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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Yoga for your Eyes!

Did you know that your EYES can do yoga? India’s revered ancient health practice called Ayurveda prescribes several exercises that it claims heals and improves eyesight. Along with improved eyesight and reduced chances of eye diseases, here are some benefits, according to Ayurveda:
improved concentration
calmer mind
relieves eye strain
eliminates dry eyes
Increases intuition and ability to see “the big picture” (third eye chakra)

To do yoga for the eyes, try these tips (many of which mentioned in Yoga Journal):

-Lubricate eyes with Ghee (or coconut oil, which contains luaric acid just like breast milk…raise your hand if you put breastmilk in your infant’s infected eyes!)
-Blink 20 times a minute while looking at screens
-Roll eyes in all directions (follow your thumb as you move it around)
-Focus on your hands near, then focus on them far, and continue for several rounds
-Rub hands together then cup the eyes
-In shoulder stand, let knees rest on eyes

Your eyes are the window to your brain; how they feel is a reflection of your state of mind. Meditation can greatly improve your mind, and therefore release tension and dryness of the eyes!

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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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Lazy Day Yoga (great for recovery or the elderly)

Amanda jones shows easy yoga movesI only do an average of 15 minutes of yoga each night (I’m a Vata..relaxing is good for us go-getters 🤓 take the the dosha quiz here to see what you are) but even THAT is too much of a hassle on days of overwhelm. Thankfully, the ancient art of Hatha yoga has us covered with its “energy releasing” Pawanmuktasana Series I – a series of “anti-rheumatic” poses great for lubricating joints, increasing circulation and toning nerves. Virtually everyone can do these poses: chair-bound, arthritic, postpartum…even those with a simple case of the Mondays. 
Watch me walk through the following series in my latest monthly yoga segment on KUTV 2News Fresh Living.  

1. Padanguli- and Goolf Naman – Toe and ankle bending (point and flex)

2. Goolf Chakra – Ankle rotation

3. Janu Naman – Knee bending

4. Poorna Titali Asana – Butterfly 

5. Mushtika Bandhana – Hand clenching

6. Manibandha Naman – Wrist bending

7. Manibandha Chakra – Wrist joint rotation 

8. Kehuni Naman – Elbow bending

9. Skandha Chakra – Shoulder socket rotation 

10. Greeva Sanchalana – Ear to shoulder stretch

11. End with Chin or Jnana Mudra

If you liked these poses and want more, continue on with Pawamuktasana Series 2 and 3. 

As you practice, be aware of your mindchatter, and link each movement to an in- or exhale. And with movements this simple, now we have no excuses not to practice (we don’t really want to miss out anyway)!

I found this information in the book, Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. 


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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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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.