Wanderlust 108 Boston for Yoga Lovers

I attended the Wanderlust 108 festival today in Boston and I can’t even express to you how awesome it was. It was supposed to rain all day and the bright sun came out giving a lovely glow all around the festival. The festival was held at the DCR Hatch Shell, which is where the Boston Pops perform on 4th of July. The setting could not have been more glorious and the energy was so positive and uplifting.

So let me go way back to before this festival came to town.  I was debating whether I was going to go.  I am a HUGE fan of Yoga with Adriene on Youtube and I follow her on Instagram and Facebook.  There was a post on her Instagram saying she was coming to Boston.  Wait!!!  What??!!  She’s coming HERE!!!  The post also said that if you emailed her “Find What Feels Good” peeps you would be put into consideration for a free ticket to the festival.  So after hyperventilating (not really), I sent off an email saying how much I loved Adriene and how she is the reason I got into yoga.

Well, I got an email back saying I was being offered a ticket.  Wow!!!  Not only was Adriene coming to Boston, but she gave me a ticket too.  So I headed down to Boston early this morning with me, myself and I.  I knew it was going to be a good day when I met some yogis in the parking garage and we all walked over to the festival together.  I checked in AND got a FRONT ROW SPOT for my mat.  Yesssssss!!!!

MINDFUL TRIATHLON

This was billed as a “Mindful Triathlon”, the first and only one ever.  The first leg of the triathlon was a 5k run/walk, which I couldn’t participate in because I have some hip issues.  If I did the 5k, I wouldn’t have been able to do yoga and yoga was my reason for being there.  While most people were 5k-ing, I visited the Kula market, which had lots of free samples, food, yoga inspired clothes & jewelry and the Adidas souvenir tent.  You didn’t even need to bring any food because there were so many free samples, including Late July and Yasso frozen yogurt.

YOGA AND MEDITATION

Adriene did a 75-minute yoga class, which was so awesome.  I love her style and have done many of her Youtube videos at home so it was the perfect flow for me.  She is very knowledgeable and also very funny so I appreciated her addition of little jokes here and there.  Adriene is compassionate and accepting and wants everyone to be comfortable in their practice no matter what level they are at.  After her class, there was a 25 minute meditation by Enrique Collazo.  It was a perfect ending to the practice with the breeze blowing off the Charles River.  Just perfect!!!

MEET AND GREET

After the meditation, Adriene made sure to take pictures and talk with all her fans.  She was humble, loving and just downright awesome.  So glad I got to interact with her.  If you haven’t experienced a Yoga with Adriene class, click here.  You will not be disappointed.

The Wanderlust 108 festival will be visiting Brooklyn and Washington, DC in September along with many worldwide locations.  If you love yoga, check it out.

Keep Calm and Ocean On

As I sat on the beach looking out at the ocean this morning, my happier place, I couldn’t help but get into a meditative state.  When the waves came in, I felt the positive energy come to me.  As the waves went out, I could feel that negativity being washed out to sea.  I could match the waves to my breath, too. Breathe in…waves in; breathe out…waves out.  Maybe this is one of the reasons that I love the beach and ocean so much.  Such a perfect metaphor for living.

Some of the waves started out very fierce and looked somewhat dangerous.  They would crash violently, making a huge splash.  Once they crashed and then made it to the shore, however, they were calm and smooth.  At times, this is how problems may seem in our lives.  We feel like the problem is fierce and we confront it as it comes at us.  When we do this, it is bound to knock us over.  When we give it some time and a little distance, it levels off and drifts away.

 

While gazing out over the ocean, I noticed how the paddleboarders were at one with the ocean waves.  They would paddle out, stand tall and just let the current lead them.  They didn’t fight the waves or current, they just went with it.  When I saw other people try to fight the waves or go against the current, they were not successful.  Another metaphor…just ride the current and let it take you where it needs to.  Don’t fight it and you may end up in a place of true calm and peace.  It was amazing how easily those paddleboarders just rode the rise and fall of the ocean and let it take them on a beautiful journey.

It’s funny because growing up, I lived close to the beach, but didn’t spend a lot of time there because I have fair skin and I always had to cover up so I didn’t get burned.  I also hated the sand all over me.  Now that I am older, I just love the sunshine on my face and don’t mind the sand at all.  It has become a place of relaxation, calm and peace.  I still live close to the ocean and spend a lot more time there, even going on vacation to other beaches.  This is even where I got the name for my blog.

 

Where is your happier place?

5 Affirmations that I Try to Live By

I have been on a true self-care, getting to know myself journey the past few months.  I have discovered great coaches including Gabi Bernstein, Allie Van Fossen and Rebekah Borucki.  One thing that they all live by and advocate about is positive daily affirmations…and why not?  A few positive words every day are food for the soul.  As I stated in my post title, I TRY to live by these.  One of the things I LOVE about Rebekah/Bex is she is the first one to say that her life is not perfect and some days are suck-ish.  I LOVE that.

1 – i am like a boat in the ocean

This is one of my all time favorite Rebekah Borucki (Bex) meditations/affirmations.  I LOVE the beach and the ocean so this is perfect for me.  I can visualize the boat and I when I feel overwhelmed, I can use this to calm myself.

2 – Energy flows where attention goes

This is a Gabi Bernstein-ism that I also love.  She may not have invented it, but these are words she definitely lives by.  So if I am thinking positive, uplifting, joyous thoughts…that is what I will manifest and that is what will show up in my life.  My work BFF and I tell us this all the time during the school year, especially when we get into a negative mindset.

3 – her success is not your failure

This is probably one of my all time favorite affirmations and I often forget to use it.  I see this affirmation connected to the one about comparison being the killer of joy.  If you often feel bad when others have success because you often feel that you are not enough or you don’t do a good job, stop.  Just because someone else is having success or is happy or has joy in their life DOESN’T mean that you can’t have it too.  You can be just as successful, happy and joyous if not more so!!!

4 – i am calm, i am at peace

Another great Bexlife meditation…told you I LOVE her.  This is perfect for ANY time you are feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, scared, unhappy, etc.  Close your eyes and say this to yourself or speak it out loud.  It is guaranteed to ground you and make you feel much better.

5 – whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy

This should be the last sentence of every valedictorian speech in every high school and at every college commencement speech.  You MUST be happy or get some type of happiness in whatever you do.  If not, you will waste time that could have been joyous and fruitful.  I know that you have to pay the bills, but be sure to have SOMETHING in your life that you are passionate about and that brings you JOY:)

The Importance of Gratitude and How to Cultivate It

The importance of daily gratitude cannot be encouraged enough.  It is actually quite an easy routine to get into and has so many positive benefits associated with it.  Our brains seems to be wired to focus on negative thoughts so we need to rewire it to establish a positive mindset.  Cultivating a daily gratitude practice is easier than you think.

3 Good Things: A Happiness Journal app

This app is one of my most favorite apps on my phone.  It has 3 spaces for each day where you write 3 things your grateful for or 3 things that make you happy or 3 things that are going well.  You get the idea….3 positive things in your life.  It reminds you to write each day and then it keeps track of the days you’ve written on it.  You can then go back and see all the wonderful positives you have in your life.  It mentions that it takes 21 days to change your mindset to focus on positives.  Remember it’s not the big things in life, it is the little things that add up to a happier, more fulfilled life.

Gratitude Journal

I have a obsession with pretty journals.  When I see them, I must buy them even when I don’t really need them.  I do love to write so they are eventually put to use.  One great use is to use one as a gratitude journal.  Write down 3-5 things you are grateful for, that make you happy, that you smile about, etc. before you go to bed at night.  Again, you have a record of the positives in your life that you can refer to again and again.  You can get journals online, in the Target Dollar Spot or, my favorite place, TJ Maxx.  I find a great selection at TJ Maxx; they are beautiful and quite inexpensive.

Gratitude meditation

My favorite meditation guru is Rebekah Borucki from Bexlife.  She has simple, inspiring, short meditations that are so enlightening and make my soul so calm and happy.  Below is a meditation that she labeled Meditation for Gratitude and Happiness…enjoy.

What is your favorite way to express and celebrate gratitude?

21-Day Soul Cleanse: Yes Please!

I am a huge fan of Rebekah Borucki of Bexlife.  Currently, I am doing her 21-Day Soul Cleanse and it is perfect timing.   I have added this to my meditation and self-care journey and I’m so thrilled about it.

The 21-Day Soul Cleanse covers many different self-care activities and each day the activity is short and easy to accomplish.  I love that the daily activities are varied and include meditations, tasks and journaling.  Since I am reading Bex’ book, listened to a podcast interview and have done many of her Youtube meditations, many of the activities were familiar to me. Even if you have not had any experience with Bexlife, the cleanse is so easy to follow.  She gives step-by-step instructions and includes links to all resources needed for the tasks and meditations.

Another part of the 21-Day Soul Cleanse is a 7-Day Soul Cleanse diet.  I personally don’t like to call an eating plan a diet because diets are temporary while changing eating habits is a permanent, lifelong way of living.  I’m not as dedicated to the eating plan as the Soul Cleanse, but there are definitely great recipes and healthy habits that you can adapt and adopt from it.

Rebekah is such an awesome practitioner and she is offering a special discount to my readers.  The full cost of the program is a great buy at $29 and she is offering it to you for $19.  You cannot beat that price for a great self-care resource.  I am not receiving any compensation for this post…I just really love and believe in this program and wanted to share it with others.

3 Fabulous Meditation Resources for Beginners

Along with my current yoga journey, I have taken corresponding steps on a fabulous meditation journey.  To me, it makes sense because I feel yoga and meditation go together, hand-in-hand.  I have dabbled in meditation over the years, but never really connected with it.  Since I started my yoga journey, I feel more connected to meditation.  The following resources have elevated my journeys to another level.

Calm app

I have had this app for quite a while, but didn’t use it often.  I was listening to a meditation podcast and wanted a little variety so I took another look at the Calm app.  Since starting both of my journeys, I have felt more of a connection when I revisited this app.  I also changed my screen to the ocean, which has a corresponding crashing waves sound and it is perfect.  You can get quite a few free options in the app and there is also a subscription if you want even more of a selection.

Bexlife

I just found this website and Youtube channel and I love it.  Some voices are much more calming and focusing than others and I really like Bex’ voice. She has a very easy going meditation process.  She offers many resources on her website as well as her Youtube channel.

Truth and Dare

Allie from The Journey Junkie and her soul sister Carly have a podcast called Truth and Dare…which stands for speak your truth and dare to change.  I have really been enjoying the podcast so I signed up for the email subscription from their podcast website.  The email I received today had the link to a guided meditation.  It is only one they have so far, but I’m hoping they add more.  Nevertheless, it is a great yoga and meditation resource.


What are your go-to, must have meditation resources?  I’d love to hear from you…I’ve gotten so many great resources from my readers.  One of my readers told me about Allie’s Facebook group, which connected me to all her other great resources.  I love the wonderful bloggers and readers I have met…it’s such an uplifting community.

 

My A-HA Moment: A Chain Reaction

I’ve been working on some personal issues lately.  I had some huge losses in my life as a teenager, which I am realizing now have followed me into middle adulthood.   As I work through them, I have had some realizations and A-HA moments all over the place.  I will start with a first A-HA moment that have led to a chain reaction of others.

First of all, the loss that I experienced as a teenager was the loss of my parents within a five month span.  I can remember as a child that I always worried that my parents might die and that worse case scenario actually came true.  Now I realize that I immediately go to the worse case scenario when issues arise in my life because at the one time, the worse case scenario DID come true.  So that is my starting point.

I have issues with my supervisor.  In my head, I go to the worse case scenario because of my history.  I have nothing to prove that some of the things I assume from her actions are true, but I still go THERE…to the worse case scenario.  Okay…so I understand why I go to that extreme now what do I do?  Here is where the other A-HAs have come into play.

a-ha moment #1

I bought a book several months ago The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein (affiliate link).  I was cleaning out a shelf….putting some books on half.com and I came across that book.  Since I just finished another self-care book, I thought I’d start reading my find.  The introduction of the book talked about “freedom from fear so you can return to peace”.  Reference was made to the fact that even though we want to feel better and improve ourselves, we are stuck in our patterns of negativity because it is what we know and we don’t want to venture out into the unknown.   Truth!!!  My interpretation of this is LET IT GO.

a-ha moment #2

I have numerous podcasts that I subscribe to and have started to listen to them during my commute, which I haven’t done in months.  I subscribe to The Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson.  There are about 60 episodes in my queue…yikes.  I decided to listen to the oldest episode in the queue from February 2016…Mind Over Medicine with Dr. Lissa Rankin.  She talks about how she was a traditional medical doctor and felt like she was drowning in the managed medical world.  Her schedule went from meeting with 25 patients a day to 40, which gave her 7-1/2 minutes with each patient.

She quit and decided to go into a more naturopathic practice where she could meet with each patient for an hour.  Dr. Rankin said she wasn’t even prescribing medicine, but just listening to patients because she had the time and they were healing!!!!  The process of her listening put the patients into a relaxation response which improved the healing process.  Another truth…having the relaxation response makes us feel better.  My interpretation of this…again…LET IT GO.

a-ha moment #3

While perusing my podcasts, I looked for a mediation podcast and found Meditation Minis with Chel Hamilton.  I LOVE this podcast.  I’ve wanted to incorporate meditation into my wellness repertoire for a long time and this was just what I needed.  I chose episode 9:  Meditation to Let Worries and Stress Drift Away.  This guided meditation talked about thinking of all your worries as a balloon that you let just drift away…truth #3.  My interpretation of this…you guessed it…LET IT GO.

So I guess I’m going to make like Elsa/Anna and LET IT GO!!!  I felt like all these messages from the universe were synchronized to point me in the right direction towards healing myself.  What are your go-to, self-healing resources??  I’d love to hear about your successes.

A Happier You #5 – Guest Post from Balance Now Zen and Pow

Master Your Own Style of Meditation

I have Stephanie Helmers from Balance Now Zen and Pow as my guest poster.  She is the owner of  Zen and Pow studio and I wanted someone who knew about meditation to share their knowledge.  I feel that meditation is definitely part of being a happier you.

 Meditation. What does this word even mean? When you hear the word meditation, you probably envision a Buddhist monk sitting high up in the mountains on a cushion in complete stillness as he practices the Guyan mudra and chants the mantra, Om. Am I right? Well, that can definitely be some people’s reality of what meditation is for them, but probably not most. By definition, the verb ‘to meditate’ or’ meditating’ is,

“To think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.”

meditationsteph

What I think this definition is lacking though, is the fact that meditation is for everyone, everywhere, and at any time! In my opinion, even the dictionary definition of meditation gives us the sort of image as I previously described. I do agree that it is a method of relaxation, most definitely. But it may not be spiritual or religious and it definitely does not need to include chanting or even silence. So, what then is meditation? My aim is that by the time you’ve finished reading this article, you will come to understand that meditation is different for every single person. I also hope that you are interested in giving it a try incorporating it into your own life and making it your own–master your own style of meditation!

First of all, meditation is for everyone. As stated, I truly do believe that anyone can and should have a daily meditation practice. Why? Because it literally changes your brain. People who meditate think and perceive things differently than those that do not meditate. A book that I am currently reading, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, by Arianna Huffington, touches briefly on how meditation is a game changer for all, especially in avoiding work burnout in our busy modern world. She uses a plethora of various research throughout the book to back up her claims and even describes of a study that discovered how meditation can increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex area of the brain and decrease the amount of thinning that occurs during aging. This, in turn, increases cognitive functions, such as, emotional and sensory processing in the brain. Furthermore, MRI’s were actually used to study the brains of Tibetan monks and they found the previous claim to be true that meditation is mental training for the brain and those that partake in meditation have shown to have noticeable changes within their mind body connection.

Not only does meditation change your brain, physically, but it also helps one to stay calm in situations of stress, refocus the mind, and ultimately, allows you to take time for yourself! How often do you find yourself stressed out at work or maybe in school and just need a few minutes to refocus and catch your breath? That is exactly the time to meditate! Meditation is also proven to promote positive emotions, such as compassion, gratitude, joy, kindness, as well as increase self-esteem and confidence. In fact, for this reason, meditation is often used to help those that suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Meditation is also being used by large companies today to help employees become more positive and productive while creating a sense of calm within the work place.

Are you convinced yet that meditation is for you? Maybe you’re thinking now, where would I meditate though and when should I meditate? The answer to these are completely up to you! You could meditate in your room, in your bed, in a space at work, in your car, while you take a shower, while you are on a walk, outside in your yard, on your front porch, on vacation somewhere beautiful, etc. The list goes on and on and on because there is no right or wrong answer! Do you need a meditation cushion–NO! Absolutely not, although they have some really pretty ones out there on the internet, of which I would love to add to my own mediation space. But, truthfully, it’s not necessary. You can meditate literally anywhere that you want to create a sense of inner calm and stillness. Ultimately, somewhere that is not distracting to you.

And what about the time of day? Again, up to you! You could meditate first thing in the morning, you could meditate on your lunch break, in the afternoon, or in the evening before bed. Whatever works best with your schedule, as long as you try to keep it consistent. Some people find it best to do it first thing in the morning to get their day off to a good start, while others prefer it before bed to unwind and relax before they fall asleep. Do what is best for you!

Another question may be, do I need to meditate for an hour or a few minutes–how long should I spend meditating each day? Essentially, meditation is a practice. Did you catch that? Just like yoga, playing a sport, or playing an instrument–Meditation is a practice. This concept is so very important to understand! I suggest beginners start with 5 minute meditations a day for 3-4 weeks. After you have done this consistently each day (or pretty close to each day) for 3-4 weeks, you can begin to increase the time you spend in meditation to maybe 15-20 minutes. Overall, you need to do what is best for you and your schedule. If you only have 3 minutes, then that 3 minutes is better than no time spent in meditation. Do what you can daily, even if it is a short amount of time–I guarantee you won’t regret it!

So maybe by now you’re thinking, okay I think I could do this and benefit from the act of mediation, but how do I do it? Am I supposed to just sit in silence and pretend to be in deep thought? Although you may feel like this at first, it will get better, I promise! I still cannot believe how antsy I was at first, but with some persistence I have improved tremendously and look forward to my meditation practice daily! I started out with guided meditation podcasts, such as Meditation Oasis. They have some great music and audios to walk you through a mediation specific to an emotion or event in your life that you want to focus on. I still use these guided meditations from time to time, but I have found myself getting better at meditating without them. I enjoy playing quiet yoga music sometimes and other times I enjoy complete silence, it really just depends on my mood and how I’m feeling that day .

Another addition to my meditation practice is the use of essential oils. I love to turn on my diffuser or just simply apply the oils directly to my wrists or temple to help me dive deeper into the feelings and sensations that I am meditating on that day. Some of my favorite essential oils to mediate with include combinations of, lavender, frankincense, peppermint, and rosemary. Essential oils, such as lavender, help calm me down. Peppermint and Rosemary help to make me more alert and focused. Frankincense is said to strengthen spirituality and connection to your crown chakra, plus I also like the scent of it. I love the use of the oils with my meditation because it livens my senses while I focus on my breathing.

Furthermore, you can use stones to meditate, but it is not required. I am just learning more about crystal stones for healing and use a few myself for my meditation. These include, fluorite, moonstone, howlite, and amethyst. Fluorite is said to balance the crown and third eye chakra in order to clear tension headaches (as I suffer from horrible migraines), calms an overactive mind (perfect for meditation), and can lower levels of tension within your home. Moonstone focuses on balancing the third eye and solar plexus chakras in order to activate intuition, balance ida (female) and pingala (male) energies, and draws out any old emotional patterns. This is the stone known as “The Goddess Stone”. Howlite is said to balance the third eye chakra in order to help encourage authenticity, open the mind in order for it to receive inner wisdom, absorb any emotions of anger directed towards you from others, create a sense of calm and reasoned communication, and formulate ambitions for both spiritual and material. Lastly, amethyst is also said to help balance the third eye and crown chakra and is known as “The Healer’s Stone” to help open doors to spiritual experiences, improving concentration and sleep habits, protecting one from negativity, and again, alleviating migraines and headaches. If I am using these stones for meditation, I usually just hold them in my hands while I meditate. There are many others ways you can use specific stones, this is just the most basic way to simply incorporate them if you want to do so.

As you can see, my focus lately has been a lot on the solar plexus, third eye, and crown chakra so far this new year. This can also be strengthened through a mantra. I encourage my yoga students at my studio to chose a mantra or intension for our beginning meditations that they can carry this with them through our yoga practice and on into the rest of their day. Some of you may even be familiar or have heard of mala beads, used in meditating on a mantra. I have a beautiful set of chakra mala beads that I enjoy using when I have a very strong mantra I want to meditate on. My main mantra so far this new year has been, “I am strong, determined, and focused.” It has carried me so far through many challenges I have faced in my business and dealing with stress and negative energies.

Lastly, some people enjoy creating a designated space for their meditation practice, but again that is totally optional. I never really had the intension of doing so, but found myself gravitating towards one main space and ended up adding small items to create a meditation altar one piece at a time. It has actually been very enjoyable collecting items for my meditation altar as they come into my life. Mine is pictured below and looks out my front window. It includes some candles, an oil burner, my mala beads, crystal stones, some essential oils, my chakra banner, and my yoga mat with a chakra blanket. Some of these items have even been given to me as gifts and I loved adding them piece by piece.

IMG_6070 IMG_6640

Now that you understand some of the benefits of meditation, where and when you should meditate, and other aspects you can add slowly to increase and strengthen your meditation practice, let’s talk about how to start if you’re a beginner.

  1. Figure out a calm and non-distracting space for you
  2. Find a comfy position, could be seated or lying down
  3. Find a relaxed position for your hands, if I’m sitting I enjoy to stack my hands palms up and rest them on my lap
  4. Gently close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath
  5. Begin to calm your mind by focusing on reciting a mantra, playing yoga music, using a guided meditation audio, or being in complete silence, always come back to your breath and/or mantra when your mind becomes distracted. This is naturally going to happen! The whole point of meditation is to quiet the mind and always go back to the breath when you realized you’ve wandered off, without judgment of yourself.
  6. Once you’ve complete your meditation for 3-5 minutes (increasing length of time whenever you feel ready), notice how you feel and if your body has been swept with a sense of calm and stillness. If not, maybe you need to stay in meditation longer and as explained, it will come more naturally to you the more you practice!
  7. Once finishing the meditation, come out slowly. You could even jot down a few notes in a journal reflecting on your practice, how you felt, whether you were completely engaged that day or had trouble focusing. It is important to track your progress and understand that every day will be different.
  8. Do a few stretches coming out of the meditation and return to your day with a newfound sense of calm and positive energy that you took a few minutes out of your busy day to help rebalance and refocus yourself. YOU made time for YOU.

Are you ready to give this a try? If so, click here  for a beginner’s guided meditation recorded by yours truly. For even more guided meditations found on my website, click here.   Leave a comment letting me know how this meditation practice went for you, I would love to hear about your experience! I hope you begin to incorporate the practice of meditation into your daily routine and begin to feel the benefits it can offer you and your mind body connection. Remember, meditation is a practice and it’s your practice. Continue to master your own style of meditation. Peace and love. Namaste.