Every year around this time it’s become tradition for us to commit to a wellness focused month leading up to the new year. January is typically known for resolutions, diets, and a healthier change. By setting aside some time to recenter and recalibrate in November or December, we feel good when January rolls around with no need for overly ambitious resolutions. In addition, we have a little extra motivation and focus during a season of temptations and sweets and hectic activity. This year after some busy travels we decided to set our sights on a calmer, Zen-filled month.
Of course you don’t need to wait until the end of the year to commit to a zen month. ￼Our minds and bodies can benefit from focus on well-being and a slower pace at any time of year, when you feel called to look inside and still your mind. ￼
Join us on the journey of Zen Living with some of our best mindfulness tips and other creative ideas that make us feel good inside & out. Make the commitment to yourself now and get in the headspace to start the new year off right.
Still your monkey mind. Our first zen tip is to find a quiet place to sit and sign up for some of these great online resources that can help build your meditation habit.
- Deepak Chopra – A couple times a year, Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s offer a free 21 day meditation experience. This consists of a series of daily 20 minute meditations, with a 5 day window to tune in to each meditation.
There are also a ton of paid and unpaid meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace. The free trial period gives you some time to try them out, the opportunity to build a meditation habit, and see what works for you. Don’t forget to set a reminder to cancel your free trial so you don’t get accidentally charged.
- Calm – Try it free for 30 days, then pay $60 USD for a year subscription.
- Headspace – Try it for 2 weeks, then pay $70 USD for a year (or trial 1 week and pay $13 per month).
Our minds can come up with a hundred reasons not to meditate at any given moment. There’s a reason why it’s called a meditation practice, and sometimes what feels the hardest is what you need the most. As the old zen saying goes “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” It can be helpful to ask yourself, “How does it benefit me not to meditate”. In these answers hide some of the reasons you might be procrastinating in building a mediation practice.
Still looking for inner peace? Here are a few of the books we turn to when looking for some zen: ⠀
- Wherever You Go, There You Are – short, easy to read chapters packed with insights and different approaches to meditation to try for yourself.⠀
- Zen to Ten – A practical step by step guide to building a 10 minute mindfulness practice⠀
- The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down – 6 chapters ranging from rest to relationships filled with short quotes and inspiring messages that make you think. ⠀
- The Foundations of Mindfulness – Guidance on how to mediate along with Eric Harisson’s translation of Buddha’s ancient Sutta text.
Don’t forget to check your local library, download a kindle app, or try out an audible account to reduce and reuse instead of buying new
CBD for Relaxation
We would be remiss to not talk about CBD during Zen November. Generally CBD is very misunderstood and unfortunately the negative connotations of the war on drugs against marijuana have tainted many people’s views on a natural plant that can bring many benefits. CBD, unlike the compound THC, does not get you high at all. It has anti-inflammatory properties, is homeopathic, relaxes without impairing cognitive capacity, is a meditative aid, and can help aid ease withdrawal symptoms from stimulants such as caffeine or depressants like alcohol. 10 mg is generally a safe starter dose to gauge its effects and it’s starting to be seen in market in many different forms, from drinks to gummy bears to salves. Look for anything minimally processed or CO2 extracted to avoid any solvents. ⠀
As always follow your country’s legal guidelines around CBD and use your own discretion when it comes to your health and wellbeing
Adult Colour Books
Breath. Choose a colour. Follow the lines. Get lost in the images, patterns and shapes. Adult colouring books have taken off in popularity as a way to relax and space out. We love this one from Paris that satisfies our travel bug, “Secret Paris: Color Your Way to Calm.”
Sleep and Cellphone Usage
There are some great tools so you can control your iPhone and it doesn’t control you. We all know it’s best not to stare at screens for at least 30 to 60 minutes before bed, here are a few ways you can enlist your phone to help.
- Set a Bedtime. Under the clock app you can set a bedtime and wake time to help follow a consistent sleep time (encouraging a deeper and better night’s sleep).
- Do not Disturb. This is a brilliant way to quiet the interruptions, alerts, and distractions during a set time. You can do this through Bedtime, or Settings > Do Not Disturb.
- Night Shift Mode. Night Shift Mode changes your screen colours based on the time of day. Turn on this function by going to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift.
- Downtime. You can actually schedule your phone to lock you out of apps during certain times of day. Go to Settings > Screen Time > Downtime. This is really helpful to give your will power a boost when you want to take a break from looking at the screen and spend some quality time doing something else.
How do you get ready for bed? Do you have a bedtime routine? In our quest for Zen we decided to give chamomile tea a second chance. Chamomile tea has a long history of having calming, sedating, and anti-anxiety properties. Using dried chamomile flowers to brew your tea gives a fragrant pineapple taste that’s in our opinion better than the prepackaged tea available in the grocery aisle. You can even grow your own chamomile flowers in the summer to harvest. Sip 30 minutes before bed or anytime you want to enjoy chamomile tea‘s calming attributes. Enjoy!
If Chamomile is the most peaceful way to fall asleep, Yerba Mate must be the most zen way to wake up. Yerba Mate is an ancient South American beverage that’s full of anti-oxidants and provides you with a gentle alertness. Unlike coffee, Yerba Mate effects are steady and don’t result in jitters or a caffeine crash.
Many people also swear by Magnesium powder drinks to give a sense of calm and quiet the nervous system (in fact there is a product called calm). It’s worth a try!
- Reduce clutter. Get rid of all those things that don’t spark joy. Watch a few episodes of Mari Kondo to inspire you. Just pick one room or cupboard to start. Look for items that gather in the corner of the room or end tables and carry stagnent energy.
- Repair any items in your home that you still love but need some TLC. Go through your closet and shoes. Straighten any crooked picture frames.
- Refresh. Give your place a good scrub. Set the timer for 30 minutes for a speed clean. Wipe off the dust and open the windows to let some light and air in. Make the bed. Fluff your pillows. Light a nice smelling candle, a diffuser or spray some essential oils. Light a sage stick if you feel called to do that. Place a few of your favourite items on display in your newly opened space.
Honestly you are going to feel so good by the end of this, just sit back and enjoy your newly energized space.
These are a few of our top tools to bring more Zen and mindfulness into your life. We hope in all this you are able to find something that resonates with you. Peace & Love.