Gardening season is upon us! Use this simple, natural & effective weed killer around your garden
Sitting still might seem like a simple practice, but it’s actually very difficult to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts, especially if we’ve been through some traumatic experiences in our lives where even a simple silence can bring up a lot of difficult emotions associated with those negative experiences. Meditation can be a very powerful practice to release those feelings associated with the experiences that might have happened back in our childhood and we are still holding onto it in our bodies & in our minds.
Mornings are a sacred time, where we get a clean slate, a whole day ahead of possibilities. However, the truth is mornings can be hectic & crazy filled with rushing around getting everyone fed, dressed & out the door. That's why it is so essential to establish a simple, but powerful morning routine that is deeply nourishing to prep the body & the mind for the day ahead and to streamline the process and keep everyone sane in the meantime. It's important to begin the day with gratitude & love, which means no emails, text or Facebook first thing in the morning. Here are my five essential morning routines to maintain a happy spirit throughout the day.
Mantras posses potent manifesting power that lies within the universe. It's important to word these mantras & affirmations from the present moment as if it's already happening. Our words and thoughts are composed of energy and therefore contain extremely potent power to alter our reality.
For the past 6 months, I have meditated over 32 HOURS! My meditation journey was a slow one. I loved the brief 5 minutes of meditation I got from every yoga class during the savasana (last resting pose) and I wanted to explore more, but I always came up with excuses such as “I don’t have time”, “I can’t sit still for that long” and a variety of others, but my body was aching for peace and for stillness, among the chaos that I was part of. Yet, I ignored it and went on with my life, until life got so chaotic and so crazy, I was starting to get panic attacks and gasping for air. By then, my body was SCREAMING for attention, it was yelling for me to listen, to tune into what was happening INSIDE. So, I made time, I downloaded an app and committed to the 30 day meditation challenge.
It was very difficult for me to sit still, my back ached, so I decided to do my meditation in the savasana which is how I enjoyed it to begin with. I started to look forward to it every day, my body started to CRAVE it! I love the convenience of the meditation app, because I can meditate ANYWHERE; at home, in the car, on my hammock, in the park while lying on the grass and basking in the sun with my headphones on.
Looking back now, I can’t even believe that such little effort each day of 10-15 minutes I dedicated, has had such an impact on pretty much every aspect of my life: my relationships, my health and my spiritual journey began with this practice.
Here are some amazing benefits I started reaping from my daily meditation practice:
- I sleep like a baby (or like a koala). It may not necessarily be longer, but it is better quality sleep. I fall asleep quicker and stay asleep through the night without tossing and turning like before. Most people toss and turn because they start to analyze their day, plan for the next day ahead, reflecting on thoughts and emotions. That all makes it very difficult to fall asleep. Meditation offers you that time to be able to sort through your mind so you are not battling with it while trying to sleep.
- I have more patience. With two rumbustious toddlers in the house, there is always whining, fighting and writing on the wall. It is sometimes difficult to keep my calm, but I have noticed my patience increased as I dug deeper through my meditation. I’m by no means 100% Zen at ALL times, but I’m definitely more aware of my surroundings and when I’m about to lose it, I know just the actions I need to take to bring me back to Zen.
- I appreciate every moment. We have started a gratitude jar where we (and by we, I mean me, myself & I. My husband has written in it ONCE!) write all the things we are grateful for in our lives; as little as I love my fence and as big as I love my husband for being so open and understanding in difficult situations. Meditation helps to expand the window of perception, allowing you to see the value in every experience and every relationship.
- You don’t need external validation because you love yourself for who you are, just the way that you are. I used to need my parents approval of my choices, then my husband’s, then my in-laws. I felt like it was a never-ending game of “Please Love Me” and “Please Accept Me”. Meditation has allowed me to tap into the source of fulfillment, a satisfaction I have never experienced in my life before.
- I have less "FOMO" (fear of missing out). I used to be guilty of this ALL THE TIME. I wanted to be everywhere at once. I was always rushing from one thing to another, trying to experience as much as possible. And as much as I love the “hungry” part of me, I was getting run-down. Meditation helped me to SLOW waaaaay down and really enjoy the journey to the destination.
- I have less fear. I used to be afraid of taking chances; big changes scared me due to an unforeseen outcome. Even though I was lucky enough to have friends who have pushed me to take leaps, internally I was a chicken. After meditating, I have finally started to listen to what makes me happy. I have gotten my Reiki certification, so I can bring more healing into this world and I have finally signed up for my yoga teacher training. I still have fears about the unknown: I don’t know if these endeavors will bring success, I don’t know if I will be a great teacher but what I know is I followed by heart on these choices and that sure will bring an abundance into my life.
- My desire to drink alcohol has diminished significantly. In fact it is pretty much gone. My friends would often hear me say “I need a drink” after a long day. Many people consume alcohol as a way of alleviating stress, but meditation helps you release your stress and boost immunity, so the need for alcohol begins to decline.
- My communication with others has improved. By mastering my emotions, I’m now able to clearly explain my point of view and be emphatic towards others. I’m able to actually LISTEN to others and respond in a calm manner.
- I practice guilt-free-self-care more frequently. Let’s be honest, as mothers, in the midst of kids and chores and errands, if you are not taking time for yourself, you will get burnt out. Meditation has allowed me to tap into my needs and being able to act upon them without feeling guilty about it. If my body is aching for an Epsom salt bath tonight while husband puts the kids to bed, then I make it happen.
- It has helped me be less judgmental. This may apply to any culture, but I feel like the Russian culture is very judgmental and critical, especially the older (babushkas) generation. This form of “communication” and “bonding” has been engraved into me since childhood and I can feel how meditation is starting to break down those patterns. I find myself more understanding towards people’s differences and their circumstances. I complain less about why people do the things that they do. I accept them for who they are.
- I watch less TV. The mindless shows I used to look forward to watching are now replaced with activities such as reading, exercising, gardening, writing, working on my hand stands etc. I use that time that used to be wasted on TV to engage in activities that feed my soul.
- I savor my food. This may be obvious to some, but I used to chow down food so fast to hurry to something more “productive”. I’ve often engaged in thoughts such as “what if we didn’t NEED to eat, how much time we would have for ... more busy-ness”. Only after practicing the art of being mindful did I start to really ENJOY my food, to really taste it! Not to mention all the digestive benefits of chewing your food slowly and thoroughly, I was starting to see food in a different light resulting in more mindful, healthier and more fun grocery shopping trips. Now my thoughts gravitate towards statements such as “I can’t wait to cook and taste this!”
Wonderful things start to happen when you tap into that amazing mind of yours and really observe your thoughts, reflect on emotions and connect to the deeper parts of soul that are screaming to be heard.
We all love music, but did you know there is a field of music therapy, which uses music to HEAL? It's not surprising to me, because a good tune can always cheer me up :)
Research has shown that music has a profound effect on your body and psyche. Dancing & singing to your favorite tunes has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels by altering your physical and emotional landscape. In fact, there’s a growing field of health care that includes music in their therapy to help cancer patients, children with ADD. Even hospitals are beginning to use music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, to ease muscle tension, and for many other benefits that music and music therapy can bring.
Brain Waves: Music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state. The change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.
Breathing & Heart Rate: Breathing and heart rate can also be altered by the changes music can bring. This can mean slower breathing, slower heart rate, and an activation of the relaxation response, among other things. This is why music and music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress, greatly promoting not only relaxation, but overall health.
Overall State of Mind: Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay.
Music can be used in daily life for relaxation, to gain energy when feeling drained, for catharsis when dealing with emotional stress, and in other ways as well. So, go ahead and groovy up those tunes!
My favorites dancing happy tunes are: "I Am Love" by Kiyoshi fet. Kirsta; "Happy" by Pharrell & "HandClap" by Fitz & The Tantrums.
Here is my Happy Spirit Playlist to spark your spirit, put a smile on your face & shift your mood & energy using upbeat high vibration beats
Try it out and beat those gloomy weather blues :)
Being healthy has many dimensions. It’s a process and doesn’t happen overnight. First and foremost, you have to be in the right mind-set in order to achieve and maintain a healthy body and mind. It’s not just about losing weight and looking fit, but it’s about feeling healthy as well. There are many “get-slim fast” diets, like the lemonade diet, which has absolutely no nutritional value nor does it keep your weight off for longer than a week. So, if you want to loose the weight and keep it off, read on for a few tips to get you started The three main components consist of:
This may seem so obvious, yet a lot of people avoid hitting the gym, because
a) they are too tired b) they are too busy c) they have better things to do.
But what these people don’t realize is that exercising is like taking the medicine your doctor prescribed – it’s essential to your overall health. Your body needs to be in constant motion throughout the day in order to fuel the body. So if you feel like you don’t have the energy to hit the gym, do a few quick exercises at home, but do something. The key is find something you actually ENJOY: love dancing? take a zumba class or go to a salsa social. Love the peace a yoga class can bring, carve out the time to go or do a few poses at home. Chances are you’ll be refreshed and energized afterwards. Your body will be refueled, your muscles will roar and you’ll feel great about yourself. Try doing a few quick exercises at work to regain your energy. Exercise gets your heart pumping and can help give you more energy to make it through your day.
When it comes to food, moderation is key. It’s better to eat throughout the day than overindulge with large meal three times a day. If you keep healthy snacks near you between breakfast and lunch, you are more likely to eat less for lunch and dinner. And of course by snacking I don’t mean chips, cookies or donuts, but what I mean is nuts, carrots with hummus, apples etc. Also, can’t stress this one enough: drink plenty of H20. By drinking an ample amount of water you will avoid dehydration which can cause feelings of fatigue. The key is having the best water filtration system.
Another important component of eating right is personalization. “There’s no one-size-fits-all diet plan,” says Tara Gidus, RD, an Orlando-based nutritionist. “It’s important to try different approaches and see what works for you,” says Rena Wing, PhD, cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry.
Maintain a Happy Spirit
Consider the “mind/body connection”, which means your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. Your stress level, anxiety or sadness affects your mood, hence affects your overall health of your body. If you feel good and happy, then you usually also look great. So, besides the two very important components of staying fit and eating right, you have to:
Smile more often
Don’t let the little things get to you, because the only person you’ll be hurting in the process of these emotions is yourself.
Poor emotional health can also weaken your body's immune system, making you more likely to get colds and other infections.
Part of being healthy is to start improving your mental health. The following are some helpful tips from the Family Doctor
Express your feelings in appropriate ways. If feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping these feelings inside can make you feel worse. It’s OK to let your loved ones know when something is bothering you. However, keep in mind that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with your feelings appropriately. At these times, ask someone outside the situation--such as your family doctor or a therapist for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.
Live a balanced life. Try not to obsess about the problems at work, school or home that lead to negative feelings. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be happy when you feel stressed, anxious or upset. It’s important to deal with these negative feelings, but try to focus on the positive things in your life too. You may want to use a journal to keep track of things that make you feel happy or peaceful. Some research has shown that having a positive outlook can improve your quality of life and give your health a boost. You may also need to find ways to let go of some things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Make time for things you enjoy.
Develop resilience. People with resilience are able to cope with stress in a healthy way. Resilience can be learned and strengthened with different strategies. These include having social support, keeping a positive view of yourself, accepting change, and keeping things in perspective.
Calm your mind and body. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, are useful ways to bring your emotions into balance. Meditation is a form of guided thought. It can take many forms. For example, you may do it by exercising, stretching or breathing deeply.
Not me! Yet, we all feel the most alert in the morning, especially after a good night sleep. Here are a few tips to start off your day feeling refreshed:
Set your alarm for the latest possible moment so you're not tempted to fall back asleep.
Lose the snooze button. You might go back to sleep for a few minutes each time you hit the knob, "but you're getting crappy sleep," Breus says. "You just feel worse."
Sit up and swing your legs over the side of the bed.
Breathe deeply three or four times to orient yourself to the real world to infuse a short meditation to your day
Exercise or stretch with some light yoga poses first thing in the morning to energize your mind and body and boost your fitness. But don't choose exercise over getting the sleep you need.
Since sleep cycles range from 90 minutes, which means you need at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night. So, if you count backwards from when you have to wake up, you can figure out what time you need to go to sleep in order to wake more easily.
Sleep cycles is another reason we feel so disoriented from a nap. To obtain a “successful nap” try to time them in 90 minute increments, otherwise you’ll just wake up cranky. "Most people hit their deepest sleep between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.," says WebMD sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, D, ABSM, "so it's very hard to wake up during that time."
Sex is everywhere in the media but in some cases it’s still looked at with a bit of embarrassment. Not many of us realize how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health. According to experts, sex promotes both our physical and psychological health.
Good sex in a healthy, stable, monogamous relationship can only better our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. Here are just a few reasons (out of 237 reasons collected by University of Texas researchers and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior) to hit the sheets tonight. Each one of these benefits is backed by scientific scrutiny.
- Stress relief – Sex increases levels of oxytocin and stimulates the feelings of warmth and relaxation. What better way to unwind from a tough day than sharing its most climactic moment with your special someone? According to Stuart Brody, professor of psychology at the University of the West of Scotland. Brody's team monitored 24 women and 22 men who were exposed to stressful situations, such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic, and kept records of their sexual activity. Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained. Yet other research found a link between partner hugs and lower blood pressure in women.
- Weight loss – Forget torturing yourself with the latest fad diet or hours on the elliptical machine when you can burn about 85 calories in 30 minutes of sex! Lovemaking lends itself to improved strength, flexibility, muscle tone, and cardiovascular conditioning. Plus, there’s something super sexy about getting to sleep with your very own “personal trainer.” “Sex is a great mode of exercise.” says Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist and president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists.
- Pain management – Forgo popping a pain killer and opt for something a bit more “au naturel.” Sex has been shown to offer migraine and menstrual cramp relief, as well as alleviate chronic back pain thanks to the endorphins and corticosteroids released during sexual arousal and orgasm.
- Immune booster – Having sex several times a week has been linked with raising levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA), which helps ward off colds, according to researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
- Better heart health. A little bit of heart and soul in the sack should be part of every doctor’s orders when it comes to cardiovascular care. English researchers found fear of a stroke during sex is groundless. They followed 900 men for 20 years and found no connection. On the other hand, they found that the men who had sex at least twice a week reduced their risk of a heart attack by half compared to men who had it less than once a month. Sex may help lower cholesterol and the risk of a heart attack!
- Increased self-esteem and intimacy. When sex is consistent and involves mutual pleasure, it can increase bonding since the surge in oxytocin at orgasm stimulates feelings of affection, intimacy, and closeness. When spiritual in nature, sex can lead to an even better quality of life and stronger relationship. Is it any wonder that good sexual energy in a positive relationship can make you feel better about yourself, your partner, and life in general? "Oxytocin allows us to feel the urge to nurture and to bond," Britton says.
- Better sleep – Oxytocin is at the forefront again — it helps both men and women sleep, which in turn promotes healthy weight and blood pressure. There’s no need to count sheep when sex, including masturbation, helps insomnia. Plus, making love sure beats tossing and turning your way to zzzz’s.
- A better, younger looking you – Sex keeps you looking and feeling younger and, according to some research, may lead to shiny hair, a glowing complexion and bright eyes. This is because it increases the youth-promoting hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrostone). And feeling more attractive charges your sex life even more. The snowball effect definitely applies here: the more you get, the more you want
- Mood lifter – Sex releases pleasure-inducing endorphins during arousal and climax that can relieve depression and anxiety, and increase vibrancy.
- Longevity – There is a significant relationship between frequency of orgasm and risk of death, especially with men. Men who orgasm two times a week have a 50 percent lower chance of mortality than those who climax one time per month.
- Decreased risk of breast cancer – One study of women who had never given birth found that an increased frequency of sexual intercourse was correlated with a decrease in the incidence of breast cancer.
- Reproductive health benefits – According to at least one study, sex appears to decrease a man’s risk of prostate cancer, and the prevention of endometriosis in women. It also promotes fertility in women by regulating menstrual patterns.
In a nutshell, the health benefits of sex in a good, solid relationship are practically endless. Yet, in planning our New Year’s resolutions, how many of us are declaring, “I think I’ll have more sex with my lover” in fulfilling any 2010 health and self-improvement goals?
While exercise on a regular basis is important to your health, sex can do so much more for you and your relationship. So before signing any dotted line for a new gym membership, consider how time allotted to an athletic club could be far more effective in your boudoir.
In my recent travels to the other side of the world, I noticed how different the cultures are and being an immigrant myself, I remember the very first day of us coming to the States … it was like smiles central; everybody would greet us with a friendly smile. It was a huge culture shock for me, but I got used to it after a while and now wouldn’t have it any other way. So, as I landed back in my home country, that was the very first thing I noticed … nobody was smiling, in fact people were frowning. I knew I had to adjust in order not to be perceived as weird and a tourist. However, that got me thinking how detrimental it is for us to constantly frown, so here are all the reasons you should fill your life with smiles and laughter :)
- When we laugh every organ in the body is affected in a positive way
- Our breath quickens, which exercised the diaphragm, neck, stomach, face and shoulders
- Increases amount of oxygen in the blood
- Helps healing
- Laughter stimulates the body’s natural painkillers and “feel good” enhancers, known as endorphins, helping relieve stress and heal the body
- Improves circulation
- Expands blood vessels close to the skin’s surface (that’s the reason you get red after a laughing hard for a while)
- Lowers the heart rate
- Dilate the arteries
- Stimulate the appetite
- Burn up calories
- 1 minutes of solid laughter provides up to 45 minutes of subsequent relaxation
- 100 laughs will give your body an aerobic workout equal to that of a ten-minute session on a rowing machine
- Improves overall health
Medically speaking, the reasons above are why a damn good laugh is damn good for you!:)
- Science has proved that the more you smile, the more positive reactions others will give you:
- Smiling attracts friends
- In business, smiling at appropriate times during negotiation such as during the opening stages where people are sizing each other up, produces a positive response on both sides of the table = more successful outcome and higher sales ratios
- Laughter in love is the top of women’s priority list of what they look for in a man
- Smiling and laughter are a way of bonding and building relationships
- In advertising, humor sells
Research shows that people who laugh or smile, even when they don’t feel especially happy, make part of the “happy zone” in the brain’s left hemisphere surge with electrical activity. So, even if you don’t have anything in particular to laugh about, make time to smile for no reason at all, because it moves brain activity toward spontaneous happiness
Life is short, so smile every day! :)
As 2010 rolls around, we all want to change/improve something aboutourselves, but we might be overwhelmed by the amount of things we want to add/delete to become the new us. However, MJ Ryan author of AdaptAbility says "Making ONE change enables you to see the possibility for more significant change in other areas of your life”. Here is a list of "little" changes that can make a big impact on your overall well-being
1) Changing up our daily outline can really do wonders for our psyche. I like to play the “negative energy scavenger hunt” game where you find all the things that drive you crazy and work to get rid of it. This "cleaning out" process gives you an instant lift. Create a holistic routine to lift the spirits
2) Our thought patterns create neural pathways in our brains. You can TRAIN your brain to think positively. Constantly reminding your brain to think positive can become your natural way of thinking. Negative thoughts consume a lot of our energy, so list three things you’re grateful for every day
3) Little things add up: small changes can really make a big difference when it comes to the shade of green! Switch to online bills, use a reusable tote for groceries instead of plastic, don’t waste water and turn off the lights when you leave the room
4) Save a life: give blood
5) Meditate in the morning. Starting with a daily dose of peaceful practices will set a much better tone for your day than watching the news, which usually tend to make you depressed. This may seem like such a drag for a lot of us, but if you don't think of it as a chore and think of the benefits that go along with meditation or just setting a positive tone for the day, then you'll be more likely to get out of bed early and actually look forward to it
6) Turn down the noise: don’t answer every email the second it arrives, watch less TV. Write down or visualize what you really want to do, because writing bridges the subconscious with the conscious. Make a visualization board of all the things that give you goose bumps and pull you
7) Meet new people: bringing new people into your life leads you to new experiences and new ideas. You never know who might be of help in the future. Keep in contact with everybody. Remember their birthdays (or write it down), their likes and dislikes, memories you had together, inside jokes etc. It feels great to receive a birthday or a holiday card from someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, especially if the card includes a personal message, a memory, an inside joke. Brings back good memories
8) Hug someone every day. “Hugging decreases levels of stress hormones and lowers blood pressure”. For all you animal lovers, cuddling with a pet counts! But pets do the magic by their mere presence.
9) Fidget-cise: Keep moving throughout the day: squats while you brush your teeth, push-ups on the counter while waiting for your toast or tea kettle. This boost circulation throughout your body and you get a mini workout!
Don't forget change is eternal, perpetual, immortal. You can't escape it, so just roll with it and have a FABULOUS 2010!!!