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Category Archives: Mindfulness + Stress Relief

Mastering the Art of Doing Nothing

For the last few weeks or months, I’ve been in a state of writer’s block.

If you’ve been following me regularly for a while now, then you may have sensed this on some level already because it’s pretty unordinary for me to not be coming out with a new blog every week.

Yes, I’ve had the podcast but, admittedly, it’s become a way to help cover up the writer’s block so I could still be bringing you weekly content.

So what’s the cause to the writer’s block, you ask?

It’s no one thing in particular, but many things.

I’ve been…

… reflecting on where I’m at and where I want to be.

… letting go of ways of being in the world that are no longer serving me nor anyone. 

… releasing old beliefs and ways of perceiving the world and my place in it. 

… processing old feelings of loss and grief that still hadn’t been fully processed.

Upon reflection, I can see how I had been focusing so much on doing that I was hardly allowing myself to simply be — and it caught up with me.

A few days ago it hit pretty hard when I found myself extremely stressed thinking about my future — where I want to go, what I want to do and how.

Being a student of A Course in Miracles, I knew intellectually that by simply trusting and allowing things to flow I will be guided exactly to where I’m meant to.  But telling myself to trust and shove those feelings of worry away simply didn’t work — and it never does.  Instead, it made me more agitated.

So I gave myself time to feel it. I literally spent the entire day stewing in my own feelings of worry, sadness, frustration, and so on.

… and, apparently, that’s all I needed to do, because the next day I found myself calmer and more peaceful.  Not relieved because I had found any answers, but simply feeling okay with where things are right now. 

It was a matter of really feeling those feelings so that I could get to a place of being okay with just being, rather than to feel guilty for not doing work to move forward.

Yesterday I went to a local farmer’s market and then a grocery store.  In my process of shopping I felt drawn to get myself some prosciutto, marinated mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.  A friend of mine had shared this amazing combination of foods with me a few weeks ago when she came back from her trip in Italy.

As I placed them all on my plate and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar for my afternoon snack, the words “Dolce far Niente” came to my mind.

If you’ve ever seen the movie or read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert then you’ve heard this saying before.  In Italian it means: the sweetness of doing nothing.

The Italians in Eat, Pray, Love explained to Liz that Americans need to be told to take a break and relax, but Italians don’t need to be told.  If someone were to tell them to take a break, they would say, “Yes I know I deserve a break.  I know that I need to take some time to simply just be and enjoy life for what it is.”

Because, really, what is it that we’re really after?  A great job?  An amazing relationship?  A great income? 

On the surface it may appear that way, but if we never allow ourselves to simply be and enjoy life’s little moments, then we’re forever going to be unsatisfied.  We’re always going to be in the race of chasing unattained wishes and dreams.  And, as a result, we’re never actually going to be able to enjoy anything — we would’ve lived a life of stress, rather than joy.

EnjoyLifeLittleMoments

Click to Tweet: If we never allow ourselves to simply be and enjoy life’s little moments, then we’re forever going to be unsatisfied. @jenilyn8705

It’s okay to do nothing.

It’s okay to reflect.

It’s okay to enjoy life even if everything isn’t “perfect”.

It’s okay to celebrate even if there is no big event to celebrate.

And it most certainly is okay to spend an entire day feeling anxious, depressed, sad, angry, or whatever.

So wherever you are in your life — whether you’re sad, frustrated, worried, or stressed.  Even if you’ve recently gone through a breakup.  Even if you’re not sure how you’re going to pay next month’s rent.  Even if you think you’re job sucks.  Even if you’re stuck in writer’s block.  It’s time to stop, slow down, and simply enjoy life.

‘Cause life’s not meant to be lived stressed and chasing unattained dreams — it’s meant to be enjoyed… one present moment at a time.

It’s Not Up to You to “Figure it All Out”

It always seems that when a chapter of my life is soon coming to a close that it’s easy and natural for me to get caught up in the whole thinking of: What am I going to do next in my life?

It happened when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree.  It happened when I chose to not renew my teaching contract while I was living in Korea.  And it has started happening again recently upon knowing that, in less than a year, I’ll have my Master’s degree.

The thought patterns have often gone something like this:

Where I am going to live?

If I want to move, where should I potentially move to?

What kind of work could I find there?

Should I do X or Y kind of work?

If I do X kind of work, will the salary be enough to pay bills?

What if I need a new car?

Etc. etc. etc.

The questions could go on and on forever.

While finishing a chapter in our lives can be very exciting — the end of a degree program, a job, or a relationship — it can also bring up a lot of stuff.

When a chapter of our lives ends, we then find ourselves at a crossroad.  So I turn right or left?  So I take A or B?  Or, should I not choose any of those and turn around and go right back where I was?

We now find ourselves in un-charted territory.  It’s new.  It’s unfamiliar.  We haven’t been through it before nor do we know where this new journey might take us.

And, due to the unfamiliarly, it can be pretty darn anxiety-provoking.  We fear that something will go wrong and we won’t be able to make ends meet.  We worry that we may take the job and then absolutely hate it — or the career path entirely flops for us.

As a result of this fear that, somehow, everything is going to go completely wrong, we decide that, maybe, we can just plan everything.

So we create to-do lists.  We set goals.  We create our vision boards for a dreams for the future and we make our 10-year plan.

But you know what happens then?  And I can vouch that this has happened to me every single time that I have tried to set any kind of long-term goal.

Life happens.  And the goals completely change.

Why?  Because it’s not up to me. It’s up to a power so much greater than me.

When we’re caught up in fear and worry, we start to over-analyze everything, and we try to plan and control everything in our lives, then that’s the voice of our ego, our monkey mind, our fear-based mind.

Our ego mind is limited.  It makes us see the world and the universe with lack and it believes that we are not supported.  And it drains our energy, our life-force, our power.  According to A Course in Miracles, the presence of fear is a sign that you are relying in your own strength.

So when we are in fear, worry, and stress because we’re pushing ourselves to figure out what we need to do next in our lives, all it does it create more stress, more worry, and more fear.

In the grand scheme of things, it makes us unhappy.  It keeps us in a place of suffering because it keeps us completely disconnected from our inner guidance and our true selves.  It makes us believe that we are not supported and that we only have ourselves to rely on to “figure it all out”.

But you know what?  You don’t have to figure it all out.  In fact, you’re one and only job is to let it all go.  Release the fear.  Release the worry.  Release the anxiety.  Then give those fears to a power greater than you — in whatever way you like to call it, whether that be Source, the Universe, the Divine, God or whatever.  Give it to a power greater than you and trust and know that you are supported.

FearGiveSupported

Click to Tweet: When you are fearful, give it to a power greater than you and trust and know that you are supported. @jenilyn8705 

Then once you do that, be still.  Quiet the mind.  Breathe.  Meditate.  Allow the beauty of the present moment to wash over you. Feel your body sitting.  Feel the air around you.  Hear the sounds around you in this moment.

Notice your inner mind chatter.  Observe it, but don’t attach to it.  Recognize it as fear and only fear, as the thoughts are not of your higher self, but wounded parts of yourself.  Love them and let them pass.

Continue to breathe.

And then slowly and gradually, the mind chatter will subside.  It may not completely go away, but it will become quieter.  In the stillness of the moment, trust that guidance for your next right action is coming.  It may come in the form of a thought, a feeling, a sensation, or maybe even through something in your external world, like through a friend, family member, co-worker, e-mail, magazine or whatever.

Regardless, be open and receptive.  Exhale and remember: It’s not up to you to figure it all out.

7 Ways to Harness Your Energy So You Can Truly Shine

Deep down in our core we know we are meant to shine. We know that we are meant to live lives of joy, happiness, and love. However, the problem is that there are many aspects of our lives that don’t support us in that.

We get caught up in the negativity, stress and pessimism of the world, which stresses us out and holds us back from being who we are truly meant to be.

But we don’t have to be stuck in this. We all have the power to transform our lives so we can truly be who we are and experience our true power in the world. Here are 7 ways to harness your energy so you can truly shine:

#1 – Free yourself of negativity

Are you around people who are often negative? Do you tend to often be negative about things?

Being negative lowers our energy. It is an aspect of our ego mind and, therefore, disconnects us from our true selves. So become aware of when negativity comes up in your life and when you notice it, stop and change the subject or exhale to bring yourself into the present moment.

#2 – Process fear by writing it out

When we’re experiencing thoughts of “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not worthy” or “I don’t deserve this” it is our ego mind talking to prevent us from truly steeping into our true power. While we may want to immediately dismiss these thoughts and try to push them away, that can create more stress and strain within us.

So we need to be sure to process these thoughts by externalizing them somehow. A great way to do this is through journaling. By writing these thoughts and feelings on to paper, they become weaker. As a result, we are better able to then tune into our true inner voice.

So when you notice fear-based thoughts coming up, get out a journal and start free writing the thoughts. Don’t stop to think about the thoughts and feelings but just write it out. Do that until you feel complete. Afterwards you should feel calmer and more relaxed.

#3 – Feel happiness, joy, and love right now

Our ego mind tends to think that “If we get X, Y, Z, then I will be happy at some time in the future”. This is nothing but a distortion of the reality. The only place that we can experience feelings of happiness and joy is through the present moment.

So the key in finding happiness is by doing things right now to support you in feeling the way you want to feel. Do activities in your life to support those feelings of happiness. Does playing music bring you joy? Then play music. Does dancing bring you joy? Then dance.

#4 – Be appreciative for what you have

By being grateful, it takes us out of the negative thinking of our ego, and into a mindset of our true selves. It also brings us back into the present moment. So find things that you are grateful for in your day to day life — even in the aspects of your life you may not be so pleased about right now.

#5 – Steer clear of gossip

Gossip often tends to have a judgmental and critical energy behind it. It tends to focus on how someone is “bad” or “wrong” and how another person is “good”. This is merely a distortion from our ego and it drains us of our true power.

#6 – Live with the intention to serve others

At the core of our true selves, we know that we are meant to serve others because at our core we know that we are all intricately connected. When one person suffers, we all suffer. Our ego is what makes us think that it’s all about “me”.

ServeOthers

Click to Tweet: At our core, we know that we are meant to serve others because at our core we know that we are all intricately connected. @jenilyn8705

#7 – Create a morning routine

How we start our mornings sets the foundation for the rest of the day. So if we start our morning with chaos, then our day is going to be chaos.

So start your mornings with activities that bring you feelings of peace, joy and happiness. Maybe that is journaling with a cup of warm honey and lemon water. Maybe that involves taking a morning walk with your dog. Or maybe that involves reading an inspirational book.

Are you ready to truly shine? Check out my 5-week course, Your Power: How to Harness Your Energy So You Can Truly Shine.

I have a new free ebook called, 3 Self-Care Tools to Make You Truly Shine, grab your copy as my gift to you! 

This Super Simple Tool Will Help You Calm Down and Get Balanced — Instantly!

You wake up in the morning to realize your alarm didn’t go off.  Rushing to get ready in the morning, you run up to your car only to dump your coffee on the ground. To make matters worse, you then find yourself stuck in traffic longer than usual due to an accident. 

When our lives are this chaotic and busy, it’s easily to get super stressed out and feel completely out of balance.

But I have great news…

Despite these outer circumstances, you don’t have to feel this way!

It is possible to live a joyful, fulfilling, miraculous life where you can feel calm, balanced, and peaceful.

And the secret doesn’t come in the form of some magic pill.  Despite how much the pharmaceutical companies and medical industry may want us to believe, it certainly doesn’t come from taking Xanax, Prozac, or Klonopin. 

In fact, it’s much easier, sustainable, and a heck of a lot more cost effective than taking a pill.

Want to know this super simple tool?

Breathing — yep, you read that right!  It’s breathing.

How the heck is that going to do anything? I can hear you say.

Well, allow me to explain.

Often when we get stressed and overwhelmed we tend to either breath improperly, hold our breath, or stop breathing entirely.  We start taking shallow breaths through our upper chest rather than through our diaphragm. 

This is a normal and natural response to stress.  When something stressful happens, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated.  Our heart rate than goes up, our muscles become tense, we breath improperly, and so on.  When we have this reaction, it is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response — so we’ve recognized we may be in danger, so we become activated to decide whether we should fight or flight.

Our fight or flight response is not a bad thing.  In fact, we need it for our survival in case we get into dangerous situations.  We needed it back in the day when we lived in the wild and needed to be concerned about getting attacked by bears, wolves, or whatever.

However, the problem in today’s modern world is that our fight or flight response becomes activated in situations where everything is, in fact, okay.  It may get activated due to simply being impatient with morning traffic.  It may get activated due to overly thinking about about financial issues.  It becomes an issue when we don’t just choose to either fight or flight and then let it go, but, rather, hold on to it.

When our sympathetic nervous system gets activated due to some trigger and we don’t just feel the experience and let it go, that’s when we can feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and drained.  When we’ve spent out entire day ready to either fight or flight, it takes a lot of energy and can get pretty darn exhausting.

This is why breathing is so incredibly important.  Through the power of our breath, we can easily get ourselves out of a fight or flight mode and back into a normal level of function where we can feel calm and relaxed, think clearly, and, ultimately, experience happiness.  This is why I teach some kind of breath work or meditation to all of my coaching clients — because it is pivotal to creating a solid foundation so we can create lives filled with happiness, joy, and love.

So how exactly can we use breath to calm ourselves down and get balanced?  Here’s a super easy breathing technique to use:

Sit up with your back straight and place your hand on your abdomen.  When you breath in through your nose, make sure that your abdomen is expanding outward.  When you exhale, your abdomen should contract towards your spine.

Now, breathe in for three counts, and then exhale for six counts.  Do this cycle of breath a few times.

If you want to go deeper into this, breathe in for four counts and then exhale for eight counts.  Do this cycle of breath anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes.

This is a great breathing exercise to do because it helps calm down our variable heart rate, which will lead us to feeling much more calm, relaxed, and balanced in our mind and body.

In some cases, particularly individuals who have experienced past trauma, doing any kind of breath work can be triggering.  Old emotions of sadness, anger, and fear may come up.  If this happens, it’s important to reach out to a local psychotherapist to get support and care in processing these emotions.

Otherwise, practice this breathing exercise at least once a day for 30 days.  This super simple tool can easily help you create a solid foundation in creating a life of peace, balance, happiness, and joy.

This breathing exercise is one of the meditations I give in my meditation album Ignite Love from Within.  To learn more about my meditation album, click here.  To grab a copy of my free meditation from the album called Healing Blocks to Love, click here.

Remember this: By connecting with our breath, we are able to find peace.

BreathPeace

Click to Tweet: By connecting with our breath, we are able to find peace. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

Do the breathing exercise that I shared in this article and, in the comments below, share with me what the experience was like for you.

5 Easy Morning Rituals That Will Reduce Stress and Overwhelm

In a world of 40-hour work weeks and traffic jams, mornings can be pretty hectic.  We may find ourselves rushing every morning to get to work or get kids to school.  We may even find ourselves doing our makeup in the car during rush hour because we’re just that rushed.

When we start our days with such a hectic and rushed routine, we’re making ourselves start our days stressed out and overwhelmed.  And, frankly, who really wants that?  So here are 5 easy morning rituals that will reduce stress and overwhelm:

#1 – Wake up at least 30-minutes earlier than you usually do

If you normally wake up about an hour before you need to be out the door, then maybe add on an extra half and hour.  If you normally wake up less than that, then you may want to try to add on more than a half hour.

Our weekdays can be pretty stressful as it is, so we certainly don’t want to make it more stressful for ourselves by rushing every single morning.  So try to give yourself some extra time in the morning so that you have more time to get ready and do more things for you and your own health and well-being.

And if you’re concerned about getting enough sleep, then be sure give yourself more time to at night to wind down and go to bed… it is possible!

#2 – Swap the coffee for a green smoothie

Many of us depend on coffee for our morning energy fix.  Though there can be a nice ritual around the process of brewing coffee, such as the smell of coffee beans or the flavor, coffee alone doesn’t give us the vitamins and minerals that our body really needs (and no, a morning bagel or donut doesn’t make it much better).  Eating leafy greens, fruits and veggies first thing in the morning is a much healthier option.

So grab your blender and make yourself a green smoothie.  If you’re in need of recipes, I’m currently obsessed with Kris Carr’s new book Crazy Sexy Juice for all my smoothie and juice recipes.  If you don’t want to get the book just yet, she also has a few recipes on her website.

#3 – Take a moment to really breathe some fresh air

There’s something magical about the crisp morning air that, once you stop and take a moment to appreciate it, can be extremely calming and grounding.  So before you rush out the door, take some time to open a window or step outside on to your porch and deck.  Take a few conscious breaths and allow yourself to take in and enjoy the beauty of the morning.

#4 – Write!

Our dream life is a world within us that we tend to neglect.  While we may remember a dream that was very charged for us for days later, most of the time we completely forget them.  This is unfortunate because our dreams are a bridge to our unconscious world.  When we take time to acknowledge our dreams, we allow ourselves to become more consciously aware of our thoughts, feelings and experiences that may have either repressed, forgotten about, or was never really aware of.

So upon waking, take a couple minutes to write down something that came up in your dreams.  It may be a lot of material or it may be only an image or two.  Even if you can’t write down anything about a dream, take a few minutes to free write about any thoughts that you have lingering in your mind upon waking.

Taking this time to write first thing in the morning, helps us to process our inner world.  By putting those thoughts, feelings and images out on to the paper we are making the internal experience less charged for ourselves.  Making this kind of activity a morning ritual, can be beneficial in reducing things like anxiety, depression, stress and so on in our waking lives over time.

#5 – Move your body

While those of us that are early-birds may morning jog to start our day, it doesn’t always work for everybody.  However, it is still highly beneficial to do some kind of movement first thing in the morning.

So take a few minutes to stretch and walk around.  If you’re a yogi, maybe you can do a few sun salutations.   If not, maybe you’d want to walk around your house or apartment before going to work.  Do whatever you feel called to do, but be sure to give yourself time move.

When it comes to your morning routine remember this: How we start our mornings sets the foundation for the rest of our day.  So if we start our mornings stressed and rushed, then we’re likely going to be stressed the rest of the day.  Remember to slow down, take a few breaths, and do things for you so that you can feel happier and healthier.

MorningRitualFoundation

Click to Tweet: How we start our mornings sets the foundation for the rest of our day. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

Out of the rituals listed, which are you going to start doing for yourself this week?  Share it in the comments below!

10 Self-Care Methods for Highly Sensitive People

Do you tend to feel overwhelmed by other people’s energy?  Do large crowds feel like too much to you?  Then you may be a highly sensitive person.

As a highly sensitive person, it’s incredibly important to learn how to set boundaries, protect your energy, and become a master of your own self-care.  Here are 10 self-care methods for highly sensitive people:

#1 – Set boundaries

In a relationship where the give-and-take never seems to be equal?  Are you around someone who consistently seems to try to get you wrapped up in their drama?  Is there someone in your life that makes critical remarks towards you?  Then set a boundary.

The boundary may be set by making a verbal statement or it may be by limiting or distancing yourself from the person.  Regardless of how you do it exactly, remember that its an important component in protecting your own energy.

#2 – Meditate daily

Meditation is an excellent tool to help increase emotional stability, happiness, and mental clarity.  You can meditate to a mantra, do visualizations or even a movement meditation.  Grab a free copy of my guided visualization meditation Healing Blocks to Love to learn more about my album Ignite Love from Within, which includes all these forms of meditations.

#3 – Do yoga

Do yoga at least twice a week in whatever form you prefer.  That could be hatha, vinyasa, kundalini, restoratives, yin, or whatever.  Regardless of the type of yoga, it is all going to help you release the energy or emotions that you’re holding onto in your muscles.

#4 – Spend time in nature

In our modern world of technology and sitting in an office most of the day, it’s not surprising to see why many of us can feel stressed, overwhelmed, or just down in the dumps — it’s not our natural way of living.

So get outside.  Go for a walk.  Walk in the grass barefoot.  Get some sunlight.  Smell the flowers.

#5 – Take a salt bath

Soaking in a bath of epsom salts for about 10 to 20 minutes will help you relax your muscles and restore your entire being.

#6 – Get massage, acupuncture, or Reiki

Schedule regular appointments for a body-work of your choosing.  It could be massage, reflexology, acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, or whatever. 

My only stipulation is that I encourage you to be mindful about who you work with.  You don’t want to work with somebody who drinks, does drugs, and doesn’t take their work seriously.  A careless practitioner can do a lot of damage — especially for a highly sensitive — so be sure that you get treatments from those who do their work well.

#7 – Eat clean

What I mean by this is eliminate (or at least minimize) processed foods and eat organic as much as you can to reduce consuming any pesticide residues.  I also encourage you to experiment to see what kind of diet works best for you and your body.  Maybe you feel best going vegan or vegetarian.  Or maybe you feel best going gluten free.  Or maybe you feel at your best cutting out grains all together with a paleo diet. 

No “one size fits all” for everyone all the time.  So experiment and try things out to see what gives you the most energy.

#8 – Journal at the end of the day

The reason many of us can feel so stressed out and overwhelmed with things is because we never really give ourselves time to process.  We never really let it all out in some way.

While talk therapy is beneficial, it is not the only way to do this.  Another way to help process all the stuff that’s going on in your life is to journal.  The simple act of just getting it all out on paper can be extremely therapeutic. 

A great practice to do put away some time in the eventing to just journal about your day.  If you’re not one to write, another option could be to draw or paint whatever you are feeling.

#9 – Breathe!

Did somebody just cut you off driving down the highway?  Breathe!  Someone come into the office all angry and stressed?  Breathe!  Can’t find your car keys?  Breathe!

When we bring it back to the breath, we are able to let it all go.

BreatheLetItGo

Click to Tweet: When we bring it back to the breath, we are able to let it all go. via @jenilyn8705

#10 – Spend time at the beach

If you’re remotely near a coast, take advantage of going to the beach.  The sand exfoliates your feet and gives you a little foot massage, the air is infused with uber-healthy ions and the sound of the ways is soothes the soul.  It’s the perfect combination to fully relax and recharge.

Take action now!

Out of the list above, which of the self-care methods are you going to plan on doing this week?  Share it in the comments below!

5 Ways to Start Living in the Present Moment

Back in 2010-2011 — before I lived in Korea, before I moved to California — I had a lot of internal distress.  I couldn’t, for the life of me, seem to ever live in the present moment.

Why can’t I ever just enjoy things when its actually happening? I would think to myself.  Why am I so focused on what is yet to come rather than simply enjoy what I’m experiencing now?

Needless to say, a lot has happened between now and then.  And I’m not anywhere near as distressed as I was back then.  While I’m far from an enlightened being that can live in the present moment at all times, it’s certainly something that I struggle with much less than I did years ago.

I managed to make shifts so I can live more in the present, and I know with complete confidence that you can to.  So here are 5 ways you can start living in the present moment:

#1 – Get off your cell phone

Stop playing Candy Crush, solitaire, Words with Friends, or whatever other game you play on your phone.  Stop constantly texting your friend or boyfriend throughout the day.  Stop checking Facebook 50 times a day to catch all the latest news trends.

All of these things make us disconnected from our present moment experience.  When our eyes are glued to our phones, we are disconnected from all of what is going on around us.  We are unable to connect with our colleague at work.  We are unable to really connect with our partner after work.  We are unable to really be present with our friend who is sharing a difficult story.

It’s okay to have a phone, but be mindful about it.  If you see catch yourself mindlessly looking on Facebook, checking e-mail or doing Candy Crush put it away and look at all that is around you.  Put the phone down, and take in the beauty of your present experience.

#2 – Declutter… often!

Do you have a stack of books and notebooks from high school piled up in your closet?  Or how about a stack of CDs that you haven’t listened to a good 10 years?  Or maybe that one top hanging in your closet that your just waiting will be back in style someday?

Well, I’m gonna tell you right now.  If you want to really start living in the present moment, then it’s time to throw it out.

While it’s okay to have a few keepsakes, having too much “old stuff” only weighs us down.  It’s almost like the piles of old stuff that we keep is merely a reflection of all the old emotional baggage that we haven’t quite let go of yet.

Seriously — have you ever walked into the house of someone who has piles and piles of old stuff?  How did you feel walking in there?  I doubt it felt light, free, or gave any sense of renewal.

So let go of the old — both internally and externally — it’ll make it much easier to be in the present.

#3 – Be grateful for what you have right now

One of our habits as humans is that we have a tendency to either live in the past or the future.  We may be nostalgic about the “good ol’ days”, while, on the flip side, we may be caught up in dreaming about how everything is going to be great for us in the future. 

Both of these ways of thinking are distortions created by our ego, and all it does is keep us out of the present moment.

So rather than be wishing that things were as they were 10 years ago or how they could be 10 years from now, be grateful for what you have in your life right now.  Be grateful for that job that’s helping you make ends meet.  Be grateful for that apartment that you’re living in even though it may be smaller than you’d like.

Gratitude brings us back into the present moment quickly and easily, so start bringing gratitude into your daily practice.

Gratitude Present Moment

Click to Tweet: Gratitude brings us back into the present moment quickly and easily. via @jenilyn8705

#4 – Let go of worry

Many of us get so caught up in worrying about things that we can never enjoy what we are experiencing.  We worry about getting bills paid, our love life, our career, and so on.

So when you catch yourself being a worry-wart, stop and take a deep breath.  Take a moment to notice how your body feels.  By getting connected how we feel in our bodies, it helps bring us back into the present moment.

#5 – Meditate… every single day!

If there was only one thing that you could take away from this article and start implementing today it would be this: Start meditating!  It is the easiest tool to help you live more in the present moment and can be the foundation for so many other miraculous changes that can happen in your life. 

If you’re ready to start meditating today and open yourself to love, grab a copy of my free meditation Healing Blocks to Love from my new meditation album Ignite Love from Within.

Take action now!

Out of the 5 listed above, what are you going to start doing this week to better live in the present moment?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members Around the Holidays

The original version of this article was published here.

Even though we often associate Christmas with a time of gathering with family and friends in a state of harmony and giving, we all know that’s not always the case.

Sure, we experience joy and love in the process of giving gifts and spending time with our loved ones, but it’s not always peaches and cream. There are challenges, conflicts, and arguments. These conflicts can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and make the holiday less enjoyable than we want it to be.

But there are things that we can do. There are 4 simple mindset shifts can help turn a potential challenging holiday into an enjoyable one. Here are four tips to remember during this holiday season to make yours a better one.

#1 – Accept others as they are.

People are going to do what they want to do when they want to do it. It’s not our responsibility to do it for them. Everyone is their own unique individual with their own personal power and responsibility for their own lives. If we try to push or control others in some way, then we are only going to cause more conflict not only for them, but also for ourselves.

So if you don’t necessarily like something that another family member is doing, then it’s okay to say so casually and calmly but then leave it at that. Let them take care of it and make their own choices for themselves.

You are also not going to change someone else’s personality or way of doing things – they have to do that for themselves when and if they want to. You can voice your preferences, but let go of the need to control or force anything because if you do you are crossing over into the other person’s personal boundaries. Everything will happen in the way it is meant to happen. Trust that.

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Click to Tweet: Let go and trust that others will learn and grow in their own way on their own time. via @jenilyn8705

#2 – Set your own personal boundaries.

If someone is asking you to do something that you don’t want to do, then tell them. If there is something that you would like to do, then be clear about telling them. Be clear about what you want and try to avoid falling into the whole “Oh just do whatever you want to do” response. Be assertive and clear about your own personal preferences.

That being said, also be aware of what you want to deal with and what you don’t want to deal with. For instance, if a family member brings up some topic to discuss that you don’t feel comfortable with then say so. Focus inward and take note of how you feel. Be true to that and voice that so others know.

#3 – Try to avoid the political or religious debate.

More often than not, when a political or religious discussion arises around the holiday table it ends up causing an argument or, at least, get fairly heated.  I’d recommend to try to steer clear of these types of discussions. If they come up, we can try to defuse them by changing the subject.  If other people bring up the religious or political debate, it may just be easier to go into the other room and find something else to do.

Most of the time, these discussions aren’t very proactive – meaning, it doesn’t really change or impact anything. It just ruffles people’s feathers. So try to focus discussions more on “catching up” and discussing experiences.

#4 – Take time for yourself.

Even though Christmas and New Years are very “extraverted” kind of holidays where there is a lot of giving gifts and dinner parties, this is actually a very good time to reflect over the past year and reconnect to spirit.

So get out a journal and reflect over your experiences.  Write out a list of new year’s resolutions. Sit down and read some of your favorite Christmas stories.  Watch some of your favorite Christmas movies.  Find ways to reflect and to really tap into that Christmas spirit in whatever way works for you.

Allowing yourself the time and space to look within and connect can really help turn a stressful and challenging Christmas into a truly magical one.

What are some of your biggest challenges this holiday season? What are some concepts that you feel that you really need to remember during this time? What helps you really connect and get into the Christmas spirit?

3 Tips for Self-Care Around the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us once again.  And though the holidays are often all about family gatherings, holiday parties, and taking part in all the various festivities to get in the “holiday spirit”, it’s important to remember that self-care is vital in these few months.

When the days are getting shorter and the days and nights getting colder, our bodies have a tendency to want to spend more time in rest.

Though we may forget with all the holiday hustle and bustle, winter is a time to reflect and recharge our batteries so we can be prepared to plant new seeds for the year ahead.  It’s a time to let go of the old, so that we can be open to the new that spring brings us. 

For this reason, it is vital to give ourselves enough time to rest during this season.  If not, we can quickly as easily find ourselves drained, exhausted, and, more than likely, sick on the couch with a bunch of kleenex.

So how can we adequately take care of ourselves this holiday season?  Here are 3 ways:

#1 – Hop on the “no train”

Though saying “no”, can be difficult for many of us (especially those of us who like to “please” people), it’s incredibly important to learn how to do if you’re going to take care of yourself.  You can’t really find time to rest and do all that you want to do if you’re saying yes to everyone else.

When we’re saying “yes” to what everybody else wants from us, it isn’t very empowering.  In fact, it can make us feel like others are more in control of our lives than we are.  So if you see value in taking care of yourself, it’s incredibly important to start saying no to things you really don’t feel like doing.

#2 – Give yourself more time to just rest

The winter months are not the time to sign up for an extra evening paint class or to take part in that new book club.  The holiday season keeps us busy enough as it is.

So try to minimize extra activities so that you can maybe go to bed a little bit earlier or maybe sleep in a bit later.  Your body and immune system will thank you — trust me.

#3 – Reflect on this past year to create a better vision for the year ahead

As I stated earlier, winter is a time to reflect, release and recharge so I find it very important to give ourselves time to do that!  One way to do this is by journaling to reflect on experiences from this past year and creating resolutions for the New Year.

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Click to Tweet: Winter is a time to reflect, release and recharge so be sure to give yourself time to do that! via @jenilyn8705

For myself, something that I found very valuable in this process is Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map.  I used to be a very goal-oriented person, but I’ve found over time that one or two things happened when I’d make a goal: 1. I’d experience little to no enjoyment upon meeting the goal or 2. I lacked motivation to actually achieve the goal cause I just wasn’t really “feeling it”.

What I’ve liked so much about Danielle’s method is that she doesn’t have us focus on the goal itself, but the core desired feelings that we want to experience as a result of that goal.  It’s based on the idea that we don’t want to achieve the goal, but the feeling that can potentially come with it.

So if you’re interested, you can check out The Desire Map and see for yourself.  If not, I still encourage you to explore this for yourself and find your own unique way to give yourself time to reflect on what you’ve experienced this year and get a sense for what you want in the year ahead.  It’s vitally important in the growth and evolution in our mind, body and soul.

Take action now!

How can you start to find more time for you to rest and recharge this holiday season?  Share in the comments below!

Need Guidance? Ask the Universe for a Sign

Earlier this year I was caught up in the midst of apartment hunting. 

Though looking for a new place to live can certainly be exciting, trying to find a place to rent in the San Francisco Bay Area is hardly an enjoyable process.

For a good month or so, I was apartment hunting as if it were my full-time job.  Waking up each morning to call and e-mail places listed on Craigslist, followed my aggressively visiting open houses in order to send in applications to any good apartments with the right price ASAP.

It was a lot of work and very exhausting.  After putting in some applications that fell through and visiting some apartments that were definitely not a place I’d want to live, I found myself getting really discouraged.  I wondered if I’ll ever find a place to live that is “just right”.  I wondered if I should give up and stick with my current not-so-great living situation.

Around that same time, I watched a mentor of mine give a local talk.  In that talk she spoke about her process of house hunting and the challenges she went through.  In her own period of discouragement, she asked a friend for guidance. 

Her friend told her to ask the universe for a sign.  To ask for something to emerge in her life to help show her and guide her in her process of house hunting.  In her case, she chose for that sign to be an owl.

And so in the process of house hunting, she looked for owls and, ultimately, seeing owls helped guide her to the right place to purchase.

Hearing this, I sat down and contemplated what my sign could be.  After meditating on it for a bit, I chose the dove.

So, starting that very day I found myself looking around for doves at every apartment I looked at.  If there were no doves to be seen, I found myself up and ready to head out the door to look someplace else.

After several days of seeing no doves, I went to see one apartment with my boyfriend.  As we walked around the apartment complex waiting for the lady at the front desk to get back from lunch, my boyfriend said, “Oh hey look at those doves!” 

I turned my head and sure enough there was a dove in a tree nearby.  My boyfriend had no idea about the whole dove thing — he probably would’ve thought I was nuts at the time — but, irregardless, knowing that there were some doves around made me a little more optimistic about this whole apartment hunting thing.

Despite seeing doves at this particular apartment complex, the landlord never showed up for our scheduled appointment.  I was very disappointed due to the good deal it would have been, but the landlord’s lack of organization gave enough of a bad vibe to put that apartment on my definite “no” list. 

So the hunt continued…

A week or so later as I was visiting apartments I felt like I was getting towards the end of my hunt.  I had put forth so much energy in searching that I wasn’t sure if I had much more energy to keep looking.  But, that day I continued to search in hopes that something will stick.

So I drove up to the apartment complex and went into the office to discuss the apartments available.  We went up and checked out an apartment and as we were walking back someone said, “Hey look — there’s a dove!” 

I turned my head to look but, unfortunately, I didn’t see it.  It had already flown away.

That’s the funny thing about signs — even though we’ve asked for them, we don’t always see them.  Signs from the universe don’t just come through our own individual sight, but it also comes through others.  They can come through based on what other people saw or a statement that someone said.

Though we can ask for signs for guidance, signs aren’t always as clear as we’d like them to be.  Sometimes we see that dove or owl in a place that we are not meant to be.  Or the place that we are meant to be at don’t have any doves or owls in them.

When we ask the universe for a sign, the guidance that comes through with it isn’t as plain as: sign = “yes” and no sign = “no”.  It’s more complicated than that.

To receive clear universal guidance, there has to be an element of faith.  We have to be willing to trust that we are supported and that we are being guided.  We have to be willing to let go of any fear that is hindering us from seeing our opportunities clearly.

To release fear and to be open to the possibilities is to be open to love. 

By being open to love, we give ourselves the ability to receive clear guidance internally.  We are then able to get an intuitive sense of what feels like the right direction to take and what isn’t.

ClearGuidance

Click to Tweet: When we release our fear and open up to a mindset of love, we give ourselves the ability to receive clear guidance. via @jenilyn8705

If we are willing to release our fear then we are able to receive clear intuitive guidance in a way that it doesn’t matter if the dove shows up or not.  We’re able to simply trust and know which is the right choice.

So if you’re in need of guidance, ask for a sign, set the intention to release your fears and then trust that you will be guided.  Then all you have to do is go through the motions.  Take action and have faith that it will work out.

As for me… I saw no other doves until the day I drove up with my car filled up with my plants and a U-Haul on the way.  I sat in the office to get apartment keys and go over signing the lease. 

As I sat in the office, I looked over to the deck of my new apartment.  There were two doves sitting on the deck railing.  I smiled… realizing they were there all along — I just had to open my eyes to see them.