Tag: meditation

Coach Yourself to Freedom by Letting Go

What does letting go mean to you?

To me it means not allowing events from the past to influence your life today. When you let go, you learn to be in the moment, and experience what is happening right now. Buddhists refer to this as mindfulness or being fully immersed in what you’re doing. Mindfulness allows you to let go of everything going on around you and concentrate on your own actions. Mindfulness lets you to be free from passing judgment or expecting a certain outcome.

Your beliefs and attitudes may be keeping you from letting go and being present in the here and now. When you coach yourself to identify the beliefs that are holding you back, so you can let go of them and your emotional attachment to them. As you let go of the past you will be in the present. If you stop trying to control what happens, you may notice that you also stop criticizing and judging others. It’s simple, coach your mind to shift your words to view the world as the cup is half full and you will not only accept what is, but you will enjoy life more.

Life is a series of choices, many of which we make automatically, unaware of what we choose or why. When we are afraid of criticism or judgment, we are unable to learn from our choices. To be able to simply be, by learning to let go of judgment and ideas of what should be. Replacing your judgments with a sense of self-worth will allow you to develop the emotional intelligence to live in the present instead of dwelling on the past.

Our expectations also cause us to hold on to the past instead of letting it go. You may be disappointed, based on what you feel ‘should’ have happened, or what you think someone else ‘should’ have done. But when you free yourself from your expectations, you will heal yourself and those around you. Just think about how differently you respond when you feel judged, versus when you feel accepted as you are.

An exercise to practice when learning to let go is to ask yourself if you will feel stressed about a situation in the future, whether it be tomorrow, next week, next year, or in five years. The answer, if your honest with yourself will be no; because we do not really know how we will feel when the future becomes the present.

When you allow yourself to be in the moment, you can live your life simply because it gives you joy. Experiencing joy in your life is its own reward.


Practicing Gratitude & Positive Thinking

 

 

 

Building a practice of gratitude & positive thinking is easy for some, but for others, it can be a struggle. If you were raised with an abundance of negativity, it might be challenging to break the habit of looking at life through a pessimistic perspective. However, through conscious choice & practice, you can change that. As your thoughts begin to move toward the positive spectrum, your eyes will naturally open to gratitude. It’s almost impossible to be a negative thinker and have gratitude!

To grow your gratitude, look at how you feel about yourself & the people in your life. Do you gravitate toward trust, kindness, doing the right thing? How is your self-esteem? When you feel good about yourself, you can feel good about others as well! Positive thinking begins from within. If this is a battle for you, try:

  • Repeating affirmations
  • Veering away from overly critical people in your life
  • Reading uplifting material that encourages you & allows you to let go of fear & self-condemnation
  • Replacing negative thoughts as soon as they pop up
  • Focusing on your breathing, consciously slowing it down & imagining that with each exhale, you release negativity
  • Acknowledging the little things that are good about your day & your life

To change the hole in the bucket syndrome (when you seem to never have enough), redirect your focus to what you do have. Your health, friends, a flower growing in your yard, loving pets, two hands, a working mind. Once you begin, you’ll see there’s a lot to be thankful for!

Gratitude is active; it champions goodness, sincerity & earnestness & is meant to be shared with others. The more you give it away, the more it’s like the one seed that grows into a field of flowers – it’s self-perpetuating. Similar to positive thinking, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes. Positive thinking allows you to fail & to try again. It encourages you to grow into your best self & walk away from anything or anyone toxic in your life. Most people who are negative about others are projecting their own inner fears.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. This may sound harsh or simple; however, when you sit on the pity pot too long, you get stuck. Life is made of ups and downs, ride them out & learn the lessons. Let go & move onward. Don’t overly chastise yourself for mistakes. Realize the good in a bad situation. Find those little “thank goodness that didn’t happen” & be grateful. Yes, it’s terrible you lost your job, but you still have all your body parts, move on. Practicing gratitude during difficulties builds stamina & helps you grow stronger & more positive.


Stop Over Thinking

 

 

“I think; therefore, I am.”

Yet often, we overthink.

When we over-analyze our lives, it usually comes from a place of ego, fear, or the need to feel in control. Our existence runs deeper than mere thought. We’re beings who think, strategize, & want. We have intuitions that guide us with our heart & the subconscious, which when dreaming takes on a life of its own. If we cultivate that awareness into our existence as much as the brain & our thoughts, we allow life to take its course. Overthinking never changed the outcome of anything.

When we focus our thinking excessively on one thing, we sometimes sabotage the very thing we’re thinking about. Be it a promotion at work, a call from our partner, or the happiness & success of our children’s future, this kind of overthinking can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorders, adverse emotional reactions, & imagined dreadful scenarios.

We all have to think about the difficult choices we face in our lives. How to respond to the current state of affairs – including a pandemic, the appalling number of young black men murdered due to systemic racism in our country, & our personal circumstances as well. However, from time to time, we need to turn off our brains to allow for healing & growth. The power to let go of repetitive thoughts that often turn negative can be liberating, creating space for growth & lasting change.

When you overthink, your mind tricks you into thinking it’s always right, even when it’s wrong. It may also cause unnecessary stress on the psyche & body. Unwanted thoughts that spiral out of control can destroy your feeling of self-worth. However, discovering ways to turn our thoughts on & off can strengthen your inner calm allowing a more organic outcome to be reached.

  • Yoga & Meditation Practice. During these trying times, when you find yourself at home with more time to think & less opportunity to move, look for a podcast or class on YouTube or live-stream Vimeo courses. Yoga flow classes that get the blood circulating & meditation practices that harness our full attention to our breathwork alleviate unwanted chatter in the brain.
  • Take a Walk – The ego is in constant dialogue with our thoughts & our ego/pride often steer us in the wrong direction. Taking a walk in nature or listening to classical music can instill a deeper connection with your spirit & humanity at large. Pushing all sound & devices to the side & merely taking out a journal to jot our thoughts down is another liberating way to clear the cobwebs in your head. A repetitive sentence or two words such as, “let go, let go, let go,” will help us harness inner calm.
  • Read a Book. Overthinking can overtax your adrenals & send your stress levels to the moon. Our thoughts can be weapons of destruction or bells of peace. Picking up a delicious novel & allowing your mind to relax & get swept away in a story outside of ourselves can help lessen anxiety &inspire your creative side. Overthinking what could, should or would have been, will get tossed to the wind as your imagination runs wild & free in the book’s newfound characters, plots, & sub-plots.

A mind consumed with negative or obsessive thoughts leaves little room for your creative self & the chance to build an authentic relationship with yourself & others. When we think we know every answer or solution, we aren’t able to listen, learn, or evolve. Try listening more & see what happens. You may find you feel a deeper connection with your partner, friends, & family. Inadvertently, you’ll take a chance to learn something that might profoundly shift your life in a positive direction. Had you been thinking about your response & not fully engaging in conversation, you might have lost the opportunity for new & innovative ways of engaging, thinking & being.

How many times in your life have you thought something would happen the way you imagined or wanted it to, & it did not? Now think about all the energy you wasted worrying about the outcome & worse, being disappointed when it didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. Perhaps, in the end, you thought the result would be negative, but it turned out to be positive. Either way, if you learn how to let go of the thinking mind & breathe into a calm mind, you’ll start to manifest a happier & healthier life.

Take one day, one breath, one thought at a time, & let your overthinking melt-away, leaving you calm, clear, & ready to face life with a renewed vigor.


Age is Just a Number

I was meditating recently when I had an incredible realization – I am ten years younger than I actually am. Of course, this realization was unusual. It’s not as though I have the ability to turn back time, or to jump back ten years to relive the past decade. But still, the thought came over me and I couldn’t shake it. And you know what? The oddest thing happened.

I felt amazing for the rest of the day. There was a renewed energy in my thoughts and actions. I felt physically and emotionally better. It almost felt like, well, I was ten years younger.

That’s when it occurred to me – lately I have been dwelling on the idea of my best years being behind me. During my meditation, I realized this doesn’t have to be true. Age is just a number.

Society often assigns negative or positive connotations to our age. We take
these societal ideas to heart – feeling hurt or somehow less than we once were as the years go by. As this isn’t a positive way of looking at things, realize that; you are as youthful, joyful, and content as you believe you are. You are in full control of how you feel – both about your body, your mind, and your life. Your physical age doesn’t need to have an impact on how you view yourself.

Many people use their age to measure themselves, or their success in life. Instead, we should reframe how we view ourselves (and our win’s – big and small). If we are content with ourselves, with where we’re at in life, our age has no bearing on that. If we’re not content with where we’re at – whether we’re young or old – we have the power to change things.

No matter how many years we have behind or ahead of us, they’re all equally wonderful. Let’s celebrate each one.


Starting Your Day with Intention

People often talk about how living with intention can help you to feel happier and more fulfilled. It may sound like a too-good-to-be-true solution to all your problems – but it’s very true. Starting each day with intention can have a dramatically positive impact on not just your mood, but the way you view your life, yourself, and those around you.

What does it mean to live with intention?

The definition of intention is an aim or a plan. Living with intention is to have an aim or a plan for your life, or maybe just for your day, or for the next hour. Life can be busy, and it can also be full of unpredictable events or interactions that cause us stress. That makes it that much more important for us to take control and center ourselves when and where we can. We all deserve to live an intentional life, and one of the ways we can achieve this is through starting our day with intention.

It doesn’t take long – between five and fifteen minutes every morning – and there are several ways you can go about centering yourself and starting your day intentionally.

Meditation

Meditation is not a one-size-fits-all practice, which is why I like it so much for an intentional practice. Rather than trying to clear your mind of thoughts, focus on what you want your day to be. Focus on how you want to feel. Do you want to feel nurtured? Loved? Productive? Creative? Whatever you want out of your day, focus on that for just a few minutes. Over the course of your day, when you feel overwhelmed or like you’re not in control, revisit this intention. Are your decisions moving you toward the way you want to feel or away from them?

A Quick Walk

Make time in your morning to take a 5-15 minute walk. Breathe in the fresh air, take in your surroundings. Use this time to clear your head, and take deep, relaxing breaths. By taking a small bit of time in the morning to focus on and invest in yourself, you are prioritizing you today. Getting your blood flowing wakes up your mind, contributes to your physical health, and centers your emotions.

Journaling

People often shy away from journaling because they feel that their writing has to be top notch, or they’re worried they won’t have anything to journal about. Journaling might not be for everyone, but taking a few minutes at the start of your day to jot down, even if only in bulleted form, how you want to feel today and what you want your life to look like – from big dreams to simple daily goals – can often center you and help you work towards those goals.


Connect Within

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The unfolding of a new year gives us a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, that part within we perhaps call spirit or essence. As we take stock of our physical health, it is equally as valuable to get a psyche check-up, to quietly enter that realm of your being that is unique authentic, unspoiled. You may ask the questions: Where am I on my journey? Does the direction I am moving in match my intention? You may also contemplate your life’s purpose, which may be many folds. To realize yourself more fully takes courage and reflection.

Once you take the time to travel inward, stay for a bit. Clear away all of the stresses and influences that don’t really represent your true feelings or passions. How can you simplify? What practices can you begin that will move you closer to the vision of your best self?

Science tells us it takes twenty-one days to create a habit. What positive habit do you want to implement into your life? For example, maybe you want to stop reaching for your phone or device first thing in the morning. You would prefer to start your day reading reflective material to set an encouraging tone for you day. Place the materiel you want to read where your phone would have been, do this for 21 days and reap the rewards. Connecting within will help you realize these missing bits of your life that can have a profoundly positive impact.

Begin to listen to your inner voices, those aspects of you that may feel neglected. The artist, the writer, the reader, the contemplative. Modern society has most of us conditioned to keep moving, we are sold the idea that stopping for an inner break costs too much time and money. Saadi of Shiraz one of the major Persian poets and influential literary men of the medieval period wrote: 

Things that come easy don’t last long

In China it took forty years to make a porcelain bowl,

while a hundred a day pour out of a kiln in Baghdad.

Which is worth more?

A chick fresh out of the egg pecks its own food,

while an infant remains helpless for many years.

The first never raises its gaze from the ground,

while the second can find stars and galaxies within.

In other words, exploring your values in your inner life takes time; there is no app to click or short cut, which is why we often call life a journey. By checking in, you see how your navigation is going. Have you gotten off course or has your desired destination changed, altered with the wisdom of time? Similar to a marriage or relationship with a partner, to keep it healthy you need to hear one another. It is the same with the self.

How then do you go about connecting within? How do we practice presence from that heart space all of us have? One simple suggestion is to carve out time for stillness. Rather than pile more on your daily to do list, take something off and replace it with meditation. If you are allergic to the word meditation, you can talk a walk, without your headphones. Or if you live in the city, walk with quiet lulling thoughtful music that beckons your inner thoughts. Listen a little less to news. A fifteen-minute reflection can refuel your commitment to living a life that you yearn for rather than feeling as though your destiny is in the hands of others. Read reflective books and let the works marinate into your psyche. We often over expose ourselves to harsh corrosive stimuli, how about swapping that out for books, podcasts or CD’s that support our inner growth?

As 2017 evolves, give yourself the gift of time. Time for inner perspective to hug that person waving from the vista of your true self and enjoy the delightful discoveries that shape your life’s happiness and purpose.

 


Self-Care

Winter for many is a time when colds and flus become a menace in our lives. If this is true for you then finding ways to stay conscious of what your body is telling you is paramount. Notice things like if you feel more tired than usual, or a tiny tickle in your throat, as such observations and treating them can be the difference between having a cold and it developing into flu.

Many of us are taught not to trust our bodies. If you listen, your body will tell you when it is time to slow down. Often we wait until someone of authority such as a doctor or our mother tells us to rest or to take a preventative homeopathic remedy, rather than thinking of it ourselves. By listening to our bodies and trusting in them we begin to take better care of ourselves. By being more aware of our bodies we may prevent or lessen the impact of the colds and flus we encounter during the winter season or any season.

Self-care is a lifestyle; it incorporates daily habits to ensure that you are taking time for yourself in the best possible ways – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Some ideas on how to enrich your practice of self-care on a daily basis:

  • Every morning set your alarm early to allow for 10-20 minutes of meditation.
  • Following your meditation do a quick body scan. This will allow you to hear what your body has to say.
  • Mindfulness will help you slow down and notice the details around you and within you. Once you are more aware, you might notice that tickle in your throat before it becomes a cough. For example: Every time you touch your phone, think about that phone. What color is it, what is the shape, how does it feel against your hand? Doing this will help you be in the moment every time you touch your phone. Eventually this will begin to occur naturally with other things or events as well.
  • Unplug! Sleep better and leave your devices outside of the bedroom at night.
  • Exercise in whatever way appeals to you. Walk, dance, swim, yoga, the gym. Do something, even if it’s for 10 minutes in your living room. Exercise increases blood flow.
  • Make small changes to create a healthy diet. Establish a routine for meals. Drink more water.
  • Take power naps. 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day.
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine in the evening and plan for 7-8 hours of sleep. Your body will tell you how many hours you need, listen to it.

               catcleaning“Make yourself a priority in your life. Afterall, it’s your life.” Akiroq Brost


Creating a Sanctuary

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During the stress of election time, have you found yourself overwhelmed or burned out by the onslaught of newsflashes? The chronic barrage of updates and social media stories can leave you feeling frustrated, sad, or helpless. Do you ever fantasize about escaping to a simpler less hectic way of life? One way to cope and tune out is to create a sanctuary where you can retreat and restore your sense of balance and inner harmony.

What is a sacred space? A sanctuary is a sacred space; it is a uniquely personal place that you carve out to reconnect with stillness. A place that rejuvenates your nervous system and allows you to calm and center your energy. This can be a physical place or an imaginary space that with practice, you can access anywhere.
If you have room to establish a small area dedicated for meditation or quiet time, try decorating it with relaxing photos of your favorite spots: perhaps pictures of nature; oceans, forests, sunsets, or hiking areas with waterfalls that you can place around you. Fill your sanctuary with objects that encourage you to travel within. If room is an issue, make it portable; set the serenity stage then dismantle it when you’re done. Taking the time to carve out a sanctuary sends strong permission signals allowing your body and mind to honor quiet time.

Light candles, play soft soothing music and if need be, set a timer; even fifteen minutes can make an enormous difference. A sanctuary supports your efforts to drop inward to quiet the outside chatter, relieve stress and to approach life with a clearer, calmer mindset. Imagine if you never recharged your phone or computer? Creating a sacred space reboots your nervous system and disempowers fear and anxiety.
The idea of opening up and closing down is like the very beating of our heart; the chambers open and close, both are necessary to sustain life.

Rumi, the famous 13th century Persian Poet, noted.

Just look at your hand
closing the fist always proceeds opening it.
A hand that is always opened or closed,
is a crippled hand.
So your heart also contracts and expands,
just like a bird needs to close and open
it’s wings to fly.

Shutting out the world allows you to open to your inner self. It takes you back to the you, unaffected or categorized by titles. There in the quiet chambers of your being you are free uninhibited by age, illness, or the past.

Although multitasking is rewarded these days, it has detrimental effects on our ability to focus. Taking time to cultivate a sanctuary can boost your mental and physical well-being. If there simply is no room to create a physical space, then create one in your mind’s eye. Get comfy on the bed or sofa or throw pillows on the floor and close your eyes. Begin to imagine a place where you feel calm, secure, in harmony with nature; a sandy beach with a slight breeze, the warm sun on your back. Or in the mountains surrounded by autumn leaves and a babbling brook. Wherever your place is, close your eyes and create the sensory details, the smells and sounds; perhaps play nature sounds on your computer or phone. YouTube has a plethora of these kinds of soothing symphonies from the ocean to a crackling campfire.

Once you’ve created a place in your mind’s eye, focus on your breathing. Slow your inhales and exhales to the count of five, this is guaranteed to induce relaxation. If you have set a timer, release any lingering concerns about time. Stay in your sacred space as long as you need and let tension and stress dissolve. In time and with practice, this inner haven can offer you solace whenever or wherever you need to drop in for a visit.
As the days grow shorter and the animals prepare for hibernation, we too can slow down, settle in, and relish in the safety of your sacred sanctuary.


Letting Go of Negative Narratives

Practicing the Art of Silence


7 Ideas for Inspiration

daffodilsHave you ever tried to be creative but find yourself stuck in the same old way of thinking or doing? This can be frustrating when you need your imagination and out-of-the-box perspective for work or a project. The pressure you may put on yourself often blocks your creative flow. Here are some ideas for freeing up your thinking:

Go for a tried-and-true method. It may seem simple, but we often forget to take advantage of what has worked for us in the past. What inspires you to be creative? Is is art? Perhaps you can go to an art gallery or museum. Does science and technology interest you? Watching a documentary on a groundbreaking discovery may inspire you. You needn’t recreate the wheel. Whatever has gotten your creative juices flowing in the past may be all it takes to unblock you.

Do something you consider “play.” Have you noticed how creative children are when they are playing? When you are having fun, your vibrational energy is in a place of joy, which puts you in a place of positive and free-thinking.

Meditate. Slowing your mind down and emptying it of the chatter of judgements, doubts, and worries can allow you to think more clearly, feel more grounded, and give you a sense of belonging to the world around you. For more on the benefits of meditation, and ways to do it, try this post, Meditation: A Tool for Total Wellness.

Listen to music. Take a listen to what is considered masterful music. Jazz, blues, rap, classical, opera…choose any genre that calls to you. Try this: choose a piece that is touted as a masterpiece or a classic in a genre you don’t normally prefer, and see if you can identify what makes it timeless. Listening to music that isn’t on your regular playlist will encourage you to use your brain in a different way.

Rearrange your space. Simply changing your normal surroundings can lead to new ideas. Whether you move a chair to the other side of the room or try moving around a whole room of furniture, seeing your surroundings in a different arrangement can change your perspective in many ways. You could also forgo your normal seating preference—a particular chair or side of the room—for another choice.

Commune with nature. Nature is inspiring. No matter if humans take care of nature or not, it goes on with its life cycle…growing, evolving, adapting. Allow yourself to be curious about what you see and marvel at its existence. “It is the marriage of the soul with Nature that makes the intellect fruitful, and gives birth to imagination.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Exercise. Research shows that those who regularly exercise are more creative than those who are sedentary. Even just a brisk walk may do the trick to free up your thinking.