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Follow Ilona's journey on simplifing life.
On my quest for a simple life I accidentally gave in to a minor shopping spree. Mainly because Spring-fashion kept screaming my name on the top of her flowery lungs. My conscious mind responded with the conclusion there were indeed some necessities that should not be overlooked, while she ignored my subconscious mind's protests at the same time. After that minor slip I came to the conclusion that simplifying your life is more than just banning shopping out of my life. It's a set of rules each individual defines for him- or herself to make life less complicated, less stressful and therefore more comfortable to create feelings of calmness and harmony within. Personally, my life would be much easier if I would stop overthinking. A reason to lock down my mind and give into the urge, this time.
Simplifying on different levels
When living in a world that is always on a fast pace, a minimalistic lifestyle can be bliss. It's finding your quietness within the noise. There are many ways to simplify your life. My decision to cut back my expenses wasn't the first step I took towards minimalism. The process started a few years back when I broke off friendships that didn't serve me any longer. I am not a person that will let go easily, but we had reached a point where there was nothing to hold on to. Every time we'd met negative energy filled the silent space between our conversations.
Letting go of things that lost their meaning
I then learned that some people are just meant to cross my path for a shorter while. Each of them has meaning, positive or negative, leaving a mark on my soul. When it's time to say goodbyes I thank them regardless and just let them pass on to the next destination in their journey while I continue on mine. Feeling much lighter to continue without that weight pressing on my shoulders. If you aim for a simpler lifestyle make sure your social life also fits that easy flow.
Decluttering your life
My social life is not the only thing I decluttered. The past month I got rid off stuff in my home that has lost its purpose in my life. I have been donating it to charity or simply just tossed it away. To me it feels like emptying a backpack that has been overloaded with memories -which I can't toss away- and possessions - which I can toss away- gathered over life time. Now that the overweight is gone there is room for new experiences, things and more life enriching memories.
How to use the breathing technique Nadi Shodhana as a reset button for your mind.
You know those days when everything you do just doesn't seem to work out as planned? When you try to make an egg sunny side up, and not only do you break the egg yoke you also drop eggshells into the frying pan. You reach for your pen and inadvertently you knock over your coffee mug spilling it all over your clothes, papers and anything that was within the splash zone. Those days when the world seems to be plotting against you. My mom always says when you accidentally drop multiple things on one day someone wants to talk to you. Well I know who wants to speak to me; it is my inner voice telling me to SLOW DOWN.
Take a moment to slow down
Your inner voice is fed up with you not listening. It is now communicating with your brain and making you lose your motoring skills. It is time to stop what you are doing and to take a moment to relax and center your energy. Using breathing exercises will help you to refocus your energy and slow down. Don't try to convince yourself you don't have the time or you don't need to listen to your inner voice, because you really do. Besides you might as well take a moment to slow down because the way your day is going you will end up poking yourself in the eye while tripping over your own two feet.
Breathing technique; Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)
If you need a reset button this is a good way to do that. This technique will help you focus your mind, leaves you feeling calm and less anxious. It helps remove toxins and also supports the respiratory functions.
How to perform Nadi Shodhana:
Step 1: Relax your body and sit comfortably, making sure your spine is straight. Place your left palm onto your lap and bring your right hand in front of your face.
Step 2: Rest your pointer finger and middle finger between your eyebrows. These two fingers will be your anchor during this breathing exercise. You'll only use your thumb and ring finger actively during this technique.
Step 3: Now close your eyes and slowly take a deep breath; inhale and exhale through your nose.
Step 4: Before your next breath close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale slowly and steadily through the left nostril.
Step 5: Still closing your right nostril with your right thumb also close the left nostril with your ring finger; closing both nostrils. Now hold your breath for a brief pause at the top of the inhaled breath.
Step 6: Slowly open your right nostril and release the breath steadily through the right side; at the bottom of the exhale pause briefly.
Step 7: Slowly inhale through the right side and at the top of the inhale close both nostrils with your ring finger and thumb.
Step 8: To end the cycle open your left nostril and release your breath slowly and steadily through the left side. Again pausing briefly at the bottom.
Step 9: Repeat steps 4 to 8 for one complete cycle. Do 5 to 10 cycles.
Namaste and with love, Ana
Mindfulness. I stare at my food. I stare at my phone and then out of the blue I decide to do it. I put the phone away. From this moment on my meals will be consumed with my fullest attention. What follows after "the decision" are a couple of highly uncomfortable minutes. I am so used to having dinner with distractions that focusing solely on my food seems to be an activity I am unfamiliar with. I look at my cat for some support but she judgmentally stares back with her green/yellowish eyes as if she wants to say “don’t look at me, I am always mindfulness!"
Sometimes I do believe I am the most mind-un-fulness person around. Being so inseparable with my phone that we would almost make the perfect couple. She is the first thing I touch in the morning, and the last thing I hold at night. On top of that, I think I would be in a greater shock if I would lose my phone than if I would lose my wallet. I see many people having the exact same intimate relationship with their phone. I wouldn't be surprised if phone-snuggling would make it as 2016's word of the year.
Connect to the present moments
The problem with multi-tasking is that we lose connection to life's most precious moments. We hear but don't listen, we see but don't register it, we eat but don't taste. It's life beyond just passing us by. It's a life that never let us be present in this moment with our fullest attention. That's the reason I would like to disconnect myself from these kinds of habits. I have the feeling I am always somewhere else but here.
The online life is not realistic
I believe that the digital world is an unrealistic representation of real life. It locks the mind in an inside the box thinking mode because it make us draw conclusions based on the things we observe. On the Internet we merely see moments of the lives of the people around us that make us consciously or subconsciously believe we know everything about them. I sometimes feel like a legit stalker observing all my friends and acquaintances on social media while I catch myself thinking “wow girlfriend X has the most fantastic online-life, she must be so carefree"" But heck, what do I know about her life? I am just the observer! The world we see and the world we actually live in are miles apart but, we often prefer to look at the outside of other people's lives instead of actually living our own.
What to gain with being mindfulness?
What would I gain if I would stop multi tasking and start doing things with my fullest attention? I think that I will be able to use my senses the way they were meant to be used again. That's for sure. On top of that I can quiet my mind and get rid of all the clutter by just being present in the moment. I can intensify my relationships with all my loved ones and enjoy conversations on a deeper level. Or maybe, it's just my way to keep things simple and to protest against a society ruled by electrical devices. If I could give some advice to my future self I would advise her to keep the electronically independence so no robot will ever have to assist her whipping her butt or doing other simple tasks!
How the movie Ferris Bueller's day off can teach you the importance of living in the now and letting your inner child free.
Next month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the iconic Classic Ferris Bueller's day off. This is one of my absolute favorite John Hughes movies. There are so many elements to this movie that makes it so iconic; from the soundtrack to a young Matthew Broderick breaking the fourth wall. It even has a pre-winning-meltdown Charlie Sheen. The plot of the movie is simple yet elegant. Ferris Bueller pretends to be sick in order to skip school and spend a day with his girlfriend and best friend. The trio spends a spectacular day roaming the streets of Chicago having many wonderful adventures, while his sister and the school principal are convinced that Ferris is truanting and try to catch him in the act. This leads to a series of memorable and fun events.
When was the last time you took a day off?
This movie will make any kid and kid at heart want to skip school/work and have amazing adventures just as Ferries did. This got me thinking about the perfect day. When was the last time you did something spontaneous and spur of the moment? When was the last time you took a day off? Not something planned or because of an appointment or obligation, but a spur of the moment day off. I am not saying you should skip school or work, but ask yourself when was the last time you let your carefree spirit decide which way to go? Ferris had sort of a plan but he mostly hopped from one adventure to the next, not really knowing if it was going to work out or not. Yet he listened to his inner voice and the universe provided him with an amazing day. Do you remember the last time you let your inner kid decide what to do? It is time to let the kid in you speak.
Remember the carefree child within you
The thing with being young is that you live in the now. Somehow the older people get the harder it is for them to remember that. As a kid you live from moment to moment. If a child is playing outside it is not thinking about school the next day or that his clothes that are getting dirty. No that is far from the child's mind, because a child is carefree. The child is unaware of consequences. When we get older we are taught to plan ahead, think of the future, the consequences and responsibilities of life. Making it harder and harder to live in the now. This results in grownups that are more concerned with tomorrow then living today. However that carefree child, the one that played outside until bedtime, the one that jumped in puddles of water and laughed for no apparent reason, that kid still exists within you. That kid needs to be let loose once in a while.
How to let your inner kid free?
The carefree child within you is always ready to come out and play. You just have to let go of tomorrow and life for today. When you wake up to find a beautiful day greeting you, stop and enjoy it. If the world invites you to go on an adventure then go. Stop analyzing every move you make, stop thinking like an adult and more like a child. Ask yourself what would the young-me do right now? Trust that everything in your life will work out and let go of all those other thoughts holding you back. Tomorrow is tomorrow. Let yourself be guided by your inner innocence. Take Ferris as your role model and follow his carefree example and spend a day doing whatever you feel like, consequences be damned.
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. " - Ferris Bueller
With love, Ana