True Nature Travels Blog

It is so very easy to get caught up in the hustle bustle of the holidays. Gifts, food, decorations, running around to see family, etc. The potential for this very special time of year to truly transform your life often gets lost in all of the “holiday noise”.  We want to remind you of the truly healing power of gratitude.

1.  It is scientifically proven that an attitude of gratitude can make you happier and improve your health.

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This list of benefits was compiled in more than 40 research studies on gratitude. Pretty incredible to see how living with a foundation of gratitude in your life affects each and every area of your life.  By shifting your mindset to what you have to be thankful for in the moment rather than what you don’t have very well might be the golden chalice to living a full, healthy, happy  and long life.

2. Gratitude helps us to be aware of the beauty around us

Not only does gratitude help us to transform our own inner lives, but we also cannot help but notice all of the beauty around us. The people, places and things that have been put in our life and on our path have all been placed there for a reason. We might notice our grandmas new Christmas sweater and think to tell her how pretty she looks in it. We might recognize something our partner does for us everyday, that may have gone unnoticed and share with them how grateful we are that they do these small things to make our life better, together. Even the sight of children playing fills your heart with gratitude to be able to witness the innocence and simplicity of life.

3. Practicing gratitude requires NO practice! You can start anytime, anywhere! Why not right now!

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Not matter where you are, no matter who you are, no matter how old or young you are – you can ALWAYS take a moment to pause, notice your breath and find something to be grateful for right here and now. Gratitude is the best medicine for a mind that is feeling stuck. Many people find it healing and helpful to keep a gratitude journal and either end or begin each day writing five things they are thankful for.

Be Grounded in Gratitude

Before the holiday rush truly hits – set a few intentions with us to stay grounded in Gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at True Nature Education!

True Nature Travels Blog

Have you ever wanted to “get something more” out of your family vacations? Do you want your vacations to feel more like a transformational journey, not only for you but for your whole clan? Do you want to have an experience that will create lasting positive change for you and those you love the most? Have you ever considered taking a service adventure trip?

1) Take a break from the “Normal” Vacation

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The normal vacation to each family might look slightly different, but it usually consists of going to hotel, usually the same type of hotel you have visited before, sitting by the pool, going shopping, eating at the usual restaurants, etc. When you take a break from the normal vacation and take part in a service/adventure trip you realize the possibilities that are available when traveling together. Your horizons are expanded and fresh memories are etched in your families journal of time, that in the end you remember much more than the “normal” vacation and inspires you to have a new outlook on a new type of vacation

2) Create a deeper appreciation for what you have

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There is nothing like returning home, especially when you have visited a place that is dramatically different than where you live. I remember returning back from a trip to the mountains of India where I had no hot water, still to this day, I have a sense of gratitude when that hot water comes out of my shower at home. On a service and adventure trip you visit places that represent simplicity, quaint beauty, at at times poverty. Sharing in the opportunity to visit places like this bring a sense of perspective on the world and also a sense of deep appreciation often when we come home.

3) There is nothing like being of service as a family

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We do a lot as families, work hard, play hard, laugh hard…But when we take a break from the fun and intimacy of our family unit and participate together in being of service something very meaningful often arises. I remember the feeling of humbleness and appreciation I had when I was young and watched my father serve a homeless person Thanksgiving dinner. When we are service we have a sense of aliveness. When we work to give back as a family we come together for a greater purpose which helps strengthen our family unit and sets a precedent to continue to be of service.

4) Realize a new calling

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When we take a break from our normal lives and delve into a journey abroad new doorways are opened that don’t necessarily close when you return home. We have heard numerous stories of family that have traveled with us, and when returning home have changed the trajectory of their lives. Kids who decided to start service projects at home, teens who decided to shift the college they want to attend, and even adults who decide they want to make a change in their career. When we take a leap, do something new and fresh, and give back to others we often feel a spark within that sheds a new light on life and possibly a new path for us to walk upon.

5) Create a deeper sense of connection of Love in your family

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As humans our greatest need is connection. When we are present with one another we feel connected and often loved. When taking part in a service/adventure trip you will be engaged together as a family, present with new experiences, and most of all connected with one another. Most of the time your technology will be put away or won’t work, the TV won’t be there, your work or school won’t be calling, and you will be immersed in the True Nature of your environment while also nurturing the True Nature of everyone in your family. When leading these trips, after a few days, I begin to see the essence of our guests begin to come forth, the walls and defenses that we often have at home begin to fall away, and their true colors begin to shine. Sometimes these are parts of ourselves our families have not seen in sometime or maybe have never seen. In this space of authentic experience and being we learn to appreciate and love one another in a new way.

True Nature Travels Blog

You can incorporate mindfulness into just about anything these days. Eating, walking, working, yoga, communicating. One of the most powerful places I have integrated mindfulness into my own life is in my relationships. My wife and I have embraced mindfulness practices into our partnership and marriage pretty much from the very start. But, it doesn’t end there! Now that we are a family of three – my three year-old daughter and I are finding our own rhythm with how we will share mindfulness together as well. I have found these following five tips helpful in all sorts of different relationships. You can apply the fundamentals of them into any relationship in your life.

1) Practice Mindful Listening and Speaking

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Now that we are a family of three – mindful communication with one another is more important than ever!

It has become a norm in our culture to speak a lot, speak fast, and to interrupt. The practice of Mindful Communication can be simple and also quite powerful. It is easiest to begin to practice with someone in an intentional setting, where you are carving out a certain amount of time to try the exercise. Choose who will speak first and who will listen. The person who is speaking has “the floor”and can share whatever they would like. A possible theme can be “How are you feeling now? What is alive in you? How was your day?.” The person that is listening, does just that, listen as fully as possible. The listener might find his or her attention wandering, (that is completely normal), when you realize you have drifted simply come back to your parters voice and words. When they are complete, offer a simple acknowledgment (ie. Thank you.) and switch.

2) Share a Mindful Meal

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One of our many retreat centers in Costa Rica serving up delicious, wholesome, organic and fresh food. It’s easy to eat mindfully here!

I know one of my tendencies is to eat fast. There are numerous studies that show the value of slowing down how fast we eat. When sharing a mindful meal with someone you have the opportunity to slow down and appreciate your meal and your company. You can begin your meal by offering a word of gratitude. Together you can appreciate what you are eating, observing the smell of the food, the presentation, and then together sharing in the taste of the food. To add another piece to this practice you could try to weave in some Mindful Sharing or even try out a silent meal where you don’t talk, but simply enjoy your food and your company in a new and fresh way.

3) Take a Mindful Walk

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My daughter, Jaya reminding me to stop and smell… the mushrooms!

Walking meditation is one of the most common forms of Mindfulness practice. Taking a walk can be a wonderful way to slow down, get outside, and share in the present moment with another. It is said that the slow and constant pace of walking can have greater benefits on the physical than many intensive exercises. When walking together we also have an opportunity to share mindfully. Practice mindful observation, where you see through the eyes of a child. Point out the beauty that surrounds. Thich Nhat Hanh calls this practice “Kissing the Earth together with every step.

4) Mindful Intimacy

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Having a little one, running a business and also supporting my wife who has a very successful career as a musician (and travels a lot!) requires conscious and mindful effort at times for us to stay and feel connected. Sometimes, we just need to remember to have fun together. I snapped this picture of us recently on our bowling “date night.” When you both know how much time and energy it takes to be together, you appreciate one another that much more. We had a blast!

Yes, of course, one of our favorite and most familiar places of authentically being mindful is when we share in intimacy with a loved one. When sharing in intimacy you have one of your greatest opportunities to be mindful. The best part of this practice is that it normally happens naturally. When we are being intimate with another, we are drawn into the moment and our mind normally settles into the comfort, nurturing, and love that is shared in a space of intimacy. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Some tips to enhance your experience can be to sit silently for a few minutes before you begin, look into each others eyes, and try breathing together.

5) Create a Regular Mindfulness Practice Together

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From the moment we said, “I do,” we have made mindfulness one of the core values in our marriage and family.

Weaving awareness into our regular day life is true goal of mindfulness. But one of the most beneficial ways of practicing is to create a regular formal meditation practice, and to practice with someone else. Try to create a routine, where you meet at the same time, ideally in a place that is special to both of you. Be as intentional and reverent as possible, and use the presence of one another to support the practice. There can be something so sweet, simple, and intimate about sitting with someone in the space of silent practice.

Do you have any mindfulness tips that have worked or helped your relationships? I would love to hear them!

39523_165335256815075_7746876_nJoshua Canter is the Founder and Director of True Nature Education.  He holds a MA in Contemplative Psychology with an Emphasis on Mindfulness. Joshua is a meditation teacher, trained facilitator, retreat leader trainer, and  yoga instructor.  Since 2002, Joshua has been living part time in Costa Rica and in Asheville, North Carolina, teaching courses and workshops, leading retreats, and accompanying his wife, Luna Ray, musically she travels throughout the United States. Joshua is also a father to his daughter Jaya Arielle.

 

True Nature Travels Blog

The title of this recent article on Forbes.com by Dorie Clark caught out eye:

Why Mindfulness Is The Next Revolution In Marketing

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Mindfulness is one of our CORE VALUES here at TNE. You bet we were all nodding in approval to see this article! One of the leaders in the Fortune 500 Community sharing how incorporating mindfulness practices into your workaday (and life) helps marketers to “center themselves, pause, prioritize, and find their wisdom.” Um. COOL! #MindfulnessNOW #EverydayMindfulness

Mainstream mindfulness is not necessarily a new concept in the workplace.  Everyone from Google to General Mills, Target, LinkedIn, 15Five, and Green Mountain Coffee are “doing it.”

Doing what? What are these companies doing, why and is it making difference? Lisa Nirell, author of The Mindful Marketer: How to Stay Present and Profitable in a Data-Driven World shares that marketers have to step back and “stay in the present moment to deal with the complex tasks in front of us.” She says that Marketers are being asked to do more now than ever, with higher expectations and limited resources. Her training in yoga, meditation and Buddhism has helped her to “train her mind to focus,” and that can give one a competitive edge in the business world.

“To gain increased clarity, she suggests trying out techniques including nature walks, silent meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and many others. Those who ignore these learning opportunities will remain stressed, overworked.” 

Wondering if you are practicing mindfulness while at your job? Take Nirells nifty Mindful Marketing Meter Assessment.

Check out the full article for more tips on marketing and mindfulness!

 

 

 

 

True Nature Travels Blog

10649628_846741095344087_8233548479623479912_nSheetal Ajmani is passionate about empowering others to live a life from their souls calling. As a pediatrician and yoga teacher she has found the perfect balance between sharing eastern and western philosophies of what the picture of true health looks like and it all begins with being connected to what feeds your heart and makes you feel aligned with your spirit. Her retreat next summer in La Fortuna, Costa Rica “Disconnect to Reconnect” will being students on a journey to take a needed break from information overload, set intentions and relax against the blissful backdrop of the jungle. More about Sheetal and her retreat here.

1. What does it mean for you to “be something more” as part of your yoga practice, teaching, and your intentions for your retreat?

To be something more means living my life to its fullest capacity. It means to live with an open heart, letting love and faith override fear and doubt. It means continually expanding my awareness and consciousness through my daily sadhana (practices) and then sharing that awareness with others through compassion and understanding. It means striving to always remember that I am most simply a peaceful, loving soul.

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why?

My grandfather. Although he passed away when I was only 12 years old and he resided in India while I was born and raised in the U.S., it was through his example that my interests in yoga, meditation, and ayurveda were ignited. He taught me my first sun salutation on a visit to India shortly before his passing. He was a true yogi. He dedicated the last few years of his life to an ashram that he created in India; he lived there and was active in the daily yogic practices, as described in the Vedas. I remember him often, and through his remembrance, I honor my family lineage in yoga.

3. If there was a yoga pose or mediation practice that described you – what would it be and why?

Tree pose. There are so many elements to this pose – feeling grounded, maintaining balance, opening, reaching towards the sky. Staying grounded in reality, in truth, and in my daily practices is so important to me. Maintaining balance through all facets of my life – work, family, friends, my own self-care, is vital. I always strive to remain open – open in communication, in understanding, and open to what the Universe has in store for me. And, reaching towards the sky – to me, this means continually striving for spiritual advancement.

4. Other than yoga, meditation, nutrition – what are some of your passions?

Music and travel! ☺
Music is food for the soul! I love going to concerts. I love looking around at all the smiles in the audience as the notes, beats, and lyrics touch people’s heart and soul. I love watching the musicians, completely in their element, with creative energy just flowing right through them to us. Music is just so powerful.
And, travel. I love seeing new places and experiencing different cultures. Travelling always leaves me feeling completely amazed at all of the magnificent people, places, and things that exist in this infinite world! I always find it so interesting that despite the varying cultural differences that exist, we are all intrinsically the same – we all have the same basic needs, joys, sorrows, and desires. And, I love that smiles and laughter translate the same in every language! ☺

5. What is on your “Costa Rica Bucket List?”

This is a tough one because there is so much to see and do! I am really excited about exploring the rainforest, both during the day and night, on the Rainforest Mysteries and Night Rainforest tours offered at Luna Nueva. And, I definitely plan to check out the Arenal Volcano – by foot, boat, or horseback is yet to be decided!

Disconnect to Reconnect – Summer 2015

View our entire 2015 Program

True Nature Travels Blog

By Alana Roach
Alana is a part of our 2015 True Nature Education Faculty. She is leading her first retreat January 17th – 24th in Santa Terest, Costa Rica. First published on her blog.

Pura vida or PURE LIFE holds true in Central America for me. It was a big reason why I came back after visiting for the first time only 6 months ago. Despite my best efforts on the East Coast in the US, I still had some troubling symptoms that led me to believe I was less than healthy. Costa Rica inspired me to redesign my life because running from errand to errand to then sleep and dream about errands was not conducive to my well-being. My body and mind revolted. I would be so often tired by the end of the day that I had no time to even share my day with loved ones. I would fall sick from exhaustion. My mind felt fogged over. A general haze seemed to be engulfing every fiber of my being. I would get covered in tinea versicolor. I would have what they call, “Teacher burn-out,” and there is seldom serenity coming from within when a teacher is running on E. My hips hurt. My digestion got blocked up from God knows what because I ate as organic and healthy as I could.

During our vacation visit in March, I experienced my first dose of PURA VIDA. My mind started to de-fog, I slept more soundly, the food here felt more nutrient dense, I had energy despite rigorous hikes, I felt like I could BREATHE, omg… the air quality here is so magnificent, you should smell it! I became fortified and purified by Costa Rica. It became even more pronounced to me as soon as I left this paradise, that I needed to come back asap. When I left Costa Rica the haze crept back in, my energy body immediately felt sludgy, my mind felt chaotic, my digestion returned to it’s sensitive state, I got sick a week later, and I got consumed by consumerism once again. No longer than a month back in the US and I knew I had to come back to Costa Rica for my health.

So here we are in paradise, and I am here to share with you 5 Ways Moving to Costa Rica Improved my Health!

1. Vibrant skin. Tinea Versicolor Gone!

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I am prone to what dermatologist call Tinea Versicolor, which is a long term fungal infection. I have had it since I was 13 . TV breaks out in humidity and in being a yoga teacher that means I was covered in them. 2 weeks after arriving in HUMID Costa Rica, eating the local grown fruits and veggies, breathing the air, drinking the water, they went away. I have heard this is the case for some others who suffered from this fungal annoyance. It is gone, it is humid here, those two factors don’t usually line up for Tinea, but apparently PURA VIDA wins in this case. I won’t try and figure out the mystery, I will just enjoy (Thank you, Costa Rica).

2. Cardio Heaven.

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There is so much raw beauty here that I can’t stand being inside for more than shut eye, it is incredible how nature draws you out when there is a beautiful symbiosis between you and it. Since moving here we are surfing almost every day and walking EVERYWHERE. My body is thanking me for it. I would squeeze in 20 minutes on the tread mill when I could between errands before and now my whole day is rich with heart healthy activity.

3. Improved Digestion.

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Maybe it’s all of the locally grown fruits and vegetables that you can buy at any and all of the markets in town (There are about 5 to chose from.) Maybe it’s the quality of the water. Whatever it is, my digestion hasn’t felt so smooth in years. I am seriously boosting this as a reason why you should consider visiting here because I feel like digestion is KEY to leading energetic, happy, healthy lifestyles through all ages. I barely take any vitamins here and I don’t feel like I need them (I used to take about 20 vitamins a day) because everything has so many vitamins naturally.

4. Freedom.

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In the town I live in there are no McDonalds or shopping malls to speak of. There is no reason to bring your phone with you everywhere because the island life won’t allow for it. There aren’t tabloid magazines hanging in a checkout line. There are no sounds of traffic or sirens whirring by every second. There is mostly the sound of nature, ocean waves, and silence if you chose it. I can’t express adequately with words how freeing this all is, but you have to experience it for yourself or perhaps meditate with it in mind to get a taste. It is truely ineffable. I have found a new way of being and my body, mind, and spirit feel renewed by it.

5. Happy mind.

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I get to wake up everyday knowing that I am painting my life the way God intended it to be. I had a lot of, “What ifs,” “Can I really do this,” and “Am I worthy of this?” When I sat in silence and tapped deeply within the resonance of my Higher Self, the answer was always, “Yes.” Yes, I am taken care of. Yes, I can do this. Yes, I am worthy.” Moving to Costa Rica is another leap in my saying YES to my soul’s deepest yearning. I am co-designing my life with the Creator, sharing my passion for love through yoga with the world and let me tell you, my health is reaping the rewards more and more everyday because of it.

I look forward to resonating with you here in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica in the New Year, January 17-24 for Explorations of Self:A Costa Rica Yoga Experience. Register Here.
I’ll see you on your mats and in the ocean, PURA VIDA!

Love and light, and pura vida!

Alana Roach
CYT, E-RYT, Reiki, Retreat Leader & Travel Blogger
www.alanaroachyoga.com

alanaroachyoga@gmail.com

Follow me on facebook/twitter/instagram @alanaroachyoga