What’s Your Story?

Last month at A Day of Namaste, I had my hubby, Tom McCarthy present one of his most popular talks, “The Most Powerful STORY Ever Told” to the sold out crowd. He spoke about the incredible power our stories exert over our lives. At the end of the day, all we really are are the stories we continue to tell ourselves. Our stories can deliver us to our dreams or deprive us of success and happiness.
No matter what happened last year, theoretically every person and everyone starts the year with a clean slate and unlimited potential to create breakthrough results. Unfortunately, for most people, that’s not the way it usually works out. I’m not saying people don’t try hard or that they don’t want to get better. Of course they do! The problem is they go into the new year with a ball and chain around their neck. That ball and chain is their OLD STORY.
 As human beings we are creatures of habit and one of the most powerful habits we have is clinging to our OLD STORY of who we are, what we are good at, what we aren’t very good at and what we are capable of. Your OLD STORY has been phenomenal at getting you to exactly where you are today and it will do an even better job at keeping you there. The problem is, most high achievers don’t want to stay where they are today, they want to become an even better version of themselves. This is where your OLD STORY falls short. It can’t get you to an even better version of yourself. To do that, you need an UPGRADED STORY.
One of the reasons our STORIES are so powerful is because they literally determine what opportunities we see or don’t see. You don’t see with your eyes. You actually see with your brain. A professor in the UK did a great study where he put a 20 pound note on the sidewalk and then asked people who were getting ready to walk down the sidewalk if they considered themselves lucky or not. Inevitably, people who did not consider themselves lucky walked right past the “free money” without even noticing it, while almost all of the people who considered themselves lucky spotted it.
 Another example of how powerful our STORIES can be comes from studying people who want to lose weight. Some people are able to lose weight permanently while others lose weight temporarily while they are on a diet, but then end up gaining it all back. What’s the difference between these two groups. It’s not willpower. It’s their STORIES. The person who loses weight permanently does so not just by dieting, but by creating a NEW STORY that changes the way they think about food. They think differently about what kind of foods they like to eat and how much they like to eat. They don’t have to constantly exert willpower to eat healthy. Eating healthy is who they are!
 Here’s 3 tips for creating your powerful STORY for 2017:
1. Upgrade Your STORY. Look at your old story and determine which parts you want to keep (it’s perfectly fine to keep parts of your OLD STORY) and what needs an upgrade. Be ambitious with your upgrade. Go for it! I’ve helped plenty of organizations go from worst to first. Put your UPGRADED STORY in writing.
2. Condition Your UPGRADED STORY. Your UPGRADED STORY needs momentum to take hold. To create momentum, design rituals that you will do every day to condition your new STORY. Remember, your OLD Story will be calling you every day and asking you to come back. Rituals will lessen your OLD STORY’s ability to pull you back in.
3. Act On Your UPGRADED STORY. Your STORY sets you up for action, but it’s still up to you to act on your story. Gritty action (action that is challenging and tough) is best to help you create the momentum you need to make your STORY come to life.
Tom said the most powerful STORY ever told is whatever STORY you tell yourself of who you are and what you’re capable of. It can be incredibly powerful in a positive way or it can be incredibly powerful in a negative way. Either way, your STORY will condition your brain, determine what opportunities you see and dictate your performance.
You won’t want to miss what Tom talks about at  A Day of Namaste on Saturday, May 20th. Learn more here.

Take 5 Deep Breaths

Recently I was at Costco struggling to pull one of the super-sized carts from the other 20 carts crammed together in a row, when I faintly heard, “take five deep breaths”. I thought I was hearing things and yanked the cart out and started walking into the store. “Hey, Stacy McCarthy, I know you heard that…” I turned around and it was a yoga student I hadn’t seen in a very long time, but he remembered my common breath cue stemming from my roots in Ashtanga Yoga. It was a sweet reminder of taking the power of our breath off the mat and out into our day. Breathing is massively practical. It’s meditation for people who think they can’t meditate.
Yogis use a wide variety of breath control techniques called pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality. As a way to reach enlightenment, Buddha advocated breath- meditation. Science is just beginning to provide evidence to what yogis have known for centuries, that the benefits of a breathing practice are real. Studies have found, for example, that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and attention deficit disorder.
How controlled breathing promotes healing remains a source of scientific study. Dr. Richard Brown, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University wrote the following in his book, ‘ The Healing Power of the Breath’.
“One theory is that controlled breathing can change the response of the body’s autonomic nervous system, which controls unconscious processes such as heart rate and digestion as well as the body’s stress response.”
“Consciously changing the way you breathe appears to send a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow heart rate and digestion and promote feelings of calm as well as the sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol.”
Try it yourself. Take a 4 count breath in, hold four counts, exhale four counts and hold four counts. Repeat five times. This practice is so simple and yet so profound.
Next time you feel yourself anxious or stressed, just like I remind my students, who catch me off my mat and in return remind me, Take Five Deep Breaths.
Namaste ~ Stacy
The main objective of Sirsasana (headstand) and Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) are not merely to arrange for a copious supply of blood to the head and upper body but also to slow down the respiratory rate. When Sirsasana has been sufficiently mastered, the breathing rate which normally is about 15-18 a minute, automatically comes down to four a minute. The aim should be to reduce it to, two per minute. Thus at this rate, 24 rounds of breathing in Sirsasana will take 12 minutes”. Krishnamacharya