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

Harvest Moon: Return to Your True Self

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As we harvest the seeds that were planted in the spring, we can identify the intentions that thrived and the ones that needed to be let go of. Harvest is a time of hard work as well as reflection. Before the cold of winter sets in, we must complete processes and plans. There is also an element of rest and reflection to assess what is truly important.

Since the past two seasons focused on cultivation and growth, we are now drawn to focus on maturity and reward. What has grown and matured during the Spring and Summer? Revel in the fruits of your hard work and persistence. Harvest is a time of celebration. You created results and can now take in the bounty.

After we tend to what has matured, we can also notice what has remained. In essence, our true self. The parts of us that stay the same no matter what season is taking place. In the fall, trees reveal their true colors providing color and warmth to a cooler landscape. Spring and summer invited hope for new things which arrived and transpired, but there is an unwavering part of our soul that must also be celebrated. It is the place where authenticity and inner truth reside.

As the harvest moon lights up the sky, allow for illumination in your soul. Notice if there is anything that is keeping you from expressing your true nature. Release anything that is holding you back or keeping you stagnant. Embrace your true self and the road ahead with bravery.

With each full moon, there is an opportunity to set intentions for the month to come as well as release anything that no longer serves us. Here is a 5 step process that I cultivated a few years ago for setting full moon intentions…

How to Set Full Moon Intentions

  1. Meditate: sit quietly and meditate on what you want to achieve
  2. Write it Down: write down what you want to achieve, create, change or focus on
  3. Visualize: create a picture of what this looks like
  4. Let Go: release what no longer serves you and let go of anything that may be holding you back (physical, mental and spiritual)
  5. Offer Gratitude: the universe is constantly listening to our deepest desires. Offer gratitude for each gift and blessing and for the outcome of your new intentions as if they have already happened

Everything that happens in the universe starts with intention.

– Deepak Chopra

For a free intention setting worksheet  or more information on intentional living or spiritual life coaching, please email me at emily@soulsadventures.com

Guided Meditation: Thunder Moon

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For the past year, I have been practicing setting intentions and letting go of what no longer serves me. The first time I did this practice was a stormy night in Bali last July. The rain seemed endless and I researched ways to change my mindset. I came across setting intentions and created a ritual that I have practiced and honed over the past year.

The clouds parted and the full moon peaked out. I sat in moonlight and meditated on my intentions for the month. I recognized things that were holding me back from my intended outcomes, and I resolved to let them go. This was a process for the month as some things are held with a tighter grip. However, I realized that recognizing the hindrances was the first step of letting go.

This practice has created clarity and calm. I look forward to each Full Moon as a time to reflect and reset. Tonight is the Full Moon. This moon is known as “Thunder Moon” to symbolize summer thunderstorms. While I was recording this guided meditation yesterday, the sky started to rumble with thunder. I was excited for the synchronicity of events. I created this recording to share part of the ritual. My hope is that it brings peace and clarity to listeners.

If you are interested in learning more about setting intentions, please email me at: emily@soulsadventures.com

Peace and Clarity,

Emily

P.S. If you enjoyed this recording, please share it with friends and family. Thank you!

4 Steps to Help Transform Anxiety

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As a child, I was called a “worry wort.” I would cling to my bunk bed riddled with angst, refusing to go to school. I was always worried about something: going to hell, death, earthquakes because I grew up in the Bay Area and one year a fire in the Oakland hills.

As an adult, money worried me until I started working at a bank and learned how it worked. However, working at the bank added even more worry and anxiety to my life…

It was 2008, the market was experiencing a drastic down-turn and clients called daily with panic. I watched people lose their homes to foreclosure and come into the bank to yell and vent their frustrations. As I drove down the street towards work, I could feel my blood pressure rise and tears well up in my eyes. I would hyperventilate as I parked my car and wait for the wave to pass so I could go to work. The waves took longer and longer to pass as time went on which led me to seek help and try to get a grip on my escalating anxiety.

I had to join a support group as a requirement from my insurance which added even more anxiety for me. Listening to other people talk about their worries did not help me find relief. I eventually left my job because I could not function. I began looking for other alternatives for coping and this is when I found the practice of meditation.

At first, meditation was difficult. I had a hard time sitting still and quieting my mind. I would make lists, start thinking or get distracted by noises outside. Although, the more I practiced, I was able to find my inner silence and soon my intuition. In the silence, I have found peace, balance and answers.

My anxiety levels have dropped dramatically since I began meditating. I took the practice further and started writing down my fears. I found that transferring all the restless thoughts out of my head and onto paper helped alleviate the mental chatter.

Later on I learned about transforming my fears into strengths and finding ways to redirect the thoughts into something that served a purpose. Fear is a gift and arises as an alert. I began acknowledging my anxieties and looking for ways to transform the negative into a positive feeling or thought. I also realized that I was taking on people’s anxieties and reacting negatively. I implemented one of the Four Agreements as a daily practice. “Don’t take anything personally” and started to react less and less.

Learning to listen to my intuition and take a break to breath during stressful moments has changed my reactions. I have been told that I hold my breath when I am stressed or extremely focused. Mindfulness has help me become more aware of my breathing. I can use my breath to slow down my heart rate, focus and send much needed oxygen to the places where I hold my stress. The power of breath is transformative.

The daily practice of meditation has curbed my anxiety for the most part. However, there are situations where it still rears its chaotic head. When this happens, I go back to the tools that have helped me.

I have been practicing these 4 steps for a few years each time anxiety arises and they have helped me reduce worry and stress. When I feel the familiar inner flutter of anxiety, I start with these steps and repeat them daily until I find my balance again.

  1. Breathe: Sit with your breath for 5-10 minutes. Close your eyes in a comfortable seated position and breath in and out through your nose. Listen to your breath. Focus on taking even breaths. Count the inhale and exhale to even out the breath. Allow silence and peace to take over. If needed, time yourself to make sure you are getting a full 5-10 minutes of breathing.
  2. Reflect and Write: What is the root of the anxiety? What triggered the reaction? Write down every thought that comes to mind. There doesn’t need to be a structure, just get it out of your head and onto paper.
  3. Transform the thought: How can you restructure the negative thought into a positive one? Remember that fear is a gift and it serves a purpose. How is this serving you? Write down your observations.
  4. Movement: Taking a walk, running or even stretching can transform the energy. Redirect the nervous energy with movement. Get your blood flowing and capitalize on the oxygen that was just sent through your body through deep breathing.

With practice, these steps have helped transform my anxiety into something manageable. If you would like more information on meditation, writing exercises or transforming thoughts, 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