I love Wellness Wednesdays because they give me a chance to check-in with myself and clients on how we are taking care of ourselves. That ‘s why I am reaching out to you today.
How are you doing this week?
How are you starting and ending your days?
What mindful self-care practices are working?
Who or what are getting in your way?
What resources do you need to take better care of yourself?
This week I started my mornings with my personal practice of prayer, meditation, reiki, and yoga. I also had an opportunity to lead two mindfulness meditation sessions at the Nonprofit Technology Network’s virtual conference. During the sessions, I reminded everyone we get 1,440 minutes each day. We can choose to use one or more of these minutes to practice mindful self-care. I encouraged folks to use the Spring Homework (mentioned in the graphic above) to check-in with themselves and recommit to self-care.
Can you believe the Spring season begins on March 20th and the first quarter of the this year ends on March 31st?
How are you planning to welcome the new season and second quarter into your life, career, and/or business?
My Spring Self-Care Commitment & Personal Retreat
For me, Spring is about fresh starts, new beginnings, new ideas, and new possibilities. It is a time of rebirth and renewal. I welcome Spring into my life as my second new year. For the past several years, I have used the astrological calendar and moon cycles to create personal retreats during the Spring Equinox, New Moon, and Full Moon. My personal retreats help me rest, restore, and recharge my spirit, heart, mind, and body. They allow me to slow down, become still, breathe deeply, and practice mindful self-care. They also help me recommit to myself by reflecting on how I started the year, exploring the lessons learned, releasing what no longer serves my highest good, setting new intentions, identifying goals, and mapping out action steps for the rest of the year.
One of the things that has been coming up for me in my Spring personal retreat reflections is the need to to invest more time and energy on maintaining a healthy well-being with better boundaries around my sleep and news and social media consumption. Right after the domestic terrorist attacks on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, I started staying up later and later in the evenings to read articles and social media, and watch videos, movies, and live discussions about racial injustice, politics, and the COVID-19 pandemic. That choice was a disaster recipe for my well-being. It increased stress and anxiety levels in my body. It made it harder to sleep peacefully. It chipped away at my happiness.
Recently, I decided to recommit to my well-being with one daily mindful self-care practice this Spring: self-hugging. Why? Because I need more physical touch in my life due to COVID-19 social distancing and quarantining. Going without it for long periods can impact our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Also, hugging helps boost serotonin, the happiness hormone that is produced and spread by neurons in the brain. Feeling more happiness strengthens our well-being.
Self-Hugging: Why Does It Support Well-Being and Create Happiness?
Hugging yourself is FREE and takes less than five minutes. It offers you an opportunity to practice loving kindness and strengthen your resiliency. A self-hug is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. All you have to do is decide and set an intention to give yourself a hug or hugs on a daily basis. Once you set your intention, take action and watch how your self-hugs turn into acts of self-love and self-empowerment.
When you hug yourself, your body releases the hormone, oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin helps reduce stress and tension by lowering cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body. It also lowers blood pressure, slows the heart rate, and improves moods.
Hugging yourself for 20 seconds or more is a serotonin booster. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” hormone that is produced and spread by neurons in the brain. It helps you feel happy, calm, and confident.
Consider following the advice of family therapist Virginia Satir who is famous for saying, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
Let’s Welcome Spring with More Happiness Through Self-Hugging on March 20th, Spring Equinox and International Day of Happiness
Let’s use the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Happiness Moment Self-Hug Challenge that is rooted in the HUG3 self-care practice. HUG3 is an acronym that stands for:
H: Hold space for yourself with
U: Unconditional Love
G3: Grace, Growth, and Gratitude
6 Self-Hugging Tips
There are many ways to hug yourself. Check out the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s tips below.
Fold your arms around your body. You can fold your arms across your stomach or just below your chest. Do what feels most comfortable.
Take a moment to consider the type of hug you need in the moment. How do you want the hug to feel? Strong, intense, soft or soothing?
Give yourself a nice squeeze with just enough pressure to create the hug experience you need.
Feel free to gently rock back and forth while hugging yourself.
If hugging isn’t your cup of tea, try giving yourself a gentle massage in the areas of your body you feel most comfortable with. You can start with your face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest or belly. If it feels good, try the entire body!
Get Started with the Happiness Moment Self-Challenge Today!
Pick one of the challenges below and dive deep into your self-hugging today.
30-Day Self-Hugs: Try 1 hug for 20 seconds per day. Consider giving yourself a hug in the morning before you get out of bed. If the morning doesn’t work, take a mid-day hug break or end your day with a hug before you go to sleep.
60-Day Self-Hugs: Try 4 or more hugs that last 1 minute or more per day. Notice how the increase in hugs makes you feel. If it feels good, add more hugs to your day.
90-Day Self-Hugs: Make hugging a self-care maintenance practice with 8 or more hugs per day.
120-Day Self-Hugs: Take your hug life to the next level of growth with 12 or more hugs per day.
Need More Support?
Join me for the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Spring Virtual Retreat on March 21st at 2-4:30 PM ET OR March 27th at 7-9:30 PM ET via Zoom.
During the virtual retreat, you will:
Practice mindful self-care with deep breathing exercises, a mindfulness meditation with self-touch, and gentle chair yoga
Learn how to align and manage your energy with the wisdom of the Spring Equinox, New Moon, Full Moon, and crystal therapy
Participate in an intuitive movement exercise and a sound bath meditation that will help you open your heart to release and forgive
Reflect on and journal about what’s working and not working in your life and career, and what’s getting in your way
Set intentions and identify the resources, action steps, and accountability support you need to manifest who you want to be and what you want to manifest in your life and career
Create a self-celebration plan to appreciate your small, medium, and big wins
Click on the links below to buy your tickets today! Give a retreat ticket to a loved one, friend or colleague.
Last month, I led a training for the Sierra Club that addressed how people can tap into their resilience through a mindful self-care check-in. Since then, I have been reflecting on the ways I struggled emotionally, mentally, and physically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, economic instability, politics, and the elections in 2020 and the domestic terrorist attack by white supremacists on the U.S. Capitol during the first week of 2021. I remembered the stress and anxiety, and the way they triggered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) moments from living in DC during the first and second Iraqi Wars, Rodney King civil unrest, and 9/11. I thought about the ways I used mindful self-care practices to nurture myself; the support I received from family, friends, and a therapist; and the strength I gained.
My reflections led me to the wisdom of Dr. Maya Angelou, one of my wellness women warriors: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” Dr. Angelou’s wisdom embodies resilience. For me, resilience is my ABILITY and CHOICE to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and bounce back when I overcome adversity, face a challenge or navigate change.
When you hear the word resilience what comes up for you? How do you define it?
My struggles taught me three things about resilience.
1. Resilience is one of our superpowers. We just have to remember to tap into and use it.
2. Mindful self-care practices lay the foundation for resilience. Mindful self-care practices help us release stress, rest, and restore ourselves.
3. We each have a personal and ancestral legacy of resilience. A personal legacy of resilience includes past experiences of overcoming adversity, facing challenges, and coping with change. An ancestral legacy of resilience is the strength of the people in our family, community, and culture who overcame adversity, faced challenges, and navigated change. They are our sheroes, heroes, and theyroes.
This month, I invite you to slow down and reflect on the two questions below.
Think back to one moment in 2020 (or another time in your life) when you overcame adversity, faced a challenge or navigated change. How did it make you stronger?
Pick one person you admire in your family, community or culture for overcoming adversity, facing a challenge or navigating change. What did they teach you?
Do you and/or your business, organization or community need my training or coaching support on resilience, mindfulness or self-care? Contact me at email@example.com and head on over to Ananda Leeke Consulting to learn how we can work together this year.
Last year, I watched The Social Dilemma, a documentary film that paints an alarming picture of how technology and social media shape our lives, on Netflix. The film features interviews with tech professionals including former Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest employees who discuss the risks technology and social media bring to our emotional and physical well-being, mental health, human rights, freedom, and democracy. Watch the trailer below.
Given the fact the film was released in the midst of a global pandemic, mass mobilizations for racial justice, a major U.S. presidential election, and a new socially distant school year, I think it is a MUST SEE! Why?
1) Because our society’s dependence on technology for connection, education, health and social services, consumer shopping, news, and entertainment has expanded tremendously.
2) Because the tech companies and social media platforms have a lot power, are not heavily regulated, and if left unchecked, can hurt our emotional and physical well-being, mental health, freedom, human rights, and democracy. Medical News Today addressed the following negative physical, emotional, and mental health effects of technology in a February 2020 article:
-Physical Health: eyestrain, poor posture (neck and back pain), poor brain development in children and teens, lack of sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle that reduces physical activity and contributes to obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and a premature death; and
-Emotional and Mental Health: anxiety, depression, isolation, loss of focus, digital distraction, and tech overload
After watching the film, I took a hard look at my digital life and habits and decided to recommit to my own digital wellness. I recommend you watch the film on Netflix this weekend or later this month. May it inspire you to use digital wellness practices to transform how you use technology and social media this year.
Need more help with digital wellness?
Visit the Thriving Mindfully Academy here for digital wellness resources.
Need coaching or training support for yourself and/or company or organization? Head on over to Ananda Leeke Consulting to learn how we can work together this year.
According to a 2020 survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of American Psychological Association (APA), more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) say that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was a significant source of stress in their life. The APA survey also reported that regardless of political affiliation, majorities say the election is a significant source of stress (76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 64% of Independents). Read more here.
Do these statistics describe how you felt last year?
Do they describe how you are currently feeling in the wake of what happened on January 6th when domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol?
Do they represent how you feel about local and national politics, the current White House administration, the electoral certification process, Georgia Senate races of newly elected U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on January 20th, and the coming days of getting a new Democratic-controlled government in place?
If you answered YES or MAYBE to any of these questions, I ‘ve got something you can use to manage your stress.. Watch the video below and learn how to use the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s De-Stress Tool.
Need more support? Visit the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s mindful self-care resources here.
Need coaching or training support for yourself and/or company or organization? Head on over to Ananda Leeke Consulting to learn how we can work together this year.
Before I really get started in a new year, I step back and go on a personal retreat to review and reflect on the year I completed. Looking back before I move forward helps me explore the lessons I learned. In my one-on-one coaching sessions and Come Home to Yourself Retreats, I’ve been having some great conversations with people about the valuable lessons they learned in 2020. Many of the lessons they learned helped them see they were more resilient than they thought.
Have you had an opportunity to reflect on your 2020 and the lessons you learned?
What did you learn last year?
In December (my favorite month because it is my birthday month), I carved out time to do my own personal retreat, I used my Come Home to Yourself Retreat exercises and discovered 20 key lessons I learned last year. They included:
1) CONTROLLING THE UNIVERSE DOESN’T WORK SO SURRENDER: I learned to have a better relationship with my archetypes who often want to control everything. They include inner critic Broomie a/k/a Broomhilda, Chief Executive Assistant woman Madelyn, warrior woman Sapphire, and girl child Puf. Instead of shutting them down, I listen to them and let them know they have been heard. I tell them that my wise woman Ancestor, spirit woman Ananda, creative woman Kiamsha, and peacemaker Cheryl appreciate their concerns. Paying them respect and treating them as a full member of my inner counsel of arcehtypes reduces their need to control. It also creates space for me to ask the Universe what I need to feel, think, say, and do with the information they provided. Most times, I am not called to do anything. This process allows me to slow down and joyfully surrender to Spirit’s will. I flow so much better now.
PS: If you’d like to learn more about my archetypes and how I have worked with them in my life, check out my mindful creativity memoir, That Which Awakens Mehere. You can buy the book on Amazon here.
2) I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE VULNERABLE: I learned tt is healthy to be vulnerable and have conversations with my heart regularly.
3) I GET TO PRIORITIZE WHAT I NEED: I learned what I truly need and to make rest, joy, laughter, and self-hugs daily priorities.
4) MY HEALTHY LIFESTYLE IS MY CREATION: I learned to live as a relaxed vegan which means use a blend of vegan and alkaline lifestyle practices.
5) MY PHYSICAL FITNESS IS MY SALVATION: I learned how to release stress and stay grounded by moving my body with yoga, dancing, walking, Barre 3, and bike riding daily (which means use one, some or all of them each day depending on my energy level).
6) MASTERING MY ENERGY IS KEY TO MY ABILITY TO THRIVE: I learned how valuable it is to manage and align my energy, time, creativity, and business with meditation, chanting, reiki, tapping, astrology, chakra and crystal therapies, and the moon cycles.
7) ASKING FOR HELP AND BEING A PART OF COMMUNITY SAVED MY MENTAL HEALTH: I learned not to waste time with stress and mental health struggles by pretending I don’t need help. So I got support through daily self-care, monthly therapy sessions, spending time with family and friends (social distancing, Zoom calls, phone calls, and texting), and participating in online meditation, self-care, and spiritual communities and events (Thriving Mindfully Academy’s weekly meditation community, InsightLA POC Sangha, Noble Indigo women’s circle, Rickie Byars’ B-Hood programs, Agape International Spiritual Center, and others) regularly.
8) MY CREATIVE EXPRESSION WAS LONGING FOR FREEDOM TO JUST BE WITHOUT ANY EXPECATIONS: I learned how to allow myself to be creative in smaller, intentional ways that didn’t require writing a book or creating artwork for sale. I learned how to create and schedule weekly and monthly creative sessions to play and have fun.
9) SOUND HEALING KEEPS ME SANE AND BALANCED: I discovered a new healing medicine by playing my Soul Orchestra of sound healing bowls, gong, koshi chimes, thumb drum, and rainstick regularly.
10) MY TECH AND SOCIAL MEDIA USE WAS WAY WAY WAY OVERBOARD AND CAUSED TREMENDOUS STRESS: I learned to take a summer social media vacation and how to transform my relationship with technology and social media with digital wellness through a 10-week course organized by the Digital Wellness Institute. It was one of the best educational and personal growth experiences I had. I am really get how my tech overuse has stressed me out. Now I am certified as a Digital Wellness Educator and can use what I learned in my own life and Thriving Mindfully Academy work with clients.
11) I DON’T NEED ALL OF THE STUFF I THOUGHT I NEEDED: I learned to simplify where I can in my life, career, and home.
12) BRINGING MY YOGA FLEXIBILITY INTO ALL AREAS OF MY LIFE HELPS ME AGE WELL: I learned how important it is to stay open, curious, and flexible to prevent myself from getting stuck in my way of being and doing as I move through my 50s.
13) I FEEL MUCH BETTER WHEN I WEAR LIP GLOSS: Wearing lip gloss each day (even with my mask) is a positive energizing self-care practice. I purchased lip gloss by Black and Brown beauty companies such as AJ Crimson, Kami Cosmetics, and Mented, and from Black and Brown-owned stores like Brown Beauty Coop.
14) I COME FROM POWERFUL PEOPLE: I learned to be more aware of, connected to, and celebrate my ancestral resilient sheroes, heroes, and theyroes. They are a source of inspiration. They also remind I come from people who loved, lived with joy, and overcame struggle.
15) I AM STRONGER THAN I THINK AND I AM NOT SUPER WOMAN: I learned to take regularly inventory of my own legacy of resilience.
16) PLANTS ARE MY NEW BFFS: I learned to reconnect with nature by following in the footsteps of my niece Jordan a/ka/a “The Plant Momma” by keeping plants around me for inspiration and positive energy.
17) KOOL AND THE GANG’S SONG CELEBRATE NEEDS TO BE MY NATIONAL ANTHEM: I learned to find special ways to celebrate my small, medium, and big wins daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. It taught me how to inspire and encourage others to do the same .
18) MAKING PEOPLE SMILE WITH ACTS OF KINDNESS OPENS MY HEART: I learned how to expand my practice of loving kindness by increasing my appreciation for and gratitude for people who make my life special, juicy, and blessed.
19) MY VOICE NEEDS TO BE LOUDER: I learned how to speak up with more strength and grounding when I feel overwhelmed and need to set boundaries.
20) I DESERVE TO BE A CUTIE ON DUTY: Wearing crop tops from Zara is EVERYTHING. Pure Fire!
I’ve got several ways to help you and your family, friends, colleagues, company or organization in 2021. Read on….
Explore working with me in a one-on-one coaching relationship or as a virtual trainer and speaker for your virtual event. Check out the services I offer through Ananda Leeke Consulting and the Thriving Mindfully Academy. Contact me to set up a complimentary 20-minute consultation call to explore how we can work together this year via Google Meet, Zoom or the phone: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you set an intention, identified your personal and professional goals, mapped out action steps to achieve your goals, chosen accountability partners to help you stay on track or created a self-celebration plan to honor your small. medium, and big wins?
If you answered NO or MAYBE to one or more of these questions, you deserve self-care coach Ananda Leeke’s support.
Start 2021 right where you are with Ananda’s help during the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Come Home to Yourself Retreat on Sunday, January 10th from 2-4:30 p.m. ET.
Are you ready for a new year? Have you set an intention?
Before I begin each new year, I take time to come home to myself with a personal retreat. During the retreat, I open myself up with mindful self-care practices including meditation, prayer, chanting, gentle yoga, reiki, and tapping. These practices ground me and prepare me for deep reflection. I use mindful journaling to review and reflect on the person I became, how I showed up in my life and career, the lessons I learned, the blessings I received, and the actions I took and people that need releasing and forgiving. Once I am able to pour my emotions and thoughts on paper, I am able to take in the growth and barriers that got in the way. From this place, I am able to set an intention, map out goals, identify accountability partners who will support my goals, and create a self-celebration plan that will help me honor my small, medium, and big wins.
For the past three weeks, I have led several Come Home to Yourself Retreats. During each retreat, I have supported a phenomenal group of people as they reflected on their 2020 lessons and blessings, released and forgiven themselves and others, set intentions, mapped out goals and action steps, identified accountability partners, and developed a self-celebration plan they can use to honor their small, medium, and big wins.
During one of the retreats, I chose the word SOAR as my 2021intention. SOAR is an acronym that outlines my intention to:
S: SHOW up and show out fully as the REAL ME in 2021
O: OWN all of ME in 2021 – the good, in-between, and not so good
Contact me to set up a complimentary 20-minute consultation call via Google Meet, Zoom or the phone: email@example.com.
Looking for easy ways to practice mindful self-care in 2021?
Check out the resources below.
Slow down and listen to the new Thriving Mindfully playlist on YouTube. Allow the music to inspire and energize you. Open your heart and get ready to move your body with the special music here.
2. Take the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s self-hug challenge. Go here to learn the benefits of a self-hug and how you can get started with the self-hug challenge.
3. Check out over 100 episodes of the Thriving Mindfully Podcast here.
4. Visit the Thriving Mindfully Academy for mindfulness, self-care, and wellness resources here.
5. Connect with like-minded folks who enjoy sharing information about mindfulness, self-care, and wellness in the A Mindful Cup of Tea Facebook page here.
6. Join me for the weekly Mindful Monday Meditation virtual class at 7-7:30 PM ET via Zoom. Register here.
7. Go here to learn about and purchase my three mindfulness books: Love’s Troubadours, a yoga-inspired novel; That Which Awakens Me, a mindful creativity memoir; and Digital Sisterhood, a mindful technology memoir.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve struggled with tech-life balance. That means I was overusing technology … spending way too much time online looking at my smartphone, tablet, and laptop screens. My eyes, ears, and mind consumed an incredible amount of information and news. It all overwhelmed me. It cost me sleep. It disturbed my normal zen attitude.
In May, I realized I needed to transform my relationship with social media and technology. So I took a summer vacation from social media. When I returned in September, I decided I needed digital wellness support for my own well-being. I also wanted to get more digital wellness training to strengthen the mindful technology work I do through the Thriving Mindfully Academy.
I found support and training in the Digital Wellness Collective‘s Digital Wellness Institute (DWI) Fall 2020 Certificate Training Program. It was exactly what I needed! Today, I completed the program and have become a certified digital wellness educator. Learn more about the program here.
Special thanks to the Nina Hersher, Amy Blankson, Shaunelle Curry, the DWI faculty, DWC team, and my fellow DWI Fall 2020 classmates!
Tonight, head over to Black Doctor’s Facebook Live at 6 p.m. ET for The Doctor Is In conversation on opting into self-care for 2021. I am talking with Dr. Monique Gary and Ricki Fairley of TOUCH The Black Breast Cancer Alliance. Go here to watch tonight’s Black Doctor’s Facebook Live.
Need more help opting into self-care? Sign up for the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Come Home to Yourself Retreat on December 20th (option #1) or December 27th (option #2).