Sitting quietly has never been easy for me. As a type A personality type who is always on the move and hyper focused on getting everything done immediately, the thought of sitting quietly on a cushion in the lotus position, trying to erase thoughts from my mind for an hour or more sounded painfully excruciating. This was not something I wanted to entertain for myself. I knew meditation would be good for me. I had read plenty of scientific, medical and spiritual articles on the emotional and physical health benefits of meditation. The research was intriguing. The studies outlined the changes I could expect; lower blood pressure, stress reduction, improving cognitive thinking, more focus, better sleep patterns, weight loss and a more positive outlook on life. I even listened to podcasts on how to meditate while driving to work hoping I could reap some benefits just from listening. Tomorrow was always the promise I’d make to myself to begin a practice. Tomorrow would come and go but it never seemed like the right time. I made a lot of excuses that were reasonable; I’m busy, I’m too stressed, I need to plan my morning meetings, I’m trying to get a little more sleep, too many family responsibilities, and on and on. Why was I so stuck? Why couldn’t I just try? There was no major cost in participating and it seemed everyone who did have a meditation practice seemed more calm, relaxed and happy.
Meditation seemed so elusive and mysterious to me but at its core, it really is about getting in touch with a deeper part of ourselves. There is a small inner voice inside all of us that knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Some call it intuition, our “source” or God working through us. Whatever we call it, it truly is the original GPS we can trust to guide us in the right direction. If we allow it space to be heard in our busy lives. Getting to this core at first might seem challenging but with a little commitment and the desire, anyone can do it.
So where do we begin?
There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The most important thing to do is get still. That’s it. Simply get still. Finding the way to quieting your mind comes with time. The notion of erasing all thoughts and clearing your mind is not really achievable for many of us – unless of course you are a Tibetan monk living in a monastery. As thoughts enter your mind while meditating, you will begin to see what is pressing on your mind and what might need attention in your life. Even the most painful ones hold so much important information for us. It helps to acknowledge, reflect and recognize the feelings and thoughts so we can make better, more informed decisions on what is best for ourselves. They are the road maps for our lives. Ignoring or denying them usually leads to suffering in the long term.
There are so many expectations for us first-time meditators and it rarely goes the way we had planned or hoped for. Try not to be discouraged or frustrated but find the beauty and excitement in the thoughts, feelings, memories and fantasy’s that are jumping around your mind, wanting attention. All are a part of who you are and they hold great importance, no judgement here. Do you know what motivates you now? What you crave and need to feel more settled in life? What makes you smile and feel like your creating something special for yourself and others? What’s your purpose? Where do you want to be a year from now or even five years from now? What’s the next step? Do you know? That’s what meditation offers; insight into your soul, your life, your purpose, your hopes and dreams.
What if you just sat in a quiet space for a few minutes and began to take notice of your thoughts as they enter your mind? What if you became the silent observer and notice what arises with each deep breath you inhale? Acknowledge, review, accept and bless it has been my motto. No judging. Release the urge to be the perfect meditator, to do it right. Calming the “monkey mind,” that incessant chatter we all hear and starting to focus on the breath and asking life’s big questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What is it I’m being called to do with my life? Asking these questions of myself helped me get a clearer picture of my life and how I viewed the world. It doesn’t always happen overnight and it can feel really uncomfortable to be alone with ourselves. Turn off your computer and smart phone. Just sit quietly. Don’t worry about the outcome or trying to do it perfectly. Let go of the attachment of how it will get done, just set your intention to try. And try again.
One morning I woke up and decided to give myself a 30-day meditation challenge. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would begin my meditation practice or how I would sit still for even five minutes every day but I was very determined to try. Every day I woke up a little earlier than usual and went and sat in my cozy chair and closed my eyes. I tried silent, deep breathing meditation on day. Another day I tried a guided meditation I found on YouTube.
Once I faced my fear, sat quietly on a regular basis and began listening to my intuition, that little voice inside me that was begging to be heard, I found the right path I needed to follow at this point in my life. It helped me discover my dream and I launched Soulful Connections as part of my business.
We all deserve to be heard and seen. It only can happen when we are ready to show up for our lives. How to do this? Stop and sit in the stillness. Ask the big questions. Listen for the answers and don’t judge them just be witness to what comes up. The Wisdom of You is begging to be heard. Go and follow those big dreams that lie inside of you. I will be by your side cheering you on!
My 30-Day Awareness Meditation Challenge:
One of the most gentle and approachable forms for a beginner is mindfulness meditation. The object is to observe the wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. The intention is not to get too involved with the thoughts or judge them but simply be aware of them, let them pass and return to your breath. You can also practice a mantra you say each time your thoughts come up in an effort to refocus your mind. A mantra may be as simple as repeating; all is well or so it is.
Set a timer for 5 minutes.
1. Sit comfortably in a chair, on the floor or a cushion. Try not to lay down, chances are you will fall asleep.
2. Close your eyes gently. Soften your mouth and make sure not to clench your teeth.
3. Make no effort to control your breath, just breathe naturally and fully, expanding your stomach with each inhale. Exhale fully through your nose.
4. Focus your attention on your breath, observe how your body feels. Breath into the tight areas and sink deeper into letting go of any areas that feel restricted.
5. If your mind wanders, observe your thoughts and release them by returning your focus back on your breath.
Repeat this meditation each morning before you start your day or in the evening before bed for a full 15 minutes. Increase your meditation time as you become more comfortable with your practice.
Peace, love and pear!
Published on Thrive Global on March 11, 2019
Reprint from my published article featured on Thrive Global
When we live our lives on auto pilot, we get lost in the shuffle and life can seem more of a struggle and we tend to feel out of control. Highly successful people are focused and goal oriented. They know it’s important to practice self-care and they make time for themselves every day. The benefits are clearer thoughts, more energy and the ability to juggle multiple projects without feeling totally depleted. So what are some of the top things you can do to help you become more successful and as a result, happier and healthier? I’ve outlined seven very manageable steps you can start today!
1. Set your intentions. Upon waking in the morning, spend a few minutes setting your intentions for the day. This can be as simple as saying a little thank you or practicing gratitude for the things you have in your life. You can also practice positive self-affirming talk as if you have already achieved your goals. We all have obstacles and challenges but take a look at what you do have and acknowledge it with a positive thumbs up! This sets the stage for positive thinking all day.
2. Drink a glass of warm water with lemon. Water hydrates the body, revs up your digestive system and gets things moving. Plus, it fills you up so you don’t overeat at breakfast.
3. Eat a healthy breakfast. Rather than reaching for a box of cereal, a bagel or a fast food meal, make a quick egg scramble with eggs and some spinach, mushrooms or your favorite veggies. Try a chia seed pudding or an energy smoothie. Go easy on the sugar and the carbs in the morning and throughout the day. They will give you immediate energy but soon you will crash and have brain fog.
4. Do not check your phone or email for at least an hour upon waking. Most of us do some of our best thinking, writing and strategizing in the early morning hours. Take advantage of this time and you will be your most productive. Don’t let other’s deadlines, emergencies or to do lists hijack your morning. If you do this, you’ll find that your mind is clearer and focused and you will be happier throughout the day. A bad morning under pressure can ruin a perfectly good day!
5. Take a brisk walk outside for 20 minutes and take deep breaths all through your walk. Fill your lungs with air and take in a little nature. It will remind you that you are alive, heighten your senses and help to ground you for the day.
6. Get your body moving. Our bodies are meant to move and we are spending too much time sitting and staring at electronic screens. We sit all day at our desks at work, we sit in the car for our daily commutes and then come home and do more sitting while watching TV. The more you move your body, the better you will feel. You don’t have to do an intense workout before breakfast, but a long walk with your partner, the dog or even just yourself, will get the blood flowing and shake the body into wake-up mode. Or maybe crank your favorite song and dance in your living room like no one is watching!
7. Make a list the night before of things you want to accomplish the next day or that week. Prioritize and write them all down so you don’t have them swirling in your head all night. Staying focused and organized will motivate you to actually achieve these goals.
Focus on today and make it healthy one. Keep moving, keep growing and keep positive. Your body and mind will love you for it. Enjoy the day!
Peace, love and pear!
Visualization is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do. According to the popular book The Secret, "The law of attraction is forming your entire life experience and it is doing that through your thoughts. When you are visualizing, you are emitting a powerful frequency out into the Universe."
Psychology Today reported that the brain patterns activated when a weightlifter lifts heavy weights are also similarly activated when the lifter just imagined (or visualized) lifting weights. So how can we use visualization to help us get closer to our goals and dreams? Have you heard of vision boards but not actually created one yourself?
Vision boards are fun to create, they serve as a valuable tool to motivate and inspire you and can help you define and set life goals. Creating a sacred place that displays what you want actually helps to bring it to life. You have to name it to claim it. In other words, you can’t get what you want until you know what it is you want. Vision boards provide the opportunity to sit and think about what it is you want for your life. They should represent what you want and how you want to feel. Once you know the things that are important to you, creating a visual representation takes it to another level.
Here are just a few of the benefits of vision boarding:
What should you put on your vision board? Anything that inspires and motivates you! Your vision board is your opportunity to send a message to the Universe that this is what you want to bring to life. Think about your goals and desires in the area of your career, relationships, finances, home, travel and personal growth.
Need a little extra inspiration? Sit quietly, pick a card from your Soulful Connections deck and dig deeper into what you would like to manifest in your life today. Soulful Connections has unique and thought-provoking questions, created to inspire self-reflection. It’s a fun, fascinating way to learn more about yourself and help you develop a deeper knowing of what motivates and inspires you. This leads to creating a life you will love filled with passion and purpose. Use this card deck with your vision board and in your journaling practice and see where it takes you!
What's the one thing you can do right now to turn your dreams into reality? Journaling. Did you know studies have shown that a regular journaling practice helps to clear your mind, focus on your goals and alleviate stress? Getting your thoughts, feelings and aspirations down on paper offers you the opportunity to build a deeper connection with yourself and identify goals and desires you want to manifest in your life. Plus it’s inspiring to go back and reread past entries and see how far you’ve come in your life journey!
Some people have some challenges when first starting a journaling practice. Here’s some tips the Peace and Pear team would love to share to jumpstart your journaling practice:
1. Try writing first thing in the morning when your mind is most quiet.
2. Don’t worry about writing in complete sentences. Try a stream of consciousness where you write about everything and nothing in particular. Start by writing phrases or simple words to describe your mood or feelings.
3. Use journaling prompts. A journal prompt is just a question or topic that gets your mind flowing. Try picking a card from your Soulful Connections deck and journal your answer. This is a great way to start your journaling each day.
4. Journal every day. Even if it’s just a few sentences, the more you write the easier it becomes.
5. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Every time you journal, list all the things you are grateful for in that moment. This helps reframe your mind and the way in which you approach life. Positivity, even for the small things you have in life, attracts more of the good stuff you crave.
Looking for a little inspiration to start your own journaling practice? Visit http://www.PeaceandPear.com to see our new Soulful Connections Companion Journal. We've created a unique journal filled with beautiful, serene nature photos and inspirational quotes to get you motivated to journal your hopes, dreams and aspirations. There is also plenty of blank pages for writing. Use coupon code: Inspire for FREE SHIPPING while supplies last.
Peace, love and pear,
In today’s crazy world of social media, gas lighting politics and a growing disenchantment with the corporate dream, many of us are looking for ways to reconnect and get back to basic communications and heartfelt discussions with our partners, family and our friends.
Are we living in parallel worlds? Many would say yes. One is the social media world and the other is the REAL WORLD. We all know the people, maybe close friends, that message us to go and hang out at a restaurant but what ends up happening is exactly the opposite of what we want. It can be hard to talk with them face to face because they are busy snap chatting their “social media friends" and taking pictures with fun captions to post on Facebook. It begins to feel so shallow at times and even lonely as we sit and watch them furiously typing on their smart phones.
We aren’t alone. The number of social media users worldwide has grown to 3.196 billion, up 13 percent from last year according to a 2018 global digital report from wearesocial.com. That number is growing as people of all ages look for recognition, companions and fame on Facebook and Instagram.
What happened to the good old days of setting the phone down and having a real conversation about our lives, our work, our dogs and kids, our likes and dislikes? Or even the weather?!
Why does this matter? Because isolating from friends and family who are sitting across the table from you only to be social in the social media world full of filters, quick snippets of conversations, posturing for a great photo to show your “best life” all becomes fake and leads to a sense of loneliness for real connections. When we spend our time in the company of others but aren’t fully present, don’t engage in conversation but try to capture the best image of what is happening, we miss out on the fun and heartfelt connection we could be having.
That's why I created Soulful Connections, a 120 card deck filled with unique and thought-provoking questions for friends and families to use as a fun and inspired way to help bring people closer. We are all craving connection and sometimes a little inspiration is needed.
The questions range from introspective; What does this year have in store for you? What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in your lifetime? What do you love and admire about the person sitting next to you? To the more playful; If your life was a movie, what would the title be? All these cards are designed to get you and the people you care about, talking more. Visit www.PeaceandPear.com to learn more.
What if we began to “live in the moment” and not always try to capture it on our phones? What would that look like for you? Tell us what you think, we'd love to hear from you!
Peace, love and pear!
Until recently, I didn’t know the difference between these two. It actually seemed like the same thing to me. I was in a fog and very wrapped up in my routine. Can you relate?
For many years, I was just living. Really just getting by in life. I wouldn’t have said I was depressed but I also knew I wasn’t very happy. But hey, I had bills to pay and a job that paid me well so that was enough. Or so I thought.
It can be easy to get comfortable and fall into a routine. It can become easy to be complacent, stuck in the rat race and struggling to feel some meaning in the day to day.
Life can lose its spark, if we let it.
One day, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I started to ask some of the hard questions to figure out my place in the world. My goal was to create a life I could love. Other people were doing it, why couldn’t I?
What does it mean to truly live?
1. For me, it’s the ability to embrace and investigate opportunities. No more self- defeating talk; “it can’t happen for me” or “this is just how it is and its good enough.”
2. Spending some time in quiet reflection, even if only 10 minutes a day, to check in and see what I need for self care and self love.
3. A deep look at what is lacking in my life and the fearlessness to make some big changes.
This wasn’t easy and often times scary. I believe life begins at the end of our comfort zone. This is how we truly begin growing. I wanted to see life as an adventure and began looking at the universe as guiding me in the right direction not conspiring against me.
The payoff has been leaving a lack luster corporate job to find my true passion; creating mindfulness products, holding workshops and writing about my own struggles and wins so others can feel empowered to create healthy change in their own lives.
It isn’t always easy but if you ask yourself what it means to truly be alive and showing up for your life, be willing to take a few risks and trust in your inner voice, you will find your special place in the world.
Have you ever felt like this? Where are you now on your personal journey?
We’d love to hear your story!
Do you or someone you care about need some inspired questions for deep self-reflection? Looking for interesting and unique ways to engage family and friends this holiday season? Soulful Connections is a 120 card deck of thought-provoking questions which are meant to deepen your journey of self exploration through personal reflection. They also make a great gift for loved ones and a hostess gift for friends. Enjoy the holidays and don't forget to live well my friend.
Peace, love and pear!
P.S. Don’t miss out on our FREE shipping offer for a limited time! Use code: Celebrate at checkout.
That thing that burns deep in your soul and begs to be heard. It starts with a whisper and sometimes you can hear it whenever the noise in your head quiets long enough. We all have dreams, hopes and aspirations. Our soul is crying out to be heard. Over time the screams get louder and the flames more intense. This is the point where we either follow our hearts and chase that life dream or we squash it, lose our soul purpose and keep the status quo.
I’ve seen the latter happen all too often with my friends and myself. Sad to say, for years, I squashed my passions and dreams because I was too afraid of what might NOT happen. I was stuck in the fear of the unknown and it felt really uncomfortable. I had a hard time just sitting still and thinking or letting my mind take a mental break from the anxious thoughts.
Sometimes we become so disconnected from ourselves that we don’t know how to listen to that inner voice, let alone start to act on it. So where do we begin?
The most important thing to do is get still.
That’s it. Simply get still. Find a way to quiet your mind, whether it’s through meditation, a long walk in nature, a jog, or starting a mindfulness practice (focus on living in the moment and not worrying about the past or thinking of the future). Calming the “monkey mind,” that incessant chatter we all hear and starting to focus on our breath and asking life’s big questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What is it I’m being called to do with my life? Is this all there is or is there a bigger picture? Asking these questions of myself helped me get a clearer picture of my life. It doesn’t always happen overnight and it can feel really uncomfortable to be alone with ourselves. Turn off your computer and smart phone. Just sit quietly. Don’t worry about the outcome or trying to do it perfectly. Let go of the attachment of how it will get done, just set the intention to try.
Once I faced my fear, sat quietly on a regular basis and began listening to my intuition, that little voice inside me that was begging to be heard, I found the right path I needed to follow at this point in my life. It helped me discover my dream and I launched Soulful Connections. Many of the questions that helped me find my true calling, I included in this 120 card deck. I began realizing that what feeds my soul is helping others find their purpose and create lives they love. I think it takes courage, especially in today’s climate, to break from the norm, ask the big questions and really show up for our lives.
This is the only life we have, in this body and at this time.
We all deserve to be heard and seen. Go and follow those big dreams that lie inside of you. I will be by your side cheering you on!
Peace, love and pear!
I used to think self-care was selfish, something only people with a lot of money and time on their hands could even think about. It seemed self-indulgent and out of my reach. That was my thinking many years ago. Since then, I’ve changed my tune. I realized a few years ago that self-care for me wasn’t about going to the spa weekly for massages and manicures (although those are nice from time to time). It was something more accessible, easier, less expensive and often times more fulfilling.
I have been practicing self-care right at home on a daily basis for a very long time. For me, taking a few minutes out of each busy morning to journal and drink my favorite cup of tea is a form of self-care. Those 10-15 minutes I spend writing about the past day, week or month, are important in helping me sort out my thoughts and feelings. It gives me something concrete to reflect back on. If I get stuck, I pull a question card from my Soulful Connections deck and see where it leads me. Those few minutes can be a very eye-opening journey.
Every morning I take my dog for a walk around the neighborhood. I used to think I did it for him but I love the time we spend in nature, listening to the birds, letting the warm sunshine fall on our faces and saying hello to my neighbors as they come out on their stoops to pick up their morning paper. Is this a form of self-care? You bet. It’s meditation in motion and I cherish the time I get to have a deeper conversation with myself in nature. Not to mention the quality time I get to spend with my favorite pooch.
My yoga practice is self-care. The healthy food I choose to eat is a form of self-care. Going to bed early, talking gently with myself and others, they are all forms of self-care.
Making time to nurture and care for ourselves can sometimes be difficult. We all have busy lives but what if I told you there was a virtual community of like-minded individuals that are coming together to make self-care simple, easy and fun. That community is being led by Barb Klein, Inspired Possibility, life coach, author of 111 Invitations, retreat facilitator and a close friend and colleague to Peace and Pear. Our missions are similar; to help people create more peace, purpose and fulfillment in their lives. We all have an inner wisdom, a guidance that knows what is best for us and we need only tap into it. I hope you will join me online in the Self-Care Sanctuary being held for four Monday evenings from 7-8:30 pm (Eastern Standard Time) beginning September 10, 2018. To learn more and join us in this inspired virtual community,visit https://www.inspiredpossibility.com/selfcaresanctuary.html
What about you? How do you practice self-care? Please share in the comments below.
Peace, love and pear!