Many would claim it is impossible to be happy every day, or for even a few minutes straight for that matter. And in a sense I totally agree. Happiness, as we tend to identify with it, is a passing emotion. Waves of sadness, disappointment, fear, anger etc. will inevitably enter our consciousness as long as we are human. The type of happiness I am referring to is the type of happiness the ancient yogic and Buddhist traditions speak of. It is an inherent peacefulness that does not and can not become disturbed among the sea of chaos, the wavering mind and life’s unexpected twists and turns.
This type of indestructible inner peace is fertile ground for true wisdom to emerge. According to the third yoga sutra, when the mind is still we have an opportunity to get clear with who we really are. In that spacious awareness, we have more connection to our higher self, our intuition and ultimately our life’s purpose. From this space of clarity, the fluctuations of the mind will no longer cause anxiety and we will be able to navigate the choppy waves of life with ease, compassion and love.
I live by the beach and while taking a walk yesterday, I read a sign that said:
‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.’
That’s what inspired me to share this with you…
Try these on, give it a week or so and notice the subtle and not so subtle shifts in your body, mind and life:
- Ritual– It doesn’t have to be spiritual to be sacred. In fact, you already have many rituals, don’t you? You may not consider them rituals since they are so much a part of your daily flow. Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, doing the laundry, going to work, eating, etc. These are rituals. Now, there’s a different between mindless and mindful rituals. AND there’s a different between external and internal rituals. External rituals are the ones we do outwardly, such as taking the dogs for a walk, grocery shopping, helping others in need, etc. Internal rituals are just for you and far too often fall by the wayside when life gets busy. The internal rituals are the ones that ultimately lead to happiness. These rituals, done mindfully, include cooking, meditation, yoga, burning a candle, reading, taking a walk in nature… just to name a few. It is important to schedule these into your day every day, even (and especially) if you don’t have time.
- Intermittent Fasting– Your gut and your brain are one in the same. When the belly is full, the mind is full. One of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation, re-set your palate, reduce cravings and uplift your mood is intermittent fasting. The exact protocol is different for different people, but overall, the idea is to allow yourself a 12-17 hour window of NO FOOD INTAKE each day. Water and herbal tea are allowed. This gives your digestive system a chance to relax and your organs a chance to detoxify your system as they are meant to do. I typically stop eating by 9pm and don’t eat the next day until noon or 1pm. Of course this goes against what we’ve been told about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. If you can’t fathom the idea of skipping breakfast, try fasting between 5pm and 8am. Try it on for a few days and watch what happens.
- Breathe- Oh wait, you are doing that already. Well… that’s the baseline. Yes, it’s keeping you alive and that’s a miracle. Breathing happens to be one of the only things in life we can control. Can’t control the weather, can’t control other people, but we can control our inhale and exhale. Deep breathing is not just a trendy stress-reduction practice. It is magic. It is medicine. The best type of breathing for mental clarity is deep three-part belly breathing. It is easiest done laying down. Place one hand on your belly and one on your heart. Play soothing music. Close your yes. Dim the lights. Take a deep breath and fill your lower belly with oxygen… elongate that inhale until you eventually flood your diaphragm and your chest with air… retain the breath for a few seconds and then gently exhale through your nose— releasing the breath from your chest downward and eventually squeeze your bellybutton towards your lower spine and hold the breath out gently for a few seconds. Then repeat. Even just five rounds of this breathing practice will reduce anxiety and create more space in your body and mind. This is a good breathing practice to practice when you are feeling fear or anxiety.
- Dance- Every day. To your own music. In your house. Dance wildly. No structure. Let everything go. Let everything shake. Oftentimes energy can get stuck in our bodies and even our daily exercise routine may not move the energy out effectively. Shaking and breathing through your mouth and dis-orderly movement will give you more energy, increase mental clarity, make you feel light and definitely increase your happiness. Even just five minutes per day to your favorite music will re-set your entire system. This is a form of meditation.
- Go upside down- Head stand, hand stand, play around, or simply lay on your back with your legs propped up against a wall. Inversions are energizing yet calming. They provide the body with a different perspective which helps tonify the organs by reversing the flow of blood. They also improve circulation and reduce inflammation. The calming effects on the nervous system are palpable after 3-5 minutes of being upside down. And if you’re wondering, there’s no such thing as being upside down for ‘too long’.
- Eat more greens- Here’s your daily reminder that those little leaves contain more magic than it may seem. You may have heard about the food/mood connection… and if you haven’t, here’s an obvious example: drink enough coffee, you’ll be wired… drink enough alcohol, you’ll be drunk. What we consume inevitably alters our consciousness on some level. Oftentimes people eat the same types of foods on a daily basis so their baseline of functioning is familiar. Chronic conditions such as anxiety, headaches and irritability can be prevented and kept at bay with dietary shifts. The first step I encourage all people to add to their life is to eat more greens. These include: broccoli, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, Swiss chard and more. Juice, sauté, steam, stir-fry, blend into a smoothie— just get them in any way that you enjoy the most. Green vegetables promote a light, flexible energy as they grow upwards towards the sun. Eating greens often may lead to feelings of inspiration and creativity. You won’t know until you try!
- Sing- I sing every day. Your voice is the portal to your heart. Who doesn’t love singing in the shower? Or singing in the car? Make it a daily ritual to sing, whether it’s devotional music or Beyonce. The path of Bhakti Yoga uses chanting as a way to connect with the divine. When I am in the midst of song, my entire being is involved. It is a total meditation and the mind is not part of it. The first time I chanted I started crying for no reason. I had no idea why tears were streaming down my face and it wasn’t until years later I realized how heart-opening and purifying singing is. Singing releases anger and stuck emotions, leaving us feeling elated and at peace. It does not matter what your voice sounds like. You are the only one with your voice. Allow it to come from the depths of your belly. From the depths of your being. Everyone is a singer. You are a singer. So sing.
You deserve to make yourself your top priority every day. By cultivating and embracing your inner spaciousness and joy, you will be more effective in all of your relationships and external pursuits. If we truly desire happiness, we must first create it for ourselves with ourselves. And now is the best time to cultivate that relationship.
If you’re looking for a re-set, more self care or guidance for the next chapter of your life, please join me in Bali May 26-June 1 for an adventure with a tribe of like minded souls. This wellness retreat will utilize holistic living practices including yoga, meditation, delicious organic meals, group practices and fun excursions to bring your entire system into balance and harmony. This retreat is designed to connect you to your purpose, your peace and your power.
Click here to learn more→ www.balilikeaboss.com