The Desire Map

Last Saturday, my friend Ciara asked if I would like to go to a workshop with her. It was something called The Desire Map. I like a good workshop, so I said sure, why not!

Best reason to get dressed in 2016 so far. It was an introductory class, because the desire map is a program that takes a little while, but I am definitely hooked.

Leading this three-hour-workshop-that-turned-into-four, was Kate. You know those people who’s light shines bright, making everything around them glow and sparkle? Well, that’s Kate. Her love and passion for this process were present in each step she guided us through.

So many of the words she spoke have been swirling around my head for the past few days. I feel inspired. 


She also led us through a meditation. To be honest, meditation is not my favourite thing. I’ve never been invested enough to practice, so I’m not very good at it. This meditation, however, was set to music, and it was beautiful. When I picked up my journal to write after it was done, I realized I was smiling. I was happy. Because of meditation! All I had felt before was grumpiness.

I’d heard of Danielle Laporte before, because a few years ago, I stumbled onto this quote and I thought Can it really be that simple?


Turns out, she created The Desire Map. It’s about generating your core desired feelings, and pretty much finding out what makes you feel good. Sounds simple, right?

I feel excited about this. This is something I want more of. The excitment, the happiness, the joy.

Thank you Kate!

How to do yoga in the jungle

I just spent a blissful week in Costa Rica doing yoga. I love yoga so, so much! Hot yoga is my favourite, so I wasn’t worried about doing yoga somewhere deliciously hot. I learned quite a few things about myself and my practice when I was there. I also learned some valuable lessons about doing yoga in the jungle and at the beach.

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1. It is not your jungle

You know who was there first? The ants! They were there to stay, but thankfully, ants don’t bother me at all. These weren’t some kind of crazy, biting ants, just yellowish, let me eat your picnic, ants. I also saw the biggest grasshopper ever, in the world. There was a praying mantis who caught my attention for so long, I was no longer paying attention to class.

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2. I am not a morning yoga person

I woke up every day as the sun came up and got up around 6:30. This was not difficult for me, it was actually enjoyable, which was a surprise. Meditation started at 7:15, and lasted 15 minutes. I enjoyed this as well. Not so surprised here. Yoga was from 7:30 to 9am. This was very difficult for me. Big surprise!

Although I love practicing, morning is not a good time for me. I didn’t feel like pushing myself at all and just kind of moved through the poses. I had very little energy and no desire to find any. I was also hungry, which didn’t help the situation. About halfway through class, I would find some energy and start to enjoy myself a little more.


3. Monkeys trump yoga

During class one afternoon, someone saw a monkey. Well, it didn’t take long before we all got up off our mats and ran for the windows to see it! As an elementary school teacher, I’m usually on the other end of something like this, trying to teach when everyone wants to make sure they don’t miss what’s going on outside. It was cute, and it was swinging from a branch, acting like a monkey. I think he knew we were watching.


4. Yoga on the beach is not really going to happen

About ten of us from the retreat went into Tamarindo for the day, with very good intentions of practicing yoga together on the beach at the end of the day. You know where we ended up? In a restaurant, eating and drinking! I have lots of pictures of me doing yoga poses on the beach, but I never did an actual practice. It was usually too hot. Also, when I’m at the beach, there so many sights, sounds and smells, there’s no way I’m staying present. What if I miss something, like a shark or a pelican?


5. Yin wins

When I first started this blog, I was doing a lot of power yoga. After my week in paradise, I can confirm what I’ve been feeling for a while: I’m not much of a power person anymore. I like yin, with it’s melt-into-the-floor poses and passive postures. I’m not saying I’ll never do power yoga again, and I still love flow, but the afternoon classes, which were less power, more yin, were like candy to me. Maybe it was the slow pace of Costa Rica that got me all yin-like, or the fact that I was running around all day learning how to surf and stand up paddleboard with the crocodiles, leaving me with little energy for yoga at the end of the day. Yin was a welcome relaxation.

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The yoga studio at Peace Retreat had an open feel to it, letting in air, light, and the sounds of the jungle. I felt very lucky to be able to practice in such a beautiful setting. I can’t wait to go back and practice there again!

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The longest minute in the world

For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to meditate in the morning. One minute. That’s all I expect of myself, yet it remains so difficult! Up until a few days ago, I was just sitting for what I thought was a minute. I didn’t have a watch or a timer. This wasn’t working out so well, because I spent the whole time asking myself “Has it been one minute yet?”

So I borrowed a timer from work and set it for one minute. It makes a little beeping sound when the minute is up. I set it, sat down on my pillow, closed my eyes and tried to focus on my breathing.

Inhale. Exhale. Don’t let your mind wander. It must be close to a minute now. Ok, now. Something must be wrong with the timer. It’s fine, it was working before. This can’t be one minute. I’m going crazy.

This was very much like the inner dialogue I had on the first day. And every day after that. After what felt like 5 minutes, I opened my eyes. Turns out, the “beeping” part was not turned on. So it might actually have been 5 minutes!

I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for me to just sit without waiting for it to be over.  (Except for the 5-minute morning. I get why that one didn’t work.) I told myself I would do this for 40 days, so I will. Ichih, my yoga teacher, said to ask myself why I was doing this. For example: I eat because I am hungry. I meditate because… Humm. I’m not sure. Maybe that’s why it’s not working.

See how peaceful I look? Yeah, looks can be deceiving. I really don’t feel peaceful at all!

Does anyone have any tips? I’ve tried counting as I breathe in and out. I’ve tried breathing in from one nostril at a time. I’ve tried different positions. I’ve tried stretching first. Maybe music? Is that distracting? Maybe I just need to chill out, that might help!

Moving meditation

It’s almost the summer solstice. Isn’t that crazy? I feel like it was just the beginning of spring, and now, it’s summer! To celebrate the changing of the seasons, Ichih and Megan, two of the teachers at my favourite studio, decided to host a special class of 108 sun salutations. I’ve done this once before, for spring, and it’s not easy!

One of the really great things about this event was that it was a karma yoga class, meaning that the money was going to a good cause. Megan is raising money for the Global Seva Challenge through the organization Off the Mat and into the World. When we were struggling to get through our sun salutations, she would remind us with a smile “Breathe for a good cause! Upward dog for a good cause! Downward dog for a good cause!” It made me laugh and it motivated me to keep going.

For the first 20 sun salutations, I was focused and worked on getting every pose right. I tried to get my back as flat as I could, didn’t wimp out on my chaturanga poses and opened my heart in upward dog. When we swan dived down, Megan would say “Pull heaven to earth”. I really liked the visual I got from that.

I’m looking in the mirror here, and yes, my back is quite flat!

Sun salutations 20 to 40 were so-so. The room wasn’t heated, but there was a class just before, so it was still pretty hot in there. My chaturangas were now being done on my knees and my upward dogs weren’t quite so high. It was great to have two teachers because I got twice the attention. I like having my postures adjusted. Ichih kind of guided my shoulders during one upward dog, and it made a huge difference.

I don’t remember much about salutations 40 to 60. Not that I blacked out or anything, but I was in the “moving meditation zone”. I was so focused on my breathing and the flow of the postures that I didn’t think too much. This rarely happens to me, so I’m pretty happy about it!

The last 28 sun salutations started off a little rough for me. I was tired and I started dragging my feet and doing the poses kind of halfway. Then I realized it would be a lot harder that way and I might as well suck it up. I had made it that far, there was no wimping out now. There was a great energy in the room. There was music, laughter and encouragement, all for a good cause!

At the very end, Megan said that someone out there mattered because of the work we had done. Yoga is such a personnal practice, I like the fact that my practice, my sweat, my sore arms, meant that someone’s life might be changed for the better. I could have just donated to the cause, but I wouldn’t have had the same personnal satisfaction.

After class, there was tea and little chocolate-peanut butter balls. Bliss!

On a side note, when I walked into the changing room before class, a girl said “Hey, you’re the bliss girl! I read your blog.” That just made my day! I felt like a celebrity.

On another side note, I am thrilled that yesterday’s attemps at an inversion have left not one, but two bruises on my shin! Why am I so happy to have bruises, you ask? Well, it’s kind of like outward proof of the work I do on the inside. It’s bad-ass.

My meditation minute

Meditation is a scary word. I don’t know how to meditate. I’ve been hearing the word for years, but it’s always been something that other people do, not me. From what I understand, it’s the practice of quieting your mind. I’m not sure I understand how to do that. So, you see, meditation is not for me.

Or so I thought.

Last week, when I went to Ichih’s yin yoga class, she talked about how to start a meditation practice. She said to set up a mat, because if it’s there, you’ll do it, and if it’s in the closet, you won’t. Then every morning, just sit. Start with one minute, then add one minute every day. It takes 40 days to form a habit, so it’s a kind of 40 day challenge. I do love a good challenge!

I decided this was something I could try, because it didn’t seem too intimidating or impossible. I have a spare bedroom, so I thought I would set up my extra mat in there. However, the room looked like this.

Thankfully, I had the day off yesterday, so I moved some stuff around, got rid of lots of things I don’t need, including the computer desk, and ended up with this.

I was pretty excited and even tried out my new space with some of my favourite poses.

Last night, before I went to bed, I got all my stuff ready for morning, so I wouldn’t feel rushed. It’s only a minute, but it’s a mind over matter kind of thing. I thought I’ve got this.

I am not a morning person. I got up this morning and stumbled to my mat. I was rumpled, grouchy and sleepy. My meditation went like this.

I want to sleep! Suck it up, it’s only a minute. I’m tired. I can’t sit up straight. I feel all slouchy. Maybe I should wear my purple dress. No, my pink t-shirt. Has it been one minute yet? My back hurts. Ok, concentrate. On what? My foot’s asleep. Do I have a meeting today? Breathe in, breathe out. Ok, that’s it. I’m done.

It was so hard! I’m not even sure I did one whole minute. I really did not expect it to be that difficult. But, I did it. I got up, and I sat. This meditation stuff is not for sissies. I think it’s ok that it wasn’t easy. If it was, the rewards wouldn’t be as great. I didn’t feel any different today, but I’m not expecting magic, either.

I’m going to try doing this every day. I’m not sure I’m ready to add one minute a day, however. I think I’ll focus my energy on having one really good minute every morning, before I try to make it longer. I don’t think it will work if I try to do too much at once. It will be impossible, then I’ll give up all together.

Do you have a meditation practice? Any tips for a meditation minute that will leave me feeling enlightened and energized?