Ringing In The New Year: 5 Reasons To Raise Your Glass
Here’s a novel thought… we choose to be happy… Know that? So why are you still lazy, sick, selfish and unhappy? The US alone ranks well over 100 on the scale of global happiness. Choosing to be happy can lead to serenity, bliss and joy. Aiding in chemical-free treatment of depression and so many other free and easy benefits. So stop complaining so much, ditch the prozac, stop being such a victim, or an ass, stop the whining. It’s obnoxious. Start making change. Create change within and reap all of the benefits of being happy!
Let’s toast to the douchebags! Well.. wait….. Sorry that’s Kanye’s line.. still hilarious in itself… Let’s toast to you NOT being a douche this year and being GRATEFUL + HUMBLE and HAPPY! Word up.
Shall we reflect on all of the wonderful things to toast to?:
1- Your Health!: A priceless gem that most of us take for granted, until something unfortunately arises. But how “healthy” are you?? Take this simple, yet witty quiz. You have one precious mind, body and soul. Treat it, respect it, feed it right, don’t compromise!
2- Your Loving Friends and Family: Be grateful, thankful and happy they are in your life. Even if things are not always perfect (admittedly, they definitely aren’t in my world) you must learn that family is much like a bunch of apples… sweet and tart at the same time.. a few bruises…but nothing that you can’t turn into a sweet apple pie. So be grateful. Mom loves you. Read between the nagging, that’s love.
3- The Job that you Possess: Or don’t. Be grateful that you have a job in your hands… with the unemployment rate still at approx 8.6% that means that the other 91.4% of you should be grateful.
4-Somebody does LOVE you: Having love in your life is nothing short of amazing. (Take that from a girl who’s been single for almost 4 years.) I love nothing more than the feeling of a big hug, a smooch or a cuddle. Spooning anyone? The feeling from human touch is priceless. Isn’t that why we love massages/reiki? Shoot, I mean I do.. So give away some free hugs. Go tell someone you love them ______THIS_______ much. Get old skool and draft a card, a letter or call! Texting, BBM, Email, Facebook, DM, etc etc is all great, but social media ain’t got nuthin’ on a good BIG, warm hug. Don’t lose your clutch and be so digital. Who wants to date their BlackBerry? Not I.
5- The Good Life: I always say that life is full of great taste. And in this country? That’s nothing short of the truth. I have been to some of the poorest nations on this globe and they were so incredibly happy, with absolutely NOTHING. Imagine that? Kids in Indonesia played with sticks and old tires… plastic bottles and wore the same dirty clothes daily. And yet they were SO happy. So while we throw away tons and tons of food daily, pout about mayonnaise on our sandwich and how I wanted the French vanilla creamer in my coffee, not half and half… here’s a thought.. Shut the eff-up. Suck it up and change your thought process. Living the good life also means having a deep soul. It means enriching your life and others through happiness, comfort and joy.
Be well friends… nothing but love and smiles in 2012! xx ❤ck
Expect Miracles: 5 Steps To Making Them Happen
I believe in miracles. Period. Full stop.
For some of you, that may be a pretty ballsy statement. For others, it may seem like an unrealistic pipe dream. Still others may want to believe in miracles but encounter resistance. Why have miracles become a cute concept we tweet about, or a possibility we turn to only when all hell breaks loose? Why aren’t miracles an everyday occurrence, a moment-to-moment thought, an expectation?
A miracle is simply a shift in perception from thoughts of fear to thoughts of love. Many of us lost track of this simplicity because we fell for fear instead. When our thoughts are focused on fear, we block miracles. Fear becomes the norm and we deny the potential for peace and love.
Six years ago, I could no longer deny my need for a miracle. My life had hit bottom and I had no other choice but to call on a miracle for help. My call was answered when I was guided to the metaphysical text, “A Course in Miracles,” designed to restore our perceptions of fear to right-minded perceptions of love. I’ve been a student of the “Course” ever since. Through my dedication to the “Course,” 365 daily meditations and the teacher’s manual, I’ve begun the journey of restoring my faith in miracles. Through my internal transformation, my external world has exploded with light. Even in the darkest situations, I ask for a miracle and I’m relieved of my fear, only to return to love. One day at a time, I choose a miracle, and now I live a miraculous life. I work miracles like a full-time job.
Working miracles requires faith. If we don’t believe in miracles, we won’t experience them. When our focus is on “lack, fear, anger and attack,” then “lack, fear, anger and attack” will be our life’s experience. But when our focus shifts to peace, a miracle can occur. “A Course in Miracles” teaches, “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.” The moment we shift our perception from fear to love, we experience a miracle. It’s as simple as that.
We can all be miracle workers if we choose to be. If you want to perceive your world in a bright new light, then follow my five-step plan for workin’ miracles.
Step One: Recognize Your Fear
Asking for a miracle welcomes the correction of your mind. The first corrective step in undoing your discomfort is to recognize that your problem isn’t “out there.” Your problem is the fear in your mind. The “Course” suggests, “Say to yourself that you must somehow have chosen not to love, or the fear could not have arisen.” This step helps you see your fear as nothing more than a misguided thought.
Step Two: Be Willing to Choose Love
The “Course” teaches, “Fear arises from lack of love.” Identify your fear as nothing more than lack of love. This step will quickly help you disassociate with your fears and prepare you for a full-blown surrender.
Step Three: Surrender your Fear
The third step to working miracles is to surrender. Surrendering comes through prayer. Simply say a prayer to God, the Universe, angels, Grandma (whomever you like to talk to), asking for a miracle. You might say something like: “I need a hook-up. Things aren’t working out and fear has consumed my mind. I surrender my will. I ask for a miracle.” Give up your fear fully and let the Universe do her thing.
Step Four: Receive Perfect Love
The “Course” teaches, “The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.” Once you open your energy to receive a miracle, a lot will begin to shift. If you surrender fully, you’ll recognize your fear and resentments as not real. You will no longer feel connected to fear. You will be inspired to forgive, choose love and release attack. You will welcome perfect love. This doesn’t require any work on your end. Just stay committed to love and the miracle will occur naturally.
Step Five: Expect Crazy Sexy Miracles!
We must commit to working miracles for the practice to become involuntary. The goal is to practice surrendering your fear to love all the time. The more you practice, the more you can expect Crazy Sexy Miracles.
For more lessons on “A Course in Miracles” and free downloads of my lectures visit my website.
Are you ready to work miracles? Gabrielle Bernstein believes that simple, consistent shifts in our thinking and actions can lead to the miraculous in all aspects of our daily lives, including our relationships, finances, bodies, and self-image. Check out her new book May Cause Miracles, and all of her miracle-making good stuff on her website!
Breathe Your Way Through Holiday Stress
With that long a holiday shopping list, I bet you’re wondering how you can ever fit in a few minutes of meditation. Amazingly, you can actually meditate with your eyes open and it will have the same benefits as an eyes closed meditation. And it’s as simple as breathing.
Try this mindful exercise the next time you’re standing in the line at the cash register, sitting in a holiday traffic jam, or chopping a zillion carrots in the kitchen:
- Breathe out all the way
- Now just let the in-breath flow in naturally.
- Breathe out all the way again; let the in-breath flow in naturally.
- Keep repeating this: actively breathing out, effortlessly breathing in.
- As you breathe in this way, pay attention to the movement of the breath in the body: the abdomen sinking in as you breathe out, the chest gently rising with the in-breath, the feel of the air as it passes through your nose.
- Notice how a sense of calm begins to take the edges off the rushed, harried, perhaps tense feeling you started with.
- Now allow a gentle smile across your face as you thank the cashier, or the driver who gave you the parking space, or the farmer who grew those carrots.
Top Photo: Flickr
Meditation: Relax Your Mind In The East Village
Meditation is like an acceptable version of napping—it recharges you, clears your head, and helps you escape your daily stresses. The practice is the perfect way to unwind, silence a frantic mind, and cope with the downtown pace of life. How can you pass that up?
You feel the essence of who you really are when you are in stillness, says yogi Alan Finger of Ishta Yoga in the East Village. The static in your mind settles; and you can can see your life more clearly. Meditation removes your fears and anxieties while keeping you happy throughout your day for no reason at all. Sounds like the cornerstone of true bliss and cheaper than therapy.
After your silence ends, you’ll be surprised at how easily these new-found senses of stillness and calm stay with you during your bustling day. “While the effects of other stress-reducing techniques wear off,” says Ethan Nichtern, director of the NYC-based nonprofit Interdependence Project, “meditation teaches you how to remain peaceful in the midst of living in the city—not just escape it.”
If you have have trouble getting to a quiet personal space on your own like most New Yorkers, sign up to meditate with a group or guide. The goal is to get in at least 20 minutes of meditation daily.
Here are some popular meditation spots in the East Village:
Allan Finger Sessions at Ishta Yoga
56 East 11th Street
302 Bowery NY, NY
Classes Ana Fox @ Dance Forum NY
20 East 17th Street
19 Clinton Street, Suite 205
Ilana Donna Arazie is a blogger and vlogger based in NYC who chronicles stories about living your best life in a big city. Her stories have been featured on the Associated Press, Chicago-Sun Times, Yahoo, The Travel Channel and other media outlets. She is the founder of Downtown Dharma.com , a site that is a bit of Cosmo meets Deepak Chopra, offering deep yet fun insights into finding peace and meaning.
Finding Peace Within The Storm
“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm.”
I love this quote; it has meant so much in my life. A simple American Indian proverb that I have posted on my refrigerator serves as a way to keep me grounded during turbulent times. After all, life can not be free from turmoil at times. We are often tested, thrown curve balls – no one is without ups and downs. We are all different – our experiences, our journeys; yet we are all the same.
In a class I was teaching, I asked the ladies what the most common cause of stress is for each of them. One woman responded, “Stress comes from other people. People cause me stress.” She then went on to list the various things people have done that have caused her stress. All valid, all beyond her control simply because we cannot control what other people do. Another woman said “finances”, another “time”, another “expectations”, and the list went on.
Stress is hard to define, even the dictionary has more than 10 definitions for it. Yet, often we let ‘stress’ define us.
Case in point, what can you do if you have a child who is bulimic, a father who is an addict, a friend who doesn’t seem to care about you, a boss who keeps piling work on? Do you disown your family and friends, quit your job, and move to the nearest bubble? Hmmm…maybe you’ve felt like it, but obviously unrealistic, right?
Ok, so maybe the scenarios above are a little extreme. Let’s try this one: your husband lost his job, you are 2 months late on all your bills, your kids are in a million activities, and you have volunteered for one too many PTA fundraisers. You’re not going to move to an island and seclude yourself from the realities of life, right?
So, how does one stay inspired and calm during the roller coaster we call life? How can we just be at ‘peace within the storm’ as the American Indian proverb suggests?
Stillness must be practiced, regularly just like brushing our teeth. It is hard to quiet the mind with all that is flowing through it from past worries, future concerns, daily to-do lists. Find a space to just “be”, perhaps try sitting under a tree in your yard, kneeling by the window, sitting on your front step, soaking in a warm tub. There are no rules – find what feels peaceful to you. And remember, stillness includes listening. We may not know the answers, but sometimes when we listen, we hear the next step.
Be Open and Embrace
I’ve learned you have to detach yourself from the problems and embrace them in the moment as an integral part of your life. We usually think about the “lesson” after the problem has been resolved or enough time has passed to come to terms with it. Be open to the lesson. Show gratitude, and give yourself space for tears, venting, and acceptance. Be gentle with yourself and others.
Detach from letting the situation define you, connect to the world around you. For example, if the economy is personally affecting you (as it is millions of Americans right now), you can still have fun with your family, dance around the room, watch a great movie, laugh, say hi to a stranger. And, if a loved one is struggling with something – illness, personal issues, anything at all- spend time with him or her, read together, reminisce, create. Remember, each moment carries perfection and imperfection – both beautiful in their own right. Our circumstances should not stop us from loving life. It is a gift, after all.
Negative Dialogue: How is it affecting you?
A couple of years ago one of my twin daughters, who was 5 years old at the time, said to me, “Mommy, I am having a really bad day!” I looked at her and said, “You know what will happen if you say that, right?” She looked back inquisitively, yet somewhat knowingly and questioned, “I will get more of a bad day?” Quickly I answered, “Exactly!”
With an obvious desire to not let that be the outcome of her day she asked me, “Then what do I do to change it?” I told her she had to hit the mental reset button by deleting her old negative thought, replacing it with a positive one like, “I only have good days!” To help her better understand what I was trying to say, I decided to give her a visual to work with and tapped my hand to the middle of my forehead saying “delete” three times. Then I continued to tap and repeated the positive phrase, “I only have good days!”
She began walking around the house tapping on her forehead in an extremely focused manner repeating, “I only have good days”. After saying it about five times she asked me, “How many times do I have to say this?” I said, “Until you truly believe it.” She continued chanting the phrase about a dozen more times, until her twin sister came flying by on her scooter and ran over her foot. With an astonished look on her face, she looked at me, then her sister and indignantly she said, “C’mon! I only have good days!” At that moment I could not help but laugh. She looked at my very seriously and asked, “If I said I only have good days, then why did she run over my foot?” I smiled, and said, “Ahh, you were being tested; you didn’t really believe it yet. To know how deep your faith is and how strong your positive thoughts are, you will always be tested.”
We are all tested as we grow and evolve; in fact the tests are what make us continue to grow and evolve. Life always has its challenges and “bad days”, but it’s all about the perspective that you bring to the circumstance and more importantly the conviction in which you bring your beliefs that can change the outcome–almost instantly. Whenever a negative thought arises, you have the power with in that moment to “delete it” and replace it with a positive, empowering thought.
There is a famous quote by Peace Pilgrim, “If you knew how powerful your thoughts were, you would never think a negative thought”. And if you have approximately 3000 thoughts in a day, how many of yours are positive? How many would be negative?
People are often not even aware of how much negative dialogue goes on in their heads, let alone how much impact those thoughts have that they are projecting out into the world. The first step to change is always awareness. I challenge you today to become more aware of your thoughts. Are they predominately empowering or mostly disempowering? If you want authentic happiness and desire to attract positive people and circumstances into your life more consistently, you must radiate that energy in which you hope to attract. That energy is initiated by your thoughts. Learning to “hit the mental reset” button the moment a negative thoughts pop into your consciousness, instantly short-circuiting it and re-programming your thought patterns with something positive will become one of the most simple, yet powerful tools in your tool box. Even through the inevitable hardships will be presented to you in life, knowing that there is good to come of it (such as strength, wisdom, courage) allows you to evolve more easily and transform more readily because of them.
Trust me, I have had many, many moments in my life that have challenged me to the core and could have made me want to stay down for the count but it’s through those times I have learned how to get back up and how to cope more easily through the challenges and have faith that everything has a purpose in my life for my own evolution. I have learned that I control my perspective no matter the circumstances and I can focus on the good or the bad. Anytime I have thoughts that I feel are not productive enter my mind, I instantly picture hitting a “delete” button then envision a blank space.
And in that blank space I can start over by putting something there that is worthwhile. In order to live to my fullest human potential, I choose to make those thoughts ones that I know are in alignment with my goals, desires and intentions. And no matter how big those may be or how challenging they may seem to achieve or how many obstacles stand in my way—I chose to begin with the perspective that, “I only have good days!”
top photo: Flickr
Making Change Happen: Tips To Transform Your Life
Change is hard. Or so we commonly believe. We become comfortable in our daily routines, we get used to our habitual ways and so we resist change. And yet, we deeply want it. We yearn for a deeper relationship, a different job, to lose weight or to begin a new healthy habit. Of course we do…
Change is natural. It is part of the biorhythm of life. Just look outside at the bright red and yellow leaves that are beginning to appear. Consider how a woman’s body changes to become a mother. In fact, according to research at Stanford, our skin completely regenerates in 7 days and all of our cells are replaced every 7 years. Put simply, change is as essential and organic as living itself, so naturally our bodies and brains and souls crave it.
But how do we make the change we want? Often, we’ll wake up one day and say “That’s it – no more sweets!” Or we’ll hear a friend say “Forget it – I’m done with men!” And then weeks – or even days later, we find ourselves just having a little bite of cake or back online looking for a guy. So what’s going wrong?
I propose that we aren’t respecting the natural process of change. Change is not instantaneous. We don’t see a tree go from fully green one day to suddenly bright red the next. Change takes time. We need to honor this natural cycle and apply it to our own lives. As my friend and colleague, Louis Alloro says, change can be “full of ease and grace.”
First, we must be clear about the change we are hoping for. Not just that we want a different job, but specifically, what attributes of a workplace and colleagues matter, how do we want to feel about the work we do? Positive psychology, the scientific study of well-being, tells us that hope is very powerful in igniting change because it gives us agency to make change and it empowers us to develop the pathways to change. And change is made by creating new pathways.
According to research out of MIT, habits are neural pathways, or patterns, formed in our brain to quickly respond to certain triggers. This means that when your brain senses the trigger (ie: walking by a bakery), your brain is prompted back to the old habit. Routines or habits you’ve formed took time to establish and now you must take time to change them. You must begin to create NEW neural pathways – new habits. When you walk by the bakery and your brain thinks “let’s eat!” – instead say in mantra, “I am healthy”. Do this every time you walk by a bakery and begin to see the habit change.
Autumn is a natural time to reflect on the change you want in your life. I hope you use this cyclical gift of nature to get more of what you want in life.
Ready to make real changes?
How To Become A Spirit Junkie
For twenty years I kept a journal in which I wrote about heartbreak, anxiety, drug addiction and eating disorders. It was my only outlet from my pain. But today my journal entries reflect an empowered woman who is happy and bleeds authenticity. I’ve overcome my addictions to love, drugs, food, work and fear. I worked hard, and man, was it worth it.
My primary guide on my journey to self-love has been A Course in Miracles, a self-study curriculum that teaches forgiveness as the road to inner peace and happiness. Upon buying the thick volume, I flipped it open to its Introduction and read, “
This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take is voluntary. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.”
In that moment I made a commitment to myself to become a student and a teacher of the Course—a sacred contract that would change my life.
As I made my way through the Course, I was guided to understand its mission. I gained a deep understanding of the basis for my fear and guilt, and how to overcome them. I learned the meaning of “the miracle,” which is the shift in perception from fear to love. And the Course guided me to know a relationship with what I call my ~ing, an inner guide.
The Course teaches that each time we shift our perception from fear to love we create a miracle. Our internal shifts enhance our external experiences and relationships. Serenity kicks in, fear subsides and we know that all the love we need is inside us.
Sounds like I’ve got the keys to heaven, doesn’t it? That’s right, I do! I can testify to these tools because I work them like a full-time job. If you’re looking for direction and guidance on your spiritual journey, I’ve just launched my new book, Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles. With this book I can be a container for you to take right actions to grow a spiritual relationship of your own understanding. Even if fear has you in a headlock, I’m here to remind you that love always wins. You too can be a Spirit Junkie!
Intuition: Are You Tuned In?
As a child, I loved making decisions by flipping a coin. Heads or tales, “Which guy should I sit next to at lunch?” I would ask myself. Coin flipping backfired after a while when I found myself sitting next to my French teacher, who didn’t appreciate my overtly “friendly” nature.
Later in college, I used my analytic skills to handle my forks in the road — making lists and calculating risks. My decisions were created from equations, which didn’t work well either. During sophomore year, my calculations led me to break the heart of my long-time boy friend and move out of the country for a year. Needless to say, neither my boyfriend or mother were thrilled with me.
Today, I still struggle with indecision now and then, and what path to take, personally and professionally. It doesn’t help that we live in a time with infinite choices, information and potential directions — which can perplex the most focused people.
Barksdale is a sweet, soulful and wise African American woman who defied all odds in her working class community to become a successful businesswoman and founder of a top home care services corporation.
She writes, “One of the most important elements of success–both in life in general and in business in particular–is making use of your intuition. Trusting your instincts, listening what your gut tells you to do, may not always be entirely accurate, but my experience suggests that even when it’s not right–and it usually is–it can intimately
lead you in the most useful direction.”
Barksdale trusted her instincts and it lead her to take out loans to start her own business — even when she needed to support her family and pay for her kids’ college educations. But, her instincts were dead on and eventually her to create a profitable and extremely successful business. Many business women and men are more interested in their spreadsheets to help guide and grow their businesses, which can be big mistake in the end. Our instincts are our inner compass and the best guide we have.
How do know when you’re listening to your instincts or that crazy voice in your head that should be sent away for treatment? Your instincts come from your heart and your gut area. They are subtle and feel like a gentle pull. The way to feel your instincts is to sit still, not force an answer and just relax. When we are nervous or filled with anxiety — the right answers won’t be clear.
These days, I’m sitting still often and listening to my intuition before making any rash decisions about boyfriends or my career. I feel less anxious when questions present themselves. I know that if I stay calm, patient and listen to that heart of mine, I’ll be headed exactly where I need to go. Hopefully this time, it won’t tell me to flee the country.
Simple Tips, Big Results: Releasing Fear & Letting Go
I know it’s hard to just let go of our fears, but by focusing on faith and hope instead of fear and despair, we open the door to all good things.
Remember, where there is faith, fear can not exist. Keep these 2 things in mind, and you’ll be sure to untangle yourself from the worry web:
* Relinquish Control
Being fearful is just another way we try to control our lives. It’s like our hair- if it’s curly, we work hard to make it straight, but one drop of humidity or rain and we realize we just can’t control everything. Life can be filled with so much more joy if we can even cut our worry in half. So, relinquish your fear and let go of all that negative energy. The happiness we feel when we are weightless is a catalyst for more happiness to be welcomed into our lives.
*Detach, Don’t Stress Over the Results
When we really want something, we tend to focus too hard on it. This means we get caught up in trying to figure out “how” to make it happen. We wait and anticipate results quickly, and if it doesn’t happen, we get discouraged. Remember, if we work too hard like a bull, we’ll surely ram into stuff. All of this creates stress and negativity, and the response is echoed back to us with more stress and negativity.
Instead, detach from the “how”. Instead of working hard, work smart by taking inspired action. The question is not “if”, it’s “when”. Be still, and listen. The steps will unfold perfectly as they should. Bumps become lessons, not blocks.
Take a little time to recognize the weight of your mind. What are you fearful of? worrying about? Acknowledge it, and then do a visual exercise to wave goodbye to your fears and worries. Sail them out to sea, put them on a bus, watch them float away, disintegrate in your minds eye. Practice presence- what is in front of you in this moment.Connect with now.
Remember the worry mantra: “In this moment, I have everything I need.”