Tag Archives: meditation

31 Days to Better Sleep: Week Three

31-Day Sleep Challenge

Week Three: Movement and Suspension Week3 SC

1.  Move your Body:

This week we will incorporate movement into our daily routine. The goal is to get 20 minutes of exercise and increase that to 30 minutes a day. If you feel ready or are currently do 30 minutes or more, by all means go for it! But for those that haven’t been working out regularly or have a hard time to find a 20 block of time, here is what I want you to do; two 10-minute sessions. Can’t find 10 minutes? Then do four 5-minute sessions. I won’t let you excuse your way out of this!!!

Some of the amazing benefits of exercise are that it helps to control weight, improves mood and brain function, reduces stress, PROMOTE SLEEP, prevents health conditions and diseases, taps into your creativity, and so much more!!!

Some quick workouts you can do and you don’t even need to go to the gym!!

  • Brisk walks outside
  • Running up and down the stairs for 5-10 minutes
  • Squats, jumping jack, push-up sit-up, or whatever combo of exercises you like (or tolerate), and do as many reps as you can in 5-10 workout sessions
  • Rebounding on a trampoline
  • Dancing!! This one is my favorite and makes me feel so good. There is nothing like shaking it to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” to put me in a good mood! Create a play list and dance yourself into happiness!

Here are some links to other workout ideas:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20201/a-10-minute-workout-you-can-do-every-day-no-equipment-necessary.html

http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/fast-paced-five-move-total-body-workout

http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/10-minute-bodyweight-workouts-burn-fat/

2.  Suspend your Mind:

For your mind we are going to do the opposite of movement. We are going to slow it down and give it a chance to rest. We will incorporate a mediation practice. Now when most people think of mediation, they think of sitting cross-legged, on a big pillow, with candles and incense burning, chanting some strange language. This is not at all what I mean, but if that works for you, chant away my friend!! That is one of my favorite ways to meditate!!!

Some of the benefit of meditation are reduces stress, IMPORVES SLEEP, brain function, immunity, concentration, increase attention span, helps you feel more connected, increases self-awareness and happiness, slows aging, and so much more.

There are many ways to meditate. One of the easiest ways to start is to practice a breathing exercise. Start by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath in for the count of 5, filling your belly. Hold the breath for a count of 5, and then let it all out for a count of 5. Do this for a round of 5 breaths and practice this couple of times a day. Especially upon waking and just before going to bed.

Another way to begin to mediate is using a guided mediation. This was the key for me to establish my meditation practice. It gave me a way to keep my mind focused. Now I don’t need it, but I still love doing guided meditations. I have attached some links to some of my favorite Youtube channels that offer guided meditation. Take a moment to go through the videos and find what resonates with you. Then plug in your headphones, find a quiet comfortable spot, close your eyes and relax!

https://www.youtube.com/user/MichaelSealey

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheHonestGuys

https://www.youtube.com/user/EdensCloset

Meditation can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it. There are many different ways and types of meditation. I suggest by starting with these simple steps and practicing them daily. Once you get some momentum in your practice, then explore other mediation methods and techniques.

jen med.

 

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31 Days to Better Sleep: Week Two

31-Day Sleep Challenge

 Week Two: Self-Careweek 2 sleep challenge

1.     Create a self-care ritual: This week we will add self-care to our daily routine.  Continue your morning and bedtime routine, and turning off the electronics and television 1-2 hours before bed.  Now we are going to create a self-care ritual. This can be any time during the day, but the idea is to do something that makes you feel good. Self-care are intentional actions taken to meet our physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  There are so many benefits of practicing self-care, such as reducing stress, supports a healthy immune system, reducing anxiety and depression, builds our confidence, makes us better caregivers and so much more. 

      Each day decide on one or more actions that you will take to practice self-care.  One thing I would like to point out is to do something that is completely different from what you do for work.  Or if you’re a stay at home mom, this doesn’t mean taking your kids to the movies.  That IS fun and I love doing that, but this is a chunk of time is devoted just to you.  Another example of this, I use to work in the animal welfare field and EVERYTHING I did in my life revolved around animals.  When I wasn’t rescuing them, I was walking my dog, going to an agility class, cleaning my pig’s pen, playing with my cats.  Everything involved an animal on some level.  I loved doing all that, but had I taken better care of myself during that time and given myself a break from animals, I would have been a much healthier, happier person.  And I would not have suffered as horribly as I did. 

      I have a nightly self-care ritual that I’ve done for the past 3 years.  I take a shower before bed, usually with the lights off and burn a candle, while in the shower I meditate for 5-10 minutes.  During my meditation, I think of all the wonderful things that I am grateful for and just breathe deeply (meditation can be that easy).  After showering, I apply essential oils (usually Vetiver) with massage oil and give myself a massage and think of all the things good things I did that day for myself and others and how that made me feel.  Since this challenge began, I have been turning on my Himalayan sea salt lamp and reading a book.  I’ve noticed in just a week, my sleep is better and I wake up well rested. 

Some self-care ideas:

·       Getting a massage or facial

·       Yoga

·       Mediation

·       Soak you feet in warm water and massage with essential oils

·       Paint, draw, craft, playing an instrument, etc.

·       Read a book

·       Buy yourself a healthy delicious lunch, or make yourself one.  Fill your thoughts with love and kindness as you create your meal.  Then enjoy each bite slowly.

·       Journaling

·       Go for a walk or hike

·       Dance or listen to your favorite music.  Especially something from you junior or high school days

·       Go horse back riding

·       Saying “no” to something you don’t want to do, and DON’T feel guilty.

·       Take a nap

·       Learn something new

·       Go to your favorite place and have a picnic or just sit quietly

·       Have a dinner date with your best friend

·       Turn of your phone and computer for the whole day

 

The list is endless.  Just do something that feels good to you and nourishes your soul.  Taking care of yourself first, allows you to continue to care for those that rely on you to care for them.  So give your soul a big hug and start practice daily self-care. 

To join the 31 Days to Better Sleep Challenge, join us on Facebook and see 31 Days to Better Sleep: Week One

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How I am Learning to Trust Myself

self trustFor Mother’s Day I signed up for an aerial yoga workshop. I’ve had a consistent yoga practice for a few years now, and thought that it would be a fun experience to try. I went into that yoga class feeling free and not worried if my jiggly bits were hanging out or if I was going to be the biggest person in class. In fact, those thoughts hardly ever cross my mind any more. I thought I would struggle with not having enough upper body strength to do it, but I found out my lack of physical strength wasn’t the struggle.

My struggle was trusting my brain and body. I discovered I have the huge disconnect between the two.  Neither one trusted the other.  I mean how could they? After all the years of torment that I’ve put my body through.  My brain was always sending negative messages about how my body wasn’t good enough, small enough, toned enough or whatever enough.  It would refuse to feed my body, then when I couldn’t stand it any longer, would convince me to purge the last meal I had engulfed. But my brain couldn’t trust my body either.  Just at the sight of food would pack on 2-3 pounds. No matter what diet trend or exercise program I tried.  I just got bigger and bigger.  This volatile relationship went on for many years. After so many  years of abusing myself by binging and purging, taking diet pills, not sleeping for days, starving myself, pouring every ounce of my self into work, or beating myself up with negative self talk, how could I trust myself?

During the class, I found that couldn’t trust myself to allow the freedom to move my body the way I wanted it to and trust that the ropes would support me.  What I came to realized, is how trusting I am (or I should say use to be) with other people in regards to my heart and making decisions about my life. Yet I don’t trust myself with any of that.  I then realized this was the key to my procrastination, stalling, indecisions, and the lack of follow through on so many things I want to accomplish. It is not failure that I am afraid of. It’s success! Can I trust myself with success, after all the mistakes I’ve made with finances, jobs, relationships, or whatever else I beat myself up for?

For the past few weeks I have been working on building trust in myself and I have to say this relationship is blossoming.  Here are some of the things I have been working on to build a trusting relationship with myself.

  1. Speaking kindly to myself and being my biggest cheerleader.  I acknowledge when I’ve done something great.  Even if it’s getting through a hard day.  Sometimes just getting dressed, making lunches, and getting out the door is a huge victory.  A pat on the back is well deserved!
  2. Grounding myself through mediation and spending time in nature. Being in nature and standing in it’s beauty is so healing.  I feel that beauty radiating up through my feet and permeates through every pore in my body.  Being in natures makes me feel beautiful. Meditation allows me to stop and be still, and listen to what I need.  Even if it’s taking 5 deep breaths several times throughout the day, makes a difference in my thinking.
  3. Self care. Taking time to address my needs or asking for what I need. Doing things like receiving chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, floating, or even doing an art project. Whatever it is that makes me feel inspired, creative and loved.
  4. Showing up.  Following through with the commitments I make, allows me to be trustworthy and supportive to myself.  But also being flexible and holding myself accountable to complete the goals that I have set.
  5. Expanding social circles and connecting with others. Creating relationships and connecting with boundaries and respect, creates trust.  It also allows me to see the love that I give and that is reflected back to me.
  6. Saying “No!” As a people pleaser and always wanting to help someone in need, I tend to stretch myself thin. This leaves me exhausted, frustrated and angry at myself for taking on too much.  I say “no” more often now, and don’t feel guilty.
  7. Dancing.  I dance when I’m cooking. I dance when I playing with my toddler. I dance when I’m brushing my teeth. I dance when I’m happy. I dance when I’m sad. I just dance! I allow my body to move freely without restriction and it doesn’t matter who’s is watching.
  8. Regular check-ins.  I check to see how I am feeling, or what is it that I need in those moments I am feeling anxious, sad or out of control.  I practice active listening, identify distorted thinking and do positive reflection when negativity creeps in. Meditation is a great time to do this.
  9. Intuitive Eating.  I listen to my body for what it needs.  I pay attention to my cravings and eat a clean diet of healthy whole foods. This doesn’t mean that I miss out on treats or desserts.  I will make my own with the cleanest ingredient available.  And I eat cacao (chocolate) everyday!
  10. Seeing myself from a different perspective. I think about how I would I treat a friend, or what advice would a give them.  I would never treat or say things that I sometimes say to myself, to a friend or a stranger for that matter. So treating myself as a friend, I am kinder and gentle with myself. Another technique I use when I’m struggling with some type of self-doubt or negative self talk, is envisioning my 6 year old self and comfort the inner child that is hurting.  This encourages me to be more compassionate with myself.

Over the past few months I have been really working on healing the relationship with myself. Now my body and mind have a much better relationship and work together to maintain health.  Over the past several years, the negative chatter has dissolved and I am in a good space mentally. I have discovered myself worth and cherish the spirit that is within this body.   Five years ago I would not have stepped foot in a yoga center. This class was my awakening to success, allowing it to happen and TRUSTING that everything will come together.  I trust that I can let go of the ropes and fly. And if I fall, I know the universe will support me with an even better plan than I had envisioned.

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A Reminder of how far I Have Come

It might not make sense that this blog is posted on a holistic living site, but it explains part of my journey to wellness and self love.

The other day I was at my favorite children’s consignment shop looking for potty training supplies. In the midst of strollers, clothes and toys, there was a woman I recognized  browsing the aisles. I was instantly taken back almost 4 years ago. It was everything in me not to run up and wrap my arms around her, but she may not have remembered me, or she may not have the same feelings I have about our past encounter.

imageYou see, in my past life I spent 15 years working in animal welfare and I met this women at the tail end of that career.   Throughout those 15 years I practiced no self-care or self-love.  I worked with every last ounce of strength, compassion and conviction I had in me advocating for animals.

After spending several years as an animal cruelty investigator, I thought the opportunity as a kennel manager at the local humane society would offer some relief and sanity in my life, but I was so wrong.

This woman at the consignment shop was one of those angels in human form, that would occasionally walk through the shelter doors to remind you that there were still good people in the world. One summer day she came to my shelter and adopted a dog that was challenging to place. The dog was a middle aged hound, with a high pray drive, very little focus or interest in people, and a loud bark.

This woman and her family took a chance on this dog.  They spoiled and lavished him with love, attention, toys, and long walks. They included him in all their family activities. After a few weeks, he became very reactive and possessive of his things and a bite occurred.  Even with training, all the love they had, and all the forgiveness in their hearts, they could not risk the safety of their children. They sadly brought him back to the shelter. My team and I conducted extensive temperament testing, and had a behavioralist work with him. Due to the severity of the situation and his history, we found it best to make the hard decision to euthanize him. We included the family in the decision, which was hard for them, my team and me.  Honestly, it would have been easier not to tell them anything. But it was the right thing to do, to give them the opportunity to grieve and have closure. This family had such grace, compassion, and forgiveness, not just for the situation but for my team and me.

During my time at the shelter I struggled with guilt and feelings of failure everyday.  Was I making the right decisions?  Was I being an effective leader for my team? Was I doing enough?  I sometimes felt I had a very different view of rescue after spending so much time as an animal control officer and cruelty investigator.  I spent many hours in the hospital photographing and taking statements from adults and children that had been severely bitten.  My job at the shelter was not only to advocate for the animals but to protect the community as well. Needless to say I was always second guessing myself, full of guilt and doubt, and could not look at myself in the mirror.  Playing God, just wasn’t what I wanted to do.

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I left the animal welfare field a little over 3 years ago. After a lot of self care, soul searching, and healing, I am at a place that I love myself again.  I am proud of the time I spent advocating and caring for animals. Did I made mistakes? Of course!  I did the best I could do in the situation and with the resources I had.

So maybe seeing this women really wasn’t meant for me to have a face-to-face encounter, but a gentle reminder to honor my years advocating for those without voices and to continue to advocate for myself.  She was a reminder to continue to be compassionate and gentle to myself.

It doesn’t matter what career you’re in, the challenges of every day life can make you feel like your barely keeping your head above water. We all need to cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves forgiveness. We would do that for a friend, why do we find it so hard to do it for ourself?  Let go of the guilt of not being able to do it all and practice self-care on a regular basis. Self care is not something you do only on the weekends, it’s something you need to do every day in little increments. Find the things that make your soul giggle with joy and do them often. Get creative, play, dance or just take a moment of silence to honor your humanity.

Thank you to that human angel that came into my life not once, but twice. Thank you for not only taking a chance on an old shelter dog and giving him the best days of his life, but for the reminder of how far I’ve come.  I paid for my potty training supplies and walked out of the store with a bag full of elastic waisted pant and undies, a heart full of joy and a smile on my face.

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A Half a Year in Manifestation… more great things to come….

IMG_1022This year is the year of manifestation for me. I have been discovering my own power of being able to manifest the things I want and desire.  Back in January I created a vision board to help me focus and work towards the things I want to accomplish this year. I’m happy to report that most of my vision board has been completed or being actively worked on. I have a new job that I love. I have completed all three levels of Reiki training and now am a Reiki Master. I have improved my spiritual practice and continue to work at it constantly; I practice mediation everyday, and have even obtained my certification in meditation. I am currently working on another certification. I’m attending an extremely intense holistic health coaching and nutrition program, which will take me a year to complete. And the last thing on my vision board to complete is finally coming to fruition.

Last year I began researching and exploring the possibility of become a surrogate. This is something I have been wanting to do for the past 15 years.  On September 18, 2014 I applied to become a surrogate. It was my youngest son’s first birthday. I went through all the paper work application, the interview, background check, psychological exam, medical reviews and after many, many months I was finally matched with a gentleman 2 hours away from where I live.

Today I begin the first physical part of the process by starting birth control pills. I am not looking forward to taking this or the hormone injections I need to do because of the synthetic chemicals and side effects that my body will encounter. But it will only be for a short time and it will be all worth it in the end.

At the end of the month I will travel to Connecticut to see a fertility specialist and have an internal exam. If everything checks out ok, I will begin hormone injections. I have spent the last few months cleansing, praying, meditating, and getting my body ready to undergo this miracle of life, so that I can share my body to help create a family.

belly shotJason and I will be documenting this experience through blogs and vlogging. I am so excited to take this journey, and will go into this experience with no expectation and will allow things to unfold as they are intended too. I look at my beautiful boys and can’t imagine not being able to have them in my life. Not to be able to hold them when they cry, see their sweet little faces when they wake up, not to see them develop and grow into the people they are meant to become, and all the other wonderful and not so wonderful things that come with being a parent. I am honored and humbled that I can provide this for a family or someone that has not been able to conceive a child. And I am looking forward to this beautiful experience.

 

 

Just Breathe……

breathe

Recently my family suffered the tragic loss of my father-in-law. Although he was sick, we were expecting more time with him. His death not only opened a huge hole in my heart, but it also made unresolved losses and trauma from the past resurface. This left me in a severe depression and with the most uncontrollable anxiety I had ever experienced.

My life began to unravel and spin out of control. But I had a baby to take care of, a child in college, one in middle school, a partner that needed my attention, a house to clean, pets to care for, a job to go to, a best friend with breast cancer, and bills to pay. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I tried to hold on as tight as I could to maintain a sense of control. When you’re in the middle of chaos, sometimes you don’t know where to begin to regain that control. It’s times like this, when one is in crisis, you stop and just meet your most basic needs and… JUST BREATHE

just breatheAs a culture we have forgotten how to breathe. In our fast-paced life full of soccer practice, smart phones, laundry, groceries, vet appoints, work, and other odds and ends we jam into our calendars; we tend to treat life as a marathon, rather than enjoying the beautiful gift it is.

Things in my life began to spin out of control over year ago. I began to notice basic everyday things becoming overwhelming. This was really evident when I had to go back to work after the birth of my youngest my son. With the overwhelming guilt of leaving my precious baby with strangers, completing an 8-10 hour shift in a job I didn’t like, spending an hour and a half commuting, caring for the rest of my family and pets, and cleaning the house; it was all too much. I felt as though I was floating in a large ocean with no life preserver. For a while I was doing ok staying afloat. Over the course of time, my body became tired and I struggled to stay above water. Every day I begged and pleaded with myself just to get through that day. Giving myself pep talks to get through the next activity or challenge that needed to be completed. But one day I went under water.

I remember lying in bed and telling myself the only thing I HAD to do in that moment was breathe. I got through 5 minutes. Those 5 minutes turned into an hour, which turned into a day, and then I made it through the night. The next day I was able to get out of bed, make breakfast, then lunch, and dinner. The days that followed got better and better. The only thing I focused on was breathing. I could not worry about getting to the grocery store, I didn’t need to cleaned the bathroom or do the dishes, I just breathed. Eventually things got easier and I used other tools, counseling, and supplements to assist in regaining my health and wellbeing.

I began meditating regularly. Throughout my life, I meditated and knew of the benefits it provided. But like so many others, I struggled to make it apart of my every day routine and found it difficult to settle my mind. I decided it was very important to me to connect to my spirit, a higher power, and myself. I made the commitment to meditate everyday for one month. I’m now 3 months into meditating every day for up to an hour or more. I took things slow and allowed my self to “mess up” and tried not rush the process. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate. Find what resonates and works for you, and just simply start by breathing.

Here are some of the things I did to create a meditation routine.

  1. Start by taking deep breaths. Breathe in a full breath deep into your belly, filling your lungs and allow your abdomen to expand. Hold the breath for a count 3 then slowly allowed the release to count of 5. Do this 3-5 times in a row, several times throughout the day.
  2. For 5 minutes a day, twice a day, close your eyes and do the breathing technique in Step 1. You may want to play soft relaxing music, hold a stone or crystal in you hand, or something that helps you focus or connect to your higher power. As you practice your breathing techniques focus on that object you are holding. If you do not have an object, just focus on your breath. You may find you mind wandering, just simply bring your focus back to the object or your breath. After practicing this for a week, increase your time by 3-5 minute intervals as you progress. You can set an alarm or use an app (there are many mediation apps you can download) to keep track of your time. As you practice you will find you mind more focused and wandering less.
  3. Use resources to help. I found guided meditation helpful in keeping my mind focused. The more I practiced the easier it got. There are many guided meditations on Youtube, meditation apps, or you can purchase CDs online, at books or music stores. You can search by topics, so if there is something specific you want to work on; there is a guided meditation for it. I recommend using headphones for the best results.
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice!!!! The more you meditate and do breath work, the easier it becomes. It’s like any new skill, it takes some practice, but the more effort you put in, the more you get out.
  5. Create a sacred space just for you. This could be a corner of a room, a closet, a windowsill, or your favorite chair. When you are in this space, know you are safe. Put things here that make you feel connected to your spirit, your higher power, the earth, or things that make you feel loved. Use incense, candles, or essential oils to create uplifting scents.
  6. Keep a journal of your meditations. I have learned so much about myself from journaling, especially after I meditate. I am able to think clearly and calmly, and reflect on my circumstances. It’s in this space you are able to make the best decision and choices for yourself.

I believe that when you’re at the point where things are so out of control the only thing you can do surrender and let go, that’s when the healing can begin. Space is made for new thing to manifest. What is no longer needed is discarded, and new opportunities present themselves. That is exactly what happened to me. I began to heal and worked through old wounds. I discovered a new path in life, and remembered how important it is to take care of me! It’s not only important to take care of your physical needs, but you emotional, mental and spiritual needs as well. Take the time to do the same for yourself, now matter what your circumstances are. Do it without guilt and do it regularly. Especially if you have others that rely upon you to take care of them. Be kind to yourself, practice self-love, and just breathe….

falling apart into place