Alanna Zabel is one of the most in-demand yoga teachers in Hollywood. But when she’s not training pro athletes and celebrity clients or designing clothes for her AZIAM label, Zabel is sharing the deeper lessons of dharma she has gleaned from years of study. Those lesson are outlined in her new book As I Am: Where Spirituality Meets Reality, a user-friendly guide to living a Zen life that includes a 21-day-program to help re-align with your true Self.
We asked Zabel to share some of the ways that anyone can learn to live a more authentic, self-aware, and powerful life. Here’s what she said:
1) Be here now. On average we have 28,000 days in a human lifespan. That really isn’t a lot. When we are present, we resume a natural flow to our life (or the “dharma zone” as I call it in my book). This flow is what happens when we let go of the limiting tethers of the past and future—where you forget about the outside world and are completely doing what you’re doing, whether that’s writing, drawing, practicing yoga, meditating, or any activity. Synchronicity occurs when we are in this zone, and our lives flow effortlessly. Knowing that our time is limited, it is wise to practice being present, and to enjoy each moment as it happens.
2) Be Kind. There is a strong correlation between well-being, happiness, and health among people who act with kindness toward others. It is difficult to be angry, resentful, or even fearful when we are showing unselfish love and compassion towards other beings. I love leading seva(service) yoga retreats because I see a massive shift in my retreaters when we begin our service activities. For example, it doesn’t matter if they are cleaning dirty food bowls for elephants or shoveling dirt. They undoubtedly begin to settle into a deeper sense of happiness and presence.
3) Listen to yourself. Taking and following the advice from another person is assuming that: 1) They have lived through exactly the same predicament as you have (meaning that all the factors are exactly the same); and 2) They have the same wants and needs as you do. Neither of which is probably true. However, taking bits and pieces of advice from others can be helpful, but it is always most wise to [listen to yourself] and make certain that your actions are in line with who you are and what you want for your life.
4) Spend time alone in silence. Alone time has a long list of benefits, which include boosting your immune system, strengthening your relationships, and improving your outlook on life. Try taking 30 minutes every week where you turn the power off externally and amp it up internally. For example, turn off your phone and email. Spend [time] sitting somewhere peaceful, where you can focus on your breathing and being present. The happy contradiction is that alone time like this will carry over to your other relationships and endeavors. When you connect to yourself in a deep and true manner, you start feeling more positive and powerfully charged. It’s easier, in this state, to connect to others with a bigger way and with greater joy.
5) Avoid gossip and drama. Judgment is making a “good” or “bad” assessment based on how we think things should be. This makes it very limiting to maintaining presence and realistic awareness. We begin to judge other people based on past judgments and our perspective of reality becomes tainted. I’m running a30-day Don’t Judge Challengestarting May 15. This group event and practice is meant to get us into the habit of not letting life’s imperfections drag us down while refining the practice of non-judgment.