened Living Articles

The Power of Support

Monday, September 16, 2019

I was recently asked what I believed to be the biggest challenge people deal with today.  That is a great question and as someone who has made a career out of helping people overcome challenges, I felt uniquely positioned to answer that question.  

Having worked with thousands of people over the past two decades, I have found a very common theme underlying every story, regardless of the content of the story.  As we peel back the layers of feelings, we find at the core, discontent.  

Defined as feeling dissatisfaction with one's circumstances, discontent can be found as the root of most issues in all areas of life, relationships, careers, and health.  The challenge for most is the inability to recognize their feelings, to notice the discontent.  Not being able to define the heavy feelings properly, which are truly gifts from the body or the mind telling us something is not quite right, can lead to developing negative thought patterns.  These then create habits of behavior, and before long, we feel stuck in a pattern. We begin to see the world through the lenses of discontent.

It's very hard to see differently or to imagine a different possibility when you're stuck in a pattern. You default to the familiar. This is a perfect time to call in support. Someone who can help you change your perspective and find solutions to problems.  Someone who can help you identify the discontents and discover the longings associated with them.  Once you know what your heart is longing for, you can begin to move toward the change that your body or mind is communicating a need for.  This is when it's time to call in a coach.

Coaches are experts in helping people find solutions from within.  A coach doesn't focus on problems, they help empower their clients to discover their unique path to uncovering their potential and possibilities.


Would you ask your friend to fix the plumbing in your home? Would you ask your sister to teach you to speak French? Not unless they were experts in those fields.  

Life Coaching is a profession that is profoundly different from consulting, advice, therapy, or counseling. The coaching process addresses specific needs and goals of each client. Whether related to business successes, general conditions, and transitions in the client's personal life, relationships or profession. A coach will help you discover what your obstacles or challenges might be, and choosing a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be.



Mental health care costs are estimated to hit 6 trillion dollars by 2030, 20-30% of adolescents report having at least one depressive episode by the time they reach adulthood, 6 out of 10 couples report being unhappy.  We are a nation depressed, unfulfilled, and addicted. Clearly the old way of doing things isn't working.  Coaching is an empowering experience that creates positive changes at the deeper levels of awareness and strengthens a persons ability to find inner solutions and answers.  Coaching is stepping into the arena as a powerful mental health tool.

A coach can specialize in a number of different areas, for instance, my specialty is mind-set and performance coaching.  My work is helping people find their passion and create the lives the've been dreaming of.  Coaches are highly trained as generalists and can coach superbly on any aspect of life. However, we may choose to specialize in one or more of the following areas :



  • Confidence, Self Worth & Self Esteem
  • Loving Relationships That Work
  • Career Change 
  • The Mastery of Balance 
  • Self Care - Getting Your Own Needs Met
  • Living Your Purpose
  • Hot Buttons - Managing Anger, Upsets, Frustration and Stress
  • Managing Grief, Loss, Sadness and Change
  • Connection Parenting
  • Self & Identity - Surviving the Oppressive Over-Culture
  • Wellness, Nutrition, & Optimal Health
The coaching industry is on the rise and for a good reason, it works.  


If you've been struggling with a problem and you just can't seem to get a clear view around it or if you're feeling discontent in your life and you are ready to begin living from a place of passion, clarity and full potential, consider talking with a coach.  Interview several to find the right fit, as this is a sacred relationship.  Having support and guidance during the process of growth and change is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.  Take control of your life today and begin to live the life your heart is yearning for.  





The Negative Effects of Complaining

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The more you complain, the more likely you are to choose negative over positive thinking in the long run.  Neuroscience research is discovering that each time you complain, your brain is actually physically rewiring itself, making it easier to adapt to that reaction in the future.  If the fact that you're breeding continual negative biases isn't enough to encourage you to stop complaining, would knowing that it can also damage your memory get you to pay attention?

MRI scans have shown that constant complaining can lead to the shrinkage of the hippocampus, the region of your brain responsible for cognitive functioning.  The smaller you hippocampus, the more likely you are are to have memory decline, as well as have difficulty adapting to new situations.  It doesn't stop there.  The more you complain, the more your cortisol levels increase.  We know that higher levels of cortisol are associated with health problems like increased depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and potentially an increase risk of heart disease.  Cortisol is aptly named the stress hormone.

Now each of us has our moments of moaning and groaning.  Expressing complaints comes naturally to us, but we all know that person who likes to complain about everything.  No matter what they've got going on in their lives, good or bad, they can find a way to grumble about something.  We call these the "glass half empty" or pessimistic people, and they can be amusing.  But it turns out that constantly expressing negative sentiments may become subconscious habits that lead to harmful consequences to your health.  constant complaining over time can cause an immense impact on brain function and take it's toll on physical wellbeing.

While it may feel good to get some frustrations off your chest, it can be done in a positive and healthy way.  There is nothing wrong with expressing how you feel, and we certainly don't want to bury our feelings, but keeping it constructive can help you move forward, rather than getting stuck or spiraling downward.


Here are some tips to help you give complaining a rest and set you up for success and better health:

Define complaining:  When you begin to recognize the difference between a complaint and an observations, the conversation changes.  If you are pointing out that it's cold outside, that's an observation. But stated as "It's cold outside and I hate living here," is a complaint

Track your complaints:  Become aware of how often you complain, it may shock you. Begin to track how many times a day you are complaining and over time, you will catch it before it leaves your thoughts and becomes spoken, and eventually, you'll manage to control the thoughts.

Distance yourself from chronic complainers:  When listening to chronic complainers, it's easy to get pulled into the energy and begin complaining yourself. Instead, offer responses that are positive or uplifting.  It's likely that those who prefer to continue to complain may no longer vent or complain to you because their brains aren't being fed with negativity to satisfy their rant. 

Catch your complaining:  If you find yourself in a nag session, you can catch it and put a different, more positive spin on it to offset the negative effects.  If you hear yourself complaining, "I don't like driving to work." Immediately follow that with, "But I am so grateful to have a job, a car, and the ability to drive."  This brings the energy, and good chemicals, of gratitude into your body and mind.

Shift from "have to", to "get to":  This could be one of the most powerful ways to put an end to chronic complaining.  This simple shift turns your complaint into a choice.  When you say you HAVE to do something, it feels like a chore.  But shifting the statement to you GET to do something, turns it into a gift.  Instead of "I have to go to gym today," change it to "I get to go to the gym today."  It immediately turns into gratitude.

The more you practice these tips, the more natural they will become.  What are your next steps to kick the complaining habit?




Boron - The Mighty Mineral You May Be Missing

Tuesday, April 02, 2019


Boron is a trace mineral found naturally in soil and abundant in various foods. Recent research has found boron to have massive potential for a variety of therapeutic uses. Everything from wound healing to hormonal balancing. The process by which boron seemingly protects and strengthens connective tissue and bone mass is likely connected to the minerals hormone balancing effects which are seen at even low levels of supplementation

The population groups who consume large amounts of boron naturally whether through rich soil or water have significantly lower levels of reported arthritis, including juvenile arthritis

Such is the case in Israel, where daily boron consumption is very high when compared to the global average, Israel arthritis rates are far below the global average. Israelis consume upwards of 12mg a day of naturally occurring boron, where Americans struggle to get 3mg a day and have experienced increased arthritis (including youth) rates as boron concentration in American soil has substantially decreased due to modern farming practices.

The protection and strengthening of connective tissues and bone mass is being linked to boron’s hormone balancing effects which are seen at even low levels of supplementation. Increased levels of almost all sex hormones have been observed in a variety of trials with both men and women. Most notably the hormone estradiol, which plays a vital role in the repair and building process of both bone and other tissue, has been shown to be significantly raised after only a week of 6mg a day supplementation. Boron supplementation of a similar dosage has also been shown to be effective at helping to convert more testosterone to free testosterone, most likely through its ability to decrease sex hormone-binding globulin. The hormonal benefits of boron could be massively important to post-menopausal women who struggle with hormone production, as boron supplementation has been reliably shown to increase many hormonal markers in trials.

Boron ability to seemingly cooperate with magnesium and vitamin D in a beneficial way has been well documented in recent years, especially with growing awareness of vitamin D deficiency around the world (thanks to a misguided campaign to demonize the sun and glorify toxic sun screen) and its detrimental effects on overall health. A 2009 study even found that supplementing with 6mg of boron with no additional vitamin D consumption increased vitamin D concentration in participants blood by 20%! The study was conducted in Europe in the winter so the chances of this being from sun exposure is minimal, especially considering the controls saw their measured levels drop. Boron not only positively compliment vitamin D and increases its bioavailability through increasing its half-life, but it can also keep serum calcium and magnesium levels balanced through blunting the degradation of estradiol. Through a variety of processes, many of which are still trying to be accurately observed, boron not ony helps utilize the minerals you have consumed, but can even reverse deficiencies of key nutrients such as vitamin D and magnesium.

The general health and anti-inflammatory effects of boron are likely tied into the processes mentioned above, but nonetheless, almost all major markers of inflammation such as hs-CRP (high sensitivity C-reactive protein - used to assess your risk of heart disease) and TNF-a (tumor necrosis factor) have been shown to be reduced after boron supplementation. In a recent study, male participants saw their serum IL-6 cut IN HALF after only one week of supplementing 10mgs. These anti-inflammatory effects of boron could also tie into the arthritis mystery that was touched on earleir. (IL-6 is Interleukin 6 – an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine and an anti-inflammatory myokine. IL-6 is secreted by T cells and macrophages to stimulate immune response)

The positive effects of boron all seem to tie into each other in one way or another

Supplementing Boron

Most studies involving boron supplementation use a form that you can easily pick up at your local health food store. Weight lifters were ahead of the boron curve and have been supplementing boron since the 80’s as a way to increase hormone production, so there are a wide variety of brands and forms. Our personal favorite is Trace Minerals

In terms of supplement timing, boron does not have a time of day that’s best to take, although I would assume morning would be better for people seeking the anti-inflammatory effects (as IL-6 was reduced just 6 hours after taking!), while nighttime is better for people looking for the hormonal and repair process benefits. Taking with food is a good option just watch out for high amounts of fiber as that interferes with the absorption of all minerals.

Boron could possibly reduce vitimin B2 levels after long term use, so supplementing with a B complex every once in a while is a good idea if boron is something you’re considering.

As with any mineral and vitamin, it’s best to get from a clean food source, but that is getting harder and harder these days with our degraded soil.

More research and information here:


The Power Of Ritual

Thursday, January 24, 2019

part 2

Rituals for living. This is where you get to make life more special for yourself.  You can create a ritual around many things, including: Any practice that you want to become more of a fixture in your life, such as meditating or cooking; any everyday act that you want to enhance the specialness of, such as mealtimes or bathing; any act that you want to transform into a grounding or tuning-in point in your life; to create a mindful or meaningful space in your day.

A ritual doesn't need to be ceremonious, but consider this: the more special you make your rituals, the more specialness there will be in your life.  It's almost too simplistic to take it seriously, but it's true in so many areas of life, so I encourage you to let that sink in for a moment.

The most fundamental requirement of a ritual is that you're deliberate about it. This might mean that you tune in, take a single breath, and express to yourself what you intend to do.  Then when you're done, you tune in, take a breath, and express that you have gratefully concluded the ritual.  This could take literally only ten seconds.

But adding additional elements that you're consistent about can make your rituals something you look forward to, it can help cement your rituals more firmly into your life, and it can make it easier to quickly 'drop in' to a lucid, or inspired state.

Consider the following elements for ideas. Think of them as ways to "bookend" your ritual, to set it apart from the everyday, and to lend greater potency to what you set out to do.  These elements have set the stage for some of my most powerful reflective and ideation sessions, my most efficient work, and my deepest meditations

Elements of Ritual

Fire:  A candle, a fireplace, an oil lamp, or the sun.  Fire is a symbol of illumination, warmth, and connection.

Words: Set an intention, say a blessing or mantra, invoke a guide.  Writing can make words even more "real".

Food or drink: Consuming food/drink is special as it involves bringing something from the outside world into your body. In addition, it incorporates the senses of taste and smell, and may produce a biological response.

Beauty: Adorning and beautifying your space, your things, and your life is a way of elevating them beyond the mundane, and of demonstrating gratitude and reverence.

Sound:  Trickling water, bells, chimes, chants, a favorite song, can all help tune our attention.

Garments:  Putting on a special necklace, shawl, or other adornment may help you get into the right space.

Water:  Water symbolized purity, cleansing, and flow.  Bathe, slip your hands in it, splash some on your face

Scents:  Flowers, incense, and essential oils have long been used to uplift consciousness and shift the space around us to designate a special purpose

Gatherings: Strength in numbers. Whether its co-working or co-ritualizing, tuning in together can be stronger.

Location:  The woods, the beach, or your altar in the bedroom.  A consistent space can help focus your ritual.

Objects of significance:  A cup, a crystal, a feather, a stone...these can help anchor you in your ritual.

Timing:  Synchronizing a ritual with a particular season, the birthday of someone important, a historic event, a moon phase, time of day, the solstice, equinox, etc., may contribute to a sense of extra power and alignment.

I have a number of rituals that I've begun to incorporate into my day/life. For instance, two of my girlfriends and I have decided to come together at the new moon. We intend to draw new moon mandalas and to set seeds of intention for the month.  Another small group of women and I intend to gather on every fifth Friday (happens 4 or 5 times per year) and share stories or sources of inspiration.  Can you think of a group ritual that you can create to bring the power of community and connection?

Answer these questions to reveal factors that will be most natural for you to integrate into your rituals:

1) When and where do you feel you're most inspired and focused?

2) What clothing makes you feel most in your element?

3) What's your favorite food or drink to consume while pondering your future and accessing your inner strength?

4) Do you have any treasured objects that make you feel inspired or uplifted? Photo? Eagle feather?

5) What helps you feel centered and grounded? Turning off your phone? Taking a bath? Running a mile?

6) Are there any sounds or scents that help you relax or put you in a transcendent space?

7) Which of the elements in the list above do you feel a natural attraction to?

Feel free to share any rituals you have or what the above questions revealed to you.




Off The Radar

Thursday, December 13, 2018



Do you ever feel like you could disappear? How easy it would be to just fall off the radar. In this age of virtual reality, where we're moving farther away from real contact with real people, and rely more on email, text, social media, and other electronic forms of connection, it's easy to slip out of the awareness of others.

Without the energetic and physical link to another human being, with its very real entanglements, we don't get a true bond and remembering and it's so much easier to forget another. There is a terrible isolation with the disconnected world we are living in, and I for one don't care for it.

I prefer real live interactions, with friends, clients, and students. I feel more alive in the presence of others and it lifts me when I'm down.

The irony is, my only means of connecting with some of you is via this newsletter, a social media post or a podcast episode. And while I'd much prefer to see you in person, I do appreciate the opportunity to give you whatever I can, in whatever way I can, so I continue to communicate in as many ways as possible.

Recently I went off radar! I had two big moves back to back that found me consumed by boxes, packing tape, and moving trucks. I assumed I could continue to allocate a few hours a day to podcasting, blogging, and meeting with my friends, etc., but I was over confident in my ability to multi task. Alas, I neglected my work and my tribe. I went dark.

After a few weeks of my isolationism, I wondered at what point someone would notice my absence. How long would it be before someone said, "Hey, where'd that girl Suzanne go?" That's the problem with a virtual relationship, there is no real energetic connection so it's so much easier to forget how long it's been since you've talked to or seen another person because those texts, and emails which are the primary form of connection these days aren't real enough.


If we take the teachings of quantum physics seriously we know that once we come into contact with another in a meaningful interaction, we are forever 'entangled'. We will be affected by the other, we will affect another. This doesn't happen with a virtual relationship. I wonder if that's the reason we are seeing so much depression these days? Could our energy be starving for the connection with another?

The isolation, illusion, and confusion that are caused by living behind a screen are a very real problem and we can see the impact it's having, especially on younger people.

I will attempt to add more "live and in person" types of opportunities, both with my work and my personal life this next year. I want to feel the energy of another, enjoy the handshake or hug, and know that I will forever be a part of their life...even if it's only on a molecular level.

It's important to stay physically connected to others, please enjoy real conversations and experiences, get out from behind the screen and go see the things you're "liking" for yourself. At the very least, pick up the phone and have a conversation that takes time and effort. That way, when you fall off the radar, someone may notice and decide to come looking for you.

I have a series of LIVE workshops scheduled these next few months; I do hope you'll join us in person.

I hope to see and feel you again soon!



Winter Solstice

Thursday, November 29, 2018

We Are Approching The Threshold Of Winter

Life is being drawn into the earth, effortlessly descending down into the very soul of herself.  And we, as human animals, are being called to do the same, the pull to descend into our bodies, into sleep and to the depths of our own inner cave. Do you feel it? 

Many find the decent into their own bodies a challenging, and perhaps, frightening thing. Fearing the unmet emotions and unspoken past events that have been stored in the dark cave inside themselves, not wanting to face what they have carefully avoided.

The winter solstice time in no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understnading that this period of descent into our own darkness was, and is, necessary so that we may, once again, find our light.

And yet, true freedom comes only from accepting and forgiving what we have been through and choosing to release the hold it has on us, bringing the golden treasure brack from the deep inner depths.

This is a time of rest and deep reflection, a time to wipe the slate clean and clear out the old so we're ready for rebirth without the weeds of resentment blocking the light.

This is a time for reconnecting, relearning, and reclaiming. It is a time of kindness, peace, and love, not a time of dread, depression and avoidance as so many choose to experience.

Embrace natures call to go inward - as all creatures are doing.  Let her wrap her soft arms around you and point you toward your inner self, to the darkness and quiet, and yes, to the death of what you were, so that you may become what you are.  This is a powerful medicine. Hold yourself with the awareness of forgiveness and allow yourself to go deep, grieve, rage, rest, and heal.  

Winter takes away the distraction and noise of the outer world and presents us with the opportunity to rest and withdraw into the womb of love.

Breathe Deeply

Thursday, September 07, 2017


According to Chinese Medicine, Autumn is associated with the lungs. One of the best ways to strengthen the lungs is to breathe deeply. It sounds so simple, but most of us don't breath deeply, or efficiently. And this can affect important things like our emotional states, energy level and immune system.

When we breathe deeply and with intention, we are flooding our cells, muscles, and brains with much needed oxygen that is vital to all the body's processes. It also distributes the vital Prana (life energy) throughout the bodily systems.

One of the best things we can do is go for a walk in the crisp, clean autumn air and fill your lungs with that fresh air.

Another powerful practice is deep breathing exercises.  Relax your body and take a gentle but deep breath in through your nose, filling your belly as if you're inflating a in the inhale for a moment, release the breath as if you are blowing out candles on a birthday cake...nice and gentle but full, all the way to the bottom of your lungs until they are completely empty.  Do this 5 to 6 times a few times each day.

The breathing practices we learn in Yoga are very powerful and designed to support the life force energy within the body.  The practices are powerful immune system strengtheners as well important tools in the control of consciousness.  Learning how to breath properly can help you heal both body and mind.   Pranayama practice is always a good idea, but particularly in autumn, when lung energy is at its peak.  As we turn toward more introspective practices, autumn is the perfect time to work on releasing negativity in our life.    

We can often feel like many of the negative things in our lives are beyond our control, but if we become aware of negative things, we can make small changes to avoid them as much as possible.  Negativity can be as extremely destructive force both physically and psychologically, so working towards keeping as much of it as possible out of our lives is a good goal.  Sometimes, it's just the awareness that can really help make the changes necessary to keep as much positivity and light in our lives.  We can also use our breathing to keep the prana (life energy) strong in our bodies and minds to keep that positivity and light strong as we transition into darker seasons.

Taking time for a focus on the life force (breath) that moves through you and noticing when it is lacking or in excess and then using deep controlled deep breathing practices to balance your breathing can have a powerful and calming effect on your mind.  Relax and practice conscious breathing, get out in the crisp clean autumn air and fill your lungs with life energy.. you'll soon feel your lungs strengthening and your health improving.



Freedom Bundle

Friday, July 07, 2017

Enlightened Living Shop


Monday, July 18, 2016


Each of us will face challenges in life.  Some of us will experience long periods of challenge that will have us questioning our faith and testing our courage.

A few years ago the ground crumbled beneath me.

This time for me can be described in only one word…loss.  I was losing everything. 

My mother was dying, my marriage was ending, my only child was leaving the nest,  I had to sell my business and leave my home.  I was losing friends, loved ones, income, security, comfort, and all that was familiar. 

All of this all took place in less than one year.

When you experience an implosion there is very little left of you. The emotional and physical toll is great and recovery is lengthy.

A Buoy

When I found yoga twenty years ago, it came at another very challenging time in my life. That time however, was not a time of loss. The emergence into adulthood with all of its growing pains – new job, marriage, big responsibilities – can be just as ambiguous.    I was living a confused tumult, in a whirlpool.  And I found myself very unsteady on many levels.   Yoga found me and I was able to re-ground again. Psycho-emotionally, the practice of yoga balanced me, it calmed the angry seas.

Living in a vortex of energy, it takes almost superhuman powers to step onto the mat, or to sit on the meditation cushion. It’s not easy to find stillness when you are riding turbulent waves.  But each time I mindfully moved my body or slipped into the tranquility of my breathing, I emerged more centered and grounded.  My mindfulness practice was a lifeboat in the storm.  To this day I will say that yoga saved my life. 

Finding Ground

The last few years have been an emotional drubbing.

If you’ve ever been through any form of de-construction or demolition, you know that it is messy, dirty, noisy and sometimes painful.

I have spent the last year slowly healing, licking my wounds and re-gaining strength.

But the past several months have found me feeling restless, confused, unhappy, and more than a little fearful.  Reflecting recently on this, it has occurred to me that what I am experiencing is the inevitable and necessary phase following destruction. Re-building.  I am re-building everything I can, relationships, family, business, security…my future.

And if you’ve ever been through any form of construction or remolding, you know that it too is messy, dirty, noisy and sometimes painful.  It also takes much longer than you expect and always cost more than you imagined

This tumultuous period of my life finds me, once again, adrift in the turbulent waters reaching for yoga to buoy me.


When I was in college I took an advanced life saving class thinking it was going to be an easy A.  (To this day, the hardest class I have taken.)  This class was training in life saving skills in the most challenging of conditions.   When someone is drowning they will fight for their lives without any awareness of the attempts being made to save them.  When a rescuer approaches a drowning victim, the victim will do whatever they can to survive, including grasping the rescuer as a means to stay afloat. This can have dire results for both rescuer and victim.  The struggle to save someone is more often about subduing the victim, controlling their attempts to kill you in an effort to save themselves, it a battle and it’s exhausting. 

If you ever find yourself drowning (literally and figuratively), and salvation is reaching out to you, you must surrender. You must become still and quiet.

It will take great strength and trust to do so, but surrender is grace.  It’s not about giving up or giving in, it’s about letting go. 

It may well save you.

So as I slowly compose a new foundation and forge a new life, I will continue to step to my mat, no doubt many days with tear stained cheeks and trembling muscles. But each time I step off the mat I am a little stronger, a bit braver and slightly more stable.

My house will be re-built on peaceful ground.

How has your practice supported you in times of uncertainty?

The Top 5 Things I Learned From My Yoga Practice

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The top five things I learned from my yoga practice


The practice of yoga has many benefits.  Most people will tell you that they felt different after their very first class. If you practice yoga regularly, you can’t help but change.


There is a reason this practice has stood the test of time – some five thousand years!  The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda.   And while it’s integration into the western culture has diluted its essence somewhat, even a halfhearted practice will give you a taste of the profound potential to radically transform your life.

I practice the science of yoga, I am not merely an asana practitioner, I try and live the yamas and niyamas, I have a disciplined pranayama practice, I work to cultivate inner awareness, and I meditate on the Divine, all with the hopes of attaining absorption - Samadhi.

The practice of yoga completely balanced me phsycho-emotionally and as I enter the second half of this life, it has kept my body supple, healthy and balanced.  I am not the same person I was before I began walking this path, and everyday I am honored and humbled to be helping others explore the potential of yoga as well.

Anyone who practices experiences the increase in body awareness.  Being able to feel parts of the body again, to really connect with the smallest of sensations. Not long after we are born, we are taught to ignore the innate intelligence of our bodies.  We are told when to sleep rather than listen to the body and sleep when we need it, we are told to eat, even if our bodies don’t hunger.  We are told not to eat when our bodies do hunger.  We are directed to keep our emotions in check, ignored or buried and we are taught to numb our aches, pains, and sensations.  By the time we are adults, we have lost touch with our bodies. Yoga brings the awareness back.

As you practice yoga you learn acceptance.  To accept your body without judgment, and to work with its limitations rather than against them.

And we feel a greater depth of gratitude…. gratitude that we have a body, a form in which to experience the sensate world around us.

But there are five things in particular that I believe are the most profound gifts from this practice.

1)    Mindfulness.

We live in a culture that no longer values being. We are so busy doing, that we have lost connection with ourselves, with others, and with everything around us.  Yoga teaches us presence.  To truly be in the moment, each and every moment.  In a pose, we are asked to focus on just the sensations and energy.  We are asked to absorb all of our senses in the breath as we sit on our cushions or lie back on our mats.  We are taught to get out of our heads and get back into our hearts.  And the mindfulness we learn on our mats translates to mindfulness in everything we do.  Listening to a friend, being with a lover, negotiating a contract or settling a dispute.  We are completely present in that moment and giving someone our complete attention is an act of love, there is no greater gift

2)    Patience

When we first encounter our body in a pose, we are met with resistance, rigidity, tension, and years of neglect.  It is a body that has forgotten how to relax, a body taught bad postural habits.  As we attempt to stretch away these things, our bodies will grip with a protective reflex in an attempt to maintain the status quo.  And it will stay where it knows if we rush through the process, if we give in to the resistance.  But we are taught to breathe with a neutral mind and wait.  We ask, will, invite the body to let go of what no longer serves us.  And eventually it does, and our bodies become graceful and flexible.  And then we find that (w) holistically we become more graceful and flexible. We become more patient with the world around us.

3)    Strength

For me, as a former athlete, the physical practice didn’t challenge me as much as the mental practice, but I was amazed by the integrated strength I developed.   Yoga makes bodies overall more balanced in its expression of power, there is a stability that develops that can only be described as grounded.  I often remind my students that if there is hardness in the body, there is hardness in the mind; if there is weakness in the body, there is weakness in the mind.   As our bodies become stronger, so too does our concentration and focus.  Our minds become stronger, our emotions become more stable. We become more grounded

4)    Surrender

Our culture teaches us to strive, dominate, and acquire.  We are conditioned to believe force is a sign of power and to meet resistance with even stronger resistance.  That lifetime of struggle is creating a society of aggression and stress.  Yoga teaches us to release our holding patterns and our forceful nature so that in a pose we can relax the muscles and go deeper or so in meditation our minds can soften.  Surrender isn’t about giving up or giving in, it’s about letting go.   There is inherent peace in the act of surrender.  And if we are a microcosm in the macrocosm, our act of surrender can affect the greater whole.

5)    Stillness

When we begin practicing yoga, we are focused on the movement of the body, the flow of the breath.  Eventually, we are directed to focus on the stillness between the movements or the pauses between the breaths.  As our practice deepens, and thus we mature, we connect with the stillness even within the movement and we become stillness itself.

What has been the greatest lesson or gift you’ve received from your practice?

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