Archives for February 2018

Finding Time With Ritual Days

Ever find yourself winding down in bed after a long day wondering where the hours slipped away to? Maybe you conquered an ambitious day tackling a lengthy to-do list just to find that there was no time left to nurture and care for yourself. If we’re not careful, days like this can add up to consecutive days, weeks and even months. Regardless of how much we achieve in our often full and busy lives, it’s important to carve time out in our days and weeks to tend to our self-care, passions and interests and the activities that bring us joy.

A great way to establish routine and consistency in the activities that rejuvenate us is by creating ritual days. Ritual days are often established days in the week where we commit to showing up and honoring the rituals and practices that make us feel whole and revitalized.

Consider the suggestions below to get inspired and proactive in making space for your needs, or create ones of your own! There’s no bounds or limits in the ways we choose to honor time for what feels important to us individually.

Self-Care Sunday

I find that Sundays often carry a bad rap as the day we begin to dread the beginning of a new work week, accompanied by binge watching TV and poor eating habits. No shame if you genuinely desire a day of Netflix watching and munchies, but perhaps Monday wouldn’t be so scary if we came into it completely recharged and ready to go! Give yourself permission to sleep-in. Wake slowly and naturally without an alarm. Prepare yourself a nutrient-packed, nourishing breakfast. Take a walk in the park or somewhere in nature. Melt into a hot bath with tantalizing essential oils and candles. Care for your skin with a clay mask or lay out where you can get hugged by the sun’s rays. Take time to take care of you in whatever way uplifts you most!

Mellow Mondays

For many of us, Monday can be a tad of a whirlwind. No matter how much we love our job, transitioning from down time over the weekend into demands of our jobs can be taxing. Allow yourself to regenerate your charge by returning home to a Mellow Monday. Put on your favorite play list or record. Pick a genre that promotes relaxation for you, such as some soft jazz or ambient sounds to bring your busy mind to calm. Make some fresh herb tea such as rose or chamomile and crawl up with that book you’ve been longing to read. Unplug from your devices, allowing technology to fall to the side and welcoming spaciousness of mind in. Make it a habit to promote relaxation and stillness in your life. You deserve it.

Thankful Tuesdays

If you’ve been following me for a while, chances are you’ve heard me speak of the transformative practice of cultivating and expressing gratitude. Ideally we all would be practicing and reflecting on all we are blessed with on a daily basis, but if you feel called to take time each week to process your thanks through a ritual day, consider a Thankful Tuesday practice. A Thankful Tuesday practice can involve sharing your daily gratitude journal entries of the week with your partner, friend or family member, or if you don’t record a gratitude journal, your ritual can be the act of writing what you feel gratitude for, whether that be inspired by the present moment or experiences that made you feel thankful during that past week. There are endless ways to celebrate what we are grateful for, whether through writing, collages, dance, prayer… whatever helps you get in touch with your thankful heart space. Rejoice in all your blessings.

Creative Wednesdays

Too often our creative expressions and pursuits are neglected and shelved when measured to the demands of our daily lives. Regardless of your skill level or proficiency, practicing drawing, coloring, painting, crocheting, playing an instrument or any other creative medium is a wonderful way to decompress and relax while channeling your creative potential and energy. This ritual can easily be shared as you can invite friends and family members to share time and space with you as you engage in and explore any and all creative mediums you desire. Get paint on your fingers! Shape clay with your hands. Empower yourself to learn an instrument. Gift your inner child by getting crafty.

Tasty Thursdays

Many of us understand the challenge of managing our time properly to support making healthy meals to enjoy throughout the week. Meal prepping in the beginning of the week is a great way to ensure that we maintain healthy eating habits throughout the work or school week, but also sometimes means that we eat repetitively and similar meals each day. Tasty Thursdays is a commitment to make one extravagant meal at least once a week. Have you been drooling over photos of dishes made by your favorite food blogger for months, but haven’t taken action to make their recipes yourself? Now is your chance! Cherish and care for the joy and wonder of food by trying new recipes, ethnic cuisines or ingredients that are foreign or new to you. Show yourself love and care through the power and love of food.

Friend Fridays

Not only is getting together with friends an absolute joy, it’s also an essential ingredient to our emotional regulation. Creating time to connect with the kindred spirits that get you best helps us feel supported, relatable and also guides us into emotional stability and grounding. Maybe you and your best friends have a favorite juice bar you like to meet at for green smoothies or a venue that hosts live music every week. Or you could opt for a more homie, intimate gathering by alternating homes for a weekly potluck. Regardless of the venue or activity that brings you together, prioritizing time with your pals is an absolute must have ritual.

Sacred Saturdays

Sadly, what we consider the most sacred in life can get forgotten in the hussle and bussle of our lives. Ask yourself… what makes you feel connected? And when was the last time you put energy into it? Maybe time spent in nature soothes your mind and incites awe for all of existence in your heart. Do you have a movement practice that brings your awareness deeply into your body and present experience? Go take that yoga class that leaves you feeling expansive and complete! Or perhaps there’s a weekly group meditation or dharma class to enlighten your perspective. Whichever method or path you choose, make time to peel away all that is excessive to get in touch with your spirit.

Even if you don’t commit your whole day to your ritual, taking some time out of your day to care for yourself is something to celebrate! Give thanks for whatever effort you put towards your whole body, mind and spirit wellness. Have faith and confidence in the merit of your actions. Each effort is watering whichever seeks you choose to plant.

Mahalo,

Alyse

Tips on Cultivating a Meditation Practice

There’s no surprise that with a growing consciousness on full body wellness and health in our greater culture, more and more people are exploring awareness practices such as meditation.

The benefits speak for themselves… from increased relaxation and concentration to boosting immunity and cardiovascular health, there are immense reasons to consider slowing down and spending some precious moments on your meditation cushion.

As we learn to treat our overall health systemically, we begin to recognize that our health does not stop at how we move or fuel our body, but also how we care for our mental, emotional and spiritual health too. Cultivating a meditation practice is just one more step towards honoring yourself and ushering more happiness and acceptance into your life while you’re at it too.

Consider these tips and guidance to side track some of the more common hindrances that may rear their heads.

Adjust Your Expectations

Too often, beginner meditators throw in the towel fairly early because they’re convinced they are bad meditators.

“I’ve tried meditating, but I can’t calm my mind.”

Believe me when I say you’re not alone.

After a lifetime of unchecked, freely running thoughts and mental chatter, it may not be surprising to find that the mind is like a wild horse refusing to be tamed the first time you sit.

As Westerner practitioners we’ve been confused in our belief that in order to meditate we must possess the ability to instantaneously silence the mind. If you’re entering a meditation practice with this understanding, you are bound for disappointment.

The habitual patterns of your mind exist due to unfathomable causes and conditions from past experiences. Be patient as you create and nourish, possibly for the first time in your life, the ability to soothe the rapid activity of your mind.

Instead of relating to meditation as a method of stilling the mind, think of it as an opportunity to observe what is happening in the mind.

What is the current and present quality of your mind? Is it stable and easeful? Perhaps it is anxious or even wrathful.

We can adjust our expectations for our practice of witnessing to be as varied and diverse as our immense palate of human emotions.

With time and dedicated practice you can come to see how you can interact with the different states of your mind without resistance, attachment or judgments.

When I come face-to-face with the sloth or lethargy that can come hand in hand with an attempt at meditation practice I stop and consider, “How many hours did I spend today not conscious or aware of the present moment?”

Gift yourself this time.

For every moment spent with our thoughts drifting to past events or future fantasies, it is time well spent investing in honing your concentration and focus on what is happening in the here and now.

Consider beginning with a realistic goal. What if you begin with just 5 minutes a day? With time and consistency, you can build your practice time to 10, 15, 30 minutes or even more.

No Better Time Than Now

Too often, when longing to implement a new growth promoting habit into our life, we find every excuse or reason to halt us from beginning.

There’s too much happening at work right now. That new Netflix original series I’ve been waiting for comes out today. My thoughts race too much due to my coursework at school. I’m the worst at concentrating.

Your mind will always find a hundred and one reasons to procrastinate something that will invite more joy into your routine. Or perhaps you’re lacking the assurance or confidence in the merit of your actions and efforts. Practice discipline and celebrate your capabilities to pursue this practice. It’s not exclusive to anyone type of person or lifestyle, but is available to all who embark on it.

Just begin.

Create a Sanctuary

A great way to support a new practice is to establish a quiet, comfortable and safe space to meditate in.

What do you need in this container to support ease and spaciousness of mind? Is there a space in your home or room that you can return to each day? Maybe you can even build an altar of flowers or crystals, or place a few candles to light each time you arrive to practice.

If you don’t have a physical space at home, you can creatively seek spaces elsewhere, such as a vacant bench in a nearby park or public garden or maybe there’s even an active meditation group or spiritual center nearby that can offer you a place of refuge.

If you find yourself lacking a sanctuary, don’t stress. Regardless of your surroundings, either tranquil or chaotic, you always have the opportunity to stop, drop in with your body and present mind state, tune into your present moment, dissolve the monkey mind, anywhere, anytime.

While a quiet space may support a quiet mind, even the greatest of “disturbances,” from ambulance sirens to loud music, can all be related as anchors to the present moment.

Utilize Your Resources

Are you an absolute beginner and not sure where or how to begin? Thankfully, with the wide accessibility and connection through the Internet, you are not limited to necessity of seeking a meditation teacher or classes.

If you have access to these resources in your local community I encourage you to explore them! These groups or teachers have unfathomable depth in their study, practice and wisdom and can support you in your own personal practice. Also, they can often provide invaluable spiritual comrades.

For those of you who lack these opportunities, do not fret!

There are countless free online resources for the beginner meditator. I encourage you to explore the many different options and techniques. There are a wide diversity of methods taught and shared from, some inspired by tradition and lineage and many adapted to western culture or more modern healing modalities. From vipassana to manifestation practices, affirmations to mantra, there are countless ways to concentrate the focus of the mind. Try one or many and find which one best resonates with your goals and feelings.

A fantastic resource is a free app called Insight Timer. Insight Timer has hundreds of free guided meditations that can be filtered and searched based on how much time you have to meditate to what type of technique you would like to engage. Don’t want to follow an instruction? No problem! This app has an option to meditate simply to a timer. It offers an assortment of bells, singing bowls or gongs to start and end your practice with and will even track and record your progress. The greatest asset of this app is that it connects practitioners like you, creating a virtual spiritual community, offering its users a chance to relate, support and encourage each other along their meditation path.

Your resource support certainly isn’t limited to this app…. Just by doing a simple google or Youtube search for online “meditation instruction” will give you a plethora of options.

Regardless of the route you choose, know that there are resources and people ready to empower and support you along the way. Embrace these recommendations as your initial tool belt, accessible to you if you find yourself feeling challenged or discouraged along the way.

You have the power to transform your life. Grant yourself the freedom to turn your focus inward and inquire what’s within.

Mahalo,

Alyse