Scrap New Year’s Resolutions: Opt for a 40-Day Practice.

One strand at a time.
One strand at a time.

One strand at a time.

Set yourself up for success this year using ancient wisdom for modern life. This new year, dream your dreams, make your plans, then commit to a 40-day (or more) practice and achieve your goals.

The 40-day practice is a long spiritual tradition aimed towards creating powerful change and new habits. Yoga practitioners have used this practice to bring about change and transformation, creating 40-day, 120-day and 1000-day practices. Put this ancient wisdom to work for you.

1. Pour yourself a cup of tea, light a candle, put on music and allow your imagination to paint the canvas of the coming year. What do you wish to create this year? Is health a priority? Is this the year you create an energized you? A calmer you? A more confident you? Become a more patient parent or partner? Do you have your sights on a new career or position? Do you wish to start your own business or dive into the arts? Do you plan to prepare healthier meals or make time for self-care? Write your list.

2. Determine the details. Do your dreams have a due date? Is it a spring conference you’re planning? A summer charity drive? A fall book release? Slimmer and trimmer by your family reunion? Or is it a dream that will unfold over time? Our dreams can look big. Too big. Often we become overwhelmed by their size. How do we accomplish such a grand dream? One step at a time.

3. Here’s the magic. Commit to your dream(s) every day for 40+ days. A client wanted to find time to exercise and eat better. She committed to 40 days of yoga. 20 minutes each evening – the time when cravings took over and snacking took place. She stayed with her commitment, showing up for herself each day of the 40 days, no matter what was happening in her life. She stopped evening snacking, since she was too busy doing yoga to be poking around the pantry. She slept better as her practice allowed her to de-stress at the end of each day. And she felt better with regular movement every day. One simple change, practiced daily, awarded her a wealth of benefits. One of the greatest: that she showed up each day as her own champion.

Planning an event, new business venture, mastering a skill, writing a book? Dedicate even 15 minutes every day towards your project. Allow room for new inspiration, ideas and people to surface and coincidences to appear. The magic is that when you show up each day, when you declare to yourself and the universe, “I am here. Let’s do this,” the universe obliges and begins to funnel resources your way. That 15 minutes may be researching details, sketching ideas, investigating options, or it may turn into a meeting, a class, a collaboration, an outline, the first chapter, a green smoothie, or 10 sun salutations. If your dream has no deadline, commit to 40 days and see what unfolds. If your project has a place on the calendar, your daily practice is set in stone until that day.

4. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. See yourself completing your dreams. See it in detail. Who are you with? How do you feel? Allow yourself to feel the celebrated success of your accomplishments right now. Let every cell light up in joy, relief, completion, celebration, recognition, and gratitude. See the smiling faces around you and feel your dreams in form.

5. Show up January 1st. And 2nd. And 3rd. And every day of your practice. Mark it on your calendar. Keep it simple. Take a step each day towards your dreams. The year will pass whether you show up or not. Where do you want to be at this time next year? Walk towards it. If you feel better taking that walk alone then keep your agenda sacred. If you wish to make that walk with a friend, enlist support: trustworthy, caring, dedicated support of good friends or family and be accountable to them as you become more accountable to you and your dreams.

Be gentle with yourself. A daily practice does not mean you will not work hard. It does mean you agree to show up each day, no matter what. And with that commitment the work may be hard but the struggle will be less. Hard work does not tire us. Struggle, however, is exhausting. There is no need to struggle as each day you agree to take one step. One step towards your health, your creativity, your service and gifts, your purpose and fulfillment. After all, these are your greatest dreams. Enjoy the walk.

Make this the year to accomplish all your heart desires. And make room for the possibility that your heart may surprise you with greater abundance, joy, passion, wisdom, success and love than even you can dream.

Happy New Year!

Inspirations:

40 days of green juices

40 days of gratitude

40 days of dance

40 days of service

40 days of learning something new

120 days of writing

120 days of painting

120 days of yoga

120 days of saving for a trip or class

120 days of creating your new business

Resources for starting and sticking with your 40-day practice:

My Yoga Online – for yoga videos, recipes, health & wellness practices and supportive community.

Spirit Voyage 40 day global practices.

The Writer’s Circle with Jenna Avery – because it’s time to write that book.

100 Days of Spring Forest Qigong™ - cultivate energy, empower yourself.

 

3-Day Reset

Reset, naturally.
Reset, naturally.

Reset, naturally.

Creative projects are on the rise – spilling out onto scrap pieces of paper around the house – and I notice the portion of chocolate-covered pretzels has steadily increased while yoga has decreased as my source of fuel.

Rather than plow through and set myself up for a full detox, I choose a 3-day reset to restore balance in my body, my work, my creativity, and my sanity.

Before the chocolate train takes me any further, I make a quick stop at Reset-ville. A 3-day stay always does the trick for me.

There are 5 parts to my 3-day reset:

1. Sweat and stretch. I replace my home practice with a trip to hot yoga and a deeply detoxifying hour of sweating, breathing, and stretching. I take 1 litre of mountain spring water with me, complete with added flower essences to support my practice. I chose Strong and Beautiful from Wild Rose College this time. If hot yoga isn’t your thing, try a studio that offers a warm flow instead of the full hot. If you prefer, grab a cycling class or Zumba, just remember a good, long post-sweat stretch. Show up all 3 days.

2. Liquid nourishment. I hit the grocery store pre-3 day reset and grab beets, carrots, chard or greens of choice, and apples. Ginger, too, if you like. I found fresh pea shoots this time – why not? I juice enough veg for 2 cups of juice and add 2 cups of mountain spring water, put the blend in a pitcher in the fridge and drink it throughout the day. I add another litre of spring water to my day -on its own or as herbal teas.

3. Eat clean. I keep dairy, gluten, and sugar at bay for the 3-day stay at Reset-ville. I enjoy rice, veg and chicken or fish. I snack on nuts and goji berries, and warm my belly with chia-chaga porridge with hemp hearts, apples, coconut oil and cinnamon.Try a rice pudding recipe for inspiration.

4. Get salty. A daily detox bath with himalayan salts, dead sea salts, or herbal salt blend of choice provides nourishing hydrotherapy. Add essential oils of mint and lavender or deeply-relaxing neroli. Grapefruit is energizing and sweet orange provides a lift. Petitgrain is purifying.

5. Play footsies. Self-massage helps with the reset and connects you to your body. After your bath rub each body part with a quality oil. Add essential oils for the benefits of aromatherapy. Pay particular attention to your feet. Give yourself a reflexology treatment as you rub rich cocoa butter or oil into your tender tootsies. Better yet, if you have a willing companion, exchange foot rubs with one another. Don’t forget the kids. Rubbing your little ones’ feet is a nourishing way to send wee ones off to dreamtime.

If your plate is full and there is more to do on the horizon, don’t wait for a break to get a handle on your health. Try a 3-day reset and restore balance naturally.

 

The 12 Days of Detox: Body, Mind and Spirit. Day 10

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On the tenth day of detox, atONE gave to me…
ten musical minutes,
Detox through dance
“Sweat and laugh every day” said Yogi Bhajan, and turning up the music to groove and move with yourself, your kids, family, friends or a community is an invigorating and uplifting way to detox body, mind and spirit. A daily ritual of dance, whether 10 minutes daily in your living room or a 1 hour class at a local gym or dance studio, lubricates the joints and sheds excess baggage from the body and the mind, lightening the spirit.

Want to jump-start an exercise routine? Start with dance. If you find it difficult to get outdoors during the cold for activity or you despise stationary exercise equipment, do something fun, healthy and vibrant for yourself. Dance.

Choose your favourite music, something upbeat, and start to move. Rock some old dance moves, have your kids show you some new ones or allow your body the freedom of intuitive movement, arms swaying, hips swirling, shoulders releasing and tension melting. Let go and take a ride on the rhythm of the music. Drum beats carry you to new places, flute serenades your spirit, piano pulls at possibilities and guitar stirs your creativity.

“Dress classy and dance cheesy” as Psy says. Crank up Gangham style and have some fun anytime of day. Make dance a regular part of your detox and daily routine. Start your day with dance, before you hit the shower. Or pick a time of day when your energy drops and you need a boost. Try a pre-dinner dance party with the family to raise everyone’s spirits. One of my favourite musicians and healers, Shine Edgar’s didgeridoo and chanting elevates and transports me to new places every time I play his music. Turn up Great Central Sun and allow the primal rhythms to infuse your body. You can’t help but move, sway, spin, jump, shake, stomp and celebrate your body, mind and spirit.

Bonus detox tip: Smile. Bring a smile to your lips everyday. When you make eye contact with people, smile. When you pass others in stores, particularly this time of year when stress can run high, smile. Curling the corners of your mouth into a friendly smile is an instant mood boost and spirit lift for you and others. Feeling strained? Smile. Traffic heavy? Smile. Turkey not ready? Smile. Family members pushing buttons? Smile. Do it for you, others benefit as a bonus. Smile while you dress, while you cook, while you shop and while you dance. People will want to know your secret.

More than Exercise: 10 Ways to Turn Physical Punishment into Total Nourishment

Strength, balance, flexibility, awareness


Sweat and laugh every day. ~ Yogi Bhajan.
These are some of my favourite ways that transformed my workouts from feeling like a self-imposed penalty to a source of  growth and renewal.
If you’ve had a difficult time beginning regular exercise, these ten tips may make the leap more enjoyable for you.
If you have experienced an injury, overtraining or exercise addiction, these tips may help you to restore balance in your body and your self.Wherever you are with exercise, they will certainly nourish you and strengthen the connection between body, mind, and spirit.
Experiment, shake things up and, above all, have fun!

1.  Add music.  I’m not talking abut the workout playlist you created so you could run faster, push more weight and time your intervals.  I’m talking about music that inspires you to move.  Motivates you to dance.  Puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step.  Makes your knees start to groove in crazy ways they’ve never moved before, coercing your hips and feet to come along for the ride. Try some African drums or didgeridoo.  Let your whole body move and sing!  Make this spontaneous dance your workout.

2.  Go ‘au naturel’.  Take it outside.  Whatever it is.  If you enjoy your  daily run, take it to the trails.  Soak up some sun, fresh air, the colours of the sky, the trees and the scenery.  Don’t keep your focus on the feet, rather notice the detail and richness of what’s around you.  Smile at others that pass or just smile for yourself.  Absorb the sounds and the sights.  Walk near a body of water, bike through tree-lined trails, hike around a lake, swim in an outdoor pool or skate on an outside rink.  Take yoga to the deck, qigong to the lawn or tai chi to the park.  One of my favourite memories is of swimming in a large outdoor pool while on a trip through California with my Mom a few years ago. We were in Chico, a city with which we both fell in love.   It was night with only the colourfully-lit palm trees as my light.  The air was balmy and the water temperature was perfect.  As I glided back and forth from palm tree to palm tree, a shooting star brightly and quickly blazed across the clear night sky.

3.  Breathe.  The quickest, simplest and most powerful way to restore the connection of the body to the mind and the spirit is through breath.  A few minutes of conscious deep breathing before you start an activity brings your focus completely to where you are and what you are doing. Then guide your attention back to the breath as often as you can during exercise.   Every inhalation draws energy and vitality to you and every exhalation releases tension and eases you into your activity. You are completely engaged.  If struggle arises, use the breath to move your body and calm your mind.   Finish with several minutes of relaxed breathing, inhalations that draw right down into the belly and exhalations that empty the lungs completely and drop the shoulders, melting in full release.  Make the art of breathing your exercise of the day.  Consider learning a breathing technique like sitalibreath of fire or alternate nostril breathing to add to your daily routine.

4.  Hydrate with herbal water.  Add a bit of fresh or dried herbs or a weak herbal infusion to your water bottle.  Choose invigorating plants like mint, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel or cardamom for an active outing or soothing herbs like lemon balm, chamomile, rose or lavender for your evening walk or yoga practice.  Enjoy a single herb, make up your own blend or use your favourite prepared herbal tea.  One large fresh mint leaf added to a water bottle is very refreshing on a long hike, ride, run or yoga practice.  Chilled coconut water with a little lime is a cooling drink on a hot day and provides much needed electrolytes that may be lost during exercise.  The taste, scent and effects of the herbal water will engage your senses and enhance your experience.

5.  Set an intention.  This one I have lovingly borrowed from the practice of yoga.  Before beginning your activity, perhaps while you are engaged in your deep, full breathing exercise, ask yourself what you would like to set as the intention for your activity.  This can be goal oriented but rather than go for a personal best, how about going for a personal cause.  Try dedicating your activity to another person who needs help, or a group.  Often when I am engaged in a solar plexus chakra practice, performing 108 heart presses or sun salutations, I break it up into sets and dedicate each one.  It’s fascinating where I can draw energy from when I dedicate the merits of that energy to a specific person, cause, humanity or the earth.  Or simply set an intention for enjoying the activity or your surroundings, your co-participants, your breath, your day, your body, nature, life.  Is there something you’ve been struggling with?  Put that issue out there and see if a response hasn’t formed by the time you’re finished your routine.

6.  Connect.  Grab a buddy or small group and take a lesson in something you’d like to try; belly dancing, acro-yoga, african dance!  Adding a friend may reduce the cost of classes while providing motivation, support and someone to share a laugh.  If you are used to doing an activity on your own, occasionally join a class or group and enjoy meeting new people or simply soak up the energy and support of community.

7.  Find stillness.  Take time at the start of your exercise to be still. Engage in breath, intention and connect to your surroundings and how you are feeling physically and mentally.  Ask yourself what you need from this particular activity.  What is the best way to nourish yourself this day.  This may shift your exercise, directing you towards something more conducive to optimum wellness.  Trust this process and go with it.  Let your body reveal what it needs.  After the activity, spend time in stillness.  No thoughts, don’t review, critique and judge your performance.  Know that it is complete and let it be.  Stillness can be enjoyed in meditation after exercise or while in long-held stretches, allowing total surrender of your body and mind with every exhalation in the stretch.  Breathe, release and continue your day renewed.

8.  Add energy.  Learn and practice yoga, tai chi or qigong.  Milleniums-old techniques were developed precisely for guiding us towards wellness and connection of body, mind and spirit.  Focusing the mind, breath and movement into one synergistic dance, these practices lend themselves to both an individual and community setting.  Providing a daily tool for self assessment and correction.  Even if your activity of choice is completely different, incorporate one of these energy-based disciplines into your daily routine.  Fifteen minutes morning and/or evening is a gift you give yourself of a balanced start and end to each day.

9.  Play.  A game-centered activity like hopscotch or jump rope with the kids sounds fun.  When’s the last time you played tag or leapfrog?  (Wow. I just googled ‘leapfrog’ and got pages of hits on computer games.  For those who don’t remember or never played the physical activity game of leapfrog, here’s how: leapfrog rules.)  Take up a recreational sport in your community.  Tennis, swimming, baseball, basketball, soccer, beach volleyball.  Also a great way to meet people and learn new skills.  Laughter and play are beneficial to our health and effectively engage us in the present.  What did you play as a kid?  Revisit it, just keep in mind, you may not be quite as agile or flexible as you once were… safety first!  Hula hoop!

10.  Give back.  Start or join an event that gives back to the community.  Whether it’s an organized spring trash clean up or a 10k run for charity.  Perhaps a yoga class in a senior’s home or an outdoor games day for underprivileged kids.  Initiate, co-create, join in or volunteer to connect through movement in your community.

Here’s an idea for an activity that encompasses all ten tips;  Outdoor yoga with a large group, intentions and donations going to charity, you and a friend with your bottles of herbal water and yoga mats in hand as you get set to experiment with playful poses accompanied by live guitar and drums.

Namasté


What ways do you use to nourish yourself?

Over three years ago a doctor told me that, given the nature of my spinal injury, I should be shuffling around in pain. I remember thinking, Now, why would I ever want to do that?  He asked me what my secret was.  Many of them are listed above.

I won’t tell you all days are pain-free, however, there is very little shuffling around going on.   Life is good!

Stephanie
atONE Holistic Living