My definition of Mindfulness
This past week I've been immersed in corporate mindfulness training with Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. My mind is buzzing with the energy of learning new ideas, nerding out on neuroscience and reconnecting with the belief that started my company in the first place - that mindfulness matters.
So let's talk mindfulness - what does it really mean? To me, mindfulness is the space between your thoughts and emotions where you have the ability to respond instead of reacting to challenging situations. It's the space to process what is going on so you can respond in a conscious way that is aligned with your emotions and feelings.
Do you have to be on a yoga mat to experience this incredible way of being? Absolutely not. Mindfulness is something that you can take with you from the boardroom, to your dinner table, with coworkers, or out with friends and loved ones. Practicing mindfulness is about acknowledging that you have the power to choose your thoughts and that you can make conscious choices with each thought and decision you have throughout the day.
Take a moment to breathe.
Using the power of our breath is one of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness at any point in our day. Focus on your breath, your inhale and exhale. Consciously breathe in for 4 counts and out for 4 counts. Repeat 10 times or as long as feels right for you.
Move your body.
Whether this looks like a walk around your neighbourhood, a dip in the ocean, playing a sport or hitting that yoga class, moving your body is a great way to stay mindful. Movement is like meditation, it gets you out of your head, back into your physical body and your heart.
Notice your thoughts.
Whether they are positive or negative, simply notice the thoughts that you are choosing in any given moment. Awareness is the first step to making a change to our habitual thought patterns. The best part is, we have the power to choose our thoughts so the lift us up, not tear us down.
Adopt this mindset.
Everything is happening FOR YOU not TO YOU.
Everything, the good and the bad, are lessons, opportunities and always happening for us. Adopting this mindset allows us to embrace what comes our way, let go of that feeling of being the victim and look for the good in any situation.
Self Investment 101
Investing in yourself is the BEST thing you can do for yourself.
Think for a moment about the principle behind financial investments. The main purpose is to experience a future financial gain.
This same principle can apply to you and your skillset. By investing time, money and energy into yourself, you are setting yourself up for future success.
Self investments can be small or big, but like everything, you get out what you put in.
Developing a habit of daily contributions to yourself will amount to something bigger in the future.
I say this as I embark on a week long leadership training course call Search Inside Yourself Leadership in Berkely, CA. This course was formed out of Google and is designed to teach corporations how to lead compassionately, improve culture, and optimize performance. It is rooted in mindfulness, neuroscience, and emotional intelligence - all things that get me so excited.
I heard about this course a couple of years ago and immediately knew I wanted to do it. I knew that it was going to further my life's mission, to leave the world a better place than how I found it and best equip me with tools to share this message in the corporate space.
The initial timing wasn't right, but I kept it on my radar. It sounded so perfect for me, but was also time consuming and expensive. I definitely had the story running through my head of 'who am I to spend this much money on myself?' But I realized that investing in myself is the best thing that I could ever do and the smartest way I could spend my money.
So yes, I deserve it, and yes I am good enough! And YOU are too.
How to invest in yourself
Whether this is with your favourite smoothie, coffee, massage or indulging in a sweet treat, little things like these are easy ways to show yourself some love and invest in you throughout your day.
This can be practiced by diving into something new or further developing a passion or skill you want to master. Spend time taking stock of your interests. Is there a course or a workshop you can invest in that will help support your growth? Is there an area of your career to expand upon for you to enhance your passions?
Nourish your body.
Ever notice how much better you feel on all levels when you make time to prioritize eating healthy foods and moving your body each day? Investing in your physical body is just as important as investing in your mental and spiritual wellbeing. So head to that workout class, head outside for some fresh air, choose the healthier meal option and spend time investing in your health, because health = wealth.
Attend a retreat.
Retreats are incredible opportunities to press the reset button, connect inward, and reignite that flame of passion inside you. Whether this is a full day offering close to home or a week long immersion in a new place - spending time in the transformational environment retreats cultivate, is an amazing investment in your evolving self-development. Check out my next retreat coming on in La on March 24th.
Investing in you can be as small or as big as you want, but the most important part is engaging in that investment activity with the mindset that it is fuelled by LOVE and to believe that you are WORTHY of receiving the benefits of that investment.
Can you turn your mundane into magic?
You lead a busy and full life. Job, family, friends, hobbies and all that other stuff in between. Sometimes it can feel like you are operating on autopilot and that every day is some version of the day before that.
Hopefully your life is one that you have created intentionally, one where you feel in alignment with your purpose or at least one where you feel as though some aspects are working in the way you want them to. If not, download my action plan here to get on track.
That word ‘mundane’ used to trigger me. My internal narrative is that my life is special, unique, and different from those around me. While I believe some aspects of that to be true, I am also a regular human being just like everybody else. What I have learned to realize is that there is something beautiful about the mundane. We have routines so that we can know what to expect, can reserve our brain power and can seek comfort in the things that regularly occur in our lives.
So instead of thinking that you need to give your whole life an overhaul in order to switch things up, can you find the magic in the things that you are already doing?
Magic > Mundane
Pay someone who you are regularly in contact with a compliment. This could be to a coworker, a spouse, or a stranger you pass everyday.
Notice the changes in nature on your commute to work. Maybe the snow has melted a little bit (or accumulated), maybe the tree is a little greener or the flowers a little bit more vibrant. This is a reminder that everything around you is constantly changing and so are you.
Take a different seat at the table.
Ever notice how every time you go to the boardroom for a meeting you sit in the same chair? Or every time you set up your mat for yoga class, you set it up in the same spot? Try a different seat, you may notice something that you have never seen before.
Drop the absolutes.
Notice where in your life you say ‘never’ or ‘always’.
‘I never put my name in the ring for a promotion’.
‘I always sit in the back row for the presentations.’
See if you can detach yourself from being on either end of the spectrum and find balance somewhere in the middle. Experiment with it and see how it feels.
By making subtle shifts in your daily routine you are creating new neural pathways in your brain. With new neural pathways comes a new level of awareness and growth that will allow you to think more creatively, improve your problem solving abilities and lead more compassionately.
Why we need to reset and its important on our wellbeing
What does it mean to reset?
As I sit here writing this to you from my room in Costa Rica, I am reflective. This is my third year hosting a retreat in Costa Rica - a week me and my partner Catie Fenn coined Reset Week. We were very intentional about the name because we are so clear on the fact that EVERYONE needs a reset.
I take reseting really seriously. That’s why I took 3 flights and a long bumpy car ride on unpaved roads to make it here. The feeling I get upon arriving is unparalleled to anything else and that is why I keep coming back. This place is sacred and hasn’t changed much in the 3 years I have been hosting retreats here. The expats that reside here do so out of a true love for nature and the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle - a endearing term used by Costa Rican cultures meaning ‘the good life’. The thing that stays constant year to year are the majestic sunsets, the vibrant trees, the untouched wildlife and that left breaking wave that makes this town well known in the surfing community. It really and truly is a little slice of heaven.
So what happens if you don’t have the chance to get away for the week and everything I am speaking about seems like a far off dream? Read below for some accessible tips and tools that you can practice in your everyday life. Although, when you understand the importance behind reseting you may just jump on a plane to come and meet us ;)
How to Reset and Why
Go outside in Nature
You know that time of the day when your brain starts to shut down because it feels like you haven’t taken a break? It’s likely because you haven’t and our brains are similar to computers; the more tabs we have open the slower we tend to operate.
Several studies have shown that a walk in nature can trigger the mind-wandering mode which leads to creativity. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.
Listen to music
You know how it feels when you are listening to your favorite song and you feel super revved up, like you can conquer the world? (Hmm, just me?) That increase in oxytocin supports the belief that you can mold the world to your liking and when you act as if this is true, it becomes your reality. Check out my latest playlist here.
Music is an effective method for improving attention, building up self-confidence, social skills and a sense of engagement.
Take a nap
When you are nodding off in front of your computer, this is your bodies way of telling you something. You need more sleep, dude! Instead of ‘powering through’ be compassionate with yourself and take a break.
Taking breaks is biologically restorative. In several studies, a nap of even 10 minutes improved cognitive function and vigor. If you can train yourselves to take time for naps and contemplation, you will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And you will be happier and well rested while we’re doing it!
Positive and social psychology studies have shown that you frequently begin to embody the characteristics of those with whom you spend the most time. This may be through peer pressure or a desire to fit in, or because your mirror neurons are driving you to be alike. So when planning that next vacation or down time, choose who you spend your time with wisely.
If you are looking to put some of these tools in practice with a like-minded community, join my next one day urban retreat, Space happening in LA on March 24th.
If you are like me and like to geek out even more on this stuff check out this New York Times article on the importance of resetting.
Learn how to say what you mean and mean what say
Last week I hosted a workshop at the coworker space The Riveter talking all about Conscious Communication and what that really means.
We talked about what the best way is to connect with others, get your point across and really feel seen and heard in both personal and professional settings. I know I have fallen victim to misinterpretation…
Communication is not a one size fits all approach because people listen and receive information in different ways.
Conscious communication starts with the assumption that everyone deserves to be treated respectfully. This doesn’t mean that everything has to be agreed upon but recognizes that everyone has a certain set of experiences that influence how they see the world.
Instead of pitting ourselves against one another, we approach conversations with a sincere desire to understand.
When we set aside our agenda of trying to change everyone and approach communication with a curious mind and open heart, the world opens up for us.
How to embody Conscious Communication
Step 1: Find Common Ground
Focus on the things that you have in common. When you notice these things, your attention is on what you share, rather than what divides you. From this place you have a better chance of understanding their perspective on issues where you disagree.
Step 2: Manage your Emotions
Learn to manage your emotional reactivity by:
Taking 3 deep breaths
Going outside for a walk
Scheduling a meeting for a later date so that you have time to process the situation and come back to a level head in lieu of reactivity
Step 3: Accept what is
Things are not always going to go exactly how you want them to. Once we accept things as they are, we become more effective in responding to a person or situation because we are no longer feeling captive to our emotions.
Step 4: Stick with it
Relationships happen when you show up, sincerely, time and time again. Give yourself whatever time you need between conversations, and look for other ways to maintain a connection. In this way you build mutual respect that can be the foundation for a genuine and productive conversation about a shared future.
Work Smarter NOT Harder
More isn't always better. Learn how to prioritize the right tasks in order to do less but achieve more.
How do you anything is how you do everything.
As a human being, you are a creature of habit and so is your brain. Your brain naturally wants to work efficiently, meaning it wants to execute a task with the least amount of effort. By establishing a routine, you can carry out a task faster since you don’t have to think about it, it will be on autopilot. By doing this, you are neurologically setting the foundation to be as productive as possible.
Each of us also has a peak potential zone. This is when you are working according to your strengths and your tasks feel effortless. You want to maximize staying in this zone as much as possible and do the things you love in order to get the most amount of work done.
Are you ready to work smarter not harder?
Here are my top 4 Healthy Habits you can implement to be more efficient.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do."
- Steve Jobs
Last week I was hanging out with a friend who told me that he was working 90 hours a week. I thought to myself, 'I never want to do that.' Reflecting on this further, I realized I probably do work that much, but it doesn't feel like work.
Pursuing my passions through running my business may be what I do for work, but it is also what I do for fun. It is my life's mission and purpose and the majority of the time it doesn't feel like work. When you do what you love, work and life tend to blend together.
This past weekend, I technically 'worked' all day on Sunday leading a transformative retreatfor a group of amazing humans in LA. Sure, it was a long day and it took months to plan but I got to do what lights me up and best of all, pass that light on to others.
How do you #dowhatyoulove anyways?
Pursuing your passions takes focused intention and laser clarity in order to bring what you want into reality.
There will likely be a lot of naysayers (that's just how it is), and you may have to start it as a side hustle, but as long as you stay focused on the pursuit of your dreams, it will all be worth it in the end.
Start by making a list of everything that excites you.
Notice when you are performing a task if it is something that excites you or drains you.
Think about what people regularly compliment you on or tell you that you are good at.
Think about something that you do that feels effortless and easy and where time seems to stand still.
Lost on what to do next?
One of the things that I get to do in the work that I love is coach people looking to get clear on their passions and support them in creating an action plan to make it happen.
There is something special about a new year.
A fresh page.
A blank slate.
An opportunity for growth.
But how do we ensure that this feeling sticks? How do we make sure that we reach the goals that we set for ourselves?
So it’s no secret the January is THE month for wellness. It is a time when we are self-reflective, motivated and start to think of all the things we want to bring in for the new year.
I took some time over the past couple of weeks to decide what was important to me for the new year and decided that my words for 2019 are consistency, community, intuition and service (find out why here).
So how do you take this motivation and run with it? How do you stick to your goals and not be part of the 80% of people with failed resolutions? Here are a couple of things that I consistently apply to my life that have been majorly helpful in ensuring that I execute on my goals with success.
Wether your goals are personal or professional (they are usually a little mix of both) the best thing to do is to break them down. Whether you commit to something bold like 'I am going to lose 25 lbs this year’ or ‘I am going to surpass my sales quota by 50K’, the impetus to successfully reaching these goals is to make them SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Doing this helps to break down the goal, leading to a much higher success rate. When you make your goal specific you gain clarity on what you are trying to achieve, measurable provides a structure that helps to decipher whether you are closer to achieving it (and if not you know there is something that needs to change) attainable will make it realistic, relevant helps to bring to light whether it is in line with your value system and time-bound provides with a deadline that you need to execute it by.
So depending on what your goals are, use the SMART model to ensure success.
For example: In order for me to lose 20 lbs this year I need to lose a little over 2 lbs a month. I will do this by including an extra workout in every week and cutting out my afternoon snack. I will weigh myself every 2 weeks in order to make sure that I am staying on track.
I want to surpass my sales quota by 50K this year. This means that I have to sell an extra $4200 a month. I will do this by attending an extra networking event and making 10 extra cold calls a week. I will check in monthly on my strategy and if I am not seeing desired results, I will come up with a new plan.
So what is your big annual goal and how can you make it SMART?
Consistency. Collaboration. Service. Intuition.
These are my words for 2019.
I believe deeply in setting an INTENTION, then focusing your ATTENTION and then practising NO-TENSION.
Let me explain.
The birth of an idea starts with a mere though of something that we want to create. We have an idea and then we set it in motion by creating an INTENTION around it.
Then we focus our ATTENTION on really making it happen. We think it into reality and then put energy and action into having it manifest from an idea into a real thing.
And then the final part, the most important part in my mind, is the NO-TENSION. The part where we detach from any of it actually coming to fruition or turning into the outcome that we desire. You see we can hope and think, increase energy and action but sometimes the universe has different plans. So as much as we can create, it is important to remember that we are actually CO-creating every step of the way.
So these are my words for 2019 and here is why.
Consistency: I want to practice consistency in every area. Exercise, meditation, work, diet, friendships, family love. With consistency there is growth and with growth there is change.
Community: It takes a village to do anything, to live to breathe, the be happy. Without that we have nothing. I commit to showing up for my community and growing it by hosting dinners, organizing trips and attending different types of events.
Service: I believe the most powerful thing you can do is help others. By helping others, we are actually helping ourselves. I commit to volunteering at least once a month with different organizations.
Intuition: I believe that we each hold an innate wisdom and already have the answer to every single question. I personally access my wisdom the most when I am in nature and by myself. I plan to spend more time doing both in order to tap deeper into my own wisdom.
And if none of this yields the results I want it to, that is okay too.
So now it's your turn. What do you want to create in 2019? What is your word(s)?
If you are not sure, take some time to think about it.
Go outside, move your body, be by yourself.
Take out your journal and your pen and write. Write a lot or write a little. Write with no expectation. I promise you, the words you are looking for will come. And when they do, write them down and put them somewhere where you can be reminded of them everyday. Then, let the magic unfold.
So thanksgiving week is upon us, which can be exciting for some and can be dreadful for others.
In my family, Thanksgiving was never really something that we celebrated. Being in the US, it seems to be something that everybody partakes in and this year we will all be in San Francisco (where my brother lives) to celebrate.
I am looking forward to the holiday since it is all about giving thanks, being grateful for what you have and spending time with family.
Holidays can also be challenging as they can bring up feelings of loneliness, old wounding and comparison. This is not necessarily a bad thing...when we confront things that trigger us, we are able to move through them instead of continue to hold onto them.
So as you go into this holiday season, look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn, and to release some of things that may have been holding you back this year.
Some useful tips to maximize your holiday.Put your phone away - I know, I know it can feel like a 5th limb sometimes but it is robbing you of being present and experiencing things around you. Don't zone out on your phone while at the dinner table with your family. Listen to what they have to say and make eye contact when someone is speaking. Encourage everyone to put their phones away and see how much more the engagement and laughter increases.
Talk about things that matter - if you are anything like me, your family lives in different places and we don't all get to be around each other that often. So when we are, I look at it as an opportunity to really catch up. Take this opportunity to ask the people you love about how they are doing, what they may be struggling with and what goals they need support on reaching.
Avoid negative topics - we can probably all agree on the fact that there are a lot of negative things happening in the world. There are also a lot of positive things happening too. Avoid topics that will put you and your loved ones in a bad mood such as politics, natural disasters and gossip. Instead of focusing on the problem, see if you can band together and come up with a solution.
Be mindful with this time as it only comes once a year! If holidays bring up negative emotions - that is okay too. You can change them by starting to create new memories.
Happy Happy to you and yours.
Samara Zelniker is a yogi, wine drinker, pet lover and travel junkie.