September

Hello everyone, it is your host Sevina.

Happy September!

STRESS MANAGEMENT RESOURCES
Sevina Altanova
Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist,
Certified Reiki Master, HIIT Personal Trainer
& Certified Yoga / Meditation Teacher


The purpose of September’s issue is to give you tools which will help you thrive during the pandemic and take care of your physical and emotion well-being on your own.
The products below are ($10, $15, and $25) once you buy them, they are yours forever. You can save it on your device (computer or smart phone) and use it anytime you want. Also, you can gift it to anyone you want and let other people get help as well.


 Here is my gift for you – a link to a free meditation.


https://stressmanagementresources.com/product/free-meditation/


Visit www.StressManagementResources.com  
 
 
Yoga and Meditation Class


 
https://stressmanagementresources.com/shop/


 
Anxiety Relief Relaxation


 
 
 Preview:
https://vimeo.com/372243377

 
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Relaxation for Overcoming a Panic Attack


 
 Preview: 
https://vimeo.com/372245331

 
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Clearing Chakras Relaxation


 
 
Preview: 
https://vimeo.com/372242540

 
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Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy with Combination of 40Hz Light and Sound


 
Preview:
https://vimeo.com/372241774
 

 
To purchase any, click the link. https://stressmanagementresources.com/shop/
 

STRESS MANAGEMENT RESOURCES
Sevina Altanova
Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist,
Certified Reiki Master, HIIT Personal Trainer
& Certified Yoga / Meditation Teacher
Sevina.Altanova@gmail.com or  
805-312-8708 
www.stressmanagementresources.com 
 
Go Green! Don’t print this page unless it is completely necessary,
Trees will Love you!!!
 
https://youtu.be/ouGfL58GgD4
 

August

Hello everyone, it’s your host Sevina. Happy summer! Time for vacations and getting the family together. The articles below will show you some mindful practices you can adopt so you may improve your health and the quality of communication with your kids and relatives.

Namaste!

Mindful Eating

By Sevina Altanova

We are what we’re eating! Yes, it is that simple. The food we consume is the fuel for our bodies. The way we perform depends on the fuel we are putting inside of us.

“Mindful Eating”

 it’s based on the Buddhist concept of Mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment. Mindfulness techniques have also been offered to relieve stress and alleviate problems like high blood pressure and chronic gastrointestinal difficulties.

Mindfulness is an ancient practice of “being completely aware of what’s happening in the present”—of all that’s going on inside and all that’s happening around you. It means not living your life on “autopilot.” Instead, you live your life “consciously in the present” in order to experience life as it unfolds moment to moment, good and bad, and without judgment or preconceived notions. “Many of us go through our lives without really being present in the moment,” being present in the now is the fundamental aspect of the spiritual practice to life and living.

As you start to learn how to be more mindful, it’s common and normal to realize how much your mind races and focuses on the past and future. You can just notice those thoughts and then return to the present moment. It is these little, regular steps that add up and start to create a more mindful, healthy life.

The simple techniques involved in mindful eating—eating without watching the TV or computer, eating in silence, chewing slowly, taking breaths between bites—can help us focus more on what we are choosing to put into our bodies, and why?

The Mind–Gut connection

Digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it seems to take about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness). If someone eats too quickly, satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it. There’s also reason to believe that eating while we’re distracted by activities like driving or typing may slow down or stop digestion like how the “fight or flight” response does. And if we’re not digesting well, we may be missing out on the full nutritive value of some of the food we’re consuming.

When you eat mindfully, you slow down the process of eating, turn off autopilot, and focus on the present moment. Increasing your awareness of the present moment helps you become more conscious of your food choices and requires you to use all five of your senses. This helps you truly taste and enjoy your food – without stuffing yourself. When you eat mindfully, it also makes you more aware of your body’s cues that tell you how hungry or full you are.

From Stress Management Resources “Mindful Eating Workshops”

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Other “Stress Management Resources” tools for happier living 🙂

“Anxiety Relieve” Relaxation/Meditation

“Overcoming Panic Attack” Relaxation/Meditation

“Clearing Chakras” Relaxation/Meditation

“Gamma Light/Sound” Relaxation/Meditation

Anxiety Relief Relaxation 

Preview:

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Relaxation for Overcoming a Panic Attack

Preview: 

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Clearing Chakras Relaxation

 Preview: 

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Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy with Combination of 40Hz Light and Sound

Preview:

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Empowering Children Trough Positivity and Connection

By: Mallika Chopra

Teaching meditation, mindfulness practices, and positivity to children is fun and fulfilling. Children bring a sense of wonder and innocence to everyday practices that remind adults of the magic and smiles that come with connection.

As a parent, it is wonderful to guide your children with simple practices throughout the day and watch how they connect with their breath, feelings, body, and environment.

Here are some tips on teaching your kids practices for positivity and connection:

  • Teach by example, not just words – role model how simple practices affect you and share your feelings. When you are frustrated, take a deep breath to calm down. Express gratitude throughout the day. Demonstrate ways to be kind. Children are always watching and learning from you.
  • Make every interaction fun – bring in humor, laughter, tickles.
  • Never force your child to meditate or do a practice. Teach them simple tools and then let them experiment and see what works best. For many children, movement works better than trying to slow down or be still. This is normal, natural, and age-appropriate. (The Just Be Series has dozens of easy practices for children and the adults in their lives.)
  • Use positive affirmations and phrases to remind kids that they are strong, creative, and powerful.

In my new children’s book, My Body Is A Rainbow: The Color of My Feelings, I present colors, words, and breath to give children a fun, interactive way to explore their body, mind, and spirit. Here is the simple exercise:

  • Sit comfortably and take a deep breath, in and out.
  • Feel your bottom and imagine the color red around you.
  • Breathe in and out. Say, “I am safe.”
  • Put your hand under your belly button and feel orange.
  • Breath in and out. Say “I am creative.”
  • Put your hand on your stomach and feel yellow.
  • Breathe in and out. Say “I am strong.”
  • Put your hand on your heart and feel green.
  • Breath in and out. Say “I am loved.”
  • Put your attention on your neck and throat, and feel light blue.
  • Breathe in and out. Say “I am unique.”
  • Imagine a dark blue spreading across your face.
  • Put your hand between your eyebrows. Breathe in and out. Say, “I am wise.”
  • Now imagine purple at the top of your head spreading above you and into the skies.
  • Breathe in and out. Say “I am.”

Last but not least, take another breath, in and out.

Feel your favorite colors all over your body.

And, smile!

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Coconut Cranberry Granola

Granola is a classic breakfast staple that you can enjoy any time of day. However, many granolas are loaded with processed grains and sugars that taste good, but don’t leave you feeling good. This Coconut Cranberry Granola is full of wholesome ingredients that are delicious and healthy. It’s sweet and savory, crunchy and chewy, and everything you could possibly want in a granola. It’s grain-free and vegan too.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the granola from sticking. 

Mix all your ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl until everything is incorporated together and coated in coconut butter and maple syrup. 

Pour mixture onto the baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out evenly into a flat layer. 

Bake the granola for 8 minutes, stir, and then bake again for another 8 minutes. Let the granola cool and it’s ready to eat!

Use this granola over your favorite dairy-free yogurt, eat it as a snack, or use it as a topping for baked fruit.

Serves 8

July

Hello everyone, it is your host Sevina. This month’s topic will be relaxation. We are in the middle of the summer; it is the perfect time to relax, unwind, and take some time off.  But just in case you don’t have the luxury to take a vacation and rest, here are some things you can do from anywhere.

Enjoy the articles below.

Namaste!

The Ability to Relax is Essential to our Health and Emotional Well-Being.

By: Sevina Altanova

When most of society is overstimulated, overworked, and overburdened, you need a practical way to counteract the bad health effects of a high-pressure lifestyle.

Fortunately, there is practice that will let you manage your stress – Relaxation! 

Just 30 Minutes of deep relaxation prolongs your productivity for 2-3 hours.

The benefits of stress reduction are powerful. The benefits of relaxation in mental health and physical arenas are significant. By shutting off the SNS (sympathetic nervous system), you open the door to health, wholeness, creativity, etc.

  1. Happier Outlook

Research has shown that relaxation has a protective effect against depression and anxiety. In older adults, the effect has been reported to be even more pronounced. In another study, group-based relaxation skills training reduced anxious and depressive symptoms. With reported rates of depression on the rise, isn’t it nice to know that simply learning how to relax can be a protective shield against what researchers call the disease of modernity?

  1. Upgraded Memory

Scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the California Institute of Technology found that stronger and more lasting memories are created when the brain is influenced by theta waves. These brain waves are associated with relaxation. “Our research shows that when memory-related neurons are well coordinated to theta waves during the learning process, memories are stronger,” said Adam Mamelak, a neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  1. Stronger Immune System

Researchers in the field of psychoneuroimmunology concluded that your state of mind has the power to enhance or degenerate the immune system. A meta-analysis of over 300 studies revealed that chronic stress degraded all aspects of immunity, from fighting the common cold to warding off cancer. Practicing relaxation keeps the immune system operating at full capacity.

  1. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

According to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, relaxation via meditation may play a valuable role in preventing or reversing heart disease. Dozens of studies performed over the past two decades have shown that relaxation simultaneously reduces heart disease cofactors such as stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and poor sleep quality.

  1. Improved Relationships

Judy Ford, a licensed clinical social worker and author of Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other says, “Stress impacts our love relationships more than we are aware of or acknowledge.” Ford compares stress to a game of ping-pong where tension is the ball that bounces back and forth between partners. “Stressed-out couples quarrel and fight more often, withdraw from each other, feel disconnected, sad, frustrated, angry.” The antidote to stress is relaxation. By engaging in activities that calm the fight-or-flight response, you are better able to connect to a partner. In a state of relaxation that you are able to give and receive love.

  1. Better Sleep

The body cannot enter into sleep when it is in survival mode. Relaxation slows down the busy mind by helping you to process the day’s events prior to sleep. There are specific relaxation routines that can be used prior to sleep to facilitate deep rest. Researchers have suggested that relaxation may help address insomnia and help you have a better night’s sleep.

  1. Increased Energy

Stress naturally uses more energy than relaxation. When you practice stress management and take frequent relaxation breaks, you can conserve energy throughout the day. Instead of leaving work drained and worn out, working in a state of relaxation allows you to leave work with energy left for leisure, family, and exercise! Relaxation breaks also carry over into your work, allowing you to access the mind-boosting benefits of a calm and centered awareness.

  1. Enhanced Creativity

The daydreamers always have been creative types. Now we know why. According to research in neuroscience, creativity occurs in moments of rest rather than while working or thinking. People who are constantly engaging their minds may hamper their creative impulses. Current research points to why meditation, which is a type of integrated mind-body relaxation, has been shown to enhance creativity.

  1. Decreased Pain

Everyone experiences pain sometimes. But before reaching for a bottle of pain relievers the next time you have a headache, try turning inward to the inner pharmacy. Relaxation in the form of mindfulness meditation has been found to be an effective and powerful pain reliever.

  1. Expanded Motivation

Have you ever felt motivated to work on your personal goals or dreams when you’re feeling stressed out about work, finances, or relationships? Most likely not. Motivation stems from inspiration, which in turn flows out of relaxation. If you want to enhance your motivation, start by carving out some time to relax your mind and enjoy life. When you are calm and connected, you will find the motivation to pursue all your worthwhile goals.

30 Minutes of deep relaxation prolongs your productivity for 2-3 hours.

Take advantage of these relaxations!!!

If you like them, please visit:

http://www.StressManagementResources.com/shop

Links to preview:

“Anxiety Relieve” Relaxation/Meditation

“Overcoming Panic Attack” Relaxation/Meditation

“Clearing Chakras” Relaxation/Meditation

“Gamma Light/Sound” Relaxation/Meditation

Anxiety Relief Relaxation 

Preview:

*

Relaxation for Overcoming a Panic Attack

Preview: 

*

Clearing Chakras Relaxation

 Preview: 

*

Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy with Combination of 40Hz Light and Sound

Preview:

Expand Your Awareness to Expand your Life

By Deepak Chopra M.D.

This year the arrival of summer coincides with the perfect time to expand your life. A difficult year has created problems that have gained publicity like increased anxiety and depression. But at a deeper level, even noticing no symptoms, almost everyone has experienced contracted awareness. When awareness contracts, you are less optimistic, see fewer opportunities, and fear that normal life has grown risky.

Constricted awareness is tense, closed, insecure, and stuck. Expanded awareness is open, carefree, secure, and flowing. That’s where you need to be if you want your life to expand, because your state of awareness is the lens through which you see the world. So how do you expand your awareness?

Here’s a seven-step program for change that you can follow without strain, choosing any recommended step at your own pace and comfort level.

1. Return to center

When you are centered, you feel relaxed, calm, and quiet inside. There were a lot of reasons this past year to feel the opposite, in a state of restlessness, distraction, and stress. It’s good to remind your nervous system what it feels like to be centered. Make it your policy, as soon as you notice that you are not calm and centered, to find a quiet place. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, then meditate until you feel centered again. When you open your eyes, be sure to take a moment before going back into activity.

2. Minimize stressful input

In times of crises people stay glued to news and social media even though they are feeding a person’s stress level. Anything that makes you feel pressured, threatened, or anxious automatically contracts your awareness. Make a conscious effort to reduce stressful news items and if possible do without them.

3. Practice positive time management

A very good idea is the so-called “time menu,” which gives you choices for how to manage your time every day. You already select certain items from the menu, namely work time, meal time, and sleep time. But there are other items that will help you expand your awareness. There is down time, alone time, and play time. Down time should be a few minutes out of every hour where you get up, stretch, and walk around. Alone time should be two sessions in your day when you take 5 to 10 minutes to meditate or reflect or simply be quiet, still, and alone. Play time is shared with others usually, and is marked by any activity that makes you smile and laugh. Play time is for being carefree, not for fierce competition or video games.

4. Act on your highest values

Spiritual values haven’t changed over the centuries. They are expressions of love, devotion, service, compassion, and kindness. But values remain dormant if you don’t act on them. In constricted awareness you are wound in a tight protective posture, so spiritual values have less of an outlet, or none at all. To expand your awareness, act on the values you hold most dear. No one is asking you to be a saint. But there is always an instance during the day where a kind gesture or word, an expression of affection, or a small act of service gives you an opportunity to live out your values.

5. Undo your isolation

Physical isolation has been enforced for a year, but less noticed is psychological isolation. It blocks us from emotional contact and bonding with others. As you undo your physical isolation, renew the bonds with the people who matter most in your life. Bonding occurs in person—emails and texting won’t do it. Start sharing positive emotions like hope and optimism with your friends and family. Avoid the emotions that make people contracted inside, which means avoiding stressful news, complaining, blaming, and being woeful about the state of the world.

6. Express your inner world

The most enjoyable way to expand your awareness is to express yourself joyfully. Creative outlets are one way that works beautifully, but that’s just one path. You need to express whatever you most value in yourself. This could be love, caring, kindness, or selfless service. The key is that you feel the real you coming out, because the real you is the source of bliss.

7. Renew yourself

The present moment is the only place where life is renewed. It is the location of flow. It is where invisible possibilities become real as thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. But if you carry the baggage of old beliefs, anxiety, worry, inertia, habits, and conditioning around with you, you will never experience the present moment, and therefore you will not be renewed.

There is no mystery to being in the present moment. You are just yourself, and being here feels like all you need. Being creative is very present moment, so that’s a desirable pursuit. But there is also a presence that goes deeper, call it a divine or spiritual presence. It radiates from your source in pure awareness.

If you lived from your source, you would experience life as a field of infinite possibilities, and your state of awareness would be blissful. Make that your vision. You don’t have to achieve it on a timetable, but if you are guided by a vision, you will come closer to your source, in or out of meditation. You will begin to feel that creation is embodied in you, which is actually the truth.

Life is abundant, but that’s only an inspiring notion until you experience it first-hand. When you have a glimpse of beauty, love, innocence, wonder, or joy, pause and value it. Say to yourself, “This moment reflects the real me.” These are the moments that renew you, because they are when you walk in the light.

Sweet Potato Toast with Almond Butter & Banana

Warm toast with peanut butter is a traditional breakfast treat. This recipe kicks it up a notch on the healthy chart by using sweet potato as the toast and almond butter with bananas as a topping. It’s a little sweet and savory and a filling and indulgent breakfast food you may enjoy even more than the classic version.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
  • 2 bananas, sliced thin

Directions:

Cut the pointy ends off of each sweet potato and slice them lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Toast them in your toaster or in the oven until they begin to brown. 

Once toasted to your liking, spread almond butter over each slice and top with the banana slices. 

Serves 4

JUNE

Hello everyone, it’s your host Sevina. This month we will focus only on the practice of meditation, knowing that it is the first and most important step of getting into a better health. It supports the whole unit: Body, Mind and Spirit.

Let’s dive in.

Namaste!

The Ability to Relax is Essential to our Health and Emotional Well-Being.

By: Sevina Altanova

Our body has an amazing ability to heal itself. It is a mechanism that we all have, it just needs to be turned on by activating the relaxation response in the body.

Our body has an autonomic nervous system, which is the involuntary, unconscious nervous system, the one that powers our breathing, digestion and heartbeat. We don’t think of these; the body just does those for us. The autonomic nervous system is made of the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous systems. 

The sympathetic nervous system kicks in automatically in response to a threat or immediate danger, but it also activates from any stressful situation in our everyday life. So, we need to learn to have some control over it through relaxation practices such as Meditation, Relaxation, Yoga, Controlled Breathing, Reiki and Hypnotherapy. 

Please try some of Stress Management Resources mediations:

Free Meditation – For the restoration of physical and emotional well-being.

Please preview the other meditations, and if you would like to purchase any, click the link. https://stressmanagementresources.com/shop/


Preview: Anxiety Relief Relaxation from Stress Management Resources on Vimeo:

Preview: Relaxation for Overcoming a Panic Attackfrom Stress Management Resources on Vimeo:

Preview: Clearing Chakras Relaxation from Stress Management Resources on Vimeo:

Preview: Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy with Combination of 40Hz Light and Sound from Stress Management Resources on Vimeo:

Thank You!

From Stress Management Resources

You Can Do This: Why Meditation Is for Everyone

By : Adam Brady

A group of people sitting on a bed

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Possibly the most persistent myths regarding meditation are that it’s difficult, it involves struggle or laser-like focus, or that it is reserved for a privileged few who possess the mental or genetic makeup necessary to settle the mind. However, none of these beliefs are true. Popular culture has done meditation practice somewhat of a disservice by often making it appear unreachable, other-worldly, loaded with philosophical or mystical trappings, or veiled in secrecy. Fortunately, the deeper understandings of mind-body wellness and the demystification of the world’s wisdom traditions have helped to blow the dust off the outdated views of meditation that kept it out of reach of the general public.

Put simply, meditation is for everyone. It’s a process and a practice that is a natural and inherent birthright we all carry within us. When the first sages and seers of remote antiquity discovered the ability to settle their minds, they heralded a new era in humanity—the activation of our mind-body’s restful awareness response. Not unlike Roger Bannister, running the first four-minute mile in 1954, who unlocked the door to what was physically and physiologically possible, the first meditators unlocked the door to higher states of awareness that we can all experience and benefit from today.

To further illustrate meditation’s universal applicability, consider the following.

The Mind’s Urge for Stillness Is Built In

While the body is geared for activity, the mind, if given the opportunity, will naturally be drawn to settling down. The simple act of sitting comfortably with closed eyes activates the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system and the mind’s tendency to go within. Whenever the input from the senses is withdrawn, the mind begins to go inward. Like a tortoise drawing in its limbs, unplugging our senses allows the mind to be calm while simultaneously expanding into higher states of awareness.

Mediate anytime, anywhere with the Chopra App. Access guided meditations on the go from the well-being pioneers.

Meditation Is Universal in Value

In other words, meditation works for all people, everywhere. As we all share common traits that are part of the human experience, the methodical practices of meditation affect all human beings similarly across time and space. Meditation’s universal effectiveness, therefore, is a byproduct of the laws of nature that apply equally to us all. In the same way that gravity applies uniformly to all humans, regardless of gender, age, or national origin, the practice of meditation is valuable for everyone on earth.

There Are No Bad Meditators 

Meditation is natural and has no biases. It can be done by anyone, regardless of background or experience. As Krishna reminds Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita:

On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort towards spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear. 2:40

No one who does good work will ever come to a bad end, either here or in the world to come6:40

While these passages may seem somewhat esoteric and mystical, they still reflect the important truth that you really can’t fail at meditation. Take comfort in Krishna’s words of encouragement and recognize that you can do this. There are no bad meditators, only less effective ways to learn. Since meditation is a unique skill, it stands to reason that thoroughly learning both the theory and experience, taking the time to learn a practice from a high-quality source such as a book, an online program like Chopra Global’s Primordial Sound Meditation Master Course, or a meditation app will help you reap meditation’s many rewards and feel successful in your practice.

It’s important to remember that if whatever source of instruction you follow isn’t working for you: Don’t give up on meditation and don’t give up on yourself. Recognize what didn’t work, try another practice, and keep exploring until you find what suits you best.

Expectations Lead to Failure

This is a good time to mention that the illusion of failure in meditation practice is almost always the result of attachment to expectations or a specific outcome. Meditation is always healing and your mind-body takes exactly what it needs from your practice. The quickest way to frustrate yourself in meditation is to have expectations of a practice that, by its very nature, is meant to embrace uncertainty, unpredictability, and the unknown.

As long as you hold on to a particular idea of what’s “supposed” to happen during meditation, you’ll constantly think of yourself as failing whenever your experiences don’t match your expectations. Set yourself free from the burden of evaluation and self-judgment and you’ll recognize that every meditation is unique and just the way it’s meant to be.

Meditation Adapts to You

When I learned meditation from Chopra Global’s chief meditation officer Roger Gabriel, he mentioned that in the beginning, practicing meditation was like breaking in a pair of slippers—they initially feel somewhat stiff and tight, but after a little time, they become comfortable and fit your feet perfectly. In this way, meditation adapts to you—to your lifestyle, needs, karma, and dharma. Ultimately, your meditation practice should be as unique as your fingerprint. Yes, there are guidelines you can follow for when, where, how long to meditate, how to sit, how to breathe, and supplementary practices, but in the end, no one knows your life and routine better than you.

Don’t try to force yourself into a meditation mold that doesn’t fit your life. Doing so will only make you uncomfortable and you’ll end up quitting. Like asana practice in yoga, don’t force yourself into the pose; modify it to fit your body and the pose will support your health and well-being for years to come.

Still unconvinced that you can meditate? Let’s see just how simple it can be. Take a moment to read through these steps and then commit to giving meditation a five-minute test drive.

  • Find a place where you won’t be disturbed for the next five to seven minutes. Silence your phone, close the door, and dim the lights if you like.
  • Sit comfortably in whatever position allows your neck and back to remain relatively upright. Try to have both feet resting flat on the floor with your legs uncrossed. Close your eyes softly. Relax your body into the chair.
  • Take three full, slow, deep breaths.
  • On your next inhalation, silently repeat to yourself the word, I.
  • As you exhale, silently repeat the word am.
  • Inhale: I; exhale: am.
  • Continue this process for the next several minutes or as long as comfortable. When thoughts in your mind, sensations in your body, or sounds in the environment occur, effortlessly bring your awareness back to I am. Just repeat the words gently without force, effort, or struggle to concentrate.
  • When you choose to end the practice, stop repeating I am, and sit comfortably with your eyes closed for a few more moments.
  • When you’re ready, softly open your eyes.

Congratulations! You just meditated. While this first experience may have felt slightly strange, know that with practice it will become increasingly normal. Thoughts, sounds in the environment, and bodily sensations are all part of the practice. In the end, all you need to do is innocently notice when your attention drifts away from I am, and then gently bring it back. Simple, comfortable, effortless. This is meditation.

 

7 Myths of Meditation

By: Deepak Chopra

A person sitting on a table

Description automatically generated with low confidence

In the past forty years, meditation has entered the mainstream of modern Western culture, prescribed by physicians and practiced by everyone from business executives, artists, and scientists to students, teachers, military personnel, and – on a promising note – politicians. Despite the growing popularity of meditation, prevailing misconceptions about the practice are a barrier that prevents many people from trying meditation and receiving its profound benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. Here are seven of the most common meditation myths dispelled.

Myth #1: Meditation is difficult.

Truth: This myth is rooted in the image of meditation as an esoteric practice reserved only for saints, holy men, and spiritual adepts. In reality, when you receive instruction from an experienced, knowledgeable teacher, meditation is easy and fun to learn. The techniques can be as simple as focusing on the breath or silently repeating a mantra. One reason why meditation may seem difficult is that we try too hard to concentrate, we’re overly attached to results, or we’re not sure we are doing it right. In our experience, learning meditation from a qualified teacher is the best way to ensure that the process is enjoyable and you get the most from your practice. A teacher will help you understand what you’re experiencing, move past common roadblocks, and create a nourishing daily practice. 

Learn how to meditate from the experts in well-being with the Chopra App

Myth #2: You have to quiet your mind in order to have a successful meditation practice.

Truth: This may be the number one myth about meditation and is the cause of many people giving up in frustration. Meditation isn’t about stopping our thoughts or trying to empty our mind – both of these approaches only create stress and more noisy internal chatter. We can’t stop or control our thoughts, but wecandecide how much attention to give them. Although we can’t impose quiet on our mind, through meditation we can find the quiet that already exists in the space between our thoughts. Sometimes referred to as “the gap,” this space between thoughts is pure consciousness, pure silence, and pure peace. When we meditate, we use an object of attention, such as our breath, an image, or a mantra, which allows our mind to relax into this silent stream of awareness. When thoughts arise, as they inevitably will, we don’t need to judge them or try to push them away. Instead, we gently return our attention to our object of attention. In every meditation, there are moments, even if only microseconds, when the mind dips into the gap and experiences the refreshment of pure awareness. As you meditate on a regular basis, you will spend more and more time in this state of expanded awareness and silence.

Be assured that even if it feels like you have been thinking throughout your entire meditation, you are still receiving the benefits of your practice. You haven’t failed or wasted your time. When Chopra Center co-founder Dr. David Simon taught meditation, he would often tell students, “The thought I’m having thoughts may be the most important thought you have ever thought, because before you had that thought, you may not have even known you were having thoughts. You probably thought you were your thoughts.” Simply noticing that you are having thoughts is a breakthrough because it begins to shift your internal reference point from ego mind to witnessing awareness. As you become less identified with your thoughts and stories, you experience greater peace and open to new possibilities.

Myth #3: It takes years of dedicated practice to receive any benefits from meditation.

Truth: The benefits of meditation are both immediate and long-term. You can begin to experience benefits the first time you sit down to meditate and in the first few days of daily practice. Many scientific studies provide evidence that meditation has profound effects on the mind-body physiology within just weeks of practice. For example, a landmark study led by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people experience decreased anxiety and greater feelings of calm; it also produced growth in the areas of the brain associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation. At Chopra, we commonly hear from new meditators who are able to sleep soundly for the first time in years after just a few days of daily meditation practice. Other common benefits of meditation include improved concentration, decreased blood pressure, and enhanced immune function. 

Myth #4: Meditation is escapism.

Truth: The real purpose of meditation isn’t to tune out and get away from it all but to tune in and get in touch with your true Self – that eternal aspect of yourself that goes beyond all the ever-changing, external circumstances of your life. In meditation you dive below the mind’s churning surface, which tends to be filled with repetitive thoughts about the past and worries about the future, into the still point of pure consciousness. In this state of transcendent awareness, you let go of all the stories you’ve been telling yourself about who you are, what is limiting you, and where you fall short – and you experience the truth that your deepest Self is infinite and unbounded. As you practice on a regular basis, you cleanse the windows of perception and your clarity expands. While some people do try to use meditation as a form of escape – as a way to bypass unresolved emotional issues – this approach runs counter to all of the wisdom teachings about meditation and mindfulness. In fact, there are a variety of meditation techniques specifically developed to identify, mobilize and release stored emotional toxicity. If you are coping with emotional upset or trauma, we recommend that you work with a therapist who can help you safely explore and heal the pain of the past, allowing you to return to your natural state of wholeness and love.

Myth #5: I don’t have enough time to meditate.

Truth: There are busy, productive executives who have not missed a meditation in twenty-five years, and if you make meditation a priority, you will do it. If you feel like your schedule is too full, remember that even just a few minutes of meditation is better than none. We encourage you not to talk yourself out of meditating just because it’s a bit late or you feel too sleepy.

In life’s paradoxical way, when we spend time meditating on a regular basis, we actually have more time. When we meditate, we dip in and out of the timeless, spaceless realm of consciousness . . . the state of pure awareness that is the source of everything that manifests in the universe. Our breathing and heart rate slow down, our blood pressure lowers, and our body decreases the production of stress hormones and other chemicals that speed up the aging process and give us the subjective feeling that we are “running out of time.” In meditation, we are in a state of restful alertness that is extremely refreshing for the body and mind. As people stick with their meditation ritual, they notice that they are able to accomplish more while doing less. Instead of struggling so hard to achieve goals, they spend more and more time “in the flow” – aligned with universal intelligence that orchestrates everything.

Myth #6: Meditation is a spiritual or religious practice.

Truth: Meditation is a practice that takes us beyond the noisy chatter of the mind into a place of stillness and silence. It doesn’t require a specific spiritual belief, and many people of many different religions practice meditation without any conflict with their current religious beliefs. Some meditators have no particular religious beliefs or are atheist or agnostic. They meditate in order to experience inner quiet and the numerous physical and mental health benefits of the practice – including lowered blood pressure, stress reduction, and restful sleep. The original reason that Deepak Chopra began meditating was to help him stop smoking. Meditation helps us to enrich our lives. It enables us to enjoy whatever we do in our lives more fully and happily – whether that is playing sports, taking care of our children, or advancing in our career.

Myth #7: I’m supposed to have transcendent experiences in meditation.

Truth: Some people are disappointed when they don’t experience visions, see colors, levitate, hear a choir of angels, or glimpse enlightenment when they meditate. Although we can have a variety of wonderful experiences when we meditate, including feelings of bliss and oneness, these aren’t the purpose of the practice. The real benefits of meditation are what happens in the other hours of the day when we’re going about our daily lives. When we emerge from our meditation session, we carry some of the stillness and silence of our practice with us, allowing us to be more creative, compassionate, centered, and loving to ourselves and everyone we encounter.

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

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Apples, cinnamon, oats, maple syrup … sounds good, doesn’t it? And the flavors are just one good part of this recipe. It’s easy to make, and you can prepare it the night before so your morning breakfast will be a breeze.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 apples, cored and diced
  • 1/4 cup tahini

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the almond milk, oats, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, chia seeds, and half of the apples. Cover the bowl and store it in the refrigerator overnight. 

The next morning, divide the oats into bowls and top with the rest of the apples and the tahini. Top with additional cinnamon and maple syrup if desired. 

If you like your oats a little more liquid-rich, you can add more almond milk before serving. 

Serves 4

May

Hello everone, it is your host Sevina Altanova.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Statistics show that every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide. The pandemic has shown a higher rate of the usage of suicide hotlines, around 300% of an increase.

We should put our mental health at the center of our well-being and make it a priority!

www.StressManagementResources.com (look for the free meditation)

The articles below will help you do that.

Namaste!

The Power of Meditation

By Sevina Altanova

Meditation is a 5000-year-old practice of self-healing.

People do meditation to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit. When you meditate you raise yourself to a higher level of perception and functioning!

11 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation

  1. Reduces Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress. Meditation can also reduce symptoms in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.

  1. Controls Anxiety

Habitual meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

  1. Promotes Emotional Health

Some forms of meditation can improve depression and create a more positive outlook on life.

  1. Enhances Self-Awareness

Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you “know yourself.” This can be a starting point for making other positive changes.

  1. Lengthens Attention Span

Several types of meditation may build your ability to redirect and maintain attention. As little as four days of meditation may have an effect.

  1. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss

The improved focus you can gain through regular meditation may increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.

  1. Can Generate Kindness

Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others. Metta increases positivity, empathy and compassionate behavior toward others.

  1. May Help Fight Addictions

Meditation develops mental discipline and willpower and can help you avoid triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, lose weight and redirect other unwanted habits.

  1. Improves Sleep

A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control the “runaway” thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.

  1. Helps Control Pain

Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used as a supplement to medical care or physical therapy.

  1. Can Decrease Blood Pressure

Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation, but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly. This can reduce strain on the heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.

Please use our Free Meditation – For the restoration of physical and emotional well-being. https://stressmanagementresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Free-Meditation-End-of-life-Meditation.mp3

We recommend you use headphones to listen to the meditation.  

Please preview the other meditations, and if you would like to purchase any, click the link. https://stressmanagementresources.com/shop/

Links to preview the meditations:

“Anxiety Relieve” Relaxation/Meditation

“Overcoming Panic Attack” Relaxation/Meditation

“Clearing Chakras” Relaxation/Meditation

“Gamma Light/Sound” Relaxation/Meditation

Anxiety Relief Relaxation 

Preview:

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Relaxation for Overcoming a Panic Attack

Preview: 

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Clearing Chakras Relaxation

 Preview: 

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Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy with Combination of 40Hz Light and Sound

Preview:

Time for a Body, Mind, and Spirit Cleanse

By Roger Gabriel

The change of season, whether you’re moving from winter to spring or summer into autumn, is always a good time to reassess your life and clear out what no longer serves, making way for new exciting opportunities to enter. This can be done on all levels, physical, mental, and spiritual.

Physical

The physical includes both the inner and outer. Starting on the outer, when did you last check what’s at the back of your closet? Do you have a garage or storage space that’s bursting at the seams? How cluttered is your workspace? Maybe it’s time to let go of a few things. If a major purge is too much for you, make a commitment that you’re going to throw or give away at least one thing every day from now on. Don’t worry, just think of the wonderful new things with which you can replace them.

Keeping the body healthy and vital is important for everyday activities but, remember it is also the vehicle that carries us on our spiritual journey. In India, many people use this time of change to undergo the Ayurvedic treatment known as Panchakarma or five actions. This program traditionally lasts for three weeks and is a flushing out of the toxins and imbalances accumulated during the previous season. It always concludes with a period of rejuvenation therapy, so the squeaky-clean recipient is ready to fully enjoy the season ahead. While most of us won’t be able to indulge ourselves to that degree, please consider taking a few days of cleansing for your body.

Nowadays, there’s a whole range of at-home detox programs available to us. Find one that’s comfortable for you or create your own. Here’s a simple suggestion you could follow for 3-5 days, preferably when not working:

  • Start the day with a glass of warm water and lemon juice, drink lots of room temperature water throughout the day.
  • Have a light breakfast, maybe a green smoothie and or fruit, avoid caffeine.
  • Make lunch your main meal with lots of colorful vegetables, eat the rainbow.
  • Avoid processed and packaged foods and heavy proteins, minimize sugars.
  • Get some light exercise such as walking, yogic stretching.
  • Eat an early, light dinner.
  • Do some form of meditation twice daily.
  • Minimize screen time, instead read uplifting material.
  • Get to bed early for 8-9 hours sleep.

Mental

It’s been said that it’s hard to be happy if you refuse to throw away the things that make you sad, but how much of the time do we get stuck in the past, reliving the same old miseries? Take some quiet time to look at your thoughts and emotions. Are they mostly happy and optimistic or are you mostly recycling the same worries, doubts, and regrets? Wayne Dyer said, “Progress and growth are impossible if you always do things the way you’ve always done them”. Isn’t it time for a change, a mental cleanse?

Letting go of old mental habits is often more difficult than cleaning out the closet. We get attached to emotions even when they are painful. Holding on to things is like holding your breath, it becomes uncomfortable. We have to learn to let go, making space for the opportunities the next breath will bring. As the English novelist George Eliot said, “Wear a smile and have friends, wear a scowl and have wrinkles.”

Here’s a simple exercise to help you release what no longer serves you. It is best done with eyes closed but it will also work with eyes open.

Again, be aware of what’s happening in your mind, your thoughts, any emotions
What are you feeling?
Is there any sadness, frustration, guilt, confusion, something else?
These thoughts and emotions block the free flow of love and joy in your life
When we try to process our emotions at the level of the mind, we often end up creating more chaos. It’s much easier to process them at the level of the body.
Bring your awareness into your body.
Be aware of any sensations or discomfort in your body.
Now breathe into those sensations, slow steady breaths.
Imagine that you’re breathing love and light into the discomfort.
As you exhale, allow it to fade effortlessly away.
Notice how the mental emotion too, is starting to fade.
You can do this any time, to cleanse old emotions or if you find yourself becoming attached to a new emotion.

Most of the time, we look outside for our happiness, for our fulfillment and for our joy. We look to possessions to fulfill us. We search outside for our happiness and peace when really, we have lost it inside.

The reason that these external things don’t bring happiness is that, although we may have some new clothes, they are still being worn by the same person. We may be driving a new car, but the driver is the same. If we want lasting happiness, we have to look within. This takes us to our final level.

Spiritual

Our spiritual journey is one of cleansing the individual soul or Jiva. This is the aspect of the soul that carries our karma, manifesting as memories and desires. This doesn’t mean we should eliminate all memories and desires but that they should align and support our true purpose.

There is a beautiful story of a temple in Thailand where for years people worshipped what they thought was a clay statue of the Buddha. One day, one of the workers who was cleaning the statue accidentally dislodged some of the clay and discovered that beneath inches of tightly-packed clay, the statue was actually solid gold. Centuries before, to hide it from invading looters, the monks had covered the Golden Buddha with clay. Those who knew its true form had fled the invasion and its true identity was forgotten. All worshippers thereafter assumed the image was one of clay, until the day, hundreds of years later, the pure gold core was discovered. Unfortunately, most of us have allowed our true identity to be covered over and forgotten. Our spiritual journey is to remove the clay revealing the magnificent Being inside.

Your breath can never be in the future or past, it’s always in the present.

3 Tips for Communicating Your Mental Health Needs with a Loved One

 By: Lena Schmidt

As the world continues to face the pandemic of COVID-19, political unrest and domestic chaos, as you do your part to stay safe and protect each other, you may find yourself feeling a range of emotions. While your physical safety is of utmost importance, the facts of unemployment, financial instability, personal loss of a loved one, appalling images across social media, and general uncertainty can all wreak havoc on your mental well-being. You may be experiencing solitude, loneliness, and fear. These changes can lead to changes in your ability to feel prepared to cope with life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is, “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Living through a global health crisis of this proportion is bound to have an impact on our mental health. That being said, we will each have unique experiences—some negative, some positive—based on our intersectional identities. Where you live, your religion, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and many other factors, and how these aspects of your identity interplay, play a role in how you will experience life during this time.

Whatever your current situation or mental state, it’s possible you have reached a point in which you have decided to intentionally focus on your mental health needs. Your well-being is paramount. Mental health is sometimes a matter of taking some time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate; mental health is sometimes a matter of crisis intervention, a matter of life or death.

Managing mental health is a life-long practice. Healthy communication, too, is a life-long practice. Your mental health needs change (sometimes daily!); therefore, your communication about them will be ongoing. You may make the choice to share your needs with a loved one or seek the help of a trained professional. Expressing your needs for well-being will most likely not be a one-time discussion. Considering the shame and stigma sometimes surrounding mental health and well-being, it takes immense courage and vulnerability to express your experience. Even considering letting someone in on your struggles, pain, or progress, is a huge win.

Before you go blasting your struggles for all to see on social media, consider who may be the best, safest, and most significant person with whom to share your mental health needs. Who is a loved one you trust? Why does this person need to know what’s going on with you? What is it about this person that invites your vulnerability? Does this person deserve to know what’s going on with you? Your story is sacred, and though you may not always receive the support and help you desire, it is important to consider why you want to share and what exactly you want to communicate.

1. Set a Clear Intention

As you prepare to share your experience with a trusted loved one, consider your reasons for sharing.

  • Are you disclosing this private information because you want to connect?
  • Are you revealing something about yourself because you want to apologize or make amends for your behavior?
  • Are you hoping to receive some help from this person?

When you get clear about your purpose, your words will be clearer. When your words are clearer, you are more likely to be better understood and to have your needs met.
It can be helpful to share your intention at the outset of the conversation. Let your loved one in on the reason you have chosen to bring this up at this time. You may say, “I just needed to get this off my chest; it was eating me up inside” or “I am feeling alone in this and I wanted someone to know” or “I have something going on that I think I need some help with.” Sharing a secret, such as a mental health challenge, can have lasting health benefits. Once you are clear on your intentions, prepare yourself with calming techniques such as restorative yogabreathwork, or a grounding walk around the block.

2. Make a Specific Ask

As you prepare for your conversation, brush up on how to effectively use nonviolent communication (NVC). This technique for open dialogue, in which you listen empathetically and express yourself honestly, is also called conscious communication. Essentially, you should decide what you truly think would help you during this time and ask for it clearly. If appropriate, share what you are already doing to take responsibility for your mental health. Let them know what help you have already sought, what you are currently working on, what resources have you already used, or are planning to use.

Though you may be asking for something from your loved one, use “I” statements to communicate your needs, desires, or the boundaries you are expressing. If possible, differentiate between needs and desires. You may say, “I am experiencing a lot of loneliness lately. Would you be willing to talk on the phone with me more often? Would a phone call three times a week work for you?” or “I notice I’m feeling irritated a lot more lately. Would you mind if I spend an hour each morning doing my own thing while you watch the kids?” or “I’m feeling unsettled and I don’t know what to do. I’m wondering if you could help me brainstorm healthy ways to cope for when I feel overwhelmed.”

And finally, as much as possible, release expectations that your specific request will be met. You might prepare your ask and wish it to turn out a certain way, but the person you share with cannot always meet your needs.

3. Let Go of Expectations

Though you are welcome to state your needs, no one is required to meet them. You may make a mindful ask of someone else but, ultimately, you are responsible for taking care of yourself.

Though it may sound counterproductive, as you prepare to share your mental health needs, also prepare non-attachment to the outcome. If you have hurt the person you are sharing with in some way, it is very possible that they, and you, will have their own reactions, emotions, and needs to contend with. This is to be expected, and if possible, planned for.  Allow the person you have shared with time to process what you have said, to do their own research, and to come back to your discussion later. You may say, “I realize what I have asked for is a lot. Let me know when you are ready to talk about this again, okay?” or “I know it may sound scary that I am asking for more space. I appreciate you considering doing this for me.”

You may believe this person can be of some help to you, and they very well may be, but it’s also possible that they do not know how or cannot help you in the ways you seek. It’s possible they will come back to you with a counteroffer: “Thanks for sharing that with me. I am managing my own well-being right now and although I want to be there for you, I cannot commit to talking on the phone three times a week. Would once a week be acceptable to you?” or “I can tell you have been irritated lately, and I support you having time for yourself, but mornings are really busy for me with work right now. Do you think I could watch the kids in the afternoon for an hour while you have time to yourself instead?”

Of course, if someone meets your vulnerability only with dismissal, judgment, or extreme defensiveness, or if their counter-terms are unacceptable to you, remove yourself from the situation and seek help elsewhere. Perhaps there is a trusted friend or confidant who would be better suited to listening to you. Some other resources include the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). There are also local resources in your area for mental health support, many of which are low-cost or free.

Mental health and well-being are essential aspects of life. During this time, and always, remember that you are not alone. It takes bravery and strength to create and maintain boundaries, to make changes to long-held relationship patterns, and to ask for help. It can be challenging to share of yourself. And as author Glennon Doyle says, “You can do hard things.”

APRIL

Hi dear friends, it is your host Sevina.
In this month issue we will explore the pursuit of happiness, and where it goes wrong…
So often we place our happiness in the hands of other people. We seek validation. We want to please others. We try to live up to the expectations of other people. There’s nothing wrong with taking into consideration the opinions and perspectives of others. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make others happy. But there’s a fine line between taking into consideration the opinions of another person and losing yourself in the opinions of another person.
An essential part of developing true happiness is developing a strong sense of who we are, what we stand for, and what feels true for us in each moment. From this foundation, we can listen to others with curiosity and then we make our choices. The choices we make, show us who we are!
Enjoy the articles below.
Namaste!

The Best Way to Get Unstuck

By: Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Sticky is a useful term for experiences that leave a deep impression, because they stick around and at the same time stick like glue. If you find yourself feeling the same emotion over and over again—for example, frustration, anger, anxiety, or depression—you are not living in the present. Instead, the past is coming back for an unwanted visit.

Here are three practical ways to get unstuck, each one suited to a specific issue:

1. Be Present

The present moment is creative, because it opens the way for new thoughts, feelings, and inspiration. Your mind naturally wants to be in the now unless it gets distracted. If you find yourself feeling distracted, stressed, or disengaged, the best thing to do is to center yourself.

The practice is quite simple. Find a place where you can be alone, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.

Now center your attention on the heart region in the center of your chest. Breath in deeply by filling your belly region so that it pushes outward. Now breath out, pause for a count of 2, and repeat. This style of controlled breathing is one of the most useful quick ways to become centered, relaxed, and back in the moment.

2. Release Negative Old Beliefs

People very commonly get stuck on beliefs that are discouraging, self-defeating, judgmental, and generally negative. For example, you might find yourself thinking:

Life is unfair.

The world is a threatening place.

To get along, you have to go along.

No one will look out for number one but me.

I’m not really lovable.

I’ve never been all that attractive.

These beliefs get stuck in our minds without knowing where they came from or why we believe them. The way to get unstuck is to do a little investigation. Take any negative belief, and you will see that it lodged in your mind because of the following general conditions:

We believe the first person who told us something.

We believe things that are repeated often.

We believe the people we trust.

We didn’t hear a contrary belief.

When you find yourself stuck on a negative self-belief, something that makes you feel bad about yourself, pose the following questions:

Who first told me this?

Was it repeated a lot?

Why did I trust the person who told me?

Is there reason to believe the opposite?

In other words, you turn around the experiences that made your belief sticky, and by turning them around, the belief becomes less and less sticky. If your mother told you that you aren’t pretty or your father said that you are lazy, why should you automatically trust them? It doesn’t matter how often you heard their opinion. Now that you are an adult, you can separate opinion from fact. Think of experiences that indicated how attractive you are in other people’s eyes or how diligently you applied yourself to a task.

3. Discharge Bad Memories

Perhaps the most common way of being stuck occurs in memory. Old wounds and traumas return, warning us not to repeat something bad that happened in the past. The stickiest part of a memory is its emotional charge, which some psychologists have termed our emotional debt from the past. We stubbornly hold on to old resentments, grievances, fears, and wounded feelings.

This gives us a clue to getting unstuck. Instead of trying to un-remember the time nobody came to your birthday party, focus on the feeling this memory brings up. Memories are hard or impossible to erase, but emotional debt can be discharged.

How to Discharge Sticky Emotions

The following techniques for discharging sticky emotions are easy and natural. Emotions by their very nature rise and fall, and most of the time a cooling-off period suffices to return you to a settled state. But sticky emotions don’t fade away on their own. They ask you to assist by discharging them through various practices.

Technique #1: If you feel an uncomfortable emotion that persists, center yourself and take slow, deep breaths until you feel the emotional charge start to lessen.

Technique #2: If you recognize an emotion that has been around a long time, notice its return, then say: “This is how it once was. I am not in the same place now. Go away.”

Technique #3: With a particularly stubborn emotion, sit quietly with eyes closed and let yourself feel the emotion—do this lightly, not sinking deeply. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, releasing the emotional energy from your body. It might help to see your breath as a white light carrying the toxic feeling out of you.

Technique #4: If you feel no specific emotion, but rather a general mood of being down, blue, or out of sorts, sit quietly with your attention placed in the region of your heart. Visualize a small white light there, and let it expand. Observe the white light as it expands to fill your whole chest. Now expand it up into your throat, then your head, and up out of the crown of your head.

Take a few minutes to carry this technique through until it feels complete. Now return to your heart and expand the white light again until it fills your chest. Now see it expand downward, filling your abdomen, extending down to your legs, and finally out through the soles of your feet into the earth.

These four techniques can be applied separately or one after the other. But it is important to be patient. Once you use a technique, it will take time for your whole emotional system to adapt to the discharge.

In short, everyone suffers from some kind of stuckness, but now you are in a position to be aware of what is happening and to take steps to get unstuck and live in the now, where reality is renewed and refreshed.

3 Kid-Friendly Meditations Your Children Will Love

By: Melissa Eisler

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, aunt, grandfather, babysitter or otherwise spend time with kids of any age, try out these three practices to introduce kids to meditation and mindfulness.

Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness practices are more popular, and helpful, than ever. Studies have shown that teaching kids mindfulness practices can build students’ attentiveness, respect for fellow classmates, self control, and empathy, all while reducing stress, hyperactive behavior, ADHD symptoms, and depression.

Yet only 1.6 percent of U.S. children meditate, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Giving kids the tools to help them fend off negative thoughts and behaviors, build self-confidence, focus, and treat others and themselves with respect and appreciation is a gift they will have for the rest of their lives.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan instituted the Skills for Life program in Ohio schools to teach deep breathing, meditation, and other problem-solving skills to elementary-aged kids. What they found was that these practices helped kids balance their emotions, cut down on bullying, and increased awareness, and both students and teachers are excited about the program.

Another study done in the San Francisco Unified School District with more than 3,000 students found dramatic improvement in overall academic performance, including a spike in math test scores for students who practiced mindfulness meditation and “quiet time.” In one rough middle school, where gunfire, fighting, and suspension rates were the highest in San Francisco, when “quiet time” was integrated into curriculum, suspension rates dropped by 45 percent, attendance rose, and grades improved significantly.

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, aunt, grandfather, babysitter or otherwise spend time with kids of any age, try out these three practices to introduce kids to meditation and mindfulness.

1. The Balloon

This guided meditation brings a visual component to a very simple deep breathing exercise. You can do this standing or seated.

Relax your body and begin to take deep inhales and slow exhales through the nose.

Start to take a slow, deep breath to fill your belly up with air, as if you’re trying to blow up a big balloon. Expand your belly as much as you can.

Slowly let the air out of the balloon (through the nose) as you release the breath from the belly.

Encourage your kids to feel their entire body relax each time they exhale, each time air is slowly being released from the balloon. You can even make a “hissing” noise to encourage them to slow down the exhale even more, “Like letting air out of the balloon.”

Continue for several minutes.

If the child you’re teaching is younger, you can add a little more detail and fun to the exercise to keep them engaged. Young kids, especially under the age of 6, love the extra movement when they’re learning to bring awareness to their breath. Encourage them to stand up in a relaxed way and follow these steps:

Ask them to think of their favorite color and picture a giant balloon of that color in their mind.

Then have them take a slow, deep inhale through the nose, filling up their tummies with air as if trying to blow up a giant [their favorite color] balloon. As an option, you can also have them stretch their arms open and overhead to represent expansion and the big balloon.

When their balloon is totally full, have them hold their breath at the top, and then you can “pop the balloon” for them (gesture finger to belly) and they can fall down as they exhale.

This one will likely elicit giggles and awareness of their breath.

2. Follow the Leader

This meditation works best for kids who are at least 5 years old. Ask your child to picture their best friend or a sibling—someone they do everything with or someone they look up to. Then ask them which one (your child or their best friend) usually leads. Usually one friend is the one who decides things—the one who is more of the leader; the other one is the friend who usually follows the leader. Ask them which they are.

If they are the leader, you can tell them to picture themselves as the breath. If they are the follower, you can ask them to picture themselves as the mind. For this example, I’ll pretend that they’ve chosen their big brother as their best bud, and the big brother is the leader.

Say something like, “So you and your big brother do everything together. Let’s pretend that your breath and your mind are best friends, too. And that you are just like the mind—the follower, and your big brother is just like the breath—the leader.” Then follow the steps below to guide them through the meditation.

Sit down comfortably and close your eyes.

Bring all of your attention to your breath and slow it down, taking deep inhales and slow exhales.

Let’s have the mind follow the breath—no matter what. Picture yourself as your mind, the one that’s following your big brother, your breath. Try to focus your mind on the breath and follow as the breath inhales and exhales.

Count your breaths at the end of every exhale. Don’t let your mind count before the end of the exhale. The mind always wants to jump ahead, but don’t let it. Allow it to remain focused on being the follower.

Count to 10 slowly, always at the end of each exhale, continuing to let the mind follow the breath.

3. Guided Relaxation

This practice is great for kids (and adults) of all ages, whether they’re having trouble sleeping, stressed out, sick and in bed, or acting out. It’s based on the progressive muscle relaxation technique that Dr. Edmund Jacobson developed in the 1920’s. It’s used to help alleviate tension when people are in a situation that makes it difficult for them to relax. Guide your kids with these steps:

Sit down or lie down comfortably and close your eyes. You can use pillows or blankets to make yourself as comfortable as you can be.

Take a few deep, cleansing breaths as you begin to relax.

Bring all of your attention to your right foot, noticing how it feels. Squeeze the right foot, making a fist with your entire right foot and all five toes; tense and squeeze it tightly. Hold this tension for two deep breaths.

Then release all tension in the right foot suddenly. Relax it completely and notice the tension release. You may feel a tingling sensation in the foot.

Take a deep breath, and then move on…

Move your attention to your left foot. Same instructions as for the right foot.

Move slowly up and around the body, squeezing one body part at a time to create tension, immediately followed by the contrasting sensation of release and ease. Follow each part with a deep, cleansing breath. Here’s a sample progression you can follow:

Right foot, left foot

Right ankle and calf, left ankle and calf

Right knee, left knee

Right thigh, left thigh

All feet and legs

Hips

Butt

Belly

Entire lower body, from tummy down

Chest and heart

Right arm, left arm

Right hand, left hand

Shoulders

Neck

Face

Whole body at once (do this one twice)

When you’re finished guiding your child through the relaxation technique, make sure they spend at least a few minutes in quiet, encouraging them to keep their breathing slow and steady.

Ask Dr. Sheila: Is Ghee Really Beneficial?

By: Dr. Sheila Patel

What is Ghee?

Ghee, or clarified butter, is made by melting milk at low temperatures. On the Indian subcontinent, cow milk was typically used, however traditional forms of clarified butter in the Middle East and Africa included goat or sheep milk. The process is the same—as the milk is heated, the water evaporates, and slowly the liquid fats are separated out as the milk solids (proteins and sugars) condense and are then skimmed or strained out. You are then left with a clear liquid oil that solidifies at room temperature. Sometimes the butter is fermented prior to heating, which can change the properties of the ghee. Because the water is almost completely evaporated out of ghee, it is remarkably shelf-stable at room temperature.

The Benefits of Ghee

This is an important question, as there is controversy in the medical and nutritional world about ghee. As is usually the case, there is still more to learn about the scientific details of ghee, but when used in the right way, we can reap the benefits of any food, including ghee, while balancing potential harm.

In Ayurveda, ghee has many health benefits, when used in the correct amounts and with specific intentions in mind. However, when used in excess, especially for certain dosha types, it can create imbalances. Nutritional science validates many of the benefits of ghee, and also supports Ayurveda’s caution to use ghee in moderation, as too much ghee can also have negative health consequences as well, including increasing cholesterol.

The Ayurvedic Perspective

From an Ayurvedic perspective, being aware of the qualities, or properties, of foods can help us decide how much of, when, or if, to use a particular food in our diet. In addition, in Ayurveda ghee is used not only as food, but as a carrier for certain herbs known as ghritams, in addition to topically for therapeutic purposes in the eyes, ears, and nose. Using these principles, we will take a look at ghee.

Ghee carries the sweet taste and therefore is primarily composed of the qualities of Earth and Water, which are heavy, thick, oily, soft, and smooth. From an Ayurvedic perspective, therefore, when we ingest ghee, we can accumulate these qualities in our physiology. Using ghee topically, or when ingested, will lubricate, soften, and moisturize tissues. It is also said to support the reproductive tissues and immune system.

From a dosha perspective, due to its qualities, it can be balancing for Vata dosha when taken in moderation. Ghee can also be balancing for Pittas, due to the cooling effects and can be used in moderation a well. However, it should be used minimally in daily use for Kaphas, as it causes accumulation of oiliness and heaviness.

Another consideration is using ghee intentionally for short periods of time, for example, during detoxification. Because ghee has a high proportion of saturated fat, it can bind fat-soluble toxins and create more flow of bile which can aid during detox. However, once the detox period is over, intake needs to be modified for an individual’s needs.

The Nutritional Makeup of Ghee

From our modern biochemical knowledge, we know that ghee contains saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and cholesterol. These fats include omega-3’s and omega-9’s. These biochemicals are what give ghee many of its qualities. It also contains several fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K, as well as other antioxidants and anti-inflammatory fatty acids.

Under certain circumstances when produced, ghee may contain certain amounts of cholesterol oxidation compounds. These molecules, which are produced when animal products are heated, have been implicated in cardiovascular disease. However, there are also studies that document a lowering of serum cholesterol from moderate consumption of ghee, and a reduction in oxidative byproducts. Theories behind these findings include an increase in bile production in the liver, which can help eliminate cholesterol through binding in the intestines. Also, in animal studies, ghee has been shown to reduce the oxidation of cholesterol in the liver, which may balance oxidative compounds created in the production of ghee. Also, there are more oxidative compounds produced when ghee is made at high temperatures, so this needs to be taken into account when analyzing the constituents in ghee, or studies on ghee.

In addition, ghee is sometimes implicated in the increased incidence of heart disease reported in India in the last two decades. However, this may be due to the modern production of ‘ghee’ made from vegetable oils, instead of milk, as opposed to being due to ghee itself. This modified ghee production produces more trans-fatty acids, which are unhealthy and can contribute to heart disease. In fact, in times past, there was a very low incidence of heart disease in India despite the use of ghee in everyday cooking, so we know there is more to the story. In short, studies are quite variable as far as ghee and risk of vascular disease, and any risk is likely multifactorial. In addition, the type of ghee studied, as well as other factors related to heart disease such as stress and modern lifestyle, need to be taken into consideration.

Although there is also a concern about weight gain when using ghee, there are no studies to confirm this is the case when used in correct amounts. It is true that excess ghee can cause weight gain, particularly for Kaphas who are prone to accumulating heaviness. Some studies suggest that the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in ghee can actually help reduce excess weight and body fat. Remember that “a little can go a long way”, therefore this does not mean that ghee should be consumed in excess, as it is quite calorie-dense.

From a modern perspective, there also may be people who have a strong family history of, or carry certain genes (like APOE 4), that put them at higher risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes. For them, the benefits of ghee may not outweigh any potential risks, and ghee can be avoided or minimized significantly, such as only using it during cleansing but not daily.

So, What to Do?

In Ayurveda, anything we ingest, when done with awareness can be used as medicine, but when used incorrectly can “act as a poison”. This is true for ghee. To use ghee to support health, the typical recommended dosage of ghee is between 1-3 Tablespoons/day, depending on your dosha, family history, and genetics. Be sure to buy ghee that is made from organic dairy sources, and not ghee that is produced from vegetable oils, which can contain more trans-fatty acids.

What it comes down to is to use ghee in moderation, in accordance with your dosha balance, unless you have a specific health condition where the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. When limited to a few teaspoons a day, along with a nutritious plant-dominant diet, we can reap the benefits of this sacred food while minimizing the potential health risks.

MARCH

Happy March everyone, it’s your host Sevina! It is time for new beginnings. Spring always gives me hope for the new and for the better. Spring is beautiful with it’s sunny mornings and longer days. My spirits brightens and soul is gladdened.

The articles below will keep reminding us how to keep ourselves in good spirit. To love ourselves, to be better partners, better parents, and better community members.

Enjoy,

Namaste!

5 Tips to Cultivate Personal Power and Self-Confidence

By: Linda Dierks

When you step into your power, you cultivate self-esteem and personal worth. A new sense of freedom emerges, doubts fall away, and you quit being a marionette to other people’s expectations or vulnerable to external circumstances. This new confidence allows you to let go of the need to judge, criticize, or compare yourself to others. When you claim your power, you also claim your greatest potential as an expression of your source creator.

Embrace your power by following these five building block practices and rise to the top of your personal game and spiritual path.

1. Define Who You Are

When you know who you are, you lay a foundation on which to build. As you define your abilities and qualities, you connect the dots and the picture of who you truly are emerges. Once this image develops, you become genuine, authentic, and comfortable in your own skin. You can start by asking yourself:

  • When I let go of fitting in, what is it about me that rises to the top?
  • What gifts are distinctly mine? What rings sterling and true about my abilities and personal qualities?
  • Are there talents or tasks where others seek my help or advice?
  • What did I love to do as a kid that got “practicalized” out of me?
  • When that force of intuition and desire tugs my sleeve, where is it pointing me?
  • What qualities light me up?
  • Am I practical or a daydreamer?
  • Do I seek adventure or quiet solitude?
  • Is my life a bustle of activity or tuned to a laid-back pace?
  • Do I recharge my batteries in an exuberant crowd or curled up with a book?
  • Am I happiest when I stand out or when part of a larger whole?

Knowing who you are generates practices that best care for your needs and gives rise to a lifestyle that matches your authentic nature. You’ll feel more and more anchored. As the effervescence of your true self bubbles to the surface, you quit trying to be liked by everyone else, let go of being pulled in multiple directions, and are more resilient to life’s challenges. Dare to be special!

2. Embrace Your Gifts

Shine your light on the world. You are endowed with distinctive talents, skills, and interests that mark your magnificence and set you apart. Do your gifts launch or languish behind old voices? Are you saying to yourself:

  • “Don’t be too big for your britches.”
  • “Quit being a show-off.”
  • “Look at the smarty-pants.”
  • “Act like a lady/gentleman.”

Does the term, “fear of outshining” resonate with you? Do you downplay your skills so that you won’t stand out or threaten others? Have you turned down the volume on your talent in favor of fitting in? If your light is barely peeking out from under that bushel, allow yourself to shine—you will inspire, not intimidate. Broadcast what is special about you.

3. Love Yourself

Love is the highest frequency and gateway to your dance with the divine. The benefits of self-love are instant and enormous.

Try it, right now, by sending love down through your central core in a steady flow. With a flush of warmth and expansion, you ignite the heart and wash away doubt, insecurity, and self-limiting thoughts, and infuse calm and confidence. Move from being your worst critic to being your best cheerleader, and the world says “yes.”

When you infuse yourself with love, you honor and become more closely aligned with your creator. Set up your day—before getting out of bed, infuse yourself with love and reinforce it throughout the day. Turn your phone on selfie and have an eye-to-eye, heart-focused chat with yourself if you lose your center or if your confidence wanes. The combination of self-love and operating out of authenticity makes you invincible. You are perfect, whole, and complete.

4. Walk with a Higher Presence

Since prehistoric man, we have expressed spirituality in countless ways that are personal and unique to each of us.

When you incorporate spiritual practices and live by spiritual principles, you raise your vibrational frequency and become more closely aligned with a Universe that is invested in your highest good. A meditation practice increases this connection; however, anything that brings inspiration and joy will open your crown chakra, creating a deeper energetic connection with this wisdom and bounty. Don’t overlook the importance of joy in your life.

As you partner with this higher presence, you anchor your power. Confidence flourishes when you know that you are never alone and have an ally that’s invested in your joy, wellness, and prosperity. The hard edges of life soften, and you are propelled as the barriers of self-doubt and fear fall away. Partner up and become a co-creator of a life of abundance and wellness.

5. Engage, Expand, and Express

Engage your power by using these tools. Realization by realization, each step feeds the next in an ever-escalating ladder of growth and expansion. Express it. Show up and shout it out. When you sing your song and put your skills out in the world, you generate an energetic cycle of vitality that says to the Universe, “Give me more!” Reinforce the energetic loop by supporting and mentoring others. You are part of a sacred cycle of vitality.

Personal power and self-esteem are the foundation for creating joy and wellness. It motivates you to be more. It gives you resiliency in the face of adversity. It’s the root of mental and physical health and opens you to positive interaction with the world and a higher power.

When you step up to the plate and invest your time and interest, the Universe invests time and interest in you. Take the plunge, go out on a limb, put on your cape, and read your poetry to the trees. There is a great void just waiting for you to fill it.

How to Boost Your Confidence Through Meditation

By: Trish Thorp

You’ve had the experience of feeling good—reallygood—about yourself at least once in your life. Maybe it was something you accomplished after dedicating a lot of resources, like time, energy, and money. Or perhaps it was just a moment in time where you shined brighter ever before. Whatever that moment was, you will always remember the feeling you had, and there’s a pretty high likelihood that you would like to operate from that place as often as possible.

How to Build Confidence

Confidence is a positive state of mind centered around one’s power or abilities to be the person you want to be, to do the things you want to do, and to have what you want to have in your life. When your self-confidence is soaring, you experience emotions like happiness, joy, and inspiration that make you feel good. You feel clear, congruent, and as if you can take on the world. And yet, there are times in your life when you just don’t feel confident and your self-esteem wanes. In some cases, something happened that caused you to feel “less-than” and you can feel burdened with beliefs that you are incapable of being, doing, or having what you want. It’s important to remember that it’s not uncommon to wonder how to be more confident in yourself.

It’s also important that you learn how to tap into your inner strength on those days because your confidence affects your performance in any area of life and, likewise, your performance affects your confidence. The two are interconnected and go hand-in-hand. The downside to experiencing low self-esteem can present as both negative emotions and limiting beliefs, something that can be easily remedied through applying mindfulness-based lifestyle practices like meditation and goal-setting.

Problems with Low Self-Confidence

Low self-confidence can affect you in many ways. Some of the common issues that crop up are feelings of inadequacy, believing you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough, or you’re unworthy. Sometimes it can lead to negative thoughts that you don’t belong here (or anywhere) and, in some more extreme cases, it can lead to depression, anxiety, or taking action that ends in tragedy.

Signs of Low Self-Confidence

You or someone you care about may be experiencing low self-confidence if there is a strong presence of shame in the emotional body. According to Brené Brown, a research professor, author, and beloved public speaker on the topic, shame is an unspoken epidemic in society that leads to many forms of broken behavior. Other signs that may indicate a lack in confidence is an inability to set and enforce healthy boundaries, social withdrawal, and being fixated on putting others down.

You’ve been there at one point or another and for some, perhaps, more than others. At the end of the day, you were born whole and perfect. You come in with unique talents and special gifts that only you express in your individuated fashion. Your goal is to discover what those positive attributes are and to share those strengths with the world. To do that, you need to have the ability to anchor into your self-confidence and focus on how to build self-esteem. Fortunately, there are several tools and techniques that can help you find and stay connected with this inner aspect.

Let’s explore this three-part exercise that includes using guided meditation (or visualization) to get you feeling more confident.

Define Confidence for You

It’s helpful to understand that words mean different things to different people. What confidence means to one person may look and feel partially or entirely different to another. So, let’s start with a short journaling exercise where you will discover your own definition of confidence.

  • Begin by finding a comfortable place to rest where you won’t be distracted. You’ll want to have a clear mind and feel comfortable before you begin journaling.
  • Start with some slow, deep breathing to get yourself into a calm, centered, and balanced state so that you may focus on journaling.
  • Bring to mind your idea of confidence. You’ll probably find that some form of imagery comes to mind. You might see a picture or a short movie of a time in your life when you felt confident, or it might be of someone else who you see as exuding a strong sense of self-confidence.
  • Notice all the things you see, take in everything you hear, and connect with the feelings you feel inside.
  • Now, spend a few minutes journaling whatever came through for you; thoughts, feelings, or imagery. This will reveal what confidence looks, sounds, and feels like for you.

Create a Resource Anchor

Next, you’ll use a powerful technique that comes from neuro-linguistic programming called anchoring. Anchoring is an effective tool that helps you access a desired mindset anytime you need to. This can come in quite handy on those days when your self-esteem can use a little boost. For this exercise, you’ll create a resource anchor for confidence, which will help you get in touch with your inner self-esteem whenever you want. (Note: please read through this entire process before you begin so you understand each of the steps clearly.)

  1. The positive state you will want to anchor for this exercise is confidence. However, you can also ask yourself, “If I could feel any positive and empowering emotions at any time I wanted, what would they be?” Or, another approach is, “How would I like to feel instead (of how I feel now)?”
  2. Next, decide on a body part you want to anchor the desired state to. Most often, people will use a knuckle on their hand or an ear lobe. You want to choose a place that isn’t always coming into contact with touch because you use touch to activate or “fire off” the anchor.
  3. Now, ask yourself, “Can I remember a time when I felt confident, a specific time?” Be sure you remember a specific time.
  4. As you remember that time now, step into your body; see what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel the feelings of being totally confident.
  5. As soon as you begin to go into the state, meaning you feel totally confident, apply the stimulus by putting your finger on a chosen knuckle or reach up and touch your ear lobe (whichever body part you have chosen to “anchor” this state to). The idea is to do this right when you’re at the peak of feeling totally confident.
  6. As soon as the state begins to subside remove your finger from your knuckle or ear lobe. Be sure to remove the stimulus prior to the feeling of confidence beginning to dissipate. This is very important.
  7. Last, test the anchor to make sure it works. To do this, you need to break state, which is a way of saying reboot your mind. Simply look outside the window or walk into a different room and then come back. Test your anchor of confidence by reapplying the stimulus. Observe how you go into a state of feeling totally confident. *If you need to repeat the process, you can do so.

A Guided Meditation for Visualizing Confidence

Now it’s time to bring it all together.

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit and minimize any distractions.
  2. Close your eyes and begin to take some slow deep breaths, following your inhalation and exhalation, to allow yourself to settle into a peaceful, meditative state.
  3. Begin by bringing a real-life situation to mind where you want to be able to step into a state of confidence. Maybe it’s a conversation you need to have or a presentation you’ve been asked to deliver. Perhaps you’re wanting to ask someone on a date or set a meaningful goal.
  4. As you bring this situation to mind create a picture and then fire off the anchor you previously created. You should feel yourself shifting to an emotional state of feeling totally confident. (If not, simply repeat the anchoring process and test it to be sure it works.)
  5. Play out the scenario in your mind in the most positive way you would most like to see it unfold. Follow the movie reel all the way through to completion where you end with the most positive outcome. Take in everything you see, hear, and feel around you. Notice how much confidence you have and how amazing that feeling is.
  6. When you’re ready, open your eyes and journal for a bit about how this process was for you. Repeat as often as necessary.

In this guided visualization, you are practicing what many successful athletes do before the game. It’s called dissociated state rehearsal. It gets your mind into the state you need to be in to accomplish your goals in the moment. The more you practice this in your mind, the better you will become. These methods will help you decipher how to boost your confidence.

The final step in achieving the level of confidence you desire is to go out into the world and do it. Exactly as you’ve been imagining it in your mind, you must now take physical action to make it your reality.

HEALTHY EATING

Sausage, Squash, and Spinach Hash

What sounds more enticing for breakfast than hash? It’s warm, filling, and full of flavor. Most hash recipes use pork, potatoes, and butter. But this recipe swaps out the not-so-healthy ingredients for butternut squash, turkey sausage, and spinach for leafy green goodness. It’s the perfect way to make a classic breakfast recipe healthy without sacrificing flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces uncooked turkey sausage, casing removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups butternut squash cubes (chopped in 1/2” squares)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Directions:

Over medium heat, cook the turkey sausage in a skillet. Break it apart as it cooks until browned. Once cooked, move the sausage to a plate.

In the same skillet, add in olive oil, squash, and onions and cook until the squash is soft. Add cooked sausage, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper to your skillet. Stir until combined and then add in your spinach. 

Remove from heat and mix until spinach has wilted. Serve with hot sauce if desired.

Serves 4

February

Happy February everyone, it’s your host Sevina!

Let’s promise that we will be kind to ourselves and to others this month and beyond. We are all suffering in one way or another because of the Covid-19 pandemic, so the least we can do is to be kind to each other, to listen, and to be present for someone else. If we want to live in a better world, we need to practice kindness. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Namaste!

Enjoy the articles below.

Can you Saver in a Moment of Stillness?

By: Melli O’Brien

Things are always changing. If impermanence didn’t exist, nothing would be possible—that much we know is true. And yet, despite the beauty of constant change, like flowers blooming, clouds drifting, and families growing, change can also be painful and hard to accept. Relationships ending, aging bodies, and the loss of those we love. This we also know is true.

The one thing that always remains ever present. It’s here that we can seek refuge—a shelter—from the storms and seasons of life, the chaos of change.

Today, can you challenge yourself to find and savor a pause from the momentum of life to simply be—without trying to fill it up with tasks and movement and responsibilities? 

The easiest way to bring balance.

8 Ways to Practice Compassion for a Healthier and Stronger Relationship

By: Trish Thorp

Relationships can be one of the most joyful and fulfilling aspects of our lives, and they can also challenge us beyond comprehension. We’ve all heard that communication is the most important thing in any relationship. Yet, in the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert, author John M. Gottman, Ph.D., says that emotional intelligence is the key to a successful relationship. Regardless of whether or not you are interested in getting married, this principle of emotional intelligence can be applied to all relationships.

After studying and working with hundreds of patients, Dr. Gottman found that some relationships have horrible communication and still manage to make it through the worst of times. Having a level of emotional intelligence enables a person to still be loving with their partner even when they aren’t able to effectively communicate their needs.

We all enter into romantic relationships with the intention of enjoying ourselves and one another in a partnership and yet, when misunderstandings arise and we aren’t feeling connected with our partner, our default mode is usually to lash out at them or to shut down and go inside. The key to overcoming this and to prevent sabotaging our relationships is emotional intelligence—and a fundamental component of emotional intelligence is compassion.

The definition of compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. To be compassionate in our relationship means that we are able to recognize when our partner or spouse is suffering in some way and to be loving and kind to them as they move through their process. This kind of support can be provided in a number of ways.

Let’s consider basic human needs, as taught by psychologist Abraham Maslow. All of our behaviors are driven by our needs, and our needs are derived from our emotional states. After our needs of food and shelter have been met, each of us have very important basic needs—four of which are the need for attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance. The ways in which we seek these things is dependent upon our level of emotional intelligence, our beliefs, and our core values. Following are some examples of how you can bring awareness to these areas and begin to practice being more compassionate in your relationship.

Attention

We all need attention—to feel seen, heard, and recognized. We need to know that we matter and that we are a part of a greater collective. Think about the ways in which you need and seek attention each day, and consider how you might provide this need for attention for your partner.

Listen with Intention

One way to be attentive toward your partner is to minimize distractions so that you can be completely present with them. Turn toward them and listen with the intention of really hearing what they are saying. Try listening with your heart rather than your mind when your partner is expressing themselves. Let them finish sharing their thoughts and feelings before interjecting your opinion or your solution, or going back to whatever you were working on. Often times, people just need to be paid attention to and feel heard.

Affection

Everyone needs some level of affection, including those who aren’t necessarily the touchy-feely types. Affection comes in many forms, including a sincere smile, a kind gesture, a gentle touch on the arm, giving hugs, or making love. You can also be affectionate in your speech by using soft tones, encouraging words, and compliments.

Be Kind with Your Speech

Sometimes it’s not what we say but, rather, how we say things. Take a moment to really consider what your partner is going through and speak to them with loving kindness. Consider a time when you were going through something similar and see how you might support your partner in a way that would have felt good for you in your own time of need.

If what they are experiencing is affecting you in a negative way, you may want to contemplate what you’re feeling inclined to say to them before doing so. Run your communication through these questions in your mind prior to verbalizing it: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Do I want to be right or do I want to have peace? 

Appreciation

Each of us has an innate need to feel valued and appreciated, especially by those we love. Find ways to show your appreciation for your partner by acknowledging their actions and being thoughtful about ordinary matters. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and imagine what their reality is like to help you better understand where they are at. Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world and they take the time to bask in their appreciation for one another. Consider the qualities and characteristics of your partner that you genuinely appreciate and share these things with them frequently.

Nurture Your Friendship and Your Relationship

Successful relationships all have a solid friendship at their core, which points to the individuals having a mutual respect for and an enjoyment of each other’s company as a foundational component. They don’t just get along, there is a fondness and an admiration for one another and they also support each other’s hopes and aspirations. It’s also highly productive to spend time having conversations about shared meaningful experiences on a regular basis.

Acceptance

As individuals, we all share an imperative need to feel accepted by our partners and in our daily lives. It’s easy to accept those aspects of ourselves and others that are beautiful, inspiring, happy, and successful. Where the real challenge lies is accepting ourselves and others’ not-so-desirable qualities.

Create a Safe Space for Your Partner to Be Themselves

Create a safe environment for your partner to be vulnerable and share themselves fully. Let them know how much you care for them and that you have no judgment toward anything they may be thinking or feeling, and that they are perfect just as they are. None of us are exempt from embodying behaviors, qualities, or characteristics that are less than desirable.

Whenever you are feeling charged up about someone else’s behavior, ask yourself: Where have I demonstrated this type of behavior in my own life? It won’t take much digging to find where we all have the capacity to exercise poor judgment and to make mistakes. The gift in recognizing this is that we are able to glean the lesson or wisdom from those qualities and use them in positive ways. By recognizing that we all share in this experience at some point or another, it helps us soften into supporting another when they are in a place of suffering or need. Tell your partner all the ways in which you appreciate and accept them for who and what they are—exactly as they are.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remain in a compassionate place with our partners. It requires a level of awareness and emotional intelligence that, at times, can seem far-reaching. You will always have some complaints about your partner and vice versa. Catching yourself before you go to a place of criticism or defensiveness and pausing for a moment can be just the thing you need to redirect your focus toward compassion for your partner. Bring yourself back to all the positive things about your relationship and wait until you’re both in a good space before discussing challenges. From this space, you can work together to set course corrections and design conscious and loving recovery strategies.

Berry Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

This recipe is warm and comforting while also providing the body with vitamins and minerals to fuel yourself during the winter months. You can make this recipe in advance and eat it throughout the week. It’s a delicious blend of sweet berries and savory oats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 cups of frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Coconut oil (for greasing the baking dish)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Use melted coconut oil to grease a baking dish. 

In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients except sliced almonds. Mix well to combine all the ingredients. 

Pour the berry oat mixture into your greased baking dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until cooked through. 

Sprinkle the sliced almonds and some additional cinnamon on top before serving.

Serves 6

Happy New Year! January 2021

Dear reader, our blog was on hiatus for around six months due to some exiting personal changes in my life. But now since the New Year has come, I am fully committed to continuing communication with you and exchanging mindful information. COVID is still here, so more than ever we need to support each other physically and spiritually!
Let hope and pray that 2021 will be better for all of us and for the world, that we will take better care for Mother Earth and for ourselves as well.
Namaste!
Sevina

Releasing 2020

by Roger Gabriel

Before we dive fully into the New Year, let’s do a simple exercise to start releasing whatever we don’t need to carry any more. Let’s see if we can clean the slate and make space for the many wonderful and exciting things that await us. You can do this exercise with your eyes open or closed.

  • Think back over last year. Pick an event or situation that was troubling for you.
  • What emotions are arising in you? Name them.
  • Where are you feeling the emotion in your body? Maybe some tightness or discomfort in your chest? Emotions always show up in the body. This is the stress forming. Be aware of your body and breathe into the sensation.
  • Now, take responsibility for these emotions. They are your emotions. No matter what happened, what anyone else or you did, you choose to feel the way you do. Because you chose to feel it, you can choose to release it and open the door to happier emotions. Allow your breath to soften it, to release the emotion.
  • If you wish, you can increase the speed and force of your exhale. Blow the emotion out.

You can repeat this exercise as often as necessary, anytime last year’s painful emotions surface. In time, they will become less frequent. Remember: What’s broken can be mended, what hurts can be healed, and no matter how dark it’s been, the sun is going to rise again. Anytime you feel you’ve released something from the past, reward yourself. Do something fun to celebrate.

Gratitude for 2020

And no matter how dark 2020 was, I’m sure there were times of happiness, moments when the sun broke through the clouds.

  • Take a few moments and reflect back over the year. Try not to get stuck with any of the challenges. Look for the things you’re grateful for. They could be things you experienced personally or the people you never met who worked selflessly all year.
  • Now take one or two of those things and bring them into your heart. Feel the warmth of gratitude in your heart.
  • Send a silent “Thank you” to whoever made that feeling possible.

Whenever the memories of the challenges arise, replace them with those moments of gratitude.

Welcoming the New Year

Now that you’ve cleared some space, what do you want to fill it with? How do you want the new year to unfold? What new opportunities do you want to explore?

What’s important here is to not go back to the same old stuff. From a karmic perspective, the collective consciousness and the collective ways of doing things are what created the turbulence of 2020. However you want to look at it, 2020 was a huge karmic clear out for the human race. The worst thing you can do is to now recreate that karma all over again by going back to the same habits and conditioning. The Vedas tell us that the gateways of hell are anger, lust, and greed. These gates have been open for too long, it’s not surprising what escaped. Now it’s time to closed them.

2021 brings us a wonderful opportunity to create the world you want to live in and the life you want to lead. Be bold with your desires—wimpy desires create wimpy lives. What you put your attention on grows so focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Any fears and doubts will take you back into the past so believe in yourself. You are infinite possibilities. Let’s put this into practice with another exercise. This is best done with your eyes closed or you can keep them open.

  • Let’s look into the future. How do you want 2021 to unfold? For yourself, friends and family, and the world as a whole?
  • Imagine yourself six months from now. How do you want things to like look for your life and for the world?
  • Imagine it’s this time next year. You’re looking back over 2021. How do you want the year to have been? How do you see yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually?
  • Now bring your awareness into your heart area. The heart knows the path of love, whereas the ego is where you get lost in doubts and confusion. Silently ask the following questions and then listen to the answers from your heart.
    • What are my desires for my home, finances, and personal possessions?
    • What do I want for my family and loved ones?
    • How do I want my mind and body to be?
    • How do I want my spiritual journey to unfold?
    • How do I want my community and the world to be?
  • Being attached to the outcome of a desire limits it and blocks the possibility of something even more magnificent. Imagine you’re releasing all those desires into the silence of infinite organizing power and letting the universe deliver the perfect gifts.
  • Write down your desires. You can group them like we just did or as one list. Read them before your meditations and before you sleep at night, then let them go. Allow the faint impression of them to be carried within and planted, like a seed, in the most fertile field of your consciousness.

The start of a new year is your opportunity to rise higher than ever before. In your essence, you are the totality of the universe. You are equal to everyone. Remain unaffected by what anyone says, and nothing can harm you unless you allow it.

The head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, Swami Chidanand Saraswati tells us, “Our purpose is to live up to our full, divine potential as conscious, holy beings. So, let us pledge to always remember what our purpose is—to live lives of purity, peace, selflessness, integrity, and love—and let us never allow anyone to divert us from that goal.”

There may still be challenges in 2021, but nothing you can’t handle. Be bold with your desires, anything is possible. Always strive for the best, you deserve it. And know, we will be here supporting you.

Wishing you a safe, happy, healthy, and peaceful year. Namaste.

8 Yoga Poses to Help You Manage Stress

by Adam Brady

No matter who you are, where you live, or what type of work you do, chances are good that stress is a regular part of your life. Stress takes the form of anything that prevents the fulfillment of a desire, or how you respond when your needs are not being met.

Stress can put a strain on your health, emotions, relationships, and overall well-being. Finding strategies to manage or mitigate its damaging effects can be a vital component to a healthy, happy life.

In addition to meditation, hatha yoga poses provide a powerful strategy to control and down-regulate the fight-or-flight response brought on by stressful life conditions. By its very nature, yoga (as a physical exercise) is soothing on both the body and mind.

Practicing yoga can help alleviate stress by:

  • Activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite of the fight-or-flight response)
  • Supporting the elimination of toxins from the body
  • Releasing muscular tension and rigidity
  • Releasing energy blockages
  • Deepening breathing
  • Stimulating circulation
  • Drawing attention inward

Several yoga poses are especially effective for managing stress and can provide real-time relief during challenging situations. Try one of these eight poses next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

1. Happy Baby Pose

The Happy Baby pose is a wonderful pose for calming the mind and relieving fatigue and stress. It also provides a comforting stretch to the lower back and spine, while creating space in the inner thighs. 

How to do it:

• Lie on your back and, as you exhale, draw your knees in toward your chest. 
• Inhale and, with your hands on your knees, comfortably lower them out to the sides. 
• Reach up to grasp the outsides of your feet or toes with your hands. (If you have limited flexibility, hold on to a strap or belt looped over the sole of each foot.) 
• Try to keep your ankles over your knees and press your feet up into your hands or the strap. 
• Lightly rock yourself from side to side as you breathe deeply for five to seven breaths, embodying the pristine innocence and security of a baby in its crib. 

2. Legs Against the Wall Pose

A very relaxing pose, Legs Against the Wall gives the body a much-needed rest, calming the nervous system, aiding in circulation, calming the mind, and taking pressure off the spine and neck as the body sinks into the floor.

How to do it:

• Position your body with knees close to your chest next to a bare wall that’s free of any potential obstacles. (Use a folded blanket or towel placed beneath your hips for comfort and support.) 
• Exhale and, in one smooth movement, roll onto your back as you swing your legs up against the wall. (Your distance from the wall will depend on your height and what feels comfortable for you. Experiment with finding the ideal distance for your body.)
• Keep your legs straight and relatively firm as you sink your shoulders and back into the floor. 
• Draw your head and neck away from your shoulders, and extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing up. 
• Remain in the pose between five and 10 minutes, breathing in a gentle and relaxed manner. 
• When coming out of the pose, bend your knees as you easily roll to your side and off your support.

3. Bridge Pose

Bridge pose is helpful for calming the brain and alleviating stress and tension. It reduces anxiety while stimulating the thyroid, lungs, and abdominal organs. 

How to do it:

• Lie on the floor with your knees up and the soles of your feet near your buttocks. (If needed, place a thickly folded towel or blanket beneath your shoulders to protect your neck.) 
• As you exhale, press your feet down into the floor or mat as you raise your hips up toward the sky. Engage your thighs and actively press your shoulders down into the mat. 
• Clasp your hands below your hips and “walk” your shoulder blades under you so your arms are extended.
• Feel the opening of your chest and keep your chin tucked in and downward, avoiding turning your head to the side. 
• Take five to seven long slow breaths before exhaling and gently rolling back down to the mat, coming down one vertebra at a time.

4. Seated Forward Bend

Seated Forward Bend folds the body over itself, creating a feeling of retreating from the over activity of the world. It lengthens the back while calming the mind and aiding in digestion. 

How to do it:

• Sit with both legs together and straight out in front of you, toes pointing upward as if they were up against a wall.
• Inhale and extend your arms straight up overhead, lengthening from the hips and through the spine. 
• As you exhale, fold your upper body down from the hips toward your legs, reaching with your hands toward your feet. 
• Allow your hands to rest wherever they can comfortably reach. 
• Relax your shoulders down and away from your ears and soften your elbows. Withdraw your senses and let your awareness soften into the pose. 
• Relax and breathe for five to seven breaths. 

5. Cow-Cat Pose

Cow-Cat pose is a gentle up and down flowing posture that brings flexibility to the entire spine. It stretches and lengthens the back, torso, and neck, and is a wonderful and easy movement that establishes a steady breathing rhythm and calms the nervous system. 

Here’s how to do it:

• Come down on all fours into a neutral, table-top position. (Be sure to align the hands below the shoulders and knees directly beneath the hips.) 
• Looking straight ahead, inhale and slowly extend through your spine as you look up and forward, softly arching through the back and neck. (Take care to expand through your chest and lower your shoulders down and back.) 
• Move into cat pose by reversing the movement as you exhale and bring your chin towards your chest while gently hunching and rounding your back. 
• Repeat this sequence for seven to 10 cycles, softly flowing with your breath.

6. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a deeply restorative pose that can be very relaxing for the neck and back. It can also help reduce stress, anxiety, and mental tension. 

Here’s how to do it:

• Start in an all-fours position.
• Exhaling, sink your hips back toward your heels and reach your arms out along the floor in front of you. 
• Lower your hips only as far as your body will comfortably allow. 
• Reach through your arms, extending into your shoulders as you bring your forehead to the floor between your hands. (As an alternative position, you may choose to stack your hands or make soft fists to rest your head.) 
• Relax completely and allow any bodily tension to release. 
• Remain in the pose, breathing easily for any length of time between 30 seconds and several minutes.

Note: Child’s pose is an inversion that places the head below the heart. Avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure or eye problems. 

7. Easy Pose

A soothing seated pose for cultivating deep calm and groundedness, Easy pose also helps align and straighten the back, while lightly stretching the ankles and knees. It allows the hips to open and strengthens the muscles of the spine.

Here’s how to do it:

• Sit comfortably with your legs crossed on the floor. (You can lightly fold one foot on the floor tucked in front of the other. If you need additional support, sit on a folded towel or blanket.) 
• Press your sitting bones down into the floor.
• Elongate your spine and sit up tall as you relax and roll your shoulders downward to open your chest. 
• Feel the crown of your head lifting up toward the sky and close your eyes as you breathe deeply and steadily for as long as comfortable. (If you sit in Easy pose for a prolonged period of time, be sure to alternate the cross of your legs for balance.)

8. Corpse Pose

Corpse pose, or relaxation pose, is arguably the most restorative yoga pose in existence. Typically practiced at the end of a yoga class, this pose is powerfully beneficial for stress and anxiety relief. It helps you experience deep peace as your mind-body integrates the subtle changes in physiology from practicing various poses. 

Here’s how to do it:

• Comfortably make your way to the floor and lie on your back. 
• Extend your legs straight along the floor. (If your back is uncomfortable with your legs straight, draw your knees up and place the soles of your feet on the floor with your knees softly touching.) 
• Extend your arms down at your sides, palms facing up.
• Make any adjustments you need to feel comfortable—wiggle your hips, roll your head from side to side, or position your shoulder blades slightly closer to each other. 
• Close your eyes and breathe naturally and effortlessly. 
• Relax your face and jaw and let go of any remaining tension in your neck or spine. 
• Drift into the stillness for five to 15 minutes.

Used singularly or together in sequence, these poses can go a long way in helping you manage the debilitating effects of regular stress on your system. Give them a try and experience the ways yoga can help you maintain a state of calm and centered balance in times of stress.

10 Rules for an Ayurvedic Diet

by Erin Easterly

Ayurveda has long used diet as a principal means of creating health within the body and mind. Hundreds of years before Hippocrates instructed, “Let food be thy medicine,” Ayurveda defined principles for making that advice practical. Food selection, meal timing, and state of awareness during meals either increases ojas(vitality) or ama (toxicity). The following 10 rules will serve as a guide for tapping into the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and using it to create health, vitality, and energy through food. 

1. Select Foods for Your Dosha Type

Ayurveda maintains that each person has a unique mind-body constitution, known as a dosha. One’s current doshic imbalance, known as vikruiti, is a combination of two elements that are heightened within the physiology. By eating foods that decrease the heightened elements, harmony can be restored with the body. In general, the following Ayurvedic principles can be applied to selecting and preparing foods for the three doshas:

  • The Vata dosha (air and space elements) is by nature cool, dry, light, and rough. Eating foods that counteract those characteristics creates balance. Persons with excess Vata energy will restore balance through foods that are warm (in terms of both temperature and spice), hydrating (such as soups and stews), full of healthy fats (like olive oil, ghee, organic cream, and avocados), and grounding (think dense, healthy comfort foods).
  • The Pitta dosha (fire and water elements) tends toward hot, oily, light, and sharp qualities. Therefore, eating foods that are cool (especially in terms of internal cooling such as is seen with peppermint, cucumber, cilantro, and parsley), astringent (beans, legumes, pomegranate, and green tea), substantial, and mild will minimize the aggravation of the Pitta.
  • The Kapha dosha (earth and water elements) expresses as heavy, cool, oily, and smooth qualities. Eating foods that are light, warm, dry (like beans and popcorn) and rough (think “roughage” such as vegetables) will have Kaphaback in balance in no time.

Discover your dosha type here.

2. Eliminate Snacks

According to Ayurvedic principles, there are three stages of digestion that must be completed after a meal. In the first hour after a meal, the Kapha energies are dominant. The body may feel full, heavy, and sedate. Two to four hours after a meal the elements of Pitta govern digestion. During this time, hydrochloric acid increases, internal heat rises, and the meal is transformed into sustenance for the body. Four to five hours after a meal the Vata energies rise. It is during this time that lightness and space return and appetite increases.

Interruption of the digestive cycle with more food leads to incomplete digestion. Over time, incomplete digestion results in the accumulation of ama or toxins, which may present as a plethora of mild to moderate symptoms. For this reason, Ayurveda recommends three meals each day, with no snacks in between to maintain digestion and keep your stomach stress-free.

3. Eat Until Satisfied, Not Full

Imagine that your stomach is a gas gauge with numbers from one to ten. On that gauge, the number one is completely empty and ten is overly full. You want to eat when you get to a two and stop when you get to a seven. Eating before you get to a two puts you at risk of interrupting the digestive cycle. Eating past a seven diverts an enormous amount of energy from important physiological tasks.

Aside from the obvious consequence of weight gain, overeating increases free radical production in the body, which in turn speeds the aging process. By setting down the fork when you are satisfied, but not stuffed, you avoid overeating and the body receives the nourishment that it needs without the added burden of digesting, and oftentimes storing, unnecessary calories.

4. Consume Whole, Fresh Foods

Prana—not food itself, but your life force—nourishes the body at the most fundamental level and is responsible for the creation of health, vitality, and energy. The various elements of food, such as the vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient contents are merely reflections of the energetic, or pranic, imprint.

According to the Ayurveda diet, the best way to increase ojas, the supplier of life force in the body, is to increase prana. Foods with abundant prana come straight from the Earth. Their prana has been derived through the mingling of sunshine, water, and earth energies. The moment food is picked, its prana begins slowly diminishing. Therefore, eating foods that are as fresh as possible will increase prana more readily than eating the same foods further from their harvest time. Local community support agriculture and farmer’s markets are invaluable resources for finding fresh foods with high life force.

5. Include All Six Tastes at Every Meal

Ayurveda recognizes six tastes, each of which communicates a unique combination of energy and information to the physiology. By incorporating each of the six tastes into every meal, the body receives a bio-diverse energetic palate. This energetic palate supplies the body’s cells with instructions specific to one of the taste categories. In general, the six tastes inform the body with the following cellular information:

  1. Sweet: Grounding, strengthening, nourishing
  2. Sour: Cleansing, purifying
  3. Salty: Balancing, regulating
  4. Bitter: Detoxifying, mineralizing
  5. Astringent: Anti-inflammatory, cooling
  6. Pungent: Warming, stimulating

Try to include a small amount of each taste into every meal. It may be only a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon, or a slice of pepper but as long as the taste is present, the energetic puzzle will be complete.

6. Reduce Ice Cold Foods and Beverages

The inner fire, known as agni, is the digestive power of the physical and energetic body. Agni is similar to a blazing campfire. Ideally functioning, it is hot, bright, and able to digest food, thoughts, emotions, and experiences. To stoke one’s inner fire, it is necessary to avoid dimming agni’s intensity with ice-cold foods and beverages. The agni of all doshas can become depleted if a steady stream of cold food or drinks is consumed. Vata and Kapha doshas, in particular, should lean toward warm foods and teas, while Pitta doshas may enjoy cool (but not frozen) beverages and foods. In this way, the digestive power will remain strong.

7. Eliminate Distractions While Eating

How many times have you read a book, watched TV, checked emails, or returned phone calls while eating? If you’re like most people, the answer is, “Quite a few.” The Ayurveda diet suggests that mealtime is an opportunity to connect with the inherent energy and information of the food you consume. See the colors, taste the flavors, and bring awareness to the sunshine, soil, and earth that have collaborated to create the bundles of energy of food.

If eating with deep awareness is new to you, begin by taking just one meal a day in silence and focusing on each of your senses for a few minutes at a time.

8. Stop Eating Three Hours Before Bedtime

During sleep, the body repairs, heals, and restores while the mind digests thoughts, emotions, and experiences from the day. If the body’s energy is diverted into physical digestion, the physical healing and mental digestive processes are halted. For this reason, Ayurveda medicine recommends that the last meal of the day be relatively light and completed three hours before bed to avoid this imbalance. In this way, the body’s prana is free to do its rest and repair work at the deepest levels during sleep.

9. Favor Herbal Teas Between Meals

Tea is not just a palate-pleasing beverage, it is also a powerful healer that can aid in restoring health, vitality, and joy. To avoid diluting agni, beverages, including teas, should be minimally consumed with meals (no more than 1/2 cup). However, between meals, teas can be enjoyed liberally and act as herbal remedies. Drinking tea between meals pumps the body full of “liquid medicine,” curbs snack cravings, facilities detoxification, and stokes the digestive fire.

Vata doshas will find grounding and calmness in warm, spicy teas such as cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Pittas, who can take their tea either hot or cool, will find cooling herbs such as peppermint, coriander, and rose to be balancing. Kaphaswill increase energy, digestion, and optimism with licorice, black pepper, and cardamom.

10. Eat Your Largest Meal of the Day at Lunchtime

Agni is strongest when the sun is highest. By consuming the largest meal of the day at noon, the body is able to use its powerful inner fire to breakdown and assimilate nutrients with less energetic output than at other times of the day. The noon meal is the best time of the day to integrate heavier or difficult-to-digest foods. This is also the most ideal time for a splurge food (think an icy drink or sugary treat). By eating the largest meal at midday, the body remains well supplied with energy throughout the afternoon hours, thus helping to alleviate the “afternoon energy slump.”

Each of these ancient Ayurvedic rules will help you remain healthy not only by virtue of the food you are eating but how you eat it. And don’t forget to take your time to enjoy your meals and be grateful for the foods you eat along the way.

July

0

Hello everyone, we are in the middle of summer and are still dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Hang it there, my friends! I hope the articles below will help you to bring your body and mind into healing and balance, and give you some sense of stability and security. Enjoy!

Namaste

10 Tips to Manage Your Doshas While in Quarantine

By Suhas Kshirsagar, B.A.M.S., M.D. (Ayurveda), 

2

If you have been feeling emotionally fearful and have thoughts of uncertainty, here are a few simple techniques that you can follow to restore your faith in the divine and diffuse anxiety and pressure.

These are uncertain and challenging times. It is probably the first time where all of humanity, in every corner of the world, is collectively affected. The most difficult aspect is the lack of clarity about the future. Everybody is anxious—from children to seniors—about health, money, travels, and much more.

Thoughts and emotions affect everyone, but how you respond to them can vary. Ayurveda talks about different mind-body types, called doshas, and how, depending on your type, you process and react to stress. This is what stress can do to you depending on your type:

  • Vatas (or air predominant) can get anxious very easily. They can become fearful, restless, sleepless, and terribly worried.
  • Pittas (or fire predominant) can get angry, petty, agitated, impatient, and overly critical.
  • Kaphas (or water predominant) can become lazy, dull, heavy, depressed, and depleted of energy.

Now, imagine you have all of these mind-body types living under one roof in quarantine—it can heighten stress levels substantially!

However, there are specific positive emotional antidotes you can use. For example, you can combat fear with trust or faith, anger with love, and depression with motivation. These positive emotions, along with affirmations, can help to alter your mindset and make you feel relaxed and purposeful. Here are some ideas for you to check out during these trying times.

  1. Meditate

Meditation is great for mental health and well-being and can help relieve stress. Different doshas respond to the same meditation technique differently, but all enjoy the benefit of it. For example:

  • Vatas can feel supported by the higher self or divine and are less anxious and fearful after meditation. They feel the presence of grace, which helps to restore their faith during uncertain times.
  • Pittas can feel the love and stability during a situation that is beyond their control after meditation. They can willingly surrender in the “gap” and feel calm and content.
  • Kaphas can feel the ever-changing energy of consciousness that lifts their depression and allows them to feel uplifted and motivated after meditation.
  1. Breathe

Breath is the link between the individual and collective consciousness. It can help you deal with the fight-freeze-flight mode. Practice two minutes of deep diaphragmatic breathing several times a day.

Practicing a conscious breathing exercise (pranayama) is a great way to link your mind with your body. Pranayama can help soothe a restless Vata’s mind, an impatient Pitta’s mind, and a heavy Kapha’s mind.

  1. Accept the Wheel of Time 

What goes around, comes around. For example, if you are worried about money, trust that it will get better. It is the cycle of nature. Even though space-time is an illusion it does affect the mind-body types differently. For example:

  • Vatas tend to be more futuristic, thinking and worrying about the future.
  • Pittas tend to stay present and overly focused.
  • Kaphas often lament about things in the past.

Consciously slowing down the pace of life by meditating helps the dosha types learn to be present. They appreciate the present moment and do not feel anxious about the past or future. It may take a few more months to normalize these uncertain times, but be aware of and grateful for what you have right now. Conserve your resources and get ready for a new future with a better understanding of your finances and priorities in life.

  1. Connect with Friends & Family

Humans are social beings, and Vatas especially, like to be touched and hugged. It calms their mind and makes them feel connected. Vatas like sunshine, bright colors, and a variety of experiences. Pittas enjoy sports, competition, and greenery. Kaphas enjoy the warmth outside, gardening, and lifting weights. Physical movements have a calming and relaxing effect on each mind-body type. If this activity is done with friends and in groups, it can be even more motivating and fun.

It is important to stay connected with your core group of friends, family, and loved ones who know you well and can provide unconditional love. Chat with them, laugh, share, and go down memory lane with them to get a better perspective on how far you have come with people who have watched you succeed. When life is stressful, it is great to be able to lean into your support group.

  1. Feel Your Feelings

Your feelings are genuine. Your dosha-specific mind can generate thoughts, feelings, and emotions that affect your physiology instantly. Vatas’ minds are worried, anxious, and fearful when under stress. Pittas’ minds can be impatient, irritable, and reckless in a situation that is beyond their control. Kaphas’ minds may feel dull, heavy, and unmotivated.

Do not be afraid to share your feelings with others and even yourself. It is always a good idea to release the emotional pressure and gain insight into what you are feeling. When you talk to someone, you can replace feelings of helplessness with uplifting feelings of motivation.

  1. Share 

Give others what you want for yourself. All dosha types respond best when they feel valued, appreciated, and grateful. When you give, it comes back to you. If you want to feel less anxious, help someone else calm down. If you listen to others and their needs, counsel them, provide them with resources, or simply try to understand their pain, you will feel calm, content, and relaxed. It is human nature.

  1. Avoid Unwanted Clutter

Information is everywhere. News channels, conspiracy theories, and internet rumors sap your peace of mind and vitality. Vatas tend to easily and quickly reach information overload, Pittas can get very logical and overanalytical when overstimulated, and Kaphas can feel overwhelmed and depressed with confusing information. Replace the information clutter with something that you like—a favorite movie, music, or an inspiring Ted Talk.

The same goes for your physical space too. Clutter in your home, can lead to clutter and anxiety in your mind. During the stay-at-home order, it is even more important to keep a tidy dwelling since that is where you will be 24/7.

  1. Avoid Nonessential Shopping

Shopping can be addictive. Vatas especially can get very tempted with various websites, sales, and promotions. Pittas can spend hours comparing products. Kaphas can get possessive and start hoarding things. Try not to buy anything that you do not need for now. Minimize unwanted financial burden by being selective and prudent.

  1. Move Your Body

Keep yourself active. Physical movements help you unwind and relax. Practicing sun salutations, jogging, lifting weights, or enjoying some other fun-filled activity all help to improve your circulation. Vatas respond well to slow movements like Yoga or Tai Chi. Pittas tend to prefer cardio, weight, and sports. Kaphas may benefit from slow, long-distance hikes, cardio, and sauna.

  1. Believe in the Divine

Every dosha needs to establish a connection with the Divine. It makes Vatas feel supported, it deflates the egos of Pittas, and helps Kaphas feel uplifted and motivated. Believe in something bigger and better than yourself. A deity, guru, spiritual teachings, or prayer that connects you with a greater field of consciousness and allows you to rise above the present crises with the wisdom of eternity.

Understanding your mind-body type and cultivating a positive lifestyle are great ways to help you maintain calm during these uncertain times. You should try to fill your day with mindful activities, positive affirmations, and extra emphasis on dietsleep, and exercise.

 

More Than a Stretch: 6 Profound Effects Asanas Have on Your Body and Mind

By Adam Brady, Vedic Educator

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Due to its high visibility in the public eye, asana has become somewhat of a cultural symbol for what it means to practice yoga. Here are six reasons you should incorporate asanas into your daily life. The study of asana is not about mastering posture. It’s about using posture to understand yourself.

Asana: Not So Static

To begin our exploration, let’s consider the way yoga asana relates to static stretching. Static stretching is defined as any stretch that is performed without movement. At first glance, this definition would seem to apply perfectly to yoga asana. However, if you dig deeper into the broader yoga philosophy, you’ll see why this comparison doesn’t really fit. This is because yoga doesn’t view the body as a fixed thing. The physical body is an ever-changing field of energy, transformation, and intelligence.

  • With every breath, you exchange trillions of atoms with the universe.
  • With each position you enter into, certain muscles contract (called the agonist muscles) while other muscles relax and lengthen (called the antagonistic muscles).
  • With each macro- and micro-adjustment to the pose, circulation increases or decreases.
  • With every shift in attention and intention, subtle energies are mobilized.
  • With increased relaxation, your stress, anxiety, and mental and emotional toxins are released.

Seen in this light, the notion of “static stretching” is somewhat a misnomer when it comes to yoga asana because, in the final analysis, a yoga pose isn’t a noun or a fixed thing like a statue. Instead, an asana is a verb; it’s a process, a doing-ness that fosters a deeper integration between body and mind. It’s this communication that cultivates a feedback loop of self-regulation—your ability to return to a state of homeostatic balance.

As you tune in deeply to the sensations of your body, your breathing, and the content of your awareness during a yoga asana, you are able to make modifications that lead you toward a more comfortable and embodied expression of the pose. In this way, an asana becomes the physical expression of who you are in this moment; the art of expressing the human body through form, breath, and presence.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the profound effects asana practice can have on your mind and body.

Strengthens Primordial Movement Patterns

Outside of an athletic pursuit, most modern humans spend the bulk of their waking hours in one of four primary positions or movement patterns:

  • Lying
  • Sitting
  • Standing
  • Walking

Sadly, these options make up only a fraction of the movements in which your body is capable.

By contrast, your primitive ancestors didn’t lie around all day; they were very active and used their bodies in many different ways. They ran, climbed, crawled, jumped, swung, twisted, bent, and reached their way into countless primordial and animalistic movement patterns. These movements might seem “primitive” by our modern standards, but they actually helped the human body remain strong, flexible, balanced, and harmonized with the laws of nature.

Yoga asanas embody these primal movements and help you connect more deeply to the roots of your humanity. In addition, since many poses are named after other members of the animal kingdom, they help you to integrate those qualities into your movements and practice.

Develops Functional Physical Attributes

All asanas can help you build one (or more) of several key functional movement attributes:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Coordination

All of these are, to a greater or lesser degree, elements of the majority of all yoga poses. Depending on the pose, one attribute might receive more emphasis than others, but a well-rounded asana sequence will be structured so that it provides a balanced blend of poses that cultivate these foundational attributes. If performed at a vigorous pace, asana (such as Sun Salutations) can help to enhance aerobic capacity and cardiovascular strength. In addition, these qualities, along with the improved coordination brought about through practice, help to build proprioception—the awareness and perception of the position and movements of the body in space.

Enhances Circulation

The movements of the body in and through asanas provide a boost to your circulation. As you bend, twist, fold, and extend your body, you flex and contract muscles, flushing a fresh supply of blood through that tissue. Strenuous poses can also increase heart rate, pumping additional blood to different parts of the body. Inverted poses in particular, use gravity to encourage deoxygenated blood flow back to the heart, improving circulation.

Enhanced circulation doesn’t only apply to blood, however. Your lymphatic system is a key component in your immune function, helping to move white blood cells throughout your body through a network of ducts and glands. Unlike the heart though, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, so its circulation depends on the motions of muscles and joints for it to move. Asana practice is a powerful way to help keep your lymphatic system circulating and healthy.

Massages Organs and Strengthens Facia

Due to the nature of body positioning around the spinal axis, your internal organs often receive a gentle squeeze during asana practice. Twisting movements specifically create a massaging-type effect on several organs located in your torso, flushing them with a fresh supply of blood.

In addition, connective tissue called facia, which functions like something like an internal web or scaffolding around your organs, is also strengthened and toned through regular asana practice. The facia network also contributes to enhancing the previously mentioned inner sense of proprioception. Through a variety of yoga poses, the nerve endings in the facia send and receive an unending stream of information between mind and body, telling you a unique story about your body’s orientation, balance, weight, stability, and overall position.

Enhances Respiratory Function

Yogic Breathing or Pranayama is the fourth branch of Raja Yoga and consists of numerous techniques to enhance neuro-respiratory integration. Asana practice provides an opportunity to cultivate your breathing practice while you move through different poses.

As you take on different positions, your breathing is forced to adapt to the posture, the muscles involved, the pressure on the chest or abdomen, or the mobility of the diaphragm. Each subtle nuance in the pose may affect the depth, pace, or rhythm of your breathing. With each change, you can notice the sensations and strive to maintain deep, balanced breathing, often by using the Ujjayi Breath. This process of using your breath as a bridge between mind and body strengthens your respiratory function while simultaneously keeping you anchored in the pose and present moment.

As an added side effect, practicing pranayama during asana soothes your nervous system, giving you greater control over its autonomic function; if you can stay focused and calm, and breathe during a challenging pose, it will make it that much easier to do so during life’s daily stressors.

Channels Subtle and Archetypal Energies

Though not as apparent as the physiological qualities already mentioned, no discussion on asana would be complete without touching on the subtle benefits hidden within yoga poses.

Yoga asanas enliven prana or the primordial life force, and in so doing help to mobilize and circulate energy through the subtle body of mind, intellect, and ego. Different poses influence the prana allowing it to flow more easily through the 70,000 nadis or subtle energetic channels situated throughout the body. Asana practice also helps energize and balance the major chakras, or energetic junction points, between mind, body, and spirit.

Lastly, asana practice can invoke and activate subtle archetypal energies that lie dormant within you. For example, when you embody Warrior, Mountain, Tree, or Sage poses, at either conscious or unconscious levels, you are calling forth those qualities into your life. A warrior feels courageous, a mountain feels stable, a tree feels flexible, a sage feels wise.

When you choose poses with qualities you wish to embody, you are calling for those attributes to express themselves through you during your asana practice and throughout your life. As anyone who practices asana regularly can tell you, each pose has its own personality, its own character, its own energy. With consistent practice, those mythic qualities of gods and goddesses, mountains, serpents, and birds become a part of you—helping you discover your full potential.

Eating to Balance Your Chakras

By Erin Easterly, Ayurvedic Therapist and Educator, and Yoga Teacher

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Your body, mind, and chakras need to be nourished. Here are practical ways to integrate dietary considerations into your overall energy balancing regimen.

Most people have heard of the charka system and understand it to be a collection of seven distinct energies that contribute to specific physical and emotional states. While there are numerous methods of modulating the energy flowing into the chakras, one very accessible means is through diet. Below are ways to integrate dietary considerations into your overall energy-balancing regimen and keep your chakras balanced.

1. Muladhara (Root) Chakra

The root chakra governs stability, survival, and security. It contains a predominance of Earth energy, which is the densest of the five elements. Of all the chakras, the root is the one most easily stabilized through food. Why? Food comes from the Earth, and as such, all foods contain a greater or lesser degree of Earth energy.

In that sense, simply eating regular meals with healthy, organic foods will churn the energy of the base chakra. Foods that contain a large quantity of Earth energy, and therefore ones that are best suited to increasing flow within the root chakra, include grains, nuts, legumes, root vegetables, and meats. At times when you are feeling particularly ungrounded or weak, roasted root vegetables, baked chicken, or quinoa can act as a particularly grounding meal.

Since the Earth element creates structure, frequently eating Earth-heavy foods may result in an increase in body mass. Except during times of extreme transition, such as the death of a loved one, a major move, or recovery from an illness, Earth-heavy foods are best combined with other elemental food energies.

2. Svadhishtana (Sacral) Chakra

The second chakra governs emotions, senses, intimacy, and connection. It is governed by water energy, which is nourishing, soothing, fluid, flexible, and dynamic.

When you are looking to enliven sexual energy and passion in your life, integrate juicy, orange fruits such as mangos, oranges, apricots, nectarines, and persimmons. Their lightness and high-water content will provide a burst of energy to the second chakra.

In addition, moist foods with an abundance of seeds such as passion fruit and strawberries are good for activating this chakra. Heavier orange foods, such as pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes will offer more sustained, creative energy that can help to ground and stabilize the sacral chakra.

So, if you want to make love, eat a platter of strawberries, peaches, and passion fruit but if you want to write a book or engage in some passion project, go with roasted butternut squash and pumpkin bread.

3. Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra

The third charka houses the energy that contributes to will power, self-control, ambition, and personal transformation. When balanced, this chakra creates a sense of purpose and direction. The third chakra is governed by the fire element.

Pungent, salty, and sour foods—each of which contain fire—are helpful in activating its power. Pungent foods, a combination of fire and air, include chilies, peppers, garlic, onions, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and oregano. Salty foods, a blend of water and fire, incorporate all sea vegetables, fish, celery, and soy sauce. Sour foods, a mixture of earth and fire, encompass citrus foods, sour berries, fermented foods, vinegar, and alcohol.

Since the third and first chakras influence one another, the particular combination of foods you select for third chakra activation will be closely tied to the stability of the root chakra. A good rule of thumb is this: if you find it hard to initiate your motivation, spice things up with pungent foods; if you feel insecure and need to activate your personal power, go with the sour and salty foods. Regardless of root chakra stability, hot ginger tea is an ideal accompaniment for this chakra.

4. Anahata (Heart) Chakra

The fourth chakra is the energy center that nourishes love, compassion, kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. It allows you to feel for others and yourself. The fourth chakra is governed by the air element.

Astringent and bitter foods are useful in initiating air energy. Astringent foods, a combination of air and earth elements, tend to have tannins that result in a drying sensation in the mouth. Green tea, red wine, pomegranate seeds, unripe bananas, and most beans are astringent in nature. Bitter foods, a fusion of air and ether, consist of all leafy greens, coffee, and dark chocolate. Fresh green juices, salads, and smoothies are ideal compliments to a heart-opening regimen.

5. Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra

The fifth chakra houses the energy of communication, integrity, honesty, self-expression, and openness. It allows you to speak your truth clearly and kindly. The fifth chakra is predominantly ruled by the ether element. Ether is light, formless, and insubstantial.

As the chakra energies become less form-based, the foods that balance them have more to do with the subtle energies of color than of form. Blue foods, such as blueberries, blackberries, blue corn, and borage are significant contributors to the fifth chakra.

In addition, one of the best ways to balance this chakra is to take one meal a day in silence so that you may chew your food thoroughly. It is difficult to talk and chew well, so eating without talking or other distractions, including reading, listening, watching, or otherwise diverting your attention, will exercise and strengthen the throat chakra.

6. Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra

The sixth chakra, often referred to as the third eye, is the seat of intuition. Its energy encourages extra sensory perceptions, gut feelings, and hunches to make their way into your awareness. The element associated with the sixth chakra is that of light.

The sixth chakra is primarily activated by spending short periods of time in the sunlight. In the absence of sunlight, this chakra can be enhanced by spending time in the “inner light” via meditation.

Secondarily, the sixth chakra receives a boost from purple-tinted foods such as grapes, figs, eggplants, purple kale, purple cabbage, plums, purple potatoes, and lavender tea.

7. Sahaswara (Crown) Chakra

The crown chakra is located at the crown of the head and connects you to formless being. This chakra is sometimes referred to as the thousand-petaled lotus as its energy radiates in a thousand different directions. Since all elements are from the realm of form, there is no form-based element associated with this chakra. Its association is with pure consciousness.

The best way to balance this chakra through diet is to simply stop eating. Fasting has long been a revered part of most spiritual traditions. Even modern science is advocating relatively short (24-36 hours) fasting windows. Pausing the flow of food detoxifies the body, flushes out toxins, boosts your energy, and clears the mind.

While each of the chakras will occasionally need extra attention, the best way to maintain balance is to tend to each of them every day. Eat a varied diet full of colors, textures, and taste qualities. Also carve out time not to eat each day, perhaps from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Drink nourishing teas, spend time in the sun, and breathe in the fresh air. Your body, mind, and chakras will be nourished.