Crushing the Daylight Savings Time Blues

     It’s that time of year again! The clock changed and it didn’t take long before the memes started rolling in. People are always pretty upset around this time of year when they lose an hour of sleep. 

     I was definitely one of those people until this year. My husband and I got out of bed Sunday morning excited. See, we had an activity that we really wanted to do outside but there wasn’t enough daylight when he got home from work. DST arrived and we got one more hour of sunlight back! The days are longer and it gets dark later, so we are able to do more together as a family and enjoy the outdoors.

     It’s all about perspective! When you feel groggy and irritated with the whole DST process, try to look at the silver lining. Go outside! Enjoy an extra hour of sunshine! We always say that there aren’t enough hours in the day but we have just been given an extra hour. Go spend it doing something beautiful. Enjoy it!

Namaste. 

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Against the Grain

      I am frustrated at being judged for not conforming to societal norms. We live in a world where children are told that they are one in a million, but then grow up and try so desperately to be like everyone else and accepted. Why is it considered taboo to be different? During the rare occasions in which it is celebrated, why is it considered trendy like we all fit into some hipster-hippie, rebellious, counter-culture stereotype? How come we can’t just celebrate the fact that we are all different, tolerate those differences, and love ourselves? I’m frustrated that I’m considered bitchy for not caring–for not being comfortable with conformity and for not caring about acceptance. 

     Here is where that third eye comes in: by writing this, I clearly care; otherwise, I would not feel frustrated. Every single person needs acceptance. It is human nature. I have found acceptance where it matters: in the few friends and family who accept me for who I am and who respect my journey. I guess I am more frustrated that this is something that affects so many people. We are in the midst of a social and spiritual revolution. People are changing. Those of us who are awakening are being criticized and judged. All we want is what everyone else wants: to be happy. Why is it wrong that we want to achieve that happiness through living as our truest form? 

     Food for thought. Questions without answers. The best that we can do is stay true, love, and keep evolving. 

Namaste. 

Sanskrit in the Mountains

   Last year, I was invited to a place called Yogaville. Hidden in the mountains of Virginia, this retreat proved to be just what I needed. Not only did it provide me with a relaxing weekend, it completely changed my life. I have craved that place since I left it. The spirit, positive energy, and genuine beauty of the people and the ashram were nothing short of inspirational.

    Before that visit, I had never experienced chanting. I remember walking into the room terrified, because I knew that my first guided meditation session would include chanting. I survived it with little embarrassment, and found it to be very relaxing. Fast-forward to the Saturday night ceremony and I was absolutely, 100% terrified. I went from being a stay at home mom and isolated student, to sitting in a room full of strangers chanting Sanskrit. I had a choice to make: I could allow my embarrassment to ruin the experience for me, or I could dive in and and learn as much as possible. I chose the latter. I thought about our human nature and how we are so easily embarrassed-an emotion that forces us to miss out on many of life’s greatest moments. So, I chose adventure. 

      I fumbled my way through the words and appreciated the music being played. I watched the other attendees swaying back and forth, eyes closed, lost in verse. I envied them. I wanted to feel free. 

      Something amazing happened and halfway through the ceremony, I felt it. I felt the energy rush over me like a wave of peace. I felt connected to the words that I previously feared, and I was completely devoted to the ceremony. When it was over, I felt relaxed, collected, energized, and awake to the world around me. I wanted to stay in that world forever. 

     Sanskrit is a beautiful language that is intimidating at first glance. Fortunately, there are many websites and videos that offer assistance with understanding and pronouncing the verses. There is something magical hidden within those words. Once you learn how and the words slide off of your tongue, you are hooked. It is also open to any religion, and is not limited to practicing Hindus. There are unrelated chants that can be used by anyone. Buddhists use chanting, and that is a philosophy that does not praise any god or idol. So, don’t feel like you are betraying your current belief system by practicing a chant.

       I am working on an at-home practice, and will be visiting another ashram within the next couple of months. I hope that this story brought hope to someone who has been afraid to try chanting, for fear of being embarrassed or doing it incorrectly. Free yourself. As long as you are practicing and are reciting them from a place of truth, you will feel the calming and restoring effects of the chant. 

Om Namah Shivaya.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

                 (More on that later)
Namaste. 

Broken Record Player

     Imagine you are listening to your favorite album on a record player. The music is playing as you go about your business of tidying up the house and taking care of the kids (insert personal responsibilities). All of a sudden, the record skips JUST as the needle hits the few seconds of a song that you really dislike. You try to go about your business and wait for it to continue with the great song that was playing, but it just keeps repeating the same annoying line. Each time, the lyrics jab at you harder than during the previous loop. 

That is the baseline of an intrusive thought. 

     Some of us get them stronger than others, and they always vary in degree. Sometimes they are short and irritating, and sometimes they are persistent and brutal. It isn’t even confined to our own thoughts. We can have this recurring thought pattern in response to someone else’s feelings. It is very common for us to overreact to things. That is actually a simple thing to understand, we just usually don’t make the connection. By the time we lash out, we have been tortured by this thought so much, that we can’t take it anymore. We need it out and resolved. We just need it gone. The frustration bursts out of us and lands on pretty much anyone. Afterward, we get to be tortured by the thoughts resulting from our regret and self-loathing. It is a damaging cycle that is incredibly difficult to end and even harder to prevent.

     Conflicts that lasted for two minutes can torture the mind for hours or days. Insignificant moments to someone else, can feel significant to us because our brain locked on to it at some point and is having a difficult time letting it go. Trust me, this is far more annoying for us than those who have to witness or unwillingly participate. 

     Those of us who recognize that the record player is broken, work very hard to make it work. We get up over and over again to reset the needle. We try humming something upbeat to distract our minds. At our weakest moments, we swear off the whole record altogether because it would be easier to not listen to it at all, than for it to periodically or semi-constantly torture us. We survive those moments and hit play for another go ’round.

     In the end, we can do nothing about it. Our record player is broken and it is the only one that we have. I will continue to work hard toward my peace by resetting the needle, apologizing to unwilling guests as necessary, and learning about myself in order to improve. But I know that this is me, and in order to be truly happy and at peace, I have to love myself for who I am, exactly as I am. I have to recognize that everyone has flaws and mine are no worse than someone else’s. I have to forgive myself when I screw up. I have to fight my brain every single day to make sure I am in control and thinking on the wavelength that I want. I have to see my strength and perseverance. I have to love myself and all of these things about me. That is what I’m working on every single time the record starts playing. 

     Everyone has their issues to deal with. It is a much more enjoyable life if we learn to understand and appreciate others. It is even more wonderful if we learn to understand and appreciate ourselves. Love yourself. Be kind to one another.

Namaste. 

If Today Were My Last Day Alive

     I read somewhere that we should ask ourselves one question every morning: If today were my last day alive, how would I want to spend it? 

     Obviously, my mind immediately attaches to family and travel. In the simplest sense, my mind is correct; however, there is a much broader way of thinking that is required in order to think so abstractly. It isn’t realistic for most of us to abandon all of our responsibilities each day in order to do something more meaningful to us. For daily life improvement, this question requires us to think a bit deeper than that.

     Everything that we do and every reaction to it is a choice. The dishes still need to get done, but how do I want to feel about doing them? I still have that meeting today, but what do I want to get out of it so that it isn’t wasting my time? The kids are already bouncing off of the walls, so how do I want to handle my parenting attitude today? It is so easy for these daily situations to cause stress or negative reactions. What isn’t easy, is training your mind to create positive feelings and reactions, but it is worth it. 

     Positivity training takes time and a lot of effort. There will be difficult days that test your patience and dedication to your practice. It is important to maintain some thread of positive thinking, even if it means having someone hold you accountable or leaving notes to yourself around your home. The best time for me to practice, is first thing in the morning before I get out of bed. I’ve noticed that my attitude about the day is set before my feet hit the floor. Really pay attention to your morning routine and see when your attitude about the day is set. It is likely that it happens before your feet hit the floor, but it could be different for everyone. Tailor your training to your schedule and needs.

     So, today is your last day alive. How are you spending it? Is it full of frustration and anger, or love and appreciation? 

Namaste. 

There’s a Song for That

     I am a firm believer that there is a song for every emotion and situation. I have been that way my entire life. Some of us feel music differently than others and have an intense connection to it. I love sharing music with others, especially if it helped me through a particular time that they may be facing. So, feel free to ask me for suggestions if you need some new inspiration, and feel free to drop a tune below to inspire me. Today, I’m going to share two songs: 

        Flowers in the Window by Travis: My favorite happy, dancing around the house with the kids song. 

        Aloha Ke Akua by Nahko and Medicine for the People: My go-to song for anxiety and depression. (Check out the music video for an added relaxation bonus) There is a reason why it is called medicine. 

     So, no matter what you’re going through or what kind of day you’re having, there’s a song for that. Turn it up and let it do its job, whether it be a musical bandaid or a hug. 

Namaste. 

Eating Frogs

     Mark Twain may have revolutionized my days with that single quote. The idea is that if you do the worst thing that you have to do first thing in the morning, then your day can only improve.

     I am going to share my daily schedule ideas with you later, but I felt like I needed to explain this idea first. In the morning, I eat frogs. I make sure that I do whatever I am dreading first so that my day can only improve. So far, this is proven to be very helpful. I feel like the rest of my day is open to more things and I can actually look forward to my day rather than dreading it because of tasks that I’m not looking forward to. I procrastinate less and feel more productive. It also makes it easier to maintain a positive outlook because I can look forward to my day. 

So, go eat some frogs and enjoy the rest of your day.

Namaste.

Unplugged: A Day of Freedom From Our Attachment to Technology

     Yesterday, I began my day perfectly. I started my daily schedule that my husband and I made (more on that later) and was ready to take on the day. Everything seemed to be going smoothly…until I dropped my phone. It did a belly flop onto the hardwood floor. Mind you, this is the second time that I have broken the screen (on THIS phone). I immediately fell into a spiral of depression and anxiety, feeling like a screw up. More importantly, I felt isolated. We just moved to the country and I now had absolutely no way of contacting anyone all day. I couldn’t post in my online support group and I couldn’t text my husband. Every single avenue of support was gone. 

    What did I do? I stuck to my schedule. I ate breakfast, did yoga, meditated, and cleaned. I mean I really cleaned. For the past few months, my anxiety and brain lock (typically revolving around my phone) have resulted in our home being neglected, other than necessary cleaning. Yesterday, I had zero distractions and instead of dwelling on my anxiety, I stayed busy. The results were amazing. 

    I realized how much we rely on technology, specifically our phones. They are great tools and wonderful for momentary entertainment; however, they should not have as strong of a hold on us as they do. I found clarity and time that I otherwise didn’t have by not having a cell phone. For one day, I was unplugged and I really enjoyed it. 

    I encourage you to try it for a day. Turn off your phone and resist the urge to check it. Enjoy the outdoors, catch up on chores and tasks, if you have children, spend some extra precious moments with them. Free yourself from social media. One day is enough for a detox, and you will quickly realize how much you rely on your phone. Unplug yourself. 

Namaste.