Feeding Your Inner Soul to Find Your Higher Self

Bethechangebutterfly 2014

Your appetite to feed your soul is just as important as your appetite to feed your body. Like the physical body, your soul needs constant sustenance to thrive, flourish, and grow. Without the needed nourishment, your soul will wither and you will feel a lacking in your life that will stop you from being the person you are meant to be.  A starving soul can not find it’s higher self unless it’s completely satiated.

There are many positive ways to feed the soul but first let’s understand the four signs of a starving soul:

1. Loneliness – The feeling of loneliness and disconnect from everything around you is usually a big sign that the soul is starving.  You can be in a crowded room filled with family and friends and yet you can still feel very much by yourself.  Loneliness and the fear of being alone singles you out and forces you to stand on your own.   This feeling of singularity can place you at risk of losing yourself entirely and can make you do unspeakable things. The feeling of loneliness is often associated with depression and anxiety.  When you feel like no one understands you this creates a canvas for depression to set in, which makes you withdraw even more.   Anxiety can also pile up if you feel that all the world’s problems rely on you solving them and no one is around to help you.   The one thing to be aware of is that loneliness thrives on fear.  Once fear creates a home in your heart (and your mind) the path of loneliness becomes inevitably so.

2. Depreciation –  A starving soul sees no value in anything and depreciation is a feeling that you are not worthy and you don’t deserve love or respect from others.  You may feel like you are not good enough for any one or you can never achieve the goals you set out for yourself.  When you devalue yourself in such a way that you are not worth anything you will most likely allow some form of abuse to occur. This abuse can be in the form of self-abuse or an abuse to others. Abuse comes in many forms, such as emotional abuse, mental abuse, and the obvious physical abuse.  Oftentimes, when you devalue yourself (you may not realize that you do it) you devalue others (again, not realizing that you do it).  This cycle of depreciation can go on for generations in families.

3. Avoidance – A soul craving for sustenance will seek out means to feed itself in whatever way possible.  You want to avoid the pain of soul starvation (the previously mentioned feelings of loneliness and depreciation) so you cover that pain up with drugs, food, excessive sex, and material items.  But these ‘cover-ups’ don’t really tap into your inner soul.  They may feel like they do at the time but the feeling eventually wears off and you are faced with the pain once again.  Sometimes we want to avoid facing the problems at hand so we attach ourselves to others so they can deal with it for us.  This state of co-dependence only allows you to escape that necessity of feeding the soul while creating a tension between you and the person you depend on (even if they are enabling you to be dependent on them).  You may lie to yourself and tell yourself that the drugs, food, sexual activity, or material items you are using are okay and you can stop whenever you want to. You may lie to others and tell them you only did it one time.  In whatever ways you avoid feeding the soul it’s hunger will always manifest.

4. Ignoring your Intuition – You have the wisdom within you to know what is right for you.  But when loneliness, anxiety, depression, and avoidance are piling up in a starving soul you may ignore the obvious.  You will most likely follow the wisdom of others in spite of your inner gut telling you something different.  You may be searching for someone to ‘save’ you because you feel you can’t rely on yourself.  You may go along with the crowd to fit in, even if fitting in means losing yourself and going against your better judgment.  You may continue to practice a belief system even though you do not feel connected to that belief system.  All the previously mentioned are the result of ignoring your intuition and when you ignore yourself you are causing your soul to be malnourished.

The four previously mentioned signs of a starving soul can occur individually or simultaneously with each other.  One often overlaps the other and the most important thing is to recognize them.  Once you realize these symptoms for what they are you can begin to find ways to feed your soul so these symptoms can be diminished.

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One of the ways to feed the soul is to find that connection around you.  Go for a walk outside by yourself.  If you can, do this barefoot (See Grounding).  Recognize the birds chirping, the leaves on the trees, the wind in the air.  Look up at the sky and realize that however vast the sky is so is your connection to it.  You rise and rest with the sun and the moon.  As the seasons change, so do you and so does everyone around you.   Nothing is complete and you are part of that everchanging connection.

Find yourself in your childhood to nourish your soul. Remember when you were younger, what did you enjoy? What did you do for fun in your younger days?  Was it dancing, singing, or simply coloring a page as the sun beat down on you?  Sometimes finding your inner child helps you to connect back to who you are and will help you re-discover what makes you come alive.

Making lists can help you feed your soul.  Make a list of those that you can count on for advice, support, and a helping hand.  Some people may be good listerners while others may be good to tell you like it is.  Each of these people are in your life for a reason.  Recognizing their importance in your life will help nourish your soul towards growth and understanding. While you are at it, make a list of all those qualities that make you important.  What talents and strengths do you have?  What important role do you play in  someone else’s life? You are valuable in this world and acknowledging your power will help your soul thrive in whatever challenge you encounter.

Tapping into your higher self means getting comfortable with being with yourself to know yourself.   The conversations you have with yourself about yourself, your life, and what you can do to make it better will be the most important conversations you will have. The more you get used to being by yourself the less likely you will be distracted from what your soul needs.

Listen to your inner voice because it knows what to do for nourishment.  This is also known as following your instincts or listening to your own intuition.  Sometimes standing by yourself among a crowd means realizing that your voice matters, you can make a difference, and you know what is best for you.

Listening to great, soothing music, reading a fictional story, or getting lost in day dream are all ways you can nurture your soul.  Music vibrates your inner self to levels of peace, light, and love; all that the soul hungers for.  A good fictional story allows your mind to take a vacation from the challenging present.  When you get lost in a day dream you allow yourself to explore new thougths and ideas, which can lead to your own wonderful creativity.

Laugh and laugh often, especially with others.  Laugh at yourself, laugh at the situation. Watch a comedy, share jokes, get silly.  The soul loves to feel light hearted and gitty.  It’s the laughter that keeps you going to the next thing.  Laughter can lift your spirit and reminds you that life doesn’t have to be serious all the time.

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Feeding your soul means to take care of yourself with rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, and exercise. Get some sleep to sustain your soulful energy.  Embrace the ways of the spa, which is to get a massage, a facial, a pedicure, or a manicure.  Get pampered to keep your soul alive.  If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? To those parents or caregivers out there, remember the best caregiver is the one who takes care of the caregiver first so they can give the best care to others. Don’t forget to exercise to tend to your soulful needs. Deep breathing and stretching activities are good ways to sustain the soul’s appetite.

Learn, research, and explore your world to enrich your soul.  Just as you will never stop growing spiritually, you should never stop learning.  There will always be new ways to do things.  Just the same there are many things you can never know enough of.  Learn a new language, delve into a different culture, investigate into human history.  Become studious to be a steward for your soul.

Pray, meditate, and get connected to the divine source.  Whoever you pray to; be it God, Allah, a Hindu Goddess, an animal spirit, or what ever you may call it; giving some thought to the divine essence you believe in will help you tap into your own higher self.  You don’t have to read scripture or go to church every Sunday. However, if that is what helps your soul come alive, by all means do it!  The thing that matters most is that you believe in something bigger than you and realize that this guiding light can lead you to your highest self.

To feed your inner soul you must first recognize the signs of a starving soul.  Once you realize that you are starving your soul in some way you must find positive ways to wake up your soul and keep it thriving.  When your soul begins to thrive you will then be able to tap into your higher self and realize the wisdom that has been within you all along.

Feed your soul and enjoy this video below:

Got Water? It Does the Body Good.

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Many health experts will tell you that a healthy eating plan should include drinking an adequate amount of water and for good reason.  Water helps satiate the appetite to curb you from eating too much.  It also helps carry beneficial nutrients from the food you eat to all organs in your body.  Staying hydrated helps lubricate your joints, aids in proper digestion, and energizes you throughout the day.  Water also helps to detox your body through urine and perspiration and helps in balancing out hormone levels.  With all these benefits of water how can you not drink water?

According to Dr. Jeffrey Utz, a pediatric neuroscientist of Allegheny University, the body of an average male adult consists of 60% water and this water content changes with age, gender, and body type.  Dr. Utz tells us that babies are born with a water composition of 78% while adult female bodies have about 55% of water and people with more body fat have a less percentage of water in their bodies than their leaner peers.

Water is part of the key to staying energized all day.  Based on information found at the US Geological Survey’s Water Science School  water has a “stickyness” that helps move important nutrients throughout our body and helps move wastes out of our body. WebMD also states that water helps energize our muscles to pump in essential electrolytes (our sources of energy) and prevents muscle fatigue, especially during high endurance activities.

Water also helps with digestion by keeping things moving down there so we can have normal, regular bowel movements.  If you don’t have enough water in your system when you eat then the water in the food you consume will be quickly absorbed causing the food to harden and get stuck down there.

If you want to lose weight the best start is to water up.  According to the European Food Information Council the best way to satiate the appetite is to eat foods high in protein, fiber, and you guessed it, water!  Foods like oranges, apples, and cucumbers are great hydrators for the body.  So if you’re not into tipping H20 filled glasses you can water up with naturally water filled foods.

‘Water tastes plain’, you say.  Adding in fruits, veggies, and herbs can help satisfy the diversity of your taste buds.  Lemons, limes, and cucumbers are great natural detoxifiers. Using some mint, rosemary, or lavendar can spice up your water.  A few pieces of pineapple, blueberries, or cherries in your water may quench your thirst.  The sky is the limit on how you flavor your water.

No matter how you get your water intake be sure to get into the habit of doing it often. The Institute of Medicine recommends that a healthy male living in a moderate temperature climate should take in 3 liters a day while a  healthy female should consume 2.2 liters a day.  However, according to the Mayo Clinic experts water consumption depends on several factors, such as how much a person exercises, the climate they live in, and their health status, which includes pregnancy.

Staying hydrated is your body’s mission and if you become mindful of how well you stay hydrated you will be giving yourself a grand gesture towards your health.  Water is one the most essential elements in life in order for us to thrive at our best.  So hold your glasses high and say cheers to your health as you tip your glass of H2O.  It does the body good.

Stand Up for Your Health

Have you ever flipped through old photos  of people who lived through the agricultural times?  Almost all of them are healthy looking; not too fat and not too thin.  That’s because most of them didn’t stay in one place for very long.  The farmers back then didn’t have television or computers to keep them from being active.  Most importantly, the people back then had to stay active to ensure plenty of food was being placed on the table.

Scroll forward into the 21st century and most of the population lives a very sedentary lifestyle.  Whether at work or at play, many are sitting in front of a computer screen, laying on the couch in front of the television, or sitting down somewhere with their phone in hand. The 21st century man does not have to work hard for his meal thanks to technological advances.  While modern technology has made it very convenient to live almost without having to work for our food like our agricultural ancestors did it has actually hindered our health.

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Dr. Joseph Mercola, a well-known doctor who touts alternative medicine, recently wrote about the benefits of standing.  Dr. Mercola’s article highlights Dr. James Levine’s book, Get Up!: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.  Dr. Levine’s book brings up hard evidence that sitting in a chair for long periods of time is not conducive to one’s health but actually causes a lot of health ailments, including obesity and Type II diabetes.  According to Dr. Levine, who is co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative, periods of inactivity  are “associated with the molecular mechanisms at the cellular level that are associated with causality for diabetes, hypertension, and even potentially cancer and other deleterious effects”.

Dr. Mercola also writes in his article that studies of agricultural populations sit for no more than 3 hours a day while the average American office worker sits for 13 to 15 hours a day. It’s no wonder that American obesity is on the rise, even among today’s youth.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity in children have tripled during the teen years, based on results of a study conducted between 1980 through 1990. A Canadian and Danish study backs up this claim by identifying a parallell between increased video game usage among teens and increased weight gain.

The moral of the story folks is to get up, stand up, and move!  But how much should we be standing?  Dr. Levine recommends to stand up and move around for 10 minutes per every hour.  However, Dr. Mercola is aiming for himself to sit less than an hour and stand up and move around as much as possible to counter the ill-effects of sitting.

So kick that chair to the curb and get up and move around.  You owe it to yourself to stand up for you health.

Are You Minding Your Own Business Now?

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Oftentimes, we are busily planning the next great thing in our lives before appreciating what we have just done.  Anticipating the future can cause undue anxiety and worry on things that may never happen.  We may also perseverate on the past to the point that it cripples us.  Rewinding past events, especially negative ones, can build up negativity toward ourself and others then anger and depression ensues.  Meanwhile, all this focus on the past and the future prevents us from experiencing the ever present now.

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Famous spiritualist and author, Eckhart Tolle wrote about being fully present in his first book, The Power of Now.  Selling over 2 million copies, Eckhart’s wisdom on embracing now gives new meaning to what it’s like to live and really, truly live.  Eckhart’s philosophy on embracing now reminds us what is really important in life; that is focusing on what is right in front of us without judgment and without reaction.  He reminds us that we create our own suffering by living in the past or by focusing on the future.  To end the suffering, we must be fully present in the here and now.  To fully experience now we must observe what is and embrace it as it is.

It takes practice to be fully present and that practice can be taken in the form of meditation.  There are many forms of meditation out there and they each have their own benefits depending on what you are looking for.  Mindful meditation in particular is a good way to learn how to be fully present in the moment.

The benefits of mindfulness has been explored in a scientific study known as the Shamatha Project, led by Dr. Clifford Saron at the UC-Davis Center for Mind & Brain.  The Shamatha Project was a collaborative experiment  between high-ranking neuroscientists and psychologists on the effects of intensive meditation that spanned three months.  The meditation techniques used in the study encouraged the participants to breathe mindfully, focus in on their thinking, and become aware of being aware. The study determined that being mindful increased a person’s level of empathy towards others and improved the meditator’s attention span. The research also discovered that long term mindfulness improved a person’s overall psychological well-being which in turn increased their health and longevity (decreased cellular aging).  The experiment had a follow up procedure on those that continued to meditate and 5 months after the study was over the effects of the intensive meditation stayed the same.

Minding your own business can be a habit formed with due diligence.  It’s easy to get off track and have your mind wander when working on something.  The important first step to take is to be aware when your mind is wandering then stop.  The more you practice that the more easily it will become to stay mindful.  In the end when we clear our minds and focus on the present we start experiencing life.

To start your journey on embracing now view the video below:

Reflections

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Today I need to write about the one person that has the greatest impact on your life.  This person is always there helping you to pick up the pieces.  This person can be brave and give you the courage to stand up and face your fears.  This person listens to you, supports you, and comforts you when you feel all alone. This person knows you, grows with you, and can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  This person is you!

Looking back at that person and really see that person in all its glory and beauty can change your life forever.  There may have been mistakes you’ve made or wrongs you’ve done.  Who hasn’t?  The important thing is to own those mistakes, move one, and make better choices.  It’s all up to you.

You can place blame on your circumstances.  You can say you’ve been dealt some really crummy cards in life.  I won’t pretend I know how you feel.  But in the end, no matter what has been done to you it’s up to you to believe that you can make it better.

Inspirational stories like Elizabeth Smart and Michelle Knight come to mind on how to take crummy cards and turn them into winning hands.  These women suffered the worst imaginable and survived.  It’s their story that can make you sit back and realize I too am a survivor.

Look back at that mirror and know you are here for a reason.  Know that there’s a light inside of you that longs to be shared with the world.  You have the power to change your life.  You have the power to make a change in the world.  You can do it and you will succeed.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post believe that it was no accident.  You were meant to see this because someone out there wants you to know that you matter and you can make a difference.  Believe this to be true.  Believe in you!

I am closing this post with an excerpt from Peter Dale Wimbrow  Sr.’s poem, “The Man in the Glass”:

     —it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

For some inspiration with music here’s some words of wisdom from the King of Pop:

Professor Pausch’s Words of Wisdom

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You may have heard of or even read Professor Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture. It is a long standing routine at Carnegie Mellon University that the professors there are asked to give a lecture with a hypothetical stance that this will be your last chance to impart words of wisdom and what would you say.  Well for Dr. Pausch his speech was not under hypothetical circumstances.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given a preset term to live by doctors.  Instead of wallowing in his diagnosed demise the professor embraced his life and spent his final months spreading his inspiration for life.

Professor Pausch talked about living life fully and overcoming obstacles by seeing them as lessons on how much we want something.  He discussed the important things in life and how material things don’t matter.  He also talked about having patience with people and waiting for them to show their good side because he believed everybody has one.  His inspiring words have touched many lives and the only lives he wished to touch are of his three young children he left behind with his wife.   Professor Randy Paucsh sadlly crossed over on July 25, 2008 but his words of wisdom lives on.

You can watch one of many clips on Professor Pausch’s Last Lecture below:

The Power of Kindness

I stumbled upon this engaging video on YouTube a few years ago and like Lennon, I imagine a world just like the one in this video where kindness matters and becomes a powerful fuel for all of us.   The video is titled, “Boomerang of Kindness” and it showcases a mix of people being kind to each other with a ‘pay it forward’ theme.  “Boomerang of Kindness” was directed by Orly Wahba who is also the founder and CEO of Lifevest, a nonprofit organization that promotes kindess throughout the world.

Lifevest  was created in 2011 and since then has amassed a following of millions of like-minded individuals who want to become part of the change towards kindness in this world. Lifevest has partnered with organizations such as Advance Humantiy, The Be Kind People Project, Kids Kicking Cancer, and The World Kindness Movement, among many other similiar organizations.  Lifevest’s main mission is to empower and unite the world with kindness by inspiring people to recognize their own potential to spread kindness.  If you want to learn how to become part of this kindness movement through volunteerism or donation to Lifevest’s mission you can find out more on Lifevest’s website.

Remember the wave of kindness starts where you are.  How can you be a part of the change and ignite the fires of kindness where you are right now?  It could be helping your elderly neighbor, calling a sick friend, visiting a relative, or simply offering a hand to a stranger in any small way.  It doesns’t really matter how you perform your act of kindness because every small act of kindness becomes a big step towards a better world.

I hope by watching the video below inspires you to be a part of the power of kindness:

Have These Women Found the Fountain of Youth?

The statement, “You are what you eat” rings true for Annette Larkins, Mimi Kirk, and Linda Wood-Hoyte.  The eating habits of these women, who are all in their 70s, consisted of a raw vegan lifestyle with regular juicing, exercise, and adequate alkaline water intake.  If eating fruit and veggies doesn’t appeal to you then you may change your mind after watching this:

Sailing a Dream on Determination

When a dream festers inside you to the point that you can’t be stopped until you reach that dream that is determination at its best. Along the journey you may face winds of criticism and roadblocks along the way. But if you are persistent enough you will not be stopped because the dream lives inside you and it strives to be free. You know that this dream must become a reality for you at all costs. ‘It must be done’, is what you believe. You eat, drink, and breathe this dream everyday of your life until you reach your dream. That is what Laura Dekker believed and her dream eventually became a reality.

Laura Dekker became the youngest girl to set sail around the world in 2010 when she was at the tender age of 14. The movie, Maiden Trip, found on Netflix, documents her solo journey around the world and demonstrates her perseverance to see her dream into reality. This brave girl weathered ridicule and even a legal blockade to prevent her from bringing her dream into fruition. But with the pursuit of unfeathering determination, this teenager accomplished what most thought impossible for a young teen girl. She proved them wrong!

While most typical teenage girls are strolling the mall looking for the lastest fashion, painting their fingernails, and what not, Laura Dekker was saving her seashells for her maiden vessel to ride the wild blue yonder. She worked odd jobs, studied her sea routes, and re-built her own sailboat all to set her dream into full sail.

The bravery and tenacity of this young girl should inspire even the most disheartened. Not only did she brave the storms of the critics who wanted to stop her but she also braved the storms of the great, wild sea around the world, and lived to tell about it. This proves that determination can get you far and for Laura Dekker it took her around the world.

Check out the trailer for Laura Dekker’s documentray of her solo sea journey below:
http://youtu.be/35DBUaxIKlQ

Revisions

Hello Butterflies!

I’ve taken a long hiatus here for I have been busy living life rather than writing about it.  I am now back at the keyboard and have revised this site to better reflect its message.  I hope all the butteflies here are doing well and I hope each of you find something here that inspires you.

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I’ve cateorized this site into four main sections: Be the Change Body, Be the Change Fitness, Be the Change Lifestyle, and Inspirational Musings.  I believe if we work on each of these areas in our life it will help us become better and brighter.  I hope your exploration on this site leads you to a new outlook on life, motivate you enough to continue improving yourself, and encourages you to pay the inspiration forward.  Be the Change Butterfly!

It’s Your Choice

The choices we take
Create the voices we make
The paths we walk
Becomes our talk
We choose what we want to be
In spite of life’s adversity
We design our own demise
In spite of our hopeless cries
We are always given the freedom to choose
It’s just like trying on brand new shoes
Be brave, be strong
It may feel wrong
But in the end it’s all up to you
Life’s a choice for you to pursue
The freedom of your will
Pushes you still
Let go of the edge
And dare to pledge
Make a choice
To claim your voice
In life what remains
The survival of your pains
You matter, you have a right
Choose to stand, choose to fight
You can, you will
The choice is your thrill
It’s a chance you have to take
It’s your choice for you to make
Choose best in what you do
‘Cause in the end it’s all up to you

Have You Grounded Today?

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All things are energy and we humans are no exception.  It is well known that the human body is a conduit of energy, which means our body can absorb energy and transfer energy. Think of that time when you rub your feet across a carpeted floor and you touch someone and both of you get that static electric shock.  That is your body being a conduit of energy for static electricity from the carpet and transferring it to your friend.

Aside from taking in energy from the static electrons that exist in the carpet we can also get energy from the earth in the form of negative charged free electrons.  The process in which we acquire earth’s energy is called grounding or earthing.

The act of grounding simply involves walking barefoot on the earth for atleast 15 minutes or more to achieve full benefits.  Our ancient ancestors embraced the medicine of mud by digging in the dirt and being one with the earth all the time.  However, modern man has lost his way to connecting with Mother Earth by staying indoors more often and continually exposing himself to harmful positively charged electromagnetic frequencies (ie, computers, televisions, radios, cell phones, microwaves, etc).  Overtime, these electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) can cause imbalances in the body which lead to diseases, chronic illnesses, and all sorts of ailments. Fortunately, an inexpensive way exists to help reset the body’s imbalances by grounding the body to the earth.

Clint Ober was one of the pioneers who discovered the phenomena of grounding and backed it up with scientific proof that it works.  Clint’s discovery on grounding and its many benefits to the human body can be read in full detail in his book, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? Clint co-authored this Earthing book with Dr. Stephen Sinatra and health and wellness writer Martin Zucker.  There is also a full documentary on grounding that demonstrates the benefits of this health phenomena first hand.

The research on grounding is growing and it has proven that grounding reduces inflammation throughout the body, lowers blood pressure, resets the biological circadian rhythm to reduce insomnia, balances out the cortisol levels (aka stress hormones) in the body, helps regulate blood sugar levels, reduces muscle fatigue for overworked muscles, reduces pain, and generally has an overall positive effect on the physiological processes of the human body.

How can something so simple and cheap fix so many ailments?  According to Clint and his gang, the earth has a natural energy field comprising of negatively charged free electrons and when an overexposed positively charged body makes contact with the earth the negatively charged free electrons from the earth cancels out the positive charged effects (EMFs) and helps the body restore its natural balanced rhythms.

The skeptics may question this logic and that is their right.  But grounding is cheap and easy to do.  Just step outside barefoot and embrace your inner caveman.  If you don’t feel any benefits after a week or so then maybe grounding is not for you.

If walking barefoot on the ground doesn’t appeal to you but you still want to try the practice of grounding then you can look into products made for modern man to get grounded.

I personally only tried grounding once when I was sick with a cold recently.  I had head congestion, post nasal drip, and a chronic cough at the time of my 45 minute ground session which involved me laying on the ground with my hands and feet face down on earth.  I will say that after 45  minutes my head was no longer congested and my cough seemed to subside for a few hours.  I’m not entirely sure if the grounding worked for me or if it was an optimistic placebo effect.  The day I grounded it was an unusually warm day in my local area.  I am now waiting for the warmer days to come so I can walk barefoot outside on a regular basis.  I’m hoping grounding helps with my insomnia.  I’ll keep you posted if grounding works for me.  If anyone reading this has any experience with grounding please share what you have learned.

Of course, anything involving your health should be done with consultation from your doctor before exercising any alternative means to get healthy.  This article on grounding is only meant to educate on the practice of grounding.

Less is More

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There seems to be a growing trend in lifestyles for people that live on the mantra that ‘less is more’ or as one might call a minimalist lifestyle.  I’ve been reading up on Tiny Houses and learning how these people got out of living the “Big American Dream” of owning everything and downsizing to just the basic essentials to live a happier life.  I remember my past post on cleaning out the closet and after learning more about minimalism I’ve realized there’s more than my closet I need to clean out to reach happiness.

Most Americans are taught at an early age to study, work hard, get a good education, get a good paying job, get married, buy your dream house, and start a family (not particularly all in that order) to obtain happiness.  In addition, the status of success is symoblized by a big roomy house equipped with all the latest gadgets and accessories to make life “easier”.  The house should also have a garage that has the latest fancy name brand vehicles in it.  Having all of this stuff is the sign of success according to the ideal American Dream, or is it?

If you search the internet for the Tiny House Movement or look up minimalism you will discover that some people have went the opposite of the typical American ideal and have found happiness, debt free and less items.  These people have purged their lives of all material things that have been defined as excessive and just not necesary.  Those extra shoes are paired down to just two or three pairs.  Those books are converted to e-readers to save space because these minimalists have even downsized their living quarters to just a little less than 100 square feet.  No, that is not a typo, some of these tiny house pioneers dwell in a living space a shy less of one hundred square footage.  That is about the size of my  downstairs bathroom!  It may seem startling to find that anyone can be happy existing in such a small space but people are doing it and even families with children are doing it and they all appear to be happy with their little nook they call home.

The benefits these minimalists boast when discussing their lifestyle includes a mortgage free life, more time for each other, and a better perspective on what really matters in life.  One tiny house pioneer boasted a utiity bill of just $8 a month while another said she enjoyed owning a home debt free since she did not have to worry about paying a mortgage for the next 30 years like most homeowners.  One family discussed how having less electronics forced them to spend more time together and are much happier without being bogged down by the electronics.  Another tiny home dweller discussed how having a lot of stuff gets in the way of what life is really about and if they do buy an item then they stick to the rule that another item must be thrown out or given away.  Dee Williams, one of the first tiny house pioneers says she doesn’t miss owning a 2000 square foot home and is more content with her much smaller house of 89 square feet.  Dee also adds that “having no mortgage or utility bills is like finding freedom” and “there are things you hold inside of you…that have a lot more meaning than a photo or something in writing”.

After researching the tiny house movement I looked at ways I can minimize my life.  While I can’t sell my spouse on the idea of shifting our lifestyle to a tiny house  I can still downsize my life in some way.  This means going through my shoe supply (yes, it’s that many) to the most worn pairs.  I can also go through my wardrobe to see what I haven’t worn in over a year and give to good will.  I can also refrain from getting the latest “must have gadget” and just be happy with what I already have, which can help minimize my credit debt.  I can also go through each room in my house to evaluate what I really absolutely need.  Afterall, would it really kill the room if I had one less vase in it or do I really need all of those books?

The minimalist movement is a growing trend which is being made possible by the tiny house movement.  These minimalists are realizing that the American dream doesn’t have to have the big roomy house,  the shiny fancy cars, or a closet full of designer clothes.   The American dream can be all about having just what you need and living within your means to appreciate what you already have. In the end, less is more.

The ABCs of Change

abc letters

Here are the ABCs of Change to inspire you, move you, and shake you to embrace all the wonderful elements of Change:

A is for acceptance as in accept who you really are and accept all change (positive and negative) that comes your way.

B stands for bravery, which is that thing you need to face the changes as they occur.

C is for Change, of course!  It is also for chase as in chase those dreams and all those desires to make those positive changes in your life happen.

D designates determination and that is a necessity when enthralled in change.  Always be determined to work through change.

E equals everyone and everything because it all changes.  That is the beauty of life.

F is for freedom and we all have the freedom to change our life for the better no mater what.

G stands for gift because that is what change is.  Even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it at the moment; change really is a gift.

H is for happiness and at the end of the day the universe just wants to make you happy and that is why change happens.

I equals imagine what your life would be like if you changed the way you lived or looked at life differently.

J jumps for joy and that is what will happen when we embrace change.  J also stands for juggle since that is what we sometimes do when in the amidst of change.

K is for kindness and that will happen to us when we change the way we look at things and the way we react to things.

L lines up for laughter and sometimes that is all you could do when change happens suddenly.  Just laugh about it.  L is also for lessons and in every change is a lesson to be learned.

M makes memories.  Sometimes good and sometimes bad but they all involve change on some level.

N is for need as in what do you need to change in your life to make it exactly how you want to live?

O is for opportunity and that is what’s given to us every time things in our life changes.

P stands for passion, the very thing you need to change something in your life.  You need to be passionate about the changes you are making in your life in order for success to happen.

Q is for quest and that is what change is all about.  Your quest in life relies on change in order for you to fulfill your life’s quest.

R represents repair and sometimes when change happens we need to repair ourselves from that change.

S stands for stronger because change does make us stronger as we go through it.

T is for trials.  Throughout our life we will have various trials of change that occur.  T also stands for tenacity because that is what we need to endure the trials of change.

U is for understand as in sometimes the process of change does not rely on understanding until after all is said and done.

V equals valuable because sometimes our values in life changes and sometimes changes in our life changes our values.  Do you see how change is valuable?

W stands for will as in you must be willing to change how you see things and how you react in order for life to change for the better.

X is for xerox because life will continually xerox changes for us over and over again in order for us to progress through our journey called life.

Z gives us zen and in the silences of our mind are the answers we may find on how to embrace all that change has to offer.

That is the ABCs of Change and when life gets rearranged and you feel all is strange I hope you will see that dealing with change is easy as A-B-C.

Today

Today is where it all starts, so don’t delay

It moves fast, don’t let it slip away

Today is like no other, you won’t get it back

What you do today yields what you attract

Today is worth beyond a measure

It is surely something to treasure

Today comes and goes no matter what we do

It is an opportunity given to you

Today is a blessing for all to use

Never forget it and never abuse

Today is granted freely in kind

It is a spring for you to unwind

Today is something for you to hold

Shape it, shift it, make it your mold

Today it begins and is where it all starts

Make sure to create it from the bottom of your heart

Keeping Up With Your Temple

Your Body Temple

Lately I’ve been doing research on Tiny Houses and Treehouses.  I’ve also been looking into ways to eating healthier while staying in my budget.  All this research on houses and health made me think about that old Yogi saying, “Your body is your temple” and how you treat your temple (body) is how well you will live.

Like any home, we need to keep our temple clean and organized.  Our temple can be cleaned out via healthy eating practices (ie, fruits, vegetables, whole foods) and organized on a regular basis (ie, physical exercise, mediation, self-reflection, positive attitude, adequate sleep).

Cleaning our temple through food is a good start for healthy maintenance.  There’s many food choices at our disposal these days and it’s up to us to decide on what we put into our body.  Afterall, we are what we eat.  We can’t expect to have a clean bill of health living off the dollar menu at the local fast food chain and snacking on processed crunchies at 10 o’clock at night.  There are many diets out there that boast a promise of a slimmer waistline, a decrease of bad cholesterol, and healthier insulin levels.  However, the bottom line is that the best diet is to not diet at all but to maintain a healthy way of eating, which includes a wide mix of fruits, vegetables, chemical free meats, and whole foods (unprocessed).

Our temple also needs regular oganization to maintain good energy flow.   Throughout our temple we can maintain that energy flow by meditating and self-reflecting.  Meditation is an ancient practice that dates as far back as 5 thousand years ago in the far east.  The basic beginner meditation practice involves focusing on the breath and being very aware of each inhalation and each exhalation.  There’s many meditation techniques that can be practiced to help calm the mind and bring that inner peace to the temple.  Such practices include the use of soothing music, repeating a mantra or a chant over and over, focusing on a lit candle or other visual aide, or using a singing bowl to mark the beginning of quiet time.  Whatever meditative practice is used it is a purely personal choice because everyone responds differently to each meditation method.

Keeping a diary or just pondering on one’s actions are part of a self-reflecting practice that also helps maintain the mental space of the temple.  Cluttering up the mind with negative chatter, worry, regrets, and things beyond one’s control can weigh a person down to the point of stagnation.  Humans by nature need to express their thoughts and feelings and sometimes those thoughts and feelings are private.  That’s why keeping a diary or just simply thinking and accepting our mental images as they pass can help clean out that mental gunk that halts our energy flow.  It’s okay to ponder on a bad choice but don’t get stuck on it like a broken record.  Instead, observe the thought, realize the lesson that needed to be learned, and move on.

Physical activity is another way to maintain the upkeep within the temple.  Studies show that physical acitivity keeps a person happy.  Regular exercise boosts those happy hormones called serontonin, increases the vitality of a being, and maintains good balance in the overall health system.  In addition, physical activity helps to maintain good sleeping patterns (hello insomniacs!).  Exercise doesn’t have to be this grueling boot camp style work out.  Exercise should be something fun while raising the heart beat a little and should be something to look forward to on a regular basis.  A walk in the park with a friend, a hike in the woods, playfully wresling with the kids, or cleaning the house (ie, vacuuming, rearranging furniture) can all be ways to stay active and maintain that energy flow within the temple.

Your body is your temple and how you treat it is how well you will live.  Eating right, maintaining clarity of the mind through meditation and self-reflection, exercising,  and sleeping on a regular schedule are all ways to maintain the up keep of your temple.  If you keep rotten supplies in your house your house will surely rot.  May you never rot.

Sailing the Sea of Change

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The sailboat clips the waters at an even pace in spite of the choppiness of the rocking waves. The sailor adjusts his sails accordingly to give way for the winds that clamor against the boat. The sailor then brims a smile in the salty air knowing that it is the man who adjusts to life’s changing winds that best survives the coming storm.

When life gives you tornadoes you too can survive like the sailor and adjust your sails. It is when we adjust to change, rather than fight against it, that we prevail.

Remember when something you planned didn’t go accordingly but in the end it all turned out alright, maybe even for the better. It could’ve been a car breaking down but then finding out later there was a bad accident on the road you would’ve been on had the car not broken down. Perhaps it was a change in a hotel reservation that resulted in a free upgrade. Maybe it was a job loss and you eventually found a better, higher paying job. Whatever it was or is, life gets better in the end; so why fight it?

It’s human nature to want to control everything (myself included) and when life doesn’t go our way we tend to get mad, fight it, look for alternatives to go around it. Instead we should relax, breathe, and remember; this will soon pass. Because the reality of it all is that a year from now, a month from now, even a week from now it all won’t matter. Life will be moved onto something else.

Easier said than done, right? Perhaps reminding yourself that getting mad is not going to fix the car. Yelling out loud is not going to change whatever happened. Sometimes going against whatever change occurred makes things worse.

One time I came upon a traffic jam and took the next exit to avoid the roadblock on the highway. I ended up getting lost and I was even later for my appointment. If I had just trudged through the traffic jam on the highway I probably would’ve been only a few minutes late, instead of 45 minutes late.

Staying calm is the hard part when things go unexpected. Perhaps if we don’t set any expectations or expect things to change at a moments notice we can manage the change better and not get so upset. Don’t expect perfection either because truthfully, life isn’t perfect. Stuff happens and sudden changes makes life interesting. Expect chaos and when it happens it will be easier to deal with.

Breathing helps too. Focus on your breath, in and out, slowly to help yourself relax. This is a skill that needs much practice to master. The best time to practice is when you are happy about something. So when things do go a wry you are more capable of focusing on the breath, which will eventually calm you down. It’s a mind over matter trick that works.

Sometimes whaling out a hearty laugh over the sudden change helps. Laughter floods the brain with serotonin (the happy hormone) that makes us relax and feel better. If life throws you curve balls catch the fast pitches with laughter. It’s better to laugh than cry.

Accepting change is hard but if we fight it we make that change ten times worse. So adjust your sails when the winds pick up into a chaotic storm in life and you will find that sailing the sea of change is a breeze.

Getting Warmed Up

fireplaceMug

Hello Butterflies!

It’s been a long and cold week for most of Northern America.  This past week was frought with squalls of snow drifts, freezing winds, and ice breaking temperatures cold enough to keep you hibernated until the defrost of Spring shows it’s flowery petals.  All this chilly weather makes me want to warm up with a thick fleece blanket while sipping slowly on a mug of hot apple cider dusted with cinnamon.  This warm libation got me to wondering what else can I warm up to do, especially when stuck indoors while the great freeze is happening outside.  Perhaps a to do list can help me raise the temperature.

As some of you may know, I decided to go unplugged at the beginning of the New Year and vowed to do this for the entire year of 2014. So anything electronic related can not be on my warm up list here.  So what is there to do when I’d like to stay busy while stuck indoors?

Well organizing my house can certainly be put on the list and trust me there’s always something to be organized and reorganized in my house.  Just the other day I was organizing my meditation room.  Yes (embarrassed grin), even that room got cluttered.  I know, I know, a bit  counter productive.  So clearing out that space made my mind do a big Ahhhhhhh…     Even my plants I have in there are thanking me now.

Along the lines of reorganizing goes rearranging.   Sometimes in life I just got to rearrange things, like my furniture for starters.  Moving the couch, the bed, the dressers, and the TV stand around can warm me up in no time.  Plus it’s like getting a new place when things are shuffled in different positions.

I can also cook up some new concoction in the kitchen and that will surely heat things up, especially if I add some spicyness to my dish du jour.  I like to experiment with various ethnic foods, such as Coconut Curry Chicken, Mexican Jambalaya, and of course the American favorite; Chili.  I also like to make big pots of soup simmering so slowly on a Sunday afternoon.  Think Chicken Noodle soup, Roasted Beef Stew, or a bowl of Baked Potato with Bacon.  Mmmm…..

Another way I can warm up is to exercise!  Yah, that’s right, I said the E word.  Lately I’ve been getting warm on my Gazelle.  Sometimes I mix it up by popping in my salsa dance dvd or get flushed with the Total gym unit.  I also melt things off with some pilates or some yoga.  Can you tell I get bored easily with exercises?  I guess it doesn’t matter just as long as I keep moving to stay warm and getting fit is a bonus.

Cuddling with my cats is another way I can keep heated.   My 20 pound fat cat, especially, is a great foot warmer.  He doesn’t seem to mind when I sneak my feet under him to warm up my toes.  However, sometimes he thinks I’m playing the mouse under the blanket game and then my foot warmer turns into the foot shredder.  Ouch!  Not cozy at all!

The last thing on my warm up list is snuggling with my husband.  I’ll let you use your imagination how we warm up together.

Keeping it heated inside when it’s less than zero outside can get you thinking of different ways to use your time, especiallly if you’re like me and decided to go unplugged.  So far I’ve been decluttering my space with some organization, sprucing up my place with some furniture shifting, cooking things up in the kitchen, getting fit, and making time for my family.  I’m sure there’s plenty of other things I can do to get warmed up.  If you’re stuck indoors like me and trying to keep warm I hope this gave you some ideas to get toasty.  If you’re lucky enough to be using your air conditioner I hope you are getting outside and enjoying the warmth of the sun.