Healing the Heart through the Practice of Forgiveness

Happy National Forgiveness Day and National Friendship Day!

Healing the Heart through the Practice of Forgiveness


How appropriate that National Friendship Day and National Forgiveness Day fall on the same calendar date! Forgiveness is often an integral part of honest friendship, as mistakes are bound to be made by perfectly imperfect people. 

Friendships can fly high and fall low. Through these cycles it is how we rise together that determines the longevity and quality of our relationships. And it’s no easy feat. Rising up can take all of our will, a heavy dose of hope, and bold determination to let go of what doesn’t serve you as an individual and a partner (in friendship and beyond).

But the struggle, like the glorious climb up a mountain, is always worthwhile. Like a climber uses certain tools to make his ascent, there are tools we can use as conscious, loving humans to make the trek up the mountain to our Best Self. 

Forgiveness is an invaluable tool up this mountain. For some the practice of forgiving may come easily, but for others it may take years to truly forgive… Whether you are aiming to forgive yourself for a mistake made, forgive your parents for a childhood of hardship, or a friend for making a petty comment that is weighing on your heart, the practice of forgiveness will not be done in vain… No matter how hard, do the work.

Forgive for Yourself:

Resentment, the opposite of forgiveness, is a poison that kills you slowly. While it may seem harmless, eventually you will notice that you have been stuck on the same point of your journey for days, months, years- your Best Self and your Best Friendship left waiting for you to rise. Learning to forgive, you will find, is absolutely mandatory if you are to move forward. Forgive whoever hurt you, betrayed you, abandoned or abused you. Lighten your load, and climb. The view from the mountain top is spectacular. 

Forgiveness does not mean to condone or justify harmful actions, or to deny that something wrong as happened. Forgiveness is not passive acceptance. It is the action of letting go of the hold a person or situation has on you- releasing the karma of the past, letting your heart be free, your mind be at ease, and your body be relieved from the burden of resentment. For these reasons forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts of a spiritual life, and an integral part of friendship.

The Practice of Forgiveness:

Buddhist Forgiveness Prayer:

This forgiveness prayer similar to the Metta Practice in that involves repeating 3 phrases. Repeat each phrase three times. Begin by breathing softly into the heart… and repeat to your self. Let the words, images and feelings grow deeper as you repeat them.

1. For whatever harm I have caused others, may they forgive me.

2. For whatever harm others have caused me, may I forgive them.

3. For whatever harm I have caused myself, I forgive myself.

 

Ho’oponopono:

The Hawaiian Hoʻoponopono (ho-o-pono-pono) practice is one of reconciliation and forgiveness. Ho’oponopono literally translates into correction. This practice is particularly potent when you are working to forgive yourself, or are seeking forgiveness from someone you have harmed intentionally or unintentionally. Hold the person who’s forgiveness you are seeking in your mind’s eye as you repeat these four phrases three times.

I’m Sorry

Please Forgive Me

I Love You

Thank You

 

Loving Kindness Meditation:

The Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation is not specifically an act of forgiveness, yet it is. In this meditation you are working to invite in a sense of peace, love, acceptance and compassion for yourself, someone else in particular, and all beings. Similar to the first two practices, repeat the Loving Kindness Meditation three times. In your second recitation of these phrases, replace “I” with the name or the image of someone you are seeking to forgive. On your third recitation, replace “I” with “we” (representing all sentient beings). 

May I be filled with Loving Kindness

May I be well

May I be peaceful and at ease

May I be happy

You can find my Loving Kindness Meditation Video on Youtube HERE.

 

May all of your hearts be free of pain, your minds be at ease, and your smiles glowing. May your friendships blossom and grow. May you stand at the top of the mountain of your Best Self, and continue to Forgive and let go of what is no longer serving you. 

 

All my best,

Namaste,

Stacy

 

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Demystifying Astrology

Demystifying Astrology

How knowing my star sign taught me to be my Highest Self


I’ve never been much of the “woo-woo” sort. I didn’t get into yoga because I wanted everlasting peace. I was an athlete, a bit of a gym rat, and a physical go-getter. Yoga came to me by accident, and just so happened to completely change my life.

When I stepped foot into my first yoga class, I had no idea what Sanskrit was- or why it was important to chant it at the beginning of every practice. I had no idea what bandhas were, and no idea why everyone was so “peaced-out” after class. I just knew it made me feel good. So I kept on going to class, immersing myself in the experience of each asana, and listening carefully to what my instructors were saying.

At first, the depths of yoga entered my being subconsciously. And it wasn’t until my beloved teacher Dom asked me to sub his class that I had even considered I could teach it.

Teaching my first yoga class was an enlightening experience; in that moment, I felt like I knew why I was created.

Since that day, over 30 years ago, yoga has opened me up to countless realities I had never before considered as real.  It taught me about the power of my thoughts, the wisdom of my true nature, and the infinite possibilities that show themselves when we trust in the mysterious unfolding of life.

Yoga introduced me to a number of other ancient practices which were all rooted in the same understanding that all of life is connected. One of these practices, which came much later in my life, was Astrology.

Now you may be thinking, “Ok, I get Yoga- it’s a physical practice! But… Astrology?”

At first, I thought that too. But when I met Leslie McGuirk of Lucky Stars Astrology at Rancho La Puerta Spa in Mexico, I had the same kind of life changing moment as when I taught my first yoga class.

The way she could describe the meaning of the stars was so new to me. Before I had known astrology only from the single sentence fate-tellers in the daily newspaper— and I wasn’t so convinced. What first changed my mind was hearing Leslie akin astrology to owner’s manual: “Astrology is one of the most useful tools for increasing self awareness and inner peace. Think of it like the owner’s manual in your car’s glove compartment; you have the key to your vehicle and you are the driver.”

“Astrology is one of the most useful tools for increasing self awareness and inner peace. Think of it like the owner’s manual in your car’s glove compartment; you have the key to your vehicle and you are the driver.”

I was intrigued. I was so curious to know what could the stars teach me about myself that I don’t already know. So, I decided to dive in deeper, and booked a private reading with Leslie. What she revealed to me wasn’t anything incredibly new. But it was incredibly transformational… I’ll explain.

What I found out was that I am a double Virgo! Meaning not just my Sun sign is Virgo (my primary characteristics), but my Moon sign is also Virgo (my emotional and intuitive characteristics). Although not super uncommon, most people have different Sun and Moon signs- which usually offers more dynamic and balanced outer and inner worlds. But I am a full-out, full-fledged Virgo…

Subnote: If this is totally new for you (like it was for me) here’s a little more background: Your Signs reveal the unique relationship that the sky, stars and planets had to the Earth at the moment of your birth. For thousands of years, people have been using astrological science as a way to learn about themselves and the workings of the natural world. There’s nothing too “woo-woo” about it once you get past the vague, generic descriptions.

So, as I began learning more about what it meant to be Stacy, the double Virgo, I began to know how to work with -rather fight against- the traits that were an undeniable part of my person. Virgos are typically very careful, methodical, hardworking, resourceful, well spoken, problem solvers who are not afraid to speak their minds. But they’re also typically very shy, overly critical, worrisome, sensitive and fragile.

Before I was equipped with this knowledge, I would unknowingly fight against the traits I thought were weaknesses. I would force myself to be less sensitive, or belittle myself for speaking my mind so fiercely. I didn’t know it was my true nature to be a go-getting business woman with a soft side that also needed tending to. With this awareness, I have been better able to consciously work with and even transform my more challenging traits, while enhancing and using my best traits to their fullest.

In this way, learning my star sign has helped me to grow into my highest self- all “woo-woo” aside.

Not only have I been able to embrace my double-Virgo mind, but I’ve also made a dear friend. Leslie continues to help me foster my best self, and acts as a sort of technician who helps me read my owner’s manual with greater clarity.

I’m a fan and I want everyone to know just how powerful this practice is. You too can be fueled by the awareness of who you are in relationship to the cosmos.

Leslie will be the guest speaker for the next A Day of Namaste (themed Count Your Lucky Stars) on Sunday, April 8, 2018. She will be talking specifically about the planet Mercury and its role in the way we communicate. You won’t wanna miss out!

Follow the link HERE to register for the retreat, and check out Leslie’s website HERE to book your own private reading.

May the stars bless you,

With all my love,

Namaste,

Stacy

Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha

Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha

In a media world – How do we practice yoga authentically?


I have a friend who is just starting his yoga journey. He began practicing yoga to improve his health, but when he looks at yoga on social media he’s left with the impression that yoga is only about touching his toes, twisting into a pretzel, or hand-standing on a perilous cliff… Encouraging, right?

I think he’ll find some solace in this….

The research is valid that a consistent practice of yoga can relieve back pain and lower blood pressure; and the most recent study published in Frontiers in Immunology suggests that yoga and mediation can actually “suppress inflammation-promoting genes and genetic pathways, and can actually undo the physical and mental effects of stress, and reduce the risk of disease, at the genetic level.”

This is the yoga that yogis have practiced for centuries, and is detailed in the second verse of Patanjali’s yoga sutras: Yoga Chitta Vrtti Nirodha (Yoga ceases the fluctuations of the mind). The ancient practice of yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about liberating your mind from the redundant, recycled, unnecessary thoughts that constantly pass through our heads.

The power of yoga is its ability to connect us to the deepest part of our inner self so that we may finding lasting health and peace. When we heal the mind, we heal the body.

The past decade has seen the packaging of an ancient practice in a way that makes it accessible and attractive to an emerging yoga community. The modern yogi’s challenge, then, is staying faithful to the antiquity and integrity of the teachings, not slipping into commercialism or diluting the practice.

 

So. How can you make sure you’re really practicing yoga, and not just glorified calisthenics?

 

For me, I practice authentically by practicing awareness of mind. If my mind is racing, competing, or judging the person on the mat next to me, I know I’m not doing my practice. If I am going over my to-do list for the day (or for the next three months), I know I’m not doing my practice. If I am still mulling over the guy that cut me off on the way to class, I am definitely not doing my practice.

But when, in the midst of the effort of each pose I am serene, focused, and full of breath, I know am doing my practice. When I choose to love my body, even when I’m tired, achy or injured, I am doing my practice. When I tune in and feel more than I judge and think, I am doing my practice.i

I come back to the teachings. I come back to the Sutras, like Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha.

The real practice of yoga is deeply intimate. Only you, yourself, can truly tell if you’re immersed in the depths of stillness that come from complete surrender to experience. Only you know when your mind is still. And only you can attest to how that makes you feel… But I’d bet it makes you feel pretty darn good. I bet you breathe a little easier, that your heart rate normalizes, that you sleep better at night, that your injuries heal faster…

So, don’t worry about what the social media yogis are doing. They have their practice to do- and you have yours.

Yoga is so much more than handstands, and so much more than a weekend get-away. It’s a lifelong commitment to bettering yourself, a constant inner-looking (Svādhyāya), a daily remembering of the power of your thoughts, and lasting peace that comes from the stillness of the mind.

Yoga Chitta Vrtti Nirodha. Yoga is stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.

 

How Fast Are You Aging?

Do you remember the first time you realized your body was “aging”?

Maybe it started in your thirties with a few more aches and pains in the morning. A tendency to get tired earlier in the day. The first signs of wrinkles around your eyes. A memory not quite as sharp as it used to be.

As the years have progressed, those little twinges have probably gotten more frequent. And if you’re like most people, you brushed it off as a “normal” part of the aging process… just something that happens when we get older.

The thing is, you don’t have to give in to the frailty, disease, and memory issues associated with aging. These symptoms are not “inevitable.” They are signals that your body needs something.

When it comes to aging, we’ve been fed a load of unsubstantiated assumptions our entire lives. But emerging research from top experts suggests that we can have all the advantages of youth, well into our later years.

That means a lean, strong, flexible body….supple, smooth skin….. a brain that is sharp… energy to last all day… and an immune system that provides powerful protection against illness.

We are a body-oriented culture. We judge ourselves by our appearance and our body’s ability to perform. When our bodies change—as they inevitably do—our self-worth goes with them, for better or for worse.

In Siddhartha, a novel about enlightenment and self-discovery the prince, Siddhartha, ventured out of his palace for the first time, he was shaken by his first glimpses of a person bent with age, a person wracked with illness and the body of a person who had died. Seeing the inevitable path of all our bodies to our final demise caused him to inquire into how he might transcend the suffering he had witnessed. This led him to realize that in order to transcend suffering, he had to transcend his attachment to and identification with the body. He had to look deeper, beyond the pleasures and suffering of the body, for lasting happiness.

This is what our yoga practice teaches us. Any person in a body who is practicing Yoga is living in a yoga body, regardless of age, build, gender or flexibility. And the deeper practices at the heart of Yoga—meditation—require a body simply as an anchor for awareness. 

I think most people when coming upon my age may scour, but I’m truly looking forward to the unfolding lessons, increasing self awareness and growing self love that comes with aging. I’m reminded that this is the start of a brand new year- and that there are still infinite opportunities for growth along my journey. Within every moment lies a miracle. And within every burden lies a blessing. 

Namaste~

What is A Mala?

Ask my students, friends, or husband… it’s rare you’ll see me without one of my Mala Meditation necklaces on. And while I do love how they look, I don’t actually put it on for fashion.
While it would seem that a piece of jewelry is merely part of the material world, a Mala is about something much deeper. When worn with intention, the

 

Power of A Mala lies in historic and energetic qualities. I can honestly attest that my Malas have become an anchor for my practice and a reminder of mindfulness during my crazy work days.
For me, there are a few key distinctions between a Mala and a regular necklace:
  • A Mala, unlike a gold chain, is not designed to be flashy or to seek out external attention. It is a reminder to go within, to seek solace in one’s self, and to deepen one’s internal awareness while out in the world.
  • A Mala, unlike diamond earrings, is not a sign of class or privilege, but a representation of committed reverence and self work.
  • A Mala, unlike jewelry made form synthetic metals, is made from pure Rudraksha Seeds, which have unique conductive properties. These seeds have been honored for centuries as prayer beads, and so also carry an important historic symbolism of the yoga practice.
  • A Mala is inherently designed to support a meditation practice. The 108 beads, when followed carefully with each breath, offer about 35 minutes of focused meditation. And the large bead at the center, called a Bindu Bead (or Guru Bead), can be rubbed gently as a reminder for mindfulness during a busy day.
I believe that each individual should find for herself what tools help to deepen her own practice. For some it may be a Mala, for another it may be a single candle, or an Om charm, or a book of choice. There are many ways to go within, and many tools to help us get there.
Knowing the power of personal choice, I’ve chosen to offer a very special, limited offer for the next A Day of Namaste seasonal wellness retreat. For the first time, I am asking guests to pick their own unique, handmade Meditation Mala!
​​​​​​​If you’re interested in learning more about Malas, Yoga, Meditation, Cleansing, and are dying to begin Living Your Purpose, you must join me for ADON. Send me an email with any questions, or click HERE to learn more.

DIY Home Retreat Pt. 2 – Mind

Namaste yogis,
Here’s Part 2 of my DIY Home Yoga Retreat Series, tailored specifically to calm the mind and put you in ease and awareness of your mental functions.
If you put Part 1 to practice, you may notice some similarities in this week’s schedule. While it may seem counterintuitive to help the mind by moving the body and eating well, it was no mystery to the ancient Yogis that our minds and bodies are innately connected. What we do physically will affect our psychology, and vice versa.
This week’s retreat will emphasize HOW we do the things we do- as this shines light on the quality of our mental health.
It is said that the quality of your thoughts will shape the quality of your life.
Today, as you engage with your mind on a more intimate level, be present to observe your thoughts. Notice when you feel challenged and when you flow with ease. Notice when you become distracted. Notice when you’re “in it”. Notice all of these things with the intention of just noticing. Write it down as you go, and take time to reflect afterwards in order to implement the changes you wish to see made. Remember that it’s hard to know how the paint will dry when it’s still wet…
Whether you follow the program exactly, or just use this information as a guide to create your own path to successful health, I hope you find this newsletter both useful and inspiring.
Because each of our needs are a little different, the following schedule will be structured around the phases of your day, rather than by an exact time-table. Do your best to wake up early and take the entire day to nurture yourself- as if you were at a secluded resort with nowhere else to be. If any of the following recommendations do not suit you, then kindly skip over them, and do what you need. Remember this is YOUR time to relax, rejuvenate, revitalize and heal your mind.
Happy Retreating!!
Stacy

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.