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Meditations Productivity

Ten Ways to Practice Mindfulness without Meditating

January 29, 2016

It’s been a long time, blog world. Drie and I like to make things, and that’s the problem with being a Maker: you always want to make something new. We made a blog, but then we wanted to make other super sweet stuff. I’ve been busy making art and a school, and Drie’s been cooking up lyra routines and a Kickstarter campaign to launch her and Blue’s physical location for all the other stuff they make and collect. You kind of need to set priorities as a creative, and unfortunately, blogging hasn’t made the cut as of recently.

I grew up thinking that the key to super-charged creative productivity was multi-tasking, but now I’m finding that to be productivity’s antagonist. The opposite— being completely present in the moment— is the key to productivity. Yet, being present, as we all know, is one of the most challenging thing for humans to do. It takes a lot of practice! Practice like meditation!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried and tried to love meditating, but it is just such a drag! I’ve made resolutions and tried to impose rules to force myself to meditate, but nothing has worked. I’d much rather be doing something that gets me excited! That makes me jump out of bed and gets my fingers tingling! The thought of meditating— that scary peaceful place of total presence and mastery of the mind— makes me fabricate all sorts of excuses to the point where I’ll stay in bed all morning to avoid it.

I have practiced meditation for weeks at a time, and it was cool. I encouraged everyone I encountered to meditate. It centered me and made me really pleasant to be around, so I know the benefits and how it can change your life. But I’ve also done a lot of other things that are sort of like meditating, they are a lot more FUN, and they seem to have a similar effect on my life. Lately I’ve returned to “using” several of these methods in my daily life, and I’ve been seeing that the practice of mindfulness necessary to engage in these activities has been seeping into the other areas of my life as well. My overall happiness has increased: I treat my body better, feel more confident and capable, and of course, I feel more productive.

So, I made a list of ten of those things for all of you and here they are:

Get tattooed

Getting tattooed can be a great practice in mindfulness, as you bring your awareness to the specific source of pain to relieve the other parts of your body of tension.

Snowboard

Taking the risk to endanger your physical body to snowboard with grace requires deliberant trust in yourself and the natural forces. The body and mind need to loosen and relax, as you commit to the process, breathing out any fear, and offering up true vulnerability to the mountain.

Rock climb 

Rock climbing subjects you to the real, physical sensations of fear and stress to remind you of the power of breath and the present moment.

Walk

The simple experience of taking alternating steps with your left and right feet helps create a meditative state that allows you to easily be present in your body and the present moment, which can be just as profound of an experience as seated meditation.

Chant

The act of vocal repetition removes you from the physical state into the ether, in a much more present, non-judgemental place of sound.

Dance

Dancing is one of the most natural, instinctual, and easily-obtainable ways to Be Here Now. Plus, you can do it with anybody who can stand on their legs, including your dog.

Journal

Writing can curb your restless mind and cultivate awareness of your overall experience. It simultaneously provides an archive or your mindfulness practice while sharpening your ability to attend to the present moment.

Play an instrument

Regardless of ability or experience, any musician can use music practice as a meditation of completely absorbed yet relaxed concentration. The act of play not only increases your ability on your instrument, but you are also creating a sanctuary within yourself which is away from your normal active state of mind.

Draw from life

By pencil/pen drawing the things around us, we move past looking (labeling of objects) to seeing (becoming part of the experience of being). Drawing is an extraordinary practice that emphasizes the wonder of “ordinary” existence.

Eat

Eating mindfully is one of the easiest and most convenient practices to remind yourself of the miracle of life.

What things do you do to bring the practice of mindfulness into your everyday life?

 

* photo of the incredible Tasha Rayburn by Chris Black of Black Shot Photography

Adventure Meditations

Monthly Adventure: The River Pride

September 18, 2015

Pagosa Walks

As we set out on this month’s adventure, we were a little apprehensive about just how adventurous our expedition would be. We had plans to visit a waterfall, but we were getting a late start and it was pretty far away for an almost-empty tank of gas. Instead, we decided to explore the river area nearby, which turned out to be much less exciting than we’d hoped, although still beautiful. At one point we attempted to wade to an island in the middle of the river for a picnic. However, with each cold, barefooted step with babies and bags strapped to us, that the island looked increasingly more distant, hot, and rocky; we agreed to turn back.

Wade in the water

weeds

After walking aimlessly in various directions, we finally tried trespassing through someone’s backyard in the direction of some shade, and found a nice spot by the river to set out our lunches. We ate with only a few tears and a bit of uncontrollable laughter, then prepared to head back home, ready to admit adventurous defeat — and that was when the real adventure began.

Pagosa Picnic

Momma and Baby

Baby cry

The adventure of an 18-year friendship is certainly one of the most educational, stimulating, emotionally tiresome, and rewarding journeys. Over Drie and I’s relationship there have been numerous trials that have allowed us the face the real shit, squash it, and continue on stronger, as companions and individuals

In junior high Drie and I had a rather heated fight concerning the size of a black bear. While we were riding our bikes, a semi truck passed us that featured on its side a huge photo of a bear laying on a bed. I said that the bear would have broken the bed, because bears weigh at least 1000 lbs. Drie scoffed at my idiocy, claiming that black bears weigh no more than 300 lbs. We were so irritated by each other’s inability to accept our own claims that we both rode back to our homes alone. At school the next day, the encyclopedia settled matters for us. Black bears generally weigh between 300 and 600 lbs. Google now settles many similar arguments for us before we get too riled up, thank the lord.

In high school I began experimenting with marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, and at first I was fine with Drie’s decision to remain straight-edge. But then I began getting uncomfortable with her sobriety in the middle of my paranoid trips. My new favorite topic to explore was reality and the effects of drugs, but she couldn’t contribute to the conversation, so I tried to guilt-trip her into trying weed. She refused, therefore I told her that we had to break it off. We weren’t friends for three years. It wasn’t easy going from seeing each other 365 days out of the year to avoiding eye contact in a high school of 400 kids. Yet, by graduation I had enough humbling trips to realize how sucky of a friend I’d been, and we started back where we’d left off.

There have been a couple other major fights in the midst of knowing each other, but it had been several years since our last one. Our uneventful adventure-day broke the drought. I was about to lose my first and only dog to some unknown swollen-belly disease, and Drie was in denial that he could die at only 8 years-old. He was there to witness much of the growth, partying and broken hearts of our 20s, and neither of us were emotionally prepared to let our quiet parter-in-crime leave us so soon — but Drie and I handle our emotions differently, which is hard to remember with death on the horizon. I get a fierce need to debate philosophical beliefs of justice, and Drie goes to a place of anxious positivity, both methods that allow us to escape the reality of things, but aren’t exactly related, nor enjoyable to combine together. I wanted to complain about disease, conventional treatments, and talk about the end of Hank, my dog, but Drie wanted me to shut up and not admit defeat. Our brief 4-minute argument of burning tears and racing hearts ended with Drie walking home while I was left to fold up the excruciatingly heavy picnic blanket all alone (which was really just the size & weight of a twin sheet, but how could she?!). We didn’t speak for a week.

feet

I think what helped pull us out of those river-side grudges was that we both realized that 1) my dog wasn’t going to have a just nor positive end, and 2) that we needed to swallow our pride and allow one another to process life in different ways. In some relationships you simply need to go through the unreasonable blinded fits to remind both parties what it takes to continue on, and step it up. Not only do you need to allow room for different beliefs and ways of communicating, but you also need to be able to change the ways in which you suck at being a friend.

No one wants to face their sucky, prideful self, but sometimes you find yourself on an uneventful adventure and things start getting rocky, and you don’t want to admit it, but you chose the wrong path… and you decide that you’ll continue the adventure, but somewhere a little more rad.

Body & Mind Meditations

Materialism & Happiness

August 23, 2015

On keeping only the things that bring you happiness

My sister recently mailed me Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and it’s got me all worked up. It really is magic. Being a woo woo junkie, I am completely sold on KonMari (Marie Kondo’s tidying method) because the entire act of minimizing and organizing is solely based on contentment and only holding on to the things that spark joy. If we are surrounded by things that trigger any other feeling than joy, we are creating distraction and noise that we subconsciously try to avoid or tune out, disrupting our full potential for happiness and productivity. KonMari is not just a method for organizing your crap, it’s a method for clearing your space of things that no longer serve you to make room for beauty, clarity, and happiness.

On keeping only the things that bring you happiness

The KonMari method suggests that you start your purging of the non-joyful in your closet. So I pulled out my four 20-gallon storage totes and everything in my closet and began asking each garment, “do you spark joy?”

The most revealing part for me was going through my stockpile of vintage dresses. Half of them were my mother’s 40s frocks that she got from a mentor in her early 20s. When I held up those dresses a sort of resentment arose. My mom couldn’t fit into those dresses anymore, and I was certain that no one else would love them as much as I did, so I had to hold on to them or else I would be the cause of their death. As for the rest of my vintage, they all reminded me of a time when I was a more naive, carefree, and sassy girl who spent hours getting ready in the morning, and if I were to let go of them, I might lose that part of me.

Then there were other garments that I’d worn SO much at one time that I couldn’t let them go because I owed my life to them. And there were pieces that I’d only be able to wear if I lost 20 pounds (never gonna happen). And there were pieces that I spent way too much money on to discard. With items that were bringing up feelings of guilt, false hope, sad nostalgia, or resentment towards having to store them, I had to let them go. After going through each and every item in my closet, including all my socks and scarfs, I was left with an incredibly condensed selection of things that spoke joy to me, all organized by color and comfortably hanging or folded happily. Outside my closet door sat 6 garbage bags full of returns to my mother, vintage for Drie, consignment, donations, and just plain ole trash.

konmari3

On keeping only the things that bring you happiness

Given my tendencies in relation to laundry, the pictures above and below make me super duper proud. Usually I wash my family’s clothes and then bunch them up in numerous baskets for a couple days before I decide it’s time to tackle folding. Yet, for the past 3 weeks I’ve been so excited (OCD excited) to put everyone’s clothes away that I fold the day of the washing, and my closet & drawers have looked like this since I finished KonMari-ing the closets!

On keeping only the things that bring you happiness

Of course, there is more that fills your house than clothing. There is artwork, furniture, appliances, knick knacks, dishes, blankets, towels, etc. If you take a moment to think about each item you own, to see what role each one has filled or continues to fill in you life, it’s easier to determine if those things are still working for you. Sometimes they are not just the beautiful or sentimental things. There are objects that don’t bring obvious joy, but they offer it up discretely by making your life easier. For example, my big, ugly dehydrator makes me happy, as does my ghetto $15 hair dryer.

Identifying Joyful Things

Clothing

It shouldn’t matter if an item is out of style or if you haven’t worn it in a year. As long as seeing it and holding it still sparks joy, let yourself be affected by it and keep it!

Photos

Most of us keep photos and other mementos to remind us of happy memories. However, if you haven’t purged your photos before, chances are that many of them spark sadness and regret. To allow space for more light and love, release those that are joyless.

Gifts

Gifts are meant to serve a purpose, and they serve that purpose the moment they are given. Do not keep a gift to avoid feeling guilty for discarding it— nobody wants their recipient of a gift to feel that way. If a gift no longer sparks joy, thank it for serving its purpose of demonstrating love. Then let it go. Relief will follow.

Furniture

After purging of the things that no longer trigger joy within you, you’ll have less to store and you can begin to look at your furniture and see what large items are stagnant downers. You may be left with abundant floor space for a happy-dance.

Once you are left with only the things that bring you joy, you will become more mindful of the things you buy as well. By being grateful for all the things you are surrounded by, gratitude swells into all areas of your life.

Happiness-generating Objects

Plants

Research has shown that the presence of plants leads to reduced stress and anxiety, increased feelings of calm, a marked improvement in mood and self-esteem and increased feelings of optimism and control. Many of them help clean the air your breathe.

Moving objects

According to Feng Shui principles, mobiles, water fountains or wind chimes increase the positive flow of energy, therefore increasing joy.

Dim lights & candles 

Dim lighting helps maintain a calming environment. Fairy lights create a balance between the light and dark areas of your home, while candles invoke the energy of purification in Feng Shui.

A Himalayan salt lamp

It is said that the miners in the Himalayan salt mines are the happiest miners on the planet because Himalayan salt emits negative ions into the air. When negative ions pair with overly abundant positive ions they help cleanse the air and the flow of oxygen to the brain is increased. Negative ions are great for your mind, body, and soul.

Nature

There is an innate human need to connect with nature. Tree branches, feathers, rocks help bring a sense of peace into the home.

KonMari Method

When objects surround you that bring up guilt, remorse, feelings of wanting a different body, feelings of failure, those objects do not serve you. They make you dwell in the past, or hope for the future. They do not encourage the practice of living in the present. Be mindful and confront these objects that do not bring joy, and let them go.

Meditations

The Importance of Appreciation

July 27, 2015

blueanddrie44new

A friend once pointed out that I am happy in any living situation. I do easily adapt to new situations (a common characteristic of a Sagittarius), which I think is due to the fact that I truly appreciate every circumstance. I naturally look at every form of my daily life and environment with positivity. Yet, even though I have felt more whole then ever in my newest life as a mom, running my own business, being surrounded by nature in my mountain hometown, and blogging about my thoughts, style, and DIY tutorials, lately I’ve realized that my appreciation is lacking in relation to my love life.

It could be from my hormones after having a baby or me just concentrating on being a mother, but after turning inward it’s evident that I’ve built up a brick wall since our baby was born.  My Love shares his appreciation towards me all the time but I have had trouble allowing myself to let go and relax in order to receive and give back the love. It is good for your health, your loved ones, and the universe to show your appreciation, so I have decided to do my best to break down this wall that I have created and return the love.

Self-worth & purpose

When appreciation is not shared a person’s sense of self-worth and purpose is diminished. People feel that their existence is meaningful when their actions and presence are acknowledged. If we aren’t acknowledged then we think people don’t consider us important. Showed appreciation gives us a sense of self-love and purpose that makes us conquer more in our lives. Without purpose what are we?

My Love can produce art quick and easy, but when I tell him how much I value his work and his genius as an artist, his confidence is boosted and his creative limits are boundless. Your relationship can be in a staggered place of tension with no appreciation, but if you sink into it and show how much you truly love and appreciate each other, the passion becomes stronger. Knowing that you are appreciated and needed not only for your love, but for your skills, enhances your abilities and enriches life!

Complimenting

Giving: If I saw a girl walk by that had a really cute outfit on, I would keep the compliment to myself — why couldn’t I say it out loud to her? It would only do good! I needed to let go of the fear I felt inside of expressing my inner thoughts out loud and just tell her! So, giving more compliments was one of my New Year’s resolutions and now I express my inner positive thoughts outwardly to spread the love! It feels good hear a compliment because the recipient feels acknowledged and valuable, but it also feels good to give one because you are doing something to make someone’s life better.

Receiving: On the other end of this, I was terrible at receiving compliments.  When someone would say something nice to me I would reply, “nooo…” bashfully.  Then I realized you have to fully take in that energy given to you, truly appreciate it, and complete the cycle of positive energy by accepting the compliment, because appreciation is meant to be shared!  I now try to accept compliments with love and a big thank you.

Show your gratitude

Be grateful for everything and don’t hesitate to share your appreciation with those around you — it’s infectious. We all know we should be grateful, but sometimes we need to be reminded.

I challenge you to spread compliments around, and not hold them in. Hug your momma! Send flowers! Tell your friend how they’ve changed your life! Send out postcards to remind them of their radness! Kiss your lover!

We set artificial limits daily for how much positive energy we can give. Let go and let the positive gratitude seep out of you. Rekindle that spice in your life with appreciation. There is nothing like spreading the love to put a smile on our face and set you up for the best that has yet to come.

Little Souls Meditations

Lessons from our Children

July 22, 2015

Lessons from our Children

One year from yesterday I entered a new phase of motherhood. I imagined that having a second child would offer up new perspectives on life and parenting, but I didn’t anticipate becoming a different mother.

Amelie, daughter number one, taught me to share. I will actually willingly share my dessert now. Sometimes. She showed me what raw, uncensored emotion was, which is making me more empathetic bit-by-bit. She’s brought to my attention how unreasonable I am when things aren’t done my way, and made it hard to ignore my OCD tendencies. Most recently she has been a reflection of me, in how she interacts with strangers, how she expresses her anger, and how she cares for her loved ones and belongings.

Lessons from Our Children

But when Simone was born, daughter number two, a whole new set of lessons arose. The existence of a new sister changed Amelie’s family role from the moment Simone took her first breath. This affected the way Amelie interacted with her new world, which brought up things that I’d never analyzed about myself before. How do I acknowledge when people are helpful? How do I deal with noise when the baby is sleeping? What is my take on fairness? It turns out that I’m an angry mother, but a generally happy friend. With two very different daughters teaching me varying sets of lessons I am constantly reminded of who I want to be in the end. I want to be a good friend. Where would I have found such useful tools if I never had children? And such different children?

The benefits of having more than one child don’t stop at the companionship between sisters or brothers. Multiple children drop you down to another level, which may otherwise take much more work to reach. Having another child humbles you in knowing that their character really doesn’t have much to do with your superb parenting. They each bring their own mirrors for you to look at yourself, and they make you appreciate other parents more. The judgements become fewer and fewer because each child has their own unique world to give their parents, made up of numerous lessons. You won’t learn the same lessons as any other parent, but you’ll recognize the look of struggle. When you see a mom dragging their screaming child down the aisle of the supermarket, you can actually appreciate what that mom is going through without questioning their parenting . All children bring up new lessons that we learn to work through, and grow from.

Lessons from Our Children

Simone was born July 21st, 2014 at 9:45 am in a horse trough birthing tub after 5 hours of labor. The sun twinkled on the water as I held her, floating on her back, looking up at us with her dark grey eyes, awaking from the other side. This year she has taught me what it means to level; she has led me to the understanding of what it means to be humble, even though I likely will not master that virtue within this lifetime.

With each child is born a brand new world within us. What worlds have your children shared with you?