It’s Easy Being Green: 10 Powerful, Visual Reminders

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Over the years, I’ve become increasingly conscious of the impact of my lifestyle on the planet. Many of us have,  yet we hear of the devastation of climate change, see the images of melting ice caps and dead whales with plastic-filled stomachs and are forced to wonder.

Will our efforts be enough?

Here in Guatemala, the environmental situation can seem dire. Many people litter on the streets, because they never learned that littering is harmful to nature. Deforestation is rampant. This small country has amazing biodiversity but more and more animal and plant species are endangered or extinct.

My friend Alfredo Maul is a Guatemalan architect and eco-activist. His non-profit promotes environmental education and motivation. He walks his talk, living, breathing and teaching sustainability every day. One of his organization’s awareness-raising campaigns points out the ways in which we live and consume illogically.

He uses simple, bold images in his campaign to illustrate how we can shift into making smarter, more ecological choices.

Read full post.

See many more of the images from this campaign here.

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What Yoga Isn’t.

Originally published on elephant journal.

“Yoga is the mere or sheer participation in the wonder of Life as it is already perfectly given.”
~ Mark Whitwell, Yoga of Heart

The word “yoga” has become popular, mainstream and confused.

The question for today is: are we practicing actual yoga? Or are we making our yoga yet another item on our endless task list, an appointment in our weekly agenda after which we can go back to being miserable?

Are we creating spiritual practice just to have something to do or to attain enlightenment or flat abs or the perfect life?

The teacher is within. A guru can light the path, but only the yogi can walk that path.

Every yogi has her own practice.

There are as many yogas as yogis.

Yoga isn’t asana.

Yoga isn’t meditation.

Yoga isn’t ethics and morals.

Yoga isn’t studying the Gita or the Sutras.

“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” ~ Sharon Gannon

Yoga isn’t a lifestyle; yoga is life.

Yoga is not a lineage. Yoga does not require any particular equipment, apparel or paraphernalia. Yoga is not just on the mat. Yoga is not just in a studio. Yoga is not just formal practice.

Yoga isn’t the conscious inhale and exhale.

Yoga isn’t perfect balance.

Yoga isn’t New Age relaxation.

Yoga isn’t flexibility.

Yoga isn’t mindfulness.

Yoga blesses us with well being and freedom from inflexibility, weakness and chronic imbalance. Freedom from rigid beliefs about life, God and our own bodies and abilities.

Yoga is the dance of the soul, the root of the smile, the hollow center inside the space that fills the heart.

Yoga isn’t exclusive.

Yoga isn’t expensive.

Yoga isn’t a business or a marketplace or a commercial for the happy, healthy, mindful life.

Yoga is who we are and always have been.

“Yoga must be adapted to our needs, and no standardized approach will work.” ~ Mark Whitwell

We mustn’t integrate Yoga into our lives—that would be impossible, as it is already integrated. What we can do is learn certain movements, exercises and breath techniques for our body type and personality. What we can do is meditate and cultivate mindfulness and heartfulness throughout our days and years on the planet.

Yoga is realization that we are the energy to live fully, serve others and give love, kindness and compassion to all beings, including ourselves.

We are practicing everywhere, all the time, whether we know it or not.

Yoga is union.

Union of what?

Not the little self to the Big Self. Not the ego to the divine. Those are already connected, and there is no way of separating Us versus Them or me versus God.

We are nature, and nature is us. Yoga helps us realize that.

Smile Pretty & Abandon Hope.

chapinThe secret to a happy life:

Give up hope.

Or, should I say, hope wisely.

Cultivate wise hope.

In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron writes: “You could even put ‘Abandon hope’ on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations…”

Chapter 7: Hopelessness and Death

“Without giving up hope—that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be—we will never relax with where we are or who we are.”

Unwise hope and fear are two sides of the same corrupt, worthless coin.

Wise hope and wise letting go are two side of the golden coin that will make you rich.

Our minds produce thoughts. From where do those thoughts come? Where do they go? How quickly they come and go. Emotions too.

Meditation does not stop the thoughts from coming.

Mindfulness does not mean you are always happy-go-lucky and living 100% in the present moment.

Meditation is pure awareness, beyond concentration.

Mindfulness is present moment awareness, and the present sometimes (often) includes memories of the past and plans for the future.

Smiling is the universal language of contentment, joy, pleasure, happiness, gratitude, friendship.

Smile pretty. Shine from the inside out. Don’t fake smile.

Notice all the storylines, dramas and expectations constantly being played out in your mind.

Notice what you are hoping will happen. Notice what you are hoping will not happen.

Let go.

Abandon hope.

Put it on your refrigerator.

28 Ways to be (More) Real.

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  1. Say what you feel.
  2. Admit failure.
  3. Make more eye contact.
  4. Remember your own (and every being’s) basic goodness.
  5. Sing! (Even if you can’t sing.)
  6. Dance! (Even if you can’t dance.)
  7. Admit it when you’re wrong. And say sorry.
  8. Look fear in the face.
  9. Write heartfelt notes to friends.
  10. Give up small talk.
  11. Don’t be fake.
  12. Cry.
  13. Laugh loudly.
  14. Practice pausing and noticing the present moment.
  15. Contemplate death.
  16. Communicate!
  17. Practice intimacy.
  18. Don’t try to make your life seem perfect on social media.
  19. Do what you feel like doing.
  20. Have a meaningful career.
  21. Practice yoga. Fall down. Get up again.
  22. Practice meditation, every day.
  23. Surround yourself with real people.
  24. Write.
  25. Create art.
  26. Read.
  27. Learn.
  28. Remember: everyone wants happiness & does not want pain. Remember, we are all the same.

Simplicity Leads to Peaceful Vacations

Guest Post by Kendra Thornton

Kendra ThorntonAs a full time mom, I’ve learned that vacation isn’t always as relaxing as it’s cracked up to be. With cranky kids in tow, I have braved the crowds at Disney parks and driven across North America.

It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve learned how to enjoy a more peaceful vacation.

While it’s not necessary to plan an exhaustive itinerary, I find it calming to keep a few tips in mind.

1.  Hotels Can Make the Difference

A hotel can make or break a vacation.

The property needs to be quiet, clean and comfortable.  I’ve started looking for more from a hotel by using Gogobot to discover family-friendly reviews and amenities that make choosing on where to rest my head at night so much easier! On a trip to San Francisco, I was able to find a hotel that offered yoga and a location that was close to the zoo and stadium for some family time!

2.  Don’t Forget to Exercise

A vacation shakes me out of my rut, but I find that I stay more centered when I maintain my workouts.  Before leaving, I make sure to keep up with my routine, enjoying a moderately strenuous sweat session on the day before a flight or car ride.  This makes it so much easier for me to sit still.

3.  Be Okay with Less than Perfection

Things go wrong, even in paradise. When it happens, I try to stay in the moment by acknowledging there’s a problem (whether it’s a sunburn or a missed flight), and then immediately starting to solve it. Looking for a solution brings peace of mind. It’s empowering, and it lets me get back to enjoying my vacation.

4.  Hydrate for Health

In the August 2013 Yoga Journal, a healthy travel expert notes that “flying is dehydrating.” Dehydration can mean headaches and insomnia.  Whether I’m flying or not, I make a point of carrying a water bottle to keep myself healthy and happy. I would encourage you to pack foods that are also high in water content like grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and berries.

5.  Try a Staycation

Sometimes the best destinations are found right around the corner.  I’ve discovered some truly wonderful and inspiring spots without even leaving my state.  A staycation is a relaxing way to enjoy some peaceful time away from the usual routine.

Regardless of where I roam and who I travel with, a vacation is always better when I feel calm and centered.  A little planning can go a long way toward ensuring a relaxing getaway that the whole family enjoys.

8 Ways to Wake Up & Pay More Attention

“The world is not cyclical, not eternal or immutable, but endlessly transforms itself, and never goes back, and we can assist in that transformation. Live on, survive, for the earth gives forth wonders. It may swallow your heart, but the wonders keep on coming. You stand before them bareheaded, shriven. What is expected of you is attention.”
~ Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet

1. Drop Everything and Breathe.

First thing in the morning, either sitting up or lying down in bed—pause, be still and take 10 deep, full inhalations through the nose coupled with 10 relaxed, complete exhalations through the nose or mouth.

You can also do this practice every hour on the hour, or whenever the mood strikes you. Savor the breath like a cup of delicious tea or coffee. Take this special time to do nothing but luxuriate in the inhale going in and the exhale going out. There is absolutely nothing in your very important day that can’t wait 10 breaths to get started.

2. Drop Everything and Read a New Author.

In the land of elementary school, we have something called D.E.A.R. time, which stands for Drop Everything And Read. For 20 minutes, students clear their desks and minds and pick up a book to read silently and independently. There are no notes to be taken, no worksheets to complete, no comprehension questions to answer.

Grown-ups, too, can benefit greatly from this practice. Are you in a reading rut? Break away from your favorite genre. Browse Amazon or Goodreads for intriguing titles. Discover a new author. (I suggest a few personal recent favorites: K. Renae, Edward Mannix, Salman Rushdie, or Cheryl Strayed.)

3. Detach from Your Device(s).

We’re all guilty of it: aimlessly scrolling down a touchscreen while in the company of our friends and beloveds. Try turning off your dumb phone or iWhatever when in the company of real, live humans. Email, Facebook, Twitter and the news will still be there tomorrow.

As Douglas Rushkoff writes in his book, Present Shock, “Whatever is vibrating on the iPhone just isn’t as valuable as the eye contact you are making right now.”

Extra Bonus Challenge: Turn off or at least silence your device as you idly wait for an appointment. Just sit. It’s going to be okay.

Keep reading 5 more ways

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Nothing to Undo

The other day, I looked at my iPod touch for the time, and on the screen it said: “Nothing To Undo.”

I hadn’t consciously done anything to prompt this message, and therefore it was appreciated. It prompted a few thoughts:

  • The past is what got us here, and for that we are grateful, but it is gone.
  • You can, and should, forgive and forget, but you can’t go back and change a thing.
  • No matter what’s happened, how bad you think it is, how stressed you are… there is nothing to undo. So, take a deep breath and focus on the only moment which is available to be lived and loved: Right Now.

Regret, like worry, is not extremely useful. This is not to say that you should just do whatever with no regard to how it affects you and others in the present and in the future and just say, “Hey, no regrets!”

As a mindful, loving human being, of course you strive to be mindful, compassionate, understanding and caring. But there are times when anger flares up, or fears arise, or anxiety shakes our foundation. When strong, negative emotions arise, there’s nothing to undo either. Just let them pass without attaching to them and without pushing them away.

As long as you are living and flowing with life, remember this reassuring wisdom (from Apple): Nothing to Undo.