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Maintaining 2021 Intentions

Shifting your mindset around New Years Intentions- How to create and maintain your 2021 intentions.

I’m not talking New Year’s Resolutions friends, I’m talking Intentions. Resolutions are typically very specific and have a timeline- like losing ten pounds in three months. An intention is broader-like increased physical self-care. That self-care may include more exercise and weight loss, but it’s a mindset shift, not just a simply goal that is so often associated with failure if we don’t “achieve” what we set out to do in a certain time frame. So, how do we stay committed or re-commit (if we’ve fallen off the proverbial wagon) to our 2021 intentions?

First, take yourself back to the basics-meaning choose the beginner’s path. The beginner’s path is hallmarked by simplicity. Taking self-care as an example, identify just one area of self-care you are struggling with- going to bed on-time, committing to a regular exercise routine etc. What is one thing you can do or change to bring yourself more in line with your intention? For instance, I love yoga (duh), but I really dislike gym workouts, which I need to maintain my intention of broadening my physical health this year. I especially struggle with classes that take more than 30 minutes. I find myself checking my watch every few minutes and getting bored. But, I am motivated by the social aspect of taking classes with others, especially my friends, because it’s more fun for me that way and we can keep one another accountable. As part of my self-care journey for 2021, I took the actionable steps to find a gym that had short workouts and invited a few friends to join me. I’m pleased to say it’s working and I’ve been enjoying mercifully short and effective 35-minute gym classes with some of my good buds.

Second, let go of comparison! Easily said, difficult to do. Let me assure you, no one is paying more attention to you, than you. No one cares if you can run a 7-minute mile or do a crazy arm balance. No one cares if you intermittent-fasted for 16 hours or ate a bowl of ice cream at 11pm. It may sound harsh to hear that no one cares, but it’s meant to liberate you from the perceived judgement and associated validation from others. No one is good at everything when they begin, so cut yourself some slack and remind your inner critic that this is a journey of small steps to improve your wellbeing, not to improve the opinion of others about your wellbeing. The freedom you’ll feel from escaping the comparison cage in favor of cultivating your own self-worth is a gift that affects so many aspects of your life in a positive way.

Third, remember that rebirth is a constant process. The “I’ll wait til Monday, next week, next month, etc etc” approach, or the “I’ve already messed up today by not staying on track so I’ll simply forget about my intentions” approach is a defeatist mindset. And many times, life throws us curveballs that affect our schedule and make us feel we can’t commit. Who made the rule that when a wrench is thrown into our lives, whether self-induced or not, we can’t stay on track? Well friend, you made that rule. And because you make the rules, you can make new rules. You have the power to choose rebirth; to reset, and refocus whenever you wish. How freeing is that?

Last, I’ll leave you with the reminder that the key is not to succumb to the overwhelming-ness of it all. Intentions and mindful living are not an all-or-nothing thing, they are small lifestyle patterns that build, ebb and flow.

Peace, Jill

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Starting a Meditation Practice in 3 Simple Steps

How to start meditating in 3 simple steps.

Meditation has gained so much popularity in the mainstream western world-we hear about it being used not only in yoga studios and alternative health centers, but also in corporate settings and in schools to reduce stress and anxiety. Simply Google “Benefits of Meditation” and thousands of results pop up, like this one from Healthline, if you’re curious. But how to get started yourself is intimidating and it’s one of the top things my students tell me they wish they knew how to do.

When you think of meditation, you might think of someone sitting in padmasana with their hands in jnana mudra. If you’re asking yourself- what is padmasana and jnana mudra?! Don’t worry, you don’t need to know to start meditating. It’s important to let go of your preconceived notions of what meditation should look like and open your mind to simply finding what works for you.

Think about how you start something new- if you want to start working out, you might sign up for classes at a local gym. If you want to learn how to play piano, you might download a teaching app or hire a local instructor to help you. Meditation is no different. It’s one of the reasons I love Insight Timer. It is your own personal introduction-to-meditation teacher. This guided meditation app takes out the guesswork, allowing you to listen and look inward with the speaker as your navigator. There are other apps for this too, like Calm, but I like to reference Insight because it’s the one I use.

  1. Prioritize it. Set aside time each day for this self-care and don’t waiver. You might think you don’t have time, but everyone has five uninterrupted minutes. Found time can be in your parked car somewhere before you go in or after you come out. It can be the five minutes before you go to sleep or when you wake up.
  2. Go with the flow. Don’t waste your time scrolling through hundreds of options with analysis paralysis. Choose one that looks appropriate for your mood and the time you have allotted and go with it. In time, you’ll discover which teachers you connect with and can favorite them. Here’s one of my favorite teachers, Tara Brach with a short 6-minute meditation on seeing the goodness in others.
  3. Let go of expectation. Meditating is a practice and it’s something that doesn’t come easily for many people. Your brain is designed to think- so thoughts will arise and you’ll find yourself drifting away at times. That’s normal. Acknowledge the thought and bring your attention back to the meditation. It will get easier. Eventually you may give up guided meditation in favor of simply meditating on your own…but that’s another blog post.

Happy Meditating friends! Peace- Jill

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Better Mornings Start at Night

How did you wake up this morning? Tired, hung over, refreshed, excited? Setting the tone for your day begins when you open your eyes. Which means, the way you close them the night before makes a difference.

This is more than a post about setting up your morning for success. It’s about setting up your night!

These are my five top tips.

  1. Register for your fitness or yoga class the night before. Setting the expectation that you will attend class helps you to stay in the appropriate mindset for actually making that class and not getting side-tracked. With many gyms and studios charging for no shows due to limited capacity, the ante has been upped even more to stay focused on your commitment to show up.
  2. Make a list. What’s on your priority list for the next day? Minimize the opportunity to become overwhelmed by listing what you want to accomplish. I like using the Calendar App on my smart phone to easily organize to-do’s for work and home.
  3. Clean Up. Don’t feel like doing the dishes or straightening the living room? Do it anyway. Waking up to a tidy house helps ensure you won’t be distracted by a full sink or a huge pile of laundry.
  4. Prep your meals & clothes. As a busy working mom, I hate to meal plan at the last minute because it often means less than healthy options. If you have a busy day, set up a crock pot meal or utilize grocery pick up so you’re not scrambling to feed yourself and your family. Pick your clothing the night before. Nothing is worse than wasting your precious morning time on indecision over your outfit!
  5. Listen to a guided meditation. Trouble falling asleep? Turn off the TV and harmful blue light in favor of a guided meditation. I use Insight Timer, a free smartphone app. There are meditations for almost every mood. I like to choose the Sleep Category and listen soothing meditations and bed time tales. If I happen to wake in the middle of the night, I’ll turn it on and be back asleep in no time.

Stay tuned for more blog posts that expand on this post, plus much more on mindful living. Good night friends. I hope this helps you feel more productive and clear in 2021. Peace- Jill Romano

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