It has been a very long time since I have used this space as my creative outlet and a month into 2014, it's time to exercise that muscle again. The first blog post of the year was inspired by Mommyhiker.com - thank you for asking me to share a little piece of me on your space Jennifer Fontaine!
As you hike your favorite mountain or stroll your favorite path, you may find your mind wandering to the existing to do lists, unfinished projects and mastering problem solving. In today’s world, it is becoming harder and harder to disconnect and this constant connection and being “on” can bring a lot of anxiety and stress to our lives which can turn to disease and depression. To restore balance and refresh your mind, take some time to let go of the hustle, get outside by yourself, with your kids or your partner and try some of these soul rejuvenating exercises.
1. Listen. Take time to listen to all the different sounds around you. Birds chirping, ocean waves, the crinkling of leaves or rocks underneath your feet, a nearby creek, or people passing by. Allow all that is to be, and allow it to flow through you. As you listen, consciously slow down your breath in order to slow down your mind, listen to your breath. When you find your mind wandering, bring it back with your breath and begin focusing on the sounds that surround you.
2. Breathe. Create a rhythmic breath that is slow long and deep as you move...(click to finish reading)
According to ancient Kundalini yoga beliefs we are living in a time of great energy shifts and today (11.11.11) marks the entering of a new astrological age. We go from living in the Piscean age to living in the Aquarian age which is said to mean that we are going from living in a society where individuals, hierarchies and machines ruled to living in a time of information, awareness, intuition, energy and community.
To ride this wave of great change, it is believed to be a great time to set your intentions as well. Maybe you haven't thought about what you want to experience in your life in awhile, or maybe you want to make some changes and not sure how to go about it.
I can tell you from my experience that any change that has taken place in my life, has first happened in my mind and then on a piece of paper.
Here are some tools that have helped me over the years to recalibrate and organize my intentions, goals and visions for the future:
1. Meditate - Meditation increases your intuition, it balances your nervous system, brings you a sense of inner peace, and helps you to act rather than react to your life. It also raises your awareness and shuts out the noise so you can listen to your gut. Go here for an easy and effective meditation.
2. Exercise - A vigorous Kundalini yoga set, a run, or sometimes it's a workout video at home. Moving your body changes your energy space, releases endorphins, brings balance and makes you feel clear. A good sweat always makes me feel more connected.
3. Write - This is one of the most effective tools I have used to reaffirm my goals, bring clarity to ideas, and it's also a fun exercise to solidify the experience of what I envision in my mind for my life, my family and friends, as well as the world and my community.
This writing exercise has helped me shift my energy from having the feeling of "wanting" to experience a change", to "knowing" what I want to change is possible by feeling it and seeing it in my mind and on paper, then to finally "experiencing it" in life.
How to use writing as a meditation for intention setting:
Start by choosing a quiet place where you feel comfortable and are able to relax.
Take a moment to be conscious of your breath, deepen and slow down the breath. Relax your head, neck, shoulder, belly, lungs and straighten your spine.
Whether you're on a laptop, or an iPad, or have your favorite journal and a pen, make a pact that you'll write only words that are positive and uplifting.
Afterall, remember we are only focusing on what we want to experience.
Open your heart, open your mind and put your imagination to work.
Ask yourself questions such as "if this change ocurred how would I want to experience it? then put yourself at the end result of that change and describe in writing.
What it is that you experience? How do you feel? What is it like?
Instead of "I'm going to live a life that is free of financial burden" try "I live a life that is financially abundant and I feel at peaceful and free".
It may feel a little uncomfortable at first to write something that is not yet manifested, but getting through that feeling of discomfort opens the doors to what you WANT to change/experience rather than what you are experiencing in the present.
This exercise for me has been key in my life and I hope it adds to yours.
Much love to you,
Is a very special day as we'll be handed the keys to our house and officially become homeowners for the very first time! The entire process has been amazing, emotional, stressful, time consuming (hence no blog posts in a month), elating, humbling, sweet, and I am so very grateful to be experiencing all of this with my husband, Matt.
Through it all I've had many "coin drop" moments and I will be sharing some of those thoughts here in the posts to come...the main one to take away is that events in life happen the way they happen and not in the way we plan/expect it to, it's important to remind ourselves of this and meet the experience with gratitude and openness (and even humor!) instead of resistance and fear.
This is life, we are blessed to be experiencing it, and even though we are steering the ship, we don't control the direction of the wind. Trust that you'll reach your destination even if there are a couple of bumps along the way.
More fun to come... packing, donating, moving, unpacking, decorating, house projects (like setting up my yoga and meditation space - eep!), and prepping for a house warming..
Thanks for reading and have a fantastic week!
Before I even knew what Feng-Shui was, I realized that changing certain elements of the physical space around me, changed the way I felt inside, and ever since then I have made time to organize, and declutter my space as a form of meditation & recalibration. Just as a healthy diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, fun, and sleep are some of the ingredients for a happy, light and feel good life - taking the time to make your space inviting, organized and clean are just as crucial.
Here are some ways I revamped my physical space recently
1. RENEW & RESTYLE ~ here is a before & after of my bedroom
2. FLOWER POWER - Add flowers to your space, they're pretty & they smell good. I get my flowers from Trader Joe's or from my local farmer's market, sometimes I go outside and clip some out of my nice neighbor's yard :)
Another tip: Use bottles and jars as vases.
3. CHANGE IT UP - I am not naturally inclined to get things for my home that are colorful, I tend to like neutrals, whites, browns, etc., but I've learned that a splash of color here and there really makes a difference in the space.
I recently added a beautifully bright table cloth I received as a gift.
It added an instant smile to the room.
4. EVERY DAY IS SPECIAL - Using dishes that you don't use everyday when you want to make the moment special is something I learned from my mom. I love to use a "special" tea set when making tea even if it's just for myself. This one is a set that has been in my family for many years (thank you Mami!)
5. DONATE & DECLUTTER! I just got this wonderful jewelry organizer from my mother in law and it is amazing how great it feels to have all my jewerly organized, now I can actually see what I want to wear. Declutter your space, stuff takes up energy and causes stagnation, if you haven't worn that peacoat for the last 5 years, donate!
Make sure you set that intention of organization and creativity. Spend the time cutting the ends of flowers stems and then placing them in a vase, add a new throw pillow to the couch, light some candles, open the windows to let some fresh air in, take the time to scrub the floors, or sometimes it's as simple as throwing on some good tunes and cooking your favorite meal as you sing at the top of your lungs.
All of these actions carry a certain energy and when released, this energy fills your space, it's a stress reliever, and due to the action of starting and then bringing a project to completion creativity is added to your space ~ and to feel organized and in the flow is a great feeling.
Try it! Spend some time and declutter your space, make a plan and get started.
Get rid of things you no longer use or wear, get rid of items that are broken, donate, gift, recycle - try it and see how you feel.
It has been a fun and an extremely busy month over here and amidst the busy times, new projects, traveling, etc. I have been thoroughly enjoying this beautiful summer we're having. To me summer has always been a time to relax, to get away from schedules and routine (as much as possible), to sleep in, go to the beach until sunset, nap when you're tired - to relax, take it all in, and enjoy.
Here are some of my favorite summer moments so far.
1. Beautiful sunrise greeting my yoga & meditation practice
8. Sunsets, Bronco rides with my love, and spontaneous fireworks in our neighborhood in June
What have you been up to this summer?
In this blog post I will share with you why I meditate, a bit about Kundalini Yoga & Meditation, then a simple breathing meditation that I have been practicing this spring for clarity and peace (read and practice at your own risk).
Before I began practicing yoga and meditation over 10 years ago, I was intrigued with our ability as humans to develop a pratice that allows us to control our minds, to regulate emotions (therefore our experience of life), decrease anxiety, increase peace and awareness.
To me, this is the key to live a life that is happy, healthy, and one that I steer in the direction I want to go in as opposed to making choices that come from my fears and anxieties.
I thought..if I can develop some kind of practice where I can calm my mind, release fears, increase inner peace, develop my intuition and connection with myself.. I can live in my truth. Meaning I would make decisions in my life that are aligned with who I truly am and with that which I want to experience in this life. That is when I found the yoga of awareness, Kundalini Yoga & Meditation (as taught by Yogi Bhajan).
Simple questions that I asked myself in my early 20s like... what kind of life do I want to live? where in the world do I want to live? what type of partner do I want by my side? what type of partner am I? what kinds of foods make me feel good/which don't? what kind of friends do I want in my life? what kind of person do I want to be? what kind of job do I want to have? what kind of impact in the world do I want to make? how can I give to others? ...would have been very different had I answered them before finding this practice.
To keep my mind clear, my connection to my soul clearer, and to live out my purpose and path in this life. This is why I meditate. When the total me is in a relaxed state, and I feel connected and unified, magic happens. Relationships flourish, goals are met, opportunities show up, the day to day is happy, fun, inspired and there is a ripple effect as people around are also uplifted. I have experienced this by dedicating some time everyday to a meditation.
What is Kundalini Yoga & Meditation?
The word "yoga" means "to unite". If you have taken a yoga class, you have most likely left the class feeling a sense of unision, and connectedness within.
What I experience through yoga & meditation is the elimination of any feelings of separation (which comes with fear, anxiety, experiencing yourself as a victim, projection onto others, anger, etc) and instead a feeling of connectedness.
Kundalini Yoga was brought to the U.S. in 1969 by a man from India named Yogi Bhajan. Kundalini Yoga is also known as the "householder's yoga" because of the tools within the practice allow you to experience their benefits immediately.
This practice involves physical movement, breath, meditation and mantra. Put simply, you show up, you tune in, you move your body through specific exercises that balance your energy centers, nervous system, glands, you breathe in unision with the exercises, then it's relaxation time, after that we meditate.
There are various types of kriyas (or set of exercises) as well as meditations in Kundalini Yoga and they are all designed to focus on paying attention to a specific area (ex; burn out anger, improve sleep, strengthen the immune system, etc.) and all produce a specific result. If you would like to learn more about Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, I highly recommend attending a class near you in order to experience it.
This practice added so much to my life, that after a short time of practicing, I chose to go through teacher training and get certified. I have been a certified Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher for over 7 years now and through the lifetime of this blog I will share tips and tools from this wonderful science that have benefited my experience through this life.
Sometimes when it's a new season I like to begin a new meditation practice to get a new perspective.
This Spring, I chose a meditation that I've kept in my back pocket for years, it has allowed me to experience a lot of clarity and has a soothing, and calming effect ~ Sitali Pranayam ~is simple and for me, it helps to shut down the noise.
Why I chose this meditation.
Lately, I have bounced around a lot of ideas, goals, things I want to accomplish, and while that is exciting and creative, it can also be overwhelming and be accompanied by stress.
I've always had a thing for to do lists, so much so that the to do's now include various categories.. the contents of this list range from practical day to day to do's like "get shampoo, berrries, teas, & spinach" to more long term goals like "buy a house (begin steps now)", to random reminders like "remember to cut fresh flowers from the garden often - you love this!".
With so many reminders, to do's, goals, and projects running through me all the time, I am grateful to have these tools to turn to so I can keep my perspective and clarity.
Here's what I do:
1. First I sit on a comfortable surface with a straight spine (if you can't sit cross legged, sit however you feel comfortable making sure you are alert and have your spine straight).
2. I close my eyes (with the eyes closed I look at the space in between your eyebrows for focus).
3. With my hands on my knees (or in the lap), I take some deep and slow breaths, relaxing the lungs, releasing the belly and making sure to take the air in slowly and deeply to the bottom of the lungs. Taking this time to be in the moment, and slow down the breath. Shoulders are away from the ears.
In Kundalini yoga before we begin a meditation or yoga practice, we take some time to tune in with the Adi Mantra which is a mantra in Gurmukhi (the language of Kundalini Yoga mantras)
The mantra is "Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo", and we chant it 3 times.
It means "I bow to the Creator, I bow to the Divine Teacher within"
If you have never practiced Kundalini Yoga and haven't experienced this mantra, simply take some time to be in the moment, be aware of your breath and slow it down.
5. Exhale through the nose while keeping the tongue sticking out.
6. Continuing inhaling and exhaling very slowly. When inhaling it's as if you are taking a sip of air through a straw (rolled up tongue).
7. Start with 3 minutes and work up to 11 minutes (I time meditations on my iphone).
:: Tips & Notes ::
1. When inhaling, mentally chant "Sat" (pronounced "Sut") and when exhaling, silently chant "Nam".
Sat Nam means "I am truth" or "Truth is my true identity".
Having a mantra like this helps to steer the brain to keep focused on the meditation, and to be in the moment. Naturally, thoughts will come up, anytime you catch yourself engaging with your thoughts, (ie; writing a to do list) and not being present within the meditation, go back to the eye focus in between the eyebrow, back to the focus on the breath and the mantra.
2. This breath is a great tool to use when you are experiencing anxiety, stress, anger, and need to slow down, and cool yourself down. I have practiced this meditation before bed, at work when things are hectic, when I feel stressed, and it always connects me to that all knowing, infinite part of myself that is calm, and aware.
3. Do it long enough so you feel the benefits, you should feel calm and light. Sometimes I need to practice this for 22 minutes other times 3 minutes is all that I need. Follow your intuition.
4. Enjoy it, don't judge yourself, focus on the breath, keep up & reap the benefits.
Much love to you and Sat Nam,
p.s. - if you tried this, feel free to share your experience here..dont be shy :)
We took a spontaneous roadtrip up north to visit my sister in law (who just moved to Cali) and here are some images I took with my phone while taking in all the beautiful sites.
This exercise was very mediative and inspiring. Good company + good music + snacks + gorgeous country side = inspired little ole me.
Meditation post is coming a little later today so come back to check my new spring meditation that is super easy to do and will make a huge difference in your day and life.
(I am posting this from our road trip home - I love technology!)
I ♥ LOVE ♥ new beginnings.
Ever since I could remember I have always loved starting anew. Mornings because it's the beginning of the day, Mondays (yes even Mondays) because it's the beginning of a week, Fridays because it's the beginning of the weekend, the 1st of every month and so on..Find me on a Monday morning that falls on the 1st of the month in the beginning of a new season and you might get a hug, or some money.
I think it comes from the notion that at any day and anytime any of us can choose to start anew, a new style, a new project, a new idea, a new way of thinking, a new hobby, a new love, a new friend, a new habit, a new practice, etc.
This is one of those times for me, as I mentioned in my last post I am having a major case of spring fever and with that fever comes so many ideas and goals that aid spring renewal and new beginnings.
Here are some of my **SPRING GOALS**, these are things on my list that I would like to accomplish before Summer comes. What are some of your goals over the next few months?
1. Begin a new meditation & yoga set sadhana (daily practice) and share it here with you!
2. Change the scenery (change the picture above our bed, as well as our bed spread)
3. Donate clothes, shoes and any old books to Goodwill
(click on image & learn how to make an impact by donating)
4. Get a new do - I dont cut my hair often, but I need a trim and a refresh baaaad.
5. Create a new iPod playlist for workouts & yoga
6. Finish my wedding album (we got married in September which was 2 seasons ago)
7. Ride my bike more (& get a new bike)
:created by me here:
8. Plan the next date night (about once a month we plan something for the other person and we tell each other nothing except for the date, time, & what to wear ~ it's fun!)
9. Schedule a new group Kundalini yoga & meditation class that focuses on aiding sleep
10. Work on mystery project #1 and take steps to make it a reality.
WOWZAH! It has been busy around here!
I've had a great last few days celebrating mother's day weekend with my mother in law who was visiting us for a few days.. now that it's time to come back to reality, work, a schedule & a sudden surge of SPRING FEEVAH!
Spring fever usually means that I want to rearrange things in our home (maybe new bedding, wall art, etc), shop for new clothes, refresh my meditation & yoga practice, as well as my workout routine, clean out the closets (again) - you get the picture - I need some fresh new energy in the air.
Over the next couple weeks, I will be posting my "renewal projects" with you so keep checking back.
Until then, here are some highlights from our mother's day weekend!
1. We ate yummy food
3. We had a surprise sing-a-long at dinner
4. We discovered unusual plant life (I've seen succulents, but these are HUGE)
5. A very nice guy by the name of Fabian at Plum Goods
(THEEEE coolest store on State St.) gifted me this very cool 80's cover mix
Thank YOU Fabian!
6. One of my favorite things to do was go Olive Oil tasting (& purchasing!) at Global Gardens
6. We ended the weekend with a trip to the Rose Bowl flea market
(here are a couple of my faves)
Hope you had a fun weekend!