Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being 7 Part Yoga Book Study

I picked this book up on a whim, based on the author being Martin E.P. Seligman and it is a fantastic book. I've turned it into a seven part yoga book study for the month of January 2019.

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin E.P. Seligman

"A compelling view of a positive human future, for individuals, corporations, and nations, brilliantly told." -- Tony Hsieh author of "Delivering Happiness" and CEO of Zappos.com, Inc.

1. What is Well Being?
2. Creating Your Happiness - Positive Psychology Exercises That Work
3. The Dirty Little Secret of Drugs and Therapy
4. Teaching Well-Being: The Magic of MAPP
5. GRIT, Character and Achievement: A New Theory of Intelligence
6. Positive Physical Health: The Biology of Optimism
7. The Politics and Economics of Well-Being

Each date we'll delve deeper into the components of this book as we move through asana.

8 Universal Principles of Stepping Up To The Edge

Photo by Harry Burk on Unsplash

1. We are either now here or nowhere
2. Be in the now and you'll know how
3. Growth is the most important thing there is
4. Exceed yourself to find your exceeding self
5. In order to heal, you need to feel
6. Think less, be more
7. We are the sum total of our reactions
8. Don't try hard, try easy
      - From Journey Into Power by Baron Baptiste

Many years ago, I got my start as an IT consultant at a company called Coleman Technologies. I remember being impressed by their founder's father's lists of Rules and Laws that were printed on the back of everyone's business cards. Short, simple words to live by. I was reminded of this list of rules and laws when I recently re-reading  Journey Into Power. Jeff Coleman's Law 16: Grow or Die is akin to Baron Baptiste's principle #3: Growth is the most important thing there is.

Growth of any kind, regardless of the measure, is progress. Look for ways in which you can stretch yourself, be a little nervous and step forward into your own greatness. We each get one shot at this life, be up to something bigger than yourself while you are here, and have the opportunity.

From ME to WE - Baptiste Level Three Pacific Grove CA 2018

Shifting from the headspace of 'me' to 'we' doesn't come easily. Identifying blind spots, getting clear on what is actually happening takes attention and dedication.

The core of our inquiry work during Level Three began with the worksheet we were given Monday evening.

Stuck in the Box

Identify a person in your life where things are stuck (stuck in a rut, stuck in unworkability, stuck in upset and so on.) Write that name on the line below.

Inside the box, describe the relationship as it is right now - the mood, results, the conversations, etc. You can use words, pictures, sentences, etc.

I picked a current complaint person who I don't have much "charge" around but is a current complaint. I knew I was selecting an easy person because in the past I have actively avoided speaking of or complaining about those people with whom I've severed the ties of past relationships. I am also aware that just because I don't verbalize my past relationship struggles, doesn't mean I've actually dealt with those emotions. It only means I've buried them.

I worked with the person I'd selected to put in the box, not getting much out of the exercises. The "fire" at the root of the relationship with the person you've put in the box is that there is a broken agreement. The things you say about that person or situation are simply smoke and not the real root of the situation. At the end of Wednesday evening, Baron gave us the last in the steps on "The Way Out" and only then was I ready to delve into addressing a previous "stuck" relationship.

The steps to The Way Out are:

  1. Forgiveness
  2. Apology
  3. Declaration
  4. Make a new agreement or promise
  5. Stop it!

Now that I had the full toolset to address who was in the box, I felt safer to put a more charged person in the box. Even still, I didn't want to put pen to paper in the journal where I kept all my Baptiste Program notes. I tore out a page from a different notebook and put Greg in the box. The relationship is with my ex-husband. The broken agreement was that I would love, honor and cherish him til death do us part. I forgive myself for not being honest, I apologize for letting it go on so long, making it harder on both of us and for not telling him myself. I declare the agreement to love, honor and cherish him til death do us part to be complete. The new agreement I make is to honor our shared past for what it was and what it wasn't.

Thursday morning, the first participant to share was reticent to say the name of other person in their stuck relationship. I identified strongly with this sentiment. The woman who was sharing was standing right next to me and some of the emotion in her sharing was in direct alignment with what I was feeling about my "Life in the Box" exercise. I shared this with her as we broke into pairs to share on the overnight assignment. I told her about me not wanting to say his name, to not want to bring his name out into this space. I had it that if I did that, it would give him power and ownership over me. I shared again on this with my small group at lunch - how her share had impacted me and how I felt haunted by my past. I was beginning to see that not speaking of the person and the past is what gives it a power. The exact opposite of what I'd been thinking (which wasn't working).

When we returned from lunch to seats for sharing, I raised my hand right away to share. Baron called on me and I went to the mic and shared on the relationship, reluctantly said Greg's name at the mic, stated what I could forgive myself for, what I could forgive Greg for and what I could apologize for. After a few minutes at the mic of back and forth dialogue and questioning, Baron said something that I haven't heard stated in this way before - that we should leave people greater after our leaving. I thought about that for a time, thinking back to where I handled things badly. I see that me not honoring the past is what keeps the fire of the broken agreement alive. I see that by me not speaking and sharing, I am making it about me, withholding self and undermining others by hiding. Several people came up to me and said my share had helped them and for that I am grateful. It was not easy to put those words out into the present moment. Verbalizing thoughts and feelings of mine has been difficult for me in the past. Stepping out in front of when I want to take myself out of the situation by saying "I don't have to do this." is the work that I am in now.

Baptiste Level Three: Beyond Borders Pacific Grove Dec 2018

How did Level Three get here so soon? On December 1st, I'm getting on a plane to fly out to San Jose, starting the journey towards the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA. Obviously, coastal California in December is a very different climate than what I'm used to prepping for in Phoenicia, NY for my previous Baptiste programs. Yes, I'm stressing on what to pack..

As always, I've packed early. I like knowing all my things will fit in one carry on suitcase and the extra space left in my big old Manduka mat bag. With a week left for daydreaming what I might need in Asilomar - based on what I forgot that I could've used at Menla - I've added a few things to my packing kit for Level Three. We'll see if I need everything I've packed or if I've misjudged completely soon enough.

I've added these extra things into my packing bag after apprenticing Level One this summer at Menla.

  • 4 small binder clips (to hang up towels to dry on the commando hooks)
  • More commando hooks (you can never have enough)
  • A good length of painters tape wrapped around a tiny laminated loyalty card (you never know when you need some tape, and painters tape won't peel paint or leave residue)
  • 5 or 6 long zip ties (again, you never know)

Since most yoga pants don't have pockets - or at least not enough pockets to hold all the stuff I like to have at my mat during program - I made a thing. I'm pretty excited about it too. I used a can koosie (which I've had but never used) and upcycled it into a neoprene collar for my Camelbak bottle.

Apprenticing at Level One had me needing a pen, wanting my essential oil nearby, and let's not forget the joy of having a chapsick handy. I'd put some rubber bands around my water bottle to hold the stuff to it, but everything got soggy when my bottle sweated. It's not an insulated bottle, but I'm attached to it :)

I cut off the bottom of the koosie, opened one seam with a seam ripper and used a scrap of 2 inch wide elastic I'd had left over from another project. I measured the area I'd need for the essential oil bottle, marked with chalk and sewed a top stitch on the elastic to make the first slot. Next, the chapstick, then a final slot for a pen. On the other side of the koosie, I made a pocked big enough to hold a few business cards or electrolyte packets. I sewed down the bottom of the business card pocket so things won't slide out the bottom.

I didn't bother to change out the white thread in my serger because this is the prototype sleeve. We'll see how well it works to keep all my little stuff handy during the Level Three program.

Oblique Strategies 7 Week Yoga Study

My recent mashup of two non related topics is the Oblique Strategies 7 week yoga study I'm currently doing at Jai Dee Yoga in Seminole Heights, Tampa, FL. The Oblique Strategies card deck is the brain child of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt (first published in 1975).

From the deck: "These cards evolved from separate observations of the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognised in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated.

They can be used as a pack, or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear..."
At the beginning of class, I shuffle the deck and pull a card. The card provides the direction for the them of the yoga class.

Week 1: Reverse.
Week 2: Courage!
Week 7:

The artwork for this yoga study is inspired by the album cover for "Another Green World" by Brian Eno. I reimagined it in photoshop and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out! If you'd like your own Oblique Strategies card deck, you can pick one up from Enoshop.co.uk

The Gifts of Imperfection 15 Week Yoga Study

Following quick on the heels of the Braving The Wilderness Brené Brown yoga study, I went back to my copy of The Gifts of Imperfection and pulled from each chapter as the theme for Saturday's yoga classes. I also raffled off three copies of Brené's book as the conclusion to the study series 

Week 1. Wholehearted Living
Week 2. Courage, Compassion and Connection
Week 3. Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging and Being Enough
Week 4. The Things That Get In The Way
Week 5. Cultivating Authenticity - Letting Go of What People Think
Week 6. Cultivating Self-Compassion - Letting Go of Perfectionism
Week 7. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit - Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
Week 8. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy - Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
Week 9. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith - Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
Week 10. Cultivating Creativity - Letting Go of Comparison
Week 11. Cultivating Play and Rest - Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
Week 12. Cultivating Calm and Stillness - Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
Week 13. Cultivating Meaningful Work - Letting Go of Self-Doubt and "Supposed To"
Week 14. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance - Letting Go of "Being Cool" and "Always In Control"
Week 15. Final Thoughts

Braving The Wilderness: 7 Week Yoga Study

I love Brené Brown's writing and as soon as her book Braving the Wilderness was released, I bought a copy and brought it into my Saturday morning yoga classes at Jai Dee as a theme of exploration.

Everywhere and Nowhere
The Quest for True Belonging
High Lonesome: A Spiritual Crisis
People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.
Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil.
Hold Hands. With Strangers.
Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart.