Join My Yoga Challenge: #30DaysofYoga

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

September is right around the corner…and that means it’s almost time for National Yoga Month, a great time for you to get started — or get back on track — with your practice.

And I have the perfect way for you to do so: #30DaysofYoga, an Instagram yoga challenge! Just in case you’re like, ‘Ehh, I don’t know if this is for me,’ here are a few reasons to start your practice. Yoga:

  • brings you peace of mind
  • can make you happier
  • gives you inner strength
  • can encourage self-acceptance
  • can improve your confidence

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s how the challenge works:

  1. Every day, starting September 1st, I’ll post a pose on Instagram (and/or send it to your inbox).
  2. You practice the pose, and post your photo on Instagram, using the hashtags #30DaysofYoga and #Blackgirlcalm.
  3. Participants will be entered into a giveaway for my forthcoming affirmation cards.

To keep up with the pose of the day, follow Black Girl’s Guide to Calm on IG and/or sign up here to get it sent to your inbox.

“The body benefits from movement, and the benefits from stillness.” – Sakyong Mipham

15 Simple Ways to Relax

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, most of us find it hard to simply relax. And a lot of times, we don’t even feel it’s necessary to do so. However, having some down time has many benefits. It:

  • helps prevent stress from accumulating
  • reduces general anxiety
  • increases your energy level and helps with productivity
  • improves your concentration
  • boosts self-confidence

Now that you know why you probably need to unwind more often, here are 15 simple ways to relax:

  1. Do some yoga.
  2. Meditate.
  3. Read for pleasure.
  4. Take a bubble and/or spiritual bath.
  5. Spend some time alone.
  6. Laugh.
  7. Listen to your favorite music.
  8. Take a phone/social media break.
  9. Nap and/or sleep in.
  10. Visualize/daydream.
  11. Netflix and chill…with yourself.
  12. Create a gratitude list.
  13. Spend some time outdoors.
  14. Journal.
  15. Color

What are your favorite ways to relax? Let me know by leaving a comment!


Black Girl's Guide to Calm

4 Tips for Beginner Meditators

Meditation and concentration are the way to a life of serenity.” – Baba Ram Dass

Have you been interested in starting a meditation practice but feel overwhelmed by the thought? I get it, with all the tips and information out there, it can be difficult to just begin.

In the video below, I’m sharing 4 tips to help you get started.

 

 


4 Crystals for Total Beginners

crystals

I first learned about crystals in 2015 while attending my friend, Trelani’s, Between Words and Water Writing Retreat. I ordered my first batch from Third Eye Naga, and I’ve pretty much been obsessed ever since. I keep them on my night stand, wear one around my neck, wear bracelets, and even carry them in my bra (don’t judge me!).

However, if you’re new to crystals, trying to figure out which ones to use can be overwhelming because there are sooo many to choose from. So, here are four that will get you started:

 

Smoky quartz is my favorite, go-to crystal. It’s related to the root chakra and absorbs negative energy, increases positive energy, helps you stay grounded, increases your vibration, and assists in releasing past hurt.

Affirmation: I am calm, grounded, and at peace.

This crystal is all about love of all kind. Related to the heart chakra, rose quartz promotes unconditional love, joy, and emotional healing, strengthens hope and faith, assists in overcoming despair, and brings calm.

Affirmation: I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

Clear quartz is known as the master healer. It magnifies energies, cleanses spaces, increases energy, cleanses and charges other crystals, and provides protection. While you can use it for all chakras, it’s mainly related to the crown.

Affirmation: I am divinely guided and inspired.

Amethyst improves your intuition and inner sight, helps with insomnia, promotes restful sleep (I often sleep with one under my pillow), and supports your connection to the Divine and your higher Self. It’s related to both the third eye and crown chakras.

Affirmation: I always honor and follow my intuition.


Where to Buy

While there are literally hundreds of places to get your crystals, here are places where I’ve purchased mine:

Individual Stones

Third Eye Naga

Greenville Gemstone Mine

Enter the Earth

Asheville Raven & Crone 

Everyday Magic 

Crystal Jewelry

Chakra Candi

Pure Energies

Prolific Expressions

Which crystals have you tried? Which are your favorite? Let me know by leaving a comment!


10 Quotes to Inspire You to Live in the Moment

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Over the past few years, I believe the Universe has been trying to teach me to live in the moment. As a daydreamer who has been developing her patience forever (it seems), being present and allowing everything to unfold the it is has not been my strong suit. I am, thankfully, getting better at it. Because what I’ve come to realize is that the only moment/time there is is the present moment, and fretting/obsessing over what’s to come does nothing but stress me out and cause me anxiety (and it probably does the same to you).

If you have trouble staying present and living in the moment, here are 10 quotes to inspire you to do so:

  1. “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle
  2. “Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” – Brene Brown
  3. “Trust the timing of your life.” – Unknown
  4. “I know that the big miracles we’re waiting on are happening right in front of us, at every moment, with every breath. Open your eyes and heart, and you’ll begin to see them.” – Oprah Winfrey
  5. “Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
  6. “Be. Here. Now.”– Unknown
  7. “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience, moment to moment.” – Jon Kabat Zinn
  8. “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  9. “Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.” – Steve Goodier
  10. “Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life’s blessings.” – Oprah Winfrey

Having a meditation practice is a great way to learn how to live in the moment! Download my guided meditation to get started.

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

 

On Taking Care of My Mental Health

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As a Black person in the South — and really, as a Black person in general — mental health and wellness is something rarely talked about, and when it is, you’re told to simply “pray about it” or “Jesus will fix it.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with praying if it brings you comfort and peace, but for many people dealing with mental health issues, it isn’t enough.

My journey to taking my mental health more seriously started after having my daughter. Being a first-time mama was incredibly overwhelming, and I found myself feeling frustrated and disappointed most of the time, particularly because I felt like I didn’t have enough help from my husband. And looking back, I believe I was dealing with some post-partum depression as well.

The breaking point came when my husband asked me if I still wanted to be with him. That was when I realized I had to do something different, not just for the sake of my marriage, but so I could feel better and more at peace.

I wrote new affirmations around how I wanted to feel, and because I’m a researcher by nature, I Googled ways to better my marriage and myself. Through my research, I rediscovered meditation and began my practice, which also led me to restarting my yoga practice and really focusing on taking care of myself. As cliche as it sounds, these practices literally changed my life. In addition to feeling more calm, grounded, and centered, I now know how to tap into my inner peace whenever I need to.

Of course, I’m human, so I still deal with stress, and I have anxiety as well, so making sure I include my mental health as a part of self-care practices is an important part of my daily life. Some ways I do so (that you can, too) include:

  • Meditation and yoga
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Taking social media breaks
  • Saying affirmations
  • Reading inspirational books
  • Listening to inspirational podcasts
  • Going to therapy

Whether you’re dealing with a mental illness or the stress of your daily life, I encourage you to begin making your mental health and wellness a priority.

“Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other.” – from”Approaching the Natural: a Health Manifesto”

Find Your Calm Week

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

April is Stress Awareness Month and to celebrate — and help you stress less and find your calm — I’ve created Find Your Calm Week! It’s happening April 4th-10th, and will be hosted on Black Girl’s Guide to Calm’s Facebook page.

The topics and tools I’ll be sharing:

  • Learning Your Stressors (Monday, 8:30 PM)
  • Meditation (Tuesday, 8:30 PM)
  • Incorporating Self-Care (Wednesday, 7:30 PM)
  • Knowing Your Stress Signals (Thursday, 11:30 AM)
  • Yoga (Friday, 8:30 PM)

Make sure you like the Facebook page so you don’t miss out! I look forward to helping you incorporate more calming practices in your life! Oh, and feel free to share with a friend — or on social media!

We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

4 Ways to Clear Energy That’s Not Serving You

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Although empaths tend to experience it in a more pronounced way, I believe we all feel when we’re in negative environments or when people around us affect our energy in not-so-great ways. The good news is that there are ways you can protect yourself and clear energy that’s not serving you. Here are four techniques to try:

1. Smudging is an ancient practice in which you burn sacred plants (like sage, for example) and allow the smoke to clear and bless a space — or yourself. I smudge our apartment, and myself, with sage weekly, but I also smudge myself when my energy is off or I’m feeling down, frustrated, anxious, etc.. Here’s how to do it:

  • Light the stick, and let it catch fire.
  • Let the fire out, letting the smoke billow from the stick.
  • If you’re smudging your home, walk around along each wall (or close to each wall), allowing the smoke to go everywhere. If you’re smudging yourself, wave the smoke, starting from your feet and moving up, over you body in front of and behind you. While smudging, you can verbalize what you’re releasing; For example, “I release doubt. I release fear. I release anything that no longer serves me.”
  • When you’re done, open a door or window to allow the old energy to leave.

2. Visualization. This is a technique you can practice if you know in advance you’re going to be in a negative environment or around negative people (say, work or around certain family members) and you want to protect yourself:

  • Sit comfortably and breathe deeply.
  • Visualize yourself surrounded by an orb of white light and love. See that it’s only you within this circle, and nothing can get to you.
  • You can practice “wearing” the orb throughout your day, and before you deal with people/situations/places that drain you. The visual will let love and light come through while fending off and releasing any energy that’s not serving you.

3. Affirmations are a great way to change your mindset and help you stay focused on the positive. Here are a few to use:

  • I release any and everything that does not serve me.
  • I release all fear, anxiety, and overwhelm.
  • I let go of all negativity from my mind and body.
  • I easily let go of thoughts and beliefs that disempower me.
  • I release anything, any person, and any situation that keeps me from moving forward.

4. Crystal healing. Over the past few months, I’ve really been into learning more and using crystals for my mental and emotional wellness. One of my favorite crystals for getting rid of negative energy and feeling more positive is smoky quartz. Other crystals to try:

Black tourmaline absorbs negative energy and turns it into positive energy, provides energetic protection, and helps with stress relief.

Selentine cleanses and purifies your energy and provides protective energy.

What do you do to cleanse energy that’s not serving you? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

“Today is your day to let go of things that no longer serve you.”


Black Girl's Guide to Calm

10 Black Women Who Can Help You Find Your Calm

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of the resources provided here at Black Mom’s Guide to Calm that help you find your calm (if you’re not, click here and here). And of course, I’m not the only one who can guide you; there are some other dope ass Black women out here provide products, services, and resources to make sure we’re calm, centered, cared for, and mentally well.

In honor of Black History Month, here are 10 Black women who can help you find your calm:

1. Dianne Bondy is a celebrated yoga teacher, social justice activist, and leading voice of the Yoga For All Movement. With over 1,000 hours of training, she helps her students find freedom, self-expression, and radical self-love in their yoga practice. Dianne shares her message and provides millions of followers with affordable access to online yoga classes, workshops, and tutorials at her virtual studio: Yogasteya.com.

2. Itiel McVay is the founder and owner of Smell Good Spa, purveyors of fine fragrance oils and hand-dipped incense sticks that blend creativity and wholesome ingredients together. It is the company’s belief that a whole woman deserves wholesome products; therefore, each raw-ingredient based bath, body, and home fragrance product can be customized with their signature scents, creating an aromatic spa-at-home experience for the woman who loves to live good, feel good, and smell good.

3. As The Body Relationship Coach™, Ivy Felicia helps people build a loving relationship with body and self. She is passionate about helping individuals learn to embrace the bodies they have right now and supporting them in learning to love themselves no matter what. Through her brand, Me, My Body, and Love, Ivy promotes body peace and provides empowerment, education, and encouragement for those who seek to embrace a body positive lifestyle by loving their own bodies and extending the same love and acceptance to others.

4. Created by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed psychologist in Georgia, Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. Because the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy prevent Black women from taking the steps to see a therapist, Dr. Joy developed her blog to present mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant. Her primary areas of interest include break up and divorce recovery, depression, work-life balance, relationship skills, and self-esteem improvement.

5. Dr. Nadia Richardson is the founder of No More Martyrs, a mental health awareness campaign committed to building an online community of support for Black women with mental health concerns. By bringing together organizations from across the country that focus on the holistic wellness of Black women, the campaign serves as a clearinghouse of resources for living successfully with mental health concerns as well as virtual support for Black women who believe they are facing these issues alone.

6. Founded by Dr. Shanesha Brooks-Tatum, the Life Balance and Wellness Institute, Inc. (formerly the Black Women’s Life Balance and Wellness Conference) supports Black women in their quest to live well and thrive. Their mission is to provide evidence-based tools and facilitate dynamic, creative relationships that support women in achieving and maintaining optimal wellness in all areas of life including physical, financial, spiritual, occupational, social, and emotional.

7. Suntia Smith, MSW,LISW-CP, is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist based in Greenville, SC. She uses proven emotion-focused techniques and cognitive behavioral methodologies to help her clients deal with everyday life and relationship struggles better. By taking a positive, proactive, and practical approach to emotional well-being, Suntia teaches others how to develop a stronger sense of self, so they can love deeper and live lighter.

8. Created by Tara Pringle Jefferson, the Bloom Beautifully Box hits women’s doorsteps every eight weeks, full of self-care goodies in the following categories: beauty, health/wellness, and personal development. Tara created the box because she knows just how difficult it can be for women to focus on themselves during the years where their time and attention is often required by someone else — their boss, their children, their family. She wants each box to feel like a deep exhale, a fresh reminder that while you are many things — an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home mom, a student– you are still you underneath it all.

9. Tracey Coretta Ferdinand is a writer and certified 200 hour vinyasa yoga teacher. Her writing inspires lifestyle transformations guided by self-love and self-care, and her mission is to encourage women and girls of color to live vibrant and healthy lives by exploring creative wellness practices.

10. Vernetta R. Freeney is the creator and producer of the podcast “A Toast to Truths” and founder of The Truth Confidant™, a training firm specializing in teaching mental detox as a way to increase your productivity and have peace each and every day of your life. Her assignment is to curb burnout for entrepreneurs, teachers, and corporate employees by teaching journaling as a daily mental detox to ensure productivity and creativity.

 

Creating Self-care and Calm Intentions for the New Year: 6 Things to Do

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 has gotten off to an amazing start. If you’re reading this, you probably already have set some goals for the year. But do you have self-care and calm intentions? Wait, what does intention even mean? An intention is “to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, to aim.” (healing.about.com) Having them helps us stay focused and on the right track with what we desire.

Why set intentions specifically related to calm? They will help you:

  • live from a space of peace
  • practice mindfulness and stay in the moment
  • stay calm and centered more often than not
  • create inner peace and contentment

With that said, here are five steps to create your own for 2017:

1. Get clear about what you want/need in your life. When it comes to finding your calm and practicing self-care, do you want to start a yoga practice pr meditate regularly? Or maybe you want to stay calm in stressful situations, get more sleep, or have more time to yourself. If you’re having trouble figuring out what you want and need so you can live from a space of peace, take a moment to get quiet, and ask yourself, ‘What do I need?’, then journal about it. Just write whatever comes to mind until you feel you have your answer.

2. Write it down. After you know what you want and need, write it down. As Erykah Badu said, “Write it down on real paper with a real pencil. And watch shit get real.”

3. Write affirmations. According to Chicken Soup for the Soul co-creator Jack Canfield, “an affirmation is a statement of your goal or desire now realized in the present time.” They are statements you can write down/record, then repeat and/or listen to regularly so you bombard your subconscious mind with the thoughts, images, and feelings you’d be experiencing if your goal was complete already.

Your affirmations should be positive and in present tense. For example, “I am calm and centered,” or “I choose to practice self-care daily.” Here are some to choose from or to draw inspiration from.

4. Schedule it. If your intentions include specific practices like yoga, meditation, reading more, or exercise, write down the days and even times you’ll practice in your planner or calendar, or create a reminder on your phone. That way, you’re more likely to stick with what you want to do.

5. Start small. Doing this will help you stick with your intentions as well. If you try to do too much too soon, you might get overwhelmed and give up because it seems difficult. So, for instance, if you want to start a home yoga practice, consider starting with a few stretches in the morning and/or before you go to bed or doing a five or 10 minute sequence. If you want to begin meditating consistently, start with 10 deep breaths or a 1-2 minute meditation daily.

6. Find tools and resources to help you stay on track. YouTube is a great place to find meditation music and yoga videos. You can also use a resource like The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm Experience for tools that will help you find your calm.

 “Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.” – Maureen Killoran

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Black Mom's Guide to Calm