Friday, July 22, 2016

Finding Your Own Way - No Rules Meditation

Finding a place of peace and stillness of mind is the ultimate goal of meditation. How to get there? That's totally up to you. We live in a busy world and live busy lives. We quickly burn ourselves out and lose those natural connections that we were born with... That sacred connection to the center of all energy from which we have each sprung forth. Our lives are like temporary little solar flares leaping out and dancing from the sun, ultimately destined to dissipate and rejoin the collective energy mass. It's not too shabby of a deal, we get to leap and twirl and dance in our own special ways and be brilliant and beautiful and shine as bright as we can, for a few brief moments. Well, just a few moments relative to the span of infinity. I know, its mind boggling if you think about it to hard. Simplified: Your life is a gift, but your personal flame will, without a doubt, one day burn out. We need to take special care of our flames and one of the best ways to do that is to set aside time, each and every day, to care for that flame. Meditation will help you reconnect and will fuel you back up to burn bright, strong, and steady. And really, its not difficult at all. If you find that it is, then you are simply trying too hard.

First of all, you don't need to read any hefty or hard to understand books to meditate. Of course, it's more than okay if you want to! I love to read about anything and everything, but I know not everyone does, and that's more than okay. Meditation is not a lofty out of reach practice for only a select few. We can all do it. I think one of the biggest misunderstandings about meditation is that you have to do it a certain way. That's just not true. If someone ever tells you that, they are being what I think of as a "meditation snob". Ignore anyone who makes you feel inferior. You are no less divine or capable of having a solid meditation practice as anyone else. The thing is that we are each unique. We each have a different energy frequency and we each find connection to that place of stillness and peace in our own special way.

If you have trouble meditating, I challenge you to think outside the box. Find your own way! Remember, the point of meditation is to quieten your mind. Hush that chitter chatter, so to speak. Release that feeling of being an individual and let yourself melt into the web of life for a few moments. You could feel the breeze blowing, hear the birds, try to feel the energy flowing into the trees from the sun above and the earth below. Silently observe the clouds moving and shifting and morphing. The point is to observe, feel, be a part of... and let any thoughts or reaction slip away.

Another idea for meditating is to pick a special object. Take your time finding it. You may already have something in mind, such as a feather, a stone, a flower, or maybe an abstract painting or a photograph of the stars, small animal totems, etc. You can probably tell I prefer nature elements, but you're not limited to that. Just find something that YOU can connect with in a way that doesn't stir up the "monkey mind". Simply sit quietly and meditate on/with that object. Really merge with it and see it as if you were it and it were you. The point is to take you out of yourself and into the realm of "self-less-ness". That place where the division between "you" and "it" no longer exists.


Nothing sounding great so far??? Maybe you're the type of person that can get lost in a beautiful piece of music? The kind of lost where time stands still? Music may very well be your path for meditation. Many people who've tried other forms of meditation and have felt intimidated have had amazing success with music. There are so many forms of music... classical, instrumental, drumming, Native American flutes, even more modern alternative forms can work. I would suggest staying away from music with lyrics, or at least have limited lyrics as the words can get your brain into the wrong space. You want a space where you aren't "thinking". Rather, find something that helps you let go of thoughts and wraps you up in the sound, giving your brain a break from active thinking.

Although, you don't want music too heavy with lyrics, words CAN help you meditate. Choosing a single word, or a combination of words (a mantra) can help you get into a meditative state of mind. Also repetitive sounds such as the well-known "OM" can hush a noisy mind. Also, just spontaneously humming random sounds, making up your own music or combination of sounds can be effectively calming. Remember, the point is to not think. If you find that you are, no worries. Please don't beat yourself up about it. As soon as you realize you are thinking, observe the thought without reaction or judgement, then gently let it drift away and return to your quiet space.

One of the most common methods of meditation is to simply observe your own breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Maybe intentionally slowing it, or trying the 4 square method: Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts. So many people find this relaxing. However, I will admit that I am not a fan of breathing meditation. For some reason it seems to have an opposite effect on me and puts me into a state of agitation instead of relaxation, so it isn't my personal first choice. I don't beat myself up about it either.  Like I said earlier, everyone is different and one person's method may not be another's and that is to be embraced. Find YOUR way!

Another method worth mentioning here is walking meditation. Just simply walk and focus on one step at a time. Feel each time your foot connects to the earth and stay in the moment. Notice what's around you or how your body is feeling. Just keep your mind in check as best you can. "In the Moment" is key. No worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, or the laundry waiting at home. As soon as you realize your mind has wandered, let it go and softly come back to where you are in time and space.

There are so many ways to meditate, and I can't possibly list them all here, nor do I want to; that isn't the point of this piece. The point is to tell you that it's okay to break out of the box if there is nothing in that box for YOU. And don't not meditate because you don't "know how". There are no rules you have to follow. You deserve the quiet refuge you will find. Your mind and body will thank you. It's worth trying out a few different ways, or totally making up your own way. MAKING UP YOUR OWN WAY IS OKAY! You may discover a totally non-traditional way to meditate, and that would be awesome. Whatever lovely way you find to soothe your mind into that special space that gives you a much needed break from the day to day, THAT shall be your meditation. <3

I'll wrap this up with a fitting quote about finding your own way, I think it's spot on... I hope you take a few minutes to reflect upon it.
xoxo

osho


 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Living in Harmony with the Seasons: Spring


The energies have shifted and Spring is fully in the air! While Winter is a season of rest, reflection, and conserving energy, Spring is all about awakening, stretching, and shaking off the slumber of Winter, soaking up the warming sun, planting seeds of intention, nourishing those seeds, and witnessing new life slowly peeping out and then bursting into the world as leaves unfurl and blossoms bloom. The sacred cycle of creation is warming back for another turn of the wheel.

"Spring is a natural resurrection, an experience in immortality." -Thoreau

There exists a flow to nature - a flow of energy. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, so does the energy of nature, the energy of life. Good health of mind, body, and soul are dependent on being in harmony with that flow. The elements of nature are the very same elements of your body - intertwined, twisted, woven, and inseparable. Energy shifts, and so must you. #shiftthappens



Living in harmony with the seasons isn't a new idea. It's an ideal way of life with roots dating back thousands of years. If you're familiar with Ayurveda, then you know this concept isn't new at all. In fact, it's an integral part of many various cultures across the globe. It seems that only in modern times and in our own western civilization that we've moved away from this wisdom. The conveniences and comforts of modern living as well as the increasing number of people living in large cities have in some ways separated us from the natural world. It's important that we learn to somehow blend these worlds so that we can continue to move forward as a civilization while staying connected to that which is the absolute root of our existence and well being. Living a life of disconnectedness leads to illness, anxiety, and unnecessary feelings of isolation. Here are a few ideas to get you heading in the right direction for living in harmony with Spring...

Move Your Body!
 
Spring is a time of awakening, and just like when you awake from a long deep sleep, you need a good yummy stretch and to start slowly warming up your body in preparation for increased activity. Physically speaking, Spring is an optimal time to ease into a fitness program. Yoga, Tai Chi, walking, and jogging are perfect to start with. Anything you can do outdoors is wonderful and beneficial. If you're brand new to exercising, or have been stagnant through winter be careful to ease into it. Gentle stretching and walking are a great place to start. As your body gets more flexible and mobile you can carefully increase your activity. The important thing is to nurture your body, not to injure or over-stress it! Never push beyond what is healthy. Always love yourself enough to honor and respect your body's current capabilities.

Eat Seasonably

A little detoxing may be in order to Spring Clean your body. Drink plenty of water and herbal teas to help flush your liver. Dandelion tea is an excellent choice! You can find it at health food stores and many grocery stores, but how about trying to make your own!?! Dandelions are everywhere this time of year. I hope you're letting a few grow wild in your yard for the bees and butterflies, and for yourself! They really are herbal powerhouses! If you're not familiar with the benefits, I encourage you to do a little research. I've been learning a lot about herbalism and wildcrafting lately and there are many wild things that grow in the Spring that I plan on trying new things with. Wild violets grow bountiful in my backyard and I hope to be able to try out some Wild Violet recipes I've found on Pinterest! #trynewthings!

Spring greens are also excellent for your body as well as brussel sprouts, and broccoli. See what fresh veggies you can find at your local Farmers' Market. Seasonal + local is a powerful combination. As the weather gets warmer and warmer, your metabolism changes. Summer is the optimal time for raw fruits and veggies, so you may want to at least steam your veggies in early Spring if you find you're having trouble digesting them raw.

Get Your Hands Dirty 

One of my favorite things about Spring is dirt. I love digging in the dirt, especially after a good rain. You know that amazing smell of damp dirt? That's the scent of life! Planting and tending a garden is one of the most magical and satisfying experiences ever. It also puts you in direct contact with nature. This gives you the fast track to harmony! There are also undeniably therapeutic aspects to gardening. So, whether you would like to grow a little flower garden or get ambitious with a large produce garden, go for it! I don't think anyone has ever been sorry they planted a garden.

"In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." -Margaret Atwood

Setting Intentions
 
Spring is where it all starts. It's a new beginning. This makes Spring the perfect time for setting your intentions. Its very important to distinguish intentions from goals. Goals have a measurable outcome. A goal would be something along the lines of wanting to run a 4 minute mile, lose 5 pounds, make all A's, etc. An intention is something less quantifiable, yet so much more powerful. Intentions are a communication between your heart and the universe. Examples of intentions are finding balance, seeing beauty, remaining connected, opening your heart, seeing truth, and finding health. Also you could have intentions for creative expression, forgiveness, gratitude, peace, being of service, and finding meaning. Intentions are extremely personal and deep. Only you can know what intention you need or desire. You can set an intention for a day, or for the length of a yoga session, or for a certain situation and you can set an intention for a longer period of time. Spring is a wonderful time for setting an intention for something you want to be a part of you for the rest of your life - a long term intention so to speak. So, look deep inside and ask your heart what it is you need. It may not come to you right away, but trust that it will and when it does, name it and name it clearly. Then focus daily and align yourself with that intention and it will come to you. You do the work on your side and the universe will do the work on its side. Its a beautiful process.

The key to intentions is clearly naming them and holding them in focus. Your intentions become your reality as you hold them in focus, day by day, and as you realign your thoughts and actions with your intention. You might want to start each day with meditating on your intention. A few minutes to clear the chatter in your mind and to focus on what is important to you can make a huge difference in how focused you can remain and the choices you will make throughout your day.

Soak Up Some Sun

Set aside a little time, daily if possible, to feed your body some sunlight. Sunshine is good for your mood, it improves sleep quality, and makes the oh so important Vitamin D that we all need more of. Don't be a total cave dweller! Get outside! Flowers can't bloom with no sunshine!

 
And... BLOOM!
 
All this leads me up to the ultimate conclusion for Spring. You need to bloom. You've been storing and holding your energy all Winter in preparation for this! Let it happen. Feel the energy that's ready to be released. I don't know what your particular "bloom" is, only you know that... but ultimately it will lead to a ripe garden ready to nourish you through the intense energy of Summer. In Summer, the garden - whether metaphorically speaking or literally speaking, or both - is buzzing with energy! The seeds planted in the Spring bear fruit in the Summer. All the caring and tending will be been rewarded with spectacular flowers, fruits, and vegetables, as well as the fruits of your intentions and efforts! I can't stress enough how living in harmony with the seasons is both metaphorical and literal! As you learn to observe the energies within yourself as well as around you with each season that comes and goes, your understanding will deepen year after year. <3

I want to conclude this post with a little excerpt from a John Burroughs essay. I think it is so relevant to many things, but it also fits nicely into the idea of harmonizing your life with the seasons. It's one of my favorites, I hope you enjoy it :) xoxo ~namaste





Saturday, March 12, 2016

Why I Skipped Winter

So... you may have read my post on living in harmony with Fall way back in October, and you may have noticed that the post on Winter that I said I was going to write never appeared. My plan is to get that Winter post written when Winter's presence graces again and the season is back in the air. But, for now, Winter has passed and so has the beautiful quiet energy of it. I need to be surrounded by the essence of Winter when I write about living in harmony with it, so the writing will simply have to wait.

So, why didn't I write about it? 





Well, if you remember reading my New Year's post "The Art of Slowing Down - New Year 2016", then you know that I hadn't been feeling well for quite some time. Shortly after writing that post where I said I was recovering and feeling better, I felt bad again - right back to where I was. Now, don't get me wrong, I believe every single word I wrote that day and it absolutely holds true, but something else was going on at that time that I didn't know about that unfortunately took a really long time to diagnose: I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Trust me, its a really yucky thing to have and its the reason I never got around to writing about Winter. I simply wasn't well. It took roughly 7-8 months to get diagnosed, but once we knew what was wrong it was pretty easy to treat... laughably easy if you don't mind me saying.

I was prescribed 2 weeks of an antibiotic called Doxycycline. The prescription cost was a whopping five dollars. I told people that I didn't know if I should laugh or cry because I'd been so stinking sick for so long and the cure was so easy and cheap. But, here's something I'm telling for the first time. I was relieved. Of course I was relieved that they found what was wrong, but I was even MORE relieved that it was something out of my control. You guys know I'm a bit of a health nut and I run and do yoga and try to eat a healthy mainly vegan/vegetarian diet. I'm all into the holistic stuff and energy healing, etc. Yes, I'm that person. I try to honor my body the best I can. So, essentially, I felt defeated -  like I must have been doing something wrong to have gotten so sick and not be able to fully recover no matter what I did. I tried all kinds of things: teas, herbs, supplements, old Native American remedies, tons of rest, essential oils, special honey. Really, the health food store was making a killing off of me! But, here's the thing: I WAS healthy, I just didn't feel like I was at the time. Ironically, it was so hard to diagnose BECAUSE I was healthy.

In fact, my body was waging a pretty good war against the bacteria. My body served me well. I was healthy enough that Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever didn't take me all the way down. My body was holding its own and probably given a few more months/years I would have won. But, I'm happy that I didn't have to continue the war on my own. I don't like being sick. That was one time I was actually eager to take antibiotics. I normally don't endorse the use of antibiotics, but they do have their place and if the situation is serious enough it's foolish to not take them. Its now been about a month since I finished the antibiotics and I'm on my way back to my normal self again. Its been a gradual process that I noticed starting around maybe day 4 or 5 of the antibiotics. I won't get into all the details of what Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever does to the body, you can certainly find all sorts of stuff on the web if you really want to know, but I'll tell you that its bad enough that it takes time, even after the bacteria is gone from your body, to heal completely. I'm still getting there. But, I'm well enough that I see it on the bright and shiny horizon.

I also have a renewed commitment to my body. There for awhile I thought my body had betrayed me, but now I know that it certainly didn't. Not at all. It took care of me the best it could, which was pretty darn good given the circumstances. Thankfully, I had a healthy body to start with. One that had been nourished, exercised, and well taken care of prior to the infection. During the course of being ill I've gotten a little out of shape. But, I'll get back to where I was, and I'll do it with love and gratitude for the amazing flesh and blood that carries me through this life, my body that fought so hard to keep the bacteria at bay. I have a new appreciation for my health. I will cherish it like never before! I'm so thankful to be feeling healthy again.

So, I'll soon be working on a post for living in harmony with Spring, and I'll catch Winter next time :)

xoxo

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

SixTwelve is Greening Up OKC!

There's a pretty cool place here in Oklahoma City that you may or may not have heard of... yet. It occupies a beautifully (and sustainably) renovated historic building located in the Paseo Arts District. It's a progressive and visionary community/events center with a calendar full of events and classes such as needlepoint, growing mushrooms, gardening, music, art, sustainable living, and many other interesting topics. They also have living spaces for artists in residence and run an innovative Pre-K Program as well as an After School Program. This place is leading the way to a greener and more creative Oklahoma City! This place is SixTwelve. 

I'm so very excited about this place! A big THANK YOU goes to founders Amy Young and James Varnum. What a wonderful vision they had when they rescued this beautiful building from demolition and built up a dream around green living and creativity. That dream of theirs is a gift to the rest of us. So, thank you guys for all of your hard work on this beautiful place and for sharing it with the community.

Six Twelve is located at 612 NW 29th Street















I recently took my daughter to workshop at SixTwelve called Pollinator Pals, which was organized for kids. They made mason bee homes and seed bombs, played with worms, and planted a wildflower garden. She got to use a power drill for the first time, which was both awesome and terrifying, but she totally rocked it. I thought this workshop was such a great way to get kids interested and involved in conservation while letting them also play and have fun. So, when I heard that they're hosting a Spring Break Urban Farm Camp I decided to help spread the word! "Farmer Paul" taught the Pollinator Pals workshop and did a great job. He's really good with kids! He'll also be teaching the Urban Farm Spring Break Camp along with Amy Young and a few volunteers.

Parents, if you're looking for a Spring break camp for your kids, this is perfect! This is what Spring is all about. When the weather starts to warm up, the world around us "springs" back to life. I'm a strong believer in living in harmony with the seasons and this is a great way to get kids to notice and observe the world around them and the natural cycles of life, especially city kids. I've noticed a disconnect among kids these days and I think it's really important that they have a greater appreciation of the world around them. Spring is a season of growth. Why not help grow your kiddos knowledge of the natural world?

SixTwelve's Urban Farm Spring Break Camp is set for the week of March 14th—March 18th. It's for kids ages 6-12. If you're looking for a unique experience for your kids over Spring break, I would highly recommend this camp! They're going to learn about bugs, plants, seeds, dirt, and mushrooms, explore composting, play with pygmy goats and hay bales... I even heard there may even be tractor on location. On Wednesday, there will be a blacksmith doing some skill sharing, and on Friday they'll be making a farm-to-table meal from some of the edibles growing on location at SixTwelve as well as food from a few local farmers. There is limited space for this camp, so if you're interested go sign up asap!

SixTwelve's mission is to be a beacon for the community and to create a network of sharing - Sharing skills, sharing food, sharing space, and sharing knowledge. In the future, they hope to branch further out into the community with some pretty exciting projects. Guerrilla gardening may or may not have been mentioned ;)

I myself will definitely be keeping an eye on their calendar of events and attending as many as I can. Here are a few of the upcoming events for March:

March 3rd - Bargello Needlepoint Class
March 14th—18th - SixTwelve Urban Farm Spring Break Camp
March 19th - FUNgi Forever (you get to bring home a 5 gallon bucket of inoculated straw that will grow into Oyster Mushroom, Yum!
March 26th - SixTwelve Bake Off and Cake Walk

I really hope that all of you fellow Oklahoma City friends throw your support behind this amazing place and check out their calendar as well! I hope to watch SixTwelve grow and thrive for years to come!

Follow SixTwelve on Facebook or Instagram!

xoxo

Friday, February 19, 2016

Spring Headbands Have Sprung!

Get ready to rock your yoga practice and step into Spring 2016 with some fresh new boho style headbands. They're great for adventuring and festival-ing as well! And you know you need some unicorns in your life ;)
All new headbands are now in the shop 
xoxo



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sending out lots of love and light to everyone today! I spent the morning making this to share with you all. Know that you are loved, you are special, and life is magical!

Happy Valentine's Day!
XOXO
<3