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Developing an Unshakeable Mindset, Pt 2: Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

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It’s impossible to live through our hearts and in faith when we live in fear of the unknown and anxiety around our lives. While trying to use the mind to change the mind is often futile, we can actively move towards living through our hearts and in our own strength by strengthening our core.

In Kundalini yoga, the core is three fingers below the belly button. This is where a plethora of nerve endings, hormones, and emotions live. By creating a strong core and a harmonious inner system, we re-connect with our intuition and are able to live as our true selves, out of the way of fear and in our highest light. It is possible to do this through physical movement, breath work, and nourishing food.

The following practices strengthen our core, inside and out, and let us unfold into our true brilliance.

  1. Twisting asanas

Doing twisting poses helps to wring out toxins that contribute to physical discomforts and emotional stress. They push us to our limits physically which provides us with a good opportunity to breathe through the challenge while maintaining calmness within. Try twisting crescent, twisting chair, and twisting half moon. Lead with your heart, holding for three to six breaths and remember to draw your breath slowly and deeply into your stomach during the poses.

  1. Leg lift crunches

Slow, deliberate movements create a strong awareness of our core. These crunches let us draw energy from the fingertips to toes to activate and strengthen the core. Lie on your back, arms by your sides. Life your right leg and reach forward with your fingertips, then reach your arms overheard, keeping your shoulder blades off the ground while activating your core as your lower your leg. Lift your left leg while reaching forward again, and alternate between legs taking a moment with your arms overhead and legs straight out in between sides. Do this slowly and with mindfulness of your core, remaining aware of your naval to spine connection.

  1. Fibrous foods

It’s critical that we allow our bodies the space and energy for effective maintenance. Fibrous foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the best for this as they bind to toxins and escort them out of our systems. Digestion is the most energy intensive process of our bodies, and fiber assists with this, energizing our systems. When our stomachs are cleansed and are properly eliminating, our core is strong and our minds have the space to be clear and focused.

  1. Probiotics

There is a delicate yet powerful balance of microflora in our stomachs, and many critical hormones that regulate our emotions, energy and physical needs. The standard American diet, lifestyle, and practice of taking antibiotics for every ailment disrupts this critical balance that affects every area of our health. When we have discord in this area, it affects our immune systems, our ability to effectively absorb nutrients from our food, and contributes to emotional issues like anxiety. Probiotics restore the intestinal balance and promote growth of healthy and nourishing bacteria, contributing to a harmonious inner environment that supports a calm and stable equilibrium.

  1. Breath of fire

This cleansing and energizing breath connects you to your core and charges the nervous system, powered by abdominal contractions. Breath of fire creates and builds a cosmic change that brightens the body and clears the mind, creating radiance and light throughout your entire system. It helps release the need to control and enables us to surrender to the higher power of the cosmos that is always working to support and enhance our lives.

To do: Sit relaxed, eyes closed and focused on the point in between the eyebrows. Allow your breath to move in and out through the nose, mouth closed. Breathe rapidly in through your nostrils letting your stomach fill and expand  with air.The time is equal on the inhale and the exhale, with no pause in between. Starting out do for 1-3 minutes. It may make you light headed at first, so be aware of how you feel. As time goes on, you can do it for longer. It will pump fresh air deep into your lungs and stomach, and will give your body a great aliveness and connection with the divine.

Having a fortified core through these practices enables us to live through our hearts and in our own strength. It empowers our intuition, and gives us the courage we need to pursue our goals, our true love, and rise towards our higher selves. It enables us to call forth our divinity and to feel truly alive and vibrant. Choose one or two of the things above to begin to cultivate a strong core, and feel the power move into other areas of your life.

Photo by Anton Repponen


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Developing an Unshakable Mindset

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Living in faith and minimizing fear is arguably the most important foundation for a peaceful and happy life. This, however, can be quite a challenge as we’re constantly bombarded with options and challenges that make us question every moment and decision of our lives, leaving us riddled with fear and anxiety on a daily basis.

Working to find a calmness of spirit and faith in the journey aligns us with our true nature and equips us with an unshakable mindset.

Those who are firm in their mindset stride forth into life without letting the unknown get them down. This unwavering strength in pursuit of their goals comes from the cultivation of a deep inner trust.

For some people, this mindset appears God given. They seem to have been born with an innate fearlessness, and a positive and buoyant disposition, while others grow up shy and worrisome. For those who are not naturally extroverted, moving towards a fearless mindset can seem like an almost impossible task.

Worry and concern can drive our decisions and hold us back from truly walking towards that which will ultimately bring us joy and actualization. It can feel safe to wear worries as a cloak to protect us from the trouble that looms. In truth, however, worry is no more a cloak than it is a magnet, attracting pain and even creating our own suffering.

The way to move towards our strength and out of our fears is through courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the recognition of it and the confidence to move forward nonetheless. Courage comes from the Latin root cor, meaning heart. Thus, to live in courage means to live through our hearts.

Courage gives us strength through openness, and when we live with an open heart, the oneness of the world becomes available to us. This enables us to call forth our divinity and align us with our true nature. By being in touch with our true self we move closer to a purer and more whole version of ourselves; it puts us in communion with nature and our own inner enlightenment.

It’s impossible to live through our hearts and in faith when we live in fear of the unknown. The unknown will always exist; it’s getting to a place of acceptance and trust that enables us to live in freedom.

The key in all of this is to have patience with the process. To actively and consciously work towards the goal on a daily basis, to be gentle on ourselves, and to know that we are in complete control of our own experience here on earth. Ways to achieve this include detoxifying physical movement, practicing conscious thought, and right eating.

Specifics to come next article in Pt 2: Strengthening Your Core to Live Through Your Heart

Photo by Azrul Aziz


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This Spring Let Love and Grace Wash Over You

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Rejoice in abundance, the earth is pouring forward golden sunlight – and in California golden poppies – and newness and perfection abound.

The reason people love children and kittens and babies in general, is because it reminds us of what it is like to see with new eyes. Their energy is bright and fresh and reality has not stunted their levity.

This Spring, that energy of ascension is what is being offered to you.

Soak in the bounty as darkness dissolves and purity prevails. Know that everything you desire is coming right to you, and release things like resentment, sorrow, and worry that block it.

Easter, in Pagan culture, refers to the resurrection or the coming again of Christ. Jesus is a medium for Truth, for love, for what is Real. For some that medium may be nature, it may be God, it may be Buddha; whatever the medium, the message is the same: that which is Real cannot die.

On a human, daily basis, that which is Real is kindness, love, grace, and forgiveness. Easter is an opportunity to resurrect our connection to source and let love shine brightly from each and every one of us, to burn like the midday sun, and to let light pour forth from our hearts.

The resurrection represents the eternity of the radiant splendor of Truth.

Enlightenment is available to us at every moment, opportune for us to select whenever we so choose. When we choose to remember that we were sent down from the stars as an incarnation of spirit – the unifying energy that turns the fetus into the baby and the bulb into the tulip and the acorn into the oak tree – we are attune to the fact that we were put here to spread love and kindness and compassion and light at every opportunity. Simple yet profound, have faith that this is the elixir to all that ails you.

This is what Easter and Spring are offering us: the space to make right-minded decisions, to spread peace, to let our highest selves reveal themselves. Be aware of habits that do not serve you, for now is the time to act with the wisdom of our ancestors and the innocence of a dewdrop.

Move forth in good faith, and know that you are eternally blessed, loved and protected.

Photo: Manuel Barroso Parejo


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Third World Life Lessons

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Photo by Phoebe Tillem

It seems that the countries with the tiniest, poorest people, seem to be the happiest. Why is this? What is it that makes these people, who appear to have so much less than us, so much more content? I’ve been fortunate to travel to a few of these places – India, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador – and I’ve observed some commonalities in all these places. Here’s what I noticed.

Activity is part of daily routine

Watching little old women on riverbanks smack their laundry around on rocks and then carry their large baskets of fresh clothes home is some of the most impressive fitness I’ve ever seen. Our luxurious lives of washing machines and elevators do not lend to a lean bod. Sorry to say it but if you sit in a chair all day, going to the gym for one waking hour of it is not going to save you.

Ride your bike to run your errands, take a walking meeting, or offer to take your neighbors kids to the park for an afternoon. We have to combat the convenience of our lives to uplift our energy and keep our minds fresh and sharp.

They live simply

In a world of Amazon Prime and Chromecast, we can get everything we want right when we want it. This means we generally end up with much more than we need while still feeling like we don’t have enough.

We accumulate goods that fill our homes and allow drama to fill our heads, but avoid the quiet that fills our hearts. The key is to cut out the unnecessary. Most of the pain and suffering that exists comes from overactive minds and environments and over obligating to things that really don’t work for us.

Living simply means to reduce the noise, to enjoy the sunshine, and to make space for true meaningful abundance to work its way to you. People in third world countries don’t have a lot of physical things, but they also don’t have a lot of emotional chaos.

They take care of the community

In community-based countries, the best interest of the group is prioritized and celebrated, no matter who is in first place. Humans are social animals, and when we isolate ourselves by trying to out-run everyone else, we lose connection to the deep warmth from community that brings us true joy.

Nurture your relationships, take joy in other peoples’ successes, find ways to extend your heart to everyone around you and love will pour into your existence from every angle.

They have reverence & enjoy

Planet earth never ceases to amaze me. Volcanoes, oceans, jungles, stars – there is so much to savor, but we get so easily distracted by shiny new buildings and accessories and clothes that we forget to enjoy the gifts that nature puts right in front of us. There is so much to be delighted by each day but we overlook it due to ‘bigger’ or more important responsibilities. When we slow down and realize that life is meant to be enjoyed and each moment cherished, we can live with a lot more happiness and contentment.

They take time for rest

At best stress can ruin your day, at worst it will kill you. Slowing down to nurture your body and let it regenerate will enable you to have a long and peaceful life. When we don’t rest, we deprive our body of the critical time it needs to refresh and regenerate for the next day. These things your body can only do when you’re in deep sleep, so it’s critical to take the time to allow yourself rest.

Nap after lunch, sleep in on the weekends, go to bed early on a Tuesday. Taking rest seriously enables us to get the most out of our waking hours, and does wonders to quiet and balance the mind.

They celebrate often

When I was in Ecuador, they celebrated a saint every other day. Parades, fireworks, singing, the works. When I was in India, I would wake up every day at 5 am to the sound of drums and guitars and singing in the jungle. Celebration should be part of every day, not something reserved for a few times a year. The act of coming together to share joy and eat good food is the biggest and most energizing experience any of us can take on. Find reasons to celebrate and do it often, it will bring lightness to your heart and lifts your focus from the minutia and frustration of daily life to brightness, pleasure and beauty.

 

 

 


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Don’t Grow Up, It’s a Trap: Why protecting your inner child will save your sanity

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Youth is not an age bracket with an expiration date, it is a luminosity that comes from within and shines out of your face like golden sunbeams, no matter what age you are.

Looking and feeling young is not some egotistical need that exists for the purpose of appearances. It is critical for our mental stamina and emotional health and should guide our thoughts and actions on a daily basis.

Youth is where our innocence, curiosity and passions lie. When you think about children and the way they experience smells, sights, tastes, sounds – what a lust for life! It’s being connected to that freshness of spirit that allows us to be brought to life day after day, no matter how many times we’ve circled the sun.

Now, I love jewelry and expensive sushi as much as the next Los Angelean, but it’s quite clear that material wealth does not equal a life of happiness. Abundance comes not from getting everything we want, but from having an open heart and a youthful approach to every experience we have.

When we wake each day, we have a clean slate, a tabula rasa. This means the dust and the grit from yesterday has been washed away and we’re able to take today with the newness of a dew drop. This, I know, is not necessarily easy. We’ve all been lied to and had our hearts broken and had our dream shattered once or twice or more, and the weight of these old experiences shapes the way we view the world. But, if we can remember to remain innocent, optimistic, open-hearted – childlike, if you will – we can remain attached to the wonder that keeps life bold and bright, and full of possibility.

In a world where 27 is over the hill – a sincere thank you to everyone who reminds me of that each time they find out my age – it’s up to us to decide how we want to take on each moment, each hour, and each day.

Here are some tips on how to do it.

Have a lightness of heart

Life is not as serious as we make it out to be. Dry cleaner ruined your shirt? Get a new dry cleaner. Flat tire on the way to work? Get it fixed and go to work. Family driving you crazy? Take an afternoon to relax, explore, create.

Learn to go with the flow, to accept that you are in control of pretty much nothing but your perspective, and don’t get tied to plans because things mostly don’t go according to plan.

Don’t let the minutia of life make you a cranky c*nt. It’s not worth it. Loosen up and let it go.

Do what makes you come alive

We all know those people that look, just, tired. They’re not very friendly, negative, groggy; life does not look good on them.

DON’T BE THAT PERSON.

What get’s you enthused? Riled up? Motivated? If one thing doesn’t come straight to mind that stokes you out, find it and chase it. I’m not really one to say to “do one thing a day that scares you,” because that’s not super realistic, but you should be getting stoked out at least once a day. Whether it’s a bike ride, a jump in the ocean, or having a lively debate with your mates, get excited about something and get after it.

Be a life long learner

A curious and open mind will keep you young forever. Find things that pique your interest and read, study, listen to talks, whatever you can. The mind of a student is always expanding, and always empowered. You never know what information will serve you down the line, and knowing a little about a lot will enable you to connect with anyone in any situation. The best part about the internet is that we have access to all of the information – get curious and get some!

Smile

Smiling is good for your endorphins, and almost as importantly, public opinion of you. Smiling makes you more attractive, puts you in a better mood, and increases good vibes. It’s simple and it works, so do it.

The bottom line is, you weren’t put on earth to go to school, get a job, get married, have kids and grandkids, retire, and die. You were put on earth to have reverence for its wonder and make it a better place. Each day is an opportunity for that, regardless of how big or small. Have fun, get lively, and stay young; the world, and your spirit, will thank you for it.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop


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Festival Season Survival Tips

8816c80b87be7fa656c7fcc9bb56fe23Be above the rest and take measures to enjoy yourself and party properly with the following tips. Be smart for a blissful festie experience and to ensure you’re the funnest one out there.

1. Wear your sunblock

You do not want to be explaining to your grandkids that they need to wear sunblock because you learned firsthand in the desert wearing expensive hippie clothes how beautiful youth is until you don’t have it anymore.

Sunblock is the number one way to prevent aging. Get something that has zinc or titanium dioxide in it as those are the two most important ingredients for preventing skin cancer and visible signs of aging. I like DeVita.

The memories are not good enough to sacrifice the elasticity and tone of your complexion.

2. Drink water

Most disasters happen from not being hydrated enough. Don’t look like a rookie and let your fun get interrupted because you didn’t drink enough water.

Take care of yourself and stay hydrated. It’ll let you get the most out of your experience and, I can’t say it will take care of the guilt, but it will minimize the misery you feel once it’s all over.

You can also try Nuun tablets which are full of electrolytes and B vitamins to minimize hangovers and keep your energy high. Drop in your water to make it super tasty and even healthier.

3. Stretch

Checking in with your body is super important to do while you’re on a three, five, or ten day festival bender. You don’t have to take the yoga classes and get all sweaty with a bunch of fake yogis, you just need a little space to move a little on your own.

Stretching is energizing, helps release toxins, brings your attention to parts of your body that might be suffering, and increases blood and oxygen flow to all of your important organs. It’s as easy as folding forward over your legs and gently rocking your body from left to right. Try some quad stretches, or sit on the ground and reach for your feet folding over your legs. It doesn’t matter if you’re not flexible, stretching is effective even if you’re tight, and the more you practice the more limber you become.

4. Take superfoods

There are some powerful superfoods you can take that make staying well and strong really accessible. Here are some of my favorites.

Chlorophyll – pulls heavy metals from your system and helps to purify your blood and organs, and alkalizes your system

Hemp seeds – packed with protein to provide the structure for neurotransmitter, tissue and muscle regeneration

Fish oil – one of the highest sources of omega-3 essential oils to keep your system running smoothly, protect your skin from the inside out, and to support brain health

5. Pack smart

Props for healthy option food trucks at these events, but to save money and energy, bringing healthy and easy snacks of your own makes a huge difference. Pack apples, oranges, nuts, and bars to have for breakfast or to snack on in between sets. Hail Merry has awesome and easy treats to take with you. It will save your wallet and prevent you from getting hangry when nobody wants to see that again.


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Kerala!

I grew up in England. My oldest and dearest friend decided to have her wedding in Kerala, India and invited me. I couldn’t say no so my best friend from LA, Tay, jumped on board, and after thirty hours of travel we arrived and had the most luxury trip of our young lives. Here are some pics. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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