Carry On Essential Oil (New!)

OK I am in love with this one.  I have had an awful week dealing with outside customer service problems that had zero to do with me.  If you know me at all, you know I detest the squeaky wheel gets the oil scenario’s but these problems were just so bad I really had no choice but to take these problems to management of the various companies.  I mean 4 them, really?  This is a record week for me for sure but with that are then the demands of business, teaching, personal and week 2 of multisport training…what got me through it – Carry On.

If you asked me in one word what this one does I would say soothe.  The closest I can come is if you have a rash and you put a salve on it and the itch or pain goes away…it soothes the rash.  This one is like soothing the emotional body in order to soothe the physical body.

 

This is sooo good!

At a time when New Year’s Resolutions are waning, and we are starting to feel bad about ourselves for letting another year start to slide by..this is a good reminder.

 Your inner critic is a talkative, hateful monster. It is camping out inside your brain and just waiting for the opportunity to make you feel like garbage. Every awkward phone call, every ill-fitting piece of clothing you try on, every fight you have with your best friend – your inner critic thrives in these situations and uses them as a way to break your soul into a million miserable pieces. Don’t let it win. Instead, embrace positive self-talk.

The thing is, this monster is not real and it certainly isn’t right… about anything. It isn’t a section of your mind that holds any heightened level of awareness to offer useful information. It’s so so easy to believe it when it tells you that you’re worthless and will never achieve success, but it’s not a magic eight ball. Your inner critic is essentially Jon Snow, and KNOWS NOTHING about your potential or what lies ahead.

The voice is so loud, however, that it can be impossible to ignore. In a room full of people shouting bits of kindness, you will only hear the one person offering a statement of cruelty, because unfortunately, that’s how human beings are programmed. Much like it’s easier to sit on the couch all day and do nothing, it’s easier to allow your mind monster to obliterate your self-confidence and motivation. It takes effort to get up off the couch and maintain physical health. It also takes effort to challenge your inner critic on every negative thought, but in the end, you need to in order to get anywhere. Here are all the things you need to tell yourself when your inner critic must be silenced.

  1. Actually, you ARE beautiful.

Beauty is subjective, but quite honestly, everyone is beautiful because everyone is unique. I realize how flowery that sounds, but it’s true. In fact, we’re entering a time in which people of all sizes are being celebrated, and the more unique you are, the more unforgettable you become. Everyone who celebrates the body they were given is beautiful, no matter what that body looks like.

  1. No, you don’t need to lose weight in order to be happy.

Maybe medically, you need to lose a little weight in order to be healthy, but that’s completely different. Happiness will never be achieved if you “only lose three more pounds.” Happiness comes when you can feel comfortable in your own skin. Continuously chasing a smaller pants size will only take you so far on the road to happiness, so know when to stop and when to say, “I’m good enough, just like this.”

  1. You deserve everything wonderful.

If you’re carrying even an ounce of regret, your inner monster will glob onto it like an energy source and will infect any good moment with doubt. Whatever it is, let it go. Because the past is the past and you need to look ahead. If you need to make amends in order to move on, then do so. But just know that you absolutely deserve all the great things in life.

  1. Those who don’t believe in you will soon be sorely mistaken.

Rejection hurts. However, it happens only to those who are brave enough to put themselves out there and be vulnerable. There’s nothing braver than open vulnerability and if you offer that to someone and they’re blind enough to say, “thanks but no thanks,” then just know that someday they’ll see you making your dreams come true and they’ll regret letting you get away. This applies to professional rejection as much as it does to personal.

  1. Tomorrow will be better.

If you’re having an awful, terrible, no good, very bad day, then tomorrow can’t be worse than this, right? It’s impossible to remain in your “rock bottom” place because the will to survive for the human race is so strong that you’ll figure out a way to improve your situation no matter what. And that improvement is just a good nights’ sleep away.

  1. Wrong. Everything is not “THE WORST.”

I know this is a trendy and cute way to complain right now, but if your inner critic is telling you this, your response should be a simple: “No, it’s not the worst. Stop exaggerating.” Because there are people out there who are starving, dying of incurable diseases, and are taking fire on enemy lines to preserve your freedom. And they probably have better outlooks on life than you do right now.

  1. You will not let failure defeat you.

Everyone who has ever achieved any form of greatness as failed in order to get there. Quitters are the only ones who have truly failed because they stopped trying. Don’t stop trying, and your inner critic will be proven wrong.

  1. People DO love you.

You have at least one friend or family member whom would be utterly lost without you. Even if that friend or family member is a furry animal on four legs, they appreciate you for you. If they haven’t given up on you, then you can’t give up on yourself.

  1. And finally, just “SHUT. UP.”

Bullies respond to strength, and your inner critic is the biggest bully of all because you can never get away from it. So remind your monster that YOU are the one in charge here and it needs to stop talking, because you are no longer listening.

 

Chrissa Hardy is a freelance writer, editor, and a former New Hampshire-ite currently residing in Southern California. She suffers from separation anxiety and can’t bear to be away from her dog for more than 20 minutes. Her dog doesn’t seem to care either way. Her favorite time of year is “hoodie season” and she orders a side of coleslaw with just about everything.

The KonMarie Method for organizing

So I have learned that clutter and in general crap around the house, or my office, creates stress for me.  Whether it is the visual reminder of stuff to do, or just not having clean surfaces around me it bugs me to the point of either doing something about it (usually at 10pm or later) or ignoring it and giving in and watching it grow.

Then I read about the Kon Marie Method.  Since it is just into the New Year and organizing may be on your list as well, this blog is a really nice summary!  A special thank you to happier.com as this is her article!

 

When it comes to clutter, I’m fairly clutter-free. Well, let me be more honest: I’m kind of a neat and organization freak. I’m constantly on the hunt for clutter around the house, looking for something we don’t need that we can get rid of. More than a few times my husband has had to chase after me as I was about to throw away something actually useful or necessary (say, our in-progress tax returns or a battery he was about to install).

Naturally, when I came across a little book titled The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up, I was intrigued. Written by Japanese professional organizer, Marie Kondo, it describes a simple method to declutter your life, from clothes to books to knickknacks. What attracted me to it is how simple her method is and what it’s based on:

The idea of joy.

While many other organizing methods ask you to think about whether you’ve used a certain item recently or whether you plan on using it soon, Marie Kondo wants you to answer just one simple question when it comes to any of the items in your house:

Does it bring you joy?

If you answer yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. It’s simple, it’s brilliant, and it’s something that’s completely intuitive. You can spend a lot of time justifying how something might at some point be useful to you and therefore decide to keep it, but whether something brings you joy is an emotional question and one that can be answered almost instantly: If you feel joy or if you don’t feel joy: there’s no need to make it more complicated than that.

Despite my nearly-clutter-free life, I decided to give the KonMari method a shot, spending a few hours on a recent Saturday decluttering my clothes. It’s spring (finally!) and it felt like a great way to do a little cleaning and clearing out: of my closets, as I expected, and of my emotions, as I didn’t expect. Here are the 5 simple yet life-changing things I learned as I decluttered my clothes using the KonMari method:

1. Joy is simple yet powerful. Marie Kondo asks you to take all of your clothes and put them in one big pile in one room. (Her idea is to declutter by item type vs. by room.) You then pick up and hold an item and ask yourself one simple question: Does this bring me joy? What I realized in my bedroom as I faced my giant clothing pile was that joy is both really simple and really powerful. As I held up each piece of clothing, I didn’t have to think for a long time about whether it brought me joy: I either felt it or I didn’t. If I hesitated, I knew it was not joy but rather some version of shopping guilt (“Well, I should have worn this more..” or “I paid a lot for this and haven’t worn it”). While it was difficult to put a bunch of barely-ever-worn clothes into my “donate” pile due to the shopping guilt, I found the decision process itself really easy: Joy is a simple filter we can apply to a lot of things, beyond clothes or stuff. We know it when we feel it, it’s strong and vibrant, and it can be a really great lens through which to view other life-choices.

2. There are different ways to bring joy. I loved Kondo’s advice about dealing with the sense of regret you might feel when you have to donate that neon pink dress with the tags still on it [substitute whatever article of clothing you were excited to buy but never really wore]. Perhaps the dress brought you joy when you bought it and at that moment you felt the thrill of the shopping-hunt and thinking about ways you were going to wear it. If so, Kondo says, that’s great — that item of clothing has served its purpose: it brought you joy at some point. Now you can remember that and put it into the donation pile without guilt.

3. We don’t hang on to things; we hang on to emotions attached to those things. Some of the clothes I found easy to put in the donate pile — they didn’t bring me joy any more, I didn’t really like them, and I felt good about parting with them. But some I really struggled with. For instance, there was a pair of jeans that I probably hadn’t worn in about seven years, but at the time I bought them I was going through some major life changes. Those jeans remind me of that time, of what I was feeling then, and I realized that while I’d probably never wear them again I’d kept them in an attempt to hang on to those emotions I’d connected them to. The jeans were just jeans; but the emotions they’d elicited were what I was hanging on to. When I put them in the donation pile on my floor, I felt a huge sense of freedom and relief — giving away a pair of pants was a way to let go of feelings I no longer needed carry with me.

4. Fewer things you love is better than many things you kinda like. I’ve always wanted to be like those really stylish French women who have a few perfectly-tailored outfits they wear with flawless ease, and whose closets are the epitome of style and quality. Well, I’m not French, and that’s a fantasy, but I can tell you this: Having a closet full of clothes I really love, even when there are less of them, is a huge improvement over having a closet filled with a lots of clothes I only just kind of like. And here’s what really surprised me:When I was done decluttering I didn’t want to run out and shop for new clothes. I had less than before — I estimate that I donated about a quarter of all my clothes and shoes — but I was so much happier with what I now had that I lacked that familiar desire to chase something new. What an unexpected benefit and a huge lesson.

5. It’s not about what others think. At some point during my decluttering process I put on a black sweater I’ve had forever and showed it to my daughter and husband. They both gave me their thumbs-up-that-looks-awesome approval, so I put the sweater back in my closet. But it kept nagging at me so I picked it up again and asked myself out loud: “Does this really bring me joy?” No, it didn’t. I really liked that my husband and kiddo liked it, and positive emotions from others are always important, but when it comes to joy — about what you’re wearing, or what you’re eating, or what you’re doing with your life — you have to feel it yourself. If you don’t, it doesn’t much matter what others think: their joy is not a substitute for your own.

Does it bring you joy? A simple and incredibly powerful question to ask about everything in our lives, beyond mere clothes and books and stuff. I felt hugely inspired to make this question a constant part of my life and I hope you will, too.

Meditation for those who think they can’t!

Happier.com has become one of my new fav places to look for fun and good articles to pass along.  I saw this one and I really fell for it as I hear this all the time!   In fact that’s why I have added free meditation classes to my studio.  In a world that could you a pause between action and reaction meditation can help you create that in yourself.

meditation for beginners

You’ve definitely heard about the benefits of meditation. It’s everywhere right now. From the covers of magazines (Time, Newsweek and Scientific American to name a few) to celebs and public figures like NBC anchorman Dan Harris using their high profiles and big audiences to tout its benefits.

But what if, after reading about it and hearing about it, meditation still seems really hard? Or boring? Or something for which you just don’t have time? That’s what we thought too, until we didn’t. So if you want to tap into the benefits of meditation but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

1) Enjoy the break: Rather than thinking of meditation as something you have to do, or something that you’re doing ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ just enjoy a few minutes away from your normal life. When you’re in meditation mode, emails don’t matter, meals don’t need to be prepared, and that looming deadline doesn’t exist. Take a few minutes to put it all aside and just enjoy that sense of emotional and spiritual freedom.

2) Slow down: Guess what? You’re not going to turn into a meditation guru overnight. Or in a week. Or even a month or a year. But stick with it and youwill reap the benefits. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And your meditation practice won’t be, either.

3) Stop judging yourself: It’s really, really hard to make your brain just chill out. We’re used to lots of sensory stimulation all the time, so pausing to do ‘nothing’ feels all but impossible. So when your brain wanders (trust us, it will, a lot) acknowledge it and move on. You’re not doing anything wrong — you’re just being human.

4) Make the time: Establishing a new habit isn’t easy, but by making time to do it, it will get easier. Schedule 5-10 minutes for your daily meditation like you would an appointment. You wouldn’t just not show up for a meeting with your boss, so treat meditation the same way. It may take weeks or months, but eventually it’ll become as routine as brushing your teeth. And, unlike that meeting with your boss, it’ll be something you’ll start looking forward to; promise.

5) Stop making excuses: I’m too busy. I’m not good at it. I don’t know where to start. We know meditation is good for us and we’ll feel better afterwards, (Hello? Is this sounding a lot like exercise or what?!), but it’s really hard to make the push to just get started already. So acknowledge your excuses, smile at them for what they are (just thoughts), and then channel your inner butt-kicker and get started anyway.

If you’re looking for an awesome way to get started with meditation and you have no idea what meditation really is, whether you’ll find it interesting, or how to start, check out Meditation Vacation. It’s free, takes 5 minutes/day and will change your life in all of the best possible ways.

My Fave Author

Some of you have heard me talk about Danielle LaPorte and her Desire Map book.  I think her way of thinking is pretty brilliant so when I found this in my e-mail the other day I thought it would be great to share a snippet.  Her language is no different than mine so be warned but she’s very real.  Her writing is the same exact way.  So now that we are a couple weeks into the New Year and some of the resolution planning and killing yourself for has worn off, I love her question…what do you really want.

You can sign up for any of her goodies or go shopping at daniellelaporte.com

      

We’re cozied in the corner booth of the pub with tacos and no one else around. It’s been a doozer of a business week and I have some Very Big Decisions to make. Wait. In case you’re not the story-type, I’ll give you the quick take-away:

A SHORT HOW-TO ON DOING A YEARLY RETROSPECTIVE

Step 1: Write a list of the highlights of the last year or season. You only have three minutes. Write anything. It’s fascinating to see what surfaces when you don’t filter it, hence the time pressure.
Step 2: Have a good friend look it over and point out what you missed, and what they see the patterns are.
Step 3: What pattern do YOU see? What very obviously gives you joy? What was “big” but didn’t even make it on to the list?
Step 4: Chill out more and really think about what moved you and mattered the most in your past year.
Step 5: Determine the five things you’re going to focus on in the next year or phase of your life. (Easier said than done, and/but…such focus is ESSENTIAL to your success.) Go back to Step 3.

And now for my story version of restrospective-ing, in which I reveal how much I actually forgot about my life and how simple I really am…Where were we? Right…

We’re cozied in the corner booth of the pub with tacos and no one else around. It’s been a doozer of a business week and I have some Very Big Decisions to make.

My compadre and I just look at each other and start laughing the, “Well, this is a fine mess” hysterical laughter. When I wipe my tears (50/50 laughter/dismay) I kick off the convo with, “Well what the fuck do we do now?”

“K. Open your notebook and write a list of your highlights of last year. You have three minutes. Write anything,” Steph instructed. She is my closest advisor and team builder. We’re road tripping, do-pretty-much-anything-for-each-other-friends-for-life. “Anything? Only three minutes? K. Don’t interrupt me.” I wrote. Steph ordered more food. Our typical rhythm.

MY YEAR’S HIGHLIGHTS

  • H guitar (My kid has really learned to rock out. So awesome.)
  • Salt water in Kona
  • Sanoviv (the way healthcare should be.)
  • New temple (I bought a dreamy home)
  • Vision I had in Aire baths of X (Sorry, I can’t tell you what the vision was but…it’s coming true)
  • Audi A5
  • Trips (only got on planes for pure fun)
  • Haircut from Christina (best cut of my life)
  • So much of Venice Beach
  • Blue sky strategy
  • Laughs with X
  • PAINTING PAINTING
  • Dinner with X&X
  • Franti summer touring
  • Hot X
  • Consciousness expanded, big FREEDOM.
  • More light. light. light.
  • Dancing in the kitchen
  • Broke up with X
  • About 5 posts (I wrote a few things that felt…useful.)
  • December in NYC

The timer goes off, Steph grabs my list. I’m all like, “Do I get an A+?!”

WHAT MY HIGHLIGHTS SAY ABOUT MOI…a lot.
She’s quiet. “Hmmm…” she sighs, deductively. “You know what you didn’t mention on this list? HELLO! That the business made $x,xxx,xxx last year! That you did THAT business deal, and THAT business deal.”

Oops. I laughed, “Oh yeah. Money. We did so great. But I also got the BEST HAIRCUT EVER and that is monumental.” And then the laughter/dismay tears/laughter came back. I completely blanked on the dollars and deals. All I could remember was that song, and that day at the beach, and crying in the cafe, and THAT idea and THAT idea, and the ONE THING I said that day that made it all better…

“My body remembers everything that really matters.” I thought.

Steph leaned in, “D, everything on this list is about freedom and relationships. All creativity and love.”

I jumped in, “So let’s plan 2016 around Freedom and Relationships?!” Me learn so fastly.

THE FOCUS FIVE
Next up. Steph pushes the pen and paper back to me.
Steph: You can only focus on five things things this year.
Me: Only five?
Steph: Only five.
Me: Not six?
Steph: Five.
Me: Only five?
Steph: D, that one year plan you gave me is like, a ten year business plan.
Me: So what’s your point? (Batting my eyelashes.) Look, I’ve got shit to do. Biggie big big. Let’s hire more people. (Pause. Pause…Relenting shrug.) But I really want to write my next book. I knooooow, I know. Focus. Five. Fuck. Focus fucking fiver. K. Don’t interrupt me.

Steph ordered more food. Her noble work was done for the day.

I got focused on the freedom that I love so much. Obviously.

. . . . . .

The key to truly rewarding focus is doing what lights you up. tweet Passion is like a laser beam. If you’re easily distracted, you’re not in love enough with what you’re doing. This sounds idealistic, I know. But passion is like that — demanding. And worth it.

All Light,

danielle-signature1 copy

Who doesn’t need more sleep?

10 Things Healthy People Do Before Bed

 

Want better well-being? Try sleeping your way there.

Healthy people know that logging Zs is a vital part of their wellness routine, so they prioritize it accordingly. Below are a few bedtime tricks you can steal from them so you can wake up well-rested and ready to tackle the day.

CSA-ARCHIVE VIA GETTY IMAGES

1. Shower.

Body temperature is crucial in regulating sleep, according to sleep scientists. Showering at night could help aid in that process. The warm water has a powering-down effect so-to-speak, helping you feel relaxed as you crawl in between the sheets as well as improve your sleep quality.

2. Meditate.

Calm your mind with a few moments of meditation. The practice has numerous health benefits, including better sleep. Try reciting a few mantras before drifting off to sleep tonight and you’ll reap the benefits tomorrow.

3. Journal.

Having a hard time drifting off? Write it out. Research shows writing something that’s stressing you out and physically throwing it away can help clear your mind. Not only that, journaling has numerous mind-boosting powers. Experts even recommend it as a way to help you sleep.

4. Drink water.

Alcohol isn’t conducive to a good night’s rest. While a nightcap may make you drift off faster at first, research shows it actually disrupts your sleep throughout the course of the night. Try swapping that glass of wine for a glass of water. You’ll wake up hydrated and with a better night’s sleep under your belt.

5. Brush those teeth.

The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day. If you don’t, plaque and bacteria can build up pretty fast, making your breath foul and putting your mouth health in jeopardy. Yuck.

6. Work out.

Sweat for your sleep. Not only does moving your feet help your health and attitude, research shows that exercise can help you get a better night’s rest. Looking for a few nighttime workout ideas? Try one of these.

7. Ditch the devices.

Screens are a bedroom no-no. What seems like a harmless bedtime habit is actually wreaking havoc on your rest. Studies show the blue light emitted from our phones, laptops and TVs can disrupt our sleep cycles. Even a few minutes of scrolling through Instagram may be harmful. If you depend on your device to wake you up, try leaving your phone out of the bedroom and using a regular alarm clock instead.

8. Eat smart.

Old tales have you believe that eating before bed is bad for you, but it’s all about how you snack. In fact, some foods before bed may even help regulate your blood sugar and prep you to catch those Zs. Got the late night munchies? Try nibbling on some kiwi. Research suggests the fruit may help boost your sleep quality.

9. Find the best place for Fido.

Experts stress that sleeping with your pet may disrupt your sleep, but emerging research shows that Fido or Fluffy may help your shuteye. It comes down to what type of sleeper you are. If you tend to wake up easily, it may be best to keep your furry friend out of your way. The point is to make your bed a haven for sleep, whatever that may be.

10. Crawl in at a reasonable hour.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, so what time you hit the hay certainly matters. If you want to get a good night’s rest, try going to bed at a time that’s going to optimize your amount of sleep.

Ultimately, prioritizing those Zs doesn’t have to be difficult — and the benefits outweigh the preparation. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Abstain, Equalize and Transform

So as much as I love the literature on 21 drops and how it was intended to work  what I also like most is hearing how people use them.   I’ve had runners put Strength on the bottoms of their feet.

I’ve personally used Immunity like I would Vick’s vaporub in the past.  Oh yeah another weekend with someone who was sneezing and coughing and nada, zip, zero illnesses!

I have also had folks try using Equalize to improve mood – it works, I had to try this with my grumptastic moments over the frenzy of the holidays!

So while I am trying to really work on my nutrition this year I am thinking about trying some newer oils out.  Transform is meant for life change (they say hormonally but hell I use detox to fix people instead of for hangovers…) so why not use it to support new changes.  I think I might need to bring Abstain to the grocery store with me but why not!

What goals in the New Year do you need help supporting?  Some folks say there’s a drug made for that (headslap!)   I say try something non-toxic that isn’t going to be recalled first!

 

Mindful …Eating?

So as someone who has made about 40 years of New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, get in better shape and so on….what I can tell you like anything it is will only work if you do the work.  This year it isn’t about losing weight per se, it about being more mindful and a LOT more planning and getting back to cooking that I use to destress and losing weight will be a side benefit!

This article just made a lot of sense and is something many of us don’t do much if at all.

Mindful Eating: 5 Principles for a Nourishing New Year.

Via Liz Huntlyon Jan 5, 2016

kid eating

I’m a neurotic eater.

It’s not my fault really. It’s not my parent’s fault either. They served us home-cooked meals made from mostly whole, real foods. We didn’t eat sitting in front of the TV. We didn’t even have a TV.

But somewhere along the way, the commercial food industry weaseled its way into my stomach. By the time I got to high school, and had a little bit of my own pocket money, I firmly believed that a package of Twizzlers and a liter of chocolate milk was a perfectly good lunch.

I suppose theoretically I had the information to know better—at the very least I’d been made aware of the Canada Food Guide, whatever that’s worth. But what do 15-year olds really know, other than that they are immortal. A decade and a half later, I have a solid handle on what actually constitutes a healthy diet, as well as the effect of diet on mortality.

And yet, if I had to describe my relationship with food in just two words they would be: sugar and guilt.

What makes me moderately comfortable about this neurosis is that I am not alone. We, as a culture, kind of suck at eating.

The thing is, I really do love food. I love its variety and seasonality. I love the rituals and traditions of eating, the way food can remind me of places and people I’ve loved, the way I can come to know new cultures through food.

I just want to know how to love eating food better.

I recently had the chance to spend a week at Plum Village, a monastery founded by the Zen-Buddhist Thich Nhât Hańh, in France. All aspects of life at Plum Village are centred on mindfulness—we meditated mindfully, walked mindfully, cleaned toilets mindfully. And we ate mindfully. Of all the things that touched me over the course of the week, the mindful eating reached deepest.

Mindful eating is not a diet but rather a way of reshaping our relationship to food.

It includes no strict rules about what or when to eat. There are some broad recommendations: eat three meals at roughly the same time of day each day, commit as much as possible to a vegetarian or vegan diet, and avoid sugar and highly processed foods. Above all else, pay attention.

Obviously this is easy at a Zen monastery where everyone else is eating mindfully and there are no chocolate bars. I did it very well for a week. And then I got home and had to start all over, with much looser expectations.

I’ve found the five principles of mindful eating used at Plum Village to be the most useful guide. Consider reading these at the beginning of each meal. And try committing, at least some of the time, to spending the first 20 minutes of your meal in silence.

1. “This food is a gift of the whole universe—the Earth, the sky, numerous living beings and much hard loving work.”

Visualize the ingredients of your meal as they exist in nature. In your mind’s eye, see where each grows, what the whole plant looks like. Do you know what it looks like? Do you know what’s in what you eat? Feel the warmth of the sunlight, the coolness of rain that coaxed this food to life; the wind that scattered its seeds.

Can you trace your food from farm to table? What processes have the ingredients undergone to become the food you are eating? How did it arrive on your plate? Who helped to make it? Who supported the people who made your food? Can you see the whole web? Can you appreciate its infinity?

2. “May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.”

Appreciate again the enormity of that web. Consider how your food choices might help or hurt others. Extend gratitude to the living beings that enable you to receive this food.

3. “May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.”

Take a moment to observe the food before you. See its color and texture. Take in its smell. Notice your desire for this food. Watch how your body prepares—salivates, signals. Take a spoonful slowly toward your mouth. Watch your impulse to rush. See what your mind does, what your body does, what your emotional heart says, as you take this bite into your mouth.

Are you in this moment still? What attachments arise? Does this food trigger memories? Are those memories savory or do they inspire discomfort? Does the food in your mouth bring you joy? Does the food in your mouth make you feel guilt? What is your exact relationship to this taste?

Chew. So slowly. Put your spoon down while you chew. Pay attention to your breath as the food softens in your mouth. Chew more. More slowly. Swallow.

Wait. Breathe. Pick up your spoon. Repeat.

4. “May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, preserves our planet, and stops contributing to global warming.”

Consider how your food choices affect people, animals, ecosystems. Can you taste the freshness of your food? Do you know the face of the farmer who cajoled it to life? Can you taste sweat, tears, blood? Can you taste oil? Are you in right relation with your food choices?

5. “We accept this food so that we may nurture our community and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.”

Your body is breaking down food, transporting, building, regenerating and renewing. Are you eating in such a way that you give your body nutrition? Does the food you eat give you the energy you need to do good? Who do you eat with? Does your eating together nourish your relationship to each other? You can change the world with what’s on your plate.

Mindful eating doesn’t mean being perfect. It doesn’t necessarily mean being skinny, and it probably also doesn’t mean being overweight. What mindful eating is teaching me is how to feel full, how to be satiated and content, how to suck the maximum amount of joy out of every moment of preparing and eating food.

It’s even made me better at washing the dishes.

Remember, you don’t have to change everything all at once: start where you are. As your awareness sharpens, notices that your impulses and cravings naturally begin to shift. Bon appetit!

Gratitude Practice

I have always believed gratitude can change energy and if it can change energy it can change the world.  And it’s easy!  If corporate American is jumping on the bandwagon you know there might be something to it…better late than never.

The 5-Minute Practice That Changed My Outlook (No Meditation Required)

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I’m spending the month exploring stress-busting mindfulness techniques, thanks to Aetna’s Month of Mindfulness — a 30-day program created to help people experience how mindfulness reduces stress and boosts health.

My challenge today was to start on the path to mindfulness by focusing on my emotions and thoughts. We spend all day thinking and feeling yet rarely pause to be aware of and try to course-correct our minds. This pattern was evident right when I woke up. The idea is that by recognizing your thoughts, you can begin to gain control over them to help better your life rather than let your thoughts control you. Easier said than done!

As I lay in bed in a post-alarm haze, my mind raced. I felt anxious about what I should pack for my ski vacation tomorrow, swamped with all the work I needed to do to prepare, and — wait for it — worried about the produce in my fridge that magically needed to disappear in 24 hours.

But then I decided that a paralyzing thought spiral was probably not the textbook definition of “emotional awareness.” So I pulled out my journal.

My dear friend Emily just moved to San Francisco and gave me a beautiful, personalized journal as a parting gift. I often make such objects so precious that they go unused. But this morning I felt drawn to the virgin pages and began writing about everything I was grateful for: a loving family, my ability to be active, the cup of coffee waiting for me at a job I enjoy. I wrote for five solid minutes and felt light as a feather when I finished. Writing all my blessings in one place made me realize how fortunate I am.

I took a photo of the page, sent it to a few friends, and asked them to send me the image back if I ever felt down in the dumps. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with one friend even exclaiming, “Wow, you DO have a lot to be thankful for! This is a great list, and I’ll keep it in a safe place for you.” The outpouring of love and connection made my heart overflow with gratitude.

The best part? Everything worked out, even without me worrying about it. (You’d think I would have learned by now!) I got home on time that night and was able to accomplish my pre-vacation errands. I even made a version of this roasted fall vegetable recipe with the remnants of last week’s Trader Joe’s run!

Want to join me and explore how emotional awareness can help reduce stress? Visit aetnamindful.com to participate and learn more.

This post was sponsored by Aetna, who believes health is about the body and the mind. Stress can affect emotional and physical health, and reducing stress can boost well-being. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of Aetna. To learn more about stress reduction, visitaetnamindfulness.com.

Photo by Chloe Bulpin, mbg Creative

This is a great exercise without the sweat!

The Simple Thing You Can Do On Your Phone To Seriously Reduce Stress & Anxiety

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Everyone knows it’s bad for your sanity to bring your work home. We tell ourselves we won’t answer any e-mails, but when we see one pop up on our phone, it’s more anxiety-inducing not to answer it and allow others to pile up on top of it.

Well, it’s never too late for a New Year’s resolution. Why not take your work email off your phone entirely?

A new survey performed by the Future Work Centre of London has found, rather unsurprisingly, that people who get their work email on their personal phones are more likely to feel frustrated and anxious.

Surveying just under 2,000 residents of the UK, the Future Work Centre asked questions about “attitudes towards email, daily use of email, aspects of personality, experience of the interface between work and home (sometimes called ‘work-life balance’) and the technology people use to access their email.”

They found a “strong relationship” (but nothing to prove causality) between using “push” email notifications and perceived email pressure or pressure to stay connected at all times. And those who felt greater this pressure also felt a greater interference between work and home — and home and work.

Thankfully, the Centre has some suggestions: Try only turning your email application on when you want to use it (definitely not before bed!), or turn off push notifications for your email app so that every single email doesn’t light up your screen and demand your attention. You could also — *gasp!* — delete the app from your phone entirely.

Or, you could see how it feels tonight and complete day 5 of our New Year, Do You challenge: Do a text detox when you get home and don’t check your phone for the entire night. How ’bout it?