The photo above is of an entrance I was supposed to take 19 years ago. Here’s a personal story about a [new] beginning and following your intuition.
Yesterday was January 10th and it’s a date i acknowledge every year because it was the date i arrived in New York City from Norway. Yesterday…
Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, as I write this, I am sitting alone in my apartment, during a power outage, on my laptop, which I thankfully had the foresight to charge fully before the storm hit. It is really strange not to have the distraction of the possibility of the email alert going off on my phone or an incoming call or text. It is super quiet outside—I think most people have left downtown in favor of areas with electric. The sirens are becoming less and less frequent, and other than the wind, that has been the only prevalent sound outside.
So what am I going to do with all of this peace and quiet? Meditate, of course!
I know, I know. It sounds way easier than it is, but there are lots of little tricks and techniques that make meditating—which can seem like such a daunting task to anyone who doesn’t practice it regularly—quite simple.
And once you are in the habit of it, mediating is incredibly enjoyable. You become a more relaxed, more grounded person, able to navigate life with infinitely more grace and ease.
Ready to start?
While not necessary, sometimes it helps to have a little ritual attached to meditating, perhaps lighting a candle or a stick of incense—that way, if you do it every time, there is a clear signal to your brain that it is time to meditate.
Then begin by simply finding a comfortable way to sit. Maybe for you that is kneeling propped up on a pillow or maybe it is cross-legged. Figure out the way in which your body feels best seated, and arrange yourself accordingly.
Once you’re ready, close your eyes. Rest your palms face up or down wherever they fall comfortably on your thighs. (You can play with palms up and palms down every time you meditate. Generally palms up gives you more energy, as you are “open to receive,” and palms down grounds you. Change it up depending on which you want more of an any given day.)
Now start to notice your breath. Don’t try to change it, simply notice it and observe it. Is it shallow? Is it deep? Is it easy? You can spend an indefinite time watching your breath. In fact, that can be your entire meditation practice, if you like. If your thoughts and focus start to wander away from your breath, don’t get upset, simply notice it, acknowledge the distraction, and gently guide your thoughts back.
If observing your breath isn’t working for you at first, you can try to experiment with your breath. I like to lead meditation by using some yoga breathing. Begin with three deep breaths, fully inhaling and exhaling. Then transition to alternate nostril breathing. Do this first for four counts, then move to six, then eight, continuing all the way to 16 if your breath allows. By then you might find that all of that focusing on counting has calmed your thoughts and you have the ability to relax your mind and observe your breath.
It’s best not to start with huge expectations of meditating for hours. Instead, try five minutes. Use your phone’s timer and set aside those five minutes in your day for you. Sit and breathe, and you will be shocked at how quickly that goes by. When that is easy for you, change your timer to 10 minutes, then 20, and so forth.
Experiment with times of day: See if right when you wake up or just before you go to sleep works best for you—maybe you will end up doing both or some time in between.
The beauty of having a mediation practice is that you can do it anywhere. One of my favorite places to meditate is on the subway: It is the best way I know to enjoy my ride and tune out most of the crazy energy flying around the subway cars.
There are all sorts of different ways about getting into your mediation practice, and when you are comfortable with it, it will evolve with you. But it’s never going to seem easy until you start, so start right now! Set your iPhone timer to five minutes and go. “Free your mind, and the rest will follow!”
Savory Mushroom Spice Soup
2 handfulls mushrooms
1 cup lentils / rice
1/2 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger
2 table spoons corn starch
1 table spoon red curry paste
1 table spoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Sautee onion and garlic in pan with a little olive oil
Add 3 cups water
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes
Add spices + squeeze lemon + ginger
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes
Add corn starch
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes
Same time prepare rice / lentils
When soup thickens combine with lentils / rice
Stir and Enjoy!
A simple routine to release tension in the hips and back and calm and ease the mind! Enjoy! Full Yoga pose library included in This is Yoga. Deep breaths!
Eat (or drink!) your greens!!
Lets be real folks, yoga is super important for overall health, focus, clarity, connection, inspiration, and intuition, and so many more benefits and expansiveness, but when it comes to our entire health, it doesn’t matter how many hours we spend meditating or in Warrior 2, if it doesn’t change the way we eat for the better, our quality of life suffers. I’ve gotten super into experimenting with whole foods, cooking, preparing, juicing, blending, and simply paying more attention to not only what I consume, but where the foods come from, and the energy that is involved in the whole process.
We’ve all experienced the following events.
1) Eating something not-so-good for ourselves, like a greasy pizza, french fries with weird oils, over processed desserts, you name it, we’ve eaten it, right? Unless you were born in an ashram and stayed there, and never snuck in a bag of M&M’s, you feel me right? Â I snuck in M&M’s to an ashram just a few years ago because I wasn’t sure if they would have any chocolate at all, and committing to a weekend sans chocolate was NOT something I was prepared to deal with. You can read more about the story of my chocolate crash, and how I met my husband (he had back up chocolate, how fortunate for him) on page 6 of Slim Calm Sexy Yoga. (my first book)
I digress, we’ve also (hopefully) experienced situation
2) A nice calm day/night at home, peaceful state of mind, spontaneous inspiration to prepare healthy, nourishing food. Our intuition guides the preparation and we end up with a gorgeous, delicious, nutritious meal that was a satisfying meal and an expansive experience.
Now, I challenge you, think back to the last 7 days of your life. Have you had more of the first or second types of eating experiences? If you are leaning towards the first, lets try to bring us all more towards the second. Once you get in the habit of the second, you’ll get addicted to feeling great, expansive, and energized all the time.
I present a challenge for all of us for the next 7 days. I’ll participate too. Lets keep track of our meal experiences and make a tally. Now, I know… you’re busy! You have a job, a life, a family, school, etc. You can’t be at home and prepare every meal followed by a hot bath, 30 minutes of meditation, and 20 minutes of journal writing. Me either! But we can attempt to bridge the gap between both experiences and draw ourselves further into sustainable energy and radiant health.
A few tips for us all to keep in mind.
1) Avoid eating while looking or working on the computer or watching TV.
2) Grocery shop, farmers market shop, whatever you got that’s your best bet, go there, get the good stuff, greens, veggies, quinoa, tea, almond milk. You know what to do.
3) Daydream about preparing and cooking.
4) Turn your mind off from time to time. Just for these 7 days, see if you can peel yourself away from your thoughts a little more than usual. Step away from the computer when you are done with work. Avoid the TV as much as possible, and make just a little time for yourself to be quiet each day.
I’ll report back! Keep me company in the 7 Day Healing Through Whole Foods and Calm Mind Challenge!
Quick Yoga Abs… Enjoy!
This simple and quick preparation will leave you feeling sustained and energized all day long. And it’s so yummy to eat too!
1 cups quinoa (prepared)
Fresh organic spinach
1 orange organic pepper
1/2 cup organic hummus
gluten free sprouted bread
combine hummus, quinoa, spinach
chop orange pepper & add to mix
toast gluten free bread
spread fresh avocado on bread
squeeze fresh lemon over everything
Breaking Into the Business of Your Life
I’m pretty comfortable responding to questions about yoga, health, lifestyle, food, etc., but lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about career shifting.
With careers in wellness on the rise (how cool!), and the universal shift in moving away from working jobs to pay the bills and finding jobs to feed inspiration, creativity, and personal growth, there is a ton to navigate and I’m super grateful to share the little nuggets that I’ve learned along the way and staying open to learning and growing much more.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all preachy on you — I just thought I’d share some pretty cool stuff that has worked for me (so far…I’m just getting started).
Here are some tips that I would have found interesting when I was first starting out my path:
1. Follow Your Interests
There are some things you can plan, set goals, and hope and dream for. Those things you have no control over if and when they will ever happen. But following your interests keeps you honest about what you are doing and energetically opens doors that you are meant to walk through. Save yourself the time and the frustration of pushing an idea or situation that isn’t in your flow and keep following what truly interests you.
2. Be You, But Soak Up Inspiration
It’s become trendy to say “just be yourself.” Well, there is a pretty big problem with that one-size-fits-all nugget: Yes, you are great, but you have some work to do to refine, cultivate, expand, grow, and build yourself. Look to those you admire. Look up. Look way up. Surround yourself with people you admire. Read autobiographies of people you admire. Watch documentary films of subjects you are interested in. Don’t look down. Lessen your interactions with people who focus on negative behaviors. You are those who you surround yourself with.
3. Be Patient
Don’t quit your job to start that super-great blog idea you’ve been cookin’ up. Keep your job, do your blog, or whatever it is, and see where it takes you. If you do the work, things will happen. You can’t control the speed, and it’s more interesting to be okay with the speed at which things unfold according to the degree of what you are offering. Everything is as it should be, but, of course, you have to do the work.
4. Leave Space for Your Mind to Change
Once you have your idea, and even your plan, loosen up around the edges. If you are so focused you will miss out on the peripheral, which could shift you in an entirely new and exciting direction, or point you toward a perfect opportunity. Stay open for change; it comes in all shapes, sizes, and packages.
5. Work Hard
Everyone gives this one, but the way to know if you are really passionate about something is how hard you are working. The “how” isn’t to simply work hard, but to do what you are interested in so you are working hard without trying to work hard. If you don’t feel like working hard, you aren’t doing what you love. You might be trying to love something that you like, or trying to emulate someone else. All of that is fine, but it’s important to observe without judgment so you can evaluate your circumstance and move forward accordingly.
How are you “breaking into the business of your life” — doing what you love?
—Tara Stiles, Yoga & Wellness Expert
There are numerous things in life we find easy to justify; like waiting 6 hours to text your friend back because you were “driving” at the time. Or, like canceling a dinner with someone cause you’re just so “busy,” even though you plan on going home and watching Modern Family. Or, like when you…