7 Mantras to Start Your New Year Off Right (Plus a Free Printable!)

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Using mantras help you focus on the positive and on what you want to happen in your life. Saying them regularly helps shape your day and keeps those intentions in the forefront of your mind, making you more likely to live the mantra.

Here are seven that I think are great to carry into this new year (and beyond):

1. Just breathe.

When you’re in a situation that’s causing your stress or anxiety, remember to stop and take a few deep breaths. That way, you’re calmer and better able to make good decisions concerning whatever you’re dealing with.

2. I am enough.

It’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough as a mom, entrepreneur, employee, wife, girlfriend, friend, etc. and that you could be doing more. However, it’s important to remember that you are enough and you do enough. You’re doing the best you can with the resources you have. Be okay with that.

3. I believe the best about myself.

What you believe about yourself and your life on the inside is what will manifest on the outside. Trust that things will always align for your best and believe that you’re the type of woman who can (and will!) co-create what she wants.

4. I am the best version of me.

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to do what other people do or be like they are, particularly when it comes to social media. But you have to take your eyes off of others and work on being the best YOU that you can be. One of my favorite quotes is from Kimora Lee Simmons: “Live life on your own path. Everybody’s got something different. You can’t keep up with all those people, so you better keep up with yourself.”

5. I live in the moment.

Commit to going with the flow and staying in the present, and watch how calmness becomes a bigger part of your life.

6. I let go of what no longer serves me.

Letting go of people, situations, beliefs, etc. that don’t benefit you any more allows you to make room for better.

7. I am open to receive all the good Spirit has to offer.

Spirit wants you to have good in your life, so stay positive about what you want, do your best to feel good, and take inspired action.

“I know for sure that what we dwell upon we become.” – Oprah Winfrey

Want a way to keep these mantras fresh in your mind? Download my free printable to be inspired to make them a part of your life! Go here to download.

Yoga Pose of the Month: Easy Pose

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

(Welcome to a new series on the blog: Yoga pose of the month! Every month, I’ll share a yoga pose you can practice daily or a few times a week).

This month’s pose is easy pose (sukhasana), a basic seated yoga posture. It’s a very common pose for practicing meditation and breathing exercises (called pranayama).

Easy pose strengthens your back, stretches your knees and ankles and also opens your hips, groin, and outer thigh muscles. And when you sit upright with your spine aligned, it reduces stress and anxiety. The pose calms the mind and can be therapeutic for stress.

How to do it

  1. Sit on the edge of a firm blanket or your yoga mat. Extend your legs in front of you and sit up straight. Then, cross your legs in front of you at your shins
  2. With wide knees, place each foot under the opposite knee. Fold your legs in toward your torso.
  3. Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing down.
  4. Balance your weight evenly across your sit bones. Make sure your head, neck, and spine are in one line. Lengthen your spine, soften your neck. Relax your feet and thighs.
  5. Gaze ahead at eye-level with soft eyes, or close your eyes.
  6. Hold for up to a minute or for the length of your meditation or pranayama practice.
  7. Try to practice on both sides, placing the other leg in front.

You should be comfortable in this position (hence the name, easy pose). Here are some modifications if you need them:

  • If your hips are tight, use a prop like a blanket or two, a bolster, block, or a meditation pillow.
  • You can try various heights of support to find the one most appropriate for you.
  • If you have extremely tight hips, practice easy pose seated in a chair. Leave one foot flat on the floor, cross the opposite ankle over the knee of the grounded foot. Hold it for up to a minute, then repeat on the other side.
  • Need more back support? Sit with your back against a wall. Or, place a yoga block between the wall and your shoulder blades.

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Source

#CalmTip: Declutter

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to zenhabits.net, here are some of the benefits of decluttering:

  • Less stressful. Clutter can be a lot of visual distraction and mental stress.
  • More efficient. Since there aren’t as many distractions, you’ll probably be able to focus better.
  • More peaceful. Your home will likely be more serene if it’s uncluttered.
  • Saves you time. If your home is cluttered, you’ll have to look for things, move things, store things, and take things out of storage. While decluttering takes time in the beginning, it’ll likely save you more time in the long run.

Since January is Get Organized Month, choose one of the strategies below and give it a try. If you find one too difficult, try another:

Start clearing a starting zone. Clear one area, which will be your no-clutter zone. Whether you start with the counter, your kitchen table, or the three-foot perimeter around your couch, make a rule: Nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything has to be put away. Once you have that clutter-free zone, keep it that way. And each day, slowly expand your no-clutter zone until it envelopes your entire house.

Schedule a decluttering weekend. You might not feel like doing a huge decluttering session at the moment, but if you schedule it for later this month, you can clear your schedule to make it happen. And if you have a family, get them involved. Have boxes and trash bags on hand, and plan a trip to a charity for items you’re donating. Although you may not declutter your entire house in one weekend, you’ll probably make a lot of progress.

Get more tips here.

“Organization isn’t about perfection, it’s about efficiency, reducing stress & clutter, saving time & money & improving your overall quality of life.” – Christina Scalise

 

 

Out With the Old, In With the New: My Intentions for 2016

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Happy 2016! I hope you all had a safe and fun time bringing in this new year.

In the past, I’ve created goals for a new year, but this year, I decided to write intentions. Why? Because intentions help me become clear about what I really want and it allows me to not worry so much about how something will happen. Instead, I take inspired action, then allow Spirit/the Universe to let my intentions manifest. That’s not to say that goals and action don’t have their place (they do), but intentions just feel less rigid than goals.

What’s the difference?

According to zigizen.com:

Goals focus on a fixed outcome in the future, while intentions focus on the present and provide the guiding light to living mindfully moment-to-moment.

Goals are an effort to achieve a set of results in the future, which we accomplish or fail to reach based upon the objectives and actions we take along the way.

Intentions help point us with more clarity toward our heartfelt aspirations and values.

My intentions for 2016 are:

  1. Practice mindfulness; stay present.
  2. Have a lot of fun.
  3. Be happy.
  4. Be a profitable entrepreneur.
  5. Let go of what doesn’t serve me.
  6. Practice self-care.
  7. Love; express love instead of judgment.
  8. Do me.
  9. Step out of my comfort zone.
  10. Be the best version of me (in every area of my life).

To make these intentions a reality, I’ll further define the inspired action I’ll take, and I’ll write them down every morning.

Here’s how you can create your own intentions:

  1. Determine what you really want to see happen in your life and how you want to feel and be, then write short sentences describing it.
  2. Next, figure out what inspired actions you can take to bring your intentions to life.
  3. Write down your intentions at least once a week.
  4. Feel good about what you want, then watch everything come together.

Here are a few quotes to inspire you:

“Our intention creates our reality.” – Wayne Dyer

“Live your dream. Create your life. Lead with intention.” – Leslie Schwartz

“Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Continue to learn.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

“It is more important to be of pure intention than of perfect action.” – Ilyas Kassam

Photo Credit: Ruslan Gilmanshin

#CalmTip: Decide What YOU Want

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

It’s almost 2016, so now is the perfect time to figure out (then write down) what you want to see happen next year. But when you do, make sure it’s what YOU want.

At times, we tend to want or do something because it’s what someone else wants for us. Pursuing a life our parents or society thinks we should have can leave us feeling frustrated and anxious because we know it’s not what we truly desire. Decide what you want for yourself so you can be fulfilled and live a life you love.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

#CalmTip: Let Go

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

We’re almost at the end of another month and another year, so this is a great time to let go of those things that no longer serve you. When we hold on to those things, we allow them to shape our actions and can even create serious health issues by us holding on to that stress. So whether it’s a person, a relationship, a situation, a belief, or a thought, if it’s not bringing any good to your life, let it go.

Here are a few tips for letting go from tinybuddha.com (read all of them here):

  • Change your perception.
  • Cry.
  • Use meditation or yoga to bring you into the present moment.
  • Focus all your energy on what you can control.
  • Replace your thoughts.

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” – Ajahn Chah

 

#CalmTip: Ask for Help

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As Black women, it can be difficult for us to ask for help. It’s been ingrained in most of us to be the “strong Black woman,” meaning we’re supposed to handle whatever life throws our way on our own; we’re not supposed to show signs of weakness, vulnerability, or needing help.

After I had Nailah, it was hard for me to ask for help even though I knew I needed it (and sometimes, admittedly, it still is. And I didn’t want to ask for a number of reasons: I felt like since I was her mother, I needed to be responsible enough to handle everything; if I admitted that I needed help, it would be a sign of weakness; and I felt guilty for needing help because I worked from home, so how hard could it be to do everything (and do it well?) /sarcasm. I finally realized we all need assistance sometimes, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. Needing help simply means we’re human  (welcome — there are, like, 7 billion of us). It’s important to remember that we can’t do everything on our own. So, don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need; you totally deserve it.

“Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” – Anne Wilson Schaef

Good Reads: Women Who Ain’t Afraid to Curse When Communicating with God by Trelani Michelle

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Anybody who knows me knows I live for a good book (and I love interviewing people; I was a print journalism major), so I decided to start an interview series with authors of books that I love that relate, in some way, to creating calm. First up is Trelani Michelle, Spiritual Writing Coach and author of Women Who Ain’t Afraid to Curse When Communicating with God.

This summer, I was searching for a deeper connection with God/Source and was feeling frustration around my spirituality in general. Long story short (I might do a post about this later), what I’d been doing didn’t feel right to me. So, when I saw Trelani had a book coming out about that very topic, I was too ecstatic and had to pre-order it. I haven’t finished the book yet (you know, life), but so far, it has been über-beneficial in guiding me to create my own relationship with Source and to stand in my truth. I believe that her book is one to read if, like me, you’re someone who’s dealing with uncertainty or anxiety around your beliefs.

Women Who Ain’t Afraid to Curse When Communicating with God is for free spirits and old souls who believe in the magic of:

  • me-time
  • ancestral guidance
  • visualization
  • mirror work
  • masturbation
  • chakra balancing

It also includes 31 contemplative writing prompts, meditations, and personal stories, summoning you to start from where you are to deepen your connection with Spirit, language, and the world around you.

Check out our interview below to see what Trelani has to say about her book:

What inspired you to write your book?
It started with a quote that I posted on Instagram: I be wanting to speak on stuff sometimes, but Spirit be like, “Leave that shit alone, here?” And I be like, “Yes, ma’am.” A couple of weeks later, a friend tagged me in my quote on someone else’s page. She cropped my name out and had it posted as if it was hers. Another friend, Akilah, who was also tagged, grabbed about 20 or so quotes of mine, added some of hers, and suggested that I make a book out of it. I did.

I love the title of it! How did you come up with it?
I actually suck at titles (lol). Akilah came up with that, too.

Can you talk a little about your spiritual journey?
I always quote 2005 and 2006 being my toughest years ever. In 2007, I rededicated my life to God — in the Christian sense — and really gave it my all. I started this young women’s Christian group and everything. It helped, but it didn’t give me the sense of purpose and peace that I so desperately needed. I also had questions that weren’t being answered. My spirit didn’t agree with it. I was trying to force it, so I stopped going to church. Then about three years ago, I stopped calling myself a Christian. I preferred saying that I was “spiritual and not religious,” but I wasn’t really living up to it. Even that felt empty, then I decided to take it a bit more seriously.

In what ways do you use spiritual practices to create calm?
Meditation was the first step. Every so often, Oprah and Deepak Chopra hosts 21-day meditation challenges. A friend invited me to do it with her. It was both of our first time doing so. I enjoyed it and immediately saw the difference in my life. Those answers that I sought in church, I gained while meditating. A host of other benefits, too, so I’ve grown to call meditating my “silent sessions with Spirit.” I’ve also discovered active meditations that serve me well, too. It’s what you make it. You just gotta be intentional about it, so a spiritual practice for me can be anything from going for a walk, showering, stretching on my yoga mat, running a couple of miles, making love, freewriting, or doing laundry. All support me in my need for calm.

What advice do you have for someone who is beginning a new spiritual journey?
Spirituality is our relationship with our higher power, whoever or whatever you consider that to be. So your first step would be to define who or what that is for you. Afterwards, begin to explore ways to communicate with that higher power. Remember that communication consists of speaking and listening. Speaking, for me, is praying; meditating is listening. Again, meditating doesn’t have to mean sitting criss-cross applesauce (as my children would say), and prayer doesn’t have to be verbal. It’s all what you make it. It’s your experience and your relationship. Resources like The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm are great to get you started, but don’t be afraid to tweak the practices to make it feel more personal.

What do you hope people take from your book?
You can’t be whole and not have a spiritual practice that fuels you. Spirituality is a part of our wellness, but doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Your relationship with Spirit is uniquely your own.

Is there anything else you want to add?
For the next five days, I’m offering the eBook version of Women Who Ain’t Afraid to Curse When Communicating with God for $0.99. Grab your copy and don’t forget to leave a review. Besides buying the book, reviewing is the best way to support an author. Plus, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

Get your copy at SoFundamental.com/spiritbelike.

Trelani Michelle was the girl beneath the covers with a flashlight and a journal. The teenager who documented her tragedies as poetry. The college student who experimented with erotic short stories. Now an author and Spiritual Writing Coach, her passions are novel writing, blogging, and teaching others how to explore and express their experiences through writing. Get to know her better at SoFundamental.com and on Instagram @Trelani_Michelle.

#CalmTip: Practice Self-Care Daily

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Since I’ve become a mama, I’ve realized that when I make an effort to take care of myself, I’m much more at peace and am better able to handle the curve balls throughout the day. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of time to practice self-care every day. Even 10-15 minutes is beneficial . Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Read a novel.
  • Do nothing.
  • Catch up on one of your shows.
  • Spend time with a loved one.
  • Do yoga or exercise.

Get a free PDF with more ideas here.

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” – Deborah Day

Confessions of A Meditation Teacher

 

confessions of a meditation teacher

The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic for me. My husband and daughter were sick last week, and I guess I caught whatever they had last weekend (thankfully, I’m much better now), I’m working on things for Black Girl’s Guide to Calm (and I’ve been playing a little catch-up), working on an editing project, getting ready for my daughter’s birthday party this weekend, and not to mention everyday life. Needless to say, I was (and still am a little) stressed and overwhelmed.

And it feels kinda weird (and maybe even wrong?) to say that. I mean, here I am, a meditation teacher, someone who shares information and inspiration about finding calm, stressing less, and taking care of oneself daily. It’s almost ironic really, but as the saying goes, “We teach best what we most need to learn.” And something I’m still working on learning is not letting life overwhelm me, practicing mindfulness, and listening to my body and mind when it comes to taking care of me. I’ve gotten a lot better at these things, but I still need to make some improvements.

Sometimes, I wish I was at the point where I could let things roll off me like water off a duck’s back, but I’m not there yet (and I don’t know that I’ll ever be). But is that really necessary?  As long as I know what to do when those moments occur, I’m sure I’ll be fine.

And here’s what I’ve been reminded of these past couple of weeks:

I’m human, and I’m a work-in-progress. Even as someone who promotes and teaches calm, I’m not always perfectly calm and centered, I have my moments, too. And that’s okay (and normal!).

Calm isn’t a destination per se; I think it’s a journey, and while you can live from a space of inner peace for the most part, you’re gonna have crazy, stressful, hectic, overwhelming moments — that’s life. So don’t beat yourself up when you feel like you’re about to go crazy. Instead, remember that you’re human, and figure out what you need to do to get to your calm space. It’s always there when you need it.

Listen to my body. I did okay at this, but I do have a tendency to push myself to do more even when I know I need to rest, especially when I have a deadline. But I’m learning more and more that if I don’t get the rest I need and take care of myself, my work won’t be its best.

And before I go, here are a few of my favorite affirmations for when I feel like I’m about to have a meltdown (I recite them while taking slow, deep, full breaths):

  • I am calm and centered.
  • Inhale peace; exhale overwhelm.
  • I have time to accomplish all I need to today.

Can you relate to this post? If so, let me know by leaving a comment!