*martha, martha, martha*

I find myself completely and utterly taken over by Martha. Martha has reached the status of Chuck Norris, unicorns and espresso’s in my head. She is no longer a real person; she is an image and an ideal. I find myself conjuring up the spirit of Martha as I am just living my life and hearing myself saying things like, “Martha would never….” I am making jam, in a house that is filthy from last night calzones and burnt jam (more on that later) and I think Martha would never let her house get so messy, she would never eat while typing, she hates sugar in her coffee, and she never burns jam because she is chatting with friends while drinking a beer (a cheap, light beer at that). I am typing this while drinking my second cup of coffee of the day and planning on pouring the stale beer from last night into my hair (mixed with vinegar and lemon extract) for a nice hair rinse. These things I can be sure Martha is opposed to; I imagine her drinking one cup of espresso, wait I have googled this she does only drink one cup of coffee in the morning and she would never use beer in her hair-that is so uncouth.

And I wonder how did this women who I have never met, whose books I don’t own, whose television show I don’t watch and whose magazine can’t find it’s way to Armenia and my doorstep, lodge herself somewhere inside of me and who for better or worse till this month end do we part, we are joined. This month has been extravagant, I have made jam, cupcakes, cakes, calzones, buckles and delicious items everyday. I have been using face masks, drinking water, and doing morning yoga and evening stretches. I have been attempting to keep track of my finances, manage my emails and organize my spices. It is six days in and yet, my house is dirty, my bed isn’t made, my garbage is piling up and there is the smell of burnt plums-the Martha of my mind thinks-tisk, tisk. How is it that this certified bitch, perfectionist of a women is still such a dominating force-she has faced jail time and the scrutiny of the public eye and no one, no one! can live up to the image of this demigod. Yet, we (I) find myself looking to her, envying her and longing to be-like her.

At first I thought it was the facade that Martha allows for. Yes, my life is hectic and crazy and sometimes I am overworked, stressed out and tired-but hell, I just made the most beautiful presented dinner with desert to follow-the crust was flaky, the meat was moist, the vegetables were paired perfectly and the desert made me slip into oblivion and I touched the clouds of heaven, if only for a moment.

Now, I think that Martha is much more than that. She isn’t the facade of a perfect life. Martha is the internal longing, the internal expectations and the quite silent seeming voice of insecurity. As people subscribe to the powerhouse, they are embracing, cradling and nurturing those parts unknowingly. I love Martha, I love her so much. I am discovering that she is much more a reflection of that letter society wrote me when I was little that said.

Dear little girl,

You must be everything. You are a modern women who can get educated, work, have a family, and travel! Do it all. Work hard and be beautiful! All those ideals of the past, oh there still there- make your home as beautiful as you are, impress people with your abilities and put lip gloss on that smile. You are super! Look at you, you are a cook, maid, economist, mother, sister, daughter, student, employee, great friend! Manage that check book. You will make less than men and you will be alright with this because your hands will be busy and your heart will be full of the joy of working and proving yourself. You are never good enough so just keep on trying. You will find love through the eyes of others so look to men to validate you and to other people to affirm who you are. Know how to make a cake and how to properly apply eyeliner.

I write this after my mother telling me she is getting a face lift and how she used drugs since I was 3 years old (three years clean) and now, ready for a new life and a new pretty face.

I wonder when we are going to throw up our middle finger and tell society to stick that in it’s cake. This, written from a girl who loves pretty clothes, tea time and eyeshadow. I like to imagine, Virgin Woolf would applaud the contradictions while enjoying some peach cobbler and a rousing discussion.

I can’t wait to share the other delicious items and fun things that I embark on this month with you. I have a feeling that this month I will learn more than I did while meditating and standing in tree pose.

Get busy girls (sexist comment), cause we are going to get baked.

*are you there god?*

Are you there god?

It’s me…Wait this has been done before, crap.

Let’s start again with something more original,

Hi god or god like thing I don’t know what else to call you besides god, yeah, me here

I guess there are only so many ways to skin a cat or talk to god.

For the rest of the month I will take up prayer.

I am an X-Jesus freak, church attending, god lover and the only time I pray is when I pass car accidents or am getting test results back, and it sort of slips out of me, like cussing when I drop a glass on the floor.

God?  I can’t say if it is my greater self, my current self, the universe, the divine, my subjective reality or one of us (oh, bad joke). Frankly, I don’t really care at this point in the game (22 days of being a yogi, 28 years old and in Armenia). This apathy for a universal truth is fairly a-typical  to my disposition but the definition isn’t as important as the inquiry, spoken like a true Unitarian. I do long to continuously alter and understand how I define my relationship with this thing/concept and how that fits into my life (if at all) after this month.

I remember listening to some guy talk about his religious beliefs (no source info because I don’t remember who it was or where I heard this) and he was explaining his own ‘faith.’ He knows for certain that he can’t be certain about the divine or anything in the supernatural realm, but regardless, he makes a choice to believe in a god. This willful belief is constructed for the sole reason, it makes his life better to hold this belief, and to conduct his life as if there is such an entity, than where he to not “believe.” It isn’t as simple for me but I feel more comfortable thinking about our connection to the world and to each other, the force of love or the power of trust and the magnitude of the universe as my constructed god.  Heck, I like to think of religion or spirituality like a buffet table I can pick and choose how I am feeling at that moment and maybe one day I want a salad (god) and the next a jello with fruit inside (god).

Girls swirled in dresses of pink and I would braid your hair
I danced with you in the moonlight and the stars would hum a tune
My feet atop of yours, I would float on clouds and lullabies.
Pen to ink
Black on white
Red, hot, fire and screams
You threw me into the flames and I felt the world swallow me whole
The smoke choked, blinded and I lost sight of the sound
The white of fog settled and you were farther than I could see
I thought maybe you were only of a dream
Words held me in their gentle hands and I slept with the likes of men and women who had no form only text.
You couldn’t take me to the depths of the chaos, to the end of the end
I forgot

I would find you as I stumbled, lost in a dark alley,
Eyeliner, mascara and cigarettes
“My shoes are broken,” I would say
I was drunk and crying
You told me, “You don’t need them anyway”
“What do you know old man,” I would hiss my spit venom.

You would sell me candies that were hard and sour
I would work them in my mouth for hours, tonguing them passionately
They would leak syrupy honey through a small crack
The thick sweetness would coat my mouth and would begin to pour like rain from the sky and tears of a new born

Then there was nothing

You would visit me again, in music notes, sitting a rest upon a star, at the end of a river of tears you would be waiting under a tree, you liked to creep in silently like a cat and rest at my feet

I saw you again the other day,

You have changed; you looked older, kinder, and gentler than I remembered

You seem, now, to show up in the strangest of places; in the faces of people I have never met, in flowers lining the streets, in the bottom of a cup of tea, at the end of words holding on to the tails of sentences and taking a nap in the creases of books. You are much more unrestrained now than I recall, you extend like the sweet scent of lavender in the summer and I delight in simply enjoying the lingering and savoring the fleeting.

Eyes change as the years pass and mine once searched for you and now they can’t help but find you.

*what to do when life is*

Get your groove on….

I planned to write simple tips on how to wiggle out of those sticky, not so sweet, bits of life. It is turning out to be less simple than I thought, because so many of the “little tips” hinge on “larger bits” that I can’t seem to shove into the framework of bullet points or bold text. I think I have managed to not be all hyperbolic but also not all bare bones, I am walking that tight rope in information distribution. This is just a piece of the the delicious pie- so chomp in your chompers.

Mind over Matter

This is all about harnessing the power, embody Yoda. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect considering the striking similarities between those words of Yoda and yogi. Our brains are powerful, if you know anything about anything you would know that time travel is a feat that only is realized by Marty Mcfly and well, your brain. It can create the future in an instant, relive the past and bring us to altered states of reality that might just have such horrors as the likes of monsters, demons and 90’s metal bands. Yikes! I don’t know about larping (live action role playing) but I do know that with a little TLC you can make your brain world oh, so lovely. Are you picture beautiful men and cupcakes, or maybe that is just me…

Speaking of cupcakes. When I am making cupcakes; I do all the work, the mixing and preparing, then pouring them into their tins, I then set a timer and forget about em. I take this 13 minutes to do what ever I want; clean, read, make frosting…I often forget all about my delicious friends heating up that is until I hear the song of the bells. Now I am going to leap, take the timer out of the kitchen and use it in a different way, brain control.  If you find yourself ruminating over something rather unpleasant, set a timer for a few hours later. Then, tell yourself until the timer goes off, you must think of something else and do something else, best of all, focus on something that makes you feel good. Since this is an avoidance tactic, it will only work if it makes you feel good, really good. Most things, when avoided for a long period grow stronger and can cause more discordance. So don’t ignore this issue but understand that you aren’t solving anything when you are playing a broken record in your head. Play the next song, it has a much better beat anyways.

Back to cupcakes, when the timer goes off and I am making cupcakes I feel all sorts of good feelings of anticipation and curious excitement. Channel Pavlov and condition yourself so that the ring of your timer is the perfect time for you to relax, take some breaths and have 10 seconds of pure bliss. (For the rest of the month I will set my timer for every two hours and with it’s reminder I will relax into some yummy sensations brought about through closing my eyes and taking some deep breaths).

Every day love


I am totally into self love (Ow!, was that too obvious?). A sure way to bulk up your arsenal against feeling  overwhelmed or anxious is to love the crap out of yourself, everyday. Don’t wait until you are already stressed!  What if, you focused on ways to stop that pesky intruder, stress before it is able to get through the door. You might have to switch around your entire belief system to do this but first you have to realize YOU are the most important thing in your life. So pamper yourself; have a party with yourself (I am serious, party with yourself!), have fun, find the things that you LOVE (for me I read, dance, play and tell bad jokes). Fall in love with yourself so that the time you have with you is exactly what you needed, meditate, relax, breathe. Be your best friend and you best love-take yourself out for a date-I am sure you know exactly what you like. Take really good care of yourself; get sweaty, eat food that makes you feel good, drink water and get lots of sleep.

How you live


There is a little gluten allergic, sinus infected, glasses wearing, type A person inside of me and they love to organize and manage and get all up in my business. I have found that contrary to popular belief having a set routine is sexy! If you are a human, you probably get all “new year revolutions” and vow to be healthier, happier, friendlier but then, things happen, life happens-you forget all the other stuff. Those bright shinny new year revolutions now are looming like rain clouds and they are a persistent  burden, you don’t have the time or the energy and their presence reminds you of your failure and the approaching storm. That sounds like FUN! lets do that year after year after year. Wait, let’s not.

All those things that you want to do, those things you love doing, those things that make you feel real good-put them on your calender and do them. When life gets hectic, revamp, re-evaluate but don’t throw those gems of heaven away. Your routine can be something that invigorates you and inspires you. It makes you excited for the day and the things you will experience and learn. It can reflect your goals wants and anything and everything that you decide. To me, that is pretty cool. .

I need to start a pocket protector, nerd, cheerleader team-we would say-get repetitive, get, get repetitive. So it is the same thing over and over again but HALT! have you not heard, repetition is incredible calming and can be like a little Valium for a weary mind. So find a routine that you like, then do it, over and over and over again-it will smoothly and easily become you.

What all of this does is organizes your life. It makes it so all those things that are floating around your head, as things that you would like to do….at some point. They are identified as a priority and set into a time frame and then little chicken, pluck away because you can do them now.

Forward go yo


So much literature about living your best life always states a need to be in the present. Disregard the future and past and come into the now-all is good now, right? That is what they tell us. Yet, there are glimpses of lives we could be living, people we could be loving, jobs we could be doing, worlds that we could be creating, and yet we aren’t. The way to manage this confusing disconnect between loving now but also longing for something else is to allow these two, seemingly different worlds, to collide. Imagine you are going to go to a park you set out a nice blanket and enjoy a lovely picnic. Enjoy the walk to the park is what I am saying, but you have to do a little bit more than enjoy it. You have to make sure your potato salad isn’t going to go bad, you have to bring food that doesn’t need to be cooked, you might want to bring an umbrella or a jacket-you have to do a little forward thinking cause you want this to be a the best picnic ever. If it is was me, I would bring a boom box.

How do you do that in “real life?” The best way that I can think is to make the steps that you take now deliberate and reflective of your larger goals. Think what would you like in the future (1 ,5, and 10 years), write these things down, and then think about what can you do now to get that. Then when life feels overwhelming, examine what it is that you really really want and take the opportunity to change your goals, actions, and daily activities to reflect who you would like to be.


Whoa hold up


There are a plethora of quotes that say things like ‘that which doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger,’ and ‘no pain no gain.’ There is a assertion that these struggles are good, bring on the challenge, I am going to suffer through it. eh, I am not into it.

Struggles and pain are inevitable in life and part of the beautiful complex human experience. It is true that there are no guaranties in life, and to some this can feel like since there is no guaranty, one has to continuously fight for what is wanted. Relationships fade, money comes and goes, children misbehave, friends hurt us, we are not appreciated at work, we aren’t picked first, there are others who are better, stronger, prettier than we are, we are trying to get out of debt, fights, conflicts, anger….I am getting a little down just typing all of those words and that is just the eggs and flour that isn’t the whole cake. It can feel like there is a battle that is being waged and it is us versus life and no one wins.

A lot of times when life throws us a curve ball we want to stand firmly, grab our bat and smash that baby to smithereens. This might work for that one throw but those balls keep on flying until you start play the game differently. Really, when life gets real hard something that can be really helpful is to get intimate with yourself (curve ball analogy ends here). Honestly, listen to the struggle-ask some questions to yourself, like what is up? Figure out why this is so hard for you and then ask yourself,what can I learn from this?  If you see every single one of those little hiccups in the road as a chance to learn and grow, you will exit from the other side of life’s challenges more capable and more able to deal with whatever gets tossed your way.

It seems that often when life is challenging it causes us to look at ourselves and see what others are doing TO us or what is happening TO us. Take a second to put things in to perspective. Put on the other persons shoes, think about this problem 5 or 10 years from now, think about the other problems that are facing people all over the world. How does your problem feel now? 

One way to change your perspective is to physically change your state. Get the heck out of your comfort zone, do something you would have never thought you would do, join a class, do something scary, read a book you wouldn’t typically read. I like to climb trees until I got uncomfortably high and then try to figure out how to get back down. It doesn’t sound like much but when you are able to confront fear and overcome it, in the physical realm it can help to alleviate fear in other areas. 

Enjoy



I am pretty good at having fun-scratch that, I bring the fun. When ever I am feeling a bit in a funk I know a sure fire way to get me to stop mulling over what ever it is and put a smile on my face is to enjoy life. If you are the type who isn’t really sure how to do that, hang out with children-it is best if they are younger and a pleasure to be around-kick the ball around, play some house, blow some stuff up, make faces, whatever. Play! Get out into nature, take a walk, smell some roses (seriously), pick some flowers and put them in your house (or give them away), walk barefoot…Get out! I have worked on projects that have been really frustrating or I was trying to accomplish something that was causing me stress (packing for the peacecorps) what really helped me was to just leave. Removing yourself from the thing that is causing you stress can give you a chance to relax and then you can come back to it with a new sense of zest and zeal. Along that same token projects and creation are some of the best ways to just enjoy yourself. Make things, do things, try out stuff you have never tried. Make a list of things you would love to do or have been wanting to do-then do it. 

Enjoying life is about enjoying where you are at, right now. Look around you and take in all that is there, be inspired to play, create and have fun!


Hearts and others


Love, love, love your friends and make new ones. Make sure you make time for your friends as they are the sweet nectar of life. Recruit the ladies and men in your life who are your number ones; phone a friend, go on a friend date, get some coffee, go roller skating, take a walk, see a movie-just be together and connect to the ones you love. Give each other hugs, smiles and share the love.



*love and loss*

Dear Beer

I love you so much.

You are delicious.

I think yogi’s are anti loving something the way that I love you.

So, I am not going to drink you for the rest of the month.

Love always,
me


There is more…

Ice-cream,

Remember how I eat you every day.

Well, those are memories of the past now.

See you next month.

Fondest regards,

xo

 

*free your mind*

Let it be

60,000 that is what I have heard is the number of thoughts an average person has per day. Ok, so this number is as about accurate as anything on yahoo answers, but that is beside the point. The point, your brain is full; full of neurons firing and electrical impulses, that take the form of your thoughts. I love thinking. It is one of my favorite past-times, along with picnics, dancing badly, and hula hooping. Sometimes my thoughts are really interesting and exciting, like NASA but other times they are like a hamster running in a hamster wheel, going nowhere. One of the most sci-fi things that I have been doing lately has been altering my thoughts, yogi’s love this kind of stuff hence it is part of my yogi lifestyle.

Altering your thoughts: the break down….

1. Awareness


Alright now I know that you have a swell little noggin and the first thing that you have to do in turning your brain into your buddy, is become a good listener. Just as in any relationship, pour yourself a cup of tea and sit down for a good chat. Settle down and tune in and turn up the volume, you have to actually become aware of the thoughts that enter into your brain. Listen to the voice inside of your head; what kinds of things is it saying? what is it telling you to do? Then listen to how it is being said, is it negative? inspiring? positive? Then check out your bod, how does this voice make you feel; energized, tired, weak, excited? But most important check the judgment at the door, just notice.

2. Ask questions


The thing to not do is get all hyped up emotionally and then ask, “WHY!? oh WHY???!!” I promise this will do nothing except cause you to feel more miserable, more helpless, and more hopeless. Save yourself the booze and the bellyaching, wait until you calm down a bit and then ask some questions and when asked properly, ‘why‘ can be a friend not a foe. For myself, I place a lot of value on doing stuff. Consequently, a lot of my thoughts consist of what I need to do, should do, want to do, or all that I am not doing and could be doing; all of these are riddled with judgment.
If I ask myself the question, “why do you need to do this action?” I would answer something like, ” because I feel of value when I am productive,” then I could ask further, “why do you feel of value when you are productive?” …and then I would just keep on asking and the deeper into the hole you go the closer you become to understand where those thoughts come from. Ask away, little Alice.

2. Identify beliefs


Once you identify the things that make you think the thoughts you thunk, aka the beliefs. You can take out your magnifying glass and notebook because there is some inspection (or introspection) to do Watson. The cool thing is it is like cleaning house, keep around the stuff that you like and toss out the stuff that is outdated and out of fashion.  But before you toss out the old you have to wipe some of that dust off and bring it into the light. Most likely this relic of a belief was formed when you were pretty young. You, most likely, didn’t have a say in this creation and it has stuck around you for the years that followed, without your knowing. It isn’t something that you consciously decided, I want to believe this about the world. Once you find it begin to ask more questions-is this true, has this always been true, will this always be true? The reason for asking these types of questions is you believe this on some level, what you are trying to do now is shake things up. Get yourself creating a world where, maybe. just maybe, this isn’t true.

4. change your beliefs


Changing beliefs sounds SO hard. Please, Change?! I took some class in school and there were all these stages and steps and gosh, maybe I am in contemplative or pre-contemplative or maybe I will never change? eeeks. Believe *wink* me, it isn’t hard. Some of the common beliefs that people want to change are about worthlessness, helplessness and other totally self-crippling ideas.  Once these beliefs are brought out into the open they often seem really silly and you might even be  amazed that you ever believed such a thing. Some, though, can require a bit more elbow grease to shine em up and turn them into something beautiful. If you know you want to implant a new, cooler, hipper belief you can do that-ask yourself, what would I like to believe instead? BE-CAREFUL, self-affirmations are really lame and don’t work. If you tell yourself, ‘I am healthy and beautiful’ and you really believe ‘I am ugly and unhealthy,’ it wont work, no matter how many times you look at yourself in the mirror and repeat what you want to believe. No way, you have to really believe it. To do this, you have to break the old belief apart. Write down this belief and then write down all the ways you are NOT that; see it, feel it, and then you will believe that you are not what you thought you were, once and you are what you want to be, now.

5. control those thought


This is the part where you have implanted your own beliefs. You have created beliefs that reflect the reality you live in now, they empower you and make you feel solid and grounded. They are you but they can change as often as you want them to because you have the ability to alter them through your own consciousness. woot woot!

6. Crap, I forgot…


What happens when life happens; work, jobs, kids… Armenia.These things happen and sometimes being aware is the last thing that we want to do. Perhaps, you want to just get through the day, zone out, shut down, and be done. I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving yourself some r&r baby, cause it ain’t easy all the time. Sometimes our brains run away from us, and what can we do? I have ideas….that I will be adding to the mix for when life does that thing that it does. More later in the meantime…

I love this…

*veggie and friends*

You are what you eat…

The way to live like a yogi is to eat like a yogi. I am about to hop on the train that is stockpiled with veggies, fruit, natural grains and dairy. The yogis believe that we are one (literally) and food isn’t just that delicious thing that I buy from the grocery store in shinny packaging that I open and scarf. It isn’t the explosion in my mouth as my taste buds freak out from synthesized and processed deliciousness. It isn’t the colors, the sensations, the social aspect, the consumption, the packages, the chemicals…..wait, what IS it then??!!

It is the slow and mindful preparation of food, the shopping from the farmers market or local venders, the delicate hand picking as you smell and feel the produce, it is the combinations of colors and tastes and textures.

It is sitting down with your food presented to you-television off, book closed and slowly bite by bite, chewing, tasting and savoring. It isn’t how I eat now.

Yogi eating is conscious eating or mindful eating.

Mindful eating is:
*setting

*sitting


*slowing down


*savoring

There are so many great resources for the food lover and conscious consumer. In Armenia, my options are sometimes more limited and sometimes less limited. There are no Saturday markets but the streets are filled with produce  venders selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, the summer months are plentiful and the winter months are cabbage, potatoes and beats (this is not an exageration). The summer sun brings with it lots of apricots, cherries, strawberries and lower prices on just about everything.

One of my favorite things in this life is fresh produce and cooking yummy things. There are programs in the States that bring produce to you. The ‘CSA program‘ brings farm fresh produce straight to your door. It turns out to be reasonably priced as you can share the costs with friends, family or neighbors and you are speaking with you wallet, placing money in the hands of people whose values you support, those with that local and organic love. Every couple of weeks, CSA brings a box of fresh produce from local farms;  this is especially fun for the creative cooker. Imagine, opening a box that contained some of those less popular veggies, perhaps unknown to you, such as root veggies or greens that haven’t made your acquaintance; now is your chance to become full on besties.

This can be intimidating at first and a little scary to break away from the routine of your store bought goods or typical lunches, but the joy that can be found from uncovering and discovering deliciousness will tickle your tongue. There are some web sites that are great resources for recipe finding and food making…
*Epicurios
*All recipes
*Cooks
*Recipe goldmine
*Food network

The yogi diet is a traditional natural food based lifestyle that is animal free.  This lacto-vegetarian diet, includes; grains, fruit, veggies, nuts, dairy, and honey. This means this once steak and bacon eating and hard boiled egg enjoying lady is going to become a conscious do-gooder to the animals and animals that never were (eggs). This valient effort is only for the rest of this month so resist the urge to give me ‘animalitarian’ award.
I have found some inspiration for this new lifestyle from the internet, the blogs herbivoracious and 101 cookbooks are some of my favorite healthy and meatless spots and I can’t wait to explore the amazing blogs of post punk kitchen, would rather gather and the cuteness of have cake, will travel.

My challenge for the remainder of this month is to eat as close to the earth as possible and eliminate meat, fish and eggs and add dairy and honey. I think this means I have to stop using my SWEET artificial sweetener so I am going to pour myself another cup of tea and flavor it with sweet hyrdocarbons (?) and then post this.

*get your clean on*

Wake and Cleanse….

The next aspect of my ‘be yogi’ lifestyle is the morning routine and cleansing (what a sexy topic, right?).

Typically my morning routine starts with sitting in front of my computer, drinking tea, reading emails, checking facebook, reading for an hour, going for a walk, and then yoga. I am going to keep all these up but switch the order around and add a few things.

my new morning routine….

Wake and cleanse
For some reason, unbeknownst to me, there is actually literature about the proper way to eliminate waste from the body. First thing I am just going to say is, sick, (sorry I am not a yogi, yet) and I am going to spend zero energy writing about something I think that we are all schooled on and I am pretty sure our bodies are as well.
Moving on, teeth. The idea is that there is build up of waste that accumulates in your mouth and it is best to remove this before you consume any of your morning tea or coffee. So sleepy eyed and lacking caffeine brush those teeth. I am going to make a natural mouthwash by adding half a teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of water and a dash of salt for so fresh and so clean teeth.

Next on this interesting and exciting journey into the life of a yogi is nasal cleaning. It is really simple to cleans the nasal passage, this can be done using a Neti pot and a solution of warm water and salt, or you can be like me and just use a saline nose spray.
The final thrilling step is the one I am most excited about, the cold shower. This will be the strangest and most challenging aspect. I am use to a lovely tepid bucket bath, but for the purpose of X-treme, cold water here I come. First,  rub oil all over yourself, massaging and condition the skin (I like this part) then shower but keep it cold (or in my case, cold bucket bath) and WAKE UP!

source

Yoga am
I am going to start my morning with 15 minutes of sun salutations.

Walk it out
A 45 minute walk.

Yoga +
A full yoga routine for 30 minutes or more.

Meditation
Meditation for at least 10 minutes.

Then Read. Email. Facebook. and other as time permits.

*where the zen at*

Meditation…

A girlfriend and I went to the Buddhist meditation center in my college town in the states. It was our first time and we thought, yeah, let’s try this (I think those are the exact same thoughts the first time I tried tequila).  We showed up a little late to a dark room where there were people lined up, sitting knees bend, on brown pillows, staring at the wall. Unsure of ourselves we slipped our shoes off as quite as we could and looked for empty pillows to sit on, and begin this foreign practice. I found a place and began the attempt which was counting 1,2,3 and breathing my girlfriend found herself a spot only to be ushered to a new, less sacred brown pillow, that didn’t belong to the head monk. At the end of the meditation there was a time period of learning, we gathered around as the head monk guy told us stories and read some quotes from a book. The only thing I remember was him talking about some television show he was watching and the utter strangeness of the monk talking about television made me question everything I knew about reality up to that point.

As of lately I have been meditating and have found tremendous results. When I was younger I was rather mystified with meditation I would read books about zen Buddhism, meditation and watch hours of educational video’s on the topic then, I would attempt to meditate and “fail.” It was so convoluted and confusing to me-the idea of being zen is when you give up the attempt of being zen, or clearing my mind of all thoughts seemed unrealistic. There are all these different ways of meditating that confused me, as well, because none seemed to be able to give me any result, other than frustration. Now, according to the literature these feelings of failure and frustration are missing the boat entirely, they would tell me, ‘girl that is your ego-sit for a bit and eventually at some point you will break through to the other side.’ That doesn’t really work for me but I found something that has. My previous attempts at meditation were me sitting, closing my eyes and attempting to focus on something-my breathing, an intention…there are easier ways to ease into meditation that I will discuss later.

First why is meditation cool?

1. rejuvenates you

I believe in doing things daily that just make you feel good. This can be vegging out in front of the boob tube, dancing, playing, napping, reading, writing, hula hooping :), dinner parties. My brother believes in a 5 minute party, everyday, so he would come over beer in hand and we would rock to music for five minutes-whatever it is, enjoy yourself. The most important aspect of  what ever you do is that during and after it, you feel better, not worse. For me, among other things, my mini party is meditation, after I feel more energetic, centered and focused-it is like a super super power nap.

2. Relaxes you

Here is what you do during meditation-focus on relaxing. Needless to say the act of, is relaxing. I can’t tell you how many times I have been meditating only to wake up 30 minutes later, oops.

3. Clarity

Our minds are active monsters. Sometimes they feed us information that is helpful, useful, and of value and other times they are like a baby throwing up everything they have just eaten in the past 8 hours. Through meditation the impulses and waves of thoughts can be filtered through and cleared out and the deeper values, needs and wants-shine like little suns.

4. Awareness

I have found that through meditation I have actually learned things about myself. In the silence and calm of my mind I find the most interesting story and have true light bulb moments. The rational that I have is that our actions hold intentions which aren’t always clear to us and as we clear away the stuff-it is like taking a flashlight into the deeper parts of our brain and occasionally the light catches on something that we didn’t even know was there and then-those actions make sense and our intentions are revealed.

5. The here and now

I love to freak out. I love it-I love thinking about the past and worrying about the future. I get going in my brain and I just go, go, go, go like a crazy roller coaster that a toothless carny is controlling and I am just doomed. Ok, maybe that was the me of the past and now I really like nizow. Meditation brings you to the present moment. I have found that it can literally bring me back to the present, aids in me staying there longer and exposes me to the joy of living in the now.

6. Increases your do

I have found that when I am able to fully relax and fully rejuvenate I have more energy and am able to do more. It might seem a little counter intuitive, that doing nothing increases your do, but really it does. Just do it.

7. Connection

Ok, I am going to talk about it. Meditation can connect you to something outside of yourself. I don’t think that it takes a string and tethers you to people in your community and the world at large, but I think that it helps to bring about a greater internal sense of unity which transcribes to connection.

8. Dr. meditation

I have found that meditation has incredible healing capabilities. I am not talking about making you healthy if you have the flu but bear with me for a moment. How often do you find tell yourself thinking negative things about yourself, your not good enough, lazy, ugly, un-lovable…these statements might not be on the surface of your thoughts but perhaps if you look closer you will hear the tone of your thoughts or see that they hold these beliefs. Through meditation you can begin to hear the quality of your thoughts and because you are the master mind you can give them a little bit of attention, love and then change them. The cool thing is you can change them to whatever you want-get it, get it.


9. It makes it all sweeter

I think that through meditation I have found that life is much sweeter. I have the ability to chill out, refresh, change my thoughts, and connect to myself and the world-those pesky little stresses don’t seem as powerful in the face of all of that.

Now lets looks at the how to…

I think that people are straight up ridiculous when it comes to meditation. I am not going to go into a conversation about Alpha, Beta or Gama rays or talk about chakra’s or levels on consciousness-lets keep it easy and we will just be talking about mindful meditation.

1. Designate the time

This is pretty obvious but take the time to meditate. If you are first starting and want to make this a habit, why not set a time each day-wake up a little early or before you go to bed (be careful you might just fall asleep though), after a walk outside or a bath. Make this a time dedicated to you; turn off your phone, lock the kids in the basement, turn off your computer and get all relaxed. I sometimes will set an alarm because when I am meditating the last thing I want to think about is the time.

2. get comfortable

There are a lot of people who suggest creating a sanctuary or a calming room, whatever- the room doesn’t matter that much, you can be outside, in your living room, or in your bed room, who cares. The main thing is get comfortable sit anyway you like or lie anyway you like. I like to just lie on the floor in my living room or on a couch-it doesn’t matter cause baby, this is a journey of the mind.

3. Get help

Some people can meditate in silence when they first begin, I couldn’t (I can now) but I needed a little momma bird to help this baby bird out. I found that listening to guided meditations was the best for me and I also really enjoy listening to soft music. If there is a really emotionally charged issue I do a guided meditation to bring peace and I really like some of the meditations that are featured on that site and here are some free meditations, I haven’t worked through all of these because I have this great iphone app by Deepak Chopra (I know) that I use pretty often, it has music and guided meditations and they are each maybe 10 minutes long or so.

4. relax, observe, and let go man

I have found what works best for me, is I begin with a deep breath, inviting myself to relax, then I settle into the floor and close my eyes. As thoughts come to me I picture them like clouds floating by-I notice them and then let them go. I disconnect myself from my thoughts and become the person viewing them, this part was always such a challenge to comprehend but once you do it, it is pretty simple. Often people will think their thoughts are them and begin to judge them, or start asking questions to themselves. For a few minutes, believe that they are just thoughts, and they are coming to you from all areas, some are yours, some might be your families, society, the media, your culture. They are things that are told to you to believe, to do, to want… just observe them, and as you become comfortable with the thoughts being separate from you, it will become easy to just let them go. As you are able to let these thoughts go with ease your mind will become calm and quite-it is really cool. Meditation is a personal process so you can meditate for as long as your heart desires-from a few minutes to a hour or more.

5. wake up

As I end my meditation I like to slowly bring myself back. I can do this through mentally coming back then slowly moving my fingers or toes and then finally opening my eyes. After I open my eyes I like to take a few seconds and re-focus, I take a deep breath and feel gratitude for being able to feel so stinking good doing nothing.

notes: If there is uncomfortableness that arises during meditation such as physical pain or anxiety, don’t ignore it! Notice it and use your breath to bring comfort and just relax. You can’t meditate wrong and no one cares if you do anyways.

So for this month of yogi I will meditate everyday for the rest of the month.

*things I love*

These are 10 of my favorite things that are causing me to smile-lately

1. walk outside

2. read books

3. talk to people on the street

4. have fun! my fun-hula-hooping and loud music

5. write hand written letters and thank you cards

6. set a alarm and wake up with the sun

7. make pretty calendars and goal lists

8. water-be near in, be in it, and drink it up

9. make a salad with fresh veggies

10. have a picnic