“The more grateful we become, the more we experience grace in life.”
November is a month known for its gratitude. It is the beginning of a season that makes us more aware of the blessings, people, and opportunities that surround us.
I am grateful for this chance to live in an age where it is possible to find so many amazing projects, ideas, and movements with just a few clicks of the mouse. We’ve never had the ability to be so connected to innovation before, so I feel like it’s only right to share the goodness I’ve come across.
New to THE LIST?
THE LIST is a monthly post featuring the top five inspiring finds that hit me at my core. Morsels so good that I cannot possibly think of keeping them to myself. Good works, good people, good books, and good movies—all rolled into one post. Missed the first list? Check it out here!
THE LIST for November features five exciting ventures and game changers.
Digging what’s on the list this month? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section. And remember, This List only grows more valuable with your contributions—share your own favorite finds this month in the comments. I’m always searching for more inspiration, and your suggestions might be featured in an upcoming post!
1. Breathing CONSCIOUSLY
It may seem a simple, but I don’t know how to express enough just how much of a difference conscious breathing can make. Breath awareness is a doorway to self-discovery that we often take for granted.
I have been meditating on and off since I first learned when I was ten years old. But it was when I started Kundalini Yoga twelve years ago that I became conscious of the power of my breath. In 2007, when I became a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, I really started to get it.
I recently was with one of my energy healers, Satish, and he explained, “When you master your breath, miracles happen.” He asked me to focus on taking a slow breath in for fifteen seconds and then a slow breath out for fifteen seconds. In one minute, that would be two full cycles of breath. The key was to not be so serious when doing it; it should be a playful and graceful effort. Sounds easy, right? Just try this for five minutes. 🙂
After just a couple of weeks, I noticed that breathing like this really helped me relax my mind and centered my awareness. I had a tremendous increase, as well, in my overall sense of well-being. Conscious breathing allows us to declutter the inner and outer spaces of our lives to find clarity and positive change through simply focusing on the in-and-out flow of our breath.
Looking for a powerful example? This video inspired me. Keep in mind, there are many techniques in mastering the breath. It is said that if you can control your breath, you can control your mind. That’s a powerful thought that I wish to leave you with today.
2. The World Needs More Love Letters
Founder of The World Needs More Love Letters Hannah Brencher is a contributor for Positively Positive, so I have been able to see firsthand the impact this organization has on people across the world. Beginning in August 2011, after Hannah spent a year of her life trying to fight off depression by leaving love letters across New York City and writing to strangers in need, More Love Letters has since spread its work to forty-seven countries and all fifty states.
In an age where we don’t have a reason to mail a letter anymore (yet we secretly crave one), the organization invites anyone to join their tribe of anonymous love letter leavers and help them deliver bundles full of love letters into the mailboxes of unsuspecting strangers, in need of an inspiration boost.
Join the cause. It is a really powerful way to make a mark in this world by way of paper and pen.
3. Jack Canfield’s Book The Success Principles
I’ve wanted for a long time to create books that would shake up people’s perspectives and make them rethink classic definitions they’ve been exposed to all their lives: success, friendship, love, family, etc. While this is now coming down the pipelines for Positively Positive, I have to allow each of you to meet one of my greatest inspirations for this dream: Jack Canfield’s classic book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.
Co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Jack Canfield is someone I look up to when it comes to shifting the typical “life lessons” on their heads and showing people to uncover a fuller life while living to their highest potential. The Success Principles is packed with wisdom from the greats, know-how from his years in the industry, and sixty-four defining principles that will propel you further on your road toward living your best life now.
This book was a huge driver behind the desire to create a powerful book for Positively Positive readers. We are more than excited to reveal this book to all of you in 2013. Now is your chance to sign up for updates on the progress of the first ever Positively Positive book (as well as other exciting upcoming products). You don’t want to miss out on it, trust me.
4. Seth Godin’s Free Download of Stop Stealing Dreams
Never less than brilliant, Seth Godin’s FREE e-book Stop Stealing Dreams (over 1 million copies have been downloaded) is a telling manifesto for the changes that may need to happen in our school systems and the goals that need to shift in order for us to get a better outcome from our kids in the classroom.
This topic hits close to my heart. I have two young daughters and am invested in everything it takes to give them a bright future full of opportunity. It is also a topic known to fuel a lot of debate, so I really admire how Seth organized the book into 132 simple sections to make it easier for the content to be used for both discussion and debate.
5. Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Free Fall From Space!
“Sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you are.”—Felix Baumgartner
In our lifetime, we’ll be able to say we witnessed one man break through the sound barrier. He broke world records. He proved something to be possible after it was already labeled as impossible by so many.
On October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner (Fearless Felix) ascended to 120,000 feet (twenty-four miles above the Earth) in a stratospheric balloon and made a freefall jump back to earth. Daring much? He reached supersonic speeds before slowing his descent via parachute and then finally landed somewhere in the vicinity of his takeoff point in Roswell, New Mexico.
This jump broke a number of records:
1) Highest Skydive: shattered the current skydiving altitude record, which stood at 102,800 feet (31,333 m), set in 1960 by U.S. Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger
2) Fastest Fall: the first skydiver ever to break the sound barrier during a 5.5-minute freefall, followed by a fifteen-minute parachute decent back to Earth
3) Longest Fall: the longest duration freefall
4) Highest Balloon Ride: the highest manned balloon flight
I can only imagine the amount of people that came in and out of Felix’s life saying, “You cannot possibly do this” or “There is no way, quit trying.” Yet Felix proved to all of us that something that gets labeled as “impossible” really can be possible when we put our mind and heart fully into it. His jump and daring act of faith is already challenging me to examine my life closer: What leaps do I need to make? What dreams have I labeled as “impossible” that need some new perspective?
So there you have it, my top five inspirations for the month. I hope you enjoyed checking them out as much I loved finding and sharing them. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment box below and leave links for all the discoveries you’ve been loving lately. I will be clicking away and maybe even adding them to next month’s list!
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“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
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),
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.
*Photo by entrelec.