Mindfulness Resources for Every Moment of your Life

(Published on Sivanaspirit.com)

My journey with mindfulness began only four years ago, during a bout of terrible anxiety.

My doctor told me that I needed to “relax,” the sort of advice that really just pisses you off. But I decided it was time to listen.

That was when I took my first step towards peace by finding my breath and seeking out resources for mindfulness practice, such as meditation, mantra, and positive affirmation.

The experience changed my life and gave me techniques to fall back on when I am lacking center.

Since then I have explored many different guided meditations, spirituality books, and blogs on mindfulness practice.

These are resources I’ve found for every moment in life.

SEE ALSO: Understanding Vedic Astrology


For Everyday: Morning and Evening Meditations, Louise Haye

Haye is basically the grandmother of mindfulness practice, and an amazing example of life-long devotion to inner peace.

She has a ton of resources you can buy or listen to, but I’ve especially connected with her Morning and Evening Meditations, which are great to use as part of your daily routine.

I find these sorts of less-specific, malleable meditations great because they grow with you and adapt with life, making them ever-helpful!


For Creativity:  Effortless Mastery, by Kenny Werner

This is a book and meditation practice created by jazz pianist Kenny Werner.

I love Effortless Mastery because it is art-centric, and it is all about harnessing the inspiration that is all around us by being present.

It also encourages us to be easy on ourselves and to not compare ourselves to other artists.

The mantra that is introduced in the guided meditation tracks is something I often come back to find my breath and ground myself: “I am perfect. I am a master.”


For Relationships: Conscious Transitions, by Sheryl Paul

Sheryl Paul has made her career helping those with anxiety with romantic relationships by teaching them to be present with their inner thoughts and how to change them.

She takes marriage counseling to the extreme by mending pending divorces and engagements put-on-hold.

She really works magic by battling the “fairytale” idea of romance and love and helping you come to terms with yours and society’s own misconceptions of love.

Her blog alone gives you the tools to work on your relationship and your attitude towards relationships in an effective way, but she also does e-classes on her website that come highly recommended.

I visit her blog often—she helps me immensely!


For Grief: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Motherfucking Sad, by Adam Knade

This is an enchanting little book that not many know about.

Adam Knade writes about ways to cope with sadness, grief and depression in little, easily-to-read lists.

It’s easy to digest, easy to carry around, and so dead on in its advice. Knade is also irreverently funny.

The book is artfully put together and only costs $7.


For Work: Real Happiness at Work, by Sharon Salzberg

In this book, Sharon addresses how mindfulness practice and the law of attraction can bring you success in the workplace.

The book is full of exercises and meditations that can be done anytime anywhere, and is extremely helpful in showing you the happiness beyond the stress.

For anyone who wants to be successful at what they do, this will give you the techniques to get there.

 *See also 3 Steps to Creating a Postive Internal Dialogue on Sivana’s Blog!

Tiny Buddha: Let Loss Remind You to Live

“Pain can change you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad change. Take that pain and turn it into wisdom.” ~Unknown

Experiencing a death of someone, no matter how close you were to them, is a shock to the system.

One moment you’re just drinking your morning cup of Joe and then suddenly, you’ve collided with the uncertainty of existence.

Daily, we do everything we can to numb ourselves from our own fragility, but sudden death reminds us all that impermanence is still there under the surface, throbbing.

The other day, I logged onto Facebook and received a message from an old coworker. He asked me how I was and we exchanged the usual pleasantries, until, he dropped a bomb.

“You should know, Armando was killed in a car accident last week.”

Armando and I were not extremely close, but we were friends during the eight months I worked at a café with him.

We got to know each other when I began opening with him on Sunday mornings, me arranging box after box of fresh pastries in the case, him preparing the hollandaise sauces and turning on the ovens.

Sunday mornings were always slow, so Armando and I got a lot of time to chat and goof off.

We made a game out of calling each other the wrong names, which Armando especially loved. “Eighty-six croissant, Karla,” he’d yell from the kitchen, and I’d shoot him a, “right-o, Archie,” that would have him doubled over in laughter.

Armando made the monotony of our workdays colorful and fun, and I was always so thankful when he was on my shift.

Fast-forward to the day I found out he was gone. My impulse was to lump his death in with the rest of the bad news we are bombarded with every day. After all, I thought, we hadn’t been friends for long.

I was ready to downplay his impact on my life, to distract myself from the email about his memorial, to numb myself from the pain of loss. Really, I didn’t think I had the right to be upset about the death of someone I barely knew.

Except, there was still a knot in my gut that these thoughts weren’t helping to unwind. Armando brought joy and laughter into my life during a time when I was worn out from working three jobs and feeling lonely in a new city.

His light-heartedness often shocked me out of my bad moods, and no, I hadn’t known him well, but I could still be heartbroken the world had lost his light.

Then suddenly I was driving in my car, the same invention that killed Armando.

I wound through the streets of Berkeley, past the café we worked at together and the BART station and the library, and I let myself think about Armando. The special strawberry salad he used to make me and a coworker on our breaks, the times I got red-cheeked from catching him and his girlfriend kissing in the storeroom, the night of the wild Christmas party when we all went out and sang karaoke.

I thought about how he told me he wanted to move back to Mexico City, how much he loved it there. I let myself remember that he was more than a percentage or trending story, but a beating heart. I let myself cry for him.

Then I reminded myself: it’s okay to let yourself be affected by things.

Acknowledging tragedy puts our own fragile existences into question, and it forces us to face that we could’ve been the one who died suddenly.

That is a scary realization, but I say let it scare you. Let it put a fire under you. Let your limited time on this planet propel you toward your dreams with incalculable fervor.

Perhaps most importantly, let it make you grateful for the people around you who bring joy and laughter and love into your world, however fleeting.

Man on a pier image via Shutterstock

(Published here: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/let-loss-remind-you-to-live/)

Webucator Asks. It’s All Write By Me Responds.

A short time ago, I received an email from Bob Clary of Webucator. He told me that Webucator is, “…an online learning company… all about teaching essential skills and finding ways to help people improve themselves and become more successful.” And he asked me to “..write an article to post on your blog about what you consider to be a valuable, marketable skill as part of our “Most Marketable Skill” Campaign in honor of the class of 2014…What is it that you think is essential for success? We want to read about the skill that you personally feel is the most important, how you acquired or plan to acquire the skill, and why it’s so indispensable for people going into the workforce.” Here is my reply.

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I grew up in a household of inspirational appliances. My dad, a Tony Robbins book and label maker in hand, branded most of our house with affirmations. Despite a particularly loquacious clock radio and toaster oven, I especially remember what our basement fridge had to say: Attitude is everything.

As a kid, I thought the icebox giving me permission to roll my eyes at my mother and speak all the smartassery I kept to myself.  (There were a few years there that my gearshift jammed in snarky.) But in the process of growing up, and especially in becoming a university graduate and entering the workforce, I’ve begun to really understand what that phrase means and why it has always stuck with me.

Whilst earning my diploma, I was often stressed, exhausted, obsessive, and overly caffeinated. I cared a lot about my education, about getting the A, about graduating with honors. Then, add in fights with roommates, tearful break-ups, friends who decided to see Hunger Games without me, and it’s easy to understand why my brain often felt like a too-small bowl for a many-emotion salad.

Now that I’m out of school, I have many similar burdens weighing on me, except instead of grades it’s my paycheck and future security that’s at play.  I am as ambitious and hardworking as ever in my quest to be a working writer, often craning over my computer for most of the day. I can be demoralized by rejections from literary journals, frustrated by metaphors that just won’t make sense, and made jealous by other writers’ successes. Plus, though they’re less melodramatic than they were, I still find myself in delicate and taxing interpersonal situations.

My point is: the many-emotion salad is still tossing about in my mind! The only difference is now, I’ve (mostly) learned how to deal with it. The way to cope was with me all along—stuck onto my uncommonly wise basement fridge. Attitude is everything.

Your attitude is everything in how you overcome a bad day, week or even year. When shit hits the fan, it’s common to get down on yourself and your life. But, getting out of that space is essential to being productive again, and finding success in the future. In times like these, it is important to take a break and do something that helps center you again. I find that writing my feelings down in a journal helps expel them from my mind. I also benefit from meditation, naps, bike rides, baking cookies, and playing piano. Or if it’s really bad, I’ll plan a vacation. Try different things and find what it is that helps you feel happier and ready to work again.

Yes, class of 2014, I just became the umpteenth person to tell you to “turn that frown upside down.” Like it or not, I believe this is your most marketable skill: your own power to change how you feel, regardless of external circumstances. This ability helps you be productive and successful despite a world full of self-involved assholes, seemingly insurmountable obstacles and ridiculous expectations. Having a positive attitude gives you a big enough bowl for all that messy life salad. It creates space for more sweet cherry tomatoes. It makes whatever’s in front of you clearer and easier to digest. Most importantly, it shines a light on what truly matters: feeling grateful for the life that fills your bowl.

 

For more about this campaign go to www.webucator.com or follow @webucator on Twitter.WebucatorAvatar_400x400

 

 

 

HavingTime.com: 4 Reasons Why Being Alone Doesn’t Always Have to Mean Lonely

  Alone doesn't have to mean lonely

“We can’t underestimate the value of silence. We need to create ourselves, need to spend time alone. If you don’t, you risk not knowing yourself and not realizing your dreams.” – Jewel

Having just moved to a new place where I only know a few people, I’ve spent a lot of time alone the last few months. At first, I was sad, lonely, even depressed without my friends around. But I’ve been learning that there’s an art to being alone and if you can work on it, it can bring a lot of positivity to your life! Society may tell you that you need a significant other, but I say, tune that out and read this list. Being alone might be just what you need!

4 Reasons Why Being Alone Doesn’t Always Have to Mean Lonely

Being Alone Can Be More Fun

A few days ago, I went to San Francisco’s touristy Fisherman’s Wharf by myself. At first, I felt weird about being alone. There were groups of people everywhere, on the BART, on the trollies to the pier, and at the pier itself–laughing and buying each other Golden Gate Bridge key chains and teddy bears. Perhaps I should’ve waited until I had more friends to come and visit Pier 39, I thought. But then I thought, why? I don’t need someone else to buy me a souvenir or share a walk down a boardwalk with.  I don’t even need to bring someone I can talk with. I can strike up a conversation with strangers. And the kicker–I can actually enjoy doing these things for myself!

So, I did just that. I laughed gleefully to myself when I saw all the sea lions lying like sardines on the docks. I bought myself fish and chips and devoured each piece on a bench, making small talk with a woman from Maryland. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, unperturbed by having to cater my plans to someone else’s needs or wants. And by god did I have a ball giving myself the perfect day!

Being Alone Teaches You How to Love Yourself

I took myself out for a celebratory drink when I got a writing job I’ve been coveting because I deserved it. I rode my bike to a yoga class because I wanted to do something healthy for my body. I drove down the freeway, with no destination in sight, my favorite songs vibrating against the windows because why not? I made a collage on the kitchen table, glossy magazine clippings spread all over because I had the itch to be creative. I did all these activities for myself because I know that they give me joy and fulfillment in a world that can really overwhelm and frighten me.

That, my friends, is called loving one’s self. And, the beauty of learning self-care is that you will never enter a relationship out of desperation or need again. You don’t need anyone if you have yourself. (Of course, you can always want a new friend or significant other, but the difference between need and want is what I challenge you to ponder.) I’m far from an expert on self-love, but I’m learning and you can too.

Being Alone Can Rejuvenate You!

Let’s face it, we’re all constantly connecting with one another via email, social media, face-to-face, on the phone, and after a while it seems like we can’t escape from the noise of our loud, fast-paced society.

Sometimes we just need to go somewhere quiet and think. This is when your “alone but not lonely” superpower can kick in. Go on a hike with just the squirrels for company. Or, if you’re at work, find a quiet stairwell, close your eyes and take a deep breath. It’s amazing how just a few solitary moments with your mind, breath and body can center you again.

Being Alone Can Help Strengthen Future Relationships

Okay, so when you spend time with just yourself, you allow yourself to spend time with what makes you uncomfortable, confused or angry. When we’re with other people, we tend to ignore these issues, especially if you’re conflict averse like I am.  (I don’t like to argue or disagree because I crave connection and like-mindedness, especially when I first encounter a person.)

This is precisely why we are taught to “reflect” on science experiments in school. While observing the bubbling beaker or pursuing the fetal pig’s heart, we don’t have access to the attention it takes to aptly consider our findings. It’s the same with dates and parties and other events where we are around people. These are all life experiments, if you will, and we are too consumed with the cutting of the cake or the story of how our date’s parents met to reflect wholly on our own feelings.

But when we get home to a quiet house, we consider how Angie’s comment annoyed us, or how Bart’s description of Peru was incredible, or how David’s smile was bewitching. Those considerations are nuggets of self-learning that help us understand the sorts of experiences and relationships we want to have in our lives.

In this way, aloneness can actually save you future heartache and confusion. It can help you know better what you want. In other words, aloneness can be a prerequisite to avoiding loneliness. How’s that for irony?

The fact of the matter is: there’s no shame in being lonely. We all end up on that sad planet sometimes and my GPS sure as heck hasn’t mastered its avoidance. Neither is it wrong to like being around others. I’m an extrovert that loves people and couldn’t survive without my community of family and friends.

But sometimes people aren’t available to be with us and we would do anything to avoid defaulting to lonely.

So make a choice to look beyond the socialized attitude there is about being by ourselves, and remember that in the end it can actually help us live happier lives. And gosh darn it, don’t wait another week for your friend to commit to backpacking Europe before you buy the plane tickets or for a guy to ask you to that new Thai restaurant before you make the reservation. Go by yourself, my dear, and love every minute of it!

Photo by gizelle rivera

Saying Goodbye to One Adventure Is Saying Hello to Another

By 

(Published on Tinybuddha.com)

Dawn of a New Day

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~Paulo Coehlo

When I was born, the nurse lifted me from the bed, placed me on a cold metal operating table, and prepped my umbilical cord to be severed. As my parents put it, I “screamed bloody murder” when she attended to me, then grabbed ahold of the index finger of her latex glove and pulled it clean off.

“You just wouldn’t let go,” my dad recalls, chuckling.

That often-told family tale has risen to consciousness many times during the last few months, especially when I’ve found myself overwhelmed, fearful, and grief-stricken at the task of saying goodbye.

Goodbye to my first love, each of my beloved college friends, my wonderful university and creative writing program, to the Pacific Northwest, and more importantly to a time of my life that had a big role in bearing me into the woman I am today.

Goodbye, because I picked up and moved to Berkeley, CA to explore, to live, to find new joy. As the move became more real, every “so long” brought with it the coldness of surgical steel at my back, a wet cry, an unwavering grip on those places and people I love.

The thing about letting go is that it’s unnatural to most and must be learned with great patience and persistence.

Perhaps it’s difficult because we need attachment to survive—babies need their mothers and the rest of the “village” to thrive physically and emotionally, to adjust to life beyond the womb.

But letting go is worth learning, because it means risk, and with risk comes growth.

I crave growth. I crave new experience. I crave adventure. And as much as I loved Bellingham, it wasn’t supplying me with the tools to be happy.

I want to be a well-known writer, I want to see the world, I want to learn new stories and sing songs with strangers. I just couldn’t do that in a small, bayside city of people I know well. But, the inevitability (even predictability) of this goodbye couldn’t make it any easier.

Intentionally letting go is not any less excruciating than doing so subconsciously, and I would be remiss if I told you so. It requires we savor not only sweet beginnings, but also bitter endings. It requires we face fear and grief in the face, rather than burying them deep.

The day I left Bellingham, I sat in the middle of the floor of my empty apartment bawling. Whereas we are taught to stay strong, to hold tears in, to look forward with no impulse to go back, I allowed myself a moment to be achingly present in the memories and attachment I have to that place.

I remembered drinking wine on floor with my roommates until the wee hours; writing story after story on my bedroom carpet; lying in bed and talking most the night with the first boy I’ve ever really loved.

Okay, so maybe I’m a sap. Or perhaps even a masochist. But I’ve found that if you give fear and grief the time of day, gratefulness and joy greet you on the other side.

Endings just want to be acknowledged, just want you to pause and remember how beautiful life can be. In that way, how you deal with endings can become a litmus test for how mindfully you are living.

So, I challenge you to see change not with dread, but as a chance to remember how beautiful your life has been, is, and will continue to be. And whenever you say “so long” keep an eye out for that new hello. It will come.

I know it’s true as I sit in a sunny Berkeley coffee shop writing, musing on the courage it took to get me here and watching a little boy in denim overalls holding tight to the hand of his “Papa!” To all this new adventure, joy and love, I say hello, hello, hello.

It’s my life…don’t you forget

As I get further into my life, I realize how much mine it is. Us humans are born into families, raised in groups, solaced by the comfort of others. But every great test of our abilities or intellect or creativity or strength is done ultimately, on our own. What I mean—you don’t get that amazing job with someone else’s resume, climb Machu Picchu with someone else’s body, or bungee jump off a bridge after overcoming someone else’s fears. In the end, no matter how many people’s footprints are sunk into the mud next to you, it’s your path.

Obviously, my point isn’t to advocate being isolationist and selfish in the greater world—that would be a silly conclusion to make of all this. But we are alone in our world, and that is an important distinction. Our world is our desires, perceptions, struggles, goals. As I get older, I find myself breaking away from socialized norms and trends, congratulating myself for being unique. When this happens, a little piece of my world becomes more distinct, more vivid, more realized.We think we are modeled by everyone else, but really we’re clay in our own hands.

The flip side of all this is the negative connotation we’ve been taught. We are nurtured to think that loneliness goes hand in hand with depression and social anxiety, that not wanting to follow the crowd (both literally and figuratively) means that there is something wrong with you. But being alone, both physically and mentally, is so essential to our development into self-affirmed, self-aware people. It crystallizes our personal world within the universe of others.

I’ve been meditating on this since I woke up to the realization that I’m in the throws of transition. College is coming to a close and the friends I’ve made here are going off in every direction: Bali, Nebraska, California, Costa Rica. We’re graduating and starting our “real lives” as people like to tell me, no longer reassured by the guarantee of returning to each other and to campus the next fall. It’s amazing how many experiences have come and gone like lightning: meeting in the dining hall for giggle-full dinners, quoting Borat religiously, carrying candles around the track for Relay For Life, hiking Oyster Dome, making funny videos and bonding over drunk Uno. I drank in (no pun intended) those experiences as they occurred, and yet still they’ve flashed by, mere specs on the dartboard of my memory.  All that’s left of them is a singular, enriched, inspired, thankful me—and that’s something to think about.