Welcome to Self Care TLC!
(From December 10th - January 5th)
Week 1 (12/10-12/16)
Setting the Foundation for your Day: The Power of Morning Rituals
For your first week you'll focus on 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 for, 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 difference to the rest of your day!
It still amazes me how much more energy, focus, presence, and compassion I have when I commit to these three simple activities.
And 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 today's self care, here's your
13 minute video lesson/self care tutorial for Week 1:
For more on the power of morning rituals, see this NY Times article
Tips for Creating a Meditation Practice
Find a space that beckons you to sit.
Place a special pillow or cushion in the corner of a room. Or just sit in a chair!
Create a tiny altar with flowers, a buddha, a rosary, a stone, a book.
I have Pema Chodron’s book Start Where You Are, reminding me that’s how all meditation begins, by starting where we are…
Create a ritual.
Treat your meditation practice the same way you would brushing your teeth.
Pick a regular time and keep it sacred. First thing in the morning when your mind is calm, clear and open to meditation is a good time.
Week 1, Day 1, Five Minute Morning Meditation
Your love notes & exercises to download and complete have been sent via attachment to 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.
Week 1, Day 2, Six Minute Morning Meditation
Week 1, Day 3, Seven Minute Morning Meditation
Week 1, Day 4, Eight Minute Morning Meditation
I've been reading the book Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, and want to share his words with you...
"More than anything else, I have come to see meditation as an act of love, an inward gesture of benevolence and kindness toward ourselves and toward others, a gesture of the heart that recognizes our perfection even in our obvious imperfection, with all our shortcomings, our wounds, our attachments, our vexations, and our persistent habits of unawareness. It's a very brave gesture to take one's seat for a time and drop in on the present moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen master, mindfulness teacher, poet, and peace activist, aptly points out that one reason we might want to practice mindfulness is that most of the time we are unwittingly practicing its opposite.
Every time we get angry we get better at being angry and reinforce the anger habit.
Every time we become self-absorbed, we get better at becoming self-absorbed and going unconscious. Every time we get anxious, we get better at being anxious.
Practice does make perfect.
Without awareness of anger or of self-absorption, or ennui, or any other mind state that can take us over when it arises, we reinforce those synaptic networks within the nervous system that underlie our conditioned behaviors.
But, every time we are able to know a desire as desire, anger as anger, a habit as habit, an opinion as an opinion, a thought as a thought, a mind-spasm as a mind-spasm, or an intense sensation in the body as an intense sensation, we are correspondingly liberated. Nothing else has to happen. We don't even have to give up the desire or whatever it is. To see it and know it as desire, as whatever it is, is enough.
When framed this way, we might want to take more responsibility for how we meet the world, inwardly and outwardly in any and every moment."
I invite you to return over and over again to practicing curiosity and wonder. Notice when you harden into judgment, and move toward curiosity and wonder instead.
You can even bring curiosity and wonder to your judgment. When you notice yourself hardening into judgment you can say to yourself, "That's interesting. Why am I contracting into judgment around this? What's behind or underneath that judgment? Is it fear or sadness or something unresolved from the past?"
It's a practice. And meditation is the ground of that practice. Returning you to the present moment again and again.
In the present moment there is no judgment, and nothing to judge. There is only the arising and falling of the breath, the sensations in the body, the thoughts that like clouds pass through the sky of our mind, that come and then go. The natural ebb and flow of life.
To practice meditation is to practice curiosity and wonder. And as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, it is an act of profound love, toward ourselves, others, and the world.
If what we practice reinforces who we are; if what we practice is who we are, then practicing meditation, curiosity, wonder, and love is a good way to go. 🙂
Week 1, Day 5, Nine Minute Morning Meditation
Week 1, Day 6, Ten Minute Morning Meditation
How to Slow down, Relax & Release at Night, Preparing for a Good Night’s Sleep
This week you'll continue to drink 12oz of water in the morning and meditate for 10 minutes.
You might also continue to walk or move 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 your evening ritual is:
- Give yourself 5-15 minutes to write a gratitude list in your journal. Ruminate, meditate, explore, free write what you're grateful for from the day, so that's where your focus is when you go to sleep
- Practice yoga nidra (you'll receive a recording the evening of Monday, December 16th,) or the evening rest and relaxation meditation at the end of today's content.
- Set a time to go to sleep alarm
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, as well as the power of your thoughts.
Below is a link to download your Week 2 Self Care Exercises:
And here's your
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…
This week (Week 2), is a book end to Week 1, balancing our morning rituals with evening rituals and sleep self care.
This week I invite 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 relaxation meditation before bed tonight.
When we're stressed, we're much more likely to have difficulty falling asleep.
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 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 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 tomorrow 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 tonight and when you're waking up tomorrow morning and I'll reply to your email the next day 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 9, Mind Like the Sky Meditation
10 Ways to Get to Sleep 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
Give yourself an afternoon break out date! Take 10 minutes to get off of your chair and out of your thinking mind and into your body as a way to shake off stress from the day and 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 10, 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.
Week 2, Day 11, Honoring Life Meditation
Week 2, Day 12, The Wisdom of No Escape Meditation
Week 2, Day 13, You are Love Meditation
To help you continue to get to sleep and sleep well, here's another Yoga Nidra for your listening, relaxation, and deep sleep pleasure. 🙂
Yoga Nidra for the Heart
Avoid Midday Burnout: Taking an Afternoon Pause or Break Out Session!
This week you'll continue your morning & evening rituals or "bookend your day" rituals. 🙂
In between those two bookends you'll be inserting an afternoon movement &/or relaxation break.
The relaxation break can be as quick and easy as taking 30 seconds to pause and breathe in between activities, or taking 10 minutes to meditate and refocus.
If you have the time, the desire, and the right environment, you also have the option of taking an afternoon break out session!
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, Thursday-Wednesday + 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...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!
So, here's your self care breakdown for the week:
- Drink 12oz of H2O
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Journal for 5-10 minutes
- Take a relaxation break (30 second breath reset or practicing a guided meditation of your choice from the meditation library I've provided, or any other you like)
- Or do your own thing like a crossword puzzle or drawing, playing or listening to music...
- And/or take yourself out on an afternoon Get My Gorgeous Groove On Breakout Date!
- Give yourself 5-15 minutes to write 5 things you're grateful for in your journal. Ruminate, meditate, explore, free write what you're grateful for from the day, so that's where your focus is when you go to sleep
- Practice yoga nidra or the evening rest and relaxation meditation
- Set a time to go to sleep alarm
Got it? Good!
Enjoy taking care of your phenomenal self this week, and remember, I'm here if you have questions, concerns, frustrations, a-ha moments, or anything else you'd like to share!
To help keep you motivated and remind you why you're investing in your self care, here's your Self Care Series Week 3 Video Tutorial.
Make sure you have a notebook or journal and pen close by!
- What were you thinking about when you signed up for this course?
- What made you sign up?
- When it comes to self care what do you struggle with the most?
- What are your biggest frustrations?
- And what are the consequences of not taking care of yourself?
- How do you feel when you don't take care of yourself?
- How do you feel when you do?
- What is the impact of not taking care of yourself on your career, your relationships, your health, your life?
- And what is the impact when you do consistently take care of yourself?
- Personal Why:
- On a personal level why are you committing to your self care? For me that’d be l love having time that’s just about me and just for me. Dani time!
- Pay it Forward Why:
- On a Pay It Forward, (as in how it helps others level), why are you committing to your self care? For me that’d be because I’m so much kinder and more loving and compassionate and present and just fun to be around when I take care of myself. I’m able to give so much more to others.
- Fundamental Why:
- Finally, on a Fundamental level (as in the underlying foundation of why you commit to self care), why do you commit to your self care? For me that’d be because it brings out the best in me and I love the way I feel when I take care of myself, inspired, energized, grateful, joyful and in love with life.
Share your answers with me at: Your Self Care Whats & Whys Google Questionnaire!
Here's Your Morning Meditation:
Week 3, Day 14, Your True Nature is Love Meditation
Week 3, Day 15, Start Where You Are Morning Meditation
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 3, Day 16, I Love You, I am Listening 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, Honoring Your Internal Cadence Meditation
Week 3, Day 18, Self Love Meditation
Here's a 16 minute core strengthening video for you! It's from my course Yoga Immersion, which is why it begins with Welcome to Day 5 of your yoga fix.
This is a really good one for strengthening your back! Enjoy.
I'm also including another yoga nidra as a companion to your self love meditation...
Yoga Nidra for Body Love
Reading a poem can be a 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 3, Day 19, Abundance and Love Meditation
For your morning journaling I invite you to write in your notebook or journal, "What I really want to say is....," and see what follows.
Don't think about it. Just write.
Let your heart guide you and your hand follow.
"What I really want to say is..."
Creating Space for Your Sweet Spot: What Honors, Soothes, & Inspires You
It's time to slow down my loves.
With the recent holidays and the colder, darker weather, we tend to feel simultaneously stressed, overwhelmed, and as if all we really want to do is sleep longer, move slower, and turn inward.
And when these two energies push against each other, it exhausts us even more!
So this week is going to be about creating space for you.
I'm not adding anything to the morning or evening rituals or the afternoon break. I'm taking things away.
Yes, you read that right!
There's going to be less to do this week, not more.
Here's your break down for the week:
- Drink 12oz of H2O
- 10-15 Minute Meditation
- (Your sweet spot?)
- Take a 10 second breathing break. Breathe in for a count of five. Breathe out for a count of five. This is your afternoon pause and reset. Write it down on a post it or index card or put it in your phone to remind you.
- (Your sweet spot?)
- (Your sweet spot?)
- Practice yoga nidra or the rest and relaxation meditation while in bed right before you go to sleep.
The only homework I have for you is to find your sweet spot & create space for what honors, soothes and/or inspires your soul every day. Whether that's in the morning, afternoon or evening is up to you.
What do you need? What do you want?
What stirs your inner fire? What soothes your soul?
What is your sweet spot?
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 fast paced, overstimulating and over stressed world we live in, it’s too easy to lose touch with your true self, to disconnect from your heart.
Speaking of which, instead of a video tutorial this week, I'm sharing a piece I wrote to inspire you to connect to your heart.
Home Is Where Your Heart Is
The heart is the intersection where we can learn to slow down and be aware of everything and everyone around us.
Love, like intuition, is meant to be enjoyed in this moment, without trying to grab it, hoard it, or fear that the feeling will never return.
It takes a lot of bravery to live from the heart, to know when to love and when to walk away, to be vulnerable.
Practice bringing the intention of love to every situation. Practice love and forgiveness of yourself, love and forgiveness of others, and love of life. Practice love when you're driving to work, getting ready in the morning, and making dinner.
Make love an integral part of your life at all times. When you give love - in whatever way - you get love back because you're open.
Living and loving with an open heart doesn't mean accepting everyone into your life and loving them to your own detriment. We are not meant to stay in a space - literally or figuratively - that does not calm the heart.
We need to notice our heart's reactions in the moment and then clear our mind to listen to this reaction. Meditation and forgiveness are great methods for helping with this practice. The more we forgive, the more we can stay calm in any space, no matter who or what else is in it.
The question now becomes, how do we get to this place of openness, presence, and going with the flow of the heart, the flow of whatever given moment we are in?
One of the most effective ways to get to this place is through forgiveness.
It is forgiveness that allows us to be vulnerable, that helps us to remove the walls we put up around our heart. It is forgiveness that ultimately provides us with the clarity and openness we need to be available to others and to act purely and openly to the people and situations that greet us at any given time.
When we hold on to past hurts we become guarded and our heart is clouded, we are shut off from our intuition which in effect is a way of devaluing ourselves.
Forgiveness requires us to be able to step into our and other people's shoes from a heart-centered space.
As our heart is emptied of old pain and blockage, we begin to see the situations in our life through clear intuitive eyes; we see each situation as it is, not as we project or perceive it to be. We shed old pain, which when left unchecked, can skew our intuitive clarity.
Unaddressed pain can cause us to filter the world through the fight-or-flight part of the brain versus through the intuitive, open, being part of the brain. With forgiveness we can let go of both the baggage of our own story as well as those stories we project upon others.
This relates back to another lesson the heart teaches us, which is that we are all one.
What we feel is often triggered by our past experiences, but these are not helpful to intuition and understanding what our heart is processing.
So much of the work we have to do is in clearing our own heart, our own memories, and our old pain.
Ultimately, the biggest gift you can give yourself is forgiveness. Holding on to grudges doesn't teach a lesson to you or those who you perceive as having hurt you. Also, when your intuition is not open and flowing, others can energetically pick up on this and will not trust you with their intimate heart space.
This traps everyone in the past.
Allow yourself to live more freely in the moment and to honestly hear - and follow - what your heart is telling you.
Be free. Let go. And most of all, be brave.
Forgiving others and ourselves, and acting from a place of openness and joy of life - in which we empathize with the fact that, at the end of the day, we are all dealing with the same human experiences regardless of external differences - is the biggest act of bravery possible.
We must forgive and have compassion for ourselves and others to clear our heart and mature into this idea of connection to a higher experience, into the realization that we are all one, inextricably and intimately connected.
Often forgiveness allows your heart to soften and open, and from this space of receptivity you are able to access your sweet spot with less effort and more ease. Sometimes it offers itself up to you. So before you decide what your sweet spot is, practice this meditation...
Ho'oponopono Forgiveness Meditation
This is a traditional Hawaiian mantra of forgiveness and reconciliation: ho'oponopono. This simple but powerful phrase means: "I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you." I've found that reciting this phrase while sending love to someone with whom I feel sadness or pain (including myself), is an easy and effective tool for release and forgiveness. This is one of the most powerful forgiveness tools or sayings I have ever learned.
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.
And it is this deeper aspect of yourself that connects you to your sweet spot.
So your homework this week is:
- To find (if you haven’t already), your sweet spot, what uniquely speaks to your soul.
- Commit at least 10 minutes to your personal sweet spot daily.
And if you'd like a little extra guidance with finding your sweet spot, try this:
Remember Saturday's journal prompt? "What I really want to say is..."
Substitute the word say with the word do. "What I really want to do is..." And don't censor yourself! Let it rip! You might be surprised by what you discover... 🙂
What does your heart long for? "My heart longs for..."
What is your sweet spot? "I'm in my sweet spot when..."
You get the idea!
Part of self care is doing what uniquely honors you. That's your sweet spot.
It's snowing as I put together this content, so to honor and celebrate the snow I'm including a photo of a buddha statue in the snow.
And just a heads up, this morning's meditation is 15 minutes long..., but well worth it!
It might even help you with your sweet spot discovery.
Week 4, Day 21, Discovering your Intrinsic Self Meditation
Keep your self care simple this week:
Drink water, create space for your sweet spot, take a 10 second afternoon pause & reset breathing break, & listen to a yoga nidra or rest and relaxation practice before going to sleep.
Most of all, connect to your heart. <3
The theme of Week 4 is creating space for what uniquely honors, soothes and speaks to your soul. Your sweet spot. Your own personal self care
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 you create space for and honor your own sweet spot this week with
Week 4, Day 23, Visualization for Wisdom Meditation
Today you're going to practice letting go, even if it's just for the length of a meditation.
Although I think you'll find that meditating on letting go makes it easier for you to let go throughout the day, to take a deep inhale and release as you exhale, which is what your 10 second afternoon pause and reset is all about (inhaling for a count of 5, and exhaling for a count of 5.)
Often such simple actions have profound effects, especially when practiced regularly.
Enjoy this powerful meditation focused on releasing what you hold on to, including your sense of self...
Week 4, Day 24, Letting Go Meditation
Continuing with the theme of letting go, aparigraha, or non-clinging as I like to think of it, is the last of the five yamas, or ethical restraints, of Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga.
(Yoga postures are only one "limb" on the 8 limbed path of yoga. The yamas/ethical precepts are the first and most important limb of the practice of yoga, especially the first yama, ahimsa, translated as non-violence or compassion.)
Aparigraha often translates to 'non-greed', 'non-possessiveness,' and 'non-attachment.'
This yama or ethical restraint, teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment and to let go when the time is right.
It also asks us to let go of our attachments to who we think we are, in order to spread our wings and become who we truly are.
Most of the time our attachment comes from the belief that a certain idea, person, object, or activity will produce a result that will bring us happiness, security, or freedom.
Attachment arises when we feel we're lacking, or need something or someone outside of ourselves to be complete.
We hold on to the past, grasp after the future, rigidly defend our ideas about the world, compare ourselves unfavorably to others, wanting what they have. We hold on to anger, resentment and fear. We attach to dysfunctional family dynamics that keep us repeating the mistakes our parents and grandparents made.
Over and over again our attachments (to ideas, people, conditioned behavior, and outcomes), cause us to suffer.
This video narrated by Alan Watts does a fantastic job of illustrating aparigraha, especially to ideas of 'good' and 'bad'...
We don't know what will be the outcome of events in our life, and often it's our attachment to ideas around good or bad, negative or positive, that brings us unhappiness or stress.
But as this video illustrates life is fluid and unpredictable.
Our life happens moment by moment.
Ultimately how much we suffer is up to us.
When we let go of attachment and expectation we allow life to unfold from a place of equanimity. This doesn't mean we're always happy. It means whatever arises, sadness, grief, anger, fear, judgment, we feel it, accept it, practice meeting it with lovingkindness and compassion (and even sometimes with levity), then gently let it go.
This is a lifelong practice. Moment by moment. Breath by breath.
Begin right now with this meditation
Week 4, Day 25, Healing Through Letting Go
Thank you for joining me on a 4 week Self Care TLC journey!
I hope after one month of practicing self care you feel more grounded, energized, and present. I hope you're sleeping better, starting the day energized and refreshed with your morning rituals, and avoiding afternoon burnout. I also hope you're taking time for your sweet spot, honoring what uniquely nourishes you.
As you continue to commit to your self care I invite you to pay attention.
Notice what's going on around you and within you.
Notice nature, the trees and squirrels, the wind and the river and the birds, the clouds and the sun, the varying temperatures, the rain and the snn.
Notice sounds and tastes and smells, sights and your sense of touch. Feel your body.
And do it all with compassion, the first ethical precept of yoga.
Begin with this article from Yoga International
Ahimsa (non-violence), the first and foremost of the five yamas (restraints), described in the Yoga Sutra, entreats us to live in such a way that we cause no harm in thought, speech, or action to any living being, including ourselves.
In its pure form, ahimsa is the spontaneous expression of the highest form of love - an unconditional loving regard for everyone and everything.
The sages say that to create a peaceful, harmonious environment at home, at work, or in our community, we must first find peace within ourselves. This is a process. By observing our habitual reactions and their consequences, we can learn to stop, take a deep breath, and readjust. As we step back and witness, we can choose to respond in new, more loving and accepting ways.
And committing to a daily meditation practice can help. Even meditating for five minutes deepens our connection with the inner source of unconditional love and wisdom. The sages tell us that if we honor this daily commitment, slowly, over time, our meditation will loosen - and eventually untie - the subtler knots that bind us at an unconscious level.
Himsa (violence) arises out of fear, and fear leads to insecurity, which causes us to feel separate from others - alone and misunderstood.
Ahimsa, however, at its core, points to the underlying unity in all creation - at the deepest level, we are one and the same. This awareness gradually unfolds as we progress in our practices. As we choose to live more from our inner center and feel this sense of oneness with others, our personality expands and we become more kind, loving, forgiving, and compassionate.
We come to understand that when we hurt others, we also wound ourselves; and when we don't take care of ourselves, we negatively affect those around us.
The more we can accept and enjoy ourselves, with all our faults and idiosyncrasies, the more we can accept others.
This doesn't mean that we should become a martyr or a "doormat," mistakenly suppressing our own needs to take care of others. I like to remember the wisdom of the sage who reminded a bruised and battered snake he had once advised to practice ahimsa: "I told you not to bite, but I didn't tell you not to hiss."
When ahimsa is mastered, the Yoga Sutra (2.35) says, one attains the siddhi (power) of peacefulness, and whoever is in the presence of such a person feels peaceful. By taking care of our needs in a balanced and clear way we become healthy, happy, and calm.
Then, from that place of balance and wholeness, we naturally want to extend ourselves to others - our family and friends, co-workers, community, the earth, and even our adversaries - in loving service.
This is ahimsa in action.
3 Tips & a Guided Meditation to Expand Your Self-Compassion
Treat yourself as you would a friend
- Many of us seem to be better at being compassionate to others than to ourselves. But we can extend the feeling of loving connectedness that we cultivate with others to ourselves as well.
- Next time you get frustrated and feel tempted to berate yourself, treat yourself with kindness instead as you would a best friend when he or she is suffering. Consider writing yourself a letter or even just a paragraph from the perspective of a really good friend.
Hold painful emotions with love
- When a difficult situation arises and you're feeling depressed, fearful, sad, or whatever painful emotion you might be feeling, hold those painful emotions with love and watch how you're calmed and soothed by this action.
- Instead of just feeling the suffering, you're also feeling the loving, connected presence that's holding the suffering. This doesn't make the painful experience go away, but it can help you tolerate it with kindness and patience.
Put your hand on your heart
- Simply put your hand on your heart and let this be a reminder to turn some love inward. Research is pretty clear on the fact that the more self compassionate you are, the more you're able to sustain being compassionate to others.
Blessings of Love Meditation
A blessing is whatever reminds us of the sacred loving presence that shines through all of us. This meditation is a transformational practice in receiving and offering blessings.
First we connect with the vulnerable tender place within us that longs to feel loved, and call on loving presence to bless us. By imagining and allowing ourselves to receive love, our hearts become open and filled with light.
We then bring that inner loving presence fully alive as we offer blessings to other beings. The image of receiving a kiss on the brow, and offering one, is suggested as a powerful channel for the blessings that awaken our heart.
Letting Go & Inviting In Journal Exercise
For your journal prompt, take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of it.
At the top of the left column, write, "Breathe In."
At the top of the right column, write, "Breathe out."
And begin to list things you'd like to breathe into your life, and also the things you'd like to breathe out, or let go of.
For example, when I did this exercise, one of the things I breathed out was the need to be in control. It's such an illusion anyway! I want to breathe in more spaciousness and breathe out judgment. I want to breathe in serenity and breathe out anger. You get the idea.
Try to come up with at least 5 things in each column. Just write down whatever comes up. And then use this practice of inviting in and letting go throughout your day...
I hope you found this extra day of content enjoyable and helpful. It's a small way to say thank you for investing in you. 🙂