A Tea Ceremony

2016-03-24

I LOVE TEA! I believe I have mentioned this before in a previous post (on mindfulness meditation with a cup of tea). Not just the tea itself, but the whole experience that comes with drinking it. I recently watched a video on oneoeight.tv on a tea ceremony (with Ashley Albrand – I love her!) and it inspired me to do something similar with my girls. It was such a beautiful, bonding experience, and I wanted to share it! You can do this by yourself as well, a loved one, your children, or your friends. (Girls’ Night anyone?:) )

The ceremony should take place in a peaceful place. I opened the windows wide to let the spring air come in, played some soft music in the background (Both of my daughters love piano music) and we lit a candle.We sat on pillows on the floor, around an old Moroccan ottoman that was a gift from my parents. We placed a tray on top, where we had our tea, and around, I brought some crystals and a handmade wishing bowl, my singing bowl, and my daughters brought their jingle hearts. We placed them all around us, and that was our little altar.

The tea ceremony begins by pouring the tea into each tea cup. As you hold the cup in your hands, bring attention into your heart and infuse your tea with blessings, such as:

May I be healthy.
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be at peace.

Bring the cup to your nose and inhale the aroma of the tea, this healing water that you have just infused with positive affirmations. As you take a sip, feel the warmth, the blessings of the tea traveling into your body.

Now, take another sip, sending these blessings to others.
Be gentle, be soft. This is such a wonderful experience to be shared with someone you love.
Next, bring gratitude into your heart. Think of three things or people in your life right now that you are grateful for. Drink to that! Celebrate your blessings!

Before your next sip, call in to what you would like to receive in your life. As you take your sip, have the confidence that you are entitled, that you deserve this. Feel this in your whole body, as it has already happened.

As you drink your tea, now say “Thank you!” as if what you asked for has already happened, trusting that it will.

As the tea ceremony comes to an end, affirm out loud “My needs are met”, and bring your hands to your heart.

I loved this so much, and so did my daughters. It was such a beautiful way to bond, and this will definitely become a regular practice for us.

Now it’s your turn to give it a try, and please let me know how it goes.
I wish you all peace!

Happy World Sleep Day – The Sleep Guru

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Today was World Sleep Day! I wanted to share Anandi’s (The Sleep Guru) latest blog post. I have mentioned her before when I was raving about her Yoga Nidra CD. In her newest blog post she has a free short meditation available for download to help you let go of the day. Give it a try and I hope you have a restful sleep! (PS: Image source-serenity-station.com)

Happy World Sleep Day

World Sleep Day is an annual event, a celebration of sleep and a call to action for anyone suffering with sleep issues to do something about them once and for all. The Day is organised by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Association of Sleep Medicine.

Twitter post World sleep day 2016

I love this year’s slogan “goods sleep is a reachable dream” because it’s true. Ayurveda tells us that a healthy balanced person will sleep well, digest well, and feel great. Someone who has no equilibrium in their life and is of the constitution typical of insomnia (Vata), the slightest thing could tip the balance between sleeping well and not sleeping well.

It seems that in this hectic, stressful world, more and more people are having trouble sleeping. Most people need a minimum of 6-7 hours sleep, but are not getting it. I know that if I don’t get at least 6 hours I feel muggy headed and exhausted. If you:-

have an irresistible urge to close your eyes during the day
feel that you can’t concentrate
sense of an intense tiredness
are always irritable

…you’re not getting enough shut eye!

On the other hand if you are getting enough good quality sleep you’ll:

be feeling simply marvelous during the day – yes, it really does happen
actually being fun to be around
find that you have a positive outlook on life more often than not
have a stronger immunity
feel more alert
be more creative – if your brain has had a proper rest, it works better!
look better! Those bags under your eyes don’t have to be a permanent fixture!

The best way to get good sleep is to get your whole life into balance. Running from 6.30am and still balancing your bank account at 10pm is not balance.

You absolutely need to wind down in the evening. If you click here, I’ve prepared a winding down in the evening ritual and a free ‘let go of the day’ meditation. If you start with this and do this every night for a month, you’ll be on your way to more balance. A balanced human being sleeps, I promise.

If you’ve signed up for my newsletter you will have been receiving my sleeping tips.

My question to you is, have you been following them?

I welcome feedback and would love to know how you’re getting on!

Have a wonderful day.

Love

Anandi

via Happy World Sleep Day – The Sleep Guru.

Good Luck, Bad Luck, Who Knows?

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There is an old Chinese tale about a farmer and his only son, who worked long hard days together just to get by, with the only horse they had.
One day, as the father and son plowed the fields, their horse ran away. All the neighbours came by to empathize with the farmer: “What bad luck!”
The farmer replied: “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”
The father and son continued to work the farm. A few days later, their horse came running back with 6 other horses. The neighbours exclaimed: “What great luck!”
The farmer replied: “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”
The next day, the farmer’s son got thrown off one of the new horses, and broke his leg. The neighbours empathized again: “What bad luck!”
Once again the farmer replied: “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”
Several days later a war broke out and all the able bodied young men were sent off to war. The farmer’s son, having a broken leg, was forced to stay at home. After the leg had healed, the father had the only farm around with a son to help and seven horses to boot. They worked the farm and prospered.
Good luck, bad luck. Who knows?

This tale is the perfect example of why we should live in a non-reactive way. So often we get worked up about things that happen to us and around us, without ever knowing what the future may hold. We judge, we stress, we make all these stories in our heads of what might happen next, we feel sorry for ourselves…or…the opposite…we get attached to the idea of a specific outcome, we obsess, we take things for granted. The mindful way of approaching life is from a state of non-reactivity though. It is how we respond to what life throws at us, moment by moment, from a place of non-judgement. Whatever will be, will be. Don’t label things as good or bad, just experience them for what they are, stay present, and just try to do your best in every situation. It will pass. Life is much easier and pleasant that way, and I speak from experience.
About a year and a half ago, we parked on the side of the road, and went for a hike in an urban forest, where there are always lots of huckleberries. We brought a couple of big bowls with us and picked berries with our daughters, had a few good laughs, hiked and then came back to the car.
When we got to our car, we noticed someone broke in. The driver seat window was smashed to pieces and there was glass all over the seats! The lever for the trunk was bent to almost vertical. Whoever broke in, wanted to get into the trunk, but we have that option disabled in our car, so you can only open the trunk physically, with a key. It may take a little bit extra time when you can’t just “pop the trunk”, but it worked really well in this situation. We called the police, reported the break-in. We called the insurance place and the glass shop, but the deductible was quite high, and the glass shop didn’t have anything available for days, anyway…So my husband dropped us home and he went to the wreck yard. Just as it was closing, he was able to find in there a car like ours with the driver window still intact and bought it. We then took our bowls of huckleberries and went for a mini road trip to my parents’ house, who live in a town about an hour away (My step-dad is amazing with cars!).

While my husband and my dad took the door apart, cleaned all the broken glass and installed the new window (my husband learned a lot that day:) ), the girls ran around and played, while my mom and I baked a pie with all the berries we just picked. When everyone was done, we had a lovely family dinner, and for dessert we all enjoyed a piece of freshly baked huckleberry pie:)
Good luck, bad luck, who knows?:)

PS: Image source: loveliegreenie.tumblr.com

Joy in Nature

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“Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a reverie, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveler’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.” – Henry David Thoreau

I have mentioned many times before my love of nature. I find it healing, calming, relaxing, and the best place to learn and practice mindfulness. This is a place and time when we can just be, observe, daydream, explore, wander at all the beauty around us. There is beauty everywhere, in every moment, just waiting for us to find it.

GAZING AT THE CLOUDS

Anywhere you may be, in the mountains, at the beach, in a garden, even indoors by a window or the passenger in a car, you can pause and just look up at the sky. There is something so soothing, so relaxing about gazing at the clouds, as they pass by…trying to make up shapes of what they may look like. It’s something I used to do as a child, when I would lay in the grass for hours, which only seemed like minutes. Now I get to do this with my daughters, and sometimes by myself. In the words of Tyler Knott Gregson:

” Sit and stare up, up to the passing clouds and plane trails leading somewhere you are not. Sit and breathe, feel your lungs expand with the air you swallow, feel your body sink into the soil beneath you, feel the earth spin slowly. We are here such a short time, why waste it with the frenzied rush, the frantic fumbling? Sit and stare up, there will be clouds to calm you.”

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THE JOY OF FLOWERS

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Image Source: Katie Daisy

I love flowers. I love plants in general, but ESPECIALLY flowers. Their fragility, their colours, their fragrance, their joyfulness… I plant flowers every spring. This year I planted a mixture of wildflowers I got from Eminence Organics. (It is a skincare brand I used to work with, and a few years ago they were giving out these little packs of wildflower seeds. I will take pictures of them this summer when they are in full bloom:) I have planted them a few years ago, too, and they are so beautiful and make me smile everytime I see them).  Here are a few flower/plant-fun suggestions inspired by Katie Daisy’s “How to be a Wildflower”:

  • Make a flower crown out of wildflowers
  • Find a field of dandelions and make 100 wishes.
  • Spend an hour looking for four-leaf clovers. Press the ones you have in a book.
  • Press flowers

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THE BEACH

Walking barefoot in the sand as the waves kiss the shore is probably one of the most relaxing things you can do. I love the salty air, the smell of seaweed and wet driftwood, the little crabs, the seagulls, the eagles flying above, the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand under my toes… I still love picking seashells and coming up with creative ways to use them at home for decor (thank you, Pinterest). I love to balance on all the logs or sit on a big rock and read a book while my daughters play in the sand and build sandcastles. We always bring our kite to the beach in the summer and fly it for hours! A new fun thing I learned to do with my daughters is collect a bit of ocean water in a bottle, and go home and paint together using this. My girls think it’s magical water, and it makes painting even more fun!

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HIKING IN THE MOUNTAINS

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.” – John Muir

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Image Source: TylerKnott.com

This is my favorite thing to do in the entire world. I love the beach, I love the ocean, but when I am in the mountains is when I truly feel like I am home. There is nothing else that can compare for me. I have very fond memories of my sister and my brother hiking with our grandmother when we were very young, eating wild strawberries we found in the forest, finding a small clearing and having picnics in the grass along the trails,  getting caught in the pouring summer rain, picking forget-me-not’s and making flower crowns, stopping at a random, in the middle-of-nowhere fruit stand on the way back home and buying a whole bag of fresh cherries. Now I go hiking with my own family…my husband and our two daughters…we still pick berries and eat them along the way (blackberries, salmon berries and huckleberries), we still have picnics under big old trees, we dip our feet in rivers and lakes and let the waterfalls spray our faces. We’ve come across squirrels and deer, mountain goats, wild buffaloes and moose…and once, a family of black bears. We collect pine cones and leaves and lie on the soft mossy ground under the trees.We still make flower crowns from wildflowers and we make wishes on dandelions.

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And for the days when we cannot be outdoors, here is a visualization meditation  I learned from the book “Calm”, by Michael Acton Smith, that you can use when you want to go back to nature: (I would also recommend the Calm.com website that has some wonderful guided meditations, where you can customize your animated background images and your background sounds/music (mountain lake, ocean, rain, etc)

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I hope you all have a beautiful, joyful day!:)

PS: I will write a review in a future post about Calm, the App and their book, because I really love them, and I have found them very helpful. 

 

 

 

Neom Happiness Programme – Week 4

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Here is how the last week of the programme went:

Day 22 – Your Zen Workspace. Today’s task was to de-clutter, tidy up and reorganize your workspace. I agree 100% that our environment can affect our mood and our productivity. At least in my case, if there is chaos around me, if I am in a messy room, I feel restless, irritable, and many times I can’t even focus. I actually went a step further with this, and a few weeks ago I reorganized my entire house, after I read “Altar Your Space”. It is about surrounding yourself and filling your space with things that are meaningful to you, in ways that make you happy.

I love Marie Kondo’s “Art of Tidying Up”, and this is a great short video on organizing and tidying your space:)

Day 23 – Give a Feel-Good Gift – Today’s task was to offer someone a gift. Big or small, bought or homemade, it is not about how expensive it is, it is the gesture that counts. Showing someone you care about them can give us joy. It can be a store-bought gift, but make sure it’s meaningful, it can be a bouquet of flowers, a homemade pie or some freshly baked cookies, or, as in my case, a book.

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Image Source:Katie Daisy

Day 24 – Start the Day with 20 minutes of Yoga – My days always go better when I begin them with some Sun Salutations. I lit up a candle, rolled out my yoga mat, put on Ila’s Heart of the Earth CD, and enjoyed 45 minutes of stretching, breathing, strengthening, energizing and then relaxing. Pure bliss!

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Day 25 – Buy yourself fresh flowers. I LOVE THIS! I love flowers, and right now, since Spring is here, my favorite flowers are in season – White freesias ❤ I bought myself a bouquet and put them in a crystal vase in the living room. Every time I would pass by and inhale the beautiful fragrance, it made me smile.

Day 26 – Book out a Back-to-Back Marathon. It’s been raining a lot the last week. Probably one of my favorite things to do on a rainy day is cuddle up on the couch with my husband, get some snacks, and watch hours of Seinfeld. I made popcorn using a recipe from James Duigan’s Clean and Lean Cookbook, where after all the corn pops (we have a popcorn maker), you put it all on a tray, drizzle coconut oil, maple syrup, sprinkle some cinnamon and sea salt and bake it in the oven at 300 F for 10 minutes. It was amazing, and our daughters loved it, too!

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Image Source: Pinterest – Naturally Ella

Day 27 – Be the Hostess with the Mostest. This wasn’t about an elaborate dinner party. It was about inviting over a few people you love, enjoying good food with no fuss, catching up and having a few good laughs. For food, I just prepared a few cheese plates with a few different types of cheese, dry and fresh fruit, crackers, charcuterie, olives, pickles, a couple of fun jellies and spreads, wine, and of course, dessert. For dessert I made chocolate molten lava cakes, which are super easy to make and require very few ingredients. I served it with coconut whipped cream. I have been really busy lately, and I didn’t want to stress myself over making a five-course meal that would take me hours and hours to prepare. This was perfect and everyone enjoyed it, including our daughters! It was so much fun to just chat for hours, watch the kids play, see my nephew, catch up with everyone and relax. The time flew by!

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Day 28 – Plan Your Year Ahead – This is about setting goals, booking holidays, planning a trip or any other things you want to achieve by the end of this year. It is really good to have goals and figure out what steps (big or small) you can take in order to get there. It is also important to set time off, time to rest, time to relax, time to spend with family and loved ones, time to really look forward to. I planned a mixture of everything, and now I will take it step by step, day by day, and just let life unfold.:)

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Image source: TylerKnott.com

To end my Neom Happiness journal, I want to leave you with a page from “Calm” by Michael Acton Smith. May you all be Happy, Healthy and Safe!:)

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So Hum Meditation

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Mind,
Why should we go any more to the world?
Instead let’s journey to that sacred place.
Where day and night,
Blissful,
The full moon shines bright
No waxing or waning
No separation
No hunger or thirst
Everyone surrenders with delight
As drops of nectar flow from an ambrosial moon.
— Mahendranath Bhattacarya

This is a very relaxing and simple mantra meditation. I love practicing this to the sound of the ocean, because the breath follows this tidal rhythm. You can practice it in complete silence, or to any other sounds or music you prefer. If you are new to this, I would suggest using a timer (use a soft sound, like chimes, or a bell). Start with at least 5 minutes and work your way up to 20 minutes.

Come into a comfortable seated position. Place your hands on your thighs, lengthen your spine and begin to scan your body from the crown to your toes.Relax any tension.

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth, and let your body relax deeper.

Now inhale and exhale through your nose. Bring your awareness to the ebb and flow of your breath. On the inhale, feel your breath filling you, and on the exhale be aware of the full release of your breath. With every inhale, say to yourself “SO” (which is the sound of your inhale), and as you exhale, say to yourself “HUM” (the sound of your exhale). The meaning of this mantra is SO = “I am” and HUM= “All that is”.  Stay here and follow the rhythm of your breath with complete awareness, as you inhale SO, and exhale HUM.

If your mind wanders,  gently return to your breath, saying to yourself SO (on the inhale)…HUM(on the exhale).

When your timer goes off, you can let go of your mantra. Sit quietly for a few more breaths, and then open your eyes.

So play some relaxing ocean sounds, set the timer, close your eyes, and let’s meditate together.

I wish you all peace and healing! ❤

PS: I originally learned the So Hum meditation many, many years ago, from my favorite yoga teacher, Shiva Rea. For some deep relaxation, I definitely recommend her CD “Drops of Nectar”.

Where I come alive

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What if our religion was each other?

If our practice was our life?

If prayer was our words?

What if the Temple was the Earth?

If forests were our church?

If holy water—the rivers, lakes and oceans?

What if meditation was our relationships?

If the Teacher was life?

If wisdom was self-knowledge?

If love was the center of our being

– Ganga White

A week ago, I came across this quote in a book I was reading:

“If we keep in our minds that one day each of us will die, we can cherish every moment that we are alive.”

Of course I knew that,  but I don’t always approach life as “What if today was your last day?”. Especially when I feel stressed out or overwhelmed, I tend to go on autopilot. It’s almost like I shut down on the inside and my body is a remotely operated machine, just going through the motions. Some days are like that..chaotic, stressful, noisy, robotic. But when I go on autopilot, I miss all the wonderful things, too, and I will never get these moments back! Nothing lasts forever. So I have the option on going on autopilot to get through stressful days that make feel uncomfortable, and in the process miss out on all the wonderful things, too, or embrace it all….the stress, the worries, the chaos, but also all the things that make this life so beautiful and precious, and just be in the moment with whatever that may bring. It is all part of the whole experience, isn’t it?

Reading that quote made me then ask myself the question….Well, what is it then that really makes me feel most alive? When and in what circumstances do I feel fully present and at most ease? For me it’s a very easy answer: in nature and with my family.

For me, that is when I feel timeless. That is when I feel abundance, joy, gratitude and am fully present. That is when, even when I am stressed out or worried or overwhelmed, I somehow become more at ease. So, I have been making the conscious decision to truly live every moment like if it were my last. Embrace whatever it is…with tears or laughter, just fully experience it all, feel it all, because it will eventually end.

So in honor of this, I have been going through photos we took on our adventures. My family and I spend a lot of time in nature, where we connect, where we feel most liberated, most ourselves.

Walking under big rocks and through caves to get to waterfalls…

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Getting sprayed in the face…

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Hiking to the top of the mountain to get above the clouds on a rainy day…

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Walking through mossy forests…

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Writing our initials in the sand…

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Dipping in glacial lakes…

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Walking barefoot in the sand and watching beautiful sunsets….

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Throwing rocks…

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Hiking on trails between tree tops…

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Picnics on secluded beaches…

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Climbing tree stomps…

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Exploring river trails leading to a heritage farm…

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And many, many other adventures….How can I let life just pass by, when there is so much beauty all around!?

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PS: All images are mine

Neom Happiness Programme – Week 3

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If you have been following along for the last few weeks, I have been taking part in the Neom Happiness Programme. This was the third week. Overall, it felt very accomplishing.

Day 15 – 3-step To-Do list. This day’s task was to write down 3 goals you want to accomplish by the end of this week, and at the end of the week, get the satisfaction of crossing those things off your list. That rewarding feeling when you visualize what you want to accomplish and then you do get things done definitely brings more happiness to your day. The goals can be as small or as big as you want them to.

For me, my goals were to make a new recipe I have wanted to make for weeks, find a new chiropractor and go for an appointment and to reorganize my house. When it comes to goals, I think it’s actually fairly easy to set them, but not always easy to actually accomplish them, unless you truly want to…that is, you have to have the motivation.

I have learned from experience, that for me, in order to realize my goals, I have to write down or at least state out loud (to my husband, my family or my closest friends) my motivation. This is especially the case with bigger, more long term goals, or things that are harder to accomplish and take a lot more effort…and sometimes tears. Why do I want to accomplish this? What is the point of all this? How will my life feel if and when I accomplish this. I have to be excited about it, otherwise I tend to procrastinate or just completely give up. On days when things aren’t going my way AT ALL, and I feel like I am completely falling apart, it is hard sometimes to even care about these goals, and I feel like giving up completely. This is where I have to restate my motivation. Why was it that I wanted this in the first place? It has to be meaningful and important to me, to outweigh my feelings of frustration or disappointment or lack of energy.

Day 16 – The Morning Mantra for Happiness. This is a repeat from last week, and it works really well for me. On waking, take a few deep breaths and state a positive affirmation and repeat it 5 times. Throughout the day, I like to use cues that remind me of my mantra, and I will pause for a minute and restate my mantra from the morning. My favorite is “I choose Happiness”. It is simple and resonates with me.

Day 17 – Smash That Personal Admin. Today’s task was taking 30 minutes aside to plan your finances, maybe finish paying a few bills you have been putting off, or try to budget and maybe look for better deals, so you can put away a few extra savings. It feels good to know what’s going on and have a plan in place!

Day 18 – Give 10 Minutes of Time today. Help at least two people today. Whether it is volunteering, or helping a co-worker with a task, or helping someone with their groceries, or even a friend who is looking for some advice…it feels so good to show kindness, to help someone, without expecting anything in return. Today, on my walk, I helped someone at the bus stop who didn’t speak any English get the right change for her bus, and then two of my friends asked me for advice on skincare, on what and how they should be using it. I love sharing my knowledge when I am asked:D, especially when it is something I have a lot of experience with and I am confident I can help.

Day 19 – Make time for YOU. This is something I have talked about in previous posts, and that is blocking time off where you can do something for yourself, something that nourishes you. The task is to pencil in, block off in your calendar , put it in writing, make it official….In the next two weeks, block off two 30-minute to 1 hour time slots for yourself…to maybe do yoga, or listen to a podcast (they recommend  The Daily Boost, On Being and A Quiet Mind), or writing in your journal…whatever it may be. For me, it is definitely yoga! I put it in my calendar and let my family know I am unavailable for that time.

Day 20 – Get Clever in the Kitchen. Neom Psychologist, Suzy Reading, says cooking encompasses many of the things we need to feel happy. If you cook with your children, partner or friends, you’re connecting with loved ones. If you try a new recipe, you’re learning new skills. And if you cook for your family, you’re giving to others. A three in one mood-booster! One of my goals this week was trying a new stew recipe packed with veggies and yams and fresh basil. I have wanted to make this for weeks, and not only it was delicious and my entire family loved it, but my husband helped me prepare it. Neither of us are experienced cooks by any means, but it feels so nice to connect and prepare a meal together that we can all share and enjoy later. Definitely a mood booster!

Day 21 – Turn Off Tech Time. I LOVED this task! I LOVED IT!!!!Today, in the morning, afternoon and evening, I turned my phone off (put it in airplane mode), and practiced 10 minutes of meditation (morning, afternoon and evening, before bed). They were the perfect breaks in my day to help me rebalance and recenter. I did my own meditation practices that resonated with me on this day, but Neom’s recommendations are also great:

In the Morning, get into Child’s Pose, where you kneel on the floor, bottom resting on your heels, knees apart, and bend forward and place your forehead on the floor, with arms stretched out in front of you on the floor. Take deep, slow breaths, and feel your back gently stretching. Just pay attention to your breath. After a few minutes, rise and move on with your day.

In the afternoon, they recommend the 7/11 breath. This is where you inhale for 7 counts and exhale for 11. It is deeply relaxing.

In the evening, to settle the mind before bed, they recommend practicing a little bit of deep breathing, in through the nose, out through the mouth. As you exhale, visualize all tension, stress, worries, releasing, melting away. After a few of these breaths, begin a full body scan, beginning with your head, all the way to your toes, and as you move your awareness to each body part, try to relax it. Once you relax the whole body, you are ready for sleep.

To be continued…

Image source: Pinterest