8 Spiritual Practices That Keep Me Grounded & Centered

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

About a month ago, I posted a photo on Instagram with my spiritual practices. I’d been feeling off mentally and emotionally, and I realized it was because I’d been neglecting to do those things. I wanted to share what I did to counter that off-feeling in case someone else could use the info. So, I decided to write a post about it; here goes — these are the eight spiritual practices I do daily and/or on a regular basis to stay grounded and centered:

1. Meditation & Yoga

Most mornings, I go to my meditation/yoga space and do a 10 minute meditation, and I try to at least quiet my mind and take a few deep breaths before going to bed. I recently bought some crystals from Third Eye Naga, and I’ve been using those while meditating. Sometimes, I’ll visualize and/or recite some affirmations as well. Also, I usually listen to meditation music or binaural beats from YouTube while meditating. (Here’s my current playlist).

When it comes to yoga, some days, I practice in the morning, and others, I practice in the afternoon or at night. Nowadays I mostly do my own flow, but when I don’t, I do a video from Yoga By Candace.

How often I do this: Meditation — daily; yoga — 5-6 days a week

2. Gratitude

In the morning, I write five things I’m grateful for in my gratitude journal. It might be something specific that happened or as simple as “a new day.” I also use the app Bliss to record three things that happened during the day that I’m thankful for or that brought me joy.

How often I do this: Daily

3. Visualization

This is my daily visualizing practice: After writing what I’m thankful for in the morning, I basically write down how my day went as if it was the end of that day. For example, I wrote today’s (Sunday’s) vision — what happened during the day —  from Sunday night’s perspective (hopefully, this makes sense). Basically, I write how I want to feel and what I want to do and accomplish that day. And although everything doesn’t happen the way I write it, doing this leaves me feeling optimistic and I feel it helps set the tone for creating an amazing day.

How often I do this: daily

4. Affirmations/Prayer

Usually, after I do the above items, I read my affirmations. I created a folder in my phone’s image gallery, and I either go through and read all of them or a few of them. I might also recite some of my favorite ones in the morning and throughout the day like “I am calm and centered,” or “I let go and allow the universe to do her thing.” One of my favorite places to find affirmations is Pinterest (and here’s my board with some).

When it comes to prayer, I use an e-book I bought from Ra Sehki Store called Speaking with Spirit that includes prayers from the Diaspora.

How often I do this: Almost daily

5. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Tapping

According to the Energy Therapy Centre, “the technique works by releasing blockages within the energy system which are the source of emotional intensity and discomfort.” The blocks in our energy system can challenge us emotionally and lead to limiting beliefs and not being able to live harmoniously. I especially like to use EFT when I’m feeling super stressed or worried, or if I want to release blocks around money or abundance. I primarily use Brad Yates’s YouTube channel, and I love this video from Abiola Abrams.

How often I do this: 1-2 times a week

6. Smudging

Smudging is burning herbs, like sage, to clear negative energy from yourself and/or your space. You can find sticks at new age stores (Third Eye Naga, which I mentioned above sells them) or even make your own. Here’s how to use 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.

How often I do this: to my apartment — once a week; to myself — probably 3-4 times a week

7. Journaling

I generally do this when I’m feeling stressed, frustrated, or disappointed, but I’m trying to get in the habit of doing it at least once a week to process things and to make sure my mind is calm and clear.

How often I do this: once a week

8. Mindfulness

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health, Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

When practicing mindfulness, not only are you aware of the present moment, you’re also in a state of emotional non-reactivity: No matter how good or bad the experience, you don’t judge it. Or if you do judge it, you simply observe your thoughts with a friendly interest, then release them. Ways to practice mindfulness include:

  • Doing one thing at a time.
  • Doing less.
  • Staying in the present moment.
  • Making cooking and cleaning meditation.

How often I do this: Always Daily is the goal

“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So relax.” – Bryant McGill

What spiritual practices do you use to stay centered and grounded? Let me know by leaving a comment. : )

#CalmTip: Yoga Pose of the Month – Child’s Pose

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

This week’s #calmtip and this month’s yoga pose is child’s pose. According to YogaOutlet.com, this is a restful pose that brings serenity and peace to your yoga practice.

Child’s pose:

  • Gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Relaxes your spine, shoulders, and neck
  • Increases the blood circulation to your head, which reduces headaches
  • Massages your internal organs
  • Calms your mind, helping relieve tension and stress

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start on all fours, your hands and knees.
  2. Keep your knees hip-distance apart and your big toes touching. Another option is to spread your knees a little wider for wide-legged child’s pose variation.
  3. Inhale and bring your hips back toward your heels (your butt may or may not reach your heels). Your heart and chest should rest on top of or between your thighs; rest your forehead on the mat or floor.
  4. You can keep your arms long and extended with your palms down on the ground, or place them down by your sides.
  5. On your exhales, allow any tension in your neck, shoulders, and arms to melt away.
  6. Stay here at least five to 10 breaths.

“When you own breath, nobody can steal your peace.”

Conversations featuring Vernetta R. Freeney

 

In this interview with Vernetta R. Freeney, we talk about her role as The Truth Confidant™, her podcast, “A Toast to Truths,” and the works she’s doing to help people curb burnout.

Click below to listen to the interview, and get inspired.

Simple Tips for Getting Through a Sh*&ty Day

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

A little background: We have some bills but weren’t/aren’t sure how we’re going to pay them. So, I’d been reading about the Law of Attraction (LOA) (books and blog posts). I set the intention; I let go of how I thought it should happen; I focused on feeling good and just went about my daily life.

Fast forward to today and nothing had happened. Well, the intention I set didn’t manifest when I wanted it to. Of course, I was starting to feel anxious, I was panicking, freaking out, and trying to figure out what the hell we’re going to do. I Googled what to do when it feels like your life is falling apart law of attraction,” and I found this article, Manifesting When The Shit Is Really Hitting the Fan, which I highly recommend.

Here’s what I’ve done to help myself feel at least a little better and process things:

1. Cry

I let myself be sad, frustrated, sad, scared. All of the things I’ve read about the LOA says you should always feel good. Well, I don’t believe that’s possible because 1) Shit happens; and 2) You’re human. When yucky things happen, you’re going to feel, well, yucky. Here’s what Kelli says:

“Right now, you are being invited to release a shitload of energy that is holding you back, and the more you release, the more room you make for that better energy to flow in. The more you release, the more room you make for all sorts of things to show up for you…”

2. Yoga and meditation

It might not make you feel better immediately, but in the time you’re practicing, you’ll be able to clear your head and gain a little peace. 10 or 20 minutes will help.

3. Smudge.

This is burning herbs, mainly sage, to clear negative energy from yourself or your space. You can find sticks at new age stores or even make your own. To use 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 your body in front of you and behind it. While smudging, you can also 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.

4. Mirror work

In a nutshell, this is when you look in the mirror and affirm yourself/give yourself a pep talk. I went into the bathroom and just told myself what I needed to hear; it wasn’t planned or written down. I just said whatever came to me for a minute or two.

5. Affirm how you want to feel

Determine how you want to feel: happy, content, peaceful, secure, etc. Then repeat affirmations related to that feeling; look some up, or write/say your own.

6. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping)

According to Brad Yates, author and energy worker, “EFT is a wonderful tool for removing the uncomfortable emotions that limit our success.” I love using this when I’m feeling anxious or worried about a situation. I primarily use Brad’s YouTube channel, and I also love this video from Abiola Abrams.

7. Laugh

It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine, and it really does boost your mood when you’re feeling down. I usually listen to the 2 Dope Queens Podcast for a laugh.

8. Listen to music

I think we all know music is therapeutic. Turn on your favorite tunes and chill, cry, or dance. Whatever feels best.

9. Vent

A few ways to do this: Let it all out in your journal, tell a trusted friend what’s going on, or talk to your Higher Power. Or do all three. You’ll probably feel a lot better, and you might even come up with solutions.

10. Practice self-care

When you’re in a slump, it’s easy to just wallow and forget to do basic things like eat or drink something. Make sure you’re taking care of you.

11. Forgive yourself

If things seem to be going awry in your life, you might be running down a list of all the things you think you did wrong to make it happen. While it’s important to acknowledge and learn from mistakes you may have made, there’s no point in continuing to dwell on it. Recognize your role — if any — then forgive yourself, and let it go.

12. Know it’s going to get better

When you’re in a fvcked up time in your life, it’s hard to see how you’ll get out of it. It feels like it’s going to last forever. Logically, you probably know this isn’t true. But you just can’t see a way out at the moment. What to do: Try to recall all the other sh*&ty times in your life and how they all turned around at some point. It. Will. Get. Better.

“This, too, shall pass.”

How do you get through a sh*&ty day or period in your life? Let us know by leaving a comment! 

#CalmTip: Fill Your Cup First

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard some variation of the saying, “You have to fill your cup before you fill anyone else’s.” Or the oxygen mask instructions on an airplane: In an emergency, you put your oxygen mask on before you help anyone else. Because — duh — if you can’t breathe, how can you help anyone?

The same thing applies in life. As women, most of us tend to be nurturers and want to make sure everyone around us is good, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, you can’t take care of your loved ones until you take care of yourself first. What does this mean?

To me, it simply means practicing self-care every. single. day. It means making sure you’re as well-rested as possible, that you’re eating well and staying hydrated; you’re moving your body at least three days a week; you’re doing what you need to to remain centered and maintain inner peace. It means doing things that inspire you and bring you joy, and taking time to relax and just be.

No matter how busy you think you are or how many roles you play, make sure you take time to fill your cup first, and practice self-care and self-love daily. You deserve it! 

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn


Starting a yoga and meditation practice is a great way to fill your cup and begin practicing self-care. If you’re interested in beginning a home practice, learn more about and register for my Mind, Body, and Soul Yoga Program. It includes yoga for all levels, inspiring guided meditation, plus more self-care tips. I’d love to have you! : )

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

How to Start a Home Yoga Practice: 5 Things to Do

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As I shared on my Facebook page last week, one of the best time investments I make weekly is practicing yoga, and yoga at home in particular. The main reason I love practicing at home is I can do it when it’s most convenient for me, and I still get to reap the benefits like less stress, and feeling more centered and connected to myself and Spirit.

If you’ve been wanting to start a home yoga practice, here’s how to get started:

1. Set an intention.

Why do you want to start doing yoga? What do you hope to gain from it? Whether it’s because you want to get physically stronger, lessen your stress, or learn how to be more mindful, write it down on a piece of paper of note card, and put it near your practice space so you’ll remember your intention.

2. Create a space.

It doesn’t have to be an entire room (it can be in your bedroom or living room), and it doesn’t need to be fancy or elaborate. You just need enough to space to lie down, reach your arms out and up, and it should be (relatively) distraction-free.

3. Set a schedule.

Plan your home practice just like you would for a class at the studio or  gym; whatever you use to plan your days (a planner, calendar or an app like Evernote), write “yoga” down; that way, you’ll be more consistent with your practice.

4. Choose a teacher for guidance.

You can practice on your own, by free-styling or finding sequences on sites like Pinterest, or have an instructor/coach guide you through (like *ahem* yours truly) a session.

5 Hold yourself accountable, and reward yourself.

If you reward yourself for being consistent with your practice, you’re more likely to make yoga a habit. According to research, habits are formed “through a cyclical process that, when repeated overtime, becomes automatic. Psychologically, you’re creating new pathways in the brain when you introduce a new activity into your life.”

The cycle’s elements are: trigger, action, and reward. Your space is the trigger; the action is the practice; and the reward (which might be the most important aspect) can be something as simple as placing a star or smiley face on your calendar or checking off “do yoga” on your t0-do list. Having an accountability partner helps you stay accountable, too.

(By the way, with my 1-on-1 coaching sessions, you’ll have me to help you stay on track with your yoga practice).

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.” – Cybele Tomlinson


 

#HappyTip: Get Some Girlfriends

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

It’s Social Wellness Month! According to the University of California, Riverside, social wellness refers to one’s ability to interact with those around them and involves using good communication, respecting yourself and others, having meaningful relationships, and creating a support system that includes family and friends. And one great way to improve your social wellness is having awesome girlfriends. According to research, girlfriends make us healthier, happier, less stressed, live longer, and feel more beautiful (how dope is that?!).

Here are a few ideas for experiencing the benefits of girlfriend relationships :

Find new girl friends (if you need to). It can be a little difficult to make new friends after college, especially if you’re an entrepreneur/work from home, or if you’re an introvert/homebody (trust me, I get it). While Facebook often gets a negative rap, I’ve literally found some of my best friends and my tribe there. I say give social media a chance when it comes to finding your tribe and new friends. Join and interact in Facebook groups, or follow women you find cool or interesting on Instagram or Twitter. You never know what amazing relationships will develop.

Keep in touch. Since we’re all grown up now, we’re all so busy with the different roles we play. And because of this, it’s easy to forget to check in with our friends every once in a while. Even if you’re not able to meet up in person regularly, you can always Skype, Facetime, text, chat, or talk on the phone.

Plan a girl’s trip or weekend. This is a great way to create stronger bonds with your girls, plus you’ll get some much needed “me time” and create some amazing memories.

What are your favorite ways to maintain your relationships with your girlfriends? Let us know by leaving a comment! : )

“The best kind of friendships are fierce lady friendships where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and think the other deserves the world.” – via Pinterest

 

How to Stay Mentally Well In Tragic Times

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

With all the tragedy that’s happened in this week alone, it’s so important that we, as Black people, practice self-care and stay mentally well. Here are some ways to do so:

Unplug. While it’s important to be aware of what’s going on, it can be too much to handle with the constant news and opinions and graphic videos and photos on social media. So, if you need to take a break from Facebook, Instagram, or wherever, do that. In fact, even if you don’t feel like you need to, I say take one anyway; at least for a few hours.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel. You might be feeling angry, sad, or any other combination of emotions. And that’s totally normal and okay because sh*t is fvcked up…how could you not feel anything?

Vent. Let your feelings and frustrations out by ranting to a loved one or (my favorite) your journal. It’ll feel so good to let it all out.

Meditation and yoga. Of course, these are my top ways to get re-center myself and get my inner peace back. You don’t have to do it for a long time, either; 10 or 20 minutes can do wonders.

Do something you enjoy. Spend time with loved ones. Read a book. Go on a Netflix binge. Do your nails. Go for a walk. Play with your kids (or somebody else’s). Anything that will bring you joy and a sense of peace.

How do you stay mentally well in times like this? Let us know by leaving a comment.


Are you constantly stressed and always overwhelmed, feeling on edge? What if it was possible for you to feel more inner peace, be happier and centered, and enjoy your life now?

Actually, it is possible! And beginning a yoga practice is a great way to start doing so. Ready to begin yours? Click below to learn more about and sign up for my Mind, Body, and Soul Yoga Program.

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

#CalmTip: Do a Shower Meditation

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Of course, showering is how most of us stay clean, but did you know they can also reduce anxiety, lower the tension in your body, and free up your mind (cold shower)? I saw the idea of a shower meditation on Pinterest and loved it! Here’s how to do it (it’s really easy):

“Every time you take a shower, visualize washing away your stress and anxiety. Concentrate on the feel of the water upon your skin. Envision the power of the shower washing away your negative thoughts! Woosh! Envision fear, regret, and anger soaping off you and swirling down the drain.” – Karen Salmansohn

Yoga Pose of the Month: Warrior 2

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

It’s a new month, and that means it’s time for a new pose/asana. July’s yoga pose of the month is Warrior 2.

Warrior 2 (virabhadrasana II) is a powerful stretch for the chest, groin, and legs. It also increases stamina, helps to relieve backaches, and stimulates healthy digestion. It also:

  • Strengthens the muscles in your thighs and butts.
  • Tones the abdomen, ankles, and arches of feet.
  • Opens the chest and shoulders.
  • Increases your ability to focus; distractions go away, and your energy becomes more powerful and concentrated.

How to do it

  1. Start in mountain pose (stand tall; feet hip distance, toes spread; arms by your side, palms facing out to the wall in front of you). Take five deep breaths here.
  2. Exhale, and take a big step forward with your right foot. Your feet should be about four to five feet apart; make sure your heels are aligned.
  3. Turn your right foot out at 90 degrees, toes pointing to the edge of the mat. Your left foot should be parallel with the short edge of the back of your mat.
  4. Lift through the arches of your feet, and root down through your ankles.
  5. Your right knee should be bent right above your ankle (90 degrees) or slightly behind. Make any adjustments to make this possible. Sink your hips, and be sure your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  6. Press down into the outer edge of your left foot, keeping it straight.
  7. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor; fingers spread, palms facing down, arms strong. Look out over your middle right finger.
  8. Hold five to 10 breaths.
  9. To release and take it to the other side, inhale and press down through your left foot, and straighten your right leg. Lower your arms. Turn to your left, reversing the position of your feet, and repeat for as long as you did on the right.

Tips

  • Get the foot and leg placement first.
  • Be sure your front knee is in line with your ankle or slightly behind.
  • Focus on a single, non-moving point.
  • Connect with your warrior strength.

“Warrior II can be an effective way to build a feeling of inner strength and power. As you practice this pose on a regular basis, you will grow in your ability to face daily battles with ease and grace.” – YogaOutlet.com