Archive | Instrumental – The Care of a Creative Soul

Instrumental: Nature Walks as Ritual in Spring by Bella Cirovic

When the flowers begin to bloom, I happily partake in one of my favorite Springtime rituals: a nature walk. The air feels so fresh while the sun casts a perfect temperature and glow on all the pretty buds that line my path. What a treat for my eyes after a long, dreary winter. I never tire of the scenery.

I fill my calendar with day trips to the farmer’s markets, coffee shops, and museums in and around my town. Seeing like minded people on the streets with their sunglasses on, some walking their dogs, others running with their earbuds in makes me feel like I belong to a family – a community of sun cravers getting their daily fix.

Just before the blooms hit their peak, I know it’s time to tend my own garden. I begin by clipping away anything old and dead. I then crouch down on my knees and start pulling weeds, creating space for leaves and roots to spread. The dirt gets a turn and a spread of new soil before anything gets planted. It’s so fun to plan what vegetables I’ll choose for our small garden. It’s even more fun to collect the bounty at the end of the summer.

My wardrobe colors don’t change much, but I do stray from my all black routine to include some light gray, navy blue, and white clothing. I pull out my collection of nude lip glosses and pack away everyone’s winter boots. The sun has come out to stay. The colors are spectacular. My being feels restored.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Space by Bella Cirovic

I attended a women’s retreat in Oregon’s high desert on the summer solstice last year. It was a week of complete relaxation, soul restoration, and sleeping under the stars. It was exactly what I had been craving after helping my daughter through a long first year of high school and prior to the start of our summer vacation. “What do I want from this week?” is a question I keep asking myself. If I could describe the feeling I was after with one word it would be: space.

 

This place gave me the room to declutter my mind of everyday thoughts and worries. I woke each morning and sipped coffee with women in the meadow where our camp was set up. After a short gathering we were given free time to do as we wished. Each day I chose a new spot to sit and relax. I had a blanket, my journal, my camera, and a playlist to keep me company. The fresh (but very hot) air combined with the quiet was exactly what my soul needed. I came home a better version of myself and fully ready to jump into summer.

 

I can’t be on vacation all the time though, so I try to find ways to create space in my everyday life that mimics the breathing room I enjoyed while camping out among the juniper trees in Oregon. It has become a personal mission to create tiny pockets of peace in my day. Doing so meant that I had to reevaluate how I was spending my time and energy, also to note where I could make changes.

In the morning, after a shut off the alarm, I take a few deep breaths before getting out of bed. After being jolted from a peaceful sleep, I need a few moments to reset and focus on my breath before I get up to face my day. I take a deep breath in, hold for 5 seconds and blow a soft, long exhale out. Take notice of how what your beginning moments feel like. Mine certainly feels aggressive, but the truth is I’m a heavy sleeper who needs a loud alarm. To compensate for the harsh awakening, I give myself these few moments of pause which for me mimic space.

 

I find space in the clothes I choose to wear. The materials need to be made of a pure cotton variety with room to breathe. My clothes flow back and forth with me. I have been wearing leggings for a long stretch of time because they are so comfortable. Now, I have nothing against a good pair of jeans, I just much prefer the way I can fully stretch and not feel constricted by my clothing.

 

At some point in the middle of the day, I unroll a gorgeous pink yoga blanket on my bedroom floor, light candles, gather my journals, and sit in quiet stillness. I picture in my mind’s eye a wide, open meadow. Even on days when life is especially noisy, I still make it a point to show up to my practice with the intention of creating breathing space. After some quiet time, I spill some thoughts into my journal and revel in the quiet.
Intentionally slowing down and being mindful of how I want to feel as I move through the world keeps my soul feeling tended and cared for. I choose to spend less time scrolling through my iphone and more time in conversation with my family. I choose to close my eyes and take a breath when chaos trumps quiet. And I choose to always find my way back to the peaceful meadow.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

‘Tis the Season by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

‘Tis the season for creating new rituals. It is a time for long walks in the afternoon just before the sun fades into the early evening. Allow yourself the space to breathe in the fresh air. Notice the scents that travel on the breeze, the textures of the trees around you, and the firmness of the ground beneath your feet. Watch the sun fall behind the horizon. Take the wonder of nature indoors with you. Grab what speaks to you. Maybe it will be a leaf or a twig or a stone or a piece of bark. The piece will infuse a sense of harmony between the outside world and your sacred space.

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‘Tis the season to nurture our body’s energy center with pungent and aromatic delicacies like fresh turmeric and ginger. It is said that yellow and orange colored foods fan our creative fires in addition to fueling our solar plexus chakra. Feed yourself food that mimics the sun now that the days are shorter. Indulge your senses with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, peppermint, and cumin. Swirl one or more of these spices into a mug of hot cocoa for a magical treat.

‘Tis the season to create cozy corners in our homes. Layering a couple of blankets and pillows to the couches and love seats of our family rooms creates an intimate vibe. Think about how inviting a plush, comfortable space would be for work, rest, entertainment, and play. Set aside a half hour to go through the rooms of the house and make a checklist of what can be moved around or added onto. Bring candles and oil burners to nooks and corners of your rooms. What about a string of twinkle lights? Vanilla and patchouli blend well together and both have properties that lend to the warm atmosphere we are going for.

‘Tis the season to move your body. Create some playlists or cd’s of music for all of the upcoming holidays. Don’t forget to add one for when you’re cleaning the house, one for cooking dinner, one for solo dance parties, and one for relaxing. Now that it’s colder, we’ll be inside more often. Movement, even simple stretches, revitalizes the body and gets blood circulation going. Move at a rate that feels right to you, whether that’s high energy steps or simply swaying from side to side. Shake away old energy. Sweat your feelings out. Movement is our sweet release.

‘This the season to gather with loved ones. In these tech heavy times, we need more coffee dates and get togethers with our friends and loved ones. Don’t settle for relationships that only exist because of text messaging. Make phone calls and pencil in some time to hang out and get lost in conversation. Enjoy watching the sun rise or set with your mate minus your smartphones. Read a good story to the kids before bed. Smother your family in hugs and kisses. The most heartfelt gift one can give is their time and their presence. These are things that cannot be bought.

‘Tis the season for tending to our hearts. The holidays are not always easy. This season in particular is known to amplify feelings of sadness, anxiety, and the blues. Check in with your spirit and feed yourself what you need. Be tender and merciful with yourself, you deserve it. Wave hello to your neighbors and smile at strangers. One kind gesture could mean the world to the person on the receiving end. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need or to offer your hand to help out. We are all in this together.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Staying Healthy and Creative as I Age by Joan Z. Rough

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In my thirties I was busy raising two kids, being a housewife, and a fiber artist. Cleaning toilets, doing laundry, and cooking meals were all part of the job. I also cared for a small flock of sheep and Angora goats. A dozen hens kept us supplied with fresh eggs all year round. I learned how to spin yarn from the fleeces my sheep and goats provided, then dyed those yarns with plants gathered from my garden and the roadsides of Northern Vermont, where I lived at the time. After weaving those yarns into a variety of goods, I went to craft fairs where I sold my finished products … pillows, bags, ponchos, and scarves. Amidst all of that I found time to go cross-country skiing most days in winter, sit in the shade and read a good book in summer, and spent lots of time with family and friends. Sure I was tired at the end of each day, but I rarely felt as overwhelmed as I feel these days.

I’m seventy-five years old now and live with my husband, two dogs, and a cat. I have a housekeeper and help in the garden when I need it. No I don’t have the energy I had way back when, but I’m an active walker, take classes in Yoga, and Pilates every week. My book, Scattering Ashes, A Memoir of Letting Go, was published in September. In addition, I publish a weekly blog post and a newsletter on the first of every month. I rise at dawn and by the time 9 PM rolls around I’m ready for a good night’s sleep.

But I’m frustrated and overwhelmed by all that I have to do.

I simply want to have more time in my studio for free writing, painting, keeping a visual journal, and making all kinds of visual art. Add to that, time for reading and puttering in the garden. You’d think that without all the responsibilities I used to have I’d be sitting pretty with all sorts of time to spare. But along with my age, and my energy levels, times have changed. We live in a culture driven by the rush, rush,woman-with-a-cup-of-tea-picjumbo-com rush of technology. Speed limits on Virginia roadways, where I now live, have been raised. A peaceful, 55 MPH drive to Washington, DC, ten years ago, is now an anxiety riddled, 65 MPH race to the finish line. Even if I wanted to drive more slowly, it’s impossible because like everyone else, I get caught up in the pace of today’s timetable.

What ever happened to the old rumor that once computers came into their own, work weeks would become shorter and we’d all have leisure time for whatever it is we love doing most?

I heard a statistic that the average American checks his or her email eleven times an hour. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Using a cell phone, we can connect to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Maybe we do have fewer absolutely necessary things to do in physical time. But now we’re expected to fit more into our days. Stress levels are higher than ever and we all suffer from the new ailment, FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. Regardless of bumper to bumper, fast-moving traffic, too many of us make calls and answer our cell phones when we’re behind the wheel, causing accidents. We’re a high-speed, be there first, crazy society that is on it’s way to causing it’s own destruction. And we’re moving so fast we’re not paying attention to how we feel and what this craziness is doing to us.

It’s taken me a long time to notice that my body tells me when I’m moving too fast, tired, about to get sick, am anxious about some world crisis, or trying to make important decisions. Until the past year or so I didn’t connect my sudden, painful but brief headaches with the fact that I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off and stressed beyond reason. Naturally, when they hit, I would sit down. Once my body relaxed and my heart rate slowed down, the headaches magically disappeared. I think it’s something all of us need to pay attention to.

When I’m tired and must keep moving because of an approaching deadline, I often notice that my vision isn’t as acute as it usually is, my energy level starts lagging, and my body feels heavy. If I take a breather from my work, take a short walk around the block, do some much-needed stretching, or take a twenty-minute nap, my energy bounces back and I can easily pick up where I left off. But being an unreasonable citizen of this crazed time, I often don’t do those things because I feel I’m too far behind. My weekly Pilates sessions are late on Monday afternoons, about the time I’m dragging and wanting to crash and burn. I force myself to go, but once I’m there and start moving my body, a new energy kicks in. I always feel like a new person afterwards and I’m good for the rest of the day and into the evening.

Making decisions has always been messy for me. Being somewhat lazy and a people pleaser, I’ve found myself just going along with whatever someone else wanted to do, even though all I wanted was to stay home, have a big bowl of homemade chicken soup, and read a good book. (A typical sign of FOMA.) But after years of wondering what was wrong with me, I finally accepted the fact that I’m an introvert and always will be. In order to feel happy and healthy I need to be careful about what I agree to do, keeping in mind that the big event a friend or family member wants me to attend with them is not my cup of tea.

So I’ve come up with a way to make decision and keep myself on an even keel. I consciously invite my body, mind and spirit to help me figure out what I want and/or need. We’re all one, after all. Not separate entities. If I feel especially excited about going to an event and can’t wait to go, there is not doubt that I’ll be there regardless of what it takes. If I feel only somewhat interested in attending, I take extra time to think about what I really want. If I push myself to give in to things I feel so-so about, I’m usually sorry later. I like to sleep on those items until all the pros and cons come to the surface, even if it takes a few days. If nothing arises to peak my interest, it’s a no go.

I’ve also discovered that sometimes it’s a good idea to procrastinate about deciding what to do. More often than not, something else arises to let me know that I don’t need to worry about it. I’ll suddenly remember a forgotten promise I made to be somewhere else, or something even more interesting and exciting comes along. And at my age, it’s okay to change my mind if I realize at the last-minute that I need to stay home and take care of myself.

When I feel the need to do that, it usually means I’m noticing that I’m exhausted, need to slow down, landscape-690617_1280meditate, take a walk or a nap, or simply sit and stare into space. On cold nights in the winter it helps to soak in a tub of steaming hot water, laced with Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender oil. Sipping a cup a hot tea while reading with feet up is also one of the most relaxing things I can do, as well as writing in my journal. I’ve learned that being able to say NO isn’t really a big deal and that setting aside an afternoon to throw paint around in my studio is one of the best medicines out there. And nothing beats laughter to get back on the map. I often see life as a slap stick, comedy of errors. Why not laugh about it? What else can we do?

I’ve been stuck on a treadmill of SHOULDS, needing to keep up with the world in order to be successful. I’m finally letting go of that idea. Unless I do so, there will be no time for a new story or poem to blossom. The pages of my visual journal will remain blank. And like my mind and spirit, the pots of paint waiting for me on my worktable will dry out and harden. My curiosity will die.

These days I’m not measuring my success by how many books I sell or whether or not I’m at the top of the heap. Noticing the changing of the seasons, cutting back, and replanting overgrowth in my garden, noticing an unusual birdsong, and spending quality time with myself, my family, and my friends are the things that fill me with joy. It always beats feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and anxiety ridden by a long shot. And it’s how I keep my creative mind at work.

About the Author: Joan Z.Rough

joanauthorbioimageJoan Z. Rough is a visual artist and writer. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, and is included in Mariflo Stephens’ anthology, Some Say Tomato. Her first book, AUSTRALIAN LOCKER HOOKING: A New Approach to a Traditional Craft, was published in 1980. SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, was recently published by She Writes Press. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, Bill, her two dogs, Sam and Max, and crazy cat Lilliput. You can follow Joan on Facebook and Twitter.

Good Help is Hard to Find by Briana Saussy

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We often talk about resistance in terms of creativity and creative life. Many of us are aware of how resistance creeps in through the muffled voices that say your work is terrible to the undeniable external realities of needing to go to work, do laundry, and feed the cat. And because more of us have started having a conversation around resistance in our creative lives, more of us are able to identify and properly banish resistance and get on with the work that is calling out to us.

Today I want to look at a different form that resistance takes, especially among women from what I have observed, and this is the resistance to asking for help.

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I see it everywhere: at my child’s school where asking a parent to volunteer or give to the annual fund feels like a huge burden, in business where asking for a person who has a specific skill set to come on board for a limited time can feel like an insurmountable task, I see it in our spiritual lives where we are always looking and turning away from offers of help – sometimes simultaneously, and the list goes on: money, health, self-care, relationships and so on.

To say what wisdom is truly is beyond the scope of my abilities but I do think that knowing how to find good help calls upon a practical wisdom that we all carry within us even though it sometimes feels like we don’t know how to access it. So let’s find out together!

As I have been studying and watching this I have found that there are four big challenges to asking for good help, here they are:

One: Knowing what you really need help with.

It is a truism in business that if you don’t know what you don’t know then everything you do from that point of ignorance will at best be wrong and at worst create all kinds of unforeseen complications. You have to know what you don’t know, or, to put it another way, you need to know and clearly understand where you need help and what kind of help you need.

In my experience this knowledge is possible for all but it is also hard won and often gained through experience.

How often have you sought out help for something and even after receiving the help did not get the outcome you were hoping for? Such an experience makes us less likely to ask for help and usually more likely to blame the faulty outcome on the assistance we received. But think back to one such time in your life (we all have them) and ask yourself: going into this did I know what I needed? Did I know what I didn’t know?

Two: Help (usually) does not appear magically.

Have you heard the saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear? Maybe. Sometimes. But most of the time you have to go looking for the right teacher or learning community just like you have to go looking for good help. Finding help is an activity and so requires you to be an active participant.

Even in the most luxurious situations – like getting a massage – you have to book the massage and probably you will need to try several different therapists before you find the one that is the just right fit for you. There will be false starts and misfires in most cases when you are seeking out aid and assistance; don’t let them deter you.

Three: Good help carries a cost.

There is a cultural attitude that many of us have been exposed to that tells us that help should always be free.The web night-office-shirt-mailand the culture that has grown out of it, encourages the same attitude as we are always enjoined to write “good, free, helpful, content”.

The fact that there are so many sources to turn to for free help is a cause for celebration for sure, but we should also remember that many places, people, and resources that can provide us with good and needed help are not going to be free, nor should they. Even all of that “free” content available on the web is not really free: at the very least it carries the cost of your time and in many cases the content is not available until you sign up or opt-in to something specific.

Sometimes we can feel resentful about the fact that the help we need carries a cost but when you get right down to it and you look at the real cost of going forward without the proper help you will quickly find that the check you write out to your helper is the one you should be most delighted to pen.

Four: The work begins when you find the right help.

Finally, many of us feel (hope, anticipate) that once the right help has arrived we can sit back and sip our latte’s or margaritas while the sunsets. But you know what I am going to tell you, right?

Good help is not the end of your work; it is the beginning of the work that you are best at and most ready to do.

Any kind of good help: be it a person, resource, or tool does not show up to make your work go away, it shows up to make your work (and life) better. YOU are the unchanging constant in that equation. When the right help shows up, the real work can get started, so be ready to participate full on.

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Whether you are looking for the right massage therapist, financial planning tool, magical candle, or business assistant you can apply these challenges above and discover which one(s) you get most easily stuck on. Give yourself a break, get up, and go find that good help – you will be so happy when you do.

About the Author: Briana Saussy

briana_bioHi, I’m Briana! I am a writer, teacher, and spiritual counselor, and I am part of a growing community of soulful seekers, people who are looking for wholeness, holiness and healing – for better, more rewarding lives.

The best way to work with me and begin living an enchanted life right here and now is to register for a year of lunar light devotionals.

Creating a Sanctuary by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

The clocks have just moved back an hour. Dusk and darkness settle in much earlier than what I am used to. This time of the year always feels like a season of preparation for the cold months that are inevitably coming. Before winter arrives, I want to prepare my nest so that I am comfortable. I begin with that intention: comfort. My surroundings must be plush, soft, and supportive, so that when I am feeling internal discomfort, I have a sweet landing spot.

I feel like creating a sanctuary, a haven to hold me all winter long. This work of caring for myself is non-stop and I find myself constantly modifying my surroundings to best suit my mood. “What will the cold months be like?” I wonder. This is how I am prepping for their arrival.

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Comfort during the cold months will look like empty counter spaces that hold only my coffee pot and jars filled with tea bags, homemade marshmallows, and caramel nut popcorn for snacking. I truly feel at home with a warm drink and I need these items to be out in the open; a visible invitation to warm the belly. Within reaching distance will be the milk frother, cinnamon, and my favorite mug.

The corners of my living space will hold baskets filled with yarn, journaling supplies, books and magazines. My favorite way to spend the day is to be active in the morning by getting some cleaning done, having dinner prepped for cooking later on, and then relaxing on the couch while watching a show or a movie. The time is best passed with some knitting or if I choose to forego the T.V, I’ll spend some time reading. This feels so calming to me.

I will make a special trip to the store to stock up on church candles and incense. There is a divine feel to a room that is surrounded in candlelight and smoke swirls. Having these items close to me make me feel supported and safe. I also keep crystals for clarity, like my quartz chunk or my smokey quartz point nearby for comfort and as allies for my meditation time.

Music and the flow of soothing sounds are a grounding and necessary part of my day. I will browse for Pandora stations and Spotify playlists that compliment how I’m feeling and turn the speaker up high. For me, there must be a soundtrack playing in the background almost all the time. Music allows me to move and break up stagnant energy. I dance it out hard to warm up my blood, kick up my circulation, sweat, and to wake up my cells. Dance and movement are a must during the winter.

I keep the refrigerator and pantry shelves full of fresh fruits, veggies, and all the add-ons for delicious and colorful soup and salad making. This season, I have given up my beloved wine, so I am trying mocktails with fruit flavored sodas and bitters.

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Finally, I created a perfume oil that feels like home to me. I created it during a time when I wasn’t feeling particularly at home in my skin. Each component of the oil evokes a sense of confidence in myself, trust in my own intuition, and space to show myself some mercy. The scent is called Sanctuary, a perfect compliment to the space I am carving out for myself during this season.

Are you creating a special space to expand and relax in for the cold? I would love to hear more about it in the comments.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Note: Bella is offering Modern Creative Life readers $5 off their order of this perfume oil using the code: MCLfive. Read more about Sanctuary here.
*Coupon will be good through Nov. 30th.

 

The Wisdom found in the Colors of Autumn by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

When I have heavy thoughts on my mind, I like to go for a walk in the woods. Actually, I go for a walk in the woods everyday, but it seems to feel more therapeutic when I’ve got internal things to work out. This is easy enough because my home is surrounded by lush forest and right now, the colors are beginning to change with the turn of the seasons. It is such a beautiful time for nature lovers like myself to be outside as much as possible. I often say “nature is my church” and it really has become like a house of prayer for me in times of distress.

What I’ve been keeping an eye out for on my walks lately are messages. Maybe I’ll find a random feather or a stone on my path in the midst of a thought. What could it mean? I often wonder about that and soon let that idea drift away, keeping my found treasure as a comfort item rather than looking for a spiritual meaning in everything. Who am I kidding? It all means something!

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There is one infinite kind of wisdom I have been in search of all season, and I think I have found it within the colors of autumn. I could talk about how the arrival of color coming to life in the forest has awakened something deep inside of me for days. I walk with my head held high in a state of wonder of it all.

I drink in the reds, the color of the root chakra and remember that my feet are connected to the earth and I am grounded. Red also instigates a spicy desire to tidy up my home and finish up odds and ends projects that promote a cozy nest feeling. I feel anchored by this color.

I’m blinded by the oranges that stir my creative juices and activate ideas for hot dates with my husband. Orange is my favorite color. Its energy feels warm and inviting, like a cocoon.

The yellows give me a sense of renewed energy. They remind me of citrus fruit and sunshine, infusing me with all the happy feels. If my thoughts are overwhelming, the color yellow helps lighten the load. I can’t help but smile every time I see this color.

The bit of shadow and mystery that I am so very drawn to is represented by shades of brown. I believe hugely in the idea that there cannot be light without dark in the emotional sense. Brown is that final touch of color before fading to gray then to black. It is present between the glittery leaves, a reminder that even our most solemn complexities can coexist alongside our jovial highs.

Finally, the ever present hues of green, the heart of nature and the forest. Green is a blanket of calm, a color that reminds me of where I am and how to come back to my heart center. Nature’s green is a soft landing, a place where I can lay down my armour and lean into trust.

I wonder, what does the seasonal shift look like for you and does it contribute positively to your soul nourishment?

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Meditation by Hilary Parry Haggerty

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

I fidgeted. My back was killing me. My eyes were fluttering, my thoughts racing with to-dos. I had an itch on my ankle I desperately wanted to scratch. I silently cursed and berated myself for thinking of my to-do list instead of the mantra. I wondered at how much time had elapsed… Surely it had been ten minutes already, and my timer must be broken. I dared to open my eyes and look at the clock: Only a minute? How the heck was I going to last for another nine minutes of this shit?!

Does this sound a bit like your meditation practice? Trust me, I hear you. Take it from me, the world’s laziest meditator, that meditation is not a walk in the park when you first start, and sometimes even now I still have those sessions of meditation where I’m like let’s just get this over with already!

You don’t need to be fancy. You don’t have to have special flowing robes, or a certain type of incense, or even a lot of space, to be able to meditate. That’s part of the beauty of meditation: you can do it almost anywhere. What you do need to have is a willingness to be consistent and put aside time each day to do it.

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Here’s how to start and keep a meditation practice, even when you’re a lazy bones like me, and some unexpected bonuses that come along with a meditation practice.

The first and most important step when you are a lazy chick is motivating yourself to meditate. Once you are there on the mat, or cushion, or chair, or lying down, I promise, it will be much easier…. Sometimes getting there is the hardest part.

So, this first part (getting motivated) will not look the same for everyone. We all have our ways, and we all know where our laziness comes from… It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from outright procrastination, or another form of it entirely. For me, procrastinating on meditation takes the form of me telling myself that I simply don’t have enough time to meditate. To which I then say to myself, if you can’t find ten minutes somewhere in the day for it, you’ve got bigger problems! Find the time. I usually quickly realize that the time I use up playing frivolous mobile games would be better spent meditating!

How I motivate myself to meditate:

  • Touchstones or malas – a touchstone could be a simple quartz crystal or pebble that you hold while you meditate. A mala traditionally has 108 beads on it to work while meditating, especially if you are doing a malabeadsmantra meditation; each time you repeat a mantra silently in your head, you turn a bead (similar to working a rosary). You can custom order a mala to suit your esthetic sensibilities or intention (I have two, one for psychic work/intuition and the other for peace and calm). Or you can buy a simple mala made out of wooden beads, such as sandalwood. When you pick up your touchstone or your mala, that’s your physical reminder and signal to the Universe: hey, I’m sitting down to my meditation practice now!
  • Make an inviting space that appeals to all the senses – including incense, nice music, noise-canceling headphones, etc. Now I know I said before that one of the beautiful things about meditation is that you can do it almost anywhere. That’s true, but in order to build consistency, first it’s best to keep it to one place. Once you have this space, don’t dismantle it! Keep it intact, so that you don’t have to recreate it each time. Each time you sit in this space, it is like a touchstone: a signal that it’s meditation time.
  • Don’t overthink it. Know yourself, and know all the ways in which you convince yourself out of something. If you have the thought, “I should meditate” then that’s the time you should meditate. Don’t put it off.
  • Have a set time each day. I do my meditation in the morning right after I wake up. Why? Because if I wait until the end of the work day to do it, then the day tends to “get away from me” and I don’t have the time, nor the energy, to meditate.

How to meditate:

  • Find something to focus on: this can be a candle flame, your breath, a mantra, a quote, a saying, a tarot or candleflameoracle card, a rune, a mirror or bowl of water, incense smoke, or any number of things.

    A nice beginning meditation is simply inhaling for a count of 5, holding for a count of 5, and exhaling for a count of 5. When breathing, take deep breaths and focus on filling up down to your belly like you are filling a vase with your breath. When exhaling, release the air from the bottom of the belly, up.

    When starting out, look down and see the rise and fall of your belly, so you can see what it looks like when you are taking a nice big breath of air. You’d be surprised just how shallow our breathing can be because we don’t do it with intention!

  • Focus on that thing for a predetermined amount of time. Start with 5 minutes. Don’t be too ambitious when you are beginning. If 5 minutes is too much, drop down to a minute. Try a minute first (Yeah, seriously!). Then add on time. It is easier to add on time than begin with too much and get frustrated by it.
  • Keep returning to the thing you are focused on when your mind starts to wander. If you notice yourself enumerating everything you have to do after the meditation is over, or find yourself distracted by itches or pins and needles, return to the thing, such as your breath or the mantra. This is your mental touchstone within the meditation, what you grab onto when you find yourself slipping.
  • When your timer dings, allow yourself one more big inhale and exhale, and open your eyes. Make sure to get up slowly and with intention, and be gentle with yourself. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself on forming a new habit of meditation, day by day!

What are the benefits of meditation?

Besides a greater sense of peace and calm, unanticipated side effects can include increased creativity and ideas popping up during your meditation. If it’s a good idea, by all means, keep a notebook and pen beside you so that when you complete your meditation, you can get those goodies down! But I caution you: don’t interrupt your meditation FOR the idea, no matter how good you think it is. Calmly tell yourself that it is not time for that, and ask the thought to come back to you at the end of your meditation. I promise: if it’s a keeper, it WILL do as you ask and reappear… As long as you ask nicely!

These moments are not unusual occurrences: some of our best ideas can seem to pop up at the most “inopportune” times: on the crapper, in the shower, handwashing dishes… pretty much every time that a piece of paper and a pen are as far away from us as they can possibly get! It ain’t Murphy’s Law why this is so: it’s what is known as the creative pause (as Racheal Cook the Yogipreneur calls it): a time in which you are daydreaming, not focused on any one thing in particular, almost the exact opposite in mental states as zoning out, however. The ahas that happen in those spaces are BECAUSE you aren’t doing anything! So too can those aha moments appear during yoga or meditation: and because of it, it seems that we do need to let our brains rest, stop overclocking ourselves, and simply BE.

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Just being can cause breakthroughs.

Basically, don’t tune out. Tune IN.

Remember that you can’t get the benefits of a meditation practice without, um… practicing. As in, doing the meditation itself. I’ll admit: I am definitely the type of learner that reads about something, and then hops onto the next chapter and the next lesson, skipping over the more practical or experiential elements. But the experiential is where the meat and potatoes of meditation is. Same thing as for yoga: most of your work is done on the mat, not in an armchair reading about it. You don’t get the benefits of a yoga pose from reading about it; you get it from doing it. Same thing for meditation!

About the Author: Hilary Parry Haggerty

hilaryparryhaggerty_bioHILARY PARRY HAGGERTY is a tarot reader, witch, mentor, writer, editor, and teacher. She has been reading tarot for over 18 years (11 years professionally). She was the winner of Theresa Reed’s (The Tarot Lady) Tarot Apprentice contest in 2011, and has taught classes on tarot and spell-work at Readers Studio and Brid’s Closet Beltane Festival. She writes a weekly blog at her website www.tarotbyhilary.com and contributes a monthly tarot blog “Through a Tarot Lens” to www.witchesandpagans.com.

The Wisdom is in the Cards by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about our self-care wellness practices. You know the things we do for ourselves that feed and lift our spirits? Lately, I’ve become so interested in how other people tend to themselves when life throws them a curveball. And maybe that’s because I feel like my own go to routines have become old and quite frankly, aren’t doing the trick anymore.

And this is when I had a clear “a-ha” moment about wellness practices. We have to keep changing them up so that we may continue to be inspired, filled up, and ultimately healed. How boring would life become if we were to eat the same food day after day without any changes? I once tried a diet that required eating the same three meals a day every week for a month. I lasted three days.

Now some practices we partake in daily certainly serve us well and most definitely do not get boring. When you thrive in your practice or if you’re working to get better at one, that is awesome. My daughter is a musician who sits at the piano every single day, no matter what kind of mood she’s in because in addition to feeding her soul, it is her dream that music becomes her career. I get this and I support this.

For myself, I feel like I’ve landed in some kind of empty space. I’m trying so hard to tap in and find what it is that I need because I feel a void. What’s proving difficult is that I’m listening, but I’m not hearing anything. Has that ever happened for you? It’s like my own wisdom well has dried up. And I understand that this may just be a temporary dry spell like similar to writer’s block. This dry spell sure can lend to feeling less than whole.

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So I have a practice that helps me tap in and access the place that I have a hard time reaching when everything else fails me. I take out a deck of oracle cards for some guidance. Now, there are many ways to use oracle cards and every deck is different. I am attracted to one word, action based decks. I have some that I’ve bought, some that I’ve made, and some that friends have gifted me.

I do love to light candles and incense when I’m getting ready to work with my cards. Most often, I sit at my writing desk in my room. I light a bit of palo santo wood and smoke the cards to clear their energy. I then begin to shuffle with a question in mind which is usually: what message do I need to hear today?

These action based cards have given me guidance like: dance, pray, meditate, walk, share, magic, peace, spin, love, kiss, greet, create, and ease. After I pull a card, I open my journal and begin to write. I try to associate the word with a memory, and if one comes up, I write it out. And this will usually lead to an idea for a project or something to do that day. Or maybe it will lead to nothing at all, and if that’s the case, I just try to remain open and act out the word or wait for the message.

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The cards can also be used as prompts when I have nothing. This doesn’t happen often. I know there is a well of wisdom that lives deep inside of me. But some days, I need a little bit of help to access all that I know, all of the answers, or my sweet spot. These are the days that I pull out the cards.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Dusk by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

Dusk. This time of the day feels so intimate to me. The sun is just beginning to set as night slowly creeps in and takes over. In the summer months, I long to slow down and savor each day, each moment. Dusk to me feels like slipping into a silk robe very slowly. I keep watch at the window for the changing colors of the sky. When I see varying degrees of pinks, oranges, grays, and then blue, I grab a cool drink and head outside to watch the day fade away.

While each season’s sky brings its own form of magic, I can’t help but be mesmerized by a summer sky. It’s an even more magical treat when there is a full moon. I’m noticing more and more these days that nourishment for me at forty one is so much more than food and drink and love and all the things I would normally feel nourish my soul and spirit.

Observation is nourishment. By simply taking the time to insert myself under the changing sky, I feel a sense of fulfillment. I feel like I’ve given myself a gift. And the beauty of this is that I can do this every night if that is my wish.

This begs me to explore the ideas of self permission and action. I can only indulge in the things that nourish me through feeling by doing. Picking myself up and going to the places that I love for nourishment is vital to my well being. Other places I might take myself are: exploring new neighborhoods in the city, museums, the beach, hiking in the woods or just laying on a blanket in my backyard under the summer sun.

Giving myself permission to play, observe, and move means I believe I am worthy of nourishment. It means that I feel I deserve to fill my spirit with positive energy that will fuel all of the other parts of me. I don’t function very well when I’m not tending to each part of me that needs attention. Permission granted and action taken are just some tools I have learned that work for me.

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So because I mentioned dusk being a favorite time of the day, I wanted to share some ideas with you on how you might expand on your own nightly rituals or try something new. You can easily begin by typing “what time is dusk” into the Google search bar and plan on having a half hour to an hour of free time blocked out for your own personal enjoyment. If you do this tonight, you’ll get to see what’s left of the full moon.

Prepare yourself a cool drink. I personally love fresh lemonade. There you have nourishment in a cup. Pick a place that’s comfortable for sitting. Perhaps your backyard or front steps will do? If you don’t have a spot at home, what about a bench in the park or if you live near the water, find a seat right there. Maybe you live on a rooftop? Prepare something fluffy to sit on like a folded blanket or beach towel. You might also like to play some music so bring your phone or ipod with you. And finally, it would be silly if I didn’t mention that bringing along a scented oil to anoint on the back of your neck or on the insides of your wrists could lift this whole situation up to another level.

Now, before you head out, I want to tell you that you are so worthy of this time to just sit back, relax, and watch the sky change colors. I want to tell you that your spirit needs this every once in a while for no reason at all other than the fact that you are out in nature drinking in all of her colors and her glory. I want to tell you that you deserve this. And now, you can take action and go.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

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