Moments of Mindfulness

Thich Naht Hanh speaks about using meditation bells to bring ourselves back into mindfulness. Ideally, when you hear these bells you stop, breathe and take a moment to recenter yourself. A moment of meditation right where you stand. This leads to releasing stress and regaining happiness. With meditation bells, you are conscious of the moment. He also mentions that anything can take the place of meditation bells, you just have to specify what will represent it – his examples are church bells near your work or home, the phone ringing, an alarm clock and even red lights while driving. Things you come into contact with often but will not appear on purpose.

Most likely some of these examples are present in your life, if not all of them, so you can use them as small reminders to come back to a relaxed mind-space.

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When I read this is his book I realized it’s something I have been practicing without even knowing it. There are two things specifically that make me stop in my tracks, cause an instant smile and an immediate deep breath. They aren’t as obvious as the bells but they work for me:

Bear with me… I’m being serious here

  1. The smell of fresh bread in my neighborhood
  2. The intro song to Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Podcast. Yes. seriously.

Meditation doesn’t have to be all serious all the time, you should gain something from it and one of those things is happiness.

So, what in your life causes an instant smile?

Neighborhood image credit.

Peace is Every Step

When things aren’t going the way I want or I need, even if a train is running really slow on the way to work, before I get frustrated I (try to) remind myself that I’m going at that pace for a reason. Either to avoid something or to experience something, whatever it is, I know there is a reason.

A Quick Story
Recently I went on a less than 48 hour trip and flew a red eye home. I decided last minute to take a cab because I was afraid I’d either get lost taking the subways or just fall asleep and miss my stop altogether. Either way when the cab driver got close to my apartment, I said what I always say “Alright, thank you, it’s at the end of the street on the right.” So what does he do? Stops the car, right then, at the wrong end of the street. I wasn’t upset or surprised, just kind of thought to myself “oh ok now I get to walk the block in the humidity with luggage.”

I tipped him 25%. I was feeling very tippy that morning; and he actually sincerely thanked me. I didn’t even know drivers could see the amount immediately when paying with a card – either way it made up for any resistance I had towards walking down the block. And in reality, my legs really needed the walk.

And then, on top of a pleasant drive home, a sincere moment of gratitude and finally being back in my neighborhood I saw a book on a stoop. (In NYC people leave things on their stoops for other people to take.) Most of the time you just walk past – it’s never anything good but that morning it was exactly what I needed. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. Written by World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh. UM HELLO! The universe essentially hit me in the head with it. I am so glad the cab driver hadn’t stopped at my door but instead dropped me to the lap this book was sitting in.

Think about the way I came into finding this book, it can only be defined at serendipitous.

  1. I had to have gone on that trip
  2. Returned that morning
  3. Flewn the redeye
  4. Opted for a cab rather than subway
  5. Then the driver had to stop at the wrong house
  6. AND I didn’t correct him

The stoop it was on is not the the direction I ever go, not for work, the subway, restaurants, shopping… only to the park. or a very delicious, specific ice cream place (hey Ample Hills!) If all of those things had not lined up, someone else would have picked up the book I have fallen in love with and was so excited to find.

What good have you find without looking?

International Day of Happiness

It’s Friday
It’s the first day of Spring
It’s International Day of Happiness

This is the biggest day of the year for me! In honor of all of this positive energy going around I want to share some of my favorite ways increase positive attitudes. These are in no particular order.

Have a Great Day (Playlist, Spotify)
If you’re on Spotify, check out this playlist. I love it and it really will help you to have a great day. All of the song are fun and you’ll know most of them.

TED Talks (Charming Talks for a Boost on a Bad Day)
People seem to be pushing against Happiness day. IDK but people refuse to be happy sometimes. Here are 5 TED Talks to boost you out of those grumpy pants.

Nature

Gabby Bernstein (Inspiration)
One of my personal role models & inspirations in life. Everything she does is wonderful. Follow her on Instagram, try her Meditations, read her Books. I recommend all of it!

Kid President (Video Pep Talk)
ALWAYS a great pick-me-up. This kid is seriously inspiring! Seriously, if you haven’t already, or really even if you have, just take 4 minutes from your day and watch (or just listen) this 9 year old kid kick butt.

“We are all on the same team.” Something I say a lot, I don’t think people understand this still.

Happier (App & Website)
Happier was started by a woman with a seriously impressive background. She had achieved everything she thought she wanted and realized it’s experiences that matter. The App is a happiness journal where you keep track of things that make you happier every day, even as small as having a bathroom break when you’re a teacher and really had to pee.
Read about the science here.
Download the app on your phone or via their website.

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Happiness Project (Book & Podcast)
This book is perfect for anyone. Not all of the topics may apply to you but there is great information for everyone. Don’t think that just because you’re a guy this book doesn’t apply to you. The Happiness Project synthesizes the wisdom of the ages with current scientific research, as Rubin brings readers along on her year to greater happiness.
I love listening to her podcasts on the train in the morning. A great way to add happiness to the day.
Here’s Gretchen site.

Bliss List (Book)
Discover your true Bliss & land your dream job with this book. Don’t check out their website, it’s not the best & put me off in the beginning but I ordered it via Amazon & love it!

Happiness is… (Book)
This happy little book contains 500 things to be happy about. It’s a great coffee table or bathroom book and a really great gift.

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@SunshineSpreader (Instagram) 
Personal promo here. This is my Instagram account =) I post happy things here.

Mantra Monday

I am safe. I am loved.

We all feel vulnerable from time to time. Whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual it is a tough feeling to break through. Reminding yourself that you are safe is important. If you lose your job, if you end a relationship, if you lose sight of your beliefs, you will survive. You are safe. Remember to lean into your support system and that no matter what faith you belong to, you can find support in community, prayer and faith.

You are loved. In addition to being safe, you are loved. Reminding yourself of people who care about you is important. Not just listing them, really think about how they show their special type of love; respect, help, listening, support…

Maslow’s hierarchy or needs start with the physiological, you know, food, water, sleep… but after that is safety and then love. These are basic human needs and sometimes we lose sight of the. So always remind yourself… You are Safe. You are Loved.

Use this mantra when you are feeling nervous or anxious.
Take a long breath in and say/think to yourself I AM SAFE.
Release a long breath while saying/thinking I AM LOVED.

10 Female Archetypes and Leaders to Inspire You

Do you ever come across a post and just HAVE to share it? Well this is one of them. *Originally Posted on Chopra.com. Thank you  Melissa Carver, Ph.D. for writing this post.

For women in the 21st century, it can be hard to find a strong feminine role model. Although you may have strong mothers, grandmothers, and sisters, in this stage of evolution you may be working on goals that are often misunderstood by your living ancestors. This is where your chosen female heroine or archetype comes in.

An archetype isn’t defined by any specific characteristics. An archetype can be anyone who has a trait or traits that you admire and would like more of in your life. You can draw inspiration and strength from them and even celebrate their achievements as your own. The following women are some of my personal favorites along with a few others who may inspire you.

Women in History

Florence Scovel Shinn

Born in 1871, Florence defied what was considered normal for the American woman and for American religion. She took her intuition and passion for changing the world into her own hands and began to write. She shared her knowledge of universal love and empowerment even though it went against everything that was expected from a woman of her time. Her first book The Game of Life and How to Play it established her as a spiritual leader offering advice for how to empower yourself through a positive attitude.

Empower Yourself Through Florence:

  • Spreading the knowledge that people like Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, and Wayne Dyer share today could not have been an easy task for a woman of Florence’s time. Whenever you feel like you’re being judged or misunderstood by those around you, read up on this fabulous lady.
  • Programming a new response to negativity can be one of life’s greatest challenges. In doing so you essentially have to reprogram yourself. Florence had a way of sharing her positive outlook with everyone she met. Look to her for inspiration and guidance.
Princess Diana

Princess Diana showed young girls and women of the world that even though she lacked nobility, anyone could wear a crown. Not only did she wear a crown, she used it to empower the distressed, poor, voiceless, and sick. Her life became a solid stance of motherhood to not only her own boys but also to the world. Many felt they personally knew the Princess of peace and love, and wept as though she was family in her last hour.

Receive the Love the World Gave Diana:

  • To receive love, you must give it. Diana seemed to have a selfless way about her that drew love from people who had never even met her. You too can receive this love. In your times of self-doubt or mental weakness draw upon the love and admiration of others. And no, you don’t need to know them or speak to them for this to work.
  • Give a voice to those who feel voiceless. When you’ve been jaded, giving love to those around you can be difficult. But this act can be more life changing for yourself than those you’re helping. Find that side of yourself, with no thought of what you will gain, and it will open the door to true self-love. Whenever the hurt from your past halts the action, turn to Princess Di for inspiration.
Angela Davis

This is a woman of pure feminine and equal rights power. Angela was, and still is, a strong force in fighting for equal rights of the black American population. In this fight she learned that women of all races felt as though they were not equal. This awareness drove her appetite for feminism and other equal rights as well. She was a professor and despite the fact that she could (and did) lose her job this didn’t stop her from speaking publicly against war, racism, sexism, gay rights, and the prison industrial complex situations. Her time in prison did not stop her, nor did public criticism. Angela is certainly one of my favorite female heroines, taking a stand on any and all oppression without letting fear of the consequences rule her.

Stand Tall Like Angela:

  • You may have no interest in fighting these battles as your life’s purpose but you can enact change on a smaller scale. When you witness a wrongful act in the workplace do you shrink back in your chair when you really picture yourself with a sword and shield coming to someone’s rescue? Do you think about it for days, while it eats at you because you chose your paycheck over a human act of kindness? Angela would be the archetype to help pull this from your core. Let Angela inspire you to stand up when it burns that strongly inside of you. Tune into the purpose you play and decide what’s more important—how you feel you should lead your life, or the alternative. Angela believed that the Universe would provide if she were true to her purpose. I believe it will do the same for you.
  • Angela is also a woman with the personal power of public speaking on controversial subjects. When you may find yourself in a situation that needs this voice, turn to her words and videos to find the same strength in yourself.
Mother Mary

Since the birth of her baby, Mary has been viewed as the ultimate feminine essence in many religions. Both Christian and Islamic cultures hold Mary in high regard. In fact, Mary is the only woman called by name in the Quran. Although neither religion views Mary as divine or in the same respect as Jesus, she is the prototype of a chosen female archetype in their views.

Catholics have devoted more thought, time, and prayers to Mary than any other religion. She was the virgin (pureness), the mother (nurturing), the wife (balance for the male energy), and the angel (thought of as earthly flesh saved). Mary, the bearer of the Messiah, became viewed as the best of all that a female could represent.

Turn Everyday Acts Into Divine Acts:

  • You may not get to give birth to Jesus but you can turn what you do have planned into a divine act. This doesn’t mean doing anything outside of your day-to-day agenda other than changing the intention of the outcome. For example: a nurse performing her regular rounds can visualize Mary before beginning her shift, thus setting a divine intention for the day. As a result, her patients might feel more nurtured.
  • In a world that can feel very male-dominated, even to this day, Mary is a woman who is shown respect by millions of men on a daily basis, thousands of years after her death. When you feel insignificant or dominated in the work place by male energy, think of Mary during a short meditation or even a quick restroom break. You may be surprised at how the thought of thousands of men doing their Hail Mary rituals can boost your confidence.

Mythological Women

Auset (Isis)

In the Ancient Egyptian Kemetic System, Auset is the mother goddess. She is valued for her knowledge in agriculture, magic, and loyalty. She is also known for being a devoted wife and for her motherly love. This story may be thousands of years old but we can certainly still relate to Auset today. The people loved her and her husband Ausar for all that they provided to the community. Sharing their knowledge in crops, magic, and personal spirituality they were admired and appreciated by all.

In one story, Ausar’s brother cut him into pieces then spread him across the earth. Auset, being a devoted wife, gathered the pieces and used her magic to bring him back to life. Their son Heru was born through the use of magic, in a story similar to that of a virgin birth. In the Kemetic knowledge, Auset is known as the mother of all the earth.

Balancing With Auset:

  • Balancing a husband, children, and a home while working full time is challenging. Auset can help bring the focus back to your family after a long day of work. Stress from work can easily flow into your home. When this happens keep in mind that you, the mother, give this stress to the husband and the children. Focus on Auset to help you flip the switch from career woman to mom.
  • Agricultural knowledge represents nutrition, although this does not mean you need to start a garden. What it does mean is that when you buy and prepare food for your family, you should keep pure, organic thoughts. This care is just as important as where the food is grown.
  • Add some magic to your life. It doesn’t have to come from a top hat either. It can be a small blessing or miracle, or it can be an everyday occurrence. Pay close attention to the things that are going on around you for a couple days. Your ancestors would think your life is filled with magic with things like a phone, car, computer, and credit card. Magic happens every day, yet we ignore it, give it little credit, even curse it at times. Open your eyes to the magical moments that happen now.
Kali

This Hindu goddess of time, change, and destruction is a woman not to be messed with. She is best known for her time of rage, killing masses when her husband lay down to stop her. So enraged she didn’t even notice him lying on the ground and stepped on his chest. Her foot on his flesh is what calmed her when she saw it was her love she was hurting. This temporarily ended her killing spree.

Stand Strong With Kali:

  • Destruction is a necessity. Without it we have no birth or renewal, and we leave behind unopened doors. Still, it can be hurtful, difficult, and scary to leave things behind such as jobs, relationships, and even our own “old ways.” Focus on Kali whenever you have a hard time letting go. Destroy those emotional reasons for holding on. Lean on family and friends (like Kali did her husband) to calm your emotions.
  • If you’re ever in a situation where you have to summon great strength, or defend yourself, think of Kali and bring on all her powers of destruction. The thought of one single female slaying thousands of men as if slicing through butter will surely build the confidence and power in you to fight your best fight. You can even channel Kali when you might otherwise be afraid. Exude confidence and you may even ward off danger.

Superheroes

Storm (Ororo)

Storm is a descendant of an ancient line of African priestesses. While she has many great attributes, she is widely known for her ability to control the weather. She is great at teamwork although often doubts her leadership abilities. Her story shows that even when in doubt you can guide a team into greatness when your intentions are caring. She has the ability to fly, using the wind to carry her. She also has a great connection with all of the creatures and plants of the earth. Her downfall is that her powers are also triggered by emotions, causing havoc when she’s upset.

Weather the Storm With Ororo:

  • Controlling the weather sounds crazy, but I’m going to share a personal story with you. My husband and I were fashion show coordinators for an outside event. The weather was calling for a very bad storm. After months of planning, booking models, advertising, and securing stage rentals and music performers, we could not let the event be destroyed by the weather. We both decided that we would concentrate on sun for that day. It could storm all it wanted the day before or after, but on that day, in that city, it would be a hot sunny day. Our thoughts manifested into 98 degrees and clear skies.
  • Just like Storm, you must be emotional and you must state what you want, not what you don’t want. Say, “it will be warm” instead of “I don’t want it to be cold.” Give it a try.
Mystique

In the Marvel comic series, Mystique is the shape-shifting mutant who can mimic the appearance of anyone. She is great at strategizing and planning out her goal. Although a villain, most of the time you can’t help but love her ingenious enterprise.

Adapt Like a Shape Shifter:

  • Whenever you find yourself outside your comfort zone, say in a room full of strangers, think of Mystique. Mystique was born with blue skin covered in scales. How comfortable do you think she is in a room full of humans? About as comfortable as you would be in a business meeting covered in mud. By channeling Mystique you can learn to adapt. Change your perception and your entire look, energy, and level of relaxation will flow with your surroundings. It is only your perception that you do not fit in or belong where you are. When you share with others a true comfort level they appreciate it and before your very eyes you will begin to see the ways in which you are the same.
  • Mystic is a strategic planner and may be a helpful archetype in the workplace. The next time you’re chasing a goal, be strategic. Work smarter rather than harder. Pinpoint the real goal and be sure your action steps align with that goal.

Hollywood Heroines

Angelina Jolie

Ambassador, actress, loving mother, wife, badass, sex symbol, peace advocate, humanitarian, and award winning since 1998. It’s not hard to find something to admire when it comes to Angelina.

From A to Z with Angelina:

  • This woman is a living, breathing archetype that you can admire for almost any aspect you’re looking to fulfill. Channel her strength and confidence when you feel intimidated. Meditate on her good will when you need a little inspiration. If she doesn’t inspire you, perhaps one of her many great movie characters can.
Oprah Winfrey

Yes, Oprah is a successful talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. But those aren’t the reasons to put Oprah at the top of your living archetype list. It’s her strength, passion, determination, and giving spirit that draws people in.

Overcome With Oprah:

  • Oprah was told that she did not belong in television but that didn’t stop her. In fact, it’s those denials that probably made her stronger. Now, Oprah’s capabilities seem limitless. Choose her as your archetype whenever someone says, “you can’t.”

Positive thinking, vibrations, energy, meditation, and spirituality have guided Oprah in times of hardship and happiness. She has always been quite vocal about her truth and struggles. When in doubt of who to turn to for guidance, she is easy to find. Oprah’s heartfelt guests and personal words are inspiring to say the least. Also check out the Oprah and Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience. With Oprah and Deepak in your ears, you won’t have to look far in your search for a momentary archetype.

– See more at: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/10-female-archetypes-and-leaders-to-inspire-you?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=CCL%20Newsletter%20150225&utm_campaign=February#sthash.b0v4CeJ4.dpuf

Friday Five

Let’s try something new! I want to share articles & products that I think are interesting, helpful, inspiring, funny, just plain good. I’m interested to see what you think! So take a look below for a quick description of each of the items and let me know how it goes! Which is your favorite?

Stuff You Should Know

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This podcast was introduced to me by my Fiancee over thanksgiving last year. I have listed to two podcasts a day since. I can’t get enough of it! They make my commute on the NYC subway system 1000x better.

Download it on iTunes – it’s free and I promise you’ll learn something. (Happy Mind)

HUM Nutrition

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Their mission is simple: to become the best beauty nutrition business in the world. Depending on your needs, their nutritionists suggest micro nutrients that help support your health & beauty goals (my vitamins were Red Carpet, OMG! Omega The Great and Flatter Me). All this happens online and to make your life easier, they ship personalized vitamins, minerals and botanicals right to your doorstep. AMAZNG RIGHT!

Available online and at Sephora. (Happy Body)

Skinny Garlic Shrimp Recipe

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“I am from the Louisiana coast, so I MUST have seafood in my diet,” says Shelly Marie Redmond, MS, RD, LDN, founder of Skinny Louisiana. “I love making this for a date night or a quick weeknight meal.”

THE RECIPE: Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, and 1 lemon, unpeeled and cut into small pieces. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add 1 pound of uncooked shrimp (look in freezer section of supermarket). Cover and cook 3 minutes, until shrimp turns pink. Reduce heat to medium and cook 12-12 minutes. Remove from heat. Let set 5-10 minutes.

(Serves 4) Per Serving: 170 calories, 8g fat, 1g sat fat, 3g carb, 1g fiber, 23g protein. (Happy Tummy)

Find more healthy recipes here.

The Equalizer

Not really the mood that this blog typically has but I loved it, so you’re hearing about it. If you’re into Action/Crime/Thriller movies, this is one you NEED to see. Denzel Washington plays a mysterious average man who brings the hammer down on some seriously messed up people. It was awesome!

IMDB Description: A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. (Rated R)

Tuja Wellness 30 Day Meditation Chalenge

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This is currently in the middle of the30 days, but their 16th day Chakra Balancing meditation was so wonderful and I want you to try it out.

If you like it and want to sign up for the 30-Day Challenge Click here to sign up! (Happy Soul)

 

See you next week for the next Friday Five!