A few days ago I finished Paramhansa Yogananda's nine day cleanse. In a way, the decision to undergo the cleanse happened suddenly - for better or worse. I hadn't really planned to do a cleanse, although I had been noticing little suggestions from the universe that one may be needed. The week before I began I'd had dinner with a couple of people who were in the midst of a sugar fast. As we were talking about their experience I shared about the first time I did the nine day cleanse. A few days later I was talking with a friend who had started a type of detox which required drinking some sort of cleansing juice, and again I shared about the cleanse I'd done the year before. Although I was noticing these whispering suggestions of another round of cleansing, I wasn't motivated enough to start seriously consider embarking on one. Then on a Monday morning after getting very little sleep I was turning off my phone alarm and saw a text from my podcast partner, Alessandra, saying she and a couple of mutual friends were starting the nine day cleanse and encouraging me to join. I can't remember the exact inner response that was elicited by this kind invitation at that delicate hour in my only half-rested being, but amongst other words I know there were several Nos. Of course, as I started to turn the corner into a more fully awake state it seemed like the right time and opportunity. In a matter of a couple of hours I decided to just do it and begin right away so I would be finished as soon as possible! The lack of mental prep was mostly a blessing. I was glad I didn't have days of it hanging over my head, which would bring a great deal of my trying to plan it all out mentally to no useful end. I knew I was going to have my challenges with it whether I carefully planned it out or if I just cannon-balled into it, but at least with the cannon-balling I could just get on with it.
One of the things that appealed to me so much with the timing was the fact that my friends were also doing it at the same time. I'm part of a virtual community, and we had a little group from various pockets of the globe who were adhering to the same restrictions, undergoing similar mental and physical effects, and resisting the same internal calls to chocolate. We were also approaching the cleanse in slightly different ways. Some were adhering strictly to the guidelines, while others (me) were a little looser in their adherence. One of the ways I convinced myself to go forward with the cleanse was that I would give myself a little slack. I wanted to follow the cleanse carefully for the first 4 days or so and then allow myself an apple or banana if I felt like it after I'd gotten that far. Ultimately, it was day 6 before I treated myself - half an avocado on my raw salad. I know, I'm wild.
One area of improvement for me in this process is staying more fully present. I really feel that I was projecting into the future to when the cleanse would be over far too much. I felt powerless in my mental "ticking away" of mealtimes. One grapefruit breakfast down, 8 to go. Fifteen mealtimes down, twelve to go. Just four more cooked veggie meals left and then I'm done. Maybe someday I will be better at embracing where I am in the process without just trying to get through it, but it did not happen this time.
Something which I found fascinating was my automatic tendency to relate to myself as hungry. As the system clears out there is a definitive feeling of lightness throughout the system. Even after a meal, there isn't anything heavy in the belly. This left me without a sense of anchoring that I'm used to in the stomach, and I would find myself thinking I was hungry. It was helpful to tune in more sensitively to the sensation and notice that it wasn't in fact hunger, but an unburdening. Well, sometimes that was helpful - and other times I would daydream about when I could eat something a little heavier again! In one of our many chats over the course of the cleanse, Alessandra commented about how good her stomach felt - as though it had been massaged from the inside. I hadn't really tuned into that but once she pointed it out I realized how right she was. My belly felt not only light and clear but just good.
I wrapped up the cleanse a few days ago now. I am glad I did it, and I'm glad it ended. It was great to be able to give my system a reset and to flex my will power muscles!
I was honored to be asked to contribute to Redfin's recent article on practicing self-care at home. Keep reading to discover many easy and helpful ways to treat yourself!
Expert Tips for Practicing Self-Care at Home
Self-care – it’s something we often overlook during the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. However, in order to nurture the health of our mind, body, and soul, we need ways to promote well-being and reduce stress.
The thing about practicing self-care is that you intentionally need to make time and space for it. Luckily, there are many things you can do right from the comfort of your home. Keep reading to hear from experts in the field on their favorite at-home self-care practices for a healthier, happier you.
1. Create a sacred space. Whether it’s a room, chair, or bed, find a place to spend a few moments or longer to relax your mind and connect with your inner self any time in the day or night. Allow this time to be free from having to do or be anything whatsoever, give yourself permission to just ‘be’ by taking a few breaths, closing your eyes, and letting yourself relax.
– Rest & Be
2. Plan next week’s meals over the weekend. Have good quality tools in your kitchen so home-cooked meals are easy to prepare. Stock your pantry with whole grains, broths, and beans for healthy eating.
– Wellness and You
3. Start and end the day with a healthy habit. Home self-care is where we kick start the routines that move us towards feeling and functioning great. We’re ruled by our habits, and consistency is what will ultimately get us to our goals. The home is where we begin and finish our day, so starting and ending the day with a simple healthy habit can be the game-changer that keeps our health moving forward.
– Moore Life Health
This can be simple like drinking lemon water in the morning and at night spraying your pillow with lavender.
– Wellness with Molly
4. Fill one of your spaces at home with color. Whether it be small decor items, plants, or a throw blanket featuring your favorite color. Think less about clashing and more about vibrancy, positivity, and intention to create a space worth living in.
– Acacia Counseling & Wellness
5. Get enough sleep. 7-9 hours of quality sleep is fundamental to good self-care, and sleep is arguably the easiest thing on this list. Plus, sleep has a multitude of other benefits for your brain and body.
6. Start a skincare ritual. A soul-nurturing skincare routine can help you feel like you’re having a spa treatment every day, even if it’s just a few splendid minutes to yourself while chaos ebbs and flows on the other side of the door. Choose self-care products that are made with essential oils, and infused with crystals and good energy because they smell wonderful, feel nice on your skin, and offer a holistic, deeply replenishing healing effect on your mind, body, and spirit. Creating this ritual will make you never want to miss your “me time” sanctuary of self-care.
– SpaGoddess Apothecary
7. Get outside. There’s no easier way to push “restart” than getting outdoors and going for a walk. Use the rhythmic crunching of dirt under your feet as a cadence for breathing and before you know it, you’ve sauntered into a serene, meditative state.
– Magnolia Wellness
8. Use Aromatherapy. This is a powerful way to provide comfort and healing at home. Studies show that rosemary, for example, can improve cognitive performance. Peppermint and jasmine can enhance brain function and focus too. Lavender and lemon balm have been found to soothe pain and stress. These essential oils interact with body chemistry and can also improve sleep patterns, increase daytime alertness, and stimulate sociability.
– Lifetime Wellness
9. Recognize simple rituals as acts of self-care. Self-care rituals at home serve to remind us that we are worthy of the good that comes from giving our emotional, mental, and physical needs their due—from a slowly sipped cup of hot tea to a hot shower that steams up the mirror while listening to your favorite podcast. Recognizing these simple rituals as acts of self-care is where it begins. From there it becomes easier to recognize and be grateful for all of the ways we can build ourselves up in the face of the daily grind.
– Elle Studio + Wellness
10. Keep your home tidy and smelling good. Before getting into relax mode after a long day, burn a candle or incense and make sure to straighten up the house. Decluttering from the day is essential!
– Studio KT
11. Remember the benefits of physical exercise for your brain. Do some burpees. Jump rope. Go out and walk briskly around the block. Do some push-ups and planks. Anything that elevates your heart rate and breathing rate (within reason) for at least 10 minutes is super beneficial for mental focus and state of mind. Get up and move around, and you will feel and think better!
– Miller Chandler, Owner/Certified Exercise Physiologist, Foundation Wellness
12. Address stress or anxiety when you feel it. If you notice yourself feeling stressed, anxious or tense, find a calm quiet space to sit down and breathe. Take a long, slow, gentle inhale; exhale out through your mouth with a sigh. Exhale completely, making it slightly longer than the inhale. This sends signals to your nervous system that you are in a safe space, and it is ok to rest and relax. Your breath is the one organ in your body you control; it’s free and always available.
– Anchor Meditation
13. Make it work for the season you are in. One of my favorite acts of self-care is making sure I am moving my body, but as a business owner and mom of four little ones, I don’t always have time for long runs or hours at the gym. Therefore, I keep it simple: a brisk walk with my twins in a stroller or a short at-home Pilates workout on the floor of the bathroom while my kiddos are in the bath. Sometimes keeping it simple is the secret to success.
– Jaclyn Elwell, The Balanced Life
14. Try dry brushing. Not only does this exfoliate your skin keeping it looking smooth and feeling soft but also it is one of the few ways in which you can improve the flow of your Lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the main waste line for all toxins in your body. The health of your lymphatic system will determine the health of your body. Dry skin brushing is an inexpensive way to truly help your body inside and out.
– Cleansing Concepts
15. Make a deliberate transition ritual. Our lives are full of over-stimulation and sometimes high-tension. If we aren’t careful, we can carry tension and stress from one situation to another. Instead of being strung along, bringing our day’s baggage into our safe home space, create a simple ritual to transition out of work or into your home space. It can be as simple as three, mindful breaths, a dance sesh to a favorite song in the car, or a stroll around the block.
– Pivot Wellness
16. Make self-care a priority. Hopefully, you have already discovered ways to show yourself, love. Whether it’s meditation, a warm bath, sitting in the sun, music that warms your heart or other ways to nourish your soul, the most important thing is to make sure you take time for it every day.
– Meditation Oasis
17. Get physical. Moving your body for at least 20 minutes a day will greatly enhance your physical and mental well-being. You can move your body in a variety of ways, such as a brisk walk around the block, a slow jog, some jumping jacks, sit-ups or even an online yoga class from the comfort of your own living room.
– The Yoga Collective
18. Meditate in the morning. To foster self-love at home, get in the habit of meditating in the morning for 10-minutes before jumping into the fast pace of the world. Just like exercise, meditation requires consistency to see any meaningful results. By practicing first thing in the morning, you guarantee that you won’t forget to do it.
19. Breathe. Close the eyes, feel the breath (make it long and slow if it is not already), and find yourself in the body. Don’t focus on the body itself, but instead find the You inside the body. Connect completely with that spark of eternity, which is within you for a few breaths, and feel good!
– Meditation by Kara
20. Make small changes to your environment and routine. Diffuse essential oils or burn a non-toxic candle, play ambient spa or meditation music, turn off digital devices, and put your feet up. Little luxuries like at-home masks will hydrate and pamper your skin along with a silk pillowcase for the ultimate beauty rest. Epsom salt baths are soothing and help aching muscles and tension in the body.
– Elizabeth M. Donat, NY and internationally licensed esthetician and founder, EMD Skin Solutions
Originally published by Redfin
Let me be the final person to wish you a Happy New Year! I'm not sure when we are supposed to stop relating to it being a new year, but as this is my first post of 2020 I'm going with it! Yesterday was the Chinese New Year anyway, so maybe that's what I mean.
My cat, River, has been very interested in meditating recently! It has never been unusual for her to sit with me while I'm meditating, but the last couple of weeks in particular she runs to me meowing as I begin, purring her little heart out. She'll come rub up against me, rub against the dog who is undoubtedly nearby, and then plants herself at my feet, placing one or both front paws on my leg. I started taking photos of her this week because she was just so completely adorable I couldn't help myself. I got a video of her as well one day because you can't hear the purring in the photos.
There are various schools of thought when it comes to how to meditate, including the amount of interruption you allow. When I was first learning to meditate, I was encouraged to get myself as indistractible as possible. Clearly, this would also include pet invasions. I see merit to this approach, particularly when we are just getting familiar with getting ourselves still in body and mind. It can be easy to pull ourselves out of attunement with our higher consciousness. In the beginning we are in unfamiliar (although completely native to us on a soul level) territory. We want to be alert and tuned in, and if we are hearing noises (the tv, kids yelling, purring) we can find ourselves paying attention to them instead of using that concentration to go more deeply inward.
As we get more meditation hours under our belt, we naturally get more familiar with our inner world and higher consciousness. We are able to get lift our conscious awareness more quickly, go into meditation more deeply, and the whole process feels easier. We can even find ourselves connecting inwardly and invoking stillness outside of meditation, out in the wild (i.e. a crowded Ikea)! And so it is that we might be able to tolerate or even welcome something which may have seemed a distraction once upon a time, such as a cat purring away.
There are even those who have traveled into astral realms who say cats are beneficial spiritual workers on this plane. That is a WHOLE other topic for another time, but embracing that idea and feeling that those purrs might be helping to cleanse my aura makes me doubly welcome the presence of this sweet bit of nature in my meditations as well as feeding my curiosity about why she feels so drawn to be there!
In sum, you should get a cat.
A curious thing happens often when people find out I am a meditation teacher: they tell me how much they want to learn to meditate. They have heard how good it is for them, know they need to reign in their anxiety/overworked thoughts/stress, etc, have been thinking of starting, and they seem very inspired to learn. When I had just become certified in teaching meditation, I would enjoy these responses with a sense of excitement that I will be able to help this person start a meditation practice which will get them on their way to a calmer life and a greater sense of Self.
It's now been a couple of years or so since my first exposure to these conversations, and the sun has set a bit on that enthusiasm. So often I never hear more from the person about meditation, or they will bring it up again but always with the intention of "someday" learning. It could be that they don't even have that little spark of interest in the first place but rather saying they want to learn is just their way of holding up their end of the conversation, believing they are being polite by relating in their way to my interest in meditation (although, I believe ultimately people prefer honesty to politeness, and there are always so many ways to be polite and honest at the same time!). However, I think much - if not all - of the time they are expressing a true desire to learn. More accurately, they want to want to learn to meditate.
When we truly want something, we make it happen. We find time every day to eat at least 3 times. Many of us make plenty of time throughout the day to check in to social media. We watch TV, gossip with coworkers, sleep. These are all things we fill our days with because we want to. Getting measurable benefits from meditation requires as little as 12-15 minutes per day, according to research. If we truly want to bring meditation into our lives, we need only dedicate a small fraction of our day to it. If you give 15 minutes of each day to meditation, you would still have 1,425 minutes every single day to do the other things you want to do. For the majority of the population, it's really not a matter of "having the time" for meditation, it is a matter of prioritizing it above the other ways we are filling our days.
So, do you want to meditate? Or do you want to want to meditate? If you truly want to get the proven results of meditation, shift from having a vague notion of how you'd like to someday have a meditation practice to realizing that you are the one in charge of your life, and the time is now. Make just a little bit of space in your day for meditation, make it a priority, and start to see the changes! And, of course, if you need assistance with how to start please contact me or another meditation teacher who would be happy to help you get going!
It's been a while since my last blog post! I thought I would be inspired to break down each weekend of my energetic month of Oct (per my last blog post), however what I have found in practice was I didn't really know where to begin (language is oh so limiting!) and I keep putting off writing as I wait for the inspiration to come. My approach at this point is to move beyond feeling I need to share further details of my experiences with the Omega Institute, Sedona, and Reiki training and work with where the energy is flowing. In short, I need to listen to my intuition.
Listening to my intuition is an ongoing process for me. Some people are quite confident in following their intuition, but historically I don't feel I've been hugely tuned in to mine. Meditation and my growing spiritual practice over the years have absolutely helped, but I spent much of my life in a much more "practical" frame of mind, counting much more on intellectual reasoning than any inner guidance. Perhaps that is because I don't receive my intuition as "thunderbolts." Some people are quite fortunate to sense inner guidance almost as if it's being given to them. They may hear a response to an inner question, see a vision, get guidance in the form of a dream - there are a number of ways these souls perceive the guidance as though it is generated elsewhere and then handed to them.
For me, the intuitive process appears to come directly from within. I often am unable to differentiate my own thought from inspired intuition in such a discernible way as audibly or visually. This often leaves me in a grey area between the rational mind and intuitive guidance. If I feel the thought was created organically within me, then isn't it just one of my thoughts?
Sometimes I get inspired while I'm meditating. You might think that this helps solidify that it is true intuition, and yet often even if I think it's a good idea another part of me is thinking my mind must be pretty restless because of the thoughts! lol! What a cycle! It's true that meditation is often about bringing the mind back when it wanders - this is as true for me as it is for you. So again, just because I am meditating when an inspired thought appears doesn't mean I automatically accept it as intuition.
So, how do I discern intuition from regular thoughts? A lot of that has to do with trust - trusting myself and the Divine that what I may accept initially as a rational thought is, in fact, intuition. As I give myself to this trusting, I am gaining experience in seeing that when I listen and act accordingly things work out in a more harmonious way. This was proved just moments ago as I proposed an idea to someone which took me outside my comfort zone and had the potential to 1) push me into a space of growth which often also goes hand-in-hand with being unsure if I am ready, and 2) to lead to a bit of embarrassment if she thought it was a terrible idea. I got a quick response of openness, light, and opportunity even beyond what I had asked for. It is continued experiences such as that which help me continue to trust and discern intuition from thought.
And you are witnessing through this writing itself intuition at work! As I said, I have felt blocked from blogging lately as I was really trying to shape something from the energetic experiences of October. As I sat to write this post (after disregarding the one in draft which I started yesterday on that stated topic), I really didn't know even what topic I was going to expand upon. I felt that if I just started I could work with my intuition to guide me, even if it took a few days to craft it. In the end, it has flowed very naturally and has taken only a few minutes.
Take some time to consider your own inner guidance. Don't feel that just because you don't get some discernible stroke of inspiration that you don't have intuition. Everyone has it! Open yourself up and trust, and you can work with it more and more.
It's been an unusual month for me, everything swirling around the topic of energy. October has developed into a month of discovery and learning, approaching the topic of energy from various points of reference.
A few months ago I felt I should book some sort of retreat/workshop/seminar/training. It had been a while since I'd been to anything like that, and I always find it so energizing to my own meditation practice as well as my teaching so knew it would do me good. I looked at various possibilities across the country and ultimately was drawn to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York for a weekend on the topic of Energy Medicine. I think I booked it back in June, and it felt like the first weekend of October would never arrive. I was so excited when he time finally came, and I had a great time at the Omega Institute! There were several speakers who all brought their own perspective, teachings, and practical applications to energetic healing. I think I will need to write a separate blog post to really go into the weekend, otherwise this post is going to be too long and drawn out.
Last weekend it was my kids' fall break, so we went out to Arizona. I've never been out there before, although I have had my eye on it for a long time. I have always been drawn to the beauty of the landscape and the avoidance of winters in that area. For a long time I wanted to go to college in AZ, but when the time came to seriously plan for university I didn't end up applying. It just seemed too far to be practical. Anyway, it was a great trip, and one of the highlights was a spiritual vortex tour in Sedona. The vibration in Sedona was incredible. They have all these crystal shops everywhere, and I was picking up these gems and they were literally vibrating in my hands. My hands were constantly buzzing while in Sedona, even when I wasn't holding any crystals. It was amazing.
In a couple of days I will go to Reiki training! I'm also so excited for this opportunity! I've only experienced Reiki once before, and it felt so good. I'm really looking forward to learning the technique and being immersed in the healing environment for the weekend.
The month will wrap up with a beginner's course in beekeeping. On the surface this seems unrelated to energy, and it certainly is not as directly related as the other weekends. However, I am drawn to keeping bees and helping offset the bee crisis, as they are terribly important to our ecosystem. I have also heard anecdotes related to hive intelligence and imagine I will learn a lot from bees energetically, even though that is not the impetus for becoming involved with them.
I wish all months could be as centered on the topic of personal growth and healing energy as this one has been! I am looking forward to seeing how future months build on this one.
Just a quick follow up on my last post about earthing. When I composed that post, I had not experienced the grounding mat. I have now been using the mat while I sleep for about a week, and I must recommend it! The very first day I put it on the bed my daughter had an upset stomach as she tried to fall asleep. I had her go in my bed and lay on the mat. Her belly felt better really quickly, and she fell asleep within minutes. The next day when she got home from school she had an upset stomach again. I had her lie on my bed, I turned on the earthing mat, and she felt better quickly again. I also have slept really well on the mat, and my hip has been pain free for several days. It has been a long time since my hip has not drawn attention to itself throughout the day!
The mat I have is the one through the Ultimate Longevity website.
My friend sent me a documentary the other day on the topic of earthing, or grounding. I knew a little of this practice - enough to suggest it to my husband when he was traveling a lot. In the middle of explaining it to him I burst out laughing because I knew it sounded like something I was making up to try to trick him into looking silly. To be fair, this is the type of thing I would try to convince someone to do to be funny! Once I started laughing he was even more suspicious, and I had to send him an article about it to prove its authenticity as well as continuing to say, “I promise, it’s a really thing! Really!”
This documentary is so interesting - and it’s free! (Although it sounds as though it is only free for now.) I highly recommend watching it. The long and short of earthing is that we receive HUGE benefits, particularly in the realm of inflammation, from connecting our skin with the earth. This is as simple as walking barefoot in the grass for a few minutes. How long does it take to receive the benefit? According to the film, the body chemistry changes so quickly that they can’t pinpoint the time it takes: it’s instant.
The reason for this is somewhat vague for me since it’s been a few days since I watched it. 😄 It’s to do with electrons and positive vs negative ions and the exchange of said things with everything we come in contact with. When we physically connect with the earth we alter our electrons/ions and bring them into balance. If you want a really confident explanation about what happens scientifically, be sure to check out the movie (link below). My inability to explain it properly is a reflection of my own grasp of the science rather than their ability to convey it.
In the film, they have lots of thermal imaging before and after photos where you can see dramatic improvements of inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is not just about having something swollen which you can easily feel and see, such as a sprained ankle. All disease states have at their root inflammation. We just can’t always see the inflammation because it is happening internally, with an organ perhaps, and we experience it as pain, fatigue, etc, and not as swelling.
So, I tried it! I have been having pain in my right hip for months. I don’t know what triggered it, but I ran across my notes from my cleanse back in the spring and I saw “right hip pain” was on my wishlist of things I hoped would heal with the cleanse. The cleanse did help for a while, but the discomfort is still hanging around. It’s gotten strong enough that the morning my friend sent me the link about grounding I was wondering if I should get an MRI to see what’s going on.
After I watched the documentary, I went and stood on the grass barefoot for a while. I paid attention to my hip, and I was amazed that the pain dissolved. I went out two more times throughout the day to be in the grass, and my hip was quiet all day. The next day I found my way to the grass again, and my hip continued to be stable. I am now making a point to get doses of barefoot grass time throughout the day.
Grounding with the earth is doable right now because the weather is mild. However, winter is coming! I was telling my podcast partner about my experience and her first comment was to do with how cold it’s getting there and she won’t be able to be barefoot outside for many months. For that reason, I have purchased a grounding pad for my bed so while I sleep I am laying on that earth current.* I can’t comment experientially on the sleeping mat yet, but I have a friend who used one for many months and felt great for it.
I urge you to check out the documentary! This is such an easy pathway to getting in balance that you really have nothing to lose by giving it a shot.
*I am not being sponsored in any way. All of these comments are unsolicited and from the heart.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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