300-HOUR YOGA TEACHER TRAINING – WEEK NINE

In the beginning of last week, I felt determined to finish the remainder of my 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) strong.  The way I had planned my schedule, I saw that I had 2 1/2 weeks worth of studying and submitting tests and homework, and I got excited!  I didn’t feel like I was losing steam or getting burned out, so I was determined more than ever to stay on task until I got to the finish line; but somehow, I was able to really focus and get some serious studying hours in last week, and now, I’m only about a week away from completing my AYTT!

On Monday and Tuesday, I was “in the zone” which helped me to stay focused and studying for hours and hours without feeling mentally drained!  so by the time Friday came around, I was able to give myself a little more breathing room and enjoy the day by spending an extended lunch time with one of my best friends.  Last week was full of happy moments, but it was had a moment that really tested my character… and I’m so grateful it did!

Early last week, a friend had posted a question on a group chat thread that we’ve had going for a long time.  I responded, with the intention to speaking my belief on a certain topic and didn’t think too much about it.  But apparently, this created a miscommunication between me and the friend that posted the original question, and the reply I got in that thread from that friend left me feeling accused and misunderstood.  I must admit, my initial reaction was to get really worked up and confront that person and throw my own accusations.  But instead, I took a step back from the situation to assess it, choosing to give the benefit of the doubt and to think the best of my friend who I felt hurt by.  I forced myself to choose humility because I knew that if I responded any way other than out of humility, it would be out of my desire to feel justified, understood, and validated.  This told me that a non-humble response would’ve been out of my insecurities and pride.  So yes, I chose humility and publicly apologized (in the message thread) because I had to remember that in the grad scheme of life and universe, it didn’t matter who was right.

It was really encouraging to my heart to see that because I had humility constantly in my mind lately because of my AYTT program.  A lot of the questions on the Yoga Philosophy quizzes were questions about how we relate to various yogic principles, and in order to answer authentically and honestly, I had to constantly draw deep within from a place of humility.  So here are some thoughts about humility that I would like to live by:

 

PICK AND CHOOSE THE BATTLES YOU FIGHT.

If I tried to fight every battle that comes my way, I will be too tired to fight the battles that really matter.  And the battles worth fighting will not come in the form of arguments.

 

CREATING PEACE TAKES A LOT OF WORK… BUT IT’S ALWAYS WORTH IT.

Peace doesn’t just happen.  It has never just “happened” in the history of man, so I can’t expect it to be any different in my situation. Things like LOVE and PEACE always comes at a cost.

 

YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE RIGHT.

It’s human nature to want to be right.  We somehow think that if we admit we’re wrong, people will know that we’re not always right… which means they will know we’re not perfect.  The thing is though, they already know that we’re not perfect.

 

DON’T REACT OUT OF INSECURITIES OR PRIDE.

Instead of reacting, try responding from a place of security and humility.  Whenever I know that my desire to defend or justify my words or actions is coming from a place of insecurities or pride, I force myself to be silent and go back to remembering who I am at the core of my authentic self.  At the core, I know who I am, so I don’t need to justify or defend myself.  This place of security brings about so much peace.

 

TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT.

Being respectful isn’t about the person you’re showing respect to; it’s about who you are in your character.  Whether you realize it or not, we’re all connected in one way shape or form, so being respect to everyone unconditionally ultimately brings that respect back to you.  With that said, our motivation to unconditionally respect everyone must not be based on whether or not we think they “deserve” our respect; but rather, it need to be based on the fact that we’re choosing to have a respectful heart which has little to do with them and a lot to do with your soul.

 

I’m so excited to start (hopefully) my final week of AYTT!  I’ve been at this since we moved into our new house in a new state, so I look forward to getting some R&R after this week!

 

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn

300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training – Week Four

Initially when I started on May 1st, I had plans to be finished with the 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) by the end of July.  I thought I could put in 7.5 hours of studying from Monday to Friday every week so that I can finish in two months.  The goal was quite ambitious, and by the end of week one, it became very clear that I would not be able to study from 7AM to 3:30PM (with two 30 minute breaks in between).  The second week, I let go of the rigid schedule a little too much and barely got anything done.  I started to doubt whether or not I could stay disciplined to finish the program.  I also started to feel insecure about the video exams that I would have to submit (two 75-minute videos each module as well as a video recording of me lecturing on a Yoga-related topic).  By week three, I found a good balance of planning but expecting disruptions which really helped me to approach this AYTT with discipline and grace.  Last week was a great week of progress even though I had more distractions and disruptions than the first three weeks.

My daughter started her summer job as a life guard last week.  Being that she gets scheduled at various locations, I’ve had to schedule my yoga practices and studying around when I had to drive her.  So when I wasn’t chauffeuring her around or teaching virtual classes/private sessions and an hour-long hangout with a friend, I was in my home office/yoga studio studying, listening and watching lectures on Anatomy and Asanas (yoga poses), I found it challenging to stay engaged through all the lectures, but I committed to listening, watching and paying attention for some potential nuggets of information/wisdom that would spark a “Wow” moment within me… and it happened with this quote:

“STRESS IS THE ABSENCE OF AWARENESS”

This quote really got me thinking.  I started to think about how when we are not mentally/emotionally/spiritually in our bodies, we begin to experience regrets (thinking about the past) and fears (thinking about the future) which cause us to experience a neurochemical imbalance, which then leads to the body experiencing stress.  How often do you find yourself not living in the moment?  How many moments do you remember from each day?  Do you find that your Monday bleeds into your Tuesday… and then before you know it, it’s Sunday evening and you don’t know where the week went?  I ask these questions because I have personally experienced all those scenarios.  I do find myself not being aware when I’m worrying or stressing out about the what-ifs of the future.  When I catch myself letting my mind drift this way, I immediately bring myself back to my body and mind by doing the following pranayama (breath control) practice:

  1. Stand or sit still, with both feel firmly planted into the ground.
  2. Either close your eyes or allow your gaze to become fixed on one non-moving object (do not try this while driving).
  3. If you’re standing, become aware of the ground underneath your feet.  Notice how the ground feels on your feet.
  4. Become aware of your breath going in and out through your nostrils.
  5. Feel the belly rise and fall with each breath.
  6. Notice any sounds that you hear.
  7. Notice the scenery that you see.
  8. Take a moment to smile and give thanks to God for that very moment.

I encourage you to try the awareness exercise and comment below about your experience!  🙏

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

SIGN UP FOR MY QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FOR GIVEAWAYS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WELLNESS-RELATED INFO!  (TO PREVENT POTENTIAL SPAM SIGN-UPS, ANY E-MAIL ADDRESS THAT LOOKS LIKE SPAM WILL BE DELETED.)

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn

300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training: Week Two

Before I begin this week’s blog, I want to let you know why I’m writing about my 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) journey:  First of all, I’m using it as a journal so that I can document the changes that I make throughout this program.  Secondly, I’m hoping that any yogis out there that are considering going through a YTT — whether it’s their first YTT or an additional 300 hours after their initial 200 hours — can use my blogs to make a decision on whether or not they’re ready to commit to a program.  Lastly, I want to speak to the Christian community out there, that you can absolutely be a committed, God-fearing, Jesus-loving Christian and go through a YTT without feeling like you have to denounce your faith.  In fact, Yoga is not a religion but rather a tool to enhance your faith.
Now let’s get into Week Two of 300-Hour YTT…

I learned from the first week that I can’t be super rigid with my YTT schedule.  Being that I’m taking an online YTT that’s taking place in Thailand and (Bali) Indonesia, I haven’t been able to participate in any of the live online trainings (I’ve been watching the sessions that they record during the live trainings).  The good thing is that I can study whenever I would like.  The bad thing is (also) that I can study whenever I would like.  I went from being super organized to the point of getting too rigid the first week to being very laid back this week.  I got more reading done, but I found myself strolling in and out of my home yoga studio/office and taking more breaks than I really needed.  I woke up later and started my yoga practice later which made coordinating “quiet times” in the house more tricky (my family uses the blender for smoothies every mid-morning).  Even though I have an extremely supportive family who are more than willing to modify their morning schedule to minimize noise during my 2-hour yoga practice in the mornings, I just didn’t want to inconvenience them in this way.  Somehow, I got all of my yoga and meditation practice done every day (except for last Tuesday because I woke up feeling a bit dizzy).  Towards the end of the week, I decided to try using my wireless earbuds during the yoga and meditation practices which worked out great!

LESSON LEARNED DURING WEEK TWO:

Each day felt like they were just flying by. I would get sidetracked with some things around the house and by the time I sat down to study, it would already be 4PM!  I started feeling down that I couldn’t keep up with the daily schedule that I created for myself.  On the flip side though, I was learning more and more about yoga philosophy and even about God’s will for me.  In the book that I’m currently reading (Inside The Yoga Sutras), the author (Jaganath Carrera) compares having an inaccurate view of yourself is like looking at your reflection in a cracked mirror.  The cracks represent our non-virtuous tendencies and traumas, so looking at yourself through a cracked mirror and believing that that’s exactly the way you look is the same as believing that you are those tendencies (i.e.- I am lazy, I am selfish, I am worthless, etc.).  Once you fix the mirror so that the cracks are gone, you are finally able to see a clear, accurate image of yourself.

The way that we can apply this to our lives as Christians is this:  We are not the sins that we struggle with.  We are not lazy, selfish, impure, impatient, prideful, etc.  These are the things we may struggle with, but these do not define us.  We need to “clean up” and “fix” the mirror with the Word of God so that we can see our true reflection.  God has made us fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14).

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalm 139.14

One of the ways we can begin to “restore the mirror” is by opening the Word of God and incorporating the scriptures into your yoga and meditation practice.  If you don’t know how to do this or you would like to see how I practice these things, join me in my monthly virtual Scriptural Yoga & Biblical Meditation workshop and/or pick up a copy of my book, “Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation.”

As I start Week Three of the 300-Hr YTT, my goal is to figure out a certain consistency without being too rigid.  I will let you know next Monday how this week went!

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

SIGN UP FOR MY QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FOR GIVEAWAYS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WELLNESS-RELATED INFO!  (TO PREVENT POTENTIAL SPAM SIGN-UPS, ANY E-MAIL ADDRESS THAT LOOKS LIKE SPAM WILL BE DELETED.)

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn

300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training: Week One

As I mentioned in my blog last week, I started my 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) last Monday.  I was so excited to start my advanced studies to further my knowledge and to grow as a Yoga Teacher. For those of you that are not familiar with YTT programs:

200-Hour YTT is like getting a bachelor’s degree in Yoga, and 300-Hour YTT is equivalent to a master’s degree. 
Here’s my little home yoga studio… it’s still a work in progress. 😊

I woke up on Monday morning and went downstairs to my yoga room to begin my first yoga practice which was recorded from a live session (I chose to take the entire program using the recordings from live sessions because of the time difference; when they have their yoga practices and lessons in Bali and Thailand, it’s around 2 or 3 am here in Texas!).  After an hour and a half (which is how long the asana practice is), I started my reading and writing assignment.  I ended the day with the required 30-minute meditation practice.  I felt great about how the first and the second days went, and I was pretty confident that I would be able to keep this up… Until Day Three came.

On Wednesday, I had a harder time getting up in the morning, but I forced myself to get up and stick with my new schedule.  The yoga practice that morning was a lot more challenging (with headstands and side crow among many other physically challenging poses).  There were a few poses I opted not to do due to my wrist injury, but I did the entire practice while my core was shaking. 😅  I was so happy to go into savasana, especially because I knew I had to get ready to teach my Wednesday virtual class at 11AM.  After teaching my class, my daughter and her friend wanted to go to our community pool/water park, so I drove them over and checked her friend in (visitor’s pass).  It turned out that I needed to stay the whole time because in order to have a visitor, a resident 18 or older needed to be there the whole time.  So I attempted to doing my reading and assignments on my phone; but after an hour of trying to focus in the middle of Texas summer and a lot of visual activity all around me, I gave up and just waited for the girls to be done.  After 3 hours, we finally got back to the house, which at that point, my energy was completely gone.  I found myself reading the same line about the Sutras over and over again.  I knew my brain was pretty much done for the day (and I had developed a headache by this time).  I got upset at myself for compromising my study hours to prioritize other people’s needs — which is a common occurrence for not just me but many moms —  because I was pretty much saying that my life and my goals are less important than other people’s goals.  So lesson learned.  Stick to my schedule.

On Thursday, I had just enough energy to get through a meditation practice.  That sun and the heat from the previous day really drained my energy!  “Tomorrow will be a more productive day,” I told myself.

On Friday morning, I woke up and started a load of laundry, and I went into my home yoga studio to do my yoga practice.  When I came out of the room, my husband asked for my help… WITH CLEANING THE FLOODING!  THE WASHER HOSE HAD COME LOOSE AND THERE WAS WATER EVERYWHERE!!!  😭  So my husband and I spent half of the day into late afternoon cleaning up that mess.  By the time I sat down to study, it was the evening.  Another day gone; but I wasn’t as discourage as I was the day before.  Perhaps, I learned the lesson that although I need to stick to my schedule, I still need to be prepared for unexpected disruptions.

The plan was to study from Mondays to Fridays and take the weekends off; but it worked out that I was able to catch up on my reading and studying on Saturday while my husband and daughter went out to run some errands for a few hours.  This felt like a “Don’t worry, I got your back” wink from God.  😍🙏

Today begins Week 2, which I’m still in the middle of Yoga Philosophy.  Come back next Monday for a recap of my second week!  😃

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

SIGN UP FOR MY QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FOR GIVEAWAYS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WELLNESS-RELATED INFO!  (TO PREVENT POTENTIAL SPAM SIGN-UPS, ANY E-MAIL ADDRESS THAT LOOKS LIKE SPAM WILL BE DELETED.)

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn

My Personal Struggles of COVID-19 (and how I combat it)

Everyone in this entire globe has been affected by the pandemic of COVID-19.  Life as we know it, has been turned upside down.  Whether or not you have been infected by the virus (or personally know someone that has been infected), the past three months have created many challenges in everyone’s lives.  Here are my top three struggles that has come out during this time:

  1. I got Zoomed Out!

    girl, computer, work, fatigue, office, woman, stand-alone, girl ...Struggle: Most people I meet in a social setting think that I’m an extrovert.  Not that I’m being deceptive, but when I have to “work a room,” I make a conscious decision to be positive, get to know people and make people feel seen and heard.  As much as I love to make people feel special, it really drains my energy.  The reason why this is important for you to know about me is because my struggles during quarantine did not include going batty over not seeing people in person.  I actually loved the time of “stay-at-home order” because I felt like it gave me permission to stay at home; but with staying home, I couldn’t get out of all the Zoom call requests!
    Solution: I started to limit my Zoom call acceptances to 2 calls per day, and they could not be back-to-back.  As an extrovert by nurture and introvert by nature, I quickly realized that I needed at least 30 minutes in between calls to energetically recover and regenerate.  This simple decision helped me maintain my energetic boundaries as well as increase my ability to mentally show up for each Zoom calls.

  2. I lost half of my income!
    Empty wallet | ✅ Marco Verch is a Professional Photographer ...Struggle: As a yoga teacher, fitness instructor and pilates instructor, the studios and gyms I taught weekly classes and monthly workshops at had to temporarily close their doors. Most health and wellness instructors and teachers are independent contractors for studios and/or part-time employees at fitness facilities, so we don’t get paid time-off.
    Solution: I chose to count my blessings and focus on the things I can be grateful for.  My husband makes enough for me to not work (some of the money I make goes toward my wellness business-related expenses).  I’m not an essential worker that is required to put myself in danger everyday (A deep, sincere thank-you to all the essential workers!). I don’t have as many expenses when I stay at home.  I can teach some classes virtually.  I was able to successfully transition all of my private clients to meeting virtually.  My monthly workshop has also been transitioned to virtual workshops.  There are people who have lost jobs and their entire income.  I pray for them everyday. 
  3. My daily routine has been thrown all over the place!
    Struggle: I’ve heard from many people (without young kids or having to work) that it’s getting easier to stay up late and harder to get up early.  For people with kids, they’ve had to add being a homeschool teacher/daycare worker/nanny to their already-existing responsibilities.  For me, I’ve been busier than ever with teaching my classes online, moving half way across the country, writing my second book, getting ready for an upcoming advanced yoga teacher training in a couple of weeks, and getting furniture for our new house.  These days, I don’t have a consistent routine other than waking up, reading my Bible, praying, meditating and practicing yoga.  Other than that, my day-to-day activities varies.

Solution: I decided to enjoy this time of slight disorder and semi-chaotic life.  This sets the perfect environment for me to truly practice stillness and being present. I also started taking walks around the lake and enjoying short yoga asana practices during sunsets.  When I’m outside (especially near lakes and beaches), it immediately calms me down and helps me to become fully present.

I’ve been making a daily decision to be okay with my new normal.  Even through my struggles of feeling like my life is on hold, I must be present and live each and every moment… because even in this new reality, our lives continue on.

What are some of your own struggles during this pandemic?  I would love to hear from you!

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

SIGN UP FOR MY QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FOR GIVEAWAYS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WELLNESS-RELATED INFO!  (To prevent potential SPAM sign-ups, any e-mail address that looks SPAMMY will be deleted.)

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn

 

Lessons from The Lotus Flower

Pink and White Lotus Flower · Free Stock PhotoI moved back to Texas (from North Carolina) 12 days ago.  I lived in North Carolina for 4.5 years, but before that, I was a resident of the Lone Star State for almost 10 years.  Even though I grew up in California (Los Angeles), I somehow feel that I’m more of a Texan than a Californian.  I was so excited to make the move back to where my heart is, but the move was not without challenges.  In my blog last week, I talked about the Dos and Don’ts of moving in the midst of COVID-19 (it’s so important to plan ahead because there are moving-related services that may not necessarily readily available due to business closures).  Today, I want to address the emotional aspect of moving, using the symbolism of a lotus flower.

“Be like a lotus. Let the beauty of your heart speak. Be grateful to the mud, water, air and the light.”
Amit Ray

A lotus is a very unique plant: While most plants in the northern hemisphere became extinct during the Ice Age, lotus plants survived, earning the distinction as a living fossil.  It also grows in muddy waters into a beautiful flower: This fact alone can be pondered over for many hours — and I promise to dedicate an entire blog in the near future — but today, I will talk about the following characteristics of a Lotus: Purity, Enlightenment, Self-regeneration and Rebirth.

Purity

The dictionary defines purity as “freedom from contamination.”  When I think of the word contamination, I think of something being dirty, dangerous to one’s well-being, and no longer being good for its purpose.  It seems kind of odd to think about the connection between purity and moving; but the way I connect it is by asking myself, “Am I dragging my personal baggage from state to state, or am I starting anew with a blank slate, with no pre-conceived notion of what this new chapter in my life will be like?”  Being that I’m a dreamer, I like to envision the way I think certain situations will be like.  It’s hard not to go into a new experience and environment with no expectation; however, if I want to approach this with purity, I must go into my life in Texas free from contamination of bad habits that I have previously created in my life.

Enlightenment

We use this term (or some form of it) a lot in Yoga.  Some words that are in this category are understanding, insight, awareness and awakening.  I’ve been missing my friends in Charlotte a lot the past couple of days.  I found myself wondering if we made a mistake by leaving Charlotte.  When I expressed this to my friend in Dallas, she seemed concerned for me.  But I assured her that I was glad I was feeling sad and having doubts because if I didn’t feel this way, how can I say that I gave my heart fully to my life in Charlotte?  It would also indicate that I was totally out of touch with my feelings if I didn’t feel this way.  I think part of being enlightened in one’s journey in life is to be able to have self-awareness and to be able to recognize the discomforts without avoiding or ignoring them.

Self-Regeneration

When I think self-regeneration, I think of lizards.  I remember when I was at a summer camp as a teenager, one of my friends caught a lizard and was trying to hold onto it.  When it squirmed out of his hand, he grabbed the tail (you know what’s coming next), and the tail detached from the lizard… and it was moving by itself!  This was the first time I had ever seen a lizard do that in person, so it freaked me out!  We know that lizards have the ability to regenerate their tails.  I found myself asking the question, “Are there any areas in my life where my heart has been hurt or injured?  If so, am I actively taking the necessary steps to heal and regenerate those parts of my heart?

Rebirth

Rebirth.  To be born again.  This makes me think about being like a newborn, where everything is new and fascinating.  Even though I have previously lived in Dallas for almost 10 years, I want to embrace this city with a new set of eyes and new perspective.  I don’t want to go back to who I was when I lived here before; I want to allow myself to approach this new chapter of life with freshness and excitement.

Moving is tough.  It is never without discomforts and bitter-sweetness.  If you are (or will be) in the situation of moving, know that I can relate to the myriad of emotions that you are (or will be) going though… and that transition feelings are completely normal and necessary.

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

SIGN UP FOR MY QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FOR GIVEAWAYS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WELLNESS-RELATED INFO!  (TO PREVENT POTENTIAL SPAM SIGN-UPS, ANY E-MAIL ADDRESS THAT LOOKS LIKE SPAM WILL BE DELETED.)

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn

Get Out of The Way!

Since the onset of COVID-19 Pandemic and all the restrictions that have come with it, I was among the thousands of people who have lost their income due to business closures.  I was also among the numerous yoga teachers/fitness instructors that transitioned to teaching live-stream classes through Zoom.  Even though teaching through an online platform was something I had wanted to do for a while, I was “forced” into this situation sooner than I was anticipating.  I say “forced” because my other option was to not teach at all.  There are several reasons why I was delaying online teaching:

    1. I don’t like hearing my recorded voice (I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this).  When I hear my unrecorded-self talk, I like the tonality and the intonation in my speaking voice… which is not the case when I hear my recorded voice.
    2. I don’t like seeing myself talking in a video.  I start looking at how I move my mouth when I speak, my non-conscious movements, my lack of smile (making me look like I’m mad), my non-white teeth (from many years of tea and coffee drinking)… the list goes on and on.
    3. I wondered if people would actually switch from in-person classes with me to on-line/live-streaming classes.  Being that I specialize in teaching gentler forms of yoga (not necessarily easier, but I focus more on proper alignment and injury prevention), my morning classes consist of mostly women in their late 30’s to 50’s.  Half of these wonderful women are not big fans of technology, so I knew I would lose the number of people I can help by transitioning my classes online.
    4. I questioned my discipline.  Would I be able to consistently teach online every week, or would I start to lose motivation and quit?

It is interesting that it took a global crisis for me to take the leap into teaching classes online.  But before I decided to offer live-stream classes, I had to search in my heart and make sure I wasn’t doing it out of fear (check out my previous blog on overcoming fear).  Once I prayed, meditated and talked it over with my husband (who is often the voice of reason), I realized that this would be a great time for me to take a leap and see what God does with it.

Today is my second week of online teaching, and it’s going great so far.  Last week, I taught three All-Levels Yoga classes, two Yoga Nidra classes (if you don’t know what this is, sign up for my class here), and a Biblical Meditation Workshop (click here for future workshops)… and I’m happy to report that I did not feel self-conscious, and I was able to stay disciplined and organized with my schedule!  The greatest lesson I learned in this whole process is that I get in my own way (and in God’s way) which prevents me from doing and experiencing greater things.

How often do you convince yourself not to pursue a dream or an idea because you think it is:

  1. Too much work?
  2. Too much effort?
  3. Too scary?
  4. Too intimidating?
  5. Too out of your comfort zone?

Next time you feel any of the feelings above, remind yourself to get out of your way so that you can go after accomplishing and experiencing things that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.  And if you don’t succeed in your definition of success (more on this topic next week), know that IT IS OKAY.  You are still wonderful.  You are still loved.  You are still uniquely YOU!

Self-Love vs. Selfish-Love

I love February.  I love how he is different from the rest of his family, and he flaunts his uniqueness by being the shortest month in the year.  And every four years, he decides to be one day longer (I’m using “he” because months are masculine in Spanish and French).  I think I identify with February because I’m also the oddball in my family in so many ways which I will go into in next week’s blog.

Whether February is also your favorite month or not, I’m sure you are influenced by him in one way, shape or form.  You can’t go into a retail store without seeing Valentine’s Day and anything relating to love being advertised and sold.  There are plenty of reminders to love your family, friends, significant other… but how often do you remind yourself to love yourself?

I’m not sure when the whole “Self-Love Movement” started, but it seems like every other posts I see (especially in February) are about self-love.  Loving yourself is absolutely necessary to live a happy life, but the reason for self-love — in my opinion — can sometimes get misinterpreted.  There is a difference in self-love and selfish-love.  Self-love is accepting who you are at the core and knowing your worth, and doing the necessary work to be the best version of yourself that you can be; and through this process, you’re able to love others greater than you’ve ever loved before.  Selfish-love — which is the complete opposite of self-love — is indulging in pleasure to fulfill your current (and temporary) desires with the end goal being all self-serving.

I’m not saying taking a day to get pampered or having “Me Time” is the bad thing; we all need a break to retreat and rejuvenate.  What I’m talking about is when taking care of yourself becomes a self-absorbed ritual where that becomes the end-goal instead of it being a tool to improve your mind/body/spirit for others.

I have experienced both self-love and selfish-love.  Last summer, I took a week-long sabbatical to work on writing my book.  I checked in to an AirBnB for that week and slept in every morning (being that I was in a city one hour behind, I was waking up in between 6am and 7am without an alarm), meditated, prayed, read my Bible, went out for meals by myself and spent majority of each day at a desk, writing my book.  It felt great to take a pause from my day-to-day duties to have some solitude, but I did not take the sabbatical to indulge in my desire to be lazy and be entertained.  As much as I wanted to binge-watch shows on Netflix, I took time to carry on my goal of finishing my book so that I can share my experiences and practicals of biblical meditation with the rest of the world.  This was a time of self-love for me because I took time to rest, enjoy slowing down, but it was with the intent of becoming a better version of myself for others and for me to accomplish my goal.

On the other hand, I remember when I was overwhelmed with stress from work and indulged in selfish-love (this was when I had a fast-paced, high-stress position in a Fortune 100 Company): I would come home, make dinner and spend a few hours with my family, and then I would lock myself in my home music studio for many hours to compose, record and edit songs.  I thought this “Me Time” would allow my stress level to go down and feel better, but my stress level and outlook did not change; if anything, it contributed to me becoming more self-absorbed.  Because I used creating music as an escape from reality, it neither improved my well-being nor get me closer to my authenticity.  I do, however, believe that this  was a necessary step in my journey to becoming more self-aware.

I say all this to encourage you to take time out for yourself in a way to use Self-Love as a tool and not as a goal toward your authenticity.

 

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

SIGN UP FOR MY QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FOR GIVEAWAYS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WELLNESS-RELATED INFO!

 

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn

Misunderstood? Me too!

As a kid in the 80’s, one of my favorite T.V. shows was reruns of Threes Company.  Being that I was a preteen and my English was my second language, a lot of the “adult humor” went over my head.  What I found so hilarious about the show was the physical comedy of Jack Tripper (played by John Ritter) as well as all the misunderstandings that caused 99% of the comedic drama among the main characters.  Of course by the end of the epidsodes, all misunderstandings were cleared up, everyone hugged it out and all was good in the world again.  In a perfect world, all misunderstandings would be cleared up in 30 minutes (minus commercial breaks), this unfortunately, this is not the case.

Last year, I wrote and published a book called, Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation.  It’s full of true stories from my own life as well as other people’s lives on how biblical meditation played a huge role in helping us heal from daily stressors, people-pleasing, childhood trauma, divorce, domestic violence, and death of loved ones.  The book also contains many techniques to help create stillness through scriptural yoga, pranayama (breath control techniques), and scriptural meditation.  I even recorded all of the techniques and provided links to each of them.  It took me six months to write/edit/design/publish my book (which you can read about in my previous blog, Indie-Author Do’s and Don’ts), and I was so excited to share it with the world!

The first month, I taught scriptural yoga and biblical meditation classes at a big women’s retreat in Asheville, NC where approximately 900 women from the southeast states attended.  I received many words of encouragement, gratitude and confirmation that I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do.  The second and third months were the same, where I was humbled at how powerfully God was using the book He commanded me to write.  But then January came, and I saw a one-star rating review on my book (you can read them on Lulu.com and Amazon.com).  I felt discouraged at first, not because I doubted the purpose of this book (which all glory was to God) but because I felt misunderstood.  There was a part of me that wanted to somehow contact the reviewer and say, “Wait a minute, let me explain and address all your concerns.  Let me explain to you all of my training and research on this subject.”  But then I took a step back to re-evaluate my heart.  I fully respect the reviewer’s opinions and therefore, I am completely okay with being misunderstood.

Everyone is allowed to have their own opinions whether they believe they are right and others are wrong.  It’s completely okay.  It’s okay that one person is a republican while their friend is a democrat.  It is okay.  It’s even okay that I use Yoga to get closer to God while a friend of mine believes that it is not of God.  IT IS OKAY.  It’s not my job to try to convince someone that what helps me will help them.  They have every right to their own opinions.  We waste so much time and energy on getting worked up about disagreements and misunderstandings.  There was a time when I would lose sleep over such things.  But at the end of the day, none of that matters.  Unless someone is asking me questions with the intention of wanting clarity, it is not my job to debate or provide proof of why I think “I am right and they’re not.”

There’s something freeing about living this way.  There’s such a feeling of lightness within the spirit when you’re not living to prove yourself to others but rather living to move closer to your authenticity.  So this week, I encourage you to practice being okay of feeling misunderstood.  Let other’s have their opinions about you because this does not change who you are.  Continue to shine bright for those who wish to be in your light.

 

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

SIGN UP FOR MY QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FOR GIVEAWAYS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WELLNESS-RELATED INFO!

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn

Drowning Out Distractions

I’ve traveled a lot this year. Since January, I’ve been to over 30 cities in six states (not including the stopover/layover cities), covering approximately 15,000 travel miles totaling 82 days.  Next year, I imagine I’ll be traveling just as much if not more. I love road trips with my family, flying across the country to visit family and friends, and I even love traveling for work.  Granted, I schedule my own out of town/state work trips which is such a blessing.  I also take work-related vacations in the form of sabbaticals.  This summer, I spent a week at an AirBnB in Denton, TX.  Other than my husband, no one else knew where I was because I wanted to take that time to rest and focus on my writing my book.  I needed to get away from my day-to-day living (aka distractions) in order to accomplish my goals.

Distractions are inevitable.

For a couple of months during the fall, a gardener would come by with his leaf blower to clear out all the leaves… right in front of the glass windows of the studio that I teach yoga classes at.  It never failed that he would come while we were in the middle of a class.  At first, I thought to myself, “Why can’t he come by AFTER my class ends?  Why does he always have to cause so much ruckus when we’re trying to practice yoga?”  And then I stopped and laughed at the irony of my thoughts.  Being that one of my goals as a Yoga Teacher is to help my students take the lessons they learn on the mat (in my classes), off the mat (into their lives), I told my students, “Do you see that man with the leaf blower?  Do you notice the distraction?  I invite you to acknowledge that this is happening at this present moment… and now, let it go.  Let go of the distractions and become present.”

It’s amazing how the brain is able to drown out distractions that we choose not to pay attention to.  Both my husband and daughter have the ability to study and work in the middle of a busy Starbucks and other places where there’s lots of noise.  I, on the other hand, prefer silence (or at least my earplugs) in order to focus; but there have been many occasions where I’ve engaged in deep conversations in the middle of a public space with many potential distractions.

According to an article in the Journal of Neuroscience (cited in Scientific American), the brain will intentionally weaken its response to things that seem less important so that it can become more sensitive in reaction to what you choose as the focus.  This is great news!  Since we now know this fact, all we have to prioritize and figure out what is truly important to us.  Once we establish our priorities and make conscious efforts to make those things important, the brain will do what the brain does by drowning out the distractions.

Just as I do in my yoga classes, I invite you to take a moment to drown out the distractions by sitting still, focus on your breaths by becoming aware of the rise and fall of your belly as you inhale and exhale.  Continue to observe the breath as you close your eyes for several breaths.  Once you open your eyes, continue to sit still and make note of how you feel.  Notice the beauty of living in this moment.

Namaste.

 

With Gratitude,
output-onlinepngtools (10)

SIGN UP FOR MY MONTHLY NEWSLETTER FOR GIVEAWAYS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WELLNESS-RELATED INFO!

FOLLOW JHENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FB Facebook
IG Instagram
TwitterTwitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn