Viewing entries tagged
self help

Living Yoga...Possible in a Modern World?

Holy shit it's been too long. Too long since I sat in front of my computer and held space for writing. Too long since I tapped into that creative center and let myself purge. I've let too many excuses rule the why: my baby (who's almost 2?!?!), time (I have the same 24 hours as Beyonce), energy (suck it up, bitch), work, moving, life, etc. While some of those excuses may be valid some of the time, it's really up to me to curate my life, to create a routine/practice/discipline (in Yoga we call this a Sadhana) that brings out the best in me and therefore enriches my life in the way I need. 

I recently returned from a 5 day Living Yoga retreat in Santa Ynez, California, through my beloved Mukti Yoga School. During this time I participated in rituals I'd never experienced before. The first was an ancient Bihar school salt water cleanse called Shankhaprakshalan. I had some trepidation as I'd always heard salt water could kill you and I'm fairly hell bent on living. But with the appropriate dosage, following up with red lentils + rice + ghee, and then nourishing the body with kitchari, you'll feel fucking fantastic. In addition to the commonly practiced yogic rituals of neti pot, hot lemon water, 5 Tibetan exercises, pranayama and meditation; we also spent those several days eating clean, drinking only water and tea. No caffeine. No booze. No herb. Yikes. 

I can honestly report even after 5 days of clean living, I felt clearer. Calmer. More fierce. Motivated. Transformed. I was the same but you could argue I shit out much of the unnecessary excess. The puja ceremony (another new ritual for me) burned old memories, painful conditioned thoughts, and bullshit doubts. The following day of creating vision boards, painting large rocks gathered at the beach, and threading friendship bracelets -3 activities I admittedly suck at- had me feeling so charged and excited. 

Almost immediately post-partum I lost much of myself and have since been gathering the pieces like sorting through debris after a hurricane. What was salvageable? It's taken me 2 years to recognize that I'm not worse and my life is not worse. I am a thousand times better. Even amidst my crankiest, most exhausted days, the hours I clung to my old life like a badly attached yogi, I still took fucking phenomenal care of my son. I showed up for him. Sure, I've had impatient moments or days. Frustrated. Irritated. Haven't wore make-up or dried my hair since his birth. What the fuck am I saying, I never did that before him. Point is, during the physical cleanse, the emotional cleanse, the mental cleanse derived from so much yoga and so few substances, I came clear. I am a badass. 

I started reading a book called You Are A Badass. If I had the guts, wisdom, and fortitude to write my own book it would be so similar (if I was lucky) to this brilliantly funny, and shockingly helpful self-help book. The book echoed so beautifully the work and inspiration from the retreat. And now I sit nearby my favorite studio home here in Los Angeles contemplating how we might all find our own unique definition of Living Yoga in our real lives. 

In the past few years I've come to accept and even love that I am a rebellious yogi. I am not a vegetarian (not against it either, just too into food and feel better on some animal protein). I do not believe in astrology (if one more person -almost always a girl- mentions mercury in retrograde...). I curse like a fucking sailor (luckily I know several other yogis who do, too). I openly smoke marijuana, drink a little booze, ceremonially engage in psychedelics (more mushrooms, please). I have a bizarre sense of humor (even when I get crickets, I still love myself somehow). Perhaps it's being in my 30's, having a kiddo which is truly hard fucking work, or perhaps it's yoga finally sinking in, but I genuinely like and love me. And now I am unafraid to admit it and share it. 

SO here it risk of sounding a bit self righteous (I admit I know very little, but I know some valuable things), I'd like to encourage both myself and you, dear reader(s), to live yoga in your own wackadoodle way. Let's break it down and see if we can make a few small shifts in order to cultivate actual positive change. 

For Your Health: 

   Can you eliminate or cut down one unhealthy habit (soda, sweets, cigarettes, booze, processed food) and add a healthy one (more water, more veggies and whole foods, more time allotted for sleep, a form of exercise you can stand for 30 minutes) ?

For Your Mind: 

   As adults we get lost in the grind of work and responsibility and routine, and often we forget to stimulate our minds in new, enriching ways. Can you make time, save money, store some energy to learn something new? Doing the activities on the retreat made me remember I can still enjoy things I suck at. Learning a new language, instrument, art form, dance, etc., gets us out of our comfort zones and stimulates the brain in ways our routine simply cannot. Maybe 30 minutes less TV and 30 minutes more reading? Marinate on it and figure out what your sweet little brain needs. 

For Your Heart:

   Who in your life elevates you? Boosts you, inspires you, encourages you? More of them. Even if it's Skype or actual phone calls (our smart phones can make real calls!), better yet in person, but bring more of the good in and weed out some of the riff-raff. If you're hankering for a new relationship, be open and socialize a bit more, invite people over and have them bring a friend you've never met. Be open. 

For Your Loins:

  You could blend the heart and loins categories, of course, but sometimes you just wanna roll around nakey with someone who seems fun. It's a scary world, I get it, I can't imagine trying to navigate Tinder and Bumble and Scruff and who the fuck knows what else is out there, but perhaps you put on your sexy underpants, doll up in whatever way feels authentic to you, and then go make eyes with someone. Could be exhilarating. Could also lead to an orgasm. And when all else fails, explore your own body and enjoy it! No shame, no embarrassment. Nothing more natural or wonderful. DO IT. 

For Your Soul:

  What brings you joy? I love dance (Side note excitement: I put a pic from Dancing with the Stars on my vision board and just this week the opportunity to see a live taping of the show in a VIP section was presented by a dear student! Thank you, Universe!). I love to watch it, get lost in it, absorb all things movement. I also love hiking, eating, all types of yoga, seeing live comedy, enjoying live music, sports. I'm finally starting to do more of these things, little by little, and it truly spills into the days after! What fills your cup? If you're currently broke as a joke perhaps you use the cheap to free option of the internet and in-home entertainment while you save for a trip out to enjoy what you love, but the point is, make time. You're dying. I'm dying. This ain't a joke. Fucking enjoy yourself and don't apologize. You won't miss that 50 bucks. 

Here's what Living Yoga is looking like for me right now:

   I wake up and neti, drink hot lemon water (I add turmeric and ginger too! and sea salt), throw my legs up my hallway (I don't have much space) and breathe for 7-10 minutes every morning. I dance with my son at least once a day. I have nearly eliminated my latte habit so I now drink mostly water and afternoon tea. I walk a lot (in LA this means I'm not afraid to park far away). I stretch. I eat a lot of vegetables (luckily, this one isn't new). I make boozing/indulging a treat, a conscious choice to elevate or alter my mind/taste buds in a stretch of time that makes sense, not simply out of habit or escape. I carve out 20 extra minutes to read (some days, most days, it's all I get) and 15 to write. I look at the ridiculous vision board I made and put myself in the mindset of believing and accepting I am worthy not only of the life I have, but also the life I'm striving for. Mindset matters. These little habits each contribute positively to my overall well-being and to growth. 

How can you live Yoga in your life? No actual Yoga required (but why the hell not?). 


Anxiety is a Bitch: The Video Blog (Vlog thing)

Watch the video here: Anxiety is a Bitch and/or read the short piece below!

Recently I shared a piece co-written with a friend, yoga teacher, and recovering sufferer of anxiety on how to overcome these very human challenges and issues. I’ve realized the more people I connect with and teach that we all learn differently. And just because reading and writing is my preferred mechanism to learn, it’s not necessarily yours or someone else's.

So, once a week I’ll be sharing a short video for those who resonate with visuals, with listening, over reading a lengthy piece. I’ll introduce the topic and share a short blog piece for those who still enjoy reading (and I thank you for it!) but this focus will be specific for those who’d prefer to watch a video over reading an article.

Anxiety is a bitch. Human beings experience a wide variety of symptoms that fall along a spectrum. The advice I’ll share and reiterate from our lengthier piece will speak to those of us who fall along the mild to strong experiences of anxiety, stress, and depression. For those who experience consistent extremes, symptoms of which these tools unfortunately have no positive influence in helping, I advise you to connect with a physician, therapist or professional highly trained in this field.

I write from the perspective of one who’s had numerous and consistent experiences with anxiety, with discontent, with worry and dread, as one who delved deep into the study of Psychology before I began my career as a Yoga teacher and freelance writer. I write as a fellow human floating along the river of struggle, hoping to help anyone I can. If it resonates, great, take it and use what you will. If it doesn’t, simply throw it away. I share from love.

In a nutshell, Leeann Hepler and my advice surrounded the following life tools:

Breath- hugely important. Watch your breath when your mood, attitude and energy levels turns to shit. When someone or something thrusts a negative experience into your day, notice how your breath can help you endure and move through so the soiled emotions don’t ruin the rest of your day. Taking life one breath at a time feels much more manageable and keeps the body in harmony and the mind in perspective. Slow down your breath.

Connect with real people and animals- By real people I am referring to a social life beyond social media. Facebook is great but we’ve all seen the multiple studies detailing how social media actual makes people feel less connected, less social, more depressed, more isolated. I don’t need a lot of people. I’m truly happy with 1 or 2 true friends, those who know the good, bad and ugly truth of me and accept me all the same. Those who will hug me for a long time, trust me enough to cry with me and are trustworthy enough that I can cry with them. If they’re no available, my animals fill that void nicely. Unconditional love, coupled with hugs, are excellent medicine. Good, positive, elevating beings are key. Less negative Nellys.

Take care of you- I don’t care about counting or burning calories. The body is a machine, it’s designed to move and work, so we have to work it. Move your body in a way you love. Don’t force yourself into a gym if you hate it, you’ll never keep it up. Walk, hike, dance, do Yoga, jump rope, swim, whatever your little heart desires. Drink water, lots of it! Eat vegetables and more whole foods than processed foods. It’s astounding how what we eat affects how we feel, not just physically but mentally as well. Listen to what makes you feel energized, optimistic and healthy and try to take in more of it. And give yourself time to do something silly, something you really love, that makes you feel creative and authentic and pulls you out of “doing” and takes you deeper into “being.”

Create a mantra or motto or life phrase- A good Yoga teacher (hello!) can work with you and find a great one that’s unique to you. I also happen to believe we’re all our best teachers and after spending some time getting to know yourself better, what makes you feel more balanced and at peace and just plain sane. Sometimes we want to feel sad, some great clarity and creativity can emerge from feeling melancholy. But we need not swim in those self destructive emotions for too long. They won’t serve us in the long term so just enjoy them in the short term, give yourself a day. When you’re angry, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, worried, etc., come up with a mantra that, along with your breath, brings you back to your own version of square 1. Yogis love So Ham, I Am, and so do I. If you tend to spin a web of crazy hypothetical scenarios that your mind constructs on its own evil devices, use a mantra like I Am Fine, I Am Alive, I Am Enough. It doesn’t have carry the words I Am, those are just good examples to go from.

Hope the words and/or video resonates and maybe helps you. Simple, everyday stuff we can all do. If you have questions, insights of your own, please feel invited to engage in a dialogue. Message me via social media (Dani Eats Life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or email

Just F*cking Be, Idiot.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 3.55.37 PM It's been an interesting few months. I started a new job, one I really like thus far, particularly because of the kind and fun-loving souls I work with, and the company I represent. I'm paid vastly more than anything I was able to earn in the past 5.5 years teaching Yoga. I have health care. I have benefits, people.

Why am I still plagued by incessant doubt? Why does my psyche love dissatisfaction? Why does it constantly crave something else? NO(thing) specific, just something ELSE. Why? It is a fundamental part of my encoding that I must grapple with my decisions, question myself unyieldingly, and never stop feeling like I'm somehow failing myself and others on a regular basis.

I'm still teaching, which was very important to me. So I still get to work out this shit with my students, leveling with them as I attempt to soothe them into stillness. But I'm still grappling with constant contradictions in my mind. I want more quiet. I want more privacy. I want more simplicity. I want more structure. More consistency. More security. And on the other hand I want more friends. More students. More readers. More unique opportunities. More travel. More validation.

Why I can't have both in this new world is beyond me.

But I can't help but feel I'm giving up something and I keep fearing that I'm giving up on myself. But why? A beautiful opportunity knocks on my door, one that hundreds of people have vied for and so many would accept without question, and I'm so excited and grateful in one breath, but unsure on the other. Sure, every decision has an opportunity cost. Basic economics taught us that. What's funny and ironic is I got exactly what I felt I needed and wanted and yet now I'm concerned by exactly that.

As a teenager I wanted to host my own TV show, like Oprah or Rosie or Ellen or some other awesome lesbian we all love. But I entered college and began studying Radio/Television and hated it. I thought, 'I can't possibly waste years, possibly decades of my life to only possibly be the girl standing in the middle of a hurricane, wishing I was spouting nonsense and giving away free shit to an audience full of moms and aunts."

And I still have this strange, gnawing desire. I know my personality is unique and I know my voice is strong. I've grown into a much softer, more self aware, brutally honest albeit somewhat eloquent adult. I want to share what I love with others. Why can't I share my strengths with my community without needing notoriety and attention to follow? Why can't I feel successful in having a great job with a fantastic company while still being a loving and devoted teacher?

Is it LA? Nope, it's me. There are so many aspects of the Yoga "industry" that I do not resonate with, so it doesn't even make sense for me to pursue big mainstream success via that avenue anyway. And Yoga is what grounds me. It should not serve as my "platform" which will only serve my ego. I am so proud of how Yoga has educated me, of the people it's connected me to, and of how my body has transformed because of it. That's all it needs to be. Period.

I'm airing this shit out here because I've had writer's block for months. I want to write but can't. I make excuses because of time. Because of exhaustion. Because of priorities. But truthfully I'm scared to expose my true, honest, raw self, the beautiful and the ugly. This may surprise many given the subject matter of many of my posts, given my hyper self-deprecating nature and my affinity for discontent. But nonetheless I feel compelled to express this because I know releasing it will help diminish its power within me. And it will help restore the power where it belongs, inside my heart.

And I need that genuine power right now. I want to keep kicking ass at my new job and keep caring for my students through Yoga. I still have eons to go, to move, to grow, so much to learn, innumerable ways to expand. And somehow I keep forgetting I'm twenty fucking nine! Not 80. Not dying, thankfully. Not diseased. Not so advanced in age that I should have it ALL figured out. But even since my youth I've placed the unfair expectation on myself that I should. I am beyond fucking blessed, in every way imaginable. Loving and supportive family. Superb friends. Delicious and wise husband. The cutest animals. A warm home. Healthy food. Clean water.

I need to just shut the fuck up. Nut up. Do my best. Be grateful for the insurmountable good I've received and ride the wave of life. It's been a beautifully unpredictable journey so far. Why not see where this new direction takes me? I need to cultivate a deeper inside rather than a more colorful outside. I've experienced so much, achieved a fare amount of good, traveled a ton, been broken hearted, insanely in love, and so much in between.

Santosha is my practice, I Am is my mantra. I shall accept myself fully, remind myself of all I am beyond my descriptions, definitions, accolades and characteristics. I've yet to fully succumb to the lessons bestowed through practice and truly practice what I teach. So my practice moving forward is to do just that. Be. Here. Now. Accept all I am and all I am not. Open to all that is yet to arrive without a need to predict or assume.

Transitions always lead to questions and confusion and uncertainty and worry. And perspective always arrives in unforeseen ways and in unexpected packages. I need to just fucking be. Just fucking be, idiot. Just be.

Forgiving Yourself: A Conversation Amongst Loved Ones

Below is a very short transcript of an actual conversation that happened via text just a few short days ago. It doesn’t matter who it was with, or even the context surrounding this exchange; what matters is the concept of letting go of our past selves, especially our major decisions and mistakes. It’s only important to note this person is in the top five major influences in my life, we love each other dearly, and they’ve always been a major source of encouragement and solace for me. We can often learn more about ourselves from the advice we give others. It is far more difficult to turn that wisdom within and free ourselves from whatever burden we’ve chosen to carry thus far.

Perhaps you can read through this short conversation and fill in your own blanks. What decision or version of yourself are you still carrying around with you today? Imagine if you let it, and you, go. The filter through which you perceive the world just may clear, it most certainly will adjust, and your vision for the future will be renewed. The mechanisms you use to defend and protect yourself will begin to soften, and the darkness you’re so determined to cling to will no longer survive once you’ve made the conscious choice to lighten your load.

Lighten up. You deserve it.

Me: And let go of every single shred of guilt you have left. Each choice you made was the right decision at the time. No more agonizing now. I respect your decision. Fuck everyone else.

Loved one: Wow...thank you

Me: No thank you necessary. I’m telling you the truth and it’s probably something you should hear because I don’t think you tell yourself this enough. Forgiveness of yourself is the most important decision you can make.

Loved one: Still a very difficult part of my past, but I can’t change it

Me: Yes, difficult then, not now. You can release it now.

Loved one: I actually try to work on that because I definitely have a hard time forgiving myself and I know better

Me: People’s pasts define them as long as they hold onto it, as long as it weighs on them. This needn’t be the case.

Loved one: So’s hard to rewire your brain?

Me: It’s not as hard as it seems. I think expressing myself has helped me. You can find your own special way to release it, privately or with whoever else.

Loved one: For sure

While in the midst of this conversation I had no intention on sharing it, with anyone. I’ve never shared one before. This one just struck me, something about being able to reread the words and apply my own insight to the very issues I adhere myself to on a yearly basis seemed so simple and yet so strong and helpful. Most of us are ass kickers when it comes to supporting our loved ones, dispensing salient advice in the right moments, filling another’s heart will compliments we’d never utter to ourselves. What the fuck kind of sense does this make? Sure, be generous, especially in spirit, give your love and goodness to others, but it is whack to neglect yourself. The best teacher you can be for others is to live your own truth, love yourself first and be the light you were born to be.

You can, and should, relinquish the past to the past. Unless you’re currently incarcerated (even so, this is a mere physical imprisonment, your heart and soul are in your hands), the only person holding you hostage, keeping you trapped in a fragile shell of the person you used to be, is you. Free yourself. Forgive yourself. You can. First, acknowledge the moments, the eras in time, the decisions, the attitude and emotions surrounding these memories where you’ve kept guilt, sadness, frustration, confusion, and so on. It could be a severed relationship, a choice to do or not do something huge (go to college, travel, tell someone how you feel), or a mere accumulation of negative muck passed on by others (unsupportive loved ones, bullies, bosses, teachers) that you’ve chosen to believe about yourself to this point. Find some way to express it, release it, burn it. Writing has been so helpful for me, cathartic and eye-opening. Painting has been the same for other loved ones. No one has to see, you just have to become aware and feel how it feels to let it go.

There’s a line in that super famous Gotye song that says, “You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness.” Isn’t that true? We become so accustomed to feeling blah, to feeling just okay, to feeling negative, to feeling guilty, to feeling afraid, to feeling sad, to feeling inadequate, to feeling uninspired, to feeling less than. Shake yourself up! Break up your repeated thoughts, your emotional patterns, your means of defense, your cycles of crap, and decide today to think, feel, do and be lighter. Forgiving yourself will do tremendous wonders to your tolerance of others. With this breath, let it all go. Take the next breath in, feeling new.

Choose to trust and love yourself first, be open to doing the same with others second, and let this be the first and most important decision you make before you embark on your life each day. You are worth it. You are capable. You can be the reason you love life, the reason you rise above, living in light, rather than being buried under the weight of the world, dying in darkness. This is why the buddha is laughing! He realizes how futile and how transient it all is. This bullshit you complain about could be gone in an hour. Filter through the nonsense, wave bye-bye to assholes and happiness vacuums, and recognize how special it is to be alive and how important it is you enjoy all that you are and all that you have Now.

Grateful for yesterday, blissed for today, encouraged for tomorrow.

Danielle Robinson Yoga teacher/ Writer You, Me and Yoga Makes 3 on Facebook Follow: @mastic8onthis on Twitter Check out some more insight on MindBodyGreen

Saying Goodbye to Who You Were

Every year since I became an adult has been exponentially better than the last, in particular from about 25 on. The last year carried many significant events that thrusted me forward psychologically, spiritually, whatever you wish to call it, through good times and bad. I’ve never felt more grateful, more genuinely happy from the inside out, more excited by each day’s possibilities. I like myself more, this having little to do with my external circumstances, my looks, my income or my possessions. I feel a light emanating brighter and brighter each day. Not only do I feel this so potently within myself, but I see it so much more in the eyes of others. I love me more and that has led to my tolerance and love of everyone else. Boy does life change you if you let it. It’s been 10 years since I graduated high school. I have no use for the past anymore as I feel I’ve learned, I’ve appreciated what was, and now I’d prefer to surrender to what is. What is interesting when observing how much I’ve changed is how much more I feel like myself, my old self seems eons away. And what’s even more interesting is the dynamic with friends from the past. Everyone changes, but not necessarily in the same direction, nor should they. I love my old friends, and a few have grown right with me and are still major bright spots in my life, but I can tell some of them think I’ve drank some sort of KoolAid, my happiness makes their eyes roll, because they’re clearly confused what happened to their cynical bitch of a friend they knew and loved before.

I didn’t hate high school. I certainly didn’t love it. It’s such a concentrated group of insecure, immature, unhappy, selfish people. I include myself in this group. No judgment. We were in our teens, hormones raging, independence booming, self-confidence questioned around every corner. I had a great group of friends in both high schools I attended. They were funny and smart, less concerned with being popular, more concerned with fulfilling their academic and extra-curricular activities, having fun and surviving each week. Very few of us were having sex, drinking and no one I knew did any sort of drugs. I never thought of myself as innocent or naive, but clearly I was. I was filthy in my mind, had a dirty fucking mouth, and was skeptical of most new people who came my way.

From about 16-22 I connected with people who most resonated with my sarcastic views. I was and am a very loyal, loving friend. That I can honestly look back and feel okay about, but how I engaged with those I deemed unworthy of oxygen was less impressive. I had such little patience for the ignorant, unintelligent, unfunny, superficial or any other quality I felt too negative for my presence to tolerate. This was my skewed view. I didn’t give these poor souls a chance to prove me wrong. Sure, I felt perceptive and smart enough to decipher between the “good” and “bad” pretty easily, why waste time? But how I engage with people now is so much kinder, so much more open for them to surprise me. But then, I lived in the bitter barn, quasi happily, proudly, fuck off or I’ll bite you with my words. Tons of fun I was.

What my judgmental eye tells me now is how my lack of self-worth manifested into this staunch defense mechanism, defending the truth, defending the funny, defending the righteous, but at what cost? Burning a bridge, making someone feel small, negatively permeating my bad juju into the room. I was always first to stick up for what I thought was right. If someone was making fun of a fat person, a person of a difference race, religion, or background, here came the facetious feline to save the day. I had no concern for tact, for the very simple law that violence of any kind breeds more violence, so to fight fire with fire was just as stupid as the bigots I was aiming to defeat. Oh the irony.

Me and one of my closest friends used to have this joke, this rule: 3% of the male population are dateable. 1% are gay. 1% are taken. So that leaves 1% for us to find, approve, wrangle and dominate. So many men/boys who weren’t my friends irritated me. I felt every word that fell out of their mouths was scripted. I was in no mood to play a role. Love me for the harsh bitch that I am. Truthfully, my insides were a damn marshmallow. I could cry at the drop of a hat. Animals, people who were suffering in some way, made me bawl. I felt so guilty and helpless. Why them? So I had compassion in my heart but it was encased, locked and shrank in size until real love came into my life and slowly chiseled that guard away.

I had little tolerance and understanding for differences then. Not basic differences. I grew up being taught to accept people as they are. I didn’t care what color someone’s skin was or who they loved, but if they seemed inadequate mentally, any semblance of patience I had flew out the window along with any potential connection with this person. In college, I felt nauseous by sororities and fraternities. It’s still not my thing, but who fucking cares? Plenty of normal, nice people join and it’s not my business what they do with their money and time. Just because I’m a lame ass who doesn’t party doesn’t mean everyone who does is a douche.

Entering the world with this very sharpened lens, assuming most people will disappoint me, waiting for them to just say the wrong words, created an outside experience that reflected my inner reality. People suck. People are stupid. People are assholes. Mediocrity thrives. The weak survive. Being alive is just meh. That was precisely my experience. It didn’t occur to me then to change my internal rhetoric, work on improving myself and then maybe give others that same permission. It took some amazing friends, close family members and my very open and loving man to show me the tiny flickering light I had inside me.

It is terrifying to be loving all the time, especially to a cynic. My ego does not want to be proven wrong. My ego doesn’t want to let go of my previously touted “strengths.” It doesn’t want to move on from those friendships and it certainly doesn’t feel comfortable unless I’m critiquing the world around me, especially judging myself. Nothing I did ever satisfied me. No accomplishments in school, no acquisitions that I earned, no opportunities I seized. I still carried myopic vision and until I saw the world with truly open eyes, the cycle would repeat and I’d stay forever the same.

The only thing constant is change. I finally recognized this, saw that the periphery of my life was in ceaseless, transient motion. Things, people, situations flew in and right back out. Something in me resisted this by staying rigidly the same within. I am cynical. I am sarcastic. I am left brained. Athletic. Organized. Timely. Efficient. Everything else is sub par, nothing to be learned from them. Except everything. I voluntarily imprisoned myself in my own labels! I did this to myself and it trickled out to others and then sprayed right back in my face. I’ve had great friends throughout my life, again, I wasn’t a total C, but just comparing how I feel inside now when engaging with the outside world, I can feel how foreign my old self used to be. Instead of feeling empathy, seeing how alike I was with my fellow man, I saw only differences. Forget learning from these unique characteristics, I had all the information safely stored in my head, recycling the same garbage opinions over and over, shackling myself tighter to my skeptical beast of an ego. I had to break free.

I’ve written about this subject before, but seeing myself with new, fresh eyes fills me with enthusiasm to share, to maybe connect with others on this issue. You do not have to be who you were forever. Changing for the better, meaning opening yourself to new people and experiences, and daring to love yourself can and will only affect you positively, regardless of any questions, confusion or even resistance you may feel from people in your past. This is who I am now. I love being alive. I am so grateful to breathe, walk, eat, laugh and love each day. I have met some amazingly fascinating people in the past few years, in particular since deciding to open my mind and heart and never close it again. People have burned me and bummed me out but those are just individual cases of assholes. Yes, negativity is everywhere, particularly if you look for it. If you choose to see the goodness in yourself and in those you hold dear, then that will give hope and space for more to enter your life. And more have.

I still find myself carrying strong convictions about certain things. Disingenuous people still irk me, but I seriously give very little energy toward it. I accept it now, just as I accept myself as flawed but doing my best. There’s already too much light in the world for darkness to survive. You have to work really hard to remain in the shadows. I feel life is so much easier now that I’ve dropped my bad attitude. The responsibilities of adulthood don’t elude me, I still feel challenged throughout my days. I merely extracted some good trust in myself. I can handle the good and bad, on my own, and I have a damn good group of people to carry me should I be too weak.

I am working to give time, energy and even money to people, situations, goods and services that sit right with me, that feel good to contribute, but fully accepting the rest that simply do not. Who cares? It feels shitty to allow negativity to fester within me, regardless if I’m making jokes about it or even if I’m right. It’s so repetitive, boring. Been there, done that. Yep, stupid people suck. What a wise, original thought. “Thanks for sharing, Danielle. We all needed to hear that little gem come out of your brilliant mind.” I am no longer defined or confined by who I was. That poor girl. I’m having much more fun now and I think those surrounded by me are as well. I have given myself space to be me and that has opened a portal for others to do the same. I certainly hope people feel encouraged by me now, rather than how I used to be.

My new friends wouldn’t recognize the old me. The competitive, sports loving, time obsessed, funny but sometimes at the detriment of others, loving but only specifically, accepting of very little, open to even less chick. I am certainly not perfect or 100% positive all the time. But I’m pretty damn happy. I know this because I can see the discomfort in others who haven’t felt their own light yet. My hope is they will but I’m alright either way. I’m stupefied to be alive!

I can’t express emphatically enough how much better your life will be and feel once you surrender the past to the past and give way for a new, smarter, healthier you to emerge from that rubble. The only person that can trap you is you. It is not the world that is fucked up. It is each of us. As we wait for the world to give us what our egos think we deserve, we’re stuck simmering in our own pessimism, our own fear, our own doubt, our own frustration. Unglue yourself, trust yourself and just say fuck it! Smile, feel the life that you are. You are breathing! You are perceiving, receiving, and conceiving at almost every moment. Get out of your head and enjoy it. YOU DESERVE IT. Stop waiting for the outside world to change so you can finally be happy. Change your internal compass, clock and mood, and let the world try to reject your contentment, your openness, your positivity. It won’t happen. It can’t. The laws of physics won’t allow it. Yes, this is scientific. Think, feel, speak, do good. It’ll reflect back accordingly. The world is a mirror, shine bright during the short time you can.

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Danielle Robinson Yoga teacher/ Writer You, Me and Yoga Makes 3 on Facebook Follow: @mastic8onthis on Twitter

Living with the Poison of Self Doubt

Not sure if it’s the expectations placed on us as children, experiences with failure and embarrassment, an aspect of a guilty conscience or some combination of all three, but I have been plagued by self-doubt my entire life. It is slowly diminishing, coming to crawl, it seeps into my soul slowly now so I can see it no matter what its disguise. Nonetheless, it’s still there. Still gnawing at me like a petulant fly, an annoying little asshole hedging its bets on my disappointment. I sound either schizophrenic or like a sufferer of D.I.D. (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder), but I know I’m not alone in what-ifing so many of my decisions and pursuits. It’s a difficult cycle to break but not impossible, and certainly worth it.

We learn in psychology, and in the game of life, that as children we’re given mental and physical tasks and then our intelligence and skill level is gauged based on that. Loving school and homework and baseball and other sports made it easy for me to slip comfortably to the top of mediocrity. I’m not trying to diminish my small accomplishments as a child, but seriously, I earned straight A’s at a public school in Florida. I recognize now I merely climbed to the top of a hill; I didn’t conquer a damn mountain. What hindsight and years dedicated to false forms of happiness has led to is that it doesn’t matter anyway. The most interesting and genuinely intelligent people I know were smart enough to be bored in traditional schools, not consumed by winning a meaningless game against themselves. I’ve let go of that now. Naturally, when you’re interested in something, when it sparks your passion and drive, you will excel because you want to and because you’re following your intuition, your heart, your bliss, and not the dreams of anyone else.

There’s a reason I went through most of my life with a pervasive, underlying blah in my feelings toward myself and life. I was desperate to showcase greatness, exhibit my mental and physical prowess. My goodness was lost and my heart was muted. I wasn’t equipped then to pull myself out of it, to pursue genuine passions over simply following strengths, or to know why this gnawing in my gut was there in the first place. Something in me must have known that all this contrived happiness and achievement were just that, contrived, phony, bullshit, nothing. That’s not to say I’m not impressed by my friends who’ve shown great perseverance and success in their respective fields, whether it be graduating medical or law school, actually climbing a mountain, playing their sport at an elite level or showcasing their art for the world to see. I am just aware now how little love I put into what I did. I did it because exhibiting excellence gave me bursts of confidence. Bursts being the operative word, soon that good report card passed and it was onto the next.

So, with the exception of boys, close friends, eating, family and an interest in winning (thanks for ruining that word, Charlie Sheen. Or thanks for making it awesome again? who cares.) I had little passion or I suppose I felt a lack of satisfaction in how I spent my days, where I devoted my energy. I would’ve loved to consider myself an artist but again, adults love to label children, and once I put brush to canvas and realized what an appallingly bad drawer and painter I was, I assumed all art was lost on me. I was an athlete, a student-athlete, the greatest oxy-moron there is. Sports taught me how to lose but it didn’t help me conquer my fear of failure. I remember going through slumps, in pitching or hitting or any activity surrounding a ball, and the fear would consume me. I’d want to quit. Luckily my parents taught me to stick things out. Despite continuing, I’d still grapple with the doubt, question everything from my capabilities to my reasons for playing.

This nagging “what are you doing and why” stayed with me until a minute ago when I decided to drop it forever. Up until then, it parlayed from sports into academics and ultimately my career. Since I was a teenager I wanted to host my own show. I feel slightly embarrassed to even admit that, but that’s just my self-criticism getting the best of me. My initial major in college was Radio/Television because that seemed a practical path to my silly dream. I was bored to tears in the short list of classes I took, soon opting to pursue the study of Psychology instead. There’s one for an overly analytical person to dive into: analysis! I know my changing majors was partially due to my lack of interest but also majorly caused by self-doubt. I saw all those hot people ready to throw themselves in front of hurricane and I questioned my commitment, my abilities, my attractiveness. I was still very attached and very consumed by my opinions, my cynicism and the years of descriptors that were placed on me from birth.

I toiled with pursuing grad school, law school, and a number of careers I deemed impressive enough to suit me, but none of them inspired me. Something in me despised mediocrity and traditional measures of success and then something else relegated me to that same normality I rejected. Rock in a hard place. Afraid to move forward, glued by fear and doubt in my place, but yearning desperately to expect more out of myself and life. I needed to let go of all previous expectations I placed on myself and any imagined standards set by others and just listen to my damn heart.

I felt so proud to be logical, pragmatic, fact based, detail oriented, organized and disciplined. I had no clue I was using these tools incorrectly and neglecting a huge fraction of existence by limiting myself to those strengths. Where in there can I find space for creativity? For originality? For wonder? For joy? For Love? For fun? Why couldn’t I just expect to be happy and nothing else? I was in a perpetual state of competition with myself. The experience of loss or failure not only validated the doubtful tapes I’d been playing in my mind but left me with little inspiration to try again or god forbid attempt something new.

Luckily, I’ve always been self-aware, introspective. I’d lie awake with my thoughts, frustrated with myself, asking for guidance, answers. It was Yoga and the pursuit of teaching that not only held up a mirror that made me grasp the damage I was inflicting upon myself, but that also provided insight in how to get over myself and start living a real life. The most fundamental lesson Yoga has taught me is to dis-identify from my thoughts. It’s not only about giving my brain a break from the incessant churning and volume of my inner monologue, but severing the tie between me and my mind. Again, I sound a little nutty, but if you give yourself this gift, you’ll understand. And you'll also realize how unoriginal and entirely plagiarized this idea is. The very idea of yoga, in fact.

We are all able to watch our thoughts and simply bringing awareness to this, turning on that lightbulb that says “hey, dummy. you are not your thoughts. you are the observing presence behind them.” Slowly, I’ve become detached. I laugh at my weird little mind now but I do not take my thoughts seriously. Anything I do well comes from something much smarter than my memories or my conditioned mental patterns. It comes from being fully attuned to this moment, from following my intuition and my heart, and from being open to all that flows my way.

Doubt implies a lack of trust. Doubt tells me I cannot handle the consequences of my actions, in particular if they are not rewarding. Doubt tells me I am undeserving of joy, happiness, love and success. Doubt is healthy when absorbing new information or following a gut instinct, but the doubt that lives and grows inside our psyche serves only one purpose: to keep us from living.

I will never be good at everything. Many will not like or love me. And regardless how I allow that to play into my life, that will always be the case. So what the fuck does it matter? The beauty in life is seizing it, being unafraid to enjoy it, and loving what you do over fixating on results. Paying my bills is not satisfaction enough. I need that fire in my belly and the drum of my heart to keep me on the right path, to keep creating, to stay original, to keep evolving, to be grateful to be alive each day. Letting go of the importance placed on my opinions opened me to new experiences, new people, new career paths, new lessons. I now feel I’m sincerely hosting my own show instead of sitting idly by in the audience, wishing so badly to run on stage. My dream is continuing to progress each day and I feel like a participant in watching it unfold. Each day is new, exciting, fulfilling and wondrous. I no longer doubt my awesomeness, for no other reason than I have a loving heart and an interesting soul.

You can take that same energy you’re giving to misplaced goals, unfair expectations, disappointment, doubt, discontent and any fear based emotion and redirect it toward something positive. What is it you need to ignite your soul? Do it. I’ve made a million excuses and talked myself out of so many things. I’m done. Get fed up with yourself and that is the beginning of the end for your ego. The begending. :) Let your essence and your goodness lead the way, your greatness is sure to follow.

IMG_9600 - Version 4
IMG_9600 - Version 4

Other related articles: Living with a Guilty Conscience Living with a Sexual Appetite

@danieatslife on the social media things 

Are You a Stage-5 Clinger or a Day Dreamer?

The past is valuable because you learn. The stove is hot. Next time, I will not touch it as I will burn myself, as I just did. See, what a beautiful lesson the past has now taught us, and guess what? I haven’t burnt myself on the stove for a while; so yeah, feeling good. Learning to surrender the emotional scars, learning from your own mistakes while not dwelling in guilt and self-punishment, now that’s another story. All I can say is when we are trapped in the past, we repeat the past, over and over again ad nauseam. It’s not cute. Nor is it helpful or enlightening. It’s repetitive and banal until it becomes predictable and damaging. I look back on the men I used to be drawn to, or the one I let myself fall effortlessly into the void too many times, and I smirk and roll my eyes. What a dumbass. But you see? It’s just that kind of internal rhetoric that does not serve me NOW, the only fucking reality there ever is. At one point, I became fed up with my own patterns and I (with the support and encouragement of my mom and friends of course, an important tool) yanked myself out of it and truly moved on. That was just men. One sliver of what’s turning out to be a delicious savory sweet pie. Now I struggle with self-doubt, less now that I’ve pursued teaching and writing truthfully with commitment, but I’ve been absorbing courage from some pretty incredible friends and colleagues, who live wildly open, naked, raw, and while I find it important to be that friend for others, who cheers them on, supports their expression and is proud of their ballsiness, I need to turn that good friend in me and direct it inward, because no one will get me to do anything but me, the good me that says I’m worthy just as others are, that just because there are streams of talent and beauty being showcased there is no necessity for comparison. Expression is expression and regardless if I blow people away, the release of letting something out nourishes me beyond what any purchase, drug or fear could placate. The bad me says it’s self-indulgent, attention seeking and nothing life-changing so why bother? Because I wouldn’t let some asshole tell me I’m worthless and shitty so why would I tell that to myself? It’s astonishing how much we can get in our own way, basically because we’re choosing fear over love. Think about the decisions you’ve made, big and small, day-to-day in how you engage with others to getting up on that dance floor or making that big speech, falling in love, reaching out when in need, whatever those triggers are for you. How often have you stopped yourself from speaking, acting, crying, believing, loving? We can change this. Patience, practice and presence.

So I’d say my fears and my sense of time, derived by my complex mind, have allowed me to slowly evolve and learn, but I’ve managed to keep some childhood patterns, the one where I won’t try something unless I know I’ll be good at it (WTF is that?! What arrogant asshole assumes they’ll be good at everything? Clearly everything worth doing is challenging. I’m learning.), meaning I must show potential in this or why am I here? The answer is growth. That’s why I’m here and while I feel it’s helpful and important to follow your strengths so you can give whatever gift is inside outwardly, we mustn't shy away from attempting things that scare us because of some hypothetical bullshit, scaredy cat attitude, where we project potential scenarios into the future, predicting embarrassment and ridicule, instead of reality where human beings are kind and supportive and appreciate vulnerability and someone’s willingness to fall down and get back up.

So the past is repeated and the future is rehearsed. Boy was I a dreamer as a child. I’m pretty sure I had insomnia. I was fine, healthy, functioned adequately, but I did spend many nights awake just pondering, wondering, dreaming, and while that’s fun and imagination should certainly be fostered, I fell into a pattern (conditioned by my past) to focus my attention and enthusiasm at achievements or events arriving at a later day. So, I predicated my happiness on something happening down the line. I’d make myself sick from excitement or stress (one might call this anxiety) and I look back at periods of my life as if they’re a blur, because I spent so much of that time trapped in my mind, reliving the past, anticipating the future. I’m starting to sound like a broken record to my yoga students because I mention this often, but everything I’ve learned and gathered in my life thus far, has led me to this truth. This may be the only thing I know for sure. Happiness exists, joy animates, enthusiasm projects, and acceptance takes residence in this very moment, this fraction of a second, Now, and nowhere else. It’s not over there, it’s not marked on your calendar, it’s not within another human being or animal, not at your apartment, or your workspace, not when you can practice your hobby, or have that drink or puff. It’s not when you graduate, when you get the promotion or raise, that new car, new bag, new stuff, new look, new friend, new romance, or the next new magical gift that will then turn the light inside you ON. It’s right fucking here, right fucking now. Surrender to that, and your outward expression and experience in this measly little lifetime we’re given will become so vast and spacious, you’ll be overwhelmed. You may enjoy the aforementioned things, derive pleasure, but these are merely bonuses, facets to a rich existence, but not the path to long-term contentment or internal success.

I still find myself questioning decisions I’ve made or will make. I find myself disheartened and perplexed by human beings constantly, those I have to deal with on a consistent basis, and while I have days where I just feel like shit, I feel low, I feel like no one gives a fuck, I’m able to pull myself out of that mind-induced slump quicker, knowing that I give a fuck and there is a short list of quality human beings and a few animals who care too. This world is consuming, moving rapidly but progressing slowly, and it’s imperative that your personal sense of time and your stage in this evolutionary process is completely removed from the world’s time, clock time, psychological time. Use the past as a tool to remind yourself you’ve repeated a pattern, get to know your inner monologue and adjust it to uplift yourself. Use the future as fuel to fire up the present, because the better you are in THIS moment, imagine the result in the next. Use time as a tool, not a crutch. Surrender the unknown, what you cannot control and what you cannot change and bring more vibrancy to learning, using what you do know, regulate what you can from within and let it bleed out.

Surrendering attachment, truly letting go is a gradual, inside out process. Giving up caffeine or cigarettes will only eliminate a fraction of the problem, until our lingering resentment and soured expectations conjure up a new vice to diminish the negative web our minds are spinning. Sure we need to let go of the past, forgive ourselves and others, recognize what’s done is done, the bell can never be un-rung, but the real strength is in surrendering each moment, accepting yourself and your extenuating circumstances AS THEY ARE, not as they could have been or how they should be or how you hope they’ll be, but accepting responsibility to control your reactions, your perceptions and ultimately your attachment to whatever IS. Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Campbell and many brilliant Yogis and philosophers explain and personify this beautifully. It’s beyond even the most beautifully written words. It is a truth you must infuse into your way of living and being. It’s not to be labeled. It’s not a noun, verb or adverb. It just Is. You just Are.

Can you continue to blossom as the external dares you to shrink? Can you give yourself warmth and light from the very essence you are when the thunderous darkness of your ego and it’s stubborn attachment to the unimportant aim to envelop you, leaving you cold and confused, even more steeped in fear, feeling even more alone. You can start very easily by accepting your mind and body as it is right now, there’s nothing you can do in this moment to change it or manipulate it so you somehow perceive it positively. Let go of comparison, of judgment, of expectation and just embrace yourself and the Now. Notice even within a challenging task how surrender feels. The more you fidget, grimace, or clench (physically and mentally), the more difficult and frustrating it will be. What you resist persists. It is difficult because our minds are cunning, clever little bastards and they seek to retell the same boring sob story over and over again. Just begin by bringing awareness to whatever your patterns are, wherever your tendency toward control manifests and through that awareness, a space will open up for wisdom, kindness, acceptance and release. Let go.

You deserve the most vibrant life a human can live. Believe it and Be it. Turn ON the light the only way possible, yourself, without worry for other’s brightness, your genuine example of acceptance and enthusiasm for this moment is bound to rub off positively on someone. And if not, you’ve got You and that’s one hell of an accomplishment. Those of us working to find more presence and light within can serve others by bouncing off ideas, giving support, and when in doubt, thinking and acting out of compassion. I am merely a work in progress, but I’m sincerely jazzed and buzzing from the challenge that is living a remarkable life, aiming to brighten my and someone else’s day and find that more darkness has faded away.

No matter the weather, no matter your upbringing, your socio-economic status, your religious or political affiliations, your sexual preferences, your grade point average, your color, your size, your current job or your dream job, your perceived status or reputation, the details of your past or projections for the future, You can choose to turn on that light, operate from your best essence and surrender to what is, to embrace here and now, proactively choose Love instead of reactively choosing fear. Surrender is under-valued and connotes images of a white flag and of loss. Bullshit. It takes strength to let go. You're a bright shiny winner.

You ARE Life. Stop wasting your energy and Live.