Canggu, Bali, August 2016

Buddhist Monastery, Banjar, Bali, August 2016

Yogi at Hindu Monastery, Kauai, Hawaii, March 2014

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The following exerts are taken from the very informative book "Exhausted to Energized" by the gorgeous & super talented

Dr Libby Weaver

"Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) dominance 

The SNS is behind the fight-or-flight response, driven predominately by the stress hormone adrenaline, whereas the opposite part of the nervous system, the PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System), acts as the rest, digest, repair & reproduce arm.

The challenge for so many people, & a major reason why they don't sleep well or feel their best, is that they are stuck in SNS dominance. 

And what leads us to make adrenalin? Caffeine & our perception of pressure.

Too many people have made what they have to do each day full of pressure & urgency. And too many people have forgotten to see each day as one filled with ridiculous gifts, opportunities & a life that is so privileged because all of our basic needs are met, whereas, today, that is still not true for far too many people on the planet.

Your body doesn't understand that it is safe when you are churning out adrenalin, even if all you have done is had a few coffees & felt overwhelmed by how may emails you have. And some of you live on adrenalin & no longer even really feel stressed because you have become so used to it. It feels "normal" to you now.

If you are churning out stress hormones & they are communicating to every cell in your body that you are not safe, your body does not want you to sleep deeply, as you need to be able to wake up quickly & save your own life. Your body has your best interests at heart. You just need to communicate to it that you are safe & that it is safe to sleep deeply & restoratively. 

There is no more powerful way to activate the PNS, than through the way you breathe. The rest & digest arm of the nervous system is activated in response to diaphragmatic breathing. I know it might sound too simple to make a difference, but how you breathe consistently over a day - short, sharp, shallow breaths driven by adrenalin, or long, slow, tummy-moving diaphragmatic breaths - has an impact on your nervous system, your blood chemistry, your oxygenation, & hence your energy.

Adrenaline drives those short, sharp breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing communicates safety to your body. It is the fastest way to decrease both adrenaline & cortisol. Simply investing some time each day in focusing on how you breathe can truly be game-changing.

Schedule diaphragmatic breathing. It truly is the cornerstone of calm, which is essential to restorative sleep & consistently great energy.

You can switch over to the rest & digest arm of the nervous system through how you breathe, & also by decreasing, or omitting, caffeine & beginning to identify where you perceive pressure in your life when you don't need to. These shifts will help the SNS lose its dominant position in your nervous system, which for some of you will help resolve your sleep challenges & help you wake with better energy!"

Make slow, deep breathing breathing part of your daily life by taking 3-6 YogAlign SIP Breaths with each visit to the toilet, so it becomes as natural as brushing your teeth.

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10 Pitfalls Keeping You From An Awesome Meditation

by Light Watkins April 2, 2016
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"There are many guidelines out there for how to meditate. But it’s also good to understand what not to do in meditation. Here are 10 common pitfalls that keep you from getting the full benefit of your practice.

1. Engaging in a power struggle

Your mind wants to use your meditation time to think about your unpaid bills, but you would rather focus on a white light image. Guess which thoughts are going to win? The thoughts about bills. Every time. The more you resist them, the more they will persist. So if you want to make meditation feel a hundred times easier, practice leaning in to the unwanted thoughts, and surprisingly, they will start to go away on their own.

2. Grading your meditations

“This morning’s meditation was amazing.” “Yesterday’s meditation sucked.” “The meditations from last week were OK.” Stop labeling your meditations and comparing them to one another! Five years from now, there will be no one meditation that stands out for being incredible—or horrible. But the feeling you will have as a whole from meditating for that long will be noticeably and positively different from the one you have right now.

3. Being inconsistent

The best way to feel virtually no results in meditation is to be an inconsistent meditator. The problem here is that people think the value in meditation needs to be sourced within the individual meditations themselves when actually the true value of meditating is only ever found in your life outside of meditation and only as a result of meditating consistently.

4. Proselytizing

If you find yourself with a bullhorn and posterboard with a pro-meditation slogan scribbled on it while barking about the benefits of meditation to anyone who will listen, you’re going to have the opposite effect. The best way to get your friends and family to pick up the daily practice of meditation is for you to quietly meditate every day like clockwork and let them see the benefits naturally and organically unfolding within you.

5. Getting single-meditation-itis

You had an amazing meditation. Now, you unfairly compare all of your other meditations to that one pinnacle experience. And if you haven’t been able to get back to nirvana, you begin judging the boring meditations as being ineffective, or you become insecure about your abilities. Like showering, the overwhelming majority of meditations are going to be uneventful. But, also like showering, you will notice a tangible effect that follows each meditation, because you feel clearer and more focused. And if you happen to have the occasional moment of bliss in meditation, treat it as an exceptional surprise rather than a hard-fought goal.

6. Play-calling

When meditating, there is no need for a play-by-play dictation of experiences, as if you’re Marv Albert calling a basketball game. In other words, if you’re having thoughts like: “Now I’m just sitting here thinking,” and “Now I’m falling asleep.” “Oh, no, there’s that annoying thought about my ex again…” just allow yourself to engage nonchalantly in your thoughts, and you’ll eventually lose awareness of the fact that you’re meditating—which, by the way, is when you’re really meditating.

7. Looking for perfection

You are afraid to miss a meditation. Or the environment has to be perfectly quiet, or dark, or distraction-free in order for you to meditate successfully. To liberate yourself from the burden of perfection, try purposefully meditating in noisy and distracting places. Eventually, you’ll make yourself resilient to most noises and distractions.

8. Treating it like an emergency room

Do you only meditate on the dramatic days? If so, you’re giving the power of meditation too much credit. It can still be effective, but understand that meditation is less emergency medicine and more preventive maintenance. By waiting until you really need it, the last thing you’re going to feel like doing is meditating and, ironically, it won’t seem to work fast enough or be effective enough in the midst of all the drama.

9. Having an agenda

You enter into your meditations with a to-do list: “I need to figure out the solution to this problem,” or “I want to feel this particular way afterward.” These expectations actually work against your interests, because they keep your mind in judgmental mode, particularly if what you want to happen doesn’t end up happening. What’s really happening is your body’s intelligence is in charge, and you’re merely the facilitator of the experience. Let your intelligence do it’s job, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

10. "Cheating"

In the gym world, "cheating" is when doing pull-ups or bench presses, you’re not going all the way up or all the way down. Or, you’re swinging your entire body to perform the exercise instead of using your core to do the work. To the untrained eye, your efforts may look sufficient, and your number of repetitions are high. But if cheating becomes the norm, you’re ultimately not going to get the results you’re looking for (plus, you risk injury). A meditation cheat is when you’re meditating consistently, but short-changing yourself on the time. Let's say your commitment is to meditate for 15 minutes a day, but you regularly stop after 5 minutes, or 8 minutes, because it feels like nothing is happening. That's cheating. Just like in the gym, it's happening because you are being outcome-oriented instead of process-oriented, not realizing that you’re only cheating yourself. If you decide to meditate for 15 minutes, then sit for the entire 15 minutes."

Start out with a regular daily practice like 3-5 minutes, be gentle on yourself and increase as you feel comfortable.  Namaste

7 Surprising Signs You're Not Getting Enough Protein

by Lea Basch, 29 March 2016 

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Protein is essential for living organisms. It gives us energy, helps our bodies recover, and keeps our tummies satisfied. Protein is composed of long-chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.

Your body produces 11 amino acids and the others—the 9 so-called essential amino acids—you must consume from food.

How would you know if you're protein deficient? Below are some symptoms that can be related to inadequate protein. Keep in mind that as with any nutrient deficiency, symptoms can have other causes, so this is a general list and not to be used to self-diagnose.

1. Food cravings

Constant food cravings and needing snacks often between meals may be the consequence of a high-carb/sugar and low-protein diet. Protein evens out blood sugar highs and lows.

2. Muscle and joint pain

Muscle weakness, pain, or being flabby where you used to be muscular may be a sign of your muscles or joint fluid breaking down to supplement calories instead of using the protein you eat to build muscles, tissues, and cells.

3. Slow recovery from injuries

To heal and rebuild new cells, tissue, and skin and for immunity we need a sufficient amount of protein.

4. Hair, skin, and nail troubles

Thin hair, hair falling out, peeling skin and nails, and ridges in nails are some of the first signs your body may not have enough protein.

5. Fluid retention

Edema, or fluid accumulation: protein plays a part internally in keeping fluid from accumulating in tissues, especially in feet and ankles.

6. Getting sick regularly

Frequent illness means you have a poor immune system and immune cells are made from proteins.

7. Brain fog

Foggy brain, short bursts of mental energy, followed by the fog may be related to fluctuating blood sugar and lack of protein.

How much protein should you eat?

It's pretty difficult to become protein deficient if you eat a diet with a variety of whole foods. If you aren’t getting enough protein, that probably means you aren’t eating enough calories, you’re following a bizarre or unhealthy diet, or you have some digestive imbalances.

If you eat too few calories, your body will use the protein you do eat for energy instead of building muscles, immunity, and healthy hair, skin and nails, etc.

At a minimum, the average person needs to consume 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For a person who weighs 150 pounds, that would be about 55 grams of protein per day.

But the “right” amount of protein depends on many factors, including activity levels, age, muscle mass, and current state of health.

Who's at risk of protein deficiency?

Elderly

As we age our digestion and ability to use protein is less efficient.

Athletes

Athletes burn more calories and use more protein to build muscle.

Those recovering from an acute illness or injury

To heal you need at least one and a half times the normal protein recommendations.

People who are stressed

Stress hormones increase muscle and tissue breakdown in times of both physical and emotional stress.

People on a weight-loss diet

It's been shown in studies that adequate protein is needed for weight loss to balance blood sugars and prevent muscle breakdown.

Those with digestive issues or low stomach acid

Many people have an imbalance in their gut and don’t digest proteins efficiently, which can lead to lowered immunity, weight gain, and protein deficiency. To digest protein you must have adequate stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL).

What can you do if you think you're lacking in protein?

If you're eating processed foods and lots of carbs and sugars, start replacing those with whole foods like three or four servings of fresh meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, plus whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. There's great protein in plant foods as well as in animal products.
If you're vegan, great protein sources include whole grains, lentils, soy, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
If you don’t like protein foods or don’t want to eat them, consider a protein powder supplement made from soy, egg, rice, peas, or whey.
If you think you may have low stomach acid, check with your physician or dietitian to get a good supplement.
If you have too much stress in your life, look into learning to meditate or do yoga, or find whatever activities work best for you to reduce stress.
Lucky for us, protein is available in many forms, raw and cooked. No matter what type of diet you follow, we have a number of ways to add more protein to our diets in a healthy and delicious way!

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5 Holistic Tricks To Improve Your Mood Instantly + Raise Your Vibration

by Marci Baron

August 18 2015
Who doesn’t want to feel better instantly? When we feel lousy, we often behave or act in ways that can set us back from our health and wellness goals. While it may seem easy to self-medicate with food, alcohol or Internet surfing, there are a few easy things you can do instantly to improve your mood.

So instead of going down the shame-filled road, take the high ground and try these five simple holistic tricks instead:
1. Tap your thymus.

Benefit: Boosts and restores energy, increases life force and vitality, and strengthens the immune system.

Time: 20 seconds

How to do it: Use your fingers to gently tap the middle of your chest where Tarzan would pound. While you are tapping, say to yourself, “All is well.”

2. Burn some sage.

Benefit: Clears away negative energy.

Time: 1-5 minutes

How to do it:

You will need a fireproof container, a bundle of sage, matches and something to fan the smoke (a postcard works fine).
Light the sage and then blow out the flame. Allow the smoke to rise up out of the container as the sage smolders. Set the intention of the clearing by saying, “May all negative energy be released. I invite only positive energy to remain.”
Disperse the smoke throughout your energy field by starting in the front of your body at your feet.
Move in an upward motion, moving the sage back and forth in front of you, from your feet all the way up over your head. Make sure you keep the sage burning over the fireproof container!
Safely extinguish the embers of the burning sage, or allow it to burn itself out.
3. Tell a different story.

Benefit: Instantly takes you out of that stuck place and transports you to the place you want to be.

Time: 1-5 minutes

How to do it:

Say what you want your reality to be.
Instead of saying, “I can’t afford that,” try instead, “ It will be interesting to see where the money will show up.”
Instead of saying, “I can’t lose weight“ try instead, “Every moment is a chance to start over and now I choose to take positive baby steps to make a healthy choice to eat right and exercise.”
Instead of saying, “I am such a failure at having or finding a loving relationship,” try instead, “I love myself right now and am worthy of a wonderful, romantic relationship.”
4. Take a healing salt bath.

Benefit: Clears your aura and increases health and vitality.

Time: 20 minutes

How to do it:

Fill your bath with warm (not too hot) water.
Use 2-3 cups of Epsom or Himalayan crystal salt. Do not use table salt!
Add a few drops of pure essential oils, such as lavender, to help you unwind and relax.
Set the intention to let go of all negative energy. Soak for about 20 minutes. You can light candles or listen to soft music to enhance the experience.
Drain the tub while staying in. Feel as if all of the negativity is leaving you and going down the drain.
Take a quick shower to rinse off the salt. See the shower water as white light further clearing your aura.
Enjoy the feeling of vibrancy and lightness!
5. Breathe deeply.

Benefit: Reduces irrational fear and soothes the body and mind.

Time: One minute

How to do it: When you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, you are calming the central nervous system instantly. Take five deep breaths, or continue until you feel calmer.

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When we take care of ourselves and make healthy choices, we feel empowered and our self-esteem increases. Having an action plan to feel better instantly not only improves your mood but also helps you take control over your life to feel your best every day.

What Everyone Should Know About Energy Healing
by Marci Baron March 1 2016

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I attended talk therapy for most of my adult life, and though it helped me identify where I needed to heal, it didn't necessarily show me how to do so. It wasn’t until I started going to an energy healer that my true internal transformation occurred. Working with this energy healer ignited a spark within me and ultimately inspired me to become a practitioner myself.

As an energy healer, I'm often met with curiosity, fascination, and a bit of skepticism when I tell people what I do for a living.

Energy healing is a holistic practice that activates the body’s subtle energy systems to remove blocks. By breaking through these energetic blocks, the body’s inherent ability to heal itself is stimulated.

That definition is a lot to process, so here are five facts that can clear up any confusion or misconceptions you may still have about energy healing.

1. Cultures have studied the body's energy centers for thousands of years.

Reiki is the Japanese tradition of energy healing, and it dates back to the early 20th century. Chakras, the seven energy transmission centers of the body, are described in ancient Hindu texts. Meridians, the energy superhighways of the body, are the road maps on which traditional Chinese medicine practitioners based acupuncture.

Although various ancient cultures used different modalities to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal, they all saw internal energy as a powerful force of good.

2. Energy healing is based on scientific principles.

We all learned in high school physics class that matter is made up of molecules. Even something that is solid, such as a table, is vibrating all the time. As humans, we, too, are vibrating.

When you say someone has "good vibes," you are really talking about that person's vibrational energy — happy people vibrate on a higher frequency. You can feel their effervescence!

Places have vibes too. When you walk into a room in which a fight has just occurred, you may feel a dense energy that makes you want to leave right away. The beach has a light vibe due to the salt (a natural energy cleanser) and moving air. The air at the beach vibrates at a higher frequency as well.

As an energy healer, I'm often met with curiosity, fascination, and a bit of skepticism when I tell people what I do for a living.

3. You don’t have to be spiritual to benefit from energy healing.

Just like you don't need to understand the law of gravity before you can fall down, you don't need to completely grasp the concept of energy healing before you dive into the practice. I would recommend going in with an open mind for maximum benefit.

Any time is a good time to visit an energy healer. If you are stressed, anxious, or physically drained, an energy healing session can help you relax and feel more balanced. And if you're already feeling good, it's always possible to feel a little better! It's important to note that energy healing is a complimentary modality that shouldn't exclude any Western medicine you may be taking.

4. Energy healing is totally accessible.

There are many different types of energy healers, and you can find them practically everywhere.

There are Reiki practitioners all over the world, and the beauty of Reiki healing is that it can be given and received even if the client and practitioner aren’t in the same room. Why? Because the power of intention causes energy to flow to where it's most needed.

Acupuncture practitioners are also very accessible, though the clients do need to be in the physical presence of the needles. This modality stimulates the flow of chi to rebalance the body.

Reflexology is another modality that frees up blocked energy and promotes healing by stimulating the meridians, organs, and systems through points on the feet, hands, and ears.

Even massage is an energy healing practice, for it releases tension in the muscles, encourages the flow of lymph, and allows for deep relaxation.

Get a referral for a reputable practitioner if you are new to these practices — inquire at a yoga studio or ask a friend who's into alternative healing. Starting with a brief 30-minute Reiki session can give you a taste of how powerful energy healing can be.

Energy healing is a complimentary modality that shouldn't exclude any Western medicine you may be taking.

5. You can maintain your energetic health at home.

Just as you shower and brush your teeth every day, energetic cleansing is also a daily commitment. Once you visit with an energy healer, keep the good vibes flowing by taking a bath in Epsom or pink Himalayan salts for 20 minutes whenever you start to feel the heaviness creeping back into your body. Smudging, or burning sage around you, also clears negativity from your aura. High-vibe crystals have their own healing properties and can help give your energy field a boost.

All you need to begin your energy healing journey is curiosity and a willingness to learn. Who knows? You might just get hooked!

5 Reasons Mindfulness Is The Ultimate Success Habit
by Matt Tenney February 29 2016

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Matt Tenney served more than five years in prison for attempting to embezzle government funds. During his time in jail, his approach to life changed — leading him to live as a monk for three years and then share his experiences with the world (chronicled in his popular book, Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons From a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom). One of his biggest influences is his mindfulness practice; here’s why.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a pill we could take that would improve nearly every area of our lives? In a way, there is. It's called mindfulness.

Mindfulness is defined as a mental state that you reach by focusing on your awareness of the moment and your physical self (and accepting all that comes with it — feelings, thoughts, breaths). Being mindful takes just about as much effort as taking a pill, but it's something we can do as often as we like. And, when practiced correctly, there are no negative side effects. Although practicing mindfulness can't solve every problem in our lives, it can solve the most important ones.

It very well may be the ultimate habit for success in life; here's why:

1. Increased productivity

Mindfulness training boosts productivity in two key ways.

First, the practice helps us filter through the chaos of the mind so that we can have better clarity on what's actually important. By improving clarity on what's truly important, it's possible to do less, using less time, and actually be more productive than ever before.

Second, mindfulness training allows us to transform all of the simple, mundane moments of our lives — moments we usually think of as "downtime" or "wastes of time" — into some of the most productive moments of the day.

2. Greater influence

A key element of our success, both personally and professionally, is our ability to effectively influence others. There are no better ways to build influence with other people than to understand their needs and help them meet those needs. Mindfulness training changes our brains in ways that help us do just that.

One of the earliest studies on mindfulness training showed that mindfulness practitioners had measurably thicker insula than do non-practitioners. The insula is a part of the brain associated with empathy.

3. Better decision making

Although we might not like to admit it, we all have biases wired into our brains. These biases often cause us to make decisions that are less than optimal.

Mindfulness training helps us develop the refined levels of self-awareness that are necessary to see our biases objectively, before they influence our decisions. Equally important, mindfulness helps us develop the mental agility required to be able to make decisions that are outside of our comfort zone.

4. Improved health

There is now decades of research showing how mindfulness improves physical health in a wide variety of ways. Based on this research, one could make a good argument that practicing mindfulness might be the healthiest thing we can do.

5. Happiness

The most robust methods of mindfulness training were originally constructed with only this purpose in mind: to realize unconditional happiness. This is actually how I first discovered the practice, while spending five and a half years confined to military prison. About one year into my sentence I learned about mindfulness and began practicing very diligently.

After about six months of practice, I noticed something that really surprised me. I was happier right there in a military prison, with nothing, than I'd ever been in my life.

This is one reason I consider my time in confinement to be the most valuable gift of my life. I now know that the only thing I require to be happy in life is to be alive and breathing and free of biologically created mental illness. My happiness is essentially unconditional.

Unconditional happiness is something that you can train to develop by making the effort to be mindful during as many of your daily activities as possible.

It doesn't really matter what your motivation is for beginning the practice of mindfulness. You may want to be more successful, or you may want to realize unconditional happiness, and you're okay with becoming more successful as a side effect. Fortunately, if you practice mindfulness correctly, you can realize both greater success and greater happiness.

© 2016 Matt Tenney, author of The Mindfulness Edge: How to Rewire Your Brain for Leadership and Personal Excellence Without Adding to Your Schedule.

 

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The seven Chakras of the body are energy centers that allow your self to receive, internalize, and also diffuse life energy. They are capable of “transforming energy" and influencing change within yourself or personality.

Bear in mind that the state of each of your Chakras at one time can be under-active, healthily balanced, or over-active.
Consciously or subconsciously, you can either activate or obstruct these Chakra energy sources through your thoughts, feelings, or actions. Here are ways to help activate them for self-improvement:
1. Crown Chakra – For Enhancing Your Spirit Energy
The Crown Chakra or “Sahasrara" is located on the top or “crown" of your head and its color is violet. Energy from the Crown Chakra creates the experience of “transcendence" and associates yourself with a higher purpose, consciousness as well as vision.

Obsession with materialistic things is the number one factor that blocks energy in this Chakra.

How to stimulate your Crown Chakra:

Pray regularly or participate in religious activities – this helps you revisit and get in touch with your spiritual origins
Meditate – this allows you to tap into your higher consciousness
Sing your heart out – helps you get in touch with your inner self.
2. Third-Eye Chakra – For Enhancing Your Integration Energy
The Third-Eye Chakra is also called Anja and its color is indigo. It is located in between your eyes, and its energy is manifested in yourself as “intuition." It works in relation to your left and right brain processes, integration of your male and female sides, wisdom, and holistic experiences.

“Busy life" with almost no more time for personal reflection is one of the major blocks to the energy harnessed in this Chakra.

How to stimulate your Third-Eye Chakra:

Be still often – get in touch with your mind, body, and nature
Take a walk – to stimulate or create good balance in you so you can sit still and write down your thoughts
Take up a creative activity – e.g. write poetry, draw, or paint
Clear the excess clutter from your work and life

energy heal chakra balance yoga yogalign love peace joy meditation
3. Throat Chakra – For Achieving Meaning Energy

Throat Chakra is also know as Visuddha. Its color is blue and it is located in your throat. The energy from this Chakra is associated with “communication and expression" and has to do with beliefs, language, and metaphors.

Lack of focus and disorganized thoughts are the major blocks to this Chakra’s energies.

How to stimulate your Throat Chakra:

Say what you are most afraid to say
Try journal writing to get in touch with your inner thoughts or reflections
Illustrate your thoughts through art, maps, charts, or diagrams to help visualize whatever it is you want to say
Use metaphors to create new meanings or perspectives
Talk with other people.
4. Heart Chakra – For Improving Your Community/ Connection Energy
The Heart Chakra or Anahata is located at the center of your chest. Its color is green and it deals with all aspects related to kindness and loving. You experience its energy as feelings of “connection" as you relate with others, participate in relationships, or engage with others in collaborative effort.

Isolation blocks energy from this source, most especially if you cut off yourself from a support system or from receiving emotional support from other people.
How to stimulate your Heart Chakra:
Spend more quality time with your loved ones
Connect with other people
Participate in discussions
Develop supportive “learning partnerships" with others.
5. Solar Plexus Chakra – For Harnessing Your Control Energy
The Solar Plexus Chakra is also called Manipura, its color is yellow, and it is located in your stomach area. Its energy is manifested in one’s feelings or experiences of “clarity" and is closely associated with one’s sense of power, confidence, and self-control. Individuals with overactive SP Chakra is often regarded as arrogant.

Absence of planning and lack of order causes major blockage to the energies from this Chakra.

How to stimulate your Solar Plexus Chakra:

Create order, structure, guidelines or some form into your life
Match your tasks to your personal energy level – do all your creative high-energy activities in the morning (if you’re a “morning person") and your minor tasks or routine activities during night-time
Expose yourself to more sunshine.
6. Naval Chakra – For Boosting Your Activity Energy
The Naval Chakra is also called Svadisthana energy source. Its color is orange and it is located in your lower abdomen. This Chakra relates to one’s feelings and sexuality, and is also associated with movement, creativity, doing, and achievement. Its energy translates into “excitement".

Inactivity because of self-doubt and/or procrastination is the major block to this source of energy.

How to stimulate your Naval Chakra:

Connect emotionally with others
Do things in stages or step-by-step phases instead of all at once
Try soothing/sensuous water exercise
Do yoga.

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7. Root Chakra – For Kindling Your Existence Energy
The Root Chakra a.k.a. the Base Chakra or Muladhara is located in your tailbone and its energy color is red. This Chakra is connected to one’s sense of security, self-preservation, or survival.

“Self-sabotage" or negative self-talk filled with self-doubt is the major barrier in activating this Chakra. NOTE: The most serious issue with this is that unless you are able to deal with your self-doubts, you are also limiting your access to all the other 6 Chakras or sources of energy.

How to stimulate your Root or Base Chakra:

Confront and challenge your self-doubts to stop “sabotaging" yourself
Visualize your tasks as completed and imagine the sense of achievement you will feel when you finally accomplish them
Listen or stay in tune with your body and learn to relax or release any tensions you’re feeling when facing challenges
Share your concerns and get support from others.
The 7 Chakras are both interdependent and interconnected with each other. They help improve and develop the entire person – both his/her irrational and rational selves, emotional and intuitive sides, his/her aesthetic and pragmatic tendencies, as well as material and spiritual characteristics.

You can help activate your 7 Chakra energy sources by following the tips above to improve your self and your daily life.

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Let Depression Be Your Guide: 4 Tips On How To Use It Wisely
By: Will Donnelly, based in Hawaii

Now that the sparkle of holiday lights has faded, winter’s darkness and chill has fully set in. Few of us are surprised when we find ourselves feeling stuck and probably at least a bit depressed. Like a stern schoolmaster, winter extracts from us qualities we would never have brought out ourselves intentionally.

Depression is a mercurial thing. Does a feeling of heaviness greet us when we awaken in the darkened morning? Is it a fleeting bad mood? Are we just “processing” something? Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States and countless self-help books address it. We dread it. And shame does not take long to follow.

But as we know that the darkness helps us see the stars, these “stars” can metaphorically represent the subtle patterns in our own lives. These patterns (clues) are hard to read during normal busy days. But in the quietude and darkness of winter we begin to notice patterns otherwise unnoticed. Though it is often grueling effort, in time we come to understand that this darker period is fertile ground for us to do deeper work, work that can set us free if we let it, gritty work that we would probably not do otherwise.

What is this work? Observation.

For those of us committed to living life fully and consciously, this is a gift rather than a curse, if we allow it to be*. As my recent essay explained, this difficult place we find ourselves in can be alchemical for us, both deeply informative and transformative.

In yoga, depression is an imbalance of the seventh chakra (one of the body’s seven energy centers), which is located at the crown of the head. It is our connection to Spirit, or Source. Energy moves in through this seventh chakra (the analogy of a radio receiver works well here) and is filtered by the sixth chakra, the intuitive mind. We get a sensation or a gut feeling: “don’t walk down that dark alley”, for example, or “write that book”, “take an art class”.

When the seventh chakra is open and balanced, we are in the flow, tapped into our life purpose, and connected to doing what we love. When this chakra is imbalanced, we are out of touch with our life purpose and feeling disconnected from that which is meaningful. Here, depression sets in—that feeling of hopelessness that can impact us in truly devastating ways.

In my personal experience, handling the more superficial depression helps in staving off the deeper depression, so it’s a valuable investment of our time.* Do these suggested activities each day to help turn your depression into a treasure trove of spiritual gold:

Move
Exercise boosts your mood. Any exercise that gets you body flowing works - walking, biking, jogging, and so on, is great but yoga can be helpful as it is intended specifically to balance the seven chakras. In a class, see if you can focus on inversions safely.

Write
Journaling is good for the mind. Grab a journal and put it by your nightstand. Before you get out of bed to go to work etc, write free form. No edits, no worries about structure. Just let it all out on the page. (Check out Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for helpful hints on how.)

Listen
Meditation is listening (observing). Spend quiet time (maybe after writing in the a.m.?) and listen to any discomfort you are having. Just notice.

Pleasure
Joseph Campbell has said follow your bliss. When you listen to your gut/intuition, what comes up? Before the doubt, is there a joy? Follow that. Sit with it, and write about it. See if there is some small thing you can do today to activate this pleasure principle. This way, you begin to feel your way to your own magnificent future, rather than just intellectualizing it. Use your pleasure emotions as an emotional guidance system—your own personal inner GPS.

*Note: This essay addresses minor depression. If you are experiencing major depression, please reach out for professional support.
Will Donnelly is a nationally recognized, certified yoga teacher and writer. He has been a pioneer in the field of yoga, developing Practical Yoga, and co-creating a yoga–reality series for fitTV (Discovery Communications). As a writer and teacher, Will encourages all students to trust their impulses and find their true voice. Will currently lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, where he leads weekly yoga and writing classes at Kalani. He also leads several popular Practical Yoga adventure and healing retreats throughout the year, with information to be found at WillsPracticalYoga.com

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by Rachael Kable, January 4 2016

What's the point of an affirmation? A few years ago, I wasn't sure of the purpose and didn’t think affirmations could really change anything. After all, they’re just words, right?

Words, yes. But the meanings behind them are much more powerful than I realized. Our thoughts do shape our reality, and now I choose to create a more vibrant, positive, and loving one.

We can move into 2016 in fear of the unknown or nursing disappointment from times of the year that didn't live up to our expectations. Or we can choose to kick off the new year believing in ourselves and our dreams and appreciating the goodness in our lives.

Spend a few minutes on each affirmation below, imagining that the words and their meanings are raining down on you like a rain shower.

You might also want to write down your favorite affirmations and stick them on your mirror or your fridge, to let their positive effects build on each other over time.

1. I am moving closer to my dreams.
Every day takes us further along our paths toward our goals, dreams, and aspirations.

2. I love myself and the people around me.
It feels good to feel and share love. The more we acknowledge the love in our lives, the more we realize it's there.

3. The world needs my uniqueness.
There is no one in the world exactly like you! Own your uniqueness and know that everything about you is what makes you special.

4. I wake up each morning with intention and purpose.
By knowing our “whys” we connect to motivation, drive, and determination.

5. I am ready to create amazing memories.
I'm here and I'm excited to have new experiences this year, which will absolutely be worth remembering!

6. I am powerful in so many ways.
Honor your gifts, your talents, your efforts, your achievements. Your best efforts are powerful.

7. I create time for my hobbies and activities I enjoy.
Deliberately make time for the things that light you up and help you feel fulfilled.

8. Every day, I learn and continue to grow into the best version of myself.
We experience so much in just one day! When you are open to learning new things, you can choose to grow into the best version of yourself.

9. I am supported, safe, and free.
Bring your attention to the people who support you, the safety you have with a roof over your head and the freedom of being able to make so many decisions for yourself.

10. I am grateful for everything in my life.
We can choose to feel bitter for what we do not have or we can choose to appreciate what we do have. Even the tough times are learning experiences and allow us to be challenged and rise up.

11. I accept, love, and appreciate myself, exactly as I am.
We swooned when Mark Darcy told Bridget Jones he liked her, just the way she was. It's something we would love to hear, so why not say it to ourselves? After all, we do deserve to be accepted, loved, and appreciated, just as we are.

12. I listen to my needs and prioritize self-care.
To be the best version of yourself, you need to take the time to “fill your own cup.” Stop and ask yourself what you truly need, then do it!

13. I radiate love with smiles.
Lavish your smile on the people around you and feel the love.

14. I am open to abundance, joy, and pleasure.
When we are open to positive experiences, we are more likely to recognize them when they appear in our lives.

15. I'm excited for what's to come.
We can fear the future and the unknown or we can expect that the best will happen. The only thing that will be different is the way you get to feel right now.

16. Today is meaningful, important, and special.
Let's move into 2016 with purpose, knowing that every day is truly special. It's a leap year, so we have 366 days to choose who we want to be and what we want to do! Let's make them worth it.

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The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy."

Abraham Maslow

We can choose to calmly breathe through the storms - whether the storms are within our own being, our relationships, our environment or in our world.

That is the practice. In those times we get to choose love over fear & calm over chaos. That is the practice. That is life. What will you choose? Practice on.

Exerts taken from www.manduka.com

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by Dr Roger Landry, 8 November 2015

When I was in medical school in the 1960s, the prevailing belief was that once we reached physical maturity, our brains ceased to make new brain tissue. Therefore, all of the conditions associated with aging gradually depleted the neurons in our brains, causing them to atrophy until we eventually succumbed to dementia … Depressing, right?

Fortunately, we were wrong. We’ve since learned that our brains are not the static organs we once thought they were. They are actually dynamic and have the incredible potential for growing, rewiring, and healing.

Neurogenesis, or the ability to make new neurons, and neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to reorganize and build new neural pathways, continue well into old age, which means that we are, in fact, "architects" of our own brains.

With that in mind, and in honor of November's National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, I'd like to share the two most important things we can all do to prevent brain decay:

1. Keep learning new skills (they're a virtual fountain of youth).

Think of the brain as 100,000 miles of interconnected roads, or neural pathways. Every time we learn something new, recall a fact, or recognize someone, messages travel like cars along these pathways at nearly 300 miles per hour to get us to our destination (i.e., enable us to perform a task).

For example, say you want to learn something new, like the list of presidents or how to play a song on the guitar. Think of that skill as a destination, like Boston. Once you’ve learned that skill, you’ve built a neural pathway to the city. Keep doing it, and you’ve soon created a better, faster freeway to get there.

But stop using that road, and eventually potholes develop and you won’t be able to get there as fast or at all.

Atrophy of the brain used to be viewed as a side effect of aging. Now, we know this may simply be a lack of use.

In other words: Use it or lose it! When we use the skills and knowledge we have, the many connections in the brain remain in the best shape they can be. Don’t use them, and they become more difficult to use through a process known as synaptic pruning, in which the brain atrophies in areas where these functions are rarely used.

So what do I recommend? Continue doing those Sudoku puzzles, playing the guitar, speaking a second language, and cooking new recipes. Neuroplasticity and effective neurogenesis can only occur when the brain is stimulated by environment or behavior.

And the added benefit of learning something new? When we are fully focused on a task, we become mindful and less stressed. Which leads me to my second point:

2. Use mindfulness to manage stress and protect your brain.

Stress, quite literally, rots us from within. The chronic stress that is accepted as part of our modern world is destructive to our cognitive function and raises our risk of dementia.

Within the hippocampus, the memory area of our brains, new cells appear. However, not all survive because stress and depression decrease neurogenesis. The hippocampus, in fact, is one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease, bringing into question just how large a role depression and stress are in the development of the disease.

Sadly, we as humans are the only mammals (as far as we know) capable of self-inducing the stress-producing “fight-or-flight” mechanism with our thoughts.

In other words, we can get ourselves worked up over a missed deadline and trigger the same bodily responses as though we were suddenly trapped in a cage with an angry lion. And we can maintain that level of stress for days … weeks … months … even years after the threat is gone.

How can we combat this? Rather than let your thoughts become the driver of your emotions, observe your mind as it begins to get wound up with worry and negativity.

Simply practicing mindfulness and observing your thoughts puts you back in control so that your emotions don't trigger the stress response. Don’t judge your mind; just notice. Wow, look how my mind is getting itself all out of joint over this thing. This reminds you that you are not your mind — and that you can control what you think. This will result in lowering your stress.

The bottom line: By keeping your mind engaged and managing the self-induced stress response, you can help your brain continue to function at high levels for a lifetime.

Interesting stuff ... no harm in adding it to your daily routine, at the very least your body will love the nice deep breaths.

Plant your feet firmly into the floor, about hip distance apart (comfortable for you to squat), maintain natural spinal alignment, cross the left arm over the chest and take hold of the right earlobe, squeezing it between your thumb & forefinger, then right arm crossed over taking hold of the left ear lobe.  Take a deep inhalation going down into a squat and then exhale as you stand.  Repeat for 1-3 minutes.

The exercise needs to be done at least 5 days a week to be beneficial.

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by Shannon Kaiser

When I was plagued by choronic anxiety, I woke up every day with a weight on my chest. I had trouble breathing, broke into cold sweats constantly, and would burst into tears with no warning. To make it through the day was truly a challenge.
Many people suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and, fortunately, the problem is slowly being destigmatized. Being open about our struggles is the best way to start healing them. If you have a loved one who’s dealing with anxiety, your support and acceptance can make a huge difference in their recovery.

That said, it can be easy to derail someone’s progress or alienate a friend if you aren’t aware of and sensitive to their struggles. With that in mind, here are seven common statements you might think are helpful, but really aren’t — plus what to say instead.

1. Don’t say: “You have a lot to be grateful for.”
Anxiety is attack on self — fear manifested into projected outcomes. Most people with anxiety have spent an enormous amount of time focusing on gratitude. When you say “you should be grateful,”the anxious person hears, “I am not doing enough to be happier. I’m not grateful for enough in my life.”

People who suffer from anxiety are already dealing with guilt and shame. This statement implies that you think they aren’t doing enough. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that anyone suffering from chronic anxiety is trying with every fiber of their body to be happier.

Instead, try: “I appreciate you.”
When I was in the clutches of anxiety, my mother told me, “We are so happy you live close by, and we appreciate you.” Hearing those words reminded me that I was enough as I was, and that I was valued. Appreciation is stronger than gratitude, and everyone needs to know they are appreciated.

2. Don’t say, “You should meditate.”
This goes on the list of things that every anxiety sufferer has tried, and probably does regularly. Just because something works for you, don’t assume it will be a magic bullet for someone else.

Instead, ask: “What brings you peace?”
Meditation is one path to peace. It's not one-size-fits-all, and the goal is to find peace, however you can. Telling an anxious person what they should do is never going to make as much of a difference as much as helping them

3. Don’t say, “Everything will be okay.”
This is not helpful to someone who is suffering from anxiety, because anxiety projects illusions.

Instead, try: “I am here for you. I will support you.”
Anxiety is an incredibly isolating experience, so reaching out to say, “I am here to help you and be a friend” makes a world of difference for sufferers.

4. Don’t say, “Just be happy.”
This implies that the disease this person is dealing with is actually just a matter of willpower and personal focus. That’s disheartening and condescending.

Instead ask, “What can I do to help you feel happier?”
This gives the power back to the person feeling stuck, and communicates to them that you’re on their team. It’s incredibly reassuring to feel that someone is there for you, helping you move forward.

5. Don’t say, “It’s all in your head.”
Yes, it’s a mental issue, but this statement suggests that you just need to handle your irrational thoughts. It totally trivializes feelings that are crippling.

Instead, try: “Let’s go have some fun.”
The less you get stuck in your head, the easier it will be to feel more joy in the moment. Walk in a park, visit a bookstore together, or take a yoga class. Engaging in activities together helps keep your mind present, pushing anxiety out of the prime spot.

6. Don’t say, “What do you have to be anxious about?”
This is an incredibly common thing for anxious people to hear, but it’s also terribly condescending. It suggests that you think the person doesn’t deserve to feel anxious based on the limited information we have about their life.

Instead, try: “How can I help you feel less stressed?”
You have to assume you don’t know what’s really going on with someone. We almost never know the deepest struggles people are facing. Rather than operate based on the surface knowledge you have, offer to lend a hand. Show you’re there and willing to lighten their burden.

7. Don’t say, “There are people with much bigger problems.”
Anxious people generally know this, and already feel guilty about the anxiety they are suffering for that very reason. Being reminded of it actually makes them feel worse.

Instead, try: “I’m really sorry to hear that. Do you want to talk?”
Are you sensing a theme? What anxious people don’t need is prescriptive advice that most of us aren’t actually qualified to give. The most helpful thing anyone can do is be encouraging, offer support, and withhold judgment.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older — that’s 18% of the population.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic anxiety seek professional help and support from loved ones.

If you want to go deeper on this topic and heal anxious tendencies, check out my book Adventures for Your Soul.

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The following exerts are taken from Dr Libby Weaver's new book "Exhausted to Energised" - a fascinating read.

"The nervous system makes countless decisions about so many things each day. And night. Fundamentally, we are hardwired for survival. However, in this day and age, the messages from our environment can easily signal to our nervous system that our life is in danger when it isn't. And that can have significant consequences for our energy.

The autonomic nervous system

The ANS "runs" our body behind the scenes and its not under our conscious control.

There are three parts to the ANS. They are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), and the enteric nervous system (ENS).

In general, the SNS and the PNS have opposite functions. When we are under stress, the SNS raises out heart rate, increases our respiratory rate, releases stress hormones, and shunts blood away from the digestive tract to the muscles so that we can run away from or fight whatever is threatening us.

If organ systems in the body are unhealthy and therefore stressed themselves, or if we are mentally or emotionally stressed, that increases the sympathetic load as well.

The SNS by its very nature is catabolic, meaning that it breaks down muscle tissue due to the increased amounts of secreted cortisol (a stress hormone). High-intensity exercise is also sympathetic in nature.

The PNS is able to do its wonderful work overnight, provided we go to bed early enough, because cortisol - a hormone linked to energy, body fat and inflammation, naturally starts to rise around 2am.

The SNS and the PNS are designed  to balance each other out. We are not supposed to be "stuck" in SNS dominance, yet far too many people today do live in SNS dominance, which is damaging their heath and energy.

Adrenalin - one of the hormones behind SNS dominance - is one of the major hormones that drives humans to feel anxious, and decreasing its production is key to shifting this.

What activates the SNS? Caffeine and our perception of pressure and urgency. What activates the PNS? Lengthening the exhalation of breath. And from PNS activation, energy is sustained, even, centred, focused and yet calm. Constant SNS dominance is draining and unsustainable because of the hormones involved.

Reducing the sympathetic load is essential for great energy if the SNS is dominant. Movement is important, but it is best approached from a gentle angle and with a nurturing attitude, rather than at a go-go-go speed. Far more effective exercise for SNS-dominant people is breath-focused and restorative, such as t'ai chi, qi gong, yoga, or any exercise this is done slowly and while being conscious of the breath.

Once the nervous system is better balanced, energy, sleep and mood quality will all improve, and you will most likely find that this concept is game-changing to the way you approach your body, your health and your energy."

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