Taking a Break from My Phone

I’ve been taking a break from my phone. Not a big break, and not for any extended periods of time, but every day, while I walk the dog, I don’t let myself answer a call, text, or email, unless it’s an emergency.

It wasn’t an easy habit to get into, but it was one I desperately needed. Constantly engaging with my phone became an energy drain and frankly, it’s a waste of time. Yes, emails have to be checked and texts have to be answered, but most of the time, they don’t have to happen at that very moment.

I began living with my phone glued to my side years ago when my brother-in-law was very ill. As the years passed and my parents became elderly and my girls became old enough to be out with friends, my phone continued–and continues–to be attached to me. I keep it with me through work, social interaction, and I sleep with it next to my bed. There really is no choice. Many times I’ve been woken by an emergency call because someone needed to go to the hospital.

Phones can’t be avoided. But I’ve found that their constant distraction can be.

Sophie gets walked a minimum of three times a day, and I noticed that while she sniffed out new territory, I would naturally gravitate to my phone. Between a, “Good Girl” and a, “Come on, let’s run,” I’d knock out a few texts, and sometimes, standing there while holding her leash and balancing a bottle of water, I would send an email or two. While it’s great to be productive, there has to be an end point. Do we really need to work constantly?

Without my fingers scrolling through Instagram, I now hear the birds and take deeper breaths. Because of it, my mind feels clearer and my mood is better.

Just lifting my head from the thrust it had while on the phone has lifted my spirits. And since I’ve put the phone away on my walks, I’ve noticed it’s easier to put it away at other times, too.

I have definitely noticed the correlation between less screen time and a better mood.

And those emails still get sent and the texts are still answered. But now, I’m doing them during designated “work” times, rather than times I should be off my phone and enjoying myself.

Happy September! Practicing Aparigraha

Happy September.

September is a pivotal month. Not only is the weather (finally!) getting cooler and a change of seasons is upon us, but September is also represented by the number 9 in numerology which stands for both beginnings and endings. This month is a good time to say goodbye to what no longer serves you, and to allow for the new, wonderful that is waiting for you.

And if you don’t have a clue as to what that next step is for you, it’s okay. In fact, it may be better.

For example, right now, I have no idea where I’m going, and I’ve never been happier.

Let me explain.

My entire life I have been focused on becoming something. Always. The thing has changed through the years, but the drive and ambition haven’t. Through it all, I’ve remained focused.

Recently, on My Crunchy Granola Yoga Journey, I realized that I have accomplished many of those goals I’ve set for myself. I’ve checked the boxes on many of those things I thought I wanted on my long list of life goals—and guess what…? Not only did they not bring me long-term happiness, many of those “achievements” have been forgotten.

What does that mean?

I think it means that happiness is not achieved by checking a box. It comes to us when we are here, open, and present.

Does that mean we stop working toward goals?

No—goals are important. They get us up in the mornings and drive us forward with a fire in our bellies. But in my particular case, on my journey, I’ve realized that to be happy, I don’t always need to know where I am going. I don’t always have to be working toward a goal.

I can do, and let “it” whatever “it” is, come to me.

In fact, the greatest excitement I’ve found is in not knowing what’s next.

And when we are working toward a goal, the joy is in the journey, not in what that goal will bring us.

It’s living without attachment to the outcome. It is doing, without expectation. It is, Aparigraha. Non-attachment. Krishna says, “Let your concern be with action alone and never with the fruits of action.”

And it is truly one of the most freeing things I have ever experienced.

If we are only focused on what we’ll “get” when we finally achieve that goal, we can’t help but be disappointed when that thing doesn’t live up to the hype we’ve given it.

Likewise, the Universe has a plan for each of us, and if we spend all of our time in our minds setting up obstacles and blocking the Universe from showing us the way, life has to be a struggle. There’s no choice.

But, if we release and move forward– sometimes unknowingly–but with good intention, or, work toward a goal with no attachment to its outcome, we will be on the path to Santosha, or contentment, and we will begin to live our dharma.

And that, is a pretty sweet place to be.

Practicing Ahimsa with Ourselves

Sitting in my car is not practicing Ahimsa with myself. This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

Let me explain.

First off, what is Ahimsa and why do we want to practice it?

What is Ahimsa?

Simply put, Ahimsa means non-harming (doing no harm) and non-violence. Living with the intention of not harming a single living being – both physically, and through our words.

Where does it come from?

Ahimsa is part of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. You may have heard that yoga is more than just Asana, or movement. In fact, Asana is merely one branch of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Two of the other limbs are Yama and Niyama (moral and ethical restraints and observances), and this is where Ahimsa lives. The Yamas and Niyamas are often considered the “right way” of living.

Roughly speaking, the Yamas tend to deal with how we interact with the world around us, and include things we shouldn’t be doing—stealing, harming etc. The Niyamas are guides of habits for healthy body and spiritual living—including cleanliness and contentment.

And today, we’re looking at the idea of practicing Ahimsa with ourselves.

Practicing Ahimsa with the World

Most of us try to be kind and nice to others, and we may do things that reflect that desire. Maybe we are vegetarians or vegans. Maybe we silently wish people “well” when we pass them on the street. Maybe we volunteer or partake in any of the other countless ways to practice Ahimsa when dealing with others.

But how well do we do when it comes to practicing Ahimsa with ourselves?

Practicing Ahimsa with ourselves

This brings me back to sitting in my car, and why this is not practicing Ahimsa with myself. I’m in my car a lot. I consider myself very fortunate to have a car and the ability to chauffer the people I love—my girls to trombone lessons and cheer practice, and elderly parents to food stores and doctor appointments—to name a few.

As any mom can tell you, rather than driving back and forth, it’s often a better use of time to park outside these activities and get work done. However, I have learned that repeatedly sitting for hours while I wait, is not practicing Ahimsa with myself.

Leaning over in a cramped car, pushing to finish work while I’m hungry or frustrated is not practicing non-harming of myself. My body gets tight and sore, and a headache inevitably begins. Then the internal monologue starts: “I’ll never get this done. This isn’t good enough. Why can’t I just get this finished? What’s wrong with me?” And it’s a downward spiral from there.

Sound familiar?

Do you practice Ahimsa with yourself?

Or do you spend countless hours every day beating yourself up, comparing yourself to others, and forgetting to love yourself?

How to Practice Ahimsa with Yourself

It’s different for everyone, of course. But for me, getting out of the car and taking a walk makes a huge difference. In this way, I’m caring for my body and giving my brain a break.

Stop the negative rhetoric. Every time you think, “I can’t… I’m not… I’m____ (stupid, incompetent, ugly, etc)” close your eyes, take a deep breath, and let that thought go. Follow it with a positive thought and be specific. Instead of, “I’m the worst. I haven’t spent enough time with my kids today,” try, “I accomplished so much at work today and that will give me more time to spend with my kids tomorrow.” It’s about balance.

You need to show yourself loving kindness in order to show it to anyone else.

I know. We all think we can put ourselves last and this somehow makes us better people. What this really does is make us tired, rundown, grouchy, overwhelmed, and exhausted. We grow sad and irritable.

It may not be reasonable for you to go to the yoga studio every day. That’s true for most of us. But can you take 15 minutes for a walk, a warm bath, or to read a book? 10 minutes to journal? Or 5 minutes to meditate?

Putting yourself first – even for a few minutes a day – will help you to develop Ahimsa with yourself.

Taking the time to recognize that you are a person who matters—just as much as anyone else—will help you build a more positive journey with yourself.

It’s not easy. On my Crunchy Granola Yoga Journey I’m realizing it takes a lot of shifting or even tossing the old to make room for the new.

But when we talk about practicing Ahimsa with ourselves, the outcome is so worth it.