Posted in Body/Mind/Spirit connection, creativity, Inspiration

Welcome Kayla Burger with DesignLife

I am excited to announce a new collaborative partnership with Kayla Burger with DesignLife.  Kayla is a 24 year old wisdom teacher who hails from South Africa.  She produces inspirational videos on personal growth on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  I love Kayla’s work and I think you will too.  Learn more about Kayla Here:

https://www.youtube.com/c/DesignLife

 

You can also find Kayla through my “Ministry Partners” link in the right sidebar menu.

 

Posted in 6D, Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Academy, Being Human, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Empowerment, End of the World Prophecies, Freedom, God, Inspiration, Jesus, New World, Oneness with God, self-actualization, world changes

Welcome Home – Human 2.0

This has been a very interesting week at Authentic Freedom Academy – both personally, and professionally.   The theme of the past 18 months has been LET IT GO (cue Elsa) and there has been more and more letting go than anyone could have imagined back in January of 2015 when this all began (it really began LONG before that….this was just the compressed, hurry up and get this sh.t done version of YEARS of letting go and moving on!).

And thank God/dess we had no idea the extent of the letting go or we may have quit before even getting started. Because this is ultimately what all this LETTING GO has been about……to prepare us for a WHOLE NEW BEGINNING…..

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And this new beginning is HERE and it is NOW (cue the Fifth Dimension…literally).

First of all….take a deep breath and allow yourself to rest for just a moment in all you have accomplished on your own personal journey:

It started by learning how to connect with your God-self, rediscovering the bliss, peace, contentment and love that your Godself IS. For awhile you may have felt as if this was the key, the purpose of the life journey – to learn how to be God.  But if you are like many others you learned the hard way that this is NOT what the human journey is about as you struggled to pull yourself up out of the pile of mala beads and zafu cushions with angelic choirs ringing in your ears, disappointed, despairing, lonely and BROKE because your life purpose HERE is not to be God (we are already gods).

Your purpose here is to be HUMAN. But not the kind of human we have been accustomed to……instead, we are here to BIRTH a NEW/ORIGINAL way of being HUMAN.

HUMAN 2.0 is not about being human as we have known it – fearful, separate, angry and violent. Human 2.0 is also not about being God.  Instead, Human 2.0 is about being HUMAN in the way that Jesus was human, in the way that the Buddha was human, in the way that the Dalai Lama, Amma, Anandamayi Ma, Yogananda, and many others who have gone before us have experienced their human/godself.

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Human 2.0 is about the complete and full integration of our Godself and our Humanself…..not escaping the human condition so as to be God, but allowing our Godself to be fully embodied in our HUMAN self. In other words, Human 2.0 is about God living IN and THROUGH us – or another way to put it – God walking around on this very planet in our bodies.  We are God walking around in flesh.

The funny thing about Human 2.0 is that this is in fact as it has always been….we just didn’t know it because of the veil of separation we chose in taking on the human condition so that we could evolve the human condition to where we are today (are you dizzy yet???).

Which brings me back full circle. WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD!  A world in which we KNOW our Godself.  A world in which we live from our Godself.  A world in which we act as Gods – allowing LOVE to guide and direct our lives and acting only from this place and perspective of LOVE.  ONLY from LOVE.

We have arrived….even if we aren’t quite feeling it yet….we are here, exactly what we came here to do and why we’ve struggled through the last several years of what often felt like HELL. (Cue Panic at the Disco!)

Which then brings me back to full circle again….this has been an interesting week at Authentic Freedom Academy and it is because of this week’s theme that I know we have arrived. EACH and EVERY client (and in my own work that preceded this week) who set foot in my office this week exhumed the deepest, darkest of their core wounds and brought them to the surface to be healed and released (congratulations WARRIORS….you did it!…cue Imagine Dragons!).

The moral of the story is that there is NO BAGGAGE ALLOWED in the New World. We do not get to step fully into our Original SELF with the remnants of our Core Wounds still intact.  We must be purged, freed, released and healed of our CORE WOUNDS so that we are once again free to live as our original self – FULLY HUMAN and FULLY DIVINE.  In this we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we are LOVE and that every situation we encounter arises in service to this LOVE.  If the situation seems to trigger our fear, our anger, our hurt or our shame, it is because there are parts of us that still don’t know we are LOVE.  If a person triggers our fear, etc. it is because a part of us have forgotten we are LOVE.  From this perspective, we are done with blame, resentment, transference and projections and only live in search of where LOVE wants to be known in us.  Or as Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”

Welcome to the New World – a world built out of love, for the sake of love, in service to love where we know the LOVE that we are and where we allow this LOVE to live in and through us.

In other words: WELCOME HOME!

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Posted in Authentic Freedom, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Empowerment, grief, Spiritual Direction

Before Psychotherapy

Today’s blog explores the ancient mentoring practices that preceded modern-day psychotherapy, still exist today and in many ways are more effective than traditional therapy.

Freud

Life before Freud

I know it is hard to believe, but psychology was not born with Sigmund Freud.  Neither did it only come to exist thanks in part to Greek philosophers.  I know this is what is what academia teaches as the roots of psychology, but there have been psychologists throughout human history – perhaps as far back as our human origins.  Before Freud, however, these remarkable women and men were not called psychologists, instead, they were called such things as spiritual director, teacher, abbott, abbess, priestess, priest, elder, medicine woman, medicine man, guru, oracle, and shaman.  Throughout human history there have been powerful women and men gifted and then trained to assist people in becoming their truest self and helping individuals to find healing and transformation from their inner ills.  Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, worry, grief, loss, vocational discernment, even physical maladies were tended to through these wise and gifted teachers.  These women and men held places of honor within their communities and their needs were provided for by the community in exchange for the generous sharing of their gifts.

What Happened?

In a person – Descartes.  With his masterful separation of God from reason and matter, mystery was divorced from science – so much so that anything of mystery came to be set aside or disregarded as something only for the ignorant and foolish.  With near surgical precision, the transcendent was excised from the treatment of the human person and in the Western world, the spiritual director, shaman, medicine woman and man lost their place and psychotherapy stepped in.

It All Comes Back Around

Not anymore.  People have grown frustrated with the limitations of traditional psychotherapy – and the medical model in general.  People are tired of being reduced to something that must be “scientifically verifiable.”  Women and men are looking for depth, meaning, fulfillment and wholeness and this can only be accomplished by reconnecting with mystery. While there is still an important place in our world for traditional psychotherapy, many are searching for more.

Authentic Freedom Mentoring

This is where Authentic Freedom mentoring comes in.  As a trained spiritual director and Reiki master, I have honed the necessary skills for leading people through the mystery and for empowering them to become self-actualized.  In doing this work, many of the everyday issues of anxiety, depression, panic attack, the effects of trauma and grief, are healed and released so that the individual is free to be their original self – the person God made them to be.  As there is no talk of God or mystery in traditional psychotherapy, this might not be the path for all – but it is an effective path for many – even those who consider themselves to be atheist – for even in atheism – the mystery remains.

Lauri Lumby is available for one-on-one mentoring over the phone, via Skype  and in person. To schedule a session call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com. 

Click HERE to learn about being trained as an Authentic Freedom Facilitator or Mentor.

 

 

Posted in Being Human, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Healing

Healing a Wounded Heart – Book Review

Beth (Elizabeth) Heuer is a dear friend and a woman I am grateful to have on my team.  I have journeyed with Beth, watching on the periphery, as her gifts as a writer have emerged and blossomed.  The release of her first book is a birthing of epic proportions and I am honored to support the sharing of her important message, namely, that the effects of an abusive childhood can not only be overcome, but transcended when one applies themselves diligently to the path of recovery. The end result being the restoration of their original and divine nature as healthy, whole and complete.  Thank you Beth for sharing your story so others too may also find joy!  You can find Beth’s book HERE. 

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Healing a Wounded Heart by Elizabeth Ruth Heuer

Book review

With fierce and courageous honesty, Elizabeth Ruth Heuer creates a new Everyman, or rather, Everywoman. In telling her own story Heuer provides the context for how abuse happens and the dysfunctional thinking and behaviors that arise out of growing up with abuse.  In sharing the tools that helped her to heal and to be restored to her original nature as healthy, gifted and whole, Heuer provides hope for all who have suffered the pain and aftermath of childhood physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse.  Excruciatingly familiar, Healing a Wounded Heart speaks to female and male alike in telling the sadly universal story of childhood dysfunction leading to “a divided life,” and the opportunity, if so chosen, to heal the wounds of past abuse so that one might enjoy the freedom and fulfillment of a whole and unified life.

 

BethHeuerElizabeth (Beth) Heuer is the Emeritus Director of Human Resources at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, having been instrumental in moving three departments to the strategic level of the institution within higher education. A focus of Heuer’s 42 year professional life was helping others develop, learn, and become more self-reliant and joyful in their lives. Now retired, Elizabeth’s passions include reducing poverty and domestic abuse. As a founding member of the Women Who Care–Greater Oshkosh organization, Heuer hopes to make an immediate and significant impact on the community through building relationships among women, resulting in a community where all people can pursue a healthy and dignified life.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Discernment, Divine Revelation, Truth, Virtual Church

What is “Of God” and What is Not

This week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service is LIVE.  The theme this week is discernment – opening to God’s truth for us and knowing how to determine if something is God’s truth or not.  Specifically, we explore the way God shows us truth through sensations in our physical bodies.  Participate in this week’s service HERE.

Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Spiritual Beings in Human Form – Virtual Church Meditation Supplement

Please find below, the Agape’ meditation supplement for the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church for this coming Sunday, July 6, 2014.  The theme this week is FLESH – we are spiritual beings here to have a human experience.  How are we making the connection between our spiritual and our human self?  How can we more fully honor the human experience while allowing our spiritual natures to more fully inform and guide us?

 

 

Scripture Reading:

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives lifebecause of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because ofhis Spirit who lives in you.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8: 9 -13

 

Additional Readings:

 

Zec 9: 9-10

Ps 145: 1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14

MT 11: 25-30

 

Having a Human Experience

This week’s reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds me of a popular saying:

We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Paul’s words are kind of a twist on this saying. In saying that we are not “in the realm of flesh,” Paul is acknowledging that when we allow the Spirit to be the center of and guide our lives, we are able to remember our true nature and transcend the perceived separation of the human condition. We no longer live in the fear that is the opposite of our true nature which is love.

What Paul does not say, but is implied by this reading (and informed by many of his other writings), is that the flesh, in and of itself, is not evil. In fact, God made us to be human so that we could have a human experience. As such, the human experience and the flesh suits we are wearing are not to be rejected, but instead, are to be infused and informed by our life in the Spirit – which is love. When we do this, we understand the words of the Psalmist, “Darkness and Light are but one.”

How are you tempted to reject the human experience?

 

How are you invited to remember your original nature as the Spirit of Love and how does this inform your human experience?

 

Spiritual Practices – Feed My Sheep

For this exercise, you will need two sheets of paper and a box of crayons.

1)      Slowly and meditatively read the scripture above.

2)      Draw two outlines of the human form.

3)      On the first one, draw human features – hair, eyes, nose, skin, clothes, etc. While completing the drawing, reflect on the human experience. What do you appreciate about it? What challenges you? What are you tempted to reject. Then reflect on yourself as an individual human. What do you appreciate about yourself? What are you tempted to reject?

4)      On the second outline, draw your spiritual self. What does your Divine Spiritual Nature look like? What and who are you REALLY? Remember that your original nature is love, light, peace, joy, fulfillment, contentment, harmony, wholeness, health and wellbeing. Draw that.

5)      Look at the two pictures side by side and reflect on what you are seeing.

6)      Write your thoughts and reflections in a journal or notebook.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, become aware of the intimate connection between our physical form and our Divine Spiritual Nature. It is often through our physical form and experiences that our true nature tries to communicate to us. The chakras, which come to us from yoga and ayurvedic medicine provide the map that helps us to draw the connection between our physical symptoms and our deeper emotional and spiritual terrain. Following is a chart which shows the chakras and their corresponding connections.

EnergyAnatomy

 

Posted in Body/Mind/Spirit connection, mental illness

Are Panic Attacks Our Soul Trying to Wake Us Up?

It seems that panic attacks have become epidemic in our society.  Having experienced them myself and having worked with others in successfully reducing, if not eliminating, incidents of panic attack, I have come to believe that many, if not all panic attacks are our Soul trying to WAKE US UP!

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Soul

I define Soul as the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives.  The Soul is there for our own fulfillment, specifically when engaged in service to the betterment of the world.  The Soul is God’s way of living in and through us and it is through the Soul that we participate in God’s on-going plan of creation – specifically, it is through the Soul that we become the people God made us to be and it is through the Soul that we assist God in making the world a loving, peaceful, harmonious, healthy and safe place where the needs of all species are met in abundance.  Since the Soul comes from God and is indeed, the Presence of God within us, it is a force to be reckoned with.

Soul Drive

The Soul’s desire is for one thing only – that we become the fullest expression of the unique person God made us to be.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where we all see our life experience through the false perception of separation.  As a result, we live in fear.  Fear thwarts our ability to hear, see, and know the Truth of our Soul.  Our own fears are then compounded by the fears of others who might attempt to suppress, ignore, criticize, or condemn our Soul.  We all experienced direct experiences of being shamed or punished for trying to express or live our truth.  As a result of these experiences, we hide our Soul away.

Soul Shouting

As we work toward locking our Soul away, the Soul fights back.  And the ways in which the Soul fights back are not pleasant.  As I mentioned before, the Soul is a force to be reckoned with.  She might start her fight quietly through withdrawal, mild depression, a series of mild illnesses.  But the harder we try to silence the voice of the Soul, the louder she becomes.  Chronic pain, unexplainable illnesses, ulcers, digestive disorders, auto-immune disease, anxiety, high blood pressure, clinical depression, panic attack.  People have even died in their attempts to silence their Soul.

Soul Waking

Many of these symptoms, panic attack most especially, is the Soul trying to wake us up.  Even for those whose panic attacks come as a result of trauma (PTSD), I would suggest that the panic is there as a way of encouraging you to get help in releasing and healing the trauma so that your Soul can lead you to the life you were meant to live.

Soul Truth

One thing I have learned about the Soul is that it never lies.  In fact, the Soul is all about the Truth and is impeccable with Truth.  Truth, more than anything, is what the Soul wants us to know.  As such, in the birth of the Soul, Truth is what the Soul is trying to help us see – the Truth of our pasts, the Truth we’ve covered with deceit, the truths we’ve rejected or suppressed, the Truth of who we are and who we were meant to be and in coming to know our own Truth, we come to know the Truth of others.

Panic Attacks

So, if you are experiencing panic attacks, or know someone who is, you might consider the possibility that the panic attacks are a result of your Soul trying to get you to know your Truth, and then seek support in getting to know your Truth.  Some truths may be difficult to see and to know (like past experiences of abuse or trauma), but it is only in naming and claiming ALL your truths that your Soul can find its place in the world.  You were made to know joy, to experience love, to know peace, to feel safe, and to find fulfillment through your own uniquely creative gifts through which you find meaning and purpose in serving the betterment of the world.

Lauri Ann Lumby assists men and women in the birth of their Soul through one-on-one mentoring, classes and workshops.  Starting July 7, 2014,  Lauri will be offering a Soul-Support class specifically for “The New Grown-ups” (also referred to as Millennials, Indigos, Crystals, New Kids, etc.).  To learn more, click HERE. 

Posted in Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Divine Revelation, Empowerment, End of the World Prophecies, Inspiration, Lessons, Mystics, Oneness with God, Spiritual Practices, world changes

Praying for More Than Peace

“Pray for Peace.”  “Peace not war.”  “Peace be with you.”  “Peace.”  “Be at Peace.”  “Peace among us.”  “Work for Peace.”  “Peace Advocate.” 

These are all words reflective of what we desire and what we often see painted on protest signs, written in graffiti on walls and freight trains.  Peace. Peace. Peace.  We all want peace, but sometimes I wonder if in asking for peace we are asking for enough.

Is Peace Enough?

When I hear the word, peace, several images come to mind.

  • A cessation of violence.
  • The end of war.
  • A diminishing of conflict between people, nations, etc.

Yes, it would be great if conflict between people diminished, if war came to an end and if humanity would cease from trying to resolve its issues through violence. However, I don’t think this is enough, because in reality, one of the ways we can have peace and put a stop to violence is to simply build more walls and after the walls are built, to hide behind them.  This does nothing to bring us together, which is ultimately WHY we are here.

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Envisioning a New World

My proposal is that we begin by asking for more than peace, praying for more than peace, working for more than peace.  In a word, what we are asking for might be love – but it is much more so even than love – at least in the way that we commonly understand love in our Western culture.  Love in this sense is known by an unconditional positive regard, seeing and treating every single human being as sacred, precious and holy; reaching out our hand in kindness; working for justice; tending to all those in need; making sure that all people’s needs are being met for food, clothing, shelter, education, adequate medical care; but even more than this, making sure that every man, woman and child has what they need to thrive – to become self-actualized, to find meaning, purpose and connection in this life.  Love, in this sense, means caring for our planet, making sure that all species are cared for, that the earth is treated as the sacred temple on which we dwell and the sacred source of our nourishment, sustenance and support. Love means reaching out in curiosity to those we might view as different or who hold differing beliefs or born into lifestyles different from our own.  Love means treating EVERY human being as sacred and holy, not just those “like us.”

Praying for More than Peace

As I sat in meditation over this question, a powerful meditation practice presented itself to me.  I want to share this practice with you here today.  If you feel so called, please join with me in praying for more than peace by engaging in this practice, both in your time set aside for your daily spiritual practice and when going about the business of your everyday life:

1) KNOW that the love that you desire to be made manifest in this world resides within you and is, in fact, your intimate connection with God – the place where you remember your Oneness in love with God.

2) Enter into that place of LOVE that dwells within you.  Feel this love.  Experience its uplifting, peaceful and expansive nature.  Notice that this love does not want to remain constrained within you but that it wants to go out into the world.

3) Imagine this LOVE that dwells within you as a huge ball of energy.  Visualize and feel this love centered somewhere near your heart.  Intend that this love be shared with the world so that it can turn our world from fear into love.

4) “Send” that LOVE forth from within you, out into the world.  Imagine this love like a blanket of energy going out into the world and making the world into something new.  As you are sending the love forth from you, feel how it uplifts you and expands forth from you.

5) Imagine other people joining you in this prayer of love.  See the LOVE originating in all corners of the world, spreading out and expanding across the globe.  See and feel the world bathed in this love.

6) After you have sent love around the world, offer a prayer of gratitude to the Source of LOVE who has planted this love within you and through whom the sending of this love was possible.

Thank you for your help in making the world new – changing our world from a world of fear to a world of love.

This blog is offered free of charge so that all who might find comfort, inspiration, guidance and support through these words and intentions.  If you have found this blog to be supportive of your own journey from fear to love, please consider making a donation to this site.  You can make a donation through Paypal using the “donate” button on the right sidebar menu. Thank you.

– Sehme Aniyakah, Sehme Oniyahkah

Posted in Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Spiritual Practices

Book Review – Pick Your Yoga Practice

PickYourYoga_cvr.inddAs a yoga practitioner, I can attest to the challenge of finding a yoga practice that is the right fit.  With so many philosophies of yoga and forms of practice, the search can feel daunting and overwhelming.  Often one is left to haphazardly step into a yoga studio, only to find that the style of yoga taught there is “not for me” and without additional information, one might be tempted to believe that “if yoga isn’t for me at this school, I won’t like it anywhere else.”  I can personally attest that this is not at all the case.  There is a wide variety of philosophies and forms of yoga, and there is one to fit every person’s need. he challenge is sorting through all the forms of yoga and their often foreign vocabularies to discover which one is right.

Meagan McCrary, with her book, Pick Your Yoga Practice, takes the guesswork out of this search and assures the reader that if they haven’t yet found a yoga studio or practice that resonates with them, to keep searching; eventually they will find the practice that resonates with their personal philosophies as well as their physical needs and abilities. Meagan begins this process by describing what yoga is and by providing an overview of yoga’s nearly 5000 year old history.  She then goes on to explain the expansion of yoga from India to the West and the wide variety of yogic philosophies and practices that developed in the West, including Ashtanga-Vinyasa, Forrest, Integral, Iyengar and Kundalini (among others). McCrary provides detailed descriptions of each of these unique yogic disciplines as a way to assist the reader in understanding the variety of yogas available to them, and as a way to help them choose the practice that might be right for them.  In addition, throughout the text, she provides helpful definitions, insights and explanations of yogic thought and practices, easing the reader into a more knowledgable experience of yoga.

I loved this book and would recommend it for a wide audience – those merely curious about yoga, those new to their mat, seasoned practitioners and even trained yoga instructors.  This book is packed with helpful information and insights which will assist readers in developing and deepening an enduring and fruitful yoga practice.

webMeaganheadshotMeagan McCrary is a Los Angeles based yoga teacher and the author of Pick Your Yoga Practice. She teaches for Equinox Sports Clubs, works one-on-one with some of the entertainment industries leading professionals, and holds workshops and retreats nationally and internationally.  Visit her online at http://www.meaganmccrary.com.

 

Posted in Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Lessons, Spiritual Practices

Guest Blogger – Author, Meagan McCrary

Today’s guest blogger is certified yoga instructor, journalist and author, Meagan McCrary.  Meagan’s most recent release, Pick Your Yoga Practice, provides an introduction into the history of yoga and an overview of the variety of yoga disciplines which have evolved in the last century, primarily in the West.  (Watch a future blog for my review of Meagan’s book.)  Today’s blog is an excerpt from her book.

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YOGA ON AND OFF THE MAT

An Excerpt from Pick Your Yoga Practice by Meagan McCrary

Very few students begin practicing yoga with overt spiritual ambitions. They simply want to feel and move better in their body. However, it doesn’t matter whether or not your initial intentions are purely physical. What’s important is that you’re in your body, consciously moving and breathing, establishing a stronger mind-body connection, and cultivating a little self-awareness. Intentionally or not, you begin a process of personal growth and transformation just by practicing yoga. You might even say that yoga is for the people who are open to change, and the ones who want to stay exactly the same don’t stay with yoga for very long. Your yoga practice will shift you in some way on some level, if not on all levels. In addition to helping the body gain strength and flexibility, a steady practice helps build concentration, create emotional balance, and cultivate positive qualities, such as compassion, patience, joy, and confidence.

During class you will experience profound moments of stillness, even if only for a few seconds at a time. The full yogic breathing helps quiet the analytical mind, which never seems to stop weighing options and considering consequences, finally allowing the intuitive mind to have a voice. The internal awareness and mental clarity cultivated in yoga help you realize certain things about yourself and your life. Over time you become skilled at recognizing that which no longer serves you — the relationships, default tendencies, reactions and other thought patterns, and roles that don’t contribute to your overall happiness.

In fact, your yoga practice will typically have an interesting way of creeping into your life off the mat as you become more aware of how you feel and increasingly conscious of the choices you make. Yoga doesn’t require you to change your lifestyle overnight or conform to any outside standards, but you naturally begin to gravitate toward feeling better, making better decisions and choices in your eating and lifestyle habits (and no, that doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian to practice yoga).

You may also notice that your yoga practice is a microcosm for your life. The way you are on your mat — how you respond to challenges, handle disappointment, and relate to yourself, how present you are, how willing you are to try new things — is the way you’ll be off your mat as well. In yoga, you get to “practice” being the way you want to be in a safe, contained environment. (After all, yoga practice is just that, practice.)

Therefore, when you are practicing, attitude is everything, as it is in life in general. To begin with, your overriding intention for practicing must be rooted in something more meaningful than external appearances or physical achievements, or your asana practice runs the risk of becoming just another outlet for ego gratification, and you’ve missed the bigger, overriding message of yoga. That means your intention for practicing doesn’t necessarily have to be god-consciousness or Self-realization (although that’s a good intention) but rather can and perhaps should be something personal, whether that is to feel better overall, learn more about yourself or foster self-acceptance, become a better mother or spouse, be more present or experience more joy, cultivate more peace, clarity, or ease in your life, whatever — something more meaningful than having a tight bum or being able to do the splits. Wanting to achieve an advanced posture isn’t wrong; in fact, the desire can increase your dedication and drive. However, it shouldn’t be your only reason for practicing. What if you never nail the pose? Then what? Without a higher intention, it’s easy to become defeated.

Yoga is in the business of self-acceptance and exploration, which by definition can have no expectations. Sometimes you’ll step onto the mat only to discover your body isn’t on board to practice at the level you were hoping it was. And that’s okay. In fact it’s better than okay; you get to practice listening to your body and doing what’s best for you in the moment. Yoga gives you permission to give yourself a break.

Of course, in a class setting it’s easy to become caught up in comparing (joy’s most brutal thief). As easy as it is to compare yourself to others and feel less than, it’s just as easy to compare yourself and feel more than, or somehow superior, when you can “outperform” the other students in class. As you advance in your asana practice, it’s crucial to remain humble with an open attitude and a beginner’s mind. With a beginner’s mind, you enter each yoga posture with the excitement and eagerness of a first-time practitioner, gently exploring new ways of aligning or moving your body in and out of the postures.

webMeaganheadshotMeagan McCrary is a Los Angeles based yoga teacher and the author of Pick Your Yoga Practice. She teaches for Equinox Sports Clubs, works one-on-one with some of the entertainment industries leading professionals, and holds workshops and retreats nationally and internationally.  Visit her online at http://www.meaganmccrary.com.   

Excerpted from the book Pick Your Yoga Practice © 2013 by Meagan McCrary. Printed with permission of New World Library www.newworldlibrary.com