#CalmTip: Ground Yourself

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Grounding is a technique that helps keep you in the present moment. It’s a way of practicing mindfulness and can be helpful when you feel overwhelmed or anxious.

Here are a few methods you can use to ground yourself:

One

  • Look around the room, noticing your surrounding and details.
  • Hold a pillow, stuffed animal, or ball.
  • Hold something cool (like a can of soda) or place a cool wash cloth on your face.
  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Place your feet.
  • Focus on someone’s voice or a neutral conversation.

Two

Name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste or 1 good thing about yourself

Three

Walk outside barefoot for a few minutes, in the grass if possible.

Four

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lean back into your chair, and notice how the chair feels underneath you and against your back.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest.
  4. Gently tap each shoulder, one side at a time. If you’re in public, you can place your hands on your thighs and tap on each thigh, alternating sides.

“Get yourself grounded, and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” – Steve Goodier

Do you have another grounding technique you use? Did you try one of these? Let us know by leaving a comment! : )

Sources: peirsac.org, drcordes.com


Black Girl's Guide to Calm

#CalmTip: Let Go and Allow

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As most of ya’ll probably know, I recently started teaching yoga locally. While it’s been going okay with one or two students at one place, at another, no one signed or showed up. Now logically, I know I shouldn’t take it personally, and I know that it takes time to build a new business and to get clients (because I’ve been there myself). However, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me and that I wasn’t disappointed. And because my tendency is to over-think and wallow in what ifs, I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what I did wrong and what I should do next. As I was mulling it over, I remembered the affirmation I’d recently shared on social media: I let go, and allow the universe to do her thing. 

This is my go-to mantra (I repeat it at least once a day), but it’s often easier said than done. If you’re like me, you’re so used to just trying different stuff to see what sticks that it’s hard to step back, surrender, and just allow things to happen and come to you. Now, that’s not to say that action doesn’t have its place; however, 1) We need to utilize the feminine energy of allowing and receiving; and 2) When things don’t go how we’d like and/or we feel like we’re losing control (as if we ever had control in the first place, but I digress), we likely start to panic and feel desperate, and that’s not the best energy to act from. Because it often doesn’t work anyway or you make decisions that aren’t necessarily the best.

Instead, I believe the best thing to do is to let go and allow the Universe/Spirit/God/Goddess/Your Higher Self to do her/his/its thing. Sometimes, that means literally doing nothing about the situation. And it might mean taking inspired action, meaning listen to what you should do next, then doing something. This usually shows up as your intuition or that gut feeling. (This is one reason why meditating and being mindful are important, so you can hear).

Finally, whatever the action is, it’s important to remember that what you desire may not manifest overnight; and you might even end up going in a different direction. Either way, it’s important to trust the process and trust in Divine Timing.

“What’s the rush? Everything is coming to you. Don’t put an end date on everything. Just let the Universe yield it to you, because if the path is a fun path, you don’t care how long it takes.” – Abraham Hicks

#CalmTip: Make Sure Your Cup Overflows

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As many of you know, this past weekend, I attended the 2016 Self-Care Retreat (#HereWeGrow16) in Virginia Beach, which was hosted by Tara Pringle Jefferson, self-care coach and creator of The Self-Care Box. I attended to lead meditation and yoga, but I ended up learning a lot (blog post about the amazingness coming soon)!

In the first session, Tara suggested that instead of filling our cups just enough, just so we can give to others, that we allow our cups to overflow. That way, when we give from the overflow, we’ll still have something left for ourselves, and we won’t be drained, burned out, frustrated, etc.

After her talk, she had us come up with 20 things that fill our cups (without thinking too much about it) and we posted our lists in our phones so we’d have the lists whenever we need them. For this week’s #CalmTip, I’m encouraging you to try it yourself and create your own Fill My Cup list: Use your note app (or an app like Evernote) and take about five minutes to write down 20 things that make you happy or that you can do to practice self-care. When you finish, you’ll have several activities to choose from when you need them and/or to practice daily (or at least a few days a week) to make sure you’re good. A few of mine are:

  1. Yoga/meditation.
  2. Listening to the 2 Dope Queens podcast.
  3. Reading.
  4. Lifting weights at the gym.
  5. Watching ratchet TV.

What are some of the things on your “Fill My Cup” list? Let me know by leaving a comment! 🙂

“My cup should overflow.” – Tara Pringle Jefferson

#CalmTip: Practice Camel Pose

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Heeey! It’s a new month, and that means it’s time for a new yoga pose. This one is a favorite of mine: camel. According to YogaOutlet.com, camel pose (ustrasana) can be emotionally moving and energizing.

Benefits of this pose:

  • Stretches your neck, chest, abdomen, thighs, hip flexors, groin, and ankles
  • Strengthens your back, gluteal muscles, and triceps
  • Massages and stimulates your organs and chakras of the abdomen

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by kneeling upright with your knees hip-distance apart. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor.
  • Rest your hands on the lower part of your back, letting your head come back if it feels okay for your neck.
  • You can stay there, or you can take the full expression of the pose by reaching back and grabbing a hold of your ankles or feet (you also have the option of doing one side at a time). Your palms should rest on your heels with your fingers pointing toward your toes and your thumbs holding the outside of each foot.
  • Keep your thighs in line with the floor with your hips directly over your knees. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
  • After releasing, immediately come into child’s pose so you don’t get lightheaded or dizzy.

Tips

  • Don’t force yourself into the pose; practice a modified version until you can get into the pose safely. If it’s difficult for your hands to reach your feet, tuck your toes to elevate your heels.
  • If it’s still difficult to reach your feet or ankles, place yoga blocks on the outside of each foot and put your hands on them.
  • Create length in your vertebra; don’t collapse or crunch into the pose.
  • Move into it slowly and move within a pain-free range.
  • Don’t bring your head so far back that you strain your neck. Keep it extended and comfortable throughout the pose.

“If you don’t bend, you’ll break.” – Unknown

#CalmTip: Communicate

Black Girl's Guide to Calmm

The other day, I was feeling frustrated with my husband (hey, it happens), so I wrote about it in my journal to get my feelings out and to explore solutions. I discovered that the source of my stress with him is that I often fail to communicate how I feel and what I need. Here’s a little of what I wrote:

I can’t keep keeping stuff inside. I have to say how I feel and tell him what I need from him. Period. For a while now (or a lot of the time), I’ve just let stuff slide without saying anything, just to keep the peace…

Here’s the epiphany I had as I kept writing (bolded for emphasis): But I’m not keeping peace with myself, which is the most important thing. 

Growing up, I used to ask my mama why she never, or rarely, said anything to my daddy about his lack of help around the house (by the way, I love my parents, think they’re amazing, and have been married almost 32 years ; I’m telling this story to make a point). She said that most of the time she didn’t (because trust me, there are plenty of times when she does speak her mind) because she wants to keep the peace. When she would say that, I’d always think to myself, I’m never  gonna be like that. (HA!)

I now recognize that I probably do the same because of what she told me and because of who society tells women they’re supposed to be. However, here’s what I’ve come to realize: Not saying what’s on your mind (and I’m talking about the big stuff, the stuff that actually causes you to “feel some type of way” and that creates issues within your relationship) is not actually keeping the peace. It’s only giving you the illusion of peace. How can you have peace in your relationship and in your home if you don’t have it within? Yeah, you might appear or pretend to be at peace, happy, going with the flow, but is that the reality? More than likely, no. So my #calmtip is to communicate. Say how you feel. Own how you feel. Start your statements with “I feel…”

If you’re a woman who’s not used to really speaking up and likes to be “non-confrontational” *raises hand* this will probably be a bit challenging for you. My suggestions are:

  1. Work on your throat chakra. A few affirmations:
    – I speak my truth. I have the right to.
    – My voice is strong and clear.
    – I communicate my feelings with ease.
    – I am open, clear, and honest in my communication.
  2. Do it afraid. Because that’s the only way to keep your inner peace and to actually enjoy your relationship. If you don’t, you’re going to be resentful and disappointed and frustrated, and one day, it’s going to come to ahead. And you don’t want that. Let it out now in a rational, calm, direct manner.

“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn

#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

#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

#CalmTip: Start Your Home Yoga Practice

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Because it’s International Yoga Day, today’s calm tip is to start your home yoga practice. Practicing in a studio is amazing, but doing yoga at home has its benefits as well (and is what I’ve been doing for the past two years). According to researchers at the University of Maryland and the National Institutes of Health, students who practiced at home reported more positive mindfulness, subjective well-being, and better sleep. Here are a few more reasons to consider a home practice:

It’s super convenient. You can fit it into your schedule more easily because you can practice whenever is best for you: morning, afternoon, or night. This is especially helpful if you have children or a tight schedule.

You can more easily focus on certain areas. For instance, if your shoulders and neck are tight, you can focus more on asanas (positions) that concentrate on those body parts.

You can practice for as little or as long as you need to. Most yoga classes in a studio last an hour, which is great if you want to/can dedicate 60 minutes of your time. When doing it at home, you can practice for as little as 5 or 10 minutes.

It’s only about you. If you’re in class, it’s easy to compare yourself to how the next person is doing and be in your head about if you’re doing a pose perfectly. At home, it’s just you, so it’s easier to focus on yourself and doing your best.


Start your home yoga practice with my free yoga workshop! It’s happening Friday at 7PM Eastern; sign up here.

#CalmTip: Use Affirmations

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

A great way to create calm and even change your mindset so you’re more calm and peaceful more often is to use affirmations.

Using them not only has created a positive change in my life, I’ve also realized that it’s a powerful way to relieve stress, too. According to success coach and co-author of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series Jack Canfield, an affirmation is a statement of your goal or desire now realized in the present time. They’re statements you can write down or record then repeat/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.

You can either use ones you’ve found or read, or you can create your own. If you choose the latter, here are a few tips:

  1. Begin with the words “I am,” and/or use present tense. You want to speak your affirmation like it’s happening now. (Because your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between reality and your imagination).
  2. Make it positive. Instead of saying, ” I don’t let negative people disturb my peace,” say, “I surround myself with positive people, and that brings me peace.”
  3. Keep it short.
  4. Be as specific as possible.

Some of my favorite affirmations for creating calm are:

  • I am calm and centered.
  • Breathe in peace, exhale overwhelm.
  • Just breathe.
  • Life supports me in every way.

And if you like guided meditations, here’s a sample meditation for creating calm from my ‘Meditation Audios for Calm, Happiness, and Success’ (which you can download here):

 

#CalmTip: Make Your Health a Priority

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Because this week, May 8th -14th is National Women’s Health Week, this week’s calm tip is to make your health a priority. By doing this, you will not only feel better physically, you’ll also feel better mentally and emotionally since you’ll be reducing stress and becoming happier. So, if you’re ready to do better when it comes to your health, here are five ways to begin:

1. Determine your “why” (and it needs to be a good one). Before I had Nailah, I ate really horribly and didn’t exercise consistently. I’ve always been small, so while I knew working out and eating well was still important for me, it wasn’t much of a priority. But when I was pregnant and was thinking about how I wanted raise my child, I realized that I didn’t want her to grow up eating a lot of frozen, processed, and fast food. I also knew that if I wanted her to eat well and be as healthy as possible, had to change because she would learn from me. My main “why” for making my health a priority was my daughter and being a good example to her. Yours might be the same, or it might be that you want to be around for your family as long as possible, or you want to look/feel as good as possible. Having a compelling why will help you stay focused and motivated on your goal of better health.

2. Start small with exercise. When I began working out consistently in 2014, I started at home with Blogilates. The creator, Cassey Ho, offers a calendar for beginners, which is what I did. Then I moved on to her more advanced videos and calendars and added in yoga and some other YouTube Channels. Now, I do yoga almost daily and go to the gym twice a week. If you’re not used to working out, you can begin at home with YouTube, walk around your neighborhood two to three days a week, or try different classes at a local YMCA, gym, or recreation center to see what you like (side note: To stick with your exercise routine, you have to enjoy what you’re doing). For home workouts, check out Blogilates, FitnessBlender, and HangTightWMarC.

3. Start small with eating better. Like I mentioned earlier, I used to eat really horribly. Yes, even though I was married (my husband, Chris, knew I didn’t like cooking). In the beginning, we ate out a lot and basically like we were still in college (don’t judge me). But, as I said, I realized I didn’t want Nailah to grow up eating those kinds of foods (plus, I was also trying to get back into shape), so I knew I had to make a change. I started small by replacing ground beef with ground turkey, grilling chicken instead of frying out, cutting out soda, and eating more veggies. And those are some ways you can start small, too.

4. Know it’s a lifestyle change. If you look on social media, especially around this time of year, you’ll see a lot of memes about getting that “summer body.” Yeah, you can choose to diet and exercise for some amount of time to reach a goal (which is totally fine),but if you want to be healthy for a lifetime, your changes have to become a part of your daily life.

5. Define what healthy means for you. Again, on social media, you’ll see people telling you should eat this, do that workout, try this tea or waist trainer to look like this, “body goals,” etc. But as my friend Ivy Felicia says,”healthy is an outfit that looks different on everybody.” In other words, figure out what healthy looks like for YOU, then do what you need to do.

“It’s never too early or too late to work towards being the healthiest you.” – Her Campus

How will you start to make your health a priority? Let me know by leaving a comment!