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This is a special blog for all the parents in our community!
In writing it I wanted to leverage all I’ve learned through my mindfulness practice, as well as my deep knowledge of nature’s elements that are inherent in us all and always at work (for or against us!). Wouldn’t it be great to approach this Back to School season with grace and ease? In fact, wouldn’t it be great to rise above the stress and gain energy, productivity, and peace? YES, it’s possible! Give this mind, body & soul approach a try and let me know how it goes!
Before we jump into the HOW, I would like to invite you to take this opportunity to shift your perspective about this time of year. Our intentions can truly drive how we feel, and ultimately, how we act. If, for example, you’re saying to yourself, “Oh no, not again! Here comes a hectic month of no sleep, awful traffic, stressed kids, and no time for me!” Well, the Universe is saying right back to you, “Your wish is my command!” Yikes!
Let’s make the shift now. Here’s how to do it with our mind, body and soul in the lead. 

Mind Awareness 

Preparing for the new school year can feel like having lots of erratic little fires all over the place! In nature, we can nurture these fires by adding wood to create a slow, steady burn. We can look at the element of wood as our Inner Warrior, who strategically calculates the next step, and the one thereafter, getting us to our final destination. Our warrior cares about getting things done effectively and successfully. When we have too many things to do (especially in our head, or on lots of sticky notes!) and we are scattered and un-organized, we need to bring in that warrior essence of strategy and organization. In doing so, we take small steps that allow us to remove the scatter and focus on what we are doing NOW – one moment at a time. Our Inner Warrior – when grounded and focused, helps us to be those awesome, on-task parents that we want to be during back-to-school season, not the freaky, burned-out ones!
If you’re feeling scattered, here’s a tip to put out all those fires: 
Back to School Brain Dump! Let’s get all those to-do’s and “fires” out of your head and onto paper/into action!
  1. Block off 30 minutes of quiet time. Take a blank sheet of paper and write down EVERYTHING that needs to get done by the first day of school, and for the first few weeks of school (heck…the first month!). There doesn’t need to be any organization at this point, just a list of items.
  2. If the task needs to (ultimately) be completed by someone other than you (or in partnership with you), place and arrow with the person’s initial’s next to it. See my list here!FullSizeRender
  3. Put an asterisk next to those items that are the most critical and put those into your calendar as non-negotiable appointments now. Check out my calendar below! As you can see I use iCalendar to help me stay accountable to myself. It really helps to think of my to-do’s as appointments so I make room for them during my day. If you use another system that works for you, stick with that! Sometimes I’ll also create a task list (with check-off boxes) on my phone, which syncs with all my devices. Do what is best for you, but definitely make your list actionable and accountable.Screenshot 2015-08-08 20.00.39
By doing these three simple things, you’ll have calmed the many fires and created one slow, peaceful, productive burn!
Warriors also begin each day with powerful and focused intentions. Create an intention for yourself that you will focus on each morning for 5 or 10 minutes. You can do this while driving to work, while drinking your morning cup of coffee, or getting that first blast of morning sunshine as the birds rise and chirp away. You also can keep your intention with you (post it in your car, on your computer, etc.) during the day to remind you. My intention for this back to school season is: “I have all the time and energy I need to create an exciting back to school launch for my kids.” With this intention, these tasks now become less stressful and more enjoyable.
In doing this, you become the creator of your thoughts, and not the passenger going along for the ride, as Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, would say.

Body Awareness

In nature, not only does wood help nurture the fire, but it also controls earth out of balance. We can look at earth as our “Mother” energy, which can give, give, give, and do, do, do —for others, while leaving herself depleted. So, in addition to bringing in our effective Inner Warrior, we also can use our earthy mother energy to “mother” ourselves too!
We can nourish our bodies by giving them healthy, satisfying food, and by energizing them. This is not the time to indulge in mindless eating — fast or junk food (which will actually drain your energy and rob you of the nutrients you’ll need to sustain you), but rely on foods that warm you and comfort you—like mom would make you! It can be as simple as having a nourishing bowl of oatmeal with raisins and nuts in the morning to get you going, and a cup of hot mint tea with honey at night. Perhaps your feel-good food is a green smoothie in the morning instead. That’s okay too! You know what your body needs to run effectively. Plan for that and make it happen.
Also, study after study shows that even 10 minutes of physical activity in the morning will jump start your metabolism and energize your mind, giving you that push of energy first thing in the AM to accomplish all of those to-do’s. Now, I say 10 minutes, because I know how mornings are with kids!! What I love to do right before I jump in the shower is a few reps of jumping jacks, squats, push ups, side and forward stretches, and sit-ups. If I can work in a walk later, great, but if not, I’ve done my body good in between 6 and 10 minutes. Just wake up 10 minutes earlier and get it done! Give your body permission to work for you and nourish you!
 

Soul Awareness

In nature, the element of water serves many purposes. It provides hydration, deep rest, and can help to suppress, or “water down” our tendency to do too much. It replenishes us and prepares us for the work ahead—our Inner Warrior work! We can consciously bring in this element by drinking enough water each day (a minimum of half of our body weight in ounces); taking relaxing baths or showers (or a dip in the beach!); reading; meditating (to the sound of the ocean, even better!); getting enough sleep, and YES, going with the flow! If something does not get done, even though we have planned effectively, we can consciously accept it and move on. Our souls can feel neglected when we are so focused on getting things done, so hydrate your soul by making time for at least 1-2 of these kinds of activities (for you and your kids!) each day during back to school season. My daughter and I love to have hot tea together each night, and then we’ll read a bit from her summer reading book. What does your soul need from you?
What I hope you’ve picked up on is that we should do our very best to create greater balance during this both exciting and stressful time each year. In approaching the season from the framework of care for our Mind, Body & Soul, we also are creating that balance for our children, who also may be experiencing the excitement and stress of going back to school, especially if it is a big transition for them (first time, middle to high school, new school, etc.). We also will be ensuring that we are not running on empty or reserves, but on a full tank — a tank of internal strength and stamina to launch the school year with invigoration.
Wishing you lots of luck this back-to-school season!
It’s your life, lead it well!
Namaste,
Monique
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Mindful in Montana

August 12, 2015

This is my last Summer of Wellbeing blog, and I decided to just share a quick recap of my vacation in Montana, and some easy ways I practiced mindfulness with my family. Enjoy! And stay tuned for my husband’s wellbeing blog tomorrow!


I Thought He Was Crazy

August 4, 2015

Mindfulness has been a big topic for us during this Summer of Wellbeing, and as I take some much needed mindful moments in Montana, I’d like to share one of my favorite posts from 2011 about just that. Perhaps you have a similar experience where your perception shifted? If so, please do share. 
 
Enjoy!


hand-5032_640My mom’s former neighbor had a strange habit. When we observed him we really thought he was crazy. He would sit for what seemed like hours on his front lawn picking his grass. He would never look up at passing traffic, just picked away, like a monkey picking bugs off his companion’s fur. What was he doing? Was he crazy? He must be, or so I thought, until I took to the green! Maybe there was something to this picking at grass after all?

It was one of those moments when relativity strikes you harder than usual, when your range of emotions is as wild as a roller coaster…it climbs, then drops, then quiets, and the cycle begins again. My soul was tired in that moment. I looked outside to the bright beautiful day and the grass called me. All I could think about was taking my shoes off, stepping on the thick warmness and spilling my soul out onto the green grass. All of a sudden I became that crazy neighbor, picking and picking the diverse grass, pulling it apart, and noticing the deep life contained within it. This big jungle under our feet is just as intricate as our lives, I thought, yet more simple.

My next thought was, “Wow! What an amazing activity of mindfulness this is!” This neighbor was onto something! It’s not like my empty feeling subsided, but all of a sudden I was observing my emptiness and it was ok. I was ok. I didn’t need to be anyone or anywhere in that moment, but deep in the grass that was much larger than anything I was dealing with in the moment.

For me, now, Green Peace has a new meaning. And that crazy man, well, he doesn’t seem so crazy to me anymore, simply a bit wiser.

May you find your own moments of wise craziness and peace within the green.

Namaste,

Monique

For Summer of Wellbeing this week I continue blogging about John Kabat-Zinn’s book, Mindfulness for Beginners. In the vlog below I explain a key concept from Part 3: that we already possess wellbeing and joy, but too often our heads are stuck in the storm clouds that life brings, that we are not aware of all the goodness in our lives. Watch the video below and share your thoughts!


mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that provides endless opportunities to cultivate greater intimacy with your own mind
and to tap into and develop your deep interior resources for learning, growing, healing, and potentially for transforming 
your understanding of who you are and how you might live more wisely and with greater wellbeing, meaning and happiness in the world. 

Summer of Wellbeing continues with my reading of Mindfulness for Beginners by John Kabat-Zinn. In the book, Kabat-Zinn covers Entering, Sustaining, Deepening, Ripening, and Practicing. He makes it clear that it’s a journey we’re on, but what a lovely picture he paints!

Let’s ENTER, shall we?

A Practice that doesn’t discriminate

There are so many reasons why we should consider “entering” this practice. Let’s begin by understanding that Mindfulness is for everyone and is a universal practice. Kabat-Zinn addresses the idea thought by many that because it is a form of meditation it is only for Buddhists. I really enjoyed what he had to say about this. He shares that, Mindfulness is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” It is all about attention and awareness, which are both human capacities innate in all of us. Additionally, he shares that statutes of Buddha as well as other Buddhist objects serve as representations of states of mind rather than of divinity. Buddha himself symbolizes the embodiment of wakefulness—coming into awareness.
 
 

A filter through which to experience everything

As I read on I couldn’t help but to clearly see how through mindfulness our filter by which we see and experience everything changes. Kabat-Zinn tells us that there are two complementary ways to do it: formally and informally. Formally means engaging in making some time every day to practice (with guided meditations). Informally means letting the practice spill over into every aspect of our waking lives in an uncontrived and natural way. In the latter method I can see mindfulness supporting every single dimension of wellbeing: how we love ourselves and grow in intimacy with our own being; how we eat and move; how we think, explore our feelings, and communicate, and how we approach our work and aspects of pleasure and play in our lives.
 
“Ultimately, I see mindfulness as a love affair— with life, with reality and imagination, with the beauty of your own being, 
with your heart and body and mind, and with the world.” —John Kabat-Zinn
Let’s take wellbeing a bit further.  As you can imagine, and as studies are continually citing, the health benefits of mindfulness are endless. I’ll touch on a few that are highlighted in the book. First, mindfulness has the ability to shift us from our right-sided prefrontal cortex to the left (side) where there is greater emotional balance, and where positive immune system changes are induced. Perhaps years ago this information would not have been so fascinating, but today when we are constantly preaching the benefits of emotional intelligence for everyday effective life leadership, it is pretty awesome! Sticking with our brains, we know that mindfulness activates networks in our cerebral cortex that are involved in direct experiencing of the present moment, and activates less those networks that are involved in generating narratives about one’s experiences. You know…those stories we tell ourselves!! (BAM!) Pretty cool, huh? Finally, as our guest blogger last month shared with us (Janet Altman), mindfulness also thins out the right amygdala, a structure in the limbic system that loves to put us in fight or flight situations. As Janet would suggest, let’s stop running from that charging Buffalo!

Breath is a great beginning

“We drink in the air on each in-breath, giving it back to the world on each out-breath. The last breath is gone and the next one hasn’t come yet. It’s always a matter of THIS ONE.” Kabat-Zinn so beautifully reminds us that although we often don’t realize it, our breathing happens with our without us! We would not be alive without it. Our first breath was our beginning…our entrance into this beautiful world. We can “enter” this practice through focusing on our moment by moment breath. At the beginning it is important to focus on something (like breathing, a sound, or an object). But through sustained practice it grows and develops into the awareness of awareness itself. Focusing on our breath is a great start, and a “radical act of love and sanity” (I’ll add…as Air Supply expressed…in a very hustled and hurried world!).
 
 

Creating a new default baseline

I connected so deeply with this last concept I’ll share with you. In fact, as I took in all Kabat-Zinn had to say about Entering, I couldn’t help but think about a few situations life wanted to challenge me with this last month, which threw me into the black hole of my thoughts. Have you been there? You know, that place where you associate your thoughts with who you are, with who you think you should be, and with who others want you to be? It’s also that place where we feel we have to run at a ridiculous speed to solve everything “now”.  In fact, we don’t even need big universal tests to get us into those ego thoughts, because we usually are already there . This is the difference between doing and being. It is really only through this awareness that Kabat-Zinn speaks of that we can release our thoughts (like a running stream) and our judgments of ourselves and others in every moment.
These thoughts we create become our “default”. Through mindfulness we have the ability to “befriend our thoughts and hold them in gentle awareness.” It’s not about stopping them or changing them, but holding them in a space where they don’t overtake us or “dictate our responses to life no matter what their content and emotional charge. They then can become workable rather than imprisoning.” Kabat-Zinn likens this practice to turbulence. “You can descend beneath the surface thirty or forty feet or so and you’ll find no turbulence at all, just gentle undulation.”

Let’s close with this powerful thought, which helps drive in the importance of creating our new default— BEING of purpose, intention and impact.
 
“Often our lives become so driven that we are moving through our moments to get to better ones at some later point. 
If we are not careful, it is all too easy to fall into becoming more of a human doing than a human being, and forget who is doing all the doing and why. Then our doing can come out of our being and be much more integrated and effective.”

We may feel as though we are doing nothing when we set off to be mindful, but it is truly an exercise in everything!
Thank you for sharing your last few precious moments with me! Take a long, delicious, deep breath, and have a wonderful day.
Namaste,
Monique

SUMMER OF WELL-BEING WEEK 9

Are you looking to find some inner insight on your well-being? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe there is more to life than the physical? Sure, staying fit is wonderful and all, but do you ever think about the nitty-gritty of things, through soul searching, or even trying to find that balance in life to make you feel “whole”? Holistic practices have been used for hundreds of years. A holistic practice not only focuses on the body, but the entire body-mind-soul connection to help achieve a greater satisfaction of oneself. Wholeness is just right around the corner, folks.


 Bringing Your Well-Being Full Circle

How we can heal our lives through holistic practices.

Holism means that we are all connected somehow to the world and everything around us. We humans spend so much time bettering ourselves via money and indulges that we forget to thank ourselves in personal and natural ways. We need to allow ourselves to access peace and harmony to better help our spirit remain in the state of bliss and tranquility that we deserve. We can do this through holistic practices.

yoga-pose2Caring for the mind and soul are equally as important as taking care of the body. The metaphysical components of wellness should be taken into account and not be set aside. We can all benefit from getting that ol’ yoga mat out more often instead of waiting for that rainy day Yoga, one of the more practiced types of holism, not only helps to stretch the muscles, it decreases stress, eases depression, and even helps keep blood pressure in check.

Meditation is also a spiritual awakening practice that can put us in a relaxed state of mind. When meditating, we clear our minds and focus solely on slow, balanced breathing. For a beginner, it may take a few meditations before he/she can fully relax and forget those pesky daily woes that trouble us all. Meditating, even if for 5 minutes, can benefit us in the long run. So, the next time you find yourself thinking there aren’t enough hours in the day, believe that there are, take a seat, relax, and ‘om’ your way to a better, happier you.

These are merely two well-known types of holistic practices. There are many other ones that you can easily try at home, or at a studio with a teacher or professional. And, they can also support any illness you may be working through. Sometimes, medication is not enough. Holistic exercises and rituals can help heal your soul and awaken you to your true self and true needs.

The forces of our minds and our transcendental connection to the universe can make miracles! I believe holism can help anyone, if they’re willing to open themselves up to the universe—mind-body-and-soul.

I created I AM Equilibrium because holism has been in my life as long as I can remember! My grandmother taught me to always to look at the root of a situation or illness for the blockage or obstacle, and try to find the “why.”  The surface of anything tells a different story than its root. Looking for the answers within helps you evolve spiritually.

beach-yoga-holiday-fuerteventura

My tip for you is to try and do the same. This week, when you feel stress or pain, instead of masking it with pain killers, cocktails, or other quick fixes, take a few minutes to breathe deeply and ask yourself questions that can help you find the root—the spiritual cause of the stress or pain.

And, I invite you to consider expanding your well-being horizon and trying out a new and unique holistic method. Regardless of the method or practice you try, be patient and be in the moment with it, releasing any judgment for the activity and for yourself.

The art of allowing is never easy! When I began my holistic journey I decided to take it slow. I realized that to develop the habit I needed to take baby steps. First, I set a time, even if I wasn’t going to do yoga or meditate, I’d have the alarm sound ‘meditation time’ and I would be ready with some affirmations or thoughts that I wanted to manifest as detailed as possible.  For one week, it was just that! The following week I wanted more, so I would actually sit up and meditate for 5 minutes and put on some yoga clothes, never pressuring myself to do more. These small baby steps helped me incorporate these and other practices into my life, all while running two companies! I also realized that how I thought about my time was critical. Did I feel I had no time at all, or all the time in the world?  Believe you have the time and you will find it.

I wish you much success on your well-being journey, and a lifetime of mind-body-soul practices that bring you into the wholeness you deserve.

Thank you!

 


Mary P
Ivette Agusti
Founder of I Am Equilibrium
Ivette Agusti is founder of I Am Equilibrium, a Holistic Gym in South Miami focused on helping others integrate Holistic practices into their everyday lifestyle. IAE offers classes, one on one treatments and weekend workshops for the mind, body and spirit, ranging from prosperity classes to the latest healing modalities like Sound healing, etc. Recognizing always how you are your first and only healer, IAE provides simply the tools to assist in your evolution and growth.

 

 

I looked a hundred times and all I saw was dust.

The sun broke through and flecks of gold filled the air. 

This has been a tough week for me; perhaps for you as well. You can’t turn on the TV or radio, check-in with Facebook or Twitter, or read the paper without learning about yet another tragedy occurring in our world. In fact, with the instantaneous updates our world operates on, you don’t have to look for it, it simply pops up and let’s you know, “Look what’s on CNN now!”

My heart aches.

Even though some of these incidents seem so far away, they are, indeed, very close to us all… it may be a young student murdered from our community, a man on the downed plane went to a local high school, or a friend who travels frequently to a troubled part of the world. We are connected through degrees of separation.

Maybe you’ve read the research as I have, or perhaps you just feel it in your bones. Here’s the TRUTH…we are all connected. When someone hurts a world away, we all hurt–seen or unseen; felt or not.

It’s very easy to not see or feel. For me, it becomes routine to acknowledge the disaster, feel it in my whole body, cry, perhaps, and then I tuck it away quickly and move on with my life. I wish there was more that I could do. I wish I could fly over the scene and scoop up the hurt bodies and souls and fly them away to safety.

A part of our path to well-being is understanding this energetic connection that we have with others and with the world at large. Connecting with other people and places in meaningful ways can significantly spike our wellness. But, what do we do; what can we do when we don’t have any control, are affected by the sadness, and don’t necessarily want to ignore it and keep living as usual?

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I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I imagine there are many small ways that we can reach out to those who are affected by these horrific disasters. Almost daily I see many examples of people making a huge difference through small actions…writing letters, making care packages, donating money to relief funds, etc. My heart is compelled to also do something very small. In fact it will only take you 5 minutes. But, because I know the power that doing things in numbers can provide, especially in the world of energy, I invite you–all of you–to join me in this exercise. And, truly hope you will invite others so we can create a massive movement in just five minutes.

More on the 5-Minute Miracle in just a few moments…

The inspiration for this came to me as I was reading one of my older blogs. This one was about self-love, but also about how our prayers, goodwill, and positive words heal us humans—as well as the universe as a whole—through water. Specifically, the book documented amazing research about the changes to water crystals (whether you are with the water, or whether you are sending thoughts to far-off bodies of water!when you speak to them, pray to them, or send them good and/or bad thoughts. The results were hair raising.

Watch this short video to get the summarized version!

Screenshot 2014-07-25 10.41.57

Emoto shares in his book,

…”vibrations will be sent out into the world and the cosmos, and the great symphony of that harmonic vibration will wrap our planet in waves of love that serve to cherish our Heaven-granted lives. This is the message from the water.”

Screenshot 2014-07-25 10.41.14

So, this week, for our Summer of Well-Being, I hope that you will join me to intend for a 5-Minute Miracle… a brief exercise that not only will serve to benefit you through quiet, compassionate mindfulness, but also will serve to heal the world.

Mark Your Calendar NOW! On Friday of this week, August 1st, at 8:45 am, I am asking you to join me in 5 minutes of prayer, intention, healing light… whatever speaks to you…for the healing of our world and for peace.

Will you join me? I’d love for you to commit and comment below by typing “YES!”

Please share and let’s expand these circle of healing and peace. I want to see LOTS OF YES’S BELOW!!

To close today’s blog, in preparation for the 5-Minute Miracle on Friday, I’d love to share portions of a beautiful prayer for our world, created by Marianne Williamson from her book, Illuminata. Feel free to use this one on Friday:

Dear God,

There is so much danger in the world today. There is so much insanity, so much darkness and fear. Our human resources are not enough…please send a miracle! Into every country and every home, into every mind and every heart, may the power of your spirit now trigger the light, activate our holiness, remind us of the truth within. May a great love now encompass us, a deep peace give us solace. May the world be reborn. Thank you. Amen.

If you prefer a powerful visualization/intentions, Marianne shares this one in her book, Everyday Grace:

See luminous energy emerging from your heart, extending outward to touch all things. Cast the light over  warring nations. Cast it over the entire planet. Cast it over the people you love. Cast it over the people you judge. Feel now a bolt of energy coming over you as you extend this light. Avoid the temptation to invalidate this image. It’s not an idle fantasy, for the light is real.

Thank you, and Namaste,

Monique