Tag: Yoga

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.


The Science Behind Laughter

Is laughter really the best medicine? We hear this saying all the time, and it can be easy to roll our eyes at when we’re not feeling so great. Whether it’s stress caused by outside situations that’s bringing you down, or internalized negativity, sometimes the last thing you want to do is laugh. Still, don’t we always feel noticeably better after a good laugh? Or don’t we feel like a weight has been lifted when you finally break down and laugh so hard you cry after a full day of everything-feels-like-it’s-going-wrong moments? The truth is that laughter is a kind of medicine – and not just because it makes us feel better emotionally! There’s a science behind it that proves just how positive laughter can be in your life (especially when you’re feeling down).

Laughter Gets Your Blood Flowing

The act of laughing dilates your blood vessels, improving the blood flow all over your body. Increased blood flow improves brain function, muscle function, and the function of most of your organs. It also decreases the chance of cardiovascular disease. So, just by improving blood flow, laughter helps to improve the functionality of the rest of your body. The increased blood flow also releases T-cells, B-cells, and Gamma-interferons, all of which boost your immune system.

Laughter Chills You Out

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Laughter is the cure. The act of laughing releases endorphins, much like exercise does. These endorphins leave you feeling positive and relaxed. But, that’s not the only way laughter works to calm you down! When you laugh, your body reduces its output of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Laughter is very literally taking away your ability to hold on to stress.

Laughter Yoga

If you want to use laughter in your life, consider laughter yoga. The concept behind laughter yoga is that voluntary laughter acts the same as involuntary laughter. Some liken it to internal jogging – it’s an exercise for your mind intended to release the positive endorphins and reduce stress hormones. If you’re feeling a little nervous about trying it out for the first time, I recommend starting with this simple breathing and relaxation exercise: