The Absolute Beginner’s Guide To Meditation

We all know the benefits of meditation, but when it actually comes to sitting down and giving it a go, people generally say 1 of 3 things to me:

1. I don’t know how to meditate

2. I can’t sit still for 2 minutes, let alone 20

3. I can’t get my thoughts to stop

Well, Happies, here’s the good news. There’s nothing to really learn as such, or be good at, and when it comes to stopping your thoughts, unless you’re as enlightened as the Dalai Lama, you’re not expected to. You just need to let them keep flowing and not get stuck on any one thought, rather than look into blankness altogether.

Meditate

So, I’m no meditation expert but I have done my fair share of courses and do try to practice as often as I can. Here’s what’s helped me along the way…

1. MAKE THE TIME

Often people say they can’t sit still because their mind is on other things, they’re worried about work or their to do list. First things first, schedule in your meditation time so you can relax about the other stuff and know you have allocated this particular time to yourself. Once you make that a priority and literally make space in your life for meditation, you can train your brain to be present with you, rather than wandering off all the time.

2. START OFF SLOW

The brilliance of meditation is that you don’t have to sit there for 40 minutes in your first session to see results. In fact, if you try to do that you’re going to get restless and over it really quickly. Think of meditation as muscle training: you wouldn’t expect to look like Arnie in one weights session at the gym, so why expect the same with your meditation? Instead, start off with a 3 minute meditation, then 5 minute, then 10 minute and so on, building up the strength in your concentration over a realistic time frame.

3. FIND A QUIET COMFORTABLE POSITION

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference, and with meditation, it’s often something as mundane as your posture that makes or breaks your practice. So, choose either a lying or comfortable sitting position. I like to lie when I’m practicing yoga nidra or meditating at night, and sit any other time. I love my meditation pillow but a chair works just as well. If you’re lying down, position your feet so they’re apart and your palms face up. Make sure everything is aligned. If you’re sitting, sit up straight, pull your chin slightly in and make sure your shoulders are in line with your hips and your legs are comfortable.

4. CLOSE YOUR EYES

Once you’re comfortable, it’s time to get started. I like listening to guided meditations (see below) as they help you focus on the practice. I highly recommend these for beginners or monkey minds. Alternatively you can listen to music or enjoy the silence of your surrounds. Just make sure your eyes are closed and you are meditating in a calm, quiet environment to start with. Once you get stronger, you can meditate anywhere (on the bus, in the car, around your family) but for now, just light a candle or find a quiet place in nature, sit serenely and close your eyes.

5. FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH

While some meditations use a mantra, I find that just focusing on your breath is the easiest way to concentrate. Think about how your breath enters and exits your nose, pay attention to your breathing, is it shallow? Deep? Stressed? Tired? Start tuning into your body but always remain focused on your breath. If thoughts come up, just let them go. If another one pops up, let it go too. The key is to just keep letting your thoughts pass like a running river and focus on your breath.

So that’s it. That’s essentially all there is to meditation. It’s not hard, in fact, it’s the easiest thing ever. Just sit and breathe. That’s it! If you’re interested in those guided meditations, here are the ones on high rotation in my house…

1. Meditation for Beginners – Baron Baptiste

2. 7 Meditations: Small Meditations & Visualisations for Your Everyday LIfe – Mette Sorrensen

3. Rosie’s Yoga Nidra

4. Basic Yoga Meditation – Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

5. Ahhh Inspiring Meditation – Michael Hallock

Tell me Happies…

Do you meditate?
Does this help?

Stay Happy,

Yaz x

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Happy Interview: The Inspirational Gala Darling!

With a name like Gala Darling, there’s no way this New Zealand-born, New York-based blogger wasn’t going to be a rockstar of some sort. The proud creator of GalaDarling.com, this delightfully strong, sparkly, fabulous woman has provided me with hours of uplifting, honest and inspirational reading since I discovered her website back in 2011, and now Happies, I’m thrilled to say she’s here. On the Happiness Cocktail. Hooray!

I asked Gala to fill in the blanks so we could get a little insight into her busy life. Yes, she’s a blogger, but she also speaks, hosts, writes books and runs a blog academy, fulfilling her life purpose of flooding the world with radical self love. Her approach to life is similar to mine, as you’ll read below, and that’s why I think I resonated so strongly with her. She believes in looking fear in the eye, embracing change, living boldly and courageously and never letting anyone else take you down. She also loves kale, so you know, there’s no way I couldn’t love her.

Here she is…

Gala

Photo by Made U Look Photography!

Hi, my name is… Gala Darling!

I would describe my personality as…excitable and sparkly!

During the day I spend my time…writing, dreaming, adventuring, exploring…

While at night I…am usually causing mischief somewhere in New York City!

I live in New York but grew up in New Zealand, they’re different because…people approach life differently here. It’s hard to make it in New York City, so everyone dreams big, everyone has a goal, everyone has a purpose. I love the energy of the city so much!

I’ve dedicated my life’s work to…showing women that they have options, helping women become someone they only dreamed of being, and encouraging babes to be themselves, fully and passionately.

…and share my thoughts, passions and ideas via my website… galadarling.com and twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in life so far is…that the best things happen when you take risks.

The things that make me happiest are…travelling, writing, great music, working out and seeing the world as a place of infinite possibilities.

My favourite food is…kale! I am a complete kale addict.

The best advice I ever received was…that you should always be yourself. My parents drummed this into me as a kid and I believe it fiercely.

And the advice I’m going to share with you is…that no matter how scared of change you may be, it’s inevitable… So you might as well change your own circumstances on your own terms, as opposed to waiting for it.

If I could sum up my journey so far in three words they would be…magnificent, wicked, magical.

I see my future as...something wonderful.

Tell me Happies…

Does Gala make you want to live a better life, too?

Stay Happy,

Yaz xx

It’s Christmas: Take Time Out, Reflect, Make Changes, Move Forward

This is a happy story. A wonderfully happy tale of inspiration and overcoming fears and anxiety to live your life to the fullest. A true Happiness Cocktail kind of thing. It’s also a festive kind of thing, because as you bring 2012 to a close, it’s important to start looking forward and ensuring you’re on track to all the goodness you deserve.

Here’s a real-life story for you, Happies:

It starts with a woman called Ashleigh Kajan, who I had the pleasure of meeting when I visited her delightful day spa in Camden, NSW. It’s called Eden, which also happens to be my favourite girl’s name, so it was just meant to be.

Ashleigh is currently living the dream. She has a wonderful husband, children and a thriving business that helps people cope with the day-to-day stresses of life. Sure, it’s a day spa with all the traditional trimmings of facial, massage, body treatments (I highly recommend the Javanese Lulur) and mani/pedis, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a place of healing.

And here’s why.

Ashleigh has overcome a lot to get to where she is now. She suffered severe workplace harassment and bullying at the tender age of 20, and completely lost her worth. “I was only 20 at the time; it stripped my confidence and self-esteem completely away from me. I felt worthless. I was a very confident girl growing up but after having someone I initially looked up to as a role model and mentor daily break me down took its toll. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, which turned into anxiety attacks during work meetings and then to depression. I had to leave, the thing that still upsets me is that I loved my job; I was so passionate about all the tasks involved in my role however the daily bullying broke my own,” she says.

But now, thanks to her bravery and self-belief all that is behind her and she’s focussing on a future bright with positivity. “It took about 2 years to overcome everything I went through and retrain my brain to think differently about people, life, dreams etc. I am a better person today. I think it’s important to experience different and difficult situations in your life because it makes you a stronger person.

Her advice? “I would say ‘go for it’, create a vision board and write down your goals and stick to it until you achieve them! Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your goals because you can. All it takes is passion, determination and the drive to hang in there through the tough times, there will be many stressful hurdles you will need to overcome before you reach your goal, but that’s what makes it even more rewarding once you get there.”

So, this festive season when you’re taking a little time for yourself, use it as a period of reflection. Bad things often turn into ‘phew’ moments. So, see what you need to change in order to be the best you can be, and above all…

Be_Brave

Image by Kelli Murray
Tell me Happies…
Do you have any fears you need to overcome?
Have you suffered bullying in the past and fought through it?
Stay Happy,
Yaz x

Do you wear natural fabrics?

Who ever knew I would get so much pleasure out of a pair of yoga pants? Seriously. We’ve all been there, I’m sure, working out in the usual tight lycra feeling as though our skin is itchy, hot, uncomfortable and definitely not breathing. I know I have and it stinks. Literally.

But before we all get too hot and bothered, let me reveal to you a revelation. Natural fibres! I know I’m late to the party, but discovering this little nugget of goodness has changed my life in the same way that organic tampons have. I could live, sleep, stand on my head and slide into downward dog wearing natural cotton. And I have been.

Here’s the backstory. I recently came across Bodha Clothing (actually, Emily from Bodha came across Nadia and I and sponsored us for our Salute Your Skin workshop) and have since been enjoying unprecedented freedom courtesy of their Sabi 3/4 Tights. Said tights have been providing me with so much joy, I find them hard to take off. In fact, if I could live in them I think I would. I know it sounds nuts being so excited about a pair of pants, but if, like me, you’d been shimmying into a pair of polyester/elastin numbers for the past year, you’d be just as high on the difference as I am.

Here they are…

And so, a healthy obsession was born. Intrigued by both the delightful Emily from Bodha and her journey to create this lovely brand, I thought I’d quiz her on life, passions and why natural fibres feel so damn good. Here’s how it played out…

Me:  How was Bodha born? Because, you know, I’m thrilled it was. 

Em: I think, like most people, I always wanted to do something I’m passionate about, that I really believe in. My parents were involved in textiles and fashion and both practised yoga so these have been constant threads in my life.

I studied fashion in London and Vancouver and always practised yoga in some form, so when I couldn’t find yogawear that looked good and wasn’t synthetic, I realised I could bring my passion and experience together to create something I wanted to wear and hopefully others would too.

Me:  What are the main differences between synthetic and natural fabrics? Aside from causing serious discomfort and let’s be honest, in some cases, severe discomfort in our nether-regions.

Em: Synthetic fabrics are made from chemicals, primarily petroleum oils. Because they are essentially plastic they are non-hypoallergenic, non-antimicrobial and non-biodegradable – in other words they’re not healthy for you, your skin or the environment. They promote the growth of bacteria and fungi and build up static electricity which can irritate your skin. Synthetic fabrics also sit in our landfills for up to 200 years and every time you wash them thousands of plastic micro particles get released into our waterways.

Me: Why, in your opinion, should people make the switch from synthetic to natural fabrics?

Em: Natural fabrics are much healthier for you and the environment, and I think they look and feel better too. Your skin is your largest organ, it is literally breathing and has the ability to absorb. Natural fabrics work in harmony with your skin allowing it to breathe and function as it should, which is especially important for people who suffer from skin conditions such as eczema. And if you’re interested in eating naturally and using natural products wearing natural fabrics is just as important.

Me: Synthetic fabrics are generally cheaper than natural ones. A lot of people are concerned with the price of products. Why make the switch?

Em: In all areas of our lives processed refined products have become cheaper than natural products. Unfortunately this often doesn’t reflect the true cost of these goods on us or our environment. I totally understand that people are stretched financially, but I think the benefits of natural fabrics far outweigh any price differential. If you need to prioritise go for natural underwear and exercise wear because they’re closest to your skin.

Me: Your brand ethos is beautiful, what do you do to come back to yourself?

Em: The concept of ‘coming back to yourself’ underlies everything about Bodha. I really believe that taking a moment to reconnect with yourself everyday is one of the most important things. For me a huge part of this is practising yoga but I also like to walk outside, burn essential oils, cook – basically anything that helps me tune into my body and senses.

Ahh, isn’t she a delight?

Tell me Happies…
Do you wear natural fabrics?
Do you want to now?

Happy Interview: Nicole from Modern Day Hippie

I’d never heard of Modern Day Hippie when Nicole contacted me. She offered to send me a bag of goodies to try. No strings attached. I was chuffed and said ‘of course’ and then carried on with my day. My week.

Next thing you know I’m hooked, Happies. I’m hooked on these insanely clever little packages of goodness that are full of all my favourite things: raw cacao, nuts, seeds and even goji berries. Oh, and did I mention each bag of goodness is raw and organic? It is!

Modern Day Hippie is a company founded by the delightful Nicole Cherry-Bayles, a self-confessed modern day hippie who juggles a family with a business and has eating healthy, nutritious food high on her priority list.

Essentially, MDH’s product list is bags of raw, organic snacks filled with the heavenly ingredients listed above and all you have to do it mix in a blender, roll into snack-sized balls and refrigerate (or in my case, eat). Each bag has a different flavour and if you prefer to go nut-free there are options for you, too. It’s truly a delightful experience and one that takes all the hunting out of gathering your ingredients. Winner!

If you follow me on Instagram (Yaz_Trollope if you want to) you’ll remember my little visual the other day of the choc cherry balls I whipped up. Amazing!

Here’s Nicole…

And here’s an insight into Nicole’s life, thoughts and eating habits…

Me: What inspired you to create such an amazing range of healthy, yummy treats?

Nicole: I am a very busy Mum and found that I was always snacking or skipping meals . I wanted to create a snack which was highly nutritious which gave me the nutrients I required to keep me going. I also wanted to create a snack for kids with food allergies as this has become a big issue. Lastly I wanted to make it easy to make and taste fabulous.

Me: What is your lifestyle philosophy?

Nicole: Know that we are all unique and have different talents. Follow your dreams.

Me: 3. What is your favourite Modern Day Hippie product?

Nicole: I love them all but at the moment my favourite is Fruit & Nut Fantasy.

Me: What’s your fail-proof recipe for dinner parties and general people pleasing?

Nicole: My husband usually cooks when we have people over. We usually have fish and salad or a BBQ with a few different salads.

Me: How do you stay fit, healthy and happy?

Nicole: I play state netball and everyday I try and incorporate some sort of exercise whether it’s just walking around the block or running after the kids. I also love reading books about spirituality and entrepreneurs. Surrounding myself with positive people keeps me happy and inspired.

Me: What advice do you have for women wanting to follow their dreams?

Nicole: Be open to opportunities and ideas, always trust your gut instinct and don’t be afraid to give things ago – it may just lead you closer to a different path that you would not find otherwise.

Me: If you had to choose one magic ingredient to cook/eat, what would it be and why?

Nicole: MMMM this is hard. I am going to generalise and say vegetables. I can have them in the morning for a juice or at lunch and dinner as a salad. You always feel better after a good does of vegetables.

Tell me Happies…

Have you heard of Modern Day Hippie?
Do you want to try them?

Stay Happy,

Yaz x