“Peace” your Life Together

I took a few weeks off from contributing to my blog, as I attempted to piece together lots of new and exciting changes in my life – the sale of my home, a move, a new job, new home, new friends, new yoga studio.  With all this “new”ness, there has been an equal amount of angst and chaos in my mind.  It’s been challenging to feel any sort of peace, because there is constantly a checklist running through my mind.  Now, I know many of you can relate to this!

Going through this process helped me to reflect upon a quote I have read many times.  “PEACE.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart”.

So how do we do this?  I recently found a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer titled, “10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace”.  One of his secrets is learning the value of silence.  The average person has some 60,000 thoughts a day.  Between those thoughts, exist small pauses of silence.  Peace is said to live in those spaces.  “It’s really the space between the notes that make the music you enjoy so much.  Without the spaces, all you would have is one continuous noisy note.  Everything that’s created comes out of silence”.  I loved this phrase in his book. 

So, how have I tuned in and created peace in my mind through all the outer chaos?  I recently made sure to spend some time without my cell phone and laptop.  I ventured out on a run along a beautiful trail amidst a canopy of trees – without my ipod.  I got back onto my yoga mat and sweat out some downward dogs.  Amazingly, I began to feel gratitude for everything that had surprisingly fell right into place during all this change.  It is what the universe produces when you’re in line with what you’re supposed to be doing, even if you don’t know exactly what that is.  Becoming aware of the many opportunities that unfolded perfectly gave me tremendous peace.  I know, without a doubt, that this awareness arose from silencing my mind.  We all have the capacity to “peace” our lives together by inviting silence instead of pushing it away.  ***Tune in Wednesday for more on creating Peace.***** 

Deepali’s piece of wellness:  Try to steal some moments of silence this week by turning off your car radio, taking a walk, being without technology for a set amount of time, or formally meditating.  You’ll be surprised what comes to mind, thereafter!   

 

Happiness in the Blue Zone

Research shows that our inclination to be happy is only 50% dependent on our genes.  So what if you weren’t born with the happiness gene?  The great news is that the other 50% is largely dependent on external factors and circumstances.  It is true that we can’t control everything that happens in life, but there may be a way to lean into a happier life. 

New York Times best selling author, Dan Buettner has been gaining a lot of publicity recently with his new book release, THRIVE: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. 

Buettner has teamed up with National Geographic to research some key happiness contributers and their relationship to longevity.  It has led them to areas known as the “Blue Zones”, where people are reporting a high level of wellbeing.  The team found that there were essentially six life domains, or thrive centers that were common denominators for life satisfaction.  They include the following:

1. Community – the places people thrived most were those that made them feel safe and those that provided opportunities to walk – cities that had large sidewalks, outdoor cafes, parks, and gardens (way to go, San Luis Obispo, CA! – noted to be the happiest place to live in the U.S.)

2. Work – Do you enjoy your work?  Do you work close to your home? Do you regularily take vacations?  Turns out that all three factors contribute to your wellness.

3. Social Life – I once read that you become the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with most.  If that were the case, wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with positive people?  Having a close knit of dependable friends is crucial for wellbeing, according to Beuttner.

4. Financial Life – apparently, the old saying “money can’t buy happiness” may be true.  According to the research, after the basic necessities of life are met (food, shelter, health insurance), money will bring about only short-lived happiness.  The key to long-term financial wellness is to “save mindlessly and spend thoughtfully”.

 5. Home – Creating an environment that is clear of clutter, planting a garden, and surrounding yourself with items that hold meaning to you will all facilitate a happy demenor.  Beuttner also recommends creating a room where you can engage yourself in challenging, yet meaningful activities/hobbies. 

6. Self – This takes us back to Monday’s post.  It is incredibly important to know your own strengths, values, talents, and passions.  Turns out that the people that were happiest in life knew what made them unique.

I think Beuttner’s book gives us a lot to think about.  It shows us that happiness is something that we can lean into by making a few adjustments in our life.  I can’t wait to read the whole book!

Blessings in Disguise

A reminder that sometimes we can’t see the big picture……but it exists.  Be grateful for your trials and tribulations along the way…….

Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~

Cultivating Gratitude

We talked Monday about the reasons it’s important to adopt an attitude of gratitude.  The question now is, “how do we do it”?    Although we are all born with certain tendencies toward viewing the glass as half-full or half-empty, we can strengthen our brain circuits toward optimism if we practice.  I would suggest trying a few of these suggestions over the next several weeks and see how you feel.  I’m pretty sure it’ll be better than when you started.  Some of these ideas have been recommended by Hans Rippel, a writer for Optimal Functioning. 

1.  Keep a Gratitude Journal.  Keep a log of the things/people for which you are grateful.  It could be as easy as writing down 5 things each day.   Having a record to reflect back upon is a way to lift your spirits, especially at times when you’re feeling down on yourself. 

2.  Make the Right Kind of Comparisons.  There are two ways you can do this.  You can compare yourself and your current life situation to those that are less fortunate, thereby reminding you of your abundance.  You can also feel gratitude toward those that inspire and motivate you, thereby turning around the feeling of envy.

3.  Come to your Senses.  Remember the gifts of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.  These are part of being grateful for your health.

4.  Use Visual Reminders.  Place positive words, quotes, cards on your desk, bathroom mirrors, fridge, car – wherever you go on a day to day basis. 

5.  Go Through the Motions.  Do things that make you feel grateful and express your gratitude to others.  While going through the motions, remember to be grateful to those that may have hurt you, for they have also had something to teach you.  

These ideas will help you get started.  I’m sure we have all utilized our own techniques that have helped flex the gratitude muscle.  Feel free to share what has worked for you!

Attitude of Gratitude

Each night before I go to bed, I silence my mind and give thanks for the events of my day and also for the good that is yet to come.  For a long time, it was harder for me to give thanks for the moments that had been particular challenging on a given day or for the situations in which I had struggled.  Going down the “why me” path was always so much easier and required little to no attention.  Just as the pathway to a knee-jerk reflex does not involve looping through the brain, so is the incessant, negative self-talk we give ourselves.  The only way to break the cycle is to be present (as we discussed last week) and be grateful

Feeling gratitude is one of the kriyas that can truly send your wellness quotient flying, not to mention change your life in the process.  There has been a lot of research showing that those who practice an attitude of gratitude have a more positive outlook on life, improved social connections, and better sleep patterns.  Dr. Robert Emmons from the University of California, Davis (my alma mater!) is currently developing a tool to measure the level of gratitude people show in their lives. 

So, why should we adopt an attitude of gratitude?  I came up with 5 of my own reasons:

1.  What we focus on, multiplies.  When we focus on what is going right in our lives, we find that our lives actually begin to feel quite abundant.  We find so many things to be thankful for, just by taking a few minutes to re-focus. 

2.  We feel happier.  Who wouldn’t be happy when they focus on what they have, not what they lack. 

3.  It reminds us of what’s important in life.  It’s harder to complain about your work, when you are grateful for having a job.  It’s harder to feel sorry for yourself, when you are grateful for having a family that loves you.  It’s harder to be upset about home renovations, when you are grateful to have a home not affected by a tsunami. 

4.  It allows us to appreciate those around us.  It’s so important to acknowledge the people in your lives.   Thank that stranger for letting you have the parking spot.  Compliment your best friend if you like her outfit.  Tell someone why you’re grateful to have them in your life.  It will make their day….and yours!

5.  We are able to exude a positive vibe.  When we display gratitude, it makes others want to jump on the bandwagon and think about what they are thankful for also.  It is infectious, like laughter.  People are attracted to it and are more apt to pay it forward. 

To sum up, let me just say this:  Be grateful for what you have, be grateful for what you don’t have, be grateful for what is coming your way, but most importantly, be ever so grateful for where you are in your life today.  If you can rise up to that space, you will literally shift the vibration of your life.  ***Check back Wednesday for techniques to help you exercise your gratitude muscle!

Deepali’s piece of wellness:  This week, start and end each day with at least 5 things that fuel you with gratitude!

Crossing the Finish Line

finish lineThere is an indescribable feeling you have when you set your mind to something and then achieve it.  Yesterday, I felt the ultimate rush as I crossed the finish line of my 1/2 marathon.  It was pure exhiliration followed by full exhalation…..a feeling of accomplishment, gratefulness, and love, coupled with the aftermath of delicious fatigue of the mind and body.  It is a journey of giving yourself fully and wholeheartedely and then being able to relish in the view from the other side. 

I did a lot of thinking during my 13.1 miles.  As I reflected upon the many challanges I have faced in my life (as we all have), I thought about running as being a metaphor for life.  There are times you feel great and at ease, while other times you are challenged to your full extent.  There are moments of confidence followed by fear and self-doubt.  And then there are those crucial minutes when all you can do is place one foot after the next  in hopes of moving foward one step at a time, one breath at a time. 

 I realized that so many of our wellness concepts were interwoven into this run.  I was, without a doubt, exercising my mind & body throughout.  I had to be present and mindful to allow myself to have the mental and physical stamina.  I had taken the risk and challenged myself to go the distance – in more ways than one.  I felt gratitude for my health – the muscles, bones, and organs that allowed me to perform this task.  Finally, in the end, it was truly about letting go and knowing that each step was guiding  me toward my destination.      

So……how do we do this latter part?  Let’s discuss some strategies this week on letting go and going with the flow.  After all, there are countless finish lines to cross in our lives.  And each can be just as exhilirating has finishing a 1/2 marathon, if you can allow yourself to let go.  Stay tuned!

My first post…….

Welcome to my blog!  I’m very excited to begin.  When I thought about the title I would use, I thought about what the word “wellness” meant to me.  It’s certainly the buzzword all over town these days.  Being of East Indian descent, I wanted to use a word from the ancient language of Sanskrit to describe how wellness pertains to all of us.  The word “kriya” fit.  Kriya literally means ‘the action of the soul’.  We are all on this journey to live our fullest potential – from the aspects of mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. The soul is always evolving……it is, therefore, always in motion.  In yogic terms, this starts with our breath.  The wellness kriya, to me, is the process by which we all strive to become more of who we truly are…….that perfect, authentic self that  lies deep within us.  We accomplish this by engaging and incorporating 7 actions  – the ingredients that I feel make up, what I call, our wellness quotient.  Those seven kriyas are:  Exercise the Mind & Body, Take a Risk, Feel Gratitude, Be Present, Believe in Spirit, Embrace Change, and Let Go.  Living our lives with these actions in mind will increase our wellness quotient and allow us to follow our truth.  Each week we will look closely at one of these categories.   My purpose is to empower others to believe in themselves and to provide teaching tools for unleashing their true potentials.  Let’s start peeling down the layers and get to the core!