With everything going on in this world, it can be very difficult to find sanity mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Tapping into the root of it all, Caren Baginski—Certified Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Yoga Therapist-in-training, and the creator of Being Enough—lets us in on the positive effects of yoga practice to mental illness. She provides awareness of mental health as well as the effects of meditation on people experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression. Zoning in on Yoga Nidra, Caren tells us about this life-changing meditation technique that has deep healing capacity. She also talks about the balance between ancient healing techniques and pharmaceutical/technological advances. Get into this episode and learn more about how to deal with deep-seated issues and more through yoga.
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Positive Effects Of Yoga To Mental Health with Caren Baginski
What is vacillating? It’s such a pleasing thing to say, but let’s dive into what that is. It was a bug in my brain. It’s such insecurity in general. It’s such a vulnerable topic to talk about. What are our personal insecurities? We’re going deep from the gap. What’s your relationship, Caren, to insecurity? How do you dance with that in your daily life? Moreover, how do you spiritually and mentally manage that in your life? I know that’s three questions in one. Let’s dive into the deep end. Let’s throw the floaties off and go there.
I know this world well, especially now because my profession is a yoga and meditation teacher, studying to become a yoga therapist. That’s the whole world of yoga therapy. What you described in that question is how do you mentally, emotionally and spiritually grasp your insecurity and live in this world? Because all of us want connection and belonging and love, but we know that you can’t have those things without risking being vulnerable and exposing yourself, showing up and being seen to some degree. This topic is near and dear to my heart because this is what I’ve started to dedicate my work toward with women specifically through yoga therapy of figuring out how do you live with vacillating insecurity in your life? Some days you might feel great about things in yourself and other days, stuff happens and suddenly your mood is affected or your emotions are affected or who knows? Something happens to get you off course from where you thought that you were.
For me, I feel like this continuum happens of vacillation. I’m a writer. I love big words. I always have. At any one point, how do you meet yourself where you’re at so that you don’t fall into either a hyper state of anxiety or that inertia of depression? All of which I’ve known personally in my life and has been such a life work to work through for myself through the tools in this case of my profession now, which is yoga. I love this topic. I don’t know that I have an answer for you about how to manage that other than it’s a continual practice. It’s something every single day that I work at.
It’s interesting talking about this because I wonder if this is part of the human condition, but it seems unique to us sometimes to talk about our depression because it’s not talked about very openly. What if everybody is going through this or not talking about it? What do you think?
It’s an interesting time now for mental health in general. When you look online, there’s a ton of memes about it. I was talking with my husband about this because he is going to grad school to become a mental health counselor. He has the talk side of things and I have more of the somatic and body side of things in perspective and how memes can be helpful because they normalize and they show you that you’re not alone. They also give you a permission slip than to sit on the couch and not do the things that will help you get better.
It’s so wonderful that you brought this up because I had an acquaintance in LA, who is a holistic health counselor and does a lot of things. I wasn’t aware of this meme thing until about a year ago when she said specifically with young Millennials and Net Genners like Gen Z. She was forwarding all of these comedy memes to me where people were making fun of their depression, suicidal ideation and crippling anxiety. To your point, Caren, my initial emotional reaction to that was like, “Whoa.” I never thought about this idea of them attempting to normalize it in a way, but it was the framing as someone who struggled in the past and still sometimes does with depression and suicidal ideation. It weirdly hit me. I don’t know if I want to make fun of this.
Some of the memes were all these figures or these shots from movies and it’s crippling anxiety, lack of self-belief, trying to kill myself. It was like someone sitting on the couch with a bag of popcorn and potato chips going, “Me trying not to think about all that stuff.” I don’t know. It hurt my heart because it made me think of a study by Harvard Health that I was reading a couple of years ago while I was preparing for a presentation on this topic and doing some research that for teenagers and young adults that suicide is the second leading cause of death in between 15 and 21-year-olds. I thought, “This is the second leading cause of death.” To see people doing these memes, I still feel funny about it. When you said normalize it, maybe that’s what they’re attempting to do. What I’m trying to say is I hear what you’re saying and I still feel weird about it.Stress is the root of tons of disease. Click To Tweet
What exactly does it mean to normalize it? Is it making it okay? Is it making it a permission slip? Is it confusing people? That’s what I’m leaning towards is that if people see so many other people talking about depression and anxiety, maybe they feel that’s normal. Everyone feels this way. Do I need to do anything about it? This is life or do they like the permission slip idea. It’s a little hard to verbalize it. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this much out loud, but it does feel interesting when it’s on social media because if you see something so much, you see something so casually, it makes it okay. Is it okay for it to be that okay? It’s not to necessarily judge or shame anybody for having those experiences, but are we perpetuating something that if we didn’t normalize it in that way, in other words, is it heightening the incidents? Is it causing people to feel more depressed and anxious simply because they feel like everybody feels depressed and anxious so that’s how their life is?
That’s where it gets dangerous is this idea, “Everybody feels like this. This is how we show up in our lives. In this society, this is the normal of I grind hard at my day job or my hustle, whatever that is. I come home and I sit on the couch. I pop on Netflix. I try to tune out and, “Relax.” When all that’s doing is continuing to stimulate your brain and filling it with a bunch of other stories. The TV is pretty violent too. That goes into your mind as well and you don’t think that all of these things are affecting you or your energy at the end of the day, but they are. What you take in and what you feed yourself and what you consume, not feeding, physically eating food, but what you are taking in through your senses and what you’re watching and what you’re looking at on social media. All of that contributes to this state of your mind and your wellbeing. When that becomes a normal thing like everybody shows up, does X, Y, Z, and start over, try to go to bed now with all of these anxieties for your day and start over without a reset for your nervous system, we end up walking around and having issues. Stress is the root of tons of disease.
I love that you talked about the root of it because I feel that when it comes to mental and emotional health, mental and emotional wellness, there are many myriad strategies or things that people can attempt to do. I feel that a lot of them are not addressing the root. They’re addressing the symptom. With your work, with yoga therapy, mindfulness and meditation and the things that you assist women with and the things you put out on social media, what have you found effective in terms of yoga, meditation and mindfulness? When you talk to people, you get in deep with them and you work with them one-on-one. What commonalities have you found in terms of dealing with those roots? What things have you found are at the root of people’s struggles with this?
One of the biggest things that even I had to learn early on is to consciously take time to do nothing.
Now I know a lot of readers can be like, “We do nothing.”
I don’t want to do that. What are you talking about? Doing less, doing nothing, nothing at all and by that context, one of the primary techniques that I love to use with people because it’s so accessible, is a style of meditation. It’s not the type of meditation when you think about sitting there, holding the Mudra in your hands, trying to keep your spine as straight as possible and watching the thoughts. Good luck for most of us, when you assume that position, most of us are like, “I’m going to think about a million different things and feel like when I’m done with this that I hadn’t helped me.” Yoga Nidra is a life-changing meditation technique that I’ve experienced over the past several years of my life. It has shifted things for me in a big way when I continually practice it and that’s what I primarily use as one of the techniques with women.
It is a horizontal style of meditation. You’re lying on your back, maybe in bed, maybe on the ground and doing nothing but listening to a guided meditation. It takes you through your body, through your breath. The idea is that you get deeper into conscious sleep than you would if you are sleeping because the mind is still going when you’re sleeping, dreaming. In Yoga Nidra, you try to arrive at the delta brainwaves, which is dreamless sleep. It’s that state of the body and the nervous system when you can hold yourself there and ride that wave between waking and sleep, which is what Nidra means. Nidra means sleep. When you can get into that space, your body accesses that deep healing capacity on a cellular level. It’s used in the military, PTSD. There’s protocols for it, hospitals, prisons, schools. It’s super accessible because you’re lying on your back. The hardest part is staying awake sometimes. Even that’s okay because they say the last sense that never shuts off when you’re sleeping is your hearing. At some level, you’re still hearing, even if you fall asleep.
Truthfully, I’ve done Yoga Nidra maybe thrice in my life. We started with vacillating. First of all, what are the benefits? Have there been any studies in terms of the effects on brain neurotransmitters or say blood pressure levels? Have there been any studies that show direct physiological benefits?
There’s been a lot of studies around it. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, which is the body’s Valium increase. The helpful neurotransmitters increase, the stress hormones decrease, cortisol. There’s been a measurement of changes to the thickness with meditation in general, but also Yoga Nidra the thickness of the gray matter in certain aspects of the brain. Your prefrontal cortex, you have more gray matter development there and less of a connection to your amygdala. When you think about that, the prefrontal cortex is that logical reasoning, higher mind that we’d associate with making good decisions and being able to control impulses and things like that. The amygdala is the fight or flight. That connection decreases. There’s a lot of different research out there that corroborates this ancient technique from 800 BC was mentioned in one of the Indian texts. This has been around for so long, but it’s not mainstream.
I love where we’re going because it feels this conversation is useful for me like everything you’re sharing because of what I’ve gone through and continue to go through with sleep, depression and anxiety. I’m curious where you see the intersection of these ancient healing modalities for say Ayurvedic herbs or eating plant-based, all these things that we’ve been doing for thousands of years and things like new technologies. You see things like weighted blankets or you see things like certain electromagnetic therapies. If we talk about SSRIs or pharmaceuticals, what do you see as the balance between these ancient healing techniques, these more holistic therapies for anxiety, depression, and maybe more of the new school, pharmaceutical or technological advances? What’s that relationship like for you? How do you see that?
For me, I have also been clinically depressed in my life and I’ve been on two antidepressants when I was in high school and after college. That’s the whole reason why I got into yoga and why I did a career shift because I was a journalist before this. That’s how I met you guys in my journalism job. I don’t discredit western medicine. When you start to become black and white about healing, you’re missing out on an aspect that could move the needle for you the most. It’s up to the person and the healing team to give advice, but the person to look inside and say, “I’m going to trust and I’m going to go down this path. I’m going to try this. I’m going to try that and never give up on yourself because the next thing that you try might be the thing that helps you heal.
One of the big things that we want to address with this show is encouraging people to continue to experiment even when it feels uncomfortable to keep pushing yourself. A lot of people are looking for shortcuts and maybe the reason that they look for shortcuts is because of the discomfort. I don’t want to continue being in pain for too long, so let me do whatever it takes to get out of pain the quickest. That’s a very high moral urge, but in this modern day that we’re in, it’s almost incredibly confusing and because a lot of people know that the shortcuts may not be best for the long-term. There’s almost this panic of if I don’t do something right away, if I don’t get pleasure right away, if I don’t get out of this pain right away, I’m going to continue to suffer it. I don’t know how I’m going to get through my life.
That’s a huge thing. It’s huge when it comes to food. A lot of people don’t want to eat healthier because of that transition from how they’re currently eating to something that might be better for their long term health. That transition is where it’s uncomfortable. The same thing is true with any of the “shortcuts” that you might take to relieve depression, anxiety, and those types of things. I remember I took antidepressants for a small period in college. It was simply out of a panic I was feeling because I didn’t know why I was feeling the way that I was feeling. I was desperate to get out of it very quickly. I went to a psychiatrist that gave me that medication.
Ultimately, it wasn’t the medication that helped. It was the therapy I was getting from her. I’ve spent the rest of my life since that time, trying to figure out how to feel my best every day. It’s been several years since that time. I felt had to find that inner strength to be uncomfortable for a long period through all of this experimenting. I feel a lot of people are very afraid of that discomfort and how long it might take. When am I going to get out of this suffering is that looming question all the time.
One question for both of you because this is interesting. Much like you, Caren, I was diagnosed with clinical depression a few years ago. I remember at the time my doctor who is experienced in both eastern and western. He gave me the option. He was like, “We can tackle this from a pharmaceutical approach if you want or we can do a more holistic methodology with therapy and meditation, getting you on the right supplements and adjusting your diet.” Pause there for a second since both of you who have had experience with SSRIs, was there any sense of shame around taking them? I feel like in the holistic health world there is this almost binary thing of western medicine is bad, pills are bad, anything chemical is bad, and anything laboratory-made is bad. There’s this hard-line I feel and a lot of people in the holistic health world that they have this attitude of like, “I’m never going to take a pharmaceutical.” Was there any emotional stickiness around taking those pills? How did that affect you both emotionally?Never give up on yourself because the next thing that you try might be the thing that helps you heal. Click To Tweet
My answer is short because at that time I didn’t know nearly what I know now. I didn’t have any shame because I wasn’t around people that knew that much about wellness. I don’t think the wellness world was nearly as advanced or at least in my head backs then. I don’t remember thinking too much about it. I probably kept it to myself. That goes back to the difference of time when I was taking the antidepressants. Social media was not a thing. This was before Facebook was out. Unless I was having it in a conversation or seen it on TV or reading a book, there wasn’t this community that we have now. Shame was different back then. Shame was very different before social media in general.
For me, I remember I had to take a liquid because I couldn’t swallow pills. I remember there being this dual thing of Prozac being like, “I can’t swallow the pill.” I don’t like swallowing pills when I was in high school. I’m going to take this little vial of Prozac and pray that this is the thing that helps me out of it in high school because nothing in my life was wrong. This was where the shame came in for me. I had a very privileged life growing up. I’m well aware of my privilege as a white woman. There’s the woman thing, but being white and growing up where I did. Going to the private school and my parents having money and what was wrong with me that I couldn’t enjoy where I was in my life at that time, it blindsided me.
For me, the shame was more wrapped up around, “I can’t swallow pills and I have to take this liquid.” I shouldn’t be feeling this way. There’s nothing that could have made me feel this way. Looking back on that though, because that’s several years ago, I was very introverted. I didn’t have a lot of close friends. Part of that lack of connection drove me ever more inward into that inner world that wasn’t always positive. That was the vacillating insecurity. Talk about that, of being a teen at that point in my life of feeling like, “Am I going to make friends, close friends? Do people like me? Am I going to get the A?” I was very tough on myself as a kid. I had a big inner critic, even from a young age.
Do you think that inner criticism was part of the root? Why do you think you were feeling that way if you couldn’t find any obvious reasons for it? This is such an important topic because I can relate to that too. I also grew up very privileged. I don’t know if I thought that much about it when I was struggling and decided to take antidepressants. I was looking for an escape. It was like, “I got to get out of this pain.” It’s interesting. I’m starting to reflect on my own experiences of like, “Where did that come from? Why was I feeling that way?”
At this moment for me, it was because I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions yet. This was during my freshman year of college. I didn’t have the emotional tools. A lot of the things that I was feeling, I still feel to this day, they still come up, but I have more tools now that I turn to instead of medication. That was for me. It was like I probably didn’t need to be on antidepressants. I was at a loss of understanding myself. I hadn’t started to understand myself. I didn’t have consciousness. I didn’t have tools like yoga meditation that I turn to now or aromatherapy. I didn’t know any of that stuff. That’s part of my passion for educating people now. It’s giving them all these tools that they can use instead of or in addition to the medication. For you, did you come to any conclusion about why you’re feeling that?
Now at the time, I can look back on that and articulate everything right that I said of that was what was going on. At the time, though, I didn’t know what was going on. I knew that I felt horrible and I didn’t want to exist anymore. It was the lack of having a strong community in terms of mirrors and having people to say, “No.” Getting me out of my internal world and having a connection. Another part was being a person who for whatever reason genetically or how I was raised, I don’t know. I’m the type of person who has high expectations of myself. When I wasn’t performing well at school or something got tough and I started to get down on myself and that created the spiral of feeling like I wasn’t enough, which is the root of a lot of issues. That whole sense of feeling like you’re not enough.
To go back to what we were saying before, maybe that explains why there’s so much on social media, all these memes about depression and anxiety. If not-enoughness and self-criticism are at the root of a lot of those feelings, you can’t generalize, but I’m sure a lot of people can relate. Social media is causing a lot of those feelings or maybe not causing them, but escalating them. Is that the comparison trap on social media? We can look at someone and say, “I’m not good enough compared to them,” or whatever that criticism is coming up in. All three of us, we’re lucky not to have media in our teenage years, even at the beginning of college for me. We experienced that. I can’t imagine what that’s like to be a teenager now with social media and not compare yourself to your classmates in school or to your family members or your friends but to compare yourself to the entire world and feel not good enough.
The not good enoughness thing, I love that we’re swimming in this part of the pool because it’s cool. It’s such a layered, nuanced, deep thing though that so many of us share as human beings. Perhaps the thoughts or the nuances of why we think we’re not enough might be varied, but the fact that most of us know what that feels like. I want to dig into this because there are many layers to not-enoughness in this comparison thing. We have societal expectations right on in general of what society says as a man or a woman or a white person, a person of color or whatever it is. As this type of person, you ought to have this job. You ought to be making this type of money. If you want to be happy, these are the aspects of life you ought to pursue relentlessly. There’s maybe the deeper layer of familial expectations that are stuck in our subconscious. I’m curious, Caren, what your particular tools are not only for yourself but what you teach with your clients and your students to address this deep-seated issue? How do you break that down with people that you work with?
Why I’m so drawn to yoga and why I found my way there after my second antidepressant is because of this one simple statement. Yoga and yoga therapy techniques aim to help you remember who you are, which is that you’re not broken and you don’t need to be fixed. You need to remember. One of my teachers gave me that and I love it. It’s so potent and powerful that remembering who you are at your core, which is not you’re vacillating insecurities and not mood or whatever’s going on chemically in your brain, it is coming back home to yourself. That’s what yoga helps me do. When I first started practicing, it was very much a physical practice like most people go to classes and they know yoga as that as postures. You put yourself into these crazy shapes sometimes in heated rooms, sometimes not.
You do your best to pay attention and come to an alignment. I’ve been practicing for several years and teaching for a long time as well. My practice has shifted to the point where now it’s a lot more about addressing all aspects of me and not the physical. You can get at the emotional, you can get at the mental, through the physical. You can also lie down. Do nothing in your physical body and experience bliss. There’s a lot of different ways to get at. The states that you want to feel and attain the vitality with the calm, not the burnout, not the fatigue, to find out how to become more vibrant and more honed through many different tools of yoga, one of which is the postures that people know about.
Another one is the seed of meditation or lying down meditation. A huge one that doesn’t get a lot of play most of the time is Pranayama or breathing. Breathing is huge to shift and affect mood states. I use a lot of different breathing techniques with my clients. I use a lot of different postures that will elicit a different response somatically in the body to release trauma. One of the big things that has helped me is one of the best-kept secrets that was given as a gift to me on a very important retreat that shifted my perspective and helped me breakthrough in my life. This retreat is called Path of Love and one of the tools is emotional discharging.
This is basically where you allow yourself to have your emotions in a safe space with nobody else around and act them out. Don’t keep them in your brain. Don’t write them down on a piece of paper. Grab a pool noodle or a pillow and take that anger out as you need to. That alone changed my life. It sounds so crazy and it’s a little embarrassing to admit. It feels a little uncomfortable. You said this might get uncomfortable. This is the moment when it is. However, I’m going to talk about this. It’s because of judgment. It’s because it’s not something that we are told to do or taught that is okay. Experiencing anger, experiencing frustration, taking that out and being irritable. All of these things are like don’t experience that, don’t go there. That will make you angrier. That will add fuel to the fire. I found that it douses the fire when you let the emotion come out of your body somatically. It’s very similar to my little dog on my lap right now who are getting a little amped, little nervous. When she gets anxious, she gives a calming yawn and shakes her body furiously. All she’s doing is resetting her nervous system and that is the same work that you would be doing through emotional discharging as resetting your nervous system. This is not my work. This is the work of Peter Levine and other somatic therapists that you may have heard of.
It’s also interesting that you’re touching on this, Caren, because I feel right and we go back to this binary, somewhat judgmental or myopic viewpoint. A lot of the wellness community or holistic health community, you see it on t-shirts and stuff like high vibes only. It’s funny because I find myself being furious whenever I see that of you are denying these aspects of your id and your cosmology, the anger, the rage, the disappointment, the not-enoughness by saying high vibes only and not giving people the permission for the tools. This amazing tool you shared to say, “I have all this pressure because I saw this meme on Instagram hives only that I’m not allowing myself to be angry and fully experienced that in discharging. I’m not allowing myself to feel this late into a rage that I’ve denied for years.” I love that you said that because it flies in the face of this very myopic attitude of like, “Everything is amazing all the time and everything’s high vibes all the time. That’s not possible as human beings.
One mindset shift that I’ve had lately is that it doesn’t serve us to judge people that are thinking or speaking that way is because for them, maybe that tool helps them. Maybe for them, they need a mantra of high vibes only that helps them cope. Maybe that perspective of let’s say positive all the time is working for them. It’s important not to judge anybody that might enjoy that idea for themselves. It’s triggering the three of us because we don’t see the world that way. It doesn’t mean that it’s not okay for somebody else to live that out.
To your point though, the thing that I’m very present to I suppose lately because I know I’ve done it and I’ve been that guy, especially several years ago, arriving in Venice Beach for the first time. Everyone’s high vibes until I realized there was a lot of darkness and pain and suffering I hadn’t dealt with for me because I was so focused, “I got to be high vibes all the time.” I felt so much pressure to be happy, positive and be that guy to light up the room wherever I went. I wasn’t addressing my own inner life as a result of that.All of us want connection, belonging, and love, but we know that you can't have those things without risking being vulnerable. Click To Tweet
It’s like the highlight reel though. We see this on Instagram and that triggers a lot of us as well is that people are only posting the best parts of their lives or sometimes the worst parts of their lives. What about the in-between? We start to compare ourselves to other people’s best moments or worst moments that they’re sharing. You’re saying here is you might’ve been walking around saying high vibes only, but there was something going on under the surface that you weren’t addressing and you weren’t telling other people about. Going back to the beginning of this conversation and thinking how many people probably deal with these tough emotions, but if they’re not hearing other people talk about it, they think they’re alone.
The other side of it is everybody is talking about it and you’re like, “This is totally normal.” It’s interesting and it’s all about how we present ourselves to others in the perspectives we have. Remembering also that we go through phases. At one point you wanted to be the high vibes, zoning guy. I’m sure I’ve gone through I don’t know if I ever used that term, but my version of it, of trying to look at the world a certain way. The way that we show up depends on our experiences, our viewpoints.
There’s a concept in yoga called Pratipaksha Bhavana, which is a cultivation of the opposite. It’s part of the mental game of yoga where there is a negative if we want to use that word, thought or emotion, cultivate the opposite. It’s where this whole high vibes thing came from is like, “I need to replace the negativity in my life and the people who are bringing me down with the positivity and attract what I want,” in that whole culture and manifestation. How can you ever expect to be whole when you’re so busy trying to keep part of your essential human nature at bay? I feel like there’s room to be a whole human authentically joyful and have all of you show up at the table, not your pieces and parts.
Let’s talk about healing because I wanted to address this. We’re in a culture that is accomplishment-oriented that it’s like I need to get this done. I need to achieve my goals. I need to make my dreams come true. With healing for some people, there’s also that mentality that filters into their healing process like, “I have to cure my cancer. I have to cure my depression. I have to get rid of my anxiety.” These get rid of cure, overcome. In your experience specifically regarding mental health, emotional health, all the things we’ve been discussing. Is it something that can be “cured” and is it a worthwhile pursuit to have that mentality around it of there’s an end goal here?
It’s difficult when you talk about curing. That word is so loaded and I don’t think it always often serves us in the healing process because it presumes that there’s an endpoint that you’re trying to reach. After the endpoint, things will be different. Every single moment of your life, things are different. During the disease or the illness or whatever it is, the car accident that you’ve gone through, every single moment of that healing process is different. There’s generally never an endpoint, which is so frustrating to me because I feel I’ve lived my whole life trying to arrive, trying to get somewhere, trying to finally say like, “Now I know it all, now I have it on, now I can be satisfied,” but there’s always more and that’s the nature of life itself is growth and expansion.
That’s the universe. The universe is always expanding. It’s contracting in certain places, but we expand. We’re always expanding too. If the world is like that, the nature outside of us is the nature within us. If we are the stuff made of stars and how can we expect ourselves to arrive at a certain point and feel we’ve been fully evolved and cured and saved or whatever it is. Getting rid of some of that pressure and maybe this goes back to me talking to myself as the teenage kid taking the antidepressant. If I could go back and talk to her now, what a beautiful life I’ve had. Even though I’ve had a lot of ups and downs and I’ve overcome a lot of different things. If I can take off that pressure from somebody to say, “Show up, be in this moment.” Meet yourself where you’re at, where you need to be met out through whatever technique is going to move you toward healing rather than trying to keep it away. Go into that uncomfortable space and see what happens.
You had answered the question I was going to have for you. You anticipated the question which was going to be what piece of advice would you have given your younger self who was struggling with depression? You answered that so beautifully. Not in that context, but for the audience who might be struggling right now or feeling confused or having tried so many things. Perhaps their suffering isn’t being alleviated, but to know that we’re evolving, expanding beings. As we always say, to be relentlessly experimental and that what works for you or Whitney or me or any of the readers, those puzzle pieces, that Rubik’s cube combination per se is going to vary for each one of us. That one protocol necessarily isn’t going to be exactly the right fit for everyone in their process.
Everybody is different.
It’s also about being very present, which is a mentality that served me so much because all three of us can also relate to this emotion of that pressure, feeling the pressure of needing to be accomplished and the audience can relate to that. Especially because of social media, this comparison of look at that person’s life. I want to have a house like that. I want to live a life like theirs. I want to look like them. I want to have that relationship like them. I want career success. If we’re present to any joy that we could experience in this moment or throughout one day at a time, it changes everything because Jason and I have talked about this many times on the show. We talk about this privately often, which is that it seems we’re all striving for success, but if you listen to interviews with people that have found success, they don’t seem to be any happier.
It’s not like if you finally make the amount of money that you want, you’re going to be any happier, or if you get the car or the house or the relationship. There’s always going to be something else that can disrupt your happiness. Something else that can “steal” your joy away unless you are present to feeling happy and grateful no matter what your circumstances are. When I look back on my old self, I think the same thing. When you’re talking about feeling that depression, anxiety, however, you would describe it as a teenager, a feeling you needed to be something maybe different than what you were or to accomplish something or you weren’t there yet, you weren’t good enough yet. I feel like that’s a lifelong struggle. That’s amazing that you realize it early on because some people maybe even go to their death bed carrying that pressure and lay in their deathbed, looking back, did they accomplish everything that they wanted? Did they live the life that they wanted? That present is how I can be happy right now at this moment, no matter what’s happening? If I’m not happy, that’s okay too. It’s more about acceptance and action.
It’s how I can be present to what is here now? Whatever that is and not surrender in the sense of I give up and I’m going to sit on the couch because it’s normal to feel depressed, but to rather get curious that this thing that is in front of you is going to shift, change and show up for that. Acceptance is what it’s all about. That’s when I felt the most movement against my inner critic is when I got out all of that anger and all of that frustration and all of the wanting of everything in my life to be different or to have arrived. I laid there and had this moment and I’ll describe it because this is the best I can describe it. I was lying on my back and it felt like I was a sky full of stars.
There was this spaciousness in my chest and it was an okayness. That’s when I knew I was like, “I’m going to be okay no matter what happens. I feel it. I know this in my body now. I know I can return here. I don’t live my life with that feeling every day. I do my best to try to visit that space as much as I can. Something that you touched on Whitney too that helps me stay there is gratitude. It’s being present to here’s the anger, here’s the sadness, here’s the joy and allowing them to come and go like guests instead of trying to cling or push away.
Do you feel like happiness is a sustainable thing? Do you feel it’s healthy that we have this attitude of always striving for it?
It’s funny because when I first started my business, I called it Happy Momentum. I was focused on depression at that time and had a meditation program that both of you have tried out, a yoga which no longer exists. That was my first foray into this world. I ditched it because I realized for me happy is so loaded. I prefer joy. I can feel joy. I don’t know what it is about the word happy, but the part of me still coils back from it. Maybe it’s this pervasiveness in the culture and the sense of it trying to attain something outside of yourself. I don’t know what it is around that word, for me joy works better. That’s what I use. That feels right for me somehow. Even though it’s pretty much talking about the same thing. Words matter what you choose to surround yourself with and what you think they matter. It’s a worthwhile endeavor. It’s something that we are all trying to do in different ways with different tools. To say if you don’t have it, then life’s a waste or that’s when it gets difficult is when it becomes about that.
We talked a lot about this joy as a euphemism for happiness. As we’re doing this, one of the most powerful practices with gratitude is sometimes taking inventory and feeling into what we’re joyful for. What are you joyful for in your life that brings you deep, gushy and yummy joyfulness?It's so potent and powerful that remembering who you are at your core is coming back home to yourself. Click To Tweet
My husband, my rock, him for sure. I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it weren’t for him. My dog Willow and my work is another big one that I’ve found my way to something that lights me up inside that I feel I’m good at and that I get to decide on my terms, how I want to move forward with my work and be of service in the world. That’s what’s coming to mind now. I’m sure there are other things as well.
If the world wants to find you, Caren, and work with you and explore your work in this world, how can they find you online? How can they reach out to you?
You do one-on-one coaching and your courses.
I work one-on-one virtual and in-person sessions. I also have a program called Being Enough, which is for the sensitive accomplished woman who wants to kick that inner critic to the curb for once and for all.
You can go to Wellevatr.com. You can go there right now or whenever you feel like you want to dig into any of these resources.
Caren, it was so deep, delightful and raw. We adore you. We don’t see each other that much in person, but whenever we do, it’s lovely and wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to connect and go deeper with us.
You’re welcome. I’ve enjoyed it.
Thank you for getting uncomfortable.
- YouTube – Caren Baginski’s channel
- Being Enough
- Path of Love Retreats
- Peter Levine Trauma Healing
About Caren Baginski
Caren Baginski is a 600-hour certified yoga instructor and the founder of Being Enough. With more than a decade of yoga experience, she coaches women to move from self-doubt and fear to confidence and acceptance. She is currently pursuing yoga therapy certification.
In 2016, she co-wrote the manual and co-led a Yoga Alliance certified 200-hour teacher training program at The Freyja Project, Denver, CO. In 2017, she again co-led the 200-hour teaching training. She is Reiki Level I and II certified and has completed trainings in Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra.
Prior to teaching yoga full-time, she was a digital journalist and social media strategist in the home, health and lifestyle wellness industry. She has written for publications such as Yoga Journal, Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, Elephant Journal, Natural Foods Merchandiser and HGTV.com. She lives in Denver, CO, with her husband, Evan, and papillon dog Willow.