Celebrate Spring & International Day of Happiness with Mindfulness & Mouth Yoga (Smiling)

Are you ready for Spring? Start it by celebrating International Day of Happiness on Tuesday, March 20, with a mindful practice of mouth yoga a/k/a smiling. Smiling is one of the best ways to create positive energy inside of yourself. When you smile mindfully, your positive energy can help open your heart to more gratitude. Also, your smile also has the power to brighten another’s person’s day!

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Check out my #ThrivingMindfully Podcast resources.

How are you planning to celebrate Spring and/or International Day of Happiness? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Enjoy Spring & International Day of Happiness!

11 Ways to Use Mindfulness for Unplugging & Sleeping Well

 

One of the lessons I learned during National Day of Unplugging last weekend was about sleeping. I discovered a better way to enjoy sleeping by turning my smartphone off and allowing myself to wake up without the alarm on Saturday and Sunday. Read my opinion piece on unplugging that was published in the Afro-American Newspaper to learn more.

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On Sunday evening, I decided to use Sleep Awareness Week (March 11-17) to add several mindful sleep practices to my daily routine. Check out the practices I used below. Since today is the last day of Sleep Awareness Week, consider trying one or more of them.

  1. Place your smartphone and digital devices in your living room, kitchen, or home office. Mute the sound on your phone ringer and notifications. If you can, turn the phone off. Use an alarm clock. Muting the sound on my phone and placing it in my living room really helped.
  2. Give yourself a few hours off from using social media, email or texting in the evenings. Set a curfew. Try 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. I tried a curfew of 11:15 p.m. to 8 a.m. on several days.
  3. Express gratitude for people and experiences. This practice opens my heart.
  4. Say a forgiveness prayer for yourself and others before you go to sleep at night. My forgiveness prayers help me release anger, disappointment, grudges, judgments, thoughts, and stories I have made up about myself and others. They help me clear my mind and cleanse my spirit and heart.
  5. Drink your favorite decaf tea before bed. I love to sprinkle turmeric in hot water or use Trader Joe’s turmeric and ginger tea.
  6. Use your favorite sheets and blankets on your bed. I love my purple sheets and cream blanket.
  7. If you are NOT allergic to scents, smudge yourself and your bedroom or home with a smudge stick to remove any negative energy. I use my smudge stick in the morning and evening.
  8. If you are NOT allergic to scents, burn your favorite incense or candle in your bedroom or home an hour or two before you sleep. You can also use a room freshener with essential oils to spray your bedroom or home. I like to use Mrs. Meyer’s lavender room freshener.
  9. Take an evening shower or bath to relax yourself. Showers are my favorites.
  10. Meditate for a 1, 5, 15, 20 or 30 minutes before going to sleep. Meditation with breathing exercises is a great mindfulness practice that can help you slow down and become aware of your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. It can also help you go within and connect to your higher self. I like to practice a short meditation while laying in child’s pose, one of my favorite yoga poses, before going to sleep. Listen to my #ThrivingMindfully Podcast Series for a guided mindfulness meditation. Here’s a guided compassion meditation to open your heart. Check out my Mindful Living podcast playlist for more resources.
  11. Try gentle yoga. Like I mentioned above, child’s pose helps me relax before sleep. Go to YouTube and try my teacher Faith Hunter’s gentle yoga session. Also, do a search for gentle yoga or restorative yoga for beginners on YouTube. Check out Yoga In Bed: 20 Asanas to Do in Pajamas by Edward Vilga, one of my favorite yoga books. Learn more about my journey as a gentle yoga teacher (includes my yoga, reiki, and meditation services) and my yoga-inspired novel, Love’s Troubadours (available on Amazon). My novel tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something yoga teacher who is on a self-discovery journey that allows her to heal, forgive, and reinvent her life with art, meditation, mindfulness, spirituality, therapy, yoga, travel, and the support of family and friends.

If you are unable to try these tips today, I encourage you to use Sleep Awareness Week as inspiration for getting more rest in your life in 2018. Try one or more of the tips and let me know what happens in the comment section.

Happy Unplugging and Sleeping!

Photo Credit: National Sleep Foundation

 

Mindful Living: Mindfulness 101

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I discovered mindfulness when my career as a young lawyer and investment banker did not produce the level of success I expected. Mindfulness is the practice of taking a deep breath, coming into the present moment, and paying attention without judgment. The present moment is where you can access awareness, balance, and calm with loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Mindfulness is the gateway to who we truly are. It helped me overcome panic attacks, release my career expectations, develop self-care practices, and pursue my calling as an artist, author, Reiki master practitioner, speaker, and yoga teacher.

Are you new to mindfulness?

Looking for information on how to practice mindfulness in your life?

Curious about how to use mindfulness to practice gratitude, identify your fears, and become aware of the stories you tell yourself?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, check out my Mindfulness 101 Podcast playlist with 15 episodes. The episodes feature small steps you can take each day to practice mindfulness with guided meditations, a body scan, a mini toolkit, and more.

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Need more mindfulness tips and information? Check out my resources page with three free gifts created especially for you!

Click here to learn more about my mindful living offerings. Contact me at ananda@anandaleeke.com to learn how you can work with me as a speaker for your next event, trainer for your organization, or coach (one-on-one or group sessions). I look forward to hearing from you.

ALWebsite-LovesTroubadoursLooking for a great book to read? Check out my yoga-inspired novel, Love’s Troubadours and learn how the main character Karma uses mindful living practices including meditation, prayer, therapy, and yoga to heal her spirit, heart, mind, and relationships, and reinvent her career.

 

 

 

 

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PS: Don’t keep me a secret. Use the links below and share me with your network!

Be Present in 2018 (Mindful Body Scan Podcast)

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Happy 2018!

Start your new year by making a self-care investment in being more present in your body, heart, mind, and spirit. Listen to the latest episode of the #ThrivingMindfully Podcast and learn how to be present with a guided body scan. A body scan can help you relax and connect with what’s happening in your body from head to toe (or toe to head), how you’re feeling, and what you’re thinking. It also trains your attention and can help you release pent-up emotions.

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#ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, Week #4 – Equanimity

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Happy Holy-Days! Welcome to Week 4 of the #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, a four-week experience that invites you to practice and reflect on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity! Equanimity is the theme for this week.

I launched the Challenge on December 1. It’s hard to believe that we have reached the last week. If you missed the previous weeks, click on the links below.

Week 1, December 4-10: Loving Kindness
Week 2, December 11-17: Compassion
Week 3, December 18-24: Joy

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Week 4 of #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge: December 25-31

Equanimity or upekkha is a state of being that allows you to stand in the middle of whatever thought, feeling, or experience you may have with calm awareness and nonjudgment. Going within and being with all of your stuff (thoughts, feelings, and experiences) on a daily basis helps you plant seeds of equanimity in your garden of self-acceptance. When you give yourself equanimity, you are able to handle the ups and downs of life with more peace. You also access more loving kindness, compassion, and joy. In addition, your capacity to support others with loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity grows.

Theme/Video: Equanimity

Invitation: Slow down and take three deep breaths. Touch your heart with one or both of your hands as you enter into a moment of stillness.

Take three more deep breaths. Right where you are repeat the first prayer out loud or silently three times: May I embody and express equanimity for myself.

Take three more deep breaths and repeat the second prayer. May I share equanimity with others. Inhale deeply and as you exhale thank yourself for showing up in the stillness.

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Reflection Questions and Journaling Exercise: Take some time this week to reflect on and journal about one or more of the questions below.

1) What does equanimity mean?
2) What does equanimity look like in your life?
3) What prevents you from embodying and expressing equanimity for yourself? and for others?
4) What do you want equanimity to look like in 2018?
5) How can you add more equanimity into your daily, weekly, and monthly routines?

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#ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, Week 3 – Joy

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Welcome to Week 3 of the Self-Care Challenge, a four-week experience that invites you to practice and reflect on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity! Each week during the Self-Care Challenge, you are invited to watch a video and participate in an exercise that includes breathing exercises, reflection questions, and journaling. If you missed the first and second weeks, click on the links below.

  • Week 1, December 4-10: Loving Kindness
  • Week 2, December 11-17: Compassion
  • Week 3, December 18-24: Joy
  • Week 4, December 25-31: Equanimity

Week 3 of #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge: December 18-24

Theme/Video: Joy

Joy is a choice to become aware of and rejoice in the JUICY moments that OPEN YOU up from the inside out. The JUICY moments are filled with goodness. When you can make this choice and appreciate and experience your own JOY, you develop the capacity to rejoice in the goodness of others. That’s called sympathetic joy or mudita. It starts first with you. Remember you are responsible for creating joy in your life. So get to it!

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Invitation: Slow down and take three deep breaths. Touch your heart with one or both of your hands as you enter into a moment of stillness.

Take three more deep breaths. Right where you are repeat the first prayer out loud or silently three times: May I embody and express joy for myself.

Take three more deep breaths and repeat the second prayer. May I rejoice in the joy experienced by others. Inhale deeply and as you exhale thank yourself for showing up in the stillness.

JournalYourThoughts

Reflection Questions and Journaling Exercise: Take some time this week to reflect on and journal about one or more of the questions below.

1) What does joy mean?

2) What does joy look like in your life?

3) What prevents you from embodying and expressing joy for yourself? and joy for others?

4) What do you want your joy for yourself and joy for others to look like in 2018?

5) How can you add more joy into your daily, weekly, and monthly routines?

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#ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, Week 2 – Compassion

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Today marks the beginning of the second week of the #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, a four-week experience that invites you to practice and reflect on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Did you miss the first week? Go here to learn about it. Feel free to start the challenge at any time!

Each week during the Self-Care Challenge, you are invited to watch a video and participate in an exercise that includes breathing exercises, reflection questions, and journaling. See the schedule below.

Week 1, December 4-10: Loving Kindness
Week 2, December 11-17: Compassion
Week 3, December 18-24: Joy
Week 4, December 25-31: Equanimity

Week 2 of #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge: December 11-17

Theme/Video: Compassion

Compassion or karuna is the act of never giving up on yourself as you recognize and accept that anger, jealousy, arrogance, judgment, and other emotions you prefer to keep hidden exist within you. When you are able to do this for yourself, two things happen. You are able to see the connection you share with others. You are also able to put yourself in their shoes which strengthens your capacity to have compassion for them. Compassion helps you never give up on yourself and others.

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Invitation: Slow down and take three deep breaths. Touch your heart with one or both of your hands as you enter into a moment of stillness.

Take three more deep breaths. Right where you are repeat the first prayer out loud or silently three times: May I embody and express compassion for myself.

Take three more deep breaths and repeat the second prayer. May I have compassion for others.

Inhale deeply and as you exhale thank yourself for showing up in the stillness.

JournalYourThoughts

Reflection Questions and Journaling Exercise: Take some time this week to reflect on and journal about one or more of the questions below.

  1. What does compassion mean?
  2. What does self-compassion look like in your life?
  3. What prevents you from embodying and expressing self-compassion? and compassion for others?
  4. What do you want your self-compassion and compassion for others to look like in 2018?
  5. How can you add more compassionate moments into your daily, weekly, and monthly routines?

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Befriend Yourself

Becoming your own best friend is one of the greatest self-care gifts you can give yourself. It is loving kindness.

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Take a moment to look into your eyes and befriend yourself today or this week. In that moment, ask yourself what you need to outsmart stress and thrive+work mindfully. Do one thing that helps you meet your need.

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Join the #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, a four-week experience that invites you to practice and reflect on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Happy December: #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, Week 1 – Loving Kindness

AL-MeditatingatEMIHappy December! It’s the last month of 2017. It’s also my birthday month and an opportunity for me to share what I have learned so far in my mindfulness facilitator training program with the Engaged Mindfulness Institute (EMI). The EMI program started with a week-long silent retreat that was held in Deerfield, Massachusetts in September. One of my biggest takeaways from the retreat is the value of practicing loving kindness or metta towards myself each day. It is one of my four self-care vitamins (loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity) I use to outsmart stress and thrive+work mindfully.

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Here’s my special gift for you: #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, a four-week experience that invites you to practice and reflect on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Each week, I will share a video and invite you to participate in a self-care exercise that includes breathing exercises, reflection questions, and journaling. See the schedule below.

  • Week 1, December 4-10: Loving Kindness
  • Week 2, December 11-17: Compassion
  • Week 3, December 18-24: Joy
  • Week 4, December 25-31: Equanimity

Week 1 of #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge: December 4-10

Theme/Video: Loving Kindness

Invitation: Slow down and take three deep breaths. Touch your heart with one or both of your hands as you enter into a moment of stillness.

Take three more deep breaths.

Right where you are repeat this prayer out loud or silently three times: May I embody and express loving kindness.

Take three deep breaths. Thank yourself for showing up in the stillness.

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Reflection Questions and Journaling Exercise: Take some time this week to reflect on and journal about one or more of the questions below.

  1. What does loving kindness mean?
  2. What does loving kindness look like in your life?
  3. What prevents you from embodying and expressing loving kindness for yourself?
  4. What do you want your loving kindness to look like in 2018?
  5. How can you add more moments of loving kindness into your daily, weekly, and monthly routines?