How to Get Shit Done & Enjoy Your Life.


Life is paradoxical, yet simple.

Mindfulness isn’t enough; we need compassionate action too. Mindfulness, or daily life practice, or being, must be paired with action, with compassion or doing.

Hope and fear are also two sides of the same coin. So are attachment and aversion. Life is a matter of precarious balance. Holding on and letting go.

And then there is birth and death. No matter how many times we read or think about the fact that life is impermanent and ends in death and that everything is actually changing all the time, it only really sinks in when we experience drastic change or huge loss.

We want a sense of control.

We want, as Pema Chodron says, “solid ground beneath our feet,” a firm foundation of righteousness and security on which to stand. (But when we think we’ve got it, this is an illusion.)

We want to know things. We want to understand.

Wisdom comes through time, reflection on experiences, lessons learned in daily life and relationship.

There are always three things happening in any situation: What’s happening? What are you doing? How are you? They work together and overlap.

We can view reality as it is, pay attention to how we are responding and how we feel.

We can address, “What’s happening?” wisely by looking at the nature of what’s happening in this moment. Checking in. Asking, am I in the present, fully experiencing this?

We can examine, with openness and curiosity, just what is it that we are doing. How are we reacting or responding to this moment, this experience?
We can address the question, “How are you?” by working with emotion in meditation. The inquiry into our emotional state, our energy, our health or lack of health is arguably the most important aspect of human living.

Be mindful. Look at what’s happening, what you’re doing and how you are in the present moment. Then communicate, act, behave and aspire—with compassion, love and kindness.

Let’s go out and find the things we can do to benefit all beings and the planet, our passions and purposes.

Mindfulness is an absolutely essential element of a happy, meaningful life. So is compassionate action. May peace and the force be with you!

The Myth of Work-Life Balance.

The whole concept of “work-life balance” is flawed, because it implies that “work” is somehow separate from “life.”

Life is life. Work is life. Play is life.

We may mentally categorize our lives into work time, family time, social life, and so on, but these separations are an illusion. Every part of our lives (and the universe) is interconnected—and everything is in flux, all the time.

For years, I was at war with my career.

It had morphed into a wild beast with a mind of its own. It—among other things—drove me to depression, anxiety, mania, insomnia.

One of my jobs made me resort to suicidal fantasies, another led to my penchant for habitually smoking a bowl before work and/or on my lunch hour. I would go find a patch of shaded grass in which to sit and eat my sandwich and do a minute of yoga and be outside in the fresh air with some semblance of cerulean freedom… before dragging myself back to the grey computer in the grey cubicle in the big grey office building.

Like so many people, I was basically a paid corporate slave who “earned” two weeks of vacation per year. Plus national holidays!

In a scenario like this, there is no possibility of balance.

Even if your schedule is more flexible and you “work from home,” is that better or worse? Instead of working for the weekend, we’re working on the weekend—to make ends meet and/or because our “office” is in our pocket.

If you hate your job and must compartmentalize it as separate and mutually exclusive from your “real life,” this is a sure sign you need to find a better suited job or career or vocation or living.

Is the salary, health insurance and retirement plan really worth it?

Keep reading


Translation: Go to school. Get a job. Get married. Procreate. Follow the style. Try to be normal. Don’t go crazy. Watch TV. Obey the law. Save for retirement… Now, repeat after me: “I am free.”

10 Secrets of Meditation Success

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there—buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” ~ Deepak Chopra

I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga and mindfulness for 12 years. I’m neither a guru nor an expert and I’ve gone through many phases of practicing regularly and not practicing regularly.

I am currently, for example, out of habit.

I could list excuses or reasons but I won’t bore you with the details. Point is, I’m starting fresh.

Beginner’s mind.

And so, as I begin again these are five techniques I find helpful in my own meditation practice along with five wisdom quotes from great spiritual teachers. May they be of benefit!

Thank you for reading…

Mindfulness, Yoga & Writing Retreats in Guatemala {2014-15 Schedule}

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;
for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness;
and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
Audrey Hepburn

buddha facesDharma Yoga Retreats

Dharma Yoga Retreats focus on sharing Buddhist teachings and meditation practice, combined with hatha yoga. These retreats will include periods of silence and optional fasting.

November 7-9, 2014
February 27-March 1, 2015
April 30-May 3, 2015
June 12-14, 2015

the written word

Writing & Yoga Retreats

Writing Yoga Retreats focus on cultivating creativity, journaling and writing, combined with hatha yoga, meditation and relaxation practices.

October 17-19, 2014
November 27-30, 2014
January 30-February 1, 2015
March 28-April 1, 2015

Sample Daily Schedule

7:00-8:00 a.m. Yoga and meditation (all things are optional, always ~ go with the flow)
8:30-10:30 a.m. Breakfast & Rest
10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Yoga or writing workshop
12:00-4:00 p.m. Lunch & rest/hike/swim/etc
4:00-6:00 p.m. Yoga & meditation workshop or Yoga & writing workshop
7:00 p.m. Dinner
8:30-8:45 p.m. Group meditation


We host retreats at various fabulous locations in Guatemala, including the following:

Lake Atitlan: La K-Zona (Cerro de Oro), Casa Colibri (Santa Catarina Palopo), Venado Azul Yoga (Pasajcap), Maya Moon Lodge (Tzununa), La Paz (San Marcos La Laguna), La Fortuna, La Iguana Perdida (Santa Cruz La Laguna)
Antigua and the City: Earth Lodge, G-22
Pacific Coast: Paredon Surf House, Paredon Surf Camp


Accommodation and food costs vary from $20-100 per day (Q150-800 cada día), depending on where the retreat is held and what types of accommodations and meals you choose.

Yoga, meditation and writing instruction and coaching are offered on a sliding scale, based upon the honor system. People who live here at the lake in Guatemala generally have less money than tourists and travelers coming from the US, Europe and elsewhere. I trust that people will pay what they can and what they feel for the yoga and other workshops. Here are the sliding-scale suggestions:

3-day retreats: $100-300+ / Q800-3000
4-day retreats: $150-400+ / Q1200-4000
5-day retreats: $200-500+ / Q1600-5000

So, the total cost (accommodations + food + yoga, etc.) for a retreat could range from $140 / Q1100 (for a local resident of Lake Atitlan attending a 3-day retreat at most affordable location) to $1000 / Q8500 for a (for an affluent visitor from Canada attending a 5-day retreat at our most luxurious location)


Michelle Margaret Fajkus has been practicing yoga for the past 20 years and teaching since 2002. Her style is hatha vinyasa yoga and her teachers are too many to be listed here. She is a secular Buddhist and a Gemini yogini. Her classes and retreats are open to all levels and are usually taught in Spanglish. For more information on Michelle and her yoga, please visit Yoga Freedom!

Some of the retreats will be co-led by other teachers as well. Details on that to follow soon. Collaboration, baby!


To get more information or register for a retreat, please contact Michelle at yogafreedom @ gmail dot com or by phone (in Guatemala) 5703 3989.


Photos courtesy of: Flickr & Flickr & me