Find Your Zen
Time to stop and smell the hyacinths
This unsettling time, that we are all living in, made me realize that a lot of people I personally know (including myself) just do not know how and when to pause. We are driving fast, working fast, dating fast, eating fast and constantly complaining that we have "no time". Yet, now that we have plenty of it, some of us oddly feel like that hamster with a broken wheel: you know it is not moving, but your little paws are still running.
In today's [rather atypical for me] post I want to share a few things that helped me find that inner peace again. If you feel like you need a bit of help in that department, I hope you find this article helpful.
Just pause, sit back, relax and enjoy the read.
aka "restless, unsettled, confused"
It is believed that Buddha once described a human's mind as being invaded with a bunch of drunken monkeys, wreaking havoc and making a lot of noise with Fear Monkey being the loudest. Now, good luck trying to focus on family, loved ones, health, work when this little beast is acting out inside of your head 24/7. Raise your paw if you've been there (mine is up).
Thankfully, there is a way to tame your monkey mind and that is - through meditation.
If you are rolling your eyes at me, I totally get you. I would have had an exact same reaction just a few years ago, when I thought of it as a big joke. For a while I couldn't even sit through a guided meditation; I would think about a million other things I would rather do instead of listening to a complete stranger trying to teach me how to breathe. What nonsense! And yet, here we are.
While there are different types of meditations, if you are new to them, I would recommend starting with those created by Louise Hay. Louise was a motivational speaker and author of a number of best-selling books on self-help, as well as founder of (my favorite) podcast called "Hay House". Think of it as a gift box filled with various types of chocolate: you get a perfect selection of world-renowned experts and authors guiding you through topics like personal growth, health, positive affirmations and most importantly healing. Think Deepak Chopra, Davidji or Louise Hay herself.
Oh! And it is absolutely free, so you don't have to worry about subscribing to any app. Download episodes that sound interesting to you, press play and enjoy.
By the way, it is totally normal to fall asleep or feel emotional during a meditation. Let your mind roam freely, it is safe for you to let go.
As human beings, we want to be in control of everything. What we think, what we feel and what we do. But this is not how the World functions and C19 is a great example. No one called for it, yet here it is - teaching us new ways of living.
If you are still reading this (and didn't switch to Netflix instead), chances are you already know that being a control freak of your own life gives you more anxiety than peace. While it is absolutely normal to plan ahead and keep things organized, when it comes to your mind - you need to learn how to rule it (so it doesn't ultimately rule you). And the key to doing that is by letting go of what no longer serves you. Whether it is anger, resentment, fear, loss, forgiveness - meditations will teach you how to cut out toxicity and train your mind to think in a way that is for your highest good.
As a wise person once said: "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die". You will be surprised at how joyous you will feel after releasing negative emotions and thoughts that block your happiness and success.
Wearing sheet masks, soaking in baths and sipping on wine are all wonderful ways to unwind. However, ultimate self-care is when your mind is in the right place too. Otherwise no Sephora haul will help. Once you learn how to detox your brain, environment (make sure to cut out those naysayers and energy vampires too) you will start seeing your life in a much healthier way, thus attracting more positivity and light back into your space.
Create Your Happy Space
I will not Marie Kondo your ears off (although her book on decluttering did change my life), but it is crucial to live in a space that is in harmony with you. Surround yourself with things that bring joy and get rid of the rest.
Do you start noticing any similarities? Cleaning your house is not that different from cleaning your brain. Both are meticulous and time-consuming procedures; but once you learn how to keep all what makes you happy and let go of the rest, you will become your own bestest friend.
A few things, that helped me create a better space at home, was surrounding myself with as many "feel good" objects as possible. It can be as simple as displaying gifts from the people I love, touching and wearing textures that feel nice and soft, enjoying fresh flowers that fill in the room with their wonderful scents, tasting a homemade bread. As you can tell - it is all about pleasing your senses and not so much about the "price tag" aspect of it.
You Are What You Eat
Cliché, but true!
I am not insinuating that you should rethink what you eat, yet there are a few things you might want to consider adding to or excluding from your diet. Talking purely from my personal experience here - once I switched my focus from junk to healthy (no matter how lame that might sound) I started noticing positive changes not only in my body, but my skin, hair and overall well being too.
A few years ago I learned that I was lactose and gluten intolerant. Au revoir croissants and cappuccinos. Although I was upset in the beginning, I soon realized that after I switched to lacto-, gluten-free diet my body felt so much stronger. I started giving it more of what it actually needed. Yes, I now spend an extra hour going through every product's nutrition facts before I buy anything, but I also see so many physical and mental benefits. Believe me, I still enjoy things like french fries and donuts! I am just being more mindful of the quantity that I consume.
Do not forget to check your blood from time to time too. A few months ago I randomly discovered that my Vitamin D level was low (which explained why I was feeling fatigued and drained 24/7). Vitamins and supplements are very important. Even if you feel like you have nothing to complain about, treating yourself with organic products and cutting down on meat [by introducing a few vegetarian days a week] can be a good start.
During quarantine, one of the hardest things for me to get used to was not being able to swim. If you didn't know, I used to be a professional swimmer (many moons ago) and I still exercise three, four times a week. Well, at least I did before C19.
I kept trying out different live classes, yet nothing really spoke to me. That was until I discovered Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. Adriene is the loveliest Texan with a dog named Benjie (that my dog named Angie is secretly obsessed with), who has a plethora of free yoga content on her channel. I find it to be particularly amazing for beginners, as Adriene will guide you every step of the way. I recently completed her 30 Day Yoga Journey and I am already so much more flexible than I ever was.
Plus, yoga will help keep your monkey mind under control. It is known for lowering stress, relieving anxiety, fighting depression, reducing chronic pain and improving metabolism. What not to love?
I might have been skeptical at first (a reoccurring theme in my life), but I already have invested in a proper yoga mat and seven different chakra balancing body mists, that I spray around me before every practice. I don't think it gets more zen than that!
There is a common mistake that many people make, thinking that enlightenment is something you have to be born with. I am here to tell you, using my own life as an example, that sometimes in order to find your way to that light you have to experience some very dark moments first.
Marie Kondo grew up in a complete chaos created by her family, before discovering an art of decluttering. Louise Hay was molested as a child and survived cancer, before she started teaching others how to think positively. Buddha had to leave his royal life behind and become a nomad, before he discovered true wisdom and secrets of the Universe.
You can start your journey at any given moment. Even if you feel like it is not for you, like I did in the past, just give it a try and see how it goes. Chances are you will be able to find your inner zen again and I hope that reading this article was one of the first stepping stones on your road to a more abundant, happy life. Namaste.