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[6WST] 6 Ways to Connect Fully With Life

Twelve years ago, when I was living in Washington, DC, one of my biggest interests was connection. I was inspired by books by Neale Donald Walsch, Thich Nhat Hanh, and other authors and teachers that pointed to a greater possibility of human connection. I longed to be with people in ways that expressed more care, more love, and more truth about the goodness of life than most people usually experience. My quest for connection eventually led me to the work of Andrew Cohen and EnlightenNext, where I dove in head first for over a decade, determined to develop along with others who shared my intention and commitment. At EnlightenNext I had experiences of connection and love that blew me away. And now I find myself wanting to go further, looking within to discover what leads to real connection. I want to know: what can we do to come together more perfectly as human beings, and why does it matter? (As a side note, this is one of the topics we'll be exploring in detail as part of Project One, launching October 26. The application deadline is this week, and we have four openings for virtual participants as well as one full scholarship if you have financial need. So if you find this post interesting, I definitely encourage you to consider joining me, Erin, and other inspired individuals for Project One.) Here are my thoughts: Be grateful. When we sit down for dinner at my house, we take a moment to thank that evening's cook and acknowledge how good it is to share a meal together. Being grateful for the people you love and their contribution to your life has a powerful effect on your connection. It doesn't have to be over the top, I find that just a moment of real presence with each other goes a long way.
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A Dose of Awe (video)

I hope you have been working with this week's small tweak: Be in Awe.  If you have found yourself more awake to awe this week, you probably also noticed that even minor shifts in perspective yeilded beautiful results both internally and externally in the realms of Living, Working and Being.  
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To Move Forward, Fail

Who likes to fail? Have you ever thought, "Wow, I totally bombed that. How awesome!"
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[6WST] Be In Awe

There is so much to say about having wonder and awe in this world. As a Yoga teacher I get to watch people destroy boundaries and imaginary limitations in their bodies and minds all the time. In my Chinese Medicine practice I get to watch the same thing happen. Although because of confidentiality issues I can't share the personal details, I did want to tell a story about how one of my clients re-engaged with awe. Let's call her Erica. Erica is a lovely young woman. She is smart, easy to speak with and has a beautiful heart. When she came to see me for the first time, I asked her to distill down to one sentence what she really wanted more than anything from our sessions together. With tears in her eyes, she said "hope." Erica had gone through a very difficult year that included a toxic relationship. The root of all her pain both physical and emotional was that she felt like somehow like she was a tarnished person who would never get "better". From her perspective, she was weak and unworthy of happiness in her life. My perspective was that she was simply too focused on a small part of her experience. Her past had become a big bad monster and because of it,  she was missing the wonderful things in the world, including her own potential to be a game-changer. Over the next few weeks of getting to know Erica, I performed treatments to improve the physical symptoms she was having. As her symptoms started to clear, new hope emerged.  Still, Erica was simultaneously nervous that she would easily be pulled into her past. What she needed was a fresh take on an old story.
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Burnout-Free Creativity

This article was originally published on September 20, 2013. It has been revamped today because the core idea's still apply. Creativity is the Space Between the Notes When I was younger and studying music theory, someone pointed out that what actually makes music distinguishable from incoherent noise is the space between the notes. Without pause, the notes would be smashed together. Without space, the listener would have no time to take in and process what they are hearing. A moving musical performance has just as much to do with the space between the notes as the notes themselves. Listening to the same piece of music played by a good musical technician who hits the correct keys is worlds apart from listening to music played by a true artist. A talented artist not only plays the notes, but is an expert at working the spaces. Knowing where and how to take space is just as much a part of the creative process as the creation itself. As I prepare to launch my second book and lead both a Meditation Teacher Training and Elemental Yin Yang Yoga School all within the next few months, I am bursting with creative energy. In your life perhaps you have been trying to practice different forms of creativity. This could be taking a new course just for fun or it could be something practical like experimenting with a new dish for dinner. At work you might be trying a new organizational system or taking on a fresh perspective to solve a problem or meet a looming deadline. But did you know that in order to optimize your creativity you need to also find the space between your creative bursts? Just like music, healthy creativity requires appropriate pause. Meditation is a wonderful assistant to make space and pop out of the creative stream for a little while. In fact, I would argue that without this regular period of simply "letting go" the creative drive can consume you.
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What Is Creativity of Being?

Monday's post was about creating things in the world—bringing something tangible (or audible, or philosophical) into existence. I hope you've taken on this week's tweak and are creating something each day, no matter how small, reveling in your extraordinary ability to birth something from nothing. Today we're going to focus on a subtler aspect of creativity, that of Being. What is creativity at the level of Being? It’s one thing to be awake to your muse—to be inspired as an artist, a thinker, an engineer, or whatever else you love doing most. But is there something deeper? Can there be a moral creativity? How about a spiritual creativity? Is there relational creativity? If so, what does it look like, and how do we tap into it? To focus in: can an earnest conversation between trusting human beings be a kind of spiritual creativity?
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[6WST] Smash the Biggest Lie Inhibiting Your Creativity

The blank page. Total possibility, and also total terror. We’ve all been there, whether it’s sitting down to draft an important document, standing on stage as the crowd grows silent in anticipation, dealing with a thorny business problem that has no clear solution, or staring at a blank canvas whose painting is yet to emerge from your brush. These moments demand our creativity, and they are everywhere. The problem is, many people aren’t ready to respond to these moments in the best possible way. Why is that? Want to hear the biggest, most pervasive lie of our times? Here it is: “I’m not a creative person. I’m not an artist.” Now that’s simply not true. It couldn’t possibly be. Step back for a moment and consider how you came to this moment. I mean step way back. You are a process of 14 billion years of unbroken evolution, continuous creativity and perseverance, matter with a purpose, the very embodiment of innovation and problem-solving. The simple fact that you are drawing breath and reading this post is a testament to the creativity and love of life that is in your very own cells. If you have a soul, you are creative. If you find yourself wanting to make the world a better place and wanting to become a more fully human being, you are in the presence of your own creativity.
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Top Tools to Keep You Organized

Photo by Tom BaylyIt has been a productive week of getting organized but our small tweak is just scratching the surface of what it means to have a clutter-free life. Today, I want to share some tools to help you keep the party going! 1)  Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Amazon Affiliate Link) In this book, David Allen shares a very powerful system for getting organized.  It takes time and tools, but the book is easy to follow and will motivate you. One high-functioning individual told me that this book completely changed their life! 2)  Wunderlist   This is my favourite list app for my phone.  It is simple to use and you can create a list for just about anything you need to keep track of.  The best part is you can put a star on anything urgent which automatically goes to a special list to view at a glance and save time when trying to decide what to do next on your task list.
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How to Live a Clutter-Free Life

I walk to work every morning, at least as far as the T station near my apartment (Broadway), sometimes I take the long route from my destination T station (Kendall), and sometimes, on days when I'm particularly inspired, I walk all 2.9 miles to work (or 4.6 km for my Canadian friends). I do love my fair city of Boston. And I like to think that it loves me back. One thing I love most about my walks over the last year is watching the construction take shape day by day (I suppose this is a principal difference between walkers and drivers... I didn't used to feel this way about construction when I drove everywhere, but I digress). It is kind of a spiritual experience for me, watching an ugly vacant lot become a 30-foot deep pit the size of a city block; seeing the earth around the edges being held in place by steel walls that have to be driven in deep, one at a time; watching the foundation being poured and the 5-story cranes assembled; and then slowly, steel beam by steel beam, the building takes shape.
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Erin's Top Secret Yoga Playlist: Songs to Flow to

Photo by Carlos Rodríguez Torre Early in my Yoga career when teaching was more a hobby than anything else, I worked in the music industry. I spent most of my nights at concerts and would do a quick turn around to get up and go practice yoga in the morning.   At some point, this lifestyle was no longer sustainable (I think I am still catching up on lost sleep) and I had to choose between my two loves, music and yoga.  The hard decision had to be made and in the end I chose to follow the yoga path.  However, music has never lost its hold on me. The Deep Dark World of Yoga Playlists When it comes to making yoga playlists, I take my time. When I am driving or writing my books I listen for songs that would be fun and appropriate to play during my Elemental Yin Yang Yoga class.  Yoga playlists however, are not to be taken lightly.  Yoga instructors guard their tunes as if they wrote the songs themselves. It’s a deep dark part of our yoga world.  Song names and artists are traded in the back office for nothing less than the price of your soul :)  But today, in a moment of sheer insanity, I am going to give you the names of my favourite yoga songs and although I ask for nothing in return, if you feel compelled, you can share a few of your own gems in the comment section below. Yang/Vinyasa Yoga Songs When I teach Yin Yang Yoga, I love to play music during the Yang flow and follow it up with sweet silence during the Yin portion of class.  Here are the songs I am playing at the moment in the studio and in my own practice. Universal Traveler - Air This tune grants a lot of perspective and is perfect for yoga, or flying somewhere far, far away. Lovely Day - Bill Withers Bill has staying power! The song is beautiful, full of love and easy to listen to.  Even when I don't feel like practicing, this song never fails to uplift me and make me smile.
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