The Art of Doing Nothing

The Art of Doing Nothing

The Art of Doing Nothing

Guest post by: Leo Babauta

Sure, we all know how to do nothing. We all know how to lay around and waste time. But many of us are too busy to do it much, and when we do it, our minds are often on other things. We cannot relax and enjoy the nothingness.

Doing nothing can be a waste of time, or it can be an art form. Here’s how to become a master, and in the process, improve your life, melt away the stress and make yourself more productive when you actually do work.

Start small
Doing nothing, in the true sense of the word, can be overwhelming if you attempt to do too much nothing at once. Do small nothings at first. Focus on 5-10 minutes at a time, and start your practice sessions in a safe place — at home, not at work or in a busy public place. You may also not be ready to do nothing in the middle of nature, so do it in your bedroom or living room. Find a time and place where there are not many distractions, not much noise, not a lot of people to bother you.

Shut off all distractions — TV, computer, cell phones, regular phones, Blackberries, and the like. Doing nothing is hard when our communications gadgets are calling at us to do something.

Now, close your eyes, and do nothing. Yes, the smart-asses out there will say you’re doing something — you’re sitting there or laying there, closing your eyes. But we mean doing nothing in the sense that if someone were to call us up and ask what we’re doing, we say “Oh, nothing.” Don’t let them call you up, though. They are trying to distract you.

After 5-10 minutes of doing, nothing, you can quit, and go do something. But try to do this every day, or as much as possible, because it is not possible to become a master without practice.

Breathing
The first place to start in the quest for mastery over this art is in your breathing. If this sounds suspiciously like meditation, well, cast those suspicions out of your mind. We are not here to do suspicion — we are doing nothing.

Start first by breathing slowly in, and then slowly out. Now closely monitor your breath as it enters your body, through your nose, and goes down into your lungs, and fills your lungs. Now feel it as it goes out of your body, through your mouth, and feel the satisfying emptying of your lungs.

Do this for 5-10 minutes, if you can. Practice this as you can. When you start thinking about other things, such as how great that darn Zen Habits blog is, well, stop that! Don’t beat yourself up about it, but bring your thoughts back to your breathing every time.

Relaxing
An important part of doing nothing is being able to completely relax. If we are tense, then the doing of the nothing is really for naught. Relaxing starts by finding a comfortable place to do your nothing — a soft chair, a plush couch, a well-made, clean bed. Once you’ve found this spot, lie in it, and wiggle around to make it fit your body better. Think of how a cat lies down, and makes itself comfortable. Cats are very, very good at doing nothing. You may never approach their level of mastery, but they make for great inspiration.

Next, try the breathing technique. If you are not completely relaxed by now (and a short nap would be a great indication of relaxation), then try self massage. Yes, massage is much better when administered by other hands, but self massage is great too. Start with your shoulders and neck. Work your way up to your head and even your face. Also do your back, and legs and arms. Avoid any areas that might lead to doing something (although that can be relaxing too).

Yet another great way of relaxing is an exercise where you tense each muscle in your body, one body part at a time, and then let the tensed muscle relax. Start with your feet, then your legs, and work your way up to your eyebrows. If you can do the top of your head, you may be too advanced for this article.

Once you are relaxed, see if you can relax even more. Try not to relax so much that you lose control of your bodily fluids.

Bathing – an advanced stage
Those who are in the beginning stages of the Art of Doing Nothing should not attempt this stage. But once you’ve become proficient at the above steps, the stage of the Bath can be pretty great.

The bath must be nice and hot. Not lukewarm, but hot. Bubbles are also required, even if you are a man who is too manly for this. Just don’t tell any of your guy friends. Other bath accessories, such as a loofah sponge, or bath gels, or potpourri, are very optional (editor’s note: think hilarious Friends episode).

Again, you must have all distractions shut off. Bathing is also best done if you are alone in the house, but if not, everyone else in the house must know that you CANNOT be disturbed, even if the house is burning down. If they break this sacred rule, you must turn upon them with the Wrath of Hell(tm).

Step into your bath, one foot at a time, very slowly. If your bath is properly hot, it is best if you get into it an inch at a time. For more sensitive body parts, such as the crotchal area, it is best to squeeze your eyes shut tight and slowly lower yourself into the steaming water despite all instincts to flee. Once you are fully immersed (and you should go completely under, head included, at first), close your eyes, and feel the heat penetrating your body.

You may begin to sweat. This is a good thing. Allow the sweat to flow. You may need a glass of water as the sweat could dehydrate you. A good book is another great way to enjoy your bath. Allow your muscles to be penetrated by the heat, to be relaxed completely, and feel all your worries and stresses and aches and inner turmoil flow out of your body into the water.

A hot bath is even more awesome if followed by a bracing cold shower. Either way, get out of the bath once the water is no longer warm and your skin is very raisin-like.

Tasting and feeling
Doing nothing is also great when accompanied by very good beverages or food. Good tea or coffee, wine, hot cocoa, and other sensual beverages go very well with the Art. It’s best to take these beverages by themselves, with no food, and without a book or other distractions. Focus on the liquid as you sip it slowly, savoring every bit of the flavor and texture and temperature in your mouth before swallowing, and feeling the swallow completely. Close your eyes as you do this. Truly enjoy this drink.

Foods are also great: berries, rich desserts, freshly made bread, the best … soup … ever, or whatever it is that you love. Be sure you eat it slowly, savoring every bite. Chew slowly, and close your eyes as you enjoy the food. Feel the texture in your mouth. It is bliss!

Doing nothing in nature

Once you’ve passed the above stages, it is time to practice this gentle art out in nature. Find a peaceful place — in your front yard if that’s peaceful, a park, the woods, at the beach, a river, a lake — places with water are excellent. Places out of reach of the sounds of traffic and city life are best.

Out here in nature, you can practice the art for 20 minutes, an hour, or even longer. There are fewer distractions, and you can really shut yourself off from the stresses of life. Don’t just let your mind wander everywhere — focus on the natural surroundings around you. Look closely at the plants, at the water, at the wildlife. Truly appreciate the majesty of nature, the miracle of life.

Incorporating the Art in daily life
This is the final stage of mastering this Art. Don’t attempt it until you’ve practiced and become competent at the above stages.

Start by doing nothing while you are waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, on a bus, or for a plane. Wait, without reading a newspaper or magazine, without talking on the phone, without checking your email, without writing out your to-do list, without doing any work, without worrying about what you need to do later. Wait, and do nothing. Concentrate on your breathing, or try one of the relaxation techniques above. Concentrate on those around you — watch them, try to understand them, listen to their conversations.

Next, try doing nothing when you drive. Yes, you must drive, but try to do nothing else. Don’t listen to music or news or an audiotape. Don’t multi-task. Don’t talk on your cell phone, don’t eat, and don’t do your makeup. Just drive. Concentrate on your driving, look at the things you are passing, and feel your breathing. Relax yourself, and don’t worry about the other drivers (but don’t crash into them!). Drive slowly, going easy on the gas and brake pedals. This technique has a great side-effect: better gas mileage.

Last, try doing nothing in the middle of chaos, in your workplace or other stressful environment. Just shut everything out, close your eyes, and think about your breathing. Try a relaxation technique. Do this for 5-10 minutes at a time, building up to 20-30 minutes. If you can do this, in the middle of a stressful day at work or with the kids, you will allow yourself to focus more fully on the task at hand. You will be relaxed and ready to concentrate, to bring yourself into a state of flow. (Warning: Doing nothing could get you in trouble with your boss, so be careful! But if it makes you more productive, you boss might not mind.)

Finally, the Art of Doing Nothing cannot be mastered overnight. It will take hours and hours of practice, of hard work (doing nothing isn’t easy!). But you will enjoy every minute of it! Try it today.

Want more tips on staying focused in your life?  See “Minutes of Mindfulness” every Monday.

Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster…5 Things to Try

Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster...5 Things to Try

Your thoughts can determine your reality.  Do you accept this?  If so then you know that your moods are triggered by your thoughts which then creates a spiral of feelings.  Some are easy to deal with and others, well, let’s just say you might be having a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde conversation in your head.

As we start to spiral out of control, the emotional roller coaster senses it and the chemicals in our body either speed up the coaster or slow it down.  It is also important to note that regular eating habits can maintain a good balance in our blood sugar levels so if that is not the case, eat a snack right now and come back to me.

So after doing a check-in on your emotions, and knowing what your trigger is, it’s time to really dig in and do the work.  If you are reading this article, there is no one peeking over your shoulder to tell you how to feel right now, but you are aware that you might need a few tips and tricks to create less of the roller coaster ride, and more of a great sight-seeing train ride, that stays even and is enjoyable.

5 Tips to Get Off the Coaster:

  1. Are you in the present moment?  Imagine the mood is like a balloon.  Detach from it by letting go of the string and watch it drift away.  Same as old thoughts.  To come into this moment right now, practice breathing deeply for a full round of 3 breaths.  Roll your shoulders back and walk around barefoot as needed.  Feel the sensations in the present moment of your toes on whatever surface you are walking on.  Get grounded.
  2. Don’t act, pause.  If the emotion is at the top of that first hill, ride it out.  Throw your arms up and scream down that hill.  Man.  Emotions can suck, but they can be really cool as well.  Exhilarating even.  Think about the situation as a whole and ponder in a week from now, is this going to be the same?  Visualize the emotion you really want to enter in on your next clank up the roller coaster hill. As you come down that next hill, smile.
  3. Don’t dwell in negative.  We get so caught up in negative news, negative drama, and negative reactions that we tend to stay there.  Change your situation if possible.  Get out of the house.  Go for a walk.  Look for a new job, seriously, if it’s that bad.  But don’t dwell as it hasn’t helped you so far.  Make a plan.  Talk to a  health coach or a counselor if you really want a different perspective.  You can do this.
  4. Journal around your feelings.  I know that I teach this, and have several different tools you can use, but it is really true.  Daily my Club members tell me what a difference it makes just doing one exercise I have taught them.  Trying one new thing.  If you don’t believe me, see the link above and read the comments that scroll at the bottom.  You don’t have to be a great writer to practice this.  You can start off by simply writing “Today really sucked and here is why.”  Then shift that into, here is how I want to feel.  Then the next day you can go one step further and write as if the good news you have been wanting has happened or the day went better than expected.  Each day will get easier.  I know you can do this.
  5. Learn to practice mindfulness.  I did a funny live chat about a lady who was definitely not mindful on my last errand and how her day went compared to the manager who just smiled as she came out of the door.  I then starting thinking what if I have been like that?  What if I am seen in that light if I am in a hurry or if I lose my cool in public, which of course, never happens because I am all zen.  Yup.  A zen Scorpio.  hahaha.  <<< not really, but I am a work in progress, okay?

I don’t proclaim to have all the answers as I am still learning and teaching myself and will continue with each breath.  Each day I could have done things differently and of course, the old thoughts do not serve me.  I must let them go and release them.  Live in the present moment as best I can with the tools I have available to me.  Coach my Club and others using my motto “The burned hand teaches best.”  I can teach you because I have gone through it as well.

Want more guidance?  Come join my Closed group through this link.  I won’t hold you hostage and I know that spending $10 on monthly coaching seems too good to be true, but it’s not.  It’s real.

Top 20 Motivation Tips

top 20 motivation tipsGuest Post By Leo Babauta

This article is a list of tips and tricks that, if used in combination, are a nearly sure way to achieve your goals.

Achieving goals is not a matter of having “discipline”. It’s a matter of motivating yourself, and keeping your focus on your goal. Follow these tips, or any combination of them that works for you, and you should have the motivation and focus you need.

Here are the top 20 Motivation Tips:

1. Chart Your Progress. Recently I posted about how I created a chart to track my progress with each of my goals. This chart is not just for information purposes, for me to look back and see how I’m doing. It’s to motivate me to keep up with my goals. If I’m diligent about checking my chart every day, and marking dots or “x”s, then I will want to make sure I fill it with dots. I will think to myself, “I better do this today if I want to mark a dot.” Well, that’s a small motivation, but it helps, trust me. Some people prefer to use gold stars. Others have a training log, which works just as well. Or try Joe’s Goals. However you do it, track your progress, and allow yourself a bit of pride each time you give yourself a good mark.

Now, you will have some bad marks on your chart. That’s OK. Don’t let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time.

2. Hold Yourself Back. When I start with a new exercise program, or any new goal really, I am rarin’ to go. I am full of excitement, and my enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Nor does my sense of self-limitation. I think I can do anything. It’s not long before I learn that I do have limitations, and my enthusiasm begins to wane.

Well, a great motivator that I’ve learned is that when you have so much energy at the beginning of a program, and want to go all out — HOLD BACK. Don’t let yourself do everything you want to do. Only let yourself do 50-75 percent of what you want to do. And plan out a course of action where you slowly increase over time. For example, if I want to go running, I might think I can run 3 miles at first. But instead of letting myself do that, I start by only running a mile. When I’m doing that mile, I’ll be telling myself that I can do more! But I don’t let myself. After that workout, I’ll be looking forward to the next workout, when I’ll let myself do 1.5 miles. I keep that energy reined in, harness it, so that I can ride it even further.

3. Join an online (or off-line) group to help keep you focused and motivated.  Editor’s note, join an online community by searching for what you love near you.  If it is daily motivation you are searching for with an online community and a closed group, check this link here and click on “I Need Support”.

Each time I joined a forum, it helped keep me on track. Not only did I meet a bunch of other people who were either going through what I was going through or who had already been through it, I would report my progress (and failures) as I went along. They were there for great advice, for moral support, to help keep me going when I wanted to stop.

4. Post a picture of your goal someplace visible — near your desk or on your refrigerator, for example. Visualizing your goal, exactly how you think it will be when you’ve achieved it, whether it’s financial goals like traveling to Rome or building a dream house, or physical goals like finishing a marathon or getting a flat stomach, is a great motivator and one of the best ways of actualizing your goals.

Find a magazine photo or a picture online and post it somewhere where you can see it not only daily, but hourly if possible. Put it as your desktop photo, or your home page. Use the power of your visual sense to keep you focused on your goal. Because that focus is what will keep you motivated over the long-term — once you lose focus, you lose motivation, so having something to keep bringing your focus back to your goal will help keep that motivation.

5. Get a workout partner or goal buddy. Staying motivated on your own is tough. But if you find someone with similar goals (running, dieting, finances, etc.), see if they’d like to partner with you. Or partner with your spouse, sibling or best friend on whatever goals they’re trying to achieve. You don’t have to be going after the same goals — as long as you are both pushing and encouraging each other to succeed.

6. Just get started. There are some days when you don’t feel like heading out the door for a run, or figuring out your budget, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do that day for your goal. Well, instead of thinking about how hard it is, and how long it will take, tell yourself that you just have to start.

I have a rule (not an original one) that I just have to put on my running shoes and close the door behind me. After that, it all flows naturally. It’s when you’re sitting in your house, thinking about running and feeling tired, that it seems hard. Once you start, it is never as hard as you thought it would be. This tip works for me every time.

7. Make it a pleasure. One reason we might put off something that will help us achieve our goal, such as exercise for example, is because it seems like hard work. Well, this might be true, but the key is to find a way to make it fun or pleasurable. If your goal activity becomes a treat, you actually look forward to it. And that’s a good thing.

8. Give it time, be patient. I know, this is easier said than done. But the problem with many of us is that we expect quick results. When you think about your goals, think long term. If you want to lose weight, you may see some quick initial losses, but it will take a long time to lose the rest. If you want to run a marathon, you won’t be able to do it overnight. If you don’t see the results you want soon, don’t give up … give it time. In the meantime, be happy with your progress so far, and with your ability to stick with your goals. The results will come if you give it time.

9. Break it into smaller, mini goals. Sometimes large or longer-term goals can be overwhelming. After a couple of weeks, we may lose motivation, because we still have several months or a year or more left to accomplish the goal. It’s hard to maintain motivation for a single goal for such a long time. Solution: have smaller goals along the way.

10. Reward yourself. Often. And not just for longer-term goals, either. Above, I talked about breaking larger goals into smaller, mini goals. Well, each of those mini goals should have a reward attached to it. Make a list of your goals, with mini goals, and next to each, write down an appropriate reward. By appropriate, I mean 1) it’s proportionate to the size of the goal (don’t reward going on a 1-mile run with a luxury cruise in the Bahamas); and 2) it doesn’t ruin your goal — if you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward a day of healthy eating with a dessert binge. It’s self-defeating.

11. Find inspiration, on a daily basis. Inspiration is one of the best motivators, and it can be found everywhere. Every day, seek inspiration, and it will help sustain motivation over the long-term. Sources of inspiration can include: blogs, online success stories, forums, friends and family, magazines, books, quotes, music, photos, people you meet.

12. Get a coach or take a class. These will motivate you to at least show up, and to take action. It can be applied to any goal. This might be one of the more expensive ways of motivating yourself, but it works. And if you do some research, you might find some cheap classes in your area, or you might know a friend who will provide coaching or counseling for free.

13. Have powerful reasons. Write them down. Know your reasons. Give them some thought … and write them down. If you have loved ones, and you are doing it for them, that is more powerful than just doing it for self-interest. Doing it for yourself is good too, but you should do it for something that you REALLY REALLY want to happen, for really good reasons.

14. Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them. We all have urges to stop, but they are mostly unconscious. One of the most powerful things you can do is to start being more conscious of those urges. A good exercise is to go through the day with a little piece of paper and put a tally mark for each time you get an urge. It simply makes you aware of the urges. Then have a plan for when those urges hit, and plan for it beforehand, and write down your plan, because once those urges hit, you will not feel like coming up with a plan.

15. Make it a rule never to skip two days in a row. This rule takes into account our natural tendency to miss days now and then. We are not perfect. So, you missed one day … now the second day is upon you and you are feeling lazy … tell yourself NO! You will not miss two days in a row! Zen Habits says so! And just get started. You’ll thank yourself later.

16. Visualize your goal clearly, on a daily basis, for at least 5-10 minutes. Visualize your successful outcome in great detail. Close your eyes, and think about exactly how your successful outcome will look, will feel, will smell and taste and sound like. Where are you when you become successful? How do you look? What are you wearing? Form as clear a mental picture as possible. Now here’s the next key: do it every day. For at least a few minutes each day. This is the only way to keep that motivation going over a long period of time.

17. Keep a daily journal of your goal. If you are consistent about keeping a journal, it can be a great motivator. A journal should have not only what you did for the day, but your thoughts about how it went, how you felt, what mistakes you made, what you could do to improve. To be consistent about keeping a journal, do it right after you do your goal task each day. Make keeping a journal a sensory pleasure.

18. Create a friendly, mutually-supportive competition. We are all competitive in nature, at least a little. Some more than others. Take advantage of this part of our human nature by using it to fuel your goals. If you have a workout partner or goal buddy, you’ve got all you need for a friendly competition. See who can log more miles, or save more dollars, each week or month. See who can do more pushups or pullups. See who can lose the most weight or have the best abs or lose the most inches on their waist. Make sure the goals are weighted so that the competition is fairly equal. And mutually support each other in your goals.

19. Make a big public commitment. Be fully committed. This will do the trick every time. Create a blog and announce to the world that you are going to achieve a certain goal by a certain date. Commit yourself to the hilt.

20. Always think positive. Monitor your thoughts. Be aware of your self-talk. We all talk to ourselves, a lot, but we are not always aware of these thoughts. Start listening. If you hear negative thoughts, stop them, push them out, and replace them with positive thoughts. Positive thinking can be amazingly powerful.

Motivation Tips

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Life!

Well, we did it.  We made it to the first day of spring, but for many of us, it doesn’t quite feel like that outside yet.  In fact, there might have been sightings of snow yesterday or it might still be on the ground.  Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather has been a bit interesting.

For many of us though, no matter where you live or what the weather is, we can all use a little light cleaning, or perhaps some deep cleaning, of our lives.  It’s time to re-evaluate who and what you want to keep in your life so let’s get started.

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Life:

  1. I have no closet space!  Okay, so guess what this means?  It’s time to take out as much as possible, try it on, and part with it if it doesn’t fit, you aren’t going to wear it again, or you haven’t worn it in 3 years.  Yup.  Now make those piles, and include your shoes.  If you don’t love it, and it doesn’t work for you, it goes.
  2. Check the expiration dates…in your fridge.  It’s time to get some fresh food in there, you know?  Start with some nice leafy greens, more fruits and veggies and less processed stuff.  You will start to feel better.  More smoothies, and more prepping the snacks ahead of time.  Go ahead and add some fruit water while you are at it.  You will feel much better.
  3. And cue the Rocky music in your head.  It’s time to add a bit more exercise to your day.  I know, I know.  You have been avoiding it.  Well, guess what?  93 days until summer starts.  Let’s make the best of it right now!  Try some exercises at home if you don’t want to get out or even jump-start the next 4 Weeks of your Life with my baby-step plan.
  4. Clean the friend lists and streamline social media.  If you don’t really speak to acquaintances who send you requests because you might know each other from something long ago…or even better, have never met and they don’t speak to you, start thinking about clearing some space.  Especially if they are politically charged and you don’t have the energy for that in your face all the time.  Your energy is important…and keeping it clean is valuable.
  5. Mirror, mirror on the wall…I need sleep before I fall.  How’s your sleep schedule?  Try knocking off from technology an hour earlier.  No matter what.  Tell people as well.  Look friends, I really like you, but at 9p.m., I shut my phone off  There.  It’s done.  Now relax with a new routine.  Read a book, soak in the tub, and get some sleep.  Start a gratitude journal practice.  But try something new that helps get you into better sleep habits.

Start being more mindful today of what you allow into your home, your car, your work area, and of course, your life.  As you work to spring clean your life,  things will start to fall into place.

 

 

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10 Tips for Quitting Smoking

A Guest Post By Leo Babauta

I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary of quitting smoking (editor’s note, he quit in 2007). Well, of finally quitting … like most smokers, I had tried to quit many times and failed. But this quit stuck, and I’d like to share the top 10 things that made this quit successful when the others failed.

1. Commit Thyself Fully. In the quits that failed, I was only half into it. I told myself I wanted to quit, but I always felt in the back of my mind that I’d fail. I didn’t write anything down, I didn’t tell everybody (maybe my wife, but just her). This time, I wrote it down. I wrote down a plan. I blogged about it. I made a vow to my daughter. I told family and friends I was quitting. I went online and joined a quit forum. I had rewards. Many of these will be in the following tips, but the point is that I fully committed, and there was no turning back. I didn’t make it easy for myself to fail.

2. Make a Plan. You can’t just up and say, “I’m gonna quit today.” You have to prepare yourself. Plan it out. Have a system of rewards, a support system, a person to call if you’re in trouble. Write down what you’ll do when you get an urge. Print it out. Post it up on your wall, at home and at work. If you wait until you get the urge to figure out what you’re going to do, you’ve already lost. You have to be ready when those urges come.

3. Know Your Motivation. When the urge comes, your mind will rationalize. “What’s the harm?” And you’ll forget why you’re doing this. Know why you’re doing this BEFORE that urge comes. Is it for your kids? For your wife? For you health? So you can run? Because the girl you like doesn’t like smokers? Have a very good reason or reasons for quitting. List them out. Print them out. Put it on a wall. And remind yourself of those reasons every day, every urge.

4. Not One Puff, Ever (N.O.P.E.). The mind is a tricky thing. It will tell you that one cigarette won’t hurt. And it’s hard to argue with that logic, especially when you’re in the middle of an urge. And those urges are super hard to argue with. Don’t give in. Tell yourself, before the urges come, that you will not smoke a single puff, ever again. Because the truth is, that one puff WILL hurt. One puff leads to a second, and a third, and soon you’re not quitting, you’re smoking. Don’t fool yourself. A single puff will almost always lead to a recession. DO NOT TAKE A SINGLE PUFF!

5. Join a Forum. One of the things that helped the most in this quit was an online forum for quitters (quitsmoking.about.com) … you don’t feel so alone when you’re miserable. Misery loves company, after all. Go online, introduce yourself, get to know the others who are going through the exact same thing, post about your crappy experience, and read about others who are even worse than you. Best rule: Post Before You Smoke. If you set this rule and stick to it, you will make it through your urge. Others will talk you through it. And they’ll celebrate with you when you make it through your first day, day 2, 3, and 4, week 1 and beyond. It’s great fun.

6. Reward Yourself. Set up a plan for your rewards. Definitely reward yourself after the first day, and the second, and the third. You can do the fourth if you want, but definitely after Week 1 and Week 2. And month 1, and month 2. And 6 months and a year. Make them good rewards, that you’ll look forward to: CDs, books, DVDs, T-shirts, shoes, a massage, a bike, a dinner out at your favorite restaurant, a hotel stay … whatever you can afford. Even better: take whatever you would have spent on smoking each day, and put it in a jar. This is your Rewards Jar. Go crazy! Celebrate your every success! You deserve it.

7. Delay. If you have an urge, wait. Do the following things: take 10 deep breaths. Drink water. Eat a snack (at first it was candy and gum, then I switched to healthier stuff like carrots and frozen grapes and pretzels). Call your support person. Post on your smoking cessation forum. Exercise. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, BUT DELAY, DELAY, DELAY. You will make it through it, and the urge will go away. When it does, celebrate! Take it one urge at a time, and you can do it.

8. Replace Negative Habits with Positive Ones. What do you do when you’re stressed? If you currently react to stress with a cigarette, you’ll need to find something else to do. Deep breathing, self massage of my neck and shoulders, and exercise have worked wonders for me. Other habits, such as what you do the first thing in the morning, or what you do in the car, or wherever you usually smoke, should be replaced with better, more positive ones. Running has been my best positive habit, although I have a few others that replaced smoking.

9. Make it Through Hell Week, then Heck Week, and You’re Golden. The hardest part of quitting is the first two days. If you can get past that, you’ve passed the nicotine withdrawal stage, and the rest is mostly mental. But all of the first week is hell. Which is why it’s called Hell Week. After that, it begins to get easier. Second week is Heck Week, and is still difficult, but not nearly as hellish as the first. After that, it was smooth sailing for me. I just had to deal with an occasional strong urge, but the rest of the urges were light, and I felt confident I could make it through anything.

10. If You Fall, Get Up. And Learn From Your Mistakes. Yes, we all fail. That does not mean we are failures, or that we can never succeed. If you fall, it’s not the end of the world. Get up, brush yourself off, and try again. I failed numerous times before succeeding. But you know what? Each of those failures taught me something. Well, sometimes I repeated the same mistakes several times, but eventually I learned. Figure out what your obstacles to success are, and plan to overcome them in your next quit. And don’t wait a few months until your next quit. Give yourself a few days to plan and prepare, commit fully to it, and go for it!

BONUS TIP #11: THINK POSITIVE. This is the most important tip of all. I saved it for last. If you have a positive, can-do attitude, as corny as it may sound, you will succeed. Trust me. It works. Tell yourself that you can do it, and you will. Tell yourself that you can’t do it, and you definitely won’t. When things get rough, think positive! You CAN make it through the urge. You CAN make it through Hell Week. And you can. I did. So have millions of others. We are no better than you. (In my case, worse.)

 Editor’s note:  Lots of people have asked for this, so I pulled a guest post.  If you are interested in replacing some thoughts with positive ones and being more mindful of getting healthy, see the Work With Me tab as I would suggest the Gratitude Journal to keep you going on the right path.

Low Vibration Energy and How to Raise It!

As a Scorpio empath, I don’t mean to peek into your energy when you come into my life; however, I have never been able to turn it off.  It’s like hearing, eyesight, sense of smell, touch, taste is for most people.  They don’t even think about it.  It’s just always been there.  The difference is, your five senses probably don’t piss people off.  Well, maybe if you tell people they smell bad, but you get the picture.

As people come to me for healing work, I dig way deep down into the feelings, the vibrations and the energies they are throwing out there, and I try to help them make sense of what it is they are projecting out there in the real world.

Because the truth is, most people might not even realize that they are really throwing out some low vibrational signs.

As I began to work with my small group of women friends to teach them why it was difficult for me to be around them during certain times, I started noticing the energy really rise.  Consciously, my friends were soaking up what I had to say and they were doing the work.  If there were weeks when they didn’t put as much effort into controlling their thoughts, that might have been a week when I could tell just through messages that it wasn’t a good time for me to visit.

I did my journal therapy with them for a whole year before I launched my Head|Heart|Health Club because I saw drastic changes.  They were making huge shifts in their lives and I wasn’t sure if they could even see that HOW they were now being was different, but I could.  I was very pleased when my friend sent me a photo of her journal completely taking responsibility for falling out of her good habits.  It was really a good entry complete with flames and then a WTF?? <<< drawn off to the side.  She knew she had slipped.

But what does this have to do with changing our energy?  Oh everything darling.  Everything. 

It has long been proven by Sheldon, well Quantum Physics, that everything has energy.  Okay, so that’s easy to grasp.  Your electromagnetic vibrations can be raised or lowered by your thoughts, beliefs, everything really that you do on a day-to-day basis.  Following me so far?  Okay.  I don’t have the white board, but I think we’re doing good.

So I have been running a test on my page for a while now to see what words people are throwing out there.  The bottom line is this, when you are in a low vibrational state, you answer with really low vibrations.  You wear low vibrational colors.  You don’t feel you can change your life.  You aren’t happy about most things, etc.  You get it.  It becomes a snowball into all other areas of your thoughts…and thus your life.

If someone else is using low vibrational words, that is their energy and we have a choice.  We can choose to interact, thus lowering our energy, or we can choose to pull our energy away from them.  This is not a crime or something to be ashamed of, we simply want to keep ourselves balanced.  It is especially important to remember this right now.

Now what happens when we come in contact with others who are vibrating at a high frequency?  Can that help us?  YES.  YES.  Those are our people.  Find them and hang on.  Remember that old adage about the 5 people you spend the most time around.  It is true.  It is based on all of this sciencey Sheldon stuff.  So why do you think that I work very hard at protecting my energy?  Because I want to be one of those 5 people for everyone in my club.

It is time to shift your limiting beliefs.

What you focus on is what you attract more of.  It is plain and simple.  If you answer someone’s question about “Are you having a good day?” and you go into a tale of why you are not, you are repeating that energy path…maybe even setting it up for the next day.

Tips to Shift your Low Vibrational Thoughts:

  1. Don’t think “Woe is me.”  Turn it into “Wow!  It’s me!”  Yes, I just made that up, but really think about it.  Most people in my yoga classes now know that I am teaching with a knee brace for a few weeks.  Each day I wake up and choose to shift my thoughts away from the accident that caused the pain (Sledding with my child.  Yup.), and I choose to focus on the fact that it wasn’t worse.
  2. Be a Proactive force in your life…not Reactive!  Again, more things I have talked about in my group, but you really can be the shift.  See what I did there?  Be the change…be the shift.
  3. Self-reflection is your key to success.  This is where my healing gift really works best with my friends.  Perhaps I sense the answer in their energy or their feelings, but it is not me who needs to make the shift.  I lead them through a series of questions designed to help them make this shift thus making it even more powerful than it could have been if I had just said, “Do this.”  You have to put in the work (energy) to change the low energy you have around you.
  4. You are able to de-clutter your life and your space with ease.  You don’t cling to things in the past or material possessions that do not serve you or your home anymore.  This also lightens and frees you up to attract more good.
  5. You are willing to let go of past mistakes and turn it into a lesson…not a life sentence.  This one will repeat itself my friends as it’s a doozy.  It takes a very strong person to let go and forgive.

In the end, a low vibration energy is linked to stress, health issues, anxiety, and more.  A positive vibration is linked to a clear head, a passion for knowing what you want in your heart, and overall wellness of health.

We would love to have you in the Head|Heart|Health Club this month if you are ready to shift.  The only way to know is if you are really ready to do the work, you are tired of being stuck in your old patterns, and you think that you can work really hard to let go of your past stories.

Thank you again for being here.  And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to pin it! Want more than this?  Check out the Empath’s Journaling Guide.

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From Panic to Peace…Your Guide to Meditation.

As the yoga class begins, I hit play on the Native American flute music and it wraps around my soul like a healing balm.  I literally shiver and feel myself becoming more still.  More “clicked” in to this present moment.  I breathe deeply and scan the energies.  What do we need today?

There are so many threads to smooth down at the beginning of a yoga class.  So we always begin with a centering exercise that calms the panic and soothes the soul.  But what if you have never meditated a day in your life?  What if the thought of being still, quiet and centered just seems out of reach?

The truth is, misconceptions to meditation lead to you not wanting to try it.  Most people envision a monk in robes at the top of a mountain sitting in stillness for days.  In reality, we can calm ourselves and really click in to our bodies in as little as 5 minutes.

How can we add this practice to our day?

  1. Clear a space on your calendar for “you” time.  Literally write it in if you have to.  I suggest the first thing in the morning, but if you feel stressed at any point in the day, you repeat your morning practice.
  2. You do not have to sit on the floor, but you do need to straighten your spine, relax your shoulders.  Put your feet flat on the floor if you are in a chair and sit up nice and tall.  The eyes drift closed and focus on the point between your eyebrows.
  3. Start by taking 3 deep cleansing breaths.  You can even repeat this mantra:  I am breathing in (inhale).  I am breathing out (exhale).
  4. As you breathe, focus on how your body feels.  Lift your toes and place them flat on the floor.  Put your hand on your belly and feel it expand like a balloon.  Just breathe.  If thoughts come into your mind, use my leaf imagery.  Place these unwanted thoughts on the leaf and watch it float away from you.  Peacefully down the stream.
  5. Allow your body to sit like this until you feel the tension release and a natural rhythm starts to take over.
  6. If thoughts have come in that you feel are really disturbing your peace, jot them down on a piece of paper after, and if you would like, you can use toilet paper to literally “flush” them away from you.  Ahh.  Release the you-know-what.

This practice can be done at any time, any place.  If you are having a particularly stressful time right now, use the shower meditation as well.  Each time you get in the shower, imagine the water washing off all thoughts of pain, anger, anxiety and only positive thoughts filling you up.  Continue to filter any and all thoughts that do serve you including panic, worry, thoughts of the past or thoughts of the future.  Keep focusing on the word contentment as you wash away worries.

Affirmations to use:

  1. All I need to do right now is breathe.
  2. I am safe and protected.
  3. A warm peaceful energy surrounds me and those I love.
  4. All is well.
  5. With every breath, I become more peaceful.

Interested in a meditative type of journaling practice to increase abundance and gratitude?  Feel free to check out my e-book here. <<< There are over 30 focused prompts to lead your mind to a better focus as well as exercises for the mind, and additional affirmations to use daily.

3 Key Tips to Moving Forward

Have you ever tried something new, but you really didn’t want to?  Think about that experience for a minute.  Well, I love the quote from C.S. Lewis that says:

Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.

It’s time to cross the monkey bars my friends.

I will never forget when I left teaching.  I thought I was slightly mad myself…but I knew in my gut that it was the only way to heal and move forward into what my life was supposed to look like.  I didn’t necessarily know where I was going, but I did it anyway.

As I designed my life around the concept of moving forward, I saw flashes of signs telling me that I was, and still am, on the right path…to go forward without looking back.

Where toI knew that creating a program to heal myself was going to take time…and armed with the knowledge that I didn’t necessarily have all the right answers at that particular moment, I moved forward.

I completed yoga teacher training and went from not being able to move, seriously, almost at all, to moving again.  I finished a sports nutrition course with almost a perfect score on the 100 question exam.  I made myself eat things like parsnip chips <<< that I actually made myself.  All because I kept moving forward.

Throughout it all the 3 key thoughts were as follows.

  1. Wake up with thoughts of gratitude on your mind…no matter how much pain you are in.  This one took me a whole year to work on, and I constantly realigned myself to thoughts of “thank you” as I woke up.  I had to change my thoughts away from the physical pain I was experiencing in order to get away from it.  I know this sounds odd, but try it.  It is necessary to surround yourself with the thoughts you want in your life.  The things you want to wake up to.  I wanted to wake up to thoughts of gratitude that one day, and mind you I had no idea how this would turn out, that one day, I would wake up without thinking about pain first.
  2. Faith.  I was really upset the day someone doubted my faith.  I was allowed to be mad, have bad days, have days I wanted to scream and shout, and ask “why me?”  I was not allowed to stop believing that I could do it.  That I could actually accomplish what I wanted.  We all make mistakes, but it was faith that kept whispering loud and clear, keep going.  It will happen.  I did have to remove the negative people from my life who didn’t support me on this belief…they simply couldn’t grasp that I was not watering their doubts.  I had my own grass to look too.
  3. Vision.  I visualized what the future would look like and stayed away from dwelling on what ifs.  I didn’t have time to look back.  I kept moving by creating vision boards, don’t laugh they work, and vision word boards.  I have one in front of me right this minute.  I was a teacher, remember?  So I took the top 5 words I wanted to embody daily, blew them up really BIG and put them on tag board behind my computer.  Up top so as I am typing, I look up to those words.  If I drift off course, I look back to those.  Am I creating something that is keeping me aligned to my purpose?  Yes.  Okay then, I can keep working on it.  Am I drifting again?  Stop working on that or putting energy into that thought.

These are the keys to my life right now.  I still use all 3 daily and practice keeping myself only looking to where I want to go.  If you are tempted by comparing yourself to others, stop.  That is their stuff, not yours.

Letting go

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10 Ways to Improve Your Mood

Mood

Doobie-doobie doo. <<< That’s me humming or something like that.  I am walking along, minding my own business, busy being in a great mood, when I get this message from someone not in a great mood.  Or worse, I check my bank account.  Hahaha, that’s always sure to put me in a great mood.  But seriously, whatever it is that has got you in a funk, let’s go ahead and get right on out of it.

Here are 10 Ways to Improve Your Mood:

1. Filter your thoughts.  You know how a pool filter gets the bugs and whatnot out of the pool so that your water is crystal clear?  Well I want you to put a filtration system in your head. Imagine it working as something comes in that’s causing you pain, discomfort, or depression.  Just turn it on, and if you have to run away from whoever is talking loudly making some sort of buzzing sound as if you have just engaged the hot tub cleaning feature, go ahead.  That’s sure to raise a few eyebrows…especially at work.
2. Stop dwelling.  So you wore your Bazinga T-shirt to work and it was dress like a Star Wars character day.  It’s okay.  Don’t replay in your head 1,000 times how you had the perfect Chewbacca robe that you could have gotten away with wearing just today.  Maybe it was even worse than that…and someone ate your all-natural gluten-free microwave meal out of refrigerator and now you have no food for lunch…only it’s 3 hours later and you are still thinking about it.  It’s over. I am sure they did not enjoy it as much as you would have…since it was your special pumpkin ravioli, but don’t go there.  Filter! Filter!
3. Play it cool.  I have been told that acting happy would in fact make me feel happier.  Hmm.  So therefore, tomorrow, when you go back to work, meet everyone in the eye and say hello to them like you mean it.  Act cool.  You got this.  You become what you think about most of the time, so no thinking about who stole your ravioli yesterday…and stop eyeballing Bob.  Think nice happy thoughts, like watching your favorite comedy show later and relaxing, but keep that thought while you work.
4. Be careful who you spend time with.  There you are, minding your own business on break, when Debby comes into the room.  Debby Downer.  That’s right.  You try not to make eye contact, but there’s nowhere to hide.  You pick up a magazine off the break room table really quickly to read it, but it’s a gossip magazine, which really makes you feel worse.  Debby jumps on the headline of doom and gloom and before you know it, your “break” has made you feel worse.  Negative attracts negative. Filter! Filter!
5. Breathe deeply and focus.  Did you know that people who suffer from depression are more likely shallow breathers?  Well neither did I, but I read it. But I do know that by breathing deeply, you cause the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that are associated with happy calm feelings and reduced levels of stress…plus I like brain research.  I also know that when I learned to somewhat meditate (I am trying) that I feel much better.  That’s actually why I encourage everyone to breathe deeply in my yoga classes.  Plus I don’t want them to pass out, but same thing.  I want them to feel good.
6. Put the lime in the coconut oil.  So, because I study things like thyroid function…not for fun, but to improve my health, I added coconut oil after discovering that people who don’t eat correctly could be actually making their anxiety and depression worse.  Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance not to mention you could actually make a Piña Colada some nice fat coconut milk.  Yummy.  See? Mood improved.  Best blog post ever.
7. Lay off the processed foods.  Sorry to be a buzz kill, but hey, look at the bright side, you will feel better.  Ready for some crazy “study” I read about? Yes. Yes you are.  I read a report taken from the Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews that basically uses long words to simply say sugar lights up your brain like cocaine.  It actually becomes an addiction.  Trust me, I was UGLY during my sugar withdrawal phase a little over a year ago, and now don’t even think about it…much.  Except when I see a Cadbury Egg. Filter!
8. Put on some 80’s musicOkay, fine so I stopped listening to modern music somewhere around the year ohhh 1996.  But whatever your personal music choice happens to be, put it on and sing.  It instantly works and activates the happy part of your brain…like ermmmm well other happy things I shan’t talk about, but you know.
9. The orb of sunlight.  You have rolled a 20.  You get to go outside today for 20 minutes.  If you pass this test, you can increase serotonin levels in your brain.  And while I always wear sunscreen or I burn like a vampire, it is suggested that you get the best benefits if you don’t wear sunscreen for those 20 minutes.  Or put on your daylight ring.  Whatever floats your boat…do it.
10. Get a dachshund or three.  It is reported, probably by Grumpy Cat, that cat owners are less likely to suffer from heart attacks than people who don’t own a cat.  And again it is “reported” by some folks who study nerdy brain things like Amy Farrah Fowler, Ph.D. that stroking your long-haired dachshund’s fur is calming to the nervous system and can reduce stress levels and improve your mood…unless they happen to take a pooh right on the floor because they still don’t listen.  In that case, owning a pet may not calm you down.  But hey, the bright side is that at least you can light some mood altering candles now.  Wink.

Lear these tips plus lots more hilarious support from me in our group Head|Heart|Health Club.

5 Ways to improve mood

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3 Reasons to Journal

I read once that we think between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day.  Okay, we all know people who might think less, but anyway, this isn’t about them.  The truth is, maybe they are just thinking the same thought over and over which would be like 2,500 thoughts per hour of the same damn thing.  How boring.  I remember the exact day I made a huge conscious effort to really get a hold of my thoughts.  No seriously.  I remember it because I remember what happened when I let go of the reins.  That wasn’t pretty…but that’s another story.

Today I want to take you through why it’s important to journal.

3 Reasons to Journal

There are many irrational thoughts in my head.  Probably yours too.  Why are they there?  What do they want?  Well, we get into patterns of the mind.  To be honest, I am worse when I don’t have my yoga to fall back on because yoga is a type of yoking you to the present moment.  I think it’s why I love it so much.  It is something that helps me focus.  So I am going to start my focusing again, but this time in my new journal.

  1. We put our intentions out there.  What is an intention?  Basically, it’s our aim or plan.  When we stop the cycle of random thoughts and put our intentions on paper, we are more likely to stick with it.  Our subconscious says “Okay, I wrote this down.  I have to do this.”  We have just created a focal point in which we can “yoke” our thoughts back to and perhaps even help manifest what our intention was for that day.  For example, today I will go to yoga.  Or I am going to meditate tonight before bed.  Just get it out there.
  2. We can reflect on the day before.  So after you have been journaling a week or more, start to reflect on what’s happening in your life.  Was it a good day? What were the best things about the day? How did you feel? Are you seeing your intentions come to fruition?  What could you do differently?  Get into the nitty-gritty of your head. 
  3. We can act on the good thoughts.  So, in a nutshell, we can really sift through the junk of our thoughts, and find the gold nuggets.  The things that we forget we think.  You can focus on your true dreams if you don’t let the utter nonsense get in the way.  Why is it there anyway?  Stop and ask yourself if it serves a purpose.  If the answer is no, it is only getting in the way, stop thinking about it.  If it doesn’t propel you forward, don’t dwell on it.  Period.  <<< hey, that’s a great quote from me.

Need more help?  Purchase the Gratitude Journal E-book here.

PropelWant to see 2 journals I like?

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