True Nature Travels Blog


hibernate: a state of minimal activity

I love the greys, browns, and earth tones of November. The cool, crisp air and subdued colours communicate a quietude that I deeply relish. For yogis in the Northern hemisphere, the coming of winter solstice can be accompanied by a depressive impulse that our culture encourages us to placate with sugary treats, binging, retail therapy, and other distractions that draw our senses outward.

This inward impulse is part of the natural rhythm of our bodies and our circadian rhythm adjusting to the external change in Nature.

In the winter, trees shed their leaves and much of nature goes into a dormant stage of rest, conservation and preservation. Just as Nature hibernates, so too must we listen and honour the inward impulse by lessening our commitments, reducing external stimuli and tending to our inner realms.

The inward impulse is extremely conducive to meditation and meditative activities like knitting, beadwork, drawing, reflection and journalling, contemplation and creative endeavors. Honouring this impulse can result in fruitful and satisfying outcomes rather than the cultural imperatives to shop, feast, and socialize which often leaves us feeling drained, empty, and depressed.

The darkness and quiet of winter Solstice makes it an ideal to retreat and go inwards; to preserve our vital life force for growth and transformation in the inner realms of the psyche.

Winter retreats offer an opportunity to unplug from the stressors of modern, urban life, immerse into wisdom teachings, and devote ourselves to practices that revitalize our essential life fore.

Retreats create space to hibernate from our worldy and digital engagements to re-assess, re-prioritize, and re-direct our energies so that when the time comes to engage with the world, we are ready, renewed, and clear in our direction and path forward.

Below are some suggestions for aligning ourselves with the external rhythms of Nature.

  • Shed Commitments.
    Lessen external commitments over the holidays to create space for rest, contemplation, and creative projects.
  • Unplug digitally.
    Minimize, reduce, or eliminate for a few days social media and news to cleanse the mind of external thoughts and worries.
  • Harness the inward impulse.
    Commit to inner practices or creative projects that harness the inward impulse in productive and skillful ways.
  • Nourish yourself.
    Rest, sleep, and eat well.

Join me for two winter Retreats. Honor your inward impulse and celebrate the beauty and quietude of the season.

BIJA: Planting Seeds for the New Year
Dec. 27 to Jan. 1 2021
This online Retreat is offered on a by-donation basis!

Everything we do, say, and think makes a deep impression in our consciousness. Commit to practices that keep you anchored and balanced and plant positive intentions and develop positive habits to take you in the New Year.

Daily yoga, optional workshops, recipes to try out, and a self-care package mailed to you in the new year.

Details here– https://www.saltspringcentre.com/bija-planting-seeds-for-the-new-year/
Register here- https://form.jotform.com/202655406870254

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Seven Days of Self-Love
Feb. 14- 21 2021

Daily schedule includes yoga video, inspirational podcast, and a daily self-love practice. Daily themes include: reverence, devotion, joy, compassion, presence, and surrender.

Registration opens in the New Year!

True Nature Travels Blog


Self-care is critical to optimal health and well-being, and it’s one of the lessons that many of us have learned from the coronavirus pandemic. But how is self-care defined, and what distinguishes self-care from self-indulgence? This question has been on my mind for months.

For many people, self-care evokes images of a relaxing spa, a luxurious vacation, or being in a beautiful retreat setting. For me, though, self-care is a disciplined, daily practice that keeps me anchored, grounded, and connected to my heart. On the other hand, self-indulgence is an expression of privilege and can reinforce egoism, vanity, and gluttony.

My Personal Self-Care Routine

Almost every day, I wake up before sunrise to do some asanas, meditate, and reflect on my day before I eat, shower, and turn on my computer. Some days my practice feels mundane; other days, it is profound and blissful. Most days, it is simply an act of coming home to myself and to the present realities of my life. 

This relationship between self-care and self-indulgence is so akin to my relationship with chocolate. I LOVE chocolate—dark chocolate of all varieties: dark chocolate and ginger, dark chocolate and orange, dark chocolate with figs. I don’t think I have ever met dark chocolate I didn’t like. 

Dark chocolate is a sweet indulgence that gives me a momentary buzz of pleasure and sensuality. However, if I indulge in it too much, I notice sugar cravings and the beginnings of an insatiable appetite for sugary foods that inevitably leads me down the path toward consuming unhealthy carbs and bread, which make me feel lethargic, foggy, and hungry. However, in the right amount, a chocolate indulgence can add a sweet pleasure. 

Self-indulgent experiences like facials, spa treatments, or luxurious holidays can be a step toward creating a self-care routine. But if there is no continuity in the form of a self-care home practice, the experience wears out, and we find ourselves hungry for nourishment.

Dark chocolate is a sweet indulgence that gives me a momentary buzz of pleasure and sensuality. However, if I indulge in it too much, I notice sugar cravings and an insatiable appetite for sugary foods.

One December, many years ago, my husband and I decided to attend a 10-day silent meditation retreat. I had no experience with meditation or doing a retreat, and I had no idea what to expect. The retreat involved eight hours of sitting meditation punctuated with silent walking, dharma talks, and mealtimes. The retreat was excruciatingly painful both physically and mentally, and yet profoundly insightful. Never before had I come face-to-face with my own thoughts. With nothing to do but meditate, I experienced the restlessness of my monkey mind, and I practiced a method to feel anchored in stability, focus, and present moment awareness. I experienced incredible lucidity, had profound insights about my life and noticed an increased vividness in sight, sound, and taste.

I came home excited about practicing this meditation technique, but after a few weeks, the habit of getting up early and meditating was no longer sustainable. Seeking more of what I experienced, I became a self-improvement junkie, going to workshops, seminars, and retreats hoping to re-establish a meditation practice and to experience the insights I had on my first meditation retreat. I would come home excited to practice meditation again and feel inspired by what I had learned. But inevitably, after a few weeks, my meditation practice would lose steam, and I would find myself disappointed and looking for the next course.

This pattern continued for many years until I met my Guru, Sri Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda. I received from him both inspiration and guidance in establishing a home practice or sadhanaSadhana is the Sanskrit word for daily spiritual practice. Establishing a daily home practice has given me so much over the years. It is a daily anchor for me to nourish my body with movement. It is a moment for me to cleanse my mind and choose kind, loving, peaceful, and harmonious thoughts. And my daily practice allows me to connect with my heart and the deepest part of my being.

Practicing Self-Care Throughout The Day

In addition to a morning practice that nourishes me on all levels, I try to cultivate space in my day to rest, breathe, and reflect—whether that’s a guided yoga nidra or writing in my gratitude journal. I cook and eat nourishing meals to provide my body with the right kind of fuel. I choose my words carefully and mindfully, whether in emails or in speaking, so that my words and language do not create harm and division and instead contribute to harmony and peace. 

While I appreciate spa dates, aesthetic treatments like facials, and getting my hair done, self-care is not as simple as getting a massage or facial, not to mention the economic privilege embedded in spa holidays, beauty treatments, and getting your hair and nails done weekly. On the contrary: true self-care requires discipline and commitment and is rooted in the foundation of self-esteem.

Self-Connected To The Whole

Self-care is an expression of self-esteem: valuing our body, our mind, our time, and our energy while committing to practices and habits that nourish us. Movement practices (yoga, Qi Gong, Tai chi, exercise), breathing practices, and meditation practices all restore our physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual resources. Inherent to these practices is an understanding that the self is connected to the whole. To bring ourselves into balance and harmony is a blessing not only for ourselves but to all those around us. 

In some Eastern spiritual lineages, this is expressed in the dedication that follows a practice—a dedication that the fruits of our practice radiate outward and benefit all beings in all realms. Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu. May all beings, in all realms, experience happiness. This is the mantra I repeat at the end of my practice.

If you are overworked, exhausted, and always giving to others, a spa date can offer time to oneself. Undoubtedly, this is a rare and precious gift. The real gift is not the service but rather the time, space, and reversal of roles. 

If you are overworked, exhausted, and always giving to others, a spa date can offer time to oneself.

If you are used to being the giver, it can be incredibly healing to be on the receiving end, whether it is receiving a massage, a nourishing meal, or simply receiving someone’s full attention and presence. For people who work in a service-oriented profession, receiving is a crucial part of staying balanced. In fact, receiving and giving are both expressions of the natural flow of life energy. For most women who are habituated and conditioned to give, receiving nourishment from another can be a gift unlike any other.

Massage and other types of bodywork can also be an important addition to a committed home practice. There is no substitute for the healing power of touch and the feeling of an experienced practitioner who can untie the knots in our muscles and fascia, help us recover from injuries, and remind the body of what health feels like.

In contrast, self-indulgent activities offer a temporary pleasure that is limited to ourselves. A luxurious holiday is great but may benefit just us, whereas a meditation practice that grounds us in calmness benefits us, our partners, our children, our family, and our community.

Internal Vs. External

Health has both internal and external components. Attending to the internal is such an important part of self-care. This is another difference between what distinguishes self-care from self-indulgence.

Self-care practices are generally internally-oriented. Pratyahar, the drawing of the sense organs inward, is an essential limb of yoga and is the difference between exercise and asana. 

Asana involves an internal component wherein our awareness is directed inward and not exclusively outward. Self-indulgent activities are, in general, exclusively outward and can be appearance-oriented. Grooming and tending to our appearance is important, but it is not the same as awareness, consciousness, and mindfulness, all of which include internalization of our life-energy. Having our nails done and getting a great haircut may contribute to feeling beautiful, but it is no substitute for genuine self-esteem, which comes from within. Valuing our qualities, our beauty, skills, and assets creates a radiance that can’t be captured in a face full of makeup. 

Valuing our qualities, our beauty, skills, and assets creates a radiance that can’t be captured in a face full of makeup.

While advertising likes to convince us otherwise, beauty products are just products. Beauty does not come from a bottle of foundation; it comes from an inner glow and radiance. Often this radiance is the result of years of inner work and transformation. This is the third difference between self-care and self-indulgence. Self-care practices are ultimately about transformation.

Pleasure Vs. Transformation

Self-care practices like yoga, meditation, and conscious breathing promise transformation. I can attest to this truth. Yoga has given me physical health and has transformed me from the inside out. This transformation is the marvel and miracle of spiritual practice that opens us up to a greater potential inside that is beyond what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves.

As we shed the layers of our past and subconscious beliefs that we have inherited, we are able to live with intention, clarity, and purpose. When our actions are rooted in ethics and integrity, we are able to transform everyday experiences into opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. This takes dedication and consistent effort. Transformation rarely comes without discomfort.

In contrast, self-indulgent activities are pleasurable. And, when the pleasure ends, we are exactly where we started. Self-care practices take us on an inner journey that challenges, changes, and transforms who we are from the inside out.

Inner Resources

Finally, self-care taps into our inner resources: our ability to regulate our emotions, shift brain states, and move our prana from our heads to our hearts. Deep breathing triggers the relaxation response and can help shift us from a gamma brain state into an alpha or deep relaxation brain state. The ability to shift our brain waves into a slower rhythm can help us access our intuition, wisdom, and creativity. 

Self-indulgent activities may help us feel relaxed, but they do not provide the tools to access relaxation on our own. Yoga conditions the body physically, mentally, and emotionally, impacting not only the muscles, joints, and tissues but also the nervous system, glands, and brain. The keys to cultivating different states of consciousness like deep relaxation, unconditional love, and healing at the subconscious level are all part of self-care practices like yoga and meditation.

Here are a few of the self-care practices that I use regularly to help me tap into my inner resources and cultivate a sense of inner calm and peace:

Self-Care Morning Practice

Before you begin your day, make a nourishing drink, sit down, and take time to pause and reflect. 

Instructions: Ask the question, what can I do today to nourish me physically, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually? Choose one thing from your answer and commit to scheduling it into your day.

Ask: what can I do today to nourish me physically, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually? / Photo by Thom Holmes

Self-Care Mid-Day Check-In

In the middle of your day, take a 10-minute time-out to pause and be still. In the summertime, I like to sit outside, feel the warm sunshine on my skin, and let my mind wander while I stay attentive to my breath. When the weather is cold, I make a cup of tea and sit on my living room couch, and gaze out the window.

InstructionsFind a comfortable place to sit. Notice your sitz bones and feel yourself settling into your body. Feel rooted and connected to the Earth beneath you. Feel your core and the stability of your pelvis and spine. Notice the inhale and exhale of your breath and the movement of breath in the abdomen. Relax your back muscles and feel a sense of lifting through the spine. Soften the muscles in your face. Settle into your heart and be attentive to whatever arises. Let your breath anchor you in the present moment. Be attentive to where your mind wanders and what you feel emotionally and energetically.

Self-Care Nightly Practice

Many years ago, I learned a practice to help unwind at the end of the day, to integrate and process all the experiences of my day, and to prepare for sleep.

InstructionsAs you lie down, notice your breath. Allow your breathing to slow down so that you feel relaxed. Count 10 slow breaths, allowing for a pause between each breath. Once you feel relaxed and at ease, recall to your mind the last activity of your day and work through your day backwards until you reach the moment of waking up. Notice the feelings and thoughts that arise. Keep coming back to the thread of working backwards through your day until the moment of waking up in the morning.

These practices can help you establish a self-care routine that feeds you on all levels. The key is to do them regularly!

While I love to book spa dates with my girlfriend and indulge in luxurious meals, self-care rituals, and practices like yoga and meditation nourish me in ways that chocolate and facials can’t. Eating chocolate gives me a fleeting moment of pleasure, while eating a nourishing, wholesome meal provides me with fuel throughout my day. 

A daily consistent practice is like a nourishing meal. My practice nourishes me on all levels and provides me with a stable, consistent source of energy. Each day that I choose it, it nourishes me. It reminds me of the words of Yogi Babi Hari Dass, “If you work on yoga, your yoga will work on you.”


Farah Nazarali is a yoga-junkie. She has deep love and passion for all things yoga- asana, mantra, kirtan, nidra, satsang, and the Sutras. When she’s not on the mat, she’s creating videos, producing podcasts, or conducting karmic experiments using the currency of love. She lives with one foot firmly in the digital realm and the other foot rooted in Nature, natural rhythms, and the unlimited potential within the human heart.

True Nature Travels Blog

yoga tips
Yoga soothes and rejuvenates, and it helps us practice mindfulness as we grow stronger.
To tap into the kind of positive energy that yoga brings, we need to think about more than just how we move. We have to pay attention to the rhythm of our breathing, the atmosphere, and our emotions. We need to bring them in balance. But how exactly can we do that? By using music. Music brings harmony to life. It gives us those three key ingredients that we need: rhythm, atmosphere, and emotional connection that can elevate yoga from a mere workout to a truly profound experience. Here’s how to create your own perfect yoga playlist.

Consider the time of day


morning yoga
Morning yoga is usually meant to energize you and get you going, while a nighttime routine might be aimed at relaxation. Upbeat music might not be a great idea if you’re trying to let tension go and soothe your mind enough to help you sleep after a workout. Tailor your playlist to the time of day and the goal you’re trying to accomplish with your workout. Allow the playlist to create the right environment – either that of fast-paced, energetic joy, or that of a
safe, soothing relaxation


Think about your audience 


Are you working out alone? Then all you need to consider are your own needs. However, if you’re a
yoga instructor or a YouTube influencer with a large following, then you have to put your audience first. Think about what they need and how you can help them focus on the workout session, how to make them get through the tough parts and motivate them to keep going. 

Make sure that the playlist transitions from song to song smoothly and that your audience gets to hear relaxing tunes when they need to slow down and hold a pose, and picks up the pace when it’s time to move. 


Create visuals

 

creating a yoga playlist

If you’re creating a rockin’ playlist to go with your yoga, why not include some visuals to ensure you enjoy a more complete experience? If you’ve got an ear for good music, then you could put your skills to use and create the perfect mix that will inspire you to become fully immersed in your yoga workout. You can use a simple online video maker and browse through music visualizer templates to easily create a video to go with your playlist. Once you’re done, just download your video in full HD and you’ll have the perfect thing to accompany your yoga sessions.   

Match the music with the pace

 

If your yoga sessions tend to be more than 20 minutes long, then you likely have different sections in your workout. This is especially true of Vinyasa or Ashtanga types of yoga, which incorporate a lot of fast-paced movements. You want to find the songs to match these parts, and then have your playlist change as the workout winds down and your breathing slows. If you get it right, music will guide your movements and help you achieve perfect fluidity. This is especially important for beginners, who often feel like they’re stumbling through their asanas. If you want to learn how to be more graceful, then a good playlist is a way to go. 


Figure out the length of your yoga playlist

 

A playlist that lasts exactly as long as your workout does can be a great way to motivate yourself. After a while, you’ll learn the playlist by heart and your body will get used to moving to the rhythm. You’ll also have a pretty good idea of how much time is left before it’s over. 

If you are preparing this playlist for your class, make sure to adapt it to their pace and adjust things as you go. If you see that most of the attendees struggle with certain sections, make sure there’s an upbeat song playing to motivate them to break through their limits.  


Consider incorporating silent sections into your yoga playlist

 

lotus
Depending on the kind of yoga you practice, silent sections in your playlist can be very useful. Do you want the workout to be a meditative experience that encourages mindfulness? Then don’t be afraid to introduce silent sections into the playlist. This will give you some time to focus on your breathing and let tension go before you are gently eased back into the workout. 

Creating your perfect playlist will take a while. You might not get things right the first time, but this only means you get to play around with music until you get things right. When you’re done making a playlist, test it with your workout and see how you feel about it – did the music energize you? Did it help you get through difficult asanas? If the answer is yes, then you’ve done your job right.  

True Nature Travels Blog

Steady & Steadfast: Finding Resilience with the 3 iRest Yoga Nidra Resolutions

Our teachers want to continue sharing with the TN community despite the distance, so many are sending in Meditations, Yoga sessions, and Talks. Today, we have this wonderful talk and meditation by the lovely Lisa Feder, owner of Being Well Yoga in Austin, TX. The first 10 min of this audio recording is about Sankalpa in iRest Yoga Nidra followed by a 15 minute meditation called Steady and Steadfast: Finding Resilience with the 3 iRest Yoga Nidra Resolutions.

You can support Lisa & Be Well Yoga during the pandemic by following them on Facebook and Instagram for updates and online classes.

Lisa’s Facebook
A Year of Mindful Wellness Facebook
Being Well Yoga Facebook
Being Well Yoga Instagram

Be well and enjoy!


Published author and Yoga Instructor Lisa Feder is owner of Being Well Yoga in Austin, TX. After a 25 year career in marketing and strategic planning, she found Yoga while seeking to balance the stress and challenges in her day to day. In her words, “I love watching what happens when a workplace implements a regular Yoga class program. The employees come in visibly wearing the stress of the day, and leave with a new perspective, recharged and reconnected. It’s awesome.”

True Nature Travels Blog

Do you feel out of balance? Are you overwhelmed with work and family obligations? Well, it’s time you did something good for your body and mind. Getting outdoors will bring you many benefits, especially if you mix it with exercising. Here are some of the best outdoor activities that will rejuvenate your body and de-stress your mind. 


Hiking 

This is a great physical activity for all people who are not in any enviable form yet still want to enjoy moving and spending time in nature. All you need for a nice hike is some good shoes and a safe stretch of nature to explore. In a single demanding hike, you can burn as much as 500 calories and if you hit the hills, even more! But more importantly, you will get in touch with nature and clear your mind. Plus, amazing scenery and relaxing nature sounds will finally unglue you from your phone which is amazing for mental health. 

Bike rides

If you enjoy the fresh air and an open road in front of you, try cycling. A short trip on your bike will provide you with plenty of exercises and some time to think about whatever’s troubling you. Depending on where you’re going, there are different types of bikes. A good city bike will take you wherever you want to go on a paved road, while a mountain bike is more suitable for rugged terrain. Whichever type you prefer, you can expect great mental and physical health benefits. Pedaling is great for building lower-body muscles but it’s also good for cardiovascular health. Plus, fresh air and wind in your face will feel so refreshing and rejuvenating.

 

Running

Running is one of the best whole-body activities you can perform in nature. It’s a great way to clear out your head, relieve stress and enjoy some time by yourself to reflect. Additionally, it’s very good for your fitness and physical health too. It’s a great way to maintain a healthy weight, build lean muscles and improve cardiovascular health. But, running can be quite demanding, especially outdoors on the rugged surface and non-level terrain. So, in order to prevent injury and have more enjoyable running sessions, it’s best to include some leg workouts into your workout regime that will turn you into a real runner in no time. Most of these can be done anywhere and with minimal equipment (some weights and a stability ball) so you can introduce them into your life without too much trouble. 


Swimming

If you’re used to just lounging at the beach or splashing around in the shallows, it will surprise you that swimming is a great whole-body workout. It’s also very low-impact, which means you can enjoy it while recovering from injury or suffering from chronic pain (it’s a perfect exercise for seniors or overweight people). And expect a lot of resistance from water—it will increase muscle mass and tone your body. If you choose to go swimming in the ocean, river or lake, you will be completely surrounded by natural peace and beauties that will make all your stress and anxiety leave your head and sink to the bottom.


Outdoor yoga

If you’re looking for a way to connect with nature and reach inner peace, yoga is your answer, especially if you practice it outside. It can help you solve many of your problems concerning your body, mind, and soul. A good yoga teacher designs classes with exactly these points in mind and they can offer positive encouragement and guidance towards a healthy body and stress-free mind. 

Choosing to practice yoga poses outdoors is especially beneficial since it allows you to achieve harmony with the world that surrounds you. It’s much easier to achieve relaxation in a nurturing outdoor environment. And since breathing is a huge part of yoga, the freshness of the air outside provided by trees, plants and cool temperatures will supply you with extra oxygen.


Meditation in nature

Similar to yoga, meditation in nature is also a great way to reach inner peace. And practicing outdoor meditation is really easy. All you need to do is find a park, forest or even a beach and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and let your mind release all tension and time and work obligation concerns. It’s a great way to de-stress and relieve tension from both body and mind. You will also learn a lot about yourself and practice mindfulness we all lack in this world filled with distractions and fast pleasures.

 


If you step outside, you will find it much easier to reach balance and harmony inside. So, grab your shoes and your water bottle and step out for an invigorating run, fun bike ride or relaxing yoga session as soon as you can!

 

Morgan Rose Elliott is an aromatherapist, yoga instructor, animal lover, a happily married mother of three. She enjoys reading biographies and writing poems, sunny days on the beach and any shape and form of vanilla. Crazy about the ’80s, her favorite band is Duran Duran (although kids prefer Franz Ferdinand, and the husband Blink182) and she is obsessed with Netflix original Stranger things. https://twitter.com/MorganRoseElli1

True Nature Travels Blog

gratitude1

Gratitude is something that is sorely lacking today. Too many people feel they are entitled to what they have, and even a simple “thank you” is too much to ask from them. A lot of the stress we feel about our lives can be traced to feel entitled to the “nice things” that others have. Still, I believe that if you learn how to practice gratitude, you can shift your focus—and with this new attitude, everything can change.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

“A Man Must Feel the Bite of Winter to Feel the Warmth of the Hearth.” If you are a Game of Thrones fan, then you’ve heard these words before, but more than a quote from a TV program, it is a beautiful description of what gratitude is and why it is an essential antidote to the emptiness we feel in life. Because of the comforts that surround us—comforts that previous generations would have found unimaginable—that we have become numb, entitled, and unable to feel gratitude for what we have.

We have become numb, entitled, and unable to feel gratitude for what we have

Today we have smartphones connected permanently to the internet. We have access to the repositories of all the knowledge of humankind, but imagine if there was no internet. No instant communication with your friends wherever they may be in the world. No Wikipedia or other websites from which we can mine the collective knowledge of the world. Just 20 years ago, that was the reality.

I remember a time when we had to go to the library to access the internet because the home internet was not yet a thing. It is because I know what it was like before the internet that I appreciate its existence more.

Now apply that to something closer to home. Imagine what life would be like to be an orphan. To not have a mother nagging you to put on a shirt or some other mundane “motherly” thing. To not have a father giving outdated life advice while teaching you how to do “manly” things more suited to the 1950s. Just the thought of not having your parents ought to get you to call them right now to tell them you love them.

Mindfulness As A Method Of Practicing Gratitude

gratitude2

If you haven’t seen my article on mindfulness, maybe now would be a good time to give it a read. Mindfulness is the ability to appreciate the present and the things we have in the here and now. By practicing mindfulness and the science of gratitude, we can be grateful for what we have, even if it is not necessarily what we want, or not as good as what we desired.

A mindful person lives in the moment and enjoys the wonders of what they possess at the moment. By being content, the mindful person does not covet what they do not have. They are grateful for what they already have and do not take for granted their blessings or the achievements they have reached. A person trained in the art of mindfulness will savor with gratitude the life they already have. They will not covet a life that they could have had or that they desired in their youth.

For example, I know a man who became a lawyer at the age of 33. Recently, he lost both his parents within two years of each other. His doctor suggested that he discipline himself and develop mindfulness as an antidote for chronic, long-term dysthymia, which is the combination of an anxiety disorder and low-grade depression.

If this man decided to only focus on the negatives in his world, he might be cursing the powers that be for taking away his parents. He could be resenting the fact that it took him so long to become a lawyer.

But a mindful and grateful heart would teach him to be thankful that he had his parents for the first 30 years of his life. He had the privilege of becoming a lawyer in a state where more than 80% of those who finish law school do not ever attain this status. He has a lot to be grateful for if only he can train himself to see the light instead of dwell in the darkness.

He has a lot to be grateful for if only he can train himself to see the light instead of dwell in the darkness

In a way, mindfulness and gratitude will form a positive feedback loop in your life. Try it and watch as your attitude toward everything in your life changes.

The Scientific Argument In Favor Of Gratefulness

In a study, researchers learned that a person’s happiness level could be stable over the long term. This means that a grateful person can have a high level of happiness, and they can sustain it over a prolonged period. So, the bottom line here is: A grateful person is happier. (Consider rereading what I wrote about mindfulness earlier in this post, and start reaping the benefits of being happier right now.)

The same study also found that not only were people with a grateful mindset 25% happier, but they were far more optimistic about the future, too. One way to understand this is that the person who has a positive outlook in life will see the world differently. The grateful attitude for the present will permeate their attitude for the future.

If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Someone with a grateful heart has a positive outlook on life because they aren’t wasting time being jealous or coveting what they do not have. They are already happy because they are content with their life.

This positive attitude has even farther-reaching effects on other aspects of a grateful person’s life. Depression or anxiety are far less likely to take hold because of the grateful attitude that increases their baseline happiness.

A grateful, happy person is less likely to seek out alcohol, drugs, or other compulsive behaviors. This is because these are behaviors that people use to fill a void in their lives. They wouldn’t have to fill a void if they were already fulfilled. Gratefulness means that there is much less of a chance that compulsive behaviors will become attractive to them in the first place.

The Practice Of Gratitude In Our Daily Lives 

Gratitude3

For those with religious inclinations, the practice of gratitude begins with prayer at the start of their day. Whether they are Christians, Jews, or Muslims, each will typically take part in morning prayers. During this practice, the faithful will thank a higher power for allowing them to rise in the morning after a restful night’s sleep.

If that’s not your cup of tea, then wake up nevertheless with a sense of gratitude. Even if you don’t practice any religion, it would be beneficial to reflect in the morning and take stock of what you have. Do not take anything for granted! If you have a roof over your head, a warm bed, and enough to eat, then you should be grateful.

Be grateful that breakfast is merely a matter of walking into your kitchen and opening the refrigerator or cabinets. Consider how so many others must work or even beg for the meager sums they would need to get the first or only meal of their day.

The Power Of Thank You

Gratitude4

“Thank you” should be an important phrase in your vocabulary. Say thank you when someone does you a favor or offers you a simple act of kindness—and if this is not something that you do as a matter of course, well, its time you made it a habit now. Giving thanks is an excellent way to develop an attitude of gratefulness, even if it is just in the little things.

Thank the person in front of you for holding the door for you. Thank your partner for handing you your first cup of coffee each morning. Thank your administrative assistant for bringing you your morning mail at work. It may feel awkward at first, but eventually, it will become a habit.

As a bonus, people will learn to appreciate—and emulate—your newly-developed sense of good manners. The practice of saying “please” and “thank you” has become a lost art in this era of entitlement—the 21st Century. You are spreading gratitude by bringing good manners back into the modern age.

The practice of saying “please” and “thank you” has become a lost art in this era of entitlement

If you want to learn more, you can draw inspiration from the movie Happy, Thank You, More Please. As the movie title suggests, the audience is invited to have an attitude of Happy, Thank You, More Please. If something makes you happy, then be grateful by saying thank you to the person who made you feel this way, and the “More Please” is in reference to asking for more of the thing that made you happy.

Gratitude And The Law Of Attraction

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There are many people today who believe in something called the law of attraction. They ascertain that when we want something and work hard to make it happen—or attract it—the universe will somehow bring it to us. For example, if we want a promotion at work, and if we diligently strive to attract the promotion, eventually, we will receive it. There is a mystical, quasi-religious aspect to the law of attraction. Suffice to say that it has many followers, simply because it appears to work.

Even for those of us who don’t necessarily put much stock in the other-worldly, it still makes sense. After all, how do we attract something? By acting toward making it happen. How does an employee attract a promotion? By working more hours, being more efficient, or generally acting in a manner in which they would be more deserving of a promotion.

The same holds with an attitude of gratitude. By being grateful even for small favors or kindnesses, you will attract people to be positively disposed toward you. People tend to feel good and act accordingly when they receive gratitude.

That Uber driver you thanked for bringing you to work? He might have been working all night, perhaps dealing with difficult customers. That small act of kindness in thanking him might be the first nice thing he experienced during his entire shift. That diner waitress you thanked for bringing you your first coffee of the day? That little bit of positive reinforcement and kindness could be the only thing that is holding back her tears.

In both and many other cases, the gratitude you show might very well attract even more acts of kindness from others. The kindness you display may resonate with others, and in turn, make them feel more grateful and allow them to experience a more positive outlook in life. Even if only for the moment that you gave them that appreciative interaction—that brief experience might help them to see that it is possible to obtain an attitude of gratefulness.

Life Is What You Make It. So, Why Not Make It A Grateful Experience?

The ability to be thankful for both small things and great blessings will change your outlook. It can spark a positive feedback loop that will change your inner attitude—and your entire life.

There are even scientific studies that suggest living gratefully can improve your quality of life. Your positive outlook and grateful attitude can stave off depression, as well as many other sources of negativity in your life. Think of it this way: Gratitude helps increase your positivity, and this positivity will help you resist succumbing to the onslaught of negative vibes around you every day.

This positive feedback loop within protects you even further because you will not accumulate negativity, and you’ll have a lower chance of engaging in any risky, compulsive behaviors, which might cause you even more problems later on. After all, if you feel good about yourself, you are far less likely to do drugs or consume excessive amounts of alcohol to “feel better”—and, best of all—this improvement in your attitude can radiate toward others around you.

By practicing gratitude, you may very well be bringing this gift to others in your day-to-day life.

Original post

 

About the Author

Rebecca Temsen is a Blogger & Editor at selfdevelopmentsecrets.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

Wellness Trip 1

Nowadays, people resort to going on vacation solely to run away from the hard-working and tedious lives they are leading. However, many tend to return from holiday feeling even more drained. Organizing and going on a wellness trip where you can enliven all your senses, have long and relaxing spa days, meditate, and do yoga will enable you to find a greater purpose beyond tourism. While there are many resorts and wellness destinations around the globe for you to choose from, you still need some basic guidance on how to organize the best international wellness trip. Here is a guide that will get you fully covered.

 

Set a clear ‘relaxing’ objective

You can’t start browsing through various destinations before you figure out what relaxation and mindful wellness trip means for you. You need to have a clear and steady objective of what you want off your trip. For many, it’s the serenity of the ambient, while other factors like comfortable accommodation, beautiful scenery, and fitness amenities are vital. You may want solely to hold or organize spa retreats and offer quality spa treatments and dietary detoxes, so take a notebook and write down your ideas. Once you have everything sorted out, you can search for an international location.

Wellness Trip 2

Look for a lucrative destination

There is an abundance of gorgeous and peaceful wellness retreats around the globe that simply allure an individual to stay there forever. When you need to organize a wellness trip on your own, you need to be careful with your choice. Start your search by narrowing down the places that can fit within your budget. Envisioning impossible outcomes will only make you disappointed. Consider going somewhere touristy, but don’t opt for renowned retreats but many somewhere off the beaten path. Also, go off the popular seasons when there is less crowd. Chances are that you will get the most of your trip and more.


Coordinate trip wisely

Now for some technical matters. Firstly, if you are travelling by car either solo or with a buddy or two, you should find out how to drive internationally. This means that you must check the maps, roads, read the regulations, learn some foreign rules, get the necessary papers, check the rental possibilities if necessary, and others. Next, you have to schedule the sessions, provide suitable accommodation, confirm and reconfirm the timings, and of course, coordinate meals and make sure that dietary are taken care of.

Wellness Trip 3


Deal with the logistic upfront

Organizing an international wellness trip requires patience and diligence, but above all meticulous logistics. Besides transportation, transfer, meals, and food, you need to organize productive wellness activities that will enable you and the whole group to make the most out of your healthy travels. Whether you set your heart out to the beach, mountain, or a place within the rainforest, if you don’t clearly set the timing of the sessions, length, and find the right yoga teachers and trainers, you will be in for more stress. Therefore, in order not to get busy with the organization on your trip, deal with important matters upfront so that you can utterly unwind in your wellness trip.


Seek for physical tranquillity and activity

Going to a distant place where the sheer environment can help you improve your health and wellbeing is the key to an international wellness trip. Sometimes even if the surrounding can make you feel re-energized and uplifted, it may not be enough. Find a place where you can get active and have the ability to relax as well. Have some other activity in mind besides doing yoga and meditating. Think hiking, swimming, or stargazing. Organize some extra curriculum activities like writing, drawing and art sessions, learn how to play an instrument or how to cook some special international dish.

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Have a light agenda and short sessions

You don’t want to do yoga for 5 hours in the morning and then sit and meditate for another five. No, you must set light and mindful agenda so that everyone can get the most out of their stay. If you are in a different timezone, pay attention to the jet lag that someone might be experiencing. Let your yoga or other spa sessions last up to 2 hours each or 45min of some other demanding workout. Have a short break where you would chat, drink green tea and meditate. In the afternoon, you can do other activities, roam around, and in the evening gather up to share experiences.

You aim should be to make this international wellness trip as restful and rejuvenating as possible. By following the above-mentioned guidelines you will certainly accomplish that and have a mindful and regenerating experience.

 

About the Author

Morgan Elliot

Morgan Rose Elliott is an aromatherapist, yoga instructor, animal lover, and a happily married mother of two. She enjoys reading biographies and writing poems, sunny days on the beach and any shape and form of vanilla. Crazy about the ’80s, her favorite band is Duran Duran and she is obsessed with Netflix original Stranger things.

https://twitter.com/MorganRoseElli1

True Nature Travels Blog

First, I planned a trip to Colombia. Then, a dear friend set her wedding date in California. A few days later, my dad broke his hip in Texas. I live in Florida, so now, I have three big trips planned in the next 2½ months.

Here are three questions I plan to take with me in my hip pocket to help me use my energy wisely, make the best decisions I can, and travel with purpose this summer.

sumer travel
What’s Meaningful Now?

Meaningful experiences can be elusive. It’s no wonder we want to travel on big adventures to far away places! Maybe we’ll get some meaningful luminosity into our veins that we can bring home to light our world.

All the meaning we experience in life, we create ourselves, out of our own minds. The world itself remains inherently neutral. That’s why “What’s meaningful now?” is such an important question!

My first meditation teacher, Sarah Powers, taught “What’s meaningful now?” as a way of staying with the heart and taking responsibility for ourselves.

The question calls up present moment guidance for making decisions and prevents us from sleepwalking through life. It taps us into creativity and frees us from ideas about what we should do or be. It helps us take advantage of opportunities and prevents regret.

This summer, ask, “What’s meaningful now?” and follow the thread.

summer travel

What’s Really Going On?

Life can be dramatic, emotional, confusing.

“What’s really going on?” takes us below the surface with curiosity about what we’re not seeing. It asks us to stretch beyond our assumptions, into wider realizations about the world and deeper understandings of ourselves.

“What’s really going on?” teaches us to reflect things as they are. It illuminates causes and context, so everything stands in its true shape, free from the light our preferences may cast.

I regularly use “What’s really going on?” for insight into anger. It always uncovers a more vulnerable feeling underneath, like fear, hurt, fatigue, or embarrassment. Then, I can honor that feeling instead of being driven around by my anger.

If your travels take you into situations, places, or cultures that are new to you, this question will help you get out of your head, pay attention, and engage more deeply.

You will be tempted by this question to analyze or tell a story about what’s happening. Don’t try to figure anything out! Feel into your body, and make more subtle observations. Maintain kindness.

adventure travel

How can I help?

If we’re not careful, a big vacation, a travel adventure, or an international retreat can end up being all about me, me, me! “How can I help?” provides an antidote to becoming self-absorbed and spurs us to connect with others.

When you’re traveling, “How can I help?” defers authority to local wisdom and makes you a good guest. Asked with humility, this question can pierce through awkward circumstances of inequality and shift you into listening and respect.

This question also makes us aware of our gifts and our agency. It points us to what we can do in this world of overwhelm.

“How can I help?” is an evolutionary question that leapfrogs ego’s desires and complaints to reconnect us with generosity and abundance. An attitude of “How can I help?” makes the world safer for everyone to explore, take risks, and grow.

Are you picturing yourself planting trees or feeding the homeless? Great! Also know that helping can look like taking a step back and giving space to others. It can look like patience. Or a smile.

Practice these questions. Put them in your pocket this summer, and take them with you… to the beach, as you step off the plane, while sipping your morning tea, to plan your next adventure.

Let the questions be touchstones – a way to take refuge in wisdom. Some days, they’ll reveal great insights. Other days, you’ll get silence in return. That’s ok! “I don’t know,” is always a valid response! Let yourself experience “don’t know” mind. Become better acquainted with uncertainty.

Notice how the ritual of being with these questions develops. Keep them with you until they’ve served their purpose, then let them go, and begin your next practice on life’s journey.

summer travel

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Delana Thompson helps spiritually-inclined entrepreneurs express their hearts and expand their influence with authentic copywriting, project management,delana thompson and professional delivery of their online content. Her clients include teachers and practitioners of meditation, yoga, ayurveda, shamanic healing, astrology, and fine art. When she’s not writing marketing emails or designing landing pages, you’ll find Delana salsa dancing, practicing meditation, planning a trip, listening to a podcast, speaking Spanish, or missing all her faraway friends. Visit Delana on LinkedIn to learn more about her business.

True Nature Travels Blog

new-year-open-mind-1

I arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico with a terrible, feverish flu. This was a year ago, when my partner and I traveled to the picturesque, coastal village of Puerto Ángel, to celebrate the New Year with friends.

Puerto Ángel nestles between the mountains and the sea, with little winding roads, that I’m sure have charming appeal for the average visitor. Each day, determined to make the most of our journey, I’d wedge my sick self into our little rental car, packed with 6 people, and we’d head for the beach, maneuvering around all the other cars and trucks on those narrow lanes. Then, at night, I would lie awake, burning up with fever, and wonder semi-dramatically, “Is this illness permanently damaging my health?”

When any thought arises, it means the mind has condensed out of openness into the form of the thought. If the thought happens to carry a tinge of suffering, then further thoughts can quickly cordon off the mind, closing us in, making our view of the world smaller and smaller. This was not what I envisioned for our trip to Mexico!

When we fall into cramped mental spaces of frustration and dissatisfaction, it’s easy to become depressed, space out, go into denial, or become disconnected from the amazing world around us… especially if we happen to be sick! I was doing my best to keep my mind open through the aching haze of flu and fever, but connecting with the local culture and enjoying my time at the beach weren’t coming easily to me.

Meanwhile, I knew the true nature of my mind was still there in the background: vast, spacious, and totally open to possibility. I had enough awareness to notice my thoughts were hemming me in, but the illness made it difficult to interrupt myself and change course. (Even when we feel well, attachment to our thoughts and opinions can be fierce!)

One way to free the mind and create more possibility for ourselves is to imagine putting space around the thoughts.

For this practice, I find it helpful to picture stubborn thoughts like walls – mental structures we’re temporarily unable to see through. If we can remember that out beyond the enclosing walls of our thinking, the vast, open space of the mind remains available to us, then we have a chance to open a window and reconnect with that natural openness.

Going into a spacious landscape for this practice – next to the ocean, under the sky, on a mountain, in a grassy field, or even high up in a skyscraper – to experience open space directly can really new-year-open-mindhelp the mind open up.

The trick here, is not to force our thinking to change. We’re not trying to wrestle our minds to the ground or deny how we’re feeling. Instead, we’re simply remembering the all-encompassing wisdom of the mind, the wisdom of spaciousness, out beyond our thoughts.

Once we’ve tapped into the wisdom of spaciousness, a thought that is true, harmless, and kind will thrive and do good works, while a thought that creates conflict, confusion, or fear will gently and gradually transform.

This heals us.

The wisdom of spaciousness lets the mind breathe with creative energy.

It helps us see things from a wide angle and move inclusively into the fullness of who we are, beyond limiting thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.

After a string of feverish, headachy, yellow-sun days, spent at hot beaches or winding through cramped, village roads, we gathered with our friends on the big, thatched-roof porch behind the seaside house they rented, to welcome the new year.

While waiting for midnight, I kept sending my mind into the deep, moon-blue expanse of night sky and sea, like a prayer of openness for the year to come. Beginning the year in that cathedral of wide, clear sky, with my mind at rest in its natural spaciousness, felt wonderfully healing. Whatever the year might bring, I knew I would be ready for it because my mind was open.

What tricks and tips do you have for keeping an open mind this year? I’d love to hear!

About the Author:

Delana Thompson helps spiritually-inclined entrepreneurs express their hearts and expand their influence with authentic copywriting, project management, and professional delivery of their online content. Her clients include teachers and practitioners of meditation, yoga, ayurveda, shamanic healing, astrology, and fine art. When she’s not writing marketing emails or designing landing pages, you’ll find Delana salsa dancing, practicing meditation, planning a trip, listening to a podcast, speaking Spanish, or missing all her faraway friends. Visit Delana on LinkedIn to learn more about her business.

True Nature Travels Blog

It’s almost time to part ways with 2018 and welcome in a new year. This is a great time for reflection, gratitude, letting go of what needs to be left behind and starting fresh. Aren’t we so lucky to be able to do this? It is also the period when we make new year’s resolutions, to begin the next chapter of our lives by setting clear intentions.

Amongst the personal goals you will create for yourself, here are 3 mindful new year’s resolutions you can make for 2019.

Acknowledge Your Inner Power

We are all gifted with an immense power within. We are creators with amazing capabilities to transform ourselves and our world in a way that creates more harmony and balance. Realise your potential and all the wonderful things you can do and manifest in your life. As reflect over the experiences you had this year, bring to your mind the more challenging ones and how you were able to deal with them. You will realize that what once seemed impossible to cope with, was actually just a way to teach you how to tap into this inner power you hold. You have the ability to open any barriers that may block your way ahead, and the key to this is by realising it. Know that if you become more mindful of yourself and your inner stillness, no external events or factors can take this away from you. Tapping into your inner power will also guide you towards new ways of approaching life with more confidence and self-trust, knowing that whatever road blocks you may encounter, you can trust yourself to keep moving forward.

Embrace Your Uniqueness

The most beautiful aspect of human kind is that we are all unique. No two people on this planet are the same, as our souls have their own paths to journey on. Your unique talents are yours, you have been gifted with these so you can serve the world in your own special way. We often compare ourselves with others and put a negative spin to it, wishing we had the things they did. The good news is that you will never be like somebody else; the not so good news is that if you don’t embrace this, you will never let your true authentic self shine. Make this part of your new year’s resolutions and discover just how beautiful you are inside out, just the way you are. Find your unique qualities and what makes you be YOU. Our purpose is often wrapped around in these unique qualities and as we begin to discover and manifest them, it starts to shine and be released. We find our way by being and living as our most original self. The great thing about embracing your uniqueness is that it will teach you to accept other people for who they are, without any judgement.

new year blog 5

Spread Unconditional Love

The heart chakra, located in the middle of the chest is the energy centre where infinite unconditional love resides. We are so blessed to be gifted with the ability to always give and receive love without it ever running out. Being mindful of this aspect, you can first start by making a pact with yourself that for 2019, you will access this great superpower more often. The only way to realise its potential is to first use it for yourself. As part of your 2019 new year’s resolutions, start to love yourself unconditionally and you will see just how much your inner and outer world will change for the better. Unconditional love is the selfless kind, the type you give with no expectation, other than to share this magical ability with others. When you stand from a place of love, you will start to see beauty in everything and everyone. And it really doesn’t matter what others’ think of you because when you spread love everywhere you go, you create a positive impact.

Always know that you have the opportunity to recreate and reshape your outer world by nurturing your inner one. Bring your awareness to these 3 new year’s resolutions, meditate on them and sit with each one for as long as you need to. Eventually, they will become your beacon of light to brighten your days as you step foot into a new chapter, which it’s yours to create.

 

About the Author

Miriam Indries is a published author, yoga and meditation teacher, passionate about holistic healing. She is also a qualified Ayurveda Practitioner and NLP coach. A keen traveller, wondering soul and student of life, Miriam is the creator of Self-Elevation.com, online platform empowering others to find their greatness.