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Walking Meditation – The Labyrinth

Hello Lovely!

Last week I had the opportunity to try a new method of self care – walking meditation.  I joined a few of my coworkers and took a quick walk to the aboretum near my office for an afternoon wellness break.  While we were there, one of them introduced me to the Labyrinth – a tool for “walking meditation”.

I’d never heard of walking meditation before last week, and to be honest, I was a bit skeptical when it was explained to me.  In my mind meditation is a serene experience where I close my eyes and focus on breathing while letting my mind clear of anything I’ve been holding onto during the day.  Needing to have my eyes open while walking around a rather complicated and specific pattern seemed counterintuitive at best… but I decided to give it a shot.

Man, am I glad that I did!

When I got to the labyrinth, my co-worker explained briefly how it would work.  We were to stand at the beginning of the path, and walk along it slowly, and with intention, until we made our way to the middle.  She also explained that the pattern is positioned specifically to draw on the energies of each cardinal direction when you step into that area.  There are three basic stages of experience in the labyrinth:  release (while entering and walking toward the center), receive (the energy and wisdom of the Universe while in the center), and return (the peace you should feel when leaving the labyrinth and going back out into the world).

The labyrinth is not a maze – rather it is a specific path that you follow toward the center.  It winds and weaves, and may be rather complicated at some points, but as long as you stay true to the path, you will not get lost.  It is not like a maze that may lead to dead ends and requires you to think about which direction you should take.  The path of the labyrinth is already laid out for you – all you need to do is take it.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the labyrinth, and, moreover, enjoyed the feeling of peace and relaxation that I felt while taking part in the exercise.  As I made my way toward the center, I found myself being overcome by feelings of peace and serenity – I did not have time to worry about anything or wonder how this was even supposed to work – I simply focused on following the path and that was enough to empty my mind of other erroneous thoughts.

I highly recommend experimenting with incorporating walking meditation into your every day self care routine when able.  Even if you cannot visit a labyrinth, simply taking some time to walk outside in a relaxing and serene area will help you to remove your focus from the distractions of the every day and place it on things more important to you and your life.

If you are specifically interested in checking out a labyrinth, look here for locations of known labyrinths nationwide.

Hope that you’re having a great week – feel free to drop a note for me in the comments and let me know how you are.  As always, love and light.

❤ Kioshana

 

Transparency Moment – Letting Go of Feelings of Lack

Confession:  I’m a bit high strung when it comes to my personal finances.

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If you’ve read my book (shameless plug here), or followed me for a while, you probably know that I filed for bankruptcy a few years ago after chronic illness and an emergency surgery left me with tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt.  Though I am grateful every day to be alive, I cannot say that I went through that process unscathed.  There is something terrifying about filing for bankruptcy.  Not only can it be incredibly humiliating and humbling, but it alters the way that you look at yourself and the way that the rest of the world looks at you.  Before 2015 I was a homeowner, and a bright young professional who was well on her way down the path of success.  Though the successful part remains true, there are certain things that have become very difficult for me as a result of having filed for bankruptcy.  I find that people are less willing to take a chance on me – even when I can demonstrate that I’ve been paying my bills on time – because the bankruptcy is like a scarlet letter of irresponsibility attached to my chest.  People don’t care WHY I filed, they only care that I did.  And therefore I’m usually no longer considered worth the risk.

Though I don’t regret my decision to file for bankruptcy, I have to say that I was not expecting it to change the way that I look at money and finances as much as it has.  I haven’t used credit in more than three years – in part because I don’t like to, and in part because I don’t feel it’s worth the hassle of trying to qualify.  It’s draining to be required to explain to people several times over why this black mark on your record exists, and so most days I’d simply just rather not.  This means, however, that I spend only what I make each month – there is no credit cushion to help out in times of stress, and when unexpected bills arise, they have to be paid for with current cash – there are no credit cards to defer them to later on.

Which brings me to my topic for today – letting go of that feeling of lack.

I wasn’t a child who grew up without things that I needed – I was fortunate enough to have parents who always made sure that I was fully provided and cared for.  As I became an adult, I’ve learned how to take care of the things that I need and want on my own, and as a result, live a very comfortable life.

However, experiencing financial hardships as a single woman has left me with a very different view of the way my finances are managed.  What’s more, my quests toward minimalism, and toward financial independence require that I see everything that I do as transactional.  So, when I look at financial decisions (even very small ones, such as buying a book or going out to eat), I don’t look at them as “This costs ____ dollars” – I look at them as “This costs ____ hours of my life” – however long it took me to earn the money to do the thing.

I realize this is quite an odd and neurotic habit to have developed, but for the most part it has been a good thing.  It makes me slow down, and not spend my money frivolously.  Looking at it this way gives me pause, and I have time to reflect on whether or not this is a thing that will add value to my life – whether it is actually worth the trade-off of sacrificing my time in order to achieve it.

There are times, though, when unexpected expenses arise, and I find myself fighting to stave off a panic attack because I get frustrated at needing to spend money on things that are not in my “plan”.  For example, yesterday I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and was surprised (and horrified) to find out that a medication that I generally pay about $15 for each month will now cost me $156 per month.  My first thought was “I don’t have $156 for this!” and it took everything that I had to not break down crying in the middle of my grocery store.

When I got back to my car and managed to calm myself down a little, I was able to gain some clarity on two things:

  1. – It isn’t that I don’t have the money to pay for this – it’s that I don’t WANT to use my hard earned money on this because I do not find enjoyment in it.
  2. – I am fortunate and blessed beyond measure – and life is both too short and too sweet to allow setbacks like this to ruin my entire day.

The thing is, I remember a time in my life where I did not have the $141 to make up the difference.  I remember a time when this would have been completely devastating to me, because I would have had to choose between having this medication that I absolutely need, or having something else (like food, gas in my car, etc.).  I have lived through not having enough, and there’s a sort of post-traumatic stress that remains with me because of that.

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But I don’t live in that space now.  Now, an unexpected $141 is an annoyance (albeit a big one), not an emergency.  Spending money on my medication is necessary, and my family will not go without food because I choose to do so. I’m not squeaking by on $28,000/year anymore.

And you know what?  Even when I was, somehow, I was still provided for.  Whether it was luck, or family, or grace, I’ve managed to make it through to this day.

It takes remembering that on days like yesterday, when I want to fall into a fit of worry and frustration, that the Universe hasn’t let me go just yet.

I don’t live in a place of Lack – I have everything that I need, and operating from that space of scarcity simply blocks my ability to receive the things that I both need and want for my life.  And if I don’t live there anymore, why would I continue operating my life from that place?

❤ Kioshana

Weekending – Mind, Body, Spirit Expo!

Hey there Lovelies!

Yesterday, I had the immense pleasure of trying something very new, and attending the Universal Light Mind, Body, Spirit Expo here in Columbus, OH.  It was a wonderful experience for me, and one that I am excited to share a little more about with you!

The Expo is a two day immersion into all things spiritual and healing – there were experts in every type of existential healing and growth process that you could possibly imagine present.  I was immediately overwhelmed and excited by being there – the energy of the expo room was palpable!

I visited many different stations and tables, where there were people waiting to bless me with their gifts.  Healing shamans, psychics, and more were available.  I experienced my first reiki session, had a tutorial on the power of crystals and gems (and even picked up a few for myself!), and purchased a Himalayan pink salt lamp.  It was an experience that was bizarre and wonderful all at once!

The most striking thing that I took away from yesterday’s experience, however, was how comfortable everyone was simply walking in their respective truths.  There were people who wholeheartedly believe in the spiritual/mystical and embraced it with open arms, and there were people (like me) who were curiously skeptical, but were just happy to be in the presence of such good vibes.  Regardless of where anyone fell on that spectrum, though, there was no shortage of love and acceptance within the space for themselves and for each other.

More and more these days, I find myself seeking out spaces where authenticity is valued above everything else.  There’s an incomparable amount of peace that comes with being your true self without hesitation or limitation.  Doing so around a group of people who are happy to accept you without judgement or reservation (or even needing to know you at all) is also incredibly liberating.  It was a grounding experience for me at a point in my life where I find that I have less and less room for things that worry me or otherwise disturb my peace.

All told, this was a great experience for me, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet and commune with these special people.  It was an adventure in self-discovery that I’m not likely to forget any time soon.

– Kioshana ❤

The Happiness Myth

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Yesterday I was reading through one of my favorite books, “Buddhism:  Plain and Simple” and came across some notes I’d written in the margins on a particular chapter relating to the search for Happiness.  For context, let me begin by saying that I began reading this book some time last year in part of a search for peace.  I had become so consumed with the day to day hustle and bustle of life, constantly grinding and working toward tomorrow that I found myself unable to enjoy my present.  As a result, I’d become terribly discontent with life as I knew it.  To be clear, I wasn’t sad or depressed or angry… I just wasn’t as happy as I’d have liked to be and it bothered me.  I was wandering through one of my favorite bookstores in Columbus and found this book in the spirituality/meditation session.  One of my friends had suggested that I take up meditation as a way to alleviate some stress, and so I’d decided to explore this idea.  I came across Plain and Simple and, though I was not Buddhist, liked the premise enough to begin exploring.

Spoiler Alert:  It was easily one of the best books I’d ever picked up.

What resonated with me so much about this book was that, instead of teaching me about a religion, it taught me about life and a new way of looking at things.  There were very few chapters dedicated to the religion itself, and even those that were did not spend much time talking about the concrete portions of the practice.  Instead, the book spoke volumes about being present and being mindful in each moment of every day.  There were many valuable lessons that I took away from reading this book, but the most profound was the one regarding the balance of happiness in our lives.  Below are my notes from reading this portion of the book:

“Discussion with Matthew on Happiness vs. Sadness –

It is arrogant to think of happiness as a choice, and naïve to think of sadness as inescapable.  Our lives are in a constant state of flux and n either of those things are permanent. 

Malcontent arises because we are foolish enough to think that we can control how much happiness or sadness we have.  Life/the Universe has a way of balancing us so that neither option every really outweighs the other. 

The difference is in the focus.  “Happy” people are those that pay more attention to the good, and “Sad” people are those who give more credence to the bad – but neither has more moments than the other. 

It’s all a matter of perception.”

I remember being so proud of myself for having this epiphany – for finally understanding what seemed so simple once I gained the clarity to look at it.  The author of Plain and Simple says that life isn’t about telling ourselves stories (referring to other religions), but about investigating actual experiences.  And when I took the time to investigate my own actual lived experiences, I began to understand the balance between happiness and sadness, and realized that I only experienced true discontent when I was too stubborn to allow myself to feel things without needing to control it all.

I want to encourage you today, to stay in the moment.  Whether you’re feeling dramatically happy or sad emotions, or you’re somewhere in between, just allow yourself to feel them and try not to put too much stock or weight on what you’re feeling in that moment.

Understand that you will feel overwhelming happiness.  Understand that you will feel overwhelming despair.  And understand that both will eventually pass as your spirit returns to its equal balance – just like the rest of nature.

Love and light,

Kioshana

Seven Ways to Love Yourself More this Week

Happy Tuesday, Lovelies!

This is a post that I wrote quite a while ago, but felt like we could all use as we navigate through this week.  Enjoy!

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A good friend of mine asked a group of women recently, “What do you really think when you look at yourself in the mirror?”  As I watched woman after woman answer the question, I began to notice a pattern.  More and more, I saw that the women in the thread stated that they often recognized the beauty in their reflection, but quickly digressed into pointing out whatever flaws they saw as well.  I wondered, as I listened to sister after sister repeat this same pattern, what would happen if we instead focused on ways to love ourselves more throughout the week.  Loving and appreciating yourself is a huge factor in creating a sustainable self-care routine.  However, many of us have a hard time figuring out where to start.  Here are seven things that you can do to encourage self-love this week!

  1. – Refuse to weigh yourself

We all know that weight is just a number.  In and of itself, our weight has no power.  However, sometimes it is difficult to remember that, especially if we step on the scales and see a number that is slightly larger than we would like for it to be.  Instead of focusing on that little inconsequential number this week, make a promise to yourself that you will stay away from the scale and instead focus on all of the wonderful things that you love about yourself.

  1. Pay yourself an awesome compliment

Too often we go through the day doing the work of superheroes, and never give ourselves credit because we see it as just something that we do.  Take some time this week to recognize how amazing you are as a person. Whether it’s congratulating yourself on doing well on a class or work assignment, or simply acknowledging the effort you put forth into everyday life – give yourself the congratulations you deserve.  You are worth it, sis.

  1. Be grateful

When you wake up each morning this week, before you do anything else to start your day, take five minutes and acknowledge aloud some of the things in your life that you are happy to have.  This can be any number of things, including your family, your friends, your job, your killer body, a great relationship… the possibilities are only limited to what is inside your mind.  When you focus on the things that you love about your life, it becomes increasingly easy to love yourself and your place in it.  So go ahead, tell me – what are you grateful for today?

  1. – Get moving!

Nothing lifts a mood better than the positive endorphins generated from a good workout!  No, you don’t have to spend the week impersonating a gym rat (unless that’s your thing!), but spending a few extra minutes to go for a brisk walk around your neighborhood or taking a quick break to dance to your favorite song on the radio can do wonders for your mood.  Those awesome feelings will continue to flow through you long after you’ve stopped moving and will help light up the rest of your day.

  1. – Re-evaluate your priorities

As women, we tend to put ourselves last on our list of priorities.  Often we become wrapped up in things we don’t really want any part in because we feel guilty for saying “no”.  Take a few moments this week and evaluate where you are spending the most time, and what activities make you feel the most amount of burnout.  Once you’ve done this, begin cutting away some of the clutter.  I know that sometimes it feels cruel to do this, but the truth is that everything cannot be a priority to you.  Take some time to determine which things really matter and pour your energy into them.  Don’t forget to put yourself on the list!

  1. – Write a love-letter to yourself

This is one of my favorite self-love exercises, because I find it to be personally so effective.  On a day when you’re feeling really good about yourself and your life, write a letter to yourself acknowledging that.  Tell yourself how beautiful and worthwhile you are and remind yourself how much you appreciate your life, at whatever stage of the process you find yourself in this moment.  Then, fold that letter up and keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again on days when you need a little reminder about how wonderful a person you really are.

  1. – Re-evaluate the messages you consume daily

This one is a personal challenge for me, and one that I find myself working on daily.  There are so many negative messages that we are inundated with on a daily basis, and it is difficult not to internalize them all.  Even if we don’t realize that we are consuming these messages, they show up in other areas of our lives through the words that we speak, the music we listen to, the television shows we watch, etc.  Do a quick inventory of the messages you consume on a daily basis this week and determine whether those messages are providing you with spiritual nourishment or if they are sucking the life out of you.  If it’s the former, excellent – but if it’s the latter, maybe you should think about choosing some different messages that will help speak life into your world.

I hope that these suggestions have helped you.  For more great tips on incorporating self-care into your everyday life, please subscribe on the welcome page.  Thank you for reading – see you soon!

-Kioshana

Love vs. Value

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Several weeks ago, I posted this status to my personal Facebook page after an especially trying experience with someone who is very important in my life.  Over the last few weeks, this one sentiment has been the topic of many conversations that I’ve had with those around me, as the truth in it resonated with many.

So, what does it mean?

My parents divorced when I was 13 years old, after 15 years together.  There were several things that “caused” their split (none of which I’ll detail here), but at the base of it, it was obvious to everyone around them that they loved each other.  This fact made their breakup especially painful for me, and kept me wishing and hoping until I was well into adulthood that my parents would get it together and get back together one day.

Spoiler alert:  they didn’t.

I’ve often heard people say, “Someone desiring you is not the same as someone valuing you,” and for a long time, I didn’t understand what this meant.  I have always been a hopeless romantic, and dreamed about the kind of love that I’ve read about in the many books I’ve lost myself in growing up.  For me, it was all very simple – if you love someone, then you’re with them and that’s all there is to it.  My parents loved each other long after their divorce, so why couldn’t they make things work?

It wasn’t until I was an adult and navigating my way through my own relationships that I understood that sometimes love really isn’t enough to sustain a relationship – romantic or otherwise.  Humans are complex creatures and we all have different needs.  However, one of the things that we all require in order to have a successful relationship with someone is to be shown the respect that comes with knowing that person values you.

And, unfortunately, these things are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

I’ve been party to relationships (both romantic and platonic) in which I always felt a certain level of dissatisfaction with the way that I was treated.  At times, the other person in the relationship would gaslight me into believing that I “was being difficult” or “wanted too much”, and that they “loved me” so why wasn’t that enough?

The answer is simple – love is easy.  Love doesn’t require much effort because it happens naturally.  That doesn’t negate the importance of love in a relationship dynamic; it just means that there’s more to it than that.  The thing about successful relationships is that they are built on more than “just” love.

A sustainable connection to someone requires time and effort and a commitment to understanding him/her/them.  And when someone demonstrates to you that they aren’t interested in putting in the work to establish and maintain that type of connection, they’ve shown you that they don’t value your place in their life.

My parents were like that – they loved each other dearly.  However, it got to a point where my mother no longer felt that she was valued in the relationship, even beginning to question her value to herself.  Instead of allowing those feelings to take root long term, though, she decided to make a change for herself and leave the toxic situation.  She (and her children) were better for it in the long run, although it was very painful at the time.

I’ve learned from my mother, and from watching other people’s relationships and interactions over my lifetime, that we truly do teach people how to treat us by what we choose to accept, and people show us how important they are by the things that they say and do to us.  The person who prompted the status that you see above did so by demonstrating to me that he did not find value in me – and I responded by moving away from the person and situation. While he may not find enough value in me to treat me the way I desire and deserve to be treated, I do see that value in myself.  And because of that, I am unwilling to settle for anything less than my standard of acceptable treatment.

Ultimately, that is the most important thing – when we recognize the value of what we bring to a relationship, we understand how detrimental it is to accept someone who reduces our value in order to fit into what’s comfortable for them.  Real love doesn’t look like that – real respect doesn’t do that.

And if it isn’t the real thing, then what’s the point?

 

Love and light – Kioshana

On Forgiveness- Part Two of Two:

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Last week, we worked on forgiving ourselves – today, I encourage you to make it a point to forgive someone else.  So many times in life we hold onto hurt that is unnecessary and harms us in ways we’ve never imagined.  We find ourselves reaching back and reliving pain over and over again – giving ourselves fresh cuts in wounds that we should have let heal long ago.

 

Why are we still doing this to ourselves?

 

Today, I want you to think about someone who has hurt you deeply.  Allow yourself to feel the pain that that person caused you one last time, and then use it.  Write them a letter outlining all of the ways that they’ve hurt you, every single thing – pour your heart out and leave it all on the page.

 

Then, seal it up and get rid of it.

 

If you want to send the letter, fine. If you want to rip it up or burn it, that’s fine too.

 

But whatever you do – Let it go.

 

And as you divest yourself of that physical representation of hurt, let go of the mental/emotional ties you have to it as well.  We have to get to the place where we understand that reliving painful situations over and over again in our minds harms no one but ourselves.  While you’re carrying the mantle of this pain every day, that person is likely living in a space where he or she has let it go and moved on.  Even worse – it may have never occurred to them that they hurt you in the first place.

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Stop waiting on an apology that may never come. Maybe they’re afraid to – maybe they don’t think you’d offer them grace and forgiveness.  Maybe they just don’t care.  It doesn’t matter if they’ve never apologized – doesn’t even matter if they aren’t sorry. Forgive them anyway.

 

You aren’t doing it for them – you’re doing it for yourself.

 

And as you let go, let yourself enjoy the feeling of that terrible weight being lifted from your shoulders.  Relish in the lightness that accompanies laying burdens down and walking in your own truth. Free yourself, sis – you deserve this.

 

Wishing you all the love and light in the world –

Kioshana