Stillness

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My mind goes a mile a minute. At any time of the day, I have at least 3 things going through my head. I am constantly trying to figure out, fix, plan or contemplate something. I used to pride myself on my brain’s capacity to multi-task until I realized that I was actually less effective in each task because I wasn’t giving each one the full attention it needed.

This whirlwind of activity also caused stress and anxiety when I couldn’t figure things out or when my plans didn’t go as expected. I knew something needed to change and this is when I started to recognize the power of stillness in the form of prayer, meditation and visualization.

I grew up in a home where prayers were said daily at the dinner table and at church. I knew that prayer was supposed to be my direct line to God. Although I thanked him for my food daily and asked for forgiveness for my mistakes, I never really felt connected. There were certain rules and a structure I was told to follow and as I prayed, I remember going through the checklist in my head to make sure my prayer was complete and all the boxes had been marked.

As an adult, I found my prayers becoming less structured and more free flowing. I left the checklist behind and allowed myself prayers of ecstasy to flow through me when I came upon something beautiful that took my breath away. I allowed prayers of desperation, full of run on sentences and tears when I felt at the end of my rope. I allowed prayers of gratitude that welled from my heart and gut when I just knew that sometimes the most normal things were the most amazing things.

The more I allowed myself to veer from the structured prayers of my youth, the more I felt connected to something greater than me. 

Connection was what I was craving. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone. I wanted to know that there was purpose to my existence and that my desires, worries and emotions were validated. The more I prayed, the more I felt connected to something greater than me.

Then, I started to practice meditation to calm my mind even deeper. I knew that prayer was effective, but I also wanted to learn how to still my mind and just allow my breath to course through me without the interruption of words.

At first, meditation was difficult for me to learn. I thought that I needed to get my mind completely still and that I would have mastered the practice once I could sit without a single thought or word enter my brain. But, I was wrong. I learned that meditation provides the space and time for stillness. Thoughts will come and go, but the key is to let them go.

Mediation taught me that thoughts will never cease, but my attachment can dissipate with practice.

Attachment to outcome and expectations is where a lot of pain is rooted. There is a myriad of possible what if and maybes but the important thing is coming back to the present moment. Meditation is a tool to bring presence into each day.

I enhanced my practice by visualizing the things that I wanted and the feelings I wanted to feel. If something was very important to me, I spent time seeing it as if it had already happened. This practice exercised my trust in the universe and brought a sense of peace. When I was able to see and feel what I prayed for and meditated on, I let go of my need to control and allowed whatever was meant to be happen in its own time.

Visualization released the vibrational energy into the universe saying: “I am ready to receive.” 

When I regularly practice stillness, my mind slows down and calm arrives. The need to control falls away as well as the anxiety attached to it. In fact, on the days when I don’t create stillness, I am off and quickly recognize the correlation. For me it is important to begin each day from a place of centering stillness. Stillness sets the stage for a dynamic day and calibrates the mind and body to be present and react less.

Here are some of my favorite meditation tools to jump start or end each day:

Calm (an app with lovely graphics, guided meditations and soothing sounds)

Headspace (another mindfulness app with options to focus on certain areas of life)

Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Experience (free 4 times a year)

Moonlight Gratitude (my meditation book coming March 15th)

Introducing My First Book: Moonlight Gratitude

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“Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.” -Cheryl Strayed

I’ve had this quote above my desk for over 2 years. I would see it every day as I sat at my desk writing my heart out. I would visualize my book in my hands and seeing my name in print. I would go into bookstores and stand with my eyes closed imagining seeing my book on their tables and shelves.

My creative gestation clock was ticking loud and clear…I wanted to give birth to a book!

I spent most of 2015 sending book proposals out to literary agents and publishers with no luck. There were some responses. One even asked me to send the first 50 pages. That year was spent in a whirlwind of hoping, anxiety and creativity. By the end of the year I had felt rejected more that I cared to feel and put my manuscript away. I realized that I had lost the joy and passion and needed to take a break.

So, on January 1, 2016. I took a break from trying to get published and just focused on coaching and writing blog posts. I was happy to find my passion reignited and excited to spend time creating once again.

Then one day, January 27th to be exact, I received an email from the contact form on my website:

Hello I am an editorial director…I am looking for someone to work with to create a moonlight meditations book. If you would be interested in a project like this please email me at the above address. From reading through your website it seems like you would be a perfect fit.

I read it over and over. Was this real?! I googled the publisher and sure enough they were real. I couldn’t believe it!

My book’s birthday is March 15, 2017. It is beautiful and filled with words that came alive right below that quote that kept my hope alive. Snow Seychelle illustrated the cover and parts of the book with her beautiful underwater art. I am obsessed with whales and the moon and when I saw that the art included whales and the moon, I could not believe how perfect the pairing was. Everything came together so beautifully.

I wrote parts of the book in the desert, in mexico, at home, by the ocean and among the trees in Washington. I carried a notebook with me everywhere to capture inspiration as it came. And then one day, I had a finished manuscript and sent it off to be created.

My hope with this book is that at the end of the day, it can bring some calm and mindfulness. I suffered from insomnia throughout college and remember the anxiety of sleepless nights. I am grateful for that time because it gave me the empathy to write each passage.

Our trials can blossom into beautiful things.

I remember the day I saw my book on Amazon. I gasped. It was actually a real book. Then, last week I received an advanced copy. Finally holding the book was exciting and seeing my name on the cover was surreal. After so many years of dreaming, my dream came true and was in my hands.

You can find it on pre-sale at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. If you or anyone you know deals with daily stress, anxiety or lack of sleep, this book is meant to bring calm and mindfulness into your day. Please pre-order a copy today and share with friends.

Love and peace,

Emily

Mindfulness at Work

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Its the beginning of the day and you open your calendar to see the tasks and appointments for the day. There is a sense of restriction within your throat as you think about the day unfolding. You think about all the possible distractions and interruptions that may occur, stress begins to well within your gut, your heart beat starts to race, the phone rings and it sets you off. You’ve only been at work for 10 minutes and you’re ready to go home.

This is common for many people, especially on Monday mornings. This was my story for years — I would stress myself out just anticipating stress. Then, I decided to change that part of me. I knew the trigger well. I allowed it to send me into a deep spiral. I was done spinning. Focus was what I craved. Results desired to be attained. The first step was to stop myself and just be where I was and not off in the “what ifs”.

“Do you know about living in the present?” is a question that I am frequently asked by clients. The answer is more than a simple “yes” or “no”. Living in the present takes practice because it requires mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and in the moment. I started learning to be mindful after a particularly rough breakdown. I was suffering from intense anxiety which gave way to an occasional panic attack. I talked to doctors and therapists and didn’t find the relief I knew was possible until I learned to be still and present.

I was a bulldozer/whirlwind/lightning bolt who did not like to be still. When I found myself sitting in silence at first, I was uncomfortable and tried to control the outcome.

Slowly, I let go. Slowly, I learned to be present. Slowly, my reactions faded from thunderous panic into deep cleansing breaths.

Here are a few things to do the next time you are at work and feel that stewing/panic/rage/annoyance bubble up. Try these steps for a month. Notice the changes you experience. Many of these can be done right at your desk or even before you enter work. With the intention of practicing mindfulness, you will find a new way to cope when work sends you reeling:

  • Breathe: Take 3-5 cleansing breaths in and out your nose. We can forget to breathe during stressful situations which can constrict breathing, thus creating a secondary stress.
  • Reframe your thought: When you find yourself in a negative thought pattern, recognize your thought and reframe it into something positive. Create a mantra or intention for the rest of the day.
  • Write it out: Taking a moment to write out the stress can give your brain the time to process the situation and thus take it off your mind.
  • Practice gratitude: Take a moment and offer gratitude for something.

By actively taking the steps to create a change in negative thought patterns a change is occurring inside the brain. Mindfulness practices can change the way we react to negative situations. As the practice becomes stronger, the reactions become weaker.

For more information on mindfulness and dealing with stress at work, please email me at emily@soulsadventures.com

How to Find Answers Through Stillness

meditate

I was traveling all over and found myself feeling lost, sad and like my entire travel dream had died. So, I went home. Being home was difficult at first. My plans were diminished and I had to sit still and ask questions regarding direction and purpose. Meditation became a lifeline for me. At first, I squirmed and found a million things to think about as I made mental lists. Distractions seemed constant and I thought I would never learn to be still. However, the more I sat still, the calmer I became. This calm brought answers. They weren’t the answers I was expecting or particularly wanted, but I was open and began pursuing a modified version of my dreams.

I love to write and dreamed of writing anything since I was a child. I found myself surrounded by books and journals compiling and studying. I started to writing about my travels from my home while studying for my new life path which gave me ample time for stillness. My intuition finally found its voice as I allowed it to speak over my busy mind that was learning to quiet itself. I learned meditation is a practice and each day required practice, breathing and intention.

One of the greatest lessons for me was from Pico Iyer speaking about stillness “The best way I could develop more attentive, more appreciative eyes was oddly by going no where, just sitting still.” I was absolutely experiencing this and realized that my travels were no longer seen through the eyes of wonder and I needed to reset that passion within me. So, I wrote and wrote and wrote and continued to meditate, searching for answers and lessons. With this practice, gratitude emerged. I was able to revisit my adventures from a place of stillness, with new eyes and a grateful heart. And through this process, I learned even more lessons from my times away.

Wanderlust is a part of me. Stillness is now also a part of me. My next endeavor is to fine tune these two parts into a balanced whole. Learning to listen to the still small voice within and trusting the universe’s guidance will continue to fascinate me. Meditation is an act of letting go. I have been working on this for some time. With each lesson of surrender, I find myself opening up even more in a new expansiveness. Possibilities are endless and going with the flow, although still difficult at times, has proven to be the best route for me.

When you find yourself looking for answers, try sitting still. Let your breath be your guide. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and out through your nose. Continue breathing until you feel yourself becoming calm, allowing stillness to take place. Ask your question, wait for the answer, breathing in and out. This is a practice and gets easier with time. At first, the most important thing will be to learn how to become still. This lesson alone is extremely beneficial.

For more information on meditation and the power of stillness, please contact me at emily@soulsadventures.com