How To Change Your Life

by Stephanie on August 21, 2014

In response to an astonishing amount of notes from friends about my comment in Mantra Magazine that freedom from suffering is possible, I thought a lot about how I accomplished that. I moved through a major life change and manifested a life I thrive in. In order to create that new life I had to change. I offer the following steps to changing anything in your life.

Is there anything in your life that you would like to be different than it is right now? 

Most of us would like to improve certain aspects of our lives. If you find yourself wondering how to do that, then I hope you will find the following steps useful.

1.    Know What You Want Rather Than What You Don’t Want

You have to decide what you do want so that you have something specific to move towards. The reality is that most of us focus on what we don’t want in our lives or don’t want to experience. For example:

-  I don’t want to be alone anymore.

-  I don’t want drama in my life anymore.

-  I don’t want to be broke anymore.

The reason this is so important is that we gradually create what we focus on in our lives.  Understand this key concept: where you put your attention is where you get your results.  If your attention is invested in pushing away the things you do not want, you inadvertently remain focused on exactly those things.

Following the examples outlined above, you remain focused on being alone, remaining in a toxic situation, and being broke.  Doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it?  Of course not, but many people do it their entire lives.

I suggest you focus on what you do in fact want to be true in your life.  Instead of the above consider thinking:

-  I have a beautiful partner in my life who is a healthy match for me.

-  I have a life of joy and peace.

-  I look forward to making $_______ next year.

Understand that this doesn’t mean that you necessarily now know exactly how you are going to make it happen.  That would not be realistic. However, the creative process necessary to get you there will never be sparked if you’re endlessly focused on what you don’t want.  Therefore focusing on what you do want is a crucial first step to catalyze yourself into positive, forward-moving action.

Write down your statements. Say them aloud every day. I carried mine with me (there were a lot of them) and when I found myself going back to an old pattern said them silently to myself like a mantra.

The key is to catch yourself when you are reverting to what you don’t want. This took a little bit of effort, but the results were amazing once I got the hang of it.

2.    Cultivate the Belief That It’s Possible

In order to achieve what you desire, you must first truly believe it is possible. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often people want an outcome in their life they don’t really believe is possible.

Consider an example of losing weight: many people want to enjoy the benefits of permanent weight loss, but when questioned they realize they don’t really believe it’s possible.  Here is a great question to ask yourself:

On a scale of 1-10, where 1 means you don’t believe permanent weight loss (or whatever your goal is) is truly possible in your life, and 10 means you couldn’t possible believe it any more, where would you put yourself right now?

This is a great question to ask yourself frequently to chart your progress.  The rest of the steps outlined in this article are essentially designed to increase your level of belief that your goals are possible in your life.

3.    Cultivate the Overwhelming Motivation To Succeed

Some people are naturally motivated to make their goals and aspirations happen.  While it would be nice if we were all like that all the time, not everybody necessarily has the urgency to bring thier vision to light.  They may have the capability, but not the urgency.

For those to whom this urgency does not come easily or naturally, they must at times “manufacture” the urgency, or else they run the risk of stagnation.  One trick for doing this is to become very clear on the PAIN that inaction will ultimately bring.

If you don’t take action to meet a mate or live a life of financial freedom, where will you be in a year?  In 5 years?  How about 10 or 20?  Realizing the pain that will result from inaction is powerful motivator for many people.

It can often then be enhanced by contrasting this pain/misery with the enormous pleasure that is going to result from taking action.  I chose to focus on the pleasure. You see what works for you.

4.    Change Your Patterns, Change Your Life

Always crossing your arms in a certain way is a physical pattern, but it is also a metaphor for the emotional and psychological patterns in your life.

These patterns show up in how we think about ourselves (I am good vs. I am bad), how we think of others (I like people like him vs. I don’t like people like him) and what we expect to be true in our lives (I can be at peace vs. I don’t deserve a better life). Of course these are just examples, but they communicate the basic point.

They also show up in our behaviors. For example, turning to food when we are stressed; acting with rage towards others when we are upset or scared (or bottling it up completely, by contrast); looking towards others for reassurance that we are “okay”.

Here is the important thing to understand: our current patterns have gotten us to EXACTLY where we are in our lives right now. 

They have gotten us no more and no less.  Therefore, if we stick to the same patterns, we are not going to change, and the circumstances of our lives are not very likely to change either.

In order to get the changes we want, we have to change our patterns; we have to change our approach.

Maybe it means being open to getting outside feedback and therapy or hiring a life coach to help you uncover and correct your negative patterns.  Maybe it is as simple as saying “no” to somebody you generally say “yes” to or vice versa. Maybe it means working with a financial advisor to identify why you are having money issues.

One thing I’ve experienced is that an interruption in negative behaviors or emotions can lead to powerful results.

This is the same thing that you can do in your own life: keep creating new patterns and behaviors that replace the old ones you are letting go of.

5.    Create New Patterns to Replace the Old

After you have learned to interrupt your old habits, begin the search for positive alternative behaviors. Options are all around you that you can start developing immediately.

Ask yourself, “What is the experience I really want to be having in my life?”  Ask yourself that question and listen to the answer that comes back from within.  Where does it guide you?  Where does it want to lead you?  What new behavioral options does it incline you towards?

This is a very important step.  If you neglect to do this, you will likely return to your old habits.  The more you do this, the more you create positive neural pathways in your brain that increase your sense of pleasure and reduce your frustration or pain.

Stay focused and persistent. This is your one great, amazing life. You deserve to find the positive alternatives.

6.    Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce (then Reinforce some more)

Repetition is the key.  Don’t overthink this step. I focus on one thing I want to change at a time.

7.    Embody the “Gratitude Attitude”

While this may sound rather cliché, it’s actually quite an important part of the process.  Very often we are intensely results driven in our lives.  This is a normal part of making a living and dealing with the daily concerns of life.  That said, we are too often so busy getting from point A to point B (literally and figuratively) that we lose our ability to slow down and truly appreciate the mystery and wonder that is so much a part of life.  Yoga taught me how to do this.

Yoga taught me that if I dwell in the present moment it is a gift. To me that’s why it’s called the present. No regrets or wishes to change the past and no fear or expectations of the future. In the present moment I am grateful. Returning to my breath when I catch myself moving away from the present moment is key for me.

We are all guilty of losing sight of the beauty and wonder around us much of the time, and yet there is real value in being able to step back and look at the big picture.  For me, the best way to remember this is to be grateful, meaning to commit to finding moments in my day to deeply appreciate my life; to be grateful for all that I have in spite of the normal ups and downs that come.

I think this is such an important part of the process because it brings my attention back to what I do have, rather than endlessly focusing on what I don’t have yet.  Shifting my attention to this positive place of gratitude is a great (and in my opinion necessary) balancer to the healthy pursuit to make positive changes in my life.

Gratitude reminds us that while it’s great to pursue our goals in life, having happiness and wholeness ultimately results from a choice that comes from within.

I’m grateful that I had the courage to look at ways I could change in order to manifest a life that I could thrive in. It will always be a work in progress but I grateful to say my day today is full of joy.

I’m working on #2 today – I’m cultivating the belief that it is possible that I will be a Working Screenwriter. I have yet to pitch to anyone, but realized the other day (caught myself in an old pattern)  I didn’t know it was possible. I am ReWriting a spec script right now and hope to enter it into a contest soon. Change is good. No, change is great. Good luck.

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. If you did, please share this article with someone you think you could help.

Namaste ~ Stephanie

Greetings from the beach Greetings from the beach

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11 Life Lessons I Learned From Yoga

by Stephanie on July 28, 2014

This is my published article from one of my favorite sites, RebelleSociety.com.

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1. There is great peace in the present moment.
In the past, there was a wish to rewrite it, which is impossible. In the future, there can lie fear. Right now, right here in the present moment, I am content, grateful and full of joy. Yoga taught me to dwell in that divine space.

2. Each moment we begin again.
The Buddhist in me learned about the beginner’s mind, and my inner Yogini moved this knowledge into my heart, off the mat, and into the world. I apply that thirst for expansion again and again during each day. I know I have a choice. I am in awe of the physical body every day, not taking it for granted.

3. It’s not about the pose.
There were no mirrors in Yoga studios when I first starting taking classes and I like the studios that still honor this. Yoga has taught me to appreciate that I can use the breath and my focus to be grounded and present even if I’m sitting in traffic.
It has taught me that I can move, but that it’s not a competition. Yoga taught me not to look around the room. Whether or not I do Scorpion pose, I am doing Yoga. I live Yoga.

4. Yoga taught me how to be still.
I have always been very active. I learned that the whole reason to do Yoga was to reach Savasana. It was a full 20 minutes at the end of class. No music. Just me. It was hard at first but that changed very quickly. I yearn for Savasana now.
It breaks my heart that many studios only have five minutes at the end of class. I think they are shortchanging people.

5. It’s healthy to put yourself first.
Taking the time for self-care is healthy. The culture I grew up in taught me to put everyone else’s needs before my own. That was wrong.
Yoga taught me self-love.

6. Love is more powerful than fear.
Whether it is trying a new pose or learning to ask for what you want and need, the practice is about abundance and self-love. Scarcity is toxic. Fear is crippling. You can choose love over fear. Love is expansive and free.

7. Be comfortable in your own skin.
Yoga taught me how to appreciate my body. I can move easily. I am strong. I feel comfortable in front of the mirror naked. I honor and respect the great gift of a healthy body, mind and spirit, appreciating and taking care of my unique soul and voice.

8. There is no right way.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years. Find a teacher you like; it is kind of like dating. You may have to put some effort into finding the one you like. Don’t limit yourself to any one style. I have my favorites, but it is all Yoga. Try different teachers. Try different styles.
Discern for yourself what works for you. Don’t take it or yourself too seriously. It is a joy to do Yoga. If you do not feel the joy, try another teacher, studio, class or style.

9. Set an intention.
Daily positive affirmations work. Attainable goals are powerful. The Universe responds to action. What you focus on, you become.

What are you focusing on? Are there toxic people in your life? Do you have a daily spiritual connection to a higher power? Do you have a plan? How do your desires make you feel?

This self-inquiry is at the heart of a daily Yoga practice.

10. You get out what you put in.
Only you know what you need to do to challenge yourself. A teacher can be a great guide, but Yoga will teach you to listen to that small voice inside of you — your intuition. Trust it. Act on the wisdom that is inherently inside of you.

11. Change is good.
Every day it is important to show up on your mat ready to grow. After my recent knee surgery, it was like starting again on Day One. That is okay. Day One changed my life and reminded me that every day I show up it is like Day One.

I’m lucky that a bad back got me to Yoga. This pain was my greatest gift because I went to Yoga and felt better. I kept going. 34 years later, it has been one of the greatest loves of my life and certainly the greatest ride of my life.

There are many more things Yoga has taught me, but 11 seemed like the right number today. I hope your day includes some Yoga.

What has yoga taught you? or what do you hope it will?

Namaste ~ Stephanie

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Top 10 Yoga Benefits + One That We All Want

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  A strong and flexible body, glowing beautiful skin, peaceful mind, good health – whatever you may be looking for, yoga can help you achieve that. However, very often, yoga is only partially understood as being limited to asanas (yoga poses). As such, its benefits are only perceived to be at the body level and […]

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5 Ways To Get The Most Out of Yoga Journal LIVE: San Diego

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Save on Yoga Journal Live Conference in San Diego, California

June 2, 2014

So excited to share a great deal with you – I’m working at the upcoming Yoga Journal Events YJLive in San Diego July 10-14 – use my private promo code : STEPH Register with my promo code, STEPH , to receive 20% off All Day Intensives, Weekend and Full Event Passes for YJLIVE! Visit www.yjevents.com. The conference is […]

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Epic Selfie

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The Universality of Yogic Mythology ~ An Excerpt from Sacred Sound by Alanna Kaivalya

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One of the exceptional aspects of the yoga tradition is its all-inclusive nature. It accepts all practitioners, no matter what their original spiritual or religious background, and helps them experience the numinous in their lives. But, because the numinous cannot be named or described, the number one way in which this kind of psychological and […]

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Meditation 101 with Ashley Turner

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I’m so happy to introduce you to my friend, Ashley Turner. Ashley is an innovator in self-development bridging yoga, psychology and neuroscience for the leading edge in health and wellness. She is a yoga–meditation instructor, registered Marriage + Family Therapist Intern, writer and Ordained Priestess. DETAILS magazine recently named Ashley Turner “1 of the Top 6 Trainers to […]

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Calling All Late Bloomers: You Can Become a Yogi at Any Age

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At my 35-year high school reunion (I know – I just dated myself) I got to talkin’ with an old friend of mine. In terms of life path, we were miles apart. At 53, he was retired, with three kids in their twenties. All I could think was, “Hell, I’m just getting started!” You see, […]

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