Many people don’t have self-care practices simply because their expectations are too high in the beginning, so they never get started.
Do you ever find that because you’re not a perfect yogi or a serene mountain top meditator that it’s not good enough so you practice even less? This goes for decluttering your home and making space as well. You’re not a perfect minimalist, so why even bother trying?
My yoga practice has suffered for great lengths of time in the past because I didn’t meet myself where I was in that moment. Instead I shamed myself for not going to hour long yoga classes multiple times a week at a studio, so I never got on my mat at all.
Pressure to meditate perfectly can have the same effect, the inner shame and comparison game can have you believe that you’re not doing enough. This can be fueled by the ever present barrage of magazine worthy perfection we are fed on our social media feeds.
We see perfection, we shame ourselves for not being good enough, and we continue without growing on our path.
There’s got to be a better way.
If you’ve read through any of my past posts (such as this one and this one) you know that I believe perfection should never be the end goal.
Giving up on perfectionism means you don’t have to be a hardcore yogi or minimalist to learn from these practices and apply them in your own life. You can be you, learning and growing, slowly incorporating life improving practices into your life, at your own pace, in your own time.
When you let go of perfectionism, you make way for a supportive, healthy and ever-changing practice. This is where real growth can happen.
Below I share some practical ideas for you to get started with three of my favourite healthy practices.
Meditation is such an amazing practice. There’s science to back up how good it is for your brain, it can be a completely free practice to take up (you literally only need yourself to do it). There is a huge amount of different ways to practice, and yet so many people that know of its benefits struggle to maintain a practice. Why?
Meditation can feel hard, and it can bring up lots of self judgement. Here’s where the perfection thing comes into play. You wouldn’t expect to run a marathon the day after you started jogging would you? Same goes for meditation. Let go of how long you think you “should” be able to meditate for.
Try this instead:
If you really want to develop a meditation practice for yourself, you have to start somewhere. So start simply.
Start with one minute a day.
Find somewhere comfortable and quiet, turn the ringer off of your phone and set an alarm for one minute. Close your eyes and breathe. When the alarm goes off, slowly open your eyes, take one more breath and move on with your day with purpose.
Try and do this for a month. At the end of the month, you will have meditated for 30 minutes! That might be longer than some will ever have meditated in their entire lives.
During this month, notice how your mind reacts to its one minute rest a day. Do you feel any different? This will be supremely personal, and you’ll only know if you try it.
At the end of the month, see where your meditation path takes you.
Yoga will look different in your body compared to anyone else’s, but we get scared we aren't "doing the poses good enough". While the poses in your typical yoga class give a framework for the shapes you take on, they are that way to offer healing benefits, not to look an exact certain way.
Often fear of not looking good enough or being flexible enough while practising keeps too many yogi hopefuls from spending time on their mat.
Try this instead:
Practice at home, for 5 minutes a day.
Start with any simple poses you know. Peaceful cat cows, stress releasing forward folds, even powerful warriors.
To turn yoga into a practice, you have to let go of expecting yourself to look a certain way. Be brave and practice at home instead of the studio.
Get to know yourself through your yoga practice. This is magic. This is the power of yoga.
It seems scary to develop a home practice, but you can start with simple, safe movements that will allow you to get in touch with how your body is really feeling every day.
Minimalism (or Simple Intentional Living) can easily become a comparison game. If you think you have to own under a certain amount of possessions or live in an empty, lifeless home to be a minimalist, you’re missing out on the multitude of benefits this way of thinking can bring you.
Try this instead:
Focus on your own life, your own space and look for an item that you truly have no need for. You don’t use it, you don’t plan on using it. It’s just … there. Then donate it.
Do this every day for a week. One item a day for week.
Remove seven unneeded and unused items from your home in a week.
Reflect on the fact that another human may come along, purchase one of these items and get great joy from it. Isn’t that better than it lying around your house?
At the end of the week, how do you feel? Do you notice that you or your home feel any different? Do you want to keep going?
Small, actionable steps in your path to more intentional and healthy living will serve you more than unattainable perfection.
Through our smallest actions, we build confidence, we make progress, and we grow.
Leave a comment below if you give any of these achievable actions a try :)
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Busy is the new fine.
What does that mean? Imagine a typical conversation…
“Hi Charlotte, how’re you?”
“Hey Saavon, I’m fine. I’ve been sooooo busy lately!”
Agh! These words have become placeholders that block us from a more intentional way of living. Life can be hectic at times, I get it. If you answer “busy” to the question “how’re you?” on a daily basis, take a deep breath, step back from the busy-ness and reassess.
You don’t have to be busy. Seriously. There are subtle signs around us that tell us we have to push, hustle and cram as much into our lives as possible in order to be happy and productive, but often the opposite is true.
More work, more money, more stuff and more social commitments to keep up with everyone else’s pace. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
It’s ok to say no or turn down a social invitation. It may feel like the scariest thing in the world, but do you know what lies on the other side of saying no when you need to? Freedom. Freedom to choose activities and moments that fill you up and make you happy, rather than committing to things to stay busy for fear of letting people down or looking lazy.
The people that are meant to be in our lives will support us when we say no because it’s best for ourselves and our health. It can be a true test of friendships and relationships, but your best people should never guilt or shame you for doing what’s best for you.
You have every right to make time for what lights you up and makes you happy!
Try committing to a bit less on your official calendar and leave some space for rest and activities that you can never quite seem to get to. It’s amazing how so many people know how beneficial meditation or exercise is, yet they can’t find time in their schedules for 5-10 minutes to practice.
I realized after writing that last sentence that it may come across as judgemental or rude. I promise you, that is not the intention behind it. I really believe every freakin’ person in the world should meditate, but I’m not here to shame anybody into it!
Think of it more as a gentle challenge. A small nudge for you to take a few minutes, step back from your life, take stock of what’s going on and then take action. Busy is a choice, but you can choose differently.
Often we get busy, head down in the grind and forget how powerful our choices are in our own lives. Life is not merely happening to us, we have a hand in crafting it.
Is there anything you wish you could do, but can’t find the time because you’re always so busy? How much of your life/calendar is filled with things that you do because you think you “should” be doing? Are you worried if you’re not busy all the time people will think you’re lazy or selfish? You can break this cycle. It’s your choice.
Not being busy does not make you lazy or selfish. Nope, not one bit!
Rest is important. Quiet, reflective time is important. Silly, fun and indulgent times are important. We need it. When we don’t make time for ourselves our bodies let us know by sending signals. What kind of signals? Aches, pains, dis-ease. When we ignore these signals? We get sicker. It’s a vicious cycle.
When we get busy and fill our lives with things that we don’t even care that much about, we’re wasting valuable time.
Here's a great journal exercise:
Write a list of anything that makes you happy. People you love being around, activities that bring you joy, health and vibrancy. Next write down a list of what fills your days, what you spend the most time doing in a week.
Then reflect on the two sets of answers. Is there any overlap? If not, can you make room by minimizing the “should do” list with the “makes me feel like yaaaaas!” list?
This exercise is simple, but powerful. It can help take you out of auto-pilot and reinforce the fact your life is a set of choices that you ultimately get to decide on. When you take ownership of your choices, you can craft your ideal life
Did you try this quick exercise? If you did, share in the comments below one person or activity you’re going to make more time for, I’m excited to hear about all the great stuff you’re going to choose to do!
Why the spices? It occurred to me that there is a running theme in things that make my heart happy:
Small, confidence-building moments in life are everything. Picking a small, achievable task and completing it. Tonight I pulled out my spices, checked for anything unusable or expired , consolidated items and reduced the number of jars in my cupboard. Fifteen easy minutes later and I'm so proud and happy that my cupboard and bottles are decluttered and clean.
Check out these two bottles. If I hadn't completed this small task, I wouldn't have noticed that I had these both on the go. Big deal I hear you say! But think about being mindful of even the small details in life. Recycling one is going to feel so GOOD because I know it's about more than just tossing a bottle, it's about creating space in my life. You can create space in your physical environment which frees up your time and attention. When you create space, you spend less time searching for that $@%ing cinnamon when you're elbow deep in banana muffin batter. When you create space, your frustration is reduced and you don't waste six minutes looking for your car keys. When you create space, you invite in only what you love, only what you need and want around. So if you're thinking about letting go of some needless items or want to try your hand at decluttering, step away from the sentimental items you can't bear to part with. Seriously, drop your great grandma's antique doily collection! Go to your kitchen and attack your spice rack or your utensil drawer instead. I've spent the last decade of my life slowly simplifying and making room for only what I truly love and little exercises like this have always built my confidence. Instead of thinking about decluttering your whole home and feel overwhelmed and exasperated in the process, find a little spot that you can handle in 10-15 minutes and take pride in what you accomplish! When you take it in baby steps, you will accomplish so much more. Don't treat it as a giant looming project on your never-ending to-do list.
After you finish with your spice rack, try searching your kitchen for unneeded doubles (or triples) of utensils or small appliances. How many wooden spoons do you actually need to survive? Maybe one of them is all gunked up and not even worth keeping - so toss it. Same advice with ladles, coffee mugs, under used knives (we tend to have our favourites, don't we?) It's remarkably easy to have extras or just too much of everyday items that slow us down and get in the way. My friends and family joke that I am brutal when it comes to decluttering, but I know it helps. So start with easy choices. Toss, donate or sell your extras and notice the space that you create. Do you really need two toasters?! (my household had two toasters after we moved in together) No. You don't need two toasters. Let someone else have some toast. Give yourself some space instead!
Ah, what a trip! While India is a country full of bucket list travel/tourist destinations, time spent in the sparsely populated mountain villages north of Delhi had a huge impact on me. Our guide and wonderful friend Mukesh took us to places in and around the Chopta Valley that are not found on any tour bus itinerary, and I am so grateful for the experience. Everywhere we went we were greeted with smiles from kind souls. Eight days in the mountains without WI-fi was a mental reset that I welcomed, as well as a lesson in living mindfully. Meeting villagers and farmers who live happily without smart phones, TV and all of the things we depend on for entertainment and happiness was eye-opening. While some travelers might feel sorry for people who live without the these luxury items, I often found myself jealous. Everyone we met had what they needed for a happy life- safe shelter, clean drinking water and good food. Somewhere along the lines we as a society were sold the idea that we needed much more than this to be happy. But are we happy? Being stressed out and distracted seems more common than true contentment lately.
When I guide students through a yoga class I encourage a mindful practice, where the focus is on here and the now. What I found on this trip was that village life is a mindful life. Although we visited some homes with electricity and some without, most villagers still owned cell phones, real cell PHONES- not mini pocket sized computers. This meant they could keep in touch with anyone or call for help in an emergency, but phones were not their number one priority. What were the priorities? Hands on work (hard work!) that needed daily upkeep. Plowing wheat and barley fields and gathering the harvest, milking the family buffalo to make buttermilk and butter and cooking meals from scratch (sometimes on an open fire). Some children hiked long distances to get to school. Everything they did had purpose, and to me it was a beautiful life. It made me wonder if everything we have in our lives to make it easier actually detracts from our happiness levels.
Watching the villagers made me reflect on the pace of life at home. Technology has developed at a whirlwind pace in my lifetime. It has added an insane amount of value and I LOVE being able to look up a recipe, fact or person within seconds. However, if left unchecked, we can easily live our lives in a mode of constant distraction, missing the simple beautiful moments that take place everyday. We check our phones within minutes of waking, we bring them into the bathroom to keep ourselves entertained (admit it, you've done it). We take ourselves out of the present moment in order to capture it for our social media feeds. I'm not saying anything here that hasn't been said before - nor do I suggest that we throw away our access to Internet/technology. What we need to do is be intentional with our use of it so that it doesn't consume us. How? See below for some ideas inspired by my recent culture trip.