30 Day Self Care Adventure Week 1
(Monday 9/24-Sunday 9/30)
Welcome to your first week of Sacred Self Care!
I'm so glad you invested in yourself.
For this first week the focus is on creating and committing to a daily morning self care ritual.
Your morning ritual consists of:
- Drinking 12oz of water, (with lemon if you like:)
- Going for a 10 minute walk outside
You'll do these activities first thing in the morning.
Essentially, as soon as you get out of bed you'll drink 12 oz of water (I find it helps to have the water poured and ready the night before, but then I'm still half asleep when I get up), meditate, then go for a walk.
You'll do all three before you do anything else.
They'll be your foundation and the start of your day. So that your first priority upon waking up is loving, caring for, and nurturing yourself.
This will make such a big difference in how the rest of your day will go.
It still amazes me the difference these three simple activities make on the rest of my day, week, month, and have made on my life.
I think it's important to start simple. To keep it basic and doable so that you will do it.
So for this week it's just those three things, every morning.
I'll provide recorded meditations that will increase in time by 1 minute each day. For example, your first meditation will be 5 minutes, your second meditation will be 6 minutes, third 7 minutes, fourth 8 minutes, fifth 9 minutes, and sixth 10.
I also encourage you to have one day this week (if at all feasible), where you plan as little as possible.
For me that day tends to be Saturdays and I call it my Dani Day. I think the world would be a much saner and happier place if we all had a Dani Day. So if you can, give yourself a day or an afternoon or morning or evening and do whatever you want (or nothing at all.)
To start off todays self care, here's your 13 minute video lesson/self care tutorial for Week 1:
And here's your Week 1, Day 1, five minute morning meditation!
Your love notes & exercises to download and complete are in your email - which you've probably already received, since the link to this page was also sent to you via email!
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don't hesitate to let me know.
With love, dani
Week 1, Day 2, six minute morning meditation
Week 1, Day 3, seven minute morning meditation
Week 1, Day 4, eight minute morning meditation
Week 1, Day 5, nine minute morning meditation
Week 1, Day 6, ten minute morning meditation
30 Day Self Care Adventure Week 2
(Monday 10/1-Sunday 10/7)
Welcome to your second week of Sacred Self Care!
This week you'll continue to drink 12oz of water in the morning and meditate for 10 minutes.
You might also continue to walk in the mornings, but for your second week I'm including writing in a journal or notebook for about ten minutes after you meditate.
This is what my morning ritual looks like these days:
I stumble out of bed and turn on the kettle. I drink my 12oz of water. I put tea in my favorite mug. When the water in the kettle boils I brew my tea. I meditate. After meditating I make myself toast with almond butter, eat, sip some tea, and when I'm done with my toast, pick up my journal and pen and write.
Here are some reasons I'd like you to write (by hand), in the mornings:
- Writing by hand allows us to see ourselves through how we write, expressing ourselves creatively, intimately, and personally through our unique writing and self exploration.
- The simple act of holding the pen in your hand and feeling the paper beneath you as you write is meditative, bringing you into the present.
- Also, as Barbara Bash, a calligrapher and illustrator says, "...handwriting can become a contemplative practice, a generator of insight, a deepening down activity that counterbalances the vast, rapidly moving digital world we're bathed in. Handwriting is a powerfully simple way to bring natural creativity and connection back into our lives."
- Journaling is also a powerful way to release anxious thoughts, to process and record what's happening in your life, and to remember and perhaps begin to sort through the multilayered facets of your dreams.
So, your morning ritual for this week is:
- Drink 12oz water
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Journal for about 10 minutes
And I invite you to turn your morning walk into an afternoon walk, or if you continue to walk in the mornings, to take at least 10 minutes in the afternoon to either go for another walk or if it's accessible to you, to swim, dance, practice yoga, jump rope, (fill in the blank),..., essentially to do something physical! Move your beautiful body 🙂
For your second week you're continuing to practice your morning routine with journaling as a substitute for or addition to your 10 minute walk, & participating in at least 10 minutes of a physical activity of choice in the afternoon.
Here's the breakdown:
- Drink 12oz of H2O
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Journal for around 10 minutes
Afternoon Breakout (as in Get Out of that Afternoon Work/Stress Rut!):
- Do at least 10 minutes of something physical and yummy, getting back into your body, releasing endorphins and letting go of accumulated stress. Shake it out!
- This is what I recommend: for this week, Monday-Friday + one weekend day, plan out what physical fun activity you'll do in the afternoon and what time you'll do it. Put it on your calendar as an Afternoon Get My Gorgeous Groove On Breakout Date with yourself. And take it seriously! Don't stand yourself up!
- Also, let me know your plan, what you're going to do and when, then let me know if you did it. 🙂
- And...I'll be providing some short & sweet core yoga video practices to help strengthen and awaken your core, which you can do as your Afternoon Breakout Date or as an accessory to it!
Again, you'll be accountable to me, so most days if I don't hear from you I'll be checking in.
And I love hearing from you, so please do stay in touch!
Here's your Week 2 Sacred Self Care Video Lesson! In it you'll learn how to create time for your self care no matter how busy you are.
And here's your Week 2, Day 7, ten minute morning meditation
Week 2, Day 8, Grounding Morning Meditation
Take this time to prepare for your day, grounding your body and gently waking and centering your mind.
Connect to the earth and feel her hold you.
Listen to Terry Tempest William’s poem “I Pray to the Birds,” and allow her words to inspire you…
(I know at least one of you has heard this meditation before, but it's dear to my heart and I wanted to share it again:)
And here's an 8 Minute Transverse Abdominus and QL Core Strengthening Practice!
You can do it for your afternoon breakout session, or as an accessory to your afternoon breakout earlier or later in the day (essentially at a time that's best for you! 🙂
And, as always, listen to your body! If anything I offer in this video doesn't support you, don't do it. Your body is hands down your best teacher.
The transverse abdominus, TVA for short, is a thin, wide muscle that runs horizontally around your abdominal cavity. The main role of the TVA is to create intra-abdominal pressure. When your TVA contracts, it compresses your abdominal organs and increases pressure within your abdominal cavity. This pressure helps to support your spine from within.
The quadratus lumborum is a deep muscle that runs from your bottom ribs and first to fifth lumbar vertebrae to the top of your pelvis. When the left and right quadratus lumborum muscles, QL for short, contract simultaneously, they work with your erector spinae to extend or stabilize your lower spine. Singularly, the QL helps to laterally flex your spine.
As you strengthen these powerful groups of core muscles and feel the burn of agni, fire, imagine that you are also burning away unwanted Samskara, or conditioned, habitual behavior.
Allow the practice to be spicy and fiery and notice any resistance, frustration, or even anger that may arise with that fire.
Practice meeting spicy, fiery emotions & physical sensations with compassion and lovingkindness, increasing the light of love in your life as you burn through what no longer serves you…
Week 2, Day 9, Ten Minute Morning Meditation
Week 2, Day 10, Mind Like the Sky Meditation
How we spend the day is intrinsically linked to letting go of stress in the evening, going to bed on time to get enough sleep, and sleeping well once we're in bed!
This is why the focus of the first two weeks of this 30 Day Self Care Adventure has been on starting the day well, and taking an afternoon break.
For our third week the plan was to address committing to exercise or movement for at least 30 minutes almost every day (you choose the time of day that works best for you), and ways to let go of stress in the evening, including one of my favorite practices, yoga nidra, a full body guided yoga relaxation.
But let's begin to explore ways to relax in the evening and get a good night's sleep today, preparing for next week's content!
10 Ways to Release Stress from the Day and Sleep Well at Night
1. Begin to relax 1-2 hours before bedtime
- In the evening, reduce stimulation as much as you can. Dim the lights, turn off electronics, and begin to slow down. Do something that relaxes you, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath or shower. Let relaxation be your evening theme.
2. No caffeine consumption after 12pm
- Caffeine can stay in your body 8-14 hours after consuming it. Caffeine’s effects vary from person to person, but in general, if you are having trouble sleeping, try completely eliminating it for a month and see if that improves your sleep. Also consider sneaky sources of caffeine such as chocolate and tea. Switch to water, herbal tea, and herbal coffee substitutes.
3. Eat a sleep inducing dinner
- Eat foods containing nutrients that promote sleep, including tryptophan, melatonin and magnesium. At dinner, eat a combination of high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates. Try a dish of quinoa mixed with sautéed greens and sliced chicken breast sprinkled with roasted pumpkin seeds. For dessert, try a bowl of fresh cherries or a frozen yogurt made with frozen cherries and coconut milk.
4. Turn the lights off by 10:30pm
- Plan on going to bed at the same time every night. Our bodies are built for a 10 p.m. — 6 a.m. sleep pattern. The most regenerative form of sleep occurs between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
5. Try left nostril breathing
- Gently block off your right nostril with your right thumb and take long slow deep breaths through your left nostril only. Left-nostril breathing has a soothing and relaxing effect on the body mind. In Kundalini Yoga, it’s suggested that you take 26 long, slow deep breaths in this manner to produce a relaxing effect on the mind and body.
6. Choose your thoughts
- How do you think about sleep? Fearful thoughts create tension in the body, making it difficult to fall asleep, or sleep deeply when you do. Try the affirmation, "I choose to relax and let go now."
7. Modulate lighting and sound
- When your internal rhythms align with nature you are much more likely to fall asleep easily and sleep well when you do. Try to expose yourself to sunlight during the day and in the evening dim the lights a few hours before bed. Sleep in a pitch-black room or wear an eye mask. If you find that you are more relaxed with some background noise, use a fan or noise machine while sleeping. Earplugs are also a great option if you are sensitive to noise.
8. Take a relaxation bath (or shower)
- If you have time for a bath combine ½ cup Epsom salts with a few drops of an essential oil, like lavender, in hot water. Soak for 20 minutes. The magnesium contained in Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and promotes feelings of relaxation. Water and salt cleanses energy from the day. But if a bath isn't do-able taking a shower helps too! Energetically it clears tension and stress from the day, leaving you refreshed and relaxed.
9. Take relaxation breaks during the day
- This is similar to your afternoon break out date, which is about getting you out of your chair and your thinking mind and into your body as a way to shake off stress from the day and to counter the harmful effects of sitting for hours. Aim for at least one 10 minute relaxation or move your body break during the day to keep your body in balance so that you're not in a state of overwhelm by the end of the day.
10. Practice yoga nidra
- Yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep, is a guided meditation that progressively relaxes the muscles in your body, from head to toes, which also relaxes the nervous system and the mind. Practice my guided yoga nidra video below before going to (or while in!), bed to discover for yourself how healing and blissful yoga nidra is.
Week 2, Day 11, Honoring Life Meditation
This week I invited you to journal for ten minutes in the morning to release anything you might be holding on to from the previous day or worries about the day to come. Doing so allows you to free at least some of the space that anxiety takes up and focus more clearly and compassionately as you move forward into your day.
This technique also works before going to sleep.
To help you release stress from the day and to sleep well at night try journaling for 5-15 minutes in the evening.
Often the thoughts running around in our head make it difficult for us to fall asleep.
Research has shown that this can produce anxiety and stress, which can generate negative emotions and disturb sleep.
In contrast, research has also shown that journaling and focusing on positive thoughts can calm the mind and help you sleep better.
Writing down the positive events that happened during the day can create a state of gratitude and happiness, downgrade stressful events and promote more relaxation at bedtime.
A study of 41 college students found that journaling resulted in reduced bedtime worry and stress, increased sleep time and improved sleep quality. (See abstract of the study)
Try journaling in the evening, setting aside 5-15 minutes to reflect on what you're grateful for.
Why wait? Begin your gratitude journal practice this evening 🙂
I also encourage you to practice an evening rest and reflection meditation before bed tonight.
When we're stressed, we're much more likely to have difficulty falling asleep.
I'm sure this isn't news to you, but yoga, meditation and mindfulness are tools to calm the mind and relax the body. And they've been shown to improve sleep. (Go here, here, & here, to read more).
Yoga encourages the practice of breathing patterns and body movements that release stress and tension accumulated in your body
Meditation can enhance melatonin levels and assist the brain in achieving a specific state where sleep is easily achieved.
Lastly, mindfulness may help you maintain focus on the present and worry less while falling asleep.
Practicing one or all of these techniques can help you get a good night's rest and wake up reenergized.
Try this tonight:
Evening Rest and Relaxation Meditation
A few more sleep tips:
Most of us set an alarm to wake up in the morning.
Try setting a time to go to sleep alarm this Sunday evening.
And as with the wake up alarm don't hit snooze! Turn off all lights, if you have a clock that you can see if you wake up in the middle of the night cover it or turn it around so you can't see it. When we see what time it is during our middle of the night awakenings it stresses us out more.
Breathe deeply. Say your mantra, whether it's "I choose to relax and let go now," or something else that resonates with you. Focus on what you're grateful for. Even try not going to sleep, which interestingly makes it more likely you'll fall asleep (whereas trying to make yourself go to sleep makes it less likely).
So this Sunday evening set a time to go to sleep alarm, resisting the urge to hit snooze. Remind yourself why it's so important for you to honor going to sleep and that it's a sacred form of self care. And you're worth it!!
And on Monday morning wake up to an alarm without hitting snooze.
This is self care.
For most of us there's resistance. That's why it's a practice.
Email me and let me know when you're going to bed Sunday night and when you're waking up Monday morning and I'll reply to your email on Monday to see how it went.
Just an extra little loving incentive to support you in your self care. 🙂
Here's to sleeping like a baby!
Week 2, Day 12, The Wisdom of No Escape Meditation
30 Day Self Care Adventure Week 3
(Monday 10/8-Sunday 10/14)
Welcome to your third week of Sacred Self Care!
This week you'll continue to drink 12oz of water in the morning, meditate for 10 minutes, journal, & take an afternoon movement or relaxation break.
Remember, none of these things takes up much time.
Drinking water takes a minute at most. The meditation is only 10 minutes, and you can journal for 5. The afternoon break is at a minimum 10 minutes.
These are all doable, and they will all exponentially increase your focus, energy and time. As well as reduce stress. Whereas not taking care of yourself costs you energy, time and focus and increases stress.
So it's an investment that reaps crucial rewards!
This week I also invite you to commit to at least 20 minutes of daily exercise and to practice a one minute release the day ritual before walking in your front door at the end of the day.
The One Minute Release the Day Ritual is super simple.
Here it is:
To mindfully and intentionally let go of all the stress that accumulates throughout the day you're going to take a moment before walking in your door to close your eyes, repeat the word "release" to yourself with each exhale (you can also inhale "let" and exhale "go") for 60 seconds, then before you open your eyes set an intention for what you're going to do next (which hopefully is along the lines of relax for the evening!)
I also invite you to return to the 10 Ways to Release Stress from the Day and Sleep Well at Night article from Week 2, and gently practice slowing down, letting go, and turning inward in the evenings with the tips from that article.
Here's the key: commitment.
Without commitment transformation cannot occur. Even though (excuse my french), it can be a pain in the ass and there's tons of resistance, and your habitual patterns kick in big time trying to keep you stuck in old and hurtful ways of doing things, you must commit!
If you're really struggling with this (and believe me, I understand, since after years of practicing I often still struggle), then I'd like you to check in with me daily.
In fact, that's going to be your homework for this week. And I know some of you already are checking in, so you can ignore this bit. But for those of you who aren't, my assignment to you is to send me an email EVERY DAY letting me know where you're at. You can call me dirty names, be resistant, bitch and moan, but if I don't hear from you I will hunt you down. I gave you more space the first two weeks, but this week that ain't going to happen. If I don't hear from you by 7pm PST each day, you'll hear from me. I won't be mad or punitive, but I will be there, asking what's going on.
What I want to know is:
- Did you commit to your morning rituals?
- Did you take an afternoon break?
- Did you exercise and if so, what did you do? (Just cause I'm curious:)
- Did you practice the one minute release the day ritual before you walked in your door at the end of the day?
- Did you take a few minutes to journal about what you're grateful for before going to bed (or do something else from the 10 Ways to Release Stress from the Day & Sleep Well at Night article)?
- Did you set a sleep and wake up alarm? Did you hit snooze? How was your sleep?
- And most importantly, how do you feel? What's coming up for you as you take this course and practice committing to your self care?
I encourage you to write your own How I'm Going to Take Care of Myself this Week List for your third week.
Write it on a piece of paper and put it on your fridge.
And you'll have the option of (instead of sending me a check in email as mentioned above), taking a photo of your completed list and emailing it to me.
For each day of the week write the following, (and check off the checkbox when it's completed).
- Get up with the alarm [ ] <---- that's a checkbox
- Drink 12oz of water [ ]
- Meditate [ ]
- Journal [ ]
- Afternoon break (specify what it is & how long) [ ]
- Exercise (again, specify what it is & how long -- this might be in the morning, before your afternoon break) [ ]
- Release the Day one minute ritual before walking in your front door at the end of the day [ ]
- Gratitude journal (or something else from the 10 Ways to Release Stress from the Day & Sleep Well at Night article) [ ]
- Set sleep alarm and stick to it [ ] (This will probably be checked off the next morning 🙂
Again, I cannot stress enough the value of these practices as far as energy, time, focus, productivity, joy, enthusiasm, presence, stress relief, sleeping well, (the list goes on), are concerned. It's freaking huge!! So please don't bail on yourself!! Have the list on your fridge and think about it as for this week only. Remember that we can do almost anything for the length of one week. 🙂
Start with your Week 3, Day 13, You are Love Meditation
Today, instead of a video tutorial, I’m sharing the following excerpt from the article "The One Seat," written by Jack Kornfield, that I find deeply relevant.
“When we take the one seat on our meditation cushion we become our own monastery. We create the compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things: sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness.”
—Jack Kornfield, “Take the One Seat”
“Spiritual transformation is a profound process that doesn’t happen by accident.
We need a repeated discipline, a genuine training, in order to let go of our old habits of mind and to find and sustain a new way of seeing.
To mature on the spiritual path we need to commit ourselves in a systematic way.
The Buddhist monk Achaan Chah described this commitment as “taking the one seat.”
He said, “Just go into the room and put one chair in the center. Take the seat in the center of the room, open the doors and the windows, and see who comes to visit. You will witness all kinds of scenes and actors, all kinds of temptations and stories, everything imaginable. Your only job is to stay in your seat. You will see it all arise and pass, and out of this, wisdom and understanding will come.”
Taking the one seat means having the determination to stick with that practice through whatever difficulties and doubts arise until you have come to true clarity and understanding.
The practices of meditating, journaling, yoga and mindfulness, are there to ripen us, to bring us face to face again and again with our life, and to help us to see in a new way by developing a stillness of mind and strength of heart.
Undertaking any of these practices requires a deep commitment to stopping the war, to no longer running away from life.
Each practice moves us back into the present with a clearer, more receptive, more honest state of consciousness.
It is crucial to understand that there are many ways up the mountain—that there is never just one true way.
Each of us must choose a practice that feels true to her own heart.
The practices themselves are vehicles for you to develop awareness, lovingkindness, and compassion on the path toward freedom, a true freedom of spirit.
We need to learn not only how to honor and use a practice for as long as it serves us—which in most cases is a very long time—but to look at it as just that, a vehicle, a raft to help us cross through the waters of doubt, confusion, desire, and fear.
Spiritual work requires sustained practice and a commitment to look very deeply into ourselves and the world around us to discover what has created human suffering and what will free us from any amount of conflict.
We must look at ourselves over and over again in order to learn to love, to discover what has kept our hearts closed and what it means to allow our hearts to open.
We must face our own boredom, impatience, and fears.
We must face ourselves.
So we need to choose a way of practice that is deep and ancient and connected with our hearts, and then make a commitment to follow it as long as it takes to transform ourselves.
This is the outward aspect of taking the one seat.
Once we have made a commitment and begun a systematic practice, we often find ourselves assailed from within by doubts and fears, by all the feelings that we have never dared experience.
Eventually, all of the dammed-up pain of a lifetime will arise. Once we have chosen a practice, we must have the courage and the determination to stick with it and use it in the face of all our difficulties.
This is the inward aspect of taking the one seat.
The Buddha practiced what he called the Middle Way, a way not based on an aversion to the world, nor on attachment, but a way based on inclusion and compassion.
The Middle Way rests at the center of all things, one great seat in the center of the world. On this seat the Buddha opened his eyes to see clearly and opened his heart to embrace all. Through this he completed the process of his enlightenment.
This was his lion’s roar.
We each need to make our lion’s roar—to persevere with unshakable courage when faced with all manner of doubts and sorrows and fears—to declare our right to awaken.
We need to take the one seat, as the Buddha did, and completely face what is true about this life.
Make no mistake about this, it is not easy.
It can take the courage of a lion or a lioness, especially when we are asked to sit with the depth of our pain or fear.
When we take the one seat on our meditation cushion we become our own monastery. We create the compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things: sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness.
In a monastery, monks and nuns take robes and shave their heads as part of the process of letting go. In the monastery of our own sitting meditation, each of us experiences whatever arises and again and again as we let go saying, “Ah, this too.”
These few words encourage us to soften and open to see whatever we encounter, accepting the truth with a wise and understanding heart.
Whatever practice we have chosen we must use in this fashion.
As we take the one seat we discover our capacity to be unafraid and awake in the midst of all life.
We may fear that our heart is not capable of weathering the storms of anger or grief or terror that have been stored up for so long. We may have a fear of accepting all of life, what Zorba the Greek called “the “Whole Catastrophe.”
But to take the one seat is to discover that we are unshakable.
We discover that we can face life fully, with all its suffering and joy, that our heart is great enough to encompass it all.”
Over and over again, my loves, you arrive where you are.
This is the practice. This is the path.
Commit to your practice, to your awakening, to your heart.
Commit to bringing your practice off the yoga mat, the meditation cushion or seat, the journal page, and into the world.
Commit to love.
Week 3, Day 14, Loving Kindness Meditation
This is one of my favorite, (and for me most powerful), meditations. It reminds me that love always begins with ourselves.
Self care then becomes a radical act of loving yourself in order to love the world. If you look at world leaders who are filled with insecurity and self aggression it becomes painfully, often violently clear, the devastating consequences of the lack of self care and love.
What we carry within us is what we manifest outside of us.
"May I be happy."
"May I be well."
"May I be kind toward my suffering."
"May I cultivate more kindness within my heart."
"May I cultivate more peace within my heart."
"May I continue to develop and grow."
Imagine the kind of world we'd have if world leaders practiced and lived from these words?
The more you cultivate unconditional compassion toward yourself, just as you are in each moment, the more you sow the seeds of love in the world.
Is there anything more important than that?
Week 3, Day 15, Your True Nature is Love Meditation
For today, as part of loving yourself, I'm including a 15 minute Short & Sweet Soothing the SI Joint (or sacroiliac joint, the joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis), yoga practice.
For many of us who sit all day, or a good part of the day, the low back (and in particular the SIJ), needs loving and soothing attention to counteract the harmful effects of sitting.
And that's what this yoga practice is all about.
Also, at least for me, it feels really good. Almost like a mini massage. 🙂
Week 3, Day 16, Start Where You Are Morning Meditation
Today I was looking through Pema Chodron's book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, and want to share with you her words of wisdom and compassion...
"From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn't just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see.
(Practicing yoga, mindfulness, journaling) or meditation is nothing other than studying ourselves.
...all the wisdom about how we cause ourselves to suffer and all the wisdom about how joyful and vast and uncomplicated our minds are - these two things, the understanding of what we might call neurosis and the wisdom of unconditioned, unbiased truths - can only be found in our own experience.
In all kinds of situations we can find out what is true simply by studying ourselves in every nook and cranny, in every black hole and bright spot, whether it's murky, creepy, grisly, splendid, spooky, frightening, joyful, inspiring, peaceful or wrathful.
...along with clear seeing, there's another important element, and that's kindness. (Without kindness) the sense of being irritated by ourselves and our lives and other people's idiosyncrasies becomes overwhelming.
Discipline is important. When we sit down to meditate, we are encouraged to stick with the technique and be faithful to the instructions, but within that container of discipline, why do we have to be harsh?
How we regard what arises in meditation is training for how we regard whatever arises in the rest of our lives. So the challenge is how to develop compassion along with clear seeing.
Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason it's important is that fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn't just ourselves that we're discovering. We're discovering the universe.
We're not just talking about our individual liberation, but how to help the community we live in, how to help our families, our country, and the whole continent, not to mention the world...
We begin to find that, to the degree that there is bravery in ourselves -- the willingness to look, to point directly at our own hearts -- and to the degree that there is kindness toward ourselves, there is confidence that we can actually forget ourselves and open to the world.
To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes.
Often we think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect.
But doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we're going to have an experience we can't control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we're going to find out we have cancer, a brick is going to fall out of the sky and hit us on the head.
Sometimes life is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100% healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience.
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.
We awaken bodhichitta, tenderness for life, when we can no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our condition, from the basic fragility of existence.
You take it all in. You let the pain inside of you and the pain of the world touch your heart and you turn it into compassion.
It starts with being willing to feel what we are going through. It starts with being willing to have a compassionate relationship with the parts of ourselves that we feel are not worthy of existing on the planet.
If we begin to get in touch with whatever we feel (no matter what we feel), with some kind of kindness, our protective shells will melt, and we'll find that more areas of our lives are workable.
In practicing meditation, we're not trying to live up to some kind of ideal - quite the opposite.
We're just being with our experience, whatever it is.
If our experience is that sometimes we have some kind of perspective, and sometimes we have none, then that''s our experience. If sometimes we can approach what scares us, and sometimes we absolutely can't, then that's our experience.
This very moment is the perfect teacher, and it's always with us.
Just seeing what's going on - that's the teaching right there.
Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives."
Start where you are my loves. It's the only place to be. Right here. Right now.
Just as you are.
Om shanti, peace,
& many xoxo <3
Week 3, Day 17, I Love You, I am Listening Meditation
The theme this week is love...
Loving yourself just as you are.
Meeting yourself with unconditional compassion.
Cultivating intimacy with and kindness toward yourself.
And listening to yourself.
As we move toward the end of this week and closer to next week, (which focuses on being true to you and finding and honoring your sweet spot, what uniquely speaks to and soothes your heart and soul), taking time to be tender, kind, loving, and compassionate with yourself is a good place to start.
As Pema Chodron wrote, "From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn't just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see."
Over and over again we start where we are, no matter where we are.
I invite you to practice loving yourself on the mat, (and to gently let go of what no longer serves you, as well as release tension that tends to accumulate in the neck and shoulders), with a Nurturing the Neck & Shoulders & Gently Opening the Heart Yoga Practice.
Here's to opening, honoring and listening to your beautiful heart...
And to help you sleep and deeply relax tomorrow and this weekend, I'm including a Yoga Nidra for Body Love (oh, and to remind you to love your luscious, phenomenal body just as it is!), guided meditation.
Love yourself dear one.
in All Ways...
Yoga Nidra for Body Love
30 Day Self Care Adventure Week 4
(Monday 10/15-Sunday 10/21)
Your Sweet Spot
This week is all about honoring and being true to you.
What do you need? What do you want?
What stirs your inner fire? What soothes your soul?
What is your sweet spot?
For our final week of the 30 Day Self Care Adventure I invite you to discover (or rediscover), and create space for, your own unique sweet spot.
One of my friends and fellow yoga teachers discovered her sweet spot in playing the piano. She’d always wanted to learn how to play the piano and finally gave herself the gift of piano lessons. Now every day when she gets home from work she plays the piano, committing to her own personal sweet spot. And she says it makes all the difference in the world.
Another friend discovered coloring in a therapy session. Her therapist invited her to spend a good part of their time together coloring. She said she was amazed by how healing and yes therapeutic it was. And there are some beautiful adult coloring books available these days!
Creating space for your sweet spot is deeply healing and rejuvenating, but most importantly it reconnects you to your true self.
In this crazy, overstimulating and over stressed world we live in, it’s too easy to lose touch with our true self.
Even to sabotage our true self.
(And just FYI, things are a little crazy and topsy turvy here in the Dunckley abode [flooding sink, cat to the vet, and me fighting a cold], so like last week instead of a video tutorial I’m providing juicy, informative, eye opening written content). Ta Da! 🙂
For example, speaking of self sabotage...
Check out this article by Jamie Varon from Thought Catalog:
9 Subconscious Things You Do When You Aren’t Being True To Yourself
"1. You justify your decisions
“I’m not going to write today, because I wrote yesterday and I’m tired and I just don’t feel like writing.” Sound familiar? Every time we have to justify a reason for not doing something, we’re most likely straying from what we truly want to be doing. If you choose not to do something and feel no need to justify yourself for making that choice, then you are staying true to your own desires. However, once you start piling up reasons as to why you are ignoring what you desire to do, then you need to stop in that moment and ask yourself, “Is this fear?” Because, fear is the never-ending source of all your reasons for not doing the thing you say you want to do.
2. You get that small stirring in your gut that you ignore
When you make a decision or you say something that is not true to yourself, you will get that pang in your gut. Many people can attribute this to a physical feeling of guilt. This feeling you’re receiving is a gift and, instead of ignoring it, you can acknowledge it, listen to it, and see what is the better choice for you.
3. You quickly pass off “bad” emotions
Our emotions and feelings are incredible insights into our intuition. When we feel anger, it means we are ready for something to change. When we feel guilt, it means we are doing something out of alignment with who we are and what we say we want. These are simple access points into ourselves and when we pass off the “bad” or “negative” emotions as useless and something to hide from, then we are missing out on the learning experiences we can glean from the presence of those emotions. Next time you have a “bad” feeling, listen to it, analyze it, go just a step deeper into why that emotion is there, instead of trying to avoid it.
4. You abandon yourself (and your desires) in small ways
A little critical self-talk here. A mean-spirited gossip about a friend there. A judgmental reaction to someone here. These are small abandons from your true self and, while a couple don’t make a big difference, they start to add up and snowball into long gossip sessions, days of critical self-talk, a judgmental attitude towards others. Soon, you can begin to feel lost from who you truly are. If you start to feel this way, you can just choose to react differently next time you start that cycle, because just as the mindset of abandoning who you are snowballs, so does the one that happens when you stay true to yourself. Once you start choosing what feels best and right for you, it becomes easier to continue doing so.
5. You break promises to yourself (and don’t realize it)
Once in a while, these are fine, but again, they add up. Each time you say you’re going to do something and then back out of it, you’re breaking these tiny promises to yourself and it doesn’t feel great to do so. It creates even more of a distance between you and your truest self.
6. You attract drama into your life
There is nothing redeeming about unnecessary drama. When you start attracting it into your life, you are distracting yourself from yourself. It’s a brilliant plan when you think about it: if you have drama all up in your life, you don’t have the time or energy to devote to what really matters to you. It’s a perfect way of avoiding the fear that comes from going after whatever it is that is true to you. Drama immediately yanks you out of that tuned in space because it demands all your energy. Once you stop feeding into the drama and continue on with what’s true to you, it will cease to distract you.
7. You give away your power to someone or something else
If you are trying to stay true to yourself and it’s becoming fearful, it can be easy to start giving your power away to others. You want their validation. You want them to tell you you’re doing great. You want them to give you a path. This is a way to avoid having to trust yourself because if you put your trust in someone else, you don’t really have to be responsible for what happens in your life. This is disempowering. Once you start to fully show up for yourself and listen to what you desire and need, you will find that outside validation or external advice is needed far less than you would expect.
8. You procrastinate
Procrastination is fear in sheep’s clothing! It is fear, fear, fear and more fear. Fear at its finest! At the root of it, procrastination is avoidance. There is no possible way to be true to yourself while also avoiding yourself. These are complete opposites and cannot exist in the same space. In order to be fully you and stay true to yourself, you cannot avoid yourself due to fear, procrastination, distraction, anything like that. You must face yourself daily and show up to that and some days it will be much easier than others.
9. You feel heavy without realizing it
It’s not until a burden is lifted that we realize how heavy the burden actually was. When we keep choosing to abandon ourselves, subconsciously or otherwise, it weighs on us. However, once we choose again and stay true to ourselves, we feel the lightness that comes from that choice. That lightness becomes intoxicating, our true north and our center. Once we continue to choose our true desires, we feel that lightness more often and can readily identify when a choice has us burdened or weighed down.
You can do so much more with your one life if you stay true to who you are. It may be New Age-y, it may be hippie dippie or woo woo to think like this, but it only takes a few choices that align with what you desire to convince you that this is a beautiful way to live. There is peace in choosing your true self. There is lightness and more love to experience. There is an effortless unfolding of life. There is less stress and more understanding. Less frustration and more compassion. Once you begin to align with your true self and are aware of small ways in which you abandon what feels right to you, you set yourself on a path that can truly transform the way you experience this life.”
In my experience with my students, friends, family and myself!, I find that it’s easier to do what we’re expected to do, or what we feel we "should" do, then it is to follow our heart and be true to ourselves.
When it comes to following your heart, there’s almost always an excuse or a reason either not to do it at all, or to put it off until later.
The problem is, when’s later?
Too often it’s never.
In the article above I shared signs of when you’re not being true to yourself.
But how do you know when you are?
When you are being true to yourself, you are completely honest with what you feel, deeply value, and desire. And you communicate your feelings openly and from a place of presence both with yourself and others, allowing your truth to flow through you and into the world.
To know your truth fully and express it authentically, you first need to cultivate a deep and trusting relationship with yourself. Ultimately, this begins with awareness of your thoughts, as well as awareness of your whole-body experience and how you interact with the world each day.
As you probably already know from the last 3 weeks, you can expand your awareness and strengthen the connection with yourself through introspective practices such as meditation, yoga, and journal writing.
These practices help you become more present and establish reference points to identify when you are (or are not) living in alignment with the deeper aspect of yourself.
The more you practice, the easier it becomes to self-correct when you are out of alignment.
So your homework this week is:
- To find (if you haven’t already), your sweet spot, what uniquely speaks to your soul.
- Then tell me about it over email, ideally by Monday night.
- And finally, commit at least 10 minutes to your personal sweet spot daily.
And in case you need a little extra motivation, here’s an inspiring quote from Steve Jobs:
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
So, like last week, you’ll be creating your own daily love lists, including a sweet spot self love space.
And as most of you have been doing, sending me a photo of your love list with check boxes next to each self love activity that will either be checked off if you completed the activity, or left empty if you didn’t.
And you’ve all been really good about this too, but just be honest! You don’t get points off if you don’t do something.
It’s just a good reference for yourself.
For example, is there something you’re not doing regularly? Is that because it’s something you really need but are putting off? Or is it because it’s something that doesn’t resonate with or work for you, and should be replaced or erased? Or….?
And seriously, if there’s anything from your love list that really isn’t working for you, please feel free to discard or replace it.
Journaling not your thing? Do something else that feels right to you instead!
Now that you’ve been practicing for 3 weeks you probably have a good sense of what supports and speaks to you.
Listen to your intuition. Be true to you.
- Do the same love lists you did last week, creating them yourself as you did last week (there’s a lot of power in writing out by hand how and when you’re going to take care of yourself), + adding a time/space for your own personal sweet spot.
- Once you’ve figured out (and maybe you already know), what your sweet spot is, let me know! Send me an email and share, ideally by Monday night.
Does that make sense?
Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns!
To help you discover, or rediscover, your personal sweet spot, and connect to your true nature, here's your morning meditation:
Week 4, Day 18, Honoring Your Internal Cadence Meditation
And to playfully encourage and inspire you to let go of what no longer serves you, such as self sabotaging behaviors, as well as invite in what does support your true self, check out my 11 minute:
Letting Go & Inviting In Short & Sweet Yoga Practice
(Please excuse the editing glitch that has the video starting with the words to surrender! You can think of it as “to surrender what holds you back from your true self”:)
Week 4, Day 19, Self Love Meditation
Week 4, Day 20
Reading a poem can be a wonderful and magical way to start the day, and connect to your heart.
Let's start today with this poem by John O'Donahue:
A Morning Offering (Excerpts)
All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Clear in work,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.
Week 4, Day 20, Abundance and Love Meditation
To encourage you to play, let go, connect, create, and just have fun with your true (also referred to as higher), self, here's a
12 minute short and sweet playful flow yoga practice!
Week 4, Day 21, Discovering your Intrinsic Self Meditation
For this morning's meditation I invite you to listen to your intuition, that deep knowing inside of you.
Listen to your heart.
Trust your gut.
Over and over again, discover and re-discover, your true self.
Week 4, Day 22, Your Intuition Knows Meditation
I invite you to continue to drop into your internal wisdom as we draw toward the end of our 30 Day Self Care Adventure with a
Week 4, Day 23, Visualization for Wisdom Meditation
And to help you release stress, deeply relax, restore, renew, let go, and connect to your heart, here's a
Yoga Nidra for the Heart
Dear ones, your 30 Day Self Care Adventure is officially over.
Congratulations for taking this time to commit to your self care!
Although I realize that there are 23 meditations, it's been 4 weeks, and with the yoga nidra and rest and relaxation meditations, it's pretty darn close to 30...:)
Still, I'd like to share with you one more guided meditation, a meditation for the fall:
Letting Go, a Guided Meditation For Fall
And I'd like to invite you to join me on the next part of this journey, a 60 Day Sacred Self Care Immersion!
Did you know that what you pay attention to is who you are?
What you think about, what stories you tell yourself and others' becomes the reality of your life.
But how real is it? How true is it? In order to maintain that point of view, how much do you miss?
The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life. As in your whole life. Which means pay attention to what you're doing now and what you've been doing. Chances are it's what you'll still be doing when you're 90!
For a lot of us, that's a scary thought.
You are your habits.
Here's the crazy part....
Most of it is unconscious.
Your thoughts, how you live your life, how you inhabit your body, your emotional landscape and responses, your religious, social, political views. Most of it was chosen for you in your first 7 years of life!
Check out this video to find out why....
Here's my invitation to you:
Question your assumptions.
Shine a light on your stories.
Are they real? Are they the truth? Or are they an unconscious way of being in the world that you internalized during the first 7 years of life?
And then repeated over and over again, until on a neurological, physical, and psychological level they became the script that determines most of what you do?
How you see yourself? How you feel about yourself? How you carry yourself in the world? The value (or lack of value), you give yourself?
Your Sacred Self Care Immersion (beginning 10/29), is all about waking up to and discovering your true self.
Meditation. Yoga. Mindfulness. Journaling. Exercise. Walking outside. Your sweet spot. Sleeping well. Yoga nidra. These are all tools for waking up, for not being controlled by habitual behaviors, thoughts and story lines.
And waking up to your life = waking up the world.
As Gloria Steinem said, "The revolution begins within."
Change your habitual way of being in the world; change the world
Self care is the least selfish and most powerful (revolutionary) action you can take.
It always starts with you.
"Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are." ~Kierkegaard
"Yoga practice is distinct from most other personal growth methods because it comes from the premise that what you seek is already within you and won't be found by attaining some outer goal. Ultimately, it's a journey to the core of your own being. In the work of yoga, the outer point of the body is the doorway to access that which you are seeking within you." ~Baron Baptiste
In this quote Baron is talking about the physical practice of yoga.
But it also applies to the internal work, like meditation and journaling. Although these are also physical acts.
The physical act of taking your seat. The physical act of writing.
That's where it all begins.
Listen to your intuition.
Dive deep beneath the surface of your stories.
Connect to your heart.
Create new habits. Choose your life.
Join me in a Sacred Self Care Immersion...