365 ways to energize – a daily companion to living with health, purpose, and joy

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A heart full of love – heartful…

Day 127“A loving heart, a heart full of love is the precious essence of human life.” – Maharishi Mahesh developed the Transcendental Meditation technique and was a leader and guru.

In my world, there is no greater feeling than being ‘heartful’. Heartful is not a word in the dictionary yet… but I think it soon will be. I think it is a beautiful word that I often use; as it has great meaning to me. I define heartful as feeling whole, fulfilled and loving. Being heartful is a state, or an experience of a feeling that nothing is missing in life. We are at peace with who we are, with our current and past experiences, with where we are, and with what we have. When we are heartful, our heart feels soft and free to fully live, love and be.

How do we become heartful? There are several ways to get there….

First, we feel content with the essence of who we are – we see ourselves, we accept ourselves and we love who we are.

We accept and love our body with its beauty – and equally important – its limitations.

We are grateful for the talents that we have been given. We don’t dwell on our weaknesses. Instead we are accepting of ourselves and of the fact that we and everyone else have our limitations. We understand that we are not super women or men, but that most of us are doing the best we can with what we know.

Second, we engaged in things that have heart and meaning to us. In other words, we spend our time in ways that fulfill us (rather than deplete us).

Third, we spend time with people where we experience mutual acceptance and kindness towards one another; and authentic, honest and open communication.

Fourth, we are in touch with our ‘love language’ – meaning, we can articulate what is important to us in order to feel loved. We do not feel ashamed to ask for what we long for and need in order to feel loved in our relationships. (We do not play games, such as being stoic and swallow our feelings and then later feel victimized because our needs have not been met.) We realize instead that no one can read our mind (and that the best way to have our needs met is to articulate them, first to ourselves and then to others – we do not expect people/our loved ones to find it our for us).

Fifth, we strive to live in balance. We don’t do things to please others, unless it also feels good to us. We realize that giving without joy will deplete us in the long run.

Sixth, we seek to know ourselves well and live in accordance to what builds us, supports us, and make us strong.

Seventh, we refrain from doing anything that will break us down over time.

Eight, we are not defensive and we do not take other people’s emotions personally.

Ninth, we accept our own emotions and are not afraid of them but go into and feel them fully rather than trying to understand them.

Tenth, when our heart is full – it “spills over” and we are generous, warm, loving and kind.

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Why you would want to grow your emotional muscles…

Day 110Today I am exploring one of our most attractive attributes

Strength is something most of us aspire to. Muscles make us feel confident and good about ourselves. Perhaps you are thinking that I am referring to physical strength…

I do think that there is a clear link between physical strength and confidence, but what I would like to explore in the upcoming couple of blogs, is emotional strength; muscles that we cannot see and, which therefore perhaps are less inspiring for people to work on and develop – especially for those of us that are very visual. We live in societies where there is so much focus on our appearance. Many of us forget to care about developing our inner strengths and aspects – and we forget to recognize how attractive it is to be emotionally strong.

Today I want to start by defining what I perceive as someone who is emotionally strong; someone who stands up for who they are, speak their truth, do not let other people sit on them, set clear boundaries without shouting, do not loose their temper, are collected and gathered and can speak firmly when necessary, treat people friendly and the way they themselves want to be treated. Emotionally strong people do not allow themselves to put up with demeaning circumstances for a paycheck, or for affection and love. They have self-respect because they have high self-esteem. People who are emotionally strong radiate poise.

Imagine a world where we would spend as much time exercising our emotional strengths as we do our muscles… I think that would be an awesome world to live in!

Tomorrow I will explore ways to develop emotional strength, partly inspired by Barbara Roux Levrat, to whom I listened to on this very subject today.

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The number One Foundation for a Happy life….

Day 103What does it mean to be real?

One of the key ingredients in a life of happiness is to “be yourself”. This was recognized already by the philosophers of ancient Greece, and is still true today.

To me, being real means having the courage to be our natural selves. It means showing up and sharing ourselves with acceptance, which includes embracing our strengths and successes, as well as our weaknesses, pains and struggles. We do not put up a façade where we only portray a rosy side. We do not think about how we can adjust and adapt ourselves to make a good impression. We simply show up and share who we are without editing – no matter who we are with. We do not cover up, hold back or try to be something we are not. We simply are. We speak our truth and live with integrity for what we believe to be right.

Being authentic sounds attractive and refreshing – doesn’t it! When we show up as our true self we feel more energized and happy. We experience a deeper sense of inner peace – than when we are editing ourselves, or holding back our true nature.

How do we go about reclaiming our true self ? According to Rene Brown, “authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re suppose to be and embracing who we are.”

I also believe that when we truly see ourselves, and appreciate and love ourselves for who we are, we do not need to look outside to find happiness, because we have found what we need inside.

When we are authentic, other people can relax around us. We are easy to connect with and are comfortable to be around, as people do not need to question our intentions, or if they can trust us, because our very being appears trustworthy, natural and real. We create an atmosphere and space that act as an invite for other people to be real as well.

Successful people have embraced their authenticity. “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I would have done it a lot earlier.” Oprah Winfrey

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Day 90/365  – The joy and benefit of meditation

Day 90Inner calm and a quiet mind go hand in hand.

This blog is about the power of meditation and is the 4th blog post that introduces stress reduction techniques written in the past five days.

Meditation gives me about the same pleasure as exercising. It is almost hard for me to believe that I can say that – because I truly love to exercise.

Meditation brings me serenity, conscious awareness, introspection and inner peace. Mediation has opened to an inner life that is very precious. Through meditation I have realized that I have what I need within, and – during the moment of meditation – that I do not need anything, or anyone to make me happy. This state of contentment I have during my 20 minutes colors my day in a brighter light.

When I close my eyes and go inside, and peace wash over me I feel bliss and contentment. (Having said that, I would never want to withdraw and live solely in meditative existence, that would be too boring; life has way much more to offer.

The mornings I begin with 20 minutes of mediation, I set myself up for living in alignment with my body, mind, heart and soul, which helps me become focused and productive, and to operate in harmony with the people in my surrounding. If I haven’t meditated, I am perhaps more into my own things and am less receptive and perceptive.

The afternoon meditations offer me something different. In the afternoons when I return to another 20 minutes of meditation, I recharge my energy and wellbeing to feel alert and awake throughout the evening. (In the past before I began to meditate, I would often feel tired in the afternoons and evenings).

I have been introduced to several types of meditation and each time it has had a different and profound impact on the quality of my life.

The first time I was introduced to the world of meditation I was 16 years old. I took the initiative to invite my friends to join me in taking a course. That was 33 years ago. I had no idea at the time what it would give me. I was just curious, and it sounded exciting to try something mystical and different. This experience impacted me and opened me to be more curious about my inner world. The course did not inspire me to get into a regular meditation practice, but I learned how to relax my body better and I was very happy to share my learning’s with friends who for example had difficulty falling asleep. Little did I know at the time, that I would in my thirties take a Master in holistic health education and enthusiastically teach and support people living with health, purpose & joy.

When I was in my twenties I was ones again called to refresh my meditation skills. At the time I worked as a management consultant, which was quite stressful. I was often very tired in the afternoons and evening and I, like most people, would drink coffee and eat sweats to stay awake. I longed for a way to optimize my brainpower, energy and yet feel calm. The course I took this time around, moved me into a daily discipline; I meditated ones per day for more than ten years, which opened me up to a whole new world of possibilities and energy.

When I moved to Switzerland in my late thirties, I stopped my regular meditation practice for several years – until I ones again seeked a teacher to get inspired, and then re-committed to a daily practice.

Today I attempt to meditate twice daily as I learned (and experience) that the benefit manifolds.

To those of you who are curious about the benefit of mediation, you might find this study done by Harvard University Interesting;

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Breathe your way to inner peace

Day 89

Sleeping tight and inner peace is something that concerns us all.

My husband shared with me this morning that he had woken up in the middle of the night with a thousands thoughts roaming in his head about the things he has on his plate to do these days. He was worried that he would not fall back asleep, as he really needs to feel rested to be able to address all of the things going on.

Most of us can probably recognize that when we feel we have too much going on and our sleep is disturbed – we can get into a vicious cycle – where we feel we are behind, which impacts our subconscious and wake us in our sleep, we feel tired in the morning; we then get less done, and so it continues.

My husband though, remembered my blog post from yesterday, and decided to calmly breathe deeply into his belly. After about fifteen minutes of deep long breaths lying on his back, he turned on his side and took a few more long deep breaths and then fell back to sleep. When he woke up this morning, he was quite surprised that he had managed to fall asleep quite easily by just focusing on his breath.

If I feel overwhelmed and need to rest, I also engage in deep long breaths like my husband did. Sometimes I take deep breaths into the nose, hold it for about 8-10 seconds and then breath out very slowly through the nose.

When I want to add one more dimension, I sit with a straight back and breathe in, touch my chin towards the chest, then I pull up the perineum and suck in my stomach, which expands the diaphragm and chest. I hold my breath for 8-10 seconds, then lift my chin back up calmly and breathe out very slowly. After repeating this 3-5 times, I notice a big shift in my sense of inner peace. The calmness I feel, prepares me for going into meditation, or makes me focused and concentrated on work.

Tomorrow I will be sharing the power of meditation.

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Breathe life!

Day 88In search for inner peace

Breath is life. We all know that. But how much knowledge do we have about the quality of our breathing and the impact it has on our sense of energy, inner peace and wellbeing?

In the past two days I have shared two techniques; the relaxation response and visualization, which help our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to counter stress. Today I will share the power of breathing and the way it impacts our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Our breath has numerous functions. For example to allow oxygen to energize our body and remove toxins as we breathe out carbon dioxide. If our breath is shallow, our lungs cannot do their job and as a result will lack oxygen and we do not eliminate sufficiently toxins and waste products from the body.

Most of us do not pay much attention to our breath – as it works on automatic. Even though our breath operates without us actively having to control it, we still have a huge opportunity to influence the quality of our breathing.

Our breath is regulated by our autonomic nervous system (ANS) – which has two main divisions, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) that regulates our fight-and-flight response, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) that operate to help our body to rest and digest.

A baby naturally breathes diaphragmatic, meaning into the belly. When we breathe correctly, our lungs inflate to the extent that the diaphragm expand and pushes down into our stomach. This has many positive functions, one of them is to stimulates the Vagus nerve, which runs inside our abdomen, and that contributes greatly to activate the PNS.

When we feel tense, afraid, anxious, angry or stressed, our breathing changes to meet the ‘perceived’ challenges of life. We often tighten our stomach muscles and allow for only thoracic breathing – meaning only in the chest. This shortened breath activates our SNS and prepares us to fight or flight. After years of living with an activated SNS, we loose our ability to relax, due to that we no longer naturally breathe diaphragmatically. Nervousness, anxiety, inner stress, worry, high blood pressure, digestive problems, cardiovascular disease, fatigue etc. caused by inadequate breathing.

We can heal our body and mind by returning back to breathing properly. First by becoming aware of how we breathe and then learn to control and deepen the breath when we need it. By learning some simple exercises, we can aid and support the PNS. There are various forms of yoga and meditation that focuses on breathing that can be very helpful in re-learning how to breathe properly.

I will later share with you some of the breathing exercises that I engage in and that has helped me to feel at peace.

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How do you re-charge?

Day 73In order to feel and be our best is important to stop in our tracks and re-charge regularly..

Many people try to re-charge artificially by drinking caffeine, alcohol or by eating sweets. But that only gives short-term energy. If we are tired, what our body and mind need is relaxation and an opportunity to re-charge from within.

There are numerous ways to re-charge; for example by writing a journal, spending time with friends, or by oneself, taking long showers or baths, lying on the sofa, sitting on a balcony or terrace reading in the sun, spending time overlooking the ocean, hiking in a forest or in the mountains, looking into the fire in a fire-place or a candle, dancing, singing, meditation, yoga, artwork, breath-work, etc. How we best nurture ourselves is unique for each one of us.

Personally, what nurtures and energises me the most is to carve out time and let go of my to-do -list and invest time alone. I quickly find inner peace when I journal and meditate, as well as when I spend time in nature. There is also something magical for me around a fire. I find it very calming to have candles around me and in sitting in front of a fireplace.

And when I give myself the luxurious gift of just being here and now without reflecting on the past or thinking about the future I ground myself and energise from within.

In the afternoon, if I am tired I meditate sitting for 20 minutes. If I am very tired, due to for example a poor night’s sleep, I lie down on a yoga mat and relax for 20 minutes. These 20 minutes of relaxation gives me quickly a large amount of energy, and enough to make me feel energised, positive and alive for the rest of the evening.

Take time to re-charge. It’ll light your inner energy and fire!