Elena Brower

Elena Brower is a mama, author, teacher, and artist. Devoted to the healing practices of meditation, yoga, and contemplative writing, her journal Practice You is beloved worldwide. Her first book, Art of Attention, has now been translated into six languages, and her online coursework is highly regarded for bringing analog creativity to virtual spaces. She’s developed two audio programs with Sounds True, The Return Home and Grounded and Free. Listen to her renowned Practice You podcast at practiceyou.com, and experience yoga and meditation with Elena at glo.com.

Listen to Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interviews with Elena Brower:
I Lean on the Universe with My Honesty »
Following Your Homing Intuition »

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3 Ways to Practice You This Holiday Season

3 Ways to Practice You This Holiday Season

Practicing being true to ourselves is a delicate dance of knowing ourselves, then respecting and serving that truth. This requires cultivation of both internal stability and external ease. How can we do this when we are surrounded by cultural chaos as well as our own family dramas? Here are three ways to Practice You this holiday season.

Write It Down

Set a timer for five to ten minutes; write who you are and where you’re going. Note every label and defining element of who you perceive yourself to be, and then note your vision for yourself next year, in five years and in ten years. Coming to know yourself will help you be steady when confronted, soft when you’d normally get agitated, and more kind at just the right times.

Sit With It

Nothing changes in an instant, and we can continuously and simply ask to be shown what the next step might be. If prayer is when we speak to our idea of a higher power, meditation is a moment to listen for healing, becomes a respite, a break in the day, a time to heal ourselves. Sit with it. Sit with what you learn when you listen a few minutes more.

Move More Slowly

One of the simplest ways I practice being myself is to simply slow down. I’ve learned this from every moment of deep loss, grief, or heartache–if i move more slowly, I won’t break. I can see what’s useful, what’s nourishing, what’s holy about this moment. Slowing down for myself helps me refine what I’m practicing and choosing in my life.

 

Elena Brower is a Mama, author of Practice You, yoga instructor, designer, and artist based in New York City. Devoted to cultivating meditation as our most healing habit, she’s created potent online coursework and produced On Meditation, a film featuring personal portraits of renowned meditators. For more, visit elenabrower.com.

elena brower

Draw, Write, and Dream Your Way Home to Your Self

   “Home is not a place. Home is a state of consciousness..”    

 

“This is how worry becomes wisdom…”

 

“Consider your 33 year old self …”

Looking for more great reads?

 


Excerpted from Practice You by Elena Brower.

Elena Brower has been teaching yoga since 1998. After graduating from Cornell University with a design degree, she was a textile and apparel designer for six years. Having studied with several master yoga teachers for over a decade, Elena offers the practice of yoga globally as a way to approach our world with realistic reverence and gratitude. Her classes are a masterful, candid blend of artful alignment and attention cues for body, mind, and heart.

Practice You: A Personal Message from Elena Brower

Dear friends,

 

You’ve been practicing you, your entire life. You have always been the author of your own experience. My new book, Practice You, is a journal, filled with over 150 pages to draw, write, and dream. It’s an invitation to become the author of a sacred text of your own design, an opportunity to write a personal field guide to your highest self.

Practice You contains a series of Explorations, one for each of the nine aspects of your being. Each Exploration begins with a meditation, a chance to contemplate from a new vantage point. Today I’ll share the Embody meditation with you, from the “I Am” Exploration that opens the book.

Begin by taking a moment to sit and get grounded. Place your hands on your thighs, palms down, and begin breathing, deeply and slowly. Sense the weight of your seat, and let your spine rise tall. Feel yourself embodied, present, and steady.

  • How do you define yourself?
  • What are the words you’d use to describe your current attitude about your life right now?
  • What’s the most visceral, urgent need you have right now in order to feel alive, happy, and at home in yourself?

With gratitude,

Elena Brower

P.S. Look for me on Sounds True Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on Tuesday, September 26—we’ll be giving away copies of Practice You & much more!

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Mindful Movement: Walking Meditation 101

The Here and Now

What if you could change your life by doing one thing for just ten seconds each day? What if this thing would make you more contented, more grounded, and less stressed?

Welcome to mindfulness.

We spend almost all of our time worrying about two things: what has already happened (the past) and what hasn’t happened yet (the future). This only makes us miserable. The past is over, so there’s nothing we can do about it. And the future isn’t something we should be thinking about right now—unless we’re taking concrete action toward a goal.

Mindfulness breaks us out of this pattern by turning our awareness to the simple moments of life as they happen. We laser in on our senses as we’re experiencing them, and we feel them deeply.

So, the way to “be deep” is to focus on what’s going on right now.

I have two favorite ways to zap into the present moment.

The first way is to briefly tune in to my breath a few times a day. Set an alarm on your watch or phone to go off at three set times during the day. When it goes off, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Notice how the breath feels as it flows in and out. Let go of whatever else is going on in your mind. Then open your eyes and go back to your day.

The second way is to tune in to the little details of the day. Say you’re picking up a water bottle. Consider this: How does the bottle feel in your hand? Is it heavy or light? When you take a sip of the water, how does it feel on your tongue? Is it cool or warm? What does it taste like? Try this exercise with one small act each day.

deepMINDFUL MOVEMENT: Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is a great way to de-stress and get centered while moving your body and getting some fresh air. It takes only a few minutes, so you can do it almost anywhere.

  1. The next time you’re walking down the street, start by getting your senses alert. Tune in to the pace of your steps and fall into the rhythm of the steps. What do they sound like?
  2. Turn your attention to an object you see as you’re walking. It might be a sign, a tree, or a building. Look intently at that object and observe it without labeling it. Just notice it.
  3. Now turn your attention to the noises that surround you. Don’t label them. Just listen.
  4. Finally, turn your attention to your breathing. Is it fast and shallow or slow and deep? Take a few deep breaths and continue with your steady pace.
  5. When you finish your walking meditation, take a minute and pause before reentering your day. Notice the way your body and mind feel. Carry that alertness and presence with you into the rest of your day

walking meditation

This is an excerpt from the chapter “Be Deep” from Whole Girl: Live Vibrantly, Love Your Entire Self, and Make Friends with Food by Sadie Radinsky.

 

sadie radinskySadie Radinsky is a 19-year-old blogger and recipe creator. For over six years, she has touched the lives of girls and women worldwide with her award-winning website, wholegirl.com, where she shares paleo treat recipes and advice for living an empowered life. She has published articles and recipes in national magazines and other platforms, including Paleo, Shape, Justine, mindbodygreen, and The Primal Kitchen Cookbook. She lives in the mountains of Los Angeles. For more, visit wholegirl.com.

 

 

 

 

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Bigger Isn’t Always Better (and Other Cultural Myths...

Some of our beliefs aren’t even ours. Like old wives’ tales passed down through generations or reflected back to us through society, we inherited certain cultural and familial narratives, adopted them, and left them unquestioned as “Truth.” Sometimes these inherited narratives and beliefs manifest as unquestioned traditions. For example, when making the Thanksgiving turkey, my friend’s mother always cut the breast of the bird off and roasted it separately. This process was embedded in my friend’s view of “how to cook a turkey.” When she moved to New York and began hosting her own Thanksgivings, she also sliced the top off the turkey and cooked it separately. Naturally. 

One year a guest asked her why she didn’t cook the turkey whole, which got her to thinking. She didn’t actually know why. It’s just the way it had always been done. So she called her mother to ask about the tradition: Why do we cut the tops off our turkeys? Her mother replied that she had always taken the top off because her mother had always taken the top off; it’s just the way she had learned how to cook a turkey. Naturally curious as to where this learned behavior all began, her mother called her mother, my acquaintance’s grandmother, and asked: Why do we cut the tops off our turkeys?

The grandmother, stumped, thought for a long, hard minute. “Oh,” she remembered, “the oven in my very first apartment was too small to fit an entire turkey, so I had to cook it with the top cut off.” Sixty years later, in a city across the country, my acquaintance was still cooking turkeys as a result of an oven that was too small. This is how inherited narrative works.

Here are some of the narratives that I inherited over the years, in order from most helpful to least: You can be anything that you want to be. Money isn’t very important. It is what it is, and it can’t be changed. Men prefer pretty over smart. Asking for help means you’re weak and needy. These are the ones that I’ve managed to tease out; I’m sure there are plenty more operating in the background that I can’t see.

Part of developing a wholesome or Beneficial View is identifying the stories that we live by, where they came from, and, perhaps most importantly, whether or not they are helpful on the path of waking up to our worthiness. Shariputra, one of the Buddha’s chief disciples, described Beneficial View as the practice of identifying which of our views spring from beneficial beliefs and which spring from harmful beliefs, and then choosing which to nourish and cultivate. Sometimes this also means looking at the views of the culture that we live in.

A few times every year, I host group coaching programs for a rather large online training institute with a global reach, drawing students from a dozen countries, primarily women of varying ages. These groups offer an encouraging environment in which we can speak openly about our fears and hesitations. Over the past decade, working as a coach has revealed to me just how many of us feel a chronic sense of falling behind and a nagging suspicion that we’re not quite _________ enough. You can fill in the blank here with your own particular flavor of not-enough-ness. Not educated enough, smart enough, good-looking enough, likable enough, thin enough . . . You get the picture. A consistent element of these groups has been a gobsmacking number of women sharing that they view their capabilities as insufficient or lacking. Sometimes this feeling extends to the way that they view themselves as people. It’s said that if one fish washes up on the shore, the scientist will call it what it is: a dead fish. Nothing of note, really. However, if hundreds of fish wash up on the shore, the biologist won’t look to the fish for answers. They’ll test the water that the fish are swimming in. So what’s up with the water that we all seem to be swimming in?

In the Western hemisphere, there is a deeply embedded narrative of scarcity that is nearly invisible. I don’t know about you, but I clearly remember playing the childhood game of musical chairs. It begins as a cheerful romp around the circle, with kids squealing and running to nab a chair once the music stops. As the game progresses, however, the stakes get higher. The chairs begin to disappear. The slowest, smallest, and most accommodating kids get disqualified. And the fastest, most aggressive kids advance amidst the dwindling resource of chairs. Good, clean childhood fun. Also, a wonderful way to implicitly teach kids this prevailing myth of scarcity: There is simply not enough to go around. And you better get yours before someone else takes it.

Author, activist, and fund-raiser Lynne Twist illustrates this phenomenon exquisitely in her book The Soul of Money. She likens the scarcity narrative to a “helmet” of insufficiency that we wear throughout our day that flavors every interaction we have. For example, our first thought when getting up in the morning tends to be I didn’t get enough sleep. As we get ready for the day, we think, I don’t have enough to wear, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough room on the subway, I don’t have enough help to get this job done well, There aren’t enough good men or women on Tinder, I don’t have enough energy to meet up with my friends, and then our final thought before falling asleep is I didn’t get enough done. This view of not having enough is truly pervasive. It’s no wonder that the women I’ve worked with consistently communicate that they don’t feel like they can live up to their own, or society’s, expectations.

Even if we try to address the messages we might tell ourselves about what we have and don’t have, we can’t avoid them altogether. I was riding the subway to Brooklyn one day when a father and his daughter, who was all of five or six years old, entered the train and stood toward the center of the car. She was chatting to her dad about her day at school until one of the many subway ads caught her eye. In it, there were two juxtaposed photos of a blonde woman. In one photo, the woman was frowning while holding a lemon in each hand, which were hovering at chest height. In the other, she was holding two grapefruits, also at chest height, but she was grinning. “Dad, why is she happy in that one and sad in that one?” the girl asked, pointing to the ad for breast augmentation. I swear the entire subway car went silent in anticipation of how her father would respond. He awkwardly and skillfully lobbed the question back to his daughter. “Well . . . what do you think?” The girl waited a beat and then answered, “She’s happy there because she has big ones and sad there because she has small ones.”

Clearly she had understood the message this poster was communicating to us all: a message of scarcity, insufficiency, and how one might always be “better.” And in that instant I understood how conditioning works. Hello, demon of self-doubt. Just like the fish in the ocean, we’re bound to swallow the water that we swim in. When considering what it means to develop Beneficial View, and the view of our own worthiness, it can be helpful to identify why we might not feel worthy to begin with. If our cultural perspective is rooted in the myth of “not enough,” it would logically follow that we would inherit this not-so-beneficial view of ourselves. Through looking at our own mind in meditation practice, we begin to take stock of the stories and beliefs that are not serving us, unraveling this myth of “not enough,” and revealing the Beneficial View of our innate wholeness and worth.

This is an excerpt from Tea and Cake with Demons: A Buddhist Guide to Feeling Worthy by Adreanna Limbach.

 

adreanna limbachAdreanna Limbach is a personal coach and a lead meditation instructor at MNDFL, NYC’s premier drop-in meditation studio. Her teachings have been featured in the New York Times, Women’s Health, and Refinery29. She lives in New York City. For more, visit adreannalimbach.com.

 

 

 

 

tea and cake with demons

Buy your copy of Tea and Cake with Demons at your favorite bookseller!

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Setting Intentions to Clear the Mind

Clear Your Mind

Do you ever feel like your brain might burst? Right this minute, my mind is simultaneously processing way too many thoughts:

Need to walk the dogs.

Text my friend back.

Tomorrow’s physics final.

College applications.

Need to make lunch.

What time do I have to wake up tomorrow?

It seems as though my mind is always on overload. But I’m not actually getting anything done. Why is this?

It’s because our brains aren’t meant to hold this much information. Science shows that we can only store a maximum of three or four things at once in our conscious mind, also known as our “working memory.” When we hold on to more than this, our brains become like messy rooms—cluttered and full of junk, so we can’t find anything. No wonder I feel so overwhelmed and disorganized.

clear final

 

I Intend

Another way we can be clear is by setting intentions each morning. Intentions are state- ments for how we would like to go about our day. Unlike a goal, an intention doesn’t require any steps to reach a certain objective. It’s simply a way to be.

Intentions work like magic. They affect our behavior, how our day goes, and even what things “happen” to us. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Make your intentions at a set time each day, such as right after waking up. Take a deep breath. Notice how you feel. Do you have pain anywhere in your body? What is the first thought that pops into your mind? Is your brain racing with stress or worry? Pay attention to all of it.
  2. Ask yourself, What do I want to bring into this day? Breathe and listen to your body’s answer.
  3. Roll over, grab a pen and notebook, and write down three intentions for the day. Be sure to state them all in the affirmative. (For example, “I will practice forgiveness” rather than “I will not hold a grudge.”) Here is a sample:

I will be patient with myself.

I will listen intently to others. 

I will speak out of kindness.

  1. Read over your list. Let your intentions seep in. It might help to read them out loud. When you feel satisfied, seal the practice with another deep breath. Throughout your day, whenever you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or stressed, think back to those statements.

This is an excerpt from the chapter “Be Clear” from Whole Girl: Live Vibrantly, Love Your Entire Self, and Make Friends with Food by Sadie Radinsky.

 

sadie radinskySadie Radinsky is a 19-year-old blogger and recipe creator. For over six years, she has touched the lives of girls and women worldwide with her award-winning website, wholegirl.com, where she shares paleo treat recipes and advice for living an empowered life. She has published articles and recipes in national magazines and other platforms, including Paleo, Shape, Justine, mindbodygreen, and The Primal Kitchen Cookbook. She lives in the mountains of Los Angeles. For more, visit wholegirl.com.

 

 

 

 

whole girl bookSounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Indiebound

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