2018, A Year of Self-Discovery, Personal Health and Well-Being

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As the new year descends upon me, I look back on this past year wondering where it went and what happened; that’s how quickly it has come and gone. But you know what they say, when you are having fun, time flies. A fun year it has been; a year full of self-discovery and new adventures with a strong focus on my personal health and well-being. I started off my year with a commitment to being healthy.  I went through a four-month detox to heal my gut and am happy to say that I am off all my allergy and eczema medications. I started meditating daily and yoga has finally become a weekly practice.  Exercise, time in nature, reading and a continual commitment to learning and giving back has become part of my daily life.  While I still enjoy my nights out and beautiful things, there has been a major shift from the outward to the inward, end result, I have never felt better.

From a spiritual level, this past year has been full of so much learning, growing and evolution.  While there have been so many lessons, the one that has had the most impact on me this year is to BE YOU all the time.  No matter where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing, I have learnt to make sure your intentions and actions reflect who you are and not what you think others want you to be like.

It is easy for us to get lost and lose ourselves in a society that tends to please and follow others and one that often looks to others for acceptance and love. However, every time we do what we are “supposed to” or what we think others want us to, we lose apart of who we are. For me, this has been particularly prevalent growing up in the Indian culture where we are often defined by the many roles we play; daughter, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, sister, employee etc.  We often play these roles from defined expectations, because that is what we are taught and the only way we believe we will be accepted and loved. However, I have learned that there is only one way to BE in this world and this is to BE YOU. By being you, and having your intentions and actions reflect who you are (whether at work, at home, or out with friends), you can still fulfil the many roles that have been brought upon you in this life, only now those roles are expressed from a place of authenticity. When there is authenticity, there is love, and when there is love there is success. When you are YOU, things flow and come with ease.  When you are YOU, you express the higher version of yourself and receive the greatest level of fulfillment.

Happy New Year’s Everyone! Cheers to Living and Being Higher!

Rising up to Resiliency

Let’s empower our children and give them the tools to be resilient. In doing so, we lay a strong foundation for their future and their ability to thrive through all that life brings their way.

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I have gotten a lot of advice over the years on how to raise my kids; from food, to discipline, to schools, to how to interact with them. Some advice has been helpful, while others, not so much. However, there has always been one piece of advice that I have heard and continue to hear that has always bothered me – that kids are resilient and can overcome anything, so I shouldn’t worry so much about how change or decisions will impact them. I have heard this many times, and it has always been said in a way that assumes kids are automatically resilient and adapt to any situation because they are young and able to bounce back. Every time I hear this, I bite my tongue and often smile in agreement to avoid debating the topic. But in my head, I am always thinking if they were so resilient, why do we have so many kids that are “screwed up”, why are so many kids “acting out”, and why do we have so many kids that lack self-esteem and confidence. More importantly why do we have so many adults with issues that stem from their childhood and the experiences they had.

Let’s face it, kids are not as resilient as we think, and it certainly does not always come automatically. Each child is unique and is at their own level of resilience. Many often appear to be resilient at first, because they are too young to understand, and don’t have a voice in many of the decisions that impact their lives, so they often make the best of a situation. We, as parents, see this and believe they are ok because that is what we want to see and believe, only to wonder “what happened” or “what went wrong” later on when our kids aren’t stepping up and living to their fullest potential.

I have found what appears to be resilience at first is often short sited without any consideration to long term impacts, and the cumulation of various events and experiences on them. I see it every day in kids young and old and I see the impact of childhood experiences carried through in adulthood.  Resilience is not automatic, and instead of assuming that it is, let’s start empowering our kids with the tools to become resilient.

As my awareness has expanded over the years, my parenting style has shifted to align with it.  As a result, I have focused on teaching my kids how to be resilient instead of continuing to let time take its course and hoping for them to be “ok”. Resilience is incorporated everyday into our family lifestyle, through open communication, dialogue and practice.

There are many ways that I work on building resilience in my household and they all center on being mindful and aware.  One of the tools we use is my ASFLM process. Whatever negative situation or feeling we are going through – whether it is big or small – we Acknowledge it, Sit with it and Feel it, Let it go, and make a plan to Move Forward.

Acknowledge It – I teach my kids to acknowledge what they are feeling and be honest as to why they feel that way. Acknowledging is easy but being honest about why you feel a certain way is much harder. It is not always easy to admit the source of what is going on behind those feelings (perhaps it is insecurity, jealousy or competition), but if you can be truthful with yourself, then you are half way to moving on. This involves time and reflection, and I find the best way to acknowledge is by sharing and talking it through. Sharing doesn’t have to be with a person, it can be done by writing in a journal as well.

Sit With It & Feel It – No matter what the emotion, sit with it and feel it. It is ok to feel sad and cry, and it is ok to be angry and hurt. I have taught them to feel their emotions as opposed to sweeping them under the rug and pretending everything is ok.

Let It Go – While we want to feel our emotions, we don’t want to stay in a negative place. Once we have felt our emotions and understood them, I have taught them to make a decision to let go and release them. It is at this point that we make a commitment to a new way of thinking and feeling. Yoga, meditation, music, exercise, being in nature and visualization have been instrumental in helping with this process.

Move Forward –  Lastly, we set goals and make a plan on how to move forward and change how we feel or adapt to a new situation. This may involve something as simple as recharging your mind by doing something you love, or perhaps it involves something bigger and taking specific actions, like deciding on how to interact with a difficult person or letting go of a certain friend or activity. Taking action is critical to moving forward.

Life is full of ups and downs, and there will always be changes and challenges our children will face along the way. I believe every child is capable of being resilient, however, let’s not assume its automatic. Let’s instead empower them and give them the tools to be resilient.  In doing so, we lay a strong foundation for their future and their ability to thrive through all that life brings their way.

Originally published in Thrive Global December 3, 2018

My Eternal Truths

The truth is all we have, and is the only way to be who we truly are and who we are truly meant to be.

Growing and living life to our fullest potential requires being honest with ourselves and making sure our decisions, actions and intentions reflect who we truly are and what we truly feel and believe. Being truthful with our self seems like such a simple concept and should come naturally, but for most of us it does not. We often can’t recognize our own truths or face them because we have buried them underneath layers of excuses and justifications. We will come up with a million reasons why we can’t do something or haven’t done it yet and we will make excuses all day long for why our life is the way that it is. It is often easier to bury our truths then face them because of the implications the truth may have on our life and the difficult decisions or changes we may have to take when we do face and recognize them.

While many of us try to avoid the truth, at the end of the day, the truth is all we have, and is the only way to be who we truly are and who we are truly meant to be. I am fortunate that my journey has allowed me the space and wisdom to uncover my many truths, allowing me to live an authentic life.

Here are the truths that I cherish the most and try to live by each and every day.

  • Recognize when you are wrong and take responsibility for your actions instead of blaming someone else, or the situation.
  • Have the courage to be honest with all those around you instead of making up “white lies” to avoid a difficult discussion or disappointing someone.
  • Know when you need help, acknowledge it and ask for it, don’t pretend to be and do it all.
  • See people for who they are and accept them for who they are, even if it is not who we want them to be.
  • Don’t make excuses for the ones we love including our children and spouses when their actions don’t reflect who we want them to be or who we thought they were.
  • Realize and acknowledge that what you thought was love from someone was never love at all.
  • Recognize and listen to what someone is telling you even if it isn’t what you want to hear.
  • Know yourself and make sure your intentions and actions reflect who you are instead of trying to be who you think you should be, or acting like someone else.
  • Acknowledge that sometimes your actions or in actions are a result of fear and the unknown.
  • Stand up for what you believe and what is in your soul, even if it is not what someone else believes or what they want you to do.
  • Be strong enough to always be who you are not matter who you are with and have the courage to let go of those who don’t allow you to be “you”.

The truth can be heartbreaking and hurt initially. However, if you allow it and embrace it, facing your truths will lead to freedom, healing and growing to a higher level.

– Live & Be Higher –

 

For Every Time….

For every time we pose for a picture, it would be nice if we spend a few moments looking at that picture remembering who we really are, what we stand for and what we believe in.

For all the money and time we invest in materialistic things, lets also invest in ourselves. Invest in our personal growth and spiritual, mental and physical health.

For every time we go out and have fun with our friends, let’s plan a night in, relaxing with those closest to us, celebrating and loving who we are.

Every time we learn something new, or achieve a goal, let’s take the time to give back and teach others how to climb higher and achieve their goals as well.

Every time we go out with our friends, to the latest restaurant or happening place, let’s make sure we focus on who we are with as opposed to where we are at.

Every time we judge someone for acting, believing or doing something in a certain way, let’s stop, and take the time to find something good in them. Compliment them, support them, and respect them, even if they don’t have the same opinion as us, or we don’t believe in everything they do.

Every time we walk outside, let’s take a few moments to enjoy where we are and see the beauty around us.

If we spent just a little more time on the things that matter, we would be better people and our world would be a better place. It’s the people, places and moments that matter!

Same Situation, Two Different Endings

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Our energy impacts others and in turn how they react to us. When our interactions with others aren’t going well, it is within us to change it at any time.

I went to the hospital this week to get some routine tests done, and as I was approaching the door to the check in area, a lady was walking out. As she walked passed me, she rolled her eyes and looked irritated. I immediately sensed that something was going on inside. As I approached the window of the closed door, I could see two women engaging in a heated conversation. I opened the door and stood behind a lady in a wheelchair while her daughter in front of her was talking loudly and arguing with the lady at the front desk. I initially had no idea what was going on, but within minutes I realized the daughter was flustered and upset as she did not know where to take her mother for her appointment. I smiled at the mother in the wheelchair and she smiled back at me commenting on how cute my bag was, she then looked at me and said, please forgive my daughter, she is tired as she has been up all night with me. I looked at her and said, it is all right we all have those days. As I continued to engage in conversation with the mother, the daughter continued to get frustrated and angry with the staff at the front desk, in turn the staff at the front desk began to get angry right back at her. Staff decided to call a supervisor, who then called security with the intent of escorting the mother and daughter out. Before they could be escorted out, another staff member intervened to help. This staff member maintained her composure and very calmly handled the situation, being helpful and positive despite being initially talked to rudely by the daughter. After a few minutes of this new staff member listening and genuinely trying to help the daughter, (instead of asserting her power or making a point as many people would do in this situation), the energy shifted, the daughter calmed down, and the heated argument deescalated. Instead of security escorting the mother and daughter out, this co-worker personally chose to walk the mother and daughter to where their appointment was located.

This is a good reminder on how our reactions impact others and how it is within us to change a situation at any time. It is also a reminder on how compassion and kindness can go along way and really make a difference to someone. The same situation could have had two very different endings, with the only difference being a result of one person’s level of awareness and sense of compassion.

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

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As 2017 comes to an end, I reflect back on my year, my accomplishments, the adventures I had, the new friends I made, and the laughter, love and heartbreak I shared with those closest to me. One of my biggest accomplishments this past year was starting my blog and sharing my story with the intent of inspiring others. While I wasn’t able to keep up with it as much as I originally had hoped, I did manage to churn out 12 articles on heartbreak and loss, forgiveness, parenting, and self-awareness. It wasn’t an easy decision to put myself out there and share my story with everyone, particularly coming from a culture that does not openly share. However, I changed my life over the past several years and was able to turn heartbreak and hurt into something good and meaningful, and I wanted to share my journey. I am truly blessed for all the support and love I have gotten, including the messages, the comments, the hearts, the likes, and the many conversations over coffee. What has truly touched me the most this past year, is those that have reached out and told me that it made a difference to them — that means the world to me, as it is the whole reason I started this blog.

For me there have been so many lessons this past year, but I want to share with you in my last blog of 2017 the most important one. Tomorrow is promised to no one, today is all we have, so be here now, be present and be in the moment. No matter what you are doing, playing with your kids, working out, taking a walk, having dinner with friends, be all in, relish in the moment, feel it and truly live it. The present moment is all we have and recognizing it and feeling it, is the essence of really living. So, stop and be, and you will see, feel and experience things you have never noticed or felt before.

Goodbye 2017, hello 2018, here is to a new year of adventures, opportunities, love and laughter, and to continuing growing to a higher level.

Happy New Years!

Naina

-Live & Be at a Higher Level-

Stepping into Alignment {Gabby Bernstein’s 5 Steps}

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Gabby Bernstein in a recent workshop she hosted in NYC, talked about five things you can do to step into alignment with the truth of who you are and what you want. What does it mean to be in alignment? You are in alignment when you feel good and are flowing with your life, you are out of alignment when you feel bad. If you are out of alignment here are Gabby’s five steps to get back into it:

Step 1 – The Universe is Always Saying Yes

The universe is always saying yes, whether you like it or not.  What are you a yes for? Are you a yes for romance or loneliness, are you a yes for wellbeing or illness? State what you are a yes for!

Do not judge yourself when you are out of alignment instead slow down the momentum. When you are going upstream, shift the momentum to go downstream, downstream is where it flows. You can do this by redirecting your focus onto something else (something that is thriving), simply taking a nap, or helping someone.

Step 2 – It is Good to Feel Good

We often use fear to protect us from being hurt and default to the “this is too good to be true”. However, when you are feeling good, go for more, ride the wave, ride the momentum. What you want isn’t the goal, you already are it and it becomes you.

Step 3 – Take Spiritually Aligned Action

When you take action from a place of misalignment then it becomes a mess. Don’t start off out of alignment, if you feel off, get into alignment first.

Step 4 – Follow the Fun

If it doesn’t feel fun, then why are we doing it. The more fun you have along the way the faster you attract what you want.

Step 5 – Put out What You Want to Receive

Put out what you want to receive, claim it, place it, direct your positive intentions towards what you want. Always set a clear intention, before you do anything, including something simple as sending an email.  Always set an intention first.

Forming a new relationship with an ex based on the one goal we will always have in common, our children

Divorce isn’t easy no matter what the circumstances, and when children are involved it gets complicated. Emotions are high, adjustments are being made, and everyone believes they are right. This often results in a strained and contentious relationship with an ex-spouse that can carry on for years to come as we battle over schedules, parenting styles, and holidays.  Because of this strained relationship many people default to the standard way of doing things, with regards to communication, visitation schedules, holidays and living arrangements. I understand why, it provides boundaries and a level of certainty and fairness, which is often needed at that time. However, if we could get past our hurt emotions, let go, and come from a place of love – there doesn’t have to be a “standard”, instead a world of possibilities and new relationships open up, including a new relationship with an ex-spouse. By all means, we do not have to be best friends with our exes, however we can form a new and different relationship with them based on raising our children and building a strong foundation for them.

For me, divorce wasn’t amicable, peaceful, or a mutual decision, there was a lot of hurt, resentment and anger, and I felt like a victim who had been dealt the wrong hand. However, when I was going through the process, I recall telling myself that I will forgive, move past this, and will eventually form a new relationship with my ex, based on the common love and well being of our two kids. I did not know how I was going to do this, but I knew it is what I wanted, and I would achieve it. I knew if I could let go of the negative emotions, and make decisions that reflected who I truly was (not based on anger or hurt), I could have something different, something more whole and complete for myself and my family, and I achieved just that.  Over time what I achieved is a new family that includes a new relationship with my ex. A relationship that is peaceful and respectful, and based on the love of our kids. A relationship where we can sit together without animosity, talk amicably, and be a part of our kids’ lives and special moments together. A relationship where we truly wish the best for each other.

Forming this new relationship with my ex, which I call “parentship” was a process, one that took a lot of patience, forgiveness, love, self-awareness and compassion. Here are the steps I took in getting there and lessons I learnt along the way.

Forgive and Let go – To develop a new relationship post-divorce, we need to forgive and let go of the past. We can’t hold on to what happened yesterday, let alone five years ago. Each day is a new day, a new beginning and a chance for something different. This is only possible, when we let go, move on and see and treat that person in a new light.

Be aware of thoughts and actions – If we are constantly thinking negative thoughts about the other person, that will be reflected in our actions, and in turn our relationship with them. I have made a conscious effort to be aware of my thoughts and have realized that when you come from a place of love, others around you will rise up – it may not happen right away or be as high up as you would like them to, but they will rise up to meet you.

Reach out – Too often we let our pride get in the way of reaching out to someone.  However, it takes one person to reach out and change a relationship.  People often tell me that both have to be willing, and yes that is true, but it starts with one. Our energy can change somebody else’s.  It takes one to reach out, to have compassion, to be the bigger person.  Even if the other doesn’t accept at first or is hesitant, if you continue to be who you are, you will succeed even if it is in a small way – love always wins.

Have no expectations – Sometimes one makes more of an effort than the other, which can be frustrating. However, I have learnt to live, and do what I do, regardless of the actions of anyone else or how much effort they put in.  I have always been and will probably always be the one that puts in most of the effort in raising my kids and in maintaining a positive relationship with my ex.  I am able to because of my strong belief in a better way and because I recognize that each person has their own journey to make and personal capacity to give.

Parent together – It is easy to fall into the pattern of doing what you want in raising your children after a divorce, I know I did. However, I soon realized that I wouldn’t act this way when I was married, so why now, when my objective with regards to my kids was the same. While we are individuals with our own opinions on raising our kids, we can still parent together. We just have to learn to work through our differences, understand each other’s views and compromise.

Be Patient – A new relationship does not happen overnight, it’s a process and it takes time.  Like any relationship in your life it is evolving, and will have its ups and downs.  All relationships involve patience, understanding and flexibility.

Too often, we limit our relationships, because of our own pride and inability to let go of the past. While divorce seems so finite, when children are involved, the relationship is forever. It’s why I chose a different way. I chose love over hatred, forgiveness over holding on, and compassion and compromise over being right. What is the end of one relationship can be the beginning of a new one, if we are open and willing to allow it. For me, the end result is peace in my life, and a strong and united foundation for my children with two parents who share the same goal in raising them.

Mastering the Art of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself.  If you can’t learn to forgive, you can forget about achieving true success in your life ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

There are countless quotes on forgiveness, the majority of which have the same fundamental message – forgiveness is for ourselves and it is what allows us to move forward and achieve happiness. While there is no doubt that forgiveness is a good thing, and is the way to move forward, what does forgiveness really mean and how is it achieved? Even though we say the words “I forgive” – have we truly forgiven, let go, and moved on?

We have all been in a situation where we have had to forgive someone. Sometimes it is for something small, where forgiveness and moving on is easy and we never give a second thought to that incident again.  Other times, it is in a more hurtful situation, when it is not so easy to simply say the words and move on. I have too often seen and personally experienced the countless situations where we say we have forgiven someone, only to rehash resentment and hurt at a later date.  I have also experienced conditional forgiving where we forgive people with conditions, and when they don’t act a certain way or meet our expectations, it “triggers” old wounds – ones that we supposedly forgave and let go of.  I have come to realize that if we are rehashing old wounds and resentments, or forgiving conditionally, we haven’t really let go or moved on.

So, what does forgiveness mean and how can we accomplish it successfully? What I have learnt over the years is that forgiveness has different meanings to different people and can mean different things in different situations.  What I know for sure is that forgiveness is essential in letting go and being happy, but it is a process, it is not something that happens just because we say the words. It is truly an art – each time is unique and it is a process before it becomes a master piece.

Mastering the Art of Forgiveness

State it or express it – Start by stating your intent to forgive. You may not truly feel it at that moment or know how you are going to do it, but at least you have declared your intent which is the beginning of the forgiveness process.

What are you forgiving? Sometimes we just say I forgive you, because we are supposed to.  We often do this without truly reflecting on what we are forgiving for, are we ready for it, and do we know how we are going to do it.  When we forgive without true reflection on what someone has done, why someone has done it, and its impact on you, forgiveness won’t last, as you truly won’t let go and be free from it.

Exercise compassion – “Compassion is the antidote to anger, resentment, and fear” – Gabby Bernstein. When you understand where someone else is coming from and their perspective, it is easier to forgive and let go. Hurt people hurt other people, I don’t believe people set out to hurt others or feel good in doing so. Having compassion does not mean what someone has done to you is acceptable, it means you choose love instead of anger and resentment.

Reflect on what forgiveness means in each situation.  One of my favorite meanings of forgiveness is from Oprah Winfrey “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different”. Forgiveness can mean different things to different people and in different situations.  There is no right or wrong in what it means or how one chooses to handle it.  What is important is that no matter how you choose to handle it, you forgive and let go, so that it is no longer hurting you, or preventing you from rising to your highest.

How are you going to forgive – How do you let go and move on, and how does that impact your relationship with the person who hurt you.  Are you going to let go of what they said or did and continue with your relationship?  Do you need to confront that person and express how you feel, or is best that this person is no longer a part of your life? Perhaps they are a family member or you have children with them, so you can’t completely cut them out of your life, but instead you set boundaries in your relationship. How you handle it can be different in each situation but what is important is that from within, you are at peace and have let go.

Forgiveness is a process, it is not always instantaneous, it does not mean what someone has done is right, or that you must continue to be a part of their lives.  The goal of forgiveness is to stop wondering why something happened and wishing it didn’t, let go, and move on so you can live your life to its fullest potential.

Live and Be Higher 2017 Summer Campaign

I started this blog to promote personal growth and motivate people to live and be at a higher level.  I strongly believe that a commitment to personal growth is the way to achieve true fulfillment and success in your life.  “Living and Being Higher” encompasses a number of things including, compassion, kindness, overcoming personal fears, forgiveness, healing old wounds, goal setting and taking action on achieving your dreams.

Here are some simple ways to grow and challenge yourself this summer and be on your way to “living and being higher!”

Spread Love – Reach out to someone you have not talked to in a while.  Don’t let pride or ego get in the way of reconnecting with a friend or loved one.

Exercise Compassion – help a friend, family member or co-worker in need.  Helping someone could come in all forms, including listening, financial assistance, advice and/or guidance, or doing a favor for them.  Charity and helping others starts at home with your friends and family.

Be Kind – show kindness to those around you especially those that are often forgotten, the elderly, the not so popular, the underdog, and even that grumpy co-worker. Kindness and love can do wonders and remember everyone has a story and we don’t always know what they are going through.

Learn – Learn something new about yourself and the world each day.  This doesn’t take a lot of time to do.  If you stop and live in the present moment, awareness about yourself and surroundings is instantaneous!

Fear – Pick three things you fear and make a commitment to just do it.  This could be small or large.  You may not like what you fear after you have done it, but the experience of actually doing it is empowering in so many ways.

Teach – Take the time to teach someone, whether it is at home with a parent or child, among friends, or at work. Teaching is the greatest gift you can give and greatest reward you can receive.

Judgement – Exercise not judging anyone for just one day (this is harder than you think).  Don’t judge anyone on who they are or on their actions for one day this includes at work, at home, driving or even in the grocery store.

Gratitude – Keep a 2017 summer gratitude log. Each day, write down one new thing that you are grateful for.  By the end of the summer you will be amazed at how blessed your life is!

Happy Summer xoxo