A Journey Of A Thousand Miles

When I was very young, my family spent a few days vacationing at Itasca State Park. I was only four or five years old at the time, and I remember very little about the trip. In fact, the only thing I remember about that summer vacation at all is visiting the source of the Mississippi River. I know that my mother and my sister were with me, I assume that my father was too, and if my memory serves me correctly, I was also accompanied by my aunt and my three cousins. I don’t remember how we had spent that morning or the afternoon, nor do I remember arriving to the park. Rather, my memory begins and ends with me being in what seemed to be the middle of the Mississippi River, carefully stepping from one slippery stone to another, as I tried to make my way across the water and to the shore. My sister may have played alongside me, my mother may have encouraged me as I went, and I likely lost my footing from time to time. However, if these things did occur, I do not remember them. I remember one thing and one thing only: carefully, yet clumsily, making my way across that mighty river.

Of course, this memory is hardly remarkable. But I do think that it represents an unmistakable metaphor for the journey that is life. For, it is so often that we find ourselves in the middle of somewhere (or, nowhere for that matter) not knowing how we got there, or where exactly we intend to go. We may not know what step it is that we are going to take next, and we may feel completely uncertain how, much less where, our feet will land as we put one foot in front of the other and carry on. Yet, we continue to move forward, despite our uncertainty. And we have faith that our journey will lead us to where we need to be. For now.

Much like in my memory of walking across the source of the Mississippi River, sometimes it is not our destination that matters most. And paradoxically, sometimes it is not the particulars of the journey that is most important either. Rather, sometimes, it is the faith that we have in ourselves and the forward movement that we are making in the face of uncertainty that is most valuable to us at that time.

So, if you find yourself stumbling from stone to stone, and you feel unsure about where it is that you are heading, do not lose heart. Remember that progress is not only measured by the direction we are heading, nor does happiness always depend upon the shore that we reach. In fact, it is not even the stones that we step on that most determine our outcome. Rather, what is most important during these times is the courage to act despite apprehension, the ability to persevere despite difficulty, and the faith that who we are and what we are made of is greater than any obstacle we may encounter.

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Ashtanga Yoga

 

 

Once per week at Satsanga, we practice Astanga Yoga, which follows the same series of poses each and every time of practice, according to the Astanga tradition.

Due to the repition of poses, this approach to asana lends itself to mastery and progression, each and every time you come to your mat, but never a perfection of the practice. Because, really, no matter how often you practice, your practice will always vary…

So, in practice, we do not strive to be flawless. Rather, we embrace all that is human about ourselves and we own this experience, while also striving to progress and transcend at the very same time.

As a student and teacher of Astanga yoga, I sometimes find myself feeling bored and uninspired by the practice, which is otherwise so grounding, challenging, and meditative for me. But this morning, I just wasn’t feeling it.

So I, with my tea and a Burning Man playlist, sat down on my bedroom floor in my nightie and did a card reading. The card reading turned into meditation. Meditation turned into pranayama. Pranayama turned into movement.

And the movement turned into my yoga practice.

And what a delicious practice it turned out to be. It was fluid, light, and creative, soft and strong and open. It was, as the saying goes, poetry in movement. And it felt amazing for both my body and my spirit.

…Lift the expectations. Let the world go. Forget about the rules. And allow yourself to be free.

You Will See It When You Believe It

 

A belief, as defined by the dictionary, is the psychological state in which an individual holds a premise to be true. 98-367

To have beliefs, or a belief system, is very human. Our beliefs, in part, help us conceptualize the world, and make sense of our experiences. Beliefs may be based on evidence, personal values, and convictions. They may stem from socialization, or they may be deeply personal. A belief may be quite accurate as defined by reality, or it may be entirely untrue when measured by the same standard. Beliefs stem from personal convictions, thought processes, and feelings, and they vary greatly from person to person. Beliefs are not right or wrong, valid or invalid. They are beliefs. And they are deeply personal, and very valid and true to the person that deems them to be so.

Take a moment, if you could, and reflect on your beliefs. Do you tend to form your beliefs based on factual information, or are your beliefs more difficult to prove as “true”? Do your beliefs stem for your background, upbringing, peers and society, or do you hold them contrary to popular belief? Do your beliefs incorporate religion? Spirituality? Moral values?  Human nature?  Are they based on your perceptions, judgments, schemas, or experiences? How are your beliefs representative of your thoughts and feelings?

Think now, for just a moment, about how your beliefs serve you. How much do you rely on your beliefs to guide you through this world? How flexible or rigid is your belief system? Do you compare them to those of others, or label beliefs as right or wrong, better or worse? How well do you know and understand your beliefs? How much consideration do you give to the beliefs of others?

And finally, I would like you to consider what you believe to be true about yourself.

As you do this, perhaps you will become aware that your beliefs about yourself are secure, reassuring, positive and empowering. That you are able to accomplish anything you choose to do. That even while you have both strengths and limitations, you are a uniquely beautiful and  gifted individual. You have worth. You are valuable. I hope that as you reflect on your beliefs about yourself, you feel self-love, self-awareness, and self-efficacy.

But what if you do not? What if, when you reflect on your beliefs about who you are, you realize that your beliefs are quite limiting? What if you believe that you are a lost cause? That you are not good enough. What if you believe that you cannot make a difference in this world, that you are dispensable? What if you believe that you are faulted, or at fault, when things go wrong? What if you believe that love is conditional, that you must fit a mold in order to be loved, accepted, cherished?

What happens then, if you realize that you are harmed by your very belief systems?

If you come to the realization today that you are the victim of limiting beliefs, I will tell you that you are in luck. You are luck, because you have the power to change those beliefs. You are in luck because the first step to changing your core beliefs is to identify them. You are in luck because you have made a self-discovery, you now have greater self-awareness, and you are now closer to making positive changes in your life. If you have identified a belief that is not working for you, you are able to change it. You are able to combat the negative self-talk, and replace it with positive dialogue. And as you practice doing this, you will be able to shift your perspective, changing how you look at the world, and slowly but surely, changing your beliefs about yourself. And once you are able to do this, you will instantly change your reality.

Today, my cherished birds, take a moment to examine your beliefs yourself and the world in which you live. I hope you notice that these beliefs are positive and empowering. But if any part of them is not, remind yourself that they do not have to stay this way. Remind yourself today that while your beliefs do define your reality, you may change them. You may do anything you so choose to do, whether you believe it or not. You may change your reality by changing your beliefs.

Spread your wings just a bit wider today, my birds, and challenge your beliefs. Sing songs of praise to yourself and cherish your beautiful individuality. Revel in who you are, and believe that you do indeed hold the key to the life of your dreams. Believe that you may fly, spread your wings, and soar.  But only if you believe that you can.

The Silver Lining

2015 was a tough year for many.   We each in our own way have struggled with adversity.  We have experienced pain, suffering, and hardship in one way or another.

We have been put to the test, we have questioned our beliefs, and have challenged our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.  We have questioned our identities, struggled to remain well, and persevered in any way that we could.  Our hearts have ached, and our heads have searched for answers that may not exist.  We have adapted to change, overcome adversity, and done everything in our power to remain positive.  In many ways, we have felt that life has fallen apart all around us.  And in many ways, it may seem that it has.

But you know what? Whether or not we have been through tough times such as those described above, our lives have not fallen apart completely.  We still have so much for which to be grateful, so much to hold on to, to love, and to live for.  We have our friends, our families, our passions.  We have a purpose, our health, our spirituality.  We have sources of strength.  Sources of joy.  Sources of hope.  We have our lives to live.  And it is my opinion that we have the responsibility, as well as the opportunity and the pleasure, to live our lives as fully as we are able.

As tempted as we may be to reflect back on the struggles that we have been through, I believe that it is even more important to consider how things will fall back together, even after they have fallen apart.  There may have been times when we ourselves have crumbled, and yet even when that happens, it seems that things always have a way of coming together again.  Sometimes we may watch the pieces fall together right before our eyes.  Sometimes it may take us time to realize what has happened.  And other times, we must take control and put the pieces back together again.  But no matter how it happens, it seems that most things in life usually do fit back together again somehow.   They may not look or feel the same as they did “before”, and that might be painful or it may be a pleasant surprise.  Yet whatever this new picture looks like, it is up to us to find new meaning in it.

It is up to us to influence or change what we can, have the serenity to accept what we cannot, and to make the most of the gifts that have been bestowed upon us regardless of the situation at hand.  It is up to us to keep searching for the light, even in the face of total darkness, and have faith that “this too shall pass” and brighter day will come if it hasn’t already.

Floracopeia Essential Oils

 

As the only wholesalers of Floracopeia Essential Oils in the state of Minnesota, Ashley and I are often asked why we have fallen in love with Floracopeia over other common brands. This is an excellent question that we feel excited to answer, as it provides us an opportunity to educate people on not just one, but many philosophies, that we fee passionate about!

 

“…Floracopeia was established to promote the use of medicinal plants and high-value crops for grassroots healthcare, poverty alleviation, ecological benefits and the preservation of ethno-botanical wisdom. Floracopeia provides customers with the highest quality essential oils and other botanical aromatic treasures through the support of ecologically sustainable agricultural and agro-forestry projects.

 

Floracopeia was established to support these important goals:

 

  1. To economically support and uplift ecologically-responsible farmers around the world by purchasing their high-quality aromatic products.

 

  1. To support the preservation of forests by purchasing aromatic products from sustainable agroforestry projects.

 

  1. To lower the cost of top-grade essential oils, attars, hydrosols, and natural perfume ingredients by bringing them directly from distillers to retail customers.

 

  1. To provide education about the medicinal, ecological, economic, and spiritual benefits of medicinal and aromatic plants in the form of workshops, multi-media events, meditation retreats and publications

 

  1. To help preserve and promote traditional and indigenous ethno-botanical knowledge of medicinal and aromatic plants and their uses.”

 

Learn more about these magical oils at http://www.floracopeia.com

Grrrr

I once read that some of the most valuable lessons we learn in life are taught to us by difficult people. You know the type of people I am referring to. People that seem to embody cynicism, judgment, and pessimism. Those that take delight in the misfortune of others or seem satisfied by having a complaint. The people that expect the worst from the world and seem committed to their unhappiness.

Being around negativity, even for a short moment, can be frustrating and emotionally taxing. Yet unfortunately, it is unlikely that we can avoid negative people all together. We are bound to have a run-in with a disheartening individual at some time or another, so it is best that we are prepared to respond in such a way that protects us from the negativity while still allowing us to learn something positive from the experience.

So, having said that, what is the best way to respond? Is it best that we ignore them and hope that they go away? Should we respond in kind and give them an attitude adjustment? Do we shower them in sunshine and encourage them to see life from a more elevated perspective? And, on the same token, how do we protect ourselves from being drawn in by the pull of their negative energy? How do we prevent an unsettling encounter from ruining our mood?

To answer these questions, consider the following checklist, presented by author and counselor, Julie Hoyle.

  1. What does this person need?

Is there a chance that positive input is being sought? If the answer is yes, share something enlightening. If the answer is no, keep the interaction brief.

  1. Are they acting as a mirror?

The answer is a resounding “yes” if we have been sucked in by their negativity. When there is a pull, there is a resonance, and we are being shown where we are resisting the flow of life. When this is the case, breathe in deeply and accept what is.

  1. Remember, this too will pass.

While we can offer compassion and point to other alternatives, we are not responsible for others. Suffering, to a point, is a choice. Be a part of the solution rather than adding to the illusion. Create space for an opening of awareness to happen.

  1. Avoidance

Protect and safeguard the sanctity of your internal state, and surround yourself with people who nurture you. On other occasions, remain upbeat and transform the negative into a positive. Do it for long enough and it works wonders. If the other person cannot turn you on to their negativity, they may eventually give up.

  1. Love really is the answer.

Everything always, always comes down to love. If we love and respect ourselves, we do not give ourselves away cheaply, and we do not stoop to negativity. Instead, we stand our ground, offering others a place to rise up to. Always listen with love, and offer kindness to everyone, even if they don’t seem to “deserve” it at the time.

Regretfully Speaking…

 

I have often read that we, as live-ers of life, should have no regrets. That we should, in some sense of the word, forget about the finer details of our past and instead be grateful for the opportunities and the gifts that have been bestowed upon us through the process of living. That we should embrace all that we are, for better or for worse, because of what we have been through and the choices we have made.

And to a certain degree, I agree with this. I agree that it behooves us to spend too much time in our past, whether we are fretting over things that we have done, or worrying about that which we have left undone. It does us no good to berate ourselves for our mistakes or relive days gone by, wishing that we had done things differently. After all, what does this accomplish? Precious little, indeed.

Even so, I have to admit that I do have regrets. I have done things that I am not proud of and over-looked things that I should have been more mindful about. I have been reckless at times, selfish, and even hurtful. As I look back on the twenty-nine years of my life, I see with unmistakable clarity that I have consciously and unconsciously made poor choices. Choices that have been foolish, short-sighted, and negatively impactful. And, these things are uncomfortable to think about. They are difficult to speak of. And they are nothing short of humbling.

Yet, even as I think about the regrets that I do have, and I reflect on where I was at in my life when I made those choices, I cannot help but to ask, “Is it really so bad to admit that we have regrets? Is it so bad to look back on the decisions that we have made and wish that we had done things differently? Is it so bad to look behind ourselves every now and then and realize that we could have done better? ” I must say that I think not.

I say that I do not think it is so bad to have regrets because regrets really are a part of life. Regrets, in essence, are nothing short of lessons that we have learned as we journey through life. To feel regretful is not to say that we are bad. On the contrary, to feel regretful is to say that we now see things differently than we had before or to acknowledge that we are no longer where we once were. It is to recognize that something was to be learned, and that we have changed or evolved because of our experiences. It is to agree that hindsight is indeed twenty-twenty.

So, when you find yourself tempted to deny ever having regrets, rethink what that word really means to you. Remember that it is a rare soul that truly has no regrets, and that there is no shame in using the feeling of regret to propel us forward as we learn from our misgivings.

The Right “Fit”.

In numerous articles and studies, The American Psychological Association (APA) has reported that one of the most important determining aspects of a client’s success (or lack thereof) in psychotherapy is the therapeutic alliance, or the quality of the relationship between the client and the counselor.  In fact, the APA states that it is “the therapy relationship that accounts for why clients improve (or fail to improve) as much as the particular treatment method.”

Because I have been both a client and a therapist, I both personally and professionally understand the importance of this fit.  It is for this reason that I offer free consultations both over the phone and in person to anyone and everyone that has interest and curiosity about counseling.

If this speaks to you, or someone you know, please do not hesitate to call or email:  ellie@ellieholbrook.net or 320.905.4345

Friendly Reminders

We are all human. And as humans, it would follow that we all have good and bad days, now and then. So as a fellow human, I would like to share with you a few of the reminders that I give myself to achieve mental and emotional balance as I make my way through this very human experience that I am having.

Do not lose sight of what truly matters. Your definition of what truly matters will be your compass, your North Star. It will help you remember that petty things do not, in fact, signify the end of the world, and it will redirect you to what is truly important to you.

It is okay to be alone. When you find yourself cocooning, remember that it is okay to pull back from the world, to take rest, to re-evaluate, and to take time. Quite often, this quality time with yourself, this time of hiatus, is also a time of profound healing, growth, and transcendence.

You are not always in control. Recall the Serenity Prayer. Whether we like it or not, we are not always in control. We cannot predict the future, nor do we always know what is “best”. It is during these times that we are best served to “let it go” so that we may instead “let it come”.

What other people think is irrelevant. Of course, we want people to think of well of us. And this is okay, because it means that we care. Yet, in the words of Dita Von Tess, you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there is still going to be somebody who hates peaches. As such, we must accept, and move on from, the fact that we will not always be accepted as we are. And this is okay.

Do not give up. Ever. Never lose sight of what you are fighting for, and why. Likewise, do not confuse “giving up” with letting go, and surrendering to something greater.

You need not know all the answers, all the time. Quite often, not knowing what to do means that it is not time to do anything at all. So, learn to embrace uncertainty, as uncertainty is certainly part of life, and living the questions is often the source of enlightenment.

You are enough. You are. And that is enough. Give yourself a chance to prove what you are really made of. We need not conform to our own limiting beliefs, much less the limiting beliefs of others.

Be here. Now. Stay present. This is hard, as we have a tendency to relive the past and lean into the future. Yet, doing so changes nothing about what has been, nor does it control what will be.

Your feelings will not kill you. Despite what it feels like, feelings are fleeting. Just as joy does not last forever, neither does heartbreak. Find the strength to ride the wave, and you will find that you can endure anything.

You are human. Therefore, give yourself credit for your triumphs, and forgive yourself for your short comings. You will have many of both, so rather than clinging to them and tearing yourself down, build yourself up, and embrace everything about this very human experience that you are having right here, right now.

Soul Branding

…In the traditional sense, a brand is created to encourage customer loyalty and reflect the values, culture and personality of a business. It is a statement about who the organization is and who they aspire to be. The article touched on business branding no more than this. Instead, it focused on “soul branding”.

What is soul branding, you ask? Well, my curious birds, I shall tell you. Soul branding is exactly what it sounds like. It is having a personal “brand” that defines who you have been in the past, who you are in the here and now, and who you would like to be in the future.

It is a way for you to stay grounded. It is a compass that guides you through your life journey. It is a very concrete, yet ever-changing self-concept. A soul brand is the essence of who you are, what you do, and how you exist in this world.

The article suggests that your soul brand is created and molded beginning with conception, and continues to evolve throughout life. It is shaped by each of your experiences, how you grew up, your education, interests, strengths, and quirks. It is influenced by how you interact with others, with the surrounding environment, and most importantly, how you relate to yourself. It has always existed, and always will, yet it is dynamic and ever-evolving.

While we all have a soul brand, many of us are not quite sure of what our personal brand is. Many of us question who we are, and we forget that at any point in our lives, we may reinvent ourselves and reconstruct our self-concept. So often, we get caught up in the schtuff of life, losing perspective and losing sight of ourselves. When this happens, the author of the article suggests that we reflect back on our soul brand for guidance, reassurance, and encouragement. To do this, ask yourselves the following questions…

…Who have I been?

…Who am I right now?

…Who will I be?

…Take a moment and carefully consider each of these questions. Who have you been? Who are you right now? And who will you be? While it is likely that you have experienced many changes throughout your life, I am willing to bet that many things have also remained the same. I am willing to bet that you discovered a theme as you answered these questions. A theme that is very uniquely yours. That theme is the brand of your soul. It is who you are. The essence of your beautiful, fantastic self.

I love how grounding the idea of having a soul brand is. I love how reassuring it is to know who you are, where you have come from, what your values are, what kind of life you want to live. And I love knowing that at any given moment, we can adapt, amend, and reshape our soul brand. I love that it is a co-creation of our personalities, our life experiences, and our aspirations.

Take a moment this afternoon, my beloved birds, and ask yourself these questions. Be at peace with who you have been. Embrace yourself as you currently are. Introduce yourself to your future. Discover the brand of your soul and all the beauty, guidance, truth, and possibility it holds.