Category Archives: Namaste

Embracing Minimalism

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Like many people, I’ve spent the majority of my life collecting things. While this process was never intentional, the more time passed, the more “stuff” I accumulated. Clothing, candles, purses, lotions, makeup…you name it, I’ve got it.  

Recently, I experienced what it was to live without 90% percent of my possessions.  After living in Tennessee for the past three years, my time in the southern state came to a close. I packed up the majority of my possessions and sent them on to be stored in Ohio, where I’m originally from. I intended to follow behind just a few days after, but ended up extending my stay for two weeks. (Granted, I have spent more than two weeks living out of a bag before, but sleeping in my nearly empty bedroom felt different.) My extra time in Tennessee was spent crashing on my roommate’s air mattress near Chattanooga and couch surfing in Nashville. Although I probably only wear half of my wardrobe as it is – another reason to sell/donate clothing! – it was rather foreign to have only the random items that had been left behind. My drawers full of beauty supplies (okay, ladies, do we really need six bottles of lotion?) were in a different state and I got a chance to see how little I need. 

The best part of this experience was that I genuinely thrived! Sure, some strategic planning to keep things like my vibrams would’ve been helpful, but overall, I was just fine. I got back to Ohio a couple days ago and was greeted with boxes of stuff. I was shocked at how unappealing it all was to me. While I once looked at my full closet with a sense of pride, I now stare at it and mentally calculate the next item I can get rid of. I’ve had multiple friends who have managed to cut down on their possessions so much that they’ve been able to fit everything they own in the backs of their cars. Lately, this lifestyle seems so much more appealing to me. 

The problem with living a lifestyle geared toward materialism is that it will never be enough. There will always be a new version of your smart phone, the perfect addition to your closet, a nicer car, or diamonds that somehow seem shinier than the ones you already own. That said, I have no problem with investing in quality purchases. It makes far more sense to me to spend a bit more money on something that will hold up, opposed to having to continually re-invest in cheaply made items. However, there is a big difference between “living for the next purchase” and allowing said purchases to enhance the quality of your life. I think the real contrast is in the non-attachment to possessions. If you live your life in pursuit of possessions, you will feel a sense of loss when they are gone. Instead, I encourage you to appreciate how “things” can enhance your life, but be so grounded internally that losing them would not truly impact you.  

Find your serenity outside of possessions, people! Whether it’s through meditation, being in nature, quality interactions with other humans, or any other sort of practice. The best time to let go and start being present is Now.   

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Why are you traveling?

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Even if you’ve just skimmed through this blog, you’ve probably gathered that self-development is very important to me. I gobble up new books, podcasts, products, and information like it’s my day job. You also may have noticed my ever-growing Bucket List of places I want to visit, things I want to do, and experiences I want to participate in. While on a weekend trip to the East Coast, a good friend questioned my true intention behind wanting to experience these things. He did this simply by asking, “Why?”
 
At first, I gave the typical answers you would expect out of a young adventuress: “I want to have as many experiences in this life as possible,” “I want to immerse myself in the culture,” “There’s a whole world to explore,” “I want to understand the way these people think,” etc. Then, we really delved into the underlying reasoning. I’m going to share what I discovered with you, but honestly, my ego does not want to – it would rather hide in its little shell and maintain a good appearance. Anyway… 
 
Why I wanted to travel:
  •  unconsciously seeking self-expansion 
  •  to be seen by others as someone who is well-traveled 
  •  to try and enhance my sense of self-worth through these experiences
  •  to try and find myself 
  •  to impress others 
Why I want to travel Now
  •  Use this life to its fullest
  •  See the beauty this world holds 
The underlying reason behind us seeking all these experiences is to expand…and it is totally illusory! The only way we can truly expand is internally (e.g. through meditation). Travel and having exciting experiences isn’t at all wrong, it’s just vital to recognize the real thing we are seeking cannot be found through it. No matter how many stamps I get on my passport, how my times I jump out of a plane, or how many items I cross off of my bucket list, I will not be fulfilled. There may be a temporary high or a brief sense of accomplishment from these experiences, but we will be left wanting more. 
 
Why is that you travel? I’d love to hear about any similar realizations you’ve had or any completely different ideas you’ve thought on the topic! 
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Transformational 2012

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For me, the year of 2012 was one of monumental changes…

Shortly before ringing in the new year of twenty-twelve, I spent a weekend with someone who was quickly progressing in the realm of self-development. Little did I know that our time together would begin an inner process – one that would eventually alter how I saw reality. In a matter of days, he helped me recognize how out of touch I really was with the Now. He introduced me to the work of Eckhart Tolle – if you don’t know him, I heartily recommend looking him up – and sparked my interest in really delving into the process of self-discovery. Although the time we spent together was comparatively short, his impact was lasting.

The months following were filled with transformational self-exploration. Formerly strongly tied to the future, it was not easy for me to begin rooting myself in the Present. Although I still struggle with letting myself succumb to worry, months of practice have helped me stay more consistently grounded. It was during this time that I reconnected with an old acquaintance. We had met a few times in years past, but had never really gotten to know each other. Through social media, I realized that years passing had lead to us having similar interests! Although we barely knew each other, I invited her to travel from Ohio to my home in Tennessee. Though she didn’t have enough money to get here, fate was in our favor. Things were in alignment and the financial means presented themselves to her. It was at this time that I got to know one of the beautiful, soulful, kind, genuine people I have ever met. She helped me become even more in touch with my inner light and the beauty of life.

On a mid-summer’s day, I was speaking with a close friend about my plans for graduate school. I was frustrated, because I was unsure if my chosen path was really “right.” Despite this, I had been emailing back and forth with various programs, studying copious amounts for the GRE, and trying to make a decision that would dictate the next four years of my life. It was then that she asked me what would happen if I invested this time and money into a program, only to graduate and realize it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. For the first time in my academic career, I considered altering my plan. Previously, I had not really considered any other option beside continuing my education. Being a psychology major doesn’t really lend to many post-grad opportunities. After this conversation, I realized I didn’t need to be tied to this specific path. Previously, I had found validation through my academic standing. My self-exploration lead me to realize that nothing I will ever achieve academically, monetarily, or relationally will ever determine my intrinsic value. With that, I decided to use my youth to its fullest extent and postpone graduate school to travel Europe!

The past year has been a highly transitional time. I strengthened old relationships and made new ones. I shifted my focal point to the Now and started to make constant, conscious effort to stay positive. I realized fully that Present moment is all we really have and we need to take full advantage of it. I became introduced to people that have such a wealth of knowledge to share (you’ll do yourself a big favor to check out Eckhart Tolle, Abraham Hicks, Katie Freiling, Kyle Cease, and Mike Dooley). It’s not always easy to internalize, but I now know that my value and worth is not contingent upon anything I can ever achieve. I am so excited to see what 2013 holds and I plan to live it – and every year after I am blessed with – to its fullest extent! I wish all of you the very best!

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 Stay positive, be Present, and set your intentions!

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Highlights of 2012

– Decided to move to Europe

– Went skydiving

– Participated in a yoga flashmob

– Grew my own (little) garden

– Fully recognized the power of synchronicity

– Went bridge swinging

– Saw my baby sister graduate high school

– Went to a couple music festivals

– Attended my first APA conference

– Flew to Ohio for less than 24 hours to be a wedding date

– Realized my value isn’t contingent upon my actions

– Maintained a vegan diet for seven months

– Became introduced to raw foodism

– Saw my grandparents celebrate 50 years of marriage

– Watched Back to the Future with friends, on the side of an abandoned building, laying on a gravel parking lot

– Sporadically attended the World Yo-Yo Championship

– Did barrel rolls in a plane

– Made my first YouTube video

– Finally visited Disney World

– Adopted a kitten and named him Ug

– Went off-roading

– Started a blog

– Started living in the Present and not for the future

 – Randomly moved into a house and realized it was perfect!

– Got a cabin in the mountains with friends and made a ton of guacamole!

– Went on a girls’ road trip to Chicago

My dear friend/housemate and I playing in the leaves!

Became friends with the newly appointed world champions of yo-yo (Check out In Motion!)

Became friends with the newly appointed world champions of yo-yo (Check out In Motion!)

My wise grandfather and baby sister

My wise grandfather and baby sister

Megan Amigo and me watching the Goo Goo Dolls across the river (at a random house party we attended)!

Megan Amigo and I watching the Goo Goo Dolls across the river (at a random house party we attended)!

Megan Amigo and I belly dancing in the mountains of Tennessee

Megan Amigo and me belly dancing in the mountains of Tennessee

Yoga Flashmob

Yoga Flashmob

Girls' trip to Chicago

Girls’ trip to Chicago

Floating in bliss

Floating in bliss

First time at Disney World!

First time at Disney World!

Revelry after Summer Fest 2012

Revelry after Summer Fest 2012

My best friend since pre-school

My best friend since pre-school

First pair of climbing shoes!

First pair of climbing shoes!

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Joyous children like this are why look forward to being an au pair

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Kissing Princess, the camel!

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Eating way too much ice cream!

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Amazing people in Orlando, FL!

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Enjoying an outdoor concert in TN

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Exploring nature with Megan Amigo

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I got to see my baby sister graduate high school!

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“We just jumped out of a plane!”

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My delectable, organic tomatoes!

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Emma Parker’s “Yellow Chair Project” for charity

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One of my delicious vegan creations – Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

First time bouldering!

First time bouldering!

Haley and I had our first, Southern off-roading experience!

Haley and I had our first, Southern off-roading experience!

Casual train yoga!

Casual train yoga!

APA Conference 2012

APA Conference 2012

Oh, just about to jump off a 100 foot bridge!

Oh, just about to jump off a 100 foot bridge!

I wish I could express how much I adore yoga, laughter, and friends!
I wish I could express how much I adore yoga, laughter, and friends!

Soaking up some vitamin D

Soaking up some vitamin D

Loved the looks on my family member’s faces when they realized I’d driven seven hours to surprise them!

Imitating the statues

Imitating the statues

Nothing like playing dress up in a country store

Nothing like playing dress up in a country store

Got to love football matches!

Got to love football matches!

Little kitten, Ug.

Little kitten, Ug.

Nothing can compare to nature.

Nothing can compare to nature.We're a silly family!

Happy NYE from the Nicholas sisters! Try and ignore our glowing eyes...

Happy NYE from the Nicholas sisters! Try and ignore our glowing eyes…

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Vlog: Enhance Your Relationships

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Hey, all! I sincerely apologize for my lack of activity on here, recently. I am going to be posting more frequently, from now on.

Over my young life, I’ve encountered many people and observed a lot of relationships. I decided to make a vlog on a few of my thoughts. As said in the video, I’d love to hear your feedback and constructive criticism!

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Spirit Quest in Nature

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This past spring, I saw a video of a beautiful woman, Megan, whom I had met a few times many years ago. To my delight, she was dancing around to African tribal music while juicing! In case you don’t know, I adore juicing, dancing, and tribal music…

After I realized we had so much in common, I invited her to come stay with me. Megan packed up her belongings, bought a bus ticket, and came to Tennessee! I had such a magical time exploring nature, eating raw foods, belly dancing, conversing, and doing yoga with this enlightened woman. I am so thankful that the universe guided us to each other.

The time she stayed with me was incredibly enlightening. Megan has one of the most positive, loving spirits I have ever encountered. Although we were practically strangers, there was no awkwardness whatsoever! I love her dearly and she is my soul sister.

Naturally, I was thrilled when she divulged to me that she was creating a Spirit Quest video detailing our experience! So now it’s here for you to enjoy….

Cultivating a Mature Mentality

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ma·tur·i·ty (m-ty r-t, -t r-, -ch r-) n. pl. ma·tur·i·ties. 1. a. The state or quality of being fully grown or developed. b. The state or quality of being mature.

To me, this definition is rather depthless. Despite describing a complex subject matter, it barely skims the surface of the profundity of the topic. What is emotional or cognitive maturity? Maturity can be crudely described as “the state or quality of being mature.” The question is; what exactly is maturity? Apparently, an individual is fully mature once he or she has reached the full potential of growth and development. Yet, does a person ever truly stop growing and developing? Does one fall into a near catatonic state at some point and resolve, “I have grown and developed. I feel I am finished with both. I shall no longer strive for maturation or growth. In fact, I will refuse to even let the natural synchronicities of life enact growth or development upon me. From this point forward I shall be static and immovable!”? Is this a conscious decision or does this quandary come about naturally? If there is indeed a group of people who possess this mentality, is there then not a contrasting group that holds the position of, “I shall never stop growing and developing. I refuse to let progress evade me! I will not allow myself to go through the rest of my like lacking purposeful advancement and I will stay fully alert and present in the Now.”?

So, factors dictate who is in each group?  Is it possible to purposefully cultivate one of these mentalities? Contrastingly, is one’s approach toward growth and development solely dictated through life experiences (e.g. theory of behaviorism) and is it then unable to be altered be a conscientious decision to strive for fruition? If maturity comes exclusively through life experiences, then it is impossible for one to force maturity upon oneself. In this case, a person must wait for growth and development to transpire naturally. Personally, I think humans have the capability to incite self-growth. Providing maturity can be cultivated within a person, what must a person do to ensure that this action transpires? I suggest that there is not a singular route a person should take, but many potential means to this continual growth…

I believe it is possible for an individual to be figuratively carried on the backs of those surrounding him and never fully internalize  growth or development. While some legitimate progression may ensue – simply by being surrounded by those with a higher level of development – I question how much a person is genuinely influenced if he or she does not internally adopt the higher level of maturation. In these cases, it may appear that full development and growth has occurred, but how is one to determine authentic maturation from a [possibly unintentional] façade of complete development? Is it possible that one could simply mirror the maturation of others?

Can it be that maturity in its entirety is simply a byproduct of internalizing the belief that growth and development should be a constant, interminable part of life that one must constantly work to cultivate? Friends, I hope to glean knowledge from your words and solace from your wisdom. Think deeply about your own growth and development. Is it stagnant and resistant to progress? If so, consider what you can do to ensure that you foster continuous growth and development within your own life. In fact, I request that you take this even a step further and contemplate how you can inspire growth and development in the lives of others so that they may be aided on the boundless path of maturation.

Namaste,

Andrea

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The Power of Setting Intention

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While slightly off the topic of travel plans, I have the irrefutable urge to briefly share about the power and impact of internal choice. Friends, there are infinite amounts of love, equanimity, happiness, and connectivity within this world! So many people go through daily life without realizing many of the things they yearn for are truly accessible. In fact, all you have to do is reach out and grab them!

The first step to attaining _________ (positivity, love, success, peace, productivity, etc.) is to make a conscientious effort to send out into the world what you want to receive. This principle has been expressed in many ways, over many years, and in many contexts. In the Christian faith, it’s the Gold Rule. Like many others, I grew up hearing the maxim, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This foundational concept of Christianity can be appreciated despite one’s religious beliefs. In philosophy, it appears as the concept of synchronicity. By this standard of thinking, synchronicity is the uncanny merging of two seemingly unrelated events. Sometimes, situations just seem pan out in an astonishingly perfect way—to me, this is the work of synchronicity. In the New Age way of thought, the related idea of setting intention emerges. The key to the practice of setting intention is genuinely believing that there is an abundance of _________ (fill in your need) in the universe just waiting to be taken advantage of. Consciously setting your intention allows for said intent to be engrained deep within you. In this regard, an intent can be far more impacting than a goal. Goals are set frequently, and often forgotten just as frequently. Unlike goals, intentions aren’t simply a wish or desire that you write down and refer back to at the coming of a new year. Setting a sincere intention also involves staying consciously aware of your intent and being open enough to let the universe work on your behalf.

I heartily recommend incorporating intent setting into your morning ritual. It’s a wonderful way to frame your entire day!

Tell me, friends, what intention are you going to set today?