Simple Green Me

Cultural reporter for KUTV 2News and adjunct yoga/meditation professor blogs about wellness, green living, downsizing, simplifying, better travel✨and more. Offering mindfulness, meditation, goal-setting and decluttering coaching!


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I am sitting here trying to meditate. Now what?

You’ve decided you’re going to start meditating. You bought a comfy meditation cushion, even a string of Mala beads. Or you’re sitting on a simple chair, or lying on your couch. 

Your eyes are closed. You have stopped “doing.” You may think, “Is this it? Am I doing this right?”

The answer is YES. Your intention to meditate is 2/3 the battle. Now, as taught to me by Deepak Chopra, this is what happens next.

RESTFUL ALERTNESS

In one of his meditation videos, Chopra calls the next stage after sitting/lying “restful alertness.” You are still practicing nondoing, but you are very much aware. You’re aware of sounds. Tensions or discomforts in the body. Sensations. Make sure you fix any major discomfort before continuing on. 

FAVOR THE BREATH

Then, we start to notice our breath. And we add the mantra, “I am.” Perhaps you think “I” on the inhale, and “am” on the exhale. The Sanskrit words for “I am” are “So hum;” you can use those, instead. But, as Chopra says, we don’t kill ourselves focusing on the breath or mantra, but rather, we favor them over our thoughts and emotions.

BACK AND FORTH aka MINDFULNESS

Chopra says you will likely go back and forth from thinking, to favoring the breath, from feeling an emotion, to saying the mantra, back to thinking. And that’s OK. The goal is to always return to the breath when you notice yourself getting caught up in thinking and emotions. That’s mindfulness

PURE SPIRIT

Then, at some point – “especially if you’re not trying,” Chopra says – all the thoughts, emotions, sensations will be cleared away, and you’re left with you. What exists now, in his words: is “your pure spirit.” 

It gives me goosebumps – that state is pure freedom. Connection. Nonself. Peace. But, though we are grateful when we get to “be” in this way, sometimes we don’t get there. I have plenty of meditations like this. We may simply stay in restful alertness, and that’s still awesome, instructs Chopra, because we are still getting all the benefits of meditation…learning to always return to peace.

If you’d like some personal guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact me for an in-person or online session. You can also sign up for Chopra’s classes and retreats here

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How important is a meditation teacher? 

My mindfulness journey began with books and YouTube videos, as many of ours do. We learn enough to start thinking a bit differently; start up a basic practice; makes some good changes. But after a time, As many of us do when we get gung-ho about a new diet or exercise plan, I plateaued. And when you plateau in mindfulness, the risk of slipping back into unconsciousness and habits of suffering, is high. One needs to always be growing; learning; practicing…in order to continue to experience and embody inner peace. So I am grateful I was advised to seek out the guidance of teachers, because they are the ones who truly helped me grow my inner guru. 

One of my first teachers, Yogi Cameron, has a good explanation of the importance of a “guru” HERE

My student Catherine told me she has downloaded meditation apps in the past, which helped her fall asleep. But it wasn’t until she started going to in-person groups, such as my class, that she experienced true transformation. Now, she is working on downsizing her life, finding a job that better suits her talents and ideal lifestyle, and finding true happiness within herself. 

I still rely heavily on books and videos to keep my practice fresh (in fact, you can find a few of my favorites herej), but thank goodness I have the support of wise teachers when I need some extra honesty, consolation, a new perspective, and more personalized guidance overall. 

If you’d like more meditation tips or personalized guidance, don’t hesitate to contact me by visiting www.simplegreenme.com

Namaste!


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4 Easy Steps to Vote Mindfully 

How to vote mindfully All sources agree, that it’s been a particularly divisive election season. My neighbor, a little old lady – a Christian – sort of captured the current climate when she said, “I can’t in good conscious vote for either one of them!” Indecision, unfortunately, is not an option if we want to create a future we feel good about. So, here are some tips for ensuring peace of mind after you send in your ballot.

Before you do anything, visit mindfulVOTE to see what other conscious people are talking about regarding this election. Then…

Step 1 – What are your needs? Write down what you need from your government to make life better. Do you need clean air/water? More affordable housing/healthcare? More job opportunities? Student loan relief? Do you worry about those in need, and want them to have resources? Racism? Having access to certain herbs or medical procedures? Take some time to reflect. Look into your heart; are you being mindful with your needs? See step 3 to make sure you’re acting with mindful ethics. Some wisdom to keep in mind, from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet:

“The righteous is not innocent of the deeds of the wicked…like a procession you walk together toward your God-self.”

“For the master spirit of the earth shall not sleep peacefully upon the wind till the needs of the least of you are met.”

Step 2 – Don’t vote blindly. Now that you know your needs, gather information. Get to know what’s on the ballot. Check your local news site and government (state, county and city) sites for updates, as well as online  resources such as Ballotpedia.org and vote411.org. And new this year, a Google search will give you accurate election info. TechCrunch.com reports: “Web users who search for a query like ‘who’s on my ballot,’ will now be presented with detailed information about the candidates, as well as information on your own state’s referenda.” 

You can also find an organization or publication that aligns with your beliefs and see who/what they’ve endorsed. For example, if you care about the environment, check this endorsement list of approved candidates from The Sierra Club. Or if you’re about women’s rights, here are choices from the Utah Women’s Voter League. It takes less time than you think to get an idea of which candidates and propositions align with your needs. **dont forget to study your local candidates and issues! Local elections arguably have a greater impact on your daily life than federal. 

Step 3 – Review whether or not a candidate acts with mindful principles. Being mindful isn’t just about being in the present moment. There are ethics associated with mindfulness. In the Buddhist tradition, there are the 4 brahmaviharas, or states of emotion one strives to cultivate. They are: Metta (Loving-kindness); Karuna (Compassion); Mudita (Joy with others – being happy for their success); Upekkha (Equanimity – nonjudgement and non-reactivity). Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh gives an example of the type of conduct conducive to a mindful life: 

“I am determined not to kill, or to condone any act of killing…I am committed to cultivating loving-kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am committed to practicing generosity by sharing my time, energy and material resources with those who are in real need.”

You may not have a “perfect” mindful candidate who follows all of these standards. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a politician who has never lied to save face, or never voted on the wrong side of an issue. As a mindful person, we are also asked to be forgiving (the concept of nonself says we need to love others as we love ourselves, because we are one) and take a look at that person as a whole. Are they apologetic? Compassionate? Connected to authentic causes? Try to see the big picture with a candidate before writing them off. There are dealbreakers: treating people without dignity, acting with blatant disregard for others and our environment, nonlistening. These traits show a deep suffering and unconsciousness, with which right leadership will not be possible. 

Lastly, meditate. Election prep is important but even more important is that you continue your mindfulness and meditation practice. My teacher Deepak Chopra says it’s the best thing you can do for world peace. Just imagine if everyone was mindful; if we all cultivated the brahmaviharas; acted with nonself. A peaceful world is possible, as you’ve witnessed by creating a peaceful environment within yourself. 

So namaste, and may you cast a mindful vote. 

As always, I’m here to help if you’d like some one-on-one meditation and mindfulness guidance. 


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Yoga and meditation during your menstrual cycle 

 In some areas of the world, women who are on their period are shown gestures of respect. This NPR article details a tribe in Ghana who treats its menstruating women as queens, sitting them under an umbrella and lavishing them with gifts. I had a student tell me about a Native American tribe that acted similarly, allowing women reprieve from any duties whilst doting on them in their special teepee while on their “moon” (as menstruation can be considered our internal “tide” and is anecdotally linked to the lunar cycle). I certainly don’t need these gestures, but the fact that women earn generally less than men while having more expenses – like feminine products and the “tampon tax” – doesn’t make that time of the month any easier. 

Let’s also mention how low-income assistance programs SNAP and WIC don’t cover a necessity like feminine products. Most prisons don’t even provide them, forcing some inmates to use unhealthy options that make them sick. 

Then, there’s the dismissal of our emotions as “hormonal,” instead of, “women are human beings who have thoughts and emotions that are valid, even if she’s mentruating” – or pregnant, for that matter. And last but perhaps most importantly, our stigma as “unclean” or the reaction of “gross!” if our period ever comes up in society. 

While it’s Not easy to be a menstruating woman in America and much of the world, I have found a few tricks to managing the discomfort of our cycle. 

1. THINX period underwear

You know how much money we spend on feminine products during our menstruating life? This HuffPo article calculates more than $2,000! So when these revolutionary, dry-technology “period underwear” came out – at just about $30 a pair – I jumped at the chance to save money (and the hassle of buying/changing fem products and trying to save my underwear from leaks). Now, I wear my undies without discomfort, wetness or fear of leaks! It feels too good to be true, but I tested them, and they work. My two pairs get me through my whole period – just throwing them in the washer at night. 

Another reason to love this (woman-run) company, is the fact that proceeds go to give dignity to underprivileged, menstruating women across the world. Their site says the company started after a girl in a third-world country told the CEO she misses school for a week every month because leaves and old rags don’t stop her period from leaking. So, yeah, a great cause to go along with a life-changing product. I’m not even scared of my next period.

2. These Yoga Poses

Reverse plank – sometimes the fatigue and possible food cravings leave us feeling powerless. Realize your strength with a pose that engages nearly all muscles in your body, and feel the energy rush back into you! 

Fish pose – This one revitalizes your mind and reenergizes your body by increasing blood flow to your brain. Traditionally, menstruating women should avoid inversions – or poses where the head is below the heart – because they possibly reverse the flow of blood Into one’s uterus. Even though there’s little scientific evidence of that actually happening, to be on the safe side, fish pose gives you all the benefits of an inversion without bringing your hips off the ground.

Bound angle pose – release tight hips and settle into your cycle with this pose of acceptance and vulnerability.

Click here to WATCH how to do these moves as I demonstrate during my monthly segment on Fresh Living! 

3. Sacral Chakra meditation

Our uterus is associated with the Sacral Chakra – svadhisthana – which is balanced when creativity and sensuality are expressed. Do a coloring book meditation, or sit and listen to a song that moves you, or mindfully eat your favorite food. Looking at the color orange, or chanting the mantra “Vam” aloud or in your mind (sound heals – here’s proof) can help soothe any pain in the area, physical or emotional. 

The Sacral Chakra is housed in the reproductive area

The Sacral Chakra is housed in the reproductive area

When you have the support of leakproof undies, yoga moves and meditations, our periods become a time of reflection, expression and recovery. Now let’s just hope society catches up with our newfound respect for this amazing process, without which, we wouldn’t have estrogen or babies. 

If you have time, read this article on the global menstruation crisis. 


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Get ready in 15 minutes with capsule beauty kits

Capsule wardrobes are trending right now for a reason; any time you reduce quantity and focus on the QUALITY of your items, your QUALITY of life improves! When you streamline your beauty routine, no longer is your precious morning taken up by indecision, or rummaging to find what you need. Here’s my recipe for simplifying your beauty products and regimen to free up time and space in your bathroom, and your life!

looking good doesnt have to take forever!



BEAUTY
(this is for your face – do what you want in the shower😊)

-scrub (Acure Brightneing Face Scrub with green algae and argan stem cell from Target…or you can use coconut oil and sugar or coarse salt)

-gentle cleanser

-makeup remover towelettes

-moisturizer (obsessed with Bright Skin Moisturizer with SPF from Eminescence)

-eye cream 

-lip balm

-aluminum-free deodorant (if you’re still using regular deodorant, it’s time to switch. I use Thai crystal deodorant stone, which is nothing but mineral crystals..and the same stone lasted me three years. You need to be diligent and only apply it to CLEAN Pitts – yes, I wash my underarms and face in the sink every morning if I don’t shower.)

I wash my face with honey in the morning (it tones skin and is antimicrobial), and a scrub at night to get all the dirt off.  The towelettes are great if you’re too lazy to wash your face at night. I do my BB cream after morning wash (it has moisturizer in it, as well as spf and anti aging) and then my moisturizer after night wash (it’s all organic and plant-based so it nourishes my face all night). I put my eye cream on at night a few times a week and on airplane trips. I always scrub my lips when I scrub my face, and cost them with an organic balm. No crazy serums or toners; I believe when you rest, eat and move well, your skin is healthy and glowing on its own.

HAIR

-leave-in conditioner or hair oil

-Styling cream (good for scrunching or holding straight styles)

-hair spray

-straightener

-blow dryer

-comb, brush, roundbrush 

-rubber bands and Bobby pins

-headband or scarf

This is my number one advice for simplifying your hair routine: cut it!! Long hair takes forever to blow dry and style. Or if you don’t want to cut it, at least find a cut that complements your hair texture to make it easy to wear naturally (sans blow drying). For example, lots of layers for thick or curly hair; textured cuts for thin hair, etc. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve saved in my week from cutting my hair! I don’t even think about doing it anymore. If you want take it a step further, choose a low-maintenance color. I love being blonde but it’s a dye job every 4 weeks. I recently added lowlights of my natural color and I’m going on two months without an appointment! 

The hair products are pretty self-explanatory; you need a product for defrizzing (co sit-up we or oil), hold (spray or cream) and smoothing (any of the above). With styling, My rule of thumb here is choose a hairstyle for each of your three “looks:” Everyday, dirty hair, and going out.

I do my Going Out look every time I shower; i blow-dry it back, back comb and hairspray. My Everyday look coasts off of that; it’s the same. My dirty hair look is either that with more backcombing, or a headband/scarf, or a row of tiny, loose ponytails. So, no matter what the occasion or cleanliness of my hair, I always have ready-access style options. 

MAKEUP

– full coverage foundation (I use NS minerals out of Utah)

-BB cream (obsessed with Mineral Fusion brand from Whole Foods)

-eyebrow pencil 

-neutral palette  

-colored palette

– one black, one brown, and one colored eye liner 

-concealer (Mineral Fusion brand has one that covers so well)

-bronzer (I go pretty dark, as it’s for contouring)

-one neutral, one medium and one dark lipstick

They key here is consulting with a makeup artist to get your colors. I had one at Whole Foods help me pick out a BB Cream that not only gave me tone-perfect coverage, but also had anti-aging, spf, and moisturizing properties.

My makeup artist friend helped me find the right colors for my eyes, which are blue: a brown eyeliner, a dark blue eyeliner, a 3-hue neutral palette that had Sand, Gold and Brown, and a 3-hue set that had purple, grey and pink. I got a good mascara and eyebrow liner and now I know whatever I put on my eyes will accentuate them.

I use a BB cream everyday, unless I’m on TV or going out – then I use my full-coverage mineral powder. Either way, I do bronzer under my cheekbones, at the tampers and on the chin. I always line brows and usually do a dark blue liner on my eyes. I save mascara and eyeshadow for TV or going out because they’re harder to remove. 

my “everyday” look


NAILS

-clippers

-Ped-egg

If you want a low-maintenance life, do not get your nails done. Don’t even paint your own nails! That requires touch ups, fill-ins, removal…so many things that waste time and energy. The payoff of having hot nails does not compare to the freedom of never needing to worry about them. I simply make sure my nails are tidy, and my feet are buffed smooth, and I’m good to go!

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These tips help me get up and going, or get into bed, without any hassle or indecision. Let’s automate the mundane parts of our lives so we can focus on what really matters! If you need personal coaching on streamlining your life, visit www.simplegreenme.com for a free consultation! 


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No. 1 way to stress less!


We’ve all been paralyzed by stress at one moment or another. Whether it’s freaking out about Monday morning, or a big project, or a tiny item on your to-do list, your stress is likely rooted in FEAR.

So, try this trick to stop fear in its tracks, and start living life more present, calm and confident!

And make sure you check out all the new stuff at http://www.simplegreenme.com! Use the code FRIEND10 for 10% off your first order. 



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Yes, diet and exercise – but first, MINDFULNESS.


It was 6 months after my baby was born, and I suddenly found myself 20 pounds under my pre-baby weight. I got REALLY lucky, because many women’s bodies need 2 years or more to let go of all the extra water, fat and nutrients that that particular baby needed. We never know how post-baby body will look; we can only stay in the moment and breathe into the cards we are dealt. 

I had gained 30 or so pounds during pregnancy, being very aware of what my body was asking for! It was definitely more meat and potatoes and sugar cookies than green salads. But I had been eating green salads prior to pregnancy and my body said, “hey, a little more sustenance, please!” After the baby, I was back to green smoothies and yummy healthy food, but it wasn’t because I HAD to; I ate that way because when I did, I felt more energetic; more emotionally satisfied. Pregnancy taught me to go for foods that made me FEEL good; not to just stick to a rigid diet. Pregnancy was the beginning of mindful eating. 

A few months after the baby, I hadn’t even started doing yoga again when the scale started dropping. Now, two years later and I’ve maintained the weightloss. Here’s the crazy part: I’ve done the whole personal training thing, eaten rabbit food for weeks on end, and tried every-day marathons of yoga,  yet I’ve never sustained my Weightloss like I have now. The one thing that’s different about my current fitness plan is MEDITATION and MINDFULNESS. Without awareness of your thoughts and emotions, and how they manifest in your life through action or reaction, your diet and exercise plan is merely a bandaid on a deep-rooted issue. In order to heal the body, you must first heal the soul, so that you can once again HEAR what your body is asking for.  

For example: Merideth struggles with anxiety. She leads a busy life, and sometimes when she gets home, she grabs a bag of chips and sits in front of the TV, just to unwind and distract her from the cyclone of “to-dos” in her head. But after learning breathing and meditation techniques, she grew more aware of the emotions she was having and learned to label them as “anxiety” or simply, “thinking.” Soon after, she would get home and pour a cup of tea and have an apple; she didn’t want a full stomach for her 15 minutes of light yoga she’d do in the living room. After yoga, she ate a colorful dinner and ended her evening in the bathtub with a book. Because she knew these actions brought her peace and self-love, instead of self-loathing and guilt that came with her former habits. 

Ain’t nothing wrong with vegging in front of the tv; everything in moderation! This example was just meant to show you that when you are mindful of how you feel, and how you WANT to feel, you make decisions that are much better for your wellbeing. And that is a sustainable fitness plan. Let me repeat, I’ve enjoyed two years and counting at my ideal weight. 

 Let me know if I can help set you up with a personalized mindfulness plan including meditation tools! Your first call is free; the second one is only $30! Clients tell me it’s a mix or goal-setting, relaxation techniques and therapy. I welcome you to try it! Click here to get my number. Namaste!!