Love It Or Leave It: Wardrobe Week

New week, new challenge for minimalism! It’s time to focus on clothing, accessories, and shoes for this week. This is a big one for most of us. I think the biggest thing to remember is that a minimal wardrobe doesn’t have a certain “one size fits all” number of pieces you should have-it’s very personal depending on where you live, what you do for work, and what your hobbies are. Your wardrobe also doesn’t have to be a certain color to be minimal and simplified. I go for black, grey, and navy, but that doesn’t mean yours has to be neutrals. You like pink and teal? Go for it! You like fun patterns? Fill your closet with tacos and birds. The key is to just keep pieces you love and wear all the time, and ones that can be versatile for your lifestyle.

Here is the printable for this week- Minimalist Wardrobe (click for PDF):ED157D6A-1769-41A8-8E4E-E8DA3EA26118Print it out, and follow along!

A House Divided

Every four months or so my husband and I have the same “discussion”-what some might call an argument but who cares about labels? I reach a breaking point with the amount of things in the house and the constant cleaning so I go on a bender ripping through the house looking for things to get rid of. My husband usually follows behind removing things from the discard box saying “we might use this someday!!”

This scene is probably not foreign to many couples; there is not always perfect agreement when it comes to what is a “necessity”. My lovely husband is a keeper (in more than one way); he becomes sentimentally attached to EVERYTHING. When I tried to get rid of a pan that we had used in our first home he became very upset about it and insisted that we needed to keep it since we might need it. Mind you we had three other pans just like it so it was more about the memory for him than the usefulness.

This sort of interaction causes more than a little contention in my house. With this month of the balance project focusing on minimalism the “discussion” happened again. This time we decided to really have a sincere conversation and try to see the others point of view. I explained to my husband that the whole reason I wanted to downsize was to allow me more time with him and our daughter and less time with our home and things. He explained that he found use in the items that we wanted to keep and was nervous that I would simply throw everything out. I want to embrace minimalism to bring peace in my life and it seemed to be doing the opposite of that.

So what did we do? We realized that (not to be cliché) communication is everything. We decided that a compromise would be the best way to solve our problem. I agreed that my husband’s studio space was his and I would not try to minimize it and we would let me help him organize his space so that when he needed something he could find it. We took a trip to Ikea and invested in some storage facilitators agreeing that everything he might need at some point should be able to fit in that space. I do believe Ikea has both saved and severed many a relationship. 🙂 In conclusion there is no right way to be a minimalist, the key is to remember the goal is more mindful living and there is no perfect formula for that.

Snapseed Me and the hubby as portrayed by a very generous caricature artist

Simple Yoga Mat Spray

At our Yoga and Cheese party last month, we had all the supplies out for people to make their own Yoga Mat spray. It was a simple and fun project, and one anyone can do at home! Here’s what we did:

 

1 Part Witch Hazel

1 Part Water

5-10 drops essential oil (we suggest lavender, orange, or peppermint)

 

Mix in a small spray bottle, spray on mat and wipe.

spray ingredientssprays

You are welcome to use the labels we made for your bottles (right click and save to print):

orange

lavendar

peppermint

 

Goodbye January, Hello February!

We said see you later to January, but our yoga and meditation will continue! We will continue to use the skills we learned in January throughout the year (and our lives!), and will delve into a new topic for February-Minimalism. Here are our short videos going over what we learned in January, and what’s to come in February! We hope you will join us in clearing out clutter, both mental and physical, and focusing on what matters most this month.

January recap:

February intro:

The Science Behind Meditation

I am a science nerd, I love to understand the science behind the “magic” of things. This month I have been able to take a deep look into meditation and really dive into some of the scientifically proven benefits to meditating.

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Most people are aware of the claims that are made about meditation such as: it promotes calm, can reduce anxiety and increases focus. But not as many people are aware that these claims have been backed up by scientific research. Since 2015 there have been ~ 31,000 scientific articles published on the subject of meditation. Am I the only one that thinks that is awesome!?

Are there any Poirot fans in the house? In 2009 a study was done on the association of increased gray matter density (“the little gray cells” as Poirot would say) in the brain stem with long term meditation practices. Higher gray matter density was seen in the lower brain stem regions of experienced long term practitioners of meditation when compared with individuals who do not practice meditation.1 Gray matter is involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control (so pretty much everything). This increase in gray matter is considered an explanation for the seen and felt benefits to mediation such as better memory, better immune system and better control over emotions (control over my emotions is the one I need!).

People who engage in mediation do so because they are seeking to be more mindful in their everyday lives. Well good news for everyone! The results of a recent study of meditation “suggest that regular, longer, and more closely adhered meditation practice…  leads to responding more mindfully in daily life, which promotes well-being.”2

While some claims of the benefits of meditation can seem a bit far fetched what can be concluded is the daily practice of checking in with yourself and allowing your brain a break from the constant barrage of stimulation it receives all day is needed and beneficial. So happy mediating to all, you may now do so knowing that science has got your back.

P.S. Just as a bonus this is one of my favorite TED talks about mediation!

1: Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem Author: Peter Vestergaard-Poulsen, Martijn van Beek, Joshua Skewes, et al
Publication: NeuroReport Publisher: Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.
Date: Jan 28, 2009

2: Lacaille, J., Sadikaj, G., Nishioka, M., Carrière, K., Flanders, J. and Knäuper, B. (2018), Daily Mindful Responding Mediates the Effect of Meditation Practice on Stress and Mood: The Role of Practice Duration and Adherence. J. Clin. Psychol., 74: 109–122.

The Sounds of Silence

I never meditated to music until this month. In my effort to learn more, and delve deeper into meditation, I have found I really enjoy some of my meditation to be with music. It helps calm me, focus my thoughts, and keep at it for longer. I can’t do anything with words (chants aside), but just music is very effective to focus me on the task at hand. I play instrumental music at work, and now I have implemented it into some of my yoga and meditation practices.

 

Everyone will be different in whether they like to meditate in silence, or if they enjoy music, and the type of music you like will vary, but here is a playlist of some of the songs I have been loving.

Listen Here

 

Chill Out playlist

Goal Calendar-January

We want to start making a calendar each month to help keep us on track with our goals. There are little goals and challenges sprinkled through the month, as well as space for you to add our (and your!) own. Let us know what you think! Do you use a goal calendar?

Get as a PDF here: TheBalanceProject January Calendar

Jan 2018-1

Why I Do Yoga With My One Year Old

For many, the practice of yoga is a restorative, calm and peaceful practice. While that is generally true for me as well this is what yoga in my house often looks like:

I work full time outside of my home and I often don’t get much alone time when I am home. I originally intended to do yoga when Olivia was asleep. That way ensuring that my workout would be relaxing as opposed to this:

Olivia is at the age where she imitates just about everything that I do (my road rage language will come back to haunt me I am sure). She loves to talk on my phone, she tries to brush her own hair and wants to eat all her food using the “grown-up” silverware.

I am trying to find balance in my life, I want the same for my daughter. If she sees me regularly doing yoga and meditating she will begin to understand that these are things that you just do-the same as brushing your teeth and getting dressed. I want her to imitate this practice and grow up benefiting from the emotional and physical control that yoga teaches you. So though it can put a cramp in my style sometimes it is worth it for these moments:

7 Ways To Make Yoga A Lifestyle

YogaLifetyle

I still consider myself a “novice yogi” (that is a total oxymoron). I am by no means an expert, and yoga is something that should be constantly practiced and improved upon. It’s a lifestyle, and one that I want to try to adopt, rather than just “doing yoga”. This month is a refresh and restart on my yoga and goals, to hopefully find a good middle ground, where my yoga practices becomes second nature. This will require a few things on my part, and for anyone looking to bring yoga into their everyday life. Here are 7 ways to make yoga a lifestyle, not just “a thing you do occasionally”.

  1. Make a special place for your practice. This can be as simple as a corner in a bedroom were you roll out your mat, or a dedicated room full of yoga and meditation equipment. Wherever you practice, make sure it a clean, calm, and comfortable. See my little yoga space here, and Kristin’s here.
  2. Find a teacher that you connect with. This can be a small local yoga studio teacher, someone at a large complex, or a youtube guru. Everyone has a different style and speed. Find someone that works with you and your lifestyle, and you are more likely to stick with it.
  3. Integrate meditation into yoga practice. This might not seem like it is everyones cup of tea, but meditation is an important part of wholistic yoga practice. Taking a few extra moments in shavasana, taking a “time out” for 5 minutes in the middle of a busy work day, or reciting a dedicated mantra for 10-15 minutes a day can be the key to bringing yoga inward, and feeding the soul (the soul gets hungry and needs nourishment!).
  4. Try to do yoga every day. I know, this doesn’t seem very balanced to have to do something everyday, but doing yoga for a shorter amount of time every day is better than doing hours of yoga at a time, but not very often (in my opinion). I am a fan of short 15-20 minute yoga practices when I don’t have a lot of extra time, or even just a quick sun salutation flow on a Sunday when I usually would rest from extra activities. Consistency breeds habit.
  5. Find a yoga friend. We all know that having a friend to support you in a goal makes things easier. You don’t have to do yoga together every day, or ever ever, but taking about it and sharing experiences can be enriching.
  6. Keep a journal of the benefits you see from practicing. Writing down how you feel, changes in your body, changes in your mindset, etc will be motivating to keep moving forward. Find a pretty notebook, or just open up a new note in your phone. Either one works!
  7. Take yoga off the mat, and into everyday life. What you do off the mat is just as important, if not more so, than what you do on it. Practicing mindfulness, being kind to yourself and others, forgiving, protecting your body, being happy with what you have, and finding inner strength, are all positive aspects of yoga to practice off the mat.

 

These are just the beginning in a of a myriad of ways to implement yoga into your life. Yoga is very personal, so get on your mat, start, and make it your own.

 

-Rachael

Welcome to January’s Challenge

Yoga and Meditation are the name of the game this month. Official challenge name: “Chillin Out Maxin, Relaxin All Cool”.

This is the perfect way to begin the year; yoga and meditation work hand-in-hand to unite body, mind, and spirit. It also just feels freaking great. If we can get into good habits of daily yoga, and figure out how to implement meditation in an attainable way, then the rest of the year will undoubtedly go smoother. That’s just one of the many benefits of yoga — it centers you.

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Here are a few of our favorite resources we are starting this month with. More to come as we continue to research and learn more!

YouTube–Yoga with Adriene-She is a yoga goddess, so approachable, with high quality and free videos. Try her 30 day of yoga challenges! They are a fantastic way to build your practice, and get in the habit of daily yoga.

Apps- Headspace and Smiling Mind. Both are guided meditation apps we have used and enjoyed. Again, approachable to the “every day” type person.

Videos-My personal favorite is Rodney Yee abs videos. So good for the core!

Did you know that many yoga studios in your community will offer one or more free classes for you to try before buying a pass, or more classes? This is a great way to find a fit before you commit.

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We will write a full post of resources later this month, to let you know what we have discovered and learned. We love to hear your favorites too, so comment below and let everyone know! We want this to be a community of sharing, and learning from each other.

Happy 2018, and happy meditating! (and Yoga-ing? 😉

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