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Ask Yourself This:

We have all heard the saying, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought”, and in my experience, this statement seems to be true. And, on a similar vein, so does the quote, “Change your thoughts, and you change your world.”

Whether this is true for everyone or not, I do like the idea that we have control over our thoughts, and therefore our lives. That at any given moment, we can change how we relate to our circumstances, the world around us, and perhaps most importantly, ourselves, by changing the way that we think.

The following list was taken from an article I recently read that challenged readers to change the way they reflect upon their experiences. Parajumpers Long Bear Jakke The article asserts that the questions we ask ourselves each day greatly influences the type of people we are. So, rather than asking such questions as, How can I earn more money? What’s wrong with me? or Am I good enough?, the article suggests the following inquiries:

What did I learn? Each and every day, we are presented with numerous opportunities to learn. Embrace them for what they are and be grateful for the resulting growth.

Who did I love? Love brings out the best in who we are as well as in those we love. As such, it is the greatest gift as well as the greatest reward that we will ever give or receive.

How was I vulnerable? While being vulnerable is certainly uncomfortable, it is truly transformative. It is about being authentic, allowing yourself to be deeply seen, and taking risks that have invaluable rewards.

What am I grateful for? The attitude of gratitude reminds us that we have enough, and, just as importantly, that we are enough.

Who did I listen to? As you well know, we all just need an ear sometimes. No fixing. No advice. No anything besides opening up to share our stories, whatever they may be. Give this gift to someone else and lend an ear.

How was I challenged? Be careful not to equate challenge with struggle, and bear in mind that challenging experiences are often ripe with valuable life lessons.

What made me laugh? Embrace humor. Be tickled. And, lighten up, for laughter is important.

Who did I connect with? Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel understood and valued. Connection is important, as it provides us with a sense of a belonging, and it serves as a reminder that we are never alone.

How did I grow? Each and every day provides us with opportunities for growth. Appreciate these moments for what they are, and be content with your progress, no matter how big or how small.

What did I share? Never underestimate your ability to make a difference. Know that you have gifts to offer the world, and do not be afraid to let your light shine.

The Raft

As the New Year approaches, many of us will be reflecting on the days gone by of 2015, recalling both times that have warmed our hearts and hard lessons learned. Likewise, many of us will be looking ahead to 2016, welcoming the upcoming year with open arms and anticipating the great fortunate of another year of life.

So, as you transition into this New Year, whether you are looking behind to 2015 or ahead into 2016, please consider the following Buddhist parable:

A young man, who has been traveling for many days, has become trapped on one side of the river. On this side of the river, there is great danger and uncertainty, and on the other, there is safety. Of course, to continue on his journey, he must leave this dangerous side of the river and brave the water in hopes of reaching the safety of the other side. However, as he surveys the land, he realizes that there is no ferry to bring him across the river, and no bridge spanning the water. As he takes stock of his own belongings, he is reminded that he has only the clothes on his back, the shoes on his feet, and a small number of survival tools in his knapsack. After sifting through his knapsack, however, he realizes that he has everything 3Hvis det oppstar en systemfeil i casino online et, er alle innsatser ugyldige. he needs to build a small raft to help him reach the other side. So, he diligently gathers logs, leaves, vines, and mud, and fashions a raft that will float him across the river. When the raft is complete, the man drags it to the bank of the river, climbs atop, and using his hands and feet, paddles himself to the other side of the river to safety.

Imagine that you are this man, and you have just paddled yourself across the river to the banks of safety. What is it that you will do next? Do you bring your raft with you and carry it across your back, thinking to yourself, “This raft has served me so well in the past, and I am rather fond of it. I will be so happy to have it, should I need it again”? Or, do you lay the raft down gratefully and leave it behind, thinking, “This raft has served me so well. I am so fortunate to have been able to use it! Should I need it again, I now know that I have everything I need to build another one”?

…Most of us would agree that the second option is the wisest. While it would be nice to have a raft should we need it in the future, we see that it would be rather cumbersome to carry the raft with us and that doing so would undoubtedly slow us down as we continue on our journey. And, we have learned, much like the man in our story, that there is no need to burden ourselves with things such as this raft, because we do indeed carry with us everything we need to continue on our path, no matter what it is that we encounter.

So, as you journey into 2016, I encourage you to take inventory of yourself and your “belongings”. As you do so, remember that most things, like the raft, are meant to be used to “cross over”, rather than to be carried with us.

A Blast From Christmas Past

Reposted from December 12th, 2012

Once again, Christmas is upon us, and many of us are finding ourselves immersed in holiday cheer and excitement, magical festivities, heartwarming traditions, and the sheer goodness that seems to accompany the holiday season.

Each year, as I begin preparing for the holidays, I ask my children to write a letter to Santa Claus. In their letters, they of course take care to include their holiday wish list. This year, my four year-old daughter asked Santa for the following things:

  1. A kitten (brand new)

  1. Someone to come out of the TV (maybe Dora and Diego)

  1. A huge motorcycle machine that drives me off in pretty clothes

  1. To slide down a rainbow

  1. To climb a mountain

  1. A make-up party

  1. Sticky gloves to stick on the walls and climb the ceiling

  1. Run super-fast in the really far woods

  1. My own money. That is pink

  1. A phone that I call someone for real

  1. A brand new costume that is everything

…Fortunately for Santa and I, her list included thirteen additional items that are a bit more feasible in terms of holiday gift-giving, while my ten year-old son created a list of five items, such as Legos and DS games, that he would like to receive from Santa Claus. To be fair, I asked my husband to do the same, and after several days of deliberation, he was able to think of one thing that he would like for Christmas. I, on the other hand, am still thinking of something tangible that I would like to receive this year.

As I reviewed my family’s wish lists, I could not help but to reflect upon the experience of Christmas, and the transformation it undergoes as we mature. As four year-olds, we are much like my daughter. We are in awe of the magical wonderland that is Christmas, believing in such beautiful things as the selfless charity of a timeless old man, the flight of his eight tiny reindeer, and the possibility of even our wildest dreams coming true. As we grow older, however, it seems that we slowly lose touch with this fantastical side of ourselves. Instead, we gravitate toward things that are more realistic in nature, more tangible, and less whimsical. We forgo our imagination, intuition, and creativity in favor of relying on our logic, reason, and practicality, and before we know it, we have become immersed in a reality that reflects our idled dreams. Our Christmas, then, is no longer a time of magic and wonder. Rather, it has become a time of hustle, bustle, stuff, and stress.

Of course, I fully recognize that at least some part of ourselves must operate in the realistic realm. However, I do encourage you to adopt your inner four year-old this season, and rediscover the magic of Christmas and the beauty of your every-day life.

Gentle Reminders

With the dawn of the holidays upon us, I am reminded daily that it really is one of the most wonderful times of year.

It is also one of the most stressful. As such, I thought I might share a handful of reminders that I have been given to maintain some modicum of mental and emotional balance during an otherwise potentially stressful time:

Do not lose sight of what truly matters. Your definition of what truly matters is your compass. 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 healing, restoration, and growth.

You are not always in control. Recall the Serenity Prayer. Whether we like it or not, we are not always in control. 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, the truth of the matter is that we simply cannot please everyone and their opinions are their business, not ours.

Do not give up. And, do not confuse “giving up” with letting go or 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, live the questions and learn to embrace uncertainty, as uncertainty is certainly part of life.

You are enough. You are. And so is all that you do.

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 moment right here, right now.

{Over}Abundance. Making Enough Enough

 

With the holiday season upon us, many of us will find ourselves caught up on a cycle of overabundance, or the state of having “too much”. More than we need, more than we can use, more than we can process. Overabundance is the cup that floweth over.

While it certainly is a blessing to have enough, it seems that we have become a culture of excess. And strangely, this can be taxing, as it creates stress, drains us of our precious resources, and shifts our focus from gratitude to greed.

As you reflect on your Thanksgiving celebration and look forward to the festivities of Christmas and the New Year, consider the following areas of overabundance and how they affect your life.

Overabundance of food: Eating, drinking, and merry-making is undoubtedly a central and very pleasurable part of celebrating the holidays. As such, it is also one area in which overindulgence is common, nearly expected, and quite often, regretted. So as you partake in the merry-making this year, remember to be mindful of your internal cues, rather than relying only on the external.

Overabundance of gifts: The cycle of giving and receiving can be overwhelming, especially when the act of giving is overshadowed by the quantity of “stuff” being received. To break this online casino cycle, do not hesitate to give on a smaller, yet just as meaningful, scale.

Overabundance of socializing: This time of year is certainly one to be celebrated, however, it is not uncommon that we find ourselves attending social functions because we feel that we “must”. This is often caused by a sense of obligation, the expectations of others, or the fear of missing out. And while there is nothing wrong with joining in on the festivities, it is also okay to graciously decline invitations, to rest, and be still.

Overabundance of relationship stress: Family, dear friends, and loved ones often take center stage this time of year, and this is for good reason. However, because we are so busy during the holiday season, we often do not have time to work on our relationships and thus perpetuate strained interactions with those we love most. During this time, remember to be gentle and forgiving with yourself and others.

Overabundance of tradition: Remember that just because you have “always done it this way” does not mean that you have to keep doing it this way if it no longer fits. In these situations, do not be afraid to break free from the old to embrace something new.

Overabundance of group-thought: To avoid mindless consumption and overabundance, be mindful of the impact that collective thinking can have on your well-being. During this holiday season, take time to reconnect with yourself, your loved ones, and that which gives your life meaning.

As you step away from overabundance during this holiday season, you will likely discover that it is a process. A process that involves both tuning into yourself and tuning out of that which no longer serves you. Of letting go of the old so that you may embrace the new. And most importantly, it involves embracing an attitude of gratitude and feeling satisfied and fulfilled with having enough.

Feeling Lonely? You’re Not Alone

 

For the years that I have been writing this column, I have typically written a holiday submission that has focused on finding gratitude, grounding, and balance amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday stress.  And while this subject still has great merit for many of us, life circumstances have helped me realize that this topic has inadvertently overlooked those of us that do not experience the holidays in the same way.

So, this year, rather than focusing on the “overabundance” of the holidays that many of us relate to, I would like to make a shift and highlight another perspective.

…Traditionally, the holiday season views holiday happiness as time spent with family and loved ones.  And while this may be true for many, it is not true for us all.  For, in truth, holiday happiness depends much more upon our personal perspectives and experiences, much more than who we spend our time with.

Yet, when we spend the holidays alone, this is much easier said than done,  for if we find ourselves alone on the holidays, it is ever difficult, yet ever so important to remember that being alone does not have to equate being lonely.

So, with this in mind, consider the following the suggestions to avoid feeling lonely this holiday season:

First and foremost, redefine your expectations of the holidays:  Liberate yourself and know that there is no reason whatsoever that you cannot enjoy yourself and find meaning in this holiday season, no matter what your circumstances.  Make this time, whoever you spend it with, count.

Extend invitations:  Be proactive, and do not assume that everyone has plans, and know that many people look forward to a change of holiday-pace even if they do. If there is something that you would like to do, and you would like to share that time with others invite them to join you.

Accept invitations:  Again, be proactive.  Assume that the invitations you receive are sincere, and accept them if they sound appealing.  If they do not, graciously decline, and accept ownership for your decision to do so.

Redefine company:  Regardless if it is your own company, that of a beloved animal, or something else that is not human, do something special and out-of-the-ordinary with the company that you have.

Reflect:  Use this time to reconnect with yourself in a different way.  Reflect on your resolutions, your intentions, and your direction.  Absorb the silence and use it to your advantage during this time of solitude.

Indulge:  Indulge in yourself, and indulge in others.  If you have the desire, give yourself a treat of some kind.  And also, consider how you may give of yourself to connect with and benefit others in a way that is unique to you.

Be creative or productive:  What have you been  meaning to do with your free time?  Whether that is creative or productive, invest your resources into that project, and it is likely that you will find a sense of fulfillment.

Get away:  Explore a change of scenery, whether that is near or far.  Travel, no matter how you define it, takes on a whole new meaning and introduces you to a whole new word when you are flying solo.