Article by Carrie Tyler
Someday I am going to write a book. It will be a compilation of the stories I've collected over the years and the subtitle will be, "Life lessons while stumbling down the path."
I hardly consider myself a wise woman, but I've seen a lot of different sides of the world and studied a few things that have offered me a little insight on how to not knock my teeth out as I trip over my next big Truth.
I promised to share this list of my "Top 15 Guiding Life Principles" on my page about simple daily rituals. So without further ado, in no particular order, for better or for worse, bruised but not broken, here it is.
- Love with abandon. Everyone. Everything. All the time. That is what it means to live with compassion.
- Happiness takes practice. Finding contentment means literally hard wiring joy into your brain. There is a well-researched phenomenon, called the negativity bias, that states that humans are naturally hardwired towards the negative. It is considered part of our evolution and necessary to our survival. If the negativity bias wasn't there when fight or flight occurs (sympathetic nervous system response) you would hear a roar and walk right into the lion's cave to be eaten rather than run away from the sound. This is also why when you receive constructive criticism at a job you might only remember the one negative thing said, instead of the fifteen positive things. Cultivating true contentment means to continually practice doing things that bring you joy to map them on your brain. The more you practice it, the easier contentment becomes. The goal is to become so calm that the lion becomes totally disinterested in eating you, and instead rolls over at your feet for a belly scratch.
- Forgive easily. Obviously dear one, you will be hurt in life, that's part of being human, but the damage to the soul of hanging on to grudges and anger is poison. I am NOT saying be a push-over, not get mad, or to keep unhealthy people in your life. What I AM saying is that everyone is moving through this world from their own place of ego and attachment. Know this, take your time to process, and when you are ready, forgive completely and get on living your one precious life.
- Not everything is meant for you. This one took me a long time to learn (say like, 40 years"ish") as I have so many interests. You too may be talented or interested in many different things, but there is only so much time in this life. Choose where you devote your energy wisely so you don't become drained. This might be a stretch, but I like to think about this in terms of occupying energetic space. When I make a bunch of half-assed attempts to pursue all my interests, rather than focus and cultivate just a few, I waste universal energy. It's kind of like collecting a bunch of clutter of things you like but without any real significant emotional value. I find it fun to believe if I don't waste space and energy buying a bunch of art supplies I'm never going to use for projects I don't really I have the time for, then that energetic space I'm NOT occupying might just allow the next great Georgia O'Keefe to manifest somewhere else in the world. It's okay to set an idea down for a future more appropriate time in your life, or to move on from the interest completely.
- Risk the heart. When I met my husband I was definitely not looking for love. As I turned away from him I heard a voice clear as day say, "Pay attention." I turned back around and then thought, "Oh shit, now?" A few weeks later we started dating. Four days into it he asked, "Carrie Lee, will you marry me?" He was half-joking, but less than a month later we had moved in together. One year after that we were married. Best "oh shit" moment of my life.
- Take a vow. You don't need to look any further than the yoga ethics (yamas and niyamas) to find one. Choose one of these ten universal vows and it will guide you to all the others. I took a vow of satya, or truth, years ago. It has forced me to have uncomfortable conversations and to face the deep dark parts of my own being. It has also led me to have deeply beautiful authentic friendships and to follow my heart's true calling. The ten ethical vows are: non-violence (ahimsa), truth (satya), non-stealing (asteya), continence (brahmacharya), non-greed (aparigraha), purity (saucha), contentment (santosha), purification through discipline (tapas), self-study (svadhaya), finding the divine (ishvara pranidhana).
- Treat your body like a temple. You are simply the most important person in your world. The ancient mythical writings state this over and over and over. If you are not right with you, then you can't be right with the world around you. Buy yourself flowers, decorate your body, practice good health, create lusciousness in your life but work within your means. You know what you need to do. Don't waste the gift of your life.
- Find beauty in the ordinariness of the daily. Life is happening all around you. Set down your cell phone and look up. There is beauty even in the mundane of the daily. It's all about perspective. You can choose to see folding laundry as the bane of your existence, or instead as an offering towards tending the heart of your home sanctuary. Two very different views. You choose. I learned this lesson while living at the ashram and helping to cook evening meals. It's hard to cook for a lot of people, but I also knew it was a small unspoken way to show my love for the community I was serving. I also think it helps to alternate less enjoyable tasks with more positive ones. For every daily task you do that you dread, do another that moves you forward toward your goals.
- Express gratitude at least twice a day. Be grateful you woke up, be grateful you made it through the day, and be grateful for the hard moments, they are your best teacher.
- Talent means grit, failure, and getting outside the comfort zone. One of my favorite books is the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and I have all my faculty read it. In the book, he seeks the answer to what creates genius. What he finds is that to be born a genius, does not equate to becoming a genius. What he discovers is that the most talented people in the world often come out of areas that are gritty and non-glamorous. They are willing to fail on the regular, and they find genius by continually expanding beyond what they already know. Get outside your comfort zone and becoming an expert in the thing you love. Study it from outside perspectives. My quest to study the human body has led me to study aerial circus arts, take dissection courses, nursing school, into underground temples in India, and literally all over the globe. To become an expert in any topic you must really get inside of it. And the beauty is, that the more you study, the less you will feel like you actually know anything about it. Stay curious. Fail hard.
- Shut up and Do It. We have all had the experience of seeing a great piece of art , or tasting an expensive dish and thinking, "I could do that." The difference for most of us is that we're not doing it. Another of my favorite books, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, focuses on the idea that a lot of us talk about our artistic endeavors or goals, but few of us shut up and do it. That is the difference between an amateur and a professional. The amateur STRIVES, but the professional DOES. A professional knows that resistance will show up at every turn, that there really is no end to honing your craft, and that failure and fear are a natural part of the process. Regardless they overcome, or they shut up and do. I find it helps to have rituals to help keep me on track and evoke the muses. Additionally, about a month ago I started framing my work week around the energies of the days based on Jyotish (Indian Astrology) and Vastu (Indian Architecture much like Feng Shui). It's added another level of focus in my life (more on that soon). In fact, I'm writing this blog on a Wednesday, which is the best day for creative endeavors. Whatever your thing is whether it's writing a book (or ahem... keeping your blog up to date), painting that masterpiece, or climbing Everest, just get on with it already. The world is waiting for your gift and your story.
- Value the ingredients you are cooking with. This concept comes from Anna Kunnecke, a life coach who's writing I just adore. In this article, she speaks about how we are often tied up in an idealized misconception of who we think we should be becoming, or who we once were when we "had it all." Instead of spending your time wishing for a different life start thinking about the life you have right now, and what ingredients you actually are cooking with. Savor your life.
- Your body is your best teacher. Trust that inner voice. Listen to the warning signs when you are becoming ill before they spill over into a full body assault on your health. If you are ill, really tune in. Dis"ease" and discomfort are just your body's way of telling you something is amiss and needs to be addressed. All the best medical advice in the world won't replace the wisdom of your own inner voice. Get 8hrs of sleep a night and drink 2 Liters of water a day. Rest well. Nourish. Enough said.
- Set down the worry. It will be okay. You will be okay. The "worry" isn't serving you or anyone else and is a waste of your resources. You are so much stronger than you think and the human body is an amazingly capable machine. Regardless of the stress whether it's financial, physical or psychological, worrying doesn't accomplish anything. You may need to roll up your sleeves and put the time in to do the work that needs to be done. Yes, it's hard, but no medication or quick-fix can replace the value of deep honesty, self-care, and some gumption. Alternately, if the worry is out of your control, you may have to settle it in your heart and move forward. Don't give up and above all else, be kind to yourself.
- Find your sanctuary. I have three sanctuaries. They each represent a different time of day, and a different aspect of prayer in my life. The first is my space in which I meditate every dawn. In this space, I created a small altar where each day I make an offering to the five elements and express my gratitude for my teachers and loved ones. The second is the ocean which I visit at least once a week. One of my soulmates Tristan (who is btw a brilliant badass yoga teacher) calls the ocean her "cathedral." It's mine too, and where I offer mid-day prayers. Whenever I go it's my quiet time to be alone with my thoughts during a walking meditation. The third sanctuary is my nightly bath which marks the end of my day. My bath sanctuary is exquisitely beautiful, filled with ritual, and represents my time to wind down, read, and let the day just wash away. It is also a touchstone to my roots in ritual, as it reminds me of my muse/mother who also takes a bath every night. We all are surrounded by sanctuaries and spaces for ritual and prayer/self-reflection, we just have to take pause and notice that they exist. Their recognition leads to carving out time for peacefulness in our life. Like anything else it requires practice, but nothing is more important than self-care and quiet time to reflect or rest the mind and body.