Leading up to the winter solstice, in and out of the Yoga studio, we engaged in practices that aided us in creating simplicity in our lives so that what is most important to us has the space to take center stage in the new year. Now, as the depths of winter settle in, we can focus our awareness and nurture ourselves in preparation for the creation and growth of what we choose to mindfully welcome into our lives. We have set intention "I am choosing to cleanse my mind, body, heart and home space so that what is most important to me may come into the light." and we have begun our work with our daily practices. It is in the quiet of winter that we have opportunity to go more deeply into these practices. Old habits, thought patterns and even new "stuff" that doesn't serve us well will continue to surface. Take heart, this gives us
opportunity to reaffirm our intention and to rededicate ourselves to focus on what is most important to us in our lives. What is most important to you? This will quickly help you simplify and cleanse!
Shared here are our 21 practices in simplifying and cleansing. Let's revisit these practices through the winter to help our actions reflect our intention of bringing what is most important to us into the light.
1. For this evening...create a little space to set intention. Sit quietly in a darkened room, take a moment to listen to any sounds, to notice the feel of the air against your skin and then to notice a breath in and a breath out. Do that again, feel another breath in and a breath out. Then let yourself just be quiet for a moment. When you are ready, say your intention out loud. It might be something like this: “I am choosing to cleanse my mind, body heart and home space so that what is most important to me may come into the light.” If you find it helpful write out your intention and place it somewhere you will see it daily.
2. Nourishment It can be easy to let the things that help us feel well fall by the wayside, but it is just as easy to invite them back into your life. Cold days, holidays and darker days can leave us craving heavy and sugary foods. Today, let’s keep it simple and give our bodies something warm and nourishing. Even better, keep it simple by using the things you already have in your kitchen that might otherwise go to waste to make a clear broth or tea. While you prepare your warm nourishment be present and focused on the preparation. “I am grateful for this nourishment.” 🌱Then give yourself the quiet space to savor it. How does the warmth of it feel to the touch? Hold the bowl/cup to your lips and breathe in the aroma, is there steam that feels good on your skin? Take a little taste and awaken your taste buds to the flavors as it slides over your tongue and feel the warm nourishment in your body. “My body readily receives the benefits of this nourishment.” 👇🏻Here are a few suggestions but go by what you have on hand! Just think easy, clear and reducing food waste by using what you have. Let it simmer/infuse for 40 minutes but the longer the more flavorful. Strain. 🥕Vegetable broth - any vegetables you have on hand are chopped and go into a pot with water or other broth to cover (make sure they are clean or organic) 🦃 Leftover turkey - even if it is just the bones) go into your pot with enough water to cover 🌱Garlic/Herb Broth - sauté 4 cloves of chopped fresh garlic (more if you love garlic!) in olive oil then add 2 cups of water and chopped herbs of your choice. Let it simmer than enjoy.☕️ Warm lemon water, ginger water, honey water or any combination of all! Add a splash of apple cider vinegar if you like the zing. 🌼 Simple Herbal Tea - endless possibilities! If you don’t use loose herbs try out traditional medicinals roasted dandelion root tea bags to nourish and ease sluggish digestion. I’m curious about what you made so please share your warming/nourishing concoction and how it made you feel! Pictured here is my root and herb broth, I felt invigorated after having it.
3. Here in CT nature is showing us how to melt, how to lighten up and willingly release what was so rigidly encased even just a few moments ago. Is there an opinion you’ve been grasping so tightly, a judgement that you’ve been carrying for so long that it has become more heavy and limiting than helpful? What if we melted, softened even a little so that we might greet ourselves and others with more appreciation of our individual experiences, with more fluidity? Often our minds are frozen in place, ready to jump in with what we think we know. Instead let’s approach this moment with ears prepared to listen. “May I listen with the intent to truly hear.” In what way might you melt a little today, soften a place within yourself so that you can experience true understanding and be new and curious about yourself and where others are coming from. This type of acknowledgement is different than agreement, but unlike judgement it allows for growth and wisdom of all involved. Today, may we allow a rigid thought to melt. We are nature and as such able to change just as quickly as ice turns to a water droplet.
4. Clearing Digital Clutter 👩💻There are things that take up space and energy in a very subtle way. These things keep us from being able to easily access what we would actively choose for ourselves and have a way of stealing time. Digital clutter in the form of old emails, email subscriptions, photos, old contacts, no longer needed documents, apps we don’t use, Facebook friends we don’t even know all have a way of taking up space. Is there digital material that is blocking your view of the things you really want to see and know?Give yourself some time today to begin (don’t get overwhelmed just begin!) and delete contacts that you won’t be using again, unsubscribe from email lists that aren’t necessary, scrap photos that aren’t important to you, remove apps and Facebook acquaintances. It is really okay to free yourself, your time and your digital space in this way! You may find screen time is reduced because you can more quickly access what you really want and satisfying in that the information from the people closest to you will now be first and foremost. It feels good to clear!
5. Cleansing with sound or silence. As a part of your nighttime routine tonight cleanse your mind with sound that is peaceful and a choice or with silence. This helps to make the transition from waking to sleeping. Give yourself some quiet and just listen to your breath, or if you have some ambient music (like waves, rainfall, a chant of OM) let it play for a bit and notice how you feel.
6. Let go of having to let go. Part of our December of simplicity and cleansing is honoring our own timing, about not “having to be” any way other than what is right for us and true to who we are in any given moment. Even nature holds on a little sometimes. Today, look to clear some items from your home that may have emotional ties for you, or recognize and honor that it is not time to clear those specific items. In that case let go of having to let go and be completely okay with your active choice to hold on. There is also a middle ground. For example, I’m choosing to clear something that is connected to a person that is special to me. I have many of these trinkets that take up so much space I no longer can easily get to the ones that I would use regularly. So, I’m keeping a couple that I know I will use, keeping them in a place more visible so I will use them and in seeing them I will think of my loved one often. The rest I am giving to someone who I know will appreciate them and will put them to good use.
7. Okay, this one sounds so simple but can be tricky to put into practice...create space for yourself by honoring your “NO” response. We’ve probably all done it, we’re asked to do something, to commit to something and that inner voice is saying “NO” but what comes off our lips is “yes.” 🤦♀️Our yes’s take up space in our lives if they aren’t in accordance with what is manageable and respectful to our time. Not only by taking up time itself, but the huge amount of energy that is depleted because we didn’t honor ourselves. The not right for us “yes” is a disservice to the person we said yes to as well because we then aren’t 💯 in. Some things we can do instead of saying “yes” when we really meant “NO” 🖐🏻 - Yes/No meditation to strengthen your inner listening and right action for your response. Do this on your own. Sit comfortably, close your eyes. Begin to shake your head no and then say “NO” out loud, over and over. Let all of the things that you know you should say no to begin to bubble up. Sometimes it takes saying it really loudly! 😁Then begin to nod your head yes and say yes out loud. This is when all of the things that are truly right for us and the things that we are truly right for will come bubbling up. 😊❤️- When your answer is “NO” to someone say it in kind firmness, without any addition of why your answer is no. No is enough. You will have plenty of opportunity to practice! ✨✨✨- If you’re not sure what your answer is give yourself time to think about it, usually right response comes up if we allow ourselves time. This is different than knowing it’s a NO and stalling. If it’s NO say it up front. 🍂🍂🍂- If you’ve honored your NO let it go without hard feelings. Ultimately you’ve honored yourself and the person with whom you interacted....May our “No’s” and “Yes’s” all be mindful, active choices that honor all involved. This goes a long way towards simplifying.
8. 🤗 This is one of my favorites!!! You might find once you begin you will want to swap out more but let’s start with one☝️ 🌍 Today, swap out one household item for a more environmentally friendly - no plastic - cost saving version. Since I started doing this my household waste has decreased, I’ve saved money 💰, and our home feels better. Plus, our cat Pez loves our environmentally friendly toilet paper deliveries! Here are a few of my favorite swaps (it was hard to choose!) Please share swaps you’ve made in your own home for the benefit of the environment and simplicity!🌸🌸🌸 1. Who Gives A Crap toilet paper @whogivesacraptp 2. Soap Nut natural laundry soap @mountainroseherbs 3. Swap out heavy waste, plastic personal items. For example: bamboo toothbrush, refillable glass dental floss, all natural / local soaps with minimal packaging @treefortnaturals
9. Focus on one thing. ☝️Multitasking is one of those words that has become glorified in our society. How much can we juggle at once? While yes, multitasking is sometimes necessary, we can get stuck in that mode and slip into overwhelm and our multitasking becomes distraction. ☔️For today, let’s focus on one thing at a time. There will be something that stands out in your attention as the priority of the moment, let everything else drift away to the hazy edges of attention and focus on that one thing. If you get distracted pull your attention back to that one thing, it become clear and stands out. In our Yoga practice we call this Dharana, one pointed focus. On our mats that one pointed focus is often on our breath. One breath at a time, one action at a time. Ultimately this focus can actually lead us to get more accomplished with a feeling of calm and ease. We’re less likely to forget things and our tasks are completed more efficiently when we focus our attention to one.
10. Ganesha is helping us out today...we’re calling out Ganesha strength within us to help remove obstacles from our path. In this case it is a habit we’ve recognized that doesn’t serve us. Is there something you’re doing regularly or even a habitual thought that is serving no purpose and perhaps even getting in your way? See it, move it, take different action, choose an empowering thought. If you’d like a little elephant power to strengthen your will try a Genasha mudra. Interlock your fingers in strength, hold them at heart level and take a long breath in, let all the stale air/energy/thoughts out. Try holding it at navel level and overhead as well and see where you feel empowered to remove your obstacles. Redirect old habitual patterns to those that are conscious and those that better serve and enliven you. You are strong, focused and you are needed.
11. Simplify Life through Love ❤️💕❤️We may not think of love as simple, but pure love, love that is innately something we need to give and receive, is as simple and natural as it gets. Tap into it. Sit quietly with eyes closed and your hand against your heart ❤️ Breathe in, pause your breath and feel your heart. Feel all of the experiences and emotions. Untangle those threads and one by one set them off to the side. You can choose to weave those threads back in or leave them aside any time you wish. Exhale and feel your heart released, free and open to just love without attachment. 🌀🌀🌀The path of Bhakti Yoga is the path of loving devotion. Offering love simplifies, cleanses and is our natural tendency. Keep it simple, direct love with every breath out, with every step. Check in with your own heart when you feel a thread and consciously choose whether to weave it into your heart’s tapestry or set it aside. One way Bhakti Yoga brightens the heart with love is to sing it/chant it. 🎶🎶🎶For today, practice singing love to your pets, to the sky, to yourself....Ram, Ram, Ram...Love, Love, Love. Love in your heart, on your lips and filling the space that surrounds you. 💕🙏
12. Clearing Your Home Space✨🏠✨We’ve all felt it even if we didn’t recognize it as such: our inner environment (attachments, mindset, energy level) impacts our outer environment (clutter, excess, chaos). This is most evident in our homes. The nice thing is that the reverse is also true. In clearing out our home space we offer ourselves greater clarity and inner peace. When we look around it can feel overwhelming. For today, let’s just begin to bring more space and lightness into our homes. ☀️ For whatever day of the month it is remove that many items from your space. For example, if its the 5th day of the month, 5 things... Things that we don’t use (maybe never did!), things that serve no purpose other than filling space, thing that give no meaning to our home environment and what we choose to bring into it. To avoid creating more waste check out these suggestions on how to get rid of your items and feel free to share suggestions...* post items on local Facebook pages, most towns have these pages. In some cases you might sell your items or perhaps give it away to a new home where it can be of use *donate to a local family (check in with food pantries , church ministries and social services) In our area we have the East Hampton Food Bank and Covenant Soup Kitchen. If you have kitchen items I can help you find a new home for them through one of these organizations. *donate children’s games and craft supplies to a local daycare *Books...I don’t know about you but this is my most difficult area to clear, I have a hard time getting rid of books but this has helped. Give your book to someone who you know will appreciate it, who will receive from it. At the studio we have a book share shelf for donating healthy lifestyle, mindful living relevant books. *👚 👖 clothing drop off bins****when you are making item donations make sure it follows the guidelines according to where you’re donating so we’re not just passing off our clutter to someone else who can’t use it. 🌀🌀🌀I’m off to drop off some donations. It feels good to clear the home space! It may feel so good that you find yourself clearing out more things tomorrow, the next day and the next! Peace to you in your continued cleansing!
13. Physically at Ease 🧘♀️ Generally when we set foot on our mats we do check in with ourselves physically to notice where we’re holding tensions and we let it go. But what about off of our Yoga mats? How we hold ourselves - it’s a simple thing that impacts our health, breathing, mindset and reflects our emotions. ⛰ Wherever you are right this moment check in with with how you are holding yourself. * elongate your spine from root to the crown of your head* see if you can arrange hips, shoulders and ears in line with one another* relax your shoulders and your jaw* take a breath in and slowly let it go without collapsing your torso* Ask yourself “where am I holding tension” and let it go. “Where can I give myself more muscular support?” and gently engage. ✨✨✨Such a simple thing...to check in with ourselves physically but yet it can change so much of what we feel through our day and how we move through it.
14. Evening Fasting This evening cleanse and give your digestive system a little rest by fasting at minimum 3 hours before going to bed. If possible eat an early, light dinner as well. Encourage cleansing with an herbal tea or lemon water. For your evening fast you will feel better tomorrow morning! For my fast I made a simple white pine needle tea with lemon. White pine is a seasonal support herb..high in vitamin C and good for the respiratory system. The seasons usually provide natural support for our best health. Don't pick anything without sure identification.
15. Buy Nothing Day 😃Okay, I know this may be a particularly tough one since you may be shopping for the holidays. Let’s let our intention for today help us be more mindful of what we’re buying and why we might be buying it and ensure that we aren’t buying just to buy:* Is it necessary? * Is there a gift that may be more meaningful (gift of my time, kind words, providing an experience)* Am I buying just to fill my own time or feeling of lack? For today, be mindful of what you’re buying/why you’re buying. Let’s see if we can reduce buying just to buy which will also reduce clutter (for ourselves and loved ones) and reduce waste. Instead of filling time with purchases fill it with memorable experiences and loving interactions. For those local to East Hampton CT, if you’re tempted to shop for filler items today consider visiting the Trail of Hope instead on Hazen Farm. Nothing to buy, just pure joy in the experience 🌲
16. Be Your Own Light 🔥 Each season has a feel to it, an energy all its own. We have a feel to us, an energy all our own. We also have consciousness, and can choose the energy (the feeling) we offer ourselves and that we exude. This is created through our thoughts, our words, our actions and the integration of our experiences. If you’re feeling heavy, lethargic and unmotivated as we get into some of the darkest days consider what you’re offering yourself in the way of your own light (Prana). We can honor our need for deep rest but not sink into heaviness. Indeed this is what our December practices have been all about. All of your practices in simplifying and cleansing impact your life force (Prana) hopefully helping you to feel more awake, present and content in your life even in the depths of darkness. Remember that feelings/energies are experienced simultaneously. It’s not dark or light but both at the same time. Try this: Be the light in the dark. Sit quietly, eyes closed. Rub the palms of your hands together until they feel warm and begin to separate your hands, visualizing a light stream between your palms. Stretch arms overhead and feel the light pour down through you until you are filled with light, skin glowing with light. Expand your light in all directions around you, above your, below you. Expand it as far as you’d like. This is your light space helping you to navigate through the darker days ahead. See clearly what comes into your light space and actively choose whether it stays or not. In your light space also take into account the darkness on the fringes. It’s okay, that darkness is allowing us to choose what we bring in, to take our time and not have to be overwhelmed, to be okay with not knowing. The light and the dark are working together and you get to decide how you are going to be with both. This is your light, your own consciousness. When you are ready bring your hands back together at heart level. Take a breath in and with a little smile let the breath go. There is always dark, there is always light...and you are always held gently by both. Be gentle and kind to yourself.
17. Clarity in Vision Here in CT ice has wrapped around everything, making the scene before us all at once neutral and more pronounced. For today, let’s allow the frozen scene to sharpen our vision. When you look out what is standing out to you? Choose one thing that is standing out to you and let your gaze stay with it for a bit. Study it, the shapes and colors. We may find other senses jumping in (imagining the texture...scent, memories it may evoke) but attempt to just stay with the sight for a few moments rather than attaching anything else to it. SEE the subject of your attention with great clarity. In doing so our vision has enabled us to be fully present in the moment. In the present our minds are quiet, our hearts are peaceful and we are one.
18. Live in Slow Motion - Take your
time in all things today. If everyone around you is hurried, allow that to just reaffirm your intention to slow down. Slow down your physical movement, rushing won’t make things happen any faster. In slowing we feel time differently, we see things differently and we interact with one another differently.
19. Shift from giving THINGS to giving TIME and FULL ATTENTION Right now we may be thinking of what we can give to others. Most often, our loved ones and those we interact with daily don’t need more stuff. Over these upcoming weeks let’s pay attention to what is most needed. Where might you offer a hand, encouragement , an attentive ear, your own time. These are the true gifts. Let’s sincerely look at those around us and say, “I’d love to hear about what you feel you truly need.” They might be happy to hear from us, too, that the greatest gift we could receive is meaningful interaction with them.
20. Check In with Our Intention“I am choosing to cleanse my mind, body, heart and home space so that what is most important to me may come into the light.”Today, I am looking within and without to acknowledge what remains and ensure that what does reflects what is most important to me. Some questions we might ask ourselves today:🏠 Do the things in my home assist me in my daily life, either in usefulness or by creating a healthy, happy home atmosphere? 💡 Are my thoughts of a nature that supports my intention? 💪 Am i treating my physical body in a way that allows for my best possible health and energy level?❤️ Are my actions heart centered and a reflection of my values? For today, may we all recognize that these practices, while seemingly simple in nature also require determination and diligence. 🌍 May we support and encourage one another to live every moment in a way that is conducive to ease, peace, clarity and unity. May we remind one another that stressed is not our natural state, hurried is not our natural state, overwhelmed is not our natural state, disconnected is not our natural state. Be the calm for one another, be the stillness, be the love.
21. This evening, let’s settle into the nourishment of quiet darkness. Then listen closely...you will hear what is most important to you calling out. May we bring what is most important to us into the light. Every word, thought and action a response of recognition from each of us. “I know what is most important to me, and this is the light that guides my thoughts, words and actions." Wishing you a blessed winter season.