Saturday, April 14, 2012


Shortcuts to Daily Bliss
 And Other Tips 

Sure, the ancient yogis found inner bliss by stretching in their yoga poses and sitting on their cushions for hours on end. But we live in the real world-frequently too busy treading water to spare that kind of time!

Fortunately, after digesting tons of spiritual books and attending myriad workshops, then experimenting with what works, here are some Reader's Digest-ish shortcuts to daily bliss. To connect to your elevated interior, try (as best as you can) to sprinkle these simple steps throughout your day...

1. Sing in the shower:

          One thing the ancient yogis were right about: Set a good tone first thing in the morning and you float through the day. But I often can't drag myself out of bed early enough to meditate, so my solution is, I sing in the shower. Rather than fixate on problems and to-dos, I send my thoughts skyward via song. I learned this technique from a healthy and joyful 99-year-old man, whom I'm convinced got that way because he belted out "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning" with every shampoo. I prefer Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten."

2. Listen for the bird chirp (or the dog bark):

          Several years ago, I read the old Aldous Huxley novel, Island, where the Mynah birds on his Utopian Pala constantly shout, "Attention, attention," to remind the natives that here-and-now is most important. I decided to use the occasional chirping of the birds outside my window as my own prompt to pause; I stop and take a long, deep breath, and am immediately pulled into the present moment-the only place we can access our higher selves. If you don't have regularly cacophonous fowls, any vocal animal, or even a neighbor's crying baby, are equally wonderful cues.

3. Stop whining:

          The biggest problem with our chronic complaints: They keep the mind fixated on what's going wrong, rather than on the higher-vibration, fabulous things that are working. Next time you're ready to criticize or complain, stop and ask, "What is this unhappy situation making me desire?" Then turn your whole focus to that.

4. Stretch your arms up:

          As a longtime, big-time fan of yoga, I know the value of sneaking even a couple of poses into the day. The stretches make you feel great physically, and, equally important, they expand your mind. My favorite micro session when I can't do a full class: A boat pose (aka Superman), a full forward bend, and a half spinal twist. (If you're at your desk: raising your arms and arching backward and holding a minute, folding forward down to your ankles for another, then twisting around to the right side, then the left.)

5. Sit on your rump:

          I'm not talking about all those hours we spend on the computer. I'm talking about meditation. Not necessarily the 15 to 30 minutes twice daily that experts recommend. (Of course, do that when you can.) Ten, or even five, minutes once or twice anytime in the day can be sufficient. By focusing the mind on one thing (a word like "peace," a sound like "om," the flicker of a candle…), you're training it to release the worries about the past or fears over the future that keep us from fully experiencing the present. I adore my 10 minute mini-meds, and, more important, the way they spill into the rest of my day.

6. Fantasize:

          No, not about sex-although you're welcome to do that, too. Fantasize about what you're wanting for your life. The teachings about the law of attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks make clear that you get what you think about. I used to spend much of my day pondering things as they were (what the Hicks' call "tell-it-like-it-is-itis"). But if our thoughts create, it behooves us to shift to those that make our hearts sing: the desired job, financial state, health status, dream trip, romantic partner, experience and/or situation in the world. Ponder your desires in great detail, until you feel enthusiasm stirring.

7. Kiss your pillow (and your partner, too):

          Before going to bed each night, think about 5 people, events, and/or objects you appreciate. Begin with the easiest: items right in your delicious bed (including your scrumptious pillow and, if someone is there, your mate). How better to end your day than by connecting to your highest self, which, as pure love, always appreciates? You will drift off with ease, and, more important, set a glorious vibration to wake up in tomorrow morning.

By Meryl Davids Landau, author of the new spiritual women's novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog, which ForeWord Reviews calls "an inspirational gem that will appeal to introspective, evolving women." The novel was recently recommended by Yoga Journal's Blog and Spirituality & Health. Read excerpts at

10 Things Unhappy People
 Have in Common
~By Sara Novak, Planet Green

We all want to be happy in some way or another. We strive each day to find the path of happiness whatever we think it is. But some of us come up way short. Some of us make mistakes day in and day out that take us away from the shining beacon of happiness at the end of the tunnel.

Are you striving to find peace? Are you striving to locate that inner glow that you know must exist? Are you coming up short or finding happiness that's always fleeting? Life is a journey and on it we find what works and what doesn't work. However, the most unhappy people tend to have a few things in common. If you're looking to find peace, balance, and joy in your life, here's what NOT to do. These people have it all wrong:

1. They Hate Their Jobs

          You spend eight hours, sometimes much more at work. If you hate your job you can't help but hate your life because you're spending 40 out of the 168 hours in a week doing something you can't stand. What's worse, we often take our anger from work home with us, bringing that disgruntled attitude into our homes. I'm not saying go out and quit your job tomorrow. Instead, take an aerial view of your life. Why don't you love your job? What's missing? Is it the career itself? Is it your boss or your company? What's your passion? What are you good at? Take time to answer these questions and then make a plan to move towards change, however long it takes.

2. They're Constantly Worried About Money

          Studies have proven that being rich won't make us any happier. A Princeton University study showed that people needed an annual income of $75,000 per year per household and no more to be happy. Above that amount, more cash has no effect on "emotional well-being." What this really means is that you need to be able to comfortably pay bills and save without worrying about finances. On the other hand, financial uncertainty does make us unhappy so this is another chance for evaluation. Are you overspending? What can you downsize? How can you minimize your life so that you can afford it? This is in no way an easy question, but it's part of the journey.

3. They Don't Have Any Active Hobbies

          Happiness is linked to activity level. You have to move to feel good. What about yoga, hiking, swimming, surfing, biking, or running? Happiness is also linked to doing what you love, so find active hobbies that make you happy and get to it.

4. They Have Wandering Minds.

          According to Science News, "a wandering mind often stumbles downhill emotionally. People spend nearly half their waking lives thinking about stuff other than what they're actually doing, and these imaginary rambles frequently feel bad, according to a new study." The more you can focus on what you're doing when you're doing it, the happier you are. Meditation allows you to learn to focus on the present moment so you can actually live the life you've been given.

5. They Commute a Long Distance

          A long commute can take a toll on your life and after a while it can really bring you down. How much of your life are you losing in commute? It's hard on a relationship as well. A recent Swedish study found that divorce rates were higher the longer the commute.

6. They Think "Stuff" Will Make Them Happy

          Unhappy people are constantly trying to fill the void by consuming, whether it be alcohol, food, or shopping. But the problem is happiness can't be consumed, it's cultivated from within. Meeting desires only brings fleeting happiness.

7. They're Lonely

          Cultivating relationships is important for both your health and your happiness. And that doesn't just mean how good you are at social networking. Unfortunately nowadays more than a few of us view our laptop as our very best friend. Single or not, married or not, it's important to always strive both to make friends and to keep them while also keeping close ties to family.

8. They Don't Like Their Town

          So often we feel stuck in our lives. We live in a town that we no longer love and aren't sure how to feel better about the situation. This is another opportunity to take a step back and ask why you feel the way you do. Is it the town or is it you? Get the newspaper and look into new events, volunteer some place new, or, well, move. Who says you have to live in the same place your whole life? I certainly haven't. I've already tried out Charlottesville, Athens, Washington DC, Florence, Charleston, and Columbia and I'm just getting started.

9. They Don't Have Pets

          Pets serve as support and provide unconditional love that we grow to depend on but at the same time, they don't disrupt other human relationships, according to a new study. If you're considering pet ownership, adopt a pet in need and follow this guide to responsible pet ownership.
Related: 6 Health Benefits of Having Pets

10. They Don't Like Themselves

          We make ourselves happy by the way we view life and by learning to enjoy the moment. We make ourselves happy by the way we view ourselves. By opening our hearts we find peace but that peace has to first start off with you. If you dislike yourself, you can never be happy so give yourself a break. Learn to love yourself, you deserve it!


1 comment:

  1. Thank you!

    Somehow this is what I needed to read today :)