Warm Holiday Wishes

I wanted to take this moment to extend my warmest wishes to all my readers and their families for a happy holiday season.  I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to create this site in 2011.  You have all given me so much inspiration with your visits, comments and support to keep the Wellness Kriya site alive!  My hope is that it has been a little sanctuary to visit – a place to be inspired, motivated, and empowered to live your life with the highest wellness quotient.  We each have tremendous strength within us to navigate through all of life’s challenges and enough grace to relish in the goodness of it.  

For 2012, I challenge YOU to take risks in your life that expand you further than you thought possible, fuel your soul by exercising your mind and body, live authentically in the present moment, know that change is inevitable, and learn to embrace it by letting go of all that does not serve you, believe in spirit and be encouraged that something larger is working on you, through you and for you, be grateful for all that flows into your life.  May your lives continue to flourish in unimaginable ways!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You! 

Broadening Your Perspective

I recently watched an interview with Oprah and Mark Nepo, author of the best-seller, “The Book of Awakening“.  For anyone looking for a book full of small vignettes of inspiration, this is your book. 

As we finish our discussion on navigating through the pain and struggles of life, I wanted to share an excerpt from Nepo’s book, as he puts the concept of pain in perspective.

How Does it Taste?

An aging Hindu master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt.  When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. 

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the young man.

Peyto Lake

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake.  The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake”. 

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?” 

“Fresh”, remarked the apprentice. 

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master. 

“No”, said the young man. 

At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering, “The pain of life is pure salt;  no more, no less.  The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same.  But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in.  So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things….Stop being a glass.  Become a lake”.

Each of us, at different times in our lives, will experience some pain and struggles.  As raw and real as the experiences are, Nepo teaches us that when we broaden the space in our minds to house the pain, we start to taste the sweetness of life that still exists.

Living In Between the Answers

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. 

Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given to you, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything. 

Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”   -Ranier Maria Rilke

I first heard this quote read by my yoga instructor at the end of one of our sessions.  It got me thinking about how much we try to make sense of things that happen around us – especially, when they involve pain and suffering. 

We spoke Monday about learning how to ride the wave of our lives.  How do we navigate through the inevitable turmoil, stress, and pain that are part of the natural wave?  What can we do to nurture ourselves as we move through the challenges?  I came up with a few strategies.

1.  Take a moment.  Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling.  If emotions arise, let them come to the surface, instead of pushing them down.  Take time out of your day to be still – even if it’s only for a few minutes.  Too often, we try to fill our days so we don’t have to feel, when in reality, giving our emotions the space they need, will help cleanse the mind. 

2.  Move your Body.  We all know how closely linked our minds and bodies are.  During times of high stress, exercising is a great remedy.  Maybe you take a walk outdoors and breathe in some fresh air.  Perhaps, you sign up for a yoga class.  Maybe you recruit a good friend to be a running buddy.  Make some form of exercise a priority.

3.  Find Support.  Remember, we can’t go through life alone.  Lean on the people in your life that you trust and who have your best interest at heart.  Share your feelings, and allow them to be your safety net.  Often, we will find that those closest to us have gone through similar circumstances and give us solace that we are not alone.  Sometimes, that’s enough.

4.  Focus on Gratitude.  This is such a powerful tool to help us through any tough time.  Remind yourself of the things that are going right in your life (and, I guarantee, there are MANY).  I have a gratitude journal that I keep.  You may want to start by writing 5 things you are grateful for when you first start your day or before you go to bed.  There will soon be a shift in your perception.

5.  Feed your Soul.  There are many different ways to do this.  Give your soul the love it needs.  What are the simple things that give you pleasure?  Maybe it’s taking a warm bath or booking a massage for yourself.  Maybe you relish reading a good book on your couch.  Perhaps, you spend some quality time with your spouse or kids cooking a meal together.  How about that painting class you’ve been meaning to sign up for?  Whatever it is that brings you some small level of joy, provide it to yourself. 

6.  Accept Where You Are.  This is challenging for many of us.  We want so badly to be out of our circumstance.  But when we can fully embrace this time as just part of our journey, we realize that the wave never stands still.  It is always moving forward, as we will, too.    

Can you create some space to live between the answers?  Can you live and love the questions that arise? 

The Power of Gratitude

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.
And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
—  Maya Angelou
 
 
Each Thanksgiving, my family (and oftentimes, friends of mine and my brothers’) would go around the table and state one thing we were thankful for that year.  Although, we only did this ONCE in a year, it always filled me with such love and warmth.  It brought inside me a feeling of abundance and a knowing that all is okay.  It’s not because everything in our lives was perfect, but it was because we brought our focus and attention to what was going right in that moment.  It shifted our perceptions of ourselves and of each other. 
 
The truth is that gratitude has the power to change our lives.  We all have things in our lives that don’t go as planned.  We all have things we wish and hope we had or didn’t have.  It’s hard to feel gratitude at times when we’ve lost loved ones, when we’re in financial turmoil, or when our health falters.  It is okay to grieve those losses.  It’s ok if we don’t have all the answers.  But know this:  When you choose to focus on gratitude, you open the channels for all good to flow toward you and through you.  It changes how you see yourself, your surroundings, and your circumstances.  Instead of focusing on the lack, appreciate the small things in your life that you already have now.  How have they added to the myriad of blessings that exist for you in this moment?
 
I hope your Thanksgiving day was full of warmth, love, family, and friends.  And through the holiday season, and hopefully beyond, I hope that you choose to invite gratitude into your heart and allow the power of it to grace your wellness quotient.  I am grateful to each one of you that visits this site.  Its success has been fueled by you!    
 
Many blessings to you and to your families!

More Life Lessons from an African Safari

No other place in the world has brought me such a feeling of closeness to life and the earth as when I was in Africa.  There was a feeling of connectedness to land and life in its beginnings.  It was the simplicity with which all creatures lived their lives.  Being on safari, I learned a few lessons from several of the animals.   *Click on the pictures to obtain larger images.

1.  Zebra.  I remember a pair of lions that were crouching in the grassy brush, plotting an attack on a herd of zebra.  They each scoped out a different direction.  I had to put my camera down and trade it for my binoculars to observe this rare opportunity.  To the dismay of the lions, the intuitiveness of one of the zebra pulled the herd in another direction and they all ran off.  There was no way for the zebra to actually see the lions from where he stood.  He just sensed it as I saw his ears twitch, his body contract and his face become more alert.  The lesson:  Don’t discount the power of your intuition.  Sometimes, that is the only guidance you receive to make a smart decision.

2.  Lion.  Though the example above showed how intuition can help guide one species, it shows the perseverence of another.  I doubt the pair of lions decided after that defeat to give up hunting.  Once again, it is survival of the fittest.  They must continue to try again in order to live.  The lesson:  Success only comes from perseverence.  Failures are the catalyst, or the fuel, that we can use to our advantage if we choose. 

3.  Cheetah.  The cheetah is a solitary animal, meaning it hunts and gathers on its own.  Though it is one of the fastest animals, it is also the most vulnerable.  If it gets sick or injured, it will likely starve to death.  The lesson:  You may think you can fly solo in life, but allowing others to lend a helping hand on your journey can make the flight smoother.

4.  Elephant.  The African elephant is the largest land mammal in the world.  When I looked into the eyes of these soulful creatures, I saw peace.  They are herbivores and pretty much stay out of the way of other animals.  And because of their size, they are rarely preyed upon.   Despite weighing between 6-7 tons, they walk quietly and are not aggresive animals.  The lesson:  No matter how powerful you are (literally or figuratively), true respect is earned through humility.

5.  Leopard.  We were lucky to see leopards on our safari, as they are usually camouflauged in trees in a distance.  They use trees to their advantage, as they are able to see an aerial view of the surroundings below.  They can take inventory and decide when to make a move.  The lesson:  Have a vision, do the research, and then act.  Your life depends on it.

I think animals have a lot to teach us.  So many of our wellness concepts are interwoven in them.  We may be more advanced from an evolutionary perspective, but sometimes there is much to learn from our primal predecessors.

A Sense of Wonderment

 “You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

We are all born with a sense of wonderment as we explore our surroundings.  Children look at the world with awe, excitement, and curiosity.  They relish in the simple day-to-day aspects of living.  As you start your weekend, look through the eyes of that inner child, noticing the gifts that surround you.  Make it a point to feel gratitude for the little wonders of your day.  It will fuel your wellness tank!

Have a great weekend!

A Book of Blessings – Tips to Writing a Gratitude Journal

I have been writing in a journal for almost 10 years now.  I remember starting out wondering exactly how to write down my thoughts.  I fought back the initial urge to start with “Dear Diary…..”! My first instinct was to write about all the things I was unhappy about (and I think I did)  – how I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my life, how I  didn’t love my job, how I thought the Universe was plotting against me, and on and on and on.  As I began to write more, and perhaps after seeing my sad, raw thoughts written down, I began to slowly transition into writing about the experiences for which I was grateful.  Sound too simple?  It actually is. 

We spoke Monday about finding an outlet during the inevitable rocky times in our lives.  When we find an outlet for our negative thoughts and feelings, we almost always feel better.  Think about the times you just needed to vent to someone, or how you felt after having a challenging work-out, or after meditating for 20 min or even 2 minutes!  Writing in a journal is another vessel to pour your thoughts into.  What we find is that once the negativity is let out, we allow space for gratitude to come in.  As I continued to write over the years, my journal became a book of blessings.  It became a great tool to release stress and focus on what was good – and there was A LOT of good!   Here are some tips to starting your own book of blessings, or gratitude journal:

1.  Decide on the type of journal book.  Does it have an inspirational cover or is it a specific color?  Is it blank inside or have lines?  Are you better at writing on your computer or ipad?  Keep the book/laptop some place in your house where you can see it (I keep my journal book next to my bed with a pen). 

2.  Commit to a writing schedule.  It doesn’t have to be every day and it doesn’t have to elaborate, but having a schedule will keep you motivated and focused on the positive experiences of your day.

3.  Include experiences, not just things Think about how certain moments of your day make you feel.  You may feel grateful for having the money to buy a new outfit, but how does putting it on make you feel? Confident, poised, successful?  When you’re thankful for your baby’s smile, what feelings does that invoke in you – love, warmth, happiness?

4.  Write out 3-5 moments you are thankful for.  Either write out a list or write out your day as a story.  Often, I will re-read what I’ve written in the past, and it will always bring a smile to my face and shift my focus.

5.  Keep it real.  Write in a way that is personal and authentic to you.  It’s not about making your entries flowery or poetic.  Remember, you are not being judged by the style of your writing.  Just write your truth.

Journaling is a great way to recount your blessings.  You will find they are all around you and come in ways you didn’t imagine.  Remember to have gratitude for the hard lessons. Your rocky times may have blessings written all over them!