Go with the Friendship Flow

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friends-1272735_640It’s been about five years or so since I started to dabble in the realm of personal growth, and within the past year I’ve really leveled up my commitment to my own journey of self-discovery. The concept of connection has been on my radar more and more, and I’m beginning to realize not only the importance of connection and our relationship with others, but also how it can spawn revelations when it comes to personal growth and authenticity.

Over the years, like everyone, I’ve experienced an ebb and flow with my friendships. None of my current friends are people I knew before college, and I’ve shed two of my longest tenured (think at least 10 years) and deepest friendships over the past two years alone. Losing those two friendships was really painful, but it also made me realize how important it is to let go of relationships that no longer serve you, especially if they’re toxic. Each of us deserves to be treated with love and respect, and if that isn’t something that you are receiving in your relationships, then it’s time to let them go. It’s also important to realize that sometimes you just outgrow people. I know for me, once I opened myself to authenticity and personal integrity and really took inventory of my personal values and beliefs, it was extremely difficult for me to settle for friendships that were unbalanced or shallow.

Looking past the pain of those lost friendships, I realized that the connections that I still maintain are bonds that truly light me up. I have quality friends. I am surrounded by people who genuinely love me and care about me and my life. They want what’s best for me. They encourage me to chase my dreams and explore my potential. They support me in good times and bad, and they love me for me. Really, at the end of the day, that is all any of us want, right?

The awesome–and unexpected–result of shedding toxic relationships is that it made me really invest in my relationship with myself. I began to realize that I deserve better. I deserve to receive the same quality of love and support that I so freely offer to others. Self-love was a big theme for me this year (in case you couldn’t tell ;), and it’s the reason I decided to dive into the amazing group coaching program that I’ve mentioned before.

And you know what happened once I did that?

friends_handsI received an influx of new and beautiful people in my life. These amazing earth angels share so many of the struggles and aspirations that I experience, and it has allowed us to bond quickly and on a much deeper level than I was used to. Bonds like that, particularly ones that accompany hardcore soul-searching, force you to be better. It’s because of that program, those ladies, and these new connections that I continue to dig deep and explore who I am and all of the things of which I’m capable.

When you live your life constantly inspired and excited for what could be, it’s like you’re living on a magical plane of infinite possibilities. And yes, that is probably too froo froo and woo woo for lots of people, but for me – it’s epic. It makes me smile. It makes my heart beat faster in anticipation. I know that I am aligned and being authentic to who I am, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m here – to shine my light and give others permission to do the same. That revelation and the feeling that goes along with it would never be possible if it wasn’t for the amazing, beautiful, soul tribe worthy friends who are part of my life. So thank you. All of you. I love you more than words are capable of expressing, and you know that from me, Little Miss Writer, that says a lot 🙂 ❤

Meditation

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meditateI’ve been meditating for about five years, and although I’ve gone through periods where it was a devout daily practice of mine, I’ve not been very good at making it stick lately. The annoying thing is that I know how much it improves my life – it gives me clarity, a way to relieve stress, and it lends to a marked and overall improvement to my mental health. I thought that perhaps by blogging about meditation, it would inspire me to make it a daily habit once more.

I’m rather flexible when it comes to my meditation practices, because I like to learn about and experience new things. I’ve tried many different types of meditation: guided meditation, meditation accompanied by sound (my preference is ocean waves), binaural beats, breath-focused meditation, and just plain old silent meditation. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite type, but I tend to practice silent meditation or guided meditation the most. My favorite guided meditation is Blissful Deep Relaxation. The first time I used this meditation, I fell into the deepest meditation I’ve achieved to date. It was trance-like, and once I finished, I wasn’t even aware of my body. It was awesome.

I also have some meditation apps that I like to use:

  • Brainwave: The Brainwave app is a good option if you’re into binaural beats. Brainwave has a handy timer feature, ranging from five minutes to eight hours (if you use one of the sleep beats), and it also has background sound options (like “Beach Surf”). The actual binaural beats options include programs such as “Power Nap,” “Morning Coffee,” “Critical Thinking,” and “Creativity Boost.” I definitely like all of the options, but I’m not sure binaural beats are for me. I never seem to get anything out of this app, try as I might.
  • Breathe: Breathe is one of my favorite meditation apps. It provides a meditation guide for newbies, a list of meditations–some of which are free, and some that you must purchase–and it even tracks your meditation progress. My favorite Breathe meditations include “Mindful Meditation,” “Gratitude,” and “Great Compassion.”
  • Calm: Calm may be tied with Insight Timer as my favorite meditation app. The interface is super nice, and there are a ton of options. Calm offers daily meditations and various meditation programs, such as “7 Days of Calm,” “7 Days of Sleep,” and “7 Days of Self-Esteem.” Both unguided (timed vs. open-ended meditations) and guided (“Body Scan,” “Calming Anxiety,” etc.) meditations are available, although many of the latter need to be purchased. Calm also has a scenes feature, which allows you to choose from an array of moving images to focus on while you meditate, if you so choose. They have everything from a beach sunset to a horizon scene.
  • Headspace: Headspace is perhaps one of the most popular meditation apps. It’s a really great resource for newbies and promises to teach and promote daily meditation in just 10 minutes a day. Like Calm, it has a really nice interface, although as someone who has meditated for years,  I found Headspace to be a bit too meditation for dummies.
  • Insight Timer: This one is my most recent find, and it has quickly climbed to the top of my list. It’s free, and it’s basically an online database of meditations for all different purposes: sleep, relaxation, reducing anxiety, balancing your chakras, etc. You can search for whatever you want, and they also keep lists of the current top 20 meditations, newest meditations, etc. I really like that there’s a bookmark feature, so you can keep track of your favorites, and there’s also a rating feature, which always helps me decide which meditation to choose.
  • Simply Being:  Simply Being is a guided meditation app, but you can mute the voice so you can focus on your chosen sound instead. I favor “Moderate Surf,” (with the voice muted) but there are other options, such as various music, “Light Rain” and “Evening Lake Birds.” I also like the timer option on this app – you can set your meditation for 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes.

If you’re interested in meditation, you should definitely try one (or some!) of the apps listed above. Of course now that I’ve published this post, I’ll be sure to take my own advice and get back into the habit of meditating 😉 I find that for me meditating at night just before I go to bed is a great way to unwind after a long day and fall asleep faster, which is always appreciated.