If you read my 21 ways to celebrate summer solstice post, you know summer solstice happens to not just be the longest day of the year but also my favorite day out of the year. I planned on not wasting a minute of daylight and celebrating the best way I know how. Surrounded by friends, a Saturday morning date to TJ’s, delicious brunch outside, a walk along the Highline, laundry (this part I didn’t enjoy, though I had to feel productive!), and top it off with one of my favorite ways to gain a positive perspective on my life and find peace through yoga.
Source: Karma Decay
It was the most beautiful evening for an outdoor yoga session as my friends and I rolled out our mats, kicked off our shoes, and took our savasana. But when I looked up at the sky, I didn’t feel my initial deep sigh as I gradually drift into a state of relaxation. Instead, my heart rate went up, my senses started working into overdrive, and I felt myself on the verge of wanting to jump up and get out of there as fast as I could. This is not how I normally feel when I’m in a yoga class. Though most yoga classes don’t take place in the heart of New York City’s chaotic chamber with flashing lights and the desired destination of nearly a million people on New Year’s Eve. I was about to experience the biggest challenge of finding peace and I wasn’t quite sure this was a yoga class where I would be leaving with a sense of tranquility.
But then something happened, and among all the crowded tourists and media, I found a way to shut out the flashing lights and concentrated even harder on my practice. As the sun started to set and cast a glow upon the Times Square Ball and light peaked its way through the skyscrapers down Broadway, this class ended up being one of the most memorable and best I’ve taken. Isn’t that how life is though? We are always on the go and being tempted to step off our path with distractions outside of us. But it’s during these moments where finding peace and the determination to keep going is both a challenge, and essential to our well being. Being part of such a diverse group of students from all levels and walks of life reinforced why I love yoga so much. It’s a path that anyone can walk upon and feel guided towards a direction of peace and ambition. Something that is perfect for discussing this Motivational Monday.
According to a survey conducted by APA, 54% of Americans say that their daily level of stress is a major concern in their lives with work, health, and money being the biggest contributors to this stress. While stress effects sleeping and eating patterns, moods and attitudes, 40% of people say they lose their motivation and energy because of the pressure that comes from stress induced feelings. That’s where finding peace and relief steps in to help increase drive and motivation.
Get rid of excess
The more we have in our lives, the more we have to focus on and maintain. We end up over committing to too many people, stressing to get everything checked off the to-do list, and becoming upset when a piece of technology decides to malfunction. Come up with a list of the top 5 people who make you feel your best, your top goals and priorities, and what makes you feel positive in life. Then make a list of the things you could live life without and another with things that create tension. Ask yourself if these are things you really need in your life, and if not then push those to the side and focus on those people and goals that allow you to be the best you that you can be.
Focus on what you can control
Grandpa decides to turn a 65 MPH into a 35 MPH speed zone, your favorite piece of cardio is taken by the girl from your Zumba class who always has to be the center of attention, your iPhone decided it doesn’t feel like connecting with the outside world so it will not be sending or receiving texts for the next hour – this last one may be a blessing in disguise. All of these are things you can’t control, so why stress about it? Instead, focus on what you can control and try to acclimate to these situations. What can you do to make the most of the extra commute time? Is there another piece of equipment or workout you can try and quite possibly become your new favorite? Maybe you’ll be more productive without being able to have constant communication with the outside world. Taking this different approach will help take away some of that aggravation and direct it towards finding new solutions and alternatives.
You don’t know everything
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s the truth. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and while it may feel like the best way to try to predict the future is to prepare for it, sometimes it’s best to simply accept the present for what it is. One of my favorite quotes about this is “If you are depressed, you’re living in the past. If you are anxious, you’re living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu
Take 20 minutes to meditate
If you can be still and in silence for 20 minutes, that’s great! I for one don’t have the attention span for that, so I find other ways to meditate that will essentially shut out the outside world and allow me to connect with myself, understand the value of simplicity in life, and focus on what my true ambition is. Try to have it be a relaxing activity such as yoga, reading, writing, painting, or even taking a slow walk outside somewhere quiet. Meditation has an abundance of benefits including releasing anxiety, feeling more open minded and confident, and enhancing your energy and strength.
Need a quick fix this moment to find peace and tranquility?
Try this. Close your eyes and breath in slowly and deeply through your nose for 6-8 counts, hold, and gradually exhale through your mouth for 6-8 counts. Continue to do this while you visualize yourself someplace that represents peace to you. Whether it’s a relaxing getaway, your dream job, or a place you go to where you have had a positive experience finding peace there. Certain smells also have a way of triggering our memory and associating aromas to previous feelings. The smell of amber, sandalwood, and vanilla always relaxes me so I try to keep a candle nearby that I can smell when I need a quick break from whatever is stressing me out.
Source: A Lifetime of Wisdom
Follow it up with a mantra.
What’s the phrase that resonates the most with you and allows you to calm down even when you’re under the most pressure? For me, I always tell myself “Life won’t give me anything I can’t handle” and “Everything happens for a reason”. These remind me of moments before where I thought I was not going to make it through and with my sanity intact. But yet here I am today, stronger than I was yesterday and sane…for the most part, we all have our moments! Either memorize your mantra or have it somewhere nearby where you can access it in those times where you need a reminder that life really won’t give you anything you can’t handle.
How do you find peace to stay motivated?