Guided Meditation for the New Year

2019 is here and well underway. And it's still a great time to get excited about the magic of what's to come and set (or remember) the amazing intentions for this year. 

In this guided meditation, you'll be able to do just that. 

My Theme for the New Year

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

One thing I’ve done for the new year for the past five years is come up with one word or theme to focus on. I don’t remember where I first heard about doing this (maybe Happy Black Woman?), but I really like the idea because it gives me something positive to focus on and is basically a goal or practice for the year.

With that said, My theme/word for 2019 is self-love.  This year, I meditated and slept on what my theme should be, and this is what ultimately came up. While I’ve been doing a lot of healing work the past year and a half or so, self-love is something that I’m still working on practicing, especially as it relates to my own inner dialogue.

If you’ve never done this before and want to create your own word/theme (or even phrase) for the new year, here are a couple of tips:

  1. Ask Spirit what your word should be. If nothing comes to you immediately, take a few minutes to meditate or sleep on it with the intention of it coming to you.
  2. Another option is to make a list of words that resonate with you and choose one. Maybe it’s something you know you need to work on, a goal you’ve had, or something you’ve been thinking about lately. You can also think about how you want your year to be and/or how you want to feel this year.

Some ideas for words/themes:

Abundance

Prosperity

Health

Thrive

Success

Peace

Focus

I got this.

Self-care

Move forward

Ways to use your word

  • Make a graphic for your lock screen or computer background.
  • Create affirmations around your word.
  • Write down what it means for you.
  • Make a vision board about it.

Have you come up with your theme for 2019 yet? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below.

Resource used: alwayswellwithin.com.

5 Ways to Find Calm During the Holidays

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

The holiday season is here, which can bring an added layer of stress and overwhelm to our already chaotic lives. Fortunately, there are things you can do and methods you can use to bring more joy (and peace) to your world:

1. Use calming practices daily.

Practicing yoga, meditation, or just taking a few deep breaths and saying some affirmations can go a long way when it comes to beating holiday stress (and stress in general, of course). Taking just 5 or 10 minutes in the morning and/or before you go to bed can work wonders.

2. Listen to your body and practice self-care.

If you feel yourself becoming more fatigued or feel like you’re about to get sick or burn out, listen to your body’s message and slow down or take a break. Even better: Take care of yourself before you even get to that point. Some suggestions:

  • Try to get seven to eight hours a sleep a night (or take a nap).
  • Try to eat well, and stay hydrated.
  • Schedule some downtime in your planner/calendar.
  • Spend some time by yourself.
  • Unplug from social media for 30 to 60 minutes (or a whole day!).
  • Put space between things. In other words, instead of rushing to the next task when you finish one, take a little breather. Then focus on what’s next.

3. Do your best.

Don’t allow people, consumerism, social media — or even yourself — make you feel like you have to buy your children dozens of presents or the latest gadgets to be a great parent. Also, don’t feel like you have to be the most creative Pinterest mom or like you need this grandiose, picture perfect Christmas morning.  Do what you’re able to do, and be at peace with that. I promise, everything will be amazing regardless!

4. Participate in fun family activities.

Since you’ll likely be spending more time with your children because they’ll be out of school, this is a great opportunity to not only have fun and spend some quality time with them, it’s also a chance for you to unwind a bit. You can:

  • Take a ride to look at the Christmas lights.
  • Watch some of the Christmas movies you loved as a kid.
  • Make ornaments or a gingerbread house.
  • Bake cookies or make hot chocolate.

5.  Be present, go with the flow, and be grateful.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, do your best to be mindful and in the moment. Don’t let your to-do list keep you from enjoying whatever is happening. Also, choose to focus on the positives and all the moments and memories you’re creating.

How do you maintain calm and peace during the holiday season? Leave a comment below!

Be Where You Are

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Confession: I’m not the most patient person in the world; I’ve had to teach myself how to be more relaxed.

By starting my calm practices (yoga, meditation, crystal healing, etc.), I’ve discovered how to stay calm and present and how to release control (or feeling like I can or should control everything).

Of course, it’s pretty easy to do this when things are happening the way you think they’re supposed to be. The challenge comes when things are not going the way you think they should, when you’re wanting to be somewhere other than where you are now, or feel like you’re not where you’re “supposed” to be.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been noticing that I’m ready to get “there,” feeling anxious about the things I’m intending to manifest in my life. As many of you know, I’m currently back home due to separation/divorce and trying to build myself back up after all I’ve gone through. It’s been a little over a year now, and I have times when I “should” on myself (as Iyanla Vanzant says) — like I should already be further along or I should already be where I want to be.

When I have these moments, I remind myself that even when it doesn’t feel like it, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and where I need to be. I might not understand why things are unfolding the way they are or how things will work out, and I don’t have to. I also have to remember to stay in the present moment, not only so I can be more calm and content, but also so I can take action from a place of inspiration and peace.

Here are some ways I bring myself back to the present moment when my thoughts become overwhelming:

1. Pause and take a breath (or breaths). Also, I choose which thoughts I want to keep (the ones that serve me) and which ones I want to release.

2. Allow myself to be present and in the moment. Sometimes, I literally tell myself to focus on what I’m doing at the moment, and I when I start having thoughts that cause me to worry (and notice it), I am intentional about releasing them and bringing my awareness back to the moment.

3. Remember that it’s not my job to figure out how or when something is gonna happen. My job is to set my intentions, take inspired action, and let Spirit handle the rest.

4. Don’t compare my path to anyone else’s. Everyone is on their own unique journey, and I don’t know what they’ve done, or even gone through, to get where they are. Also, I remind myself that everyone gets to their “finish line” at different times; I’m not in a race or competition. Therefore, I shouldn’t feel like a failure just because it’s seemingly taking me a longer time than others.

5. Know that there are different seasons in life. The Earth has different seasons on this planet, and we do, too. There are certain times of the year when we plant seeds and other times when we reap the harvest of what we’ve planted. Both are necessary — and it’s important to remember that.

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle

Moving Through Overwhelm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed with life lately. In the past few weeks, I was in a car accident (no one was hurt, thankfully, but I was driving my parents’ car). After that, I ended up getting my own car (yay!); however, the process of getting there was a little stressful since I had to rearrange my schedule to look, sign papers, etc. Additionally, I’ve been feeling like I’m behind on my business-related work, dealing with issues with my ex more recently (Venus retrograde, perhaps?), and just day-to-day life.

During this time, I’ve really had to remind myself and practice staying calm, at peace, grounded and centered.  And I say remind myself because even as the calm coach, I, too, have to remember to practice what I preach: Peace is a choice, and it’s up to me to actually do the things that bring me peace because my inner peace is inside of me, no matter what’s going on around me. With that said, here are some of the things I’ve been doing, just in case you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, too:

1. Pause and breathe.

If you’re anything like me, when you’re stressed, you can find yourself overthinking and overanalyzing things, which — of course — leads to more stress because you’re probably thinking of all the things that might go wrong. Or, you’re obsessing over your to-do list, wondering how it will all get done.

When you have these moments, stop (and you can do like I do sometimes and literally tell yourself to “stop” out loud). Bring yourself back to the present moment, and take 5 to 10 few deep breaths. As you inhale, fill your belly with air like a balloon and count to four. And as you exhale, bring your belly button back towards your spine, counting to four.

2. Release any physical tension. 

As you may already know, we often physically hold on to stress, and it’s usually unconscious — we don’t realize we’re doing it.  Most commonly, we hunch our shoulders by our ears, clench our jaw, furrow our brows.

So, when you notice that you feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a moment to scan your body, starting at the top of your head and going down to your feet. As you do this, breathe deeply and note if you’re tense in any area of your body; if you are, relax that area. (This is also a good practice to get in the habit of doing regularly).

3. Stay present and focused.

Like I mentioned before, thinking too much about the future is a big cause of our overwhelm (trust me, I know). Being mindful and staying present, brings you inner peace, improves your mood, reduces anxiety, and brings emotional balance.

Some ways to practice mindfulness are:

4. Practice gratitude. 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to have a “woe is me” attitude and feel sorry for yourself, like nothing is going right. Taking time to focus on the positives in your life and what you have to be thankful for brings you more joy, calm, and contentment. A couple of ways to do this:

  1. Start a gratitude journal, and every day, write down three to five things you’re thankful for or positive things that happened during the day.
  2. When you feel stressed, take a couple of minutes or so to write down everything you can think of that is going well for you.

5. Choose a different thought and affirm.

It’s challenging to just change how you feel from one minute to the next, especially when you have a lot going on. But, one (relatively) simple way to start feeling better is to choose to think differently (because generally, our emotions come from our thoughts). Again, you can literally tell yourself to “stop” when you feel yourself going down the path of thoughts that don’t serve you. Then,  bring your awareness to what’s actually going on in the moment. You can also use affirmations or reminders to shift gears. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • All is well.
  • Trust the process.
  • Focus on one thing at time.
  • Life/Spirit/God/the Universe is conspiring in my favor.
  • Everything is working for my good.
  • I got this.

Do you have another suggestion you would add? Do any of these resonate with you? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

5 Yoga Common Yoga Myths And Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

If you’re here, you probably already know how much I love yoga. In the time that I’ve been practicing (four years), it seems that more and more people are getting into and trying yoga, which I think is awesome, especially when I see women who look like me. However, although there are many, many Black women doing yoga, there are that many more who won’t even try it for a number of reasons.

Below, I’m sharing some of the most common myths about yoga and why you should stop believing them so you can start experiencing the amazingness of yoga:

1. Myth: You have to be flexible.

Truth: This is probably the top excuse I hear from people about why they can’t do yoga. Although you may need some flexibility to execute certain poses, it’s definitely not a requirement — especially when you’re just getting started. And the more you practice yoga, the more flexible you become. So, you have to first get started!

2. Myth: Yoga is about fitness.

Truth: Yes, there are many physical health benefits of doing yoga including weight loss and toning, but those are not the only — or main — benefits of having a practice. Yoga brings you peace of mind, can make you happier, and increases your self-awareness.

3. Myth: Yoga is a religion.

Truth: Although yoga has spiritual roots, it has evolved a lot since then. However, yoga can be a spiritual practice because in my experience, it allows me to feel more aligned and one with Spirit. And it can do the same for you, no matter what religious or spiritual practices you have.

4. Myth: Yoga is too hard.

Truth: Okay, so yoga can be a bit challenging, especially in the beginning and/or if you don’t exercise regularly. But, in my opinion, the challenge is worth all the amazing benefits; and besides, when you create a consistent practice, it becomes easier.

5. Myth: Black people don’t do yoga.

Truth: Only seeing thin, athletic-looking White women doing yoga on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram may lead you to believe that yoga just isn’t for us. Fortunately, I’m seeing more and more Black women — and men — practicing yoga. And because of all we deal with as Black women (in our personal lives and on a systemic level with sexism, racism, and misogynoir), I think we, as a community, are the ones who can use it the most, which is why I do what I do.

Ready to begin or become consistent with your practice? Download my free yoga guide here and/or sign up for my 14 day yoga challenge below!

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

7 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health

 

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

When it comes to health, it seems that the main focus is on being healthy in the physical sense: making sure you eat well, being fit, and drinking enough water. However, being healthy mentally is important as well; and I would maybe even argue that it should be more of a priority because everything we do begins in our minds.

Mental health “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and it affects how we think, feel and act (MentalHealth.gov). It also affects the way we deal with stress, relate to other people, and make decisions.

Since July is Minority Mental Health Month, I’m sharing seven techniques I use (or have used) to care for my mental health:

1. Meditation/Deep breathing.

This is probably the top way I stay mentally well. You can read all about the benefits here, but all you need is a few minutes a day (in the morning works especially well, in my opinion, because you start the day peacefully). You can try guided meditations, or just simply sit in a quiet, distraction-free space, breathe fully and deeply, and focus on your inhales and exhales. Also, deep breathing is a practice you can do anywhere, any time (and it’s how you’re supposed to breathe anyway), and its great for relieving stress, overwhelm and anxiety in the moment.

2. Use Affirmations.

I was introduced to affirmations around 2007, and I’ve been using them ever since. Affirmations help me improve my mindset, which allows me to set the tone for a great day (or to stay positive when the day is not-so-great). Speaking positvely to yourself is also important because the things you say to and about yourself are generally what manifests in your life.

3. Take Time To Relax.

Trust me, I get it: You have a lot going on, and you’re trying to get it all done so you can check all the things off your to-do list. But, if you don’t take time to simply relax and just be, you risk experiencing burn-out and maybe even making yourself sick — literally. Listen to your body, and relax when you need to.

4. Unplug Digitally.

All the noise on social media can be a lot and super overwhelming. It can also have a negative effect on your mental health as it relates to comparing yourself to other people, causing you to feel insecure, or making you feel anxious when you see what’s going on in the world. Take a day — or 3 or 7 — away from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., and/or limit the amount of time you spend on the sites daily.

5. Journal.

If you’re anything like me, you have some difficulty dealing with uncomfortable emotions. But you have to allow yourself to feel what you feel, get out of your head, and get those feelings out so you can process them and find solutions. Journaling is a great way to do this. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling or punctuation, or judge yourself for what you’re thinking/feeling, just write.

6. Move Your Body.

Yoga is, of course, my favorite way to move my body. But, you can also get on the treadmill, lift weights (another fave), walk, or dance to get your body moving. Doing this not only relieves stress and helps you clear your head, it can also help when it comes to depression and anxiety.

7. Seek Professional Help.

Although we’ve come a long way, there is still some stigma attached to going to counseling or therapy, or there’s the idea that therapy is for people who have “serious” mental health disorders. Well, since we all deal with the stresses of daily life — and as Black women, we arguably deal with more due to gender and race — talking to an objective third party can help. And I know because I’ve been myself. If you want to try it yourself but don’t know where to start, try the directory on TherapyForBlackGirls.com.

Do you take care of your mental health in a way that’s not listed above? Leave a comment to let us know!

How to Incorporate Meditation In Your Daily Life

One of the top ways I make sure I stay calm, grounded and centered every day is by meditating. My meditation practice allows me to begin my day on a positive and peaceful note, helps me worry less, and it helps me stay in the present moment (just to name a few benefits).

If you don’t have one already (or if you fell off the wagon), I definitely recommend that you incorporate meditation in your life. In this video (from a Facebook live), I’m sharing a few simple ways you can get started:

5 Black Women In Mental Health You Should Know

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

One in five Americans is affected by mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. However, many people don’t seek treatment due to stigma of getting assistance and mental illness itself.  In the Black community in particular, having and/or seeking help for mental illness is still seen as taboo and as something to just pray away. Although it’s been a while since I’ve gone, deciding to go to therapy when I was feeling depressed and anxious was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Fortunately, nowadays, people are becoming more open to sharing their experiences and actually getting the help they need with tools like therapy and counseling. Here are five amazing women to help you on your journey:

1. Lindsay Anderson

Lindsay Anderson is the founder of Consciously Coping where mental illness is talked about in an open and safe environment. Their focus is educating, supporting and sharing stories of minorities and low income families. As a non-profit organization, Consciously Coping fully dedicates their hours, hearts, and minds to the millions of mentally ill consumers.

By utilizing social media as a main source of outreach, they hope to increase mental health treatment in all demographics. Their objective is to decrease the number of mentally ill peers struggling with mental health issues without access to fair and consistent treatment. Learn more at ConsciouslyCoping.com.

Facebook: @consciouslycoping
Instagram: @consciouslycoping

2. Dr. Joy Harden Bradford

With Therapy for Black Girls, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford has created an online space dedicated to encouraging mental wellness of Black women and girls. Because the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy prevent Black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist, she developed the space to present mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant.

As a licensed psychologist in the state of Georgia, Dr. Joy’s specialties include working with Black women in both individual and couples counseling. Her primary areas of interest include break-up and divorce recovery, depression, work-life balance, relationship skills, and self-esteem improvement. Visit her at TherapyForBlackGirls.com.

Facebook: @therapyforblackgirls
Instagram: @therapyforblackgirls

3. Daphne Fuller

Daphne is the founder of Therapeutic Solutions and Wellness, PC. Additionally, she’s an integrative licensed professional counselor, certified yoga instructor, life coach, reiki practitioner and speaker; she incorporates these practices in counseling and coaching with clients upon request.

Because she personally knows how depression and anxiety can affect your life, Daphne’s passion lies in helping adults find their light and shed old limiting beliefs and circumstance that affect their current state of being. She helps individuals and groups tap into the core of what holds them back while providing emotional support, psycho-education and tools to maneuver through the process. Learn more at TherapeuticAndWellness.com.

Facebook: @therapeuticandwellness
Instagram: @therapeutic_solutions

4. Imade Nibokun

Music journalist turned non-fiction writer Imade Nibokun is the founder of Depressed While Black, a brand and an in-progress book about navigating the mental health system while being broke, Black, and from a religious background.  After being diagnosed with major depressive disorder in 2012, she wanted to know why she felt depressed and if she could ever live a normal life again.

Through her blog and social media, Imade also shares mental health stories and content through an African-American lens. Visit her at DepressedWhileBlack.com.

Facebook: @DepressedWhileBlack
Instagram: @depressedwhileblack

5. Nadia Richardson

Nadia is the creator of No More Martyrs, a mental health awareness campaign committed to building a community of support for Black women with mental health concerns. Inspired by the loss of Karyn Washington (founder of For Brown Girls) and the number of nameless and faceless Black women who manage their mental health concerns in silence, the No More Martyrs campaign is a call to action.

By encouraging a commitment to revolutionary self-care and unapologetic authenticity, the campaign serves as a clearinghouse of resources for living successfully with mental health concerns as well as a support system for Black women who believe they’re facing these issues alone. Learn more at NoMoreMartyrs.org.

Facebook: @Join.No.More.Martyrs
Instagram: @no_moremartyrs

Do you know of other Black women in mental health? Share info about her below!

12 Quotes to Inspire Your Mindfulness Practice

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

I’ve always been someone who lives in her head, thinking/worrying about the future and occasionally mulling over the past and what-ifs. So, learning how to be present and live in the moment has been a challenge for me (and it still is at times).

If you don’t know, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) Essentially, being mindful means focusing on the what you’re doing when you’re doing it (single-tasking); it is being aware of what’s going on around and within you; and it’s going with the flow and accepting your situation/life for what it is right now (while also taking inspired action for where you want to be) — and doing all of this without judgment of yourself or your life (or even other people).

Since I’ve started being more mindful and living in the moment, I feel more at ease, grounded, and centered; I worry less; I’m actually able to get more done; and I’m able to hear my Inner Wise Woman (my intuition) more easily. A few simple activities you can do to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life are:

  • Sit and do nothing for five minutes.
  • Focus on one thing/task at a time.
  • Do a body scan, becoming aware of how you feel and any tension you have.
  • Focus on your breathing.

And here are a few quotes to inspire your practice:

  1. “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste, experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. “When you are here and now, sitting totally, not jumping ahead, the miracle has happened. To be in the moment is the miracle.” – Osho
  3. “The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feeling anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  4. “The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.” – Wayne Dyer
  5. “Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” – Oprah
  6. “Remember then: there is only one time that is important — Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.” – Leo Tolstoy
  7. “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” -Abraham Maslow
  8. “Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here right now. Don’t miss it.” – Leo Buscaglia
  9. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
  10. “Living in the moment, without attaching yourself to regrets about yesterday or worries about tomorrow, goes a long way toward cutting through the chaos of everyday life.” – Eve Adamson
  11. “Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  12. “With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Black Mom's Guide to Calm