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427 South Marengo Avenue #5
Pasadena, CA, 91101

(323) 558-2055

Natalie Moore is a holistic psychotherapist in Pasadena, CA who helps young adults decrease anxiety naturally through somatic (mind/body) practices.

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Spiritual Growth Blog | Pasadena, CA

Posts in this blog will cover a wide range of topics related to spirituality such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, self-care and finding one's unique purpose in life. Articles will be written from a mind/body/spirit perspective and will give readers a chance to reflect on their journey towards spiritual growth and development.

12 Local Los Angeles Resources for Learning Meditation

Natalie Moore

I recommend meditation frequently here on the blog and in my psychotherapy sessions with clients for many reasons — it helps people reduce anxiety, manage depression, handle life transitions with more ease, improve concentration and focus, and bring more intention into their life and relationships. The first thing many people say is "I've tried meditation and I can't do it!" or "meditation doesn't work for me!" I usually respond to this by saying that meditation is not easy, but anyone can do it if they are motivated to work through the initial discomfort. I also use the following analogy to describe the beginning phase of meditation — it's like going to the gym for the first time. You don't go to the gym expecting to be strong and muscular. You go to the gym to get stronger over time. Meditation is like weight training for the mind. When you first start out, it's going to be very challenging. But with persistence, you will be able to increase your focus and ability to meditate through practice. That's why it's called a meditation practice. You're never done, it's always evolving. So now you might say, "I'm on board! How do I start?" You've got a couple of different options, you can try meditation on your own utilizing free online meditation resources, or you could find in-person resources to support your practice. Read on for 12 local Los Angeles resources for learning how to meditate:

 
 

1 | Against the Stream Buddhism Meditation Society

Against the Stream — or ATS for short — is an awesome place to learn how to meditate especially if you are a young adult looking for an accessible introduction to Buddhist concepts and practices. No stuffiness here! ATS knows how to create a hip and inviting environment for the beginner or experienced meditator alike. They offer two Los Angeles locations (Hollywood and Santa Monica,) as well as centers in San Francisco, Boston and Nashville. ATS was established by Noah Levine, son of famed Stephen Levine, and has a multitude of offerings from programs, to meditation classes, to retreats, to an innovative approach to addiction treatment — called Refuge Recovery — which utilizes Buddhist psychology concepts as opposed to the Judeo-Christian approaches that most AA or 12-step programs are founded on. For more information, check out my article about resources for addiction recovery.

2 | Shambhala Meditation Center

Shambhala is more than just a meditation center, it is a hub for the local community to find peace and connection with like-minded individuals. They have numerous offerings that I recommend you check out on their website as well as open sitting meditation hours. Like ATS, Shambhala also offers a Buddhist-based recovery support group called The Heart of Recovery. They have two Los Angeles locations, one in Eagle Rock and one in Mar Vista.

3 | The Den Meditation

The Den is an urban sanctuary! It's got an amazing vibe once you walk in. The place is decorated in a mid-century modern feel that makes you want to come in, get cozy and stay a while. The Den offers sound baths, workshops, a Bali retreat and 45-minute classes in a variety of meditation styles including mindfulness and Kundalini. They've got locations in Hancock Park and Silverlake. The Den offers a new student special of unlimited classes and up to three workshops for 3 weeks at a steal for 50 bucks!

4 | Unplug Meditation

Unplug is another private meditation studio, located on Wilshire with a cool, trendy vibe. They've got lots of classes, workshops and even a Bali retreat. One thing that sets Unplug apart, is that they've also got offerings for kids!

5 | InsightLA

InsightLA is a great place to start for those who are interested in a more structured approach to learning how to meditate because they've got some amazing programs such as Mindfulness for Beginners,  MBSR — Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion, and others. These are series of classes that are intended to give people the resources needed to develop or deepen one's meditation practice.

6 | BOL Meditation

BOL — or Believe or Leave — is another private meditation studio, located on La Brea. What I'm most excited about with BOL is their new student special which gives their new students 2 weeks of free unlimited classes for only $35! I'll certainly be taking advantage of this offer. :)

7 | UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center

UCLA MARC is doing a ton to bring mindfulness meditation into the mainstream through supporting its efficacy through research and teaching meditation to the community through 1) free drop-in meditations, 2) Mindful Awareness Practices classes, 3)  meditation resources online, 4) free online meditation recordings, 5) retreats and 6) workshops. There's so much going on over there including Spanish based classes and also options for kids. Be sure to check out what UCLA has to offer for you and your meditation practice!

8 | CompassionLA

CompassionLA is an organization that offers many structured programs, classes, groups and drop-ins for developing mindfulness and self-compassion. Most offerings are held in North Hollywood.

9 | Vedanta Society

Vedanta Temple in Hollywood offers myriad talks and classes to the public to learn about their way of practicing meditation. Check out their schedule of events to find an offering that sounds good to you. They also offer retreats to deepen one's meditation practice further.

10 | Kadampa Meditation Center

Kadampa Meditation Center is great place to learn how to meditate and build a community of meditators. I've attended some of their classes, dharma talks and workshops and have enjoyed them very much. They have locations in Hollywood, Glendale, Pasadena, West LA and Santa Monica.

11 | Transcendental Meditation LA

TM LA offers a free introductory class and ongoing paid memberships. They have locations in Los Feliz, West LA and San Fernando Valley.

12 | The Art of Living

The Art of Living LA offers introductory sessions, programs and retreats. Locations across the country including Los Angeles.

Now I'd love to hear from you! Are you curious about meditation and interested in exploring your options for learning how to get started? Let me know if you plan to check out any of the meditation centers I've shared here. Are you an experienced meditator looking to deepen your practice by attending a retreat or longer program? Are you hoping to find more community and emotional support within your meditation practice? Or maybe you know of some great local Los Angeles meditation resources that I didn't include here. Please share in the comments below. Thanks for reading and be well!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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What to Do When You Have No Clue What to Do

Lucy Freshour

From the time we were children, we’ve all been asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For some, the answers included astronaut, veterinarian, pop star, or president. (For me, the answer was part-time newscaster, part-time hip hop dancer!) Some people follow through with their childhood dreams but most people end up changing their minds. Something we don’t often talk about is how many people still don’t know what they want to be at age 20, 30, 40, and so on. As an indecisive person myself, I think this is completely normal. It can even be a sign that you have many interests and talents which make it hard for you to choose one career path, or perhaps your interests and talents have yet to be discovered. I hope this article provides you with ways to discover or narrow down your interests and talents so that you can find a career that’s perfect for you!

 
 

1 | Travel

I know, I know. This is probably the most cliché thing on this list. However, there’s a reason everyone raves about the benefits of traveling. Besides being fun and exciting, traveling is also one of the best ways to learn about yourself. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to live and work in a big city. You travel to New York City for the first time and find yourself completely overwhelmed by the lights, the sounds, and the crowds. You then travel to a more laid-back town in some place like Rhode Island, North Carolina, or say… Italy! Perhaps this kind of setting is more your style and without traveling, maybe you would have never known. I think your environment really affects your happiness levels. You can also try out various jobs while traveling to see what you really enjoy.

2 | Volunteer

Similar to traveling, volunteering is a great way to learn about yourself. It’s also nice to know that you’re helping others in the process! There are tons of groups that you can travel and volunteer with, or you can even seek out volunteer opportunities yourself by contacting places and asking if they need volunteers. With all of the options out there, volunteering can really help you discover your passions and put your talents to good use. You can find volunteer positions related to childcare, teaching, agriculture, environmental sustainability, or practically anything! It’s a great way to try new things, get out of your comfort zone, travel to interesting places, and make a difference.

3 | Make a list of what truly makes you happy (and make time for those things)

If you’re anything like me, you probably feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Between work, school, family, friends, relationships, sleeping, eating, and everything else, you might find yourself neglecting your hobbies and interests. For example, it dawned on me that ever since starting college, I haven’t had time for dancing (which has always been a passion of mine.) But in actuality, it’s not that I haven’t had time for it. The problem is that I haven’t made time for it. No matter how busy your life is, it’s so important to set aside time for what truly makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be 3 hours or anything, it can be as little as half an hour. Not only is this good for your happiness and overall mental health, it can also help reignite your interests and help you discover new ones. Maybe you set aside half an hour every night to write in your journal, and after a while you discover that you really want to pursue a career as a writer! Maybe you set aside time to revisit the interests you had when you were younger, or you try completely new things that turn out to be interesting to you. Having this time to yourself can really help you self-reflect and find your passion when you’re feeling lost.

I hope this post was helpful for you. Many of us still wonder “What do I want to be when I grow up?” so you’re not alone, no matter what age you are! If you have discovered a career that you love, what was your “aha” moment when you realized this was the job for you? Do you have any advice for others? If money wasn’t a factor, what would be your dream job?


about the author

Hi, I'm Lucy! A psychology student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon graduation, I plan to pursue child and adolescent therapy. When I'm not chugging coffee and studying, I love to sing, write music, bake, watch reality TV, and hang out with my dog.

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How to Set (and Achieve!) Soul-Centered Objectives

Corinne Keating

You most often hear people setting goals for themselves at the beginning of each year, because it’s when everyone can agree that a new year represents a fresh start. That can be a great opportunity for some people, but it doesn’t have to be the only time for you to set goals for yourself. During the year, you may feel like a change is needed. Maybe you need to refresh yourself or get a healthy new habit started. No matter what your motivation is, setting soul centered goals to better yourself is great, but before you start making your list, think about what your goals are and how you’re going to make them happen.

 
 

1 | Identify Your Problem Areas

Your new goals are meant to make you a better person. To know how to improve yourself, you need to figure out what about you isn’t living up to your expectations. Do you think too negatively too often, or overeat when you’re sad? Or are you finding yourself getting angry over tiny problems or unable to deal with work stresses? These problem areas all have methods for overcoming these issues, but first, you need to decide which ones affect you.

2 | Target Your Biggest Issues

Once you have your list of problems you want to change, identify what the biggest ones are and if they’re related. You might find that you don’t deal with stress well and you’re struggling with work. These issues could be related to how productive you are throughout the day. Increasing your productivity through exercise, for example, could help your work life improve and reduce stress. Finding common links between your problem areas can also help you narrow down your list of tactics for overcoming your challenges and becoming a better you. The goal is to get a list of the largest issues you want to change that’ll improve your life or make you a better person, and then find the best way to approach each one.

3 | Start off Slow

When you start your plan for achieving your goals, such as by changing your eating habits to lose weight, you’ll have lots of energy and motivation to follow your soul-centered goals. As you try to adjust to your new routine, you might lose steam and get discouraged before quitting altogether. What you should focus on once you’ve got your game plan together is starting off slow. By doing this, you’ll use all the motivation and excitement you have in small amounts over time as you work towards the finish line you’ve set for yourself.

Establishing new goals for yourself to become a better person is a great undertaking. If now is your time, make sure you know what to fix so that you can accomplish more goals, and don’t burn yourself out in the excitement of starting. Everything takes time, and when you’re able to look back and be proud of your accomplishments, you’ll be glad you took some time to breathe along the way.


about the author

Hi! I'm Cori. I'm a health and wellness blogger and enthusiast who's been featured in The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen and Healthline. When I'm not writing for my blog Why So Well, you can find me hiking, biking or sipping on a soy latte.

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8 Effective Strategies To Overcome Cravings

Bill Weiss

Today's post is by Bill Weiss, owner of UnitingRecovery.com — a website and blog that sheds light on drug and alcohol addiction, where people are offered the resources to learn more about the disease of addiction. Bill is personally in recovery and has multiple family members who were affected, which is why he takes such an interest in this. He's an advocate of long-term sobriety, and as a member of the recovery community, feels it is important to spread awareness of alcohol and drug misuse in America. Being personally affected and having family members struggling, it is a personal quest of his to get the facts about substance misuse to light, ultimately enlightening America on this epidemic.

Anyone who has struggled with addiction knows that cravings are a real challenge to overcome. Even though we rationally know that drinking and using have caused upheaval and harm in our lives, we can still be physiologically and psychologically drawn to those same harmful substances, try as we might to have strong willpower. It's the nature of addiction and the wiring of the human brain! So, how is one supposed to manage the cravings? With determination and some healthy habits. Here are 8 ways to effectively deal with your cravings each day:

 
 

1 | Exercise

Exercise makes you fit and improves your heart health, but it does a lot more than that. Studies show that exercise changes your brain in such powerful ways that it is comparable to some prescription anti-depressant drugs. Most people know that exercise releases endorphins, but it also stimulates dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine production. Each of these neurotransmitters plays a critical role in mood regulation. When coming off of an addiction your brain is a bit sluggish in producing a healthy amount of neurotransmitters. Exercise gives you a little boost. Check out this post about how to make exercise a consistent part of your self-care routine.

2 | Social Support

Doing anything challenging on your own can be — well — challenging! Having social support throughout any of life’s major endeavors makes it a whole lot easier to handle. Surround yourself with a good support network. Choose people that can help you in areas where you are weak. Positive and loving friends and family are great for keeping you engaged in healthy activities, helping you avoid unhealthy habits/environments and for injecting laughter and comfort into your life. Surround yourself with healthy people can show you what a sober life looks like. Coworkers, neighbors, and even new friends can help you build a social network beyond the addiction. Best of all, though, is having support within the recovery community. It is incredibly valuable to have people at your side who know what addiction and recovery are like. Surround yourself and utilize these relationships like your own personal body armour against addiction. For tips about how to make new friends as an adult, see this post.

3 | Meditation

Many recovery programs are heavy on religion — some recovery centers even argue that spirituality is a key component to recovery. Having a connection to a higher power can allow one to place a lot of the heavy stuff onto another Being, as opposed to feeling like you're carrying the world on your shoulders. It also provides insight into yourself as you work to connect with your own God (Spirit/Source/Universe, what have you.) In many ways, a spiritual practice can help you rebuild yourself after being broken down by addiction.

But if spirituality isn’t your thing, then what should you do? Meditate. Meditation is not just the stuff of hippies anymore. In fact, meditation has thousands of studies behind it, proving its efficacy in a wide range of things from reducing depression, to increasing happiness, and even to increasing concentration and memory. Meditation does this by building neural pathways in the brain that help improve all of these areas of the brain. Not only does it improves these positive areas of the brain, but it also reduces impulsivity and ‘monkey brain’. In a way, meditation provides an all natural antidote to addiction. For a round-up of the best free online meditation resources, read this post.

4 | New Routine

Cravings seem to sneak up when you’re astutely aware of your sobriety. If in your addiction, every morning you popped a pill at the kitchen counter, you’re might feel the absence in your morning routine when you stop. The same goes for every other time you would normally use but now you’re not. Instead of struggling through these individual battles all throughout the day, create a new routine. Mix up your habits and daily schedule so that you can create new memories in your brain. It doesn’t have to be too drastic, but small changes can be very effective.

5 | Anticipate Temptation

You know that hanging out with your friend that you used to use with is a trigger, so you will likely avoid it, right? Of course! It’s not always that obvious, though. Temptation lurks in virtually anything about your day that reminds you of your addiction or stresses you to the maddening point of desire. Staying sober around the holidays, for example, may be a difficult task. That doesn’t mean that you need to avoid all of these things forever, though. Instead, just be aware of them and prepare yourself so that you can remain sober. For more information about reducing stress around the holidays, check out this post.

6 | Start a New Hobby

Keeping yourself engaged in healthy activities is the simplest yet most powerful trick to beating a craving. Many people recovering from addiction aren’t quite sure how to keep themselves engaged, though, since all their spare time in the past was consumed by their addiction. Starting a new hobby can help address this sudden boost in free time. Running clubs, art classes, yoga studios, or cooking are all great, healthy hobbies to add to your new life. For more ideas, read this post about outings that don't involve drinking.

7 | Keep a Journal

Journaling is a powerful way to process emotions as they emerge. There are dozens of studies that show journaling as an effective tool when treating mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Your recovery process can often times feel a bit depressive and anxiety-provoking, so why not equip yourself with yet another tool in the process? As the intense cravings start to come up, grab a journal and write out the experience. Keeping a gratitude list can also help you keep your positive feelings elevated for months to come.

8 | Stop Negative Automatic Thoughts And Feelings

The cycle of a craving can lead you into obsessive thinking that is hard to stop. When these negative thoughts start swirling in your brain, stop them immediately. By being aware of negative thoughts and feelings, we are better able to combat them. Instead, replace the thoughts and feelings with positive facts. For example, I may hear in my head, “You’re just going to end up doing it again.” Instead of letting this negative thought echo in your head, talk back to it with the facts. The facts may be that you have been sober for 40 days and that you’re committed to sobriety. So, it is in fact not likely that you will do it again. For more on this technique called "positive self-talk," watch this video.

I hope this post was informative and inspiring to you readers! For more information about what Bill is doing over at UnitingRecovery.com, please click through the link and see what's going on over at his site. I can personally tell that Bill is quite passionate about his company's mission and I'm sure there's a lot to learn from his blog posts and personal insights. To learn more about drug and alcohol recovery, please read my entire 4-part Addiction & Recovery Series. If you have any questions for Bill or myself, or thoughts you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading and be well!

Best Free Online Meditation Resources

Natalie Moore

By now, you’ve probably heard of all the amazing benefits of meditation. Wherever you are on your meditation journey – whether you’re just “meditation curious,” a super-experienced meditator or anything in between – you’ll love this round-up (in no particular order!) of free online meditation resources. I’ve personally used some of these sites to deepen my own practice and the rest I plan to discover in more depth. I hope you enjoy checking out these pages and that you gain something from your exploration:

 
 

1 | Elisha Goldstein

Elisha Goldstein, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist known for his presence in the world of mindfulness, has an impressive collection of eCourses available on his website aimed at helping people incorporate meditation into their daily lives for improved mental wellness. Goldstein generously offers a free 21-day eCourse via email, which is meant to inspire people to live with more purpose. He also provides dozens of videos with guided meditation exercises. Things I love about Elisha: his easy-to-grasp ways of describing complex concepts, his application of mindfulness concepts to real life (i.e. technology, city life, etc.) and his calm, easy-going demeanor. He practices mindfulness-based psychotherapy in Los Angeles, so if you’re able to, check out one of his events!

2 | Kristin Neff

Psychologist Kristin Neff is a pioneering researcher in self-compassion and was the first to empirically study this area of psychology that has been a cornerstone of Buddhist meditation practices for millennia. Through her book, "Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself," Neff brought the concept of self-kindness into mainstream Western culture. Neff offers free resources on her website including a TEDx talk (above), a 5-part video series about the fundamentals of self-compassion, 7 guided meditations specifically aimed at increasing self-compassion and 8 exercises for developing a self-compassionate mindset.

3 | Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle, meditation teacher and author of the famed “The Power of Now,” is a hugely influential figure in bringing the concept of presence in the moment to Western readers. He offers a number of online programs for sale on his website as well as hosts in-person retreats all over the world. Tolle also generously provides an eCourse free of charge called the “Uncourse,” which is a self-paced course consisting of nine video lectures, exercises for practicing presence, and opportunities to reflect and the apply the teachings to real life. Additionally, Tolle has additional free resources on the “meditation” section of his site, which includes free meditation music downloads, relaxing computer wallpapers and a few more videos.

4 | Tara Brach

Tara Brach is a psychologist, meditation teacher, speaker and author known for blending Western psychology with Eastern philosophy. She is the author of two best-selling books, "Radical Acceptance" and "True Refuge," and has literally hundreds of talks and meditations offered for free on her website. For those new to meditation, she has a section of her website specifically dedicated to guiding beginners. Lastly, she provides an in-depth article entitled “How to Meditate,” which details exactly how to start and maintain a consistent meditation practice. Brach’s site is chock full of amazing content – this site alone could cover you for all your meditation needs forever without spending a dime!

5 | Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra is a spiritual thought leader, bestselling author of "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success," speaker and media personality who offers a wide range of content on his website such as blog posts, eCourses and more about Ayurvedic nutrition, yoga, meditation and spirituality. He hosts a free online 4-part program called “How to Meditate” and also features free guided meditations.

6 | Tami Simon

Sounds True, a website developed by meditation teacher Tami Simon, is an extensive online library of eCourses, recordings, videos and music aimed at helping people live a more peaceful, meaningful life. All of the major players in the intersecting worlds of spirituality, psychology, meditation and Eastern philosophy are represented here in the electronic products sold here. Sounds True also offers an impressive amount of free content. My favorite free resource here is the “Self-Acceptance Project,” which features thoughtful interviews with 23 different experts in the fields of psychotherapy, mindfulness and self-compassion. The insights shared in these interviews could be life-changing!

7 | Insight L.A.

Insight L.A. is a Los Angeles-based meditation society and training organization that provides meditation classes to professionals and the general public. They offer dozens of free guided meditations and dharma talks on their website here. If you live in the area and want to take a class, check out their class calendar.

8 | Jack Kornfield

Jack Kornfield is a towering figure in the meditation and psychotherapy fields. He’s written influential books and developed many online courses for mindfulness and optimal mental health. His free materials include dharma talks and videos.

9 | UCLA

UCLA has become known recently for its advancements in researching the benefits of mindfulness as well as it’s involving the community in learning how to meditate. Their weekly free meditation podcast can be accessed here. If you live nearby and want to catch a live event, UCLA offers free drop-in 30-minute guided meditation sessions multiple times a week. Check out the calendar here.

10 | Dharma Seed & Audio Dharma

Dharma Seed and Audio Dharma are two of the largest searchable online databases for dharma talks. All the Buddhist Psychology wisdom you could possibly want can be found here. Basically, the Google of the dharma.

11 | UCSD

UCSD is also an innovator in the field of meditation and health, specifically in the area of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Their free guided meditations can be found here. Types of meditations include body scans, lovingkindness, awareness of breath and mindful movement.

12 | Insight Meditation Society

Insight Meditation Society is a meditation retreat center in Massachusetts founded by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, who were among the pioneers who brought meditation into the Western world and into the mainstream. IMS offers a variety of free audio meditation resources on their website here such as podcasts, guided meditations and dharma talks.

I hope these resources are useful to you in your meditation journey. Remember that developing a meditation practice takes time and patience and there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Simply stay curious and committed and you’ll see the benefits of practice in your daily life. Now I’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite free online meditation resources. Did I forget any amazing ones here in this list? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading and be well!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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3 Easy Tips to Contact Your Personal Spirituality

Jackie Miller

Many people are raised to believe in some kind of religion, and many people do stick with this belief all their lives. But where exactly does spirituality fall into this equation? Is it the same as religion? A component? A different concept entirely? The truth is, there is no right answer. As for what role spirituality plays in your life and how it does or doesn't interact with religion is a personal choice that is made by you, and you alone. Here are some things to remember when identifying your spirituality:

 
 

1 | Religion aside, we are all human beings

I am currently in a sorority at my university, and I recently struck up a conversation with some sisters who are all of different religious beliefs than I am. I am Christian, another girl is Jewish, another is atheist, and the fourth is Baha’i. We all had a similar conception of a higher power than ourselves (for the non-religious girl, hers was science) and we ended up having an extremely productive conversation about our personal beliefs, and I think that we really all learned a lot about each other’s beliefs as well. This particular interaction really opened my eyes to how understanding of others' beliefs people can be, and gave me hope for the future of spiritual acceptance. Something to keep in mind is that if you, your child, your sibling, or close family member chooses to not follow in the expected religious footsteps, it does not negate yours or their spirituality, or make these people any less close to you, unless you let it.

2 | Spirituality does not have to equal religion

It’s time for me to make my point by using that stereotypical moment of “Webster’s Dictionary defines ___ as…”, so get excited! Full disclosure, I actually found this definition on Wikipedia, but I feel that it embodies spirituality better than the actual definition from Webster’s Dictionary. Wikipedia so eloquently says that spirituality is the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” For many people, these values come from religion, but for many people they do not. One’s spirituality could be based on the idea of being kind to others. Someone else’s spirituality might be centered on living a simple, not materialistic life. The possibilities are endless, because you really get to choose what is best for you. Personally speaking, I was raised Roman Catholic, but there were several aspects of Catholicism that I did not exactly identify with. Through these past 20 years of my life, I have realized that my spirituality centers around treating people equally. Now this does intersect with my Christianity, but the two are not dependent on each other. Your spirituality is, simply put, how you choose to live your life.

3 | You don’t have to know what your spirituality is right now

As an undergraduate student, I will make a metaphor on this subject that relates to my current life. People are constantly asking me, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” Now, that is a very big question, to which I have an idea, but not a full-fledged answer to, and that is okay. I am only a sophomore student, so I have plenty of time to nail down my life plans. This same idea applies to spirituality. While in this situation it is not usually one in which others would question you, but more of a situation in which you might question yourself. Just as I shouldn’t be stressed by others rushing my life plans, you shouldn’t feel stressed about rushing your spiritual identification.

Everything about your spirituality  what it is, when you define it, how you live it – is entirely up to you. There are many things in life that are out of our control, or are influenced by society or the pressure to conform, and thankfully, spirituality does not fall into any of these categories. You have all the power to determine how you would like to live your life and how you identify with whatever spirituality you hold. You can choose to tell people verbally how you identify your spirituality, or you can keep it to yourself and live your life as you please. However you define and embody your personal spirit, it can be empowering to know that you can’t go wrong.


about the author

Hi! I'm Jackie, a psychology undergrad at Vanderbilt who loves dogs more than just about anything. When I'm not busy mentoring, you can find me playing or watching volleyball, playing the violin or, of course, watching a ton of Netflix!

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5 Hacks to Boost up Your Self Confidence

Jackie Miller

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel a bit down on yourself, but for no apparent reason? It’s okay, they happen to all of us. Sometimes friends or family will advise you to “just realize how amazing you are!”, but that is a bit easier said than done. Here are some easy, concrete ways to add a little boost of self-confidence to your day, whether you are in desperate need, or you just like feeling awesome!

 
 

1 | Let Those Bad Thoughts Out

Sometimes the first, very important step to feeling better is facing what has made you feel bad in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, ignoring the bad feelings and focusing on the good is not always the best way to fight off that dark cloud. In fact, bad feelings can get bottled up if not attended to, and the emotions behind them could overwhelm you (usually at an inconvenient time, as life sometimes goes). An easy way to address and discount your self-doubts is to make them tangible, and then take away their substance. For instance, writing all the negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then ripping the paper up and throwing it in the garbage. For a more modern and trendy way to do this exercise, visit a website for cathartic anonymous typing, such as The Comfort Spot. Releasing these unwanted thoughts and feelings from the bounds of your mind could already start to help you feel lifted from their burden.

2 | Reward Yourself for Good Thoughts

Who doesn’t like candy? Well actually, surprisingly candy isn’t everyone’s favorite, but everyone has a little treat or guilty pleasure that they like to enjoy. A fun and rewarding way to boost self-confidence is to think of all the amazing things about you, and give yourself a little reward for each thing you can think of (I’ll use candy as my example because I definitely have a sweet tooth). At times when things feel a bit rough, whip out your favorite treat and a pen and paper, and start listing all the great qualities you possess. Feel free to do this in private, as I know it can sometimes be hard to list attributes as that could seem conceited (but either way, you deserve it!). For each quality you can think of, reward yourself with a piece of your favorite candy!

This method of self-appreciation works on two levels. First, by rewarding yourself for listing positive attributes, you're utilizing operant conditioning, which improves your odds of thinking positive thoughts about yourself in the future. Secondly, you're employing classical conditioning, by associating positive thoughts about yourself with an enjoyable piece of candy. Then, at times when you are already feeling great and happen to eat that same candy again, it can bring back thoughts of how totally awesome you are. For more on that topic, you can visit this link, which does a good job describing those concepts.

3 | Do Something That You Like to Do

Everyone has at least one special talent, if not more. An interactive way to exhibit some of your awesome qualities is to put them to use! Maybe you’re a very talented baker, a painter, or a songwriter. If you’re feeling a bit low, make some cookies, paint of beautiful picture, or write a catchy song! Performing some of your favorites hobbies that are fun and successful for you, can be very rewarding and reminiscent of some of the wonderful things that you are capable of. Trust me, when you are eating those delicious cookies, looking at that exquisite painting, or dancing along to the song you created, you won’t be able to help feeling accomplished and confident in your abilities.

4 | Watch Those Cheesy (But Amazing) Beauty Campaign Videos

Sometimes our self-confidence issues can arise from our opinions of our looks. It is easy to see ourselves as less attractive than other people see us, but the reasoning behind this is all mental. Seeing ourselves up-close and personal in the mirror every day gives us the opportunity to see all of our little flaws. Everyone has flaws, even those supermodels in the magazines who don’t seem to have any inch of flaw on their body. However, ours stand out to us more because we notice them, and then when we look in the mirror they are much more salient. Other people don’t notice these flaws like we do, or even like we think they do. This is a prime example of the Spotlight Effect, a phenomenon in which people think that others notice their flaws or failures much more than others actually do. A fun and relatable way to remind yourself that the way we see ourselves is a bit distorted from the way others see us is to pop open YouTube and find some of those fun “inner and outer beauty” videos. You can watch the one embedded above to get you started!

5 | Random Acts of Kindness

A final fun and easy way to boost your feelings about yourself is to boost others’ feelings about themselves. Going out of your way to give a friend or even a stranger a small compliment can really brighten someone’s day, and in turn brighten yours. This strategy is a double whammy because while bringing an uplifting mood to your day, you bring one to someone else, who may in turn continue the chain.

In the society that we live in today, it is easy to feel down on yourself when comparing yourself to others. It’s important to remember that day to day, you are seeing everyone’s highlight reel, while you experience all of your own ups and downs, so it is not even a fair comparison. These simple tips are easy, free, low time-commitment ways to boost your self-confidence, and keep it there. Now I'd like to hear from you! What are your most tried and true ways of uplifting your self-confidence? I'd love to hear them. Please share in the comments below. Thanks and be well.


about the author

Hi! I'm Jackie, a psychology undergrad at Vanderbilt who loves dogs more than just about anything. When I'm not busy mentoring, you can find me playing or watching volleyball, playing the violin or, of course, watching a ton of Netflix!

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17 Ways to Make Time for Yourself

Natalie Moore

With all that needs to get done in the average day, it’s no surprise that many people say they simply don’t have time for themselves. I get this. I’ve definitely gone through periods where I was so overwhelmed with work and other responsibilities that I genuinely didn’t think I had time for self-care. Although it’s still a challenge for me, I’ve realized that taking care of myself needs to be the number one priority. Yes – even more important than work! Think of it this way, if you aren’t healthy you can’t work. So you need to consider your self-care first, before you can accomplish anything else well. If you’re at a loss for how to do this, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions here that may help you squeeze more time out of each day for you and only you:

 
 

1 | Give yourself curfews

Have a set “bedtime” and “wake up time” each day, to ensure you’re fully rested with plenty of energy to tackle your day, but also to make certain you’re not wasting precious hours with extraneous sleeping. To make this habit work, you’ll also probably need to set an electronics curfew for yourself – i.e. turning your phone on silent and shutting down your computer about an hour before bed. This would also include stopping any work activities around that time to allow yourself to wind down.

2 | Strip down to the essentials

Make a short list of your major priorities. If an activity does not directly support these, cut it out. This is the simplest but probably the most challenging one to do.

3 | Prioritize "me time"

I love to use author Stephen Covey’s concept from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People of putting the “Big Rocks” in first. A great explanation of this idea can be found in the above video from minute 2:27 - 4:27 (but you should watch the whole thing, if you have time!) The best way to prioritize “me time” is to do it first thing in the day so you can't defer it or skip it when something else (inevitably!) comes up. This also gets you started on the right foot. Another way to achieve this is to carve out self-care time on your calendar in advance. The trick is, you have to stick to it!

4 | Get good at saying "no"

This is going to be an important strategy especially for those who LOVE to please others. It will also be challenging. But it’s going to yield amazing results. Need help saying no? My favorite trick is to say "I need to think about it, I'll get back to you. When do you need an answer by?" This way, you’re buying yourself time to decide whether or not you want to or can take on the responsibility. It also affords you the time to build up your courage to say “no,” if that’s the appropriate response.

5 | Plan ahead

Think about how much time we spend grocery shopping and cooking. That's why I meal-plan, batch-cook and pre-prep all my meals. It saves loads of time in the evening that I can then spend rejuvenating instead. Extra tip? Prep water bottles and snacks, too! Read here for some brilliant meal prep ideas.

6 | Exercise in the morning

This kills two birds with one stone – you're getting your "Big Rocks" in early in the day and you need to shower in the morning anyway, so you might as well do it after exercise.

7 | Do chores together

If you have a partner you live with, do your chores (like dish washing, laundry etc.) together to make it go by twice as fast. This has an added bonus of not bickering over who did dishes last!

8 | Learn how to delegate

As tough as it can be to let go of control, find those tasks that are better suited to outsource to someone else. Maybe steaming your work clothes for an hour on the weekend is better spent at a yoga class and the clothes can be dropped at the cleaners'. Your time is valuable! Ask for help. Maybe your sister can pick your kids up from school once a week and give you that chance to go to that therapy session or have that acupuncture appointment. Think about what will work best for you.

9 | Stop multitasking

We are terrible at multitasking. Better to do something right the first time, then to have to waste time correcting it. Stanford research supports this.

10 | Ditch distraction

Try this out. For one week, no Netflix, no T.V., no social media. Just try it out. You'll see how much time you truly have. If you need extra inspiration for this step, check out my 7 Reasons to Break up with Facebook post. If you can’t cut out the distraction quite yet, at least see if you can log how much time you spend engaged in these activities. Then you might be motivated to cut them out!

11 | Set boundaries at work

Don't stay super late or get there super early to finish everything. Actually work the hours you're supposed to work – no more, no less. When asked to take on extra projects, say "no." If this is hard for you to do, refer back to tip #4 on this list.

12 | Turn your commute into "me time"

This may sound tough, but it doesn't have to be. Give yourself plenty of time to get to work so that you can actually drive calmly and – dare I say, enjoy the commute. Use it as an opportunity to practice mindful driving – obviously continue to pay attention to the road, but also bring awareness to your 5 senses (How does the A/C feel on your skin? What sounds do you notice? How does the steering wheel feel in your hands?) Or you can try listening to an inspiring podcast. And of course, don’t succumb to road rage! If you feel yourself becoming agitated, focus on your breath.

13 | Enjoy your grooming

Personal hygiene can feel like a chore if you let it become that. Instead, think of your routine as an opportunity to pamper yourself! Take a bath instead of a shower, light a candle or some incense, get some nice personal care products (they don't have to be expensive.) Turn wash time into "me time."

14 | Double up

Do something rejuvenating with friends. Often as young adults, we think we need to go to a bar or restaurant with friends to socialize. This can unfortunately lead to spending a lot of money and feeling drained afterwards. Mix it up! Invite friends on a morning hike instead. This has multiple benefits – it’s totally free, you've done your self-care activity and you'll have lots of energy for the day. Check out my post about activities that don’t involve drinking.

15 | Be present

When you're engaging with your partner, kids, friends, whomever, prioritize QUALITY of time. This way, you will feel good about taking time for yourself, as opposed to feeling guilty about take time away from these other people. Same goes for work. When you're doing it, do it really well, so when you're not working you're NOT working.

16 | Simplify, organize & streamline

Owning less stuff, having the stuff you own organized and putting systems in place will give you much more "me" time. For example, if you let mail pile up, you might have to spend an hour on a Sunday sorting through it when that time could be spent going for a run. But if you have a system of opening your mail daily, recycling the envelopes and junk, shredding the credit card offers and putting the "keep" mail in a special folder, you can easily make time for that Sunday run!

17 | Expect the unexpected

Free time usually shows up when we least expect it. A friend cancels plans, a meeting gets postponed, you find yourself waiting for 30 minutes because the doctor is running late, etc. Expect that these chunks of time will appear. Instead of using Facebook have a plan! Plan out ideas in advance (you could keep them stored in your notes app) of short “me time” activities that can be accomplished in certain time chunks (15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.) so that when unexpected time appears, you are prepared! For example, you could listen to a 15-minute meditation, do 30 minutes of stretching, or if you only had 5 minutes, you could call and make a massage appointment. The options are limitless. For more on this, listen to this episode from "The 5 a.m. Miracle" podcast.

Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. Some of these strategies might be easy to implement, whereas others may be very challenging. Be gentle with yourself. Self-care is supposed to be enjoyable, and not another “to do” on the list. So go slow and enjoy. I hope these recommendations were helpful to you! Do you use any of these strategies? What has worked for you and what hasn’t? I’d love to learn from your successes. Please share in the comments below.


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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7 Reasons to Break up with Facebook

Natalie Moore

Having a presence on social media has become the norm to the point where it's strange if someone doesn't have any social media profiles. Of course, engaging in social media has some obvious benefits: many people get their news from it, it can help people stay in touch with far-flung friends and family, one can share their message with the world more easily and now businesses have taken advantage of the opportunities social media provides for marketing and outreach. However, in my opinion, the amount that the average Angelino uses and depends on social media these days has now become a detriment to optimal mental health and well-being. Aside from the obvious drawbacks of social media such as wasted time or lack of personal privacy, here are my reasons for why social media is having such a negative impact on our lives:

 
 

1 | You run on the validation treadmill

Of course it feels good to get a ton of "likes" on your status update or photo that you just posted – it gives you a little rush of feel-good hormones to know that people like what you have to say/what you did/how you look, etc. It's a natural human response to positive attention and compliments. However, there are some insidious drawbacks to this phenomenon. One is that we begin to constantly seek others' approval, as opposed to finding unconditional acceptance of ourselves. Another is that we may depend on these feelings of validation from others to the extent that if we don't have it, we feel badly about ourselves. Lastly, over time, we begin to build a tolerance to the validation and require more and more to feel that boost in mood. Maybe a couple of years ago all it took was a few thumbs ups to experience a sense of satisfaction, but now you may find yourself thinking "aw man, I only 20 likes on my new profile photo." Do these signs of dependence, tolerance and withdrawal sound familiar to you? If so, you may have noticed that these are signs of an addiction! Yes, we are addicted to social media for our feelings of worthiness. I believe the only way to truly feel good about ourselves naturally without those social-media-induced ego boosts is to detox completely for a period of time and even consider getting off social media indefinitely.

2 | It encourages a false sense of connection

Remember what I said above about one of the positives of social media – that it helps us stay connected to others? Well, I believe that it actually distances us from people over time because A) we feel like we just saw that person because we read their most recent post and therefore don't need to call them or hang out with them B) we unconsciously resent many of our Facebook friends because we see them living their apparently perfect lives and think our life is inferior to theirs somehow and feel jealous and C) the connections we have on social media are so diffuse because when trying to connect with everyone, we end up truly connecting with no one. It's a classic case of choosing quantity over quality. Personally, I'd rather have one great friend than 10 so-so friends and I'd rather have one great in-person conversation than 10 online chats with friends. When we depend on social media for social connection, we're essentially robbing ourselves of the opportunity to miss our friends and hang out with them in real life. Those in-person hang outs are where we get genuine joy and belonging from – not an online comment stream.

3 | It promotes a constant state of distraction

Because social media is a click away on our phones and computers (not to mention they're always dinging us for attention!) it's now easier than ever to live in a constant state of distraction. Standing in line at Starbucks? Look at your Facebook! Waiting at the doctor's office? Post on Twitter! Don't feel like sleeping? Scroll through Instagram for hours! We've become conditioned to actually fear the presence of our own feelings and body sensations. Even boredom has become something to avoid like the plague! What if we didn't look at our phones while in line, but instead became observant of the smell of roasted coffee beans, or the tender interaction between the mother and her baby, or how cute the new barista looks trying to figure out the cash register? We might notice that the world around us is far more fascinating and rich than whatever is happening on Snapchat. We might actually feel something in the present moment. We know how beneficial meditation is for our physical and mental well-being. And we can cultivate a meditative state at any time if we're willing to set the phone down and focus on now.

4 | It triggers "FOMO"

FOMO, if you're unfamiliar with the term, stands for "Fear of Missing Out." We all know this feeling – you're at home nursing a cold, an injury, a hangover, whatever it may be, and you (out of boredom and curiosity) checkout social media. Immediately you're bombarded with images, check-ins and posts about your friends at brunch, at the beach, at a vineyard, hiking Machu Picchu, wherever they are and suddenly you feel you're missing out on everything fun that's happening in life, while you're miserable and alone at home. When in reality, you've probably done all kinds of fun and cool things in your life (and most likely have many to come,) you just don't happen to be doing them right now. And that's perfectly fine. You are exactly where you need to be – at home resting. And if you'd decided to pick up a book instead of the electronic, you wouldn't be having these feelings and this inferiority complex.

5 | It breeds comparison

When we see what other people are doing all the time, it naturally puts pressure on us to "measure up" to our peers. If we see people out all the time, we might start to think we're total home bodies (hey, nothing wrong with that!), if we see people traveling all the time, we may think we're totally broke and should make more money, if we see people looking gorgeous and thin, we make think we need to change our appearance in some way. But these are all false beliefs! What other people are doing doesn't need to have any impact on what we're doing or how we feel about ourselves. We don't need to one up anyone. Social media is a breeding ground for comparison, which is not helpful for our self-concept. No one can compare to us because each of us has a unique history, unique values, unique goals and a unique way of going through our lives. As Teddy Roosevelt so aptly put it "comparison is the thief of joy."

6 | It clouds authenticity

Let's face it – Facebook is not an accurate, thorough representation of people's lives. People do not just go hiking all the time and drink bottomless mimosas all day. Life is full of upset, work, challenge, minutia, unpredictability, chaos, driving, sleeping, laundry and everything else. But only a small sliver of life is shared on social media. We tend to share our biggest achievements, the fun weekend activities, birthdays, the most amazing burger we've ever had and the occasional passing of a loved one. Rarely do we see people's innermost thoughts, feelings, fears and vulnerabilities. And for good reason! Facebook is not an appropriate forum for this kind of disclosure. But in our selective sharing – in our careful shaping of others' perception of us – we are distorting our true selves...we are not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, to be truly seen and known, to be accepted as we are. We're further exposing what is already in the light and further rejecting what is in the shadows.

7 | It heightens anxiety

Social media is absolutely anxiety-provoking! Not only do we feel pressured to keep up with what's happening, but we can also feel like we need to post what we're doing for fear of seeming like we have nothing going on – the whole "if you didn't post about it, it didn't happen" concept. Not to mention the fact that social media is part of the 24-hour news cycle, exposing us on the regular to all kinds of tragedy happening all over the world. There's enough in life to be anxious about without adding social media to the heap. The solution? Logging off of social media and logging into the present moment. Actually enjoy the moment without feeling the need to tell the world about it. Your experience is valid whether or not ten bazillion people think it is, too. 

With all this said, you may wonder, "do I have social media?" The answer is "no." I decided to first delete all of my personal social media accounts to deal with my own validation issues and then when I started my psychotherapy private practice, initially decided to use social media again for professional purposes, however quickly realized that the drawbacks were outweighing the potential benefits, and deleted those as well (I only keep a Google+ page as a business listing and a Bloglovin' account so people can follow the blog.) Since being off of social media I feel much less pressure to prove anything to others, I feel more connected to the people in my life who truly matter and, most importantly, I feel more present to myself in daily life. Now I’d love to hear from you! Did any of this resonate? Did you completely disagree and have a totally different relationship with social media than I presented here? I’d love to learn about your experience in the comments below. Thank you!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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10 Lessons About Life Learned from Yoga

Natalie Moore

When you think about yoga, what comes to mind? Probably a room full of 20- and 30-something women (and one guy!) in a hip Los Angeles studio doing headstands or twisted into impossibly challenging postures. To most Americans, yoga is simply a trendy form of exercise that focuses on strength and flexibility without the use of gym equipment. But yoga is actually much more than that. Yoga is a spiritual practice that utilizes the body as a vehicle for self-awareness, discovery and transformation. Yes, you can get a great workout from a yoga class, no doubt! But stick around and read some of the life lessons I've garnered from years of practice:

 
 

1 | Slow down

In yoga, often the more slowly we work, the more we are able to achieve. When we try to rush into an asana (yoga pose), our muscles will likely be tense and we will probably utilize the improper muscle group to "force" ourselves into the posture. Not only do we make ourselves more prone to injury this way, but we're also not strengthening and stretching the intended areas. If we can slow down and bring mindful awareness to our movements, we will achieve our goals much more efficiently. Same goes for life off the mat -- when we rush through tasks or try to multitask, then nothing gets done well, we don't achieve our intended goals and we are more liable to make errors. But if we can slow down and strip away the non-essentials, suddenly we can achieve more without all the stress.

2 | Work from the ground up

When going into a yoga posture, especially standing postures, we work from the ground up. The idea is that if our feet are not firmly planted and steady, then the rest of the body will not be able to support the asana correctly. If we don't have a strong foundation to rely on, the rest of the building will topple. Just like a tree, we need a strong support system to allow ourselves to grow. In life, this means that we need friends, family, mentors and others to help and guide us on our path. We also need healthy coping mechanisms to get through the hard times. You can't expect to achieve lofty goals without the proper supports in place first.

3 | Find balance

Yoga poses involve opposing forces. For example, when using your arms to reach forward, you use your shoulders to pull back. This creates a balance of forces to prevent injury and to further strengthen your muscles. In life, we would be well-served to keep opposing forces in mind while making personal and professional decisions. If I decide to take on 5 new weekly clients, I need to have a plan for how to balance that increased work with more scheduled breaks and improved self-care to sustain the surge in work.

4 | Your strength is in your struggle

The aim of yoga is not to show up to your first class and already be extremely strong and be able to hold challenging postures forever! Your strength comes from your shaking muscles, your wobbling around trying to find center and your holding a posture correctly as long for as you can right now. That builds over time to develop the strength you see in more seasoned yogis. Off the mat, we get stronger by working through the struggles that life seems to be so good at presenting to us. Often, we can feel resentful when life throws us a curve-ball, but we can't expect to be strong individuals without overcoming hardship.

5 | Bend so you don't break

Yoga allows us to improve the flexibility of the body and the mind. The practice challenges our notions of what we are capable of, it tests the edges of our comfort zone and it provides us with a different perspective. Pioneering scientist on the mind/body connection, Dr. Dan Siegel talks about how, as humans we tend to bounce back and forth between the "banks of rigidity and chaos." To illustrate this concept, think about a New Years resolution you've made in the past. Maybe it was something like "I'm going to work out every day for the whole year." You may have gotten to the gym the first couple times, but life gets in the way and then the idea of working out daily flies out the window completely, because you've already messed it up. In this example, you went from rigidity to chaos. The goal of self-growth is to be able to flow somewhere in the middle, in the "stream of flexibility." With a flexible mind, one can have an expectation to live a healthy lifestyle, but when things get in the way, they're able to continue the process and not get discouraged.

6 | Breath is everything

Breath is an anchor to bring you back into the moment; it can bring relief from pain; it can help you release more deeply into a pose. Staying connected to the breath as much as you can (and bringing your awareness back to it when your mind wanders) during your practice will guide you through the more challenging aspects of a sequence and help you savor the more restorative moments. Off the mat, in your daily life, you always have the breath to rely on. It can be your reminder of what is truly important in life (i.e. health, presence, peace) and put your problem or to-do list into perspective. Deep breathing (especially taking a longer exhale than your inhale) also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, signaling your body to feel more calm.

7 | "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." -Haruki Murakami

I've talked about this before, and it's likely to show up again because it is a huge tenet of my psychotherapy work. In yoga, you're going to feel pain and discomfort. Yes, even if you only do restorative yoga or "easy" poses. Why? Because, in yoga, we bring mindful awareness to the sensations of the body on a moment to moment basis and everyone experiences body pain and discomfort from time to time. This is inevitable. But suffering, on the other hand, is not. Suffering occurs when the pain we experience is intensified by the physical or psychological effects of resisting that pain. When the body and mind resist pain, it tenses, creating suffering. If you feel pain in yoga, you may need to adjust the pose to prevent injury -- but if you know you're experiencing a normal amount of pain (due to muscles working hard or a deep stretch) simply direct the focus of your breath into that area and try to relax it as much as possible. This will reduce your suffering immensely. In life, the more we resist or try to escape from our unpleasant feelings or difficult life circumstances the more suffering we experience. But if we can lean into our challenging emotions and begin to accept the challenges we are faced with, the more we can live a full, meaningful life.

8 | Everyone is on their own journey

It can be difficult not to compare ourselves to others in a yoga class. Maybe we see that other yogi who looks like they belong on the cover of Yoga Journal, and we begin to doubt ourselves. That voice creeps in and says, "man, why don't I look like that?" Part of a yoga practice is coming to acceptance of where we are on our journey and understanding that there is no "right" or "wrong," "good" or "bad" place to be on that path. Same goes for off the mat -- catch yourself when you find the natural tendency to compare yourself to that Facebook friend who seems to always be on vacation or that coworker who is always a step ahead of everyone else. Remember that these people are not "better" or "worse" than you -- they have their own struggles, too. Because we all do.

9 | Love yourself as you are

Yes, yoga is about transformation. But it's not about changing yourself because there is something wrong with you that needs to go away forever -- it's about evolving over time because that's what we are capable of as human beings. Yoga allows us to transform our suffering into peace. Now, who wouldn't want that? For off the mat, think about areas in your life you'd like to improve, while adopting an attitude of acceptance for where you are with that aspect of your life currently. It can be tough to hold these two seemingly opposing ideas simultaneously because our minds can tend toward black and white thinking, but see if you can stretch the mind. Pun intended!

10 | It's a process

You may look at a gorgeous photo of a young woman on Instagram in an impossibly advanced yoga pose and think, "Wow! That's the reason to do yoga, to get into that kind of shape." This is a normal thought to have. But in the true spirit of yoga, we actually value the process of practicing the ancient tradition, as there really is no such thing as an "end result" in yoga. A yogi doesn't wake up one day and receive their "certificate of yogi-hood" and then never have to practice ever again. Nope! It's a spiritual practice that always has something new to teach you each day you do it. Similarly, in life, there is no "end goal." If we want to have a joyful, peaceful life, we need to find a way to enjoy the process.

I hope you've gained a nugget of wisdom from this post. If you've lost momentum in your yoga practice, I hope this inspires you to pick it back up again. If you've never tried yoga before, I hope this inspires you to take your first class. And if you've seen yoga purely as a form of exercise, I hope this inspires you to dig deeper into your practice and find something new in it. Namaste and happy yoga-ing!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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10 Ways to Bounce Back from Failure

Natalie Moore

We all have those moments when we feel we've completely failed it's one of those unpleasant aspects of being human. You may wonder, "what can I do to get out of that slump of feeling badly about myself?" Below are my best tips for getting through those tough periods:

 
 

1 | Try not to seek distraction

When we feel crumby about ourselves, it's natural to want to escape those feelings and seek distraction through watching Netflix, scrolling through Facebook or getting drinks with friends. Although these may seem like great ideas at the time, they only defer the uncomfortable feelings for later when they crop up again because you haven't actually dealt with the problem itself.

2 | Remember it's only temporary

Negative thoughts about the self and unpleasant feelings come and go. When you're in the throes of self-pity, I know it seems like it will never go away, but in fact this is a temporary state. Reminding yourself of the transient quality of thoughts and feelings can help you get through the difficult time.

3 | Remind yourself of what you've done right

In those times when we feel we've failed, sometimes it's the only thing we can think about. Consciously recollect your recent successes and how great you feel about those.

4 | Speak to yourself the way you would to a good friend

That voice inside our head can be pretty mean sometimes (or a lot of the time.) To balance this out, imagine that your good friend came to you with a similar problem...what would you say to them? Say this mentally to yourself.

5 | Put good in, get good out

It's hard to resist the comfort of food when we are feeling badly about ourselves. We often want to seek pleasure with processed foods and sweets. Remember that if you put unhealthy foods into your body although you'll get temporary enjoyment you're liable to feel worse later. It's especially important when we feel low to eat nutrient-dense foods that support improved moods.

6 | Seek support

When the feeling of failure sets in, we can get into a spiral of our own negative thoughts. And it doesn't help that we tend to be our own harshest critics. Sometimes it helps to get an outsider's perspectives to add new ideas and more pleasant feelings to the mix. A friend, partner or family member can remind us of how hard we try, or how good of a person we are.

7 | Know that failure is a part of success

Although we would like to be successful at all times, that is not realistic! Becoming successful at any endeavor requires lots of failure in the process. People who practice more self-compassion following failure are more likely to take risks that can lead to future successes. Keep this in mind the next time you come up short.

8 | Connect to intention

Often times failure is attributed to situations in which we didn't get the desired outcome. Focusing too much on outcomes can discourage us from continuing to try. But when we shift our attention to the intentions of our actions, we can become encouraged, inspired and renewed to try again.

9 | Practice self-care

It's much easier to have self-compassion for ourselves when we are practicing self-care. The next time you're feeling badly about yourself, find an activity that you can do to nurture yourself. This could be anything from going on a hike, to taking a bath to lighting a candle whatever makes you feel good.

10 | Tell yourself you're not alone

When we're feeling badly about ourselves we can sometimes engage in comparison with others. We somehow think that everyone else has it together and it's only us who's failed. This is simply not the case! Everyone struggles with self-doubt and self-criticism at times it's part of living.

I hope that you find this list helpful. These are some of my favorite strategies for bouncing back after feelings of failure. If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading and be well!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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5 Ways to Discover your Life Purpose

Natalie Moore

In today’s fast-paced world – with all the pressures and stresses of modern life – it can be a challenge to sit back and reflect on what is most valuable to us. Often the urgent responsibilities of our daily lives can push out the important. Many times when I receive calls from clients they are experiencing significant distress in their lives – whether it be anxiety, depression, or crisis – and they didn’t get there overnight. Usually clients have been disconnected from their true purpose for some time. In somatic (mind/body) psychology, we believe that presenting symptoms are a sign that something deeper is going on. So how can we become more in tune with our true purpose? Below are some ways of cultivating that self-discovery process:

 
 

1 | Strip away negativity

It’s time to start looking at the people with whom you spend the most time – your partner, family members, co-workers and friends – and taking an honest inventory of those relationships. Ask yourself, do these people bring joy and peace into my life? Do they breed positivity? Do they challenge me to be the best I can be and support me when I’m in need? If you’re unable to answer “yes” to these questions it is time to evaluate how much time you should be spending with these individuals.

2 | Pay attention to your moods

In order to connect with your true purpose in life, you need to become mindfully aware of what makes you feel good and what makes you feel poorly. Take a moment, whenever you can think about it, to quietly reflect on the thoughts, feelings and sensations that accompany various activities and tasks throughout the day. The more in tune you become with yourself, the more obvious your life’s purpose will become to you.

3 | Spend time outdoors

If you live in Los Angeles – where I practice psychotherapy – or another urban environment, then you know how tough it can be to live among the hustle and bustle of city life. How can one connect to their true purpose when sitting in traffic, standing in line or trying to get all their work done for the day? So often, we can feel like the world will fall apart if we don’t get that one piece of paperwork in or that one email answered. I find that spending time in nature helps me gain the perspective I am looking for.

4 | Get moving

One way of connecting to our purpose in life is to connect mind, body and spirit. A great way of doing this is to incorporate mindful movement into your daily routine. Mindful movement helps you to slow down your thoughts and become more present to your physical experience in the moment. This can be as simple as walking mindfully to your car in the morning, taking a yoga class or going on a hike. If mobility is an issue for you, even spending some time doing easy stretches or basic Tai Chi moves would do the trick.

5 | Make time for play

When we are caught up in trying to achieve status or monetary success, life can become such a chore! In order to connect with our true purpose, we need to make some space for play – which is any activity that is done simply for its own enjoyment, and not directed toward the fulfillment of a goal. In other words, have some fun! Go bowling, create something, do free-writing, run around at the park, make paper airplanes…whatever floats your boat. Connecting to our more child-like selves can be a huge step towards discovering our true purpose.

I hope this list has been helpful to you in gaining some inspiration towards exploring your life’s purpose. Remember that gaining self-awareness is a process and takes time. Be patient with yourself. Seek support and guidance wherever you can find it. And have fun!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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7 Hacks for When You're Too Busy to Meditate

Natalie Moore

You know this dilemma well – you’ve heard the amazing benefits of meditation and you really want to get started. The only problem is…you have zero time! With work commitments, family responsibilities, and just doing those everyday things like laundry, you probably wonder, how does anyone really find the time to sit still and do absolutely nothing? You may think you don’t time to meditate, but listed below are some helpful hints that have worked well for me to incorporate a more meditative lifestyle into my daily routine:

 
 

1 | Mindfully drink your tea/coffee in the morning

If you drink your morning drink in the car on the way to work, this one may not work for you! But if you do have time to sit and savor a warm beverage in the morning, it is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. Notice the heat of the mug, the sensation of the warm liquid going down your throat and the aromas and tastes of the drink.

2 | Download the Insight Timer app

The Insight Timer app is awesome because it uses a very peaceful sounding bell to begin and end your meditation. The best part? You can set a timer for as short as a one minute meditation! Simply find a comfortable upright position, close or eyes or soften your gaze and focus on your breathing for 60 seconds. No matter how busy one is, I don’t think anyone can say they don’t have one minute to spare for their mental health!

3 | Read "One Moment Meditation"

If you don’t believe the positive effects of one minute of meditation, please read “One Moment Meditation.” This book is a game-changer! If I’m noticing stress or anxiety start to creep up but I’m short on time, I’ll find solitude in my car or in my office and do a very short meditation (using the techniques recommended in this book) and I feel notably more relaxed. Try it out!

4 | Use your lunch-break wisely

One day a week, commit to bringing your lunch outside with you and take a “mindfulness break.” Notice the sensations you are experiencing (i.e. the temperature and humidity of the air, ambient sounds, the taste and texture of your food, etc.) See if you can do this in complete silence. If you have time after eating, see if you can talk a “mindful walk,” focusing on the way the ground feels on your feet and how your body feels moving through space.

5 | Listen to Dharma talks

These talks can be listened to podcast-style in the car, while cooking, or during any other activity where you can divert some of your attention to what’s being said. Dharma talks will inspire you to incorporate a meditative mindset into your daily life, work and relationships.

6 | Play guided meditations before bed

Another way to gain the benefits of meditation without spending the extra time is to play guided meditations on YouTube while falling asleep. You will be lulled into a blissful state of relaxation just before drifting off to sleep. I find it a lovely way to turn off the ruminative thoughts of the day and focus on your much-needed rest and relaxation. My favorite meditation channels are The Honest Guys and Jason Stephenson.

7 | Bring the kids!

You may think that having children precludes you from living a meditative lifestyle. That is simply not the case! If you live in Los Angeles or Southern California, there are places like Deer Park Monastery, Shambhala Meditation Center and Wi Spa where you can get your meditation on in a kid-friendly environment. No more excuses! :)

I hope these tips are helpful to you! Getting started with meditation when you have a busy schedule and a never-ending to-do list can be daunting. Take it slow and be easy on yourself. Building a meditation practice takes time and there’s no “right” or “wrong” way of developing the habit. If you have any ideas of how to meditate while short on time, please leave your ideas in the comments below. Thank you!


about the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.

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