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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The downsized guide to downsizing

my husband’s closet, downsized

It’s so ironic; I could write VOLUMES on how to downsize your life, covering everything from decluttering, to cutting spending, to changing your living situation. But in the name of downsizing, I commit to keeping this brief.

1. GET ORGANIZED

The first step to downsizing your life is put everything in its place. Don’t know where that  HDMI-or-USB-or-maybe-maybe-it-charges-my-old-camera cord goes? E-waste it!! You can always buy a replacement on Amazon if it ever comes up. The #1 rule I learned from “Hoarders” tv organizational expert Linda Isom is everything should have a place. Now, when I’m picking up the house or going through mail and I’m thinking more than two minutes about where I’m gonna put this, it’s gonna go OUT. you should pick something up and know it gets filed here, or put in this specific drawer. Make sense? It’s a life changer. Getting organized also means keeping a budget, keeping your affairs in order, tying up loose ends, keeping a calendar. Basically, getting rid of that impending doom feeling that you might be forgetting/missing something.

2. PURGE

This is the biggest commitment to downsizing. you read this everywhere, but it’s hard to picture it Happening in your life. But let me inspire you. I’m a TV host and you think I need endless clothing so I don’t wear the same thing on TV every day. Good assumption, but I actually pared all my clothing down into one small collection that features various staples that can be rearranged for endless combo ls of outfits. My husband and I each bought a rolling costume rack from the classifieds and whatever didn’t fit, WENT! And it’s not like I can’t get any wardrobe updates. if I want to buy “new” (always secondhand!) clothes, I sell some of my old ones first – usually to the same secondhand shop – so, really, I’m always wearing current clothing by upcycling , and it hardly costs me anything! Sell something, buy something with the in-store credit. It’s an even trade, rather than stockpiling or over-consuming.

What about my BOXES of childhood poems (I was heavily influenced by Shel Silverstien, which means they’re ridiculous), schoolwork (brag much?) and mementos? Am I just gonna let them collect dust in the garage? I want to, but I decided to go through and take out only the ones I know I’ll get a laugh over again and again, or that truly represent me as the person I am. I still have one box left, but it’s better than 8. And now that I have a little one, it’s just gonna keep piling up, right? Not when you upload all pics to an app like SHUTTERFLY, and photograph all art and awards for upload onto a storage/sharing site like KEEPSY. Now I’ve gotta go do that with the box of stuff I have left.

And do you really need 5 different wooden spoons or pairs of snowboarding socks or DVDs? Get rid of repeats and obsoletes. YOU CAN ALWAYS BUY IT AGAIN ON AMAZON IF YOU MISS IT DESPERATELY. This has happened to me exactly zero times.

3. MAKE THE LEAP

you’re never gonna truly downsize your life if you’re still working that stressful job or living in your 2000-square-foot McMansion. Life changes need to happen in order for you to become truly unshackled. Get rid of your mortgage! Here’s how. Drop your full-time job and get two creative-brained part-time jobs (it’s the new normal; thanks, Millenials!). Go on Flexjobs.com and get inspired. Don’t know what your life’s purpose is? Take a weekend vacay to clear your head and plan your next steps. This is your LIFE we’re talking about! We’re talking about ripping out all the stuff that stresses you out and holds you down so that you can live your happiest life, because it’s the only one you’ve got! Unless you’re a reincarnation type; then it’s just good karma.