[Self Discovery] Manifest Mindfulness in Your Morning Routine

When I was younger, I thought the idea of ‘waking up on the wrong side of the bed’ was a silly notion; but thanks to 2020, I now know that one can wake up on the wrong side of an entire year. Not to say last year was pure chaos, dissonance and struggle – but, between COVID and quarantine, racial injustice, protests, the dissolution of the office of the 45th President, and three surgeries to recover from – I’d be remiss to think that I was in any way grounded in the present moment, nor efficient at using my time wisely.

Waking up and taking charge of your day is a powerful feeling; when the world feels out of control, doubly so. The fact of the matter is, the only thing we can personally control is ourselves; our mental space and mental dexterity, our boundaries and desires, our emotions and how we react. This year, I’ve recommitted myself to some necessary changes and have noticed my mindset shift by leaps and bounds, simply by implementing a solid, consistent and fulfilling morning routine.


Let’s start with something basic, but vital to this conversation: why should you create a dedicated morning routine? Besides being able to set the tone for your day, it let’s you control the clock and gives you some personal power back in your pockets. By choosing where we place our focus from the start of the day, we can both harness our potential energy and turn it kinetic, in addition to being able to attack the tasks at hand, schedule our time better and raise our productivity levels. I’ve honed in on some fantastic methods that have my mind, body and soul set right over these last few months and can’t wait to share them with you – so let’s jump into my morning routine!


Yoga on Gaia

Notoriously not a morning person, creating my morning routine literally took me 36 years. And it actually starts the night before; call me silly but I set the autodrip on our coffee pot and have it go off at the same time as my morning alarm – that way, the second I get up and at the day, there’s a fresh cup ready for me (because let’s face it, we all need caffeinated reinforcements!).

Then I head to the living room, get my essential oil diffuser kickin’ with an invigorating fragrance (more on aromatherapy later!), roll out the yoga mat and get down to business with Gaia. I’ve tried a few different yoga and workout apps for AppleTV, Gaia is hands down my favorite – probably because it’s so much more than just yoga; they really have things for the mind, body and spirit. Whether it’s an illuminating video on a variety of transcendental topics, diving into one’s meditation practice or browsing through their immense catalog of instructors and classes. Classes range from 10 minutes to an hour, at a variety of levels with instructors from every walk of life I’ve become quite fond of everything they offer, and even have a favorite yoga instructor (Tiffany Bush, you give me LIFE!).


Once I’m limbered up and a sweaty, happy mess of a human – I bust out a gratitude journal and my Animal Oracle Cards and take my metaphysical temperature for the day. I tackle ideas like what am I going to work on for the day, where in my spirit do I place my personal focus, and what tools do I need to become the best version of myself. One thing I’ve learned about gratitude journals, is that there is one for literally every personality – do you want one without dates, or with them? Do you want a full year of journaling or to jump in on a whim?

Tiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal

Keen on my personal evolution, I decided to splurge at the end of last year and am currently juggling between three different gratitude journals and three planners, that each offer something different and unique. To be fair, some I think are better for work life, like the Passion Planner, while others like the Writual Planner with daily, monthly and weekly Tarot spreads for self discovery are keen for those of us who have committed to the spiritual side of life.

Now, for the morning – I love setting my mind right by working with the Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal. The prompts are thoughtful and poignant, and if you’re like me and love a good doodle sesh – there’s plenty of space to both color, draw and explore. and jump in there a few times a week. Once I’ve given grace to the day, I’ll set up my Spirit Animal Oracle Cards, get into my Moonology Diary, and write a bit about how the card I’ve pulled relates to the moment.

The Spirit Animal Oracle: A 68-Card Deck and Guidebook: Baron Reid,  Colette: 9781401952792: Amazon.com: Books
Animal Spirit Oracle Deck

The Wild Unknown on Instagram: “Holy 🌈🌈🌈! The archetypes deck has  obviously landed at @solar_return 👽👽👽” | Wild unknown tarot, Wild unknown,  Tarot decks
Wild Unknown’s Archetype Deck

Just like there’s a vast variety of journals and diaries, there’s no one right oracle, deck, Tarot Deck or runes stones. These things aren’t one size fits all souls; we each have a preference for what calls to us innately, and how the world resonates with us. Personally, Colette Baron-Reid’s deck is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever owned. Each card is embellished with impeccable, incredible detail.

If you’re looking for something a bit edgier, Kim Krans’ The Wild Unknown has an incredible set decks – whether you want Animal Cards, Tarot Cards, or my personal favorite from their assortment – the Archetype Cards; plus, their journal is super fun and open form. Some people still have a preference for old school tarot decks, and I’ll use those some mornings as well. I have several different tarot decks of my own, from a Thoth Tarot deck (technically, two of them) to the Rider-Waite Deck, my Cat Oracle Tarot cards and the circular Tarot of the Cloisters. Just like the animal cards, there are also tarot decks for every person. Don’t worry if you found this paragraph confusing, I’ll dive more into Tarot (a true art and love of mine) at another time.


Science of Meditation |Dhyana - Isha

Last but most certainly not least, after set my intentions and tone for the morning; I give myself a few minutes locked in Meditation. When your brain more closely resembles a web browser with dozens of tabs open (a la, mine), meditation becomes a great way to settle into your breath and the present moment. Some days, I’ll take it to the shower or bath – others, I’ll go back to my Savasana and marinate in the moment. Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, and boost mood and mental health. Gaia has been a fantastic resource for guided meditations, as well as applications from Calm to Headspace.


What tips and tricks do you have for settling into your morning and manifesting what you need for the day?

Let me know in the comments below!

[Health Rx] Taking Care of Your Care Takers

Back a few months ago when my parents were visiting for Christmas break, we broke into one of our typically deep dinner-prep conversations that usually span topics like life philosophy, religion, love, politics, and basketball.  Basically, any of those topics that you were always told to steer away from – that’s where we go, immediately. Over Thanksgiving when my family first met Danny, one of the first group discussions we got into was answering my aunt’s question: “What’s your vice?”.  Not that we’ve ever cared about taking turns, but this time it was definitely mine – as we sat around, glasses of wine and beer in hand, I turned to them and whimsically wondered “When did you first realize that you were an adult?” After some bemused chuckles in the room,  we finally got to some answers that ranged from when they paid off their first car loan to when they got the keys for their first apartment.  Up to the end of last year, I can’t say that I felt much like an adult in any way, shape or form but that’s all been flipped on it’s head in the last few months.

One of the biggest psychological issues that we all deal with as we grow up is the idea of mind-body duality: I am a conscious entity, and I’m being expressed through a separate physical body.  Our entire life feels like a reconciliation of these two ideas as we learn to live with both in perpetual symbiosis. As we age past midlife, the crux of our life’s parabolic function, the more our lives revert back to mirroring infancy and the older we get the more the mind body duality tends to re-separate, and their relationship seems to be in revolt: My consciousness feels fine, while my body is anything but.  It’s one thing to recognize this in ourselves, but quite another entirely when it’s happening to a parent, when you have to take care of your care takers

Let’s face it, we’ve been the ones that have had to be cared for…up until now. But somewhere along the way to the rest of our lives, we just had to grow up.  We got older, we evolved, we matured into ourselves and we started figuring out how to be adults. Child, sister, brother, teenager, adult, wife, husband, mother, father, grandparent…of all the roles that we either briefly or permanently assume over the course of our lives, the most inevitable role – the one that we’re least prepared for – is the part of care taker.  All egos included in the scenario are off kilter – more often than not, our parents and peers don’t want to accept care from their children.  We’re the people they looked after with gleeful and conscious delight for our whole lives, they cleaned our scraped knees and wiped away our tears….and now, we’re supposed to be their strength?  In short, yes.

Self Care + Proper Proper Prioritization

Maslow had his hierarchy of needs, and you do, too.  While we stress about taking care of those we love, we often forget to take care of our number one – ourselves, so let’s talk about you and how to best take care of yourself in these difficult times. In order to maintain any semblance of normalcy and or sanity, you’ll want to keep some semblance of your old schedule, at the bare bones minimum you’ll want to focus on maintaining a comfortable routine.When it comes to taking care of loved ones, chances are you’re going to have to rearrange the order of parts your pyramid of priorities.

Mind, Body and Soul

Your well being and the well being of those your caring for now catapult to the top of your list, and a lot of things will fall to the wayside – for now, it’s okay to let it. Your social circle and the social circle of those that you’re helping need to be aware of what you’re going through so they can figure out the best way to be supportive of what you’re experiencing. It’s not the most fun, but be prepared to put-off your less permanent plans while you get some necessary nesting in.

Beyond your metal health and emotional health, your physical health is equally important.  Make sure you’re maintaining your daily meals and getting in the necessary calories, because you can’t take care of those you love if you’re not taking care of yourself.  If you can make it to the gym, go ham – if you can’t, don’t stress!  Try your luck with a local yoga studio, or get up, get out and go for walk around the neighborhood.

The Value of a Support System

Life can be tricky, but having a good support system makes it a hell of a lot easier for everyone. We’re not just talking about those you’re taking care of, but you.  Be honest with yourself on what you need, and between your pride and your ego: don’t be afraid to ask. You have people in your life that love you to the moon and back, and would want to be there for you any way they can – let them. Whether its a quick phone call at lunch, an impromptu dinner date or a little text that just says they’re thinking of you, having people in your life that you can depend on to love you when you need it is everything.

Stay Organized

With any health issue, comes pounds and pounds of paperwork to be sorted.  Some of it can be tossed – though, I emphatically believe that you shred personal information instead. My recommendation is to keep a detailed medical diary – especially if there are multiple medications to deal with.  Create a table with pertinent information, wound changes, medical dosages, etc and be sure to input any changes to their status in the diary. Beyond the health issues at hand, there are a lot of non-medical financial numbers and paperwork to handle when you’re in assist mode, so make sure you stay on top of it with some organizational help.  Draw up a bill calendar and make sure they’re on auto-pay to reduce stress of late payments and shut off fees.

Taking care of the people that have always taken care of you can seem like a daunting task, but know you are beautiful in your selfless sacrifice, in your vulnerability, and in your depth. Do you have any pieces of advice for those out there in care taker mode?  Let me know in the comments below.

Love and light to all of you.

Xx

 

 

[Self Discovery] Marinate In Your Mindfulness

As I’ve reveled in recent experiences, both on a personal level and a global level, I’ve recognized the need in myself to be mindful – to be aware of the present moment, less anxious about the past and unfazed by future worries.  When you truly wrap your head around the ephemeral nature of life, you’ll realize how many moments you’ve wasted by mentally occupying other temporal space. Though daydreaming is nice every once in a while, the perpetual wish to  be in another place, have another job, or be surrounded by different people constantly disengages the mind from your current reality, taking you out of the actual moment at hand.

 

As defined by both yogis and psychologists – the state of mindfulness involves an active focus on the present with purposeful attention to the moment at hand.  Living in the space of mindfulness means our mind is open to being in the now, while feelings and thoughts are processed impartially as nonjudgmental experiences. By engaging in mindful behavior, we’re actively raising our personal vibration and the vibration of the global, collective consciousness.

 

 

Mindfulness is a simple recognition that there is something greater than us that dwells within each and every conscious being.  There’s a light that we all carry inside our hearts, a light that pours into others and collectively illuminates the world – or a light that can be extinguished by others if misused or misplaced.  To me, the light that is in each and every one of us is our Spirit Molecule, our God Particle. God isn’t something beside is, outside of us or separate from us – God is within all of us, God is the spark of consciousness that acknowledges the world in all of it’s forms, God is the catalyst for us to live with respect, love and honor – for not only ourselves, but the world that we inhabit and the greater, global consciousness that we all play a role in.

To recognize and acknowledge this light within others, that’s what yoga practitioners refer to as namaste; for anyone who’s frequented the festival circuit or rave scene, it’s been passionately referred to as PLUR and for those simply meandering the world, you might just think of them as vibes; however you refer to them, they’re a collective call to the common good and a reminder that we’re all part of something greater than us.

In small ways,  we can practice mindfulness every day.  When your creative and mental juices are flowing, there’s no choice but to be fully immersed within the present moment: you’re drawn to the now.  Whether it’s a visual art like painting, pottery or graphic design, dance, flow arts, singing, practicing yoga, creating music, or delving into a hobby like crocheting, gardening, photography, writing, baking or cooking – you’re building upon what has been created while evolving the craft carefully; sometimes with expert timing but always with an artistic vision and passionate drive.  Life itself isn’t very different.

Activate With Exercise

Whether you fancy a hearty run, a solid workout or a flow yoga class – by engaging your mind and body in synchronicity, you’re actively engaging in mindful behavior. C.S. Lewis famously said “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Whatever your personal thoughts are on the issue of mind-body duality, you can’t deny that in this lifetime we’re only allotted one physical body.  Our parents, gym teachers, athletic coaches and doctors have implored that our body is a temple and we should treat it as such.  But as we reach adulthood, more often than not that advice falls by the wayside while schedules climb into the far reaching corners of our calendar: we tell ourselves we can’t find the time, but the reality is we just don’t want to.  Somewhere, in our misaligned, personalized version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – whether it’s because of the stress of a demanding job, an overbearing social schedule, or potentially even anxiety or depression – our physical health has ceased to be a priority.  The good news is that now is the perfect time to change our attitude about how active our lifestyles are.

Exercise like strength training in the gym or running can eliminate any sort of stress or anxiety through the release of endorphins; hormones the body naturally releases as opioid activators that work simultaneously to enhance mood and reduce anxiety.  While engaging in weekly yoga and meditation practices have been proven to improve creative thinking and concentration while decreasing stress by calming the center of the nervous system.

Get Up and Give Back

Love is boundless energy, and one of the only emotions that we can physically, mentally and emotionally both give and receive.  When we’re peace with our own love and able to love ourselves with every fiber of our beings, we’ll be in a prime position to both receive and give love to the world around us. Once you become aware of what you can give back to the world, it’s wonderful to realize that there are multiple ways to physically, emotionally and mentally give back to your immediate community – including neighborhood groups, community service and volunteer organizations. By actively opening your heart for altruistic activities and engaging yourself by assisting those who are less fortunate, you become an important cog in the wheel of life and an integral reason the loving world keeps turning and turning.

Websites like Volunteer Match and Create the Good will link volunteers up with a menagerie of local organizations that are constantly seeking volunteers; if you already have a hunch how you want to help,  a simple search for more prominent, national programs for the American Red Cross, the Boys and Girls Club of America and the American SPCA will turn up cause specific opportunities at a local level.

Expand Your Mind

When I was younger, I could charge through a book in a under a week – sometimes even a day if I really fell down the literary rabbit hole.  Over the last three years as this blog has blossomed, I’ve found that the more I entertain the writing process – the less and less I’ve been reading.  So lately, I’ve taken it upon myself to really carve out some time in my day to sit and enjoy some good reads. Yes, books transport you to another location, whether antiquated or fantastical – but when you read, you’re fully immersing yourself in a moment, a moment that you can share with other book lovers and curated by the author.  Instead of rushing to the last page like the finish line of a sprint, consider yourself in for a long walk in the park – remember, the goal is to enhance mindfulness – not just your page count.

Not only are these books incredible on an individual level – it so happens that they all tie into each other very nicely.  Truth be told, I would recommend any book by any of these authors – but these five are my first picks.

Whether you’re reading, meditating or getting yourself into a lovely yoga groove, I’ve put together a playlist of my favorite music to philosophize, relax and marinate in my mindfulness to, including the likes of Emancipator, Bonobo, Major Lazer’s Robot Heart Sunrise Set, Random RabAeroplane, The Human Experience and more. As a pro-tip: anything labeled a ‘sunrise set’ is bound to be extra vibey, so strap in and let loose- as you set off on a blissful, audio adventure.

Through daily attention to yoga, meditation, literature, music and community service, I’ve rediscovered myself on my pursuit of mindfulness while finding ways to expand my mind, body and soul and better give back to the world around me.This is how I choose to spread my light – how do you choose to honor and spread yours? What are your favorite ways to practice mindfulness and inhabit the present moment? Let me know in the comments below.  To close, I’d like to leave you with some quotes from my favorite reads on mindfulness:

“Cultivate solidity. You are somebody; you are something. You are a positive factor for your family, for society, for the world. You have to recover yourself, to be yourself. You have to become solid again. You can practice solidity in everyday life. Every step, every breath you take should help you become more solid. When you have solidity, freedom is there too.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment

“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections–with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds”
Carl Honoré, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed

“Peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”
Alan W. Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“For every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching of the tree. To manifest individuality, every branch must have a sensitive connection with the tree, just as our independently moving and differentiated fingers must have a sensitive connection with the whole body. The point, which can hardly be repeated too often, is that differentiation is not separation.”
Alan W. Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Namaste.