Happy Haven with Brandi-Ann Uyemura

Imagine growing up in a town where people’s number one priority is meditation. And everyone in the community drops everything before 5:00 pm so that they can attend their evening meditation service. Welcome to Fairfield, Iowa.

As a child, my moods ranged from utter boredom to intense anxiety. It was primarily because I was a sensitive child who went to a strict private school. I remember wishing the weather report was true and we’d really get that tsunami they kept warning us about, just for excitement sake. At the same time, I had stomaches from scolding teachers who found my use of a red pen disgusting or my inability to solve division repulsive.

After watching Oprah’s Next Chapter on Fairfield, Iowa, a small community that has embraced their nickname TM (or Transcendental Meditation) town, I wondered what it would have been like to grow up practicing meditation. Knowing its impact on me as an adult, I imagined having that kind of practice early on could have saved me a lifetime of physical and mental health issues.

The Benefits of Practicing Meditation

The physical and emotional benefits of meditation are widely known and include everything from reducing stress to improving cognitive function and emotionally stability. And now towns like Fairfield are bringing meditation practice in schools to teach mindfulness and awareness to kids. In today’s constant barrage of technological distractions, don’t you find this practice of pause refreshing and even necessary to our future?

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Once a year you grab a mop, broom, and garbage bag to make your home sparkle. You don’t think twice about rolling up your sleeves in an effort to partake in an annual spring cleaning, but how many of you put half that effort into cleaning up your emotional clutter as well?

Signs it’s Time to do an Emotional Cleanse

1. You keep encountering the same drama with virtually the same people.

2. Loved ones have commented on your less than upbeat mood.

3. You catch yourself complaining or recycling old negative talk from the past.

4. Lately, your job, your friends, and your situation seem to be ill-suited for your life.

These are just a few signs that you’re unconsciously attracting what you don’t want. You may be harboring past grudges, replaying negative tapes of unworthiness or haven’t let go of an idea or belief that is currently weighing you down.

The best way to get back on track?

Recognize that you are responsible for your life. Take back control by letting go of unhealthy and toxic clutter that’s been weighing you down so you can make room for what you really want.

Cleaning Tips to Change Your Life

  • Work on being more mindful of what you say to yourself. If you catch yourself saying things like, “I’m such a loser” or, “I’m not good enough,” immediately replace them with more positive, hopeful, yet honest thoughts. For example, you may want to try saying to yourself, “I’m doing the best I can,” rather than, “I’m successful” if that feels true to you. You’re more likely to listen to self-statements if they sound believable.
  • Create a daily gratitude list. Spend time focusing on what’s working on your life instead of what’s not. This 10-minute activity can change the way you perceive your life and attract more good things to come.
  • Get rid of thoughts, ideas, and people who aren’t align with your purpose. Just as you throw away an item of clothing that no longer fits, you may need to reconsider the things and people in your life who aren’t serving you.
  • Focus on one goal at a time. It’s just as easy to get overwhelmed with cleaning up your soul as it is with cleaning up a room. Realize that change takes time. Be patient and kind with yourself as you work on loving the whole of who you are, while doing the necessary work to improve your life.

What are you willing to let go of this spring to better your own life?

{flickr photo by: Johan Røed}

You can use your free time to unwind over the weekend or you can use the time to try something else. If you’d rather decompress with a glass of wine, watch mindless TV, go dancing or take a hike with a friend, feel free. Relaxing and savoring your life are important too. But if you feel disconnected lately and out of touch with yourself, take these next few days and use it to reflect on your life.

Why Reflection is Important

Too often we allow life to take control of us. We settle in our ways. We let time pass us by. We allow dust to fall upon our dreams. The more we retreat from the world, the smaller we become. All the inconveniences, problems and obstacles we wouldn’t have tolerated in our twenties suddenly get pushed down and thrown under a rug because we’re too afraid to face them. The less we confront our fears, the more scared we become. And it’s not just the big life changes, but the tiny insignificant ones too.

This weekend you can continue to repress your feelings or you can finally begin to open up. Spend an hour this weekend in silence. Use the time to go for a walk, write in a journal, meditate. Think about the things that you have been avoiding recently. Think about how you have been living your life.

Are you happy with the path you’re on? Is there anything you can change in the present to create a more appealing future?

Shake things up before you get further stuck in the rut you’ve been living in.

Don’t continue to let your life pass you by. Ask yourself what you can start doing now to slowly wake up from the long, unconscious sleep you’ve been in so you can finally begin living your life.

What will YOU do this weekend?

Spring is officially here. You’re either rejoicing the end of the winter blues or mourning the beginning of allergy season. If you’re in the latter category, I feel you. It’s not just a nuisance to deal with headaches, watery eyes and a running nose, but a real pain. And it’s not just a physical one, it’s emotional too.

Last April, CNN Health published an online article called, “Sad in the spring? Allergy-mood link is real.” In it, CNN writer Elizabeth Landau reported that there is a real relationship between allergies and mood. [If you want to read the full article, go here.]

“Research has shown there is about a doubling of risk for depression in a person suffering allergies and, if you’ve been seen by an allergist, that about triples the likelihood of having depression, said Dr. Paul Marshall, neuropsychologist at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.”

Although there is no evidence that allergies cause depression, there does seem to be a relationship between allergies and changes in mood. This is probably due to the side effects of allergy medication and allergies themselves. And feelings of fatigue and irritability could potentially worsen the symptoms in an individual who is already depressed. Think sleep disturbances, grogginess and low work performance.

So what can you do?

The article recommends holistic treatments such as neti pots and allergy shots to desensitize an individual over time. I think awareness is also key. Recognizing that allergies may worsen symptoms of depression will help you get prepared to combat the physical and mental effects with the start of the new season. Find ways to take care of yourself now by making time for rest, relaxing and taking it easy on yourself. If your symptoms seem intolerable or are affecting your mood, make an appointment to see your doctor or schedule a meeting with a therapist. It’s just another example of why self-care is not just good for your physical health, but your mental health as well.

Do you suffer from allergies? How do you cope?