Each morning after we wake up in bed, we have the power to impact our experience of the day ahead. Sometimes I forget that. To remind myself and anyone else out there who’s listening, I’ve put together a list. Here are 5 things you can to before jumping into a busy day that have positive impact. And for the record, these simple practices can be done throughout the day as a way to recalibrate.
1) Instead of jumping out of bed as the alarm goes off or the mind clicks on, lie still and experience the inner silence. Can you catch a dream? Maybe yes, maybe no, but either way, soak up the sense of warmth, peace, stillness, comfort, and silence. Notice how soft the breath is and how quiet the heartbeat is. Take this moment to just be. If dream material is flooding in, move on to your dream journal or voice memo next.
2) Take three slow, conscious breaths. Become aware of the moment. By practicing conscious breathing each morning, we are more likely to return to it throughout the day. By engaging in abdominal breathing with awareness we practice self-regulation. Self-regulated individuals find it easier to make intentional decisions and actions.
3) Smile. Just smile. No reason needed. Years ago, when I was in the middle of completing my PhD program, one of my instructors told us how he would remember to smile as be began or concluded his daily Tai Chi routine. That’s because the facial micro-muscles activated when smiling ignite positive feelings. So go ahead, smile for no reason at all – you just might find yourself feeling happier.
4) Express gratitude in any way that feels right for you. This can be done either verbally, or in writing (in a fancy journal or on an old napkin makes no difference). State aloud or write down a half-dozen things you are grateful for in this life. It’s ok to exclaim what you are grateful for to your pet, a vase of flowers, or even the sun. No one needs to hear you but the universe. If you chose to write out a gratitude list, you can read it to all of the above if you wish. Grateful expression can be considered an act of prayer.
5) Recognize that today is a new day – a chance to bring about a fresh intention. With each new day, we get to start over. What do you want to do differently today? Is there a specific self-care practice that you’ve been wanting to try? Is there someone you need to forgive? If the ego-mind is already rattling off distorted views and engaging in maladaptive thinking, tell it to STOP, then insert an affirmative, adaptive thought in its place. If any of the above steps could use repeating, give yourself permission to do so.
These 5 practices, when done with consistency, can bring about positive change, elevating kindness and compassion for ourselves and others. If you would like to dedicate more time to learning and practicing self-care, from a holistic stance, contact me. Or you may join my course, Self-care 360, today. It is an ongoing subscription course. Read more about it by clicking here.
Can you believe it? Fall is just around the corner! I have to be honest with you, I worry that a Fall AND Winter season during this pandemic (with the accompanying power outages and California wildfires) will just be too much. How are you preparing? Are you even preparing?
One way I am preparing to shelter in place in the rain, snow and freezing cold (possibly without electricity) is by spending the month of September to order the books I want to read during those days and nights in isolation. Of course, I’ll be sure to have other necessities (extra candles, warm blankets, dozens of batteries for my battery operated lamps, and bottles of water). Let’s get back to what is important for a full inner life – that is, BOOKS. Wonderful, amazing books! Yes, I am a reader and a true lover of books – not ebooks, but REAL BOOKS – The kind you need paper clips, highlighters, and handmade book markers for. So here, in this article, I want to share with you my top 10 nonfiction recommendations. You’ll find the list below, in no particular order, as they are all equally important to me:
1) Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit through Nature, Art, and Ritual by Day Schildkret
For those days when the sky is clear and you feel drawn to go outside, consider creating a natural, earthy altar. By doing so, you practice the art of nonattachment, of letting go. This is important during these unprecedented times when we cannot make our usual predictions about tomorrow. Will a wildfire erupt in our neighborhood? Will a family member contract the coronavirus? Will power outages last several days? In this book, Schildkret walks us through the steps toward creating a beautiful natural piece of art. No glue needed! We use what we find in nature and when the creative process is complete, we give it back to the earth, allowing the winds and rain to take care of it. This is a lovely practice for all ages as well as for the entire family. If you find that constructing these kinds of altars are helpful in your life, for cultivating peace, beauty and nonattachment, why not make them a regular practice?
2) Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep by Kamini Desai, PhD
This books covers all you need to know for the deeply relaxing, transformative sleep-based meditation known as yoga nidra. This form of guided meditation is a foundational part of my life. Dr. Desai even has a yoga nidra app which includes 4 recorded meditations for a great price. I have it on my smartphone and use it weekly – once a week at the bare minimum. I have found this practice to be very nurturing and an anxiety reducer.
3) Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss
While this book was released many years ago, it is still and always will be one of my favorites. Moss has written a dozen books on dreaming, but this is the best in my opinion. He covers just about everything related to dreaming with awareness, including working with your dream guides. This is an inspiring book and one I recommend on very bookshelf. I have a lot more to say about this wonderful book, so click on this link – it brings you to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43JtsnOeO50
4) Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming: A Comprehensive Guide to Promote Creativity, Overcome Sleep Disturbances & Enhance Health and Wellness by Clare R. Johnson, PhD
Lucid dreaming is a hot topic these days and there are several solid publications on the subject. Dr. Johnson’s book is the most comprehensive I have ever come across. As a psychologist with expertise in dreaming, I can say with certainty that this amazing guide will take beginning lucid dreamers to advanced lucid dreamers on a fun and intriguing adventure! Daylight hours are shortening with the approaching Fall season and these unprecedented times have allowed many people to sleep (and dream) more that before. I claim that this is the right time to train yourself to lucid dream, and this is the book to show you how. You won’t be disappointed!
5) Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein
The world is shifting all around us on so many levels. It’s time to wake up. We can no longer sleepwalk – it’s hurting the planet and hurting the children. While stuck indoors this fall and winter due to rain, snow, and the pandemic, why not dedicate 10-30 minutes a day learning to meditate? This can be done with a spouse, friend, or your bored teenagers. While there are much simpler books that teach mindfulness, this book is a classic. It is detailed and rooted in Buddhist teachings so that the reader comes away with an education in the history and philosophy of the origins.
6) Dreams That Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases by Larry Burk, MD, CEHP and Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos
Here, a three time breast cancer survivor and a radiologist team up to deliver a book like never before. Since people are reporting higher dream recall this year, it is wise to track our dreams in search of what they may be telling us. Our bodies know things before our conscious, intellectual mind does – these messages can come through in the dream. Read this book and you’ll see for yourself. My video comments on this book can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXETJELQUgw&t=82s
7) Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep by Andrew Holecek
I can’t say enough about this amazing book. While Holecek teaches us that lucid dreaming can promote self-improvement, he takes a deep dive into how waking up in our dreams can lead to self-transcendence – a spiritual dream practice known as dream yoga. Eastern and Western lucid dream induction techniques are covered here so the reader walks away with plenty of opportunities to immediately delve into this life-changing art journey. This book is a gem, requiring a highlighter in my opinion – That speaks to the level of profound insights captured within these pages. Here’s where I say a little more about Holececk’s work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW9ymibgmUo
8) Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming by Andrew Holecek
A few years after Dream Yoga was released, Holecek delivers Dreams of Light: a perfect pairing for those on a conscious path to awakening to the true nature of reality. This book, like Holocek’s Dream Yoga, is also rooted in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. A main difference is that this book focuses on the daytime practices more so than the nocturnal practices. Dream Yoga and Dreams of Light marry well together. By absorbing the information contained within these pages and actually doing the practices in a serious way, life as we know it changes in ways beyond what we imagine.
9) Radical Hope: 10 Healing Factors from Exceptional Survivors of Cancer and Other Diseases by Kelly A. Turner, PhD with Tracy White.
Dr. Turner’s previous book, Radical Remission, was fabulous and this new book on healing is just as wonderful. As the subtitle reflects, there are 10 things we can do to support our health and healing. This is one of those books that you gift to family members – it’s that necessary. I’d like to tell you about a favorite chapter, but truth is, I found all 10 chapters to be equally valuable. This books flows beautifully and I’d bet that you could read it cover to cover in under two weeks. Find my earlier blog on miraculous remissions here: https://consciouschimera.com/2020/06/15/in-remission-radical-style/
10) Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun
You don’t have to have Italian ancestry to enjoy this book. The beauty of this book is that it serves as a reminder to all people and all groups that there are stories, rituals and beliefs that are carried deep within us to connect us to our past. Now if you have ‘lost’ Italian roots, allow this fun read to reacquaint you with your history. After reading Italian Folk Magic, I was inspired to continue asking questions about my family history and request the retelling of old stories. I gather that this book truly comes from the heart.
So that’s my top 10 – obviously, I recommend them all. Clearly my prized book collection features many publications on ‘the inner work.’ That’s what I love and that’s what Conscious Chimera is all about. What would you add to this list of Fall/Winter nonfiction recommendations for 2020? Let me know. I’m always looking for a good read!