Quick 5-Minute Meditation for Dispelling Depression, Anxiety, and Fear

In our modern day world where high stress is the norm, our brains have not yet learned to differentiate a real threat from a perceived threat, so any stress kicks the brain into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. The results? Symptoms that mirror or include anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. This can be devastating and debilitating to deal with, but there are a lot of coping skills that can help us retrain our brains and bodies to react differently.

Meditation is a great tool to use that can be done anywhere by anyone. Studies have shown many benefits, including: decreased blood pressure; increased oxygen to the cells; slowed activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear; and a shift in brain waves from the stress prone right frontal cortex into the calmer left frontal cortex. This literal shift in brain wave activity accounts for the shift in mood that meditators experience.

One of the easiest meditations to do is a Kundalini yoga meditation I call “555”, which usespranayama, or controlled breathing. This meditation can be done in as little as a minute, but anywhere from five to ten minutes is ideal.

  1. Find a comfortable position for you. Straighten your spine.
  2. Place your palms upward.
  3. Gently release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
  4. Inhale for a 5 count.
  5. Hold your breath for a 5 count.
  6. Exhale for a 5 count.
  7. Repeat.
  8. As you are doing this, you are also invited to do a body scan from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Notice any areas that are holding tension and breathe into these areas.

As we practice our meditation and breathing, our mind may wander. We may lose focus or lose count. That’s okay. Just bring it back to the breath.

April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW is a writer, speaker, and integrative practitioner who brings a unique voice to the field of health and wellness by combining traditional evidence-based techniques with ancient practices such as yoga and newer findings in contemplative sciences. She has been recognized as a part of “Generation Inspiration” and is also named as one of 20 Young Champions for Women by the White Ribbon Alliance and WIE Symposium, presented by Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington. You can follow April on Facebook or Twitter. Visit http://www.beingandwellness.com to learn about services she offers, including Reiki & coaching, or http://www.verbalvandalism.com to check out her latest written works.

Sit, Stay, Heal!

sit-stay-healNegative emotions are not fun to feel. They hurt. Oftentimes, to avoid feeling the pain, we will numb ourselves and stop feeling all together- or we will mask our pain by engaging in unhealthy habits like excessive eating, spending, drinking, or drugs. We may feel hopeless or that these feelings will never go away. Darkness, doubt, and fear may have become our constant companions. We may even come to identify with them and hold on to them because it’s all we know.

These feelings can “go away”. We are not victims to circumstance and feelings- we are creators and we can be choose to be victors instead of victims. We can choose to continue to allow our negative experiences to create our reality or we can work through these feelings and invite in experiences that feel better energetically.

Instead of rejecting our negative feelings or energy, we should explore these aspects of ourselves. It’s time to get comfortable with our discomfort and make friends with it. These moments are teachable moments and they are an incredible growth opportunity.

We need to learn to sit with our discomfort and we need to learn to stay with our discomfort so that we can work through it. Think of a puppy whom you teach to sit, stay, and heel. This is your invitation to sit, stay, and heal.

Think of the warm feelings of loving kindness that you would feel towards a puppy and extend those feelings to yourself. (You deserve this!) Think of the patience you would have for a new puppy as you are teaching him new tricks. You wouldn’t get angry because he can’t sit on his first try or because he can’t stay for more than two minutes right away. Not at all! Instead you would praise him for the 30 seconds he managed to do. You would delight in the fact that in a few days from now he manages a whole minute. You would enjoy the work of teaching your new pupil as well.

Treat yourself like that puppy. You know he’s a baby and you treat him accordingly. As a species, we humans are babies in our evolution as well. Have patience with yourself. Enjoy working with yourself. Learn to sit with your discomfort; learn to stay sitting, and you will teach yourself to heal. You will teach yourself how to transmute these feelings into opportunities for growth and positivity.

Happy healing journey to you!

April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW is a writer, speaker, and integrative practitioner who brings a unique voice to the field of health and wellness by combining traditional evidence-based techniques with ancient practices such as yoga and newer findings in contemplative sciences. She has been recognized as a part of “Generation Inspiration” and is also named as one of 20 Young Champions for Women by the White Ribbon Alliance and WIE Symposium, presented by Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington. You can follow April on Facebook or Twitter. Visit http://www.beingandwellness.com to learn about services she offers, including Reiki & coaching, or Verbal Vandalism to check out her latest written works. She is now taking on new Reiki clients.

By April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW

Putting a Wrinkle in Your Sweet Tooth

Here is some news that’s not too sweet – experts believe that a lifetime of overeating sugar can cause wrinkles. A natural process called glycation is the culprit. With glycation, sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called “advanced glycation end products,” or AGEs, appropriately. The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop. The more AGES you develop, the more they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion, according to Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist and author of “10 Minutes/10 Years.”

Besides damaging collagen, a high-sugar diet also affects the type of collagen you have – another factor in how resistant skin is to wrinkling. The most abundant collagen types in the skin are I, II and III, with type III being the most stable and long-lasting. Glycation turns type III collagen into type I, which is more fragile, making the skin look and feel less supple. It also leaves you more vulnerable to sun damage. Diabetics can have up to 50 times the number of AGEs in their skin than non-diabetics. Another good reason to cut out sugar and eat your veggies.

If your sweet tooth does kick in, you may want to reach for some fresh watermelon. Besides being loaded with fiber and nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, B6 and potassium, recent findings suggest that watermelon may help in lowering blood pressure. Researchers at Florida State University found that two amino acids found in watermelon, L-citrulline and L-arginine, had powerful heart-protecting effects, able to help keep blood pressure at a healthy level. In fact, the researchers found that the amino acids led to improved arterial function, which resulted in lowered aortic blood pressure in every single one of the participants.

by Jackie Silver, AgingBackwards.com

Jackie Silver is the founder and president of Aging Backwards, LLC and author of “Aging Backwards: Secrets to Staying Young.” Sign up for her free newsletter at: http://agingbackwards.com/ and connect with her on Facebook , Twitter  and Pinterest .

The Law of Attractive Positive Impact

law-attractive-positive-impactYour Significant…Self?  How to be the best you for any relationship

That famous country song said we were looking for love in “all the wrong places” but maybe we were actually looking in all the wrong ways.  You might have a “list” of what you are looking for in your ideal mate or you might be looking for that special someone who “completes you”.  In the process you might be bringing in that same person who we may think is our type yet the reality to finding love successfully may be asking the question, “What type are we?”

Before you put on your Friday night best or log back on to your favorite hook-up website again let’s take a minute to look and feel your best about the most important person in the next relationship, YOU!  It is absolutely true that we attract what and who we are in to our lives.  When it comes to bringing in our friendships and romantic relations what we radiate is something I call, “The Law of Attractive”.  It is the true beauty that can’t be painted on or pumped up in the gym, instead it is the kind of amazing that, when you have the confidence to let it shine, will bring in the perfect person who compliments you not completes you.

I recently had a client I was coaching and after we conquered her work fears she said that her next goal was to get back into a relationship. Of course, no one who wants a relationship truly wants just anyone, they want Mr. or Ms. Right! And most of us know in our hearts exactly what that means, when someone asks we unfurl that dreaded “List”!  It is the magic, 10-foot long scroll with every physical, emotional, and spiritual quality that we think we need in a mate to be happy.  I asked her what was on her list and she rattled off things like; patient, extroverted, and easy-going.  I have to back up by saying I had already been working with her for a few months, and, while she was working on herself currently, she was none of those things.  So when I asked how her manhunt was going she said sadly that the people she was dating were none of those things.  Shocker!

So where do you start? Think about the phrase, “He” or “She” is a good match for me.  You don’t match socks by finding some that go nicely with each other, you match them by finding two that are as close to each other as possible.

  • Check it twice.  Before you start on your scavenger hunt for love, check the list once for yourself first.  If there are areas that you find important in someone else think about if you have them.  If you don’t, there is nothing wrong with taking some time to work on you.
  • Make your list.  Make a note of all the attributes you would find important in a long-term or forever type relationship.  Be sure to list more than just physical qualities like dark hair and full lips, the values that you find important such as; honesty, integrity, loyalty, and compassion, will play a much bigger role in the long-term success of your partnership.
  • Pay close attention to who is naughty and who is nice.  All too often when don’t stick to our list out of fear of rejection, (something), or maybe just a physical connection that we mistake for love but the whole time the alarms are going off inside us to run.  Trust your gut here and know that when the time is right for you and that special someone it will work out.

While there may not be a club, church, or online dating site to find true love there is one place that holds the magic of cupid’s arrow, your heart. Find that and honor it and you will be fully capable of loving someone else.  Love and be loved, it starts with you!

Michelle Phillips is the author of the bestselling beauty and self-esteem book, “The Beauty Blueprint- 8 Steps to Building the Life and Look of your Dreams” (Hay House) is now available on major book sites. You can listen to her live onMondays at 12pm est on www.HayHouseRadio.com .  She is also a regular guest on the national TV shows, The Daily Buzz, GalTime, and Daytime. www.michellephillips.com

Am I Pretty?

am-i-prettyIn a disturbing new trend thousands of girls as young as 11 and 12-years old are posting videos on YouTube asking the question, “Am I pretty?” This public call for validation shows a dangerous lack of self-worth and an unhealthy focus on outer beauty at an early age.

Am I pretty? The answer is YES!

As a Celebrity Makeup Artist and Life Coach I have been working with people for years to build their ‘beauty’ from the inside out. Usually though the questions of; “Am I pretty?” “Am I good enough?” or “Am I worthy?” don’t really start to weigh on us until life as taken its toll a little bit more. Seeing such a display of low self-esteem at such a young age though really troubles me so I feel strongly that this is a topic that needs addressing.

Whether it is the images in the media, social networking, or increased peer pressure, people, especially teen girls, are feeling pushed to look and act a certain way. One of the things they don’t understand is that in trying to find acceptance online they are opening themselves up to even more negative influence. The relative anonymity of the internet creates a breeding ground for hostility and hate resulting in wave of hurtful responses to their videos. Not to mention the fact that online predators are constantly lurking, typically preying on girls in this exact age range.”

To remedy this I suggest a variety of solutions.

– Monitor your child’s internet usage! The web is just that, a dangerous place for those that get caught up in it. There are just as many physical and emotional hazards to be found in the virtual world as there is in the real world.

– Talk to your kids about their ‘beauty’. Have your child create a list of their most beautiful qualities; their values, dreams, and maybe even throw in some physical attributes they love as well. By working to build a foundation for what makes them uniquely beautiful you create a source for real and lasting self-worth.

– Model strong self-esteem yourself. Even with all of the other sources of information your kids have access to you are still their biggest influence. By relating to them your self-worth you are instilling that same value in your kids.

Most important is have as open a line of communication with your kids as possible. And when the question “Am I pretty” is ever asked by you or them, the answer is always “Yes!”

February 28th Radio Show-Raising Beautiful Children

On today’s show we are talking about raising beautiful children.

If you have been a frequent listener to the show you know when I say beauty I’m not talking about making sure your kids are in the latest fashions or have perfect haircuts….I’m talking about raising them to be positive people with a strong and balanced sense of self-esteem.  The kind of people that will help us create and foster true beauty in our world.

As a mom, a step-mom, and at one time was a single mom and  know that while we may need work to put a roof over our heads or provide food, our most important job in life is parenting our kids.

Join me and my guests, Dr. Wendy Walsh, Jan Horn, and Sandi Schartz.  Together we will share some valuable tools parents can use to help balance and reduce stress in their own lives and in turn empower their children to create their own beautiful lives.

Tune in live by logging onto www.hayhouseradio.com on Monday February 28th at 9am Pacific Time/12noon Eastern Standard Time.  If you missed the show, you can listen to the show in the archive section.

Some info on my guests:

Dr. Wendy Walsh is a journalist, a psychologist, and a mother.  You may have seen her on TV as she is a contributor to CNN, The CBS Early Show, The Today Show, Lifetime, and many more. www.drwendywalsh.com

Jan Horn is the Executive Director/Founder of Blooming Place for Kids.  Jan and her staff are deeply committed to improving the lives of neglected and abused children by giving them hope for their own future through programs developed to build leadership skills, self-confidence, good moral character and values.

Blooming Place for Kids’ residential camp promotes positive values and encourages teamwork, sharing and individual growth.

A PLACE TO DREAM . . . to GROW . . . . . and just be a KID!!!  www.bloomingplaceforkids.org

Sandi Schwartz is an educator, author, radio show host, and inspirational speaker with over 40 years of experience in the field of child development, Sandi combines the best of traditional wisdom with a depth of spiritual awareness, delivering a powerful message for parents. Her most distinguished honor was from the Governor of New York State for leadership and courage in her work with children and families in the aftermath of 9/11.

Sandi’s Leading Edge programs for parents and educators have received international acclaim.  She consults with parents in many countries and her weekly radio show, Leading Edge Parenting, is heard around the world.

For More Information About Leading Edge Parenting or to contact Sandi for consulting, speaking, or to receive her free daily love nuggets, go to www.sanditeaches.com

February 7th 9a.m PT/ 12pm EST- Turning Heads by Turning Hearts

Have you forgotten what you have to offer? You are a divine gift to the world. By being true to your sense of purpose and embracing the authentic nature of you, you give yourself permission to live a life where it is okay to bloom, soak in the sun, and be the wild color you were created to be. This is in turn empowers those around you to follow your lead. The results of overcoming obstacles through determination and belief in yourself can create a ripple effect for generations to come. Join Michelle to learn how you can look and feel more beautiful by being true to your purpose.

Listen live or from the archives online by logging on to www.hayhouseradio.com.

Hay House Radio – Jan. 24, 2011 show

This Monday we’ll discuss the meaning of true beauty. I’ll be speaking with guests Carnie Wilson and Asia Voight.

Join us at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST for The Beauty Blueprint on Hay House Radio.

Click here to listen live – http://www.hayhouseradio.com

Carnie Wilson is the daughter of Beach Boys co-founder and mastermind Brian Wilson and a member of the Grammy Award-nominated group Wilson Phillips. She has been very public about her battle with Obesity. Carnie, in her own words, is simply “a go-getter.” “I like to work,” she explains. “I don’t like to stop moving — like a shark! But at the same time, I never do something unless my heart’s in it. I can’t be fake. I really go by instinct, and it seems like everything I do has to have some kind of message behind it.”

Carnie  is raising awareness for Autism.  She has seen first hand the challenges that children with Autism and their families go through.  To help Carnie in her mission  log onto http://www.theangelsmall.com/cwilson/

Find her online at www.carniewilson.com.

Asia Voight is an internationally known Animal Communicator, teacher and speaker, who has worked with over 40,000 animals in the last 13 years. Asia’s work has been featured on ABC, NBC, and Fox TV. She has graced the covers, of many publications such as Brava and Women Magazine, the front pages of the Wisconsin State Journal and the Fitchburg Star with her amazing personal story and words of animal wisdom. Asia has published a chapter in Crossing the Rubicon: Celebrating the Human-Animal Bond in Life and Death, an inspirational and uplifting story of the healing aspects of her Animal Communication work. Find her online at www.AsiaVoight.comClick here to read her guest contribution to this week’s blog.

Getting back on track

Every January we start off with the best of intentions.  We make goals for better health, financial security or any number of things but by this point in the New Year a lot of people have fallen off of the resolution wagon.  So do you just give up and try again next year? I say NO and here are some ways to keep you going…

First off, how do we get off track?

Anytime you set out on a new course there is always a chance that things may not work out the way you planned.  Unfortunately, when we get fixated on how we think success should look and how fast it should come, we tend to give up at the first speed bump.  Then we feel as if we have failed and it’s a vicious cycle of beating ourselves up…and feeling worse off than we did before we set the goal…

How do we stick with our new goals?

Plan on falling off track! It’s normal.  The trick is to say, no worries, I am going to start over     with more determination this time

Set goals that are more realistic this time around.  I think we set huge goals for ourselves and when we don’t see results right away, we get frustrated and quit.  Set the big goals but with milestone goals along the way to continually feel a sense of accomplishment while keeping your eye on the prize.

When you write down your goals, does fear come up for you?  Write down the fear. Then once you look at that fear, write down what doesn’t scare you about it.  (Like when you lose 20lbs you will feel better, have more energy, not to mention a huge sense of accomplishment).

The important thing is to not be unnecessarily hard on yourself.  You’re human, with the best of intentions, but lending your voice to the chorus of negative voices in your head will definitely not help encourage you towards your goals.  This year, take small steps to create your most beautiful life!  If you need some support, call me on the radio and we will work through it together.

How not to see RED on Black Friday

One of the busiest and most exciting shopping days of the year is just around the corner. Along with that day comes the rallying cry of, “Charge it!” and a whole lot of stress. Some of it is self-imposed and some of it is the retail industry knowing just how to get us amped up. The ads for Black Friday are starting earlier and seem to get more exciting every year. The sales even start earlier too! Midnight? You’ve barely cleaned the kitchen or come out of your turkey coma with enough clarity to drive the car and you’re expected to have your shopping head on?! And how many “sales of the century” can there be? Sure we just changed over to a new one but at least give us a couple years to forget about the last one and for gosh sakes pace yourself.

Whatever it is that makes our individual eyes light up, they always seem to find something to start us down the path of mass retail hypnosis. Like zombies we march to the malls with glazed eyes and the mantra of “must shop” only to snap from bliss to stress the moment we pull into the parking lot. From fighting for a parking spot, to getting in to a tug-of-war over the last sale item on the shelf, to finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our lists, we seem to find ways to make our blood boil.

A lot of the stress we feel is self-imposed and can be avoided. The keys to surviving possibly the best shopping day of the year are preparedness and perspective blended with a few of my favorite things~

  1. You can start mapping out what you want to accomplish by making a gift list and charting the sales you want to hit well in advance. This is not the best time to be swimming through manic crowds of pre-dawn discount shoppers looking for gift ideas. Plus, it’s not only a great way to get more done in a short period of time but can also help with budgeting. If you know what you want and get what’s on your list it could cut down on impulse buying. While we all want to take extra special care in getting the right presents, but excessive spending around the holidays is another place we put pressure on ourselves.
  2. You can even use that gift list to route your buying journey to have a nice flow so you’re not bouncing from store to store feeling confused and anxious.
  3. Get a ride to the stores or take a taxi to cut down the stress of finding a place to park. You can also use the fact that you have a designated driver as an opportunity to have a little a pre-party. Speaking of parties, get a shopping buddy.
  4. Remember, if we don’t get everything done we still have over 3 weeks to work on it. If we do cross most everyone off our list we can rest easy and stay out of the frenzy that is sure to build throughout December. We can go back to stressing over what to wear to the company party.

If all else fails and you want to cash in all the great deals and have the fun of shopping without ever leaving the house. Have your shopping buddies over to buy online. You can party hearty and when you shop til you drop you can drop on your own comfy couch.