A Mother’s Day Meditation

Close your eyes and take a deep breath in.
As you exhale, imagine any stress or discomfort leaving your body.
Do this for 3 more breaths, allowing each one to get a little deeper.

Now focus your attention on your heart.
Think of someone who has been a mother to you – either your actual Mom or another person in your life who has cared for you, loved you, and guided you to the person you are now.

Feel the love this person has given you.
Allow that love to travel throughout your body, filling you up until you are overflowing with it.

Now take a moment to send this person silent blessings.
Thank this person for sharing her love with you.
Imagine this person overflowing with joy because of you.

Notice the circle of love created by this exchange of giving and receiving.

Extend this love to all the mother’s and children of the world.

Know that this flow of love is a universal life force that exists within each of us and that you are never too old to need this love. From the day you were born you required this love to survive. Tapping into this nurturing energy can remind you that you are loved unconditionally, each and every day.

Take a few deep breaths and slowly open your eyes.

No matter how you plan to spend this mother’s day – with or without family – without or without your Mom – take a few minutes to practice this meditation and bring unconditional love into your life.

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A Mother’s Day Meditation http://tinyurl.com/lowprtg @Gratitude2Bliss

Did you know Paul McCartney wrote Let It Be about his Mom who died of cancer when he was fourteen? Years later she appeared to him in a dream and was the inspiration for this song.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Wishing you a mother’s day filled with unconditional love.

If you liked this meditation, please share your comments below or on my Facebook page!

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Hold On To What is Good

Hold On To What is Good: Gratitude and Spirituality

(part four of a five part series on gratitude and nutrition)

Today we circle back to our conversation on Primary Foods, with our focus on spirituality. (For more on primary foods, check out The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding).

Research shows that having some form of spirituality is key to leading a healthy, happy life. But don’t worry, even if you’re not religious you can still bring spirituality into your life. Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to do this!

This past weekend I had the incredible pleasure of giving a reading at my cousin Tina’s Catholic wedding ceremony. The New Testament reading she and her now husband, Marc, chose was from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (Romans 12:1-2, 9-18).

While I won’t include the entire passage here, I will highlight a few sections that stood out for me:

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Let love be sincere, hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.

There it is, right in the New Testament: “hold on to what is good.”

When we practice gratitude, we are doing just that: holding on to what is good. Focusing our mind on “what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

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My gratitude practice helps me hold on to what is good. @Gratitude2Bliss http://tinyurl.com/px7m4kx

While many, if not all religions emphasize gratitude as paramount to being ‘holy’ or “whole,” we do not need to be religious to be grateful. But being grateful keeps us connected to ourselves, to our spirit. It reminds us what we hold dear, what we consider holy and what makes us feel whole in body, mind and spirit.

Practicing gratitude on a daily or weekly basis helps us keep what is good on our radar so that we may stay in a positive light and shine our light onto others and to the world.

What I love about my gratitude practice is that it allows me to stay connected to what is important to me. What “good” means to me.

gratitude042215_blogLast week my son and I joined my husband at a business conference which was held at a five-star resort. While I enjoyed sitting by the pool and having a break from cooking, there were a few simple things I missed: organic food, green juice, cacao smoothies, and filtered water.

You see, these are things I hold dear. Things I write about in my gratitude journal. Things that contribute to my bliss.

If it was up to me, I would have much preferred to vacation at a yoga retreat than a 5-star resort. But this trip was important to my husband and to his business and I was happy to support him and to take pleasure in “what is good” — being together, new experiences, and building personal relationships with his colleagues.

So what is your “good”? What are the things you write about in your gratitude journal?

Please share your “good” in the comments below or on my Facebook page!

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The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding

The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding

(Part one of a five-part series on gratitude and nutrition)

This week marks the first ever Health Coach Week and I am so excited to celebrate! Becoming a health coach has been the most incredible journey and continues to bring me joy and fulfillment. (Learn more about my experience here.)

The most powerful thing I learned from my health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the concept of primary foods.

Joshua Rosenthal, the school’s founder and director, developed the idea that nutrition comes from all areas of life, not just what we eat. In fact, food is secondary to our relationships, career, physical activity and spirituality. These four areas are what he calls “primary foods” and they have a greater power to nourish our health and happiness than what we eat.

Having an understanding of this concept is vital to creating the health and happiness we all seek. The idea of primary foods and secondary foods is a simple system that needs to be in balance. When one area of your life is out of balance, it most likely throws off something else. Having an awareness of this helps you pinpoint where you want to focus when things feel “off.”

For example, this past year I was struggling with sleep. As every parent knows, having an infant means giving up sleep. Since I am someone who thrives on 8-9 hours of solid sleep a night, getting by with less took its toll on me. As a result, I did not exercise, my excuse being that I was too tired. I also had a bad habit of prioritizing work over taking care of myself. I used my son’s nap times and his time with our babysitter to work on my business rather than exercising or sleeping. I found myself exhausted, cranky and frustrated, and craving comfort food. Little by little I gained weight. After a while my clothes didn’t fit the way they used to. Bottom line, I felt yucky.

Having an awareness that my primary foods were out of balance and that I needed to focus more on myself helped me regroup pretty quickly. Rather than going on a diet, which would have only made matters worse since I was already feeling deprived, I indulged myself in more naps and more “me” time, and began viewing exercise as a treat rather than a chore.

In no time at all I was back on track feeling great again. I attribute being able to make this major lifestyle shift almost effortlessly to my gratitude practice. As soon as I started feeling off, I cracked open a fresh copy of the Gratitude to Bliss journal where I listed my intentions and described how I envision my bliss to be.

“In my bliss, I am well rested and feel amazing in my body. My clothes fit well and feel luxurious. My energy is high and my mood is great.”

Every night before bed I write in my journal, appreciating myself, my time, my family and whatever else I am thankful for. This keeps me focused on the important things and filters into my day so that I am better able to make decisions – like prioritizing exercise – that benefit both me and my family, even when I’m tired.

I now make sure to get a workout in before anything else. This allows me to sleep better even though I sometimes only get 5-6 hours a night. Regular exercise also keeps my metabolism up, my weight in check, my cravings down and my mood positive. Overall, I have more energy and my day flows more smoothly. I feel great because every area of my life is being nourished.

As a health coach, I believe a daily gratitude practice provides the soil in which you can plant your deepest desires. It is the solid foundation you need for making lasting changes that bring you closer to living the life you dream for yourself.

When gratitude is at the forefront of your mind as a result of your daily practice, it’s easier to see that feeling rested is more important to you than crossing things off your to-do list, or that having lunch with a friend is more nourishing than eating an organic salad at your desk while you work.

Everyday life has gotten so focused on “doing” that so many of us, myself included, often lose sight of the simple joy in just “being.” This lack of joy can really throw things off and cause your whole life to get out of balance. It can leave you feeling undernourished and running for a hot fudge sundae when all you may really be needing is a hug, or a nap, or a bike ride.

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A daily gratitude practice provides the soil in which you can plant your deepest desires. @Gratitude2Bliss

In the follow-up to this five-part series on gratitude and nutrition, I plan to delve deeper into each primary food and how keeping an active gratitude practice can help you stay in balance!

For now, think about your own primary foods. Which of your relationships are nourishing you and which are draining you? Are you getting enough physical activity? Enough sleep? Are you feeling fulfilled in your work? Do you feel connected to something, a higher power perhaps, or simply to your true self? Please share in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Gratefully yours,

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The Gratitude Smoothie

The Gratitude Smoothie

I don’t know what it is about spring, but every year I feel completely transformed and alive with energy.

I love this time of year and I love living in New York, a place where if you’re paying attention, tiny miracles abound – the sweet tweets of birds reappearing after a long, icy winter, tiny new leaves sprouting up through dead grass and dirt, bright purple crocuses sprinkling the landscape with color, and sun-shiny mornings that flow into warm, inviting afternoons.

This past weekend my family and I attended a Passover Seder on Saturday and an Easter breakfast on Sunday. What I love about these spring holidays is how they both celebrate hope, freedom, and renewal.

Perhaps that is why I feel so good this time of year. For me, spring is a time to get outside and be free! It is a time to let go of layers (gloves, hats, scarves be gone!), to shed excess weight (hello exercise!), and to bring in yummy delicious foods that energize me and put a spring in my step.

To help YOU celebrate spring, I give you the Gratitude Smoothie Recipe…

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1/2 avocado – rich in good fats to fuel your brain and keep you satisfied
1/2 banana – high in potassium and fiber
5 fresh or frozen organic strawberries – rich in antioxidants, help reduce sugar cravings
1 handful organic spinach – rich in B vitamins and folate
1 sprig of parsley – has a cleansing effect and is a symbol of fertility
1/2 tbs cacao powder – rich in magnesium and antioxidants and a natural mood booster
1 cup water – energizing
1 cup ice – invigorating
1 sprinkle Vitamin G – rich in serotonin and a natural stress-reducer

Blend and serve!

The gratitude smoothie can help you start your day remembering that:

  1. You are free to love your body.
  2. You are free to nourish yourself with whole, energizing foods.
  3. You are free to live without symptoms, cravings, worry, or fear.
  4. You are free to choose positive thoughts and to surround yourself with positive people.

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I am free to choose positive thoughts
and to surround myself with positive people. @Gratitude2Bliss

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So now I’d like to hear from you! Please share in the comments below, or on my Facebook page, what you love about spring!

 

The Gratitude-Exercise-Sleep Connection!

The Gratitude-Exercise-Sleep Connection!

(part three of a five part series on gratitude and nutrition)

This week’s post brings us back to our conversation on Primary Foods, with our focus on physical activity! (For more on primary foods, check out The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding).

Physical activity is one of the primary foods your body must have to stay in balance.

According to a study done by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, two of the leading researchers in positive psychology, people who kept a weekly gratitude journal over a nine week period reported spending 19% more time exercising than those who didn’t keep gratitude journals.

To understand why this happens, let’s take a look at one of the many physiological effects practicing gratitude has on the body:

Engaging in thoughts of gratitude has been proven to boost levels of serotonin in the body.

Low levels of serotonin can cause loneliness and depression and can also trigger carbohydrate and sugar cravings, causing a viscous cycle of ups and downs.

When you boost serotonin naturally through your gratitude practice, however, you are effectively giving yourself the energy you need to get out and exercise. I don’t know about you but I find it much easier to exercise when my mood and energy are up.)

When you exercise, your body produces even more serotonin, as well as endorphins which lift your mood even more (think “runner’s high.”)

Along with physical activity, our bodies also need adequate sleep. What many people don’t realize is that when you sleep, your body is actually working to remove toxins and balance hormones. So when you deny your body sleep, your hormones can quickly get out of balance causing you to crave sugar and other comfort foods in lieu of exercise.

Researchers at the National Institute of Health discovered that feelings of gratitude activate the hypothalamus which is responsible for many essential bodily functions including sleep. The hypothalamus has a huge affect on metabolism, stress and eating.

Another crucial aspect of practicing gratitude – something I know to be true from my own experience– is that when I’m focused on what I’m grateful for, including my body, I find it easy to reward myself with a good night’s sleep, prioritizing my health and happiness over work or other distractions. I’m also more likely to see exercise as something I “get to” do rather than something I “should” do, and I choose activities I enjoy the most, like yoga or going for a brisk walk along the water.

So it’s easy to see how a simple 5 minute daily gratitude practice can lead to more exercise and better sleep, more energy and a better mood, and ultimately greater health and happiness for yourself!

5 minutes of gratitude improves exercise, sleep and mood!

 

Tweet now:

5 minutes of daily gratitude improves exercise, sleep and mood! @Gratitude2Bliss

For more info on how to get started with your gratitude practice, click here: Getting Started with Gratitude!

 

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So now I’d like to hear from you! Please share in the comments below, or on my Facebook page, how gratitude helps you exercise more or sleep better.