~ Monthly Newsletter ~
Healthy Living & Daily Practice
~ Creativity, Vision, and Purpose ~
July is a month of extraordinary creativity. Fruits and flowers take an abundance of forms. The eggs of bluebirds hatch, leaving tiny shells the color of sky beneath nests noisy with the cry of hungry young. This cycle of hatching and maturation brings us into heightened awareness of our own life purpose. The gifts we have been given to share with the Scared Circle of Life.
In exploring our life purpose this month, we will also explore the attitude with which we work, for when our activities are dedicated to the good of all, creativity flourishes, the energy of mind, body and spirit flow freely, and we share the joy of our essence as a blessing in the world.
By following our intuition this month, we will learn to tune into the messages of the higher self and from the Angelic Realm that help us find our way with joy, delight and levity that make life worthwhile.
Listen to the voices of the Ancient Ones singing from the trees:
The God Seed within is coming to flower in the radiant summer.
Listening to the voice of intuition we realize our life’s purpose using our gifts
with joy in the service of all beings.
Identify Your Source of Happiness
The ancient wisdom tradition known as Vedanta teaches that being happy for a reason is just another form of misery because the reason can be taken away from us at any time. Although we tend to avoid thinking about it, we can lose our home, our job, our savings, our health, and our loved ones at any time. These are temporary, external sources of happiness that come and go like a passing breeze.
True happiness, in contrast, is an internal state of consciousness that allows us to be happy for no reason at all. It’s the realization that our real self isn’t our possessions, accomplishments, relationships, body or mind. Who we really are transcends space, time, and cause-and-effect. Our essential nature is pure consciousness, also known as the field of all possibilities. The attributes of this field include happiness, love, and grace.
Happiness already exists within us, but it’s often covered up by our conditioned thought patterns and all kinds of distractions. Just as a radiant sunrise can be hidden behind the clouds, our inner happiness can become obscured by constricted awareness and our daily concerns. But no matter how long we have been lost in fear and limitation, we can learn to rise above the clouds of conditioning and awaken to the source of happiness within us.
This month we will begin our journey into expanded awareness and happiness by exploring one of the most important questions we can ever ask ourselves,
Who am I?
Consciously choosing our intentions is the most powerful way to begin any project, journey, or dream. By becoming clear about what we desire and setting an intention, we are planting a seed in the fertile garden of pure potentiality. As we nurture that seed while simultaneously releasing any attachment to the outcome, we come fully into the present moment. We spontaneously take the most evolutionary actions and experience the expansion of joy, love, and harmony.
As you begin the happiness course, give yourself free reign to consider your intention for the course. It can be a “simple” one. In fact, for the purposes of this course, simple is probably best. Here are a few ideas:
My intention is to . . .
- Open my heart to happiness.
- Follow my joy.
- Be happy for no reason at all.
- Awaken to love and happiness.
- Live with a light heart and spirit.
This is your own personal intention, and as long as you find an intention that resonates with your heart, there is no “wrong” way to set it. In general, however, it’s best to write your intentions in positive language rather than in terms of what you don’t want, because the important part of formulating intentions is to generate a field of awareness that feels whole, content, and complete.
Intentions also tend to be more powerful when we write them down where we can see them throughout the day. You can write them down on sticky notes and we suggest taping them to your computer monitor, a bathroom mirror, your car dashboard, or anywhere else that you will see them regularly and be reminded of your deepest intention for happiness.
Yoga with Elizabeth McLean
Consciousness in Motion
Yoga for Body-Centered Awareness
Triangle, The Happy Pose
The basic triangle, or trikonasana (pronounced trih-koh-NAH-sah-nah), is a yoga pose that provides an excellent stretch throughout the entire body. This pose is a good choice if you are feeling sad or depressed, or anytime you want to open yourself up to a flow of positive energy.
Known as the “happy pose” because it opens your heart center and allows joy to fill your body, this pose also relieves tension in your neck and back, tones leg muscles, improves circulation, and strengthens the lower back.
If you are new to yoga, you may wish to begin with Standing Side Bend to strengthen your torso. This pose is less intense, yet offers many of the same benefits as the Triangle pose. As you begin to feel more flexible, gradually move into Triangle.
Elizabeth is an Australian physiotherapist, health writer and naturopath-in-the-making. Elizabeth works in a busy physiotherapy practice in Adelaide, Australia where she integrates her passion for natural health with her love for manual therapy and Pilates therapeutic exercise programs. Elizabeth provides a well-rounded, holistic approach to disease prevention and life-long health maintenance.
To book an appointment with Elizabeth in Australia go to http://www.therapia.com.au/
To ask Elizabeth a question about your health care visit the Health Wiz fan page on facebook http://www.facebook.com/healthwiz
Who am I?
This guided meditation will help you go deeper into this timeless question, moving beyond the ego’s perspective, which is time-bound, fragmented, and fearful – into the world of spirit, which is timeless and eternal, free of the past and future, joyful, and open to all.
To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows:
STEP 1: right-click on this DOWNLOAD LINK
STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer.
STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.
Advice from The Balanced Soul
Hullo Hullo, Dear Balanced Souls!!
July, I have to say, is a magic month for me. I’m a late-summer baby, but the expansion of the sun and the celebration of Solstice always ramp me up for the coming heat. I LOOOOOVE the heat. I love feeling my edges melt away into my environment. I love releasing That Which Does Not Serve as I sweat in the sun. I love having a Warm Body and the yoga asana practice it affords me. I love ceiling fans, humidity, watermelon and swimming in lakes.
No, I never worry about getting “too much sun”. Maybe I’ll post about the awesome hero that Vitamin D is another day soon.
But THIS! This is what also happens to me in July: I get tuned in to the Magic of the Universe again. My soul starts singing. I CRAVE relaxation, meditation, shamanic journeys, and solo pixie-time. I doodle and dream and marvel at how my corner of the world heaves abundance outward in the summer months. I click into That.
IT. FEELS. AMAZING.
Ok, and when I started to do yoga, and learning more about meditation, I wasn’t really excited about it. I mean, it wasn’t comfortable for me to sit for very long, and I always got very antsy-pantsy. If you know me in real life, you know that I am, shall we say, a Do-er…and one of my lessons (bless it), is to Chill The Heck Out.
Over the years, I have become enamored of the process and feeling of deeeeeeeeeeeep relaxation. Hypnosis-deep.
So I wanted to share my Tools (you lucky ducks, you….I find some AWESOME Tools!!!) that helped me cultivate a practice that serves me when I want it. I know (deep down, in my belly) that I would most likely benefit from Tuning In every day, but that’s not my reality at the moment. I Tune In for moments every day, sure, but it’s not a daily “get your butt on the floor” type of thing. That hasn’t worked for me. At all.
In fact, that’s Tool Number One: DON’T force it. I find that certain days, all I want to do is rest and GO IN and let it aaaaall FLOOOOOOOW. It feels great, it’s easy for me, and it’s more productive than freaking out. Other days, it is the farthest idea from my consciousness: there are to-do lists, I feel actively energized, and I love riding those waves, too. So be gentle, as is ALWAYS rule 1, right? Know that this is something that the more you cultivate it, the better it is, and it’s called Practice for a reason. You are not doing it to show anything to anyone else: this is Just For You.
Rule/Tool 2: Whatever image of meditation you have in your head: toss it out. Or, what might be less aggressive: make a new image for YOU. You do not have to be a yogi. You do not have to sit. You do not have to practice daily. You do not HAVE to do anything. Recognize, that, the state of consciousness you are expanding when you are meditating or relaxing deeply is the same state as right before you fall asleep. It’s that “OOOOH-my-body-is-so-relaxed-right-now-and-life-is-beautiful” feeling.
You don’t have that before you go to sleep??? Sheesh! You poor thing. You are going to LOOOOOVE relaxing even more!
You can meditate while walking, lying down, sitting in a chair, or standing still! Once you start to Tune In, you start to do it in traffic, in the line at the grocery store, and maybe EVEN when sirens wake you up in the dead of night. (what? that doesn’t happen in your world? I envy you a little.)
Tool/Rule 3: Find a way in that works for you. Do you pray? The silence after “Amen” or “Om” is a doorway In. Do you love lying down? Yoga Nidra is a practice of Yogic Sleep, where you stay awake (or just fall asleep: all is good!) through a deeply relaxing guided meditation. Do you like to focus, on something? Focusing on breath, or a mantra (a word or short prayer repeated over and over again) or simply focusing on your body itself, is a beautiful way In.
Tool/Rule 4: Self hypnosis. If you aren’t sure about getting hypnotized,by someone else, see if you can do it by YourSelf! There are lots of books out there with different techniques. Essentially, you record your voice and listen to YourSelf to relax deeply. Alleviating stress is a big benefit of hypnosis, and you can tailor your sessions to serve your specific needs. The book I have used until pages have fallen out is: Self Hypnosis for a Better Life. The author actually has a bunch of books that are very readable, and really fun to explore and see what changes you can make in your life! I have also worked with a GREAT hypnotherapist (Eileen Stith) who I seriously adore (and even though she’s in Georgia, she can work over the phone and on Skype, so if you’re interested, call her!) and who helped me through some real challenges I faced.
Tool/Rule 5: If you are really craving the time, but haven’t yet given it to YourSelf (whatever the reason, I get it), then I suggest finding some guided meditations to get you started (or to use as long as you need!) My absolute FAVORITE website for FREE AUDIO meditations is Fragrant Heart Meditation. It’s great because they have posted meditations by category, of different lengths. So you just sit or lie down, click, and play what you want, and HOORAY! All perfectly lovely.
A quick word about going Deeper: Shamanic Journeys are a little different that regular meditation. In a Shamanic Journey, you visualize YourSelf walking along a path or in nature of some sort, and then at some point, you get somewhere and receive messages or communications, or what have you. Most of the time, drumming is used to induce the meditative state, and then to bring you back to waking. You can read Leonie Dawson’s post about Shamanic Journeys for more information. Incidentally, if you don’t already know of her, Leonie is AMAZING, and is creating a gorgeous web of women all over the world. She inspires me and makes me laugh.
If you are interested in just finding some music for a Shamanic Journey, here is a great site I found recently. Again, it’s a site where you can actually find lots of gems, but you play everything through the site, and it’s free, as far as I can tell. The Fragrant Heart site and this one are two of my recent finds that I am particularly ecstatic about. Please explore, make your heart happy.
OK! So I hope that this post fuels some Solstice Delicious Sweetness in you. Whatever your patterns and waves, honor them, and know that you are an Expression Of That, and that I love you.
I will be starting to post exercise/Sacred Movement/breath work here, soon. None of it means that this is turning into a “work out” blog: I am simply, as always, showing you what I find useful. Lately I have LOVED moving in a more active, more firey sort of way. So there might be some yoga, but that I think can be found in other places that really focus there; I would love to reblog some of the work being shown at Blogilates, and the like. It’s fun, challenging, and absolutely is helping me cultivate “body as temple” in my every day life.
Much love, Massive Blessings, and Deep Long Sunny Days,
Healthy Food Choices
Top Foods to Eat After A Workout
Many people ask what the best “post-workout” foods are. And it’s an important question! If you are a recreational exerciser — you work out three to four times per week, for 30-45 minutes at a time — choosing the wrong foods can really set you back calorie-wise. Your snack may even negate your workout altogether!
Q. I work out regularly (about 45 minutes of cardio a few days each week) and never know what I’m supposed to eat after my exercise session. What are the best snacks to eat after my workout?
A. The right “post-workout” foods will depend on the amount (and intensity) of exercise you are doing. If you are a recreational exerciser who works out three to four times per week, for 30-45 minutes at a time, you really do not need to worry as much about eating to refuel your body; you have enough time to replenish your muscles before your next workout. If you feel hungry after a workout, simply choose a low-calorie snack, such as raw vegetables, a piece of fruit, granola bar or 6oz container of nonfat yogurt. A common mistake many people make is they feel they can “reward themselves” for a workout by eating too much, which can lead to weight gain. Imagine you burn about 200 calories during a 45 minute workout. If you were to munch on two handfuls of trail mix (about ½ cup) afterwards, you just took in two times the calories you burned. You’re now up 200 calories!
However, if you are seriously working out (>60 minutes a day, most days a week), training for a vigorous race, or doing an intense workout for more than 90 minutes at a time, you should be more attentive to what you put into your body after your workout.
Ideally, you should start to consume carbohydrate and protein rich foods and beverages within one hour after your workout. This window of time is the most beneficial for muscle recovery. To keep your muscles well-fueled, a combination snack of carbohydrates and protein is the best option. The carbohydrates will be used by your body to restore muscle glycogen while the protein speeds up this process. Some great snack options to refuel your body include:
- ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese + whole grain crackers
- Orange + ¼ cup almonds
- 6-ounce non-fat yogurt + ½ cup whole grain cereal
- Apple + part skim cheese stick
- Scoop of protein powder mixed with juice or skim milk
The most important thing for every type of exerciser is hydration. You can assess your fluid requirements through urine color and sweat loss. Urine should be very pale yellow and not cloudy. To monitor sweat loss, weigh yourself before and after exercise and for every pound lost, 3 cups of water (24 ounces) should be consumed. The best way to keep your body hydrated is to drink on a schedule, 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.
An Energizing Drink to Start Your Day
Combine ½ cup skim milk or soy milk, a 6-ounce container nonfat vanilla yogurt, ¾ cup fresh or frozen berries, and a few ice cubes in a blender. If you like, toss in a scoop of protein powder for an extra hit of protein.Without protein powder: 210 calories, 21g protein, 0g fat, 31g carb, 3g fiber (1 scoop protein powder adds 20–25g protein and about 100 calories)
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