Tag Archives: breathe

Intent of the Day: Take a Breath

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As we move into what should appear to be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also become the most stressful time of the year. We’re trying to close up shop before we leave work or go on vacation for the end of the year. Clock’s a-tickin. We gotta get our reports done faster, get someone on the phone to answer our questions, leave no strings untied before operations shut down. Then we have family plans, presents to buy, time to schedule, stockings to stuff, parties to RSVP for. All of it means you might wake up in the morning already stressed out about everything and nothing. Setting this intent is extra important today. Our intent is to take a breath.

You too? Here are 3 resources to help: Continue reading

Be Happy: 6 Tools to Get You Smiling in No Time

Photography is in my heart What is happiness? The dictionary gives us a definition with synonyms, almost too many of them but in a nutshell all the words represent a good feeling, and feeling good is the natural quest in life. But how to arrive there or better still how to be in that state of feeling good, more or less continuously?

We associate happiness with “when …  then.” When I have what I want then I will be happy. What I want may be drawn from the well of careers, finances, relationships or more specifically that particular job, or income or mate … and yet those who have attained what they desire find that the resulting happiness is very short lived or eludes them completely. And then the cycle begins again. Furthermore, to quote Srikumar Rao, whatever it is that we can get we can also “un-get” making the source of our happiness very precarious.

Practices Leading to Happiness

There are many roads to happiness and some more personal than others. Nevertheless they are there for each and everyone of us.

First Tip is to invest or focus on the process, as explained by Srikumar Rao. Another way of saying this is to focus on the journey and not on the destination. Make it a practice to start each day with an inspiring message. I often find myself waking up feeling rather flat, perhaps because here in Vancouver we are in a season of much rain and little sunshine but by the time that I am finished watching Enjoy the Ride my spirits have notched up several degrees. Make use of aids such as this video or music or whatever it is that makes your heart sing.

Second Tip is to learn the practice of deep breathing. Fill your lungs with oxygen by slowly counting to four as you breathe in and then in a controlled manner breathe out counting at least to five or six. Initially this may be a challenge but the more that you practice it the easier it will become. Oxygen is an amazing drug and your lungs, the organ that processes the oxygen, has receptors connected to the brain that trigger different “emotions”. For example, the top third of the lung is designed to trigger flight or fright; so if you breathe in a very shallow manner then the oxygen only fills the top part of your lung. This means that the receptors will send messages to the brain telling you to get ready for a fight or to run for your life. So breathe deeply and enjoy the calming effect. It is pretty difficult to be happy if you are in flight mode, if you are not calm.

Third Tip is to move. Movement makes energy flow. We are energy and when we are not happy then the flow of energy is not vibrating at a very high level. Go for a walk, even if it means getting off the bus a couple of stops before your destination or parking the car at the furthest corner of the parking lot. Walk with enthusiasm, throwing back your shoulders and swinging your arms. Go to a yoga class. Go to an exercise class or go for a swim and smile while you are moving your body.

Fourth Tip is to smile. Put a smile on your face, making eye contact with the person that passes you and flashing them a smile. You will be amazed by the response. And it will also have magical effects on you. It will fill your heart and make you glow. A smilereleases endorphins and therefore, like oxygen, is a powerful drug. Smiles also dispel energy vampires, a phrase coined by Jon Gordon in his blog and it is so very true. It is not possible to be happy with a frown on the face.

Fifth Tip is music. Music is a universal language. Some very interesting studies have been done with the effect that music has on the human brain. Play the kind of music that makes you want to move and then do it. Move with wild abandon. Remember that with movement there is a rise in energy.

Last Tip is to meditate. Meditating conjures up all kinds of images of contorted positions and demanding thoughts to vanish which in itself is thinking. But if you sit quietly, especially when you have that feeling of unhappiness; close your eyes and simply focus on your breath. Count as the air goes into your lungs and also as it comes out. Do this for ten minutes, no more. At first you can set a timer and you will be amazed how quickly you relax. Relaxing is one of the easiest steps that lead to a state of happiness.

 

Originally published January 2011

Super Thoughts: 5 Ways to Make Yours Empowering

Beata Zita“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.” ~Author Unknown

I’m a long-time believer in the power of our thoughts, and I tend to focus on the positive. But, sometimes, those darn thoughts just spin out of control and go on their own little tangent, taking us along for the ride. This happened to me recently, but it served as a good reminder of just how powerful our thoughts are.

I was messing around online when an article caught my eye. There was a local headline about a fatal motorcycle crash. Eeek, bad news, for sure. Normally, I would avoid clicking on such an article just because I prefer not to fill my conscious with the gruesome details of the unfortunate things going on in the world. However, I couldn’t help but click this time. You see, my father sometimes rides a motorcycle and the crash happened within a few miles of his home. I felt a strong urge to read more. When I clicked on the article and started reading the details, my heart sank. While the identity of the motorcyclist was not released, the details of the crash had it taking place on a road, in a direction, and at a time that could have easily been my dad. I gulped. Very aware of my own body, I could suddenly feel my heart rate quicken and my breathing become more shallow as my chest tightened up. It was an uneasy, although not completely unfamiliar feeling. I started to feel a deep sadness and worry. I did not like it at all.

“Okay, wait a second,” I said to myself. I had no idea how many motorcycles drive down that road on a given morning, but it had to be a lot. It was a very busy intersection, after all. Plus, I didn’t even know for sure if my dad drove his bike that day, or if he even took that route. There was no real logic behind the sudden panic feeling. I was being crazy, and I knew it. In fact, I did confirm shortly thereafter that all was well with my father. Phew.

This example of the human mind at work is something we can all relate to. It’s just how we’re wired. From back in the caveman days, we were programmed with a “fight or flight” trigger, which used to have a very real purpose (you know, running away from dinosaurs and such). Though we have evolved quite a bit since then, our brains are still wired very similarly. The reaction I felt in my body was actually a defense mechanism. My brain was preparing me for danger. And, despite the incredibly low probability of that bad news actually pertaining to me, from a logical perspective, my brain treated it as if it was actually happening to me. In fact, the feeling was so real that it was indeed my reality for those few moments while the feelings took place. I had created my own illusion just like each and everyone of us go around creating our own illusions on a daily basis. Our perception is our reality.

I tell this story to help others become more acutely aware of their own thoughts and just how incredibly powerful they are. Isn’t it funny how our brains work? From worrying about something that hasn’t even actually happened to reliving a moment in the past to making assumptions that what other people do or say has anything to do with us at all – these are all ways that our mind likes to create illusions for us! And, yes, we are ALL a little bit “crazy” like this at times.

The good news is that as powerful as our thoughts are, we can work to take control of them and harness that power for good. Here are a few pointers on how to do just that.

  1. What are you thinking? Notice whenever your mind starts reeling and also take note of the physical changes in your body. Knowing really is half the battle. A mentor of mine, Angela Jia Kim of Savor the Success, says there are really only two types of thoughts: empowering ones and dis-empowering ones. Simplify it to that level, and learn to ask yourself in any given moment, how is this thought serving me?
  2. Check Yourself. Don’t get me wrong sometimes we really are in danger … but, usually not. Is there really a “dinosaur” chasing you? Is it really about you? Give your self an ego-check. In addition to trying to protect us from (often imaginary) danger, our ego likes to make us feel really special and like everything is about us. But, upon a little logical reasoning, we can realize that whatever dis-empowering thoughts we are having are not actually about us or even real at all. With this awareness in hand, we can then work towards changing them.
  3. Just breathe. This simple nugget of wisdom can be applied to just about any uncomfortable situation. Breathe it out. Deep breathing actually has a physiological effect on our nervous system that sends out neurohormones to basically tell the stress hormones to take a chill. Visualize as you practice breathing. Inhale peace slowly and deeply through your nose into your diaphragm and exhale stress slowly and completely out through your mouth. Continue this until you feel calmness restore.
  4. Fill your consciousness with positive and uplifting ideas. Since thoughts are energy and they turn into our reality, why not feed your brain with some good stuff? From the articles you read to the people you hang out with, to the TV you watch (or not), you are setting the stage for what kind of thoughts will go into that beautiful little noggin of yours. Fuel your mind with knowledge that empowers you. Surround yourself with people who lift you up.
  5. Practice Mindfulness. I can’t recommend a mindfulness practice enough. It helps us become so much more aware of our thoughts and what’s going on with our bodies. It keeps us connected with our core being and intuition. While meditation is definitely at the top of the list of becoming more mindful, there are many other ways you can practice. Yoga is another wonderful one. However, it can also be taking an introspective walk or doing your favorite in-the-flow activity: maybe painting, sewing, or playing an instrument. Regularly practicing these mindfulness enhancers will help you stay grounded, and to keep those crazy thoughts at bay.

Learn to harness the power of your thoughts and enjoy the reward of unlimited peacefulness and joy!

For more inspiration and tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Dawnsense love letters here and connect on Facebook !

photo by: ckaroli

Better Breathing for a Better Life (VIDEO)

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.33.10 PMWhen you find yourself in a situation where you get stressed, frightened or caught off guard, what’s the best thing to do?

Scream? Sometimes. : )

But seriously, what did mom or grandma or your loved one tell you to do?

Breathe.

Yes, it’s as simple as that.

But time and time again, while walking around the streets of San Francisco (and while being in the car with certain eh hem, friends with road rage) I witness screaming and feel their blood boiling. What good does that do?

I try to make it a practice to breathe deeply every morning.

Here’s how:

I love filling up my lungs and expunging all the air and imagining my lungs deflating like a balloon. I do this almost every morning with a 20-30 minute yoga routine.

I’m an early riser, so I like to take in the stillness of the morning silence with a meditation practice. People may get freaked out and discouraged about “not knowing how to meditate.” The truth is, there isn’t a “right way” to meditate. Simple focus on your breath, deep breath in…deep breath out.

Other times when I’m running and gunning, I just take three quick deep breaths. If you’re over-programmed like me and have a busy schedule, set a reminder on your phone to go off three times a day to remind you to breathe.

Here’s a video I made for you that will help you focus on your breathing. This is what I usually see on my morning run at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. Breathe in when the waves come toward the shore. Breathe all the way out when the waves recede. It’s only a minute long, but the effects are long lasting.

Enjoy!

Feel better?

According to Men’s Journal, here are some stats about how deep breathing can be aaah-so-good for your health:

Relax: Breathing is an “accurate and honest barometer” of a person’s emotional state. Train your breathing to maintain your calm and lower stress levels.

Maximize Potential: The average person uses just 50 to 60 percent of his lung capacity. Breath training expands the lungs, and better oxygen intake means higher athletic performance.

Improve Health: Research suggests that developing proper breathing habits can play a role in treating conditions like asthma, acute bronchitis, ADHD and sleep apnea.

Don’t we all feel better after taking a few deep breaths? The next time you feel your panties or boxer briefs getting in a bunch, smile and relax (those butt cheeks). Namaste!

What other breathing exercises help you get through your day? If you follow our @goinspirego Instagram feed, you’ll notice that I often post pictures of beautiful cityscapes and snapshots of nature. Surprisingly, many people tell me the pictures remind them to slow down, be present and breathe. I’d love to hear/see what inspires you to breathe. Please share in the comments below.

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Gabrielle Bernstein on How to Meditate

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Satnam, friends! I’m super psyched to report that on Saturday I taught my first full Kundalini yoga and meditation class. I’ve been in teacher training since September, and leading a complete class was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life!

In today’s vlog I’m spreading even more Kundalini love. So many of my readers and viewers struggle with meditation. Whether you’re a meditation newbie or have had a practice for years, the powerful act of tuning in can be challenging at times. To amp up your meditation practice and demystify the experience I’ve created this video on how to meditate.

Enjoy today’s vlog—and if you want further guidance, you can check out my guided meditation albums here. If you’re new to my work, you can opt in at the top of the page for my free guided meditations.

Send Smiling Energy—As Easy As 1, 2, 3, and 4

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
Phyllis Diller

In the heat of a Hong Kong summer, between bites of lotus root, sticky tofu, and congee, I met Taoist master Daniel Li Ox. Expecting a slight Chinese man with a long, gray beard, mustache, black sweatpants, and black shoes of the Toms® variety, I was surprised to stumble upon a well-built, broad-shouldered, blonde Australian bloke who lives most of his time in Bali. We were both in Hong Kong instructing at a yoga conference when he taught me one of the most potent, simple tools to cultivate immediate joy and stress-relief.

What to do when you’re annoyed, irritated, disappointed, or frustrated with what’s happening in your life? Send “smiling energy.”

This short, sweet practice helps train your mind to immediately switch gears—not only moving into acceptance, but sending Smiling Energy to everyone and everything in your path.

4 Quick Steps to Send Smiling Energy and Lighten Up

The anatomy of our breath is a perfect harmony of YIN and YANG. Slowing down the breath stretches our brainwaves and the space between thoughts to create a more alpha state.

Inhale symbolizes the feminine, receptive current, and the exhale equals the masculine, active energy.

1. Deepen Your Breath

(Try it now: three deep breaths in and out through your nose.)

A mental shape-shift is as easy as focusing on your breath. Deepen your breath, and it naturally calms the nervous system, moving you out of the habitual fight or flight stress response of the sympathetic nervous system and into the relaxation response of the para-sympathetic nervous system.

2. Inhale = Unconditional Acceptance

Now as you inhale, focus on unconditional acceptance.

Breathing in, literally receive the molecules of the present moment. Allow your body to soften and take in this very moment—as it is, right here, right now. Literally receive all of the circumstances, sensations, fragrances, and people of the present moment. Notice how you feel without needing anything to change.

With unconditional acceptance of exactly what is, we surrender our desire to control, understand, or change anything that is happening. Simply, it just is what it is. Imagine a warm, ocean breeze washing through you.

3. Exhale = Unconditional Love

As you exhale, focus on unconditional love.

When we exhale, we send our molecules back out to the moment.

Unconditional means that no matter who or what it is or how they are acting, you send love. Imagine sending a wave of love rippling out in every direction. You not only allow things to be as they are, you practice loving it. Not pretending to love it, but sincerely appreciating and wishing the best for (even if you don’t understand) everything. Flex the muscle of the heart! Silently radiate love to everything and everyone around you.

4. Send Smiling Energy

While radiating unconditional love, send smiling energy. Literally put a smile on you face (you probably feel better already) and send the energy it creates out into the universe.

Every moment of the day, wherever you are, practice permeating smiling energy. Through your bones, your organs, the expression on your face, tone of your voice, and quality of your movement, send a smile.

Added Bonus: this will light you up just as much as (and probably more than) the people and things you are smiling at!

Imagine your breath like liquid light. Envision the warmth and gentle, affirming uplift of a sincere smile. Let your whole body, mind, and heart smile. Then, share it.

Enjoy! And please leave a comment below to let us know what shifts you see in your life from sending smiling energy.

Love (and smiles),

Ashley


Elevating personal growth as a lifestyle, Ashley Turner, M.A., brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern-day psychotherapist with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit. Ashley is the co-author of Aroma Yoga®: Using Essential Oils in Yoga + Life and creator of four best-selling yoga DVDs. She leads monthly, weekend retreats at Montage in Laguna Beach, CA, as well as retreats and workshops around the globe. For more on her and her events, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join Ashley: YOGA TANGO RETREAT in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 28 – Nov. 2 and URBAN PRIESTESS – Empowering the Feminine at Kripalu in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Nov 23 25.

*Photo by entrelec.

Grief Has Its Own Timetable

After the death of someone we love our grief experience and overall healing has everything to do with our relationship to the deceased, the intensity and depth of the love we felt for them and our degree of faith in a hereafter.  In the immediate aftermath of a person’s death, it’s hard to breathe and everything hurts. We feel shattered, bewildered and frightened. Sometimes, however, grief shows us its own timetable and can be delayed or complicated.  I experienced a long delay in time sequence when my father died.  I was thirteen years old; it was the springtime of my life. 

 I rarely spoke about him back then and it appeared that I was coping fine until my early 30’s when my denied pain erupted on the heels of a favorite uncle’s death.  I discovered then just how much sorrow I had repressed when my father was layed to rest.  I also discovered that just because he was at peace didn’t mean I was.

When, Katie, my beloved daughter, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 18 I felt gripped again by old feelings of terror and potential loss.  During the next ten years while Katie battled the up and down relapses and recoveries of her surgeries and treatments I had to deal with the realty of what might happen to her: a premature death. We don’t always get what we want in this lifetime so when Katie passed away at age 28 my father’s death was immediately eclipsed because, despite my love for him, no grief compares with the agony of losing a child.  

Now, after 11 years and 51 years, respectfully, my feelings of loss still go up and down simply because our souls do not mark time linearly. And while I don’t feel that crippling paralysis that I experienced initially, I continue to experience their loss and see the empty spaces left behind.  But now, I make the conscious choice to fill that "missing you" space by helping others deal with their losses. Making that daily choice to help others allows my communion with Katie, my father and everyone I’ve lost to remain open, active and meaningful. It also helps me to be present in my life as it is now and in the lives of those whom I love and who love me.  

It took me a long time to get where I am emotionally because I, as many other people whose lives are changed by monumental loss, wanted to get "my old life" back.  I finally understand that pursuit is futile because "my old life" is not coming back.  I’m confident, however, that my faith and trust in life’s process will help me to find the joys and peace that are looking for me just as I am looking for them.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S., CGP, Author of When Every Day Matters, Simple Abundance Press

http://www.MJHB.net

http://www.WhenEveryDayMatters.com

 

Begin Again

 As I meditate, my mind often finds its’ way away from my breathe and on to the myriad problems, tasks, or other detritus that clogs my mind. I’ve always had a mind that has no off button, but when I began meditating, I became especially aware of the problem.  As the thoughts arose, I found myself involved in an intense conversation with me, myself and I concerning what time my doctor’s appointment might be, did I call in that prescription, and before I knew it, my meditation practice seemed to be intruding on my to-do list.  Upon realizing what was happening, I’d begin judging and ridiculing myself for not meditating properly and feeling defeated, I’d give up until next time.

Somewhere along the way, I came across the words "Begin Again."  Immediately, these two words resonated with me and I knew that they would be a part of my meditation practice.  Now, whenever my mind wanders, as it often does, I simply say to myself "Begin Again," and my attention is immediately brought back to my breathe. As a still new meditator, there are days when my entire practice is punctuated by the words "Begin Again." There are other days, when I barely utter the words. But here’s the thing, those two words have taught me a lesson that applies to every area of life. Giving up is not an option. When you stumble or fall, ‘begin again.’

Blessings and Namaste, lydia  

www.seekingmyquerencia.me

How To Be Happy

 What is Happiness? The dictionary gives us a definition with synonyms, almost too many of them but in a nutshell all the words represent a good feeling and feeling good is the natural quest in life.  But how to arrive there or better still how to be in that state of feeling good, more or less continuously?

We associate happiness with when …  then.  When I have what I want then I will be happy.  What I want may be drawn from the well of careers, finances, relationships or more specifically that particular job, or income or mate … and yet those who have attained what they desire find that the resulting happiness is very short lived or eludes them completely.  And then the cycle begins again. Furthermore, to quote Srikumar Rao, whatever it is that we can get we can also “un-get” making the source of our happiness very precarious.

Practices Leading to Happiness – there are many roads to happiness and some more personal than others.  Nevertheless they are there for each and everyone of us.

First Tip is to invest or focus on the process, as explained by Srikumar Rao.  Another way of saying this is to focus on the journey and not on the destination.  Make it a practice to start each day with an inspiring message. I often find myself waking up feeling rather flat, perhaps because here in Vancouver we are in a season of much rain and little sunshine but by the time that I am finished watching Enjoy the Ride my spirits have notched up several degrees.  Make use of aids such as this video or music or whatever it is that makes your heart sing.

Second Tip is to learn the practice of deep breathing.  Fill your lungs with oxygen by slowly counting to four as you breathe in and then in a controlled manner breathe out counting at least to five or six.  Initially this may be a challenge but the more that you practice it the easier it will become.  Oxygen is an amazing drug and your lungs, the organ that processes the oxygen, has receptors connected to the brain that trigger different “emotions”.  For example, the top third of the lung is designed to trigger flight or fright; so if you breathe in a very shallow manner then the oxygen only fills the top part of your lung.  This means that the receptors will send messages to the brain telling you to get ready for a fight or to run for your life.  So breathe deeply and enjoy the calming effect.  It is pretty difficult to be happy if you are in flight mode, if you are not calm.

Third Tip is to move.  Movement makes energy flow.  We are energy and when we are not happy then the flow of energy is not vibrating at a very high level.  Go for a walk, even if it means getting off the bus a couple of stops before your destination or parking the car at the furthest corner of the parking lot. Walk with enthusiasm, throwing back your shoulders and swinging your arms.  Go to a yoga class. Go to an exercise class or go for a swim and smile while you are moving your body.

Fourth Tip is to smile. Put a smile on your face, making eye contact with the person that passes you and flashing them a smile.  You will be amazed by the response.  And it will also have magical effects on you.  It will fill your heart and make you glow.  A smilereleases endorphins and therefore, like oxygen, is a powerful drug.  Smiles also dispel energy vampires, a phrase coined by Jon Gordon in his blog and it is so very true. It is not possible to be happy with a frown on the face.

 

Fifth Tip is music.  Music is a universal language.  Some very interesting studies have been done with the effect that music has on the human brain.  Play the kind of music that makes you want to move and then do it.  Move with wild abandon.  Remember that with movement there is a rise in energy.

Last Tip is to meditate.  Meditating conjures up all kinds of images of contorted positions and demanding thoughts to vanish which in itself is thinking.  But if you sit quietly, especially when you have that feeling of unhappiness; close your eyes and simply focus on your breath.  Count as the air goes into your lungs and also as it comes out.  Do this for ten minutes, no more.  At first you can set a timer and you will be amazed how quickly you relax.  Relaxing is one of the easiest steps that lead to a state of happiness.

 

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