Minimalist Passion – 5 Steps to Following Your Heart

Picture of a woman walking on clouds following her heart mindfully

So much of our modern culture encourages us to seek fame, glamour, and wealth, without much regard for what our purpose is. These external ways of measuring of success are much less satisfying and authentic then working to live in alignment with our deep values and life’s purpose.

Ancient Wisdom
In the ancient text of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna makes it very clear that we must follow our own path in life.

He says, “Better is one’s own dharma even if imperfect than another’s dharma followed perfectly. Better is death in following one’s own dharma, for another’s dharma brings danger.” (Schweig, Bhagavad Gita: Kindle Locations 1535-1542).

The challenge each of us faces everyday is the challenge to find and follow our own path. We must work to tune out all the voices and noises that tell us to do something else and follow the compass of our own heart.

So here are 5 Steps To Following Your Heart

1. Vanquish Fear –
Very often people know what they want to do, but they are too afraid to do it.
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking what might happen if you try.

Here’s what might happen if you try. You may fail. Every great person ever has failed a ton of times. It just doesn’t make the paper.

Here’s what will happen if you don’t try. You will always wonder what could have been.

Failure lasts only moments, but regret lasts a lifetime. So, vanquish your fear and go for it.

2. Cut the BS (Blaming Stories)
We retell these stories over and over and over again until they have worn grooves in our minds. It’s hard to stop, but they almost never help.

Notice when you tell these stories, notice how they affect you, and then start telling a new story.

Everyone is writing a novelist composing his or her own lives. You write the story. Characters may act in funny ways and have a life of their own, but you are the one who gets to say what it all means.

3. Stick Things Out
This has been the hardest one for me. I’ve always had an easy time going for a new adventure, but sticking with one thing is challenging.

But it’s important to know that following your own heart isn’t always about going for it. Sometimes it’s about buckling down and staying put.

Sometimes the key is to stay with something past the point of comfort. It helps you evolve and creates trust in yourself.

4. Know Who You Are
I actually should have put this first, because everything else is dependent on this. I you want to be able to discern what your heart is calling you do to. You have to learn who you are.

This means engaging in the arduous, fun, annoying, and joyful process of self examination.

Meditation is a great activity for this as well as being part of a religious group or institution that offers a path for self examination. But it doesn’t matter what method you choose.

Anything from through hiking the PCT to starting counseling to living at a monastery to joining a men’s or women’s support group can help. The important thing is you set the intention to learn who you are.

5. Believe, Believe, Believe
This is the first and last step of this process. No one can follow your heart but you. Other people have their own agenda. If you don’t believe in yourself and your own path, they will happily co-opt you for their dreams.

This doesn’t mean that following your heart is an independent process. Cooperation and collaboration are essential on any path. But it does mean that the motivation and the nexus of choice comes from you.

Starting on this path requires believing that you can learn to follow your own heart. And the end of this path requires that you believe that your heart will not lead you astray.

The road forward isn’t always clear and it is only when we step forward with deep faith that we can face the darkness of uncertainty. But I know from my own life and experience, limited as it is, that stepping into the unknown in much more rewarding than staying stuck.

Following your heart means embodying your life fully and completely. It means making every step an adventure. And even though it’s scary as crap sometimes, it makes every moment on the path a blessing.


A Extra Weekly Run Saved My Relationship

Couple Holding Hands, communication, relationship awareness, working with your partners fear, transformation, mindfulness, mindful fitness, mindfitmove

Tips for Transformation In Relationship 

I started saying, “You know it might be helpful if…”

But she interrupted me, “I know what you’re going to say; you think it would be better if we ran alone.”

I knew I had hit a nerve.

We both knew my goal pace was faster than hers. But maybe it came off sounding like my goal pace was to get away from her.  

No matter what, it was clear we had to come up with a solution. We did eventually, but I’ll come back to that. 

The Partnership 

Changing your life can be hard on your partner. No matter how supportive they are, it tends to create tension.

It’s wonderful that you’ve started meditating, exercising, or learning a new language. But this shift can bring up fear for your partner.


 This fear is very natural. Most people have had a relationship end, soon after their partner changed in some way. Even though that may be the last thought in your head, your partner isn’t in your head.

Your partner may feel neglected in your quest for a better self. They might be scared by the new direction of your life. They may wonder if there’s a place in it for your relationship.

This fear can bring up some of these thoughts:

  • All he talks about is triathlons. Am I not good enough?
  • Does she think she’s better than me?
  • More vegetables? What’s wrong with what we cooked before?
  • I feel like every time he leaves for a run he’s judging me.
  • If she wants to do new things, maybe she will want to be with a new woman?

You Need Back Up

Making changes are hard enough without having your partner sabotage you. So if you are going to be successful. You will need their help. Or at least their passive consent.

So here are the keys to making your journey of transformation jive with your relationship.


Make sure you acknowledge the things you love about your partner. Let them know you appreciate how they contribute to your life. Pay special attention to the little things they do that may go unnoticed.

Don’t Judge

Let them know you aren’t judging them for not being vegetarian or for not working out. Let them know you love them and that you are changing so you can be a better person and partner.

Don’t Get Preachy

Don’t get preachy about your new changes. Just work on yourself. If your partner sees it working for you, they might ask for support to make their own change.

Be Clear on Why

Explain to your partner why you are making these changes. If you are clear about your intentions, it will assuage many of their fears. It may even garner their support.

Togetherness Time

Make time and space to spend time together. This how my partner and I found our solution.

We would do our long run separately, but we would warm up and cool down together. We would also do a bonus ‘Togetherness Run” on Friday so we could spend time talking about our week.

MindFitMove Practice

If you are in a relationship, have a family, or just have a less active friend, sit down and talk about a healthy way to spend time together.  

Share ideas like going on a hike, going for walks, and see what sounds good.

The goal is to find a healthy way to get active and spend time with each other.

Make an effort to meet them where they are. You aren’t likely to convert your partner to CrossFit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something that will make you both happy.

Photo Credits



This Sucks! Zen and the Art of Difficult Emotions

I’m the worst person alive!
Over a year ago, I made a vow to make amends for all my unskillful actions. This process involved doing a moral inventory.

It’s a technique I borrowed from 12-Step work. (In the spirit of full disclosure I’ve never done 12-step work and am not an authority on that process.)

I decided to make a list of every bad thing I’ve ever done. This is super hard. At times, I felt like I was the worst person alive.

Photo of Crying Kid

Tell me how I failed!
The first list I made was long, but I knew there was more. So each night before bed I would sit and say to myself,

“I want to live a life of integrity. I am willing to accept the mistakes I have made. If there is any action I have forgotten and I don’t feel good about, I invite it to come into my awareness.”

After I said this, I would sit in silence for a few minutes. Often something would bubble up to the surface. No matter what it was I greeted it with gratitude and wrote it down.

Make it hurt!
When we start to improve our lives, we open more space. This leads to a sense of freedom and joy. It also allows unfelt emotions to surface.

When these emotions surface, it can feel like we’re moving backwards. In truth it means you are really digging in to real transformation.

The challenge is to face these emotions without trying to fix them. Allow them to arise, feel them, and then be willing to let them go.

5 Steps For Creating Space for Difficult Emotions

1. Set aside time.
You need at least 10-15 minutes, but it’s better to give yourself some wiggle room.

I found that just before bed was the best time for me. It helped me process the day. It also meant I didn’t take these emotions to bed.

2. Find Somewhere to Be Alone
It’s hard to be with difficult emotions around others. They may try to consol or distract you. The point is to just be present with what’s arising. Nature is great, or your bedroom, but if all else fails the bathroom is a good standby.

3. Invite the Emotions to Come In
An invocation can be helpful. State your intention, your willingness to accept what comes, and then invite any hidden emotions to arise.

3. Feel Your Body
If emotions arise, try not to focus on the content. Instead, focus on how the emotions feel in your body. Notice any beliefs that arise especially any absolute statements.

If these emotions become intense try to stay with it, but if your mind starts spinning, focus on your breath or your feet to become grounded.

4. Write it down
Once you have watched the emotion arise, exist, and ebb, write it down. Name the emotions and any beliefs that came with them. This can be a few sentences or much more, it’s up to you.

This gets it out of your head and gives you perspective.

5. Gratitude and Release
Now thank whatever came up for arising. Thank your heart for being willing to feel these hard feelings. Thank yourself for being willing to do this work. Then ask yourself, your heart, and/or a higher power to help you let these feelings go.

Remind yourself that you will do this again soon and that anything else can wait until then.

6. Grounding
Working with difficult emotions can be agitating. Afterwards take ten breaths, do a short yoga routine, or maybe read something inspiring. If you are still reeling try doing something to get in your body: light house work, a more vigorous yoga routine, or a longer meditation.

This practice can be very powerful. It’s not about wallowing, it’s about giving space to the powerful forces inside of us. When we are willing to be with challenging feelings, we gain the courage to face challenges in every aspect of our lives.

Discussion Question: How do you work with difficult emotions?

Disclaimer: For some people this practice is not suggested. If you notice the consistent arising of thoughts involving self harm or suicidal ideation stop using this technique and consult a licensed counselor or therapist before continuing.

If you feel like you need to speak with someone right away call your local crisis line or call A Lifeline Crisis center at 1 800 723 TALK (8255)

Photo Credits


Thank You, Stress!

It Begins With a Thought
I was walking to meet a client and a thought popped in my head: “There is something wrong with me.”

My low back had gone into spasm over the weekend. I had experienced a ton of pain and discomfort. I had a few nights of little sleep.

Now a few days later I was experiencing some localized numbness in my low back. As I walked, my body felt weird. I wasn’t sure how exactly, just weird.

The Spin
As soon as the thought entered my head, it happened. I was sure my whole body was going numb. My breath shortened. Thoughts spun in my head.

Stressed Out Girl

What if I slipped a disc?
What if the numbness was permanent?
Should I even be walking right now?
I’ll need to get an MRI.
My insurance sucks.
How much is an MRI going to cost?
How long is it going to take to pay off?
What if I need surgery?
What if I can’t exercise?
What if I can’t walk?
I just started my new business.
I feel like I’m on the right track.
I’m doing something amazing with my life.
Why is this all falling apart?
What am I going to do?
What am I going to do?
Oh my god, I think it’s getting worse!

Fear sits underneath so much of our lives. Just stepping out of our house everyday we face a thousand fears.

When we give in to those fears, others follow. To live we have to face our fears. Facing our fears leads to stress.

Working on my dreams meant, I was facing my fears. The stress built up. Then the dam burst.

Was the injury the result of fear and stress? Or did it give me space to finally feel it?
I’m not sure. I do know we must face our fears, but we must also see our stress.

MindFitMove Practice
(I’ll be doing the following practice this week to respect my stress.)

-Everyday when you come home from work or before you go to bed, write down one stressful event that happened today.
-Write down the fear you faced.
-Accept that this event was hard.
-Accept that you did the best you could.
-Accept that you can’t go back and do it differently.
-Thank yourself for facing this stress.
-Then write down one thing you can do the next day to thank yourself.
-A few suggestions are: Tell a friend about your stressful situation, engage in a small act of self-care, forgive yourself for not being perfect.

No matter what we choose to do, we must see the stress in our lives. Then we must honor our stress with attention and care. If we don’t, if we deny our stress, it will find us in our weakest moments.

What are you afraid of? What stressed you out?


How Is Criticism Is Good For You?

Criticism is one of the hardest things to hear. However, criticism doesn’t have to be all negative. If you able to hear it with mindfulness, criticism can be a chance to see yourself and your ‘criticizer’ on a deeper level.

Criticism >= Stomach Punch?
Recently I was talking with a senior member of my spiritual community. While we were talking my business, the Mindful Fitness Movement, came up.

He expressed concern about how I talked about my time at the monastery. He suggested it was inappropriate to list the 2 years I spent at the monastery on my business website.

The next thing I knew I found myself getting defensive and reactive. What I heard him saying was, “I had no business trying to help anyone at all.”

I was able to explain why I listed the monastery on my site and leave the conversation skillfully.  Still, I left feeling very agitated.

3 Windows Of Criticism
Later after I calmed down I was able to look at what I call the 3 windows of criticism.

1. Their Truth – This is your best guess at what the criticizer is expressing. My best guess was, “Training at the monastery is a sacred tradition. I want to honor that tradition.”

2. My Fear – This is the fear that the criticism triggered.
My fear was, “I’m afraid my spiritual community doesn’t support my work. I’m afraid the person I respect thinks I can’t help people. What if he’s right?”

3. The Value – This can be a shared value or two separate values that each of your is trying to support. The value I saw was, “We both want to honor and support a tradition that helped us find peace and meaning.”

It is hard to hear a person’s values through their criticism. But it’s important to try and see what they care about.  Even if you don’t support how they are trying to meet those values.

MindFitMove Practice:
Think of an occurrence in your recent past where you felt criticized. Then follow the steps below.

1. Write down what you remember the person saying. (Try not to interpret or write assumptions)

2.Write down what your reaction was in words and/or thought. 

3. Write down the feelings that came up for you when they said it.

4. Write down Their Truth, Your Fear, and The Values you were both holding.

Once you have gone through these steps it’s up to you to decide which if any action needs to be taken. Often when we receive criticism our willingness to hear and understand the person is enough to make the difference.

Remember that it’s not about blame. It’s about finding a way forward that honors both of you.


The 5 Simple Steps to Facing Fear

Litany against fear- From DUNE a book by Frank Herbert
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye and see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.“
Whenever we try to change our lives fear arises. Sometimes it arises because we stumble on the path: “I gained a pound back. What if this is where it all falls apart?” Sometimes it arises because the future is unknown: “If I transform into someone new, who will I be?”  Starting a new exercise practice, changing the way we eat, taking a new fitness class can all be a catalyst for fear, but it doesn’t have to derail us. There are ways to practice with fear and use them to connect with our hearts desire.
Everyone and I mean everyone gets afraid from time to time. Some people are better at hiding it, denying it, or compartmentalizing it, but everyone experiences fear. Resistance to fear is the first barrier to facing our fear.
We want to deny that we are afraid. Most of us are afraid that we will fail, fall flat on our faces, be embarrassed, gain all the weight back, lose the girl/boy, become a source of shame for our family/friends, get terminally ill and die alone and unloved. We try not to think about it because if we do it will come true, or perhaps we’re afraid that we will see it is already true.
Just say to yourself. I’m afraid.
Where do you feel fear? Is it a tight feeling in your chest? Is it butterflies in your stomach? Are you clenching your jaw? Squeezing your fists?
No matter where you feel it, try to go into the sensation. What is the texture of it? What color is it? Is it related to any other part of your body?
Take a piece of paper and describe it in as much detail as possible. If you notice yourself thinking of the content of fear, stop, and go back into your body.
Don’t stay in that fear response forever. It can be very tiring. Instead do something grounding.
  • Things that people find grounding
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise
  •   Taking a walk outside
  •  Eating a piece of fruit
  • Focusing on the bottoms of your feet
Most fear arises from wholesome desires. Our strategies for dealing with fear or the desires that cause fear can be unwholesome, but the fundamental need underneath is usually wholesome and universal.
We want to be loved, appreciated, accepted, and acknowledged. We want to be free, autonomous, joyous, playful, and independent. We want to contribute, nurture, and be part of a community. We want beauty, peace, ease, clarity, order, and predictability.
We might not need all of these at the same time. We might have different ideas about what these would look like, but everything on that list could be needed by anyone.
Try to see what that wholesome desire is for you. Your fear often arises from not having these universal needs addressed.
Often we reject and criticize the part of us that gets afraid.
Imagine if you were a child who was afraid.  Now imagine a parent or teacher criticized your fear, mocked it, and rejected you because of it. Would you feel safer?
Forgive yourself for being afraid. Forgive the part of yourself that is afraid. Visualize yourself as a child. Or if that’s too hard, visualize the part of yourself that is afraid as a child.
Then comfort them. Tell them what you would tell a child that is afraid.  Imagine holding them in your arms patting them on the back. Try putting your arms around yourself and rubbing your own shoulder. Say “it’s ok to be afraid.”
We all experience fear. Fear can be a door into our own hearts and the hearts of others if we are willing to stay with it and walk through it.