meditation

Rock 'n Roll Romance, Self-Healing, & Feeling Less Alone: What I Read in April.

I’ve been a bookworm since I was little and I’m a self-professed self-help junkie. I’ve always got a few books on the go and I’m usually working on implementing the techniques and strategies I’ve learned. I thought it would be fun to share a peek at my bookshelf by reviewing the books I read each month. April’s books were particularly powerful and a couple of them represent complete game changers for me.

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron

Discovering Elaine Aron’s work has had such a profound impact in making me feel less alone and less crazy. She’s a psychologist whose pioneering research shows that 80% of the population (in humans, but also in animals) have a psychological trait called “high sensitivity.” This sensitivity shows up in a myriad of ways: sensitivity to emotions, crowds, lights, scents, textures, tastes, and so one. Our trait means that we can become “overaroused” (or overwhelmed) more easily than most people, which often leads to us being perceived as (and feeling) weak. But what Elaine outlines in her book is that this trait is not a weakness. Like all traits it has its benefits and drawbacks but being sensitive can be a huge advantage. Many of the world’s great thought leaders, artists, and spiritual teachers are highly sensitive. What this book taught me was not how to “cope” but how to thrive. How to best take care of myself and make decisions given my trait. If you think you might be highly sensitive, taking this test is a great place to start and if you are, reading this book would be a wonderful gift to yourself.

 

Body Calm: The Powerful Meditation Technique That Helps Your Body Heal & Stay Healthy by Sandy Newbigging

I saw Sandy speak at Hay House Ignite in March and was instantly drawn to his work. As I've written about before, I've been struggling with my health this year and going through something of a healing crisis. Sandy has developed a meditation technique called CALM (which stands for Conscious Awareness Life Meditation). It's really incredible, and different than other meditation styles I've tried, as it allows you to access present moment awareness instantly rather than grappling with your monkey mind for ages before managing one moment of inner peace. Through the book Sandy outlines powerful ways to tap into your body's own self-healing capacity. He also busts a lot of myths about meditation and illness and created a profound shift for me by demonstrating that forgiveness and healing from past events doesn't have to be a long, gruelling process like I always thought. The techniques he shares for healing an unforgiven past are incredibly powerful and effective. For anyone who is interested in looking at healing in a new way, starting a meditation practice, or deepening an existing practice, I highly recommend reading Sandy's books (and you can sign up for a free month in his Calm Clan to get access to his guided meditations).

#HIGHERSELFIE: Wake Up Your Life. Free Your Soul. Find Your Tribe. by Lucy Sheridan & Jo Westwood

What can I tell you? I love these babes and their book did not disappoint! It's just as sassy, hilarious, and profound as they are. Lucy & Jo are the founders of #HIGHERSELFIE, a spiritual lifestyle brand and the only spirituality un-conference in the world. Their book is a millenial's guide to waking up spiritually and navigating a spiritual life in this strange, digital age we live in. They've translated age-old spiritual lessons into a modern, pop culture laden vernacular and peppered its pages with real-life anecdotes from their own lives. Struggling to focus on your own path when everyone else's highlight reel is being shoved in your face via social media? Not sure how to stay positive while clocking into the 9-5 job you've outgrown? Feel like the only "woo" in the village and that everyone around you is judging your crystal habit? Lucy & Jo have you got you covered.

 

Just Kids by Patti Smith

This one isn't self-help; at least it wasn't written that way. Somewhat strangely, this book came up as one I should read during a reiki (energy healing) session I had with Alli Woods Frederick a couple of months ago. I didn't understand why but I'm serious about honouring the wisdom of my body, plus I love Patti Smith, so I went with it. This is a memoir of Patti's coming-of-age as a musician and poet in the 1960s and 70s, while she was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Janis Joplin and being mentored by Allen Ginsburg (NBD). It's also an incredible, but unconventional, love story. For me, this book what full of secret soul messages about committing to my craft, living a full life, and showing up for love but anyone with a big dream or an interest in music or literature should give this book a read.

 

Coincidentally, just as I'm starting this column, I've made a commitment to myself to set the self-help books aside for 30 days as I embark on a month-long journey with Qoya and reuniting with my body's wisdom. I found that my mind had become an overwhelming melting pot of personal development advice and spiritual jargon and I that my own internal guidance was getting lost in the mix. My intention is just to slow things down, tune in, and listen.

I'm also looking forward to this as a chance to read more fiction and do research on a topic that has peaked my interest as of late, so I'll still be sure to share with you what I decide to read in May.

And I'd love to know: what are you reading this days? What books have had the most profound impact on your personal journey?

The Punk Rock Personal Development podcast is now on iTunes!

The Punk Rock Personal Development podcast is FINALLY on iTunes!

Yes, I hit some technical snafus (who knew my propensity for cussing could get me into so much trouble or that an ampersand could be coded incorrectly?!), so this message is coming to you a month later than I'd hoped but:

It's here! It's here! It's here!

I am over the moon to be bringing this project to you because I'm having SO MUCH FUN creating it and I think it's sorely needed.

Sometimes I get frustrated that so much self-help material contains little more than platitudes and new age jargon. Punk Rock Personal Development is about having real conversations about the practical tools, mindsets, and habits people are using to embrace self-love, go after their dreams, and live life on purpose. I want to talk about their struggles and their triumphs. Their inspiring stories and practical advice. The real nitty gritty ways that they've consciously created their lives.

I talked to Francesca Lia Block about magic, staying inspired, and the catharsis of writing.

Veronica Varlow and I chatted about personal transformations, the power of daydreaming, and creating a magical life.

Mariah Coz gave me the low down on gaining focus, making a living from your passions, and getting more done.

Laura Jane Williams and I waxed philosophical about finding yourself through writing, the art of becoming, & cultivating self-acceptance.

Louise Androlia generously offered all of her best advice for learning to surrender, loving yourself with chronic illness, & tapping into your intuition.

I asked ReeRee Rockette about being your best self, making healthier choices, & leaping into entrepreneurship.

Jayne Goldheart and I drank wine while chatting about dancing through chance, living a nomadic life, & being true to yourself.

Lisa Lister laid down some real talk about loving your body, unleashing your superpowers, & exploring your lady landscape.

Each of these conversations lifted me up, helped me look at things in new ways, and offered me practical tools I could start implementing right away. I hope they'll have as profound an impact on you as they've had on me. And I'll be sharing a new one with you each and every Friday.

Now that the podcast is out there, I need your help!

The first 8 weeks of a podcast are critical. The number of downloads and reviews I get determine whether I'll be featured on the iTunes new & noteworthy list, which can lead a lot of new people to find a show & allowing me to really create the impact I want to have.

Here are a few simple ways you can help:

  • Subscribe on iTunes.
  • Download all of the existing episodes (even if you've already listened to them - you can just mark them as played afterwards).
  • Leave a rating and review. Search for the podcast on the iTunes store and then tap the "Reviews" tab. Then just select a star rating, write a few words, and tap "Send." This can be as simple as "Great work, Sarah!" or "I'm loving this show!" or let me know who you'd like to hear interviewed next. Don't worry, I'm not asking you to write a novel.
  • Tell anyone you think would enjoy it about the show
  • Tweet about the podcast or share the link on (you could direct them to the show on iTunes)

Anyway that you can get the word out will be immensely helpful. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. It means the world to me!

Sending you lovebeams across cyberspace.

And don't forget: you can still register for my free webinar + Q&A with Ebonie Allard, which is taking place tomorrow at 7pm GMT. Even if you can't attend live, you will be able to watch the replay if you've registered and there will be some pretty sweet bonuses just for signing up!

You might also love:

13 Badass Ways to Live More Mindfully, Even if Meditation Isn't for You.

I've written a quick and dirty guide to meditation before and I'm working on a new resource for anyone who wants to learn to meditate. But I know there are other people who have given it a try and it's just not their jam. I heard from one Romance Yourself student that she love, love, loved the course but she just couldn't get into the daily meditation practice.

Until you've settled into a meditation practice for 40 days or so, it's difficult to say that it's definitively not for you. It can take a while to begin quieting our monkey minds and it's easy to get frustrated that we're not "doing it right" (spoiler: you can't "do" meditation wrong).

But Rhi had given meditation her best shot and it just wasn't jiving for her. She was looking for other ways to incorporate mindfulness into her life.

When we live more mindfully it becomes easier to accept things exactly as they are, tap into our intuition, and align ourselves with where we want to go. We begin to quiet our minds, reduce our stress, and gain clarity.

This is for you, Rhi! I've rounded up amazing ideas from some of my favourite people to bring you: 13 badass ways to live more mindfully, without sitting on a meditation cushion.

Plus I wanted to share the ways that I try to live mindfully outside of my meditation practice. I've created a PDF of 30 of my favourite ideas. You can download them at the bottom of this post. They're all tried & tested by me and will allow you to begin living more mindfully today without beginning a meditation practice.

Go for a walk & see the world anew.

Gala Darling presents us with the question: what if a simple walk can change our reality?

And it definitely can. In this article she outlines how walking can be not only a meditation, but a process for infusing our day with magic. By simply challenging ourselves to look at everything as if we're seeing it for the first time and as if it was created just for us, we become completely tuned into the present moment and enchanted with the beauty that's all around us.

I did this recently on my home from work and was delighted to see carved faces above the doors of every house on a street I walk down every day. I'm usually busy listening to a podcast and thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner, so I'd never noticed them before!

I highly recommend reading Gala's description of the exercise and giving it a try today. It's so simple, you can even practice it on your way home from the bus stop!

Chew slowly and eat mindfully

Did you know that for proper digestion we're meant to chew every bite of food 20 times?

I don't know about you but I'm more likely to plow through my meals before moving onto the next thing, which means I'm never getting the full nutritional benefits of what I eat.

But the benefits of eating mindfully aren't only health-related. Slowing down and really focusing on what we're eating allows us to savour each bite, turn mealtimes into a ritual, and really enjoy our food. We end up being satisfied with less because we've taken time to notice and appreciate what we're eating, and because our stomach has time to register that we're full.

I was particularly inspired by this article on Zen Habits that walks through the steps of mindful eating. It's a really comprehensive overview of the "how" and "why" and is definitely worth a read!

Related: I wrote a post about how your diet can be an act of self-love, which you might find interesting.

Ask what lights you up.

We all want to live with more passion and purpose, but how do we actually do that?

Most of the time we're busy with obligations and routines so we don't time to stop and actually notice what it is that we actually want. And the answer might surprise us.

Rebecca Campbell has an incredibly simple tool for getting on the path that's aligned with your heart's desires: simply ask yourself "What lights me up?" and then listen.

But before you give it a try, listen to her video where she shares a story of how she did just this. The answer she got didn't seem to make any sense but when she followed the advice she received it help her transform her life and led to her publishing the book she'd always dreamed of writing.

Loosen the grip of your ego.

Okay, okay, this one IS done on your meditation cushion, or your yoga mat if you prefer. It's a kundalini yoga practice so it's a much more active form of meditation that combines breath work with yoga postures. But I swear, using breath of fire is SO powerful for clearing your mind and creating intense breakthroughs when you're feeling stuck.

Gabrielle Bernstein has a video that will walk you through the ego eradicator - and it only takes 3 minutes, so don't worry about getting bored.

Something about the combination of rapid breathing with the yoga posture really forces your mind off of whatever it's been dwelling on.

Whenever I do it, I feel like there just isn't any room left in my brain for other thoughts. It's like there's this wonderful swooshing sensation clearing my mind like a reset button and afterwards everything feels clearer and calmer.

 

READY TO ZEN THE SHIT OUT OF YOUR LIFE?

Click below to download my list of 30 tried & tested ways to live more mindfully (WITHOUT meditating).

Become an idea machine

James Altucher starts each day by writing down 10 ideas. They might be ideas for a business, how to live his life better, how to improve something, or anything else, really. The subject isn't as important as the process of coming up with the ideas. The point isn't even to come up with good ideas. In fact, he admits that most of them will be bad. But the practice has turned him into an idea machine.

It has trained his mind to focus on a problem and not just to come up with a solution, but many solutions.

This is an exercise in mindfulness because it requires complete attention to the task at hand and it cultivates your ability to see possibilities rather than getting caught up in fears and doubt.

James has written a comprehensive article on becoming an idea machine and his wife has written an entire book on the subject!

Cleanse your calendar

Most of us follow the same routines week after week. Our calendars fill up with obligations because we feel like we have to do them or they're what we've always done.

We feel constantly busy but we're not necessarily getting where we want to go. We're always complaining that there's no time for the things that we really want to do.

That's why getting very intentional with how you spend your time is so powerful. Are you aware of how much time you spend scrolling through Facebook or watching TV? How would it feel to say "no" when you don't really want to go out or to let go of commitments that are filling you with dread?

I love Alexandra's posts on "cleansing your calendar" so much. She walks you through the process of getting rid of the to-do's you're resenting and actually letting them go. We might think that being busy means we're important or fulfilled, but often it's a form of procrastination. When we take a hard look at our calendars, we can begin to mindfully build our days to create the lives we truly desire.

Use a cash budget

Am I ever going to stop harping on about this? Maybe. But only if I find a better way to manage my finances mindfully while still having lots of fun.

It's easier to be mindful of our finances when we're actually seeing the money in our wallet depreciate.

Another way to become more mindful of your spending is to track it with an app like Mint or YNAB or Wally. We all know that a daily latte or drinks every weekend really add up, but until you account for every dollar and look at the results at the end of the month, it's hard to realize how much it adds up.

Related: I wrote a full guide to using a cash budget, which will you walk through the process as well as the benefits.

Speak seductively.

Have you ever listened to a speaker and noticed that they have a vocal tick that comes out again and again? They might end every sentence as if it's a question, add a nervous giggle in every so often, or say "um" way too much.

We all have these little ticks but we aren't usually aware of them unless we listen back to ourselves on an audio recording or if someone points them out. In fact, we speak mindlessly most of the time. There are lots of ways that our speech can do us a disservice. If we raise our voice at the end of every sentence, we don't sound like we're confident in what we're saying. Many women speak in a higher voice than is natural for them and leads to people taking us less seriously.

What if instead we mindfully chose words and even a tone of voice that seduced our listener so that they hung on our every word?

Of course seduction isn't just a sexual thing. It's a way of being that expresses who you are through every word, every action, every look.

Kitty Cavalier is the queen of seduction and she has written an excellent article on speaking seductively - and I bet it doesn't involve what you think!

And when we bring this mindful intention to what we're saying, we're more likely to express ourselves clearly, ask for what we want, and stand up for ourselves!

Shake it off! 

Shaking is part of every Qoya class and that's where I was first introduced to it. But it's actually an ancient practice that is used by yogis as well as in shamanic healing rituals and even by wild animals in nature. It's one of the most simple practices but it allows us to release fear and reset our body.

Qoya founder, Rochelle Schiek suggests you try this as an experiment: "Shake your right hand only as much as you can for about 30 seconds. Shake rigorously. Shake intensely. Shake like you mean it. Keep shaking...a little bit more. Shake 10 more seconds, with more enthusiasm at the end and then stop and gently cup both hands in front of you, as if you were holding a globe, and feel the difference between your right and left hand. Feel how one hand is stronger and at the same time lighter. Notice how you feel increased energy, vitality, and mental clarity after shaking your right hand for 30 seconds."

To give shaking a full go, put on an upbeat song and start by shaking your hands vigorously for 10-30 seconds. Shake one foot and then the other. Lie on your back and shake your legs in the air. Stand up and shakeyour hips. Shake your shoulders. Shake everything at once! While your shaking you can picture any fears or anxieties or frustrations being flung from your body and going back into the earth.

Whenever I do this I end up feeling calmer and more energized at the same time.

Rochelle has a video that will show you this practice in action.

Connect to your intuition

I think we all want to live more authentically and be true to ourselves, but how can we foster that kind of connection? How do we discern our intuitive voice from our fears and all of the other yammering going on inside our heads?

We all have an inner knowing that's connected to our deepest desires and our best self, but it can be difficult to hear it among the noise. And even harder to trust it when almost everything it tell us to do is fucking scary.

Jess Lively has a fantastic exercise you can use when you're facing a life choice and want to connect to your intuition to figure it out.

She suggests literally writing out a conversation between your ego and your intuition. Write the question from your ego and then intuitively free write a response. I know this might sound a little crazy but it's surprising how quickly this inner knowing can spring forward when we let it. You can get a full explanation of the exercise and a real-life example on her website.

Feel your feelings

For the most part, we live in a society that encourages us to put our uncomfortable feelings in a box, slap on a smile, and forget about them. But that just leads to tensions brewing beneath the surface, waiting to erupt. And we grow more and more out of touch with who we are, what we want, and the direction our lives are taking.

Louise Androlia's "feel your feelings" mantra is so powerful.

She encourages us to really tune in to how we're feeling and declare it to ourselves: "I'm feeling __________." Feel the feeling in your body and breathe into that space. Tell yourself: "I'm feeling ____________ and that's okay."

I love this practice. It brings more awareness to our lives and I've found that it allows me to sit with a feeling without getting drawn into a panic about it. It gives me permission to allow whatever I'm feeling - no matter how shit it is - to flow through me rather than resisting it. Because what we resist persists, but when we go with the flow, the feeling can run its natural course.

Plus, when we're in touch with our emotions, we can begin to use them as a compass for what's working in our lives and what could use some retuning.

Take a look at the stories you're telling yourself

We all have those stories we tell ourselves. Some of mine are: I'm not an athlete - in fact, exercise just isn't my jam; my ex-business partner totally screwed me over, and I've always been afraid of heights.

But are those stories really true? Do they have to be? Is telling myself them contributing to me being my best self? Do they empower or disempower me?

Usually we allow our thoughts to mindlessly swirl around our heads. If we've been telling ourselves these stories for long enough we just accept them as gospel, without ever questioning them.

Sarah says it's time to cut that shit out. Instead, ask yourself: "What would happen if you reframed that experience? What would happen if you tried to view your struggles through a lens of empathy and growth?"

Pausing to examine our stories allows us to view them as just that: stories. And we're the ones with the power to rewrite them and create new endings as we please.

Use your breath to fuel your workouts

We can use our breath to fuel every area of our life. We can use it to call in stillness or to push us further. We can breathe out our anxieties and negativity and breathe in whatever it is we need in the moment.

This article walks you through using yogic breathing to bring mindfulness and a sense of strength to your workouts. It's a simple technique that brings additional benefits to getting fit as you use that time to create peace of mind and personal growth. Pretty cool, right?

Ultimately, mindfulness is about settling into the present moment. Embracing it even. We let go of our stranglehold on the past and stop obsessing over the future. The present moment is all we really have.

These are practical ways to begin incorporating mindfulness into your life. Pick one and rock it out!

If it turns out that one doesn't groove with you, try something else. Notice that there are opportunities to be mindful in every moment. The more you practice, the more you'll train your mind and the easier it will become to stay in the present moment. That's where the magic is!

So to make sure you have a plethora of ways to start living more mindfully, I've created a bonus list of 30 more ideas and they've all been tried and tested by yours truly.

READY TO ZEN THE SHIT OUT OF YOUR LIFE?

Click below to download my list of 30 tried & tested ways to live more mindfully (WITHOUT meditating).