Wellness + Mindfulness

Seeing the Multitudes in Others

Recently I have been bringing more awareness to how I and those around me describe and categorize others.  It has been interesting, and sometimes concerning, to see how an adjective can suddenly become a defining component of someone’s entire identity when assigned to them by another.  Certainly it is not news to anyone that our society has an affinity for labels, boxes, and color codes.  Our collective tendency for discrimination and prejudice based on these affinities has and continues to create problems and cause harm.  And as many of us seek to become less judgmental and exclusive and instead become more empathetic and inclusive, we must become more mindful about how we think and speak about others; even and especially those that stand on the opposite of us on various issues and beliefs.  For the truth is that one or two adjectives cannot accurately describe anyone, for everyone contain multitudes.

“She is just basic.”
“He is a problematic man.”
“She is just crazy liberal.”
“He is an ignorant republican.”

These are just a few examples of statements I have recently heard those around me speak about others.  And I confess, I am guilty of thinking and speaking about others in much the same way.  As I reflect on these descriptive, categorical statements, what strikes me about them is not necessarily the use of any one of the words, but rather the finality and permanence with which they were spoken.  As if “basic” or “problematic” accurately sums up the entirety of those people’s beings.  Of course, we know on some level that these people must be more complex than just being basic or problematic, right?  True – she might be “basic” in that she is an average woman who enjoys popular things, but she is also probably a loving daughter/sister/mother/etc., she probably has worthy talents, and she probably cares deeply about something important in the world.  Sure – he might be a man who says and/or does “problematic” things, but he also probably is a loving son/brother/father/etc., he probably has respectable skills, and he probably has and does try to do some good in the world. 

While it may be accurate to describe her as basic and him as problematic in some respects, is it not unjust to reduce them as people to being only such?  Is it not wrong to deny their other admirable qualities?  Is it not cruel to not give them the opportunity to be more?  These are the considerations that I have been meditating on as I catch myself labeling and categorizing others.  These considerations may or may not change the verbiage of the statements, but will change how they are spoken.  I may still think or say “She is basic,” but the way in which I say it does not cancel out her other admirable qualities nor does it solidify with finality that “basic” is all she is or ever could be. 

 Personally, I am striving to edit the way these statements are spoken to allow for more consideration and respect. For example:

“In some ways, she is basic.”
“He can be problematic.” or  “He does have problematic tendencies.”

I feel that when I think and speak in this way, I am finding a balance between honoring my own perspectives and opinions and allowing space for the people I am speaking about to be more than just the adjectival labels I have attributed to them.  At once, I am affirming in my eyes that he or she is this or that, but also recognizing that he or she also contains multitudes.  For me, this seems more respectful, more empathetic, and leaves open space to foster conversation and connection, even between two people who may oppose each other. 

Now, there are of course individuals in the world who seemingly can be summarized with strong adjectives and harsh statements.  We know there are people whose entire beings are consumed with negative and evil qualities and they do not deserve any considerations.  However, these people are the exception.  I would argue that the rule is most people are dynamic, multifaceted beings that are capable of being many things at one time and have the great potential for change and evolution.  I believe that in order to cultivate authentic connections, have honest conversations, and share different perspectives, harboring consideration and respect for each other without harsh discrimination and permanent condemnation is of the utmost importance.  Imagine if each of us looked at and listened to each other through the lens that everyone, no matter who, contains multitudes.  How much deeper would those authentic connections be?  How much more productive would those honest conversations be?  How much more could we grasp and understand others’ perspectives to then work toward mutual agreements?  

To be clear, this is not to say that we go through life with rose colored glasses on, bypass conflicts, and blindly hope for the best.  Absolutely, we must continue to call out harmful behaviors, demand change for the betterment of the collective, and engage in disagreements and conflicts as they arise.  All I offer is that as we do so, we allow the space for connection, growth, and grace by staying rooted in the knowledge that all of us contain multitudes and each of us has a role to play as we navigate this lifetime.

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The Lost Lightworkers

*Disclaimer: Since writing this post, I have been informed that some people see the term “lightworker” as an offensive term synonymous with spiritual bypassing (the using of spiritual teachings and beliefs as a way to avoid facing unresolved emotional and psychological issues and trauma and generally avoiding and denying necessary “shadow work”) and colorism (discrimination based on the shading of skin color, generally labeling lighter as good and darker as bad).  Thus, I want to be clear that the definition for “lightworker” that I am working with is not attached to spiritual bypassing and colorism. My use of “lightworker” and “light” does not have any correlation to skin color or race and does not promote spiritual bypassing or emotional avoidance of any kind. My definition for the term “lightworker” is someone who dedicates their work and/or life to helping others by promoting health, wellness, kindness, compassion, and love. This is the definition I am working with for the below article. Based on the research I have done, the use of “lightworker” is safe when such a clarification as this is made. If you would like to discuss this topic further, please fill out my contact form and correspond with me directly. Thank you.*

            In a time where the fear and the reality of job loss, business closures, financial ruin, social separation, illness, and death plague our country, there has never been a greater need for lightworkers. In the spiritual, new age community, a lightworker is broadly defined as someone who is intensely drawn to help others. Lightworkers display an abundance of empathy and compassion for others in their close and distant circles. Such individuals often pursue careers in healthcare, psychotherapy, massage, yoga, meditation, reiki, and other such modalities in which their jobs directly touch and impact other humans. (Please read the *Disclaimer above for further clarification on the definition being used here) Lightworkers who have chosen careers as doctors, nurses, and the like find themselves in higher demand than perhaps ever before. And that demand is sure to only continue rising in the coming weeks and months. There are, however, many other lightworkers in this country who find themselves unable to fulfill their vocations. What happens to those of us that exist in other corners and sectors of the wellness world who want desperately to work, to help, and to heal, but find our paths for doing so closed? What happens to us lightworkers who are ready and willing to come to the aid of others but suddenly find ourselves struggling for survival in an economy that never truly realized our value and potential? In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us lightworkers find ourselves wandering, wondering, and lost.

            I consider myself to be a lightworker; a title I wear proudly. I am a yoga and meditation instructor as well as a writer in the wellness and mindfulness space. Like many other lightworkers, I am deeply passionate about my modalities. The work I do is work I would always do no matter how much money I had in my bank account. Give me a billion dollars and you will still find me teaching yoga at the studio and writing articles to inspire inner growth. True retirement from these jobs is something I will never choose. My work is less of a job that earns income and more of a vocation that fulfills the mission of my soul. Yet as the coronavirus continues to alter the state of the country and the larger world, I find it increasingly difficult to perform the work I believe I have been placed on earth to do.

            I live in California where a statewide shelter-in-place mandate has been instituted until further notice. With this, both of the yoga studios I teach for have closed and temporarily laid all instructors off without pay or benefits. The corporate offices I contract for as a yoga and meditation instructor have closed as their employees are required to work from home if they are to work at all. While some private individual clients may still continue to request me to come and teach them in their homes, at any moment they could choose to suspend our classes or else law enforcement could prevent me from reaching their residences as more and more checkpoints are put in place. Furthermore, I am certainly not acquiring new clients during this time of social distancing and quarantine. 

            Thus, I suddenly find myself with fewer platforms to practice my modalities of teaching yoga and meditation to the hundreds of people I used to see regularly every week. The modest income I earned from these opportunities has been halted. Like the ever growing millions of people in the US who have temporarily or permanently lost their means of income in a capitalistic economy that clearly has no elasticity and flexibility to it and a social security net that is being loosely woven at the eleventh hour, I now must wonder about how I will procure the money I need to support myself and survive in a system that would normally allow me to fall into ruin. And worse, I must mourn the loss of the work I did, love so deeply, and want so badly to continue doing for the value I believe it adds to the world.

            Clearly, I am not alone in these personal and financially devastating losses. Yoga and fitness instructors, meditation leaders, massage therapists, reiki and alternative practice healers across the nation all find ourselves out of work, forced away from our vocations, and in some cases, fresh out of luck.  It hurts our wallets and our hearts. We worry not just for ourselves, but for the clients that we have served in earnest for so long. We want so desperately to continue helping, but our industries are not safe to operate in. Our industries are closed for the greater good and health of our clients and ourselves. And as we reflect, we face the hard truth that while our clients may personally value us and our work, clearly the society we reside in and serve does not – at least, not enough to ensure that we too are cared for and that our resource needs are met during these uncertain days.

            Still, not all hope is lost. Some of us lightworkers are finding innovative ways to continue performing our vocations. Many yoga and fitness instructors, including myself, are teaching virtual classes via platforms like Zoom and Instagram Live. I have been teaching four to five free community classes per week via Zoom to an audience comprised of most of my normal students. On the financial front, some of my students have contributed donations for these classes via Venmo which has been nice. More importantly, it has been a rewarding experience to see my students’ faces, hear their voices, and still be able to lead them through a yoga flow. My students have expressed immense gratitude for my continued teaching in this time which provides them with a way to move their bodies and clear their heads as well as evoke some sense of normalcy in a season in which nothing feels normal. Additionally, one of the corporate companies I contract for as a mindfulness and meditation instructor has decided to expand the program I normally lead solely at their Southern California branch and roll it out nationwide with virtual sessions, allowing me to reach even more people across our country. And again, I am not alone. Lightworkers are leading virtual classes and support groups, performing “distance reiki”, creating online mindfulness courses and workbooks, and much more.

            Yet for as wonderful as these new ways of performing our vocations, the innovative ventures some of us lightworkers are pursuing are still insufficient for us on fiscal and energetic levels. Furthermore, these alternative paths for virtual work are not accessible for all lightworkers who do not have the necessary technological savvy or for those whose modalities simply cannot be offered virtually – an older meditation teacher may not know how to operate Zoom for a virtual class and a massage therapist simply cannot work unless they are physically present with a client. For those of us who do have virtual offerings, there is a heightened level of competition present between us. None of us want to recognize this truth, for as empaths we want everyone to succeed, but when it comes down to earning the money we need to pay our rents and put food on the table, we cannot help but realize we want and need students to be taking our own classes and making donations to us. And so, us lightworkers find ourselves in a paradoxical time. We want to help our communities and we want our comrades to succeed in doing so too, yet we often cannot help our communities and realize that some primal part of ourselves we wish we could ignore desires our own success and survival at a greater tier than we have before. All of this has created the overwhelming sensation of being lost.

            Although, while the reality is that we are facing a uniquely challenging time comprised of loss of resources, lack of support, and daily fulfill-able purpose, us lightworkers will never truly stop. It is true that the current pandemic has us feeling unstable, uncared for by the crumbling social structures in this country, and confused about exactly how we fit into the world at this time, but something that we possess is a potent, undying drive to do good in the world. While we may endure moments of fear, scarcity, and hopelessness, we will ultimately return back to our inner truths that we simply want the best for all and want to play some part in that. At the end of the day, lightworkers will find our way back to ourselves and strive to do our work no matter what. Even if all we can do is meditate and pray for the well-being of the larger collective that is what we will do. We are lost in this time, but we are still here, and we are still trying.

Consciously Optimistic

At the beginning of the California stay-at-home mandate in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, I wrote about my choice to remain cautiously hopeful. I wrote about my acknowledgement and acceptance of this moment in history as uncertain, uncomfortable, challenging, and scary, but that I would continue on as a writer, as a teacher, as a creative, as a smiler, as a laugher, as a lover. I maintain this stance; over the past month I have continued to produce art with my written words, I have continued to teach yoga and meditation, I have continued to smile, to laugh, and to love, and I am not stopping any of this anytime soon. Yet, if I am to be honest I must express that I too, like many, have had my moments and days of doubt, dread, and darkness. I have felt anxiety tighten my chest, stress crinkle my forehead, and tears fill my eyes. And all of that is perfectly alright.

            I have been an optimist all of my life. From childhood to present, I have always been the one to find the silver lining, to look onward and upward with faith and hope, and to get right back up when knocked down. I am still very much this way; it is who I innately am. There is, however, a sizeable difference in how I play the role of optimist now. I was once a blind optimist – someone who denied the extent or even the existence of the problem, the darkness, and even the truth in favor of remaining positive. While my seemingly invincible positivity was a quality many people around me admired, my years have since taught me that there is a fundamental flaw in blind optimism.  Blind optimism does not leave space to experience the valid feelings and emotions of loss, anger, fear, and sadness that are all part of the human experience. It bypasses the necessary step of processing what we feel and experience which ultimately allows us to learn and to grow. When we are blindly optimistic, we effectively limit our life experience, hinder our own growth and evolution, and ultimately trap ourselves into storing up issues and emotions that we never fully deal with which often leads to their resurfacing and causing more problems later down the path. Furthermore, we may inadvertently invalidate other’s real and true feelings and emotions in our denial of their presence.

            Thus, I have learned to be a conscious optimist – someone who acknowledges and accepts the heavy, the hard, and the dark. Someone who sits in the discomfort and wades through the challenge. Someone who allows time to process, to understand, and to learn. Someone who fully acknowledges and holds space for the experiences of others. And someone who after all of that still makes their way back to optimism. I continue to be an optimist, a seeker of the silver lining, a believer in the best, a holder of hope for a greater world, but I also allow myself the time and the space to feel what arises from the shadows.

            In this time of quarantine, I have had to face a myriad of feelings and emotions from the shadows. I have experienced worry and anxiety revolving around my finances as 75% of my income has suddenly come to a grinding halt and the process of applying for unemployment is confusing and unstable. I have felt the fear of my older relatives and vulnerable friends contracting the virus and struggling to defeat it. I have experienced anger at our government for how they have handled this pandemic and for the structures they have built that are now failing the vast majority of us. I have felt the loss of not being able to perform my vocation of teaching at the same caliber that I once did. I have experienced frustration of being forced to remain inside when everything in me wants to be out in the world. I have felt the intense missing of my sister, my extended family, and my dearest friends whom I am uncertain about when I will see and embrace again. I have had my moments and my days of feeling overwhelmed by the present situation and an almost desperate desire to break free of it.

            For as positive as I remain, I am not invincible to these feelings and emotions; none of us are. Sometimes, they are very present with me and demand my full undivided attention for a few hours or even a few days. And again, this is perfectly okay. The days we are living now are hard; perhaps some of the hardest we will ever know in our lifetime. As these days continue, we are all going to feel an intense array of emotions and all handle them differently. The truth of the matter is there is no right or wrong way to feel or be in this time. Whatever you are feeling is valid, however much time you need to be in that feeling is more than acceptable, whatever you need to do to cope and process that feeling is fine (so long as your coping strategy does not cause harm to yourself or others). Allow yourself the space to really experience every sensation and emotion that is coming up for you in this unique circumstance. Allow yourself to sit with it and understand. And when you feel ready, move on from it with the wisdom that you have gained from processing it.

            In the age of social media, there is a big push by individuals, influencers, and brands to remain overtly positive during this pandemic. There is nobility to that sentiment. As I said, I am remaining mostly positive and continue to hope for the best, am actively looking for silver linings, and continue to practice gratitude for what I do have. The caveat is that I do not and will not remain positive at the expense of denying and belittling the real and true feelings of anxiety, worry, doubt, anger, and sadness that do at times arise in me. I cannot ignore what is present in my brain and in my heart. And I absolutely will not tell others to ignore and invalidate their own unique feelings for the sake of positivity. In truth, positivity is stronger and more potent when we have returned to it after going on an inward journey through the dark rather than taking a mental vacation in which we ignore the fact that anything other than the pleasant is present. I am often positive, but not always. I am usually grateful, but sometimes cannot find the will to be so. I am typically hopeful, but I too experience doubt. And this goes for all of us who wear the title of optimist. And in this time that is so uncertain, so challenging, so scary, I am feeling all the feels – the good and the bad, the light and the shadow, the yin and the yang. And if you are too, that’s more than okay.

Confined Contemplations

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to shake the foundations of our world and change our lives on a daily, updating basis, I find myself contemplating a myriad of topics, thoughts, and emotions. As quarantine forces me into a state of stillness, I am allowing myself the opportunity to reflect deeply on the following. These questions were developed uniquely for me, but if they resonate with you as well, I encourage you to reflect on them and perhaps even journal about them.

What do I miss that I had access to before but do not have access to now?

What are the things that I do not have access to anymore, but do not miss?

What did I have access to before that I realize I did not take full advantage of now that it is no longer available to me?

What parts of my busy routine do I miss and that I feel were serving me well?

What parts of my busy routine do I not miss and which parts do I feel were not serving me well?

What did I once deem necessary and vital that may not seem so important anymore?

What practices have I taken up in this time of isolation and quarantine that are positive? Which ones are negative?

Who do I miss seeing on a regular basis?

Who do I not miss seeing?

Who have I connected with more deeply in the wake of this pandemic that I want to maintain a greater connection with when this is over?

Who in my life has changed in my eyes, for better or for worse, based on how they have reacted to this pandemic?

If I had a giant house and could take in 20 friends and family members for quarantine, who would make up those 20 people?

Overall, how have I responded to this pandemic?

In what ways have I handled this pandemic positively? In what ways have I handled this pandemic negatively?

What have I learned in the past few years of inner growth that I am actively applying to this situation?

What have I learned in the past few years of inner growth that I could stand to apply to this situation?

What types of stress have I experienced from this pandemic?

Where has the stress of this time resonated in my body?

What coping strategies have helped me to cope with this stress?

Am I being of service to others in this time?

How can I be of more service to my community and the world right now?

What lessons am I learning in this time as a person?

What lessons are we learning in this time as a collective?

What have I already learned in this time that I want to take with me into the future?

Universe/God/etc – Where would you have me go? What would you have me say? What would you have me do?

Keep It Moving, Quarantine

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all spending a lot more time cooped up inside our homes. This forced period of isolation can result in a lot of sitting, lounging, and general lack of movement. Even for those who typically sit at a desk in an office all day may find themselves even more sedentary than normal as need to commute to and from the building, walk to get lunch or coffee, or migrate to different offices for meetings are all eliminated. While social distancing and quarantine offer us the opportunity to slow down and to rest, it is still important to continue moving and exercising our bodies to maintain our best possible health. Studies have shown that sedentary behavior is linked to a variety of health issues including high blood pressure and a heightened risk for over 30 chronic diseases and conditions. So clearly, we are species that needs to be moving and doing so often.  

 In this piece, I am sharing with you some ideas for how you can move your body, in addition to regular exercise, throughout your days in quarantine! You do not need any special equipment or large amounts of space. There are plenty of ways to move your body throughout the day and maintain your health.

Regular Exercise

 Before I go any further, I want to stress the importance of continuing to get regular exercise every day. I am defining “regular exercise” as 30 minutes or more of consistent movement – walking, yoga, pilates, weight training, kick boxing, etc. There are thousands of coaches, teachers, studios, and gyms online right now providing resources, instruction, and tips for how to continue exercising during this time. There are online yoga, pilates, and HITT classes, there are sample body weight and cardio routines, there are full, well rounded at home programs to follow. I suggest exploring your options, choosing what works for you, and striving to do regular exercise for a minimum of the 30 minutes per day, 5-6 days per week.

 Now for the remainder of this piece, I want to offer ways in which you can move your body throughout your quarantine days in addition to the “regular exercise” discussed above. Once again, we will be finding ourselves more sedentary in the coming weeks, and so getting creative and dynamic with movement throughout your day is key.

Movement Breaks

 Again, you may find yourself sitting and lounging for hours on end. While stillness and rest are great, we are a species built for movement and ignoring that fact can lead to a myriad of health problems. According to Healthline.com, sitting for extended periods of time everyday can lead to weakened leg and glute muscles, tight hips and back, weight gain, a heightened risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and can instigate and/or exacerbate anxiety and depression. Thus, we are encouraged to move, to move dynamically, and do so often.

So, I propose incorporating “Movement Breaks” throughout your days in quarantine. Set a recurring timer for every 1.5 – 2 hours, and when it goes off, stand up and do one of the following:

1 minute of Push-Ups

  • Maintain pectoral, arm, and back strength
  • Try different variations like:
    • Wide Arm
    • Narrow Arm
    • Diamond Hands
    • Claps

1 minute of Squats

  • Strengthen glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and more
  • Try different variations like:
    •  Standard Squats
    • Hamstring Curls
    • Calf Raises
    • Lateral Raises
    • 1 Legged Twists
    • Squat Jumps

1 minute of Lunges

  • Strengthen legs, glutes, and more
  • Try different variations like:
    • Backward Lunges
    • Forward Lunges
    • Side Lunges
    • Switch Lunges

1 minute of shoulder taps or army crawlers

  • Strengthen arms, shoulders, pectorals, and back as well as practice coordination

1 minute of mountain climbers, plank jacks, burpees, or jumping jacks

  • Strengthen a variety of muscles groups while incorporating plyometric and cardiovascular exercise

Dance Break!

  • Incorporating a cardio burst into your day and have some fun!
  • Put on your favorite pop, R&B, or hip hop song and dance to it for the full 3-4 minutes.
  • This is my personal favorite!

Choreography

  • Find a choreographer/dance instructor on YouTube and learn the choreography dances from some of your favorite performers like Britney Spears, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and more!
  • This leads to a full cardio workout as well as coordination exercise and can be a fun group activity!

Walks

  • While we still have the privilege to take walks through the neighborhood, consider taking multiple 15-20 minutes throughout your neighborhood and enjoy the fresh air!
  • Be sure to stay at least 6 feet away from any other passerby.

I hope you enjoy these suggestions for keeping your bodies moving in this unique time! Cannot wait to see you all again when we are out of this!

Cautiously Hopeful

Fear. Scarcity. Panic. These are the emotions, sensations, and reactions I have felt myself being invited into over the past week as my awareness of the news, discussions, and energies circulating around me has heightened. After finally accepting that a forced quarantine may be eminent, my best friend and I rushed out to the grocery stores to procure two weeks’ worth of food and supplies for ourselves and our closest loved ones. We went to the stores in good spirits, laughing that we were “apocalypse ready!” Upon seeing the empty shelves and freezer bins at Trader Joe’s, however, a sinking feeling overwhelmed my chest and I watched as my mind took a mini spiral into the primal mentality of scarcity. “Where will we get the food? How will I provide for my older mother? Will I need to fight for this?” I quickly pulled myself back up and out of the spiral, returning to the present, and redirecting my mind into the state of security and abundance I strive to operate from. Yet, I could not help but be astounded by how the present events are influencing our thoughts and feelings.

            The worry and concern I see on the faces of the people who pass me is clear. The fear in the eyes of the friends I speak to about the current situation is apparent. The energy of hysteria that radiates from the news and the society around me is palpable. As a person of privilege, I have never experienced anything quite like this; the worry about not having enough resources, the concern about not being able to seek and receive treatment if sick, the discomfort of not being able to work and maintain income. I realize now that in my twenty-nine years of life I have witness history unfolding: 9/11, the “war on terrorism”, the first black president of the United States, the first female almost-present of the United States, a world superpower divided over an election, and now this world-wide pandemic with no clear ending. In addition to 9/11, this piece of history in particular is impacting all us in immediate and tangible ways. It is a scary and all around interesting event to be a part of. 

            I myself am not fearful of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a yoga and fitness instructor with a highly nutritious diet and with a genetically strong immune system, I feel confident that I would be asymptotic if I were to contract it, or if I did they would be mild and short lived. Additionally, experts say that 80% or more of the population that contract the virus will experience mild flu like symptoms for a short period of time. Based on the research I have done, I do believe this virus is more mild than the media is playing it up to be in their headlines and do feel that many are over reacting about the severity of the virus. That said, I am still deeply concerned about it. I am concerned for those with compromised immune systems that could potentially experience a severe bout of the illness. I am concerned for the elderly population who seem to be taking the brunt of this illness – my own grandparents are ninety and eighty-eight and I fear for them. I am concerned for those whose contracting the virus could potentially be serious and even deadly.

            Furthermore, this pandemic has brought to light the fragility of our economic system in America. Across various sectors, businesses have slowed exceptionally or come to complete grinding halts. Those taking the brunt of the business losses are the workers at and toward the bottom of the totem pole – the hourly workers, the workers that have to be physically present at their job site in order to earn income, the freelancers whose clients have stopped calling and booking. A large part of the panic and fear we are seeing in society is coming from those who realize that in the event of a shutdown that they will not be able to attend work, earn money, and will most likely not be supported with any sort of temporary severance package or cushion funding from their companies. Pair all of that with the fact that a potential quarantine means a large upfront cost to stock up on food and supplies for an extended period and we are looking at a lot of money lost and un-replenished for some.  And this is all before we add on healthcare costs if someone in these circumstances does become sick. For those without savings or familial support, this is a deeply uncomfortable and scary time.

            It is a tale as old as time, those at the top maintain stability, at least financially, during this pandemic, while those at the bottom face hardship and ruin. For me, it has enhanced my belief that we need more human-based systems of economy and business here in the United States. Companies need to commit to taking care of their loyal employees in case of a crisis like this – CEOs should cut profits and reallocate funds or else should forgo their own seven or eight figure salaries for six months in order to pay their bottom workers’ bare minimum cost of living expenses for two weeks to a month in the event that they are not allowed to work. The government should be allocating funds to be accessed by the people for food, supplies, and rent in the event of a shutdown. At present, our system supports a “survival of the fittest” mentality, with the fittest having an often unjust upper hand.  Moreover, if the dropping economy is causing such mayhem, why can’t we temporarily cancel the economy like we are everything else? Call me a naïve millennial, but as an old soul who has been around the track a few times, I just prioritize things a little differently.

             At any rate, we are experiencing a situation that is uncomfortable and frightening. The virus is a problem and it is multiplying into various other problems across different sectors and arenas. This is all very real. The heavy emotions and sensations we are experiencing around this are true and valid. Let me state that again – what you are feeling is valid. That said, we do not have to be consumed or driven by this darkness. We do not have to feed into the fear and let it define our lives over the coming weeks or months. To be clear, feeling worried, concerned, anxious, scarce, or fearful is not wrong or bad; these are all part of the human experience. We can certainly be cautious, we can plan and prepare, but what I am saying is that we can do all of this while holding onto hope. Events and concerts may be canceled, school may be canceled, work may be canceled. What is not canceled, however, is our ability to smile and to laugh, our ability to be generous and kind, our ability to create light even in the darkest of darks.

            I am fully aware of the potential hardships and dangers ahead. We have to accept that the coming weeks and maybe even months ahead will be challenging, uncertain, and uncomfortable; there is no denying it or escaping it. You may feel worried, concerned, anxious, scarce, and fearful – this is not bad, this all part of the human experience. I encourage you to honor the way you are feeling, sit with it, experience it in full, and understand it. Just remember, that these are not the only emotions you will ever feel again. I offer you the perspective that this too shall pass and does not have to define your inner world. I will feel all of the emotions as well, but I will continue to smile, I will continue to laugh, I will continue to help and to aid, I will continue to sing, I will continue to write, I will continue to create. The best of me will not be canceled, the best of me will continue in full power mode and I will do the good I can with that.

            Right now, the world is tempting us to react; to react in panic, with scarcity, with defeat, and with fear. But we do not have to. Instead, we can respond. We can respond with cautious optimism. We can respond with peaceful progress. We can respond with intuitive positivity. We can respond with hope, faith, trust, and love. The coming weeks and months may be challenging, but please remember, we are in this together. Rather than dividing in the fall, let’s unite in the rise. I love you, my friends.

My Health Tips for Flu Season

Fall is here and it’s brought more than just pumpkin spice everything with it. This time of year marks the return of cold and flu season. But before you grab your hand sanitizer and don a face mask, Johnny La Pasta has a few tips to help you stay healthy and fit this sick season!

While I do fall ill sometimes just like everyone else, I have a pretty good track record of staying healthy most years, often completely missing the major flu or cold that everyone around me seems to catch (knock on wood). Even when I do contract an illness, I often bounce back from it rather quickly. This has led many of my friends, family, and students to ask me: How?

Here are my tips for staying healthy and fit during the flu & cold season –

-1- Hydration

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Hydration is always key, including during flu & cold season. Staying hydrated promotes your elimination system which can help to flush build ups of toxins from your body before they can take root and do any harm. So even if it’s cold outside, drink your water like it’s a scorching summer day!

-2- Citrus All Day, Every Day

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 One of the ways I stay healthy all year long is I am almost always consuming some form of citrus. As we all know, citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes are rich in vitamin C which is key for immunity. Citrus fruits have been shown to strengthen your white blood cells as well as increase your white blood cell count. White blood cells are the guys that fight off infection, so you want them strong and in abundance! So, how do you get your citrus in?

Put citrus into your water! Cut up citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit into wedges and store in mason jars in your fridge at home and at work. Anytime you refill your water, squeeze any combination of the fruits into the water and drink. This will make your water tastier and be consistently providing you with a powerful source of vitamin C.

-3- Apple Cider Vinegar

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Another way I keep my health going throughout the year and especially during this season is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). ACV is rich in minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that help to bind to and then remove toxins from the body, promote better lymph circulation, and act as a natural antibacterial and antiseptic within the body. ACV has been used medicinally since ancient times in many cultures and science shows there is no reason to stop now!

Take a shot of ACV a couple of times a day or add a couple tablespoons to your water at least twice a day. Yeah, the taste is not the best, but the results are worth it! And if you do get sick, drink ACV all damn day to promote that illness getting killed off!

-4- doTerra On Guard® Protective Blend Essential Oil

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I swear on Oprah by this oil. Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils come together to create a master oil that supports the immune and respiratory systems, protects against environmental threats, and supports the body’s natural antioxidant defenses.

Throughout last year’s epically bad flu season, I used this oil in a few different ways. The first was that every night, I mixed a few drops of On Guard into a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and rubbed that mixture into my neck, chest, stomach, and the bottoms of feet so that my body could absorb the oil and all its benefits overnight as my body restored. Secondly, I diffused a few drops of this oil in my oil diffuser next to my bed as I slept. Lastly, when I felt like I was rundown or perhaps coming down with an illness, I added a drop of On Guard to my water a few times per day and drank it down. And I will be repeating all of these techniques with On Guard this sick season.

You can learn more about doTerra’s On Guard® Protective Blend and how to safely use it here.

-5- Oil of Oregano

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Oregano Essential Oil has been used by the Chinese, Greeks, and Romans since ancient times as a medicinal substance. Oregano is highly potent with a phenol called carvacrol that possess powerful antioxidant properties. When ingested, oregano oil acts as an antibacterial, antiseptic, and antiviral.

I do not take oregano essential oil on the regular because it’s nasty AF. However, when I feel myself getting sick or am sick, I will use the oil to help fight and kill off whatever is in my system. You can honestly almost feel the oil burning away at the infection inside you. Again, oil of oregano is extremely powerful and so be mindful to use with caution. Best practice is to dilute 1 drop of oregano oil in at least 4 fluid ounces of water and drink, trying to avoid getting the oil on your lips as it can cause a burning sensation.

I use doTerra’s Oregano Essential Oil, which can learn more about here.

-6- Good Nutrition

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This one should go without saying. Making a nutritious diet part of your lifestyle is simply key to overall health and wellness. If you are eating wholesome foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, then your body and immune system are going to be better supported to resist and fight off infection.

-7- Exercise

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Here again, exercise is just important to living your best life. When it comes to immunity, exercising promotes the elimination of bacteria from your lungs and airways. It also promotes the circulation of your white blood cells; it makes them more active in doing their job of fighting infection. So just move!

-8- Sleep

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Making sure you get your 7-8 hours of sleep per night is essential during flu & cold season. Deep sleep is your body’s time to restore and rejuvenate. If you give it the time it needs to do this, then it is going to be more equipped to ward off sickness. I swear, whenever I find myself in a situation where I am sleep deprived, I end up getting some sort of illness. We really do need our sleep, so be diligent about it.

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These are the practices and techniques I have incorporated into my lifestyle which have served me in keeping my healthy and strong. I invite you to try a few or all of these on and see how you fair this sick season. Good luck!

 

 

Today’s Gratitude’s & Tomorrow’s Visions

Today I am sharing about a mindful practice I have begun over the past few months that I have found to be meaningful and powerful in my life. I call this practice “Today’s Gratitudes & Tomorrow’s Visions”. This practice is a journal based daily ritual very much akin to the Gratitude Journal often promoted by Oprah. In this practice, I take a few moments before going to sleep to write 3-5 things I feel gratitude for, followed by 3-5 things I would like to manifest the next day. The gratitudes elevate my positive vibrations and the requests for manifestations go out into the universe overnight to hopefully brew and make their way back to me. Having continued this practice for about three months now, I can tell you honestly that Today’s Gratitudes & Tomorrow’s Visions have had big impacts on my life! So grab one of those pretty journals you have on your shelf that you’ve never used and let’s get writing!

Today’s Gratitudes & Tomorrow’s Visions How To:

Step 1: Make a Few Minutes Before Bedtime

I deeply feel that the very end of the day is the best time to practice this ritual. Reflecting with gratitude on the day stimulates a sense of contentment and peace. Expressing hopes and dreams for the following day allows us to go to sleep without imaging or worrying about it because you have gotten it out on paper.

Step 2: Today’s Gratitudes

Write 3-5 things you are grateful for from the day. Write whatever first comes to mind. Write them in bullet points and keep them short and sweet. You can be grateful for big or small things, grand or simple things, deep or silly things; as long as it is authentic and true, it is noteworthy.

Somedays what comes to mind for me are the big, obvious things like my family and friends, my health, for simply being alive. Somedays what comes to mind are really ridiculous things like peanut butter and coffee (peanut butter makes an appearance in my journal at least twice a week) – but I am grateful I have those things as simple as they are, and so I still feel inclined to write them.

Try not to overthink, really just reflect and find gratitude for all.

Step 3: Tomorrow’s Visions

Write down 3-5 things you would like to transpire the following day. Similarly, write these aspirations as bullet points and keep them short.

What is different and key when it comes to Tomorrow’s Visions is to keep your requests somewhat open-ended. As I discuss in my piece, “Manifestation: There’s Something to It”, it’s important to leave room for the universe to gift back to us what it feels is right for us, even if it is slightly different than what we originally envisioned. If you write out how you want tomorrow to unfold hour by hour, then you have really limited all of the possibilities the universe might have brought your way, and thus the universe is probably going to ignore you and you will be disappointed.

So rather, you keep your requests for manifestation more broad: I would like to have a good meeting with my boss, I would like to receive good news of some kind, I would like to find some time in the day for me to relax a little bit, etc. These requests leave plenty of room for the universe to cook up something for you that fulfills the request, perhaps even beyond what you could have imagined!

So keep it open, and of course, keep it positive!

Step 4: Start Writing!

This is a practice I have found to be uplifting, and at times, magical. I feel the expression of gratitude changing my energy for the better, and I have seen how my visions have been manifested in some shape or form the following day. It’s just another way to elevate the vibe of your life!

I hope you find this practice to be as wondrous as I do!

Do you have other daily practices or rituals you do to elevate your vibe? Let me know below!

 

 

Manifestation: There’s Something To It

If you are in the yoga world, then you have probably heard someone talking about “manifestation” at some point. Maybe someone in your local yoga studio was explaining to a friend about how they were trying to manifest a solution to a problem or perhaps your yoga teacher taught a class themed upon manifesting your best life. ‘Manifestation’ and the action of ‘manifesting’ are very popular buzz words in the yoga world; this idea that through focused thought and energy we might be able to create outcomes, objects, and even attract people that we need and desire out of the ether. I have always been a big fan of the concept and have more or less believed that manifestation was a possibility, although, I did not place a great amount of faith in it and generally saw abstract manifestation as a possibility but not at all a likelihood. That was until I decided to give manifestation a good honest try and discovered that manifestation can indeed be a powerful force that works.

My Story of Manifestation

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

Last year, I found myself in a dark place. I was working at a corporate marketing job that I loathed with every fiber of my being. I had come to the realization within this job that it was not just the company and the position I held within it that made me deeply unhappy; it was the industry of marketing that was the true problem. I recognized that I was in the wrong profession for myself and it was harming my mind and spirit.

I have two central passions in this life: writing and yoga. Though my primary career was in marketing, I always pursued my true passions on the side in my own time. I was always working on some sort of writing project whether it be a screenplay, novel, or article. And I had trained to teach yoga, teaching several classes per week in the mornings before or the evenings after my corporate job. It was in these devotions and crafts that I found light and life.

At that point in my life, I had come into a place where I desperately needed to make a transition out of full-time marketing and into some sort of working existence made of yoga and writing. For a while, I approached my wish for change from a very angry place: I was angry at the universe for not making me a highly sponsored Instagram yoga star and not landing me a book deal for my novel. Of course, directing negative energy at the situation did not move it into a positive space. And so, I decided to do something different.

I decided to give manifestation a go. Without being specific, I expressed to the universe what I wanted; an exit from my corporate job, a new financially stable career that included more yoga and writing and a new lifestyle to go with it. I wrote down my wishes, I made a vision board to represent them, I spoke about them to friends, and I meditated on them during my yoga practices. I trusted that something out there was listening to me and conspiring in my favor. Sure enough, a couple of months later, I was given an amicable outing from my marketing job, offered an abundance of yoga teaching opportunities, and landed a few freelance clients to help supplement my income. I transitioned away from a high-stress, fast-paced, regimented lifestyle into a new one that was flexible, steady, rewarding, and abundant in positivity.

As I began this new and glorious season of my life, I found myself in awe that I had evidently manifested this whole new career and lifestyle for myself. It had worked, it had really worked! And so, I wondered what else I could manifest.

Wanting to build my career and reputation as a writer, I decided that I would attempt to manifest being published. I did not necessarily mean becoming a New York Times best-selling author right away, but just being published in some form or other to add to my writer’s resume. Within weeks of putting this out there into the ether, I was officially published by the new age publication Elephant Journal. The article I wrote for them began to trend, earning thousands of views, and I was soon featured on their website. I have since been able to publish two more articles with them.

Manifestation again worked in my favor a few months later, this time on the yoga front.  When the teacher training programming I served as a coach for came to an end in June, I wondered about how I was going to make up for the pay I would no longer be receiving at the end of the program. I decided to manifest more opportunities in the yoga world that could take the place of coaching teacher training. Within two weeks, I was offered another permanent yoga class at a different studio and a corporate yoga gig. A month after that, I received an opportunity to teach for a private client for a higher rate of pay for yoga instruction than I had ever received before.

If the past year with all of these experiences have taught me anything, it is that manifestation is indeed possible when you dedicate enough energy to it and put enough trust in it. I continue to be amazed by what I have been able to manifest and I am excited to keep at it to see what else might be possible.

 

The Basics of Manifestation

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

In addition to my own experiences, I have done a good amount of research on the philosophies surrounding manifestation. I have read articles, book chapters, and listened to podcasts all centered on the subject. Through all of my studies and experiments, I think I have identified a few basic principles for manifestation that I would like to share with you.

  1. Ask Rather Than Demand

I think this is the most important principle of manifestation. When you choose to try and manifest something – whatever it is – I believe you have to ask for it humbly rather than demand for it aggressively. I feel that (the Universe/God/the Force/whatever-you-want-to-call-it) is much more receptive to a polite request than they are to a hard and firm order.

  1. Keep It Open-Ended Rather Than Specific

Everything I have read and listened to on the subject of manifestation more or less comes to this same conclusion. We must create space for our manifestations to come to fruition in different forms. Sometimes, our manifestations look very different than what we originally imagined or intended, but they ultimately provide us with what we need.

Think about my earlier example when I set out to manifest becoming a published writer. Though my end goal was – and still is – to become a published novelist, I did not specify that in my first attempt at manifestation around writing. Rather, I simply stated that I wanted to be published and I was open to that transpiring in any way. The result was publishing a short article in an online publication. It was not grand or life altering, but it was something. And perhaps that one manifestation will evolve into more.

Another more universal example: manifesting material abundance. If you specify to the universe that you want material abundance and thus you want to win the lottery, it is highly unlikely that the universe is going to reward you with the winning lottery ticket – if it was that easy, many would have done this already. If you, however, ask for abundance and remain open to that transpiring in various ways, you may receive. You could receive a new job offer that comes with a raise, you could receive new side hustle opportunities that bump up your income, or you may receive a reduced rate on a car or house payment that gives you some extra pocket money. The possibilities are endless as long as you are open to them.

We have to remember that whatever is out there is far wiser and more intelligent than we are. Sometimes this force will gift us with a manifestation that is not quite what we envisioned, but may ultimately be more valuable to us and our journeys, even if we do not fully understand it. So keep an open mind, an open heart, and receive and give thanks for what comes.

  1. Be Patient

The powers at be do not operate on your timeline. Avoid putting a deadline on your manifestations. Those powers will decide when we are ready to receive, and we have to accept that.

  1. Not All Manifestations Manifest

We are not going to be successful in manifesting 100% of the time. Once again, the Universe/God/the Force/etc. see and know more than we know. Sometimes it/they might decide that what we are trying to manifest is actually not right for us, and we just don’t know it.

  1. Practice Gratitude

We should always practice gratitude, but I think it is key to express gratitude when our manifestations are realized.  When we successfully manifest, we should be sure to tell those powers at be that we are thankful. If we are consistent in giving thanks, we will probably receive more consistent blessings.

 

Conclusion

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

I believe that manifestation is real and we have the power to influence our own realities. I see manifestation as a branch of real magic; curious to understand, challenging to practice, impossible to master, but powerful in its potential. I encourage everyone to give manifestation a try and see what the possibilities are!

Have you ever manifested something before? What are your currently trying manifest? Tell me all below!

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*All photos within this article were captured by my old travel buddy, Neil Bloem. Neil is a photographer and visual artist currently based in Lofoten, Norway. The natural beauty he captures is truly remarkable. I find myself in constant awe of his work. You can follow him on Instagram @coldxneil Enjoy the beauty he will fill your Insta-feed with!

 

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