In a recent article by James Clear, I read that Warren Buffett estimates that 80 percent of his working hours are spent reading or thinking. Not answering emails, not doing busy work - but reading and thinking.
His advice for a successful career: “Read 500 pages every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
How much do you read? Are you building your knowledge daily?
Ever since I’ve discovered audible I’ve at least doubled the amount of books I read per year.
I love listening to books because I can do it while I walk the dog, clean the house, and prepare meals. I’ve also slowly trained myself to listen at 1.5 or 2X speed to be able to take more in - there’s so many amazing books out there!!!
I also read in bed before I go to sleep as it makes me nice and tired (and because my phone isn’t allowed in the bedroom so listening to audiobooks is not an option!). So combining reading paper books from the library or amazon, with my monthly subscription of 2 books per month on audible - I read 3-4 books per month.
I’ve had many requests for a book list so I’ve included the 31 books I’ve read so far this year below.
Want more? Here's last years list.
One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I’m a doer. When I have an idea that I want to execute on, I’m able to take action on it immediately. I can get s*#t done.
When I decided I wanted to create my yoga health coaching course Align and Thrive 4 years ago, I had the course filled only 3 months later. Same went for the courses that followed — Empowered Living and Do Your Dharma.
Because of my supposed ability to “time bend”, I’ve been asked to be on colleague’s podcasts (see below for links) and have made time management a big component of my Do Your Dharma course.
This was not always the case. I spent many frustrated years feeling like I was getting nowhere and never felt like I could get anything done. As a mom of young children, it was especially challenging. But I had a mission and strong drive to create and do what I love for a living so I learned how to master my time.
I poured over books like Zen to Done and 12 Week Year. I learned how to use a digital calendar, project manager, google docs and sheets. I followed people like Michael Hyatt, Zen Habits, James Clear, and Darren Hardy. I started setting quarterly goals and did weekly planning sessions.
Over the next month I’m going to share my best tips and tools for making the most of every single day so that you can end each day with a sense of accomplishment and actually have something to show for it.
This week I’m sharing the 4 B’s to unlocking your productivity: Belief, Blocking, Batching and Big Rocks.
Belief. It always starts here. I see so many talented and knowledgeable entrepreneurs and teachers with great ideas hold themselves back simply because they don’t believe in themselves. This is such a shame. So many people are waiting for approval and permission to make their mark in the world. Imposter syndrome, lack of self-confidence and fear will always be there — the key is not to give them any attention and take the leap anyway. Learn to trust yourself and the universe. Cultivate courage in the face of your fear and just start.
Blocking. Time mastery begins with taking charge of your calendar. Don’t be reactive to other people’s agendas. Decide how YOU want to spend your time. When do you want to work? When do you want to exercise? When do you want free time? Block out times in your calendar in chunks and guard them with your life. Set boundaries for yourself and others and decide when you do your best work (focus time), when you want to allocate time for social media and email (buffer time), and when you want to unplug (free time). When we block out time for specific kinds of activities we can be present and fully engaged in what we’re doing. We don’t feel like we should be doing something else because we’ve set aside another time for it. This enables us to drop into a flow state, which, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the secret of happiness. It also cultivates balance in our lives because we’ve made time for what’s most important.
Action Step: Print out a blank weekly calendar. Close your eyes and imagine your ideal week. Block out focus time (or even focus days if you can swing it). This is time to do deep work that requires mental focus. I recommend using early mornings for this. Then, block out buffer time (this is time for administrative stuff, chores, correspondence, social media). I recommend doing this in afternoons (vata time between the hours of 2–6 is ideal for making connections and having conversations). Then, block out free time (or days). This is complete recreation, recharge, and pleasure time (no work allowed!). This should be in the evenings and weekends. Keep your ideal calendar in sight as a reminder of what you’re working towards.
Batching. Batching is the practice of doing like tasks together. For example, if we’re checking emails, we’re not also trying to work on a project. If we’re playing with our kids, we’re not also checking social media. This requires discipline. However, apps like Freedom can help us stay focused on what we’re doing. When we do related activities at the same time, we prevent the time lost on “context-switching”, which is the loss of time due to multi0tasking or switching from one activity to another and can be up to 6 hours per day! Imagine if someone handed you 30 extra hours per week — and most of us complain that there’s never enough time!
Action step: Try your hand at single-tasking. When you eat, just eat (don’t read, watch or type). When you work, just work (download Freedom to block you from email and social media sites). And most importantly, when you play, just play (put your phones away and be 100% present so you can fully recharge).
Big Rocks. This is a concept introduced by Steven Covey and refers to doing the most important things (M.I.T.’s) first. We procrastinate on the most important things because they are often the most uncomfortable and may require the most focus. The problem is that when we do the never-ending things first (email, cleaning, chores), they become exactly that — never-ending. As a result, we never get to the important things. The longer we wait and procrastinate, the harder the important things are to do. And although we might end the day with a clean house and an empty inbox, there’s never a real sense of accomplishment. We feel out of integrity and never build the confidence required to go after our bigger goals.
Action step: At the beginning of each day determine your 3 most important tasks (M.I.T.’s) and prioritize them. Then force yourself to start at the top of the list and work your way down. Once completed you can get going on the never-ending things.
When you combine the 4 B’s you become unstoppable. You’re able to maximize every single day and get more done than you ever imagined possible.
Download my productivity tip sheet with my top 5 tips to create time for what’s most important. Stop being busy and get more done in less time.
I recently returned from a two week vacation where part was spent in Jamaica for Acrofest. It was eight days spent flying, sweating, connecting and playing with new friends amidst locals and turquoise water beaches.
Acroyoga is one of those activities that I've loved ever since I was introduced to it over 10 years ago at the Om Factory in NYC. There's no other feeling like the collaborative interplay between sensitivity, trust and connection that's cultivated with your partner as you find balance, graceful movement and controlled strength. And the exhilaration of being suspended in space is thrilling!
Although I enjoy Acroyoga so much I hadn't made time for it since I had kids. Aside from summer evenings flying my boys on our trampoline, I made excuses for not attending the weekly "jam sessions" as there was always so many other things to do.
Over the past 6 years I've immersed myself in the lifestyle and business of yoga and Ayurveda. Being both my work AND my play, I found myself doing something "work-related" 7 days a week. However, this year it became more and more apparent that I needed something in my life that was NOT related to my work. I know that I had become miopically focused on eating and breathing yoga that I needed breakout times to play and do something that was for no other reason than pure fun and enjoyment.
Although this was something I'd known for several years, I never made a sincere effort to make it happen. Then, when the opportunity to attend Acrofest presented itself, I knew I had to take it.
It can be hard to make the changes we need without stepping out of our current environment. Our environment has an enormous impact on our behaviors and often the only way to make real and lasting changes is to plop ourselves in a context which makes the transformation we seek inevitable. And sometimes just a week with peak experiences is enough to create the momentum for new ways of living to take root. xo
There's a fire in your belly called "agni". Agni is your digestive ability. According to the elemental theory of Ayurveda, fire is the energy of transformation, metabolism and digestion. Another important Ayurvedic principle states that we are the microcosm of the macrocosm – as without, so within.
The fire inside reflects the fire outside. When I say the fire outside – I'm talking about the sun. When the sun is highest in the sky, our digestion is strongest. We have the most bile, which is the fire-y substance that breaks down our food transforming it into energy or matter which can be used to create the cells of our body.
Agni is a big deal.
As the sun sets in the sky, our inner fire also subsides. Bile production decreases and as a result that big, heavy, late dinner doesn't get broken down efficiently and turns into "ama". Ama is the Sanskrit word for "uncooked". It refers to the sticky, sludgy, goo that's a by-product of your undigested food. Ama is responsible for that which ails you – low energy, heaviness (in body and/or mind), digestive issues, brain fog, aches, pains, anxiety, depression, and more. Ama is the root cause of every disease.
Ama impairs agni. When agni is compromised ama results and the vicious cycle continues. How do we stop the ama-generating cycle in its tracks and stoke our belly fire so we burn through our food and attain thriving health?
Below are 10 healthier eating guidelines for strengthening agni and reducing ama.
- Make lunch your main meal and eat an earlier, lighter dinner. Try to eat the majority of your food during daylight hours when the sun is in the sky and your agni is burning bright.
- Eat real food. Processed, de-natured food turns into ama. Choose a whole food, nutrient-dense plant-centric diet that’s preferably local, seasonal and organic (when possible).
- Stick to a regular schedule of 2-3 meals per day allowing 3-6 hours between meals to fully digest your food. Wait until you experience true hunger before you eat. If you're not hungry at meal times "turn on" your agni with a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of chopped ginger topped with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of salt 20 minutes before eating.
- Drink hot water between meals: 2-4 cups upon rising, 1 cup 20 min before meals and one hour after to aid in digestion. Feel hungry even though you ate a few hours ago? 80% of the time your body registers dehydration as hunger.
- When you eat, just eat. Stop, sit and mindfully, taste, chew and savor your food slowly.
- Eat to nourish your body, not to numb your emotions. Emotional eating leads to overeating, eating unhealthy food or simply eating when you're not really hungry. If your agni isn't hot and ready for your food, what you ingest will turn to ama. True hunger is accompanied by grumbling in your tummy, a feeling of emptiness and a willingness to eat anything – not just chocolate. When there's an urge to emotionally eat, breathe deeply, make yourself a soothing cup of tea, call a friend or just allow yourself to feel your feelings instead of stuffing them down.
- Awaken your agni with a morning routine that supports regular elimination with lots of hot water upon arising, and at least 20 minutes of breath-based exercise.
- Don't overeat. If you've had a cup of water 20 minutes before eating and you eat slowly and mindfully this shouldn't be a problem. If it still is, eat from a smaller plate and aim to stop when you're 2/3 full.
- Eat for YOUR body. There's so much controversy about what the best diet is – vegan, paleo, ketogenic, raw.... In reality, there's no one size fits all approach. We're all unique, complex beings. Start by simply noticing how you feel after eating certain foods. Do you experience any digestive discomfort such as gas, bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, constipation, or loose stools? If so, try eliminating that food and see if it improves.
- Stress less. The parasympathetic nervous system triggers the "rest and digest" response. When you're stressed out all of your blood and energy is preoccupied with the perceived or actual threat that's causing your stress. "Turn off" your stress response before eating by getting out of your head and into your body. A great way to do this is with a few rounds of deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Honor and nurture your agni and your agni will grace you with excellent health, vibrant energy and a clear, uplifted mind.
Dina charya is the Sanskrit word for daily routine. It’s an Ayurvedic concept based on the idea that when we align our daily cycles with the cycles of the sun and the moon, we create the conditions for balance and thriving health to naturally arise.
The daily routine includes everything from daily exercise, proper nourishment, evening wind down practices to cultivating an easeful relationship to life and doing something every day just for fun. Yep, Ayurveda prescribes play as fundamental to promoting health.
Why is it so essential that we build in activities that spark joy into our everyday lives? Well, because all work and no play makes us dull humans.
Play is something done for no other reason than it’s innate pleasure. Play has no purpose, except for the fun of it.
I once taught a workshop on handstands and I had a student approach me and ask me why we do handstands. It took me by surprise because my first thought was - why NOT do handstands?!?
She probably wanted to hear how they build overall strength, improve balance and the intricacies and benefits of inverting and reversing blood flow. Funny isn’t it, how adults need everything to have a logical reason.
My answer was simply, “because it’s fun”. It might not have been what she wanted to hear, but it was true.
Stewart Brown in his TEDTalk “Play is more than just fun”, talks about body play, which is a spontaneous desire to get ourselves out of gravity. Handstands are a perfect example of this.
Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism (a really good book that I highly recommend) said that: "Very successful people see play as essential for creativity.” Brown echoed it when he said: “Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity… Nothing fires up the brain like play.”
He also said: “Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.”
Play can unleash possibilities we barely dare to dream of. It can crack open creativity that otherwise laid dormant. At the same time, it offers lightness and liberation we often forget to seek in our grown-up lives.
We're never too old to play. In fact, George Bernard Shaw said: "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing".
Even the Tantric Yoga tradition teaches that life has no other purpose other than for the play of it. This is expressed in the Lila Tandava - the playful dance of life. Life is an unfolding of creativity, of consciousness expressing itself in everything and every moment.
The Lila Tandava is an invitation into participating fully in our lives. It’s playing the game of life with curiosity, openness and acceptance for whatever is being presented in the moment. It’s an affirmation of life’s innate goodness, even amidst pain and difficulty.
It’s not taking ourselves too seriously, but having the willingness to try new things, experiment with new ideas and try on new perspectives. It’s gamifying our challenges to play our edges and expand our capabilities.
Play is a way of life. It’s an attitude and an approach to living that’s cultivated by creating a childlike wonder and curiosity towards everything. It’s choosing to be amazed and live with awe.
Like Mary Oliver says in her poem My Work is Living the World:
“Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.”
Tomorrow morning our night sky will be lit up by the rare "Super Blue Blood Moon". I never paid much attention to what the moon was doing unless it just happened to catch my eye. But over the past 6 years of aligning with nature's rhythms and living an Ayurvedic lifestyle, I've attuned to these changing cycles and have began to notice the profound effect the natural elements have on our lives.
This week in my Empowered Living course we're learning about moon cycles. We're talking about the 4 phases of the moon and the different energies that accompany each. I did a quick google search to confirm the exact evening of this week's full moon and discovered that Wednesday's moon is not your average full moon.
A once-in-a-lifetime occurrence
The term "Blood Moon" is used to describe a total lunar eclipse because it causes the Moon to turn a dark reddish color. This happens when the earth passes directly between the Sun and the Moon. A "Blue Moon" occurs when there are 2 full moons in one calendar month. And not only is it a full moon, but it's a "Super Moon" which means that it will be closer to the Earth and appear larger than usual. Those of us in North America can see this one-in-a-lifetime occurrence (this hasn't happened in over 150 years) on the morning of January 31st. (see specific times here)
Why should we be paying attention to what phase the moon is in?
Our bodies are approximately 60% water. If the moon can impact the tides of the ocean, does it not make sense that it would impact the cells of our body just as profoundly? Part of living Ayurveda is paying attention to cause and effect. We are a microcosm of the macrocosm. No doubt we've all experienced how a grey, rainy day draws us inwards to cuddle up on the couch with a warm cup of tea; whereas a bright, sunny day invites us outside to play and frolic. When we do this intentionally we're stepping into the current that's already pulling us. We choose to align with it as opposed to resist it.
How do we align with the full moon?
The Full moon is a time of abundance, creativity, and generosity. Purna is the Sanskrit word for the quality of fullness. The full moon is an invitation into the full expression of ourselves. We feel more naturally extroverted, energized and activated. We want to harness this excess of energy and offer it outwards in a way of service, connection and celebration.
Celebrate your accomplishments and achievements. While this should be a daily practice, this is particularly a potent time to acknowledge your efforts and recognize your successes.
Count your blessings. Again, ideally part of your regular routine, but now more than ever bring your awareness to the abundance and good fortune that surrounds you. The full moon is an outer expression of the plentiful bounty in our lives.
PLAY. During a full moon we're naturally drawn to connecting more with others. It's a beautiful time for intimate love-making, impromptu dance parties, gatherings with friends and crazy adventures. With increased strength and stamina, we have more capacity to push ourselves physically.
Indulge in life's sensual pleasures. This is a time to enjoy elaborate and delicious feasts. Digestion is strong being in the "pitta" phase of the moon. You can also delight in a lovely at-home spa night with an aromatherapy scented bath and luxurious oil massage. Or pop in your favorite tunes and get on your yoga mat for a blissful flow.
Begin to notice how the different phases of the moon affect your energy and shift your natural desires. Listen to your inner wisdom and honor its quiet requests. When you do, you'll live a life of more ease and balance.
Yesterday I sat down at my computer frozen into inaction by the unfinished to-do list from 2017 and my new goals and projects planned for 2018. Then it dawned on me, I can't just keep adding things, I also need to eliminate.
So many of us are stretched too thin, overcommitted and too busy for what matters most. We complain about never having enough time yet keep piling things on our plate. Our to-do lists only get longer.
I think that's why the allure of the New Year being a blank slate, a fresh start is so appealing. So many of us crave simplicity, yet we're struck with "bright, shiny object syndrome". FOMO is real yo!
But the reality is there's only so many hours in a day, and only so many days in a week. We can do anything, but not everything. To fully commit ourselves to what we really want and to become the person we're capable of, requires that we make some hard decisions of what to let go of to make space for what's most important.
When we say yes to one thing, we're saying no to another. Decide comes from the latin word decidere - which means to cut off. When we're making a decision we cut ourselves off from all other options. This isn't easy. It's easier to be a people-pleaser or a yes-man (or woman). It might require making a difficult decision or having an uncomfortable conversation. Tim Ferris said,
"A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
What commitment have you made that you're not psyched about? What makes you feel heavy or weighed down when you think about it? Those are the things you need to uncommit from and take off your plate. Nobody wants to be inconsistent or go back on previous commitments, but sometimes it's necessary if you're serious about reaching your goals.
If you stay stuck in commitments that aren't aligned to where you're going and the person you're becoming you'll lose trust in yourself. You're signaling to yourself that other people's priorities are more important than yours and you're not worth it. If you want to increase your confidence and build your self-worth in 2018, you need to start aligning your actions with your desires. Confidence comes when your behaviors are aligned with your highest intentions.
If you're serious about making shit happen this year, if you're determined to crush your goals and upgrade your life in 2018, you need to be willing to commit wholeheartedly to what you want. You need to eliminate distractions and narrow your focus. Removing the extraneous is the fastest path to progress.
Your action step this week:
Wipe the slate clean, throw out the old to-do list and start a new one. Ask yourself, "who do I want to become?". Create space for your big hairy goals. Uncommit yourself to at least one thing and create a "stop doing" list. Eliminate drag. Purge the superfluous. Stop being the bottleneck in your life. A blank canvas lies ahead, how will you author the next chapter?
Ready to make 2018 the best one yet?? Join my absolutely FREE 4-day Rock Your 2018 challenge and receive a step-by-step roadmap to make 2018 the best year ever! We start Monday, January 8th so sign up NOW!
This year I read more than ever. Thanks to my audible account, the library (don't know why I didn't think of this sooner) and amazon prime, I was able to read 29 books (that I can remember - possibly more!). These were books recommended by excellent sources and they did not disappoint. If you're into personal growth, non-fiction and books that help you become smarter stronger, healthier, happier and wealthier, check them out:
- The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
- Think and Grow Rich: This Book Could Be Worth a Million Dollars to You
- Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts--Becoming the Person You Want to Be
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
- Abundance Now: Amplify Your Life & Achieve Prosperity Today
- Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection
- Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
- Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone
- Influencer: The Power to Change Anything
- Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
- Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
- You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth
- Oversubscribed: How to Get People Lining Up to Do Business with You
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
- The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
- The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
- The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story
- Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work
- Launch: An Internet Millionaire's Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams
- The Compound Effect
- Wellpreneur: The Ultimate Guide for Wellness Entrepreneurs to Nail Your Niche and Find Clients Online
- The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
- Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
- High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way
I worked my ass off this year.
Every quarter I set specific goals, laid out a plan and took action daily to accomplish them. Over the years of refining my goal-setting and time management processes, I'm getting better and better at hitting my goals on time, most of the time. While I work 6-7 days a week, I always stop working by 4pm. I'm a bit of a workaholic so my self-care habits are non-negotiable so that I don't burn out.
My goals were hard-won, pushed my edges and weren't always easy – but discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.
Here's my list of accomplishments for 2017:
- Led a kick ass retreat in Bali
- Created and launched the Do Your Dharma course
- Took my Align and Thrive course online and helped 40 people achieve their health goals
- Started the free Grow Strong Facebook Group and led 3 super fun challenges (4th coming soon!)
- Recorded 6 podcasts: The Sonya Looney Show, Women Gone Vibrant, Yoga Health Coaching, and Shameless Mom Academy and Yogahealer here and here
- Published 48 blogs (so far - more to come!)
- Practiced (almost) daily meditation and exercise
- Delivered 15 free talks at yoga studios, teacher trainings, and health fairs
- Read a boatload of new books (audible rocks!)
- Attended my first yoga retreat as a guest
- Established new daily habits of getting to inbox zero and intermittent fasting (14-15 hours between dinner and breakfast)
- Got the boys started with daily chores to help with maintaining a clutter-free home
- Reduced daily sugar consumption radically
- Hired a business coach to improve my systems for increased efficiency and effectiveness
It's been a great year and I plan to make 2018 even better. Hope you join me for the ride.
Do it your way. Let go of obligation and expectation. How do you want to give? How do you want to celebrate? Release cultural norms and allow yourself to be guided from within.
Feast + Fast. Pulse between celebratory feasting with smaller, simple, easy to digest meals. If you’ve overeaten, skip a meal or wait as long as you can before your next one. Sip hot water between meals and definitely don’t snack.
Focus on presence, not presents. Your time, your attention, your listening and your support are way more valuable than the obligatory gift you’re meant to buy. If you want to give - do it in a way that’s meaningful - not because you’re supposed to. This will inspire you.
Bundle up, go outside and walk. Invite an old friend or family member to catch up on a hike. Walk alone in silence or while you call your mama on the phone. Anyway you can get it in - just do it.
Embrace hygge. Hygge is a Danish quality of “coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”. Embracing hygge is taking pleasure in the small things - a warm cup of tea, curling up with a cozy blanket in front of a fire, relaxing on the couch with a good book. Hygge for me is wearing the same comfy sweatpants every single day, a pantry stocked with yummy herbal teas to drink throughout the day, and quiet mornings meditating in my yoga room.
Nurture your ojas. When you embrace hygge, you nurture your ojas. Ojas is one of the three vital essences that together promote and sustain our physical vitality, mental clarity, and overall health. Ojas governs our immune system, inner radiance, strength, and sleep. Activities that Build Ojas:
laughing and loving others
Getting enough sleep – 7-9 hours between the hours of 10 and 6
Eating fresh wholesome foods in a relaxed manner
Being in nature
Yoga, nasal breathing and meditation
Giving and serving others
Acting on what you are passionate about
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. This is ojas, hygge, and presence - all bundled up into one powerful and uplifting practice. When you reflect daily on all the abundance and gifts that surround you, you invite more of the same to come into your life.
Make time for reflection. The darkness is a prime time to retreat inside of our hearts and reflect on hopes, dreams and desires. It’s in this fertile ground that we plant seeds for what we want to create as we cross the threshold of the solstice and the days begin to grow longer. A daily journal practice cultivates clarity, creativity, and congruence with your daily actions and your goals.
Practice the golden rule, in reverse. Treat yourself as you would have others treat you. Fill your own cup first
Early to bed, early to rise. Like the bears and other hibernating animals - we need more sleep in the winter. The hours before midnight count for twice as much. Aim for bedtime closer to 9pm so you can be up around 6 and enjoy those precious early hours of quiet.
1. Learn how to listen
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood" - Steven Covey
2. See eye-to-eye (seriously - watch this!)
3. Eat mindfully
5. Breathe it all in, love it all out.
Dry skin, chapped lips, flakey scalp – all symptoms of what in Ayurveda is considered to be vata imbalances. These imbalances are most common during the vata season – fall and winter.
In Ayurveda we always look to the root of the problem instead of only addressing the symptoms. And then addressing the symptoms is a simple formula of adding the opposite quality to create balance. Pretty easy right?
If the qualities we're experiencing are dry, rough, chapped, and cold we can look around and notice that the environment is reflecting these qualities. We're a product of our environment after all.
The solution is to add the opposite: oily, smooth, warm, moist. We can do that with how we nourish ourselves from the inside out and the outside in.
To counter dry skin, eat warm, soupy, stew-y, spicy, oily, heavy foods. Incorporate lots of good fats like avocado on EVERYTHING, soaked nuts and seeds, ghee, and coconut oil. If you're drinking coffee or matcha which both exasperate dryness (they're astringent - drying) and a diuretic - purges water and salt from the body) make it bulletproof by adding grass fed butter and MCT oil (in coconut oil) and put in a blender for 30 seconds.
Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic practice of warm oil-massage. Sesame oil is the most warming and heavy, while almond oil or sunflower are more neutral. Choose a high-quality oil and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and lovingly massage your skin before showering or after having a bath. Use long strokes on your limbs, circular movements on your joints, and big clockwise circles on your abdomen (which supports digestion). Abhyanga is the number one practice to help balance vata – so not only will your skin feeling amazing but you'll feel more grounded, calm and nourished on all levels.
Smooth it out:
Exfoliate your skin with baking soda if you're prone to oily skin and breakouts, and almond meal for dryer skin. Mix with a little water or yogurt and massage in circular motions. I keep a box of baking soda in my bathroom and shake a little in my hand while I'm in the shower. I also dry brush before my oil massage to keep my skin soft all year long.
Sip hot water and herbal teas throughout the day, drink bone broth (or veggie broth) and soups for dinner. My water routine is:
- 2 cups of hot water with a squeeze of lemon upon arising
- 1 cup of hot water or herbal tea 15 minutes before meals (aids in digestion)
- 1 cup of hot water or herbal tea 1 hour after meals (aids in digestion)
Total 8 cups per day (aim for ½ your body weight in ounces
I recently returned from a trip to Bali. Before I left I was hell-bent on hacking jet lag. I was determined to do everything I could from losing sleep upon my return. I have shit to do and I wasn't going to let a 30-hour trip and a 15-hour time difference stand in my way.
Or so I thought.
I didn’t hack jet lag. I did everything I read about – fasted for 30 hours, touched metal on the plane to "ground", hydrated like crazy, and took melatonin as well as a handful of other supplements. Turns out I'm only human and had to endure 2 nights of restless sleep before my body adjusted.
We often think we're exempt from the laws of nature: "I only need 4 hours of sleep a night" (only 3% of the population requires less than the suggested 7-9 hours. Or, "I can get away with this second slice of cake".
And on the same hand, we think we're less than the people we perceive as "superhuman" and say to ourselves "I could never do that, I don't have the (connections, talent, looks, smarts, resources, etc)". Despite the rags to riches stories of big wigs like Oprah and others who have overcome the adversities of the worse of the worse – somehow we think the same rules don't apply to us.
In Asia there's a popular tee-shirt you see everywhere that says: "same same, but different".
The locals see the tourists and know that they're just "people", yet they have different customs, cultures and appearances.
Don’t fall into the trap that you're inferior to those who have achieved great things – that somehow, you're different. And don’t believe the ego that you're "above" anyone else. Whether you put yourself above or below others, either way your ego is making excuses to not step into your potential.
Because we're all same same, but different.