Motivational Monday: Finding peace in the center of Times Sqaure

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

Summer Solstice Yoga

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.

Yogi

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.ceceyoga

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.

Source: Polyvore

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.

Peace...finding it and being happy with the way things are!

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

 Finding inner peace.

 

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.

yogis

How do you find peace to stay motivated?

The most wonderful day of the year (sorry boys and girls, it ain’t Christmas!)

Summer Solstice. The most daylight you will ever find during the year and a day that also happens to be my FAVORITE day of the year. I get the “Can’t sleep, can’t focus, all I can think about is summer solstice” type of excitement, eagerly anticipating the day to finally come. While the world averages 16 hours of sunlight on this day, we New Yorkers have roughly 15 hours and 6 minutes to take advantage of the sun showing the city a little love and helping us kick off summer right. How can you make June 21st quite possibly the best day of the year? Well I am so glad you asked, here are 21 ways you can live it up from the moment the crack of dawn awakens, welcoming summer back into our lives!

Photo: Monday morning's motivation. Wake up for this view. Run for #charitymiles #specialolympics #letsrunhun

  1. Honor the sun by starting with a salutation to summer through some sun salutation yoga. (I’ll be doing mine in the middle of Times Square!)
  2. Visit the Stonehenge where it is said that the sunrise creates an illusion that the sun is balancing on the stone.


    source: Club211

  3. I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day! Throw your own summer solstice party, though be prepared. Those extra hours of daylight may throw off your ability to keep track of time and keep you up until the wee hours of the morning. Summer Solstice brings out the party animal in you!
  4. Break out the solar power and be energy efficient! Since this is the longest day of the year, might as well put the extra daylight to use. Try the Soulra Solar Boom Box to keep bumping those summer jams all night long during your summer solstice party.


Source: Eton

5. Speaking of summer jams and rocking and rolling all night long, you’re going to need a good playlist to keep the energy of the solstice alive. Dancing In the Moonlight by King Harvest is one of my all time favorite summer tunes and I can’t help but sway my hips to the beat of the music.

6. Find a maypole, or make one with friends, and dance around it!
7. In Greece, bachelors jump over fires to “woo” single ladies. Even if you aren’t looking for a single lady, a bonfire isn’t a bad way to enjoy the first summer night.

8. Cut yourself up some refreshing watermelon.
*Here’s a little tip I learned. If you knock and it “talks” back, it’s a keeper! Also look for a big yellow spot with scratch marks. That means the inside is bright red and dripping in juicy deliciousness, even the birds couldn’t resist trying to get at it!
9. Solstice comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) since the sun stops at the solstice twice a year. Take a moment to stop and think about what you’re most grateful for right now in your life.

Source: Mystic Mamma

10. In Sweden, young girls place flowers underneath their pillow and dream of their future husband. Not looking for a hubbie or already married? Find a fresh flower arrangement to display in an area you walk by frequently. Evolutionary Psychology conducted a study that showed flowers trigger happy emotions and increases life satisfaction.
11. While you’re at it, why not give some of those flowers to a friend or a stranger you pass by on your way home. An act of kindness goes a long way, and karma is a friend you want on your team.
12. Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine, and pack up a picnic to enjoy out in the park, on a rooftop, or along a pleasant body of water.
13. Take that empty bottle of wine, write a message on it (make a wish!), and throw it out in the water.

Source: Find Your Middle Ground 

14. Girls in Belarus make candle offerings and place them in the river to celebrate Ivan Kuplala Day. Try making a candle offering or simply light a few candles and allow yourself to be mesmerized by their flames.
15. Reminisce your childhood and buy a popsicle from an ice cream truck. Can’t find one? Froyo does the trick!
16. Soak it all in. Find a nice patch of grass to lay down on, look up at the sky, and take a breather. Don’t forget the SPF, sun-burnt is no way to start the summer.
17. Catch up on a little reading.
18. For pagans and neo-druids, couples will go to the Stonehenge and treat the day as a wedding ceremony. Grab your significant other (or your best friend/furry loved one) and tell them just how much you adore having them in your life.
19. Make summer bucket list of all the things you want to do, places you want to go, and people you want to share them with.

20. Go to your favorite place to watch the sunset. Marvel in its beauty and allow yourself to feel the energy knowing all the snow and rainy days will have been worth it as you enjoy the next couple of months of summer.

Photo: Morning healthy selfie after a beautiful run in the...wait, is that sunshine?! I knew you'd be back in my life! #letsrunhun #itsabeautifulday #lovethiscity

21. Lastly, you probably haven’t made it the whole day without documenting your summer solstice on some form of social media. But if you haven’t, whip out your phone and take a minute for a “healthy selfie” at the end of the day. Chances are, you’ve had a full day (all that use of daylight can make one exhausted!) but are happy and content where you are right now. And that’s a picture you’ll want to keep around to remind you the importance of making the most of each day that is given to you.

 

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

How do you plan on spending your summer solstice?