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Energizing Summer Chicken Salad

Here is a delicious Summer Salad recipe to add to your favorites! Loaded with health enhancing properties and with a vegan or non-vegan (chicken) option, this is sure to delight you and your guests with the perfect blend of tastes and feel-good effect!

1 lb Organic Baked chicken breast (chopped) *optional*
1 Organic Cucumber diced
1 Organic Avocado diced
1 pint of Organic Cherry Tomatoes halved
4-5 Leaves Organic Fresh Basil
1 Tablespoon melted Organic Coconut Oil
1 Tablespoon Organic Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider vinegar.
Sea Salt to taste
Raw local honey to taste (optional)
Lots of love and good energy

1. Combine chicken, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl mix balsamic vinegar, coconut oil, and apple cider to make a dressing.
3. Pour dressing in mixing bowl with chicken and veggies.
4. Mix in basil leaves, honey, and sea salt to taste.
5. Add in lots of love energy and gratitude!

Health Benefits from this Recipe

Basil: Reduces inflammation and swelling. Anti-aging properties.
Tomatoes: Rich in antioxidants. Antimicrobial properties.
Avocado: Rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Antifungal properties. 

Balanca_Yoga

Balance Your Life With Yoga

One of the most challenging aspects of life is finding balance. Especially in today’s fast-paced world, we’re often being pulled in several directions at once. The distractions and duties required of our lives leaves both our bodies and our minds unstable. Luckily, yoga creates awareness within us, can allow us to gain mindfulness, and builds the skills needed to achieve balance. It doesn’t matter if you practice yoga in the comfort of your home as a beginner, or immerse yourself in a deep study at a yoga retreat, if you’re hoping to achieve this balance, think about the following advice during your yoga sessions.

  • Take the Leap

Balancing demands a leap of faith. In order to face the challenges of everyday life, you must push beyond your limits. This practice of testing the status quo is mirrored in yoga. During every yoga session, you extend your body past what you thought was possible. As you challenge your status quo in class, you gain the confidence to do the same in everyday life. Yoga equips you with the tools necessary to take the leap of faith that true balance requires.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Fall

Both in yoga and in life, sustaining a healthy balance requires letting go as much as it does maintaining control. You can’t be afraid to fall off the cliff. Once you have taken the leap of faith, don’t look back or become nervous. In yoga, if you clench every muscle, you’re actually more likely to fall over. Let go, and embrace the discomfort. Similarly, in life, you cannot be afraid to fail. Persevere. More often than not, the effort put into either your pose or your daily duties means more than success. Plus, even if you do not succeed, each attempt will place you closer to your goal. The courage necessary to fail reminds us that things in the present are worth our while. Falling and failing is a part of life. Don’t be afraid to near it in any realm of your life.

  • Be Present

The whole purpose of yoga is to be with yourself, regardless of your state of mind. Keep your eyes focused on a single object, whether it’s a spot on the floor as you stand in tree pose or the grocery list you need to knock off of your to-do list. Practicing yoga every day can give you the peace of mind necessary to make self-care a priority and to undertake distractions and commitments with ease. Accept whatever comes to you in life, and don’t get upset with yourself if things go awry. Keep a clear mind, and do all that you can to accomplish what needs to be done.

Aside from physically adjusting your body from the imbalances unequal pressure creates, yoga mimics life. The poses we move through mirror the phases of life. Even as we twist and bend, just as we do in life, we are encourage to breathe, to embrace the pain, and to make adjustments when necessary.

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Hot Oil Coconut Milk Hair Treatment

Enjoy one of our favorite hot oil treatment hair masks from As I Am‘s  Day 8′s Self-Care Treatment. This really makes your hair feel more manageable, shiner and naturally healthier!

Ingredients:

• 1 can unsweetened coconut milk

• 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil

Application:

1. The night before your treatment, pour a can of unsweetened coconut milk in a bowl and refrigerate overnight so it hardens.

2. Warm the coconut oil. Massage to scalp and hair.

3. Apply the hardened milk from roots to ends over the coconut oil.

4. Comb the mixture through your hair.

5. Leave on for 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Shampoo, rinse and comb out.

If you have dry ends but your scalp tends to get oily, apply this mask only to the bottom half of hair, keeping it away from your scalp.

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I AM More Than T & A

After years of watching my dog interact with other dogs, I have come to view the animalistic nature of sexual attraction to include a desire to dominate another being (although I also believe in more evolved and love-based relationships that many humans experience and seek). Who’s the bigger dog that is going to dominate, pro-create and therefore survive?

As the yoga culture continues to increase worldwide, I am seeing more examples of these primitive human characteristics and the objectification of a female yogi seeping into this pop-culture community that was once based on an eight-limbed path to enlightenment.

I have had this blog swirling in my mind, waiting to be written for many years now, but I did not want to express it from a judgmental or personal perspective. Last week, however, I had an experience that cracked the eggshell. I practiced yoga next to another yoga instructor. I couldn’t help but stare at her overly Botoxed, frozen face when she introduced herself, and I found my heart swelling with sadness for what seemed to be a woman projecting some illusion of beauty. Then she took off her top, revealing melon-shaped implants spilling over her sports top. I smiled more from compassion than approval, as having taught in Beverly Hills for 15 years, I understand the insecurity that lies beneath most fillers and implants.

It wasn’t until I saw her practice that I knew it was time to share this blog. She told me of her neck issues, joint pain and physical limitations. I wasn’t shocked at that, knowing the side effects of breast implants and toxic fillers – what did shock me is that a yoga instructor would consciously forego her health for a desire to be a commercialized form of “sexy.” I have learned to accept this choice with the actresses and models that I teach, but a yoga instructor? I am truly not judging her, because 1) maybe she hasn’t made the connection and 2) I understand both the temptation and the consequences, but I felt it was time to open the conversation.

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Being Barbie

Anyone can buy a Barbie face and body. Have you ever been to a ladyboy or drag show where men transform into stunning glamour girls? This modern day recipe for “sexy” includes the following: breast implants, butt implants, nose job, Botox, lip and facial fillers, hair extensions and weaves, false eye lashes, fake nails and pounds of cover-up and make-up. Anyone, let me repeat, anyone, can be this – man, woman or Kardashian – and much like a Louis Vuitton bag, people carry their silicone baggies as if they are better people for having them.

My question is, why would anyone want to relish in something that is inauthentic, fake and that anyone can have? There is so much more beauty and character in loving and being who you truly are (pan to Meryl Streep) while also attracting someone who loves you for just that. I will share with you my opinion: because it sends an instantaneous, non-verbal message that one is looking to be desired. As in any business exchange, when you know that someone wants something, they are easier to be negotiated and bought. Therefore those looking to “win” will be attracted to those with obvious signs of trying to appear sexier – since that translates as a higher chance to succeed. Unfortunately, far too many people falsely perceive being desired with being loved.

When I see someone with obvious elective plastic surgery, I instantly equate it with someone who is not happy with who they are (not always, but most of the time – and my comments and opinions exclude breast cancer survivors who use medical breast implants how they were originally intended). Any professional athlete, detective, shrewd business person, or war soldier will tell you that any sign of a person lacking self-confidence creates an opportunity to dominate, control and possibly acquire them. Most plastic surgery procedures require one to literally be cut open, have needles injected into them, and spend a lot of money gambling to achieve something “better”. Well, if you’re gambling, you probably don’t think that you have much to lose. In just a few seconds, this is translated as “easy.” And being easy is more of what is attractive than any extraordinary show of beauty. In my latest book, As I Am, I outline seven personality types based on common food choices and behavior characteristics. The Predator personality type loves to win and acquire, and they (consciously or not) seek those who they can easily objectify and dominate.

Let’s start with some basic facts about plastic surgery:

1) Breast and gluteal implants are literally silicone covered baggies stuffed into either a person’s chest cavity or under their gluteus maximus muscles. Yes, baggies – that’s what they are, and muscles and vital tissue are cut to get these baggies in place.

2) Scar tissue accumulates around all implants as a means for the body to protect itself from the foreign object and the microbes that grow on them.

3) Botox is made from botulism, which is one of, if not the most toxic substance known on earth.

4) Did you know that stem cells live in fat? Healthy fat is an asset, not a nuisance to be vacuumed away and condemned. Also, there are increasing studies showing that bigger-hipped women have higher IQs, a longer life expectancy and smarter kids. So enjoy your natural, healthy curves – real ones have benefits that fake ones lack.

5) According to the National Institute of Health, women carry about 10% more body fat than men. A sexual desire for others with less fat (especially around the belly and hips) may indicate a desire to dominate men vs. women.

Ring of Power

Similar to Froto in The Lord of the Ringswomen hold the ultimate power and control over what is defined as a sexy woman. Sadly, the majority of women have been led to believe otherwise (that they are powerless) and therefore succumb to the ignorant trends in our societies today (sexual objectification and/or sexual submission). If women truly embraced their natural beauty and respected their value as powerful, feminine human beings, men would have no choice than to follow their example (as some do).

I am certainly not denying the magnificence and artistry of beauty, or subtle plastic surgery (if one is willing to gamble all of the risks), because I also know that Gravity is not always our friend. I hope to see greater advances in this field of medicine with more natural results and materials, and doctors looking to enhance instead of transform. However, I do seek to incorporate the understanding of asteya (the aspect of non-stealing) as defined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras to illustrate that when one’s obsession with image overrides self-love, health, personal authenticity and purpose, it lacks integrity. How is it that we can appreciate Mona Lisa’s beautiful Roman nose, yet negate our own artistry? Would you appreciate a forged or photoshopped Picasso? A well-restored Picasso, sure, but a Picasso manufactured to look like a Matisse? Probably not.

I personally find natural women infinitely more attractive for a couple reasons: 1) because they are real, and there is no accomplishment associated with plastic surgery as there is with loving oneself, 2) natural women tend to be healthier, therefore radiating happiness, which is truly as beautiful and sexy as it gets. Scar tissue diminishes energy flow and we are live, energy beings. Living with toxic silicone baggies and scar tissue inside one’s body diminishes energy flow, as well as overall systemic functioning. It may suit some women to diminish their heart chakra – they may fair better in business and/or less love-based sex, but it may be a hearty price to pay to block the exquisite feeling of being loved for who you are.

99% of the characteristic Beverly Hills women that I have taught yoga to over the years (who choose multiple elective surgery procedures) suffer from some form of inflammatory illness; be that joint pain, arthritis, digestive imbalances, skin rashes, allergies, asthma, severe migraines, etc., and from my experiences, they are never as happy as they pretend to be. Ironically, I often find myself thinking, “She would be so pretty if she hadn’t put that stuff in her lips.”

Many people wonder about these health-related consequences. Why are some people more affected than others? Well, it is the same answer as to why some people become ill before others do when exposed to the same toxic elements. There is an accumulative effect of toxins vs. the immunity supporting forces that counteract them. Ironically, women often receive more attention and affection after a new procedure, which they equate as love. The endorphins that follow the feeling of love can support one’s immune system, even though the toxic source is still there. Eventually, however, the toxins tend to win. It is up to each person to decide if it is worth gambling with their health and committing to an illusion, all the while contributing to the global objectification of women and diminishing self-esteem in the young girls exposed to it.

I know that I am very fortunate to be an attractive woman with a fit, flexible, and beautiful body. I am not shy to brag that I have been the cause of a few fender benders in my day while walking along a sidewalk (in the words of LMFAO, “I work out”). I say this only to illustrate that I am not whining from a position of lack or perceived inequality. I know that I can use this to my “advantage,” but here is the thing: I consciously choose not to. Similar to exercising the strength to focus my mind or defy gravity in my postures, I choose not to take actions that lack integrity. Yet, our world is set up to support those who do and I have been criticized for stepping away from the easy and seductive paradigms that we currently live with.

I believe one major reason that our natural resources are rapidly diminishing worldwide lies in that individual desires outweigh the needs of humanity as a whole. With that said, most people are looking to “win” or “score” in each moment of their lives. When do we stop to 1) give back unconditionally, and 2) be content with what we have, as it is? Hey, I live in LA, so I know that it is much worse here, but only because it is somewhat acceptable to be superficial and show one’s selfish motives here. Greed is everywhere, however, and it doesn’t take much to seduce someone to reveal how selfish they can become. It takes conscious effort to practice integrity, kindness and live with a unity consciousness mindset. This is what will create a greater humanity, and this I would truly love to see.

Personally, I would much rather be alone, loving myself authentically and truthfully than to be in anyone’s company that loves me for who I am not. The endless, seductive road trying to look like a photoshopped supermodel is truly a pathway that is not only very difficult to escape once you are on it, but begins to chip away at the essence of who you truly are. In my opinion, it is men who play with dolls much more than little girls do, in our society. Have you ever wondered about celebrity men who seem to serial date supermodels? Supermodels define sexual objectification, their choice of work often indicates that they desire to be wanted (easier to control) and their frail, boy-like bodies seem easier to dominate than a hearty, healthy woman would be. Poor Ken wouldn’t even have a chance.

What this all stems down to is integrity and self-realization. It is obvious when a car is stolen from its parking space, and we can use physical evidence to convict someone of the crime. Trademark attorneys, likewise, work to protect the intellectual properties of those who own them. Yet, the world-renowned “guru” that I worked for with a long list of sexual harassment charges and plagiarism lawsuits defies public detection because our society enables predators. The demographic of people unceasingly obsessed with their image, spending their precious energy and life trying to look like someone else is also encouraged in nearly all aspects of media. Hey, my own “friends” have knocked off creative concepts that I shared with them – globally, our monkey minds are still dominated by what we can take from the outside world instead of what we can sincerely give, share, or in the least, honor our sources. One of my favorite practices of yoga is honoring each guru for their contribution. Nowadays, however, original content is copied and pasted by others who simply put their name on it.

None of this is appealing to me, yet it is far more common than not. After years of wondering if I have self-sabotaged profitable opportunities, I have come to embrace that I simply prefer to be true to who I am and surround myself with those who are also true to who they are. I personally have no desire to conform to our world’s set-up of “how to win the Hunger Games” if doing so compromises my authenticity and purpose.

Patanjali states that desire is the root cause of any form of stealing (be this a physical possession, persona, facial features, or even assuming the ideology or creative concept of another as your own); therefore the practice of asteya (non-stealing) is focused on simple living. The objective of yoga is to become self-dependent, self-empowered, authentic and harmless beings. Anytime that you need someone or something to feel a certain way, you are in a co-dependent and unempowered relationship. When someone is selling sex there is most often something that person lacks or an underlying insecurity to his or her seduction (seeking money, affection, etc). This is completely different than loving playfulness between respectful and conscious partners.

Can we at least agree that we all contribute to our collective consciousness? We’re in this together, stuck in an unbreakable web of inter-connectedness. Aside from the amount of non-degradable toxic waste that plastic surgery contributes to our already compromised planet, it simply shows how weak and unaccepting of reality that we are, as a whole. Sometimes I feel like an actor in the TV series, Planet of the Apes, and I am not referring to the primates with tails. I dream of living in an organic, conscious, truthfully positive and reality-based world. I know that I am so much more than how I look and I believe that Nature holds far more power than our man-made world. I am an intelligent, loving, naturally sexy woman seeking self-actualization while contributing to a healthier world for all to live. I believe this to be a wiser investment with my energy than hiding behind an altered physical image of a doll that anyone can buy.

Rau Chocolate Bowls

Inspired by Chocolate

Three years ago my life took an unexpected turn down Chocolate Lane. Not the one in which I sat on my couch, feeling down and out… endlessly pounding Hershey bars, contemplating what to do with my life. It was quite the opposite, actually, and I believe it was mere fate that I have now found myself using the power of chocolate to inspire everyone around me.

Let me take a few steps back. I moved to San Diego from the East Coast a in 2011, searching for inspiration within the medical field. After realizing the lack of success that Western medicine has had on preventing and eliminating disease (cancer, specifically), I took to the holistic streets. With a backpack full of fitness and nutritional certifications I invested my time influencing and changing peoples lifestyles in a more positive manner. It was simply amazing to see some of the worst health case diagnoses disappear with consistent natural healthy lifestyle choices, and the best part was to see people who had once felt in despair smiling again and enjoying their lives.

Out of this newfound love for nutritional healing I stumbled upon one of the most nutritionally rich superfoods on the planet, which had been sitting right under my nose my entire life. CACAO!! However you pronounce it; cacoa, cacao, chocolate has been savored by all cultures as a guilty pleasure since the beginning of time. Real chocolate in its raw state is an amazing superfood that holds extraordinary antioxidant and nutrient power. How could this be true, I thought? The more research that I did, the sooner I realized that the processed chocolate as we all know it is nothing like its raw bean form sprouted from a tree.

Chocolate was first discovered by the Mayans and Incans as Theobroma Cacao, “Food of the Gods”, and eaten directly from the chocolate tree…raw. Current day “chocolate” is far, far from its origins. The majority of consumer chocolate today is destroyed by heat processing, refining and pumping of terrible sugars. As a result, it lacks any nutritional benefit, and even further it acts as a negative vice to our health.

Top 5 health benefits of raw cacao:

• Raw cacao is the #1 antioxidant source – higher than acai, goji berries and blueberries combined.

• Raw cacao is one of the highest sources of Magnesium. Magnesium is one of the top 3 vitamin/mineral deficiencies in our western diet behind Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

• Raw cacao contains over 1,2000 phytonutrients that help regulate almost all cell processes in our bodies.

• Raw cacao contains zero sugar.

• Raw cacao helps control blood sugar and blood pressure, necessary to prevent diabetes and heart disease.

Inspired and perplexed by cacaos nutritional value I felt it was time to take it back to the early Mayan days. For those of you who inspire to live healthier AND love chocolate, get your hands on either some raw cacao beans, nibs or even powder. Aside from the health benefits I listed above, they will blow your taste buds away! Not to mention how invigorating and guilt free that you will feel for indulging in a rich, delicious treat that is 100% good for you. Both the powder and nibs are the raw cacao beans that are simply ground up from the bean. They are all equally healthy for you. I find that the powder is best mixed into smoothies, for those who enjoy shakes and smoothies.

As for my story, I spent countless mornings taking raw cacao beans, which grow in pods on 10-15 ft tall chocolate trees, and fusing them with some of the world’s highest quality organic spices, all in a tasty beverage form. That’s it…spices and cacao! This concoction has positively changed my life. The reason for all of my research and experimenting was to create a truly clean and invigorating raw cacao product that would literally change the definition of chocolate. It was such a fun experience covering my kitchen walls with chocolate… and even more humorous explaining the 5th grade science experiment mess to my landlord. In the end it was worth it. One year later, Rau Chocolate was born – the first raw chocolate health beverage with no dairy, no sugar, no gluten, no nothing! Clean and healthy…the way chocolate should be, and bottled to make it easy to carry and easy to drink.

I have created a loving life for myself, driven by my deep passion for true healing. I am proud to be a pioneer changing the way our world experiences chocolate and proud to admit chocolate inspired my life. Follow your passion…you’ll never know where it leads you to next. Cheers to the bean that changed my life!

Keep it simple. Keep it Rau. Bottoms Up!

True beauty that shines from within – Lu Parker

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Lu Parker, on set with her rescue dog, Monkey.

Not only is Lu Parker a stunning, natural beauty, she is a multi-faceted talent. She is a journalist, author, former Miss USA, animal advocate and a former teacher. As an Emmy and Genesis Award winning journalist, you can find her anchoring and reporting the news in Los Angeles, California on KTLA. Lu has won two Emmys for her work in the television industry. She has also been honored with two Genesis Awards from the Humane Society United States. She was recognized for her outstanding reporting and creative portrayals of animal protection issues including investigations into Puppy Mills, Elephant Abuse, and Beagle Lab Testing.

In her free time, Lu is an advocate for homeless animals. In 2010, she created Lu Parker Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless animals, and at risk teenagers. We are so honored to include Lu in our “Giving Back Q + A Series.” She is a gorgeous example of a woman radiating beauty from the inside out.

1) Who was your role model and inspiration as a child? Why?

Honestly, I never remember having a role model as a child besides my amazing parents, but looking back now, I was always a little obsessed with President Abraham Lincoln. Chances are I didn’t know why at the time, but likely his words and actions moved and inspired me as a young Southern girl growing up in South Carolina.  Today I admire people like Jane Goodall and anyone who steps out of their comfort zone to do good work for others.

2) Why did you create Lu Parker Project?

I started volunteering at the South L.A. shelter in 2009 and realized a lot needed to be done. I saw first-hand that shelters needed serious help. At first, I was helping to clean cages, and walk the dogs, but then I took it to the next step creating Lu Parker Project.

As a former high school teacher, I wanted to include youth so we could help to educate them about being humane to all creatures. Our first project was Project Paint. We remodeled the lobby at the South Los Angeles shelter. Volunteers painted and at-risk youth created murals for the walls. We also photograph dogs and cats and share their photos and information on social media. Project Picture has been a huge success!  We also partnered with Found Animals creating a school art project that offered students the opportunity to create art and tell a story why they believe all animals are important.  I cried at that event, too.  (Get me a tissue!)

Lu_Parker

3) Of all of the volunteering efforts that you have organized, can you share one experience that is most memorable and lights up your heart?

The time we spent redesigning and repainting the lobby of the South Los Angeles Shelter stands out for me.  To watch dozens of Lu Parker Project volunteers come together and spend days of their own time painting, creating, mopping, and more made me realize people do want to help.  The morning of the Lobby Grand Opening was one of the highlights of my life.  I was so proud of each and every one who had been a part of the process.  I truly believe the renovation brought light and encouragement to the shelter employees and volunteers, as well as, those visiting the shelter.  For me, I would get goose bumps every time I walked in the door!  Our Project Picture also brings me to tears when I see the homeless dogs and cats being photographed by our volunteers.  They know we are tying to help. 

4) You are so generous with your time and actions. How do you balance this with self-care and time for yourself?

Hey, life is busy.  We all have commitments, including family, friends and work.  It’s not always so easy to figure out, but I believe if you are doing something you are passionate about, nothing feels like work.  If you find a purpose, life makes it easier for you.  Another way I balance life is by making lists.  It keeps you organized.  My Mom taught me that trick.  Currently, I am learning to meditate.  The practice slows everything down, and makes you realize what’s important, and helps you to feel grateful.

5) Do you have any advice to parents as to how to encourage their children to volunteer and think of others?

Well, I am not a parent so that may seem weird for me to give parental advice, but I would like to suggest to parents or anyone who is caring for a child to show generosity through your actions.  As you know, your children watch and often mimic what you do.  My parents didn’t necessarily volunteer when I was young, but they did give back like at Christmas we would take presents or a Christmas tree to low income families.  They also allowed me to care for injured animals in the neighborhood.  They never denied me to chance to love and care for the less-fortunate.  That’s where I learned generosity.  Actions speak louder than words.

To learn more about Lu, please visit http://www.luparker.com/index

To learn how to volunteer and get involved with her amazing projects, visit http://www.luparkerproject.org

 

I AM Authentic – 5 tips to Living True

5 Tips for Living an Authentic, Zen Life By Alanna Zabel

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I believe that most of us have experienced moments when we feel, act or speak in an inauthentic manner. Sometimes we want others to like us or to think that we are intelligent, cool and “in the know” – so we may go so far as to present a false persona to feel accepted. Or, we do it because we feel unsafe being our true self – or maybe we want something so much that we are willing to diminish our truth to get it. This can result in a feeling of disconnect, and even painful feelings of guilt, insecurity and/or weakness when this happens. Worse still is when we’re inauthentic with ourselves because we’re unable to admit something intimate or difficult to express. If you aspire to experience more authenticity in your life, start by accepting yourself, exactly as you are – and committing to living authentically with who you discover. Below are five tips meant to strengthen one’s practice of living true to who they are:

1) Be Present. On average we have 28,000 days in a human lifespan. That really isn’t a lot, and therefore wise to make clear life goals – just hopefully not at forsaking your lifestyle and experiences. When we are present, we resume a natural flow to our life (or the Dharma Zone, as I call it in my book, As I Am). This flow is what happens when we let go of the limiting tethers of the past and future – where you forget about the outside world and are completely doing what you’re doing, whether that’s writing, drawing, practicing yoga, meditating or any other activity. Synchronicity occurs when we are in this Zone and our lives flow effortlessly. Knowing that our time is limited, it is wise to practice being present, and to embrace each moment as it happens. Even the more difficult phases of your life that challenge you are part of your journey, and learning to be present through them adds a deeper aspect of authenticity to who you are. Being afraid of them can potentially throw you off your personal path. An obvious example is parenthood. I empathize with parents who feel that they have to create a perfect, well-balanced life of education, athletics and art for their children, but hopefully they are not sacrificing the moments of being human and authentically discovering who we are (you know, laying in a puddle of rainwater while pondering the magic of Nature).

2) Be Kind. There is a strong correlation between the wellbeing, happiness and health of people who act with kindness towards others. It is difficult to be angry, resentful, or even fearful when we are showing unselfish love and compassion towards other beings. I really enjoy leading Seva (service) Yoga retreats, and one of the reasons is that I see a massive shift in my retreaters when we begin our service activities. For example, it doesn’t matter if they are cleaning dirty food bowls for elephants or shoveling dirt, they undoubtedly begin to settle into a deeper sense of happiness and presence as expectations and defenses are softened by the acts of giving.

3) Listen to yourself. Taking and following the advice from another person is assuming that: 1) They have lived through exactly the same predicament as you have (meaning that all the factors are exactly the same) and 2) That they have the same wants and needs as you do. Neither of which is probably true. However, taking bits and pieces of advice from others can be helpful, but it is always most wise to meditate alone and make certain that your actions are in line with who you are and what you want for your life. We can really second guess ourselves when we are the only voice trying to weight our options. Adding other voices and opinions often makes the process more confusing. Practice with the small stuff – for example, what movie would you like to see this weekend? Try making a decision not based on popular reviews, ratings or showings. Ask yourself what would inspire you and expand your perspective of awareness. Then go see that movie!

4) Spend time alone in silence. Alone time has a long list of benefits, which include boosting your immune system, strengthening your relationships and improving your outlook on life. Try taking 30 minutes every week where you turn the power off externally and amp it up internally. For example, turn off your phone and email. Spend the day sitting somewhere peaceful, where you can focus on your breathing and being present. The happy contradiction is that alone time like this—in such a pure form—will carry over to your other relationships and endeavors. When you connect to yourself in a deep and true manner, you start feeling more positive and powerfully charged. When you feel more connected and charged, you often connect to others with a greater capacity and joy.

5) Avoid gossip and drama. Judgment is making a “good” or “bad” assessment when we compare (implicit or explicit) how things or people are, and how we think they should be. So, in judgment, there’s an element of dissatisfaction with the way things are and a desire for things to be the way we want them to be. This makes it very limiting to maintaining presence and realistic awareness. We begin to judge other people based on past judgments and our perspective of reality becomes tainted. AZIAM has created a 30-day Non-Judgment Challenge to help us practice this vital virtue in our everyday lives. I offer a two-step formula: Step 1: Witness Your Reality – We are not going to take away your opinions or perceptions. We are simply taking away reactions to them. In every potentially judgmental situation you find yourself in, feel free to say whatever you want in your own mind. Ex: Someone snags a parking spot you were pulling into. In your mind, go for it – you have 5 seconds (only) to assess it and label it. Step 2: LET IT GO. Follow every 5 second assessment with “AND SO IT IS.” That’s it, “AND SO IT IS”. Then move on to the next activity you were planning or involved in. This group event and practice is meant to get us into the habit of not letting life’s imperfections drag us down while refining this highly beneficial practice of non-judgment.

Rau Cacao Beverage

Rau

For those of you who know me well, you know that I am very selective with what I eat. I often find myself struggling to find anything truly healthy while in a health food store! Most of the time when foods are packaged preservative agents are added (oftentimes unhealthy chemicals) or excessive sweeteners are added that also make the products less healthy.

When I was asked to try a new Raw Cacao Beverage by Rau, I was skeptical, I will admit. When I looked at the ingredients, however, I was impressed. Zero sugar! OK – but how about the taste and nutritional quality? Not only am I forever searching for pure and healthy, but my body immediately tells me if there is something other than that in anything I eat or drink. Rau Cacao Beverage is the Real Deal. It is so refreshing, so pure, natural and healthy that I have now completely dialed it in as a “must have” in my refrigerator.

What I love about this drink (aside from the nutritional and energy-boosting elements) is that I have the ability to add stevia if I want a healthy sweetener at that time – I get to choose.

Not only is it “the first cold pressed/ raw chocolate beverage that’s full of life and true integrity”, it is the first packaged beverage that has impressed me. Rau cacao beans and the added spices are organically farmed and packed with vital nutrients. It is free of all sugar, dairy, GMO’s, soy, and anything artificial.

Do yourself a favor and try Rau Cacao Beverage today – available in Chocolate or Mint Flavor. Check out the Rau website to see which stores in your area carry Rau, and if they don’t, I would suggest telling your local health food store about this true gem!

www.drinkrau.com

Delicious Vegan “Caesar”

Day 2 Salad from The Dharma Zone 21-day Program Menu:

We love all the salads in The Dharma Zone 21-day program, and you would never know this was a vegan, heart-healthy “Caesar” Salad!

Vegan “Caesar” (serves 4)
Ingredients:

• 3 cups chopped romaine leaves
• 1/4 cup chopped onions
• 1 sliced avocado

Dressing:

• 1 ripe avocado
• 3 tsp lemon juice
• 2 tsp water
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp capers
• 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
• sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
• ¼ cup hemp seeds

Blend the avocado, lemon juice, water, garlic, capers, mustard, salt and pepper in your food processor or blender until smooth. If it needs some thinning (depending on the size of your avocado) you can add a touch more water. The end result will be the consistency of pudding. Keep it this way to maintain ultra creaminess. Spoon dressing into a bowl and stir in hemp seeds.

Place romaine in a large salad bowl. Mix onions and avocados to taste. Drizzle dressing on top and stir until coated to preference.

Salad 2

I AM You

Day 20, The Dharma Zone Program, As I Am: I AM You

 Aside from the fact that we are all one collective unconscious body, everyone in your life is your mirror. This is the greatest of all relationships secrets. What this means is that you are recognizing aspects of your own consciousness in another person. This gives you an opportunity to truly see what you are focusing on, and ultimately, to grow. The qualities you most admire in others are your own and the same goes for those qualities you dislike. To change anything in your relationships, be the change you want to see.

The beauty of this understanding is that it leaves no room for blame, judgment or to be a victim to another person’s actions or words. There is only room for real love based on understanding, compassion and gratitude. Your relationships with others are your opportunity to experience yourself and grow. They are a perfect mirror of your inner relationship with yourself and the beliefs you have acquired about life and love. In order for you to recognize a certain quality in another, it must be part of your conscious awareness. You could not see it otherwise.

Although The Dharma Zone guidelines minimize interactions with other people, positive and supportive relationships are the treasures of life. The time spent alone during the program will increase appreciation of your relationships when communications do resume. The space will also shed light on whether these relationships are trustworthy and true.

I AM You

See Yourself In Others

All beings tremble before violence

All fear death

All love life

See Yourself In Others

Then whom can you hurt?

What harm can you do?

He who seeks happiness

By hurting those who seek happiness

Will never find happiness

For your brother is like you

He wants to be happy

Never harm him

You Too Will Find Happiness

In this life

And after you leave this life

~ Buddhist Teaching