• The Discipline of Becoming Happy

    Happiness is in the right now, in the here. Happiness is a state of mind that needs to be cultivated from within.

    Happiness is a state of mind that requires discipline and the awareness that it is an internal process. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, says that we can achieve happiness by training the mind. We all know from experience that training our mind is one of the most challenging things to do. Our mind likes to play peekaboo with us.

    Think about that time that you were confident about something and you were on your way to get it, maybe a job interview, a date, signing for your first yoga class, or meeting your guru and suddenly your mind starts peekabooing you into insecurities and fears. You start feeling a rush of thoughts, witnessing them as a herd of wild horses destroying any positive thought you had about the situation.

    “What if she or he doesn’t like me?”

    “What if I am not flexible enough (impression of yoga in the west, based only in the physical body not as a spiritual practice)?

    “What if…?”

    All the what ifs come at once.

    Most of those thoughts are manipulated by our ego that hates to be outside of its comfort zone. Disciplining the mind is one of the best investments for your happiness.

    Here are 5 practices that you can incorporate into your life to contribute to your happiness:

    Create daily routines

    Ayurveda teaches us how to live in harmony with nature and honor the place where we live by adapting our diet and practices to the weather, resources, and opportunities of our environment.

    Ayurveda calls daily practices “dinacharya” and in my next blog, I will explain in detail the practice of dinacharya. For right now, as a daily practice, maintain a sense of gratitude before you start your day; before you even get out of bed say a prayer of gratitude.

    Here is an example that one of my teachers Dr. Vassant Lad uses:

    “Dear [insert name of your spiritual connection], you are inside of me, within my very breath, within each bird, each mighty mountain. Your sweet touch reaches everything, and I am well protected. Thank you, [insert name of your spiritual connection], for this beautiful day before me. May joy, love, peace, and compassion be part of my life and all those around me on this day. I am healing and I am healed.”

    Practice emotional hygiene

    The same way that we practice physical and environmental hygiene, we must cultivate emotional hygiene to help us to get rid of anger, fear, anxiety and other low vibrational thoughts and emotions. The secret here is making sure that as we are cleansing our emotional system from those toxic emotions, we cultivate high vibrational ones; you’ve probably heard that wherever your attention and energy goes that is what you will create in your life. This part of the journey toward happiness is linked to the step below.

    Practice awareness

    Being aware of who you want to become creates a path to who you are.

    Find yourself a quiet corner, your car also works, and ask yourself the question, “Who am I?” Take a deep breath and allow the answers to come.

    Happiness requires trust, discipline, and most importantly self-awareness. So don’t expect to get the answer right away, keep focusing your attention on your breath and ask again and again. Trust that the answer will come to you. Perhaps the answer comes in a form of “who I am not” and that is ok; keep focusing your attention on the breath and shift the attention to “who am I” rather than “who I am not”.

    Self-awareness cultivates the gift of observation and non-attachment. In this journey of self-awareness, you’ll learn how to be observant of your own emotions and the reactions and attachments toward those emotions. Your breath is the vehicle that will transport you towards awareness.

    Detach yourself from expectations

    Expecting something from others is always a guaranteed source of unhappiness. We can’t control other people’s thoughts or reactions, neither do we have any control of situations that are happening outside of ourselves. We are conditioned to find happiness through outside sources and not through our inner being. It is normal to expect something from others, the same as others expect certain things from us. I am not saying that having expectations is a bad thing, but when we condition our happiness and wellbeing to other people’s responses then we can easily get hurt.

    Stay present

    Eckhart Tolle in his bestseller “The Power of Now” said “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” It is ok to remember the past to learn from it or to feel happiness from a past experience, nevertheless living in the past can be a source of pain.

    When you find your mind spending too much time in the past, use your breath to bring you back to the present; slowly inhale, retain for a few seconds, and slowly exhale.

    The other side of the coin is spending most of your present daydreaming about your future. In reality, the future is an absolute fantasy most of the time created by our ego, our desires, and our conditioning.

    Being absorbed by the past or the future could also create fear. Living in fear is based in our imagination. Fear isn’t based on facts. We allow our mind to go wild and create scenarios about situations that we think could happen. We infuse those thoughts with our insecurities, belief systems, and past personal experiences to create a story in our head that most of the time never sees the light. In the meanwhile, we live in fear, anxiety, isolation, and anger about something that is only in our minds.

    Happiness is in the right now, in the here. Happiness is a state of mind that needs to be cultivated from within. There is nothing waiting on the other side of a new car, a new home, a new job, or a new partner. Everything that we need to be happy is already built within but looking inside for the pursuit of happiness can be painful as we must climb tall mountains of conditioning, belief systems, disappointments, although in that case, there is something on the other side of that inner work, the gift of happiness.

    By Esther Rodriguez Brown

    Esther Rodriguez Brown was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain. Since a very young age, she showed her passion for helping others and got involved in several social justice organizations.
    She arrived in the United States in 2001 and in 2007 she founded The Embracing Project (TEP), a grass-roots non-profit organization that services children survivors of sex trafficking and gang violence. Until she opened TEP drop-in center, the first in Nevada for children survivors of trafficking, she served youth in the streets of Las Vegas using her car as her main office and many times opening the doors of her home for those youth who needed it. Esther traveled around the world to continue her service to humanity and in particular, children and women survivors of trauma, expanding services in several countries. In 2019, Esther merged TEP with a national organization to focus on her other passion, holistic healing, Yoga, Ayurveda, and Jyotish.

    Esther founded Ego Friendly Living in 2016, a company based on the principle of compassion, self-healing, and self-empowerment, focusing on body, mind, and soul, through the practices of self-care and self-love. Her experience working with vulnerable populations and survivors of complex trauma gives her a unique perspective to facilitate healing practices and to teach how trauma can affect our emotional and physiological bodies.
    Esther has a master’s degree in Psychology. She is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Vedic Astrologer, and a 200 YTT with studies in Yoga Nidra. Esther travels yearly to India to continue her studies related to body, mind, and soul to share that wisdom with others.

    She is the author of The Power of Your Hands. Mudras for your everyday life. Available in Amazon. She is a recognized national and international speaker and has been recognized in national and international media, documentaries, books, and film and has received many awards for her humanitarian work with children affected by violence.

    Find her on Instagram @Esther_Brown_Inspire
    and on her website, https://www.egofriendlyliving.com.

    Image by Адель Шарипова from Pixabay

  • Caste, Hindutva, and Yoga

    The reason this blog post has been written is to work towards making the practice inclusive, trauma-informed and accessible. There is no room for a practice that continues to further systems of oppression (either veiled or otherwise).

    India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. Undivided India is also the birthplace of Yoga, which draws from many ways of life, practices and eastern mysticism.

    Over the centuries, human migration has manifested as immigration, colonisation, trade, war. Those who settled in India also brought their culture, practices and religions like Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Islam.

    No single ethnicity marks the Indian subcontinent. Instead an ethnic diversity does.

    This diversity is found in language (over 122 major languages & more than 19,500 dialects), religion (Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Bahai, Animism, Bon, Sanamahism, Meitei, Santal, KiratMundhum & various other indigenous religions) music, dance, food, architecture, literature, clothing, festivals, customs, traditions, art forms and cinema.

    The true definition of that cliché – ‘a melting pot’ – to be Indian today, is to enjoy and be proud of a dynamic culture borne out of accepting, welcoming and assimilating so many cultures, religions, ethnicities and practices over the centuries.

    We know India’s diversity comes both in broad strokes and subtle nuances. To be Indian is the sweetest of paradoxes. At heart, we acknowledge our differences and more importantly, celebrate our oneness. We are the same.

    If you grew up in India, you will remember partaking in each other’s ritual celebrations, fasting, feasting and mourning. Our communities were marked for their texture, their involvement beyond family. Thriving, codependent, warm – our neighbourhood fraternities took to the streets at every momentous occasion, immediately inclusive.

    Cultural diversity has helped us recognise and respect ‘ways of being’ that are not necessarily our own, so that as we interact with others we can build bridges of trust, respect, and empathy across cultures.

    “Atithi Devo Bhavo” – The Guest is God; this is one of the tenets of Indian culture. Irrespective of creed, culture and ethnicity, we welcome everyone into our land and accept their practices and ways of life. ‘Live and let live’ with acceptance of all – that is the beauty of India and its culture. (According to me, this is also what Hinduism is.)

    Today, sadly, this idea of India – the inclusive, secular, democratic entity – is under threat.

    To begin with, Hinduism is not the static monolith it is being made out to be. And it certainly is not what some of its so-called proponents are re-branding it as – knowingly or inadvertently – a violent, nationalistic Hinduism aka Hindutva.

    For someone new to the term, let me offer a simple parallel. Hindutva is Hindu Supremacy, like White Supremacy. And now we are beginning to witness that both ideologies are two sides of the same coin.
    Hindutva seeks to evict us from our fraternal co-existences, box and label us. We are no longer ‘Indian’. Instead we are reduced to our religious identities or worse, our castes. This racism manifests as all racism does – your religion, your caste automatically allows people to make assumptions about your intentions, your behaviour as an individual or community and of course, “justifies” the need to exclude you from a space.

    The polarisation that has followed is tangible and is evident in the bitter loss of courteous, productive, nuanced discourse. Many in India have paid an unduly high price for their desire to maintain the values of India. Some with their lives. Journalists, students, activists, dissenters, even comedians and poets, are jailed under draconian, non-bailable laws (UAPA), and many face harassment online, or at their workplaces and businesses.

    This culture that thrived on our ability to ‘agree to disagree’ can no longer agree on anything except mutual distrust. The hate, divisiveness and fissures in society have gone beyond social media to the real world. It is everywhere. It’s tearing us apart.

    People said the hate was the fringe. Today the fringe is – mainstream.

    The loss of nuance and intelligent, empathetic discourse means we ignore the fact that several realities and truths co-exist.

    You can love your country and criticise aspects of it.

    You can hold a culture/religion/community in high esteem and still call out the harm and injustices some interpretations of it may perpetrate.

    You can be oppressed and be an oppressor.

    You can be a Christian and be fully immersed in Yoga.

    There is no binary of belief systems. No one right and one wrong. We cannot lose our sense of nuance. We need room for this and this is the space, I hope you can read this in now.

    Hindutva seethes in every aspect and sphere of society – including Yoga. Let’s begin with acknowledging that caste is critical to understanding Indian society from a contemporary and historical perspective. All manifestations of the caste system, through history, have been an irredeemable, indefensible playing out of social hierarchy and oppression based on horrific notions of ritual pollution and exclusion.

    Casteism is a widespread failing of Indian society across all religions. It is not limited to one religion and it is certainly evident in the world of Yoga. Yoga has been interlinked with Brahminical oppression, upper-caste hegemony and systematic marginalisation of lower castes. For example, Hindu Dalits who attempted to learn or speak Sanskrit had their tongues cut off or ears burnt with hot oil.

    And caste is no longer an, ‘only in India’, problem. Caste impurity in various forms has even been exported to the West.

    Our yoga practice should not be, and cannot afford to be, oblivious to these discriminatory and oppressive systems that cause discrimination, oppression, injustice, and harm to others. How can we attain our goal of knowing our higher selves by ignoring or being in denial of the systemic casteism and oppression, perpetuated by the dominant culture?

    It is our duty, as those from South Asian Savarna (upper caste) backgrounds, to make the changes in our families and our communities and to also be critical of how religious fundamentalism and casteist oppression are embedded in Yoga. Yoga is meant to shine light in uncomfortable places, within and outside, of ourselves. Speaking about caste and introspecting on it, will make us uncomfortable, especially if you are privileged, but it is necessary work.

    In the same way, as damaging as the whitewashing of Yoga feels to South Asian people of colour (POC), the solution to make Yoga accessible by offering POC sessions may still promote harm. Due to so much diversity of caste, creed and culture within POC communities; chanting mantras in Sanskrit may still inflict harm on South Asians who have experienced violence and discrimination from Hindus. South Asian yogis have a unique responsibility and duty, to intersect critiques and go beyond condemning Western cultural appropriation.

    Westerners need to be mindful of the content that they are teaching, consuming and learning from. Just like one would be wary of the lens a neo-nazi, White supremacist, teaching you the Bible and Christianity, the same applies to the lens of learning & teaching texts and scriptures of Yoga. There are so many Hindu Indian yoga teachers who may be upper caste but, are true allies of lower caste and denounce Hindu supremacy, religious fundamentalism and casteism. Seek them out along with others across the world who teach with similar inclusive values.

    The reason this blog post has been written is to work towards making the practice inclusive, trauma-informed and accessible. There is no room for a practice that continues to further systems of oppression (either veiled or otherwise).

    Practitioners must be aware of the emergence of Hindutva in the yoga space via usage of white yoga teachers and spiritual Anglophone ‘Gurus’ from India in the West or on social media, as “props”, to further Hindutva and to bypass the contradictions of Hindu nationalism. There is a normalisation of the usage of Hindu supremacist language to conceal human rights violations in India. Anyone who raises social justice causes, casteism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, bigotry, hate crimes, caste-based violence, human rights violations, governance failures etc. is labelled “Hinduphobic”.

    We have to listen to the voices of marginalised sections of society who have suffered historical oppression and violent discrimination. The discourse presented by upper-caste Indians is replete with denials of caste and caste-based violence, religious intolerance, human rights violations, or hate crimes. You wouldn’t ask a white person if racism exists, and in the same vein, asking the dominant culture/caste if casteism, racism, discrimination or intolerance exists, would be an exercise in futility.

    Find the “Truth.”

    Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.

    Mahatma Gandhi

     

    Macro patterns of society are mirrored in the micro-world of modern Yoga.

    Social media has allowed hate and vitriol to flourish. Let’s find ways to limit harm and hate, including towards yoga practitioners and teachers of other faiths and castes.

    Let us not let our religions be used to further hate and violence on other human beings in thought, word, speech or action.

    Remember that not everyone is privileged, and it is our duty to step up, speak up and make our spaces inclusive. There are many socio-political-religious-gender-class-economic-caste-cultural aspects at play, with practitioners that may bring up trauma in yoga spaces.

    How can we make yoga spaces healing spaces – that are inclusive, egalitarian, accessible and trauma-informed?

    Yoga is a beautiful healing practice. It has changed so many lives for the better, including mine.

    Let us take its best practices forward, and leave inequality, dietary practices rooted in oppression, and violent discrimination in the past.
    There is a lot of work to be done by all of us. Let the healing begin.

    Every serious practitioner will want to read and research beyond. Here are a few topics to explore. Learn. Un-Learn. Re-Learn.

    • How were lower caste Hindus (Bahujan, Dalits), indigenous tribals and religious minorities (Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis) excluded from Yoga in India?
    • Which people had access to the knowledge and learning of the Vedas, of Sanskrit and of priestly duties? Who was excluded and why?
    • Was the study and practice of Yoga reserved only for a certain sliver of the population? Who was, and is allowed, to be ‘liberated’?
    • What is ritual pollution and caste impurity?
    • What is the Varna system, who are the Dalits, Bahujans and Adivasis?
    • How is Yoga being used as a political construct for fascism in India?
    • How is Hindutva creeping into yogic spaces creating exclusion and discomfort among practitioners of other faiths and marginalised communities? (We should not erase Yoga’s roots, but we need to move forward with sensitivity to be inclusive and trauma-informed.)
    • How can chanting in Sanskrit (even religious chanting, unrelated to Yoga) bring up trauma for those who have faced historical oppression, discrimination and violence because of their caste/religious identities? Especially to those who have faced riots, hate crimes, targeted violence, slurs and micro-aggressions.
    • Explore the works of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (Annihilation of Caste), Jotibha Phule, Dalit Literature
    • Read up on the racism faced by North East Indians by mainland Indians, human rights violations across the country and internet shutdowns
    • Read up on AFSPA in Kashmir and North East India, the UAPA laws
    • Where does India stand in rankings in Press Freedom, Democracy, and Hunger Index etc.
    References/Credits:

    https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/30281/Ghosts-of-Yogas-Past-and-Present

    https://escholarship.org/content/qt0wn4p090/qt0wn4p090.pdf?t=pkk7ld

    https://sojo.net/articles/how-appropriation-yoga-masks-violence

    https://qz.com/india/969970/everybody-has-an-opinion-on-what-yoga-is-for-and-no-ones-got-it-right-says-devdutt-pattanaik/

    https://www.byrdie.com/casteism-in-yoga-5119378

    https://yogainternational.com/article/view/how-casteism-manifests-in-yoga-spaces

    https://qz.com/india/433356/on-international-yoga-day-yoga-is-just-politics-by-other-means/

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/11/india-america-caste/620583/

    https://velivada.com/2017/05/31/casteist-quotes-verses-manusmriti-law-book-hindus/

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/opinion/caste-cisco-indian-americans-discrimination.amp.html?0p19G=0232

    https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/explainer-new-jersey-temple-case-labour-trafficking-and-caste-exploitation-148980

    https://medium.com/@Bahujan_Power/the-dalit-bahujan-guide-to-understanding-caste-in-hindu-scripture-417db027fce6

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325793445_Indian_feminism_as_Brahmanical_feminism_A_Dalit_Bahujan_feminist_critique

    https://caravanmagazine.in/books/twelve-books-dalit-writing

    https://www.npr.org/2019/08/21/751541321/this-is-it-im-going-to-die-indias-minorities-are-targeted-in-lynchings

    https://religionnews.com/2021/09/10/hinduphobia-is-a-smokescreen-for-hindu-nationalists-dismantling-global-hindutva-conference/

    https://www.countercurrents.org/sikand150204.htm

    https://uscatholic.org/articles/201302/caste-off-the-plight-of-catholic-dalits-in-india/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_incidents_of_caste-related_violence_in_India

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/07/can-bollywood-survive-modi/619008/

    https://thewire.in/film/bollywood-target-right-wing-groups-hinduphobia-tandav

    https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/why-hinduphobia-is-a-myth-1.80738197

    https://www.equalitynow.org/press_release/india_caste_system_preventing_justice_nov2020/

    By Protima Rodrigues

    Protima Rodrigues is the founder of True Bay India – India’s first homegrown Ashtanga Yoga Workshop and Retreat Organiser, bringing top International Ashtanga yoga teachers to India, since January 2019.
    Protima creates awareness as a yoga practitioner, on mental health, social justice, inclusivity, equality, diversity and believes that, yoga is for all, devoid of any barriers. She quit her corporate career as a Vice President in Private Equity after 15 years in banking & finance, to start True Bay India in end 2018.
    True Bay is a solo, POC, woman-owned small business, based in Mumbai, India. https://www.truebayindia.com/our-story

    Website: https://www.truebayindia.com

    Instagram: True Bay India

    Image by Varun Kulkarni from Pixabay 

  • 4 Ways to Raise Your Vibration and Frequency

    The higher the frequency of your energy or vibration, the lighter you feel in your physical, emotional, and mental bodies. You experience greater personal power, clarity, peace, love, and joy. You have little, if any, discomfort or pain in your physical body, and your emotions are easily dealt with.


    The end of 2021 is around the corner. Looking back, perhaps you feel like Bill Murray on Groundhog Day! Not too much of a difference from 2020. Everything seems uncertain, we realized that control is just an illusion of our mind and that everything that is outside of ourselves is being controlled by other forces. Seems that the cliché thought of “you only can control how you respond to situations” has been the mantra for many of us.

    Regardless of if these past two years have been a source of realizations and growth, or a source of desperate moments and pain, or perhaps both, we all can agree that we have experienced a great deal of stress and challenges.

    Stress is just a bundle of emotions rushing like a river, tearing everything in its way, and we all have different ways to cope with it. These emotions and how you deal with them will determine at what frequency your energy is vibrating. The higher the frequency of your energy or vibration, the lighter you feel in your physical, emotional, and mental bodies. You experience greater personal power, clarity, peace, love, and joy. You have little, if any, discomfort or pain in your physical body, and your emotions are easily dealt with.

    How can you raise your frequency and protect your energy? There are many ways you can do that. For instance, Ayurveda teaches us to live in harmony with nature, having a lifestyle that is aligned with our constitution, providing us with many tools to have a happier existence, but this is for our next blog!

    Let’s focus on some things that we can do right away.

    Be aware of your thoughts

    Our thoughts fuel our frequency, whatever thoughts you have will tint your reality. Think about your mind as a hotel and you are the owner, you choose who is going to be your guest, you have the power to open the gate of your mind for some thoughts and let them crash there for as long as you want, or simply say: “sorry we don’t have any openings.” Remember what Gautama Buddha said? “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” That doesn’t mean that we can never feel certain feelings or thoughts such as sadness, anger, frustration, jealousy, envy, guilt, shame, or fear but when we allow these thoughts or feelings to take all the space, then there is no room for high vibrational thoughts to be part of our mindset. All the space is already taken. So, it is ok to feel this way sometimes and as you process whatever is making you feel that way (most likely yourself and how you deal with external influences) take a deep breath in and out through your nose and know that everything, absolutely everything is temporary, including the situations that made you feel that way. Slowly create the habit to replace sadness for joy, anger for gratitude, frustration for patience, jealousy for self-acceptance, envy for generosity, guilt for accountability, shame for self-love, and fear for self-compassion.

    Start your day with gratitude

    Being in a human body is the most precious gift that your soul has received. Being human gives your soul the opportunity to grow, to be able to choose high consciousness, and to be aware of your actions. Only this way you can keep evolving until you achieve self-realization, perhaps it will take many lives, but nevertheless, you are on your way. Just acknowledging that, gives you a very important reason to be grateful, grateful for this human life. There are so many other things to be grateful for, your health, your loved ones, your wisdom, your teachers, being able to experience the sunrise, the sunset, the wind in your face, the music that you love, or simply being alive and being able to read this. Gratitude is not just a list of things and people, it’s a way of life, as you become aware of all the opportunities that you have in front of you and focus your attention on all those things that you have (rather than focusing on the ones that you don’t have), you are creating more opportunities and opening space to abundance in your life. You could open your day with a simple prayer or affirmation: “Thank you (insert here whatever resonate with you…God, Mother Earth, Divine Mother, Spirit, Universe, Krishna, Buddha, my Higher Self…) for allowing me to experience one more day in this human body. Thank you for providing me with everything that I need to evolve and fulfill my karma and dharma; thank you for abundance, for love, for health, wealth, teachings, and teachers; for the gift of appreciation. Thank you for making every encounter with every being an experience of love, kindness, and compassion.”

    Practice forgiveness

    Perhaps because English is not my first, nor even my second language, I tend to dissect the words. For-give, in my mind, means to give, to let go, to give it away. When you forgive, you are giving away your hurt, it doesn’t mean that you are justifying why someone hurt you or letting that person off the hook, you simply are letting go of the attachment created to that feeling of hurt that has been keeping you a prisoner of the action of that person who hurt you. When you give away the hurt, you start taking back your power. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to be buddy-buddy with the person or people who hurt you, you don’t even have to let them know, or create excuses for their behavior, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have any more feelings about the situation or forget the incident; forgiving is accepting the reality of what happened and finding a way to live in a state of resolution, and that, my dear, it takes time. So, in the same way, that “you cannot rush your healing” (love that song from Trevor Hall) you cannot rush forgiveness. Forgiveness is a journey, and like every journey, we must start somewhere, and as you start walking through that path, remember to forgive yourself as well. This is an easy-to-remember affirmation to start with “I forgive you for any intentional or intentional hurt that you may cause me, in this life or in past lives. I forgive myself for any intentional or intentional hurt that I may cause myself, in this life or in past lives. Please forgive me for any intentional or intentional hurt that I may cause you, in this life or in past lives.” Forgiveness, like gratitude, is a way of life. You are part of this community, call humans, living in this beautiful and generous planet, Mother Earth. It is many of us here, so eventually we all will get hurt one way or another, by ourselves or others; so being aware of that allows you to understand that hurt and suffering is part of our human condition, as it is forgiveness.

    Be kind

    Kindness, like many other practices, starts from the self. Being kind to yourself is as important as being kind to others. Think for a moment the way that you speak to yourself, the thoughts that you have about yourself, the self-judgment, the self-criticism, I am sure that you do not talk like that to your loved ones, perhaps not even to a stranger. You are unique and precious, the gifts and skills that you brought into this life are exclusive to yourself. So next time that your mind wants to bring you down, allow your higher self to be kind to you.

    Being kind can make or break someone’s spirit, the truth is that you don’t know what internal battles others are fighting. Some people feel invisible, unheard, unwanted; you can be the one who makes a difference in their day, just a smile or a kind word can shift someone’s life. When we practice kindness to others or towards ourselves, we experience positive mental and physical changes, this rises the frequency in which we vibrate. Some of you are maybe familiar with the Metta Prayer or Love & Kindness meditation, here is another version: “May all beings, including myself, be happy, be safe, be free from harm. May all beings, including myself, be healthy, be connected, be whole. May all beings, including myself, experience ease, well-being, and inner peace.”

    Raising your vibration helps raise the collective. Your thoughts, your intentions, your actions, create energetic waves that help with the rising of collective consciousness. We all are responsible for what happens in the world, by changing our world, we can change the entire world.

    By Esther Rodriguez Brown

    Esther Rodriguez Brown was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain. Since a very young age, she showed her passion for helping others and got involved in several social justice organizations.
    She arrived in the United States in 2001 and in 2007 she founded The Embracing Project (TEP), a grass-roots non-profit organization that services children survivors of sex trafficking and gang violence. Until she opened TEP drop-in center, the first in Nevada for children survivors of trafficking, she served youth in the streets of Las Vegas using her car as her main office and many times opening the doors of her home for those youth who needed it. Esther traveled around the world to continue her service to humanity and in particular, children and women survivors of trauma, expanding services in several countries. In 2019, Esther merged TEP with a national organization to focus on her other passion, holistic healing, Yoga, Ayurveda, and Jyotish.

    Esther founded Ego Friendly Living in 2016, a company based on the principle of compassion, self-healing, and self-empowerment, focusing on body, mind, and soul, through the practices of self-care and self-love. Her experience working with vulnerable populations and survivors of complex trauma gives her a unique perspective to facilitate healing practices and to teach how trauma can affect our emotional and physiological bodies.
    Esther has a master’s degree in Psychology. She is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Vedic Astrologer, and a 200 YTT with studies in Yoga Nidra. Esther travels yearly to India to continue her studies related to body, mind, and soul to share that wisdom with others.

    She is the author of The Power of Your Hands. Mudras for your everyday life. Available in Amazon. She is a recognized national and international speaker and has been recognized in national and international media, documentaries, books, and film and has received many awards for her humanitarian work with children affected by violence.

    Find her on Instagram @Esther_Brown_Inspire
    and on her website, https://www.egofriendlyliving.com.

    Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

  • How to Navigate Your Emotional Highs and Lows

    Put these simple techniques into action and watch the results. You’ll be amazed at how the emotional rollercoaster ride you’re on with the highs and lows shifts into a steady flow bringing in balance, harmony, and a greater sense of wellbeing into your life experience.


    Do you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster these days? Does it feel like every day is a new adventure emotionally? One minute we feel happy, ready to tackle anything coming our way, and in the next minute, we feel angry and defeated perceiving that nothing ever goes right? Believe it or not much of this is created through our sleep process. It all starts with how we get out of bed in the morning.

    How we wake up from sleep is how we set the emotional energy for our day. If we get out of bed and we’re feeling happy to be alive, happy to start another day, happy for what awaits us our day can be off to a good start without us having to give it much effort because we seem like we’re already there. We automatically think “It’s going to be a good day!” because it simply feels that way. In the same way, we could wake up in the morning feeling the complete opposite, angry, frustrated, exhausted like a truck ran us over while we slept which then makes us feel like the day may not turn out so good simply because we woke up differently than the day before when we felt as though the world was our oyster and only good things were on the horizon.

    If we’re experiencing this rollercoaster of emotions repeatedly, we may feel like we are emotionally imbalanced and perceive that as our state of being, possibly also perceiving there may be something wrong with us like bipolar disorder etc., however, if we take a moment to reflect on our bedtime preparation the answer to resolving this experience may be easier than we think. Navigating these emotional highs and lows may be as simple as becoming more aware of the experience/practice we are creating for ourselves when heading into a sleep state as well as how we are entering our waking process.

    When we lay down to sleep, we’re laying down with all of the experiences we’ve had throughout our day still fresh on our mind. We may even be tossing around the experiences we had a few days, weeks, or months ago creating a monkey mind that just doesn’t stop like a snowball tossed downhill rolling faster, picking up momentum gathering more snow increasing in size so big it’s impossible to stop. Our thoughts are the same way, they don’t stop or slow until we stop or slow them. If we’re not paying attention to them, especially at bedtime, we will create the snowball effect and they will consistently grow, becoming unmanageable, which is how we experience a monkey mind. If we want to experience a more balanced life we must exit the roller coaster of emotions by doing a better job of being conscious by making it a practice to manage our thoughts. If we are not conscious of what we are taking into sleep state that energy will continue to manifest through our dream state, morphing into some new feeling that we will be holding in our energy field/body upon waking. If we go to sleep with good thoughts, chances are we will wake feeling good and in the same light, if we went to sleep with a problem or negative thought, we will wake with that same feeling amplified due to the way our mind will use that emotional energy in dream state and we’ll wake up feeling emotionally out of balance or defeated before we even start our day.

    How do we counter this so we can ensure waking up in a higher happier vibrational state in which to start the creation of our day? It’s simple, we start by taking control of our sleep process. We become conscious of our thoughts as we get into bed and begin to discharge the day with gentle breaths in and out focusing on our heart center. As we begin to feel relaxed, we can ask that “the momentum of our thoughts slow” so we can enter sleep state. This is an Abraham Hicks tool I’ve used for years. Once we start to feel our thoughts slowing, we can decide if we need to repeat that request or move on to asking to “be on our highest timeline” available to us in this moment to create the experience we desire from our highest place within us. We must remember we are the creator of our reality, if that is our truth, we can shift into higher co-creative states of being and clear the lower discordant energies through dream state. Dream state is where most of our soul’s work is done.

    Next, we ask for all new realities upon waking, this ensures that we are exiting out of the experience from the day we just had and requesting a new experience that is higher in vibrational alignment than the day we are transitioning from. Will this happen overnight? It can, however, believing we can shift our reality / emotional state by simply realigning our personal vibration takes a bit of practice like playing an instrument or learning to drive a car etc. Practicing this at sleep time will greatly reduce the amount of rollercoaster-like emotional highs and lows we may have since it’s all based on how we are entering sleep state as well as how we are waking in the morning.

    Another practice I love is keeping an unlined journal nearby in case we lay down to sleep, run through the process outlined above, and still can’t slow our mind. In this case, I recommend getting up and opening your journal and either start writing about what you still haven’t been able to let go of or doodling. Why is this important? The minute we put the pen to the paper the mind has relaxed, and in most cases, we can’t find anything to write about so just doodle a flower, geometric patterns, the sun and moon, anything that comes to mind in that moment. A few pen strokes and it’s over. Why unlined paper? Unlined paper takes us out of the 3D linear thinking mind and brings us right to non-linear 5D where our creator states of consciousness exist. This is always my go-to when nothing else works, then I close my journal, go back to slowing my breath, focusing on my heart, asking the momentum of my thoughts to slow, and so on.

    How we wake up is just as important as how we go to sleep. A good practice for creating balance and harmony to avoid the emotional highs and lows is to let yourself slowly wake up from your dream state. This means when we begin to realize we’re waking up we stay in bed letting ourselves fully come back into complete awareness before we open our eyes and jump out of bed. This is very important to our emotional state of being since during the night we are receiving many different energies from the cosmos (Great Central Sun) through our energy body that may need to fully integrate as these light frequencies upgrade our DNA, which we then need to adjust to. Therefore, some days we can wake up and feel dizzy, have vertigo, feel slightly nauseous, have eye / third eye pressure, migraines, neck, and shoulder aches and so much more. These light frequencies have become more consistent over the last few years as we are all going through our physical ascension. All of this is a contributing factor to how we are waking up. The more we know, and the more consistently conscious we are the better job we will do in navigating our highs and lows.

    Having a good practice at sleep time and waking state is the key to balancing the emotional rollercoaster bring us back to a self-empowered state of being where we are creating the reality, we desire merely by being present and showing up for ourselves in ways that can change our perception of not only the world around us but ourselves as well. Put these simple techniques into action and watch the results. You’ll be amazed at how the emotional rollercoaster ride you’re on with the highs and lows shifts into a steady flow bringing in balance, harmony, and a greater sense of wellbeing into your life experience.

    By Maria Deesy

    Maria is an Energy Intuitive, Ascension Guide, and Wayshower working within the energetic blueprint of both Gaia and her clients to access and assist in transmuting trauma at all levels. Maria’s also able to read to solar frequencies of the cosmos and can provide insight Into the energies presenting in order to better navigate our physical experience during our Ascension. Her work supports the awakening process of humanity. Connect with Maria on the following sites: website, blog, Instagram, or Twitter. Copyright©2020 MariaDeesy.com

    Photo by Anastasia Petrova on Unsplash

  • How to Start a Life-Changing Gratitude Practice

    “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” – A.A. Milne


    American Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and this is the perfect time to think about what you’re grateful for in your life. You’ve probably read an article or heard some personal development guru talking about the importance of gratitude in the past. You might have even had your own practice before but let it drop off over time … or maybe you have a gratitude practice right now, but you want to make it a bit better. Well, this post is for you.

    There have been a variety of studies done on gratitude over the years, and they have shown that people who regularly move through the world with a grateful attitude exhibited a myriad of physical and psychological benefits, including:

    • uplifted mood
    • decreased anxiety
    • less chronic pain
    • improved sleep
    • greater sense of well-being
    • higher self-esteem
    • decreased feelings of envy and resentment

    It’s surprising that such a simple practice can do so much for you. If you don’t already have a gratitude practice, you can start one today by taking a few moments to either write down or even just think about some things that have happened to you today or some things that you have in your life that you are grateful for. The act of acknowledging the good you already have in your life will bring those things into focus for you. What your mind focuses on multiplies in your life because of something in our minds called the reticular activating system.

    This complex network of nerves in your brain helps filter information for you. In reality, there is so much going on in the world around us that we could never take it all in and still function. So our brain filters through all of the input we’re constantly getting to make sure we pay attention to the important information. When you make an effort to focus on a particular thing, your brain recognizes that thing is important and will help you find more of it in the world around you.

    Often people use the example of a car when they talk about this. Let’s say that you buy a red Jeep Wrangler. Before you bought your Jeep, you didn’t even notice any others around you. Now that you own one, you keep seeing red Jeeps everywhere you go. That’s because red Jeeps have become important to you, and your brain is seeing them everywhere. That is how gratitude works also.

    When you focus your mind on something that you’re grateful for, you will notice more things around you to be grateful for. It’s the same system at work. Because you’re making a point to recognize the good around you, your brain looks for more of it.

    The same can happen in the opposite way. If you’re in the habit of complaining or feeling jealousy or envy, you will be able to easily pick out more and more things to feel jealous about in your life. Your brain will focus on what you don’t have. You’ll end up in an unconscious cycle of constantly looking for things to be jealous of.

    Let me give you an example from my personal life. I’ve never had a lot of money. In fact, you could most definitely say that it’s been quite the opposite in my life. I don’t have a fancy house or fancy car. I don’t eat in restaurants very often. Most months, we’re barely scraping by.

    There was a time in my life when this really bothered me. I might even say that I felt ashamed of this fact. I thought my lack of financial abundance, as they say, meant that I was worth less. I thought it meant there was something wrong with me. I looked at other people around me who went on vacations and had fancy things and I was jealous of them. I thought they were better than me. These feelings made my life sad. I struggled a lot to figure out what I could do to have that kind of financial success. That made me depressed and ashamed. It’s no fun to walk through your life feeling those emotions.

    Then I realized something very important that changed everything. I realized that I had many things in my life to be grateful for. And acknowledging this isn’t about saying to yourself, “I have this and that person doesn’t have it so that makes me better.” The practice of gratitude has nothing to do with a comparison between you and someone else. The practice of gratitude is only about you.

    I realized that when I stripped away all of the financial desires and just looked at my day-to-day life, I had built the life I’d always wanted. I have a family who loves me. I have a beautiful permaculture backyard where I grow a lot of my own food. I get to spend my days doing what I love. I have my health and, in many ways, am blessed.

    When I began to recognize that, my life got progressively better. My financial woes didn’t magically disappear but I worried about them less.

    Practicing gratitude is not magic. It will not solve all your problems, but it will greatly improve your quality of life and state of mind so you can tackle your problems from a good place.

    How do you practice gratitude?

    It’s not complicated really. Some people like to write down a few things they’re thankful for every day. It’s a good way to end your day.

    You can take some time to write them down if you like, but you don’t really have to. You only have to acknowledge them. As you get into the habit of doing this regularly, try to make a game of it and feel gratitude for different things every day. That puts you in the mindset throughout the day of noticing more of the good around you.

    There is one very important thing you can do to make your gratitude practice more effective. When you think about what you’re grateful for, try your best to go back into the moment. I like to close my eyes, take a deep breath and focus on that one event or person or moment. If you take yourself back there and let yourself truly feel love and gratitude welling up inside of you, you’ll make your practice much more impactful. Doing so turns what can because a rote exercise of writing down a few good things in your life into a deeply emotional practice.

    You see, we are emotional beings. Even those of us who claim not to be are emotional. If you tap into your deepest feelings, you’ll affect your life on a much more profound level than you would if you only practiced gratitude superficially. Allowing yourself to feel deep gratitude will make you more aware of the beauty, love, and joy this world has to offer.

    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I asked the Omstars team what they’re thankful for this year. Here are some of the responses they gave.

    Kino: Gratitude is a daily practice of mine. When I wake up in the morning and when I fall asleep at night I think of all the things I’m thankful for. Here are a few that frequently make the list—community, family, living on the beach, fresh coconuts, spiritual learning, yoga, meditation, mangos, sunshine, laughter, forgiveness, kindness, and love.

    Tatiana: This year I’m thankful for the ability and wisdom to be thankful. Full stop. And to have the space in my mind and heart to appreciate and feel deep gratitude for things I may have otherwise taken for granted in my younger years.

    Karyn: I’m grateful for my family, friends, my yoga teachers, and my yoga practice. I’m also grateful to be part of the Omstars team.

    Gabi: There are so many things I am grateful for this year: friends, family, the OmStars community, my personal yoga practice, and so much more. But most of all, I have found myself feeling gratitude for life and the present moment. I am grateful to be able to live the life I am living, right here and right now, as the human I am today.

    Laina: I’ve learned the real meaning of community lately. Not just where I live where we look out for each other and help those who need it, but at my children’s school, my friends, even online. My communities have delivered love and compassion and for that, I’m grateful.

    Gabba: I’m grateful for my sister who shows me that no matter where we are living or what obstacles we face as individuals, we will always find support from each other.

    Monica: This year I’m grateful for this practice showing me a way back to myself, back to what’s real. And I’m grateful for all the people in my life who have been supporting my growth along this path.

    And, I’ll finish off this list of things we’re grateful for by saying that my relationship with my family has deepened considerably this year. I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent with them and the love and support they’ve given me.

    Even after Thanksgiving is over, do yourself a favor and make practicing gratitude part of your daily life. If you already do, good on you! Make sure you practice with emotion to make your practice more impactful. As you do you’ll notice your quality of life getting better.

    Below you’ll find a gratitude meditation with Kino that you can try out. We also have some gratitude-themed classes on Omstars you can explore.

    By Lovelyn Bettison

    Lovelyn Bettison has been everything from a massage therapist to a life coach, but her life didn’t start falling into place until she decided to put all other pursuits aside and follow her childhood dream of being a writer. When she’s not doing copywriting for companies like Omstars, she writes scary stories about things that go bump in the dark. She also runs a pretty popular newsletter about all things spooky and supernatural. If you like that sort of thing, you really should click the link to download a free copy of her novella “A Haunting at Cabin Lake.”

    Click here to download your free novella.

    Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

  • ANXIETY (An excerpt from Yoga Revolution: Building a Practice of Courage & Compassion)

    Honestly, a bigger problem was that having anxiety made me feel like a failure as a yoga practitioner and teacher. How could I have anxiety if the focus of my life has been learning to calm my nervous system and control my mind?


    I’ve been using yoga to help me handle mild anxiety for my entire adult life, and it has been incredibly effective. But three years ago, just a few months after my mother’s death, I had a severe anxiety attack. I ended up in the emergency room since I didn’t know what was happening to me.

    After hours of waiting and a whole bunch of tests, I remember the two emergency room doctors coming to talk to me. The one in charge said, “We can’t find any physical cause for your symptoms, and we think it might be an anxiety attack.” I laughed out loud and said, “That can’t be right. I’m a yoga teacher!”

    For the longest time after that, I couldn’t bring myself to accept the fact that I have severe anxiety. I had kept up a regular yoga and meditation practice for thirty years, and I spent time every day calming my nervous system and working with my mind. But I couldn’t deny what had happened. For a while, my practice became very difficult. What had once been a sanctuary started to feel like an alien world.

    I know that yoga has been proven to support people with anxiety, but it took me a while to find my way back to a formal practice. Looking back, I can see that one positive outcome is that my experience gave me so much compassion for the resistance I had seen in my students over the years. All of a sudden, I completely understood how difficult it could be to turn within, and why the subtle practices of pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation are particularly challenging. I was a beginner again.

    Luckily, I haven’t had another anxiety attack like that one, although the fear still lingers. Since then, my practice has evolved in so many ways. Most of all, I’ve let go of the striving that came out of wanting to be a “good” yoga student. Now, I spend time every day with myself, but not always in the kind of formal practice that I used to require of myself. I move and find stillness in more spontaneous ways that support my mental and physical health in the moment. Sometimes I dance around the room and sometimes I lift weights and then do some asana and relaxation.

    One of the things that helped me with my anxiety was the support of an amazing yoga therapist who allowed me to be a student again. I had fallen into a trap that is so common for teachers: we forget to keep learning. We think we know enough and stop there. I’m not going to go as far as to say that I’m grateful for my anxiety, because that is clichéd nonsense. I’ve tried to engage with my anxiety to expand the way I conceive
    of, and relate to, my own mind. I accept that fear, worry—and even panic—are normal parts of my humanity. I don’t need to run away from those painful feelings toward some mystical idea of peace, which is what I was doing before.

    Honestly, a bigger problem was that having anxiety made me feel like a failure as a yoga practitioner and teacher. How could I have anxiety if the focus of my life has been learning to calm my nervous system and control my mind? Well, I think the answer lies in the latter part of that statement: controlling the mind is a dangerous game. Since my anxiety attack, I’ve been exploring new ways to approach my mind with kindness, and a new understanding of what I need. Instead of controlling my mind, I’m working on repairing my relationship with myself. Kabir describes it well:

    THE FAILURE by Kabir
    I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such rush?
    We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves birds and
    animals and the ants—
    perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in your
    mother’s womb.
    Is it logical you would be walking around entirely orphaned now?
    The truth is you turned away yourself,
    and decided to go into the dark alone.
    Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten what you
    once knew,
    and that’s why everything you do has some weird failure in it.

    I love Kabir’s premise that, “you turned away yourself . . . and that’s why everything you do has some weird failure in it.” He gets right to the heart of the issue of identifying with ego-mind instead of spirit. I also love the idea of normalizing failure. Isn’t that what it means to be human? Isn’t life a succession of failures that we learn from? How can you learn if you don’t fail?

    Failure is the direct outcome of practice. Failure is what we get to do every time we get on the mat. We get to fail at this pose or that pose. We get to fail at relaxing when we lie in Shavasana and our nervous system is buzzing with caffeine, and we get to fail at meditating every time our mind wanders. I’ve never practiced yoga and not failed, and that’s exactly the point.

    Failure is the key to yoga. It’s like that expression, “the broken place is where the light shines through.” The failure is where the light of yoga shines through to expose our most tender places—our wounds. It illuminates the limits of the body and mind, not so we can overcome them through sheer force, but so we can love them more. How else can we become whole (healed) without completely embracing our mistakes and our failures?

    If we don’t accept failure, we live in an imaginary bubble of our ego-centered imagination. We deny anything that goes against our self-image; we create “alternate truths.” The first step in social justice and equity work is identifying our shortcomings. We need to admit to our prejudices, our unconscious bias, and our mistakes. We need to clearly see our failures so we can do better. But how can we see them if we are constantly defending ourselves, no matter how many mistakes we make and how
    many people we harm?

    We can learn how to fail in public by apologizing for our mistakes. If I make a social media post that is offensive or incorrect, I can either defend my position over and over in angry comments, or I can say, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry.” As Maya Angelou famously said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” There is tremendous wisdom in that simple statement.

    Yes, yoga practice is a journey to self-love, but not in an egotistical way. This is where we so often get it wrong. It’s about loving our differences instead of hiding them, celebrating our limitations instead of denying them, and literally investing in our failures. By embracing failure, we integrate our humanity and our spirituality. Rather than dance between them, we can love our limited human body and mind as fascinating expressions of our spirit, and appreciate how essential they are to our journey.

    Failure reminds us that complete identification with the body-mind is unhealthy, and that we haven’t been “orphaned” here, as Kabir describes. Our spirit isn’t separate from this human experience, rather it’s the glue holding it all together. There is no part of us that is not connected to spirit, even the ugly, dirty, and painful parts. And the way to experience spirit isn’t by denying the ugly parts, but by loving the most orphaned parts of ourselves more.

    Reflection: Can you think of an experience in your life that felt like a failure, but in the end was actually a kind of success?

    Excerpted with permission. For more information visit Yoga Revolution.

    By Jivana Heyman

    Jivana Heyman, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, is the founder and director of the Accessible Yoga Association, an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to the yoga teachings. Accessible Yoga offers Conferences, Community Forums, a Podcast, and a popular Ambassador program. He’s the co-founder of the Accessible Yoga Training School, and the author of Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body, as well as the forthcoming book, Yoga Revolution: Building a Practice of Courage & Compassion. More info at jivanaheyman.com

    Photo by Natalie from Pexels

  • The Gift Yoga Brought Me

    I discovered yoga around the age of 19 and felt somehow that my difference was not important when practicing yoga. We were all different somehow but shared the commonality of practicing yoga.

    For many of us growing up was an interesting process.

    We may have been different in some way from the majority of others and started to realise these differences in childhood, in our teenage years or later.

    For me I knew I was gay from a young age, but also knew this was not accepted openly while growing up–by my peers, my teachers, my family. This meant I had to develop skills to keep part of myself sublimated, hidden from others, so my sense of identity became fragmented.

    I discovered yoga around the age of 19 and felt somehow that my difference was not important when practicing yoga. We were all different somehow but shared the commonality of practicing yoga.

    I think I was lucky and found some very open, compassionate, and aware teachers.

    And the magical gift that I discovered was savasana.

    Lying on the floor in the stillness and quiet after doing all these weird postures with belts and chairs and straps on the wall (it was Iyengar!), noticing the quality of the light, the air of my skin, being aware of lying in the room with everyone else but at the same time coming into my own space, and being happy and content just to lie there for a few moments, with myself, at one with myself. I felt integrated, whole, and self-accepted.

    And all of this from within myself.

    Yoga allowed me to find a sense of personal integration and a renewed sense of identity connected deeply within myself. We could argue that the sense of self I felt had a more cosmic meaning, but it didn’t matter because I felt it anyway.

    To say yoga saved my life is cliche, a hackneyed phrase. But if you know, you know.

    This blog was originally a post of Ashley’s Instagram.

    By Ashley Russell

    Ashley Russell is a Senior Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance Professionals and an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) Therapist living in Bristol, UK. He teaches for the Bristol School of Yoga on their 200 and 500 hour programs. With a background of over 25 years of both teaching yoga and working in the mental health field he brings a broad range of skills to the transformative power that yoga can provide. He lives in Bristol, UK with his husband choreographer Adam Hougland.

    Follow Ashely’s Instagram account.

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  • Opening Our Heart

    Each time we look to another to make us feel better or valued we give our power away to them. Feeling better about ourselves, our life, and feeling valued are all inside jobs. Nothing outside of us will give us what we need because we already know deep within what we need. We just need to show up ready to pay attention to ourselves.

    I’m often asked, “How can I open my heart more?” This topic can be really challenging since the key to opening our heart lies in loving ourselves, which is difficult for a majority of us to do. When it comes to putting ourselves on the back burner to serve another, we excel, but when we try to focus some of that attention on ourselves, we often fall short. One of the reasons for that has to do with the way we’ve been programmed which started in our early years, so we honestly don’t know any better. Now that I’m older I can see very clearly how self-love was not part of my upbringing through my parents as my role models, nor any of my extended adult family members. I wasn’t even aware of what self-love was, so I evolved without it often putting my needs last.

    My first awareness that I lacked self-love came at the age of 43 in 2005 at a Debbie Ford workshop at the Omega Center in NYC. I remember her suddenly asking the question, “What do you fear other people finding out about you?” In that moment my life came front, and center and I burst into tears unexpectedly. I wasn’t even aware of what I had been suppressing until that moment. I had just started my journey as a healer, a Reiki Master, and was also in the final months of my Holistic Coaching studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition but the truth was I felt like a fraud because I wasn’t a size 4 talking about healthy eating. I was a size 12. My perception of self was completely distorted, and I broke down in front of the hundred or so people attending the workshop. I could not see my own beauty because I never learned how. My mom was 5’10’’ and a size 14. She was always on a diet and never saw her own worth or beauty so she could not help me see mine. Instead, she always encouraged me to go to Weight Watchers with her. I didn’t get the magnitude of my lack of self-love until this workshop, which was only the tip of the iceberg. My eyes were open to my own pain and suffering; my heart was closed to loving me.

    In this workshop, I saw examples of my life flashing in front of my eyes over and over. I remember being young going to visit my grandparents. They were German and always cooked something odd that I didn’t want to eat like pig’s knuckles and sauerkraut. I didn’t like the smell and was sure I wouldn’t like the taste. My mom told me to “Be nice” and “Don’t say that to grandma”. I didn’t realize at five years old that I was already being groomed to ignore my opinions and feelings because they had little value. My job was to make another feel good even if I was not telling the truth. My parents were doing their best, I don’t blame them. They were most likely keeping the peace for themselves through me. Parents teach their children what they have learned. Their beliefs become our beliefs and our authenticity can be stifled. We forget our needs because we are unsure of how to respond out of fear of getting it wrong.

    Where does self-love enter our life? If we’re not taught to love ourselves at home or in school, and there’s no class on self-nurturing, how do we know it’s important to feed ourselves our own love? We really won’t know so we could end up looking for love on the outside, trying to find people who can make us feel the way we would like to feel. This creates more difficulty because we are still giving our power away to another, expecting them to be the one to show us how amazing, beautiful, and special we are. What if they only do that in the beginning and then if things change, they no longer tell us those things we need to hear? We could then be in search of the next person who will tell us how wonderful we are and rely on them to make us feel special. That is called Co-dependence which outsources our power. This is a looping cycle we become locked into like a hamster on a wheel until the one day we walk into the right workshop, with the right mentor, who helps us realize we’ve had the power all along! We didn’t come with a user’s manual so we go through life and experience the ups and downs which will finally make us stop searching outside and go within. We begin to ask questions like, “Why is love so hard?” and “What’s wrong with me?” “Am I unlovable?” The answer of course is that it’s not hard, there’s nothing wrong with us, we are very loveable. We just need to see our own beauty and value.

    The moment we stop chasing what is outside of us and come back within we can shift everything and the need for another outside of us to make us feel whole is no longer necessary. Each time we look to another to make us feel better or valued we give our power away to them. Feeling better about ourselves, our life, and feeling valued are all inside jobs. Nothing outside of us will give us what we need because we already know deep within what we need. We just need to show up ready to pay attention to ourselves. When someone presents a challenge and makes us feel diminished in some way it’s because through soul contracts, we’ve asked them to step up as our mirror so the lack of love we have for ourselves can be reflected back at us. Eventually, enough becomes enough and that’s when change happens. We must take our power back by loving ourselves enough to not want to suffer anymore. This act of Self-love is the first step to expanding our heart center.

    Going within and loving ourselves takes courage. It’s the most important part of opening our heart and establishing a direct connection with our inner being. When we start to work with self-love, we must be in tune to our own heart, which requires we do a self-assessment in order to begin to establish a relationship with ourselves. We must begin to put our needs first in all situations and say no to things we do not feel aligned with. This may be looked at as selfish but it’s an important part of our journey. It helps us connect to what love feels like when we support ourselves doing things that feel right within as opposed to saying yes and suffering through something we don’t want to do.

    What is our inner being? That’s our soul self — the part of us that our intuition originates from. It’s the part of us that will help steer us down the proper path, if we allow it to. This is another key aspect of ourselves we were not taught about at an early age, unless you had parents who were practicing spirituality. Our inner being always has our best interest at heart because it’s the seat of our soul and the very essence of who we are. Its purpose is to love us even when we are not loving ourselves. It leads us to the well within ourselves where love is in abundance. Our job is to recognize its soft voice from the loud voice of the ego which was meant to keep us playing small.

    What is love? Love can feel elusive especially if we haven’t had much experience with it, but in order to know ourselves deeply, we must form a love relationship with ourselves. When we can understand how love feels, we are able to give love to another as well as receive it in return. I’ve had many experiences where I thought I had received the love of another and later realized after a painful experience, it was not actually love. When I looked at this with clarity, I saw with sadness what I had not seen previously — they were incapable of offering me their love because they didn’t value themselves, and therefore, couldn’t value me. If we are depleted from our own love and attention, then we are giving from an empty glass. How could an empty glass fill up another or quench their thirst? It can’t. Love must be given from a loving heart not a heart in lack.

    Many of us have trained ourselves to operate from a place of lack so we are always operating from a glass less than full believing that we are giving the best of ourselves… but are we? If we are operating at half a glass capacity, we don’t have much to offer another. They are not getting our complete best or the fullness of our love because we have not filled our glass. You can equate this to your bank account. You can’t keep giving money out without taking money in. After a while, you will have nothing to give or pay your bills with. Our love works the same. Energy is energy; money and love are both energies. If we don’t have it, we can’t offer it. Now that we see the truth in how important it is to fill our own cup, why aren’t we doing this as part of our everyday routine?

    It’s time to recognize our own importance and focus on ourselves first. When we do things for ourselves that feels good, and it shows. When we tune inwards and offer ourselves love first our cup is full and even overflowing at times, making it possible to share our cup of goodness with others. Doing things that support and make ourselves happy opens and expands our heart center. The more we open our heart the more we feel love, joy, bliss, and believe it or not, freedom! Yes, freedom is part of the heart center package. When we are happy life flows, we flow, and everything just falls in place. When we are not happy and feel unloved or unfulfilled, we are not operating from our fullness. The lack of self-love stops the flow of universal energy, and as a result, our vibration is low. We cannot create or expand our heart when our vibration is low. When our heart is open and full of love, we are in a higher vibrational state of being and universal energy is in great abundance. When we are operating from our heart, we do not notice the lower-level struggle or challenges life throws our way because we step over them with ease and grace. Everything becomes easier. Challenges become diminished in our life experience because they are not a match for our high vibration, which is based in self-love. Did you know that self-love raises our vibration? It does!

    When we are in a high vibe state, full of love, we are naturally more present within ourselves. We gravitate towards doing things for ourselves that nourishes as opposed to depletes us. Things like eating clean and healthy foods may require us to invest time and energy in grocery shopping, as well as preparing our meal. Making time to be in nature is another thing we can do to open and expand our heart center. When we make time to be in nature, we are present with the Earth and everything within her realm. We just need to tune into the energy of the trees, birds etc. to feel joy and contentment, all of which feed self-love.

    Exercise is another thing we can do to help ensure our body stays strong and flexible. Yoga is great for this. One of the beautiful things about Yoga is it brings us within and back to center, requiring us to focus on our posture and form. We can use our practice to gage where we are in serving our-self. A daily practice of poses that would assist and support in opening our heart center would be extremely beneficial in bringing in the energy of self-love. Poses such as puppy pose, cobra, locust pose, and bow pose would be the most beneficial.

    Self-talk is also a very important part of opening and expanding our heart center. Words, thoughts and actions set intention in motion. We must pay attention to everything we are creating, as well as where we are placing our attention. Self judgement through negative thoughts, words and actions can keep us locked in a lower vibration. Positive self-talk is just as important as doing things for ourselves that make us feel good. I see so many people doing amazing things for themselves, but they negate all of it with negative self-talk. This seems to be one of the most difficult areas for people when it comes to loving themselves. Once our vibration falls it takes a lot of work to raise it back up and hold feelings of happiness and joy, which are based in love.

    Love is energy, based in its own frequency of 528 Hz. If we want to feel love and open our heart center, we must tune our vibration to the frequency of love. This means that we must do things for ourselves that are an energetic match to the frequency of love. This is why it’s so important to find out and know what the frequency of love “feels” like within and bring in more of that. We can’t use our mind; we must feel it to know it. If we expect our frequency to be raised by things and people outside of ourselves, we are in trouble. When we hold love we have the power to help shift someone into their own love. When everyone around us feels the power of our love, we all win!

    If you are unsure of what love feels like a simple exercise would be to lay in bed at night just before you’re ready to fall asleep. Place your hands on your heart and tell your heart you love it. As you are doing this think about how it’s always there for you, more than anyone else you know. Think about how your heart holds up its end of the bargain by performing its simple job of beating in each moment to sustain your life. Now take a step back and look at how many years it’s been doing that. See how you have not paid attention to your own heart? We should never offer our heart to another unless they are going to care for our heart the way our heart cares for us.

    Another exercise is to stand in front of the mirror and place your hands on your heart. Look deep into your own eyes and tell yourself how much you love yourself for all the magic you are. Start pointing out all the things that are unique about who you are. You are, after all, the only one like you. Next, look at all the ways you stop yourself from truly experiencing happiness in your life. Make decisions now to improve it instead of waiting until a future moment or event.

    We must be present to see all we are creating. We want to make choices that are highly aligned with our own joy and happiness in each moment. This means doing a personal inventory of what feels good and not just going with the flow because everyone else is doing it. When we go with the flow we are not in our own personal alignment and this will bring our energy down. Being present and showing up for ourselves must be our priority so we can be at our personal best for ourselves and everyone else around us. Self-love is the key to expanding our heart and opening us up to our greatest joy.

    By Maria Deesy

    Maria is an Energy Intuitive, Ascension Guide and Wayshower working within the energetic blueprint of both Gaia and her clients to access and assist in transmuting trauma at all levels. Maria’s also able to read to solar frequencies of the cosmos and can provide insight Into the energies presenting in order to better navigate our physical experience during our Ascension. Her work supports the awakening process of humanity. Connect with Maria on the following sites: website, blog, Instagram, or Twitter. Copyright©2020 MariaDeesy.com

    Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

  • Things Do Not Change–We Change

    We can analyse our problems for years – but nothing changes until we change the sensations we link to an experience in our nervous system – the power of your brain. Reframing your mindsets is the key to breaking patterns.

    Things do not change – we change.  And if we want change, then we have to do things different.

    We need to adopt the belief that we can change in a moment – after all, if you can create a problem in a moment, you should be able to create a solution too – right? You and I both know that when people finally do change, they do it in a moment, don’t they? There’s an instant when the change occurs. Why not make that instant NOW? Usually, it’s the getting ready to change that takes people time.

    One of my favourite mantras is: “Too much analysis leads to paralysis!”

    We can analyse our problems for years – but nothing changes until we change the sensations we link to an experience in our nervous system – the power of your brain. Reframing your mind-sets is the key to breaking patterns.

    People who feel stuck or blocked are locked into points of view. We tend to act in this way through habit and an inability to welcome alternative ideas. In this situation we allow the past to create our present. Everything is subject to reconstruction and renewal. The “re” factor is the basis of resurrecting, reshaping, regenerating, reviving and rejuvenating.

    Creative persons live in a state of constant search and exploration. The creative way of looking at the world assumes multiple truths and interactions among them. As Walt Whitman expressed it, the individual person contains multitudes. And so, the most fundamental skill of the creative person is the ability to constantly re-vision the world. The patterns of the constructed self CAN be broken, transcended to reach new heights.

    In fact, there are 3 specific beliefs about responsibility that a person must have if they are going to create long-term change. You want to know them? Here they are.

    1. First, we must believe, SOMETHING MUST CHANGE – not that it should change, or that it could or ought to change, but that it absolutely MUST. It’s only when something becomes a “must” that we begin the process of truly doing what’s necessary to shift the quality of our lives.

    2. We must not only believe that things must change, BUT WE MUST BELIEVE, “I MUST CHANGE IT”. We must see ourselves as the source of the change. Otherwise, we’ll always be looking for someone else to make the changes for us, and we’ll always have someone else to blame when it doesn’t work out. We must be the source of our change if our change is going to last.

    3. Third, we have to believe, “I CAN CHANGE IT” – without believing that it’s possible to change, we stand no chance of carrying through on our desires.

    Humanity is a kingdom of Nature which, according to the Ageless Wisdom Teachings, suffers more conflict than any other kingdom. Life on Earth is a process of constant conflict, pulls and counterpulls. What we see as a problem, that which is not agreeable to us, becomes the obstacle. We have to include all those elements to complete the experience of Oneness. And when the personal viewpoint no longer exists, when we perceive the so-called “good” and “bad” as two aspects of the One Background, then we are living in a greater Reality.

    It is a training in achieving HARMONY THRU CONFLICT. The nature of life is to contain both chaos and order. But it is this uncertainty that you feel inside yourself that becomes the Doorway to Wisdom.
    One of the world’s most universal spiritual exercises involves establishing empathy and respect for adversaries and annoyances.

    Opening the heart to the disturbing situation enables us to invert its energy. So when we use our disturbances as materials of expression, we see that everything in life is fuel for the creative process. Creativity puts toxins to good use. This will show us that Humanity’s job on planet Earth is to bring Love into the world of Duality. And the Christ-mass Festival is a reminder each year to rise above our personal likes & dislikes and give out the Light & Love to each other and step into that sense of ONENESS which is WHOLENESS.

    By Derek Seagrief

    By Derek Seagrief is an internationally recognised astrologer, teacher, lecturer, author, and astro-therapist, grounded in PsychoSynthesis. Born in London, August 1952 and living in Denmark from 1978. For more than 24 years Derek has travelled throughout Scandinavia and England offering a wide variety of workshops and personal consultations. Originally started his career as artist and sculptor with exhibitions in both London and New York. Started to teach himself both Tarot and Astrology at the age of 17. From the time of arrival in Denmark he has been working full time in the field of intuitive astrology, combining psychology, Psychosynthesis and psychotherapy together in a living and meaningful wholeness. Derek has a rich experience with the many branches of astrology and this led to the creation of a unique 2-Year education The Unicorn School of Astro-Psychology. The School was among the first to offer students a professional training in counselling, combining Astrology and modern psychology through the inspiration of PsychoSynthesis. Among its teachers was Tad Mann and LiseLotte Mann. Derek established the School for Living Kabbalah in 1999. Derek has been a regular contributor to many magazines, both Scandinavian and international throughout the years, and been a key speaker at international astrology Conferences. Author of 9 privately published books. www.seagrief.com. Derek has also been a guest lecturer at The Hercules School of Astrology.

    Photo by prottoy hassan on Unsplash.

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  • Happiness Advice from an Expert: How to Find Happiness When You’re Stuck in a Rut

    The most profitable business in the world is the one that spends the least money to make the most money, and the most joyful person in the world is the one who spends the least effort to get the most joy! Instead of trying to do a whole lot, simply commit to doing what you can every day, no matter what. It’s consistency, not intensity, that makes the most difference over time. In other words, prioritize consistency over intensity.

    Hi Rob-

    Please help!

    I can’t seem to get out of the rut I’m in. It feels so unrealistic to have happy thoughts on a regular basis, but that’s what I want most!

    For starters, my life isn’t where I want it to be; I’m not as successful as I thought I’d be. My living situation sucks, I don’t have a job I like, and my relationships are terrible.

    What’s worse, I know I won’t be happy, even if all these things fall into place. I get that, but I still want these other things.

    Finally, I feel like I’ve been working at this happiness thing forever. It’s so hard to keep my mind in a state of acceptance and appreciation, let alone happiness and contentment.

    For example, I’ve kept a gratitude journal for over 3 years, but I’ve dreaded it most of the time! I’ve noticed that it doesn’t work if I don’t work it, but it’s tough.

    I’ve read so many books, tried lots of things, and seen tons of therapists, but nothing seems to work! Becoming happy just feels impossible!

    Can you please help?

    Desperately,
    Debbie Downer

    ***

    Dear Debbie-

    First, thank you for that very honest, heartfelt message.

    I’ve been there, trust me. It can be so frustrating, infuriating even. But I got through it, and you will, too!

    To that end, please find below a few quick tips, tricks, tools, and techniques that I’ve found helpful over the years.

    I hope that you find them helpful, too.

    1. But first, happiness!

    In short, prioritize happiness above everything else.

    If you can get happy without all the stuff you want, you tend to get all the stuff you want.

    And you get it faster and easier than you would or could if you were coming from a needy, desperate, unhappy, unhealthy vibrational place.

    So put happiness first, and then trust that happiness will lead to everything else you want, too.

    In the Bible it says, “Seek the kingdom of heaven (inside), and the rest will be added.”

    Another way of saying that is, “Seek happiness inside, and everything else will follow.”

    That’s what I’m saying.

    If you take care of happiness, happiness will take care of success; if you take care of happiness, happiness will take care of you!

    Said in another way, happiness is not only the greatest success; happiness leads to success, too!

    Science agrees.

    Happy people experience more success in all areas of their lives. They make more money, live longer, are healthier, are rated as more attractive, get married sooner, stay married longer, and are happier in all of their relationships, whether they are married or not.

    Further, happy people are also kinder, more charitable, and more generous than their unhappy peers.

    Happiness is not only the cheat code or master key to success, then.

    It is also your gift to your success… and the world!

    2. Do less, better.

    You don’t need to know a whole lot to be happy. You likely know enough already. In fact, you probably know too much!

    Similarly, you don’t need to do a whole lot more to be happy, either. You probably do enough already. In fact, you probably do too much!

    In other words, you need to do less, better.

    You need to focus on quality, not quantity. You need to focus on baby steps. The smaller the steps, the better.

    Less is more!

    So, you don’t need to learn more. You just need to apply what you already know! Knowing is doing; knowing and not doing is not knowing. An ounce of doing is worth a pound of theorizing.

    Instead of learning more or even doing more, try choosing the one or two things that you can easily commit to doing every single day, no matter what.

    What happiness activity is currently getting you the greatest results with the least amount of time, energy, effort, and money or resources?

    Stick to that.

    Who are your favorite teachers or authors?

    Stick to them.

    If certain videos or books really help, listen or read them over and over again.

    This is called this “lazy intelligence.”

    The most profitable business in the world is the one that spends the least money to make the most money, and the most joyful person in the world is the one who spends the least effort to get the most joy!

    Instead of trying to do a whole lot, simply commit to doing what you can every day, no matter what.

    It’s consistency, not intensity, that makes the most difference over time.

    In other words, prioritize consistency over intensity.

    Tony Robbins is right, “We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, but we underestimate what we can accomplish in ten.”

    Bruce Lee is also right, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but the one who has practiced one kick, 10,000 times.”

    Choose your kick.

    Then, practice it. Every day.

    3. Have more fun!

    Most people think that I’m very disciplined, but I don’t see it that way.

    Yes, I get up at 4am every day, meditate, read, and workout for a few hours. Then, I come back and see clients for 12-14 hours.

    Some people might call that discipline, but I call it “blissipline.” By blissipline, I mean that I’ve made a commitment to fun. If it isn’t fun or I can make it fun, I try not to do it at all!

    So, that’s my encouragement to you, too.

    Happiness should be something you do for the fun of it – for the joy of it, for its own sake – not just to get a result.

    If you try to get a result, you won’t get the result. If you try to get good at it, you’ll never get good at it… or enjoy it.

    However, if you try to enjoy it – really enjoy it, instead – you’ll get good at it really fast.

    And you’ll enjoy it, too.

    4. Have faith.

    You’re on the right path- just persist.

    And the way you persist to keep it playful, keep it fun.

    And when you don’t feel like persisting, take a nap!

    You’ve got momentum behind you, and there’s no stopping that or you now.

    You might not see a whole lot of progress, but it’s happening beneath the surface.

    The check is in the mail a long time before you see it show up in your mailbox, so to speak.

    Trust this.

    Have a little more faith… in faith.

    5. Delegate it.

    One of the keys that I discovered along my journey from clinically depressed and suicidal to happy has been this:

    Let other people do the work! Ha ha.

    In other words, the challenge – and opportunity – for most of us is that left to our own devices (thinking), we resort to negativity.

    We don’t reverse decades of negative thinking or unhealthy habits overnight. It takes some time and energy.

    However, we don’t always have the time, energy, or interest to do that work. I get it! We all get it!

    And that’s ok.

    When possible, then, we can outsource or delegate this happiness thing! We can let other people or resources do the work – do our thinking – for us!

    Seminars, workshops, online talks, videos, audiobooks, and books are my favorite go-to tools to this end.

    In short, start consuming positive content all day, even if that means just letting a video out audio play in the background while you go about your day.

    Occasionally, it’s nice and very helpful to let somebody else do the thinking for you.

    6. Start right.

    If you have to, get up a little earlier than usual just to set the tone for the day.

    Don’t start with technology, unless it’s watching or listening to something positive, uplifting, or inspiring.

    Exercise or a little movement or stretching is transformative in this way.

    It’s the equivalent of taking an antidepressant. It has that powerful of an effect on your mood, minus the side effects.

    7. Sleep.

    Sometimes it’s helpful to play something peaceful or positive when falling asleep at night.

    When you’re falling asleep, your brain is most suggestible. It’s in what’s called the “Alpha-Theta” brain wave state.

    That’s why it’s good to meditate or listen to positive content when you’re sleepy. It’s that relaxed state that lets it all in!

    8. Stick to lifters.

    Stick to lifters, not downers.

    If there are certain people who bring you down, limit your interactions with them.

    Or, better yet, eliminate those people from your life entirely.

    9. If you can’t be positive, be quiet.

    Sometimes being quiet is infinitely better – and easier – than being positive.

    The key is to pay more attention to your physical senses as you do what you do, instead of paying so much attention to the story in your head.

    This is what “micro-meditations” are for.

    A micro-mediation is just one, single breath that you take for the joy of it alone. You take – and deeply enjoy – that one breath while you continue doing whatever you’re doing.

    And you try to enjoy that breath like it’s the last one you’ll ever take on earth again.

    Who knows – it could be!

    While you take that one breath, take it through the nose and from the stomach or diaphragm.

    And, most importantly, as you take it, let all of your thoughts go. Don’t try to fight or change any of your thoughts at all. Just ignore them all.

    Practice those micro-meditations as often as you can throughout the day, no matter what else you happen to be doing, and do it for the joy of it alone.

    Remember, happiness is not only present; happiness is Presence itself. It’s being here and now. Really, it’s just Being, full-stop.

    So, as you practice this micro-meditation – or do anything else for that matter – don’t focus on the past or future. Focus on the present.

    If you take care of the present, the present will take care of the future. If you take care of the present, the future will take care of itself.

    10. Get help!

    Reach out to a therapist, coach, or other helping professional if you want or need more help.

    If I can help, just let me know! You know there you find me…

    Happily,
    Robert

    By Rob Mack

    Robert is a happiness coach & author. He writes and speaks to people about how to live happier lives from the inside, out. Robert’s work has been endorsed by Oprah and Vanessa Williams, among many others. In addition to serving as a Celebrity Love Coach for the television show, Famously Single, on E!, Robert has been a featured guest expert for shows like The Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, CBS Early Show, The Balancing Act, and AskHer.com and magazines like Self, Health, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Upscale. Robert has also served as a National Media Spokesperson, Management Consultant, and Executive Coach for companies like Capital One, FitBit, Buffalo Wild Wings, Microsoft, Carnival Cruise Lines, Deloitte Consulting, McCormick & Spice, IFF, Plus Consulting, and Falcon Credit Management. Robert was born in Pennsylvania. He was educated at Swarthmore College, where he received his Bachelors of Science in Psychology, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (M.A.P.P.), an ivy-league degree held by only a few dozen people in the world. Robert lives in Los Angeles.

    Photo by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

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