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Self love

in Inspiration, Mind, Self Care, Spirituality

4 Reasons Why You NEED to Start Journaling NOW

There are times where I have had thoughts and feelings that I just could NOT share with anyone.

I am pretty sure everyone has had these moments as well. We do not want to hear advice or criticism, we want to express ourselves without having to censor anything. We want to let it all out without repercussions. Well, I can tell you that my trusty journal has allowed me to do just that.

I began journaling years ago, at the request of my spiritual teacher. At first, I was a bit skeptical. "I am not feeling this 'Dear Diary' crap", I would say to myself, pouting with pen in hand. It felt like a chore. But as time went on, I was surprised at the relief I felt every time I finished. I was amazed at the things I would discover about myself. Who was this brave new women shamelessly and unapologetically writing whatever the heck she wanted? Whoa. I realized I had a voice, and it mattered.

A beautiful ceramic teacup placed on a diary while the tea evaporates as steam

Journaling is a personal writing practice that allows you to vent. It's like an adult diary. It becomes a safe space, a place where you are not judged or condemned or scrutinized for your thoughts. Journaling has become my best friend, and it can become yours too. Here's why:

1. You Get To Know Yourself

Most of us don't know who we truly are. We have been conditioned to act and behave in certain ways to please others. We have acquired so many masks throughout the years that we actually believe we are those masks. Journaling lets you put those masks down, at least for a while. It allows you to be free, to be yourself. What dreams are you putting off? Do you have healthy boundaries with others and yourself? What are your triggers and why? How do you talk to yourself? What are some habits that you want to let go of?  Self-awareness is born out of observing the the things you do, think, and say. Dig deep, get to know yourself.

2. You Receive Insight

Wouldn't it be nice to have someone to guide you all the time and give you the best possible advice you should take in any situation? NEWSFLASH: You already have that person - your Higher Self. Your soul is always guiding you. You just have to quiet your mind and listen. Journaling allows your Higher Self to step in and provide you with insights and wisdom regarding anything you are going through. There are times that I would journal about a particular concern and feel stuck. Then, I would meditate for a few minutes and quiet my mind. In that quiet space, I would proceed to journal again. I noticed that this time, I was writing from a bird's eye view. I no longer felt stuck. The answer became clear as day. THIS is how your Higher Self shows up and shows out in journaling. 

3. You Can Set Goals and Track Progress

A big part of why I love journaling is that you can set goals, write action steps, and track your progress. When you look back, you actually see how far you have come. It is inspirational really. Not going to lie though, there are many 'goals' I had set for myself a while ago that I look at now and I think, "THIS is what you wanted to strive for? You gotta be kidding me." I see how far I have come spiritually and mentally. Half the stuff I set 'goals' for I no longer care to obtain because I am in a different place of consciousness. It is all about growth and changing your goals according to how you are growing.

4. It Facilitates Healing

Hands down the best perk of journaling is that it facilitates healing. It lets you release emotions you did not even know you had. By feeling those unwanted feelings and writing about them, you are initiating healing. You are releasing the old, making room for the new. This is particularly hard for me because I conditioned myself to stuff down and ignore unwanted emotions (like most people actually). As you know, this is unhealthy and later bites you in the butt. Journaling has helped me acknowledge suppressed feelings and shed light on it, little by little. There is something so powerful about seeing your writing becoming smudged by your tears, almost as if you are washing away your pain. The only way you start to heal, is if you feel.

SO HOW DO YOU DO THIS MAGICAL JOURNALING THING?

Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. Grab a pretty notebook and start writing what you think and feel for at least 5 minutes a day. That's it. If you don't like writing or if you feel like your privacy might be comprised in any way, download a diary or password protected notebook app and type away [I like Microsoft OneNote and Evernote]. The main things are to do it consistently and DON'T HOLD BACK!!

HAPPY JOURNALING 🙂

 

 

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5 Life Changing Ways to Practice Self-Love

AAAHHHH SELF LOVE.......

Image result for self love image

How many of us actually know what it even means? A mani and pedi once a month? A nice massage? How about a long bubble bath? All these acts certainly qualify as self-love, but you are selling yourself short. Let me explain.

You see, we are ALREADY LOVED. We are ALREADY WHOLE. But riding out this lifetime in a skin suit means we may forget these simple Truths. I know I have and continue to. But we have to gently (and repeatedly) remind ourselves that love is our essence. We are worthy of love because love is who we are. So how do we remind ourselves? By choosing to practice self-love.

My definition of self-love is the practice of honoring yourself by CHOICE. So go get that mani and pedi! Indulge in that massage! But those acts are merely the tip of the iceberg. Real self-love involves choosing to get down and dirty...and that's why many of us, including myself, resist self-love.

Whyyyy??? Well, it just HURTS sometimes. It hurts to make choices that align with your Truth because those choices can cause upheaval in your life. It is much easier to remain in the realm of comfort and security, even if your perceived 'comfort and security' continues to hurt you. At least it's a consistent hurt you can rely upon right? [YES, THERE IS A HINT OF MADNESS THAT LIVES WITHIN US ALL]  Not to mention it hurts to love those 'unloveable' aspects of us that we wish would just be gone! 

But when you make the choice to love yourself, even if it causes you a significant amount of pain, it ALWAYS leads you to the right path. Yes, choosing self-love hurts sometimes. It just does. You are consciously CHOOSING to go through "pain", holding onto nothing but faith and hope. It takes a grand amount of courage to do so, but I believe it is beyond worth it at the end. It brings you that much closer to completely loving and accepting yourself for who you really are. (And ultimately, isn't that what all of us strive for as human beings?)

So how does one practice self-love besides the obvious spa visits? I have been experimenting for a while now because well, I just didn't really love myself as much as I deserve. I am still doing the work, but BEHOLD! Here are a few ways I've learned to CHOOSE to love myself:

(WARNING: They are not that easy, but SOOOO worth it!)

1. Analyze Your Habits

Do they make you happy or empower you? Do they bring you a sense of joy or peace? Do they positively affect your health? Or do they leave you feeling empty, drained, guilty, or angry? Make the CHOICE to hack away at the demoting habits that hurt your mind, body, and soul. There are plenty of books that can teach you how to create new, healthy habits in place of the ones you want to get rid of [I suggest reading "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg]. But please, do not try to re-wire your entire life in one week. Start off with one or two simple habits and snowball from there.

Image result for SELF LOVE

2. Analyze Your Inner Dialogue 

If your inner voice(s) was audible, what would that sound like to the rest of us? Would we want to stick up for you because you are just so damn mean to yourself? Cut it out! Make the CHOICE to be kinder to yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend [I'm sure you wouldn't tell your friend she looks absolutely hideous. So why would you tell yourself that?] You can practice this by being more aware of your thoughts and quickly replacing the negative ones with positive ones. Or just simply apologize to yourself for that rude thought and give yourself a compliment instead. SELF-ACCEPTANCE GOES HAND IN HAND WITH SELF-LOVE!

3. Analyze Your Circle

Are there certain people in your life that are super negative, extremely needy or extra critical? What about people who constantly gossip about others? Or those who always flake out on you at the last minute? Take a step back and see if they are worth keeping around. DON'T GET ME WRONG...No one is perfect. You and I sure as heck aren't either. But when someone does more bringing down than lifting up, it's time to step away for the sake of your own sanity. CHOOSING the right company is very important for your well-being. What about family? Same rules apply. Just because they are family doesn't mean you need to continue to be subjected to their crap. Minimal contact is best, but only you know what works for you and your situation. Point is to make sure you have plenty of love and support around you. (And ahem...make sure you are extending love and support to them as well!) 

4. Pay Attention To Your Inner Child

STOP! Think of a couple of super fun moments in your childhood. No for real, look away and actively bring up those memories. Are you smiling yet?? Adulting can be sooo monotonous. You can quickly lose touch with your inner child by tending to life's endless responsibilities and tasks. But they are still inside of you, waiting to be played with. Make the CHOICE to let that aspect out of you out once in awhile! Laughing, having fun, and just enjoying life is practicing self-love. Who knew right?? Here are a few ideas to get the fun started: go to a park and ride the swing or slide, play hop scotch or skip around, make sand castles or dig in the dirt, play your favorite childhood board games, finger paint or draw in coloring books, share silly jokes, play with toys, race or have tickle games with your children. Use your imagination! 

5. Just Breathe

 I LOVE THIS ONE. This is a simple exercise you can do for a couple of minutes every morning as soon as you wake up. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach and breathe. Feel your heart beating. Feel your tummy rising and falling from each breath. Close your eyes and say to yourself (or think) "I love you". Continue to breathe. Smile. Try to conjure the emotion of what it would actually feel like if you truly and completely loved yourself. Would you feel freedom? Peace? Acceptance? Happiness? Wholeness? Try to FEEL these feelings..and JUST BREATHE THEM IN. You do not have to do this particular exercise, but make the CHOICE to dedicate a few minutes of your day to do one that connects you to your breath. Meditation, perhaps? 🙂

Image result for Elliana Esquivel breathe

NOW GO GET'S TAH LOVIN' YOSELF <3 

Top Image by: Rita Loyd // Other Images by: Elliana Esquivel

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5 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Heartbreak

Heartbreak sucks.

Who's with me!? It just totally sucks. And what makes it suck even more is your family and friends showing you their love and support by telling you it's going to be alright. "YES LOGICALLY I KNOW THIS, i mean look at me duh, BUT EMOTIONALLY MY LIFE IS OVER, JUST LET ME CRY IN PEACE DAMMIT!" In heartbreak we can experience super intense feelings of despair, anger, hopelessness, confusion, fear, sadness, and loneliness (just to name a few). It can overwhelm you to the point where you just want to sleep most of the time because you don't want to FEEL anymore. I've had my fair share of heartaches, but none like the last one. This time was different. This time I 'got it'.

Even though I knew I had made the right decision by leaving, it was as if my whole entire world collapsed beneath me. I had never felt so many crappy feelings at once. I would hold my face and just cry in the fetal position for hours. I am sure you have too. (Even if you haven't, let's just say you did so I won't feel like a weirdo ok?)

Image result for heartbreak

But as time went by, my wounds started healing. This marks the stage of a new beginning...A time where you re-discover yourself and begin to rebuild your life. You start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Slowly but surely, you are filled with realizations and gain an in-depth understanding of your experience. It's very difficult for you to embrace and learn the valuable lessons of heartbreak if you run off to be with someone else or choose to numb your pain with other things, which I had done in the past...but if you just stick with the pain, gently acknowledge and accept it, you will FINALLY 'get it' too, just like I did. These are 5 valuable lessons I learned from heartbreak: 

1. Self-Love Is Crucial.

That horrible aching pain you feel? It's not really longing for the person you lost. That pain is calling out for you to tend to it. To nurture it. To give it comfort. Who you really need is YOU, so don't try to fill the void with another person. Acknowledge that you are grieving and give yourself all the love you need. Eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise. Try to decrease negative thoughts and hurtful self-talk. Allow yourself to cry as much as you want, allow yourself moments of silence. These small acts of self-love go a long way while healing from the pain of a broken heart.

2. Healing Is NOT Linear.

I've made more loopty-loops than a roller coaster, and that's all right. One month I felt like I was finally making headway, and the next I felt like it all went down the drain. This is completely NORMAL. Heartbreak provides your soul with many lessons to be assimilated and if you don't get them at the time, they'll just come back around again when you are ready to receive or in a better state of mind. Just know that it is perfectly OK to have those moments where you do not think you are healing fast enough...because in reality, you're right on time...Divine time that is.

3. Forgiveness Is A Choice.

I think this is one of the most important lessons I've learned about life in general, but it is certainly heightened during heartbreak. It's so easy to stay in a place of blame. It does lessen the sting at one point, but after you just gotta let go. See here's the kicker: you may have to practice forgiveness almost every day. Perhaps several times a day. But it's a choice that is always available you. And if you do make the choice, it will bring you freedom and inner peace, at least for the moment. And damn it feels good to be liberated from bitterness, resentment, and anger, even if momentarily. I wrote about the path to forgiveness in another blog post.

4. People Do Not Change...Unless THEY Want To.

You CANNOT make someone change. Can I repeat that??? YOU CANNOT MAKE SOMEONE CHANGE. They must want to change on their own. Not for you. Not for their kids or family. But for themselves. You can hope and pray and beg. You can restrict them from everything or lay down crazy rules. You can even play mind games to try to coax them to change (doesn't work, it will backfire...trust me). They might alter their behavior temporarily to please you but in the end it is NOT GENUINE nor is it lasting. They must WANT to change for themselves, not for you or anyone else.

5. Transformation Is Inevitable.

In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another.  And since we are all beings of energy, you cannot be destroyed darling! But you sure as heck can transform. Question is, what do you want to transform into? Do you want to level up or go back to who you once were? You have options! I made sure that no matter what happened, I was going to come out the other side a much better version of myself. I took self-growth and self-discovery seriously. It required strength, courage, lots of patience, and plenty of yoga, but here I am. And if I can do it, so can you.

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Change The Way You View Your Body

"I wish my [fill in body part] was different"

This statement just might be the most frequently used phrase among women everywhere. I've been saying this type of phrase to myself since I was little. Growing up, I was teased all the time for being overweight. I mean yeah, I was chubby and all, but c'mon...the way I was teased you would have thought I was the world record holder for being the most obese child in the world.  Body shaming usually begins when we are young and it seriously affects our self perception. 

As a grown woman, I STILL have to lovingly re-affirm to myself that I am beautiful just the way I am when I look in the mirror and feel like pinching that 'trouble spot'. My body image journey has been an extremely tough one. It is upsetting how long this issue had (and still has!) a stronghold of my life and how much it continues to affect other women around me. Research studies I've read show that:

  • Body image is one of the top predictors of overall life satisfaction for women
  • Majority of women are dissatisfied with their bodies
  • Technology has affected the body image of girls as young as 8 years old
  • Most teens girls report being unhappy with their bodies

The lack of self-love for our bodies is severely affecting our lives and it is even being 'inherited' by our daughters! We need to take a stand for our generation and the ones to come by learning to truly love and accept ourselves, especially our bodies. From personal experience, I  believe you rarely succeed by treating the symptoms alone [harmful behaviors such as self-injury, binging, purging, excessive calorie restriction, excessive exercise, etc]. You must simultaneously treat the CAUSE...lack of self-love.

So How Can We Love Our Bodies?

Our bodies are so sacred! Us women even have capabilities of forming human life inside our organs! Let's be friends with our bodies, not enemies. I am still figuring this out right along with you, but I have discovered a few ways to change the way you view your body RIGHT NOW:

  • Stop the comparison game - Stay away from the triggers that make you feel insecure or judgmental about your body. I am not saying to avoid beautiful people! Just take measures to avoid the triggers that activate YOUR automatic comparison game. For example, stop following that certain "InstaModel" account that makes you feel more depressed than inspired after scrolling.
  • Replace inner negative talk and judgment with positive talk and affirmations - If you do catch yourself comparing, thinking, or talking about about your body in a hateful or negative way, stop yourself and follow through with a more positive thought or affirmation. For example, you might think to yourself as you watch 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians': "Why can't I be skinny like Kylie? I hate my body, I am so fat!" Catch yourself and say out loud or think, "Well I may not be skinny right now, but I am working on being healthy. Besides, my thick thighs are bomb!" 
  • Respect your body - Be active, eat properly, and get a good amount of sleep each night so you can be stronger and healthier. Try to cut back or refrain from drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Primarily focus on how you FEEL, not how you look.
  • Honor your body - Visit your doctor for those yearly check up's and routine blood tests, use protection if engaging in risky sexual behaviors, REST if your body is asking you to rest, schedule a massage, take a long bubble bath with epsom salts (detoxifying and relaxing!)...be nice and genuinely LOVE your body.
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