Enter the Chill Zone

Is it just me or does time go by faster in New York City? What if time actually moves faster here than in other areas of the world or even faster than just a few miles away where there are more trees and less traffic noises? Maybe a New York minute is a real defined increment of time manifesting as two minutes squeezed into one typical minute experienced by everyone else outside the NYC bubble. Suddenly four years can feel like a decade, which explains a lot.

I feel the difference as soon as I hop out of the train, car, plane – you name it – and take in a few breathes of fresh air somewhere else, even if its just a few miles upstate. Everything slows down, and not just that, but I feel how fast i’ve been moving. My body needs a few moments to recover and catch up with itself, like I’ve been running in a marathon without even knowing it and I urgently need air, water and rest. Sometimes when I go home to SF, I can lay so low and literally laze around for as long as possible to make up for lost chill time – marathon chill sessions of epic proportions. For some reason i feel like it’s allowed – I can finally do nothing without putting any kind of deadline or pressure on myself to be productive again. That must be the difference between the two cultural meccas – legendary chill zone vs. 24-hour ultra productivity contest.

My big goal this year is to open up my schedule for more fun and spontaneity. At first glance I might already be able to claim that my life is full of this kind of magic already – but the truth is, I, like so many other New Yorkers I’m sure, over-schedule and plan out my life like it’s going out of style. Deep down part of me is scared of what will happen if I wake up one weekend and have nothing to fill my day with – what, no plans? No brunch? No friends? What will I DO in that case? I want to shift away from thinking about DOing to instead embodying a mentality focused on BEing. If I don’t have anything to DO, what if that’s when the most fun can finally happen?

There’s a Meditation Party and Everyone’s Invited!

Oprah and Deepak

Did you know you were born to be happy? That’s what Oprah (yes, THAT Oprah) and Deepak want you to believe. Lucky for you, this dream team is only 3 days into their famed 21-Day Meditation Challenge, all focused on “Expanding Your Happiness.” Try it if you dare to venture into the great beyond, to the greatest vacation of your dreams, to a far away land you’ve always wanted to visit, all without moving a muscle. All you have to do is listen in, get comfortable and breathe. Really, it’s that easy!

I’ve done the challenge a few times now, and can say with confidence it’s an amazing way to get familiar with meditation, especially if you’ve never tried it before. Why do it? Well, for me, meditation has proven to be an incredibly useful tool for getting centered amid the overly fun yet often over-stimulating fast life in NYC. Meditation is an easy way to tune into an oasis of calm wherever you go, because, as they say, wherever you go, there you are.

Thousands of people across the world are participating in the challenge and many are sharing their experiences on the event website. If you feel so inclined, peruse the comments for inspiration, or follow my lead and get everyone you know to try this out. Like anything, the challenge is fun to share with friends—it’s a peace party and everyone’s invited!

–Originally written for the Praytell Strategy blog on 8/14/14

Wanting It All

ImageI can’t help but admit that I often want it all. At least that’s how I seem to self-propel through the day. I’m applying to jobs that I think I’m qualified for and know I can do well at, but I wonder if the person on the receiving end is on the same page. I’ll never know how other people truly perceive me. And maybe that doesn’t matter so much as how I perceive myself. Perhaps the way I think about myself will emulate through my actions and interactions with others. Ghandi’s “be the change you wish to see in the world” comes to mind.

I want to make music, but I’ve never recorded anything or composed a song. I played piano for years but after not practicing for a decade I get down on myself every time I try to revisit the old repertoire and barely scratch the surface of a full song. I’ve always wanted to DJ but I don’t know where to start. Curating fabulous Spotify and Soundcloud (this song is amazing) playlists is as far as I’ve gotten. I want to take dance class every day and learn about dance traditions from across the world. I want to run a half marathon and spend almost everyday running a training program with my eyes on the prize. It feels so good to work towards something and to feel growth along the way, whether tangible, physical growth, emotional or spiritual. I want to grow my career as an amazingly talented consultant, strategist and maybe even event producer. I don’t want to just create the concert festival series no one has ever imagined before, I want to produce it and bring it all over the world and change the way people think about expression, art, dance and community.

I often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But when I sit quietly with myself (sometimes I really need to when I feel the world spinning), I wonder if maybe I’ve already done everything I’ve wanted to do. There may be some destinations on my travel to-do list, but other than that, when I consider my accomplishments, none of them are truly material. My accomplishments are growth in fantastic relationships, an inner-peace I can sometimes really tap into and true passion for helping others and experiencing genuine connections. Then a revolutionary concept occurred to me: maybe, just maybe, I already have it all.

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Is Mindfulness The New Black?

Thrive LadiesLast Friday April  25th I was fortunate to attend Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Conference in Midtown NYC with United Women in Business (UWIB). The day hosted a packed program geared towards women seeking new ways to align with something called the “third metric.” This metric is a play on words wherein the first two metrics are what we, particularly in American culture, traditionally use to measure success: money and power. The third metric measures balance, happiness, health and fulfillment and is a mainstay topic throughout HuffPo’s women’s health blog.

I don’t know about you but I’m no stranger to striving for new ways to balance priorities and take better care of myself. New York City of all places has really schooled me in the importance of seemingly simple concepts like sleep, eating right and nurturing healthy relationships. Living here has also taught me what feels like a lifetime’s worth of lessons, the most important being that the amount of money I have does not at all equate to my true level of happiness.

The conference mantra centered on “Thrive” and all the ways various ways guests and participants find they can best tune into their true passions and find value in doing what they love. Finding small ways to give back, connecting with community and with yourself through meditation were discussion focal points. It’s interesting to see how mindfulness and spirituality are cracking into the mainstream at this very moment. Some conference attendees seemed to be absorbing these concepts for the first time although the practices shared derive from philosophies much older than any of us can imagine.

Blame it on amnesia or my all too overly exercised ADD. My memory is short and my attention span really stays in the day and little elsewhere. Funny how mindfulness and meditation seek to remedy exactly these attention deficit related issues, definitely felt by many but particularly stunted within my namesake demographic: #millenials. I think I speak for many when I say I am too comfortable with multi-tasking and being overstimulated to the max. Mindfulness is a nice compliment to my extraordinarily sped up style, and it might just be the key to slowing down and connecting with what it means to truly thrive.

Awolnation

 

 

Getting Off The Ground

Meditation has changed my game. I’ve officially been out of my full-time job for 3 weeks and pursuing my own independent consulting business for the very first time. I am on the precipice of what feels like a major change, a change that could set in motion a huge re-routing in terms of my career and future. It feels so right True Love: Meditationin so many ways, like I am being guided along a new path that’s already been pre-determined for me.

Meditation has helped me reconnect with my inner self and strengthen the most important relationship I will quite likely ever have. I am in touch with my intuition, which is where I derive this security and sense that I am in fact moving in the right direction. This foundation helps prevent me from filling up with fear while at the same time helps propel me forward towards realizing my dreams. Suddenly the things I was once most afraid to take on I’m pursuing full steam ahead with the faith that I’m where I’m supposed to be.

I used to feel like these types of talks, words and terms were off-limits for someone like me: an intellectual, a cool kid, a hip hop aficionado, a city kid hopping around from shows to parties to late night escapades, someone “too smart” to believe in the spirituality thing. I’ve since learned that I was operating under a lot of preconceived notions and assumptions about which I actually knew very little. That and I practically had no experience even giving it a try. I meditated in yoga classes before and always found it easy to do after an intense work out, but never in my spare time when I could instead be active, indulge or do anything else but sit still with myself and my thoughts.

I find guided meditations really helpful, as well as group meditations hosted by NYC entities like Dharma Punx and Center of the Cyclone. There is something about the shared energy in a room full of people all committing to the same purpose that I can feed off of, that makes me feel safe to fully focus. Right now I am trying my best to follow the free 21 Day Meditation Challenge hosted by Oprah (my girl!) and Deepak Chopra.

Spirituality is all your own, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The thing is, you’ll never know if you’re missing out on something that might really change your life for the better–unless you give it a try. Taking the plunge and trying it, despite how goofy it might feel at first, is the hardest part. I just know that I wouldn’t feel as confident and optimistic about my newfound plunge into dream-chasing if I didn’t have this foundation. I can tune back into it anytime, anywhere for energy and reassurance and it keeps growing so long as I keep practicing. I don’t know how else to describe it but pure magic–magic that tunes me into the universe so I can be present for everyday miracles.