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By Silvia Mordini 

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama

I’ve practiced yoga for over 15 years. I’ve taught more than 12,000 hours and since my very first teacher training, my goal has always been to teach what I practice and to practice what I teach. Through the years of practicing with different teachers, it has become clear to me that creating a compassionate yoga community requires that we take responsibility.

After all, our actions, thoughts, and words impact the connections we have with those around us: just as positive energy creates more positive energy, the inverse is also true. Our worldwide Yoga Tribe is strong in love but we diminish our power by publicly degrading other styles of yoga that are not our favorite. Picking on yoga styles or schools we don’t like doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t end there. Bad mouthing local teachers, facebook smack talking, instayogi shaming or any time spent degrading those with a different yogic opinion promotes separation.

Instead, I challenge us to soften to the diversity amongst yogis and the varied ways we practice. If, in a well-sequenced class, we can thrive in movement through forward folds, backbends, twists and balances, why can’t we find compassion to get along with different groups of yogis as well? Compassionate community brings power through connection. And if we lose our compassion, we lose what it means to be human. Remember, Yoga is always about union and bringing us together.

 “It doesn’t matter how many hours you practice yoga or meditate by yourself, the union of being in relationship with others is what heals the world. Yoga teaches us that isolation is the root cause of suffering and connection is the essence of healing.” Silvia Mordini

In the Yoga Sutras, Pantanjali gives us a four-part process to help us clear our hearts of any negative energy. It becomes a means for quieting our minds and reconnecting to the deepest reservoirs of unconditional love and compassion. The sutras advise that we:

  1. cultivate maitri (friendliness) toward pleasure and friends;
  2. karma (compassion) for those who are in pain or suffering (yourself included);
  3. mudita (joy) toward those for whom you are happy and whom you admire;
  4. and upeksanam (equanimity) toward those who have hurt us, or we disagree with.

Starting now, apply these Keys to Happiness and see for yourself how this changes your life!  Within the next 24 hours, choose one tangible action you can take to endorse compassion and decrease turbulance in your yoga community. From that spark of momentum let this set the intention for you to keep taking positive action after action to encourage peaceful union in Yoga!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Silvia

Continue reading for 10 amazing quotes on compassion.

10 Favorite Quotes on Compassion

1.  “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. “ — Dalai Lama

2.  “Make no judgements where you have no compassion.”– Anne McCafrey

3.  “As great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope.” – Ursula LeGuin

4.  “At the end of the day, love and compassion will win.” – Terry Waite

5.  “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.” – Albert Schweitzer

6.  “Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.” – Confucius

7.  “Yoga is about compassion and generosity towards others. It means being mindful of the world around us.” – Christy Turlington

8.  “You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.” – Meister Eckhart

9.  “Compassion automatically invites you to relate with people because you no longer regard people as a drain on your energy.” – Chogyam Trungpa

10.  “Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves.” – Mason Cooley

——————

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Silvia Mordini, CEO, Transformation Leader, and Author. With contagious enthusiasm Silvia encourages everyone she meets to love their life! Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. She has been teaching happiness, global awareness, & mindfulness for 20 years. Silvia, born in Ecuador, proud of her Italian heritage and raised as a world traveler, is a well-loved internationally recognized Motivational Speaker, Love Alchemist, and Mindfulness Teacher at conferences worldwide. Her classes holistically integrate various styles of yoga, primarily Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Anusara. You can’t help but leave her workshops, RYT200 Alchemy of Yoga teacher trainings & Alchemy Tours retreats spiritually uplifted!

Before becoming a serial Entrepreneur, Silvia had a thirteen-year Human Resource career including as Director for an international Fortune 100 professional services company. She founded and owned Total Body Yoga Studio with over 9,000 clients for ten years. In young adulthood she was run over by a car—a life changing accident that led her to discover the “Alchemy” of Yoga and Meditation to heal and transcend. She is the Founder of the fifteen year old world renowned Alchemy of Yoga Teacher Training School with over 29 graduating classes of Alchemist Alumni. In 2009 she founded Alchemy Tours, an International Retreat company specializing in Personal Development. With over 12,000 hours of yoga teaching experience she makes yoga approachable, fun, and inspiring for everyone. She has been inspiring happiness, global awareness, and joyful living in students for more than fifteen years.

Tune into her motivational “Loving Your Day” Podcast. Read her popular blog “Happiness Prescriptions”, and learn to love yourself, love your day, love your life along with enjoying her “Loving Your Day” YouTube channel.

She has written hundreds of lifestyle, travel & wellness articles for publications such as MindBodyGreen (USA), Elephant Journal, DOYOU (Hong Kong), Wanderlust (USA), Mantra Wellness Magazine, Gaia, Yogi Times, Daily Cup of Yoga (USA), and is a wellness expert as seen in HuffPost and Medium.

Most importantly through personal experience she knows it’s possible to transform your trauma to dharma and transmute your drama to dreams.

You can reach her by email at silvia@silviamordini.com

Inspired Yoga, Love, and Travel for a LIFE Inspired
Personal
: https://www.silviamordini.com/  Twitter/Instagram @inspiredyogagal
Yoga: https://alchemyofyoga.com              Twitter/Instagram @alchemyofyoga
Travel  https://alchemytours.com               Twitter/Instagram @alchemytours
Love: http://lovingyourday.com              Twitter/Instagram  @lovingyourday

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Guest post by Silvia Mordini

In 1948, scientists and doctors began the most comprehensive study on heart disease ever conducted. Over 60 years later, the Framingham Heart Study still continues. Because the study involves so many people and spans such a long time period, there are many different aspects that scientists continue to study. One of their key findings relates to the happiness theory.

Scientists found that we experience happiness through social connections.  Therefore, the clusters of people around you strongly influence how you feel. In fact, a positive change in one person affects everyone in their friend cluster. Your probability for increased happiness improves 15% if your most immediate friend is happy, 10% if a friend of your friend is happy, and so on until four degrees of separation.

They have discovered and quantified what yogis have known for thousands of years: happiness is contagious.  

Many practice yoga or go for a run because they feel good after. Physical activity releases endorphins into your body, which make you feel good. By feeling better and being happy, you influence others to feel better, too.  What you do to manage your thoughts to create happy cells impacts those around you. In this way, we are creating our world thought by thought. We can influence more people than we ever realized, simply by being happy.

The Yoga Sutras spell out that if we are not balanced mentally, physically, or emotionally, then we are not living our true, naturally happy potential. To remedy this, we are taught to practice Pratipaksha Bhavana (Chapter 2.33) to eliminate negative thoughts by denying them our attention. Instead of wasting energy by engaging or resisting our negative thoughts, we replace them with positive ones. Over time this process of substitution sublimates negative thinking. Engage happy thoughts and try this breath meditation when you need to reframe your outlook.

Inhale: I welcome happiness
Exhale: I am grateful
Inhale:  I welcome inspiration
Exhale:  I am grateful
Inhale:  I welcome love
Exhale:  I am grateful
Inhale: I welcome hope
Exhale: I am grateful

In a world where almost anything can go viral, why not inspire happiness? Knowing that Happiness is contagious means that happiness benefits more than just you: those around you reap the benefits as well. Let’s join together in a happiness movement, where joy, happiness, and peace spread to everyone around us!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Silvia

—————–

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Silvia Mordini, CEO, Transformation Leader, and Author. With contagious enthusiasm Silvia encourages everyone she meets to love their life! Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. She has been teaching happiness, global awareness, & mindfulness for 20 years. Silvia, born in Ecuador, proud of her Italian heritage and raised as a world traveler, is a well-loved internationally recognized Motivational Speaker, Love Alchemist, and Mindfulness Teacher at conferences worldwide. Her classes holistically integrate various styles of yoga, primarily Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Anusara. You can’t help but leave her workshops, RYT200 Alchemy of Yoga teacher trainings & Alchemy Tours retreats spiritually uplifted!

Before becoming a serial Entrepreneur, Silvia had a thirteen-year Human Resource career including as Director for an international Fortune 100 professional services company. She founded and owned Total Body Yoga Studio with over 9,000 clients for ten years. In young adulthood she was run over by a car—a life changing accident that led her to discover the “Alchemy” of Yoga and Meditation to heal and transcend. She is the Founder of the fifteen year old world renowned Alchemy of Yoga Teacher Training School with over 29 graduating classes of Alchemist Alumni. In 2009 she founded Alchemy Tours, an International Retreat company specializing in Personal Development. With over 12,000 hours of yoga teaching experience she makes yoga approachable, fun, and inspiring for everyone. She has been inspiring happiness, global awareness, and joyful living in students for more than fifteen years.

Tune into her motivational “Loving Your Day” Podcast. Read her popular blog “Happiness Prescriptions”, and learn to love yourself, love your day, love your life along with enjoying her “Loving Your Day” YouTube channel.

She has written hundreds of lifestyle, travel & wellness articles for publications such as MindBodyGreen (USA), Elephant Journal, DOYOU (Hong Kong), Wanderlust (USA), Mantra Wellness Magazine, Gaia, Yogi Times, Daily Cup of Yoga (USA), and is a wellness expert as seen in HuffPost and Medium.

Most importantly through personal experience she knows it’s possible to transform your trauma to dharma and transmute your drama to dreams.

You can reach her by email at silvia@silviamordini.com

Inspired Yoga, Love, and Travel for a LIFE Inspired
Personal
: https://www.silviamordini.com/  Twitter/Instagram @inspiredyogagal
Yoga: https://alchemyofyoga.com              Twitter/Instagram @alchemyofyoga
Travel  https://alchemytours.com               Twitter/Instagram @alchemytours
Love: http://lovingyourday.com              Twitter/Instagram  @lovingyourday

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Guest post by Silvia Mordini

The quality of our intentions influences the quality of our lives. Successful business people, athletes and artists all sing a similar song when it comes to setting your intentions high. Yoga helps in this way by teaching us to make precise, high quality efforts. This practice inspires you to expand beyond the ordinary, living up to your greatest potential.

Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations. Goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the 1st or 2nd problem at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.”  – Timothy Ferriss, The Four Hour Workweek.

I know this to be true in my life. I lose the ability to stick with something if my ambitions are just average. When my goals are set higher, something within me charges up! If I’m not creating or helping someone develop a new business, plan a bucket list vacation, design an early retirement, or realign themselves with their true dharma, then I feel like I am slacking. Our dharmic responsibility is to maximize our possibilities and inspire others to do the same. This activated energy is contagious.

When leading yoga retreats, trainings and workshops, I often ask students to pick an aspirational pose: something they’ve always wanted to do, but maybe hadn’t tried or didn’t think they could. I tell them to stop at levitation, but anything else goes! I have found that if you set your sights too low, then you likely won’t stay with your yoga practice. You’ll get bored and want to give up. And boredom is the enemy of happiness.  

But as big as your primary intention is, keep it simple. That way, you can actually start on the path and keep momentum going, step by step. Just as in yoga where you grow by millimeters, baby steps towards your goal will eventually get you there.

Today, honestly ask yourself, instead of getting up to go to work tomorrow, what do you really want to do?

Is there something audacious that you want to manifest? Do your biggest dreams scare you? Good. It is time you stop living in self-delusional comfort, and focus your energy on the tasks that will help you achieve something bigger. Stop settling for less than your best.

“The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurities of the world make it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.” This week, focus on the home runs set your intentions high. Don’t hold yourself back.  Remember as Wayne Dyer puts it, “You are not an apprentice person on the way to someplace else.” Your life is not a rehearsal. This is it. Stretch all the way into excellence. Go for it!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!  Silvia

Continue reading for more high intention quotes.

“Find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.” —Deepak Chopra

“Push yourself to do more and to experience more. Harness your energy to start expanding your dreams. Yes, expand your dreams. Don’t accept a life of mediocrity when you hold such infinite potential within the fortress of your mind. Dare to tap into your greatness.” —Robin Sharma

“Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great.” —Fernando Flores

“Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.”—John Maxwell

“Don’t squander your potential living a life that amounts to far less than the one you are capable of living.” —Zero Dean

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.” —Jim Rohn

“Don’t cheat the world of your contribution. Give it what you’ve got.” —Steven Pressfield

“Potential is a priceless treasure, like gold. All of us have gold hidden within, but we have to dig to get it out.” Joyce Meyer

“The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.” —Albert Schweitzer

“You have the potential to be anything you want.” Fran Watson

“The will to win, the desire to succeed. The urge to reach your full potential – these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” —Confucius

—————–

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Silvia Mordini, CEO, Transformation Leader, and Author. With contagious enthusiasm Silvia encourages everyone she meets to love their life! Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. She has been teaching happiness, global awareness, & mindfulness for 20 years. Silvia, born in Ecuador, proud of her Italian heritage and raised as a world traveler, is a well-loved internationally recognized Motivational Speaker, Love Alchemist, and Mindfulness Teacher at conferences worldwide. Her classes holistically integrate various styles of yoga, primarily Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Anusara. You can’t help but leave her workshops, RYT200 Alchemy of Yoga teacher trainings & Alchemy Tours retreats spiritually uplifted!

Before becoming a serial Entrepreneur, Silvia had a thirteen-year Human Resource career including as Director for an international Fortune 100 professional services company. She founded and owned Total Body Yoga Studio with over 9,000 clients for ten years. In young adulthood she was run over by a car—a life changing accident that led her to discover the “Alchemy” of Yoga and Meditation to heal and transcend. She is the Founder of the fifteen year old world renowned Alchemy of Yoga Teacher Training School with over 29 graduating classes of Alchemist Alumni. In 2009 she founded Alchemy Tours, an International Retreat company specializing in Personal Development. With over 12,000 hours of yoga teaching experience she makes yoga approachable, fun, and inspiring for everyone. She has been inspiring happiness, global awareness, and joyful living in students for more than fifteen years.

Tune into her motivational “Loving Your Day” Podcast. Read her popular blog “Happiness Prescriptions”, and learn to love yourself, love your day, love your life along with enjoying her “Loving Your Day” YouTube channel.

She has written hundreds of lifestyle, travel & wellness articles for publications such as MindBodyGreen (USA), Elephant Journal, DOYOU (Hong Kong), Wanderlust (USA), Mantra Wellness Magazine, Gaia, Yogi Times, Daily Cup of Yoga (USA), and is a wellness expert as seen in HuffPost and Medium.

Most importantly through personal experience she knows it’s possible to transform your trauma to dharma and transmute your drama to dreams.

You can reach her by email at silvia@silviamordini.com

Inspired Yoga, Love, and Travel for a LIFE Inspired
Personal: https://www.silviamordini.com/  Twitter/Instagram @inspiredyogagal
Yoga: https://alchemyofyoga.com              Twitter/Instagram @alchemyofyoga
Travel  https://alchemytours.com               Twitter/Instagram @alchemytours
Love: http://lovingyourday.com              Twitter/Instagram  @lovingyourday

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Yoga is the dance of every cell with the music of every breath that creates inner serenity and harmony.”  – Debashish Mirdha, MD., neurosurgeon & philosopher 

So you’re in a mood. 

What do you do? 

What are your go-to ways to get over it? 

Whatever way you choose to work through your moods, here’s one thing to know: 

Moodiness isn’t “good” or “bad.” 

It’s neutral. 

It provides us with clues about what’s going on underneath the surface of our awareness. 

They’re like the tip of the iceberg of our inner world – the world of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, perceptions, fears, etc.

A particularly bad mood can be like a tape caught on loop and overdrive. 

Except the tape is our mind and we tend to loop hard when we’re bothered/ pissed/ annoyed/ disappointed/ overwhelmed/ irritated… you get the idea. 

So what do we do? 

We start breathing. 

We tune into the breath and use it to help us navigate the waters of mind and emotions.

Yogic sages have known for thousands of years that the breath is the portal through which we can transform stress and anxiety while accessing a state of inner calm and grounded balance.

Our breathing patterns are intimately tied to our emotions.

Influence one, and you also impact the other. 

 They form what’s called the Breath-Emotion Loop:

1- Our emotions, thoughts, and moods influence our breathing patterns. 

Next time you’re in a mood pay attention to your breathing pattern. You’ll probably notice it’s short, shallow, erratic and/or quick. 

Then notice your breathing next time you feel calm, safe, deep in concentration, or at ease. Notice it’ll probably be slower, longer, even-paced, and/or deeper. 

2- Our breathing patterns can influence our mood. 

If you were to start breathing rapidly taking short and shallow breaths you’ll likely start feeling either awake and alert, or anxious and on guard. 

And so, if you begin breathing slowly and deeply you will most probably begin to feel less uneasy and more relaxed.

Paying attention to our breathing patterns can tell us a lot about our mood. 

Often times we’re not even aware we’re in a mood until something or someone on the outside reflects it back to us and it’s only then that we realize. 

We can become more still and present by consciously controlling our inhales and exhales, and that’s how awareness is born. 

And this is also yoga. 

You don’t need to use your body or a mat to practice yoga.

You can use only your breath and this is yogic practice (sadhana) too. 

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a 500-year-old authoritative yogic text states that: 

When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life.” 

Cultivating the habit of daily breath awareness is so effective at stilling the ripples of the mind that even Buddha himself taught this practice to monks.

In particular, the Buddhist Anapanasati Sutta, also known as the “Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing,” details Buddha’s instructions on how to use the breath to cultivate calm focus and mindfulness (aka Anapana breathing):

“Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. 

Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. 

Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. 

Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body. 

Breathing in, I calm my whole body. 

Breathing out, I calm my whole body” 

Mindfully paying attention to our breath means noticing and observing it without judging it and without having the need to change it in any way. 

Just noticing the inhales and exhales.

Becoming so awake, aware, and present that we can actually start to feel the inner waves our breath creates.

Bringing full awareness to the sensation and feeling of the breath coming into the nostrils and coming out of the nostrils. 

If a thought comes, (which it will, especially if you’re in a mood!) simply bring your attention back to the breath. 

Each time the mind wanders, just bring it back to the present moment – the moment where you’re breathing just as you are. Right here, right now. 

By cultivating this simple daily habit, we can start to shift the way we feel right now, so we can eventually also shift the way we perceive our reality and our experiences. 

This inevitably creates empowering changes in our mood and temperament. 

This is how we use our breath and our awareness to get over emotional humps and hurdles more quickly, more efficiently, and more productively. 

Want to give it a try? 

Join in on this guided meditation:

Breath Awareness Meditation - SoundCloud
(1111 secs long, 52 plays)Play in SoundCloud

Remember:

“When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still.”

You can calm your breath by just starting to pay attention to it. 

This simple practice can have powerful exponential effects if it becomes a daily habit. 

May you find peace and refuge in your breath. 

Sat nam. 

——————-

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Osmara Aryal, MBA, the founder of CalmWithYoga.com, a site dedicated to using yogic philosophy, mindfulness, and meditation to increase inner calm, mental focus, vital energy, and quality rest. She’s a Certified Functional Nutrition Practitioner and a Certified Yoga Teacher, specializing in Yoga Nidra, Yin Yoga, and Meditation. Her work has been featured multiple times on CNN and the Miami Herald.  When she’s not exploring corners of the world with her husband, or when her eyes aren’t glued to the computer researching, you’ll find her concocting gut-healing dishes in her kitchen, or cuddling with fur-babies Yodha and Molly. 


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Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” -Denis Waitley

What people usually mean when they say “gratifood” is the process of applying gratitude to food. Infusing appreciation into what we eat, being mindful every step of the way, and practicing awareness that food is something to be thankful for.

Step 1: Get connected to each step of the process.

Gratifood begins before you start cooking. It begins before you decide what’s for dinner. It begins in your mind as a mental checklist of all the things that have to happen for you to be able to eat.

If you think for a moment about all the steps food takes before it ends up on your plate, you will instantly feel more connected to the process. Taking it a step further, if you specifically think about each step your food has taken to get to you, the more and more and more you will feelappreciation.

AJ Jacobs, author of “Thanks a Thousand,” realized how much he took for granted his morning cup of coffee. So, he set out on a journey to thank all the people that make his morning ritual possible. What he quickly realized is that the amount of people to thank is infinite: every person he thanked would not have been able to do what they do without the help of countless other people. Everyone from the cashier that rings him up at the grocery store, to the roaster, to the farmer, to the truck driver, to the workers who maintain the roads. He thanks a thousand people in the book, and the ultimate moral of the story is that there are far more people to thank than he possibly could in one lifetime. And that’s just for one small daily ritual–coffee.

Getting connected to the process starts by asking, “If I trace this food—say it’s peanut butter—back to where it began, where does that take me?” As AJ found out, there is an infinite number of components to thank, and there’s no need to do this process of thankfulness ad-nauseum. At some point during the process of cooking, remember to bring to mind the fact that it’s a series of small miracles that you have the variety and quality of food that you do.

When you become aware of the infinite level of thanks you can give for any given food item, and you begin to apply that level of gratitude to the many ingredients you use in any given meal, you can begin to feel an appropriate level of appreciation for the food you’re about to eat.

Step 2: Pour your heart’s loving energy into the food.

Even if it means taking longer to cook, allowing your day’s pent-up positive energy to overflow into the process of cooking can transform the way you make food. Cooking can be a structured outlet into which you can process those positive emotions. And yes, positive emotions need to be processed too! By creating a meal this way, you can transfer your positive emotions into a new form–food–and experience them all over again! One of the most powerful positive emotions you can use to enhance this effect is gratitude. It’s not necessarily about what you eat as much as it is about how you eat. Eating starts before you take the first bite. We all know this and if we need proof, all we have to do is conjure up the image of a brimming mug of hot chocolate and imagine touching it to our lips for the first foamy sip, tasting the sweet cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Step 3: Curate your dining environment.

At this point we’ve learned to put appreciation, love and thanks into the different steps of cooking in order to create a meal that’s infused with gratifood. Now it’s time to set the stage. It’s encouraged to create a space in which you feel comfortable eating. A place where you can complete the act of eating with full presence and little distraction. It’s important to consider everything from ambiance, lighting and decor to the types of utensils you eat with.

Did you ever consider you might appreciate your meal more simply by changing the dishware you’re using? It makes sense that you would enjoy your morning beverage more if you are drinking it from a mug that you bought specifically because looking at it brings you joy! You should be able to tell the story of everything you own, and especially the items you use to eat with. Because unlike a baseball glove or pair of pants, you are ingesting the energy of that plate or bowl every time you eat.

And just because the word energy is used, that doesn’t it make it woo-woo. Extending your mindfulness about eating to what you cook with and eat off of can have measurable health benefits. Did you know that changing the type of pan you cook with can help oxygenate your blood? Every time you cook with a cast iron pan you’re boosting your iron intake. Since iron is an essential nutrient that every cell in the body needs to transport oxygen in the blood and myoglobin in muscles, it’s safe to say that the type of pan you cook with has the power to make you a healthier person.

Step 4: Eat with others and if you are eating alone, eat alone.

Now that the meal is ready and the stage is set, it’s a good time to customize the gratifood experience based around who you are eating with.

If you are eating alone, make sure to commit fully to eating alone. Understand that you can experience gratifood just as much alone as you can at a communal meal. Make sure to eliminate distractions. There’s some gray area here and use your good judgment. If you are going to consume content while eating, make sure whatever music you are playing or podcast you are listening to contributes to the feelings of gratitude and appreciation you’ve cultivated thus far.

Remember, digestion starts before taking the first bite. Having content playing in the background, especially video can change your focus in way that inhibits proper digestion. Think about it. Ever watched a suspenseful movie and actually felt it in your body? You’re hanging on the edge of your seat with a pit in your stomach and breathing shallowly. You’ve experienced how the type of content you’re consuming can have real effects on your physiology. And if the content puts you in a fight or flight physiological response, you can see how it would disrupt digestion, which occurs optimally when the body is in a rest and relaxation state.

If you have nothing to distract yourself with, your food becomes your company. You will chew your food well, enjoy every bite to the maximum, and significantly slow the rate at which you eat. You will get to know your food like a close friend.

Did you know it can take up to twenty minutes for the body to send signals of satiety? Most people’s meals don’t even last that long! If you eat slowly, you will probably end up eating less, which in most cases is a good thing. Mindful eating allows you to more appropriately gauge when you should stop eating based off the body’s satiety versus the default gauge people usually use, which is stomach fullness.

Step 5: Dedicate the first 10 bites you take.

I’m going to step in to the first person here for a moment and tell you a little story. It takes place in a rural county in Virginia, at an off-the-beaten-path retreat center called Yogaville. I stayed there for one month during the summer of 2015. Everyone living at the facility and doing the work trade program ate communal meals together. The big meals would be served in a dining hall, and prior to taking the first bite, we would usually go around in a circle and everyone would dedicate the first bite of their meal. This was our version of gratifood. Sometimes we would go around in the circle and we’d do several of these very slow, grateful bites before we started eating at a normal pace. This allowed us to thoroughly infuse each bite with appreciation.

Know that if you take nothing else from this article, if you remember the 10 bites rule, you will be practicing gratitude. Before beginning to eat at your normal pace, eat ten bites mindfully and slowly. Between each bite, bring to mind someone or something you are grateful for and dedicate that bite accordingly.

The five steps to practicing gratifood are your friend. Start small, but make sure to start somewhere. A great place to start is by choosing one of the five steps that resonate most with you and apply it to one of your meals this week. When done on a regular basis, mindful eating has the power to change your thoughts, emotional state, and physical health.

—————-

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tim Brogan. Tim is currently an Ithaca-based yogi and traveler whose motto is “step into your purpose and share it with clarity.”

Subscribe to his Living is Learning Podcast and YouTube channel: @timbrogan. Website: topselfdevelopment.com

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Happiness is a continuous state of quiet joy that exists in the moment from the inside out. Happiness is what love looks like. It is the manifestation of what it means to love ourselves, love our day, love our lives. The timing of happiness is right now.

As seekers of happiness it is important to understand how much of it depends on internal versus external factors. Based on her research, in her 2007 book The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky concluded that roughly 50 percent of happiness is determined by our genes and 10 percent by our life circumstance, but 40 percent depends on our daily activities.

This 50% is what is commonly known as our Happiness Set Point. The great news is that we have the power to influence 40% of our happiness. The yogic philosophy of Santosha, often translated to mean contentment, is about living into your choices and  loving what life is offering us moment to moment.

Happiness depends on ourselves.”  – Aristotle.

Here are 3 Ways to Be Happy Now

  1. Take Responsibility

Happiness Now starts with taking immediate responsibility for the quality of your life.When we are willing to accept accountability, it gets easier to authentically describe what we want our happiest life to feel like. From there, the experience of the now expands the joy that was waiting for us to realize is already happening.

Happy people avoid blame in all its incarnations. They don’t blame other people, they don’t blame circumstances, and they don’t blame themselves. To happy people, blame serves no purpose. It doesn’t ever get us what we truly desire. In fact happy people not only avoid blame but they also avoid its family members envy, greed and jealousy – which are among the key indicators of unhappiness.” -The Choices Happy People Make

  1. Choose Now

The act of waiting for happiness to be happy, or “happiness procrastination” as I refer to it, can be paralyzing. If we have a prerequisite of a certain condition taking place to facilitate happiness then we’ll always be waiting as opposed to being happy in the moment. If we fool ourselves into believing that we have to understand the reasons why we’re unhappy, the result will be getting stuck in that state of unhappiness. Instead choose those activities that spark joy, stop over intellectualizing your choices, and live in the present.

What’s so important about being in the moment? Spiritual practice teaches us that the present moment is the source of healing, love, inspiration, and happiness. In fact, the purest form of happiness is found in the present moment. The yogis call this power of presence shaktiBut to reap these benefits, we can’t just have fleeting moments of presence. We have to stay long enough in the present moment to really soak in the happiness.

Apply this Happiness Prescription:

  • Each week take a day off of social media for a digital detox. Instead of being caught up in looking at what other people have done in the past, focus your attention on your present moment.
  • Each month plan a nature trip, whether it’s hiking in the mountains or walking the beach or enjoying the local forest preserve. Notice how nature only knows how to be in the now.
  • Take a long weekend each year to attend a personal development workshop for a happiness reset. Get back in touch with the Now of your happiness.
  • Each year go on retreat where you can unplug from your business life for a week.
  • At the end of the year, take a business “savasana” where you celebrate all that you attempted and accomplished and find pleasure in resting in that knowledge. Be present in the Now instead of trying to achieve more.
  1. Stoke Your Passion!

Happiness is a direct experience of enthusiasm. Remember, it is not how or when we accomplish something that matters most, it is the sense of enthusiasm during the process that demonstrates our quality of life. Enthusiasm gives us the chance to go beyond our happiness set point. The foundational teachings of yoga tell us that joy is our birthright. That doesn’t mean it comes easy: It takes real effort. However, this exertion is well worth it and we should never let a day go by without putting forth our best effort to live with passion.

Seek daily activities that inspire enthusiasm. Do something that keeps you engaged in the joy of the present moment.

Apply these three ways to be happy now and watch your happiness set point rise up. Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia

—————–

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Silvia Mordini, CEO, Transformation Leader, and Author. With contagious enthusiasm Silvia encourages everyone she meets to love their life! Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. She has been teaching happiness, global awareness, & mindfulness for 20 years. Silvia, born in Ecuador, proud of her Italian heritage and raised as a world traveler, is a well-loved internationally recognized Motivational Speaker, Love Alchemist, and Mindfulness Teacher at conferences worldwide. Her classes holistically integrate various styles of yoga, primarily Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Anusara. You can’t help but leave her workshops, RYT200 Alchemy of Yoga teacher trainings & Alchemy Tours retreats spiritually uplifted!

Before becoming a serial Entrepreneur, Silvia had a thirteen-year Human Resource career including as Director for an international Fortune 100 professional services company. She founded and owned Total Body Yoga Studio with over 9,000 clients for ten years. In young adulthood she was run over by a car—a life changing accident that led her to discover the “Alchemy” of Yoga and Meditation to heal and transcend. She is the Founder of the fifteen year old world renowned Alchemy of Yoga Teacher Training School with over 29 graduating classes of Alchemist Alumni. In 2009 she founded Alchemy Tours, an International Retreat company specializing in Personal Development. With over 12,000 hours of yoga teaching experience she makes yoga approachable, fun, and inspiring for everyone. She has been inspiring happiness, global awareness, and joyful living in students for more than fifteen years.

Tune into her motivational “Loving Your Day” Podcast. Read her popular blog “Happiness Prescriptions”, and learn to love yourself, love your day, love your life along with enjoying her “Loving Your Day” YouTube channel.

She has written hundreds of lifestyle, travel & wellness articles for publications such as MindBodyGreen (USA), Elephant Journal, DOYOU (Hong Kong), Wanderlust (USA), Mantra Wellness Magazine, Gaia, Yogi Times, Daily Cup of Yoga (USA), and is a wellness expert as seen in HuffPost and Medium.

Most importantly through personal experience she knows it’s possible to transform your trauma to dharma and transmute your drama to dreams.

You can reach her by email at silvia@silviamordini.com

Inspired Yoga, Love, and Travel for a LIFE Inspired
Personal: https://www.silviamordini.com/  Twitter/Instagram @inspiredyogagal
Yoga: https://alchemyofyoga.com              Twitter/Instagram @alchemyofyoga
Travel  https://alchemytours.com               Twitter/Instagram @alchemytours
Love: http://lovingyourday.com              Twitter/Instagram  @lovingyourday

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Daily Cup of Yoga by @dailycupofyoga - 1M ago

Guest post by Silvia Mordini

In 1948, scientists and doctors began the most comprehensive study on heart disease ever conducted. Over 60 years later, the Framingham Heart Study still continues. Because the study involves so many people and spans such a long time period, there are many different aspects that scientists continue to study. One of their key findings relates to the happiness theory.

Scientists found that we experience happiness through social connections.  Therefore, the clusters of people around you strongly influence how you feel. In fact, a positive change in one person affects everyone in their friend cluster. Your probability for increased happiness improves 15% if your most immediate friend is happy, 10% if a friend of your friend is happy, and so on until four degrees of separation.

They have discovered and quantified what yogis have known for thousands of years: happiness is contagious.  

Many practice yoga or go for a run because they feel good after. Physical activity releases endorphins into your body, which make you feel good. By feeling better and being happy, you influence others to feel better, too.  What you do to manage your thoughts to create happy cells impacts those around you. In this way, we are creating our world thought by thought. We can influence more people than we ever realized, simply by being happy.

The Yoga Sutras spell out that if we are not balanced mentally, physically, or emotionally, then we are not living our true, naturally happy potential. To remedy this, we are taught to practice Pratipaksha Bhavana (Chapter 2.33) to eliminate negative thoughts by denying them our attention. Instead of wasting energy by engaging or resisting our negative thoughts, we replace them with positive ones. Over time this process of substitution sublimates negative thinking. Engage happy thoughts and try this breath meditation when you need to reframe your outlook.

Inhale: I welcome happiness
Exhale: I am grateful
Inhale:  I welcome inspiration
Exhale:  I am grateful
Inhale:  I welcome love
Exhale:  I am grateful
Inhale: I welcome hope
Exhale: I am grateful

In a world where almost anything can go viral, why not inspire happiness? Knowing that Happiness is contagious means that happiness benefits more than just you: those around you reap the benefits as well. Let’s join together in a happiness movement, where joy, happiness, and peace spread to everyone around us!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Silvia

—————–

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Silvia Mordini, CEO, Transformation Leader, and Author. With contagious enthusiasm Silvia encourages everyone she meets to love their life! Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. She has been teaching happiness, global awareness, & mindfulness for 20 years. Silvia, born in Ecuador, proud of her Italian heritage and raised as a world traveler, is a well-loved internationally recognized Motivational Speaker, Love Alchemist, and Mindfulness Teacher at conferences worldwide. Her classes holistically integrate various styles of yoga, primarily Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Anusara. You can’t help but leave her workshops, RYT200 Alchemy of Yoga teacher trainings & Alchemy Tours retreats spiritually uplifted!

Before becoming a serial Entrepreneur, Silvia had a thirteen-year Human Resource career including as Director for an international Fortune 100 professional services company. She founded and owned Total Body Yoga Studio with over 9,000 clients for ten years. In young adulthood she was run over by a car—a life changing accident that led her to discover the “Alchemy” of Yoga and Meditation to heal and transcend. She is the Founder of the fifteen year old world renowned Alchemy of Yoga Teacher Training School with over 29 graduating classes of Alchemist Alumni. In 2009 she founded Alchemy Tours, an International Retreat company specializing in Personal Development. With over 12,000 hours of yoga teaching experience she makes yoga approachable, fun, and inspiring for everyone. She has been inspiring happiness, global awareness, and joyful living in students for more than fifteen years.

Tune into her motivational “Loving Your Day” Podcast. Read her popular blog “Happiness Prescriptions”, and learn to love yourself, love your day, love your life along with enjoying her “Loving Your Day” YouTube channel.

She has written hundreds of lifestyle, travel & wellness articles for publications such as MindBodyGreen (USA), Elephant Journal, DOYOU (Hong Kong), Wanderlust (USA), Mantra Wellness Magazine, Gaia, Yogi Times, Daily Cup of Yoga (USA), and is a wellness expert as seen in HuffPost and Medium.

Most importantly through personal experience she knows it’s possible to transform your trauma to dharma and transmute your drama to dreams.

You can reach her by email at silvia@silviamordini.com

Inspired Yoga, Love, and Travel for a LIFE Inspired
Personal
: https://www.silviamordini.com/  Twitter/Instagram @inspiredyogagal
Yoga: https://alchemyofyoga.com              Twitter/Instagram @alchemyofyoga
Travel  https://alchemytours.com               Twitter/Instagram @alchemytours
Love: http://lovingyourday.com              Twitter/Instagram  @lovingyourday

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Guest post by Silvia Mordini

The quality of our intentions influences the quality of our lives. Successful business people, athletes and artists all sing a similar song when it comes to setting your intentions high. Yoga helps in this way by teaching us to make precise, high quality efforts. This practice inspires you to expand beyond the ordinary, living up to your greatest potential.

Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations. Goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the 1st or 2nd problem at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.”  – Timothy Ferriss, The Four Hour Workweek.

I know this to be true in my life. I lose the ability to stick with something if my ambitions are just average. When my goals are set higher, something within me charges up! If I’m not creating or helping someone develop a new business, plan a bucket list vacation, design an early retirement, or realign themselves with their true dharma, then I feel like I am slacking. Our dharmic responsibility is to maximize our possibilities and inspire others to do the same. This activated energy is contagious.

When leading yoga retreats, trainings and workshops, I often ask students to pick an aspirational pose: something they’ve always wanted to do, but maybe hadn’t tried or didn’t think they could. I tell them to stop at levitation, but anything else goes! I have found that if you set your sights too low, then you likely won’t stay with your yoga practice. You’ll get bored and want to give up. And boredom is the enemy of happiness.  

But as big as your primary intention is, keep it simple. That way, you can actually start on the path and keep momentum going, step by step. Just as in yoga where you grow by millimeters, baby steps towards your goal will eventually get you there.

Today, honestly ask yourself, instead of getting up to go to work tomorrow, what do you really want to do?

Is there something audacious that you want to manifest? Do your biggest dreams scare you? Good. It is time you stop living in self-delusional comfort, and focus your energy on the tasks that will help you achieve something bigger. Stop settling for less than your best.

“The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurities of the world make it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.” This week, focus on the home runs set your intentions high. Don’t hold yourself back.  Remember as Wayne Dyer puts it, “You are not an apprentice person on the way to someplace else.” Your life is not a rehearsal. This is it. Stretch all the way into excellence. Go for it!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!  Silvia

Continue reading for more high intention quotes.

“Find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.” —Deepak Chopra

“Push yourself to do more and to experience more. Harness your energy to start expanding your dreams. Yes, expand your dreams. Don’t accept a life of mediocrity when you hold such infinite potential within the fortress of your mind. Dare to tap into your greatness.” —Robin Sharma

“Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great.” —Fernando Flores

“Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.”—John Maxwell

“Don’t squander your potential living a life that amounts to far less than the one you are capable of living.” —Zero Dean

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.” —Jim Rohn

“Don’t cheat the world of your contribution. Give it what you’ve got.” —Steven Pressfield

“Potential is a priceless treasure, like gold. All of us have gold hidden within, but we have to dig to get it out.” Joyce Meyer

“The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.” —Albert Schweitzer

“You have the potential to be anything you want.” Fran Watson

“The will to win, the desire to succeed. The urge to reach your full potential – these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” —Confucius

—————–

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Silvia Mordini, CEO, Transformation Leader, and Author. With contagious enthusiasm Silvia encourages everyone she meets to love their life! Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. She has been teaching happiness, global awareness, & mindfulness for 20 years. Silvia, born in Ecuador, proud of her Italian heritage and raised as a world traveler, is a well-loved internationally recognized Motivational Speaker, Love Alchemist, and Mindfulness Teacher at conferences worldwide. Her classes holistically integrate various styles of yoga, primarily Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Anusara. You can’t help but leave her workshops, RYT200 Alchemy of Yoga teacher trainings & Alchemy Tours retreats spiritually uplifted!

Before becoming a serial Entrepreneur, Silvia had a thirteen-year Human Resource career including as Director for an international Fortune 100 professional services company. She founded and owned Total Body Yoga Studio with over 9,000 clients for ten years. In young adulthood she was run over by a car—a life changing accident that led her to discover the “Alchemy” of Yoga and Meditation to heal and transcend. She is the Founder of the fifteen year old world renowned Alchemy of Yoga Teacher Training School with over 29 graduating classes of Alchemist Alumni. In 2009 she founded Alchemy Tours, an International Retreat company specializing in Personal Development. With over 12,000 hours of yoga teaching experience she makes yoga approachable, fun, and inspiring for everyone. She has been inspiring happiness, global awareness, and joyful living in students for more than fifteen years.

Tune into her motivational “Loving Your Day” Podcast. Read her popular blog “Happiness Prescriptions”, and learn to love yourself, love your day, love your life along with enjoying her “Loving Your Day” YouTube channel.

She has written hundreds of lifestyle, travel & wellness articles for publications such as MindBodyGreen (USA), Elephant Journal, DOYOU (Hong Kong), Wanderlust (USA), Mantra Wellness Magazine, Gaia, Yogi Times, Daily Cup of Yoga (USA), and is a wellness expert as seen in HuffPost and Medium.

Most importantly through personal experience she knows it’s possible to transform your trauma to dharma and transmute your drama to dreams.

You can reach her by email at silvia@silviamordini.com

Inspired Yoga, Love, and Travel for a LIFE Inspired
Personal: https://www.silviamordini.com/  Twitter/Instagram @inspiredyogagal
Yoga: https://alchemyofyoga.com              Twitter/Instagram @alchemyofyoga
Travel  https://alchemytours.com               Twitter/Instagram @alchemytours
Love: http://lovingyourday.com              Twitter/Instagram  @lovingyourday

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Yoga is the dance of every cell with the music of every breath that creates inner serenity and harmony.”  – Debashish Mirdha, MD., neurosurgeon & philosopher 

So you’re in a mood. 

What do you do? 

What are your go-to ways to get over it? 

Whatever way you choose to work through your moods, here’s one thing to know: 

Moodiness isn’t “good” or “bad.” 

It’s neutral. 

It provides us with clues about what’s going on underneath the surface of our awareness. 

They’re like the tip of the iceberg of our inner world – the world of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, perceptions, fears, etc.

A particularly bad mood can be like a tape caught on loop and overdrive. 

Except the tape is our mind and we tend to loop hard when we’re bothered/ pissed/ annoyed/ disappointed/ overwhelmed/ irritated… you get the idea. 

So what do we do? 

We start breathing. 

We tune into the breath and use it to help us navigate the waters of mind and emotions.

Yogic sages have known for thousands of years that the breath is the portal through which we can transform stress and anxiety while accessing a state of inner calm and grounded balance.

Our breathing patterns are intimately tied to our emotions.

Influence one, and you also impact the other. 

 They form what’s called the Breath-Emotion Loop:

1- Our emotions, thoughts, and moods influence our breathing patterns. 

Next time you’re in a mood pay attention to your breathing pattern. You’ll probably notice it’s short, shallow, erratic and/or quick. 

Then notice your breathing next time you feel calm, safe, deep in concentration, or at ease. Notice it’ll probably be slower, longer, even-paced, and/or deeper. 

2- Our breathing patterns can influence our mood. 

If you were to start breathing rapidly taking short and shallow breaths you’ll likely start feeling either awake and alert, or anxious and on guard. 

And so, if you begin breathing slowly and deeply you will most probably begin to feel less uneasy and more relaxed.

Paying attention to our breathing patterns can tell us a lot about our mood. 

Often times we’re not even aware we’re in a mood until something or someone on the outside reflects it back to us and it’s only then that we realize. 

We can become more still and present by consciously controlling our inhales and exhales, and that’s how awareness is born. 

And this is also yoga. 

You don’t need to use your body or a mat to practice yoga.

You can use only your breath and this is yogic practice (sadhana) too. 

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a 500-year-old authoritative yogic text states that: 

When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life.” 

Cultivating the habit of daily breath awareness is so effective at stilling the ripples of the mind that even Buddha himself taught this practice to monks.

In particular, the Buddhist Anapanasati Sutta, also known as the “Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing,” details Buddha’s instructions on how to use the breath to cultivate calm focus and mindfulness (aka Anapana breathing):

“Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. 

Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. 

Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. 

Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body. 

Breathing in, I calm my whole body. 

Breathing out, I calm my whole body” 

Mindfully paying attention to our breath means noticing and observing it without judging it and without having the need to change it in any way. 

Just noticing the inhales and exhales.

Becoming so awake, aware, and present that we can actually start to feel the inner waves our breath creates.

Bringing full awareness to the sensation and feeling of the breath coming into the nostrils and coming out of the nostrils. 

If a thought comes, (which it will, especially if you’re in a mood!) simply bring your attention back to the breath. 

Each time the mind wanders, just bring it back to the present moment – the moment where you’re breathing just as you are. Right here, right now. 

By cultivating this simple daily habit, we can start to shift the way we feel right now, so we can eventually also shift the way we perceive our reality and our experiences. 

This inevitably creates empowering changes in our mood and temperament. 

This is how we use our breath and our awareness to get over emotional humps and hurdles more quickly, more efficiently, and more productively. 

Want to give it a try? 

Join in on this guided meditation:

Breath Awareness Meditation - SoundCloud
(1111 secs long, 29 plays)Play in SoundCloud

Remember:

“When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still.”

You can calm your breath by just starting to pay attention to it. 

This simple practice can have powerful exponential effects if it becomes a daily habit. 

May you find peace and refuge in your breath. 

Sat nam. 

——————-

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Osmara Aryal, MBA, the founder of CalmWithYoga.com, a site dedicated to using yogic philosophy, mindfulness, and meditation to increase inner calm, mental focus, vital energy, and quality rest. She’s a Certified Functional Nutrition Practitioner and a Certified Yoga Teacher, specializing in Yoga Nidra, Yin Yoga, and Meditation. Her work has been featured multiple times on CNN and the Miami Herald.  When she’s not exploring corners of the world with her husband, or when her eyes aren’t glued to the computer researching, you’ll find her concocting gut-healing dishes in her kitchen, or cuddling with fur-babies Yodha and Molly. 


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Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” -Denis Waitley

What people usually mean when they say “gratifood” is the process of applying gratitude to food. Infusing appreciation into what we eat, being mindful every step of the way, and practicing awareness that food is something to be thankful for.

Step 1: Get connected to each step of the process.

Gratifood begins before you start cooking. It begins before you decide what’s for dinner. It begins in your mind as a mental checklist of all the things that have to happen for you to be able to eat.

If you think for a moment about all the steps food takes before it ends up on your plate, you will instantly feel more connected to the process. Taking it a step further, if you specifically think about each step your food has taken to get to you, the more and more and more you will feelappreciation.

AJ Jacobs, author of “Thanks a Thousand,” realized how much he took for granted his morning cup of coffee. So, he set out on a journey to thank all the people that make his morning ritual possible. What he quickly realized is that the amount of people to thank is infinite: every person he thanked would not have been able to do what they do without the help of countless other people. Everyone from the cashier that rings him up at the grocery store, to the roaster, to the farmer, to the truck driver, to the workers who maintain the roads. He thanks a thousand people in the book, and the ultimate moral of the story is that there are far more people to thank than he possibly could in one lifetime. And that’s just for one small daily ritual–coffee.

Getting connected to the process starts by asking, “If I trace this food—say it’s peanut butter—back to where it began, where does that take me?” As AJ found out, there is an infinite number of components to thank, and there’s no need to do this process of thankfulness ad-nauseum. At some point during the process of cooking, remember to bring to mind the fact that it’s a series of small miracles that you have the variety and quality of food that you do.

When you become aware of the infinite level of thanks you can give for any given food item, and you begin to apply that level of gratitude to the many ingredients you use in any given meal, you can begin to feel an appropriate level of appreciation for the food you’re about to eat.

Step 2: Pour your heart’s loving energy into the food.

Even if it means taking longer to cook, allowing your day’s pent-up positive energy to overflow into the process of cooking can transform the way you make food. Cooking can be a structured outlet into which you can process those positive emotions. And yes, positive emotions need to be processed too! By creating a meal this way, you can transfer your positive emotions into a new form–food–and experience them all over again! One of the most powerful positive emotions you can use to enhance this effect is gratitude. It’s not necessarily about what you eat as much as it is about how you eat. Eating starts before you take the first bite. We all know this and if we need proof, all we have to do is conjure up the image of a brimming mug of hot chocolate and imagine touching it to our lips for the first foamy sip, tasting the sweet cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Step 3: Curate your dining environment.

At this point we’ve learned to put appreciation, love and thanks into the different steps of cooking in order to create a meal that’s infused with gratifood. Now it’s time to set the stage. It’s encouraged to create a space in which you feel comfortable eating. A place where you can complete the act of eating with full presence and little distraction. It’s important to consider everything from ambiance, lighting and decor to the types of utensils you eat with.

Did you ever consider you might appreciate your meal more simply by changing the dishware you’re using? It makes sense that you would enjoy your morning beverage more if you are drinking it from a mug that you bought specifically because looking at it brings you joy! You should be able to tell the story of everything you own, and especially the items you use to eat with. Because unlike a baseball glove or pair of pants, you are ingesting the energy of that plate or bowl every time you eat.

And just because the word energy is used, that doesn’t it make it woo-woo. Extending your mindfulness about eating to what you cook with and eat off of can have measurable health benefits. Did you know that changing the type of pan you cook with can help oxygenate your blood? Every time you cook with a cast iron pan you’re boosting your iron intake. Since iron is an essential nutrient that every cell in the body needs to transport oxygen in the blood and myoglobin in muscles, it’s safe to say that the type of pan you cook with has the power to make you a healthier person.

Step 4: Eat with others and if you are eating alone, eat alone.

Now that the meal is ready and the stage is set, it’s a good time to customize the gratifood experience based around who you are eating with.

If you are eating alone, make sure to commit fully to eating alone. Understand that you can experience gratifood just as much alone as you can at a communal meal. Make sure to eliminate distractions. There’s some gray area here and use your good judgment. If you are going to consume content while eating, make sure whatever music you are playing or podcast you are listening to contributes to the feelings of gratitude and appreciation you’ve cultivated thus far.

Remember, digestion starts before taking the first bite. Having content playing in the background, especially video can change your focus in way that inhibits proper digestion. Think about it. Ever watched a suspenseful movie and actually felt it in your body? You’re hanging on the edge of your seat with a pit in your stomach and breathing shallowly. You’ve experienced how the type of content you’re consuming can have real effects on your physiology. And if the content puts you in a fight or flight physiological response, you can see how it would disrupt digestion, which occurs optimally when the body is in a rest and relaxation state.

If you have nothing to distract yourself with, your food becomes your company. You will chew your food well, enjoy every bite to the maximum, and significantly slow the rate at which you eat. You will get to know your food like a close friend.

Did you know it can take up to twenty minutes for the body to send signals of satiety? Most people’s meals don’t even last that long! If you eat slowly, you will probably end up eating less, which in most cases is a good thing. Mindful eating allows you to more appropriately gauge when you should stop eating based off the body’s satiety versus the default gauge people usually use, which is stomach fullness.

Step 5: Dedicate the first 10 bites you take.

I’m going to step in to the first person here for a moment and tell you a little story. It takes place in a rural county in Virginia, at an off-the-beaten-path retreat center called Yogaville. I stayed there for one month during the summer of 2015. Everyone living at the facility and doing the work trade program ate communal meals together. The big meals would be served in a dining hall, and prior to taking the first bite, we would usually go around in a circle and everyone would dedicate the first bite of their meal. This was our version of gratifood. Sometimes we would go around in the circle and we’d do several of these very slow, grateful bites before we started eating at a normal pace. This allowed us to thoroughly infuse each bite with appreciation.

Know that if you take nothing else from this article, if you remember the 10 bites rule, you will be practicing gratitude. Before beginning to eat at your normal pace, eat ten bites mindfully and slowly. Between each bite, bring to mind someone or something you are grateful for and dedicate that bite accordingly.

The five steps to practicing gratifood are your friend. Start small, but make sure to start somewhere. A great place to start is by choosing one of the five steps that resonate most with you and apply it to one of your meals this week. When done on a regular basis, mindful eating has the power to change your thoughts, emotional state, and physical health.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tim Brogan. Tim is currently an Ithaca-based yogi and traveler whose motto is “step into your purpose and share it with clarity.”

Subscribe to his Living is Learning Podcast and YouTube channel: @timbrogan. Website: topselfdevelopment.com

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