National Meditation Month: Breathe & Meditate with Ananda Leeke on May 1, 13, 20 & 27 on Facebook Live

Meditation has been a part of my life for over 25 years. During this period of time, I have come to know meditation as a mindful living practice that helps me make friends with my mind. In meditation, I make the choice to focus my awareness on what’s happening inside of myself – what’s happening in my spirit, heart, mind, and body. Through the power of my breath, I cultivate stillness by observing it and coming back to it when my mind is distracted by thoughts. Meditation has helped me increase my self-awareness and self-acceptance, relax, improve concentration, outsmart stress, cope with panic attacks, strengthen my emotional and physical well-being, develop deep listening in my interactions with others, and commit to a healthier lifestyle.

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This month I am using National Meditation Month to offer “Breathe & Meditate,” a free Facebook Live series, on May 1st, 13th, 20th, and 27th from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. EST. Each morning I will guide you through three short meditation sessions and offer tips on how to create mindful living moments in your daily  life.  Join me on  www.facebook.com/anandaleeke64

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Need more mindfulness in your life? I invite you to join the #ThrivingMindfully 31-Day Challenge to incorporate more mindful living, creativity, and technology moments in your life. It starts May 1st and is self-directed. That means you do it at your own pace.

Here’s how the #ThrivingMindfully 31-Day Challenge works. There at 31 #ThrivingMindfully podcast episodes that include guided meditations, breathing exercises, short talks, tips, and resources. They are divided into three sections:mindful living, creativity, and technology. Follow the steps below to access the podcasts.

Step 1: Each day go to the #ThrivingMindfully Soundcloud page and click on the #ThrivingMindfully 31-Day Challenge playlist.

  • Mindful Living: Listen to episodes 1-15, 29
  • Mindful Creativity: Listen to episodes 16-21, 30
  • Mindful Technology: Listen to episodes 22-28, 31

Step 2: Select the podcast episode for Day #1, #2, #3 etc. and listen to it. You can also choose to listen to a podcast that resonates with you. Make the challenge your own. Take what you need and leave the rest behind.

Step 3: Practice the breathing, meditation, and reflections exercise(s) throughout your day and/or week.

Step 4: Join the A Mindful Cup of Tea Facebook Group and share your experiences with others.

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Check out my resources page.

If you live or visit the DC area in May, consider joining me for two #ThrivingMindfully Meetup Group events on May 19 and May 21. Go here for more details.

Looking for mindfulness-inspired books to read? Check out my three books on Amazon: yoga-inspired novel Love’s Troubadours, mindful creativity memoir That Which Awakens Me, and mindful technology memoir Digital Sisterhood.

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My online offerings and events are offered as a gift. If they have blessed you, I invite you to show gratitude by supporting my work with a donation on PayPal or with the Cash app: http://www.paypal.me/anandaleeke or http://cash.me/$AnandaLeeke. Thank you for your generosity. It is deeply appreciated!

 

Mindful Creativity Video: Celebrate National Poetry Month with Present Moment Awareness Poem

As we close out National Poetry Month in April and prepare for National Meditation Month in May, I decided to share a video of my poem “Present Moment Awareness” from my mindful creativity memoir, That Which Awakens Me (available of Amazon) My poem celebrates what happens inside of me when I meditate. May it inspire you to take a moment to breathe deeply, meditate, and embrace #ThrivingMindfully in all you are, think, say, and do.

 

 

 

 

 

Stress Awareness Month: How I Outsmart Stress with Mindfulness (DC Events on April 16, 21, 23 & 30)

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S-T-R-E-S-S. Stress impacts everyone. It happens when we experience pressure or a situation that exceeds our ability to cope. It’s also one of the main sources of wear-and-tear on our spirits, minds, bodies, and relationships.

In the United States where I live, the most common sources of stress include work, money, the current political climate, the future of the nation, violence, and crime. Guess which ones are the most common among adults? Here’s how the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America survey answered the question.

  • #1 – The Future of the Nation, 63% of adults (specific issues include health care – 43%, economy – 35%, trust in government – 32%, crime and hate crimes – 31%, terrorist attacks – 30%, high taxes – 28%, social security – 26%, and government controversies and scandals – 25%)
  • #2 – Money, 62% of adults
  • #3 – Work, 61% of adults
  • #4 – Current Political Climate, 57% of adults
  • #5 – Violence and Crime, 51% of adults

What are the most common sources of stress in your life?

How do you manage them?

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Over the past several years, my most common sources of stress have included money, relationships, work, health care, the political climate, and hate crimes. I have used mindfulness and mindful living, creativity, and technology practices including meditation, breathing exercises, deep listening, journaling, yoga, and unplugging from my digital devices to manage them.

In case you are wondering what mindfulness is, I thought I’d share my two-part definition. Mindfulness is our birthright. Each of us is born with the ABILITY TO BE AWARE  of what’s happening in our spirit, heart, mind, body, and surroundings.

Mindfulness is also a practice that we can CHOOSE to PAY ATTENTION to what’s happening in our spirit, heart, mind, body and surroundings ON PURPOSE in the PRESENT MOMENT and WITHOUT JUDGMENT.

I am using Stress Awareness Month and National Stress Awareness Day on April 16th to outsmart stress with more mindful moments in my life. If you are in the Washington, DC area on April 16th, join me at the #ThrivingMindfully Meetup Group event below. Sessions will also be held on April 23 and 30. Go here to join the free group.

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Not able to attend the event? Check out my #ThrivingMindfully Podcast on how to outsmart stress with mindfulness meditation. Listen here.

I am offering a Saturday morning meditation on April 21st from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park. Go here for more details.

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My blog, podcasts, and meetups are offered as a gift to the community. Donations are encouraged to show gratitude. Feel free to make your donation in-person at the #ThrivingMindfully Meetups. You can also support me via the PayPal app or website – paypal.me/anandaleeke or the Cash app – cash.me/$AnandaLeeke. Your generosity is deeply appreciated!

 

 

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

 

#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours

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My debut novel, Love’s Troubadours was inspired by a speech given by activist and playwright Lorraine Hansberry in February 1964. She spoke to a Harlem-based group of aspiring young, gifted, and African American writers about the power to love in America. In her remarks, Hansberry stated,

“O, the things that we have learned in this unkind house that we have to tell the world about! Despair? Did someone say despair was a question in the world? Well then, listen to the sons of those who have known little else. If you wish to know the resiliency of this thing you would so quickly resign to mythhood, this thing called the human spirit … Life? Ask those who have tasted of it in pieces rationed out by enemies. Love? Ah, ask the troubadours who have come from those who have loved when all reason pointed to the uselessness and foolhardiness of love. Perhaps we shall be the teachers when it is done. Out of the depths of pain we have thought to be our sole heritage in this world-O, we know about love!”

She referred to African Americans as troubadours, the descendents of people who used the power of love to live through and overcome despair and insurmountable odds. She went on to urge the audience to seek wisdom from African Americans because of their capacity to love.

I first read about Hansberry’s speech in Salvation by bell hooks in 2001. Salvation discusses how African Americans have used the power of love to transform their lives and communities. hooks’ writings caused me to question how I could use my gifts as an artist and writer to promote love as a healing tool in the lives of individuals and communities in America. I answered that question by writing Love’s Troubadours, a novel that tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something museum curator and yoga teacher who loses her job, discovers family secrets after a loved one dies, and begins a healing journey as she relocates from New York City to Washington, DC. Learn more about her in the video below.

Karma learns many life lessons as she comes face-to-face with the choices she has made in her life and relationships. Watch the video below and learn about some of them.

Throughout her journey, she uses journaling, meditation, mindfulness, poetry, spirituality, therapy, and yoga to heal and love herself. Hansberry’s wisdom on mindful living inspired the way I wrote about Karma’s healing journey:

 “I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and–I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.”

Watch the video below and learn how Karma’s healing journey transformed her idea of love in her life.

After reading Hansberry’s book, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, I made a conscious decision to use my novel’s characters to celebrate the beauty and diversity of people of African descent. Watch the video below and learn about the diverse characters.

 

Listen to a chapter excerpt from Love’s Troubadours that illustrates the diversity of African Americans when Karma walks into Mocha Hut, a coffee and tea café in her U Street neighborhood, and eavesdrops on a conversation.

 

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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5 Mindfulness Resources: Podcasts to Jumpstart 2018

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January 2018 is almost over. How is it treating you? How are you treating it? When is the last time you slowed down and breathed deeply? How often are you present and aware of what’s truly happening? Need more mindful moments in your life?

I’d like to you invite you to explore how mindfulness can support you in your daily living, creativity, and career with the podcast resources below.

1) Mini Mindfulness Toolkit (43.40 minutes): Includes a reflection on the meaning of mindfulness, a tune-in (pre-meditation check-in with breathing exercises), a guided meditation, and journaling exercises

2) Be Present (16.31 minutes): Includes a body scan to help you relax and come into the present moment

3) Outsmart Stress with Meditation (16.56 minutes): Includes a basic guided mindfulness meditation

4) Open Your Heart with Compassion Meditation (20.07 minutes): Includes meditation that helps you have compassion for yourself when dealing with difficult people

5) Mindfulness on the Go (6.15 minutes): Includes breathing exercises and a guided mindful moment

 

 

Mindfulness & Self-Care Practices for #WomensMarch, Social Justice & Human Rights Activists

In 2017, I attended the Women’s March with my Sigma Gamma Rho Soror Karla Ray Thompson and Unity sistafriend Kim Davis in Washington, DC. It reminded me of the experiences I had while attending the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, Million Woman’s March in Philadelphia in 1997, and the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC in 2004.

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Did you participate in the 2017 and 2018 Women’s March events? Are you involved in social justice and human rights in your local community, city, state, or country?

Your social justice and human rights’ work is important. The time you invest to support equality, fairness, and justice is appreciated. I have one question for you: how are you taking care of yourself as you do the work?

If you need tips and tools on how to practice self-care with mindfulness in your social justice and human rights work, listen to the #ThrivingMindfully Podcast. It includes three mindfulness exercises: a tune in (check-in), a meditation, and journaling. May they support you in your self-care practice!

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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