On the Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine

On the Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine

by Cara Bradley

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Overview

Tap Your Personal Power and Thrive

Have you ever hoped to recapture the powerful sense of aliveness you’ve felt at the best moments of your life? Cara Bradley can show you how. With enlightening stories and fresh practices, her book will teach you how to experience what she calls “high-definition, high-voltage living” on purpose, every day. She will expertly guide you through the process toward an indescribable sense of fulfillment and empowerment that you may not have thought possible but that was always there, on the “verge” of happening, ready to emerge. This user-friendly book also offers:

the encouragement to not be a spectator of life but to instead cultivate ways to live beyond your busy mind and be present in each moment
the coaching you need to stay consistent with transformative daily practices
the guidance to trust that, like spiritual sages and Olympic athletes, you have brilliance and strength available to you at any time


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608683758
Publisher: New World Library
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Cara Bradley is a former pro skater, a lifelong teacher, a mental strength coach, and the founder of Verge Yoga in suburban Philadelphia. Cara hosts the podcast Real Women, Courageous Wisdom, teaches international retreats, and presents yoga and mindfulness programs at conferences and universities nationwide and online. She lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Read an Excerpt

On the Verge

Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine


By Cara Bradley

New World Library

Copyright © 2016 Cara Bradley
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-376-5



CHAPTER 1

"Let Me Do"


I was born Carolyn Marie Ferrara, the only daughter sandwiched between two sons in an Italian American family from the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. As a fiercely independent child, I didn't take orders well, resisted advice, and insisted on doing everything myself. My three favorite words were "Let me do." No one could tell me what to do or show me how to do it. I needed to do it myself, thank you very much. My need for autonomy carried through my teenage years, when day in and day out I insisted on being left alone to figure things out for myself.

This "Let me do" attitude worked both for me and against me. I developed some useful skills, such as not believing everything I read, standing up to peer pressure, and possessing a readiness to try most things at least once (as long as it doesn't involve jumping out of planes).

In early adulthood I became impatient and impulsive, making hasty decisions without consulting the experts, a.k.a. my parents, including a last- minute transfer in my sophomore year of college, quitting a sweet position at a New York investment bank, and dropping out of a fast-track MBA program at New York University. I married in my twenties, changed my name to Cara in my thirties, and got a tattoo in my forties. I've taught everything from step aerobics to hip-hop dance, performed on Rollerblades around the world, and started a handful of businesses, including selling hair bows in Greenwich Village, ice-cream cones in New Hampshire, and figure-skating apparel in Nova Scotia.

So here I am, Cara, the "Let me do" risk taker, who must see, hear, taste, smell, and touch everything before I accept it as the real deal. I don't like gimmicks and steer clear of big promises. Don't try to BS me, because I'll smell it a mile away. Before I buy, I need to touch. Before I sell, I need to trust.

Being a "Let me do" kind of girl means I need to experience everything myself. When I hug my daughters, I want to feel the hug. When I'm chopping garlic for fresh tomato sauce, I want to smell the garlic.

The reason I have to thoroughly see, hear, taste, smell, and touch everything is quite simple. When I'm fully engaged in whatever I'm doing, I feel more awake. When I directly experience what is happening, I feel fully alive — and, by the way, so do you.


Life Is Not a Spectator Sport

You experience life in different ways. Some experiences are direct, some are secondhand, and some are muted. A direct experience is your firsthand knowledge of a sensation, state, or feeling; it's exactly what you're feeling in any given moment through your five senses. Secondhand experiences are someone else's interpretation of an event or experience. A muted experience occurs when you're mentally distracted or emotionally drained; your experience of life is muddled because it's mediated by your busy mind.

Let's take a closer look at how you may be experiencing life.


Secondhand Experience

A secondhand experience is a description of a sensation, state, or feeling as told, written, or demonstrated by others. It's their interpretation of what's happening. Your mother tells you about the sunset she watched or your friend says the burgers at Sally's Diner are the best she's ever eaten.

Take eating an orange. If your friend Bob tells you about the orange he ate, it's not your firsthand experience — it's secondhand. In other words, Bob's explanation describes his firsthand experience; it won't help you taste the orange.

When I tell people about how invigorated I feel after a yoga class, they often smile and nod their heads. They can listen to me all day long, but they'll never, ever know what it's like to practice yoga until they step onto a mat and try it for themselves. My experience won't take them there — ever. It will always be secondhand, that is, until they show up for class.

To use another example. Let's say your friend gives you courtside seats to a basketball game. Sitting on the edge of the action, you hear the players breathing heavily. You feel the wind brush your face as they speed by. However, as close as you are to the game, you're not in the game, and you're not a part of the team. Unless you put on a jersey and step onto the court, you are a spectator experiencing the game secondhand.


Muted Experience

Experiences become muted when you're mentally distracted or emotionally drained. You can say your senses feel fuzzy or foggy. Muted experiences are your muddled interpretation of life through the lens of your busy mind.

For example, you don't notice the sky is blue, because you're consumed with worry about your son's test; you walk past a bunch of roses but their aroma doesn't register, because you're too busy remembering when your ex- husband gave you roses on your anniversary; or you eat an apple but totally miss its crisp tartness, because you're thinking about tomorrow's doctor's appointment.

Most people walk through life having one muted experience after another simply because they're too busy thinking. When you are consumed with overthinking and overdoing, life becomes a string of muted experiences, and over time you grow dull to your five senses. Over time, you grow dull to your natural capacity to directly experience life fully.


Direct Experience

There are moments in life when your experience is direct and vivid. What you see is sharper and clearer, what you touch is more real, tastes are more vibrant, smells are stronger, and sounds are more distinct. These are your direct sensory experiences.

Direct, or firsthand, experiences are moments of deep connection, when you're vividly aware of your sensations, states, and feelings. You experience life beyond the filter of your busy mind in a space where you feel awake and alert. Experience life through the crystal-clear lens of your own direct experience, and your world becomes bright, your senses light up, and you feel fully alive. When you directly experience the moment, you are on the verge.

A direct experience is not something you learn from a book or a teacher. It's your own encounter with reality — with life as it is happening at this very moment. A direct experience is yours and no one else's.

Firsthand, direct experiences happen in present time; they're your full sensory experience of whatever's happening right now. For example, you smell the ocean, you feel cold, or you see the blue sky. Your direct experiences offer you a real-time encounter with life in this exact moment and in high definition.

Direct experiences come in many packages and arrive at the most ordinary moments, like the smell of dinner cooking or the feel of sand between your toes. They can also take your breath away, like hearing your baby say "Mama" for the first time or watching the sun set over the ocean.

You can have a direct experience in any moment. They are happening 24/7. As long as you're breathing, you can tune in to your direct experience of life as it's happening right now.

The only thing holding you back from showing up and directly experiencing your life right now is your busy mind. You're likely conditioned to do instead of feel, and think instead of be. Pausing to notice what your five senses are saying may happen more rarely than you'd like to admit. Don't worry, you're not alone. Experiencing life through the muted and sometimes distorted lens of the busy mind is one of our current human dilemmas, one on which I hope to shed some light for you.

The good news is that when you settle down and get out of your own way, your attention drops down below your head and into your body. You'll arrive in a space where you become vividly aware of your senses and exactly what you're seeing, tasting, touching, hearing, and smelling. Connecting with your body through physical sensation is essential to experiencing life fully. Your body always experiences life directly and vividly.

This bears repeating. Your body always experiences life directly and vividly. It cannot do otherwise. You can't smell or see something secondhand. Your body is always present; the feeling of grass under your feet cannot be muted or dulled. Only your busy mind can mute or dull your experience.

Since most of us are more identified with what's happening in our minds than in our bodies, we experience most of our lives through the filter of thoughts and emotions. Although your mind is often busy and distracted, your body is always present. In order to directly experience life more often, you'll need to shift beyond your busy mind and connect with your body more often. I fully trust you have the potential to do so, and not just once, but all the time.

Pause right now and check in with what's happening. Notice the sensations in your body. What are you feeling, tasting, touching, hearing, and seeing? Take a moment to pause and shift from doing to feeling, from thinking to being. Notice your senses. Show up and engage with life directly, and you'll experience what I call high-definition, high-voltage living.


Primer Practices

On the next page is your first Primer Practice. You'll discover many throughout this book. Each only takes a few minutes to do. These easy-to-do Primer Practices will "prime the pump" — they will prep your mind by settling your thoughts and calming your nervous system. As you steady your mind, you shift beyond it into a clear space where you become aware of your body and directly experience your physical sensations.

The Primer Practices are essential to living on the verge. So when you come upon one of them, do yourself a favor and give it a try. I know how easy it is to skip over stuff. The only way you'll truly benefit from what I'm sharing is to roll up your sleeves and get curious about how you're experiencing life. Reading this book may inspire you here and there, but ultimately my words will not help you feel any more awake or any more alive. The Primer Practices are opportunities to do so. Don't just breeze by them.

All of the Primer Practices are available in audio form on the Verge Mobile App, easily downloaded through my website: www.carabradley.net.

Let's do this.


PRIMER PRACTICE: STOP, TAKE FIVE, EXPERIENCE

This simple exercise couldn't be easier. It's a great way to quickly notice where you are and what you're doing. Practicing this throughout the day can help you become familiar with which experiences of yours are direct, secondhand, or muted. Read the full instructions before starting.

1.Set your timer for two minutes. Close your eyes.

2.Actively pay attention to your breathing, by counting five full breaths. It helps to think, "Inhale, exhale one. Inhale, exhale two," and so on. Listening to the sound of your breath will almost immediately relax you and begin to settle your busy mind.

3.After five breaths, open your eyes and sit quietly.

4.Try not to put words to your experience. Look around and actively notice your surroundings. What do you see, smell, hear, taste, or touch? If you hear a bird chirp, just note that. Do you smell coffee? Note that too. If your mind is very busy thinking, that's okay too. Whatever you notice is perfect. There are actually no correct answers when you practice — you just practice! Pausing to notice the moment and what you're experiencing is the first step to connecting with your body and waking up to your direct experience more often.

Throughout the day, practice actively paying attention. Stop, take five, experience. You can do it in the chaos of your commute, in a moment in between meetings, or while waiting for the school bus to arrive. It is easier to pause when you minimize distractions, but it's not essential. The following situations can help you tune in to your body and notice your direct experience:

Turning off the car radio

Focusing only on finishing the email

Exercising without listening to music

Cooking dinner without trying to multitask

The fact is, if you are breathing, you are experiencing your life. Whether you're aware of what you're experiencing is another matter. I want to help you to become aware of and recognize your direct experiences. Start actively paying attention to what you're experiencing right away. Try it again, right now. Try it several times today. What's happening in this exact moment? What do you see, smell, or hear? How do you feel? Are you tired or energized? Do you feel dull or awake? Start naming your experiences throughout your day.

Naming what you're experiencing gives you breathing space. Pausing to acknowledge sensations interrupts your busy mind and allows you to rest for a moment. Such pauses in the frenzied speed of our everyday lives can be a great relief — like a breath of fresh air.

They also make you available to experience brief moments of beauty or intensity that you've been too distracted to notice. For instance, you may stop at a red light and glance up to notice the sun peeking through the clouds, or you look up from the kitchen sink and catch your daughter dancing by herself in the backyard. Perhaps you take that first bite of a juicy peach and close your eyes to savor its sweetness. I view these brief moments as glimpses of being fully alive.

Such glimpses are happening all the time, and with practice you'll start noticing them in every corner of your life. Glimpses are not just feel-good moments. They are like arriving on the threshold between a moment ago and a moment from now. They are your direct experience in this exact moment.

Glimpses invite you to experience how you're always awake and fully alive. Like a whisper in your ear, they remind you that you already have everything you need to experience your life fully and that you already know how to show up and shine.

Your life is too precious to treat it like a spectator sport, so don't be content to sit courtside watching the game happen in front of you. Why not directly experience your life fully? Let's explore high-definition, high- voltage living. Let's directly experience living on the verge.

Are you ready? I hope so.

Come on, say it out loud with me: "Let me do!"

CHAPTER 2

On the Verge


As a competitive figure skater, I spent hours on a clean patch of ice practicing figure eights. I traced my figures over and over while on one edge of a very thin blade. I recall drinking in the cold damp air on those early mornings before school in the hushed stillness of the quiet rink. I loved every minute of those training sessions, including the precision of the movement, the serenity of silence, and the joy of being alive.

As a young skater, I became keenly aware of the accuracy required to glide on the edge of a sharp blade. A slight shift in focus or a moment of hesitation would throw my body off just enough to affect the crispness of my edge on the ice. Even a subtle distraction while creating a figure eight could result in the difference between a gold medal and eighth place. There was no room for error. I needed to be fiercely focused as I leaned into the edge of my blade. I needed to be fully engaged. Without knowing it then, I was training my mind to recognize when I was distracted and to show up in the moment again and again. I was training to live on the verge.


This Moment Is the Verge

If you're like most people, your mind is busy, filled with untamed emotions and unruly thoughts. Your attention is often anywhere but right here. You churn out thought after thought as you live in the chaos and clutter of your busy mind.

Busy mind is a catchall term I use to include anything that pulls you away from showing up right here and now. Your busy mind includes the thoughts, emotions, stories, and perceptions that often mute your experience and trap you into stressing and overthinking your way through life. Too much mental content frays your nerves and keeps you awake at night. Simply put, your busy mind is an overwhelming place to live. The mental junk drains you; the drama and distraction always leave you feeling exhausted.

Although thinking is useful, overthinking can be detrimental and even destructive. It increases stress and blocks your capacity to connect with your body and access your natural intelligence. But please don't fret. Knowing you have a busy mind is the first step. Get to know your busy mind, and you'll see how too much thinking mutes your experiences.

When you're preoccupied by thoughts and emotions, you experience life through the filtered lens of your busy mind. You see life through the haze of emotional disturbance or the tension of mental stress. If you are living from your busy mind, you're not aware of your body, and if you're not aware of your body, then you're missing the full, direct sensory experience of this very moment — forever.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from On the Verge by Cara Bradley. Copyright © 2016 Cara Bradley. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction,
Part I: Wake Up and Show Up,
CHAPTER ONE: "Let Me Do",
CHAPTER TWO: On the Verge,
CHAPTER THREE: Being Fully Alive,
CHAPTER FOUR: Clear Mind,
CHAPTER FIVE: Bright Body,
CHAPTER SIX: Open Heart,
Part III: Verge Practices,
CHAPTER SEVEN: Awake and Fully Alive — On Purpose,
CHAPTER EIGHT: Notice This Moment,
CHAPTER NINE: Move My Body,
CHAPTER TEN: Meet My Mind,
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Notes to Self,
Part IV: Verge Strategies,
CHAPTER TWELVE: Be in Sync,
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Be Kind,
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Let It Go, Let It Be,
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Be Aware,
Part V: Show Up and Shine,
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Coming Home,
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Leaning into Ripe Opportunities,
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Trusting Intelligence,
CHAPTER NINETEEN: Welcoming Peace,
CHAPTER TWENTY: Experiencing Fearlessness,
Conclusion,
Acknowledgments,
Online Practice Support,
About the Author,

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