Toni Kuhn

August 9, 2017
by Toni
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I Am Spiritually Awake

This past month has been challenging for me yet very transforming. I faced the hardship of witnessing my dear friend’s mother dying and my cat passing away. I cried so much and so deeply over these two events that I completely purged myself of many things that were holding me back from living. These two events reminded me to focus on the good in life and live everyday to the fullest. I know it sound’s like a cliche’, but I  finally realized that I was living to please others and I was not looking within myself to make the choices in my life that serve me. I stopped listening to the opinions, commands and demands of others. It was like the mirror to my true self was no longer foggy and I could look directly at myself. I now feel like I can honor my own  needs and make decisions about my life without feeling a sense of lack or wrong because other people are pushing their beliefs on me. I made small changes in the way I eat, the way I respond to people, and the way I experience my yoga as a student and a teacher. It was a tough process and I felt as if my world was crumbling, but when I came out on the other side of my pain, I felt liberated and ready to live for me.

These are the things I am trying improve in myself. The things I am trying to let go of.

  • I suffer from a lack of confidence.
  • I let other people’s opinions influence me too much.
  • I am a people pleaser.

This weekend I finally felt confident enough to try clipping my feet in and riding a road bike up here in the mountains. My friend held my hand and coached me all the way. This was the scariest thing I have done in a long time. Your feet are literally clipped in and you have to have faith and confidence to be able to balance and clip out quick enough when you stop. I did really well on the stopping part, but I did have a little trouble with the starting. Lesson learned: don’t try to start going up hill! After falling 3 times, I think I finally learned that lesson! LOl! I felt so free and alive on the bike. I felt like I discovered something missing from my life- simple joy.

Even though I have been clipping in on my Spin Bike for 15 years, I never felt confident or good enough to clip into a bike and ride outside. Now that I have, my confidence has been boosted!  I feel like “hey, maybe I am good enough”.  I have been asleep for so long and feels amazing to finally see my life, the world I live in through my own eyes and not clouded by other peoples views.

How can you live your life for you? What is holding you back?

Take a peek into your mind and your heart. Discover the things that are holding you back and work through them. It will be hard, but when you get through to the other side, you will be a much better and happier version of yourself.

I did it.

And I am spiritually awake.

Namaste.

July 3, 2017
by Toni
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I Choose Happiness

The past few months have been challenging. I have witnessed true suffering, illness and pain in some of friends and students. I witnessed cancer, a death in the family, a death of a pet, illness, financial strain and depression. It reminded me that life is very real and sometimes we get so caught up in the the day to day maintenance of living that we overlook truly living.  We must have gratitude for all of the good things around us. Yes, life can be very hard and stressful, but there is always good around us.

My best friend is battling round 2 of her cancer. She never complains about her pain and fear. She finds the things around her that make her smile. She prays and and has faith. She planned and paid for a trip to Europe next summer.  I have learned so much from my friend and how she deals with what  life has dealt her.  She chooses to be happy and deal with her cancer in a proactive way. She saw a nutritionist and changed her diet; she researches and educates herself on her disease; she keeps in close contact with her family and friends; and she tries to do as much normal stuff as she can (laundry, dishes, pay bills).  She reminds me that life does not have to stop when we are suffering. We can still live moment to moment and experience happiness even through the most challenging times.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~ The Dalai Lama

I have learned that happiness is inside of us. It is not about our appearance, our financial status, our belongings or even our health. Happiness is about what is happening within us and our actions. Do we allow life to beat us down and surrender? Or do we look deep within ourselves and find the seedlings of happiness? Do we keep living moment by moment with gratitude, compassion and love? Rise above the suffering and embrace even the smallest of joys.

 

 Meditation is a great way to look within and discover the strength, peace and joy within. It is simply about pausing in stillness and observing your breath. When your body is still the mind will slow down. And when the mind is slow and focused on your breathing, your emotions will settle and the mind will clear. This will allow you to savor each moment, breath by breath. To embrace the happiness within.

My friend has taught me how to survive the trials that life often brings. She has reminded me to be grateful for every day I am alive and to embrace the peace and happiness within.  To find the joy in even the everyday tasks and chores. To be grateful I am well enough to do them. To plan the future and not get stuck in the past. To live each moment with attention to each detail. TO CHOOSE HAPPINESS.

Namaste.

May 27, 2017
by Toni
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Saucha- Purity

During my yoga retreat last week we discussed the niyama saucha. Saucha translates to “cleanliness” or “purity” and helps us remember who we are at our core when we burn away distractions and obstacles. Thus allowing our energy to flow freely.

“As we purify ourselves from the heaviness and clutter of toxins, distractions and scatteredness, we gain clarity to meet each moment with integrity and freshness. We become more pure in our relationship with each moment”- Deborah Adele

When we clear away our clutter we begin to experience moments of supreme clarity. Moments where beauty stops us and makes us wonder. Moments when we are filled with so much overwhelming love that it brings tears to our eyes. Moments when we are completely content that we just ooze well-being from our pours. Moments when life pulses through us like an electrical current making us feel vibrant and young. Moments when our awareness is in technicolor.

Unfortunately, all of us carry “loads” that block our energy from flowing freely. These “loads” can be as complex as a past trauma or as simple as cleaning out your closet. The trick is to identify your “loads” and break free of them.

What are your loads?

Examples of loads that may be weighing you down:

  • Body carrying toxins from poor diet
  • Mind carrying the heavy baggage of victim-hood
  • Mind carrying the heavy baggage of forgiveness
  • Home & work-space full of clutter and junk

This work of clearing our clutter and letting go of our loads is a daily process. If you find yourself scattered or frazzled, take a moment to breathe and observe your surroundings. Is your area messy and full of clutter? Observe your thoughts in the moment. Are you stuck on replay of a past experience? Or are you stuck on fast forward trying to predict what’s next? Come back to the breath. Concentrate on the breath. Be in the moment breath by breath and your mind will slow down.

Namaste.

May 13, 2017
by Toni
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Being a Supportive Friend

Yesterday, my dearest friend told me that her cancer is back. It is back with a vengeance and the situation is not good. She has been battling cancer for many years and this is the first time she said its bad. They took her off of work, which is like taking a life line away from her. She is a fitness instructor and loves to work out. This is a very scary time. She lives about 350 miles away and I feel so helpless. My friend is a devout Christian and has a lot of support from her church. I know they will be there for her along with her friends and family. But they are not me. I wish I could be there everyday holding her hand, making her laugh and doing gentle yoga with her. I know in time, I will be heading up there to be with her.

Today I was searching the web on ways to support my friend and I found this great article on the American Cancer Society website. Here are great tips on how to be a supportive friend during this trying time.  How To Be Friend To Someone With Cancer

Next Saturday is the Relay for Life in Santa Clarita. I am going to be there on stage with my colleagues from Total Women Gym. We will be doing the warm up to kick off the walk. If you can’t join the walk, you can make a donation on line at Relay For Life.

As I sit here closing out this this blog I am reminded that the best way I can support my friend is to live my life. She has always told me to keep living and do things that make me happy. The last thing she wants to be is a burden. So I am going to try my best to live my life, even if it means I do it through the tears that keep spilling over.

Here is the chorus from a new Lady Gaga song that I have been listening to. It is called “The Cure”.

You can listen to the song here.    The Cure

“I’ll fix you with my love
No matter what you know, I’ll
I’ll fix you with my love
And if you say you’re okay
I’m gonna heal you anyway
Promise I’ll always be there
Promise I’ll be the cure (be the cure)”

 

May 5, 2017
by Toni
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Cycle To Support Cancer

I am doing a special 90 minute cycle class at Total Women Gym on Tuesday May 9 at 8 am. This is to raise money for the Relay For Life. I am riding to support my dearest friend Kirsti with her fight. She is a true inspiration and a fierce warrior!
If you can’t join me but want to donate, you can drop a donation of at the gym or go to the Real For Life website.

Relay For Life

Sadly all of know someone who has cancer or has lost the battle. Here is a list of people I know who are still battling cancer. Some are in remission or still battling it, and some have sadly lost the battle.

SURVIVORS:

  • Kirsti Contreras
  • Dave Friedin
  • Jackie Field
  • Sue Ellen Hiatt
  • Barbara Rosen

R.I.P:

  • Ann Sticksel ( my friend Kirsti’s mom)
  • Uncle Dan Ricigilano
  • Richard Brown

Unfortunately, I know more people, but these are the people I am comfortable posting their names.

 

April 30, 2017
by Toni
2 Comments

Afraid To Let Go

Lately, I have been spending a lot of my energy on fear. I am making big changes to my work schedule, and that is not only hard to do, but very scary to me. What if my students get upset? What if I do not like my new schedule? What if I lose clients? What if people get mad at me? ( I could go on and on). The truth about these changes that I have made is that they are for my health. The driving has not only been wearing me down, but it has also affected my shoulder. I have developed bursitis, tendinitis and early arthritis in my left shoulder. I know driving did not cause this, but it does not help it. In my quest to manage the pain, I have to let go of things that do not serve my body. So I gave up my classes on Mondays and now I only drive to SCV for work on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I have been doing some deep soul searching and I kept asking myself why this decision took so long and why it was so difficult to make. I discovered that I was holding on to these classes “just in case”. Just in case, I was not making enough money. Just in case my private clients could not change their appointment date. Just in case I changed my mind. Just in case someone got mad at me for not teaching on Mondays. Just in case…..

Here is an article that my friend gave me. It explains the “just in case” dilemma.

From Bemorewithless.com

When we say “I’ll keep this just in case,” what we are really saying is …

“I’m not ready.”

“I’m afraid I’ll need this.”

“I’m afraid to let go.”

“I’m afraid I won’t have enough.”

For those of us decluttering and in search of more peace and simplicity, our problem has never been not having enough. Too much is our issue. Owning more, doing more, spending more and proving to everyone around us that we are more is weighing us down. It’s preventing us from figuring out who we are and how we want to live. It’s stopping us from doing work we love, spending time with people we love and helping those who don’t have enough.

Just in case doesn’t just apply to clutter and things in our homes. What else is going on in your life that you are holding on to out of fear? What are you holding on to because you aren’t ready, or because you are afraid to let go, or afraid you won’t have enough? When I began to let go of my just in case clutter, little pieces of fear went with it and it became easier to let go in other areas of my life.

Admitting that just in case means never allows us to stop procrastinating and invites us to let go and stop living in fear. When we say goodbye to just in case, we can start living and giving in more meaningful ways.

Today I am planning to tackle some of my closets and drawers to declutter my life. Maybe through letting go of things I do not need or use any more, I will feel lighter and more clear headed about my new schedule that starts tomorrow. Perhaps it won’t be so scary.  So what are you saving ‘Just in case’?

Namaste.

April 5, 2017
by Toni
1 Comment

Basic Needs For Happiness- Part 1

This week we began to study the “9 Basic Needs We Have to Meet to Feel Happy and Alive” By Sara MaudeThe first in this series discusses our need for attention. Our need to be seen, recognized and to connect with others is vital to our happiness. In observing my own need for attention, I realized that my husband constantly reaches out to me to show me he sees me and values me. I usually go to sleep before him and every night before bed he comes in to tuck me in and kiss me goodnight. This is his way of giving me attention and taking special care of me. In turn, I feel cherished, loved and important. I do not take this for granted. I know that his gesture is something to be valued. I make sure to take notice of him and give him attention from me. A spontaneous hug during the day is a wonderful way to take notice of someone special in your life.

Everyone needs attention in one or another to feel happy. The key here, is POSITIVE attention. Kinds words, loving gestures and smiles go along way! Additionally, we must give ourselves the same kind of attention. Nurture and nourish ourselves so that we are able give attention and be able to receive it. Put the oxygen mask on yourself and then attend to others. This is as easy as spending a few minutes alone to recharge, take a yoga or fitness class, or meditating. Even just pausing during the day to observe your breath is a wonderful tool to nurture yourself.

Namaste.

The dictionary  defines Attention as:

  1. Notice taken of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important. (Awareness, notice, observation, heed, regard, scrutiny, surveillance.
  2. The action of dealing with or taking special care of someone or something. (Consideration, contemplation, deliberation, thought, study)

Here is Part one of the article.

1. The need for attention

We need quality attention from the people in our lives. More and more people in the world live alone. Unless your needs are being met elsewhere, a lack of attention can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness, and a lack of connection.

Join a meet up group, do an evening course, join a fitness group—anything that gets you out there and talking to like-minded people.

P.S. I have posted some new pictures in my gallery. Take a peek! Just click on the “Gallery” icon at the top of the page.

March 29, 2017
by Toni
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Letting Go Part 5

This is the final part of the “10 Things I’ve Let Go and How This Has Set Me Free ” by Sara Fabia. In this lesson we learned to let go of worrying about the future and to let go of pleasing others. Both of these were very profound for me. I took time to observe my thoughts and found that a lot of my suffering is the stories I create about the future and my insatiable need to please everyone. I discovered that I spend way too much time worrying about others peoples opinions, especially when it is about something in the future. My mind spins through endless scenarios  of the “what ifs?” and “what will they think?” that I end up worrying about the future and placing their needs before mine.

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm”- unknown

I have learned a lot about my behavior through these 10 steps. I know that the first steps are awareness and acceptance. From there I just try to stop my spinning thoughts and learn from observing myself. I practice gratitude everyday to keep me in the present moment. Day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath. I remind myself that I must set myself free from this suffering and that I am the only one who can stop these thoughts. I am the only one who has any control of my mind and heart. I am the only one that can truly set me free.

Namaste.

 

 

  1. I’ve let go of worrying about the future.

I accept that there are things in life that I cannot control, no matter how hard I might try. Each time I find myself worrying, I keep telling myself “Time will tell.”

I might not always get what I want, but I know I always get what I need. I trust the flow of life, and choose to believe we live in an intelligent Universe, where everything unfolds perfectly. Sometimes in life, even the time needs time.

“Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it…it’s just easier if you do.” ~Byron Katie

 

10.  I’ve let go of pleasing others.

I no longer seek external validation so that I can feel liked or accepted. Worrying about what others think is a waste of time. Other people’s opinion of me is all about them and what they see in me, filtered through their lenses; it has zero to do with me.

I’ve stopped expecting others to give me what I wasn’t giving myself: love, care, and attention. Loving myself as a whole—body, mind, and soul—is not selfish. I keep my cup full of self-love, and I take good care of my needs and my heart’s desires.

I have learned how to make powerful choices for my highest good without worrying about disappointing people. People disappoint themselves by setting expectations for who they want me to be or what they want me to do.

Saying no to things we don’t want to do is a learned practice and a sign of self-care. If it sounds like a “should,” I don’t do it. I go for the things that feel like a want. My wants come from myself, instead of being imposed on me by others. I always choose how I am spending my precious time and with whom. I know my time is my life, and it’s never coming back.

My life is about me and I have the right to make my own choices. Life is to be lived, not existed, and I choose to live it authentically, with no apologies and no regrets.

“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz

March 22, 2017
by Toni
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Letting Go Part 4

This week we moved on to part 4 of “10 Things I’ve Let Go and How This Has Set Me Free” By Sara Fabia.  Number 7 talked about letting go of competing with others. After reading this and contemplating it, I found that I have been competing with an older version of myself. The younger one, the thinner one, the one without arthritis. This was very profound for me. Why am I chasing my old self? I love my life and where I am at right now. This is something I will need to explore more. Number 8 talked about letting go of chasing happiness. Live every day fully and experience every moment. Don’t wait for the weekend to live. Be grateful for all the good in your life. This is another great reminder that if we continue to rush through our lives, we will miss some of the greatest and happiest moments.

The first step to letting go is awareness. The next is acceptance. Remember you are a different person every day. Start each day with a fresh perspective and let go of yesterday. Live life day by day,  moment to moment, breath by breath.

Namaste.

  1. I’ve let go of competing with others.

I now know that my need to fight is nothing but my ego’s scream for self-validation. I don’t need anyone to lose any game so that I can feel good about myself. I love harmony, collaboration, and win-wins.

I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. I choose to connect with people from a place of love instead of fear, and I believe in abundance. I choose to believe that we live in a supportive Universe, where there is enough of everything and for everyone, including myself.

“Love is cooperation rather than competition.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer

  1. I’ve let go of chasing happiness.

I no longer project my happiness into an imaginary future, hoping that someday, when I have that job, that house, that car, that success, I will be happy. I have learned to find happiness in the small pleasures of life, and I embrace the only reality that is, the present moment, with gratitude and much joy.

I stopped waiting for the weekends to feel like living because each day is a gift and every single moment is precious and equally important.

The day I shifted my focus from stressed to blessed, everything changed. I am thankful for everything I am and for everything I have: a healthy body and mind; a loving family; a few genuine, last longing friendships I’ve made over time; and a job I love and believe in.

“I have noticed that the Universe loves gratitude. The more grateful you are, the more goodies you get.” ~Louise Hay

March 15, 2017
by Toni
1 Comment

Letting Go Part 3

This week we move on to part three of learning to let go of things that restrict our mental freedom. Number 6 has really resonated with me this week. As I started to pay close attention to my thought process I noticed I seem to “create” or “replay” scenarios over and over. Part of this hamster wheel of thoughts is due to my need to please everyone. I tend to blame myself for other people’s feelings or actions and then I start to criticize and harshly judge myself. Sound familiar? As you can see the previous items on the list of the “things to let go” are intertwined and they often initiate each other. But remember, this is a process and the first step is awareness. We all have had these thoughts at one time or another. Just keep trying to be the best version of yourself everyday. Breathe and let go.

Namaste.

5. I’ve let go of judging.

I know that everyone is on their own journey, and my job is to focus on my own. I also know that each time I am judgmental with people, I’m reacting to something that bothers me about myself. If I believe you are mean, it means I can also be mean; how could I see that in you, otherwise?

“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgment gives you the power to change them.” ~Byron Katie

 

6. I’ve let go of making assumptions about what other people feel, want, or think.

I am not them, so there’s no way to know what they’re feeling and thinking.

I stopped making up imaginary scenarios and letting my mind play with me. Each time I find myself disturbed by what people do or say, I know it’s time for a reality check.

From “The Work” of Byron Katie, I’ve learned to examine the thoughts that trouble me and ask myself: “Is that true?” Many of my assumptions likely aren’t. For example, I might assume someone doesn’t like me, when really she’s just having a bad day. Or maybe she’s just shy. Not everyone is the same.

The moment I realize I can’t know what this person thinks, simply because I am not her, my mind gets clear and I am able to meet her with an open heart.

“I found that my unquestioned assumptions were the cause of all war and all peace in my world.” ~Byron Katie