10 ways to Reset your energy

We are human, and being human includes shifts in energy, changes in mood, and changes in thoughts (e.g positive to negative). First step is always awareness. Try to notice when the energy shifts inside you whether it comes in the form of a bad mood, negative thoughts, low energy or no motivation. Next step is you have to put energy towards shifting your energy. Even if you are in the deepest depths of depression and you have no energy to get out of bed, maybe you can practice deep breathing. Point is, find something, that involves energy, and feels doable, then do it. Some days, I come home from work exhausted and all I want to do is plop down in front of the television and not move for the next 5 years. What I've found, is if I don't do something to change my energy, I typically feel that way until I go to bed. If I can muster the motivation to practice an energy reset activity, at the very least, I have the opportunity to feel better. It may not happen, but majority of the time, when I put energy towards changing my energy, it works. Below are 10 energy shifting activities I've found to be helpful in reseting your energy. 

  1. Music - Music taps into our emotions like nothing else. Use it to your advantage. You can use music to help you emote your energy (e.g. putting a sad song to help you cry it out when you are feeling down), or to change your mood all together (e.g. putting on happy music to help get you out of a mood funk). You can also use music to enhance any of the below activities. 
  2. Breathwork - I truly believe in the power of your breath. The breath is the only control we have over our autonomic nervous system. Deep breathing lowers heart rate, lowers blood pressure and turns on our parasympathetic nervous system the part of our body responsible for calming us down. Check out my post on 4 breaching techniques to lower anxiety in under a minute here
  3. Get Silly - Making funny faces into the mirror, doing a silly dance, getting inverted by hanging over the side of the bed or doing a handstand against the wall are all ways to completely shift the situation. Never underestimate the power of play. 
  4. Meditation - Sometimes getting quiet is what you need. Light some incense (my personal fav is palo santo) get comfortable, close your eyes, relax your body, and either practice a self-guided meditation or put on one of the many free guided meditations available on calm.com, insight timer, or youtube. I have had complete shifts in mood from beginning of meditation to end. It really is a powerful tool. 
  5. Walk - Yes, walking is awesome for moving energy, and decreasing stress in the body. Next time you are stressed go for a walk, preferably somewhere nice, possibly with headphones in, or simply listening to the nature around you. 
  6. Nature - Nature does great things to the brain and spirit. Whenever I watch a sunset or sunrise, I instantly feel calmer, more connected, and at peace. The sound, sight and smell of the ocean also works to reset my energy, and the smell of pine trees on a warm day. Get out in nature next time you need an energy reset. 
  7. Gratitude - Sometimes remembering the things that are right in your life, help to put the things that are wrong into perspective. I fully believe gratitude is a necessity happiness. Read a past post about specific gratitude practices here and here.  
  8. Yoga - I believe I can honestly declare that I've never gone to a yoga class and not had my energy shift from it. Yoga never fails me. Even if my practice is simply sun salutations and breathing, yoga always works. Going to a studio is awesome, but even practicing some Youtube yoga in your living room is sure to help. 
  9. Talk about your feelings - I mean what kind of therapist would I be if I didn't include this one? 'Better out than in' I always say when it comes to negative emotions. Talking about your feelings with the right people definitely helps to decrease the power those negative feelings have on us and diffuses some of the negative energy holding in feelings has caused. Key tip is to talk about feelings with someone who you know can be supportive because not everyone is. 
  10. Dance - This involves music and moving your body. Getting your body moving to a song you are loving at the moment is an awesome way to shift energy. You can even do a silly dance to include strategy number #3 for added intensity. Again, the combo of great music and that body movement is what makes dance a great energy reset activity. 

Again, emphasis is placed on putting energy, in whatever way possible, towards shifting your energy when you are feeling in a funk emotionally, energy-wise, physically, spiritually, or mentally. The point is not picking the perfect activity, but rather finding what feels doable and trying it. Your mood is less likely to change, your energy is less likely to shift if you aren't putting energy towards that intention so give one of the above activities a try next time you want out of a funk. 

Top Scents for Meditation

Scents are a powerful tool for emotions, balance, mood, and overall well-being. The part of our brain responsible for emotions and emotional regulation, receives information through the senses. Using scent can be a great way to prepare and support your meditation practice. Scents have been used throughout history to support spiritual practices. Below are my top scents for enhancing my meditation practice:

  • Frankincense: Frankincense has been used in spiritual practices throughout history. It was supposedly an incense described in the Hebrew bible and used by the Greeks, Jews, and Romans for spiritual ceremonies or offerings. It has been a scent and substance of healing in African and Asian cultures, used in Ayurvedic medicine for balancing hormones, healing wounds, and cleansing the air. 
  • Myrrh: Myrrh has been typically paired with frankincense in traditional religious ceremonies. It is said to have cleansing properties, and used historically as perfume, incense, health aides, religious ceremonies, as well as to promote emotional balance, and overall well-being. 
  • Sandalwood: Sandalwood has such an earthy smell which is said to support one in feeling grounded and calm. Sandalwood beads are oftenincorporated into malas because the scent is said to support meditation. Sandalwood has also been used as a grounding essence in Christianity and Hindu practices. 
  • Lavender: Although lavender isn't traditionally used for meditation, I find the scent to be incredibly clean, bright, and calming. Lavender promotes relaxation, and has been used to heal anxiety, depression, and insomnia. 
  • Sage: Sage automatically conjures up images of hippies for me, but sage has been used throughout history for cleansing energy. Smudging (the art of burning sage) was used in traditional shaman ceremonies, and as a means of cleansing spaces from negative energies or spirits. Smudging is a great ritual when moving into a new office or home. 
  • Palo Santo: My personal favorite of the meditation scents. I first discovered this at last year's Wanderlust Festival. Palo Santo is from a tree that grows on the south coast of South America and is related to Frankincense and Myrr. Palo Santo literally means "Holy Wood" in Spanish and has been traditionally used to banish bad energy by Incas and Shamans. Palo Santo supposedly calms the immune system and promotes grounded/calm energy. 

Sage and Palo Santo are traditionally burned like incense, while sandalwood, lavender, frankincense, and myrrh are better used by diffusing their essential oil into the air. Let me know what your favorite meditation scent is in the comments below!!

What I've noticed after 30 days of meditation

Ughhhh ok, full disclosure. There was one day smack dab in the middle of the month where I forgot to meditate. It was a day off work so I didn't start my day with meditation making it all the more easy to forget. However, I have meditated every other day over the last month and a half, and I'm hooked. Below I'll share my experience with you all.

Why

Most of you know I'm a huge fan of meditation and yoga. I lead meditation groups at the hospital where I work, I utilize breathing techniques to decrease and manage everyday anxieties, and I practice yoga, a form of moving meditation on a regular basis. I've always wanted to have a regular meditation practice, and I have gone through bouts of meditation, but still hadn't cultivated a daily, can't live without it, non-negotiable, meditation practice. Meditation is good for our minds, bodies, and spirits. It's been shown to increase gray matter in the brain, improve focus, improve cognitive functioning, decrease anxiety, decrease depression, improve the immune system, and decrease the aging process. Read more about the benefits of meditation here. Meditation is just something I believe in, and something I value, so of course I want to practice it regularly. 

How

My husband and I agreed to meditate every morning before work. On weekends we meditated whenever, but mornings seem to work best. We used the free app insight timer which has over 3,000 guided meditations to choose from. This app is by far THE. BEST. MEDITATION. APP. PERIOD. It tracks your meditations, allows you to bookmark and create a collection of your favorite guided meditations, and has meditations of all lengths, types, and themes. This app also has a timer feature which allows you to meditate in silence for however long you'd like if you're not into the guided route. Seriously, if you're at all interested in meditation, you need this app in your life, and it's free so what are you waiting for. We've discovered so many inspiring and amazing guided meditations through this app. We meditate 10 minutes on average in the mornings. 10 minutes feels doable at this time in that we haven't had to shift anything around to fit it in. So for us, 10 minutes every morning is what works. 

Changes/Benefits Noticed

Honestly, it hasn't been an earth shattering change since we've practiced regular meditation, but I do feel like meditation enhances my life. I feel calmer overall. My stress reaction has drastically decreased in response to everyday stressors meaning, I don't sweat the small stuff. I just feel less rushed, less stressed, more grounded, calmer, and emotionally stronger. The act itself of meditating has also been quite nice. I look forward to my daily meditation. Sometimes, the guided meditation is just what I needed to hear in that moment, and the words of the facilitator unlock something in me that needed to be released. Sometimes I leave my meditations moved, inspired, tearful even. Sometimes, my mind won't stop thinking, and I'm full of distractions the entire time. Either way, meditation is a nice way to check in with my mind, mood and energy. It's been fun finding and bookmarking our favorite meditations as well, and a journey in creating a collection of meditations we truly love. It's also been a wonderful experience to share with my husband as sometimes the topic of the guided meditation for the day prompts deeper discussions with one another. We both have noticed that after 30 days, meditation has become a necessary part of our daily routine. We both look forward to meditation and miss it if we haven't practiced yet for the day. 

Tips for Getting Started or Cultivating a Regular Practice

  • Commit to an amount of time that feels doable for you. You can always increase your meditation time, but too large of a meditation goal will cause you to fail before you even get started.
  • Pick the best time to integrate it into your schedule. My suggestion is morning time before you start your day. It's too easy to get caught up in life as the day goes on with unforeseen delays at work, impromptu meetings with friends, or phone calls from family. Mornings have been the best time for me and my husband, and a great way to set the tone for the rest of the day.
  • Use technology to your advantage. Again, I love using the insight timer app for guided meditations, but I've also found great meditations on YouTube, and calm.com. Background music and/or timers can also be helpful. 
  • Enlist the support of others. Connect with others who meditate, or simply get a friend, family member, or significant other to meditate with you. Having someone else to hold you accountable really helps. If you don't have anybody who is willing to meditate with you, you can always join a drop in meditation class once/week, or join a meditation group on the insight timer app. There's something powerful about mediating with others and cultivating that calm together. 
  • Finally...just get started!! Even if you just meditate for 1 minute/day. Just get started and see how it feels to breathe, turn your attention inward, and get quiet on a regular basis. 

5 morning rituals to jumpstart the day

I began my job at CSUMB almost two years ago. Before that I was taking night classes and interning a couple days a week. Because of my previous schedule I would sleep in and start the morning off at a slow pace. Nowadays, with a full time job I have felt rushed in the mornings. My head is scattered as I plan out what to eat, wear, how to do my hair, and somehow manage to not be (too) late for work. I craved long moments of lingering over coffee with my hubby while chatting about life. I thought I could never get back to that during the weekdays. I then listened to this Tim Ferriss podcast about his five morning rituals. That inspired me to change some of my habits around and carve out an hour each morning to attend to that which matters most to me. I wake up a little earlier, keep the phone turned screen down, and plan out my outfits the night before. 

Something that stuck with me from Tim's podcast was the notion of, "If I win the morning then I win the day". I think that is so true. If I can start the morning with a clear mind, a healthy meal, and a smile on my face, my day will go so much smoother. There is a lot of uncertainty in life and to be able to have control over specific moments in the day brings me a sense of calm and balance.

There can be added stress when I think I absolutely have to hit all of these activities in order to have a good day. Instead, I try to accomplish at least 3 out of the 5. If I can do just that I know I will have a more positive outlook on the day ahead. Below I have compiled my 5 morning rituals. 

  1. Make the bed. I am a highly visual person who needs her house to be in order. A messy house to me equals added stress. When I can spend a couple minutes smoothing out the sheets and making my bed, I feel a sense of calm and order rush over me. It is something I can control that adds beauty into my life. 
  2. Meditate for 10 - 20 minutes. This varies depending on the day but a minimum of 10 minutes in the morning helps me to center myself and energize my body. I wrote a whole post on just this topic, which you can find here.
  3. Laying on the Dharma Yoga Wheel. I actually try to fit this in for 3-5 minutes every morning and evening. The wheel is designed to match the contours of the spine and help with back bending. It helps me to release any tension or tightness in the back and shoulders. To be honest it just feels so good to lay on, especially after a bad nights sleep or a long day in the office!
  4. A tea or coffee moment. Perkin and I will have either a loose leaf tea or coffee. A great coffee recipe using the Chemex can be found here. This is my favorite part of the morning. We will sit for at least 15 minutes and just chat about the day ahead or life in general with NPR playing in the background. 
  5. Walk the dog. We will either head to the beach or walk around Carmel-by-the-Sea checking out all the cute homes, each different from the next. We aim for at least a 30 minute walk but that depends on how much time we have before needing to head to work. I feel so awake and alive after a walk in the crisp morning air. This is a simple pleasure of ours. 

Other ideas could be writing in a journal, practicing yoga, stretching, checking in with a friend, or taking a bath. What does your morning routine look like? Anything you would like to add or change? 

 

 

how to turn meditation into a daily practice

Two years ago I found and shared this fabulous infographic about the benefits of meditation. There is lots of info out there on the world wide web about the benefits of meditating. It is clear that this practice can help improve your physical and mental well-being. Turning to the present moment and focusing inward during meditation helps us to improve our intuition, clear our minds, reduce anxiety levels, increase serotonin levels (which improves mood), increase energy levels...The list really does go on and on. Despite all of these great benefits I have trouble getting myself to just do it! And I know I'm not alone. I have spoken with friends and clients about this exact problem. Finding time in the day can be a struggle. Especially when it is recommended to do 20 minutes a day. I believe most of what we do in the day is habit forming. The times we eat meals, the time we wake up and go to sleep, even the little day to day tasks like the way we pick out what to wear for the day, showering, checking Facebook, or watching TV. These can become mindless activities that leave us with little time in the day for anything else. So, my thought is, let's start becoming more aware of those habits, let's change them to give ourselves more time for other activities we've been wanting to do but are putting off.

That's my plan at least. If I wake up a few minutes (that's all really!) earlier, check Facebook once a day (only in the evening) instead of twice, and pick out my outfit the night before instead of in the morning I will actually have time for that 20 minute meditation and I didn't have to cut anything huge out of my life to make it possible. My hope is that I can turn meditation into a mindful habit. I want it to be something I do everyday as part of my morning ritual, no questions asked. 

The steps above make meditation even more doable. I am starting with 10 minutes a day and adding a couple each week until I reach 20. EVERYONE has 10 minutes to spare, so if meditation is something you have wanted to try, start with 10 minutes of breathing and silence. It ALL begins and ends in your mind so take some time to clean it out everyday : )

4 ways to practice gratitude

With Thanksgiving approaching, we thought gratitude would be a good topic for the week. There is a reason why gratitude is such a hot topic, why Oprah keeps a journal all about it, and why guided meditations use gratitude as a topic on the regular. Gratitude is one of the keys to happiness. If you aren’t grateful for what you have, what you have can’t make you happy. I’ve often reflected on the interesting paradox about how ambition and dissatisfaction drives one to achieve more, do more, gain wealth, and how the most wealthy are often never satisfied. That feeling of never feeling satisfied is what drives one to continue accumulating wealth, and at the same time, what prevents one from feeling grateful, and subsequently happy from the wealth they already have.  This is also true in relationships and life. If you don’t feel grateful for what you have, it can’t make you happy. If you don’t feel grateful to be with your partner, for your job, or to live where you live, chances are you aren’t deriving happiness from it. Gratitude really is one of the keys to happiness, and with practice, you can train your brain to notice things to be grateful for more often. You can train your brain to incorporate gratitude into your thinking habits and increase your overall happiness.

Below are 4 simple ways to practice gratitude in your everyday life:

  •  keep a gratitude journal: Write regularly in a journal about what you are thankful for. This could be as simple as the cup of coffee you are drinking, or when you are really having a hard day, simply that a new day begins tomorrow. Make this a regular habit. It could be everyday, or twice per week, but simply carving out a time every week to journal will help you create a habit out of it. Then, when something terrible happens, and you don’t know how you could ever feel grateful for anything, you can read through your old journal entries to be reminded of all the things you have in your life that are good, all the things that you are thankful for. This can be a powerful practice and a powerful resource when you are having a really hard time.
  •  practice gratitude meditations: I like to do this with my clients all the time. Simply close your eyes, take some full deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then think of something that you are grateful for (it could be a relationship, job, pet, etc.). Feel that feeling of gratitude in your heart or your body and imagine it washing through your entire body until you are completely engulfed in the feeling gratitude. Picture that feeling of gratitude radiating out of you because it is so big. You can sit with this feeling for as long as you’d like. Take a few deep breaths to end the meditation and then bring your awareness back to the room, open your eyes, and notice if this practice changes your mood or changes the course of the rest of your day
  • enjoy simple pleasures: We are beginning a simple pleasures category on our blog because there truly are so many! There are so many simple pleasures we can take advantage of throughout our day to increase our gratitude. Some examples are: enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, going for a walk, getting out in nature, taking a bath, burning a scented candle, cleaning up your house and then luxuriating in how good it feels to be in a clean space, checking out an inspiring blog ; ), and watching a sunrise or sunset. The point is that there are so many little things we can feel thankful for that don’t cost any money, and setting intention to incorporate more of these simple pleasures into our life can increase our amount of gratitude and ultimately happiness.
  •  create a gratitude ritual: If you aren’t into writing in a journal, you can turn gratitude into a daily ritual. Think of something you do everyday (e.g. brushing your teeth, sitting down for dinner, drinking morning coffee or tea) and take time to think of at least one thing you are grateful for when you do that activity. If, for example, I decided to make a gratitude ritual out of brushing my teeth, I would take the 2 minutes I brushed my teeth to think about all the things I’m grateful for in my life.  You could even make this part of your family routine, like sharing one thing you are grateful for at dinnertime with everyone.

Try any or all of these and see if you don’t feel happier. Remember, if you don’t feel grateful for what you have, what you have can’t make you happy!!

enjoying the simple pleasure of a sunset by the sea.  

enjoying the simple pleasure of a sunset by the sea.  

 

 

mindfulness

I think both mindfulness and meditation are words that are thrown around a lot these days. I hear those words quite a bit in therapeutic settings, yoga, and around friends. I have a pretty good understanding of mindfulness meditation, but this infographic sums it up nicely I think. I was surprised by all the benefits it provides! 

I wanted to also include this link here to an article about how meditation transformed the roughest school in San Francisco. It's pretty incredible what this practice can do to a person's life.