Tap into your Deepest Desires

I believe in the universality of human beings desire to feel enjoyment, gratitude and a sense of deeper meaning in their lives. I also acknowledge we do not and cannot feel good all the time. There are ups and downs, twists and turns, challenges large and small for each of us to navigate, learn from, survive and hopefully to thrive. With so many tools, strategies and resources all in the name of self help, it can become overwhelming to locate let alone put into practice tools that benefit you in guiding your life in positive directions. After much exploration, I’d like to share one of my top resources. 

The tool is called The Desire Map, which is brought to us by the thought-leader, Danielle LaPorte. LaPorte poses the following question:

What will you do the feel the way you want to feel? 

She challenges her readers to take ownership and agency in their lives in an effort to align their actions taken with how they most want to feel. The work of the Desire Map has many tools, resources and questions designed to prompt you to discover and refine what she calls your core desired feelings. These are the feelings that you truly desire and they include but are not limited to: abundant, clear, curious, courageous, empowered, free, focused, grateful and loved.
 
Pause a moment and consider how is it that you most want to feel? What do those feelings provide you?  If it’s not right at the surface, take a few more moments to dig deeper into what is true for you. 

Perhaps you’d like to feel more of a sense of connection to yourself, your family, communities and the natural world? Or have more clarity on your career path and the choices you make? The Desire Map includes exercises in taking inventory on the different areas of our lives including:
 
    •    Relationships & Society
    •    Body & Wellness
    •    Essence & Spirituality
    •    Creativity & Learning and
    •    Livelihood & Lifestyle

You’ll be guided to describe what is working in each of these areas, what needs are being met in addition to how you want to feel and how you can implement action steps that reinforce what you desire. You can take more responsibility over your actions and how they contribute to what you desire. You can ask yourself through specific provided exercises if you want to feel abundance, what do you need to do, experience and have in order to tap into greater abundance?

An important note on what is referred to as spiritual bypass, which implies you should rise above what you are actually feeling to get to the more positive feeling. That somehow you are expected to will away challenging emotions and live in a state of bliss constantly. Let’s say you are going through a break-up and expecting things from yourself such as, “you should be over it by now” or “you shouldn’t be feeling what you are.” Trying to will the complexity of emotions away does not work in my experience.  I believe there is a natural arising of emotions we experience that range in intensity and fluctuate multiple times throughout any given day. Master yoga teacher Judith Lasater, co-author of What We Say Matters says, “feelings are flares that a need is being met or unmet.” When we can allow more space to process our emotions rather than merely reacting, this is where curiosity can enter in support of inner exploration.
 
The law of attraction and positive psychology have places for me, however it is not the end all. There is a saying in the ayurvedic practice (the sister science to yoga) for what and for whom- meaning it depends. I believe a healthier response is to create space in order to process the wide range of feelings. This process is not often linear but cyclical like the stages of grief describe. As humans we don’t often enjoy the experience of painful emotions and as another wise teacher, Suzanne Sterling teaches there is even more joy on the other side of experiencing our pain. If we are “shoulding” ourselves into anything it can just get heavier. 

Danielle LaPorte declares it is our birthright as humans to experience, feel and embody our lives and I wholeheartedly agree! The work of the Desire Map has benefited me greatly to recognize and offer gratitude for what is working and to chart my way forward in alignment with what I desire. I use the DM’s weekly planner to outline my core desired feelings, three things to prioritize in that week, and other prompts for gratitude and what to stop doing. There are many tools at your fingertips with the DM and I’m really excited to share them with you. 

In addition to being a yoga teacher, I am also a coach. I began studying effective communication and leadership in college and continued on in earning my MBA and an ICF accredited coaching certificate from Coach Training Alliance. I have completed a Desire Map coaching course and am a program Facilitator with previous experience facilitating groups. 

If your interest is peaked to go deeper, won’t you join me in one or two of these upcoming offerings?

1) Desire Map Virtual Retreat- We meet virtually (from wherever you are) every Thursday from 6:30p - 7:30p PST for four weeks in 2018:

September 6 | September 13 | September 20 | September 27

Registration is now open! Read more and register here.  

Each call will be recorded so you can listen live or when it best suits you, whatever you desire.
 
Other ways to work together, there's still space for The Ultimate Self Care Yoga Retreat in Tulum, MX Oct. 6 – 13, 2018!
This is not your average destination yoga retreat and let me share with you why: My co-leader Crystal Higgins and I are putting our steeped learning’s into the content in order to support you in feeling more rested, renewed and alive in yourself and we will equip you with exercises that incite new insights and how you can feel more of the way you want to feel as you return back to your lives. We’ll spend a week on the white sand beaches in the magical town of Tulum where all delicious meals will be included.  We’ll practice vigorously (always with support to modify) in the morning and restoratively in the evenings accompanied by live music and the sounds of the ocean waves. There will be time to explore, chill and adventure. More here and questions are welcomed. 

Let me know if you start noticing more of your feelings as they relate to needs and what actions you are taking (or not taking) that contribute (or not) to how you most want to feel.
 
In gratitude (one of my core desired feelings 😉),
 
Claire
 “The Desire Map is basically charting the things you want in life, and not just sitting back and saying, “I’m going to manifest this…but actively doing something to manifest your dream.”

~ Shailene Woodley,  Emmy nominated Actress and Activist

Please note: This post is intended to provide my opinion and current knowledge of The Desire Map Licensing Program. I am not an employee or representative of Danielle LaPorte, Inc. Team Danielle has not reviewed or approved any of the content shared. These are my words and opinion only. 

The Desire Map© Danielle LaPorte 2018
 

Lessons from my late mentor

On September 14th, I was washing dishes after dinner on a lovely vacation in upstate New York with wonderful friends old and new, when one of my mentor Seana’s many wise sayings popped into my head as I gazed out the window. The saying is, “what we know of life is where we have decided to rest with our questioning.” Often a linear thinker, this helped remind me to broaden my lens to the many questions that can be asked to foster increased curiosity and exploration in life. 
    I traveled back from New York to San Francisco on that Saturday the 16th. As I was unpacking, I thought about how travel can change us from exposure to new perspectives and landscapes. And again Seana came into my mind. She was the Director of a two-year community leadership program I joined in 2002 during my undergraduate study at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The program is called INVST (the International and National Voluntary service training) and trains rising community leaders to be engaged in social and environmental action. We spent our summers traveling with one trip going throughout the Southwest- working with a youth corps that Seana co-founded in New Mexico, staying in a Denver homeless shelter for a week and spending two weeks on a Navajo reservation with a family resisting the relocation act of 2000. 
    Back in the classroom, Seana asked each of us to share a story from what we had bared witness to while traveling. One of the students opted to pass, as she did not feel like sharing at that time. Seana pressed and the student dug in further. Seana insisted given what we had seen and experienced that now we had a responsibility to share the stories and voices of those who are oppressed. Sometimes she made a big deal in order to teach us a lesson and have it stick. I thought of this as I unpacked and the new stories I had to share with others. On Sunday, after teaching, I was resting when I received a message from a friend from INVST, that read, “please call me right away, it’s about Seana Steffen.” My heart began to race as I quickly dialed the number and took a deep breath. It was then I learned Seana was gone. She had passed away on Saturday in a car accident outside Longmont, CO. I asked is there any hope, chance that she could pull through, no was the answer, she is gone…
    I don’t know if my thoughts of her had me experiencing a premonition to this tragic news, but I do think it connected me further to her spirit- the spirit of a powerful woman who was my teacher, mentor and dear friend. Seana had just celebrated her 50th birthday with family and friends. One of her last Facebook posts read, "Infinite blessings to name and celebrate...I am so grateful for the gift of my life every moment of every day and wish the deep contentment of a fulfilled heart to all. Onward." As she has now traveled onward many lessons stay behind and I’d like to share a few more with you…

  • Margins- Seana was a master of balancing time and reducing personal stress by working with “margins”- i.e. planning in the time it takes you to get somewhere 
  • Integrity- Word = Action, an important note: this includes the ability to communicate and renegotiate when needed. With so much flakiness in the world, she instilled in me to be in integrity and own up to when you make mistakes. 
  • Accountability- being “count-on-able”. This built upon being in integrity, to live in a way that others know they can count on you.  
  • Be the energy you wish to see- a take on Gandhi's words, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. How you show up and presence yourself makes a big difference. 
  • Unstoppability- She asked questions like: How can you be “unstoppable”- what support do you need? What limiting beliefs do you need to face and work to counteract? 
  • Stand up for your well-being- Seana was a committed yoga practitioner and took impeccable care of herself. This included monthly pedicures and indulging in sweet treats in addition to taking adaptogenic herbs and being an early riser.  
  • Breakdowns lead to breakthroughs!- There will always be breakdown and there is great opportunity in how we recover and stay present to the lessons learned so that there is space for shifts to occur. 

Seana was a fierce advocate for me when in my sophomore year; I drove drunk and was charged with a DUI offense. Thankfully no one was hurt. I felt isolated and ashamed of my behavior and my patterns of alcohol abuse were worsening. I faced the possibility of being kicked out of university. With fierce compassion, she said that she would go to bat for me if it came to that. It did not and when I reflect on what she meant to me, I am grateful for her support and always seeing the best in me. From dark times come light and we have to show up for each other and ourselves in order to not succumb to shame and defeat.  

It’s no surprise to those that knew her that she was intentional about how she wanted her life celebrated and requested “an event that creates the space for my community to pause, to commune, to reconnect with each other and what matters most in life: to celebrate love and life." This will happen next month in Colorado and the following month in California and beyond. We honor her as a lover of life, a seeker, a true friend, a fierce activist, a wise sage, a playful and lighthearted woman with deep passion in her heart and fire in her belly to leave who left this world better than when she found it.  To my teacher, my friend and to all the lessons learned that will continue to unfold, I offer my deep bow of gratitude. 
    I realize I am the same age now as Seana was when we met sixteen years ago. As I reflect on my own legacy, I am compelled to stand up more, speak out louder and offer myself in greater service. How does reflecting on death make you think and feel about your own legacy? What do you need to be “unstoppable” in working towards your visions? If inspired, please share here or in the yoga room. 

Read more about Seana's legacy and myriad of accomplishments via her organization’s website here

A look behind the lens

In today’s world we can be bombarded with a constancy of shiny images on social media of travel, food, relationships, style and more. It’s fewer and far between that people are willing to share the grit it took to get towards a finished product or goal.  We put singular figures on a pedestal without much acknowledgement for the work done behind the scenes. 

As I launch my first website, I’d like to share with you a brief look behind the scenes of the short video you will find on my homepage or directly here.  My marketing coach and friend, Crystal Marie Higgins advised me to create a video introducing myself for my site.  I agreed in theory and in practice, I took a big gulp in hesitation.  While I’m more comfortable than most speaking in front of a group (due to practice), I have had minimal experiences on camera.  

I also felt a block arise in wanting to tell more of my authentic story, which includes having had episodes of depression and anxiety and feeling vulnerable at the prospect of sharing this publicly.  The people who most inspire me are the ones who tell it like is, providing a raw and real look into their lives and interpretation of the world.  The video showed up as an opportunity to further become who I want to be, one of those truth tellers.  If you live in Northern California, like me, you often here about synchronicity and signs ☺ and I do believe in things happening with alignment.  A talented filmmaker entered my life during this time and offered to help with this project. Thank you Jayson Carpenter of Pull Focus Films

As we started with the process, I identified my blocks and with support soon felt my fear turn into anticipation and even excitement!  And then some of those pesky limiting beliefs I’ve had about myself starting to show up again. They were mainly around my voice - not liking the sound of it, not feeling that I expressed enough passion, not liking my lack of perceived range and so on.  Ultimately this was arising from a big old feeling that I am not enough.  This feeling of “not enough-ness” is shared by many of us.  It cripples our momentum and has us stay in unhealthy patterns.  It keeps us small. Seemingly safe. Unnoticed. Sound familiar?
I credit the self-work I have done throughout my years that enables me to know and process what my limiting beliefs are, how they make me feel and what sensations I feel in my body when they arise.  And still we must keep going to make progress. So I kept working at it - refining the language, taking deep breaths and seeking feedback from trusted advisors. The result is a video and website that I am proud to share with you.  

Step Into Your Strength - Tips For Your Journey
*When something triggers or incites a reaction in you, create space to get clear on what it is bringing up for you. Then take a walk or sit in meditation.  
*Surround yourself with caring and supportive friends and allies who will compassionately push you forward. This might feel like tough love at times. When I felt this during my recent process, I remembered what a mentor says, “Loving someone is wanting them to win.”
*Trust yourself.  Share what is true for you.   
*Appreciate yourself and those who have supported you. 
*Celebrate the progress and wins and…
*Keep on truckin!  You are more than enough.

I hope you enjoy the video and site - let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

In gratitude,

Claire
 

Surrender to Life, Let it Move You

Dear Students,

Check out Mystic Mama and the theme of Surrender: 

Surrender is an act of power that takes the reins away from the false personality and hands them over to essence. . .There is great freedom in release and. . . the opportunity for great freedom."

I often reflect on the need for both foundation and freedom. In my life, when I have had too much foundation, I have felt stifled and uninspired. And when I've had too much freedom (a privilege I recognize), I feel lost and lack in direction. It is a balance in constant motion with surrender as a key element. In our practice together on the mat, we establish strong foundations through our structural alignment and open to great expansion and freedom in the body and beyond.  I invite to come practice and surrender not only in savasana but throughout class.  Let me know how it goes for you. 

Roll with the changes

Dear Students,

Check out Mystic Mama and their reflections on Change: 

“Change is exciting, unpredictable and dynamic. Change is chaotic and can include destruction and confusion. Change is inevitable and a crucial part of evolution...The discomfort we all feel is akin to the caterpillar who can sense that there is no going back. The only way is through to the other side."

We can feel this in our yoga practice especially poses such as deep hip openers, that the way to unravel blockages is to stay present, breathe and move through it.  With so much chaotic change happening within our country and world, I have seen a call for community care rather than self care. The work done in group yoga classes is both self and community care. The energy cultivated in class aids the individual (you) and the collective (us).

What are some of your tried and true best practices to deal with change in your lives?     

How to Build Adaptability

Dear Students,

Here is some wisdom from the site Mystic Mama on the theme of Adaptability:

“Adaptability is the ability to take a current situation or circumstance that is either unfamiliar or somehow unacceptable and instead of resisting or blocking it, accepting and allowing it through choice. Instead of putting your energy into resistance and judgment, choose instead to put it into being resourceful and proactive in any situation."

Read the full brief here. I also find inspiration from Mark Nepo's Book of Awakening with daily meditations and deep insights.  He says:

"So underneath all our worries about careers and jobs and retirements, our purpose really comes down to living fully, to being alight with who we are beneath all the names and titles we are given to aspire to. . . I am more than my job, more than where I live, more than my relationships, more than my history, more than my name. I am the flame of life living in this body." 

I just returned from Camp Grounded which provides powerful experiences to put down our names (you go by nickname only), titles and jobs (no work talk/networking), technology (no digital tech), substances (no alcohol/drugs) and stories that define us to be more fully present with who we actually are in each moment. It's truly incredible to see hundreds of adults drop in quickly to shedding these outer layers things and see what arises - overwhelmingly it's a palpable connection to childlike play! 

Note: this was originally written in May '16.  This week I am heading back out to the woods with Camp Grounded to turn off my phone and disconnect to reconnect. I look forward to sharing this year's insights upon my return. 

Listen to Your Heart and Act with Courage

Listen to Your Heart and Act with Courage

Listen To Your Heart and Act with Courage. The latest post by Claire Marie Williams.
 

“The heart is very much like a miraculous balloon. Its lightness comes from staying full. Meeting the days with our heart prevents collapse.” ~ Mark Nepo

The month of February brings more focus and attention to the space of our hearts and how we express love – both self-love and love of others. When I think about the heart, it also brings to mind the act of courage.