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Practice Mindfulness by Going Deeper into the State of Yoga

Practice Mindfulness by Going Deeper into the State of Yoga

Laura Jane Mellencamp and friends at YAF’s Mexico Yoga Retreat February 2019

Laura Jane Mellencamp and friends at YAF’s Mexico Yoga Retreat February 2019

My little voice keeps playing out, “I have so much to do”, “I am so busy.” Hearing the constant chatter of thoughts brings my heart to racing, and my nervous system once again kicks into overdrive. This habit repeats itself until I exhaust myself with the pull of resistance, creating an even greater struggle and suffering.  

The trickster of my mind is telling me that there is never enough time, never enough energy to DO. How did I learn to DO life—instead of feeling my aliveness and just BEing present to life itself?  Where did I collude with my little self and identify with my list of activities (and outer need to be seen) by needing to do all this stuff!? What is the quality of my doing—Driving to work, speaking with students, writing this newsletter, running errands, and dealing with all the countless other things that make up my daily life?

AM I  actually present to what I am feeling in the moment? The effort here implies my stress and strain, the need to reach a certain point in the future or accomplish a certain result so I will reach a state of happiness. Oh, how the little mind plays such tricks!

My joy arises when I surrender into a state of balance or yoga. In consciousness, I am able to step out of my habit of doing, and be still to the listening of my greater self. This is what determines my joy in life, not how much effort I make in getting it done.

Years ago, I used to call my little self the “elf.” I took away the “s” and found this elf self. The elf self tricked me into my false identity of holding on to my various roles and brought my mind into constant movement between thoughts of past and projections of future. The elf was running the show.

Not until I fell into my deepest heartbreak and asked for help, did the wisdom of something different and more subtle began to awaken. The greater Self began to emerge from those hidden places, deep in dark corners of my hidden shame. Grief began to flow, and the churning began. I let go of patterns and habits that no longer were leading me forward. Yoga was my gateway to a sweeter, gentler place of acceptance of all of myself. It was the merging the elf self into my TRUE SELF that left me with a new sensation of being in the NOW. 

Being in the NOW is a practice of which I am constantly committed to living. And when I catch my mind moving into the words of abuse, its witness arises and moves me back to the breath. In that split second of thought, I choose to move in another direction by sitting in the awkward confusion of not doing—and by feeling the tension (or the release)—as I slowly feel myself physically shift. 

It’s taken a daily practice to forgive myself for being so human. I go back to the floor and surrender into it. I guide my little self to observe where my body meets the floor. My body softens as I feel myself loosening, dropping, and melting into the floor. I can feel a profound sense of heaviness as I experience the quality of lightness around me and inside the space of my breathing.

I need to let go of doing and making anything happen and allow life to unfold naturally. I need to be mindful of my physical body, where my body parts actually touch and not touch as the space unfolds around me. I can have two opposing feelings at the same time. I need to witness these thoughts, these sounds, and choose to stay aware of these feelings in the presence of the experience.

How do I practice this mindfulness in my daily life? Can I be mindful of how I get in and out of the car, walk up and down the stairs, wait in line, talk to my daughter? Can I witness the pause between reactive little habits and the space of the pause as the complete observer at the same time? Can I choose to be more kind, practice more patience, and be more tolerant as I feel my elf self want to take over and run away?

Living with consciousness takes practice and yet, I feel we are at a point in history where we must slow down, go inward, and learn to be more loving to ourselves. At times even teaching yoga has made the experience just another “to do list” objective, a daily task master of feeding the abuse of self loathing. Effort to get the results diminishes the true desire to surrender all outcome and be present to what is being presented NOW. 

Mexico yoga retreat - February 2019

Mexico yoga retreat - February 2019

That’s why each year I relish the opportunity to host retreats. It is a true opportunity to gather people together to go deeper into the state of yoga. I am always amazed at how much effort it takes to unplug from our daily habits and roles and let go of our awkward places of hiding in our outer boxes or personalities of learned behavior. We all come feeling uncomfortable in our skin.

My love of teaching is to remove the fear and embrace each person in love. My joy comes from creating a safe space to drop the outer box. I want to know who is inside, the welcome guest at the dinner party of life. I want each person to find a welcoming to belong and be seen in the inner light and to feel enough.

It takes great courage to reveal our deepest longings to be enough and to move forward through the heart. The heart will guide us forward while the head goes kicking and screaming into our deepest fears. I know from my daily humble practice, I am not getting it perfect, but I have made a commitment to keep growing.

I have been hosting retreats for 20 years, and they always given more than I give.  I am hosting a gathering at on Saturday, March, 16 at 1:00pm for anyone curious to learn more about my upcoming trip to Ireland this October. I want to host this gathering to invite your soul to come forward and be curious. There is profound calling in each of us to awaken our soul and life is our playground. Let’s ignite the flame of passion to be enough, do less, but live more!!

Much Love,

Laura Jane


FREE Yoga & Meditation Retreat Information Session

SATURDAY MARCH 16, 1–2pm

Join Laura Jane Mellencamp-Murphy for a FREE sneak peek about her upcoming fall yoga retreat in Co. Clare, Ireland. Laura will share details of retreat and optional site seeing excursions while answering any questions that you may have.

Laura Jane will be hosting a like minded community on her retreat, Embracing the Mystic—An Irish Retreat Exploring the Journey Inward, October 11-18, 2019. Be sure to register and benefit from the $300 savings. Early bird pricing ends on April 1, so don’t miss out!  The discount drops to $200 off on April 2. Full price starts June 2.

Interested, but can't make the meeting...  No worries! Contact Laura to get your questions answered. 

Welcoming in the New Beginnings

Welcoming in the New Beginnings

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Ritual is such a huge part of our center’s daily practice. For me, it’s my daily walking up the many flights of stairs, opening the door, turning on the light, watering the fountain and the plants, answering the messages, sweeping up the floor, and sitting down on my mat.

I enter into the sacred space of our yoga room and say, "Thank you.”  Gratitude fills my heart for all of you many wonderful souls that have made the effort to “show up” and commit to the integrity of revealing your true deeper selves. You arrive and go inward with the only intention of falling in love and letting go—letting go of the outer need to get everything that our world today sells with such gusto.  

Yoga is not something one strives to “get”, but instead it is a practice that is constantly being explored through the actual ritual of making time and space and by allowing and creating an opportunity for witnessing something greater.  

Ritual offers a new beginning everyday to say "yes" to the moment, the day. Saying “yes” is surrendering into love and experiencing the pure joy of feeling. This joy of feeling might bring up emotions that the ego finds uncomfortable or awkward. It’s not familiar with experiencing our anxieties (or tensions) by being asked to just breathe into the body. We should try to look at this as a gift. The gift is to be able to release the patterns that hold us prisoner to our moods. Now the joy takes us by surprise as we start to feel and experience the presence of our awakening.

This is the ritual called life. It might present itself through release with laughter or tears, but it’s so sweet to feel one’s pure aliveness. In a world, where we have bullied ourselves with self loathing, cut off our deeper emotions, and told to “buck up”, we fall into the ritual of numbing and distraction. It takes a desire for self love to move into new directions inspiring true kindness and compassion. Being taught that the job, the relationship, the material world would offer happiness only created a vacuum for the soul to feel enough.

Living is full of challenges and frustrations. This year was filled with sadness, heartbreak, and deep grief for many of our students. To be human today will always rub against our fragile behaviors and deeper wounds.

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In living fully, we cannot escape grief. But I can make the effort of my daily ritual to observe the thought as pure habit —and not identify that I am the fear, or the worry, or the pain of sadness. In my practice, I can witness that fear is being revealed, doubt is being observed, or sadness is being exposed. But while staying present to the quality of my breath, I choose to feel the actual sensations that are arising from those learned thoughts as they move through. I then choose to grasp on to something stable (or solid) as a foundation to a new awareness. My breathing is deeper, my exhales become longer, and my tensions in and around my body are relaxing. I choose to focus on the pulsations in my physical body, moving with breath, and note something in my nervous system has shifted. My overall mood starts to shift, and the effect is clearly calming. I am able to step out of the spiral of negative thought. I am willing to let the feelings arise in me without judgement, and experience the effect on the physical, emotional and mental layers of my being. My chest is not as tight, my jaw is no longer clenched, and my pulse has slowed down. I am feeling a sweet release in my stomach, and I am aware of a lightness in my heart. The word that now arises into my consciousness is ease. Life is ease.

To choose a better thought is the greatest sense of freedom—by actually choosing the quality of thought. I can choose life to be sweeter and lighter. The ritual is to feel those qualities, not to just think them. My intellect will never get yoga, so to even read this blog post may confuse the little mind. I want to feel these words as sensation in the presence of my ritual practice. I must feel my “yes” as a pure quality of knowing my heart is directing my actions of service.  

My new beginning is my ritual as an everyday practice. To me, it’s the beginning of my new day, my new year! Happy New Year! Let go of thinking the outcome of a goal will offer you happiness. Either getting it or not only feeds the little mind of need. Instead, just set your intention and create your daily “yes” around the desire to shine! You are already enough and MAGNIFICENT. Now choose to experience the yes of life. Embrace the joy of living. Blessings for another beautiful and adventurous year of growing brighter.

Many blessings,

Laura Jane

Embracing the Season of the Silent Night

Embracing the Season of the Silent Night

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The season of the silent night is here as I watch the winter snow fall so softly. A white blanket of profound beauty greeted me in the early morning hour. It’s a divine opportunity to be quiet, cancel my active day and be still.

Ahh..the best of being is in a safe warm home. However, my empathic heart is holding space for those less fortunate, whether they be stranded at a crowded airport or left homeless with the whimsy of mother nature’s wrath.

The extremes of climate change are present in everyday living and once again, I am reminded how fragile the ego is to the power of nature. Humble to the forces that are so out of my control. Giving myself permission this morning to gather space for deeper self reflection and push pause on the “to do list” that occupies my chattering mind. I enter a place of sweet reminders that life is precious and rushing is so abusive to the soul. I long for more days like this that have offered a permission to “not do”.   

This past year was filled with many blessings; and yet, I am so aware of the loss and grief that come with so many people’s hearts breaking. It was a year with many souls struggling to make peace with letting go and the uncertainty of solid ground.

The gift that I can give is to offer my profound enthusiasm for living life regardless of what chaos surrounds us in the moment. I greet each day with possibility for adventure and wonder. I make a true effort to see past my judgments or bias memory to view each soul as intrinsically kind.

I feel in our world today there is a sales pitch for Pollyanna naivety and that we market the idea of “happiness” as a product of manipulation. I am fully aware of all the horrors of human behavior acting from its bias fear. I just have chosen to stay in the witness of holding the opposites and choosing to see the world with possibility for higher good. It doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer at times with the confusion of doubt that will arise when I am tired, too distracted or confused. I too am very human and need to practice what I so love to teach—the tools of yoga. I am no guru or saint; yet I love to hug, greet and listen to another human being going through the pain of living.

Life will not give us only one flavor, and it is never a straight line. The many spirals will continue to break our hearts open. Our obstacles and challenges must be acknowledged. I refuse to offer a quick fix of distracting the mind with all the various ways we find to avoid the experience of feeling. Sadness of tears brought me to my knees in deep grief and pain is as much my life story as my joys of laughter and moments of pure ethereal bliss.

I refuse to rescue someone from their own sense of empowerment. I want to inspire each person to commit to their deepest desire in an effort to grow. To move forward as the soul propels itself deeper into an awaken state of self actualization. It takes patience, acceptance, and forgiveness. Not in the capacity of the intellect to go there but into the free fall of being held by the profound and mystical presence of a fully conscious soul. The path is to alleviate the suffering of the mind, not to harm it with anesthesia.

I have now realized that teaching yoga is not just to "feel good" but an opportunity to dig deep into the dark places of unconscious behavior. To change behavior can be just another form of abuse without first becoming aware of the hidden thought behind the action.

To make conscious one’s thoughts is the practice of listening that arises when opportunity for stillness is honored. Intention to be still, quiet and focus the roaming mind away from its daily identity of doing. Just as today offers opportunity as a “snow day” for me to share my heart. Permission to unplug and share my inner landscape.

I spent years resisting teaching any teacher training courses. I have always considered myself a practitioner of healing and never wanted to offer just an outer persona as teacher. But I realized that the course is an opportunity for students to learn the history, the philosophy, the function of the poses, and the many ways the mind needs to be refined. Teaching the course, gives students a way to help heal their own story and move into the joy of being enough.

I hope that I inspired a renewed commitment this season to embrace the quiet and the beauty of a silent night. Extending a heartfelt blessing to everyone in our community and beyond that may we will willing to embrace the fullness of life with passion, joy, and a renewed sense of wellbeing.