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Mala Collective

10 Tips for Self-Care

10 Tips for Self-Care

The Moon leaves Gemini square with Neptune on the 9th May, and with this many of us will feel we have to be responsible for others. Caring for others does create positive energy within ourselves, but we must make sure we are also caring for ourselves.

To help you maintain a good level of self care here’s our ten tips:

  1. Take five minutes out of your day to re-group. Just a simple five minutes here and there to breathe and gather your thoughts can be like a mental hug.
  2. Write down 5 things at the end of the day that were positive. Reminding yourself at the end of every day of the things that were good will help to keep positive energy flowing.
  3. Make a weekly menu. Healthy eating is essential for your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Plan out your week’s menu with some new and exciting recipes.
  4. Drink a glass of water every morning. We often wake up dehydrated after our sleep and drinking a glass of water in the morning can help us to feel energized.
  5. Keep moving. Whatever your job entails, it’s important to move your body about at regular intervals. Get up and walk about or do some stretches.
  6. Get plenty of sleep. Lots of us aren’t getting enough sleep and this is disastrous for our performance and our health. This is perhaps the most important self-care you can do. Snooze away and do all you can to get a full night’s sleep so you are alert in the day.
  7. Get a potted plant. Caring for other things promotes happy hormones and reduces stress, but you might not be in a position for a pet. A potted plant is a fantastic way to nurture and also to gain healthy benefits from having greenery in your home.
  8. Be in the moment, just for a moment. Many of us have busy days and it’s important to stop every now and then and appreciate where you are. Take a moment to be fully present, breathe in deeply and see the wonder all around you.
  9. Watch your posture. Your mom always told you to sit up straight, right? Well, she was right. Good posture helps your body and stops you getting aches and pains and it’s also good for your mental attitude. Posture brings positivity.
  10. Don’t be afraid to say no. Socializing can be great for uplifting your mood, but if you really can’t face going out and all you want to do is curl up under a blanket at home, don’t be afraid to tell your friends no. Put you first, they’ll understand.
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Tips for Finding Time to Focus on You

Tips for Finding Time to Focus on You

How often have you said to yourself; ‘I wish I had more time for me’, ‘I'm always so busy, I never have a minute to relax’ or ‘I don't have time for that’?


We all lead busy lives… but the one thing we seem never to be able to carve out time for is ourselves. Creating more ‘me’ time is a common desire the majority of people can empathize with. So now, with just over a week remaining in 2016; it’s time to put these aspirations into action. Just wait and see what as little as 15-30 minutes a day of uninterrupted, relaxing "me" time will make to your life.


When we deliberately carve out time to do the things we enjoy or relax, we end up happier, healthier and feeling better. It enables us to de-stress, unwind and rejuvenate in order to renew, heal, and create reserves of energy and peace.


It’s said that the more giving we generally are as a person, the more inclined we are to believe that making time for ourselves is ‘selfish’. It’s important to remember that no matter what we do, there are only 24 hours in a day, so you can't create more time. But you can clear some time by reevaluating priorities, perhaps saying "no" more often and practicing smart time management.


If everyone else around you is worthy of care and attention, then so are you. You not only deserve this time, but you need it for your own well-being. Lack of time for ourselves often leads to feeling frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and out of balance. Without this time for ourselves, we lose sight of what's important to us.


Let’s look at ways that you can make focusing on you a reality:


Learn to say "no" to requests to do things that you don't really want to, don't value or don't bring you satisfaction and joy.


Ask for help with chores that don't necessarily have to be completed by you alone.


At the beginning of each week, take a few minutes to designate specific time slots for all that must be accomplished—including "me" time. Treat your personal time like you would any other appointment and make it non-negotiable.


Commit to a minimum of 15-20 minutes of "me" time every day. Do something (or nothing) that completely lets go of responsibilities and releases your mind, allowing you to be alone with your thoughts.


Create a daily ritual. This can be a bath, listening to music, taking a walk or meditating. Make it something you can look forward to. Try setting your alarm for 20 minutes earlier in the morning and enjoy your tea or smoothie before the rest of the house wakes. Skip the bus where possible and walk instead. Notice the sounds, smells and objects around you: this in itself is a form of meditation and will help hold your attention on you in that very present moment.


It’s time to stop wishing you had more time to yourself, and commit to carving it into your schedule. By simply changing your approach and testing our the tips above, you’ll be amazed at how a little bit of time to yourself can make a huge difference in your health and happiness! Continue reading

Meditations for Stress Release

Meditations for Stress Release
So often when life gets stressful - as it inevitably does - it’s common that the last thing we prioritize is time for ourselves. It's a shame because a few minutes of quiet can do so much for happiness and well-being. Check out some of our tips below for centering your thoughts in the face of stress.

 

To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body's natural relaxation response. One of the ways to go about this is by making time for certain activities that can help reduce everyday stress and boost your energy and mood. 

Why not try one of the below tactics the next time your stress levels are tested?

  • When you exercise, focus your attention on your breath,
  • Breathe in a scent like incense or essential oils that makes you feel good,
  • Squeeze and then release tense or numb parts of your body,
  • Focus on the present rather than something that’s past or in the future,
  • Visualize in detail a scene that makes you feel peaceful,
  • Listen to music that calms and lifts you up,
  • Take a yoga class, meditate or go for a walk in nature.

Meditation is an excellent way to calm the nervous system when feeling tested or overwhelmed. Even by simply chanting a mantra repeatedly (such as ‘I am calm’, ‘I am patient’ or ‘I am resilient’) you can change your mind-set and alleviate the feeling of pressure or stress significantly.

If you feel like you need some guidance with your practice, why not listen to an audio meditation? Below is a quick stress-busting meditation led by Deepak Chopra. Press play anytime you needed to be guided into calm, controlled breathing to quiet any feelings of overwhelm. Once you settle in to a place of ease, take a moment to prepare yourself for action, which often proves to be the ultimate antidote to anxiety.

It’s important to note that no one can avoid all stress, but you can counteract it by learning how to produce the relaxation response – i.e. a state of deep rest that is the polar opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response puts the brakes on stress and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.

 

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Tips for Mindful Eating

Tips for Mindful Eating
The concept of mindful eating has roots in Buddhist teachings. Just as there are forms of meditation that involve sitting, breathing, standing and walking, many Buddhist teachers encourage their students to meditate with food, expanding consciousness by paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel.

 

Lately, though, such experiments of the mouth and mind have begun to seep into a secular arena, from the Harvard School of Public Health to the California campus of Google. In the eyes of some experts, what seems like the simplest of acts — eating slowly and genuinely relishing each bite — could be the remedy for a fast-paced nation in which an endless parade of new diets never seems to slow a stampede toward obesity.

Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up anything at all. It’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad.

What are the keys to eating more mindfully? Here are some pointers, a few practical tips for mindful eating:

  • Eating mindfully is all about paying attention, and it is hard to pay attention when you are distracted, right? So put away the phone and shutting off the television so you can focus on your meal. Some might suggest sitting down while you are eating to better ensure that you are focusing on your meal rather than multitasking.
  • Consider your food choice. Is it healthy? Does it offer vitamins, nutrients and protein, or is it derived of empty calories?  This is especially important to pay attention to when you are eating out and did not cook your own meal.
  • Be thankful. You do not have to say a prayer to be thankful for your food. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a great meal on the table each day.
  • Do you know what real hunger is or when you might actually just be thirsty? If not, for a few days try drinking a glass of water each time you think you are hungry to see if you notice any differences in how you feel afterwards. You may just be filling your body with foods when you are not even hungry.
  • By the same token, do you know when you feel full? Are there stages of fullness or do you just suddenly realize that you cannot eat another bite. Try paying attention to your body during mealtime to see if you can recognize anything you may not have known before.
  • Pay attention to how you feel while you are preparing your meal, while you are eating it, as well as once you have finished. Pay attention to your emotions and mood changes. Does it make you feel anxious?  Does it make you feel satisfied? Does it make you feel powerful? Since we know that many of us eat as an emotional response, it can be helpful to focus on how we feel while we are eating too.
  • Eat slowly. Many of us rush through our meals and never get a chance to truly enjoy them with our senses. Consider the flavors as well as the colors, smells, and textures of your meal.
  • Another way to practice mindful eating is to put your utensil down after every bite and pick it back up again before the next one. You will eat slower, giving your body a bit of a chance to digest, and therefore you will feel full faster.
  • Try to focus your attention on what you are eating. Think about how it tastes as you eat it. Take time moment to savor it.

 

Mindful eating is just that; a mindset. So relax, enjoy and be in the moment with your food!

 

This article was written by The New York Times on Feb 7th, 2012 and by Babble's Jessica Cohen in 2012.

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Tips to Maintain a Daily Practice

Tips to Maintain a Daily Practice

This article was written by your Meditation Challenge host, Natalie Rousseau. For more information about Natalie, please click here.


Meditation is not a flashy practice, nor is it easy, so is it any wonder that maintaining regularity is one of the greatest challenges we face when committing to practice? If you have struggled with maintaining a daily practice know that you are not alone. Every practitioner faces the challenges of Resistance, Boredom, and Doubt, these obstacles are simply part of the journey and there is no way around them, only through them. One of the tools that I have found particularly useful for overcoming these challenges is to simply name them when they arise, know them for what they are, recognize how they show up, and then practice anyway. Below I will outline the common forms they take so you too can begin to recognize these universal obstacles to practice.


Resistance: this obstacle commonly takes the form of busyness. Though we may know full well that we feel better when we make space for meditation in our day, somehow our busy minds convince us that there is no time for the practice today, there are too many other pressing things to do, too many other people to care for or responsibilities to live up to. The funny thing is that even when we have time we may find our mind looking for alternate things to do rather than commit to simply sitting still. Suddenly we have a powerful urge to re-organize our closets, or check Facebook one more time, or even do the dishes we have been avoiding doing all morning. I like to think of Resistance as a smaller brattier version of myself, a distracted child that doesn’t like to listen and has trouble sitting still. When I can see my Resistance in this way it allows me to tap into that larger and wiser aspect of myself, the one that remembers why I choose to practice, and it is her that reminds me calmly that I do have time, and that the world will keep on spinning even if I choose to take five minutes out to be quiet.


How does Resistance show up for you? What forms does it take? What tools or strategies can you use to overcome the voice of your own Resistance? Boredom: boredom is another form of restlessness and can often be an excuse to avoid practice. We live in a very fast paced and stimulating culture, and so when we sit quietly our “monkey minds” often feel like they have nothing to do and can begin to pout and complain loudly, pulling us away from our practice.


Because this is a universal obstacle most traditional meditation lineages include concentration techniques to begin with, techniques that give our minds something to attend to or stay busy with while we sit. Classical concentration techniques include the repetition of a mantra or phrases of affirmation, a focus on the breath or a bodily sensation, or attuning to sounds in our environment whenever our attention wanders. I myself often use a combination of these in my practice and find them especially useful in the first portion of my sitting period.


Often after the first 5-10 minutes of practice my mind and nervous system have begun to relax enough that my awareness can begin to broaden & focus, without becoming restless, in this way I can move past Boredom and into meditation. Do you have a favorite concentration technique that helps you to focus and overcome Boredom in your practice?


Doubt: this may actually be the greatest obstacle on the path and one that we must learn how to recognize for it can pull us away from our commitment to ourselves very easily. Most commonly it manifests as doubt in the practice itself.


We ask ourselves “is this even working?”, “if I was doing this right wouldn’t it be easier/more relaxing?” We may begin to question whether or not we need a new mantra, a new meditation cushion, a different teacher, or a new place in which to practice. Or we may compare our experience to that of others and assume that if we don’t have similar experiences in meditation than we must be doing something wrong. And finally we doubt ourselves, question whether or not we are really cut out for meditation. Doubt is a universal obstacle that even the Buddha had to wrestle with and while we want to maintain a mind that questions, we must also learn to recognize when our Doubt is simply an easy way out of avoiding practice. For myself I have found it helpful to honour Doubt by allowing myself to internally voice my concerns about the practice while still maintaining my commitment to it. I let my Doubt know that I acknowledge it, and that I trust that the answers to my questions will come clear in time. In the meantime I will just keep practicing.


How do you work with Doubt? What forms does Doubt take for you?


Natalie Rousseau ~ Living Yoga, Sept 2016 (www.natalierousseau.com).

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