This is my fourth blog in the series on simple rituals to invite Spirit back into your daily life. They take no more than a few minutes and easily fit into your schedule. Here’s the previous three links if you missed them:
This week it gets even more personal.
Have you ever found a natural rock that just felt good to hold? It could have been picked up while on a retreat or vacation or perhaps a long walk to one of your favorite places. Maybe you put it in your pocket for luck or maybe it found its way to your bedside table or your desk at work. Every time you look at it, you remember the moment you found it, or the place you found it, or the person you found it with. That’s a touchstone and the subject of this week’s topic to bring Spirit into your daily life.
According to Ayurveda: “There is a mind in everything, living and non-living, organic and inorganic. However the state of consciousness differs for various things. For example, the mind of a rock is as if in a deep coma. Rocks have feelings and expressions, and if one is aware, one can sometimes sense that a rock feels happy, sad, or perhaps frightened or angry. However one must have an open mind to perceive these emotions. It is beneficial to develop one’s intuition, the mystic aspect of the mind.” ~ Dr. Vasant Lad, M.A Sc
Did you question your good feelings when you picked up the rock? Did you for one moment think, why does this rock make me feel good? Of course not! Because you feel what you feel. No one can question that, nor should they.
I have rocks, crystals and stones throughout our house! We have quite a collection! And while I can’t always remember what I did an hour ago, I can pretty much tell you each and every place I found or purchased these treasures. We remember what makes us feel good, don’t we?
Stones with words on them
Maybe you like a little more décor in your environment. So polished rocks with words on them are also available. I won’t go into how many I have that simply say “Believe” (my favorite word); but I do have one next to my bedside that says “Gratitude” as well as “Meditation”. Do you remember the book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne? She mentions the magic of a gratitude rock creating a miracle. I’ll stop there. You should really get the book. We’ve all heard and read how feelings of gratitude can be healing. At the very least it will remind you to stop and feel gratitude at the beginning and end of your day just by gazing upon the stone.
Now your treasured find could serve as a worry stone. You know what I mean, right? It’s the kind of stone that fits into your grip so well you can rub it between your thumb and index finger for a soothing sensation. I’ve found natural stones that fit the bill but they’re out there in various forms. There’s a cute little retail shop on the way home from the north shore that sells small ceramic ones formed just right. They have words like “Namaste” as well as “Gratitude”, among others. One year this was my Christmas gift to each of my students.
You can also find various medicine bag necklaces to put your teeny tiny treasures in and wear them close to your heart. I have beaded ones and a couple leather ones with drawstrings. You can insert tiny stones, crystals, medals, herbs that smell nice or offer medicinal qualities—you get the idea. The medicine bag comes from Native American history and is often worn for maintaining personal harmony. Some include sage, sweet grass, or cedar—all healing, cleansing smudgeable herbs. Some include food items like corn or seeds or even flowers for the “medicine” they contain. Some might include a feather inside or out as part of the decoration. Buy one and fill it with YOUR personal mementos—only YOU know what resonates with YOU. And if necklaces aren’t your thing, but Native American art is, you can hang a typical medicine bag near where you’ll appreciate it most.
Blessing Bowls and Pyramids
One of my oldest and dearest friends gave me what is called a “Blessing Bowl” with an instructional booklet to “write down a few things you are grateful for. Fold the paper and place it in your Blessing Bowl. Every time you pass by your bowl or think of it, you will be reminded of your blessings. As you are thankful for your treasures, you invite more good things.”
Over the years, we’ve gifted several small holding containers to each other. I think the one thing I am most grateful for is her dear friendship over these 40+ years.
Pyramids are also a symbol of gathering energy and sending it upward. You can find small pyramids that are made of various crystals or that can open up for you to insert your list or other treasure inside.
Rosaries and Malas
I have a collection of prayer beads. I grew up with my favorite rosaries and still have these treasured gems—like the one I made my first communion with and the one my husband gifted to me that I held down the aisle at our wedding ceremony. I had planned to put my mom’s rosary inside a picture box with some fancy dress gloves and a veiled hat. Sadly, that project never happened. I recently discovered this collection of pieces in storage and immediately rescued the rosary from the box. It now sits next to me as I type. I believe it contains her energy. She touched this chain of beads more than any other person on this earth. So it’s like she’s right next to me. I know I can feel it.
My mom (in-law) wore her rosary out. She prayed on it daily, if not twice a day, as did her husband on his. We have those two rosaries together, as they should be, in a box. If you don’t think rosaries contain energy, well, think again. They’ve been a source of inspiration for both my husband and I for many, many years.
Now for the malas! I used to collect Neil Diamond albums whenever I accomplished anything exciting in my younger life. Once yoga entered my life, the spirituality of the practice did as well. I bought one of my first malas to commemorate achieving 500 hours of yoga training, and then again when I achieved 1000 hours of teaching yoga, and again when I was certified as a yoga therapist, and most recently when I graduated from 100 hours of Yoga Nidra training with Indu Arora last year. It’s become a “yoga thing” for me. Some would say a fetish, but let’s not go there. You see it combines my love of crystals with my love of yoga so this ritual is a bit unstoppable. I still say Hail Mary’s on most of my malas. Old habits are also rituals, aren’t they?
When was the last time you commemorated an accomplishment with a treasured something, something? It doesn’t have to be prayer beads.
Sacred and symbolic Medals
I am absolutely enamored with the story of St. Catherine Laboure and the miraculous medal. I have owned three medals, two from my childhood that traveled with me through life until I gifted one to a dear friend who needed a miracle at the time. One is embedded inside a prayer card I purchased at Holy Hill in Hubertus, Wisconsin.
I still wear the one medal on special occasions. When my mom (in-law) passed away, I realized that St. Catherine’s birthday was May 2 near the date of the funeral. So I wore it that day knowing mom would’ve been pleased.
St. Catherine’s story reminds me of so much—of faith, of my childhood, and most of all—believing in miracles. What makes you remember to believe? Surround yourself with that.
One time during a yoga therapy training, we were working with chakra energy (energy vortexes that correspond to our endocrine system—they’re in my logo) and using a pendulum to measure the energy of each chakra down our spine. I had purchased a hamsa necklace seconds before at the boutique open during the training. They hadn’t suggested removing jewelry so I was still wearing it. When the pendulum check got to my throat, the circular motion stopped and went very haywire, bouncing this way and that. I thought for a moment and figured let’s try removing the necklace. The pendulum circled beautifully around my throat chakra after I removed the hamsa. I kid you not! There’s something to it! Open hands are very symbolic.
I wrote about the hamsa before. Here’s a small paragraph from that blog:
“Amulets that are used for protection go back thousands of years. The open hand as a symbol of protection is universal. Symbols of divine protection based upon the open hand go by many names: Hamsa, Hand of Rachel, Hand of Mirium, and Hand of Venus/Aphrodite, among others. Hamsa literally means “five”. It predates Christianity as well as Islam. The Hand of Mary was used to protect women from the evil eye, boost fertility and lactation, promote healthy pregnancies, and strengthen the weak.”
My most recent purchase of a hamsa was, again, at a yoga conference (I need a jewelry anonymous meeting, don’t’ I?). It has a beautiful clear crystal wrapped just above it. It makes me feel downright protected when I travel long distances. Do you have a piece that you wear when you travel? Maybe you have something in your car for safe travel—perhaps a St. Christopher’s medal? I purchased one for my husband for our five year anniversary.
Speaking of Saints
I’ve mentioned a few of my favorite Saints here. For those of us that want a different kind of touchstone, remember the prayer card I mentioned above? You can find them dedicated to various Saints, some containing medals like my St. Catherine prayer card, some commemorating the passing of a loved one. Maybe you can find a special prayer card and post it in a special place to remind you of that special someone, or your belief in prayer, saints and angels. Perhaps place it on your bathroom mirror, or on your refrigerator. Where will you see it most?
I used to read a children’s book about the story of Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes over and over each year. It’s the story of ‘Bernadeta’ seeing Marian apparitions at the grotto in Lourdes, France. Miracles, again, make an impression on me. How about you? I wish I’d kept that book when I moved out on my own. Sadly, I did not. But I still have a prayer card containing a cloth touched to a relic of St. Bernadette. It still means something to me. Do you have a favorite Saint?
I still own a statue of the Blessed Virgin from my childhood. It sits upon my dresser and is one of the first things I see in the morning. What do you see first thing in the morning? Does it bring you peace?
What makes YOU feel good? What memento brings you good memories? What reminds you to send a prayer to the heavens? Surround yourself with THAT. Then it will only take a moment to bring Spirit into your life when your eyes land upon your specially chosen spot.
A few of my favorite things
This is my third blog in the series I introduced a couple of weeks ago promising to send you simple rituals to invite Spirit back into your daily realm. I promised they’d take no more than a few minutes and easily fit into your schedule. I hope you enjoyed the first two blogs. Here’s their links if you missed them:
Now, on to this week’s topic!
If you aren’t regularly making time to connect to Spirit, Spirit won’t have a venue to talk to you because you obviously aren’t listening. It’d be like leaving messages and sending gifts to a relative or friend but never hearing back or getting an acknowledgement they’ve heard from you. Eventually you’d quit, right? The same goes for Spirit. Once Spirit knows you’re listening, the floodgates open! I am speaking from first-hand experience!
I like to take a moment in the morning to contemplate a question for Spirit—maybe it’s some advice I need. It could be before I get out of bed, perhaps just after I’ve meditated, or maybe after I’ve exercised and done yoga. I could chose my moment just after I light a candle, as I wrote in my first blog on this series. If mornings don’t work, you can do this practice in the evening too. As you can imagine, these random connections can happen any time you’re feeling like you need a fix!
Here’s a collection of ways to “dial up” Spirit:
“Sandy, have you been leaning on me lately?
For absolutely EVERYTHING?
Day and night, rain or shine, Gummi Bears or Gucci?
Sometimes a particular reading from these above-mentioned books resonates with me so much at the time because they’re spot on to what I asked about. So I’ll reread that particular passage daily for a while to let it really sink in. Why not? THAT’S the reason Spirit sent you the message, right? If it resonates in a big way, keep dwelling on that message!
Keep in mind that if the topics that interest me don’t interest you, any random reading from pretty much any book can carry a message. Try it. You’ll see.
If you prefer a different kind of random pull, you can use a deck of cards. I like to shuffle the deck until one pops funny. It could drop out, it could flip over, or it could just stick out in a unique way as I’m shuffling. Somehow it let’s me know, THIS is the one! And then I always take the bottom card from the portion of the deck that’s still in my hand and do a two-card reading. If two cards happen to pop out, I’ll still grab the card from the bottom of the deck. I figure Spirit knows my M.O. and may have been trying to get that bottom card to me somehow! You don’t have to do it my way. I just thought I’d share.
I used to highlight my favorite decks in my newsletter. I have that many! There are many decks to choose from! There are even some readings you can find digitally—like here. (Native American wisdom)
Here is a small sampling of what I’ve highlighted in previous newsletters:
Many times the cards have a full message, but depending on your time, you can just read the summation or key word. Bing, bang, got it!
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I own. I finally had to admit I have a fetish for them and stop buying new ones! I even started to train to read Tarot cards (I’m a work in progress!) They are fun, quick and I promise they’ll become one of your best resources to talk to Spirit.
They’re simple, quick and may be just what you’re looking for. There are affirmation calendars, horoscope calendars, even a word a day calendar can bring a message if you’re asking. Here’s a couple I use:
When I’m feeling disconnected from Spirit, these suggestions are like picking up the phone and literally dialing up Spirit (I may be aging myself with that term!). It’s like talking to an old friend and asking for their advice. No matter how long it’s been, Spirit remembers you.
It helps to be a bit centered prior to doing a random reading—at least for me. So remember to take a deep breath, think of a question or area of advice that you’re working on prior; and trust me, the responses you get will start to amaze you! Whatever portal you open to spirit, I promise you, the messages will come!
That didn’t take any time at all, now did it? Enjoy!
P.S. I’ll add here, that if you are exceptionally down and you DO have more time, you can always do multiple card readings, random book readings, etc. Sometimes I need a good talking to. Maybe you do too. So give yourself this gift of time.
Last week I introduced this series of blogs on easy ways you can bring simple rituals into your daily realm to invite Spirit back into your life. These rituals take no more than a few minutes and will easily fit into your daily schedule. And as I mentioned last week, if one doesn’t resonate with you, perhaps the next topic will.
Driving and Stress
Do you ever find yourself stressed while driving? Perhaps you drive to and from work during rush hour when traffic can get a little, shall we say hairy? It’s sometimes hard to stay calm as you notice how many other drivers are perhaps texting or simply wanting to drive right through you!
How do you insulate your nervous system from this onslaught of stress? It’s an important question because it’s the quality of life every day that creates your overall health, right?
Try turning off the radio and humming a favorite tune and if it happens to be a spiritual song, or one that reminds you of loved ones, even better.
When I’m driving and want to stay calm, humming some of my favorite songs brings me back to center. My go-to song to hum all year round is “Silent Night”. This song pops into my head immediately when I’m driving. Sometimes I find myself humming it before I’ve even realized I started humming—like the infamous “Pavlov’s dog” experiment. I get in the car and start to hum as I start to drive because my subconscious knows that’s my M.O.
If it’s a long drive, I have a playlist of sorts. “Silent Night” turns into “You are my sunshine”, which has a very emotional component, calling to mind my mom (in-law) as well as my great aunt (in-law), both of whom have passed. Next I hum “Que Sera Sera” which my dad used to whistle to himself. When I find myself missing him terribly (he passed away in 2003), I’ll hum the “Polish National Anthem”. My parents were both born in Poland and I went down the aisle to the Polish Anthem as a surprise gift to both sets of Polish parents. (My in-laws are also 100% Polish.) My dad could play this tune on his harmonica to his dying day (from Alzheimer’s). It was his favorite song and would always bring tears to his eyes.
Humming has a calming effect in and of itself but the songs you choose to hum will also add to the healing environment you are creating with the sound of your vocal chords. It’s like inviting my best friends into the car with me—my most supportive relatives surrounding me. The songs that have come to mind when I drive bring soothing memories and a reminder of important connections in my life.
Maybe it’s a spiritual song that brings you comfort. Maybe it’s like the ones I’ve chosen. Although it’s really more like they chose me!
I believe everything’s a sign and I’ve often thought the songs that have made it to my playlist are my relative’s way of reaching out to me when I need it, especially when the song just starts humming itself unprompted.
Then at other times I know that humming the tune by conscious choice will bring them to mind. And this conscious choice literally brings their spirit to me whenever I am in need of their particular message—like a calling card of sorts. Sometimes I just need a reminder of what their presence meant to me in my life to bring me back to center.
How about you? Do you have certain favorite songs that bring someone special to mind? Invite them back into your life by humming “their song”. They’re only a song away.
Some humming benefits
You know innately that humming calms your central nervous system. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. This calming response is compliments of your Vagus Nerve which runs through your vocal chords to the base of your stomach. (Yoga activates the Vagus Nerve too, but more on that another day.)
I’ve read that humming enhances health and wellness by increasing oxygen in the cells. It lowers your blood pressure and your heart rate too! How cool is that? No meds required! Humming also clears toxins out of your body by increasing your lymphatic circulation, increases melatonin—the sleep hormone, reduces stress hormones, releases oxytocin—the love/trust hormone, releases feel good endorphins promoting natural pain relief, and also increases nitric oxide levels which is a molecule that promotes healing! Humming transforms us on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. (Source: The Humming Effect by Jonathan Goldman and Andi Goldman)
There’s a yogic breath called “bees” breath (Bhramari) that is one of the best breathing exercises to release agitation, frustration, or anxiety and helps get rid of anger. Could you use those benefits while driving? The exhalation sounds like a humming bee sound. So even if you can’t think of a tune to hum, you can try simply making this vibratory hum sound of a bee. (The full practice would suggest closing your eyes and placing your fingers in your ears, plugging them. Obviously you WON’T do this full practice while driving but you could hum a vibratory bee sound without the other details.)
Try it! You’ll see. Humming relaxes you in mind and body, reduces fear and worry; and keeps you grounded and focused. It’s kind of like your own white noise filling your mind with soothing tones vs. the monkey mind of chitter chatter your ego likes to go on and on about. I’ve read that humming helps you concentrate (some auditory learners need that white noise) among many other benefits. You may have read that our iPhones are taking our concentrative powers away! We have an antidote—humming!
Try humming a few tunes the next time you’re on the road and see if you arrive at your destination a little calmer, more centered and at peace.
Happy 2019! How has the year started off for you? Getting back to our usual routines can be a blessing, can’t they? The end of the year is a whirlwind of activity, throwing us off our usual routines; and perhaps leaving us tired in mind, body, and pocketbook.
Some of the aftereffects can show up as less patience, feeling less grounded or even lethargic. When this happens, I know I’ve quit listening to Spirit and need to get back to my usual, very simple routine rituals that invite Spirit into my life.
So I’ll be writing a series of blog posts on easy ways you can bring simple rituals into your daily realm that take no more than a few minutes. If one doesn’t resonate with you, perhaps the following week’s will. Consider it my New Year’s gift to you, my readers.
Don’t worry, I won’t be emailing you weekly! Am I the only one who thinks some of the emailing has gotten out of hand? You can check out my blog page weekly here —the same page you go to for the current newsletter which IS sent via email once a month or so.
I hope you’ll join me. At the very least, you’ll gain some peace of mind and spirit while reading the post and perhaps you’ll acquire a new favorite ritual to carry with you into 2019.
To start you off, here’s my favorite, perennial ritual that creates an immediate meditative moment first thing in the morning while putting on your make-up, bathing, shaving—you get the idea. We all use the restroom in the morning, right? It’s real, real simple:
If you’ve chosen incense, let the smoke waft over you as though you’re sending yourself a blessing from Spirit. My husband and I both love Palo Santo wood. It doesn’t burn for long after being lit, so it’s a quick blessing and smells so amazing!
All wood scents are very grounding. They come from a tree, so you are being surrounded with the grounding energy from the tree’s innate ability to root down deep into Mother Earth.
My favorite short prayer to say when I light a candle comes from Ernest Holmes (The Science of Mind):
“Perfect God within me, Perfect life within me which is God, come forth into expression through me as that which I am.”
I memorized that prayer years ago. There’s not a time I light a candle (which I do at least once a day) that this prayer doesn’t come to me automatically, silently repeating in my mind. It sets the tone for my day immediately.
See, I told you it would be simple, only take a few minutes and fit right into your daily routine. I wish a grounding peacefulness to embrace each and every one of you as you start your day. Until next time!
YogaLean 12-week Transformation!
Looking to make a change? Are you searching for real transformation in your life? Do you want to lose weight and gain vitality? Hoping to de-clutter both physically and mentally? Are you curious about learning to meditate for greater serenity? Join the YogaLean 12-week Transformation! This workshop is available as either a private residence group class or on-site corporate class. Details here.
I’m deepening my Ayurveda training through Yoga Veda Institute’s Ayurvedic Health Counselor program! Four years ago I studied with Cate Stillman in a 9-month program called “Living Ayurveda” and it’s time for more!
Ayurveda literally translates to “Science of Life”. Ayurveda is a Vedic Science that’s a 5000 years old traditional science designed to bring the body back to balance in order to heal from within. Ayurveda incorporates nutrition, lifestyle, breath practices and more to bring you to balance—mind, body, and spirit.
The YogaLean program I detailed above incorporates Ayurvedic science as well. If you’re curious, please check it out or go to that page on my website for links to quizzes to find out your Ayurvedic body type/individual nature/dosha.
Each person is a unique combination of the five elements and we each have a different proportion of each existing within our personal make-up. Vata is predominantly Air and Ether, Pitta is predominantly Fire and Water, and Kapha is predominantly Earth and Water.
Being aware of your dosha allows you to identify protocols used in Ayurveda to align with nature—both your internal nature and your external environment such as seasonal cycles and circadian rhythms. It helps you to really hone and own your best assets!
Curious? Schedule a one-on-one Yoga Therapy appointment with me and we can discuss your unique health and wellness!
Please feel free to share my blog series or YogaLean program page with your friends! I would be most grateful! Happy 2019!
Better Day Yoga, LLC