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

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.

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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We are facing what is perhaps the greatest civilizational crisis of our time, the global ecological emergency. If the underlying challenge to climate change (and other systemic social problems) can be traced to human disrelation—a state of being out of accordance with nature, ourselves, and other humans—then I propose it to be a fundamentally spiritual problem, as much as an environmental, scientific, technological, cultural, psychological, economic, or historical one. At the root of this spiritual problem is collective trauma.

My work as a teacher over the past 20 years has focused on the integration of science and mysticism. Over time, as my training programs and retreats developed what emerged was a clear need to address collective trauma. 

Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma—and Our World is a guide for anyone committed to the healing of our struggling world. With practical instruction on reducing stress and building  resilience, along with practices such as transparent communication, my book is intended to support each of us and our communities in embracing our interdependence. As you learn to attune to others, you begin to refine  your capacity to relate  — and to walk the profound journey of healing individual, ancestral, and collective trauma.

The complexity of challenges we face in the 21st century demands a new level of human collaboration. To respond with creativity and innovation to these challenges, we must think holistically. In this way, we awaken our most intrinsic biological gifts: the powers of our soul’s intelligence – that which inside us knows how to heal and restore.

Perhaps, rather than finding ourselves alive in a time of exponential, unstoppable decline, we will discover the power to access the evolutionary gifts that appear dormant in us. To accomplish this, I believe we must do it together—not separately, but in relation, as communities dedicated to healing our collectives.

It may take only a small number of us to establish a new level of collective coherence—to share our light, heal our wounds, and realize the unawakened potential of our world. Will you join me on this journey of attunement?

With gratitude,

Thomas Hübl


Thomas Hübl, PhD, is a renowned teacher, author, and international facilitator who works within the complexity of systems and cultural change by integrating modern science with the insights of humanity’s wisdom traditions. Since the early 2000s, he has led large-scale events on the healing of collective trauma, with a special focus on the shared history of Israelis and Germans, and facilitated healing and dialogue around racism, oppression, colonialism, and genocide, among other topics. He is the author of Healing Collective Trauma and Attuned (both with Julie Jordan Avritt). He has served as an advisor and guest faculty for universities and organizations, and he is currently a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute. For more, visit www.attunedbook.com.

Andrew Holecek: Reverse Meditation

Your mindfulness practice worked! You calmed your mind and felt the deep, inner bliss that meditation brings. But, asks Andrew Holecek, what do you do with these beatific states when your world is falling apart? Where’s your meditation practice then? 

In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Holecek about his new book, Reverse Meditation, and how we can move toward a more complete spirituality that welcomes all of our experience. Illuminating the four steps of reverse meditation and much more, their conversation explores: how pain and hardship can accelerate the spiritual journey; why mindfulness “sedates but doesn’t liberate”; the cultivation of “industrial-strength” meditation; repairing an adverse relationship to unwanted experiences; the practice of open awareness; bringing the unconscious into the light of consciousness; investigating our personal “super-contractors” such as anger, fear, or anxiety; shifting from reactivity to responsiveness; the OBEY acronym of reverse meditation: observe, be, examine, yoke; three attitudes for practice: kindness, patience, and curiosity; establishing the right view; the anti-complaint meditation; and productive thinking.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Five Dos and Don’ts for the Minimalism-Curious

My recent book Travel Light is a how-to guide for the practice of what I call “Spiritual Minimalism,” which is not to be confused with regular old minimalism.

Long story short, in 2018, I was living in a beautiful two-bedroom apartment in Venice Beach when I felt an inner calling to get rid of everything that didn’t fit inside of my 22-inch carry-on bag. My bag would effectively become my new apartment as I would begin living nomadically around the world.

It took me 30 days’ worth of yard sales and Craigslist posts to get rid of over four decades of furniture, art, photo albums, yearbooks, letters, clothing, knickknacks, winter coats, books, my cars, Vespa, and everything else.

And about six months into my nomadic journey, I realized something: I still had too much stuff. So I got rid of the carry-on bag and downsized into a backpack. And now, five-plus years later, I’m still happily living from a backpack as I continue to hop around the world, from hotels to Airbnbs to friends’ extra bedrooms.

Travel Light is written for those who also feel called to live with less, but you’re not sure where or how to start. Truth be told, there are numerous ways to start, depending on your individual situation.

If this approach intrigues you, I want to share five common mistakes many new minimalists make—and a handful of simple recommendations to get you started on a more mindful, purposeful minimalism journey:

Don’t get rid of too much too fast
Although I completely emptied my entire two-bedroom apartment within 30 days, I had been intentionally prepping to live from a carry-on bag over the previous year by experimenting with taking only what I actually used while on my dozens of work trips. So in 2018, getting rid of my stuff was merely the final step in a long progression of steps.

    My first recommendation is to go slow. Decide what sort of end result you desire, and start experimenting with what it would be like to only use what you envision keeping. Maybe get a storage room and put a handful of items in it each week until you run out of things you don’t use. Otherwise, going too fast could prove to be unsustainable and discouraging.

Don’t make it about the external space
Getting rid of clutter doesn’t resolve deep emotional wounds or past trauma. And some of that could be the root cause of why you engage in retail therapy or why you may cling to stuff you don’t use or wear. And until you start doing deeper work on yourself, you can live in the most minimal-looking setting, but still feel cluttered inside.

    Commit to daily meditation as a means of efficiently releasing stress, and engage in other inner work, such as therapy, journaling, seva (service), and daily gratitude practices to clear away the internal clutter. This is what is meant by Spiritual Minimalism. It’s minimalism practiced from the inside-out.

Don’t treat minimalism as a one-time experience
Minimalism is less of an act, like Spring cleaning, and more of a lifestyle, like getting into shape. It doesn’t end once you get rid of your stuff. Like being in shape, minimalism continues to inform what you do, how you do it, where you go, why, and pretty much every other choice you make in life. In other words, you recognize that every choice you make is either supporting the lifestyle or taking away from the lifestyle.

    Start seeing everything you do (big and small) as an opportunity to reinforce the minimalist mindset, and make choices that support your desired mindset.

Don’t forget to adopt a larger purpose Getting rid of stuff for the sake of looking like a minimalist is ultimately unfulfilling, and it’s recommended to adopt a larger purpose for your minimalism adventure. That way, you will bring more enthusiasm and passion into your minimalism choices. You’re not just getting rid of something for the sake of getting rid of it. It’s going to help you by making space to exercise, create content, or to use as the meditation corner of your home.

    My recommendation is to answer this question: How does becoming a minimalist help you help others? The answer is a clue into your purpose, and just know that there is no wrong answer. Or rather, it’s an ever-evolving answer that will come into greater focus as you begin your journey. All you need for now is a loose idea of your why.

Don’t compare yourself to others
The quickest way to make minimalism a drag is to compare yourself to other, more popular minimalists. It’s certainly good to be informed of best minimalism practices and get tips from minimalist influencers, but their paths or suggestions may not work as well for your situation.

    Be open to blazing your own path into minimalism, and be willing to adjust along the way. If you treat the entire thing as a learning experience, there are no mistakes. And you’ll have a lot more fun along the way.

For more tips and insights on the ways of the Spiritual Minimalist, I invite you to check out Travel Light: Spiritual Minimalism to Live a More Fulfilled Life.

Light Watkins
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