Cultivating a more open minded, inspired, life

Peace, Love, and Understanding

 

Like all of you, I have been experiencing the pandemic, following the protests, watching how the news is unfolding in the media and affecting our personal lives with concern, respect and care. I have reached out subtly on social media, but not powerfully, biding my time to feel out the best way to enter the conversation. What is the best way to share personally and professionally with peace, love and understanding for others circumstances and feelings? When and where do we take a stand or choose to guide by example? 

Healthy change

The world is changing. History proves that change is good and true, important, but often uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Awareness of our own shortcomings, facing our fears, acknowledging our vulnerabilities is hard work. As we travel this path, change may not be comfortable for us. Change rarely is. Even if we see change as positive or necessary; support the cause or are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, raise our voices and stand tall for our beliefs, change can be a difficult journey. We may need help to navigate. Help to understand. Help to find our way. We may need a little more than peace, love, understanding and grace to navigate it all in ways that are positive and productive. We may need guidance and definitely an open heart. 

Enter journaling and yoga: a little more inspiration, a little more grace, a little more understanding – a place to breath, write, create and grow can help. What I am going to share isn’t just an avenue to find more connection between your creative side and your mind-fullness, between your body and your soul, and between the world and the spirit you need right now to be kind, but a way to grow. A way to understand. A way to live a more open-hearted, purposeful life. In yoga, it is called open to grace. In the arts it is called creativity. 

Processing the struggles

We are all looking for ways to process the struggles in our lives. Ways that feel purposeful and worthwhile – some process that helps us to deal with feelings of confusion and frustration, loss and possibly anger. I know these feelings too, and I have been working diligently for the last six months to develop ways to access and nurture growth through our Mind, Body, and Spirit. It is still a work in progress, but I am passionate about the process anyway. Opening ourselves to a more purposeful way to process what is happening in the world, and to practice a more mindful, inspired way to live is important. So I carry on. I have always done this searching and sorting through visual art. But now I am understanding that another practice in my life is also part of the journey. Yoga. 

Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change. Stephen Covey

Life happens. Sometimes suddenly in ways that feel more forced than welcomed. Sometimes sneakily, creeping up on us like a cat after it’s prey, only to pounce on us out of nowhere. We realize we weren’t ready for it and feel fear, discomfort and regret. Right now, in spite of our best intentions, the control of our lives may seem to be in others hands, completely out of our control, and much more complicated than we had intentioned. But there are ways to “journey” that can help rather than hinder these difficult times. 

Journeys

My own life-long “creative journey” happened in a similar way, over time, surging in starts and spurts. Uncomfortable sometimes, life getting in the way, crushing my dreams, unplanned, challenging, difficult, unwieldy, exasperating and unplanned. 

Creating, teaching, grasping opportunities as they arose, I always knew that the arts were where my heart was. Whether creating artwork myself or nurturing others creative endeavors, it just seemed to always make sense for me. There was an understanding that if I stayed the course, Life would eventually take care of itself. 

Asanas

My “yoga journey” happened for me in a different way. It’s true value creeping up so slowly over nearly twenty five years, ebbing and flowing so quietly that I didn’t even notice the progression. So slow and steady and pure its pace, that I wasn’t even aware of the importance it had taken on in my life. Yoga began as “exercise.” Seriously. I had no idea it’s power and strength at first. I just went from treadmill or step class to yoga early on. It was part of my healthy regimen at TWC. I loved it. But back then, I didn’t realize it’s gifts. A practice takes many years to develop, and there is always more. 

 

There’s always more

Over time, I realized that not only was there more, but I knew I wanted to find a way to connect the creative parts of my life with the creative, healing, inspiring aspects of my yoga practices. I began to become interested in the philosophy, the Sanskrit names, the types of yoga; there WAS so much more to know and ponder and discover. I read about mudras, asanas, sutras, meditation, Ayurveda and more. Not really studying it at first, just casually gathering information and passion for the connections I was making. More or less admiring yoga’s story, its history, and how it was inspiring me in new directions. I attended a couple of retreats. Took notes. Grew in new ways. Asked more questions in class. But still didn’t realize the impact.

Journaling and Healing

Thinking back, I began to realize more about my own yoga journey and how it was manifesting healing in my life long before I made the connection to journaling. The MIND + BODY + SOUL pieces became inseparable over time for me. My art AND my yoga practice had supported me in hard times more than once, guiding my decisions and answering my needs without me even realizing it. Learning to apply what I learned on the mat in my day to day life was something I had been doing for years. I just hadn’t connected the two aspects of my life as one journey. 

I didn’t appreciate the complete picture of yoga’s profound effect on my creative life until January of 2020. But truthfully it was there all the time. Nurturing me. Supporting me. Physically, emotionally, spiritually bonding me to it, to a lifestyle. Yoga connected me to a great friendship with myself on and off the mat, to something intangible yet stable and warm and substantial. But still, the most important “moment” for me yet in my “yoga journey” snuck up on me. Journaling about my practice. 

As humans we don’t always realized we are absorbing –learning something new that needs to be honored and shared. I knew from teaching visual art off and on for almost twenty years, that this could be the case. Sometimes important information is absorbed slowly, unaware, guiding us without our conscious acknowledgment. And then when we need it most, the “thing” we learned and needed is there. There for the taking, using, depending on its knowledge to sustain us. It jumps right up and says – SEE! 

Yoga Journey 2020

Yoga Journey 2020
But there WAS still another aspect to yoga for me that I hadn’t encouraged or acknowledged- journaling about my experiences. Keeping visual journals had become part of my life. The RAD Fresh Creative Journey was off and running. But I hadn’t realized that my yoga practice could be one of the themes. Then one day I I tried writing about my yoga practice and experiences. My curiosity about the “study” of yoga, MY study, became a new passion, and it was life-changing. Literally like a clap of thunder, I jumped at the shock of the idea in my head. I experienced that “ah-ha” moment when we realize we have discovered an answer to a question in our life we didn’t know needed answering. 

Yoga journaling became a way for me to process and apply all the positive ways yoga was manifesting in my life. Learning about the asanas, Sanskrit, philosophically challenging myself about the pillars, chakras, mudras, meditation. I was enthralled. So much to learn! Who knew? A lot of people knew! But I hadn’t put the practice and the study together before in my own life. I was mesmerized and distracted by its powerful nature. I decided that others might be interested too. And guess what? They were. And the RAD Fresh Yoga Journey was born. 

Visual journaling and yoga journaling

I began sharing about yoga journaling in posts on my blog. I shared in a yoga journaling group in my local studio, Montana Om: how to create a journal, what to write, how to study, and how to take what was taught by our teacher and practiced by us, engaging more with it in a journal format. And then I created a Facebook Group to connect others to this idea. It drew a small following. Friends joined. Strangers joined. Yoga teachers joined. It was real and growing. I was so proud, excited, and terrified! I still have so much to learn. The part I can share is the process, the journey, the suggestions, the lessons. I can take what I am learning within my own practice, from my teachers, and my studies, and I can offer it to others. Share it. Cultivate it. Practice it. 

RAD Fresh Journeys

This yoga journaling process came to me slowly over almost twenty five years, yet blindsided me like a cat catching a bird just this year. But I WAS ready, and that cat has become my confidant. She sits in the ray of light and inspires me to practice, to write, to share and create. I am encouraged to take flight instead of being trapped. The connections I am making, the opportunities i am realizing to share and learn, and the peace I find in the process is magical. I am holding on to this journey as a way to navigate the struggles in my life and in the world, bringing truth, understanding and peace through its process. 

I hope that some of you will join me. It’s pure perfection in the way yoga and art are pure perfection. What we need but different every time we step on the mat, write our thoughts, or create something new. We never find nirvana. We don’t have to. It was there all the time in the practice and in our hearts (and the journaling about the experience). Here’s to learning, creating and growing on and off the mat. Peace to you, peace to me, peace to the world. 

Namaste,

Cindi

Journaling – a yoga practice

Inspire your yoga practice through journaling

 

What tools do you need to participate in a guided yoga journaling practice? This opportunity to grow our Yoga Practice is not just about our guided practices at a studio or online, but growth of our personal connection and exploration to our own yoga journey. Below, find ways to inspire a deeper experience and connection to our lives on and off the mat through the addition of Journaling. 

  1. A yoga practice – home practice, studio practice, online classes, teacher or student.New to yoga? Perfect. I can help guide your focus. Old hat? Perfect. I have practiced yoga for almost 25 years and I learn something new every day. Student? Perfect. Lots to learn. Teacher? New perspective and lots of embedded links to honor your teaching.
  2. A computer or smart phone to follow social media updates, download prompts, open important links. You won’t want to miss out on even one! But if you do, you can always choose from the list of prompts by theme and intention right here on the blog!
  3. A journal to write in. Any size. Any type. Even a notebook would do to get started. I am an artist so I like to work in more than one for room and inspiration. You may just want a small journal to tuck in your yoga bag.
  4. A pen or pencil. Yes. You WILL be writing! I like a three ring binder to print off and save any downloaded prompts you choose to sample. A binder helps you stay organized and allows you to look back anytime at all the cool things you can read, research and practice!
  5. Tea, coffee, or whatever comforting , cozy drink helps you to feel like writing.
  6. Inspiration- I take notes in a small journal at the beginning and/or end of most of my practices whether at home or in a studio or online class. It helps me remember important points and intentions that I want to write more about later and helps me learn from my experiences during the week, applying them to my writing. This helps me better understand my practice and focus in on intentions and meaning.

Ask yourself:

What does my yoga practice mean to me?

How has it been affected by this year’s challenges?

What do I need to grow or support my practice in this new normal?

Think about how you are currently coping with changes in your practice amid the pandemic.

Have you had to move your practice online? Do you have a home practice?

Whether you are a teacher or student, you might be looking for a new way to stay focused and connected. But it helps to ask yourself a few more questions. What are your current concerns and challenges? Are you lucky enough to still be practicing in studio? What’s working? What isn’t? What do you need from your yoga community to feel supported in your practice?

We all have questions and concerns. MY yoga journey continues to be enriched by my yoga journaling practice. Journaling helps me to connect more directly with my intentions and encourages me to go beyond the practice off the mat.

Consider subscribing to The RAD Fresh Yoga Journey – now FREE! Also join me on Facebook and/or Instagram for a guided weekly yoga journaling practice including intentions, iThen click on the image at the top of the page to download your own sample guided prompt for FREE!

I have been practicing yoga for almost 25 years. After my daughter was born, I joined a local gym called The Women’s Club in my hometown to get back in shape. Yoga classes came with the membership so I figured – why not? It was the best decision I have ever made. And I have been practicing yoga ever since.

Yoga offers something different and individual to each of us. Stress reduction, flexibility, and living a healthier lifestyle are typical reasons for our practice. But I also find practicing yoga helps me to feel more inspired and creative. I find I have a fuller heart, a more open mind and a desire to expand my mind, body and soul. That’s yoga. But it is also worth chronicling.

So what better way to expand and grow within the journey than to keep a journal of our thoughts and chance to examine what yoga offers each of us: Mindfulness? Reflection? Gratitude? Personal growth? Reduced stress?

Open your journal and get started!

Yoga Journaling

 

Namaste,

Cindi