The loud ringing of the alarm on my cellphone jerks me out of bed and running helter-skelter to face the day every morning. I rush through the house like a whirlwind – brush, bath, get dressed, put out some cat food, grab a cereal bar and race to work. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Instead of waiting for the last alarm (I have three, in case you’re wondering) to jolt me into action, I can get up with the first, or even the second, and ease myself into the day. On the days when I’ve managed to do that, I make myself a cup of hot lemon tea and do nothing until I’ve finished it. It’s my time to think, dream, imagine…before I go forth to meet the world. I’ve noticed that on those days I’m calmer, more focussed and less stressed out.
But I haven’t really done anything about that observation…until recently. And for that, I have to thank Pilar Gerasimo for her article, Reclaim your mornings. According to Pilar, you need to create a morning ritual
Image by Ray Devlin via Flickr
for yourself and ensure that you do it everyday. Your ritual can be long and elaborate or short and simple, but the key to success is to have a minimum commitment – i.e., on the days when you don’t have enough time, spend at least 5 minutes with yourself before you take on the world. Pilar also shares her sister Andrea’s morning ritual. She…
“lights a candle and a stick of incense, then puts on relaxing music. She unrolls her yoga mat, sits, and — at minimum — takes three long, centering breaths. Generally, those three deep breaths lead her into a gentle yoga practice that may last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. At the end of her practice, she meditates for a few moments, sending loving thoughts to her friends and family, and setting some key intentions for the day. When her mat-based practice is complete, she makes tea, has breakfast, and only then does she turn on her phone, consult her calendar and begin the active portion of her day.”
Her minimum commitment from this long ritual is to “Unroll the mat, sit, take three breaths. That’s it. The rest is negotiable.”
This inspired me to design a morning ritual for myself.
Image By derekGavey via Flickr
I find a comfortable spot to sit in – could be cross-legged on the bed, or on the drawing in the drawing room. I take three deep breaths, and do a short guided meditation to start the day on a positive note. Then, I draw a Card for the day to give me a feel of the vibrations and the things to watch out for. After that, breakfast, and then I’m ready to face the day. My minimum daily commitment is to take three deep breaths and draw a card for the day.
I’ve been doing this since the past three weeks, and already, I feel a tangible difference in the texture of my days. What small ritual can you create for yourself every morning, or do you already have a morning ritual? Tell me about it in the comments!
In our daily busy lives, as we go about meeting deadlines, keeping the house, looking after husbands, pets and children, it can be easy to forget the one person who needs the most care – you. If you’re bemoaning the lack of time, worry not.
premasagar via Flickr
Here are 10 things you can do for yourself in all of 10 minutes.
1. Meditate – The next time you’re online, download a few meditation podcasts, or check out my Spiritual Sunday posts and choose a piece of meditation music or guided meditation you like. Sync it to your music player (iPod) or phone. Next time you need a break, plug in your headphones and tune in to radio: you.
2. Collect images for an idea file/vision board – Dreaming of a relaxing spa treatment, a beach holiday, or something else? Set aside 10 minutes to scan through old magazines looking for pictures that speak to you. Clip them out and stick them into an envelope. Next time you need a mini break, get the envelope out, bring out a sheet of paper and a glue stick, and stick those images to make a collage of your very own vision board. Put it up where you can see it as you race through your busy day.
3. Breath yoga – Known as Pranayam in Yoga practice, are a set of simple breath exercises you can do in 10 minutes (or less, or more).
4. Listen to music – Music can change your mood – relax you, pep you up, make you dance or cry or fall in love all over again. Better still, if you’re at home faced with an unpleasant task (like cleaning up the house), put on some peppy music, turn up the volume, and dance as your clean!
Image by Kuzeytac via Flickr
5. Have a cuppa – A hot cup of tea or coffee, a slice of cake (if you want to be indulgent), quiet time for 10 minutes, and you’ll feel shiny and new. Promise!
6. Mini home facial – Put on some soft music – Chopin, Mozart, anything instrumental. Exfoliate your skin, apply a face mask, put a slice of cucumber over your eyes, and lay down for 5 minutes. Rinse. Apply a face cream. Fresh, smooth skin can make you feel absolutely wonderful!
7. A few quick photos – Take your mind off your to-do list. Grab your camera, yes, even your phone camera will do. Frame and fire off a few shots. Admire your mini creations.
Cover of Messages from Your Angels
8. Quick 1-card reading – Get yourself an oracle deck – one of my favorites is Doreen Virtue’s Messages from your Angels. Next time you have 10 minutes, do a quick 1-card reading for yourself. The messages on the card deck are very uplifting, and might just help you shift your focus so you can approach your day from a calmer place.
9. Read a poem/passage you love – I’ve found that reading a poem can help me shift my mood, no matter what kind of a mood I am in.
1o. Make a 5-min cup cake – click here for the recipe. Then snatch another few minutes to indulge in your guilty treat. If you’re feeling super generous, share it with your significant other! 😉
There you have it! A list of 10 things you can do in 10 minutes to recharge your batteries.
Do you have any favorites of your own? Do share in the comments!
I don’t know what’s come over me these days. While planning out my day at work, I also write up a list of to-dos that need to be done after work, but once I leave office, I think “Hell with it all. I’m just going home.” And kiss the to-dos goodbye. It’s not like I have anything pressing to do at home, either. Nor do I go home and get cracking on things that can be done around the house. Interesting stuff too, mind. Like experimenting with photography. Learning the tarot. Cleaning up my art table so I can make some art.
Instead, I go home, change into my sweats, and play Bubble Explode on my iPhone like my life depended on it. That game is evil, I tell you! It has me totally obsessed.
Seriously though, I don’t like this change that has crept upon me. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why I have zero motivation. I know myself well enough to know it’s more than sheer laziness (not to say I’m not lazy, but I’m not this lazy!) So, what is it?
A lot of the things on my to-do list are related to long-term goals – like going for a walk and cooking evening supper minus carbs (to lose weight), doing 1 chapter from Learn the Tarot (to, of course, learn how to read the cards), clean the art table (so I can start creating art once again).
I know from experience that long-term goals can change sometimes, so the first thing I asked myself was if I still cared enough about said goals. I do!
Since it wasn’t as simple as sheer boredom with my goals, I knew I needed to dig deeper. Time to bring out a notebook and a steaming cup of tea.
Image by angietorres via Flickr
I listed each goal on a separate page, then wrote the words “I’m afraid I won’t be able to achieve this because” underneath, and without stopping to think or analyze, I wrote down all the thoughts that came to mind. For e.g., under the goal of losing weight, one of the things I listed out was that since working out regularly for 6 months gave me no tangible results, I was destined to stay overweight.
Once I had repeated the exercise for all three goals, I went back and confronted my demons head-on. To counter the fear of never being able to shed the excess weight, I checked my food diary from when I was exercising. Based on Gary Taube’s book Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It, I now see that I was eating too many carbs and hidden sugars back then. So it is worth my while to try out a course correction in my diet combined with a moderate workout to help me achieve my goal of slow, steady and permanent weight loss.
Finally, I asked myself if there were any other thought patterns that were pulling me back and keeping me de-motivated. Surprisingly, I found that I am actually overwhelming myself by over-thinking things. Take going for a walk, for instance. How hard is that? Not hard at all, right? Now, start thinking and imagining these steps – fight through traffic to get home, keep purse in its designated place, drink some water, maybe have a fruit, change into tracks and tee, find socks and wear running shoes, lock the house, go for a 30-45 min walk, come home, shower, change into sweats…Doesn’t the very thought of the entire process overwhelm you?
Note to self: Do NOT break down a simple walk into a thousand steps ‘cause it does not help! Instead, just think get home, go for walk. See, that’s so simple!
What about you? Ever felt like you were lacking motivation? What did you do to overcome it?
I believe that our beliefs change as we age. When I was around five, I believed in the fairy godmother and the tooth fairy, I believed that wicked witches and jealous queens existed, that there was a forest somewhere filled with enchanted creatures that can talk, and that mushroom rings meant that there had been a council of fairies…
But of course, as I grew up, I lost the magic somewhere. Life became a what you see is what you get deal.
Image by ToastyKen via Flickr
That changed again, when I met the wonderful man who was to become the hubby. We got married despite great odds, only because I believed that this was going to be. Since then, I have slowly opened up to the mysteries of the universe. I read a lot of great authors and some wonderful books, especially Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversation With God series. Now, again, I believe in magic.
I believe that we have a loving, compassionate God. That we are made in his image so we can go out and experience life, embrace it, warts and all.
I believe that things happen because we choose them – the good as well as the bad. Our thoughts shape a lot of our life experiences, so I believe in choosing good thoughts.
Image by AlicePopkorn via Flickr
I believe that angels exist.They don’t have to be of the winged variety. That stranger who found an envelope with office money that I had left at the phone booth and came running after me to return it was an angel – I didn’t have enough money to replace what I would have lost that day.
I believe that we can see God in the natural beauty around us, in the moment before dawn, in the innocence of a child’s laugh.
These are some of the wonders of the universe that I believe in.
Kant said that we require three things by which to measure happiness: someone to love, something we like to do, and something to look forward to.*
Look closely at this statement, and you’ll realize that most people have someone to love and something that they like to do, it’s the something to look forward to that we sometimes forget .
When we ignore our dreams, our life feels withered and empty
I know, I forgot about it too, recently. Life goes along smoothly…we work, spend time with family, meet up with friends…life has a steady rhythm and we don’t do much to shake it up…happy to maintain the status quo…not realizing that we just might be killing our dreams in the process.
Image via Wikipedia
So, how do you know if you’re exactly where you need to be right now, or if you need to challenge the status quo? I got the answer to this question by chance, just when I needed to hear it the most, as I was scrolling through my Twitter steam. “Killing our dreams: the three symptoms” flashed out at me that day – an article by the master himself, Paulo Coelho.
The first symptom is the lack of time. Ever looked at those super busy people and wondered how they find the time to fit so much into their day? They’re living their dream. It’s those of us who say we’re too busy to do this or that who are actually shying away from fighting for what we believe in.
The second symptom is our certainties – a false belief that we are being wise by not demanding more from life. When we look at others striving hard to achieve their dreams, we choose to retreat into our own daily existence, not realizing that the fight is what excites and rejuvenates.
Image by Yuliya Libkina via Flickr
The final symptom is complacency. Since we’re satisfied with the way our life is going, we get comfortable in our daily routine. We brush our grand dreams under the carpet, believing we are “mature” in seeking only professional and personal development, and are surprised when we hear others saying they want still more in life.
When we renounce our dreams, we go through a short period of tranquility because we buy into the illusion of comfort. But our dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychosis arise. What we sought to avoid in fighting for our dreams – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.
And these don’t even have to be really big dreams. They could be small ones too.
I always wanted to have a vase of fresh flowers at home. It makes the entire room just come alive, doesn’t it? But as time went by and life got busy, I found myself waiting for those special occasions when the hubby would bring me flowers, and that dream of always having fresh flowers fell by the wayside.
But recently, I’ve picked that dream up and dusted it off, examined it and decided that it isn’t something that I want to give up on. So, I have decided that I will buy fresh flowers every week during the winter and monsoon months. It’s rather pointless to bother is summer, because flowers just wilt away in a day. Here’s the bunch of blooms I bought myself this week – pretty, aren’t they?
Sit down and ask yourself: what are your dreams? Are you living them, pursuing them, or have you given up on them?
Technology has been evolving at a rapid pace. Remember the days of yore, when we used to call the telephone exchange to place STD calls. You had to wait for the telephone company to connect your call, you never knew how soon – or even if – your call would go through. Fast forward a few years, and we had the ability to place STD calls ourselves without having to go through the switch-board. A few more years later and mobile phones emerged, allowing us to make STD and ISD calls on the go. Fast forward to the present, and you have multiple ways to stay in touch – phone, email, internet calls through Skype, Facebook and even Twitter.
This ability to constantly be in touch, in real time, is a boon when your family stays far away. You’re now no more than a phone call, e-mail, status update or tweet away. It’s also become possible to stay connected to the office while on the go. Look around, and you’ll see people in the gym handling office-related phone calls, busy executives sitting in the coffee shop with their laptop updating an important presentation or checking and answering work e-mails.
But in this constant race to be up-to-speed with everyone and everything around us, it has become increasingly difficult to find time to connect with ourselves, with our spirituality, with God. It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
The very technology that has connected us to friends and family around the world has also given us myriad tools to connect with ourselves on a deeper level. Here are six ways in which you can tune in to you even when you’re on the go.
YouTube: Most smartphones these days can connect to and play YouTube videos. The next time you’re in the train commuting just log on to YouTube, look for meditation, scroll through the numerous options that come up, plug in your headphones and hit play. You can also visit the Soulful living page here on Modern Gypsy to access a collection of hand-picked meditation music or guided meditation videos and find yourself. Subscribe to the blog and you’ll get a new meditation video every Sunday, along with a lot of other interesting content on a variety of topics ranging from book reviews to travel stories to observations on daily life.
Twitter:There are a lot of spiritual gurus and motivational speakers on Twitter who send out inspiring tweets everyday that can give you a nugget of wisdom in 140 characters or less. They also post links to relevant content on their blogs or other sites that you can visit whenever you have a few extra minutes, or favorite and go back to later.
A few people to follow: @paulocoelho, @DalaiLama, @RockSolidAdvice, @RevRunWisdom. You could also follow my Inspirations list on Twitter.
Mailing lists: There are a lot of websites and blogs that offer spiritual content and insights online. Subscribe to a few of their mailings lists and you’ll have some thought provoking articles to read the next time you’re stuck at the doctor’s office or in a nasty traffic snarl. You can even save them on your smartphone using apps like Instapaper, which allow you to save webpages for offline reading.
Facebook: Have you come across the nifty Facebook app called God Wants you to Know? If you haven’t, I suggest you check it out. It gives you a new message from God everyday – daily bite-sized pieces of inspiration that at times are exactly what you need to hear.
Apps: There are a lot of religion and spirituality apps available that you can download onto your smartphone or tablet. You can download The Bhagwad Gita as a book or in audio; Buddha-in-a-Pocket offers powerful insights from the teachings of the Buddha; The Life Purpose App, which provides full access to Dan Millman’s bestseller The Life You Were Born to Live and calculates and provides details about your life path.
Podcasts: There are a lot of meditation podcasts available on iTunes that you can download the next time you’re updating your iPhone/iPad/iPod apps. Spend 10 minutes before you start your day to meditate, or listen to vedic chants while commuting and see the difference it makes to your day. You’ll operate from a more calm, focused and peaceful state of mind, and if you make it a regular practice, you’ll notice that you aren’t as stressed out as you used to be.
I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface of the millions of options out there. Are there any tools or apps that you use to connect with yourself?
That’s Pepo, my adorable furry friend. She adopted us on 15 July 2009, and has been a constant source of entertainment for us ever since. In addition to entertaining us, she also strives to teach us mere humans some lessons, cat style!
Act first, think later: Pepo’s a house cat, which means she spends hours watching birds through the window. In this picture, she’s clambered up onto the top of the window, near the ceiling, and after having her fill of bird watching, is looking for a way back down. She knows one of us will come get her! Translated to us humans: Just do it! Don’t think. The more you think, the more reasons you can give yourself to not do something to break out of your comfort zone. Act and trust in the universe, things will almost always work out — 99.99% of the time!
Want something? Be cute: One of Pepo’s favorite things to do is to go out on to the balcony and drink water or sit on the ledge and watch the world go by. Since she’s a house cat, these excursions are under supervision. So, once we are back from work, her first request, nay demand, is to be taken out. The best way to get her demand met? Be cute! Translated to us humans: When you want to be recognized for the work you do, you need to move out of the mindset of letting your work speak for yourself — you need to focus on building strong relationships with your managers. It doesn’t mean you have to suck up to them, but small talk, going along with their plans, and problem solving as much as possible wouldn’t hurt.
When I’m playing football, I’m Ronaldo!: Yes, Pepo plays football…with balled up paper…and when she’s playing, she’s Christiano Ronaldo incarnate! Focused, quick, nothing but the game matters – not food, not going out, nothing! Translated to us humans: Focus, hard work and perseverance will help you achieve any goal. The best way I’ve found to stick with it: write your goals, break them into baby steps, reward yourself for every milestone achieved, don’t beat yourself up for missing a target – analyze what went wrong, fix it, and go for it again!
Sleep above all else: The amount of time Pepo spends sleeping can leave you amazed! On weekends, she sleeps, eats, plays, sleeps, plays, sleeps…you get the drift, right? Translated to us humans: (1) You need downtime baby! There’s no way you can go on and on and on, working, running the house, looking after everyone else before yourself. Make some “me time” — meditate, go get a manicure, watch a movie or grab lunch with a friend…something, anything, that is only for you! (2) There may be times when we wish we had 48 hrs in a day, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon — can you imagine a 16 hr work day? Yuck! The best way to be productive — plan, focus, and ensure you get adequate shut eye, or your body’s going to rebel on you, and then you won’t be able to get anything done!
Has your furry friend taught you any life lessons?