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Why Courage is Your Best Asset

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Party season has officially come to a close and 2015 is open wide and full of possibility. After carefully putting away (or throwing away) our sparkly dresses, it’s time to look within to ask what held us back in the past, and decide what we really want out of this year.

 

While moving to a new job, saving money, or getting out of an unhealthy relationship are all good resolutions, if we don’t take care to notice the underlying reasons of why we haven’t already done them, we’re likely to end up right back in 2014. Getting what we want through lasting change requires us to look at ourselves and to be vulnerable.

Lasting change takes courage.

Courage gives you the power to get everything you want from life and more. It gives you wings to go after your dream job, to ask out the babe that always smiles at you, and to create the body that you’ve always wanted. Having courage is to act from a place of faith that enables you to leap over obstacles and know that whatever you want is available to you, and that the world is ready and willing to give it to you.

How to develop fearlessness

Fearlessness is not living without fear, it’s going towards the unknown despite your fear. The first step in developing courage is to ask yourself what it is you really want.

The reason so many people are unhappy in jobs and marriages and life in general is because they live without defined points of what they really want. In order to have a life we love, it’s critical that we ask ourselves who we want to be, what we care about, and how we’re going to be the best expressions of ourselves.

Have the courage to ask yourself why you’re afraid. What can the world do to you? What can it do for you? You have a responsibility to yourself, to your heart, to ask these questions.

What makes your heart sing? What do you admire in other people? When have you felt strongest and most confident? Start by asking yourself these questions, and courage will begin to blossom within you. After you’ve created defined points, write them down. Talk to others that you trust and value, and find openings where you can work towards what you want. Small steps create big change, so start now.

Recognize that no experience is ever in vain

Everything that happens contributes to your betterment. Know this. Calm and joyful periods exist as a gift, but it is normal in life for troubles to arise. Challenges are here to teach us, to show us who we really are, and to give us a chance to grow.

Because of this, doing something courageous and going towards the unknown will always be for the best. Even if it ends in pain or loss, it is for the best. No effort is ever wasted, and every effort contributes to your growth. You may fall, but what is adversity if not to show us just how strong we are.

Realize that nothing is ever as bad as it seems

And that everyone else is just as scared as us. Fear makes us stuck. It keeps us in unhealthy relationships and soul sucking jobs. The liberation of releasing ourselves from the circumstances that bind us to pain is more powerful than anything that fear protects us from.

Knowing what to expect creates safety, but it also protects us from the surprises that the universe has to offer. Because our experience here is a projection of our perception, using conclusions that others have made – ie having a career and a family isn’t possible, settling with a guy is better than being alone, people aren’t worthy of your trust – prevents us from creating our own perfect and unique experience.

I understand this all sounds really nice in a world where obligations and life pressures don’t exist. The key is in creating a foundation that keeps you safe no matter what you do. This lies in a healthy body and mind, a good grasp on your finances, and solid relationships.

When you create the right foundation, being courageous isn’t all that scary. Here are the measures you need to put in place to make courage the only option.

Save money

Here’s a secret – if you put money in your savings account, you can still get to it if you need it. Start building it up. Even if it’s just $50 a month, it’s something. Having a cushion to fall back on if something goes wrong will give you massive piece of mind in pursuing what you want. Start saving. It’s easy, and actually pretty fun.

Nurture your relationships

Relationships are everything. In the realm of metaphysics, we are all connected and our success depends on the success of others, and their success depends on ours. Every person you meet could be your next boss or client or mentor or best friend. That’s the beauty of being human, you never know who’s going to come into your life and in what capacity.

Networking is not about building your rolodex (or whatever app has replaced that), it’s about building a network of people that you can connect to or connect to one another at any given time. If people like you, they will do whatever they can to support you.

Be trustworthy. Be a person of your word. Help people every chance you get – whatever you give will come back to you. This is not just a nice thing your mom taught you when you were young, it’s a fact. Share whatever you have – your time, your energy, your love, your money. Generosity is the greatest treasure.

Tend to your body and mind

Being in shape is not about vanity, it’s about taking care of the one true home you have for this lifetime. Eat real food, think positive thoughts, and get active in any way you enjoy. Having a strong and stable physical form to live in will provide you with the courage and strength to whatever it takes to get what you want out of life. Additionally, cultivating discipline around your food and exercise will give you the will power to do what it takes to get whatever else you want out of life.

To be courageous is to live through the heart. It means to live in love and in trust; to forget the past and allow the future, and to discover meaning and perfection in the present. Cultivating courage is the only way to get what you want out of life. Living in courage is scary, but looking back at a life full of regrets is terrifying. Move towards your fear and you will move towards your joy. Small steps, you’ll get there.

 


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That Which You Seek Lies Within

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I think about God a lot. Not in a heaven and hell, old man in the sky sort of way, but in a deep reverence for the power that keeps the planets in orbit and the stars in the sky sort of way. I’ve learned, through much reading, research and practice, that this very same power lies within each of us.

Yes, the power that turns the fetus into the baby and the bulb into the rosebush is the same force that each and every one of us as humans carries within. The difference between humans and animals or plants is that we have the power to say yes or no, and that we are at the effect of the mortal realm. The mortal realm makes us forget that which we truly are, which is a perfect creation of the divine.

Excuse me for getting so mystical, but this truth is nothing short of spectacular.

If you look at a baby, it’s generally joyous and at ease and playful. That is the true nature of us all, but heartbreak and bills and mean bosses make us forget this, and as we get older the burdens of life seem to outweigh the pleasures. The purpose of life is to remember the joy that we were created with; it is to adjust our perceptions to be open to the miracles that are available to us at every moment.

Our lives are up to us to create, of course, and seeing the beauty of life is not foolish, it is profound.

Dwelling in the negative, asking why me, or letting suffering get the best of you simply gives power to that which is concerning you. Adversity builds character, and recognizing difficulties as tests enables you to learn and grow. Maintaining a ‘beginner’s mind,’ that which is open and flexible instead of rigid and closed, allows you to ebb and flow with the tides of life.

Life is messy. That’s just the truth, and you can fight it or you can accept it. No one has it perfect, all we can do is our best. It is by that which cannot be taken away that we must define ourselves.

That which cannot be taken away comes from within.

Life, especially in the United States, is defined by our accomplishments. Accomplishments are extremely important. They build self-esteem, they let us explore and display our best qualities, and they have the power to make the world a better place. However, have you ever accomplished something only to find that the completion of it leads you to yearn for the same thing you wanted when you started out?

Making a certain amount of money, buying a home, and tying the knot – things our culture trumps as its highest values- tend not to deliver the joy and satisfaction they seemingly would. If they did, we’d have a lot less depression, divorce, and dissatisfaction in general. Ever met anyone who seems like they have it so good, then come to find out how sad, confused and lost they feel? Try reading a tabloid.

While taking care of our outer life is critical to our financial stability and worldly obligations, taking care of our inner life sets the stage for us to be happy no matter how much or how little we have. And, if you’re reading this right now, I’m telling you, you’ve got a lot.

Ok, back to God. Or creation, or Mother Nature, or the universe, or whatever word makes you feel comfortable. It lives within you.

There is a story that God used to live on the earth, but every day humans would come to him with their troubles. One person would ask for rain, and another would ask for sunshine, and it was impossible to please everyone. So he decided to go to the highest mountains, but climbers found him. So then he decided to go to the moon, but then space travel found him. So then he decided he would live within man, because man would never find him there.

That which you seek lies within. The peace, the power, the mental fortitude, the joy, it’s all within. It’s not in the ‘right’ home, or the ‘right’ person, or the ‘right’ mega-yacht. It’s in you.

Go inside. Spend time alone, in silence, and yes, in meditation. True happiness is properly manifested through physical and mental soundness.

At a time when religion seems to belong to extremists, it’s important to discover the truth for yourself. Having faith doesn’t mean leaning on something or discriminating others for taking a different path. It means tapping into your oneness with this planet, and recognizing that we and the birds and the rocks and the trees are all created of the same matter.

God is not a force to watch over and punish you, it’s a divine energy that can be accessed at any point to heal, uplift and guide you.

Be grateful for your health, your home, the sun and the sky. It may sound simple-minded, but a simple mind is one free of drama and free of delusion, both of which make this beautiful life a harsh one. If you have pain, look at it. It’s there to teach you something. If you feel lost, do something. If you don’t feel heard, use your voice to help someone who really doesn’t have a voice. There is always a direction to go. Inward is a good place to start.

Photo by Sebastian Boguszewicz


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Sorry Not Sorry: 6 Habits Every #GirlBoss Needs for Living at the Top

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1. Do you

Workout, have your nails done, get lots of sleep, do things that make you feel good. Properly taking care of yourself prepares you to show up fully for other people. We often treat others better than we treat ourselves, which is nice in the short run but detrimental in the long term. It’s true that you can’t share with others what you don’t give to yourself, and your best self should be your primary interest. This kind of selfishness doesn’t advocate ignoring our responsibilities or stepping on others to get ahead, it means taking care of your own human needs so that you can show up 100% for life.

2. Don’t apologize

Everything you do should be done with complete conviction. You know yourself and what you stand for, and don’t feel the need to seek approval in every activity. Because you seek to be understood, you always take the opportunity to explain your position or action if needed, but you never back track or have to apologize for what you’ve done. You’re firm in your heart and mind and trust your intuition.

3. Eat like you love yourself

Your body is your biggest ally when it comes to being incredibly successful, treating it as best as you can gives you the energy you need to head to the top. This means eating whole foods filled with the harmonious and powerful vibration of the earth, and cutting out toxic products with artificial ingredients, being conscious of how your emotions and habits play into your relationship with food. Eating pure, vibrant food nourishes your spirit and gives you the fuel you need to be your best self.

4. Don’t hate

Talking badly about, being jealous of, and judging others makes you look weak and unkind, which, ahem, probably isn’t far from the truth. It’s easy to see other people’s flaws, because as humans we have a lot of them. Seeing the goodness in others is a lot harder. Recognizing people for their strengths brings the best out in people, and helps you develop sincere and lasting relationships. Being the person that sees people in their best light gives you an immediate aura of authority. It removes petty drama from your consciousness, opening up space for higher and more productive forms of thought, like pursuing your goals and creating success.

5. Practice forgiveness

Being angry or holding a grudge only harms one person: you. Processing your emotions in regards to a painful experience is a necessary part of mature human growth. So is letting it go. Dwelling on the past or holding other people responsible for your unhappiness or mistakes that they made only detracts from your ability to release hurt and move forward. Everything we experience is a test. We can chose to suffer, or we can learn from those tests and be grateful for them. Choosing gratitude makes you soar.

6. Get comfortable being alone

Silence and alone time are critical to your personal and professional success. Being comfortable in your own presence enables you to let your inner wisdom speak and come forth. The human mind has a lot of doubt, but the human body has a lot of wisdom. Removing the distractions that come in the forms of noise and other people gives you the space to access that wisdom.

Meditation is the best way to do this, but starting out can be difficult, so doing solo activities is a good place to begin. Yoga, hiking, ocean swimming, or spending an afternoon in a new part of town are all great ways to enjoy your own company and watch your thoughts. The more time we spend in silence the more we can control our reactions to things, and create a deep and undisturbed inner peace. Developing a practice of stillness and quiet protects you from being at the effect of the ups and downs of life. It also improves your self-esteem and reduces doubt and anxiety, helping you to access the knowledge that you have the power and ability to create the life of joy that you want and deserve.


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10 Rules for Traveling

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1. Walk everywhere

It will counterbalance all of the pastries and wine you indulge in, and you should be able to fit in your seat on the flight home.

2. It’s ok if you don’t know the language

If someone is speaking to you and you don’t understand, imitate their facial expression and nod your head. You won’t offend or get yourself into any uncomfortable positions, and at some point they’ll realize you have no idea what they’re saying.

3. If someone looks threatening

Stand up tall, walk confidently, and smile at them. They’ll smile back and you’ll realize you’re generally a judgmental butt hole.

4. If you lose your luggage

Learn how to tell people the airline lost your luggage. You’ll get tons of sympathy, which you need, because you definitely won’t be getting it from your airline.

5. Look at the old people

Their dark leathery skin will remind you what you don’t want to end up with. Wear your sunscreen.

6. Don’t smoke cigarettes

No matter how local you think it makes you look.

7. Eat everything typical to the region

Don’t be a wimp. Don’t offend your host.

8. Go where the locals go

There is no bigger vacation buzz kill than listening to an elderly American couple order loudly and slowly.

9. Don’t get too attached to your itinerary

The best experiences come from entering the unknown. Be free and easy, you’ll be rewarded.

10. Have reverence:

‘Share your joy, your love, your ecstasy. Make life as beautiful as possible. Just out of thankfulness that existence has chosen you to be, that you are allowed to be, that you are given life. What else can you do?’ Osho


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Get. That. Booty.

4df43be3e239512d3a9a87fea1477074It doesn’t matter who you are, pretty much everyone can appreciate a great butt. Strong and powerful, our glutes are the biggest muscles in our bodies, but they’re also the seat of a lot of concern for many of us. Is it big enough? Too big? Collosal?!

While each of us have our own dream body, it’s important to remember that we all have different body types, and that the healthiest body is a strong one. Especially when it comes to your derriére, the only way to get it toned and firm is to have a committed regimen that strengthens not only your glutes, but your hamstrings and lower back too.

While pelvic tilts and squats are typically the norm for shaping your butt, using a combo of plyometrics and yoga poses will strengthen, tone, and target the right areas. Use the following exercises to work towards your dream booty.

1. Hercules jumps

Stand, legs bent in a lunge position with your weight on your front heel and back toes. Jump straight up and land gently with the same foot in front. Do 15 reps on each side. This will fire up your legs with the power coming straight from your glutes and your hamstrings. It also gets your heart rate up and activates your metabolism.

2. Squat jumps

Stand with your legs slightly farther apart than hip distance, toes pointing forward. Squat low with your chest up, touch the ground, and then push through your quads to jump as high as possible. Throw your hands towards the air as though you’re hitting a volleyball over a net. Do three sets of 30 reps.

3. Half moon with leg lifts

Stand on one leg with the same side hand on the ground or a block, other hand on your hip. Open the hip of your lifting leg, foot flexed and toes pointing sideways. If you can, move to fingertips of your bottom hand, this will activate your back and your obliques. Lift your leg up an inch twenty times, activating your glutes and low back, and holding firm through your core. Do three sets on each side.

4. Curtsey lunges

In half moon position, place both hands on the ground and turn your hip from open to closed, dropping your lifting leg to curtsey down behind the standing one. Go almost to the ground and push back up to half moon again. Do twenty reps on each side. This will activate your back and hamstrings, while strengthening your outer hips.

5. Airplane hold

A full body strengthener, lie on the floor with your arms at a T. Lift up your arms, legs and chest, getting as close to having only your pelvis on the floor as possible. Hold for three sets of 20 seconds. Remember to lengthen out of your fingertips and from the crown of your head to your toes. Do not strain your neck or arch your back.

A great tool to strengthen and even out your large lower muscles is a foam roller. You can use a smooth one or one with ridges along your IT band, your hamstrings, your thighs, and your outer hips. It’s a form of self-massage and helps break up toxins and fat that like to hang out in that area. It also releases stress and aids in recovery from exercise.

Having a nice butt is about more than just looking good. Because so many of us spend our days sitting at desks, our large lower muscles don’t get a lot of activity. By taking care of them and making sure they’re strong and toned, it helps relieve back pain, improves posture, and supports our core. Running, using the stairs, and walking as much as possible are also great ways of actively toning legs and glutes. Try whatever activities interest you and look forward to feeling strong and vibrant.


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Developing a Lasting Meditation

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We’ve all heard how beneficial meditation can be for your mind and spirit, but getting to the point where you stop feeling like a caged animal is pretty tough. Meditation, when committed to, will reduce your desires, calm your nerves, enhance your sleep, improve your relationships, and help you get closer to your truth. Here are some tips to gently build your meditation practice, without getting fed up with it.

1. Start small

Commit to three or five minutes a day. Something so small it’s impossible not to do. Don’t worry that it’s too short of a time to benefit, right now it’s about getting comfortable being in silence with your breath.

2. Focus on the point between your eyebrows

When you focus here it prevents your mind from wandering all over the place. When you feel distracting thoughts come in, refocus here, and you can even gently press on it to physically feel where it is. It will help release anything that’s taking your attention away from your breath.

3. Have a mantra

A mantra helps your spiritual awakening to blossom and works to clear mental obstacles to enlightenment. You can have a mantra in English or in Sanskrit. Sanskrit was created to deeply penetrate the levels of consciousness and helps still the chaotic mind. It’s very high vibrational. You can also use an English mantra if you feel you connect with the words more genuinely. Something simple, such as ‘my heart is open, my mind is clear,’ or ‘I am love, I am light, I am joy.’ Whatever words help you feel calm and happy. Over time, your connection to the words will grow, so don’t worry if it feels a bit strange for now. In Sanskrit, you can chant ‘Om,’, ‘So hum,’ ‘Om namah shivaya,’ or look up devotional chants that speak to you personally online.

4. Do it in the same place

Finding a good location where you can practice quietly creates a high vibration in that spot, and over time gives you a sense of peace when you come to that place. If you can find a location that points East that’s an extra bonus. Using the same spot also trains your mind so that when it’s time to meditate you know right where to go and you build a ritual. This will help you sink deeper into meditation each time you return to that place, as your body and mind begin to know what to expect.

5. Know that every effort made is always valuable

Everyone says they can’t meditate, but starting out, no one can meditate. This is no excuse not to do it. Our minds are bouncing off the walls all the time, so making the effort to be calm through meditation is extremely advanced just in itself. Don’t get frustrated, simply work on gently bringing your focus back to your breath and mantra, and over time you will get better and better. It’s a personal practice that’s all about making a positive effort for your own growth, and every effort devoted to it will enhance your practice.

Your thoughts are like birds flying overhead. It’s up to you whether or not you let them make a nest in your hair. Commit to creating your own meditation practice and you’ll begin to feel the blessings flooding in.


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What Everyone Should Know About the Paleo Diet

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The Paleolithic diet is trending, hard. Many lose weight, build muscle, gain mental clarity, and reduce or eliminate extreme food intolerances. Others, unfortunately, use it as an excuse to eat way too much animal protein and tell everyone they’ve gone gluten free.

While most have heard of this diet, many people don’t know what it is or why it works. The core values of the paleo diet are noteworthy and there are some powerful elements to it that are worth taking on board, whether or not you are interesting in going for it fully.

What is it

The Paleolithic diet mimics the diet of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors. The core values of the diet are as follows:

  • Highly alkaline
  • Higher intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals through plants
  • No processed foods
  • No gluten (which, btw, is the protein found in wheat and other grains)
  • No sugars, natural or refined
  • No starch
  • Balanced omega-3 to omega-6 fats ratio from animal sources

Why it works

People who commit to this diet and do it the properly see exceptional results. This is because the principals are highly evolved while the practices are very clean cut.

The overall health of our nation is atrocious, the critical underpinning of this being our high consumption of processed foods. All things being equal, cutting out processed foods, sugar, and gluten are some of the best things you can do for yourself. This results in the disappearance of all kinds of daily ailments, reduces toxin intake, improves nutrient content and absorption, and contributes to a glowing complexion. It also means you’re eliminating a lot of potential or actual allergens, those of which are massively exhausting on your system and cause anything from brain fog to IBS to acne. This is huge for your vitality and vibrance.

Our country also has an obsession with low-fat and fat-free foods, but the truth is that we critically need healthy fat for all of the functions of our body to work efficiently, not the least of which is our brains, which are made 60% of fat. The paleo diet’s emphasis on high fat consumption is one of the core reasons it’s so successful in effective weight loss and muscle growth. Healthy fats improve your metabolism, support organ function, enhance mental clarity, and burn slowly to give you sustained energy.

Limitations

Let me first say that I have a lot of respect for those who commit to this diet and live their life in a healthy and mindful way. For the highly committed, this is one of the very few diets out there that actually works. That being said, there are some points I’d like to make about animal protein consumption that are worth considering by those adopting this lifestyle.

1. Environmental impact

The butchering, processing, and shipping of animals consumes more than 1/3 of fossil fuels used in the United States. The natural resources that are used to raise and maintain our animal agriculture is exorbitant and is creating a huge environmental impact on our country. Not only does raising animals for human consumption take up a huge percentage of arable land, but so does growing and watering the food that we use to feed them. Additionally, factory farms generate almost 2 billion tons of waste per year, which ends up in our groundwater and a lot of the food that we eat. Eating a diet high in animal protein contributes to these staggering figures.

2. Actual alkalinity

The Paleolithic diet puts a high emphasis on alkalinity, which is great, but animal products aren’t actually all that alkaline. Animal protein is one of the most metabolically acidic foods humans eat, which can cause the body to pull critical minerals from the bones and cells to return the body to an alkaline state.

3. Antibiotic resistance

80% of antibiotics in the United States are fed to animals raised for human consumption. While the paleo diet emphasizes the importance of eating grass fed, ethically raised meat, not everyone on this diet follows this rule, especially when a fast food burger sans bun fits the bill.

Because the demand for animal protein is so high, factory farms are forced to cram more and more animals into farms with little space to themselves. Because the animals are in such close quarters, they’re fed antibiotics to reduce the likelihood they’ll get sick. When we eat animals that have been fed with antibiotics, we indirectly ingest the antibiotics. This has come to a turning point and antibiotic resistance is a massive issue facing our world. Because bacteria evolve in response to the use of antibiotics both in animals and humans, they have started to become resistant to the life saving antibiotics that have been developed over the past 100 years. This is an extremely serious issue and is compromising the future of our healthcare.

So, how to do paleo right? Follow all the basic rules – cut out processed foods, reduce sugar and gluten, and eat highly alkaline veggies. When it comes to meat, be mindful. Eat pasture raised, grass fed meat, and limit it daily. For those who are disciplined and commit, this is one of the healthiest lifestyle choices you can make.

Photo by Jonas Nilsson Lee