1. Set a clear intention
First things first: let’s make a priority list of things that matter most to you, and you wish to work on this year. This can go from learning more recipes to meditating more to eating healthier to loving yourself more. (hack: the one you wrote first is probably the one that’s most important to you!)
Now you’ve got the basis of your New Year’s Intention. Now take a seat, take 3 of the deepest breaths you’ve taken today, put one hand on your hand and ask yourself: what do I need to focus on most this year?
Whatever pops up in your mind, write it down. Maybe it’s already on your list, maybe you can add it – on the top of your list.
This intention is something you can remind yourself of during your day, week, month, entire year. Carry this intention with you to know what matters most. If your intention was to love yourself more, and you catch yourself judging yourself or being yourself up, gently notice it, remind yourself of the promise you made to yourself and bring in some kindness to yourself.
2. Make it actionable
Next, take a look at this intention and ask yourself: how can I take action towards fulfilling this intention?
Maybe it’s checking in with yourself more, journalling your feelings to understand them better, making conscious choices at the supermarket or mindfully eating, or incorporating a self-love practice into your evening.
Think of at least 1 action you can take to make this intention happen.
3. Visualise the outcome
Next, close your eyes again, still sitting in a comfortable position, and picture + feel yourself living as if this intention were true. As if you were already eating healthier, loving yourself more, cooking new recipes, or meditating more.
Tune into the feelings of this reality, and come back to this quick visualisation exercise every day, or a much as you’d like to. Believe that from now on, you are on a new timeline. You made a new start, a new promise to yourself. You are already where you want to be. You are already doing the work and putting in the effort, time and energy into it.
4. Reward yourself & look back to the progress you’ve made along the way
Don’t forget to reward yourself, give yourself a big hug whenever you take conscious action and break the patterns that you so badly needed to break.
Do not take it for granted, but instead train yourself to keep going by rewarding yourself. I love to reward myself with a little piece of dark chocolate, knowing I love this as a treat + I’m actually nourishing my body with it.
Along your journey, no matter how hard it gets, or if you feel like forgetting this intention or stop putting in the work and effort, stop. Pause. Take a deep breath and go back to the meditation we did in the beginning. Put one hand on your heart and remind yourself of the promise you made. Remind yourself you are trying, and that is enough. You are on your way, and working on what you feel is best for you.
5. Stay grounded in practices that make you, your best self
What helps me in maintaining this journey of self-growth are small, inspired actions. This can be free flow- writing (I sit down and let myself write everything I want to write for 10 mins), doing yoga, a quick (or long) meditation, or simply taking action working on my dreams and goals, no matter how scary and uncertain the outcome may look like.
The truth is the future has always been uncertain, and always will be uncertain. One of my favourite quotes from Lao Tzu describes this perfectly:
“When you are sad, you are living in the past. When you are anxious, you are living in the future. When you are at peace, you are living in the present.”Lao Tzu
Do yourself a favour, and ground yourself in the present moment as often as you can. Through practising mindfulness, you’ll notice that most of the worries that are circling around in your head, are simply made up: a fantasy, created by no one less than you yourself.
This year, step away from the monkey mind and ground yourself in the present moment, reminding yourself of what matters most (intention) and taking actions towards fulfilling this intention. Know that you are already on your way, you are already in the process of becoming who you want to be. Whether that’s a healthier you, a happier you, or a more kind and loving you.
Keep going, and once in a while, turn around and look at the progress you’ve made so far. Don’t be afraid to give yourself credit for it, and love yourself through it all.
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, we can all use a little bit more gratitude this year. Just because things didn’t go according to plan and we were faced with many challenges, tuning into thankfulness can strengthen us and remind us of what we do have in our lives right now.
So how do we tune into this state of gratitude?
Here are some ways on how to tap into gratitude and how to make it a habit in your life.
A gratitude list is a simple thing to write, yet it has the power to put us in such a good mood. Start with writing 3 or 5 things you can be grateful for while you’re reading the newspaper or you’re having your morning coffee or evening tea. You’ll notice that not only will you be more appreciative of the small things and the big things, you’ll also think about more and more things to put on that list. As it gets longer, your mornings and evenings get better.
Ive done a little experiment this year: from January 1st, I have done a gratitude meditation every evening.
Why evening? Because going to sleep with a feeling of gratitude allows you to wake up happy and fulfilled.
Here’s my thought on this experiment: although it was though – the more I felt down or sad, the furthest away I felt from doing a gratitude meditation. But right on those moments, the downs, is when we need something to uplift us. So, even if it was challenging, I did my meditation every evening and it always made me feel amazing. What changed from the version of me before the meditation vs after the meditation? Nothing but my mindset and perspective. I didn’t receive any news, nothing actually changed in my day or my life, but solely by putting myself in a gratitude mindset made me feel so calm, light and happy.
So a gratitude meditation is a beautiful way to express your thankfulness, and I’ve created this daily gratitude meditation on Insight Timer. Try it out, for free, and notice how you feel before & afterwards.
Shifting your perspective
Instead of saying, I am sorry I am late, say: thank you for waiting. Shifting your words and thoughts when you catch them being passive, or negative, is your biggest challenge and teacher. When we notice our thoughts heading into a negative spiral, we can stop for a moment, smile at them, knowing they are not real, and instead bring in the positive side of it. It can be anything – from a random thought popping up or a certain situation that has happened and that you perceive to be negative.
Shifting your perspective can be very powerful. Here’s a small exercise I’d like you to try out: write down all the experiences in your life you first thought were absolutely catastrophic, but then turned out to have a positive influence on your life. For me, this was my biggest break-up, after being together for 4 years I got dumped. I was absolutely crushed. Heartbroken. I was a mess. But this breakup allowed me to grow, and go my own way, and when I look back now, I see I completely transformed in a good way. It brought me closer to myself.
This is just an example of how we can find unexpected blessings in what e first though to be curses. For this, we need to let go of the expectation and stop holding onto a certain outcome.
We often take lots of things for granted, but when we stop for a moment and realise how much of a blessing it really is, we rewire our brains to see the positive side of things, and consequently, that means more happiness and less complaining.
Scientific research has shown us that when we feel gratitude, we cannot experience negative feelings at the same time. Its gratitude, and gratitude only, that courses through our bodies. How amazing is that?
Another benefit of giving thanks might seem a bit more woo-woo to some, but nonetheless very powerful: we are energetic beings. Yes, we are. We are made out of millions of cells. When we put these cells under a microscope, we don’t see something vast, we see energy. So, if you zoom out of the picture, we are made out of energy!
What we think of, and what we feel, we attract more of in our lives. Tapping into gratitude puts you into a state of receiving: you evoke the feeling of how it is to already have something in your life. This feeling of abundance, of joy and happiness, will then allow you to attract more of that in your life.
Giving thanks can uplift us and rewire our brains to see the positive in even challenging situations. Start with small habits such as writing a gratitude list, or trying out a gratitude meditation, to tune into this beautiful state of mind.
With winter around the corner + a new lockdown for some countries, many of us are not only facing those winter blues, but now there’s also a thing as lockdown blues. Days become shorter and nights become longer. Being separated from our loved ones and having limited time to spend outdoors takes its toll on our overall wellbeing.
To keep it short: there are many reasons for why this time can be challenging for you. On top of that, your work life probably keeps going on, and maybe you’ve got even more work on your hands.
Here are 4 mindfulness practises that can come in handy during a season of low energy and feeling like the fire, that candle within you, is almost burn out. Let’s keep it lightened up!
1. Practising awareness
Becoming aware of you doing something is step one. And it’s a big step. We live on auto-pilot most of the time – recent studies tell us mor ethan hal of the things we do happens without us realizing it. Mindfulness is all about shifting that auto-pilot mode and taking the wheel in our own hands. Become aware of what you do. Next time you brush your teeth, watch Netflix or start scrolling on Instagram, try to become aware of it.
Maybe you recognize this: you end up scrolling endelssly on social media without even realizing it, afterwards wishing you hadn’t spend that much time on it. That is what happens when we stay on auto-pilot mode and are not really present.
When we shift our attention to this moment, we become aware of what we are doing. The auto-pilot mode gets disrupted, and we can take control again. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you should never again scroll on social media or watch Netflix for hours. Mindfulness simply asks us to bring our attention to what we are doing, without any judgment, instead bringing in kindess + curiosity. When you are bingewatching Netflix or scrolling through social media, notice how that feels like for you and what effect it has on you, try to be curious.
2. Recharging check-ins
When our phone is low on battery, we plug it in. When our computer is having issues, we restart it.
You deserve a recharge or a restart as much as your devices.
Mindfulness is all about focusing our attention on the present moment. To notice our breath, how our bodies feel and the environment arround us.
And it all beings with your attention. Redirect your attention to your breath. How are you breathing right now? When we are focused, we tend to hold our breath. This causes our brains to receive less oxygen – and our brains desperately need oxygen to function properly.
If you’re a person who tends to push through work and hop on that treadmill everyday, regardless of how full your battery is, one thing you can start with is setting an alarm to take a break from a project every 2 hours. Go for a walk, do a meditation, take a nap, drink some water, eat a snack, do some stretches,…. taking a small moment for yourself will allow you to return to your day with a fresh mind and body.
3. Holding onto Purpose
Something I have heard clients struggle with the last few weeks, is a lack of motivation + purpose. What gets you up in the morning? What is your reason to own the day and shine brightly?
Setting an intention on a daily basis can help you navigate through the day. Whenever you feel lost, you can remind yourself of the intention you set for the day and take action. This intention can change on the daily, depending on the foucs of the day.
When you focus on this one intention, this purpose, you can see the impact and importance of the actions that you take.
Let’s say you have a big presentation coming up today, and you just woke up, and to be honest you already feel a bit anxious + stressed about it. Setting an intention to remain present + grounded and do your best can help you tackle the day. When you feel stressed, use your intention to come back to and say to yourself: I am present, grounded and I am doing my best. This will put you in the right mindspace but also lead you to take action on the next best thing you can do.
Remember to stay kind to yourself – as I’ve said, mindfulnesss focuses on non-judgment, curiosity and kindness.
4. Purposeful Breathing
You’ll notice that when you take 3 deep breahts (maybe now would be a good time, go on) instantly relaxes you and releases some pressure of your kettle.
Our breath gives us life. It gives us energy. The fact that you are reading this right now and breahting without even knowing it, is a miracle.
What’s even better is that we can play with our breath and allow it to influence our state of being.
When you are tired, try to do an energising breathing exercise: the 6-2 method. Breathe in for 6 seconds, fully exhale for 2 seconds. Repeat until you feel energised + recharged again.
When you are feeling foggy in your mind, and in need of concentration and focus, try the box breathing method, used by many athletes to improve performance and attention. Breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4. Repeat until you feed more focused + relaxed.
When you are feeling energised and you want to relax and slow down, try the 4-7-8- method: breathe in for 4, hold for 7 and exhale for 8. The long exhales send signals to your brain to relax your nervous system and slow down.
Burnout, as one of my favourite mentors Jay Shetty says, is continuously running, instead of walking. It’s like you’re living life on a threadmill, without stopping, and pushing through (mostly) work. I hope these mindfulness practices and tips help you to check in more often with yourself and be mindful of the things you do, so you can stop running, and start walking at your own pace, in peace and with purpose.
If you want to start living a more mindful life, grab your free copy of my e-book, a guide to Mindful Living! Why for free? Because I deserve everyone deserves peace. And this year has been challenging enough. It’s a little gift to you, from me.
Another resource on Black Friday promotion right now is my 10-day mindfulness & self-growth course Flow. You’ll learn all about meditation, mindfulness, overcoming limiting beliefs, shifting your mindset, practising gratitude, developing healthy habits and so much more! Claim your 50% off before the price goes up again. ⏰
2020 has been a lot, right? Maybe this week has been a lot, or even this day, as you’re reading this.
There’s nothing we can change about what happens around us, but there we can take care of our own wellbeing by showing up for ourselves and others the best way possible.
Here are a few ways on how you can navigate through (another) lockdown and the beginning of a new season. Because as the seasons change, so do our natural rhythms.
1. Check In With Yourself
We tend to rush through our days, constantly pushing through and waiting for that moment – Friday night, the weekend, finishing up work,… while taking a moment to calm down and check in with yourself can be all you need at that time.
Before your next meeting, presentation or whenever you have a minute, take a seat, take 3 deep breaths and relax the tensed parts in your body. If you have some more time, turn it into a mini-meditation, where you gently watch your breath as it comes and goes, and allow your thoughts to come and go as well, like clouds.
You will notice that taking this small moment to check in with your body, notice how it general feels and how you feel emotionally, can do wonders. Bringing in mindfulness into our daily lives allows us to stop living on auto-pilot and start living with intention and awareness.
Another way to check in with yourself is to journal. Take 5 minutes for a free flow – write down whatever comes up in your mind, and gently release it from your mind onto paper. If you’re not the writer, try to come up with a gratitude list and write down only 5 or 10 things you can be grateful for. Gratitude helps shift your focus from what is missing to what you have in your life and be thankful for.
2. Listen To Your Body
Coming back to the pushing through we normally do, I would like to remind you that rest is productive as well. Breaks are needed. Rest is needed.
We have entered a new season -fall/winter. During this season, it’s time to retreat within, to reflect, to rest and to listen to your mind & body. It’s the time of the year to nestle and spend time at home, to go inward. Animals hibernate, as we need to take more rest and sleep more, too. It’s how our natural rhythms work.
So next time you feel tired, drained or burnt out, take a moment to listen to your body. Don’t feel guilty for resting or taking a nap. It’s not selfish, on the contrary: if you don’t feel well, how can you be there for others?
Starting out with the basics – fuelling your body with the right nutrients, drinking enough of water and getting enough sleep (7-9 hours), can do wonders for your general health & wellbeing, thus influences how you feel, too.
I’ve never been the type to work out or even move daily, but since this year (and lockdown), I’ve realised that movement is medicine. In the morning, gentle stretches or morning yoga help me tune in with myself and wake up my body. In the evening, I love to relax my muscles and gentle prepare my body for a good night rest with some restorative yoga. Everyone’s body is different, so take a moment to notice what your body needs, and pick a movement you enjoy doing – it can be as simple as waking. Setting an intention – to relax, energise or restore – helps in having a successful session.
Breathwork can work miracles. A session of energising breathing exercises (breathing in for 6, breathing out for 2), kicks in better than a morning expresso. On the other hand, whenever you feel all over the place and in need of focus, the box breathing, often used by athletes to heighten concentration and performance, works its magic: breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, and old for 4. Repeat as many times as necessary. And lastly, to help you relax and calm down: the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Breathe in for 4, hold for 7 and breathe out for 8.
3. reach out to close & loved ones
More than ever, social contact is important. We need to remind ourselves that social distance doesn’t mean emotional distance.
If you’re separated from most of your friends and family and you live abroad like I do, try to schedule video calls with the family, digital dates with your BFF and regularly check in with each others simply by sending a quick text.
If you can still see your close & loved ones, enjoy the quality time you can have with them as much as you can. It’s important to cultivate meaningful relationships, and maintaining them is equally as important, if not more important. Try out fun things to do on a date, head out for your favourite food or go on a Christmas shopping spree. I personally love to spoil people with gifts, and even if I am not sure I will be able to spend Christmas with them this year, I definitely plan on sending them the gifts in case I cannot be there. Intention is what counts, and that feeling is what people remember too.
If you can still go outside, definitely do that, too. Even a small adventure, staycation or venture out in nature can do wonders for your wellbeing, whether you’re alone or can have some company.
4. rituals & routines
One thing I have learned through the year, is: when all is uncertain, create your own certainty. Hold on to that certainty and let it grow you.
Creating nourishing routines & rituals helps you stay grounded. When you wake up, what is the first thing you do? Let’s say it’s grabbing your phone and checking in with the online world. Is that a routine that makes you feel good, or not?
I’m not the one who is telling you whether a routine, habit or ritual Is good for you or not. I am the person who gently reminds you to be mindful of what you do, speak, eat, and consume. They all have an influence on your mind and body. Starting your morning the right way launches a beautiful day. Ending your day the right way allows you to relax and rest, no matter what happened during the day.
Some mindful moments I picked up after a year of working from home and navigating through challenging times, are:
- Drinking a glass of water
- Morning stretches or yoga to wake up my body
- Write a gratitude list/free flow journalling
- Get ready
- Check phone
Whenever I wake up not so great, I know that after stretching or after meditating, I feel so much better. Routines are there to help us create certainty in our lives, no matter what uncertainties are taking place beyond our control.
When I finish my day, I make sure to do some restorative, relaxing yoga, watch my favourite show or something that uplifts me, schedule in some self-care time (a face mask, mani/pedi), have a warm drink and journal about the day and do anything else that relaxes me at that time. Before I drift off, I love to put on a sleeping meditation or some natural sounds, like ocean waves.
I’ve noticed these habits shift my mood and my wellbeing so much, no matter what happens throughout the day, so I highly recommend you to think about what routine or habit serves you or you would like to start trying out. It’s those small moments that help you prepare for what’s next, whether that is a fresh day, a big presentation or a night of rest.
I genuinely hope these tips will help you navigate through a new season and perhaps a new lockdown too, whenever you are in the world. We can get through this. You can get through this. Remember to take care of yourself and fill your own cup, before you start pouring your empty while giving to others.
There’s a lot going on in the world right now – and you’re not the only one who feels overwhelmed by it all.
Often, this un-ease we experience is because we are stressed, anxious or worried. When we are anxious, our mind & body are in survival mode. We have left the present moment, and we are preparing to either fight or flight. Our brains are wired to spot danger – whether that’s a hungry tiger standing in front of you, an email from an angry boss, or a pandemic that impacts your entire life.
So, how can we deal with modern-day stress & anxiety? Come back to the present moment. Let your brain now you are safe right here, right now.
1️⃣ Relax your body. Unclench your jaw. Often, we put our tension on a part of our body – that’s why we get headaches or stomachaches when we are anxious or stressed. Breathe into that place.
2️⃣ What are my thoughts telling me? Remember you are not your thoughts. Watch them float by like clouds and smile at them, knowing you are the awareness behind them.
3️⃣ Redirect your attention to your breath. How am I breathing right now? Am I hyperventilating, am I breathing shallow or fast? Am I holding my breath? Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique to calm down.
4️⃣ Focus your awareness to what you can feel, see, hear and taste. Name these things in your head.
5️⃣ Now that you have calmed down, you can dig deeper onto why you are feeling anxious. Often, it’s because we are thinking about what could, should or would happen – things that are outside of our control. So, write down 5 facts you can think of right now to ground yourself.
These steps are small, but extremely powerful into calming down your body & mind, and guiding your attention back into this moment. When we are in survival mode, our bodies release this hormone you’ve probably heard out – adrenaline – to help us fight or flight. This hormone shuts down all of the major systems we need to function properly – our digestive system, growth hormones, the part of our brain that copes with logical thinking, planning and emotional regulation, and all the other things we don’t need when faced with danger.
However, the problem in modern-day society, is that small challenges trigger the same response in our bodies, and even our own thoughts can influence us so much that our bodies believe we are in actual danger.
Therefore, the importance of mindfulness cannot be underestimated. It has changed my life, and the lives of so many others.
Hope this helps. Know that I am here to guide you on your journey from mind full to mindful. Grab your spot in my online 10-day course on mindfulness and self-growth.
What is mindfulness exactly? How is it different from mindfulness meditation? Why is it good for you? And how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life and travels? What is my relation and experience with mindfulness? Read the answers on these questions and more, in this beginner’s guide to mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of being present in the here and now. It is the art of accepting whatever is and comes your way, and being less reactive. Mindfulness allows you to tune in with this moment and fully experience it, with all your senses.
Although there are various mindfulness meditation practices, mindfulness itself is merely the act of being present in the here and now. If you notice your thoughts wandering off while you rather want to be present, and you bring yourself back, then that’s an act of mindfulness: shifting your focus & attention to this moment.
Whereas mindfulness can be done at any time or moment or activity, it is useful to do a mindfulness course and practise these various exercises and meditations to learn techniques on how to bring your awareness back into the present moment.
In my upcoming 10-day course about self-growth, you will learn the basics of mindfulness meditation, along with other meditation practices that will improve your ability to focus, be present, happier, healthier, and get closer to that beautiful version inside yourself, your best self. Find more information about what the course contains right here.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Mindfulness helps relieve stress, improve your focus, regulate your emotions, improve your mental & physical health, improve your sleep, decrease levels of stress and anxiety, calm feelings of pain or dis-ease, and much more.
For those of you who don’t know my story yet: mindfulness has drastically improved and transformed my life. I got dragged into a mindfulness class while I was on pills, prescribed to “kill the pain, “stop my anxiety” and “calm my mind down”. However, a lot of awful side effects and pills later, I realised there is no pill to cure your mind. In fact, there is nothing to cure. Only to accept. And with mindfulness, you learn exactly that: to accept whatever you feel, experience, smell, hear, taste, see. And witness it without judgement, but with curiosity and openness.
The benefits that I have experienced are endless, but to sum it up: it cured my anxiety, healed my physical diseases, and improved my overall quality of life. By that, I mean I went from being anxious, unfulfilled, always overthinking, living in my head (and mostly in the future), to: being present, in the here and now, knowing how to deal with anxiety when it arrives (barely anymore), being more happy, less stressed, less worried, and more accepting of whatever comes my way. It helped me grow in ways I cannot even comprehend and it has changed my life completely.
How can you bring it into your daily life?
You can bring mindfulness into your daily life by practising mindfulness meditation. There are various courses and programs online and on meditation apps.
1. Set your intention: become aware of why you want to practice it
What has driven you to become more present in life? Is it a problem you are struggling with, a challenge you are facing? Or is it merely curiosity or a desire to become more calm and less reactive? There are many, many benefits of mindfulness, scientifically proven to improve your mental and physical health. Before you start looking on the outside, to those benefits, begin to look on the inside, to what you really need right now.
2. Start small. Mindfulness is to be found right now.
Do not worry or think too much about living mindfully, because then you are doing the exact opposite. If you want to start living more mindful and aware and present, begin right here and right now. This is the only moment we have and right now is the only time we can take action.
In my upcoming course, I take you on a journey through the basics of meditation and mindfulness into a process of self-growth which even reaches eliminating limiting beliefs, anxiety, improving your mindset, practising self-love and much more. And the basics of all that is to be present. To tune in with yourself and your body. To really notice what you feel.
Breath work is an essential part of being conscious and aware. To be with our breath, is to really feel alive. So, here are some exercises to try out to focus on being present:
- Hand Practice: place your left hand in front of you. Take your right finger and run it over your left hand’s fingers. While going up, breathe in. While going down, breath out. Follow the rhythm of your normal breath and don’t try to force it or change it in any way.
- Breath Awareness: Sit still and notice your breathing, for as long as you want
- Breath Counting: Sit still and start counting your breaths from 1-5. If you lose counts, start over
- Body Scan: Lay down and scan your body from head to toe. Welcome every sensation that might arrive and when your attention drifts or you fall asleep and come back, just continue the practice.
In the 10-day self-growth course, we will explore these meditations together. Besides the video material and workbook, you will have guided meditations at your disposal, made & recorded by me. Subscribe here.
When I started out mindfulness, I got dragged to the case by my dad. I was suffering from anxiety, he wasn’t suffering from anything but curiosity and a willingness to explore something new. “Mindfulness really is something we can all use, no matter if you have a problem or not. It’s not a quick fix to a problem, because you won’t see the results until after weeks, maybe even months. It’s a way of life that we can all incorporate to enjoy life to the fullest and seize every moment.” Those were the words of my father when I asked him about why he participated in this course, for the second time even.
After this journey of practising it for almost 5 years, from when I was 17, I have discovered that mindful living is more than just a mediation practice or a “something new” to try out once in a while. It is a lifestyle, it is enjoying and tasting life and just putting your focus and attention to the here and now, instead of drifting off in your thoughts or scrolling endlessly on your phone. Distractions come to us in many ways these days, and it can be hard to keep our focus. Be gentle and kind towards yourself and give yourself the time to adapt to a mindful life. It will improve your overall health, quality and appreciation of life.
If you’ve made it until the end of this blogpost, it means you are ready to take the next step in mindful living. My newest course about self-growth & transformation, with mindfulness and meditation as leading forces, is out now. Claim your 50% discount now.