0 comments on “11 Ways to Use Mindfulness for Unplugging & Sleeping Well”

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

 

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#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.

 

0 comments on “Yoga & My Creative Heart”

Yoga & My Creative Heart

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Happy #YogaMonday!

Mondays are all about yoga in my social media world (confession: every day is a yoga day in my real life world). Today, I am savoring the juicy feelings of gratitude I experienced while leading my workshop on Fierce Living from a Woman’s Creative Heart on August 22 at Embrace Yoga in Washington, DC.

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The workshop gave me an opportunity to serve and share from my heart. It also blessed me with two creative yoga workshop participants, Krystal Tingle and Rhiannon Landesberg. Together, we practiced breathing exercises and our favorite yoga poses as we journaled and shared our reflections.

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During the workshop, I wore my “Karma: Aham Prema” VIDA scarf I received the night before. It was a special moment because the scarf was created through my partnership with VIDA in May. We used my painting that appears on the cover of my yoga-inspired novel, “Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One” (Amazon) to make the design. It is a part of my VIDA Voices scarf collection which include three additional scarves that use artwork from my books, “That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery” and “Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online” (Amazon). Click here to learn more about my scarf collection.

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Many thanks to Embrace Yoga and my yoga teacher Faith Hunter for blessing me with an opportunity to serve and share from my heart. Thank you Krystal and Rhiannon for attending the workshop.

0 comments on “#YogaMonday: #Yogaat50 Lesson 7 FOCUS”

#YogaMonday: #Yogaat50 Lesson 7 FOCUS

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Happy #YogaMonday!

FOCUS is #Yogaat50 Lesson 7. For 20 years, yoga has offered me an opportunity to focus my breath, gaze, spirit, and energy so that they move as one when I practice poses, meditation, and Reiki. When I leave my yoga mat and move into the world, it has given me breathing and stretching tools to navigate emotions, experiences and interactions with others. What has yoga helped you focused on?

0 comments on “Poetry Month Day #14: “OM” Poem”

Poetry Month Day #14: “OM” Poem

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Happy Day #14 of National Poetry Month!

Today’s poem is inspired by my yoga practice. It is entitled “Om” which is the sound of creation.

Om

Nature invites me to bring my practice outside
My yoga mat and I travel up the street and into Malcolm X Park.
Waterfalls greet us as the Sunday morning sun kisses my skin.
I breathe in and bow to Creator, Mother Nature, and myself.
As I exhale, I set an intention for my time on the mat.
My hands rest in prayer against my chest as I take several cleansing breaths.
After each breath, I allow the space in between the next breath to expand.
It makes room for a series of Oms.
Their echo disappears, but their vibration remains.
They merge into the vinyasa flow of my sun salutations.
I lose track of the number I have completed.
Sitting in the silence, I allow Om to stay.

Copyright 2015 by Madelyn C. Leeke. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Barbara Boyles

0 comments on “#YogaMonday: #Yogaat50 Lesson 6 OPPORTUNITY”

#YogaMonday: #Yogaat50 Lesson 6 OPPORTUNITY

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Happy #YogaMonday!

OPPORTUNITY is #Yogaat50 Lesson 6. When I was studying to become a yoga teacher at Flow Yoga Center in 2005, I had a homework assignment that required a definition of yoga. Here’s the definition I created and continue to use in my yoga practice, classes, and workshops: YOGA is Your Opportunity to Graciously Accept yourself and life in the present moment. What is your definition of yoga? What opportunity has yoga offered you?

0 comments on “#YogaMonday: #Yogaat50 Lesson 5 ONENESS”

#YogaMonday: #Yogaat50 Lesson 5 ONENESS

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Happy #YogaMonday!

ONENESS is #Yogaat50 Lesson 5. Through practicing yoga, I have learned firsthand that I am connected to everyone and everything in the universe. Having this awareness of oneness reminds me to honor everyone and everything as I would myself. On days when I choose to ignore this awareness, I’m grateful my yoga practice brings me back to the truth of my being. That usually happens when I sit in child’s pose and give myself Reiki.

What has yoga taught you about yourself?

0 comments on “Poetry Month Day #2 Poem – “Breathe” – From #FierceLivingat50 Series”

Poetry Month Day #2 Poem – “Breathe” – From #FierceLivingat50 Series

Photo Credit: http://thehealthylivinglounge.com
Photo Credit: http://thehealthylivinglounge.com

Greetings,

Welcome to Day #2 of National Poetry Month. Today’s Poem-A-Day is yoga-inspired.

Breathe

Breathe woman breathe

Fully

Completely  

Let all of yourself out

Without censure

Speak your truth

Allow it to be heard

Embrace all of YOU from the inside out

Celebrate your strengths and weaknesses  

Revel in your vulnerabilities  

Play, laugh, and enjoy pleasure

Be grateful for your humanity

Breathe in your divinity

Exhale it out with beauty and humility  

Ase

Copyright 2015 by Madelyn C. Leeke. All rights reserved.

0 comments on “#YogaMonday: #Yogaat50 Lesson 4 Everyday”

#YogaMonday: #Yogaat50 Lesson 4 Everyday

Happy #YogaMonday!

I spent the weekend at the WordPress Press Publish Conference in Portland, Oregon. During my talk on Blogging for Obama, I invited the audience to take a digital wellness moment that included several yoga deep breathing exercises. Much later in the day, I talked to someone about my “Yoga Everyday” approach to living and teaching yoga. It’s pretty simple. I help everyday people incorporate gentle and office yoga into everyday of their lives while often wearing everyday clothing.

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#Yogaat50 Lesson 4 is EVERYDAY. My very first yoga teacher Gloria taught me that yoga begins with the breath in 1995. She also encouraged me to practice yoga EVERYDAY by breathing deeply and mindfully. She also encouraged me to add a yoga pose to my daily practice. I have followed her wisdom and continue to share it with my yoga, Reiki, and creativity coaching clients. What does your yoga practice look and feel like?