It's easy to be ungrateful these days, isn't it? Ads and commercials are constantly showing us things we don't have but insist we need. Consumerism is stitched into the fabric of society, reminding us of things we lack rather than how much we already have.
In a society that's governed by haves and have-nots, it's easy for anyone to be ungrateful. So we buy more and more, until we don't have the money to buy those other things you "need". Your mind is now filled with things that are missing. If you feel like you are in this cycle, we've all been there. Yet, there are ways to get out of this and become grateful for the things we have in our lives. Gratitude can quite literally change your life and put you on a path to success. Yes, it can be that simple. The problem is most people base their happiness and gratitude on achievements rather than using it as a platform for such.
People don't usually find their gratitude practice until they've lost everything. It's interesting that most of the time, it takes losing things for us to realize what we had. So why wait? Start shifting your focus now and watch the quality of your life improve. Here's how it works: When you walk through life thinking about all the things you are lacking, then lack and struggle begin to come your way. But when you walk through life being grateful for the things you have, abundance begins to manifest into your reality. It's all about the energy you put into the world. If you are expecting stress, stress comes. If you are expecting abundance, abundance and opportunities arrive.
How to put it into practice:
1. Start your day with a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things you are thankful for and feel gratitude. That's it.
2. Keep a gratitude rock! Find a rock that you like and keep it in your pocket. Any time you feel it or happen to pick it up, think of something you are grateful for. Feel the gratitude.
The key in both practices is to actually feel gratitude when you do these things. If this concept seems foreign or you're unsure, that's okay. Ask yourself: How do I feel when I am grateful? Where in my body do I feel gratitude? In my stomach? Chest space? Is it a warm feeling? Bubbly feeling? Once you've found it, label it as gratitude and come back to that feeling as much as you can.
Comment three things you are grateful for below!
With the wackiness of the holiday season among us, it's easy to find ourselves feeling anxious and uprooted. Which can lead to avoidance and even seclusion in our own homes. If you find yourself feeling this way, I have two exercises for you to try with a family member that will bring some ease and connection back into your life. These are especially great to try with your children!
Back to Back Breathing
This first exercise is a simple breathing technique that will ease anxiety, reduce stress, and ground you and your partner. Begin by sitting back to back with your partner, with your legs crossed and your body tall, so that as much of your backs as possible are touching. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Take full breaths, letting your body soften and expand which each inhale. See if you can feel your partner’s body moving as they breathe.
Without talking, try to match your partners breathing so that you are both inhaling and exhaling at the same time. Breathe together for as long as you’d like (about 30 seconds to one minute is a great start). This can turn into a family meditation with your children or even as an emotional regulation tool for them.
This next activity is a way to bring connection between you and your partner while learning to take turns and follow directions. Start seated facing each other. Rub your hands together to bring some warmth to your palms, then bring your palms together with your partners.
Look at your partner, but try not to talk. Begin leading your partner’s hands up, down, and side-to-side. Your partner should “mirror” you and make the same movement. This activity works best if you move slowly. After a couple of minutes, switch who is the leader and who is the mirror.
Now that you have both had a turn in the lead, experiment with taking turns leading- without talking! Can you stay connected enough to each other to “pass” the leadership back and forth? Maybe you are so connected you lose track of who is leading and who is following. To add more of a challenge, you can stand up and mirror each other’s entire body!
How many times has someone told you to “let it go”? This can seem like the most challenging thing to do at times but what if i told you it didn’t have to be? Here is an activity for you to practice letting go of tensions in your body. The more your body adjusts to feeling this release, the easier it will be to let things go in your everyday life. Invite your partner or children to do this with you daily or even multiple times a day, if you’d like.
Begin by laying down in a comfortable position. Spend a few moments paying attention to your breath. Without changing it, just listen to it’s natural rhythm and allow it to help you settle into the ground (or bed). Now you are going to bring your attention to each part of your body, starting at the tips of your toes and ending at the crown of your head. As you think of each part, tense the muscles in that body part, and then let them relax, until you have invited your full body to relax.
First bring your awareness to your toes. Scrunch them up as tight as you can, hold them there for a few seconds, and then let them rest. Now tense up both of your feet, and when you release them, imagine that they are very heavy.
Begin to tighten the muscles in your calves and around your knees. Try counting to five before letting them relax. Next squeeze all the muscles in your legs. You may squeeze so hard that your legs may lift off the ground a little bit. Relax your muscles and feel your legs settle into the ground.
How is your breath right now? You might notice that you’re holding onto it when you squeeze and exhaling as you release your muscles. Start bringing awareness to how your exhales may bring you deeper into relaxation. Next, hug your belly in towards your spine for a few seconds, and then let your belly get soft. Relax your back into the floor.
Scrunch your shoulders up to your ears, then release them down your spine, creating space in between your shoulders and ears. Make your hands into super tight fists, and squeeze all of the muscles in your arms. Just like your legs, they may lift off the ground. Release your arms and hands, letting them rest by your sides with palms up.
Close your eyes tightly and squeeze your lips together. Hold your face in this tense position for your count of five, and then let your whole face relax. Release your jaw and your tongue, like you have a mouth full of water. Take a breath in, and when you exhale, let out a sigh through your mouth
Take a minute to pay attention to your whole body. Are there any parts that still feel tense or not very relaxed? Tense that spot up, and then let go, until you’ve relaxed each part of you. Rest for as long as you’d like.
Have you ever been so busy that you ate a full meal without actually tasting it? Everyday we think about food, preparing food, spending money on food, and eating food. But sometimes, our minds are so full that we eat without fully experiencing what is going into our bodies. In this activity, we will explore all of the sensations of eating a piece of dried fruit. We’ll talk about a raisin, but you can try this with any food you’d like.
Pick up your raisin. You will eat it but not just yet. First explore the raisin with your hands. What does it feel like? Wrinkly? Sticky? Is it heavy or light? Feel the texture of it’s skin and notice it’s temperature.
After you’ve explored it with touch, start to explore it with your sense of sight. Notice the color- is it even all the way around? Is it shiny or dull? Now see if you can smell your raisin. First, just hold it up to your nose. Then slowly move it away from your nose. How strong is it’s smell? Can you still smell it a foot away?
Our next sense to explore with, is listening. To listen, hold the raisin up to your ear, and lightly move it in between your fingers. Does it make any sounds?
Now it’s time to use your sense of taste! Go ahead and put the raisin in your mouth. Try not to chew at first. Notice what the raisin feels like on your tongue and if you can taste it without even chewing it. When you are ready, start chewing slowly and notice everything- the taste, the texture, and your thoughts (maybe you can hear more sounds?). When you are finished have another raisin and notice if there is a difference between the two.
This is a great activity to do for snack time or the beginning of meal time. It will bring more connection between you and your food but also help you slow down around meal time. This also teaches children about their senses and how to use them to find presence in their day. Notice how you begin to fully experience your food and don’t be so surprised when you discover a love for a food you thought you didn’t like. Bon appetit!
Three years ago, I listened to an inspiring interview with actress Ellen Burstyn on the podcast, Death, Sex, and Money. In it, she speaks on topics like love, men, and some more controversial topics like abortion and gender equality. It’s a captivating conversation that I highly recommend giving a listen to, but there was one particular part that stood out to me. A concept I’ve adopted into my life and peacefully thanked Ellen Burstyn for, for three years now.
The Shouldless Day
Speaking about how much she enjoys working and how she manages to unwind, Burstyn introduces an intriguing concept:
“I have what I like to call ‘shouldless days’" she laughs, “A day where there’s nothing I should do, so I only do what I want to do. If it’s a nap in the afternoon and watching TV and eating ice cream, I get to do it.”
She explains that this day is important for slowing down but also helps her reshape the way she looks at herself. Burstyn goes on to say she has a wiring in her brain that calls her lazy if she’s not doing something, “You’re so lazy” it says. This sounded all too familiar to me.
“That wiring is there, I haven’t been able to get rid of it,” Burstyn continues, “but what I can do is that I can put another wire in there. I can put in the shouldless days. When that voice goes off….I can say “NO. This is a shouldless day.”
I woke up one Sunday morning unmotivated by the mental to do list I was already going over. Exhausted by the thought of even getting out of bed, I deemed that day a shouldless day. I stayed in bed till noon with my dog, watching reruns of The Office, and laughing until my stomach hurt. I ordered two smoothie bowls. Yes, I wanted two different flavors. And I loved them! The rest of the day was spent worry-free and simple. I never realized how much my “shoulds” were weighing me down. Now I make sure to write my shouldless days into my calendar, because a day of doing exactly what I want, is like a breath of fresh air.
Seriously, try it.
Pressing the soles of your feet into the grass, soil, dirt, or water is the kind of prescription that’s most available to us but often overlooked. Known as “earthing” or “grounding”, when bare skin comes into contact with the ground, the body becomes a sponge that soaks up a charge of free electrons from the Earth. A routine earthing practice promotes healing throughout the entire body.
Humans are electrical beings living on an electrical planet. Look at the Earth as a battery that grounds us, in the same way a phone rejuvenates when hooked to a charger. Humans carry an excess of positive electrons, known as free radicals. But when your body is in contact with the Earth, excess positive electrons are neutralized by Earth’s negatively charged electrons. Research shows that this charge of energy powers our vital organs and balances the systems of the body.
Here are just a few benefits of earthing:
Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. There are many ways that humans have lost touch with the Earth but the most common is by wearing shoes that act as a barrier to Earth’s energy. Don’t let yourself get disconnect and get grounded. Start small with a practice of 5 min and simply absorb the energy of the Earth by standing in your yard or a patch of grass outside. This will allow you pay tribute to this planet while receiving some very real, health benefits.
Why is gut health important? Your gut has a huge impact in your overall health. More and more studies are showing that the balance or imbalance of bacteria in your digestive system is linked to immunity, mental health conditions, and bodily functions. A way to start promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria in your body is by taking probiotics. Try this simple recipe to start incorporating probiotics into your diet with a light snack or protein rich, plant-based breakfast.
All you will need is coconut milk and probiotic capsules to make your own coconut yogurt! The yogurt is creamy, gut healthy, versatile, and delicious!
1 14- ounce can full fat coconut milk (organic if possible, see notes for brand tips/recommendations)
2 capsules probiotics (I use vegan friendly/ see notes for recommendations)
Optional add ins
Agave, honey, or sweetener of your choice
Fresh fruit or jams
Hemp seed, granola, or flaxseed
Having trouble falling asleep? It is not uncommon for sleep to become a hard task after a busy day. Your mind is full of everything you did, everything you didn't do, and even things that need to be done tomorrow. Doing yoga before bed is a a great way to slow down your mind and body. Try these 5 restorative yoga poses right in the comfort of your bed! All you will need is 1-2 pillows, to use as a prop for support, and your breath to guide you. May you have sweet dreams and a restful night!
Child's Pose 3-5 breaths
Begin with setting your pillow on your bed vertically. Separate your knees as wide as you comfortably can while the tips of your toes touch behind you. Rest your chest and belly on your pillows while resting your forehead or ear down as well. You can stretch your arms forward or give your pillow a hug.
Butterfly Forward Bend 3-5 breaths
From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together to touch and allow your knees to fall out to each side. Place your pillow in your lap, vertically, and fold forward to rest your forehead on it. You are welcome to hug your pillow or hold onto your feet like you are opening a book.
Happy Baby Pose 3-5 breaths
Laying on your back, bend your knees and grab onto the soles of your feet from the inside. Make sure your heels are stacked over your knees so they are not too wide. Begin to pull your feet down and at the same time kick your feet into your hands. This will help activate the posture and open up your hips while creating space in your lower back.
Supine Twist 3-5 breaths
Laying on your back, hug both knees into your chest. Then drop your knees over to the left as you extend your right arm out. Make sure to do both sides by dropping your knees over to the right.
Supine Butterfly Pose 3-5 breaths per side
Place your pillow on your bed vertically so you can lay back onto it comfortably. Bring the soles of your feet together to touch and drop your knees wide. Once you're there, one hand to your heart, the other to your belly. Close your eyes and feel your chest and belly rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.
Family rituals are important in creating a sense of belonging and identity in your home. You can have all kinds of rituals throughout the day that can teach your household values. They can be focused on anything from responsibility and compassion, to funny rituals that just lighten the energy in your home. See if you can incorporate any of these rituals into your home life:
Rituals that teach responsibility
Rituals that lighten family energy
Rituals that promote compassion
We all have routines and habits that structure our days. We check our phones before getting out of bed, drink coffee to start the day, feed our pets before feeding ourselves. Habits develop unconsciously, we start doing something one day and over time it turns into a part of us without even realizing it. A routine is something we do with the idea of “it needs to be done”. These routines help structure our day in a way that we feel has to happen in order to be successful. Unlike habits and routines, rituals are done with intent and purpose. This gives more meaning to the things we do and in turn connects our inner world to our outer world.
Now what do you think could happen if we turned our habits into rituals? For example, let's say you have the habit of checking your phone before getting out of bed. You could set the intention to reach for a book instead and read for 10 min each morning. You turned a habit into a ritual that will have more meaning and benefits than reaching for your phone.
The same thing goes for routines. Not every routine needs to become a ritual, but every routine has the potential to become a ritual if you desire more meaning behind it. Let's say you have a daily exercise routine- you stretch, go on a jog, then have a smoothie. This is something you have been doing everyday for months or maybe years. It’s healthy! But have you lost the intent behind it? Maybe you have done this for so long, you don’t even know why you are still stretching or jogging. Do you even like your smoothie anymore? If you turned your exercise routine into a ritual by focusing on what makes you feel strong, sustainable, and healthy, you may be surprised to see your health improve faster in a shorter amount of time then from jogging mindlessly for years.
What routines or habits will you be turning into rituals? Share in the comments below!
By Isabella Carvajal