Get Your Hygge On!

Picnic in the Park

Hi Lovely Readers,

Can you believe March is already almost over? ¬†I guess I’m a little over the wind, but then again, that means we now move on to the rain ūüėČ ¬†But I did read a nice quote today on Facebook that gave me a little perspective: “Partly cloudy with a chance of rain, or partly cloudy with a chance of a rainbow. ¬†You choose.” ¬†Something to think about.

Today I want to introduce you to a Danish concept I think we can all benefit from: hygge (pronounced HOO-ga). ¬†I first learned about this unique approach to life in an article on Today.com¬†titled, “What is hygge? ¬†Why the world’s happiest country says this is their secret.”

The basic translation for this word is “cozy” and in broader terms it relates to the way you can cultivate more happiness in your life by learning to make your life more cozy and taking time to feel cozy everyday without experiencing the guilt that often goes along with it. ¬†Here in America, we’re prized for how much we can get done, our worth is measured by how successful we are, and we see happiness as something we can buy or own. ¬†But in Denmark, they’re operating under a different system.

According to the article, they take time to slow down and create little moments in their day, adding cozy elements where they can.  This includes stopping for a coffee break, reading a good book, putting on a pair of fuzzy socks, walking in the woods to get fresh air, and catching up with a friend.  The focus is on fun, whether that be playing a game or telling a funny story.  And the more you share this experience with others, the better.

You can set the mood for hygge in your own house by lighting candles, decorating your house with silly or whimsical elements like old toys or funny pillows, or placing some dishes of chocolate within arm’s reach in different rooms. ¬†The idea is to make yourself laugh and not take life so seriously.

You can even employ the concept of hygge at work by adding plants to your cubicle or a comfy sweater to the back of your chair.  And since hygge is also about connecting with people, consider bringing in lunch for your co-workers or organizing a weekly potluck where you can share yummy food and catch up with co-workers on non-work-related stuff.

I think we can all use a healthy dose of hygge in our lives. ¬†So stop being so hard on yourself if you don’t finish that 10th item on your to-do list. ¬†Instead go run barefoot in the fresh, spring grass or make that cup of tea you like and read a funny article in your favorite magazine. ¬†Just remember that hygge is not another routine or rule to follow. ¬†Make it spontaneous and remember to just let go and have a moment of fun just for the sake of it ūüôā

My friend reminded me of this today when she sent me a text reminding me to take time out to breathe slowly and meditate. ¬†The advice sounded so good, I immediately got up and did some random yogic poses. ¬†After stretching, I felt completely relaxed and energized! ¬†She also sent me a little joke that allowed me to laugh at myself and how our bodies change as we get older. ¬†So now, I think I’ll go have a couple of maple cookies, because life isn’t all about fitness, either.

Okay it’s your turn to share. ¬†How do you plan to practice hygge and bring more moments of joy into your everyday life?

Mad Tea Party

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March Magic!

Happy March everyone! ¬†It sure is coming in like a lion ūüėČ ¬†But I’ve never been more excited about it. ¬†I’m very happy to see February go, mostly because it means spring is right around the corner.

I started thinking about the best way to welcome a new month and the coming of a new season.  How about with some magic!

I recently read a great article online titled, “33 Ways to Invite & Invoke More Magic Into Your Life” by Kara Maria Ananda, a Healing Arts Educator, Holistic Business Coach, Speaker and Writer. ¬†I’d like to highlight a few of my favorites, some of which I plan to focus on for this year.

  • Drink more water.
  • Dance, stretch, do yoga and move your body.
  • Play with children.
  • Go somewhere new in your own town.
  • Pay attention to synchronicity.
  • Get a massage.
  • Meditate.
  • Leave secret notes with positive messages¬†in public places for people to find.
  • Make art.
  • Read your favorite¬†books from your childhood.
  • Walk barefoot on the Earth.
  • Get all dressed up just because.

Check out Ananda’s article to find out even more ways to cultivate magic in your life.

And here are a few magical quotes from some books I’ve been reading lately. ¬†The first is from a book I just started called The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle¬†by Janet Fox. ¬†The other¬†two quotes are from the 2017 Newbery-winning book, The Girl Who Drank the Moon¬†by Kelly Barnhill, which¬†I highly recommend. ¬†The quotes from these books take two very different tones but they intersect in interesting ways, just like everything in life.

“In times like these, according to Great-Aunt Margaret, magic bubbled up, rising out of the confusion and strife of war. ¬†Troubled times stirred up magic like dumplings in a stew.”

“And there was something else, too.¬† This surging feeling in her bones.¬† This clicking inside her head.¬† This feeling as though she had an invisible gear inside her, pushing her, inch by inch, towards…something. ¬†Her whole life, she never knew what. ¬†Magic, her bones said.”

“Her grandmother had taught Luna…how a caterpillar lives, growing big and fat and sweet-tempered, until it forms a chrysalis.¬† And inside the chrysalis, it changes.¬† Its body unmakes.¬† Every portion of itself unravels, unwinds, undoes, and reforms into something else… ¬†“It feels like magic,” her grandmother had said…”

Magic is my word for the year, so it is always fun to see where it pops up. ¬†I think everyone can use a little more magic in their lives. ¬†It’s that spark that makes life meaningful and gives us hope.

How will you invite magic into your life this month?  Please share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thing About Miracles


My word for the year has been “miracles.” ¬†As such, I’ve invited all kinds of miracles into my life, some intended and some not. ¬†It has been fun and exciting to watch them unfold and then document them afterwards.

One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t make them happen. ¬†You also can’t predict how they will work out. ¬†In fact, some miracles are actually preceded by sacrifice and loss.

I learned to meditate this year in order to help my insomnia and anxiety. ¬†But the road to relaxation has not always been an easy one. ¬†Mainly because mindfulness is easier said than done. ¬†I’ve had to let go of a lot of old behaviors that trigger worry and doubt. ¬†I’ve had to look my fears in the face and learn to embrace them like old friends.

But if you’re open to change, transformation is inevitable. ¬†And when you get your wings and another chance in life, the experience becomes truly miraculous.

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
–Judy Blume

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
–Louisa May Alcott

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” –Audrey Hepburn

“Out of difficulties grow miracles.” –Jean de la Bruyere

 

 

 

 

The Art of Acceptance

Greetings all and happy fall, unofficially. ¬†I’m still celebrating the end of summer myself, but with the appearance of the full harvest moon, one can’t help but start to prepare for autumn.

With the changing seasons afoot, I’ve decided it’s the perfect time to talk about a powerful little word called acceptance. ¬†We have to accept all kinds of things every day as part of life. ¬†We accept going to school and work. ¬†We accept paying bills and taxes. ¬†And late at night in the quiet of our beds we even accept that death will come for us some day. ¬†Actually, that last one is tricky. ¬†Do we really accept it or do we spend our time avoiding it and pretending it isn’t going to happen?

A couple of months ago I started a meditation practice. ¬†More on the specifics of that in a later post! ¬†One of the cornerstones of mindfulness besides staying in the present moment, breathing deeply, and sitting in silence, is the idea of acceptance for all that is. ¬†Now don’t freak out! ¬†Luckily, it doesn’t mean accepting your current situation forever. ¬†But it does mean surrendering to the moment and accepting it just as it is. ¬†For me, that sometimes means accepting that I didn’t sleep well the night before and have a long day ahead of me.

To be honest, I couldn’t wrap my head around this concept at first. ¬†What do you mean accept it? ¬†That sounds like giving up. ¬†That sounds like accepting hurt and pain and doing nothing about it. ¬†On the contrary, it’s the opposite. ¬†When we accept our current situation, we’re guaranteed to feel empowered. ¬†We put ourselves back in the driver seat of our lives. ¬†We allow our feelings of pain to take a passenger seat on the journey, but we do not let them drive. ¬†Essentially, we may experience pain, but we don’t have to suffer. ¬†And that’s a big difference.

‚Äú[Acceptance] simply means that you are¬†acknowledging¬†reality,‚ÄĚ said psychotherapist Sheri Van Dijk, MSW, RSW in an article on radical acceptance published in Spirituality & Health. “You are acknowledging what happened or what‚Äôs currently happening. Because fighting reality only intensifies our emotional reaction,” she said.

And there’s more. ¬†When you take the time to accept something, you gain the power to transform its energy. ¬†Think of yourself as an alchemist, if you will ūüėČ ¬†It may not happen today or tomorrow, but your situation will change, guaranteed. ¬†In fact, I bet if you think back, you can come up with some examples from your life.

I’ve been a runner for most of my life, but recently I had to accept that maybe my running days were over. ¬†I’ve been experiencing heel pain, even when I walk, so running was quickly out of the question. ¬†I started swimming instead, but still missed running. ¬†Then I went to see a foot doctor. ¬†I fully expected the worst and even worried about needing surgery, but as it turned out, I have over-developed calves, from running, and needed to work on specific stretches for my heel as well as exercises to help strengthen my other leg muscles. ¬†Then the real surprise. ¬†I was told I could still run. ¬†After I had already given it up. ¬†Just as I was beginning to enjoy my new activity of swimming. ¬†Say what? ¬†In the aftermath, I’ve decided to go for balance, running less and incorporating other enjoyable forms of exercise. ¬†But the lesson is clear. ¬†Things do change. ¬†Often for the better. ¬†But first you have to accept the way they are.

And I know what you’re thinking. ¬†What about when they don’t change? ¬†I came across a great quote recently by Lucille Ball.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

This resonated with me and I hope it also sparks something in you.

If you’re still grappling with the concept and need something more tangible, try this exercise:

Step 1: Imagine your pain in detail.  Give it a color.  Rank it on a scale from 1-10.  Does it have hard or soft edges?  Where does it reside in the body?  Is it flat or is it 3-D?

Step 2: Focus on your body now.  Start with your toes.  Wiggle them.  Relax your feet.  Move through each part of your body, slowly relaxing it, all the way up to your head.  Release your thoughts and even let your brain relax.  Breathe in and let go.

Step 3: Close your eyes and breathe deeply.  Focus on the present moment.  Imagine your heart is open, filled with empty space.  Imagine only the space.  Then imagine your pain AND the space.  Keep this up.

Step 4: After an increment of time, say 10 min. or more, wiggle your fingers and toes, and then open your eyes.  Now think about your pain again.  Imagine its color, size, intensity, etc.  Has your pain changed?  Does it feel different?  Even if it feels the same, how has your relationship to the pain changed?

Wait another hour and check in with your pain again.  You might be surprised how different you feel!

If you’re interested in more, check out an audio version of a specific dissolving pain exercise here.

Acceptance isn’t easy. ¬†It takes time. ¬†It’s an evolutionary process. ¬†But when we begin to make space in our lives for acceptance, we open a doorway for all kinds of miracles to shine through.

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Our Heart Vibrations

Let me just dive in! Our heart is more powerful than our brain. Did you know this? 60 times greater, according to the article “How to Change Our Self-Limiting Programs”¬†on Uplift.¬†Powerful stuff! Both organs vibrate and generate energy as part of the electromagnetic field that makes up our body. But the heart has a far greater amplitude. And with the heart, the vibes are always positive and far-reaching. So why not just follow these good vibrations?

Our brain is running unconscious programs that we learned since birth. These vibes can get in the way of our happiness…if we let them. By thinking negative thoughts, we attract negative energy into our lives. This may manifest as a negative event or illness. We may also attract negative people into our lives. People that are simply reflecting the same energy that we put out there. The more positive people and experiences are vibrating at a higher frequency. But how do we make that same leap?

It’s simple really. Just follow your heart. More specifically: follow your heart’s vibration. The best way to do this is to find your center. Be calm. Go inside yourself. Stay in the present moment. That is where you find your divine bliss. Ultimate connection. Creativity. Universal spirit. Love.

Stop analyzing, over-thinking, worrying. Just be. That’s when you get tuned into the right frequency. The heart frequency. It can take you places, manifest your dreams, and even heal you.

Seem too simple? Not convinced? Try this experiment by molecular biologist Bruce Lipton. Take two guitars tuned the same and pluck the A string on #1. Then watch #2, which also vibrates. All because they are tuned to the same frequency. We can train our brains to do the same by thinking positive thoughts. Or go a step further and follow the stronger and truer vibration of our hearts.

So start harmonizing your thoughts.  Tune in to a different, more positive broadcast. Change your story. Attract what you want out of life. Let the vibrations of your heart create your reality. Starting NOW.

“People will leave the old story when they see a new story working. Every individual who changes their own story, is changing the vibrational environment within which we all live.” –Bruce Lipton

 

Dynamic Meditation

Those of you who know me know that I practice yoga, if not consistently. I also try to meditate. ¬†Key word sometimes being “try.” ¬†For a person who prides herself on her deep thoughts, this can be especially difficult! ūüėČ ¬†But for those of you in the same boat, fear not. ¬†Let me introduce you to something different. ¬†Something with a little more action in it.

Dynamic meditation isn’t a new concept, but it is new to me. ¬†I recently read an article about it. ¬†An Indian spiritual leader, Osho, taught this practice, which involves reaching a meditative state through dance. ¬†But keep in mind that you can’t simply dance and consider it meditation. ¬†When you are aware of yourself, it is exercise. ¬†Still good, but not spiritual.

“Forget the dancer, the center of the ego; become the dance. That is the meditation. Dance so deeply that you forget completely that ‚Äėyou‚Äô are dancing and begin to feel that you are the dance. The division must disappear; then it becomes a meditation.” —Osho

I decided to give it a try, following the guided meditation offered in the article.  The instructions suggest that you can listen to music while doing this exercise.  As a beginner, I was grateful for that!  The music that I chose was quite uplifting, so it was relatively easy to develop my own body rhythms in response to what I was hearing.  Even so, I still felt an awareness of self.  But after a while, I noticed my movements getting bigger, becoming more fluid and a bit more daring.  Afterwards, I felt both energized and calm.

“With a mad dance, you begin to be aware of a silent point within you…”

I’m not sure that I reached a constant state of silence, but I know I glimpsed moments of it.

According to Osho, meditation doesn’t necessarily need to be a spiritual practice, either. ¬†He believed that it could be used for self-realization or as a way of healing the mind and body.

Maybe it was the music I chose, but I certainly felt more empowered after my meditative dance.  So, in a way, I healed myself.

But what about healing others through the dance? ¬†Is it possible to send good vibrations out into the world simply through moving our bodies dynamically? ¬†I don’t have the answer to that. ¬†But given the recent events in Paris and other parts of the world, I think it is worth a try. ¬†Rather than feeling sad, scared, or powerless about a situation you can’t control, why not get up and move. ¬†Offer your healing energy to the world and see what happens. ¬†Let’s dance, dance, dance our way to personal empowerment, freedom and world peace!

“Remember: life is a rhythm between day and night, summer and winter. It is a continuous rhythm. Never stop anywhere! Be moving! And the bigger the swing, the deeper your experience will be.” ¬†—Osho

 

 

Finding Your Center

What if I told you there was a spot on Earth that marked the world’s center. ¬†Would you want to go?

The axis mundi is known to be the world’s center point connecting sky and earth where all four directions meet. ¬†There are actually many symbolic representations of this point including structures like lighthouses (no wonder I love them!) and natural formations like mountains.

I was lucky enough to encounter several of these on my recent trip to Italy. ¬†One was at the Pantheon¬†in Rome. ¬†It has a concrete dome with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. ¬†And what a view! ¬†The height to the oculus measures the same as its diameter–142 ft. ¬†And if you stand in the center underneath it and look up into the sky, you certainly feel connected to something higher.

Another axis mundi was seen on a hike in the Cinque Terre from Monterosso to Vernazza. ¬†I couldn’t ignore the spot where the earth and especially the sea met the sky. ¬†It was like I was staring at the edge of the world. ¬†Or perhaps it was the center. ¬†I could not tell, only that it was breathtaking.

A skyscraper can also serve as an axis mundi. ¬†I just saw the movie The Walk about Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. ¬†I dare say he was experiencing a divine moment when he did that.

One of the greatest symbols of an axis mundi in literature, religion, and myth is the Cosmic Tree or Tree of Life. ¬†Like all trees, this tree exists on three planes–heaven, earth, and underworld (where its roots are)–and symbolizes immortality. ¬†It makes you look at trees just a little bit differently, doesn’t it?

I was also delighted to discover that the mandala represents an axis mundi. ¬†No wonder they’re such a powerful tool for meditation and centering one’s self!

Even more mind-bending is the notion that the human body itself can serve as an axis mundi.  The Renaissance image of the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci symbolizes the axis mundi.  Furthermore, many religions view the human body as a temple and prayer as a column from earth to heaven.  Do you see the connection?

Now, what if I told you the world’s center was right where you stand? ¬†Strive to connect with heaven and earth in this moment. ¬†Then you will find the center inside of you.

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” –Lao Tzu

“I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.” –Confucius

 

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