Better Days Grey Wide photo-1503891617560-5b8c2e28cbf6 articles moved

By Better Days Global, Jul 25 2019 08:02PM




There have been times in my life when I’ve been so in my head that the best parts of me were dead. I was taken over by my negative mind running my life, my mood, and my self-worth. I was unhappy, jealous, frustrated, angry and, at the worst of times, depressed to the point of debilitation.


I saw little hope or future. I assumed everyone else had the same negative thoughts about me as I did. I was in my head, and in so many ways I was dead.



Why I Started Meditating



I needed a break from always thinking. I needed to get out of my head. Sports, particularly ultimate frisbee, used to be my outlet. This was the only way I really knew how to get into my body. After the onset of a groin injury that kept me from doing most physical activities, I embarked on meditation in hopes of getting some of the mental relief that I previously got from sports and exercise. I wanted to learn how to be more in the present moment. I had read several books and watched countless videos that talked about living in the present (especially those by Eckhart Tolle). I was inspired that there was a different way of living than I had ever really considered. I wanted to fully feel what this type of living was like. Yoga encouraged me. Whenever I had done yoga in the past, the biggest benefit was how my mind felt after. Savasana – the part at the end when you lie on the floor was always my favorite part. I noticed something in others who meditated. People I knew who spent time meditating were people I looked up to. They had a way of finding happiness in everyday situations that I didn’t.



Why I Meditate Now



It’s been 4 years since I started meditating, and 2 years since I’ve made it a daily practice. The reasons I meditate now are quite different from why I started.



Self-awareness. This has been the biggest gift I’ve received from meditation. I’m so much more aware of my thoughts and patterns of thinking than I used to be. I’ve been able to make BIG strides in how I feel, how I react to others, and how I exist in my relationships – with my partner, friends, family, and strangers.



Feeling my emotions. I originally thought meditating would be all peace and quiet, and I’d always be in a calm state once I got ‘good enough’ at it….I was wrong. Because of the constant cycle of ever-changing thoughts and emotions that come up, I sometimes have to sit through very heavy and challenging experiences. I used to either avoid or mask these feelings. Now that I try to deal with them head on, I feel more empowered and more in control of my life.



Peace and quiet. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. Especially 4 years in, I can now find this state much more frequently. Once I get into it, I don’t want to leave it. It’s warm, fuzzy, and cozy.



Momentum. I’ve seen enough benefits that I now feel a strong need to meditate every day…Even though I don’t feel like I make progress every day, and sometimes I even feel like I regress in my practice, when I look at the big picture, I can see that I am evolving and growing a deeper understanding of myself and my place in the world.



The spillover effect. My meditation doesn’t just happen when I sit down for 20 minutes every morning to do it. It happens in moments throughout my day too. Like when I’m walking down the street in a rush and catch myself entirely in my head. I’ll slow down and pay attention to my surroundings – the trees, the houses, the people. My practice also spills over into my day when I’m listening to someone else speak. I’ll catch myself thinking about what I want to say and then stop to re-focus and fully listen to what the other person is saying.


There’s no doubt meditation has made me a better person. I’m less reactive, better able to deal with stress, and spend more time in my body than I used to – without even having to chase a frisbee to do it! There are several forms of meditation and tools you can use and it’s easier than ever to get started.



How to Start Meditating Consistently



So how exactly do you start to build the habit? I’d love to tell you!


Make time for it every day. Seems simple, but this is probably the most important step. Pick a time of day when you’ll do it every day (or at least every weekday). Most meditators will tell you the best time for them is in the morning, soon after they wake up. Our brains are generally quieter than in the middle of our hectic day. This is true for most people. Plus, by doing it in the morning you’ll get the reward of achieving your goal early every day.



Start small. Like really small. Start with 1 or 2 minutes. If you start with 10 or 20 minutes, you’ll likely get bored, distracted or frustrated that “It isn’t working”. You don’t start training for a marathon by doing a 10-mile run. 1-2 minutes may seem really short, and that’s the point.



You are more likely to stick with it and to experience moments that give you the momentum to continue. Focus on your breath. This is the easiest form of meditation for most people. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. If you start thinking about something, that’s ok! It’s totally normal and happens to even the most experienced meditators. The goal is to develop the awareness that you started thinking about something, and then let that thought go to return to the breath. This is waaaay harder than you might think, as your brain will want to keep thinking. And in most cases, it will. Also, totally normal. Keep coming back to the breath. You’ll continue to do this back and forth dance from thought to breath… from breath to thought… That’s what meditation really is – a development of awareness, recognition of thoughts, and intentional letting go of thoughts. As you improve you’ll get better at recognizing thoughts and letting them go. Over time you’ll develop a much greater awareness of your thoughts, which can lead to significant changes in your overall health and happiness. But beware, this takes time, patience and regular practice. Just like training for a marathon, you build your capacity over time through repeated and expanded practice.



Use a timer. When you start, set it for 1 minute. When you are ready to go to 2 minutes, do two separate 1-minute meditations. Continue to do this when you expand to 3 minutes, 4 minutes and 5 minutes. Having the timer go off every minute will give you the opportunity to check in with yourself and see if you are lost in thinking. If you are, it’ll be your cue to go back to focusing on your breath. If you don’t give yourself some credit for staying focused (a smile, a first pump, perhaps even a jig) and reset the timer. As you start to see progress, you can set the timer for longer intervals.



Experiment with other forms of meditation. There is so much more you can do than focus on your breath. You can focus on a candle or a tree. Your feet. Your hands. Your heart. The key when starting to meditate is to find a focus point and stay with it for as long as you can, then keep coming back to it. Use online tools. There are some great meditation apps – try Headspace, or Insight Timer.



Start Now. Do a 1-minute meditation. If you really want to start meditating, what better time than now!? Set a timer for 1 minute and focus on your breath. When you finish, commit to a time tomorrow when you’ll do this again. At the end of each session make that commitment to the following day.

I can’t think of a better way to truly get to know yourself, love yourself, and evolve yourself. Beyond that, the wider societal benefits of empathy, compassion, and connection are nothing short of necessary in today’s world. And of course, there are no nasty side effects



By Craig Kulyk




By Better Days Global, Jul 25 2019 09:24AM


“What nine months of attention does for an embryo forty early mornings alone will do for your gradually growing wholeness.” ~Rumi


We would likely all agree that manicures, baths, and cozy movie nights on the couch all fall under the umbrella of self-care. But I believe that it’s time—actually, beyond time—to go deeper and re-claim what self-care truly means. It’s also time to see self-care as imperative, and to move it from the lonely bottom of our to-do list and plant it firmly at the very top.


For me, self-care has become my fuel and my fire. When I claim time on my calendar on a regular basis for things like play, sister time, and self-reflection, I stay in connection with myself and the things I actually want to say yes and no to.


Self-care is about clearing out the cobwebs in my mind with daily journaling and going to the gym. It’s about telling my husband, “I can’t make dinner for us tonight, my love; I need to go and have some time alone and take a bath after a long day.” And doing so without guilt.


And the miraculous thing is, the more I claim time for myself, the more I overflow with generosity and patience for the people I love most. See how that works? The more I give to myself, the more I can give to others from a place of fullness.


We would never dream of driving cross-country without stopping for fuel, snacks, and water—or trying to make the drive on an empty tank. Yet we seem to think that we can keep pushing through our own exhaustion without consequences.


When I look back at my own journey from physically, emotionally, and spiritually falling apart, to reclaiming myself on all levels, I see it all began with a decision to stop caring so much about what others thought, and to make my own wellness, happiness, and voice priorities again.


I began to notice that when I gave myself permission to speak up for myself in the moment, even as my voice was shaking, I left the conversation with a sense of wholeness, without any lingering emotions that were not honored.


When I didn’t speak my mind, and held in my opinions and needs, I ended up at Best Buy yelling at the customer service manager because I had so much pent up sadness and anger from stuffing things down and being “nice.”


The more I was honest with myself about my self-care needs, the more I could be myself with those around me.


It all started over a decade ago. I had just dropped my son off at pre-school. As I sat in my car in front of the coffee shop where I had intended to work for a few hours, I found myself unable to get out of the car.


I felt the tears start bubbling up, but they weren’t quite ready to flow yet. After all, I didn’t really have anything to cry about, did I? My son was healthy, my husband loved me, we had a steady income from his job, and I had the freedom to create a business.


Our home was warm and furnished. We had friends and family to call on. Admittedly, my sister and mother were both thousands of miles away. And my best friends were on opposite coasts. But I’d thankfully found a few new friends to share the early motherhood journey with, and they were truly lifesavers for me. I’m sure I was that for them as well.


Yet, there I sat in my car, stuck in a fog of confusion, unable to step inside the coffee shop. All I could think was, “Who the hell am I now? Where did the me that I knew so well go? And who the hell am I about to become?”


That’s when the phone rang. It was my sister (i.e. divine intervention). She asked me how I was, and that’s all I needed to hear. The floodgates broke wide open and the waterfall of tears began.


“What’s wrong??? Are you okay???” she asked.


“Yes, no, yes… well, everyone is fine, I’m fine, it’s just…I don’t know what the hell I’m feeling… I’m just… sad.” There was some kind of relief in letting myself cry and saying it out loud. It felt like a valve that had been screwed on too tightly had suddenly been released.


I realized during our conversation that part of me had been hiding for a while. This was the part of me that had been letting go of who I was little by little. As I became a wife, a mother, a resident of a new state, and a homeowner, the parts of me that were used to more freedom, more expression, and less constraint in speaking my truth, began to emerge. And this part of me was pissed, hurt, sad, and ready to run.


But I knew that I couldn’t run back to who I was before I got married and became a mama. And I couldn’t run forward either because the ground in front of me had become uncertain; I didn’t know how I was going to step into all of these new roles while still maintaining a sense of myself. All of my attention was now focused on keeping another human alive, and being the wife of this man who was now my only family in this new place.


Instead of running, I just imploded, but it happened slowly, over time, so that I hadn’t noticed.


Over the last several years of hustling to build a business, raise a baby, and build a home, my body had taken a backseat to my brain and my to-do list. And now, at this very moment, after years of pain in my belly, and sheer exhaustion, my body was ready to be honored again.


Back in the car, my sister asked me the one thing that would shift the trajectory of my life: She asked me if I felt like going to a yoga class. She said she remembered a time in our lives when I was shouting my enthusiasm for yoga from the rooftops. And admittedly, it had been years since I stood at the top of my mat and held my hands in front of my heart.


After I stopped crying, I promised her I would get me to a class.


The very next morning I was in this gorgeous azure blue and gold studio that would become my anchor over the next two years.


I cried at some point during almost every yoga class for the next six months. And I slowly began to feel my body arrive in the moment again. I could feel the parts of myself that had been hiding begin to show up and talk to me on that mat. Each pose was slowly coaxing me back to myself, and molding me into the new self that I was becoming.


About six months into my new yoga habit, Deborah, my powerhouse yoga teacher, offered a six-month yoga teacher training intensive. Even though I had no desire to teach yoga, I felt an instant yes in my heart and body.


We met every other Saturday and every other Wednesday evening. This was the first time I committed to being away from my son on a regular basis. The guilt I spread on myself was thick, but I knew I had to do this. I knew it would be what I needed so that I could actually be present when I was home and give to my family in the way that they deserved.


One of the aspects of the yoga teacher training was to commit to doing yoga every day. More specifically, every morning. As the mama of a young kiddo who was still not committing to a regular sleep schedule, my morning sleep time was not something I was willing to give up.


But I trusted Deborah as my guide and mentor. She had taught me to connect with my body and emotions on a deeper level than I had ever considered before. Through movement, writing, and meditations, she showed me how to recognize my emotional triggers and to release my tension so that I did not hold it in my body for years to come (as I had been doing all of my life). So I begrudgingly decided that I was willing to try this morning yoga thing.


I thought, “I could give up five minutes of sleep and start there.” And that is exactly how it all started. The magic was born in those first five minutes.


I noticed something shifting for me during those first few days of my new morning commitment to be someone who wakes up a little earlier to move my body, meditate, and breathe.


I noticed that my patience level with my son was expanding. I noticed that the things I had normally found frustrating became amusing. I was more peaceful during transitions, and my son began to notice as well. Even at three to four years old, he told me I looked happy. That was all the motivation I needed.


Next, I committed to ten to fifteen minutes of this morning routine. And on days when my son woke up earlier, I began leaving out a little basket of toys and books that would occupy him while I finished. There were definitely mornings when he just needed me to hold him or cuddle. And that was just fine.


I realized that this was truly an evolving practice and that he wouldn’t be four years old forever. There was no use in getting rigid about something that was meant to help me find more peace and joy.


Over the next decade, my morning yoga turned into the Magic Morning Mindset because the more I practiced, the more I found that synchronicity, laughter, abundance, and much more began to arrive with ease and grace.


I believe this is true for everyone. If you’re looking to take better care of yourself, mind, body, and spirit, the morning is where it starts.


Whether your morning mindset practice is short or long, includes yoga or dance, includes writing for an hour or for just five minutes, there’s always a benefit beyond the morning hours.


The way you start your day sets the tone for your day. Starting with the Magic Morning Mindset prepares you to be calmer, more joyful, more connected to yourself, and better able to voice your needs. By prioritizing self-care and putting it at the top of your to-do list, you’re telling yourself that your needs matter.



What is My MAGIC Morning Mindset?



M – Movement


A – Alignment


G – Gratitude


I – Intuition (or Intention)


C – Connection



How Can You Start?



1. First, set the intention that you want to create a three-step Magic Morning Mindset.



2. If you have a hard time waking up, commit to going to bed a bit earlier (even fifteen to twenty minutes will make a difference)



3. Decide what you want to do for your mind, body, and soul (you can find some ideas below).



4. Set yourself up for success—lay out a yoga mat the night before, or have your journal and a few pens ready. (I can’t tell you how many pens I’ve gone through over the years.)



5. Stay gentle by starting with five minutes.



6. Notice how you feel throughout the day after doing the Magic Morning Mindset practice.



Some Ideas To Get You Started


Mind


Write down your dreams.


Just write without editing, even if it feels really weird and you’re writing nonsensical words. Just write.

Write ten to fifteen I AM statements: ex: I am committed, I am loved, I am happy, I am light.

Write any thoughts or ideas floating around in your mind until you feel lighter. Journal about anything that comes up while doing these practices so that you can reflect on your journey as you go.


Body


Put on your favorite song and dance.


Do three to five yoga sun salutations.

Stretch and move any way that feels good in your body.

Do some push-ups and jumping jacks until you feel warm in your body.

Journal about anything that comes up while doing these practices so that you can reflect on your journey as you go.


Spirit


Sit quietly for three to five minutes just noticing your breath.

Choose a guided meditation.Meditate any way that feels good to you (there are countless resources).

Start with even one minute of stillness and see how it feels. Journal about anything that comes up while doing these practices so that you can reflect on your journey as you go.



As with all new things in life, you may feel excited about starting your morning with some magic at first, but then find you have less time on some days than others. Over the last decade of practicing this Magic Morning Mindset, I’ve had long stretches where I’ve felt fired up and have woken up early enough to enjoy a luxurious sixty to ninety-minute morning practice. But on some days, I’ve only been able to squeeze in five to ten minutes.


I can feel the difference in my day when I choose to invest more time in my morning. But I don’t give myself a hard time when it has to be shorter. The secret sauce is to stay open and flexible, and to take it one day at a time.


As long as you are showing up for yourself in some meaningful way each morning, you are saying yes to your wellness and your joy, and staying connected with yourself.


Make this practice your own and notice the changes in your day and in your life as you prioritize your own needs and get you back on the top of your to-do list.


By Elena Lipson



By Better Days Global, Jan 16 2018 05:36PM


I pride myself on projecting an image to the world that is authentic and true of my character through my interactions with my audience via my social media platforms Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. This also can be said of the social media accounts for my magazine In-spire LS. We currently live in a world where numbers rule and it does not always matter how talented, educated or passionate you are about your work; interest is far greater when your followers are in the double figures. Of course, there are now more than ever a number of quick fix -it schemes that I could employ to raise my game in this area. However, nothing is more important to me than to show my journey, the ups and the downs, the successes and the failures, the highs and the lows, the moments of uncertainty and self-doubt and the times when I feel like I can take on the world; and win. Because I want you to know that you can experience the very same, share it with the world without fear of rejection or superiority and still reach the levels of success you dream of.




I want you all to know that I hustle and I grind all day, every day. There are no rest days and there are no days off. Then, I return home and in any spare second, I can get my hands on; I am pursuing my passion writing. Whatever your passion may be, you should be dedicated to doing the same. No matter what. No quick fixes, no faking it for the gram. Just pure dedication and truth in the parts of your journey that you share. Sharing content like the type I put out on In-spire LS and spreading a positive message is what I LIVE for. My passion encapsulates me. It is the first thing I think on upon waking and the last thing I think about before going to sleep.



As my mind remains focused on what I am building and the message I want to convey. I cannot be caught up in what the next person is doing. I cannot allow myself to look around at others and compare what I have to them because that would be selling my vision, my dream; and myself short. I cannot allow myself to convey a life to those who follow me that is not true, that is false and constructed to raise my game because that would not be right. Of course, I have had many a naysayer comment on the decisions I have made in the growth of my brand. There’re those who have believed that they could and would do a better job than I have or attained a higher level of success than I have managed to attain in the time I have pursued this venture; had the dream been placed in their heart.



However, it was not placed within their heart, it was given to me and your dream has been given to you. It may take you 5 months, 5 years, 15 years to reach the levels of success you aspire to but on this path never ever compromise on your authenticity and what makes you intrinsically you.





You will reach the level of success you require but in the process, never lose sight of who you are what you stand for and the steps you have taken to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Your journey to success will be that more rewarding and the respect you receive will be that more greater if you stay true to who you are and the journey you have taken to get there.




#LiveWell




By Better Days Global, Nov 24 2017 09:37AM



Life is hard, but what if it wasn’t?


If it wasn’t so hard what would it look like?


If you weren’t just surviving each day but really thriving in life, how would that feel?


Life is full of ‘sliding doors’ moments. In those moments, we need to make a decision that chooses the direction we take. I have had key moments in my life where I could have taken a completely different direction. Friends and family may argue that I ‘should’ have taken a different direction but I don’t agree. Those decisions have got me to where I am today, they have taught me life skills that I may not have had otherwise. They showed me what I am capable of and the level of inner strength I didn’t know I had.



There is always a positive, even if the positive is a learning experience, it is important to look for it.

Finding the positive in every situation is one of the few things happy people have in common. Tougher times have taught me to value, appreciate and thrive on life. If my life journey had taken a different direction, would I fully appreciate what I have now? Would the smiles and laughter be as vibrant?


When your sliding doors open, what do you see ahead?


What will you do?


What will you do before that door closes and the opportunity is gone?


You could stay standing where you are now, with life as it currently is, with days as they currently are, or you could step through that door. It is one step forward. It isn’t a huge change, but it is one step forward, and that step is you taking control. Life doesn’t change overnight, you don’t just wake up happy having dreamed your problems away as you sleep. Life changes because you consciously take action and you make the changes happen. The smaller the step, the easier it is to take. Small steps will still take you to your destination.


It is only when I look back I can truly see how much I have achieved, but my first step was the biggest. I show gratitude for all those things I would have missed out on if I hadn’t taken that step. I made the decision to take control and end that chapter of my life before the book became a short story.


What do you show gratitude for?


When you wake up, and before you sleep, do you take a moment to reflect on all the things and people you are grateful for? Do you take some time at the end of the day to reflect on the successes? Do you recognise your achievements from the day, no matter how small?


What opportunities, achievements and success is in your future?


What won’t happen unless you take that first step?


Your future doesn’t have to reflect your present, or mirror your past. Your future is within your control.

Working your way through challenging times is what makes you more resilient, this is what helps you to see what you are truly capable of. This is when you transform into a brighter, stronger version of yourself. If life is tough right now, then maybe it's time to step through that sliding door. Maybe it’s time to see what lies ahead of you, where to change direction and where to try something different.


Know that within you is the power to rise above any situation or struggle.

Only you can find out. Only you can make the change.


The hardest times often lead to the greatest moments in your life.

Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end. (Roy Bennett)