The Procrastination Project

I've always labelled myself a procrastinator, an under achiever, a bare minimum gal.  Without any questions, it's just what came natural to me so I assumed it's in my DNA, it's who I am.  I’ve been doing a lot of work around limiting beliefs lately, and decided that these were some that needed to be changed.  In order to do that, I decided to try for one week to not give in to my procrastinating tendencies. To make todo lists and actually follow through, to not let clothes and dishes stock pile around the house, to be pro-active with seeking out new clients and building my business.

When I first thought of this idea I was pretty fired up about it, I know my brain well enough to know that it needs a swift kick of accountability to get anything done, and this experiment seemed like the perfect way to motivate myself to get into a more productive routine and reshape the way I spend my time.   However by weeks end, I realized this experiment had a much different purpose.  Here's how my week of no procrastinating went….

MONDAY

I teach at 6:30am on Monday, and I refuse to wake up any earlier than 5:30am so my morning routine starts when I get back from teaching.  I mentioned this project to my students in the morning (adding another layer of accountability...), got through class and went home to get my morning started and get to work.  I made my smoothie and did my morning reading, after that I sat down to start my to do list.  This was a challenge for me, surprisingly. I've made todo lists before but they're usually big picture/wishful thinking type of lists that get lost in my notebook, unread for months until I accidentally flip to that page one day and get a nice reminder of how much I haven't accomplished.  Creating a todo list that I planned on executing in one day felt like a good way to set myself up for success, or failure depending on how carefully I crafted it.  After some brainstorming I decided to make one comprehensive todo list for the whole week, with some stretch goals built in, and from there I created my daily lists.  I made sure to spread out the tasks that I didn't feel like doing so I didn't set myself up for one miserable day at the end of the week.  From there I worked each item into my calendar, allocating the time I assumed each task would take.  

My day was set and I was feeling good!  I started cruising through my todo list, which included a number of tasks that I had been putting off for a LONG time.  I was researching MD's and reaching out for referral partnerships, buying office supplies and getting myself organized to track clients and group cleanses, finalizing my cleanse manual and planning out marketing content.  It felt like a lot of work, and I hated it.  I wanted to get lost in a book or lay on the coach so bad.  But I pushed through it and worked the entire day.  I finished almost everything on my todo list with the exception of one or two items that I just couldn't squeeze in and I took a break at 5:00pm to do some yoga.  At this point I'm feeling accomplished, but also pretty tired, I didn't rest at all and I was feeling it.  After yoga, I showered, made dinner and left to teach my 7:30pm class.  By the end of class I was completely exhausted, I drove home, wrote out my gratitude list and crashed.

TUESDAY

I woke up before my alarm on Tuesday, and instead of rolling around in bed and falling back asleep for another hour or so, I summoned all of my strength to grab my book and start reading.  I quickly realized that Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown is THE BEST way to start a day.  I was feeling super charged up and inspired before my feet hit the ground.  After around 45min of reading I hopped out of bed, got my gym clothes on and headed out the door to workout. 

I crushed my workout and walked home ready to start the day.  I made my smoothie, read a little bit more, prepped my food for the day and started checking a few items off the todo list.  Afterwards I headed off to work (I work part time at a wellness clinic).  My schedule was pretty light at work so I got all of the admin crap out of the way and prepped myself for my client sessions that day.  After my first session is when I started to crash.  Realizing at this point that I had been working my butt off without rest for almost 2 days, it felt like everything was catching up to me.  I still had that voice in the back of my head motivating me to keep going and stay on track, but my pounding headache was much louder.  I ended up scrolling on instagram and putzing around online for an hour or so in a failed attempt to give my brain a break but the headache and fatigue continued to worsen.  By the time the day was over I wanted to rip my eyeballs out and stick my head in the freezer, I was beyond exhausted.  This whole not procrastinating thing was beating me up.  I forced out a few sentences of gratitude when I got home and passed out. 

WEDNESDAY

Another early morning Yoga class.  I wasn't feeling totally rested when I woke up but was able to get through class without any issue.  I came home, made my smoothie and read for awhile then headed out to teach my second class of the day.  By the time I made it home from teaching my second class I was pooped.  My brain wanted so badly to just relax.  This is when I started to put the pieces together that I wasn't so much tired as I was drained.  My brain is hardwired at this point to have breaks, rest and mindless activity from time to time and it hadn't had any over the last 2.5 days.  My desire to sit on the couch and veg at this point was stronger than ever.  It took all of my strength to pull out my laptop and start knocking off my to do list instead, I recommitted to being stronger than my mind and pushed past those intense urges.  

Fast forward to 3pm later that afternoon, I was absolutely fried.  I had a pounding headache, I couldn't think straight and I was starting to feel a little depressed.  I knew at this point that I had taken this procrastination project a little too far.  I took the dog for a walk to clear my head.  When I got back I was still feeling exhausted but my mood had improved dramatically.  I decided to support my system by taking a nap instead of "resting" in front of a screen.  So I tucked myself into bed and set a timer for 60min.  I passed out almost immediately and when I woke up I was a little groggy but feeling much better.  

This was the point when I knew I needed to be a little more realistic about this project.  Since my schedule is so spread out, I needed to accept the fact that my brain can't handle being turned on for 18 hours a day, and I'm actually doing myself a dis-justice by not incorporating time for rest into my schedule.  My goal with this project was slowly shifting from getting out of my procrastination brain to learning how I can support myself to be the most productive with the time I have, and part of that productivity is highly dependent on taking care of myself. 

THURSDAY

  Following the aftermath of my midweek melt down, I woke up on Thursday and decided to go with the flow.  My schedule was pretty open, just a mid-day vet appointment for Pez and an evening class to teach.  So I let myself wake up naturally, I made my matcha and I read for about an hour.  I practiced some yoga at home and then took Pez to his appointment.  After that I went for a long walk and went home to make lunch.  After lunch I started drafting this blog post, researched a few new locations to start offering workshops and then took a shower and got ready to go teach.  My day wasn't incredibly productive, BUT I felt good and I felt good about it.

FRIDAY

Taught one more early morning class and then left for work at the clinic.  I worked at the clinic until 12:30 and took off for a weekend at the beach afterwards. My energy was stable and calm, however I wasn’t really committed to the procrastination project any longer. The pressure I put on myself earlier in the week left a bad taste in my mouth. I was starting to feel like I had betrayed myself by taking on this experiment.

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My Procrastination Project took place the first week of August….the most ironic part of this whole experiment is the fact that it’s taken me two and a half months to finally sit down and write it about it, go figure.

Since August my daily habits have not changed, the project wasn’t the game changer that I had hoped it would be. What has changed is my ability to accept these parts of myself that for so many years I’ve judged and rejected. My restful tendencies are a part of my composition, my Dosha is largely Pitta which means that a lack of self care can easily lead to a burnout, I learned this the hard way. So instead of transforming my brain like I had hoped, I learned a big lesson on self acceptance. I can’t force myself to become something I’m not, I can’t sacrifice my own self care for success or achievement.

What I can see clearly now is that this project was rooted in my attachment to success. My brain is hardwired to associate success with happiness. If my end goal is to be happy though, self care will offer that every day I choose to acknowledge it. Instead of attaching my happiness to some long term goal, I’m realizing that I can be happy and content in each and every moment that I’m honoring my boundaries and taking care of myself properly.

This experiment forced me to pick sides between my ego fighting for self worth, and my spirit searching for freedom and happiness. I don’t think I could have fully realized the path of destruction my ego has created had it not been for this experiment. Even though it had a completely different result than I had hoped for, it ended up offering a much more valuable lesson. Listen to your body and your mind will be free.

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2018/8/1/the-procrastination-project

Trust The Process

It's only in the last few months that I've started to find some sense of normalcy in my life.  After moving across the country and starting over again in Philly, I introduced quite of bit of instability into my life.  New city, new yoga studios, new people, new weather patterns (Winter ugh) and on top of all that; trying to start a new career as a health coach.  I had all of these grand plans of getting settled in a new apartment and jumping into action with building my health coaching business so I could be landing new clients in no time.  Well things didn't go exactly as planned...instead of using all of my precious free time to work on my new business I decided to follow the Lives of Teenagers on the Upper East Side....ie I binged on Gossip Girl, hard.  It was agony getting through it but I had no other choice...

If I wasn't watching Gossip Girl I would be forced to confront the fact that I had no clue how to start a business. 

I had never spent much time thinking about building a business.  I assumed since I had somehow pulled off quitting my job to become a yoga teacher this would be a piece of cake. I knew I wanted to be a health coach so I signed up for training and started day dreaming about my new career path.  It's a good thing I didn't dive any deeper into what it takes to build a business because if that were the case I would have given up before I even got started.  I'm writing this post to give some honest insight into my experience of starting a business so that maybe you won't be as quick to judge yourself if you face some of the same setbacks along the way.

Fast forward 5 weeks and 121 episodes of terrible acting and dramatic debauchery...I finished watching the series finale of Gossip Girl and could feel the fog clearing. It was a profound moment of clarity where I realized that Gossip Girl was exactly what I needed while I got my bearings and summoned the courage to take the next steps in building my business.  It was my refuge from the overwhelming thoughts of fear and doubt that would have crippled me if I gave them time to marinate.  I wasn't capable of facing the smack down my doubts wanted to give me, so I found an outlet.  As much as I hated myself for the obscene amount of time I invested in that show, as I closed the final chapter on Gossip Girl I was ready and willing to start pushing through these defiant road blocks that stood in my way.  

I observed my fear and doubt to take away it's power

Building a business is a straight up emotional roller coaster, moving through periods of feeling powerfully inspired straight into periods of being completely paralyzed by fear.  There are moments of clarity when I have no doubt that I'm doing the right thing and this is exactly where I should be,  but they are inevitably trumped by the dark moments where it feels like the whole world is watching me fail as each day passes and I haven't made any forward progress. 

"I'll never be able to pull this off"

"I should get a stable job and make more money"

"I'm going to be broke forever"

"I'm too lazy to make this work"

"Other people can do this, not me"

Becoming familiar with these thoughts and their frequent visits to my consciousness allowed me to identify their purpose.  They want to protect me, to keep me secure  and guide me safely back into my comfort zone.  Since my ego has an impressively strong desire to be in it's comfort zone, I knew I needed to make some fundamental changes in how I managed these thoughts. So I started reading, a lot.  I read self help books, books about getting rich and books teaching me how to harness the power of my thoughts.  I read every morning to start my day on a high vibration, even on the mornings where it was hard to drag myself out of bed because I just wanted to give up, I disciplined myself to stick with it and push past it.  I was gentle and kind to myself on days that were less productive, and I kept reminding myself that this is a process, not a race.  And over time it worked, I felt a shift into this 'confident/can do' mindset and out of the 'pessimistic/judgmental' mindset. I started to truly believe in myself and my ability to bring this business to life.  I also worked to accept the fact that these thoughts of fear and doubt would always be hiding in the shadows, and that there would still be days when the sun doesn't shine.  I learned how to take care of myself on those days so that I wouldn't succumb to the strong hold of my ego telling me to give up. 

The best thing I did for myself was slow down

When I needed to take a nap or watch TV for an hour, I made peace with that and let myself relax.  I always thought that in order to be successful you had to spend every waking minute working towards your goal, forgoing any free or social time to get where you want to be.  I quickly realized this was never going to be a motto I could champion, it's just not me.  I need to breathe fresh air, I need to spend time on the couch with my boyfriend, I need to exercise and get lost in a book every now and then and guess what, THATS OK!  Before Gossip Girl I would judge myself for any time I spent outside of working on my business.  I would be so nasty to myself for spending an hour on the couch instead of marketing or researching, and it actually ended up being those thoughts of shame and disgust that spiraled me into my Gossip Girls binge in the first place.  Now, when I feel myself becoming drained or uninspired - I just roll with it.  I watch a show or go for a walk or read a book and I move on when the juices start to flow again.  

After a few weeks of being kind to myself and learning to manage my fear and doubt I finally started feeling super inspired and motivated to hit the ground running, and then it hit me;  I STILL had no clue how to build a business! I always expected the next steps to reveal themselves once I put my energy into it, but unfortunately that was not the case.  I was lost on cloud 9 with all of this inspiration and nothing to do with it.  That's when I realized I needed help.  It was time to surrender to the fact that I can't do this on my own.  And after some consideration it made perfect sense....

I'm a wellness professional seeking to help clients make the changes in their life that they haven't been able to on their own, so shouldn't I subscribe to the coaching philosophy myself and seek out professionals that know how to get me from point A to point B?

DUH.  I hired two coaches and got tons of amazing advice, helpful tools, tips and planning intel.  From this  work with my coaches I formalized a business plan, a timeline and a budget.  I've since developed my launch strategy and a specific list of actionable items that I need to accomplish in order to officially launch.  I've learned how to market myself in a way that feels authentic to me and I've already started to gain leads and new opportunities that will get the ball rolling for my practice. 

Whether you're building a business, changing careers or just trying something new, it will always breed feelings of fear and doubt.  The challenge isn't the act of doing something new, it's about how you manage fear and doubt when they arise.  Thoughts of self doubt are like TV commercials, you can listen to them if you want to become a hoarder surviving off of Bud Light and Doritos OR you can choose to fast forward through them and make your way back to the main attraction.  The key to creating something is not about how smart or motivated you are, it's about how you harness the power of your thoughts and bring it back to your intention, over and over again.  

So when you're ready to take that leap of faith and branch out into something new - follow these simple guidelines to avoid letting yourself get discouraged

1. When you're feeling overwhelmed or drowning in doubt, be kind to yourself and let yourself get lost in Gossip Girl (or some other guilty pleasure) if you need to.

2. When you're ready to move forward, commit to your vision until you believe it. 

3. When you believe in your vision, get yourself inspired. 

4. When you're inspired, seek out the help you need to put inspiration into action. 

5. When you fall off track, refer back to step #1.

I'll be honest, I expected to be much farther along in this process by now, but I wouldn't change any of it because the process itself has taught me so much about patience and self awareness that it's been well worth the wait.  Building a business isn't about money or success, it's an opportunity to reinvent yourself by accessing the power of universal intelligence and offering your unique gifts to the world!

While we're on the subject, I'm excited to announce the launch of my Group Cleanse!  Head over to my Detox Cleanse page for more info!  

 

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http://meganprovost.com/blog/2018/6/13/diaryofagossipgirl

Feeling Good on Purpose

IT HURTS TO BE BEAUTIFUL.  I used to live by that statement, subjecting myself to painful treatments, restrictive diets, exhausting workouts and spending stupid amounts of money on my hair, skin and nails all for the sake of 'looking good'.  Over the last few months I've spent a lot of time reflecting on what this whole idea of looking good really means and why we as a society are so focused on appearance? 

What is it about a fit bod, flowing locks and flawless skin that's so appealing?  

It's a cop out to blame it on genetics or chemistry.  I'm not doubting modern science here or the fact that chemistry exists and is a force to be reckoned with, all I'm saying is I think our culture has added a superficial layer to this primal attraction philosophy.  Our psyche has evolved to make split second decisions or judgements on people based solely on their outward appearance, and when these judgements don't line up with the character or personality of the person we're interacting with we make up excuses or exceptions that will allow our beliefs to remain intact.  We're essentially battling the power of attraction so that we can surround ourselves with "attractive" people.  The real kicker is, for must of us the only reason we do this is to feel accepted and search for some trivial sense of validation.  It's not your fault though, this is how we've all been programmed.  We're berated on a daily basis by air-brushed images of perfection, subtly dictating the hierarchy of  the human form.  So no wonder we want to be beautiful and surround ourselves with beautiful people, that's how you make it to the top!

It's all pretty ugly if you ask me...

My point here is that YOU HAVE A CHOICE.  You can continue listening to your pre-programmed mind that's forcing you to seek out these superficial connections to ensure your survival in the shallow end of the social pool OR you can start to peel back the layers of that programming and take a deep dive into what type of connections are satisfying for your soul instead of your ego. You might be surprised to find out that the most satisfying connection of them all is the one you have with yourself.  

For me this shift unfolded when I started my training to become a health coach.  I intentionally began focusing all of my energy inwards, I tackled my thorny relationship with food, started connecting with my body and evaluating my programming around self image and the drive to feel attractive.  This is when I realized just how much of my energy and attention was being wasted on vanity.  If I wasn't eating 'healthy' (i.e not eating) or working out I was punishing myself for falling off track.  I was attached this concept of constantly working towards a goal of perfection but had convinced myself that I was just trying to be healthy.  I never acknowledged the massive amount of pressure there is in our society to look good, I was just sitting with it and unknowingly letting it drive my decisions around health and wellness.

With this awareness I was able to start letting go of my programming and begin re-wiring my brain towards making decisions that revolved around FEELING GOOD INSTEAD OF LOOKING GOOD.  I've been working my whole life to look good because I thought it would make me feel good and it never panned out, I've been working 8 months on just the feeling good part and coincidentally, I look better.  Instead of pushing myself to do workouts I hate, I do things that feel good in my body and that I know will support me feeling good in the future.  Instead of eating foods out of deprivation in a constant struggle to maintain my weight, I eat foods that I know will give me energy and won't make me feel bloated or foggy brained and again, because I want to feel good.  Making healthy choices no longer feels like something I have to force, I know how clear minded and inspired I feel when I eat well and get good rest so that's what I naturally want to do now.  By taking all of the pressure off my decisions and listening to what my body wants I've freed up a ton of energy, I've dropped a few pounds, I've toned up, my skin is brighter and I like what I see when I look in the mirror. 

Imagine that, feeling good actually looks good on me. 

So start your own shift, experience what it's like to feel good by prioritizing yourself.  Let go of trying to be something for someone else and focus on being a more vibrant and energized version of yourself.  We don't get to decide how we look, but we damn well get to decide how we feel.

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http://meganprovost.com/blog/2018/5/9/dont-get-it-twisted

My Breakup with San Francisco

 

I've always complained about how growing up sucks, how I wish someone could make all these big scary life decisions for me because I'm never confident in what the right move is.   In the 5 years I lived in San Francisco that city GREW ME UP.  I moved to San Francisco as a shell of the person I am today, I was always letting everyone else in my life make those big decisions for me.  It wasn't even my decision to move to SF but it was my decision to leave, and I took with me the most valuable possession of all, myself.  I've tried to put into words everything that SF offered me, as a human, as a spirit, as a girl trying to figure herself out.  With that said, this is the story of my breakup with San Francisco, in all it's shame and glory...

I moved to SF with a husband and a dog.  Our wedding was a month before I moved across country, a month before that was the day I tried to end my engagement.  But the move to SF was "the key to our happiness", it was going to fix all of our problems...or so he said.  I won't bore you with the details but needless to say the move did not save my marriage, what it did do was put a magnifying glass on our relationship and made it devastatingly clear that it was not going to work.  That was the first gift SF gave me, the distance and freedom I needed to save myself from a miserable relationship.  It was ugly and uncomfortable but there was no other way.  This was the first time in my life I truly felt pain, in all of it's ugly forms; guilt, shame, sadness, fear, resentment, anger, you name it..I felt it. But I also felt something new, Independence.

When that relationship came to it's inevitable end, I moved into my first apartment that was mine and only mine, and thus began my love affair with San Francisco.  I made friends, I planned trips and outings, I even got a tattoo. I said yes to everything and absorbed every ounce of vibrancy the city had to offer.  I quickly realized how my prior relationship had sucked the joy out of my early twenties and SF gave it back to me and then some.  But partying and city life wasn't all that SF had to offer me.  There was so much more depth to be experienced in those 7 square miles, I couldn't even have imagined it at the time.

I was new to yoga when I moved to SF, and quickly picked up my practice when I arrived.  I was practicing regularly but it was still just a workout.  It felt good in my body but I wasn't quite open to it's more expansive offerings.  I found Urban Flow about a year after I moved to the city and was immediately hooked.  It became my church.  Rusty Wells and Steph Snyder created such a beautiful space for me to feel supported in my shit.  That was the first shift towards yoga becoming more than a physical practice.  I felt myself processing, I felt emotion rising up to the surface with a new sensation in my chest, a new ability to hold space for it.  But I couldn't  fully accept it, and I still wanted to party when I wasn't practicing.  

Fast forward another two years, because literally nothing changed in that period of time.  I found myself stuck on a meaningless hamster wheel of work, yoga, party, repeat.  I kept my days busy so I didn't have to sit with myself too often.  I made it through the day but the only thing I ever looked forward too was happy hour or maybe some exciting weekend plans.  I had no vision for my future and deep down that was terrifying.  Was this it?  Was this all I was going to be...a mediocre broker at a risk consulting firm, living in a fabulous city with a decent apartment and some booze buddies?  That truth was hard to swallow, so I swallowed wine and chocolate instead.  Through all of it though, I stuck with the yoga, there was something that always brought me back.  I had toyed with the idea of doing a teacher training on and off for awhile, it made me SUPER nervous to think about committing my sacred weekend time to a training for 6 full months.  Giving up my social life sounded so isolating and miserable.  Another 6 months or so went by and I finally took the leap of faith and signed up.  I didn't really know if I wanted to be a yoga teacher or not but I knew I needed a change.

I started teacher training and it was one of the most profound experiences of my life.  It completely shifted my perspective on my life, on the people in my life, on the city I lived in. I started to see all of the things San Francisco offered behind the curtains, aside from the beautiful landscapes and stimulating social life, I could suddenly feel the energetic intensity of the city.  This collective of people trying to become something, or create something or make change.  I felt more empowered and inspired than ever before.  I knew in that training that there was a path and a purpose for my existence and that my life's work would be to figure that out...

After training, I was stoked to finally have my weekends back and I quickly fell into my old ways.  Happy hours and jam packed weekends resumed, however I made an effort to keep up with my new friendships from teacher training which helped to keep me relatively grounded.  I knew I needed to make a change but I wasn't ready.

Fast forward another 18 months, because uprooting your life is an agonizingly slow process.  I kept up with yoga workshops and trainings and stayed as involved as I could in the yoga community but I was living in two different worlds.  I was starting to feel like an outsider at work.  I had no interest in what I was doing and it was becoming increasingly painful to fake it.  I woke up each day dreading work, and it started taking a toll on my physical and mental health.  

Then one day in February of 2016 my friend texted and asked if I wanted to audition at the studio she was teaching yoga at.  My hands started sweating as soon as I read it, I was terrified and had no interest in putting myself out there like that.  I said OK anyways because I wanted to listen to the universe for a change instead of my tragically confused mind.   I auditioned,  and a few days later received the utterly shocking news that the studio wanted to offer me a class.  ME!?!  

This was the moment that my life changed.  Could it really be this easy?  I started teaching and a few weeks later, the same studio offered me another class, completely unprovoked.  I started to think I must be doing something right!  As the weeks progressed, my confidence grew, I started to build up a lot of energy around my teaching and I started to develop a clear vision for my future.  It finally clicked, I can do this.  I can make this happen.  Fast forward a few months later to July 1 2017, the first day of my career as a full time yoga teacher.  I had finally done it, this was the career move  that was going to solve all of my problems so I could finally feel content in my life! 

....If you've read my previous blog entires,  you know by now that was NOT the case.   Instead of this career change being the shift that fixed everything, it ended up being the shift that exposed everything.  Becoming a full time yoga teacher was more like barfing up my life onto a yoga mat and being forced to painfully reabsorb it piece by piece.   Eventually I found meditation, reiki, and a great therapist and I got my sanity back but it was a challenging year (see my post on healing for all the gruesome details).  In the end, my process of breaking down and learning to heal was even more profound that my teacher training or changing careers.  I learned the power of my mind, I learned how to liberate myself from habits and patterns that my past experiences ingrained within me and I learned how to let go of attachment.  My teaching became healing, and I wanted to help everyone heal the way I had.  

And that brings us to my decision to break up with San Francisco.  After a few years of living in SF I never thought I was going to leave, I started to identify with myself as a life long Californian.  But every time I went home to visit or had friends and family visit me, there was always a piece of my heart that wanted to be back home.  As I found myself in the new career of vulnerability (and insolvency), toying with the idea of branching out into healing and health coaching, San Francisco started to feel like a struggle.  The stress of paying rent, unorthodox living situations (don't even get me started on my torturous 6 months in inner richmond),  overcrowding, long ass lines EVERYWHERE you go, combined with the financial commitments I would need to make in order to take the next step in my career...I felt stuck.  As much as San Francisco supported and inspired me, I came to realize it wasn't a sustainable relationship.  SF had helped me grow up but I eventually grew out of SF.  

Cities enter and exit our lives, just like people.  We leave them callously in search of new opportunities or new people, but I wanted to take the time to properly end my relationship with San Francisco.  My 5 years in SF felt like a roller coaster at times but I came out of it strong, vibrant and independent.  I will be forever thankful for the confidence, support and inspiration I found in San Francisco. 

I won't be leaving my heart but I'm leaving my love!  

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http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/9/30/change

The Self-Control Sandwich

Food is complicated as f*ck.  For me it's a combination of fun and frustration slathered in steamed temptation, stuffed in a sandwich of self control.  There's so many factors that go into the decisions we make regarding food; we have to choose if we want to follow a specific diet, decide when to eat, worry about portion control, balancing out our macros, monitor how fast we eat, pay attention to where our food is sourced and if we have any allergies or dietary restrictions to food, all while trying to stay within a certain budget.  Food is meant to nourish our bodies, to provide vital energy to our biological mechanisms. Food is by nature a survival instinct, it's meant to be intuitive, but our society has turned it into a glorified game of tug of war.  

If all of these factors aren't enough to overwhelm you, there's the added complexity of emotional eating that can throw a curve ball to your dietary decisions at any time.  If you've read any of my other blog posts, you know I have a weakness for cheese puffs, chocolate and most other foods that fall in the junk food category.  But what I've noticed is that I only crave these foods when I'm feeling stressed or emotionally exhausted.  I reach for these foods out of comfort, searching for that nourishing satisfaction to distract me from the common unpleasantness of being human.  I have more energy and feel better about myself when I don't eat these foods, however the cravings for junk food are always stronger than the rewards of a healthy diet.  I can't even begin to count how many times after I've eaten junk food I've said to myself "never again!" but I ALWAYS go back. It's completely mind boggling to me that we as humans have to make multiple decisions each day that have a direct impact on the health and well being of our bodies and minds.  So I'm going to write this blog post in an attempt to sort through my shit, maybe you can relate.  

Educating myself has been really helpful in my search for clarity around the food game.  After reading "The Kind Diet" by Alisha Silverstone (don't judge, she's not actually clueless) back in 2010, I gave up meat immediately.  If you've ever thought about giving up meat but haven't found the will power, her story is VERY compelling.  A few years later I brought fish back, because I needed protein and a little more freedom, but it's been almost 8 years of no meat and aside from a few dreams about cheese burgers and cravings for hot wings it hasn't been much of a struggle.  My achilles heel is eating a balanced diet.  I have a habit of over eating, and not consuming enough veggies.  Carbs are just easier, faster and cheaper.  Although I find carbs delicious and satisfying in the moment, they aren't sustainable. Studies show that consumption of processed foods and sugar are linked to depression, anxiety, cancer, weight gain, digestive issues...basically death.  Yet I still crave them, my body is addicted to carbs.  This is why I have to read about how bad they are, to remind myself why I (try to) make healthy decisions.  When I let myself be an uneducated eater, I make bad decisions.

In Michael Pollens book "In Defense of Food" he offers a few noteworthy guidelines for embarking on a healthy and sustainable life of consumption.  One of his suggestions that really resonated with me was 'don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize' or for some of us, your great-great grandmother...Either way, the idea is when walking the anxiety laden aisles of the super market, only purchasing items that would have been around when our great grandmother was doing the same thing.  In the era of our great grandmothers, food was simple; meat/fish/vegetables/grains/dairy.  During this time, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. were not nearly as prevalent as they are today.  While it may seem difficult to stick to a diet lacking modern conveniences, for me it almost feels like a connection to the past, a rebellion against all of the complete shit that our society tries to dump down our throats.  Also it's hell of a lot easier than some of the fad diets out there...I can still eat chocolate!

The other BIG issue for me is eating mindlessly, most of my daily meals are either on the run or at home by myself.  So I'm either scarfing down food before heading to the next class or sitting in front of the TV with no connection to how long I've been eating or how much I've consumed (queue cheese puff abomination), I'm sure many of you can relate...when we're not taking the time to actually enjoy the food we're ingesting we don't have the consciousness to know when we're satisfied and nourished.  It takes discipline and dedication to find balance.  This is still something I'm working on, but I have been able to make some changes that allow for better decision making: 

  1. I (try) to start my day with yoga.  My mysore practice has brought a lot of mindfulness to my daily life.  When I start my day with a strong sweaty practice, I feel accomplished and have a clear mind.  I have the ability to make better decisions because I've created this deeper connection between my mind and my body.
  2. I've implemented a routine.  My schedule isn't super conducive to routine, so it's not a daily routine, but I have established routine within each day.  I know what food I need for each day and when I need to buy it or prepare it.  Instead of trying to grocery shop for the entire week and overwhelm myself, I just go every few days.  I plan out what I need for a day or two instead of committing myself to an eating schedule for a full week.  It feels more manageable.  
  3. I eat dinner early.  Since I teach at night I got into the habit of coming home at 8:30 or 9pm and eating dinner super late.  If I haven't had anything to eat since lunch I would find myself on an eating rampage.  Once I start I can't stop.  So eating before class (sometimes as early at 4:30) really helped.  I'm not starving when I get home anymore and I can usually go to bed with a light snack or nothing at all.  I sleep better and I feel way better when I wake up in the morning.
  4. I talk to my therapist about my shit.  Literally talking about all of the crap that swirls around in my head all day has curbed my emotional eating dramatically.  I only binge on cheese puffs around once a month now instead of once a week (I'm human).  I have more mindfulness around what is a craving and what is hunger.   I'm able to sit with my emotional need to eat instead of immediately giving in to it.  I'm slowly working through this deep rooted defense mechanism.  Although it's a slow process, I've found compassion for myself when I do need to give in to the cravings and that is a new and welcome experience. 

I've learned that maintaining a nourishing and healthy diet requires mindfulness.  We need to make decisions based on the knowledge that food is fuel.  The food we eat literally provides the energy that produces the blood that oxygenates our body.   Do you want your blood to be made of cheese puffs??  I sure don't.

The hard truth is that food will be a struggle for the rest of my life.  I'm not going to kid myself into thinking I can get rid of my junk food cravings, they will always be there and my goal is not to overpower them, it's to find compassion for the root of my cravings, letting go of judgement and giving in when I need to, but remaining mindful all the while. 

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/6/7/food

How to Get Your Shit Together

I used to think everyone had their shit together but me.  I convinced myself I just wasn't born with the "has her shit together" gene.  Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a responsible person.  I pay my bills, I'm always on time and I never miss an appointment, but it used to feel like there was always something more I could be doing or something I could be doing better.  When I had free time and I chose to sleep, watch tv or scroll social media instead of doing something productive I would instantly regret it and resent myself for it.  Judging myself for not being motivated enough to meditate, or practice or plan for my future.  I used to feel like I always had to be working towards a goal or accomplishing something,.    I thought that when I transitioned careers into doing something I actually enjoyed that I would magically have all the energy and creativity to start working towards something big. I had envisioned this spiritual being that would be revealed as soon as I left my corporate job and instead, it was still me and me apparently wasn't good enough.  So I went into complete hibernation mode.  My free time was spent in bed or on the couch, reading and watching tv.  All the while reinforcing my inadequacy through mental torture.  

The truth is, we all feel like we could be doing more (right?).  This self-depricating behavior is the root of the issue.  It's counter productive and makes it impossible to have any desire to create or motivate.   Sometimes, we need to trust the mind when it says it needs to shut off.  It was plain and simple, I was overwhelmed, I didn't give my mind a chance to catch up with my hearts decision to uproot my career.  Instead of supporting my mind and being patient, I was harassing it, ridiculing it,  and every day weakening the fabric of my confused and fragile ego.  While we all want to be productive and successful, we don't fully understand that it takes patience and a practice of compassion to get there in a healthy, nourishing and sustainable way.  

Life can be gut wrenchingly confusing at times.  From my experience, confusion is our minds way of communicating with us that we're pushing too hard.  That we're attaching to outcomes, placing pressure on accomplishments and forcing something that isn't working.  

As I began to let go of the self-judgement and critical thoughts around my "laziness", I felt a new sense of support: for myself - from myself.  As I learned to listen to my inner wisdom, and rest when my mind needed it, my desire to rest began to arise less frequently.   Allowing myself to relax without judgement slowly became the catalyst for new energy and productivity.  My days began to fill up naturally with things that intuitively became the path for my future.   With the release of all the pressure I was enforcing on myself, my ego could rest, and my spirt could finally start to shine through.  It's pure magic when you can relax into your journey instead of forcing it.  

So do I have my shit together now? Absolutely not.  I've just done the work to accept the fact that I probably never will and that's just fine.  

 

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/3/16/how-does-she-do-it

Abusing the Cell(f)

So this is my first experiential blog post, it was inspired by a train of thought I had in my car the other day.  After seeing a guy straight up texting while driving a moving vehicle, I thought to myself, no one is in control of that car right now, it actually scared me.  Later that day I realized how much I do the same thing and all of the other areas of my life that my cell phone distracts me from.  I started thinking about all of the negative impacts that cell phones have on our lives and  I wondered what it would be like if all the cell phones just disappeared.  Since that is highly unlikely to ever happen, I decided I could at least give mine up for a week to bring more awareness to this "addiction" our society has created.

The night before my first day of what I'll call my 'digital detox' I was surprisingly anxious, almost afraid of how I was going to get through my week without a phone.  I began to think about how much I use my phone on a daily basis, not only for convenience and communication but to avoid boredom, to avoid being present.   I googled cell phone addiction and found a formal diagnosis... "If you're obsessively checking your phone and you feel anxious when you're not on the grid, you could be suffering from nomophobia. Nomophobia is a fancy term for “cell phone addiction".  YIKES, I'm addicted...

These were the parameters of my digital detox:

  1.  No texting, G-Chating, FB messaging or communication of any kind via words on a screen
  2.  I'll check voicemails and e-mails once or twice a day, and I'll make any phone calls related to scheduling or logistics necessary (and only while at home).
  3. Other than checking voicemails and email the phone will be on airplane mode the entire week.  
  4. Absolutely no social media on any type of device

And here's how my no phone week went:

Day 1:  Waking up, my first instinct is to check the weather, can't do that.  Getting in my car to drive to work I want to check google maps to see what the quickest route is, I have to choose myself.  Getting settled in to work, this is where I would usually sit down and start scrolling to kill some time, but I have no choice but to be productive instead, and it actually felt good!  About 20min later I felt super isolated, I craved some connection to the outside world, it passed though and the rest of my morning was uneventful.  Afterwards I had two appointments in unfamiliar areas of the city and I needed to go to the ATM, so before I left work I made sure to map out and write directions for everywhere I needed to go.  It was a new feeling, having to wing it in my car and figure out where I'm going without google maps directing my every move.  But I made it to all of my destinations with no real hiccups.  I realized I wasn't feeling inconvenienced without my phone at all.  When it was time for lunch I couldn't yelp the best place to grab food, so I just walked around until I saw something that looked good.  I bought my lunch and went to the park to eat it.  As soon as I sat down I had the instinct to grab for my phone to distract myself.  Instead I just sat there, and people watched, and enjoyed the weather.  San Francisco started to feel like a different city, I was able to observe and appreciate all of the nuances of the city without any distractions.  It brought me back to a time in my life before I had a smart phone, and it felt REALLY good. 

Day 2: I decided to go for a run and then realized I wouldn't be able to listen to music. It sounded awful but I did it anyway.  The run became meditative, the city providing it's own soundtrack to keep my awareness in check.  The birds chirping, cars whizzing by, the sound of the trees in the wind.  It all combines together to be this constant reminder of presence.  Not just presence in the moment, but the presence around me, the existence of all of this life surrounding me.   All of this life that my cell phone prevents me from seeing.

I decided to stop listening to the radio in my car as well.  I noticed my road rage (which I so shamefully suffer from, it's genetic) had almost vanished.  Driving in my car without my phone or the radio was so peaceful.  I didn't care if someone cut me off or was driving super slow.  I wasn't in a hurry anymore.  

Day 3: The thrill of peace wore off a bit.  Living and teaching most of my classes with no music, I was getting pretty sick of the sound of my own voice.  I started listening to the radio in my car again.  I still wasn't feeling inconvenienced by the lack of my phone though.  I guess I overestimated the usefulness of my phone.  

Day 4+5:  I was feeling very disconnected by this point.  I'd hardly seen or heard from my friends and family because catching up or making plans to hang out is quite challenging without a phone, but I was feeling good about my time alone.  I was watching less tv, I was reading more, spending more time outside, and I was meditating regularly.  I felt pretty neutral about not having my phone.  In fact, I was starting to feel like I didn't really even need it.

Day 6: OK, it's the weekend and I want my phone back.  I have no desire to make phone calls to my friends to plan out my weekend.  So I don't, I teach my morning classes and end up having a low key night.  It was enjoyable but I did feel like there was something else I could be doing that might be fun.  I didn't dwell on it for too long.

Day 7: I've become very in tune with my phone habits by now, noticing reactionary thoughts of  'I would take a picture here if I had a phone', or 'I'd be scrolling on social media if I had a phone right now'.   I went on a 10mile hike to Alamere falls.  There's no service here so not having a phone isn't much of a challenge, I am a little butt hurt that I can't take any pictures since it's a beautiful hike, but I get over it.  As we go home and chill after the hike, I start thinking about this being the last day of my no phone challenge.  I was shocked, by the end of the night, those same feelings of anxiety crept up.  Only this time I was anxious about getting my phone back.  I didn't want to go back to the constant interaction and connection to the outside world.  Giving up my phone had offered me an opportunity to connect to my surroundings instead of my social network and invited in space for comfort and relaxation where it didn't exist before.  I was dreading having my phone back.

The most profound realization I had throughout this process is that I don't actually have an addiction to my phone.  I never felt feelings of withdraw or a strong desire to cheat and go back to my phone.  What I've come to understand is that my relationship with my phone is abusive, not addictive.  I've read all the studies and feel the implications of being in front of a screen all day.  I know that I'm polluting my mind and setting unrealistic expectations for myself by constantly comparing myself to other people online.  I know that I use my phone as a distraction from being present in my life because sometimes that's just easier.  I know all of these things but I keep subjecting myself to it.  I keep going back.  This week has offered me the space I needed to bring full awareness to my unhealthy habits with my phone and the willpower required to implement change.  I can now appreciate the wonderful ability that my phone offers me to stay connected to friends and family, but I will no longer be subjected to it's abuse.  It's time to draw the line.  

Just like they say "you are what you eat", you are creating your mind with what you put in front of it.  Moving forward, I'm committing to limiting my phone use and creating a healthy environment for my mind to reside.  What will you do to take care of your mind?

 

 

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/4/16/cellphone-addiction

My Year of Healing

It all started last October, a few months in to my new life (sans corporate job) I started feeling completely drained and exhausted.  I didn't have energy to work out or cook or clean or even have fun.  All I wanted to do during my free time was sleep and watch TV.  It was super depressing.  I knew what I should be doing, what I wanted to be doing, but I just couldn't do it.  I had no energy.  I started feeling hopeless, that I would never have my energy back.  I let it go on for a few weeks thinking that maybe it was just a transitionary phase of this new lifestyle but after weeks of feeling exhausted I cracked and went on a wild google hunt for the answers to my problems.  There were so many ailments to choose from that my symptoms conveniently matched; adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalance, depression, thyroid issues, IBS, I even at one point convinced myself I had crones disease.  

Without wanting to fork over the cash to go to the doctor and have a rational and educated person oversee my health (who does that??), I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Starting with the less threatening conditions, I began treating myself.  To start, I tackled nutrition and hydration, the biggest factors for adrenal fatigue.  I thought maybe I'm not drinking enough water since I'm not in front of a desk anymore drinking water out of boredom all day anymore.  I added some more veggies to my diet as well (even though my diet wasn't super unhealthy to start with...except for cheese puffs and chocolate but I'm never giving those up). I saw some minor improvement but nothing major.  Next I focused on exercise.  I dug deep and found the motivation to start working out every day, and I started adding cardio in addition to my regular yoga routine.  When this didn't work I cut out all exercise, thinking that maybe what my body needed was rest to restore itself.  Nothing.  I still woke up exhausted and had zero energy or drive.

So I moved on to curing what I thought might be a hormonal imbalance.  I've always been interested in the mystery of hormones, and after having been on birth control on and off for almost 15 years I decided this was the root of all of my issues and it was time to come off for good.  I did zero research before coming off, I just stopped taking it.  BIG MISTAKE.  The 8 weeks following my withdrawal from artificial hormones was nothing short of torture.  If I thought the fatigue and lack of energy I already suffered from was bad, going off birth control took it to a whole new level.  I felt like I completely lost myself.  I went into a very dark place, for 2 weeks or so I felt depressed, sad, lonely, pretty much unconsolable.  Then depression turned into a rage I have never felt before.  I was a raging bitch for a solid 3 weeks.  EVERYTHING pissed me off.  My road rage was out of control, I was snapping at everyone (and by everyone I mainly mean my boyfriend, bless his heart) and just a miserable person to be around.  By week 5 I needed help.  I went to acupuncture which seemed to cool off my symptoms a bit, I had a massage and I started taking vitamins.  By week 8 I finally  started feeling like myself again, which I was seriously scared would never happen.  Huge relief.  But after all of my suffering through birth control detox, I was back to square one.  Tired and fatigued.  UGH!  

So at this point, I'm eating relatively healthy, drinking a bunch of water,  and my body is free of artificial hormones and had worked its way to a steady cycle. I had run out of options to treat myself.  Then I realized that throughout this entire healing process I had been focusing entirely on my physical symptoms.  When I finally spent time thinking about what may be going on internally I realized I had been feeling very unsettled emotionally.  Like there was this brick  of emotion that I'd swallowed at some point and never fully digested.  I've learned enough through my yogic philosophy training to know that this was a samskara, or part of my conditioning that I had yet to heal.  I had no clue what it was but there was something there.  So I deducted that it was time to start working inwards.  I committed to taking at least one Kundalini yoga class per week and I made an appointment with a therapist.  I hadn't been to therapy since high school, so I didn't really know what to expect but I was honestly really looking forward to talking to someone.  My first session was very healing, and I'm pretty sure my therapist said 5 words.  Just giving my feelings, my problems, my concerns a voice was liberating, incredibly LIBERATING.  I realized I'm a real person, with real problems, and even though my problems and suffering may not be as earth shattering as others, they still deserve my attention and compassion.  So after a few weeks of therapy, I was feeling lighter, more motivated to get out of the house, but I still hit a wall at a certain point in my day and was shutting down.  There was still something blocking me.  

I had been hearing a lot about Reiki more recently, and because the universe works in very calculated ways (in my opinion), I met a yoga teacher that also has his own Reiki practice (Greg Wieting you are amazing).  We chatted about Reiki a few times and I started feeling really inspired and excited about it.  So I made an appointment with him, and even though it's not cheap, I was committed to my year of healing at this point, so money shmoney.  I showed up for my Reiki session ready to heal.  HOLY SHIT IT WAS AMAZING.  Now that I had given my issues a voice through my therapy, I felt like an open book on the treatment bed.  I went from feeling moments of complete euphoria to deep sadness, to the point where I was sobbing on the table.  But I felt completely supported through the entire journey and I left the session feeling like I had just had a 3 hour massage.  I had a smile PLASTERED across my face for the rest of the day.  

The days following my Reiki session became what felt like a spiritual journey.  My samskaras began to reveal themselves.  Feelings of instability and lack of trust were very present for me, I've felt these emotions before but had never associated them with physical manifestations, it was different this time.  I was aware of these feelings and instead of letting them fester in my body hoping they would dissolve on their own, I was motivated to find the tools to heal them.  I researched buddhist teachings on trust and leaning in to instability.  I was able to use these teachings throughout my day to remind myself that the only thing that matters is this moment, and in this moment everything is perfect.  I was able to realize that I had innate trust in myself, and I didn't need to trust anything other than that.  I woke up one morning about a week later and, I kid you not, I was cured.  I was more awake than I'd felt in months.  My energy stayed consistent throughout the day and into the night.  I was able to go out with friends and have fun, like real honest exciting fun, and I realized I hadn't had fun in months.  It was wonderful.  

It's been three weeks since the morning I woke up.  I'm still awake, and while every day hasn't been perfect, I feel alive.  I'm motivated and inspired.  I know now that healing is not about finding a quick fix, it's about doing this work everyday.  Staying connected inwards to keep the mindfulness train running smoothly.  It's about caring for ourselves holistically, so that we don't get knocked so far off track that we have to start from scratch.  This will continue to be my year of healing, I'm going to stick with the therapy and Reiki sessions, I even signed up for a Reiki training!  I'm going to keep nourishing my body with healthy food and lots of water.  I'm going to be much more mindful of supporting my entire system, both physically and mentally.   

My year of healing has showed me how powerful the mind/body connection is, and also how delicate this connection can be.  If we aren't allowing ourselves to feel, process and digest our suffering and trauma, we're jeopardizing the foundation of our existence.   So lean in to your suffering, use your practice, your breath and the endless resources available to you to prioritize your healing.  You may not realize it yet, but we all need to create space for healing.

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/3/23/the-year-of-healing

Break the mold

The world we live in creates some thick skin.  From birth we're bombarded with advertisements, messaging and propaganda telling us what we should wear, how we should eat, where we should hang out, what we should look like, and how much money it's going to cost to make sure we can put all the pieces in place and make a reasonable attempt at 'fitting in'.  All of this pressure to fit in to our society makes it nearly impossible to maintain any connection with our spirit and deeper intention.  Our actions are motivated by society instead of intuition and creativity.   Our natural instinct to all of this pressure from society is to build walls.  We shield ourselves from our truth, to make sure the outside world only see's what we're ready to share.  We lose the ability to think for ourselves, and we become terrified of breaking the mold that society has so forcefully crafted for us.   I've been on this planet for 32 years and let me tell you, I built some very sturdy walls in that time.  It was my yoga practice that first introduced me to these walls I had built, and then offered me the tools to start tearing them down.

Before I found yoga I was always paranoid about how I was being perceived by peers and even strangers, I wasn't able to show up in the world with any sense of identity or authenticity.  Other peoples opinions of me were more important than my own opinion of myself.  My confidence was as at an all time low.   I knew I needed a change, I knew I needed to learn how to love myself, and that if I was able to do that it would liberate me from the handcuffs of society.  I still remember my first yoga class.  The teachers hands on me offering gentle support and adjustments, the way my body felt (awkward and stiff), and what I remember most is the rush of quiet content that filled me up in savasana.  It was a peace I had not felt in a long time.  Thats what kept me coming back.  

The most profound shift from my practice started with a deep sense of body awareness.  The more awareness I brought to how my body functioned and allowed me to flow through my practice with ease, the more appreciation I found for it.   I was able to start relating to my body as a spiritual vessel instead of a fleshy meat suit.  As I began to appreciate my body I realized how much shame I had held through my adolescence and early adulthood years.   I treated my body like a burden instead of a gift.   I put so much pressure on myself to be thin, fit and sexy.  I still remember the first time I felt shamed about my body, I was 9 years old and a boy in my class told me I shouldn't wear the pants I had on because they made my thighs look big.  I stared in the mirror all night, threw out the pants and have been giving my thighs the third degree ever since.  I grew to despise my body, turning against it, abusing it and eventually completely abandoning it.   My practice cracked open that seal of shame, it revealed strength through the shame.  It transformed the awkward and sloppy image I projected on myself into grace and lightness.  I wish I could say that I don't hold on to any of that shame anymore but that would be a lie.  What I can say is that I'm now very much aware of it.  When shame arises, I have the tools to rationalize it and meet it with compassion, instead of believing and identifying with the shame.   

As I found this new connection and appreciation for my body, I started to find residency within my body.  I felt myself sinking in.  Getting comfortable in my skin.  The more comfortable I got, the more confidence I grew.  I felt more outgoing, and less worried about what other people thought.  As I gained this new sense of confidence in myself, I started testing the water and putting myself out there in ways that I hadn't before.  I slowly learned the beauty of vulnerability.  The yoga community was a strong and supportive force through this transformative time.  In the beginning I remember walking in to class feeling judged and inadequate, once I broke of out my shell and spoke to my neighbors in class, I realized we're all here for the same reason.  We want to grow, to learn, and to support each other.  As my network of yogi friends grew, I became unstoppable.   

Turning 30 was the year of giving zero fucks and it felt incredibly liberating.  I had the courage to end a super shitty relationship that had been completely draining me.  I learned how to not hate being single.  I immersed myself in a 200 hour yoga teacher training program, connecting and supporting with a group of  amazing individuals week in and week out.  I soaked up all of the information like a dry sponge, I couldn't get enough.  I had found my passion.  I had arrived.  Graduating from teacher training literally made me feel like a different person.  It took sacrifice, dedication, time and a lot of effort to get through the program.  I now proved to myself that I was capable of putting my mind to something, following through and getting it done.  I've never exposed myself so deeply and felt so supported in doing so as I did in that training.  After graduation I was fully equipped to start the demolition process in order to rebuild a life for myself.  I took my time and slaved away for 2 more years  at my corporate job to save up money, but I kept the fire going.  I kept practicing and connecting.  Eventually, when I had all my ducks in a row, I broke the mold.  I quit that soul sucking job and created the life I want.  Yoga turned a life that felt like a prison sentence set by the society I lived in, to an open book.  

It's time to start re-writing your future.  It may not be the same path as mine but the journey is all the same.  It's about connection, with yourself and your community.  The universe will take care of the rest.  

SO MUCH LOVE!!

 

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/3/16/all-of-my-secrets-revealed

The Journey Within

Choosing the path of mindfulness and meditation has opened my mind to a world that I seriously had no idea existed.   I've opened the door to this new way of experiencing the world, and don't get me wrong, it has brought so many wonderful improvements in my life, but it's also forced me to dive into some dark places.  

I spent many years avoiding pain.  Creating excuses for myself and others, unwilling to confront the real issues at hand.  My practice of meditation has exposed these habits, to a point where I can't turn back.  Meditation creates spaciousness in the mind that has allowed me to sit with my suffering, instead of wanting to run away from it.  I'm now fully aware of this knee-jerk reaction I have when suffering presents itself,  pointing blame or victimizing myself in order to deflect from the root of the issue.  My meditation has given me the ability to change that reaction.  It's created room in my mind for me to observe these thoughts, and instead of the instant reaction of avoidance, I have the ability to just sit with it.  Bringing awareness to my suffering has been a game changer in my life.  

As I discover this place of deep introspection within me,  the thought of understanding someone else on this level seems impossible.  My whole life I've craved these deep emotional connections with other people (I'm a scorpio, duh), and that desire has never been completely satisfied, this has been the root of a lot of my suffering.  Living an open and honest life and being met with guarded or closed minds creates a very lonely world.  I know now that what I needed all along was this connection within.  I've finally found the freedom to live my truth.  No one else can offer me the pure joy of being present in each moment, of connecting fully to the experience of being human, of learning to embrace the beauty of happiness and the darkness of sadness with equanimity.   

This journey within has taught me that I need to let go of my paralyzing search for connection with others.  My external relationships may bring me passing joy, but they do not define me.  I now have the strength of mind to stand confidently in my life and create my own definition of me.  

Meditation is a journey through the mind, and on that journey we find ourselves.  

 

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http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/2/21/the-journey-within

The Unworthy Yogi

I've noticed over the last few months that I can be super hard on myself sometimes.  When things don't go as well as planned, when I procrastinate or when I eat an entire 5 serving bag of cheese puffs in one sitting, I end up persecuting myself for it. I am my harshest critic and my worst enemy.  What I'm beginning to realize is that we all have days like this, days that make us feel inadequate and completely hopeless that we will ever be able to accomplish our goals, but none of us want to acknowledge it.  In her book "Presence", Amy Cuddy writes about another variation of unworthiness that's known as 'Impostor Syndrome' wherein successful people are plagued with the idea that they don't deserve their success. that they didn't earn it and that it all came to them based on luck, good timing or deception.  So even if you've been successful and achieved everything you set out to do, you may STILL struggle to feel worthy of it.  Unworthiness is universal.    

My first reaction to feelings of unworthiness is to search for perfection.  Tirelessly brainstorming ways to improve and to avoid ever messing up again.  I want to fix myself, so that my flaws won't be exposed.  So that I can correct whatever it is that's wrong with me.  My desire to fix my flaws manifests itself into anxiety, worry and concern that my imperfection will never be cured.  I put myself in this prison of perfection.  I've finally begun to discover ways to break this vicious cycle.  I've learned to accept these feelings of unworthiness for what they are, I'm human and I'm not perfect and from time to time I'm going to feel worthless, and that's OK.  Once I can come to terms with my thoughts, they begin to lose their control over me.  Instead of reacting to them and trying to fix everything, I can just experience them.  

The last thing any of us want to do is to let ourselves feel unworthy, or like a failure.  Our instinct is to avoid these feelings at all costs.  We distract ourselves, we numb, we run.   Unfortunately friends, all of this avoidance is only making the problem worse.  Those feelings are still going to be there when you resurface from whatever it is that you do to distract yourself, and the more we avoid, the stronger they will be.  It's like the elephant in the room, except the room is your mind.  You have to approach the elephant.  You have to sit with it.  Sit with the unpleasantness of being inadequate.  Let yourself feel disappointed and sad and everything that comes with this sense of unworthiness.  Mourn the fact that you are not and will never be perfect.  When you sit with it you'll begin to feel human.  You'll realize that you don't need to be perfect, in fact sometimes our imperfections give us character, differentiate and define us.  We need to learn to embrace our unworthiness with compassion and understanding.   This emotion, just like happiness or sadness is part of the human experience.  Let yourself be human.  

 

 

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/2/9/the-unworthy-yogi

Choosing Meaning over Money

So I recently watched the Netflix documentary called "Minimalism" and it really got me thinking.  Minimalism isn't just about de-cluttering our physical space, it's about de-cluttering our lives.  So many of us hold intense attachments to material things, things that we already have and things that we want.  In order to acquire things that we want, we must work.  When you think about it, if you lived a purely minimalist life, with only the bare minimum of possessions needed, in a small (relatively) inexpensive home and with a low carbon footprint, how much money would you actually need to survive?  I can tell you from my experience, for most of us it's WAY less than we're actually making.  And yeah, it probably sounds terrifying to think about making the shift to a minimalist lifestyle, I completely agree.  Most of us identify with our belongings, we create our own styles through the things we wear and the things we acquire within our homes.  Why would I give up everything I know, all of the luxuries I work so hard to afford for myself?

Minimalism is the first step towards choosing meaning over money.  Not only does it free us from this attachment to material things, it also frees up our time.  If we need less, we can work less.  Studies show that once our basic needs are met (food, shelter, safety) any additional increase in income beyond making ends meet has ZERO correlation to increased happiness, so as the old adage goes, money can't buy you love...or happiness.  So spend some time thinking about how you could downsize your life and create a life for yourself that allows you to spend more time doing things that bring meaning to your life, instead of more stuff.  If you're unsure of what it is that brings meaning to your life, just take a few breaths and think about the last time that you felt completely enamored with the activity you were taking part in.  There are so many things that can offer us a sense of meaning in life, yoga, singing, reading, cooking, dancing, meditating, fishing, surfing, camping, running, hiking, writing, painting, spending time with loved ones etc...  So what is it for you that allows you to find your flow.  Where nothing can distract you from the present moment.  Where you lose all sense of worry or concern and are fully aware of yourself.  When you discover what that activity is for you, do more of it.  Slowly, as you begin to shift how you spend your time, you just may notice that all of those material things you once thought made you happy are much less important.  

Choosing meaning over money has been a powerful shift in my life the last few months.  When I quit my long term corporate job to teach yoga full time I was so energized and inspired.  But when day 1 of being a full time yoga teacher arrived, and I realized those perfectly proportioned paychecks weren't going to be hitting my checking account twice a month anymore, I almost instantly went in to panic mode.  "Holy crap, what did I do?!  I have no stable  source of income, no security.  I can't do anything or buy anything, I'm trapped!"  So yeah, it's normal to freak out about making less money, we all crave stability and financial security, it's in our nature.  I've slowly learned that my paycheck was not making me happy, in fact my paycheck was trapping me into a life that I didn't want.  My freak out was simply a knee jerk reaction to change.  Now that I can reflect on this progression in my own life, I realize that it's all about letting go of attachments.  Attachments to material things, to social status, to people, to ego.  We have to live for ourselves and nothing else.  We must seek out and honor our true nature.  The last few months have proved to me that finding true meaning in life and following it with everything you have is the only way to be content.  It's our duty to find meaning in life, otherwise what are we doing here?

So at the end of the day, choosing meaning over money isn't about being courageous or brave it's about letting go.  One day at a time.  What can you let go of today?

 

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/2/2/choosing-meaning-over-money

I'm starting a blog!

Hello my wonderful Yogis!  So here it is, I'm starting a blog.  I've been wanting to write a blog for awhile now but something was holding me back.  I've been worried that if I start a blog no one will read it.  That's fear, butting it's way into my brain and trying to prevent me from doing anything that might lead to vulnerability or failure.  Well screw that.  I don't need to give a crap about how people will respond to my thoughts and ideas.  I have things I want to say so that's exactly what I'm going to do.  I want you to know that I'm not writing this blog for likes, popularity or notoriety.  I've somehow been blessed with the courage to open up and pour my vulnerable little heart out on to a page and the only reason I'm doing it is because I want to inspire YOU to do the same.  If I can do it, anyone can.  

Here goes nothing.  I think I'll start with FEAR...

I'm not talking about scary movies here, we're not about to cuddle up with some popcorn and increase our heart rates for 90 minutes for no apparent reason. What I want to talk about is that deep dark hidden fear that we all have within us. The fear that we can't even bring ourselves to talk about because that might make it feel more real. You know what I mean, we all have it. So what are the things that you fear most? 

I worked in corporate america for over 8 years, plugging away day in and day out, selling my soul to the devil that is corporate insurance brokerage. I would day dream everyday about a different life, a new career that would give me the nourishment and connection to my community that I so desperately longed for. But for 8 years I convinced myself that money and stability were king. Only a complete moron would leave a solid, secure, six figure paying job to pursue their "passion", right? Well, I eventually became that moron, and I am now the happiest moron around. It takes a lot to face our fears. Our society teaches us to go through life "numbing" ourselves from our fears and anxieties. We fall into these endless cycles of working, drinking, eating, watching tv and endless other unhealthy habits that distract us from the present moment and prevent us from living up to our full potential. Obviously this shift from a lifestyle of numbing and avoidance is not going to be an over night transformation, it took me over three years from the day I decided I wanted to become a yoga teacher to actual find the courage and energy to do it, so don't be hard on yourself if you feel overwhelmed or hopeless, I'm telling you right now, there is hope! 

It all begins with mindfulness. 

The first step towards facing our fears is bringing awareness to them. This will probably feel like walking into a black hole at first, unpleasant and unfamiliar, but you can do it. Just taking a few minutes a day to sit down and breath, especially at times when you might be feeling scared or anxious, will eventually allow you to sit with your fears. We don't need to do anything else but sit with them, and breath. Slowly you'll begin to familiarize yourself with your fear, you can give it a name "failure", "in-security", "instability", "uncertainty". Now you know, this is what I fear, this is what's holding me back from pursuing my full potential.  The turning point for me in my transition to becoming a yoga teacher was time.  After years of plugging away at a job that did not serve me, I began to resent myself for the fact that I hadn't had the courage or willpower to try something new.  It got to a point where I felt like I was holding my breath for 8 hours a day, I hated my job so much that I couldn't be present while I was working, I couldn't be me.  I was living so inauthentically to my true nature that it began to impact my physical and emotional state.  That's when I was able to bring awareness to it.  When I would think about leaving my corporate job to pursue a career teaching yoga I was terrified of giving up the lifestyle that my corporate job afforded me, the uncertainty of what my life would look like as a yoga teacher, would people like me? will I be able to make ends meet?  will I be a good yoga teacher?  Jack Kornfield says that "Fear is the membrane between what we know and what we don't know".  I was scared of the unknown.  It was when I realized exactly what was holding me back, fear of the unknown, that my fear began to soften.  

Separating ourselves from our fear is the key to freedom

So without even realizing it, by bringing awareness to your fears, you've now separated your mind from your fears. Once we can acknowledge something with present moment awareness, we can begin to separate ourselves from our fear. You're no longer identifying with your fear if you have the ability to observe it and give it a name. You've now been able to take a step outside of the mind and become the observer of your mind. We can begin to communicate with our fear as it arises "hello fear, I know you and you are temporary and therefore you have no power over me", after a few breaths of this recognition, your fear will begin to soften. This is the work, we must continue to observe and bring awareness to our fear. Eventually, fear becomes neutralized by the mind. We accept it's presence in the mind with the same reaction as we would joy or happiness, and this is when we can take action. 

Become the fear warrior

Let this new found awareness of your fear empower you to overcome it. You are a warrior and fear is your battle ground. This will be a long and bloody battle but you'll have many victories along the way that will motivate you to keep marching on.  Putting the energy out into the universe that I was ready to stand up to fear was the first step in my transition.  I decided one day that this was not my life, and I was ready to seek a deeper existence.  Within a few days of having this energy circulating within me, my friend asked if I wanted to audition to teach a class at the studio she worked at, I was terrified but I said yes.  This audition was the first time I was putting myself out there, it was short and sweet and they offered me a class.  Just like that!  So I started teaching a public yoga class, I was so nervous and freaked out every week I had to go up there, but I slowly became more comfortable and students began giving me quality feedback. After a few weeks, I felt it inside me.  I can do this.  I can make this work, I can quit my job.  After a few weeks of getting my finances in order and tying up lose ends at work, I went in to work on a typical Friday morning.  With sweaty palms and excited electricity coursing through my veins, I did it.  I quit my job.  I took a leap of faith into the unknown.  The day I walked out of that office for the last time, was unbelievably liberating.  I never thought that I could be someone that does something like this.  I always heard stories about people that made these drastic career changes and envied them, thinking it would never be me.  I've been teaching full time now for almost a year and it has been the most satisfying year of my life.  I wake up in the morning and know that I am choosing to do what I do because it serves me, I'm not doing it to fit in to the norms of society or to make a paycheck.  I'm doing it for me, and I'm doing it for you.  Facing our fears is messy, it's complicated, it's a very personal and exposing experience. It's so easy to want to fall back into our own patterns of safety and numbing, but do you want to be that rat on a wheel for the rest of your days, living your life on autopilot, shut off from truly connecting to your true nature? Or do you want to break through all of this nonsense and live a life that fills you up, that challenges you, and that connects you to the coolest, most inspiring and soul satisfying experience, Authenticity. That's what it's all about guys.  

Face your fears, live the life your were meant to and be authentic doing it.

Love you tons

Meg

http://meganprovost.com/blog/2017/1/26/im-starting-a-blog