We are collectively and personally going through hard times and it seems like a never-ending cycle. It might seem like it's coming out of nowhere, but the ancient texts and scriptures in the yoga/hindu practice knew these times would come to us. They created hymns, mantra, and more to help guide us through. The Age of Technology has brought us closer together, but also has divided us even farther apart. The key to moving through these hard times is connecting to mindfulness, self-inquiry, community, and other practices that are in this ancient system.
So what ancient practice will help me on this journey?
To remember how we started in this world, we have to go back to the start of creation. Creation is always happening and there is no end of time and nothing is completely destroyed forever. The knowledge or wisdom of this is called Veda.
The Vedas scriptures are divinely inspired and were heard (shruti) by ancient sages. They are made up of the Rig (oldest and most authentic) Veda, Sama (melodies and chants) Veda, Yajur (mantras used for rituals) Veda, and Atharva (procedures for everyday life) Veda.
Each veda provides the knowledge to create spi(ritual) practices to guide us through the cycle of creation and remind us to turn to its many forms (air, fire, sun, etc.) to live a balanced life. The chants, mantras, and hymns are part of the Nirguna Bhakti. This form of bhakti (devotional practice) is the devotion to the formless divine.
By turning to the vedas, we come back to the main teachings of the yoga/hindu tradition, which is knowledge (jnana), devotion (bhakti), and karma (action). These three elements provide us a guide to navigate through hard times. It is a reminder of the divine within us and to live how Neem Karoli Baba said, "Love everyone, feed everyone, and remember God."
During times of grief, struggle, and stress, the ego wants us to control and make it all about us. The truth is that we are never alone and we are always in divine play (lila). Creation, destruction, and transformation is constantly flowing to guide us to the next part of our journey. The key is to tap into this ancient practice to continue to love, accept, and surrender in the continuous cycle of life.
The Mangalam Chant:
-naming and blessing each and every part of creation
-mangala - auspicious, lucky, and fortunate
-Bhavatu - very well, okay, and amen
Bhumi-Mangalam, Udaka-Mangalam, Agni-Mangalam, Vayu-Mangalam, Gagana-Mangalam, Surya-Mangalam, Chandra-Mangalam, Jagat-Mangalam, Jiva-Mangalam, Deha-Mangalam, Mano-Mangalam, Atma-Mangalam, Sarva-Mangalam-Bhavatu-Bhavatu-Bhavtu
May there be peace in earth, water, fire, and air, the sun, moon, and planets, in all living beings, in body, mind, and soul. May that peace be everywhere and in everyone.
One of my favorite recordings of this chant is "All Good" by Girish.
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We were all born awakened beings, but it's the path back to our true nature that can be hard to navigate and understand.
It's a challenge to go back to our awakened self because we aren't taught how to understand our emotions or thoughts. We either let them consume us or not even deal with them at all. In most societies, we teach math, science, reading, and more, but basic understanding of our daily thoughts and the emotions that go with them are not covered. This leads to years of built up emotions and thought patterns in our subconscious. Because of this, it becomes harder to go back to the true, loving being.
The path to awakening is not easy, but anyone can do it with support, knowledge, and understanding. We have to be willing to do the work, dive in, and accept what might be built up over the years. For me, my journey towards my true nature has had many setbacks and many nights of painful tears. My thoughts and emotions would consume me and I would have no idea what to do with them. Then I learned how to look at the world through love. This process took me on journey to discover my voice of love (holy spirit) and not allow the fear to disconnect me from my awakening path.
Now, I feel the opposite. I love deeply to those who are deserving of my love and continue to send love to those who are on a different path. I've learned the process of non-attachment and understand that I need to love myself to truly love others. Sometimes it can feel numb, but it's not the numbness that we think of. It's a sense of peace and knowing that love will show me the way. That I have a choice to love and care for others daily. I also have learned my boundaries and can fully give instead of allowing others thoughts or emotions to determine my mood or worth.
So are you ready to take the journey to your own re-awakening?
What fears are holding you back from discovering the truth?
Where can you find support to start this journey?
Continue to explore and take time to guide yourself to this new way of experiencing life!
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So how does a 33 year old woman decide to work with clients who are 50 years of age and older? What can she possibly know about helping people in a different age range, life circumstance and the challenges that come to life after 50?
A few months ago, I was wondering the same thing myself, but then I took a look around me and tuned into myself to find the answer to these questions.
I noticed in my yoga classes, workshops and friend circles that the people that I related to the most are those over 50. My soul has always been older than my physical age and I found situations in my life that people older than me can relate to more than those who are my own age.
So I took this knowledge, experience and soul purpose and put together my signature program of Healthy Over 50! And I wanted to created a space to tell you how each one of these 5 steps has affected me or came to be in this system.
Step 1: Upgrade Your Mindset
My Relationship to Mental Health: I talk about this in my story but this step really came to me as reminder of how far my mindset has come in the last two years. I struggled with anxiety which led to endless stress and even depression at times. It took a dark time to recognize that I needed to start working myself out of habits that were no longer serving me. This step really speaks my heart since I strongly believe our mind is in charge of our life. If we aren't healthy in our mindset, the rest of our life is out of balanced or we struggle. The lessons I have learned from my therapist, psychotherapist friend, and bhakti and yoga teachers have guided me through this journey. I now see the world in a new way and it has changed so much in my life. This step is always first on my wellness journey and I wanted to make it the first for my clients too. I love teaching these lessons even if it is one of the hardest steps that I had to take in my life!
Step 2: Maintain A Healthy Body
A Key Step in My Health: Your body does keep the score of every emotional, mental and physical thing that is said or done to it. Once your mindset is good, you have to start diving into the body to see what is being stored there. Pain can be a physical manifestation of a hard time in your life or painful experience. For me, the stress and anxiety that I lived from traumatic experiences caused physical muscle pain and digestive issues. Only just a year ago I was struggling to eat anything without the worry that I would get sick. This is no way to live and I kept pushing my body to limits that it couldn't go to. I finally surrendered and looked at how I viewed by body and health. I took steps to make holistic changes in supplements, try Ayruvedic techniques on a consistent bases and move my body in ways that I loved like walking and yoga. Also, the change in mindset helped decrease my stress level and continuing to tune into my body decreased digestion flare ups and more. As we get older, I think it is even more important to find ways that are healthy holistically so we can enjoy our bodies and lives for a long time.
Step 3: Burnt Out No More
My Experience with Burnout: When burnout was finally labeled by the medical society that it does exist, I was thrilled and saddened at the same time. It is great that we can recognize stress and the continuous toll that it can play on our body, mind and soul, but it is also sad because we have come to the point where this is a common thing. We shouldn't get to the point where we are so exhausted that we can't live a fulfilled life. I have experienced burnout and still feel the effects today. I've packed my schedule, worked long hours for a job that would get rid of me tomorrow, and kept going even when I knew I needed something more. The same time that my mindset was ready to shift, I also found myself learning that I needed to be fulfilled. This didn't mean quit my job tomorrow and live my dream, which would only cause other stresses, but it meant for me to find my purpose and start the journey towards my dream. Now, I know when I've hit my limit in my schedule, always find time to do what I love, really be present, find my golden time by myself, and set boundaries so other people know my limitations too. Now that I do this, I found my dream of being a wellness coach and yoga teacher. Each day I work towards my dream and share what I love with the world in some form.
Step 4: No Fear Finances
The Collective Fear: The truth is that a lot of us fear finances and put a lot of our self worth or happiness in the form of money. I have struggled with money, lived pay check to pay check, wondered why I'd never make enough and find endless need of happiness through buying things. A few months back, I found a manifesting book that changed my view on money and the energy it brings. I had heard of law of attraction and tried doing the work before but this new approach guided me to a level of faith in my finances. Money is really an exchange of energy and what we give that energy comes back to us. So if we buy things we don't need, our energy level decreases and we feel weighed down or in fear that we won't have enough. When we give that energy to things that give back to us, we better ourselves and more will come in to us. We are constantly receiving from the Universe, we aren't taping into it. This step was a big learning curve for me and one that I love to share!
Step 5: Love Your Life Now
I Made a Choice: I made a choice two years ago to start loving my life now. That means the people in it too. The relationships right now are with some of the best people I know, I can set boundaries at work and live my purpose whenever and wherever I can. This step is true to my heart and I love seeing the transformation in students and clients when they take this step. We can love our life now and every part of it. We can struggle and come back each time to a stronger and healthier version of ourselves. It is our choice and only we can do it!
These steps have brought me through many transitions in my life. Providing this support to people over 50 is my soul purpose. I teach these steps to clients and in workshops. We go deeper into how these effect you and find ways to move forward so you can be balanced, courageous and live a sacred life!
Photo by Mallori Taylor
Did you know that fresh air can make you happier? It's true!
Fresh air make a huge impact on your overall health.
Serotonin is a chemical created by the human body that works as a neurotransmitter. Serotonin helps regulate mood and sleep and it also affects cognitive functions such as memory and learning. It assists in maintaining mental health and can help with depression.
Serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, platelets and the central nervous system.
Boosting Serotonin Naturally
There are many ways to boost serotonin naturally. Fresh air, exercise and sunlight are a few places to start.
Fresh Air and Your Lungs
Fresh air helps clear your lungs and release the build-up toxins and impurities. Taking longer, deeper breaths of fresh air increases the amount of oxygen that gets transported to your cells. Increased oxygen allows greater energy and clearer mind.
Our brain needs about 30% of your body's oxygen to function. Have you ever noticed after a brisk walk in nature your energy levels rise and your mind is clearer? You may find that you are able to complete a task easier after a breath of fresh air.
Additional Health Benefits of Fresh Air
There are many other health benefits related to a breath of fresh air. They include:
A Healthy Dose of Fresh Air
Here are some tips to help you get a healthy does of fresh air.
Information from International Association of Wellness Professionals.
Life is a series of choices. Each day we have to decide a million different ideas, things and paths to take and we forget that we only need to make one choice. Is this choice I'm making come from a space of love or fear?
We've made holding on in our lives the easy part and forgotten life is about letting go. It is easy to let something that is no longer serving us fall away. We have been conditioned to hold onto everything so tightly because we are afraid it will go away. This causes us to live in the past or worry about the future.
There is nothing wrong with living in fear. In fact, fear (false evidence appearing real) protects us from harm and bad situations in life. But it also takes us away from the things and people that might be good for us. Some people feel comfortable in fear. They have conditioned themselves to close off from the world because they think it will be easy to live this way. In theory this works, but we are meant to be connected and loved.
So how do we live in a state of love? We hear a lot of about self love and self care and these are all great things. These concepts have great practices behind them, but we miss that fact that we still need human connection. Yes, we should completely work on our inner love and support. Without caring for ourselves, we can't care for others, but also still need encouraging people along the way to help us grow.
Living in a state of love means that we have found this inner love for ourselves and the world around us. It is the small voice (intuition, holy spirit, etc.) that guides to know when something is truly in line with who we are. It guides us as a source to know when the fear (ego) wants to take over and the love is being forced out of the situation.
So how do we move from fear to love based thinking?
1) Don't Let Your Past Dictate the Now
-Are you holding onto the past? Do keep feeling like the situation will happen again if you don't control it? Does your past influence your decisions that you make now?
These are all questions to ask to see if fear is determining how you live in the present moment and how decisions are being made. If you are trying to control or holding back because you are afraid then your past is dictating your thinking.
2) The Future Doesn't Exist
-Are you worried about what might happen in the future? Do you fixate on what might happen in a few days, months, and years from now? Do you over plan so you can control your schedule?
Worrying about the future won't stop what is meant to be from happening. The future doesn't exist which can be scary when we live in fear, but the beauty is tomorrow is a new day. So take a deep breath and start to experience how you are living right now.
3) Manifest the Good
Manifesting can be a powerful tool to create the law of attraction. Focusing on what is good in your life and gratitude practices is proven to increase amount of those feelings and situations of good in your life. What we focus on is what we create so take time to journal all the things you have that you love in your life and all the things you would like to come along.
4) Lean into the Fear
We have been conditioned now to stay away from the negative and don't give into the fear, but we need to lean into these feelings. We can have days were we are sad, depressed and anxious. These are all emotions we need to feel and should accept them. During these times, take time to care for yourself. Do things that make you a little more happy or just make you relax.
5) Shift the Mindset from Fear to Love
It takes time to retrain the brain, but it can be done. We have to train ourselves to listen to our heart. What is it telling us in this exact moment? This practice takes time and the fear (ego) can be tricky as you learn to find that voice inside that only sees you as love (your true nature). There is proof that the heart can be heard and can be a tool to guide you in life so take time to breath and listen to what it has to say.
The truth is that we have a choice each day to live in love or fear. The only right choice is the one that is right for you!
The topic of mindfulness seems to be everywhere lately and meditation isn't too far behind. Mindfulness and meditation can fulfill the practice of being present in the moment, but it can be a bit confusing if mindfulness is only thought of as meditation. Let's take a look at the difference between the two and other practices of mindfulness. This is especially helpful if you have stress and anxiety.
What is the difference between Mindfulness and Meditation?
Meditation is a practice to calm the mind and not become attached to our thoughts. There are a variety forms of meditation and it is a wonderful practice with many health benefits.
Mindfulness is being fully present in the moment: what you are doing and what you are thinking. You accept and surrender your life exactly in the space you are in.
What are other practices of mindfulness?
The problem with combining mindfulness and meditation into one is that we lose the many other practices of mindfulness. The truth is that someone with stress and anxiety isn't able to meditate most of the time. When the mind consumes us on a daily basis, shutting it off feels impossible.
Here are some other practices that can guide you to be fully present right now!
We practice mantra without even knowing it. Mantra is an ancient practice and means "mind tool”. It is a way to control our thoughts and be present with them. Anytime you have a repetitive thought filling your mind, you are actually practicing mantra. The majority of the time, the thought is not what you want it to be so you have to find ways to reverse these thoughts. Affirmations or statements like "I am okay" are ways to start moving from the unwanted thought and shifting you to a feeling of being okay in this moment even if your mind thinks it is untrue.
When you feel lost in the past or worried about the future, you can lose site of living in your body. Taking a moment to close your eyes and take deep inhales and exhales allows you to come into your body. You also come into the moment and start to feel present within yourself. When you live in your thoughts, you aren't present in your breath which can cause you to be anxious. Allow your breath to be your guide to come back into your body even if it is for a minute.
3) Present Awareness
When was the last time you were aware of exactly what you were doing? We get lost in the to-do lists and don't pay attention to the task at hand or the people we are with. The next time you find your mind wandering, come back to focus on exactly what you are doing or who you are with. This will allow you to absorb the moment and be okay with all that is.
4) Creative Outlet
Finding a creative outlet like dancing, singing, painting, storytelling, coloring or anything that makes you feel alive, automatically brings you mindfulness. In those moments of creation, the only thing you can think about is what you are doing and how much joy it brings. Overwhelming feelings can take you away from your creativity and put it down at the bottom of your list. Take time to make it a priority and see what happens!
Being mindful is personal and takes time to figure out what you need. The techniques above are only a few ways to come into the moment and they come from the practice of Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti is a devotional practice and allows us to come into a state of love. So whenever you feel anxious, non-present or overwhelmed, take a moment to try one of these tools above!
Wellness can be hard to defined for many people and it has become a popular word lately. Everyone is looking for wellness but do they actually know what they are searching for, the tools they need to find it or even what it looks like to them?
Below is an audio track, short podcast really, about what wellness is, who I am as a wellness coach and what I offer to clients and people who are interested in learning more about my process and me.
Let me know if this information is helpful for you and reach out if I can help determine what wellness looks like for you!
Recently I hosted a Facebook Live to talk about changing your mindset in 2019.
This meditation is short and is perfect to use when you feel overwhelmed, unbalanced or not sure of a situation.
Taking the time to check in with yourself is key to your personal wellness. Wellness is more than spa days, holistic products, essential oils and what we eat. Wellness is learning to live authentically and creating the best life that is meant only for you!
Set yourself up in a nice comfortable seated position. You can sit on the floor, chair or against the wall with support.
Close your eyes and start to observe your breath. Start to take deep inhales and exhales through your nose.
Start to exhale the breath into the heart space. Exhaling several times and start to feel the space release.
Now, start to inhale and exhale into your heart space. As you take the breath into the heart, start to feel any sensations that might come up. If any stuck feelings or thoughts come up, start to exhale them out through your nose or mouth.
Once you feel connected to your heart, ask your heart, "What am I holding onto here?"
Take a few moments and listen to what the heart has to say. Then ask, "What do I need to do to let go?"
Take another few moments and listen to what comes up. Then ask, "What does my heart want to feel instead?"
Allow what the heart wants to feel to sink in for a few minutes and open your eyes.
Learning what the heart needs to feel will guide you to how you can live more in love. You can also use this mediation to ask about a situation and how you should move forward with it. By starting to see what we hold on to and what we can let go, we start to learn what we need in our lives and where we can move to change if needed.
Recently I read the book, Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Elson M. Hass, M.D. I’d like to share with you a few takeaways that I found in this book to better assist you on your own wellness journey.
Like me, you might not agree with everything is this book but it does have tools to help you feeling your best as the seasons change and our body adapts. No matter what, take extra care during seasonal transitions to give your body and mind the reset that it needs to connect with mother earth!
Molly Sommerhalder, Owner of Swan in the Lotus Yoga and Wellness, LLC
Swan in the Lotus came to me after years of connection to myself and my Goddess, Saraswati. My blog will provide inspiration to travel with courage on this life journey and provide lessons to find joy, love and self-care!